Philophronesis in latin Benevolentia and Exceptio benigna, is a forme of speech by which the speaker perceiving the might of his adversary to be too reat and too strong against him, useth gentle speech, faire promises, and humble submission, to mitigate the rygor and crueltie of his adversary: we have a notable example hereof in Jacob: who fearing the malice and might of his brother Esau, used this meanes to appease his reage and crueltie. He commeth before his family, as soone as he saw Esau, he shewed a signe of dutiful submission he bowed himselfe seven times most humbly before he came neare to him, calling him his Lord, and himselfe his servant, his family al children came likewise in seemly and suppliant order, and humbled themselves at his presence, yeelding obeisance and reverence unto him, by meanes whereof the firery and flaming wrath of Esau was turned into teares of compassion.
The lyke example of submission there is in the third Chapter of Judith, where the Embassadores of the Israelites, do deliver their humble submission of Olophernes, in these words saying: Behold we are the servants of Navucodonozor the great King, we lye downe before thee, use us as shall be good in thy sight, behold our house and all our places, and all our fieldes of wheate, and our flockes, and our heards, and all our lodges and tabernacles lye before thy face: use them as it pleaseth thee. Behold, even our Citties and the inhabitants thereof are thy servants: come and take them as it seemeth good to thee. So the men came to Olophernes and declared them unto him after the same maner.
The use of this figure.
The use of this figure is of a singular vertue, both in respect
To appease wrath, & mitigate tyrannie.
of civill pollicie it often appeaseth the malice of enemies, mollifieth the cruell hearts of tyrants, saveth the life of innocents, and preventeth the destruction of Cities and countries, which the histories of tunes do sufficiently confirme. In respect of spirituall wisedome this forme of humble submission of man to his high judge, & imperiall prince moveth compassion, turneth away his heavy displeasure, and obtaineth grace and mercy. If Achab being a wicked man found favour in Gods sight to escape present punishment due to his iniquitie, onely b humbling himselfe before him, how much more shal good men in the true and contrite humilitie of repentance prevaile with the same God, who never desireth the death of a sinner, but rather that he may convert and live?
The counterfait submission of hypocrites is opposed to the true
use of this figure which is wel observed by Jesus Sirach, who described it thus: “There is some (saith he) that being about wicked purposes do bow downe themselves, and are sad, whose inward part burne altogither with deceyt.” Eccle.19.25.
And also he sheweth
2. Counterfaith submission may practice mischief.
that such a one under clour of humble submission, will execute his malice upon thee before thou shalt be able to prevent him.