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A Hind Let Loose by Alexander Shields

In his lately printed sermons on Matth


Durham in his exposition of the revelation, chap. vi. ver. 9. Lect. 6. gives an account, 'That when in the persecution of Dioclesian, the persecutors sought but the bibles, poor coats, money, or cups (wherewith they served) to be given them, as some evidence of their ceding: but they refused to accept deliverance upon these terms; yea, when the soldiers, partly wearying to be so bloody, partly desirous of seeming victory over Christians, did profess themselves content to take any old paper or clout in place of the bible, they refused to give any Ecvola, or cast-away clout; yea, when soldiers would violently pluck such things from them against their wills, they would follow them, professing their adherence unto the truth, and that they had not any way willingly delivered these things, as is to be seen in Baronius, An. 302, p. 748. it is reported of one Marcus Arethusius, who was put to torment under Julian, because he would not build the idol temple which he had formerly demolished, when they were content to accept some part of the expences from him, and to spare his life, he refused to give obolum, or one half penny, Sozom. lib. 5. 9. Cent. Mag. Cent. 4. p. 797 and 833. By which and many other instances we may see, how resolutely the primitive saints held fast their testimonies: from which especially they were called martyrs or witnesses; and by which often, not only many weak ones were strengthened, but also many persecutors convinced, and made to cry out, Certainly great is
the God of the Christians; while as they saw, that no allurements on the one side, nor terrors on the other, could make them loose their grips, but still truth and Christ were borne witness unto, and well spoken of by them. It will not be unnecessary here to consider some of Mr. Durham's observations on the fourth lecture; for clearing whereof he adduced these matters of fact, such as Obs. 7. That the giving of a testimony by outward confession of the truth, when called for, is necessary and commendable, as well as soundness of faith; yea, it is oftentimes the outward testifying of the truth before men, more than the faith of it before God, that bringeth on suffering: and there was nothing more abhorred in the primitive Christians than dissembling of a testimony, to evite suffering, as appeareth in Augustine's writings concerning a lie, and against a lie, and the writings of others to that purpose. Obs. 8. That every truth of the word may be a ground of suffering warrantably: for the least thing that hath a truth in it, as well as the more concerning fundamental truths, is the word of God, and so cannot be dispensed with by his people. Obs. 9. Every truth in the word hath an outward testimony joined to it, and sometimes may be called for upon very great hazards. Obs. 10. When it is called for, this testimony or confession to any truth before men, is no less necessary, and ought as peremptorily to be held and stuck to as the former; therefore it is called (Rom. x.) Confession unto salvation, and called for by a peremptory certification, Matth. x. 32, 33. Obs. 11. That these who are found in the faith of the word, will be also exceeding tenacious of their testimony; in scripture, and in primitive times, we will find the saints sticking at, and hazarding themselves on things which appear of very small moment, yet were to them of great concernment, because of the testimony, which was involved in them, which they would not let go. Such was Mordecai, Esther iii. Daniel vi. his not shutting of his windows. Yea further, in his lately printed sermons on Matth. xvi. 24. Serm. 7. p. 155. the same author saith; there is not in some respect a more and a less in the matter of duty, and in the matter of truth, or in respect of suffering. And a little after, Sect. 5. he says, we would not limit sufferings for Christ to things simply lawful or unlawful; for it may be sometimes for things indifferent in their own nature, which yet being so and so circumstantiated to us, may draw on suffering; a thing may be indifferent and lawful to some, which to others, stated under such and such circumstances may be counted a receding from some part of a just testimony; even though the matter be not such in itself, and in its own nature, yet it may be so circumstantiate to some persons, as it may be liable to that construction, if they shall recede from or forbear it; as in the example of Daniel, who suffered for opening his windows, which was a thing indifferent in itself, and not essential to his worshipping of God; but--he finds himself bound in conscience, and that on very just ground, to do as he was wont to do before, and that on the manifest hazard of his life, lest his malicious enemies should have it to say, that he receded from his duty, and that he thought more shame now, or was more afraid now, than before, to worship the true God.'

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