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Nay, quoth he, on his swooning bed outstretch'd,
ON THE NEW FORCERS OF CONSCIENCE UNDER THE LONG PARLIAMENT.
BECAUSE you have thrown off your prelate lord ,
And with stiff vows renounced his liturgy a,
From them whose sin ye envied, not abhorr’d;
To force our consciences that Christ set free,
c Because ye have thrown of your prelate lord, &c. In railing at establishments, Milton condemned not episcopacy only: he thought even the simple institutions of the new reformation too rigid and arbitrary for the natural freedom of conscience ; he contended for that sort of individual or personal religion, by which every man is to be his own priest. When these verses were written, which form an irregular sonnet, presbyterianism was triumphant: and the independents and the churchmen joined in one common complaint against a want of toleration. The church of Calvin had now its heretics. Milton's haughty temper brooked no human control : even the parliamentary hierarchy was too coercive for one who acknowledged only King Jesus. His froward and refining philosophy was contented with no species of carnal policy: conformity of all sorts was slavery. He was persuaded that the modern presbyter was as much calculated for persecution and oppression as the ancient bishop.-T. WARTON.
d And with stif' vows renounced his liturgy. The Directory was enforced under severe penalties in 1644. The legislature prohibited the use of the Book of Common Prayer, not only in places of public worship, but in private families. -T. WARTON.
e And ride us with a classic hierarchy In the presbyterian church now established by law, there were, among others, classical assemblies : the kingdom of England, instead of so many dioceses, was now divided into a certain number of provinces, made up of representatives from the several classes within their respective boundaries : every parish had a congregational or parochial presbytery for the affairs of its own circle; these parochial presbyteries were combined into classes, which chose representatives for the provincial assembly, as did the provincial for the national. Thus, the city of London being distributed into twelve classes,
Taught ye by mere A. S. f and Rotherford & ?
Must now be named and printed hereticks
But we do hope to find out all your tricks,
That so the parliament
And succour our just fears,
each class chose two ministers and four lay-elders to represent them in a provincial assembly, which received appeals from the parochial and classical presbyteries, &c. These ordinances, which ascertain the age of the piece before us, took place in 1646 and 1647. See Scobell, “Col.” P. i. p. 99, 150.-I. WARTON.
Taught ye by mere A. S. The independents were now contending for toleration. In 1643 their principal leaders published a pamphlet with this title, “An Apologeticall Narration of some Ministers formerly exiles in the Netherlands, now members of the Assembly of Divines. Humbly submitted to the honourable Houses of Parliament." This piece was answered by one A. S., the person intended by Milton.-T. WARTON.
. & Rotherford. Samuel Rutherford, or Rutherfoord, was one of the chief commissioners of the church of Scotland, who sat with the Assembly at Westminster, and who concurred in settling the grand points of presbyterian discipline. He was professor of divinity in the university of St. Andrew's, and has left a great variety of Calvinistic tracts. He was an avowed enemy to the independents, as appears from his “Disputation on pretended Liberty of Conscience, 1649.” It is hence easy to see why Rotherford was an obnoxious character to Milton.--T. WARTON.
h By shallow Edwards. It is not the “Gangrena” of Thomas Edwards that is here the object of Milton's resentment, as Dr. Newton and Mr. Thyer have supposed. Edwards had attacked Milton's favourite plan of independency, in two pamphlets full of miserable invectives, immediately and professedly levelled against the “Apologeticall Narration” above mentioned,« Antapologia, or a full Answer to the Apologeticall Narration, &c., wherein is handled many of the Controversies of these Times. By T. Edwards, minister of the gospel. Lond. 1644.” However, in the “Gangrena," not less than in these two tracts, it had been his business to blacken the opponents of presbyterian uniformity, that the parliament might check their growth by penal statutes.-T. WARTON.
i And Scotch what d'ye call. Perhaps Henderson, or George Gillespie, another Scotch minister with a harder name, and one of the ecclesiastical commissioners at Westminster.-T. WARTON.
Your plots and packing, worse than those of Trent. The famous council of Trent.-T. Warton.
k Clip your phylacteries, though bauk your ears. That is, although your ears cry out that they need clipping, yet the mild and gentle parliament will content itself with only clipping away your Jewish and persecuting principles. —WARBURTON.
The meaning of the present context is, “Check your insolence, without proceeding to cruel punishments.” To “balk,” is to spare.-T. WARTON.
THE FIFTH ODE OF HORACE, LIB. I.
What slender youth bedew'd with liquid odours,
Pyrrha ? For whom bind'st thou
In wreaths thy golden hair,
Rough with black winds, and storms
Unwonted shall admire !
Hopes thee, of flattering gales
Unmindful. Hapless they,
My dank and dropping weeds
FROM GEOFFREY OF MONMOUTH.
BRUTUS thus addresses Diana in the country of Leogecia :
For aye, with temples vow'd and virgin quires.
Brutus, far to the west, in the ocean wide,
Ah, Constantine ! of how much ill was cause,
FROM DANTE. FOUNDED in chaste and humble poverty, 'Gainst them that raised thee dost thou lift thy horn, Impudent whore? where hast thou placed thy hope ? In thy adulterers, or thy ill-got wealth ? Another Constantine comes not in haste.
FROM HORACE. - JOKING decides great things, Stronger and better oft than earnest can.
FROM SOPHOCLES. 'Tis you that say it, not I. You do the deeds, And your ungodly deeds find me the words.
---THERE can be slain No sacrifice to God more acceptable, Than an unjust and wicked king.
PSALM I. a
Done into verse, 1653.
Done August 8, 1653. Terzette. Why do the Gentiles tumult, and the nations
Muse a vain thing, the kings of the earth upstand
With power, and princes in their congregations Lay deep their plots together through each land
Against the Lord and his Messiah dear?
Let us break off, say they, by strength of hand Their bonds, and cast from us, no more to wear,
Their twisted cords : He, who in heaven doth dwell,
Shall laugh ; the Lord shall scoff them; then, severe, Speak to them in his wrath, and in his fell
And fierce ire trouble them ; but I, saith he,
Anointed have my king (though ye rebel) On Sion, my holy hill. A firm decree
I will declare : the Lord to me hath said,
Thou art my son, I have begotten thee This day : ask of me, and the grant is made;
As Thy possession I on thee bestow
The heathen ; and as thy conquest to be sway'd,
a Metrical psalmody was much cultivated in this age of fanaticism. Milton's father is a composer of some of the tunes in Ravenscroft's Psalms.-T. WARTON.
“A literal version of the Psalms may boldly be asserted impracticable; for, if it were not, a poet so great as Milton would not, even in his earliest youth, have proved himself so very little of a formidable rival, as he has done, to Thomas Sternhold.” Mason's
Essays on English Church Music,” 1795, p. 177. In the last of these translations, however, as Mr. Warton observes, are some very poetical expressions — TODD.