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A Hind Let Loose by Alexander Shields

Or licence and warrant from his usurping enemies


The keeping of field meetings now is a testimony against that wicked law that discharges them, and interdicts them as criminal; yea, in some respect a case of confession; for if Daniel's case, when public prayer was discharged under pain of death, was a case of confession, as all grant; then must also our case be, when public preaching is discharged under the same penalty; for it is equivalent to an universal discharge of all public preaching, when the manner of it is discharged, which we can only have with freedom and safety in way of public testimony, which can be none other in our circumstances but in the fields. Again, if the law be wicked that discharges them, as certainly it is, and is demonstrated from what is said already, then it must be sin to obey it; but it were an obeying of it to quit the fields.

3. The keeping of field meetings now is a testimony against tyranny and usurpation, encroaching upon our religion, laws, and liberties, and presuming to restrict and bound the exercise of the ministerial function, and discharge it altogether, except it be modified according to the circumstances prescribed by a wicked law, which cannot be allowed as competent to any man whose authority is not acknowledged, for reasons given in Head 2. Therefore, though there were no more, this is sufficient to call all ministers to give testimony against such an usurpation, by refusing to obey any such act, and preaching where God giveth a call. For otherwise,

to submit to it, would be an acknowledging of his magistratical power to discharge these meetings, and to give forth sentences against faithful ministers.

4. The keeping of field meetings now is a testimony for the honour, headship, and princely prerogative of Jesus Christ, which hath been the great word of his patience in Scotland, and by an unparalleled insolence encroached upon by usurpers in our day, and in effect, denied by such as took a new holding for the exercise of their ministry from their usurped power. Now in these meetings, there is a practical declaration of their holding their ministry, and the exercise thereof from Christ alone, without any dependence upon, subordination to, or licence and warrant from his usurping enemies; and that they may and will preach in public, without authority from them. If then it be lawful and expedient to maintain the interests of a king of clay against an usurper; then much more must it be lawful and expedient, to maintain the quarrel of the King of kings, when wicked men would banish him and his interests out of the kingdom by their tyrannical cruelty, and cruel mercy of a destructive toleration.

5. The keeping of field meetings now is a testimony for the gospel and the ministry thereof; which is always the dearest and nearest privilege of Christians, and in the present circumstances, when our lives and our all are embarked in the same bottom with it, and sought to be destroyed together with it, by a party conspiring against Christ, it is necessary duty to defend both by resisting their unjust violence; especially when religion and the gospel is one and the chief of our fundamental land rights, and the cardinal condition of the established policy, upon which we can only own men for magistrates by the law of the land: and this testimony, by defence of the gospel and of our own lives, cannot be given expediently any where but in the fields. It is also a testimony for the freedom and authority of the gospel ministry, and for their holding their unremoveable relation to the church of Scotland, which is infringed by these tyrannical acts, and maintained by these exercises; which is a privilege to be contended for, above and beyond all other that can be contended for or defended, especially to be maintained again those that have no power or authority to take it away. There will no man quit any of his goods upon a sentence coming from an incompetent judge: and shall ministers or people be hectored or fooled from such a privilege by them that have no such power.

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