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A Hind Let Loose by Alexander Shields

When worldly wisdom thinks it unseasonable


by it a submissive silence

to God, without fretting (according to that word, Jer. viii. 14. For the Lord our God hath put us to silence,----and Mic. vii. 9.) Calvin upon the place expounds it, 'The prudent shall be affrighted at the terrible vengeance of God; or they shall be compelled to silence, not willingly (for that were unworthy of men of courage to be silent at such wickedness) but, by the force of tyrants, giving them no leave to speak.' Sure then this is such a time, wherein it is prudence to be silent to God, but not to be silent for God, but to give public witness against the evils of sin abounding, and public warning of the evils of punishment imminent. 11. Then is the season of it, when worldly wisdom thinks it unseasonable, when men cannot endure sound doctrine, but after their own lusts they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears, and turn away their ears from the truth; then to preach the word, and be instant is indeed in itself seasonable, because profitable and necessary; but it is out of season as to the preachers or hearers external interest, and in the esteem of worldly wiselings, 2 Tim. iv. 2, 3, 4. See Pool's Synops. Critic. in Locum. So in our day, men cannot endure free and faithful dealing against the sins of the times, but would have smooth things and deceits spoken unto them; like those, Isa. xxx. 10. And nothing can be more offensive, than to speak plainly (so as to give every thing its own name) either of the sins of the times, or of the snares of the times, or of
the miseries and evils of the times, or of the duties of the times, or of the dangers, and the present crisis of the times: which no faithful minister can forbear. Therefore so much the more is it seasonable, that it is generally thought unseasonable. 12. In a word, whenever the testimony of the church, or any part of it, is opposed and suppressed; then is the season to keep it, and contend for it, and to hold it fast, as our crown, Rev. iii. 10, 11. It must be then a word spoken in due season, and good and necessary (Prov. xv. 23.) at this time, to give a public testimony against all wrongs done to our blessed Lord Jesus, all the encroachments upon his prerogatives, all the invasions of the church's privileges, all the overturnings of our covenanted reformation, and this openly designed introduction of popery and slavery. But now how shall this testimony be given by us conveniently? Or how can it be given at all, at this time, in our circumstances, so as both the matter and manner of it may be a most significant witness bearing to the merit of it, except we go to the fields? Who can witness significantly against popery and tyranny, and all the evils to be spoken against this day, under the protection of a papist and tyrant, as house-meetings under the covert of this toleration are stated? For if these meetings be private and secret, then the testimony is not known; if they be public, then they are exposed to a prey. Now, by all these general hypotheses, it is already in some measure evident, that field meetings are very expedient. But I shall add some particular considerations, to inculcate the same more closely.

In the third place, besides what is said, To clear the lawfulness and necessity of a public testimony against the evils of the present time, some considerations may be added to prove the expediency of this way and manner of giving a testimony, by maintaining held meetings in our present circumstances,

1. The keeping of field meetings now, is not only most convenient for testifying, but a very significant testimony in itself, against this popish toleration; the wickedness


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