Table of Contents
The Book of Wisdom(Part Two)
The 11th Chapter
She ordered their works in the hand of the holy prophet: They went through the wilderness that was not inhabited, and pitched their tents in the waste desert. They stood against their enemies, and were avenged of their adversaries. When they were thirsty, they called upon you, and water was given them out of the rock, and their thirst slackened out of the hard stone. For by the things, where through their enemies were punished, were they helped in their need. For unto the enemies you gave mans blood instead of living water. And where as they had scarceness in the rebuke when the infants were slain, you gave unto your own a plenteous water unlooked for: Declaring by the thirst that was at that time, how you would bring your own unto honor, and slay their adversaries.
For when they were tried and nurtured with fatherly mercy, they knowledged how the ungodly were judged, and punished through the wrath of God. These have you exhorted as a father, and proved them: but unto the other you have been a boisterous (uproarious) king, layed hard to their charge, and condemned them. Whether they were absent or present, their punishment was alike. For their grief was double: namely, mourning, and the remembrance of things past. But when they perceived that their punishments did them good, they thought upon the Lord, and wondered at the end. For at the last they held much of him, of whom in the out casting they thought scorn, as of an object. Nevertheless the righteous did not so when they were thirsty: but even like as the thoughts of the foolish were, so was also their wickedness, Where as certain men now (through error) did worship dome serpents and vain beasts, you send a multitude of dumb beasts upon them for vengeance: That they might know, that look wherewithal a man sins, by the same also shall he be punished. For unto your almighty hand, that made the world of naught, it was not unpossible, to send among them a multitude of Bears, or wood lions, or cruel beasts of strange kind, such as were unknown, or spout fire or cast out a smoking breath, or shooting horrible sparkles out of their eyes: which might only destroy them with hurting, but also kill them with their horrible sight. Yes without these beasts might they have been slain with one wind, being persecuted of their own works, and scattered abroad through the breath of your power.
Nevertheless you have ordered all things in measure, number and weight. For you have ever had great strength and might, and who may withstand the power of your arm? And why? like as the small thing that the balance weighs so is the world before you: yes as a drop of the morning dew, that falls down upon the earth. You have mercy upon all, for you have power of all things: and make you as though you saw not the sins of men, because they should amend. For you love all the things that are, and hate none of them whom you have made: neither did you ordain or make anything, of evil will. How might any things endure, if it were not your will? Or how could anything be preserved, except it were called of you? But you spare all, for all are yours, O' Lord, you lover of souls.
The 12th Chapter
O' Lord, how gracious and sweet is your spirit in all things? Therefore chastens you them measurably that go wrong, and warn them concerning the things wherein they offend: you speak unto them (O' Lord) and exhort them to leave their wickedness, and to put their trust in you. As for those old inhabitors of the holy land, you might not *away (Hebrew: endure it or allow it) with them, for they committed abominable works against you: as witchcrafts, sorcery and Idolatry: they slew their own children without mercy: they ate up mens bowels, and devoured the blood : yes because of such abominations, misbelieves and offerings, you show the fathers of the desolate souls by the hands of our fathers that the land which you love above all other, might be a dwelling for the children of God.
Nevertheless you spared them also (as men) and send the forerunners of your host even hornets to destroy them out by little and little. Not that you was unable to subdue the ungodly unto righteousness in battle or with cruel beasts, or with one rough word to destroy them together: But your mind was to drive them out by little and little giving them time and place to amend: knowing well, that it was an unrighteous nation and wicked of nature and that their thought might never be altered. For it was a cursed seed from the beginning, and feared no man: Yet have you pardoned their sins. For who will say unto you: why have you done that? Or who will stand against your judgement? Or who will come before your face an avenger of unrighteous men? Or who will blame you, if the people perish, whom you have made? For their is none other God but you, that cares for all things: that you may declare how that your judgement is not unright. There dare neither king, nor tyrant in your sight require accounts of them whom you have destroyed.
For so much then as you are righteous yourself, you order all things righteously and punish even him that has not deserved to be punished, and take him for a stranger and an alien in the land of your power. For your power is the beginning of righteousness: and because you are Lord of all things therefore are you gracious unto all. When men think you not to be of a full strength, you declare your power: and boldly deliver you them over that know you not. But you Lord of power judge quietly, and order us with great worship, for you may do as you will.
