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A Hind Let Loose by Alexander Shields

To the sin of compliance with malignant ungodly men

in that season, when he was

a-dying, at the beginning of the public resolutions: 'Having heard of some motions and beginnings of compliance, with these who have been so deeply engaged in a war destructive to religion and the kingdom's liberties, I cannot but discharge my conscience, in giving a testimony against all such compliance. I know and am persuaded, that all the faithful witnesses that gave testimony to the thesis, that the late engagement was contrary and destructive to the covenant, will also give testimony to the appendix, that compliance with any who have been active in that engagement is most sinful and unlawful. I am not able to express all the evils of that compliance, they are so many--But above all, that which would heighten this sin even to the heavens is, that it were not only a horrid backsliding, but a backsliding into that very sin, which was specially pointed at and punished by the prevalency of the malignant party, God justly making them thorns and scourges who were taken in as friends. Alas! shall we split twice upon the same rock? yea run upon it, when God hath set a beacon on it? yea I may say, shall we thus outface and outdare the Almighty, by protecting his and our enemies, by making peace and friendship with them, when the anger of the Lord is burning against them. I must here apply to our present condition, the words of Ezrah, ix. 14.--O happy Scotland, if thou canst now improve and not abuse this golden opportunity! but if thou help the ungodly, and love them that hate the
Lord, wrath upon wrath, and wo upon wo, shall be upon thee from the Lord.' Whereunto is subjoined his dying testimony to the same purpose; wherein are these words: 'But if there shall be falling back, to the sin of compliance with malignant ungodly men, then I look for the breaking out of the wrath of the Lord, till there be no remedy.' This was the warning of a worthy dying man. Notwithstanding of which and many other warnings and witnessings, a course of compliance was commenced by the public resolutioners, and continued in to this day; wherein that faithful warning of a dying servant of Christ is verified. But before I leave this purpose, I must obviate an objection that some make use of for strengthening themselves in their incorporations and joining at least in worship, with the corruptions of the time, and for condemning conscientious withdrawers; that the godly in those days did not separate from the men of these compliances and defections, as many do now, viz. the protesting party did not withdraw from the public resolutioners and associators with malignants. I answer, first, many and these the most godly and tender did withdraw, even from their own ministers, and would have gone forty or fifty miles to hear a faithful minister at that time: yea ministers themselves, in the case of intrusion of the unfaithful, would have supplied the paroch, as if the church had been vacant, and when they could not get access to the pulpit, they preached in the fields, on purpose to witness against, and professedly to withdraw the people from such an unfaithful intruder; as might be instanced particularly for time and place, if need were. But next, the church then, though broken by division, and under the subjection of strangers deprived of her general assemblies, yet was in a constitute case, enjoying the privilege, power and order of synods and presbyteries, to whom the people offended with their ministers might address themselves, for an orderly redress, and removal of these scandals in an ordinary way; and so they needed not assume to themselves that power to regulate their communion, that in a broken state, as now is, must be allowed to them. And besides, both the ministers at that time who were faithful, though they might have proceeded to censure and silence the corrupt party as they were obliged, yet not only found it difficult by reason of the injury of the times; but also thought it best to spare them, and the people to bear them, as burdens; until, as they were still in hopes, they should obtain a general assembly to take order with them, but now it is not so. And then the defection was but beginning, and people did not know and could not expect it would go such a length, and therefore could not fall upon the rigour of that duty, which such disorders call for at first: but if they had seen where these beginnings would land them at length, I doubt not but they would have resisted those beginnings, in such a way as would have precluded this imputation of novelty upon our necessitated withdrawings.

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