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of a most notorious thief and wicked outlaw, which had lived all his life-time of spoils and robberies, one of their Bards in his praise will say, that he was none of the idle milk-sops that was brought up by the fire side, but that most of his days he spent in arms and valiant enterprises, that he did never eat his meat, before he had won it with his sword, that he lay not all night slugging in a cabin under his mantle, but used commonly to keep others waking to defend their lives, and did light his candle at the flames of their houses, to lead him in the darkness; that the day was his night, and the night his day; that he loved not to be long wooing of wenches to yield to him, but, where he came he took by force the spoil of other mens love, and left but lamentation to their lovers; that his music was not the harp, nor lays of love, but the cries of people, and clashing of armour; and finally, that he died not bewailed of many, but made many wail when he died, that dearly bought his death. Do you not think, Eudoxus, that many of these praises might be applied to men of best deserts? yet are they all yielded to a most notable traitor, and amongst some of the Irish not smally accounted of For the song, when it was first made and sung to a person of high degree there, was bought, as their manner is, for forty crowns. Eudor. And well worthy sure. But tell me, I pray you, have they any art in their compositions? or be they any thing witty or well savoured, as poems should be 2 Iren. Yea truly, I have caused divers of them to be translated unto me, that I might understand them, and surely they savoured of sweet wit and good invention, but skilled not of the goodly ornaments of poetry; yet were they sprinkled with some pretty flowers of their natural device, which gave good grace and comeliness unto them, the which it is great pity to see abused, to the gracing of wickedness and vice, which with good usage would serve to adorn and beautify virtue. This evil custom therefore needeth reformation,
Born 1553_Died 1600.
Book I. All things that are, have some operation not violent or casual: neither doth any thing ever begin to exercise the same, without some fore-conceived end for which it worketh. And the end which it worketh for is not obtained, unless the work be also fit to obtain it by; for unto every end, every operation will not serve. That which doth assign unto each thing the kind, that which doth moderate the force and power, that which doth appoint the form and measure of working, the same we term a Law. So that no certain end could ever be attained, unless the actions whereby it is attained were regular; that is to say, made suitable, fit, and correspondent unto their end, by some canon, rule, or Law. Which thing doth first take place in the works even of God himself. All things therefore do work after a sort according to Law ; all other things according to a Law, whereof some superior, unto whom they are subject, is author ; only the works and operations of God have him both for their worker, and for the Law whereby they are wrought. The Being of God is a kind of Law to his working ; for that perfection which God is, giveth perfection to that he doth. Those natural, necessary, and internal operations of God, the Generation of the Son, the Proceeding of the Spirit, are without the compass of my present intent; which is to touch only such operations as have their beginning and being by a voluntary purpose, wherewith God hath eternally decreed when and how they should be; which eternal decree is that we term an eternal
Law. Dangerous it were for the feeble brain of man to wade far into the doings of the most High ; whom although to know be life, and joy to make mention of his name ; yet our soundest knowledge is, to know that we know him not as indeed he is, neither can know him : and our safest eloquence concerning him, is our silence, when we confess without confession, that his glory is inexplicable, his greatness above our capacity and reach. He is above, and we upon earth; therefore it behoveth our words to be wary and few.
I am not ignorant, that by Law eternal, the learned for the most part do understand the order, not which God hath eternally purposed himself in all his works to observe, but rather that, which with himself he hath set down as expedient to be kept by all his creatures, according to the several conditions wherewith he hath endued them. They who thus are accustomed to speak, apply the name of Law unto that only rule of working, which superior authority imposeth ; whereas we somewhat more enlarging the sense thereof, term any kind of rule or canon, whereby actions are framed, a Law. Now that Law, which, as it is laid up in the bosom of God, they call eternal, receiveth, according unto the different kind of things which are subject unto it, different and sundry kinds of names. That part of it which ordereth natural agents, we call usually Nature's Law; that which Angels do clearly behold, and without any swerving observe, is a Law celestial and heavenly; the Law of Reason, that which bindeth creatures reasonable in this world, and with which by reason they most plainly perceive themselves bound; that which bindeth them, and is not known but by special revelation from God, divine Law. Human Law, that which out of the Law, either of reason or of God, men probably gathering to be expedient, they make it a Law. All things therefore, which are as they ought to be, are conformed unto this second Law eternal; and even those things, which to this eternal Law are not conformable, are notwithstanding in some sort ordered by the first eternal Law. For what good or evil is there under the sun; what action correspondent or repugnant unto the Law which God hath imposed upon his creatures, but in, or upon it, God doth work according to the Law which himself hath eternally purposed to keep ; that is to say, the first eternal Law P So that a two-fold Law eternal being thus made, it is not hard to conceive how they both take place in all things. Wherefore to come to the Law of Nature, albeit thereby we sometimes mean that manner of working which God hath set for each created thing to keep; yet forasmuch as those things are termed most properly natural agents, which keep the Law of their kind unwittingly, as the heavens and elements of the world, which can do no otherwise than they do: and forasmuch as we give unto intellectual natures the name of voluntary agents, that so we may distinguish them from the other, expedient it will be, that we sever the Law of Nature observed by the one, from that which the other is tied unto. Touching the former, their strict keeping of one tenure, statute, and Law is spoken of by all, but hath in it more than men have as yet attained to know, or perhaps ever shall attain, seeing the travel of wading herein is given of God to the sons of men; that perceiving how much the least thing in the world hath in it, more than the wisest are able to reach unto, they may by this mean learn humility. Moses, in describing the work o creation, attributeth speech unto God: “God said, Let there be light: let there be a firmament: let the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place: let the earth bring forth : let there be lights in the firmament of heaven.” Was this only the intent of Moses, to signify the infinite greatness of God's power, by the easiness of his accomplishing such effects, without travel, pain or labour P Surely, it seemeth that Moses had herein, besides this, a further purpose, namely, first, to teach that God did not work as a necessary, but a voluntary agent, intending beforehand, and decreeing with .# that which did outwardly proceed from him. Secondly, to shew that God did then institute a Law natural to be observed by creatures; and therefore according to the manner of Laws, the institution thereof is described, as being established by solemn injunction. His commanding those things to be which are, and to be in such sort as they are, to keep that tenure and course which they do, importeth the establishment of Nature's Law. The world's first creation, and the preservation since of things created, what is it, but only so far forth a manifestation by execution, what the eternal Law of God is concerning things natural P And as it cometh to pass in a kingdom rightly ordered, that after a Law is once published, it presently takes effect far and wide, all states framing themselves thereunto ; even so let us think it fareth in the natural course of the world : since the time that God did first proclaim the edicts of his Law upon it, heaven and earth have hearkened unto his voice, and their labour hath been to do his will : “he made a Law for the rain;” he gave his “ decree unto the sea, that the waters should not pass his commandment.” Now, if Nature should intermit her course, and leave altogether, though it were but for a while, the observation of her own Laws; if those principal and mother-elements of the world, whereof all things in this lower world are made, should lose the qualities which now they have; if the frame of that heavenly arch erected over our heads should loosen and dissolve itself; if celestial spheres should forget their wonted motions, and by irregular volubility turn themselves any way as it might happen; if the prince of the lights of heaven, which now as a giant doth run his unwearied course, should, as it were, through a languishing faintness, begin to stand, and to rest himself; if the moon should wander from her beaten way, the times and seasons of the year blend themselves by disordered and confused mixture, the winds breathe out their last gasp, the clouds yield no rain, the earth be defeated of heavenly influence, the fruits of the earth pine away, as children at the breasts of their mother, no longer able to yield them relief; what would become of man himself, whom C