On the new forcers of Conscience under the Long PARLAMENT by John Milton, 1645

          On the new forcers of Conscience under the Long PARLAMENT
                               John Milton 1645
               Annotations by James Renihan, Ph.D., March 2008
 (Orthography as in original--see The Poetical Works of John Milton, 2:157)

Because you have thrown of your Prelate Lord,[1]
        And with stiff Vowes[2] renounc'd his Liturgie
        To seise the widdow'd whore Pluralitie[3]
        From them whose sin ye envi'd, not abhor'd,
      Dare ye for this adjure the Civill Sword              5
        To force our Consciences that Christ set free,
        And ride us with a classic Hierarchy[4]
        Taught ye by meer A. S.[5] and Rotherford?[6]
      Men whose Life, Learning, Faith and pure intent
        Would have been held in high esteem with Paul       10
        Must now be nam'd and printed Hereticks
      By shallow Edwards[7] and Scotch what d'ye call:[8]
        But we do hope to find out all your tricks,
        Your plots and packing wors then those of Trent,[9]
                                That so the Parlament       15
        May with their wholsom and preventive Shears
        Clip your Phylacteries, though bauk your Ears,[10]
                                And succour our just Fears
        When they shall read this clearly in your charge
        New Presbyter is but Old Priest writ Large.         20

[1]Archbishop of Canterbury, William Laud

[2]The Solemn League and Covenant of 1643, adopted by the English Parliament in order to ensure Scottish support in its war with King Charles I.

[3]The practice of ministers taking multiple pastorates and benefiting from the accumulated incomes from them.

[4]The imposition of Presbyterian/Erastian polity in place of Episcopalian/Erastian polity.

[5]Adam Steuart (or Stewart), Scottish professor who taught at Leyden.

[6]Samuel Rutherford.

[7]Thomas Edwards, controversial author of the three headed tome Gangraena.

[8]Perhaps a reference to Robert Baylie, Scottish Commissioner to the Westminster Assembly and self-appointed heresy hunter.

[9]The well-known Romanist Counter-reformation synod.

[10]A reference to the punishment Charles I meted out through William Laud to the Parliamentary leaders William Prynne, John Bastwick and Henry Burton. In 1633, Prynne was sentenced to have a portion of his ears cut off; in 1637 the job was completed when he received a second judgment, along with Bastwick and Burton. Prynne was also branded with the letters “S L” (seditious libeler), but he proudly referred to the wounds as the ‘stigmata Laudis.’