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A Hind Let Loose by Alexander Shields

If this inhibition had not past upon it

to execute judgment, then when there is no judgment execute, it must be the sin of none but those in public authority; and if it be only their sin, how comes others to be threatened and punished for this, that judgment is not executed? If they must only stand by, and be spectators of their omissions unconcerned, what shall they do to evite this wrath? shall they exhort them, or witness against them? But that more than all this is required, is proved before several times, where this argument of people's being punished for the sin of their rulers hath been touched. 3. Then when there is no authority, it must be no sin at all that judgment is not executed, because it is the sin of none; it cannot be sin, except it be the sin of some. 4. What if those in public authority be the murderers? Who shall put them to death? By what authority shall judgment be execute upon them? Whether public or private? public it cannot be; for there is no formal public authority above the supreme, who are supposed the party to be punished; if it be the radical authority of the people, which is the thing we plead for, then it is but private, as that of one party against the other: the people are the party grieved, and so cannot be judges: at best then, this will be extrajudicial executing of judgment. And if the people may do it upon the greatest of tyrants, then a part of them who are in greatest hazard may save themselves from those of lesser note, by putting them to death: for if all the people have right to punish universal tyrants, because they are destroyers of all; then a part hath right to punish particular tyrants, because they are destroyers of them, when they cannot have access to public authority, nor the concurrence of the whole body.

4. Let these murderers and incendiaries be considered, either as a part of the community with them whom they murder and destroy, or not; if they be a part, and do belong to the same community (which is not granted in this case, yet let it be given) then when the safety of the whole, or better part, cannot consist with the sparing or preserving of a single man, especially such an one as prejudges all, and destroys that better part; he is rather to be cut off, than the whole or the better part be endangered: for the cutting off of a contagious member that destroys the rest of the body, is well warranted by nature, because the safety of the whole is to be preferred to the safety of a part, especially a destructive part: but now, who shall cut it off? since it must be cut off, otherwise a greater part of the body will be presently consumed, and the whole endangered. It is sure the physician's duty; but what if he will not, or cannot, or there be no physician? then any that can may and must; yea, one member may, in that case, cut off another. So, when either the magistrate will not, or dare not, or does not, or there is none to do this necessary work of justice, for the preservation of the community; any member of it may rather prevent the destruction of the whole, or a greater part, by destroying the murdering and destructive member, than suffer himself and others to be unavoidably destroyed by his being spared. If they be not within, or belonging to that society, then they may be dealt with, and carried towards as public enemies and strangers, and all advantages may be taken of them in cases of necessity, as men would do, if invaded by Turks or Tartars.

5. Let it be considered, what men might have done in such a case before government was erected, if there had been some public and notour murderers still preying upon some sort of men. Certainly then private persons (as all are in that case) might kill them to prevent future destruction. Hence, if this was lawful before government was established, it cannot be unlawful when people cannot have the benefit of the government, when the government that is, instead of giving redress to the grieved and oppressed, does allow and impower them to destroy them: otherwise people might be better without government than with it; for then they might prevent their murderers by cutting them off. But so it is that this was lawful before government was established: for let it be adverted, that the scripture seems to insinuate such a case before the flood. Cain, after he murdered his brother, feared that every man that found him should slay him. Gen. iv. 14. If he had reason to fear this, as certainly he had, if the Lord had not removed that, by prorogueing the execution of vengeance upon him, for his greater punishment, and the world's more lasting instruction, and by setting a mark upon him, and inhibiting, under a severe threatning, any to touch him; then every man that should have killed him was the magistrate, (which were ridiculous) or every man was every, and any private person universally, which might have killed him, if this inhibition had not past upon it. Ainsworth upon the place saith, 'That among the ancient Romans, every one might kill without a challenge, any man that was cursed for some public crime.' And cites Dionys. Halicarnas. l. 2. And so Cain spoke this from a dictate of nature and a guilty conscience.

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