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A Hind Let Loose by Alexander Shields

And compliance with the present government


of ministers into hirelings,

of their proselytes into ten times worse children of the devil than they were before, of the power of godliness into formality, of preaching Christ into orations of morality, of the purity of Christ's ordinances into the vanity of men's inventions, of the beautiful government of the house of God for edification, to a lordly pre-eminence and domination over consciences; in a word, of church and state constitutions for religion and liberty, all upside dwon into wickedness and slavery: These are the conversions of prelacy. But now this astonishing blow to the gospel of the kingdom, introducing such a swarm of locusts into the church, and in forcing a compliance of the people with this defection, and that so violently and rigorously, as even simple withdrawing was so severely punished by severe edicts of fining, and other arbitrary punishments at first; what did it produce? did it awaken all Christ's ambassadors, now to appear for Christ, in this clear and claimant case of confessing him, and the freedom and purity of his ordinances? Alas! the backwardness and bentness to backsliding, in a superseding from the duties of that day, did make it evident, that now the Lord had in a great measure forsaken them, because they had forsaken him. The standard of the gospel was then fallen, and few to take it up. The generality of ministers and professors both went and conformed so far as to hear the curates, contrary to many points of the reformation formerly attained, contrary to their covenant
engagements, and contrary to their own principles and practice at that same time; scrupling and refusing to keep the bishops visitations, and to countenance their discipline and power of jurisdiction, because it was required as a testification of their acknowledgment of, and compliance with the present government, and yet not scrupling to countenance their doctrine and usurped power of order required also by the same law, as the same test of the same compliance and submission. Its strange that some yet do plead for persisting in that same compliance, after all the bitter consequents of it. Other ministers lay altogether by in their retired recesses, waiting to see what things would turn to: others were hopeless, turned farmers and doctors: others more wily, staid at home, and preached quietly in in ladies chambers. But the faithful thought that this tyrannical ejection did not nor could not unminister them, so as they might not preach the gospel wherever they were, as ambassadors of Christ; but rather found themselves under an indispensible necessity to preach the gospel and witness for the freedom of their ministry, and make full proof of it, in preaching in season and out of season: and thereupon as occasion offered preached to all such as were willing to hear; but at first only in private houses, and that for the most part at such times, when sermons in public surceased (a superplus of caution.) But afterwards, finding so great difficulties and persecutions for their house meetings, where they were so easily entrapped, were constrained at last to keep their meetings in the fields, without shelter from cold, wind, snow, or rain. Where testifying both practically and particularly against these usurpations on their Master's prerogatives, and witnessing for their ministerial freedom, contrary to all law-interdictions, without any licences or indulgences from the usurper, but holding their ministry from Jesus Christ alone, both as to the office and exercise thereof; they had so much of their Master's countenance, and success in their labours, that they valued neither hazards nor hardships, neither the contempt of pretended friends, not the laws nor threatnings of enemies, adjudging the penalty of death itself to preachers at field


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