By such works now have you taught your people, that a man should be just and loving: and have made your children to be of a good hope: for even when you judge, you give room to amend from sins. For in so much as you have punished, and with such diligence delivered the enemies of your servants, which were worthy to die (where though you gave them time and place of amendment that they might turn from their wickedness) with how great diligence then punish you your own children, unto whose fathers you have sworn and made covenants of good promises? So where as you do but chasten us, you punish our enemies diverse ways to the intent that when we punish we should remember your goodness: and when we ourselves are punished, to put our trust in your mercy.
Wherefore where as men have lived ignorantly and unrighteously you have punished them sore even throw the same things that they worshiped. For they went astray very long in the way of error, held the beasts (which even their enemies despised) for gods living as children of no understanding. Therefore have you sent a scornful punishment among them, as among the children of ignorance. As for such as would not be reformed by those scorns and rebukes, they felt the worthy judgement of God. For the things that they suffered, they bare them unpatiently, being not content in them but unwilling. And when they perished by the same things that they took for gods, they knowledged then, that there is but one true God, whom before they would not know: therefore came the end of their damnation upon them.
The 13th Chapter
Vain are all men, which have not the knowledge of God: as were they that out of the good things which are seen, knew not him, that of himself is everlasting. Neither took they so much regard of the works that are made, as to know, who was the craftsman of them: but some took the fire, some the wind or air, some the course of the stars, some the water, some took Sun and Moon, or the lights of heaven which rule the earth, for gods. But though they had such pleasure in their beauty, that they thought them to have been gods: yet should they have known, how much more fairer he is that made them. For the maker of beauty has ordained all these things. Or if they marveled at the power and works of them, they should have percieved thereby, that he which made these things are mightier than they.
For by the greatness and beauty of the creature, the maker thereof may plainly be known. Not withstanding they are the less to be blamed, that sought God, and would have found him, and yet missed. And why? for so much as they went about his works and sought after them, it is a token, that they regarded and held much of his works that are seen. howbeit they are not wholly to be excused. For if their knowledge and understanding was so great, that they could discern the world and its creatures, why did they not rather find out the Lord thereof?
But unhappy are they, and among the dead is their hope, that call them Gods, which are but the works of mens hands: gold, silver, and the thing that is found out by conning, the similitude of beasts, or any vain stone that has been made by hand of old. Or as when a carpenter cuts down a tree out of the wood, and pares the bark of it conningly: and so with the one part makes a vessel to be used, and dights (boil) meat with the residue. As for the other part that is left, which is profitable for nothing (for it is a crooked piece of wood and full of knobs, he carves it diligently through his vanity, and according to the knowledge of his conning) he gives it some proportion, fashions it after the similitude of a man, or makes it like some beast, streak it over with red, and paints it, and look what foul spot is in it he casts some color upon it.
Then makes he a convenient tabernacle for it, sets it in the wall, and makes it fast with iron, providing so for it, least it happen to fall: for it is well known, that it can not help itself: And why? it is but an image, and must of necessity be helped.
Then goes he and offers of his goods unto it, for his children and his wife: he seeks help at it, he asks counsel at it: he is not ashamed to speak unto it that has no soul: for health, he makes his petition unto him that is sick: for life, he prays unto him that is dead: he calls upon him for help, that is not able to help himself: and to send him a good journey, he prays him that may not go. And in all the things that he takes in hand (whether it be to obtain anything or to work) he prays unto him that can do no manner of good.
The 14th Chapter
Again, another man purposing to sail, and beginning to take his journey through the raging sea, calls for help unto a stock that is far weaker, than the tree that bears him. For as for it, covetousness of money has found it out, and the craftsman made it with his conning. But your providence, O' Father, governs all things from the beginning: for you have made a way in the sea, and a sure path in the midst of the waves: declaring thereby, that you have power to help in all things, you though a man went to sea without a ship. Nevertheless, the works of your wisdom should not be vain, you have caused an ark to be made: and therefore do men commit their lives to a small piece of wood, passing over the sea in a ship, and are saved.
For in the old time also, when the proud giants perished, he (in whom the hope was left to increase the world) went into the ship, which was governed through your hand, and so left seed behind him unto the world. For happy is the tree where through righteousness comes: but cursed is the image of wood, that is made with hands, yes both it and he that made it. He, because he made it: and it because it was called God, where as it is but a frail thing. For the ungodly and his ungodliness are both like abominable unto God. Even so the work and he that made it also shall be punished together. Therefore shall there a plague come upon the images of the Heathen: for out of the creature of God they are become an abomination, a temptation unto the souls of men, and a snare for the feet of the unwise. And why the seeking out of images is the beginning of whoredom, and the bringing up of them is the destruction of life. For they were not from the beginning, neither shall they continue forever. The wealthy idleness of men has found them out upon the earth, therefore shall they come shortly to an end.
