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A Hind Let Loose by Alexander Shields

To maintain and defend the kirk of Scotland


6. The keeping of field meetings now is a testimony for our covenants, the owning whereof is declared criminal by that same law that discharges these meetings; in which we are sworn to preserve the reformation in doctrine, worship, discipline, and government, and to defend all the church's liberties, and to oppose all their opposites, and endeavour their extirpation: And in the solemn acknowledgment of sins and engagements to duties, we are sworn, Because many have of late laboured to supplant the liberties of the kirk, to maintain and defend the kirk of Scotland, in all her liberties and privileges, against all who shall oppose and undermine the same, or encroach thereupon, under any pretext whatsoever. Since then, the owning of these meetings and the covenants are both discharged together, and the owning of the covenant does oblige to a public opposition against the dischargers, and an avowed maintenance of the church's privileges, whereof this is, in a manner, the only and chief liberty now left to be maintained, to keep meetings where we may testify against them, without dependence on their toleration; it must follow, that these meetings are to be maintained, which only can be in the fields, with conveniency.

7. To give over these field meetings now, would be an hardening and encouraging of these enemies in their wicked design of banishing all these meetings out of the land; which manifestly would be defeat, by a resolute refusal of all to submit to their discharging of them; and they that do submit, and give them over, do evidently contribute to the effectuating that wicked design, which is of that sort, but further is intended to extirpate all meetings for gospel ordinances, in which there is any testimony against them. To comply therefore with such a forbearance of them at this time, would lay a stone of stumbling before them, to encourage them in these their designs: when they should see their contrivance so universally complied with, wherein they might boast that at length they had prevailed, to put quite away that eye-sore of theirs, field meetings.

8. To give over these field meetings now, were a stumbling to the poor ignorant people; who might think, that now it appears that work was but of men, and so hath come to naught; and would look upon it as an evidence of fainting, and succumbing at last in the matter of the testimony, as being quite overcome; and that indeed all have embraced and accepted this present toleration, and were all alike sleeping under the shade, and eating the fruits of such a bramble.

9. Finally, To give over these field meetings now, would be very scandalous to the posterity, and to strangers, who shall read the history of our church, to find, that as prelacy came in without a joint witness, and the monstrous, blasphemous, and sacrilegious supremacy was erected, without a testimony in its season; so black popery itself, and tyranny, was introduced by a toleration, which laid them all by from a testimony against these; who formerly had valiantly, resolutely, and faithfully contended against all lesser corruptions; but at last, when that came, and stricter prohibitions of all public meetings, but under the covert thereof, were emitted, then all were persuaded to comply with that course. How astonishing would it be to read, that all these contendings, sealed with so much precious blood, should come to such a pitiful period! But I hasten to the next, which is the second positive ground of suffering.


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