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A Hind Let Loose by Alexander Shields

And common public and habitual incendiaries

violence, displayed against

God and his people, to the ruin of the reformation, wasting of the country, oppression of many honest families, and destruction of many innocent people, are and would be found guilty of murder; as the chief captain would have truly alledged Paul to have been a murderer, if he had been the Egyptian which made an uproar, and led out four thousand men that were murderers, Acts xxi. 58. As for the vulgar and ordinary sort of those vermine of varlets, it is of no advantage for oppressed people to foul their fingers upon them, when their slaughter would not put a stop to, but rather increase the destruction of the people of God; and were unlawful to prevent and anticipate the due and legal execution of justice, where there is any prospect or expectation of its running in its right channel. But for the chief and principal ring leaders, and common public and habitual incendiaries, and masters of the trade of murdering the Lord's people, when there is no other way of being rid of their rage, and preserving ourselves, and preventing the destruction of our brethren, we may in that case of necessity make public examples of them, in an extraordinary procedure against them, that may be most answerable to the rules of the ordinary procedure of justice, and in imitation of the heroic actions recorded and justified in the word of God, in the like extraordinary cases; which are imitable, when the matter of their actions is ordinary, that is, neither preternatural nor supernatural though the occasion
was singular, just and necessary, both by divine precept, and as a mean to good and necessary ends, and when there is no other to do the work, nor any prospect of access to justice in its ordinary and orderly course, nor possibility of suspending it till that can be obtained. We need not then any other call than a spirit of holy zeal for God, and for our own and our brethrens preservation, in that pinch of extremity. We do not hold these extraordinary actions for regular and ordinary precedents, for all times and persons universally: which if people should fancy, and heed more the glory and fame of the action, than the sound and solid rule of the scriptures, they may be tempted and carried to fearful extravagancies. But they may be warrants for private persons in their doing of these things, in an extreme necessity, to which at other times they are not called. And when the Lord, with whom is the residue of the spirit, doth breathe upon his people, more or fewer, to the exciting of more than ordinary zeal, for the execution of justice upon such adversaries, we should rather ascribe glory and praise to him, whose hand is not shortened, but many times chooseth the weak and foolish things of the world to confound the mighty and the wise, than condemn his instruments for doing such things, Naph. pag. 24, 25. prior edit.

All these cases, which are all I can think on at present, comprehending all that may any way infer the guilt of murder, I have collected; to the end I may conclude this one argument, and leave it to be considered: If this extraordinary executing of judgment, upon notorious incendiaries and murdering public enemies, by private persons, in the circumstances above declared, cannot be reduced to any case that can infer the guilt of murder; then it cannot be condemned, but justified; but this extraordinary executing of judgment, &c. cannot be reduced to any case that can infer the guilt of murder, (as will appear by the induction of all of them:) therefore, this extraordinary executing of judgment, &c. cannot be condemned, but justified.

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