For a father mourned for his son that was taken away from him, he made an image (in all the have) of his dead son: and so began to worship him as God, which was but a dead man, and ordained (ordered) his servants to offer unto him. Thus by process of time and through long custom, this error was kept as a law, and tyrants compelled men by violence to honor images. As for those that were so far off, that men might not worship them presently, their picture was brought from far, like the image of a King whom they would honor, to the intent that with great diligence they might worship him which was far off, as though he had been present. Again, the singular conning of the craftsman gave the ignorant also a great occasion to worship images. For the workman willing to do him a pleasure that set him a work, labored with all his conning to make the image of the best fashion. And so (through the beauty of the work) the common people was deceived, in so much that they took him now for a God, which alittle before was honored as a man. And this was the error of mans life, when men (either for to serve their own affection, or to do some pleasure unto Kings) ascribed unto stones and stocks the name of God, which ought to be given unto no man.
Moreover, this was not enough for them that they erred in the knowledge of God: but where as they lived in the great wars of ignorance, those many and great plagues called they peace. For either they slew their own children, and offered them, or did sacrifice in the night season, or else held unreasonable watches: so that they kept neither life nor marriage clean: but either one slew another to death maliciously or else grieved his neighbor with *advoutry. And thus were all things mixed together: blood manslaughter, theft, dissimulation, corruption, unfaithfulness, sedition, perjury, disquietness of good men, unthankfulness, defiling of souls, changing of birth, unsteadfastness of marriage, misorder of *advoutry and uncleanness. And why? the honoring of abominable images is the cause, the beginning and end of all evil. For they worship Idols, either they are mad when they be merry, or prophesy lies, or live ungodly, or else lightly foreswear themselves. For in so much as their trust is in the Idols (which have neither souls nor understanding) though they swear falsely, yet they think it shall not hurt them.*advoutry: prefix "a" meaning not or without, devout: devotion; plain hearted to God, being devoted to something or some one else. see James 2 for adultery
Therefore comes a great plague upon them, and that worthily: for they have an evil opinion of God, giving heed unto Idols, swearing unjustly to deceive, and despising righteousness. For their swearing is no virtue, but a plague of them that sin, and goes ever with the offense of the ungodly.
The 15th Chapter
But you (O' our God) are sweet, long suffering and true, and in mercy order you all things. though we sin, yet we are yours, for we know your strength. If we sin not, then are we sure, that you regard us. For to know you, is perfect righteousness: Yes to know your righteousness and power, is the root of immortality. As for the thing that men have found out through their evil science, it has not deceived us: as the painting of a picture (an unprofitable labor) an carved image, with diverse colors, whose sight entices the ignorant: so that he honors and loves the picture of the dead image that has no soul.
Nevertheless, they that love such evil things, are worthy of death: they that trust in them, they that make them, they that love them, and they that honor them. The potter also takes and tempers soft earth, labors it, and gives it the fashion of a vessel, whatsoever serves for our use: and so of one piece of clay he makes some clean vessel for service, and some contrary. But where to every vessel serves, that knows not the potter himself. So with his vain labor he makes a God of the same clay: this does even he, which a little before was made of earth himself, and within a little while after (when he dies) turns to earth again.
Notwithstanding, he cares not the more because he shall labor, nor because his life is short: but strives to excel goldsmiths, the silversmiths and coppersmiths, and takes it for an honor to make vain things. For his heart is ashes, his hope is but vain earth, and his life is more vile than clay: for so much as he knows not his own maker, that gave him his soul to work, and breath in him the breath of life. They count our life but a pastime and our conversation to be but a market, and that men should ever be getting, and that by evil means. Now he that of earth makes frail vessels and images, knows himself to offend above all other.
All the enemies of your people and that hold them in subjection, are unwise, unhappy, and exceedingly proud unto their own souls: for they judge all the Idols of the Heathen to be gods, which neither have eye sight to see, nor noses to smell, nor ears to hear, nor fingers of hands for to grope: and as for their feet, they are too slow to go. For man made them, and he that has but a borrowed spirit, fashioned them. But no man can make a God like unto him: for seeing he is but mortal himself, it is but mortal that he makes with ungodly hands. He himself is better then they whom he worships, for he lived though he was mortal, but so did never they. Yes they worship beasts also, which are most miserable: for compare things that cannot feel unto them, and they are worse then those. Yet is there not one of these beasts, that with his sight can behold any good thing, neither have they given praise nor thanks unto God.
