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A Hind Let Loose by Alexander Shields

And for the impunity of idolaters and murderers


themselves to magistrates,

who by office are obliged to bring such villains to condign punishment; and none were found in public authority, but such as patronized and authorized them; whom in conscience they could not acknowledge, and in prudence durst not make application to them for fear of their lives; what could they do? what was left them to deliberate, but to fall upon this extraordinary course, wherein if they have stumbled into some extravagancies, as to the manner, who can think it strange, considering the case? But as that is not the debate; so as for such acts of vengeance as are peccant in the matter, and were not circumstantiate, as above rehearsed, being disowned in their public declarations, and the actors excluded from their communion, for whom I plead; it were iniquous to impute the scandal of them to that suffering people. It is only the so circumstantiate, necessitated, extraordinary execution of judgment, upon notoriously gross and grassant incendiaries, tyrants, and terrible murdering enemies, where there is no living for them, that I vindicate. And though the handling of this tender and quick-scented subject may seem odious to some, and my discourse upon it is pregnant with an oblique design to obviate such unmerited surmises, I must say, it is only the wiping off of such reproaches as reflect on religion; the vindication of preterite extraordinary practices of this nature; the investigation of present duty with respect to future emergencies; and the restraining all extravagancies
incident on this Head, that I intend. However this may be exploded by this generation, as odious and uncouth doctrine; yet, in former periods of this church, it hath been maintained with courage, and asserted with confidence. How the ancient Scots, even after they received the Christian faith, served their tyrants and oppressors, how in the beginning of the reformation, the killing of the cardinal, and of David Rizio, were and are generally to this day justified, and what was the judgment and pleading of our reformers for practicing this principle against idolaters, &c. needs not be here repeated? Mr. Knox's judgment in particular is before declared, and will be further discovered, if we consider how he resented his slackness, in putting people to execute judgment in these words, insert in second part of the cloud of witnesses, p. 60. 'For God (said he) had not only given me knowledge, and a tongue to make known the impiety of the idol, but had given me credit with many, who would have put in execution God's judgments, if I would only have consented thereto: but so careful was I of the common tranquility, and loath was I to offend some, that in secret conference with zealous men, I travelled rather to slacken that fervency God had kindled in them, than to animate and encourage them to put their hands to God's work; wherein I acknowledge myself to have done most wickedly, and from the bottom of my heart I do ask God pardon, that I did not what in me lay to have suppressed that idol from the beginning.' But the preceeding historical representation doth abundantly demonstrate this is no novelty, to assert, that when the ruin of the country, suppression of religion, destruction of the remnant professing and suffering for it, and the wrath of God is threatened in, and for the impunity of idolaters and murderers, that by the law of God and man should die the death; and supposing always such as are in public office not only decline their duty, but encourage those destroyers, yea authorize them themselves, we may not only maintain defensive resistance according to our capacity, but endeavour also vindictive and, punitive force in executing judgment upon them in cases of necessity, as before circumstantiate. And I am the more confident to assert it, that what I say cannot be condemned, till first what our reformers have proven be confuted. However, to endeavour to make it somewhat clear, I shall premit some assertions, to clear the state of the question; and then give some reasons for it, when clearly stated.

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