Proecthesis is a forme of speech by which the speaker defendeth by his answere, conteining a reason of that which he hath said or done, proving thereby that he ought not to be blamed.
An example of Job, who being acused & rebuked of his frends of impaciency and anger, or sinne and folly, replyeth thus: “O that my greefe were well weied, and my miseries layed together in the ballance” Job.6.2
: and by and by after he addeth, saying: “Doth ye wild asse bray when he hath grasse, or looweth ye Ore when he hath fodder?” Verse.5.
In this forme of speech our Saviour Christ doth many times defend
his doings aginst the accusation of his enemies: as, for healing the
man with the withered hand on ye Saboth, he saith unto them:
“Is it lawful to do good or to evil on the Sabboth? to
save a man or to destroy him: And also in matthew: which of you having
one sheepe, if it fall into a pit on the Sabboth, wil not pull it out
and raise it up?” Mar.3.4
In like manner he defendeth his Disciples being accused for pulling
the eares of corne on the Sabboth day, by alledging the example of
David eating the shew bread in his great hunger. Secondly by shewing
his authority being Lord of the Sabboth. And thirdly by citing a
sentence of Ose, which he thus applyeth: “If you knew (saith
he) what this meaneth, I will have mercy and not sacrifice, you would
not have condemned the Innocentes.” Ose.6.8.
And being also accused by his enemies for eating and drinking with
Publicans and sinners, he answereth saying: “They that are
whole neede not the Phisition, but they that are sicke: And also I am
not come to call the righteous but sinners to
The use of this figure.
This figure is a forme of confutation, and is commonly used in
the defence of lawful sayings, and actions, and also to confute
untrue surmises, and false accusations.
In the use of this figure it is the part of the Orator to looke to the lawfulnes of ye cause before he taketh it in hand to defend: for to maintaine wicked sayings or lewd deedes is a manifest iniquity. An example whereof we have in Roboam Salomons sonne, who both unwisely and unjustly defended the rigor and oppresion of his government, aming this cruel answere to his people that complained: “My Father (saith he) chastisted you with roddes, but I will chastice you with scourges.” 2.Reg.12.14.
Also to regard that his answere may containe a sufficient reason, and not to alledge will for reason, or answere as Pilate did to the Jews, finding fault with his superscription, that I have written (saith he) I have written.