The 16th Chapter
For these and such other things have they suffered worthy punishment, and through the multitude of beasts are they rooted out. Instead of the which punishments you have graciously ordered on your own people, and given them their desire that they longed for: a new and strange taste, preparing them quails to be their meat: to the intent that (by the things which were showed and sent unto them) they that were so greedy of meat, might be withdrawn even from the desire that was necessary. But these within a short time were brought unto poverty, and tasted a new meat. For it was requisite (required, essential) that (without any excuse) destruction should come upon those which used tyranny, and to show only unto the other, how their enemies were destroyed. For the cruel woodiness of the beasts came upon them, they perished through the stings of the cruel serpents.
Not with standing your wrath endured not perpetually, but they were put in fear for a little season, that they might be reformed, having a token of salvation, to remember the commandment of your law. For he that converted, was not healed by the thing that he saw, but by you, O' Savior of all. So in this you show your enemies, that it is you, which delivers from all evil. As for then when they were bitten with grasshoppers and flys, they died, for they were worthy to perish by such: But neither the teeth of the dragons nor the venomous worms over came your children, for your mercy was ever by them and helped them. Therefore were they punished to remember your words, but hastily were they healed again: least they should fall into so deep forgetfulness, that they might not use your help.
It was neither herb nor plaster that restored them to health, but your word (O' Lord) which heals all things. It is you (O' Lord) that have the power of life and death: you lead unto deaths door, and bring up again. But man through wickedness slays his own soul, and when his spirit goes forth, it turns not again, neither may he call again the soul that is taken away: It is not possible to escape your hand. For the ungodly that wouldnt know you, were punished by the strength of your arm: with strange waters, hails and rains were they persecute, and through fire were they consumed. For it was a wondrous thing that fire might do more then water which quenches all things: but the world is the avenger of the righteous. Some time was the fire so tame, that the beasts which were sent to punish the ungodly, burnt not: and that because they should see and know, that they were persecuted with the punishment of God. And some time burnt the fire in the water on every side, that it might destroy the unrighteous nation of the earth. Again, you have fed your own people with Angels food, and sent them bread ready from heaven (without their labor) being very pleasant and well gusted (strong wind, out burst of emotion). And to show your riches and sweetness unto your children, you gave every one their desire, so that every man might take what liked him best. But the snow and ice abode the violence of your fire, and melted not: that they might know, that the fire burning in the hail and rain, destroyed the fruit of the enemies: the fire also forgot his strength again, that the righteous might be nourished. For the creature that serves you (which are the maker) is fierce in punishing the unrighteous, but is easy and gentle to do good, unto such as put their trust in you. Therefore did all things alter at the same time, and were all obedient unto your grace, which is the nurse of all things, according to the desire of them that had need thereof: that your children, O' Lord, whom you love, might know, that it is not nature and the growing of fruits that feeds men, but that it is your word, which preserves them that put their trust in you. For look what might not be destroyed with the fire, as soon as it was warmed with alittle Sun beam, it melted: that all men might know, that thanks ought to be given unto you before the Sun rise, and that you ought to be worshiped before the day spring. For the hope of the unthankful shall melt away as the winter ice, and perish as water, that is not necessary.
The 17th Chapter
Great are your judgments (O' Lord) and your counsels cannot be expressed therefore do men error, that will not be reformed with your wisdom. For when the unrighteous thought to have your holy people in subjection, they were bound with bands of darkness and long night, shut under the roof, thinking to escape the everlasting wisdom. And while they thought to be hid in the darkness of their sins, they were scattered abroad in the very midst of the dark covering of forgetfulness, put to horrible fear and wondrously vexed for the corner where they might not keep them from fear: because the sound came down and vexed them: yes many terrible and strange visions made them afraid.
No power of the fire might give them light, neither might the clear flames of the stars lighten the horrible night. For there appeared unto them a sudden fire, very dreadful: At the which (when they saw nothing) they were so afraid, that they thought the thing which they saw, to be more fearful. As for sorcery and enchantment that they used, it came to derision (contemptuous ridicule), and the proud wisdom was brought to shame. For they that promised to drive away the fearfulness and dread from the weak souls, were sick for fear themselves, and that with scorn. And though none of the wonders feared them, yet were they afraid at the beasts which came upon them, and at the Hissing of the serpents. In so much that with trembling they swooned, and said they saw not the air, which no man yet may escape.
