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A Hind Let Loose by Alexander Shields

Liberty for the exercise of their ministry


liberty for the exercise of their ministry, under the protection of lawful authority; and so they purposed to behave themselves in the discharge of their ministry, with that wisdom that became faithful ministers, and to demean themselves towards lawful authority, notwithstanding of their known judgment in church affairs, as well becometh loyal subjects; and their prayer to God should be, that the Lord should bless his majesty in his person and government, and the council in the public administration, and especially in the pursuance of his majesty's mind in his letter, wherein his singular moderation eminently appears.'--Afterwards they issued out proclamations, reinforcing the punctual observation of the forementioned injunctions, and delivered them into the indulged. In the mean time, though cruel acts and edicts were made against the meetings of the Lord's people, in houses and the fields, after all these Midianitish wiles to suppress them, such was the presence of the Lord in these meetings, and so powerful was his countenance and concurrence with the labours of a few, who laid up themselves to hold up the standard of Christ; that the number of converts multiplied daily, to the praise of free grace, and to the great encouragement of the few hands that wrestled in that work, through all human discouragement. Therefore, the king and council was put to a new shift, which they supposed would prove more effectual: To wit, because there was a great number of nonconformed ministers not yet indulged, who either did or might hereafter hold conventicles, therefore to remeed or prevent this in time coming, they appoint and ordain them to such places where indulged ministers were settled, there to be confined with allowance to preach as the indulged should employ them; thinking by this means to incapacitate many to hold meetings there or elsewhere: And to these also they give injunctions and restrictions to regulate them in the exercise of their ministry. And to the end that all the outed ministers might be brought under restraint, and the word of God be kept under bonds, by another act of council they command, that all other ministers (not disposed of as is said) were either to repair to the parish churches where they were, or to some other parishes where they may be ordinary hearers, and to declare and condescend upon the parishes where they intend to have their residence. After this they assumed a power, to dispose of these their curates as they pleased, and transport them from place to place; whereof the only ground was a simple act of council, the instructions always going along with them, as the constant companion of the indulgence. By all which it is apparent; whatever these ministers alledge, in vindication of it to cover its deformity, in their balms to take away its stink, and in their surveys to gather plaisters to scurf over its scurviness, viz. that it was but the removal of the civil restraint, and that they entered into their places by the call of the people (a mere mock pretence for a prelimited imposition, whereby that ordinance of Christ was basely prostituted and abused) and that their


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