E L O Q V E N C E F I R S T
giuen by God, and after lost
by man, and last repayred
by God againe.
An (in whom is powred the breath of life) was made at the first being an euerliuing creature, vnto the likenesse of God, endued with reason, and appointed Lorde ouer all other thinges liuing. But after the fall of our first Father, sinne so crept in that our knowledge was much darkned, and by corruption of this our flesh, mans reason and entendement were both ouerwhelmed. At what time God being sore greeued with the follie of one man, pitied of his mere goodnesse the whole state and posteritie of Mankind. And therefore (whereas through the wicked suggestion of our ghostly enemie, the ioyfull fruition of Gods glorie was altogether lost:) it pleased our heauenly Father to repaire mankind of his free mercie, and to graunt an euerliuing enheritaunce, vnto all such as would by constaunt faith seeke earnestly hereafter. Long it was ere that man knewe himselfe, being destitute of Gods grace, so that all thinges waxed sauage, the earth vntilled, societie neglected, Gods will not knowne, man against man, one against an other, and all against order. Some liued by spoyle: some like brute beastes grased vpon the ground: some went naked: some roomed like Woodoses: none did any thing by reason, but most did what they could by manhood. None almost considered the euerliuing GOD, but all liued most commonly after their owne lust. By death they thought that all thinges ended: by life they looked for none other liuing. None remembred the true obseruation of Wedlocke: none tendered the education of their children: Lawes were not regarded: true dealing was not once vsed. For vertue, vice bare place: for right and equitie, might vsed authoritie. And therefore, whereas man through reason might haue vsed order: man through folie fell into errour. And thus for lacke of skill, and for want of grace euill so preuailed, that the deuil was most esteemed, and God either almost vnknowne among them all, or els nothing feared among so many. Therefore, euen now when man was thus past all hope of amendement, God still tendering his owne workmanshippe, stirring vp his faithfull and elect, to perswade with reason all men to societie. And gaue his appointed Ministers knowledge both to see the natures of men, and also graunted them the gift of vtteraunce, that they might with ease win folke at their will, and frame them by reason to all good order. And therefore, whereas men liued brutishly in open feeldes, hauing neither house to shroude them in, nor attire to clothe their backes, nor yet any regard to seeke their best auaile: these appointed of GOD called them together by vtteraunce of speech, and perswaded with them what was good, what was bad, & what was gainful for mankind. And although at first the rude could hardly learne, and either for the straungenesse of the thing, would not gladly receiue the offer, or els for lack of knowledge, could not perceiue the goodnesse: yet being somewhat drawne, and delited with the pleasantnesse of reason, and the sweetnesse of vtteraunce: after a certaine space they became through Nurture and good aduisement, of wilde, sober: of cruell, gentle: of fooles, wise: and of beastes, men: such force hath the tongue, and such is the power of Eloquence and reason, that most men are forced euen to yeeld in that which most standeth against their will. And therefore the Poets doe feine, that Hercules beeing a man of great wisedome, had all men lincked together by the eares in a chaine, to drawe them and leade them euen as he lusted. For his witte was so great, his tongue so eloquent, and his experience such, that no one man was able to withstande his reason, but euery one was rather driuen to doe that which he would, and to will that which he did: agreeing to his aduise both in word and worke in all that euer they were able. Neither can I see that men could haue beene brought by any other meanes, to liue together in fellowship of life, to maintaine Cities, to deale truely, and willingly obeye one an other, if men at the first had not by art and eloquence, perswaded that which they full oft found out by reason. For what man I pray you, beeing better able to maintaine himself by valiaunt courage, then by liuing in base subiection, would not rather looke to rule like a Lord, then to liue like an vnderling: if by reason he were not perswaded, that it behoueth euery man to liue in his owne vocation: and not to seeke any higher roume, then wherunto he was at the first appointed? Who would digge and delue from Morne till Euening? Who would trauaile and toyle with ye sweat of his browes? Yea, who would for his Kings pleasure aduenture and hassarde his life, if witte had not so won men, that they thought nothing more needfull in this world, nor any thing whereunto they were more bounden: then here to liue in their duetie, and to traine their whole life according to their calling. Therefore, whereas men are in many thinges weake by Nature, and subiect to much infirmitie: I thinke in this one poinct they passe all other creatures liuing, that haue the gift of speech and reason. And among all other, I thinke him most worthie fame, and amongst all men to bee taken for halfe a GOD: that therein doth chiefly and aboue all other excell men, wherein men doe excell beastes. For he that is among the reasonable of al most reasonable, and among the wittie, of all most wittie, and among the eloquent, of all most eloquent: him thinke I among all men, not onely to be taken for a singuler man, but rather to be coumpted for halfe a God. For, in seeking the excellencie hereof, the soner he draweth to perfection, the nyer he commeth to God, who is the cheefe wisedome, and therfore called God, because he is most wise, or rather wisedome it self.
Now then, seing that God giueth his heauenly grace, vnto al such as call vnto him with stretched handes,and humble heart,neuer wanting to those,that want not to themselues:I purpose by his grace andespeciall assistence, to set forth such precepts of eloquence, and to shewe what obseruation the wise haue vsed, in handeling of their matters: that the vnlearned by seeing the practise of others, maie haue some knowledge themselues, and learne by their neighbours deuise, what is necessarie forthem selues in their owne case.