Cataplexis in latine Comminatio, is a forme of speech, by which the Orator denounceth a threatening agasinst some person, people, citie, common wealth or country, conteining and declaring the certaintie or likelihood of plagues, or punishments to fall uppon them for their wickednesse, impietie, insolencie, and generall iniquitie.
Examples hereof are most plentifull in the holie Prophets agaynst Nations and Citties, but most chieflie agaynst Jerusalem, agaynste Baball, againste Damascus, Aegypt, the Philistines and Moabites, with many other moe.
Another example is to be seen, Mat. 23.37.38. And another in Jonas. 3. Yet fortie daies, and Ninivy shall be destroyed.
The use of this figure.
This figure pertaineth properly to deterre and drive men from sinne and wickednesse, and to force them to repentance, the effect whereof is seene in the example fo the Ninivites, Jonas 220.127.116.11.
There is in this forme of speech required discretion and wisedome, to denounce comminations, whether private or publike, lest by the folly and unaptnesse of thier forme, they loose their effect and vertue, which follow may diverse waies be committed,
first by inequalitie, as when the Orator threateneth greater punishments then the offences do deserve by equitie, as to threaten destruction and desolation, when it deserveth not so great a correction.
The prophet Esay threateneth by an apt proportion and relation, as stinke against perfumes, baldnesse agaisnt dressing of the haire, sackecloth against stomachers, & c.
The like maner and forme of relation Christ useth were he threatenth, saying: “Wo be to you that are full, for ye shall hunger: Wo be to you that now laugh, for ye shall waile and weepe.” Luc.6.25.
Also by inequalitie, as when the Orator useth lesse threatnings then their desertes require, as to threaten whipping to offences which deserve hanging: this looseth his effect by faintnesse.
Secondly, folly of commination may be committed by threatening and denouncing incredible punishments, as to threaten destruction by a diluge or a conquest, and desolation by the Antipodes or by a people either unknowne or far distant.