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A Hind Let Loose by Alexander Shields

But if either the oppressors themselves


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is dearer, the interest of

religion, to be destroyed: then it is no wonder, that they be sometimes necessitated in such an extremity, to apply extreme remedies to extremity of evils, and forced to fall upon such expedients to prevent their utter extermination, as at other times common order, and ordinary justice would make extravagant. Yea it is no marvel, though they fall into several real extravagancies, which are not to be justified nor extenuated; but rather it is to be acknowledged, as a miracle of the Lord's mercy, that in such a case they are restrained from more scandalous excesses of that nature. Yet even then, such as live at ease, free of oppression who are blinded with prejudice at the oppressed, and bribed with the indulgence and lenity of the oppressors towards themselves, will look upon these actions as transports of madness, and effects of extravagant zeal, while they weigh them only in the scales of ordinary justice, and do not ponderate them in the ballance of necessitated virtue; nor perpend the circumstances which made those extraordinary acts of judgment, which materially are lawful at all times to be executed by some, to be then necessary acts of justice to be inflicted by them in such a case. But if either the oppressors themselves, or such who are blinded and bribed with their gifts, and killed with their kindness, not only into an omission of concurring, but into a condemning of such extraordinary attempts of taking off those destroyers; or, if onlookers at a distance, would seriously
consider, and ingeniously declare their opinion, in a particular application of the case to themselves, what they would do in such circumstances: I doubt not, but as charity should oblige them to be sparing of their censure, in a case whereof they have no experience; so justice, in resolving this point for themselves, would constrain them to justify such extraordinary necessitated practices for self-preservation, in preventing punishing, by destroying their destroyers, and move them rather to admire their patience, who have suffered so much and so long those beasts of prey to devour them, than to censure their precipitancies, in being constrained to endeavour to deliver themselves at last from, and put an end to their cruelty who did most annoy them. 'Yea, (as Naphtali says very well) it were impossible that rational men, after the feeling of so sore grievances, and the teaching of so many and sad experiences, should still couch under the burden, and submit themselves to the yoke of such vile apostate upstarts and bloody villains, and not rather acquit themselves like men, by pulling off these vizards, under which they mask their villanies and clack their violence; and plucking them out of that sanctuary of loyalty, and refuge of authority, which they do not more pretend than profane by all their horrid rebellions against God, and cruel murders executed upon the Lord's people, to the effect that in the righteous and deserved punishment of these wicked men, both the sin of the land might be sisted, and the fierce anger of the Lord averted,' Naph. first edit. pag. 134. Nevertheless such lawful, and, (as one would think) laudable attempts, for cutting off such monsters of nature, beasts of prey, burdens to the earth, as well as enemies to the commonwealth, are not only condemned as murders and horrid assassinations, but criminally and capitally punished as such. And upon this account, the sufferings of such, as have left a conviction upon the consciences of all that knew them, of their honesty, integrity, soundness in the principles, and seriousness of the practice of religion, have been several singular, and signally severe, and owned of the Lord, to the admiration of all spectators; some being cruelly tortured and executed to the death, for essaying such execution of judgment, as Mr. Mitchel; others for accumplishing it, as Mr. Hackston of Rathillet, and others, who avowed their accession to the cutting off that arch traitor Sharp, prelate of St. Andrews; and others, for not condemning that and the like acts of justice, though they were as innocent of the facts as the child unborn.


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