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43. If you wish me to keep silence, cease from accusing me. Lay down your sword, and I will throw away my shield. To one thing only I cannot consent; that is, to spare the heretics, and not to vindicate my orthodoxy. If that is the cause of discord between us, I can submit to death, but not to silence. It would have been right to go through the whole of the Scriptures for answers to your ravings, and, like David playing on his harp, to take the divine words to calm your raging breast. But I will content myself with a few statements from a single book; I will oppose Wisdom to folly; for I hope if you despise the words of men you will not think lightly of the word of God. Listen, then, to that which Solomon the wise says about you and all who are addicted to evil speaking and contumely:

“Foolish men, while they desire injuries, become impious and hate wisdom. 3212 Devise not evil against thy friend. Be not angry with a man without a cause. The impious exalt contumely.  3213 Remove from thee the evil mouth, keep far from thee the wicked lips, the eyes of him that speaketh evil, the tongue of the unjust, the hands which shed the blood of the just, 3214 the heart that deviseth evil thoughts, and the feet which hasten to do evil. He that resteth upon falsehood feedeth the winds, and followeth the flying birds. For he hath left the ways of his own vineyard, and hath made the wheels of his tillage to err. He walketh through the dry and desert places, and with his hands he gathereth barrenness. 3215 The mouth of the froward is near to destruction, and  3216 he who uttereth evil words is the chief of fools. Every simple man is a soul that is blessed; but a violent man is dishonourable.  3217 By the fault of his lips the sinner falleth into a snare.  3218 All the ways of a fool are right in his own eyes.  3219 The fool showeth his anger on that very day.  3220 Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord.  3221 He that keepeth his lips guardeth his own soul; but he that is rash with his lips shall be a terror to himself.  3222 The evil man in his violence doeth evil things, and the fool spreadeth out his folly.  3223 Seek for wisdom among the evil and thou shalt not find it.  3224 The rash man shall eat of the fruit of his own ways.  3225 The wise man by taking heed avoideth the evil; but the fool is confident, and joins himself to it.  3226 A long-suffering man is strong in his wisdom; the man of little mind is very unwise.  3227 He who oppresseth the poor reproacheth his Maker.  3228 The tongue of the wise knoweth good things, but the mouth of fools speaketh evil.  3229 A quarrelsome man preferreth strife, and every one that lifteth up his heart is unclean before God.  3230 Though hand join with hand unjustly, they shall not be unpunished.  3231 He that loveth life must be sparing to his mouth.  3232 Insolence goeth before bruising, and evil thoughts before a fall.  3233 He who closeth his eyes speaketh perverse things, and provoketh all evil with his lips.  3234 The lips of a fool lead him into evil, and the foolhardy speech calleth down death. The man of evil counsel shall suffer much loss.  3235 Better is a poor man who is just than a rich man that speaketh lies.  3236 It is a glory to a man to turn away from evil words; but he that is foolish bindeth himself therewith.  3237 Love p. 541 not detraction, lest thou be rooted out.  3238 The bread of lying is sweet to a man, but afterwards his mouth shall be filled with gravel.  3239 He that gaineth treasures with a lying tongue followeth vanity, and shall come into the snares of death.  3240 Say thou nought in the ear of a fool, lest haply the wise mock at thy words.  3241 The bludgeon and the sword and the arrow are hurtful things;  3242 so is the man who beareth false witness against his friend.  3243 As the birds and the sparrows fly away, so the curse shall be vain and shall not overtake him.  3244 Answer not an unwise man according to his lack of wisdom, lest thou become like unto him; but answer a fool according to his folly, lest he appear to himself to be wise.  3245 He who layeth wait for his friends when he is discovered saith, I did it in sport.  3246 A faggot for the coals, and wood for the fire, and a man of evil words for the tumult of strife.  3247 If thine enemy ask thee aught, sparingly but with a loud voice,  3248 consent thou not to him, for there are seven degrees of wickedness in his heart.  3249 The stone is heavy, and the sand hard to be borne; but the anger of a fool is heavier than either; indignation is cruel, anger is sharp, and envy is impatient.  3250 The impious man speaketh against the poor; and he that trusteth in the audacity of his heart is most foolish.  3251 The unwise man putteth forth all his anger, but the wise dealeth it out in parts.  3252 An evil son—his teeth are swords, and his grinders are as harrows, to consume the weak from off the earth, and the poor from among men.”

Such are the lessons in which I have been trained and therefore I was unwilling to return bite for bite, and to attack you by way of retaliation; and I thought it better to exorcise the madness of one who was raving, and to pour in the antidote of a single book into his poisoned breast. But I fear I shall have no success, and that I shall be compelled to sing the song of David, and to take his words for my only consolation: 3253

“The wicked are estranged from the womb, they go astray even from the belly. They have spoken lies. Their madness is like the madness of the serpent; like the deaf adder which stoppeth her ears, which will not hear the voice of the charmers, and of the magician wisely enchanting. God shall break their teeth in their mouth; the Lord shall break the great teeth of the lions. They shall come to nothing, like water that runneth away. He bendeth his bow until they be brought low. Like wax that melteth, they shall be carried away; the fire hath fallen upon them and they have not seen the sun.”

And again: 3254

“The righteous shall rejoice when he seeth the vengeance upon the impious; he shall wash his hands in the blood of the sinner. And man shall say, Verily, there is a reward for the righteous; verily, there is a God that judgeth those that are on the earth.”



Prov. 3:29, 30. These quotations are from the LXX. version.


Proverbs 4.24


Proverbs 6.18


Proverbs 10.14


Proverbs 10.18


Proverbs 12.13


Proverbs 12.15


Proverbs 12.16


Proverbs 12.22


Proverbs 13.3


Proverbs 13.16


Proverbs 14.6


Proverbs 14.14


Proverbs 14.16


Proverbs 14.19


Proverbs 14.31


Proverbs 15.12


Proverbs 15.18


Proverbs 6.5


Proverbs 6.17


Proverbs 6.18


Proverbs 6.30


Prov. 18:6, 7


Proverbs 19.1


Proverbs 20.3


Proverbs 20.13


Prov. xx. 17


Proverbs 21.6


Proverbs 23.9


Proverbs 25.18


Proverbs 25.18


Proverbs 26.2


Prov. 26:4, 5


Proverbs 26.19


Proverbs 27.21


Proverbs 27.14


Prov. 26:24, 25


Prov. 27:3, 4


Prov. 28:25, 26


Proverbs 29.11


Proverbs 30.14


Ps. lviii. 3-8


Ps. 58:10, 11

Next: The way of peace is through the wisdom taught in the Book of Proverbs, and through unity in the faith.