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A Hind Let Loose by Alexander Shields

As may be seen in their Informatory Vindication


It is lawful to prevent the murder of ourselves or our brethren, when no other way is left, by killing the murderers before they accomplish their wicked design, if they be habitually prosecuting it, and have many times accomplished it before. This followeth upon the other; and upon this account it had been duty for Gedaliah to have suffered Johanan to slay Ishmael, and so prevent the governor's murder, if it had been certainly known that Ishmael was sent by the king of Ammon to assassinate him, Jer. xl. 14, 15. for nothing is there objected against the lawfulness of the thing, but only it was alledged that he spoke falsely. Alftedius asserts this, Caf. de homicid. reg. 6. p. 331. It is lawful to prevent him that would assault us, and by preventing to kill him before his invasion, if it be so necessary, to prevent him, that our life cannot be otherwise defended but by preventing. And hence he justifies that saying, 'It is lawful to kill him that lieth in wait to murder,' ibid. This is all the length that the reproached sufferers, whom I am vindicating, go, in asserting this principle, as may be seen in their Informatory Vindication, Head 3. pag. 544. where they say, 'We maintain it as both righteous and rational, in defence of our lives, liberties, and religion, after an orderly and Christian manner, to endeavour, by all means lawful and possible, to defend ourselves, rescue our brethren, and prevent their murder, in a martial opposition against wicked persecutors, who are seeking
to destroy them and us, and imbrue their hands in our blood, according to the true import of the Apologetical Declaration.' Which is very rational; especially considering.

7. These murderers, who are thus to be prevented, are such whom the law of God commands to be put to death, and no where allows to be spared, being public enemies to God and good men, open blasphemers, avowed idolaters, affronted adulterers, notorious murderers, habitual tyrants, suppressing religion, oppressing the innocent, and professing a trade of destroying the Lord's people. Surely, if God hath expressly in his laws provided, that blasphemers, idolaters, murderers, &c. should not be suffered to live, he never intended men daily guilty, yea, making profession of these crimes, should be allowed impunity, either by virtue of their office, or because there is none in office to execute judgment upon them; but in a case of extreme necessity, these laws will not only allow, but oblige people, daily murdered by them, for their own preservation, for vindication of religion, for purging the land of such wickedness, for turning away the wrath of God, to prevent their prosecuting their murdering designs any further, and put a stop to their persecution, by putting an end to their wicked lives: seeing, as Buchanan says, De Jure Regni, it is expresly commanded, 'to cut off wickedness and wicked men, without any exception of rank or degree; and yet in no place of sacred scripture are tyrants more spared than private persons.' Much less their bloody emissaries.

Now, seeing all these cases of killing I have collected, are justifiable in scripture, and none of the sufferers upon this head, whom I am vindicating, have exceeded in principle or practice the amount of these assertions, what is said already may have some weight to demur a censorious condemnation of them. But as the true nonconformist well observes, in answer to Dial. 7. p. 391. Seeing the consideration resulting from the concurrence of all circumstances, whereupon the right dignoscing of such deeds, when actually existent, doth mostly depend, doth more contribute to the clearing and passing a judgment on a case of this nature, when the whole contexture is exposed to certain examination, than to set down general rules directive of such practices (which yet will all justify this in question) therefore to clear the case further, all may be resolved into this state of the question.

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