For it is a heavy thing, when a mans own conscience bears record of his wickedness and condemns him. And why? a vexed and wounded conscience, takes ever cruel things in hand, fearfulness is nothing else, but declaring that a man seeks help and defense, to answer for himself. And look how much less hope is within, the more the uncertainty of the matter for the which he is punished. But they that came in the mighty night: slept the sleep that fell upon them from under and from above: sometime were they afraid through the fear of the wonders, and sometime they were so weak that they swooned withal: for an hasty and sudden fearfulness came upon them. Afterward, if any of them had fallen, he was kept and shut in prison but with out chains. But if any dwelt in a village, if he had been an herd (hired) or husbandman he suffered intolerable necessity: for they were all bound with one chain of darkness.
Whether it were a blasting wind, or a sweet song of the birds among the thick branches of the trees, or the vehemence of hasty running water, or the great noise of the falling down of stones, or the playing and running of beasts whom they saw not, or the mighty noise of roaring beasts, or the sound that answers again in the high mountains: it made them swoon for very fear. For all the earth shined with clear light, and no man was hindered in his labor. Only upon them fell a heavy night, an image of darkness that was to come upon them. Yes they were unto themselves the most heavy and horrible darkness.
The 18th Chapter
Nevertheless your saints had a very great light (and their enemies heard their voice, but they saw not the figure of them) And because they suffered not the same things, they magnified you: and they that were vexed before (because they were not hurt now) thanked you, and besought you (O' God) that there might be a difference. Therefore had they a burning pilar of fire to lead them in the unknown ways and you gave them the Sun for a free gift without any hurt. Reason was, that they should want light and be put in prison of darkness, which kept your children in captivity, by whom the uncorrupt light of the law of the world was for to be given. When they thought to slay the babes of the righteous (one being layed out, and preserved to be led unto the other) you brought out the whole multitude of the children, and destroyed these in the mighty water. Of that night were our fathers certified before, that they knowing unto what oaths they had given credence, might be of good cheer. Thus your people received the health of the righteous, but the ungodly were destroyed. For like as you have hurt our enemies, so have you promised us whom you call before. For the righteous children of the good men offered secretly and ordered the law of righteousness unto unite: that the just should receive good and evil in like manner, singing praises unto the father of all men. Again there was heard an unconvenient voice of the enemies, and a piteous cry for children that were bewailed. The master and the servant were punished in like manner. For they all together had innumerable that died one death. Neither were the living sufficient to bury the dead, for in the twinkling of an eye, the noblest nation of them was destroyed. As often as God helped them before, yet would it not make them believe: but in the destruction of the first born they knowledged, that it was the people of God. For while all things were still, and when the night was in the midst of her course, your Allmighty word (O' Lord) leaped down from heaven out of your royal throne, as a rough man of war, in the midst of the land that was destroyed: and the sharp sword performed their straight commandment, standing and filling all things with death: yes it stood upon the earth and reached unto heaven. Then the sight of the evil dreams vexed them suddenly, and fearfulness came upon them unawares.
Then lay there one here, another there, half dead and half quick, and showed the cause of his death. For the visions that vexed them, showed them these things before: so they were not ignorant, wherefore they perished.
The tentacion (temptation/attention) of death touched the righteous also, and among the multitude in the wilderness there was insurrection, but your wrath endured not long. For the faultless man went in all the haste, and took the battle upon him, brought forth the weapon of his ministration: even prayer and censors of reconciling: set himself against the wrath, and so brought the misery to an end: declaring thereby, that he was your servant. For he overcame not the multitude with bodily power, nor with weapons of might: but with the word he subdued him that vexed him, putting you in remembrance of the oath and covenant made unto the fathers. For when the dead were fallen down by heaps one upon another, he stood in the midst, pacified the wrath, and parted the way unto the living. And why? in his long garment was all the beauty, and in the four rows of the stones was the glory of the fathers graven, and your majesty was written in the crown of his head. Unto these the destroyer gave place, and was afraid of them: for it was only a *tentacion (temptation/attention) worthy of wrath.
The 19th Chapter
As for the ungodly, the wrath came upon them without mercy unto the end. For he knew before what should happen unto them: how that (when they had consented to let them go, and had sent them out with great diligence) they would not repent, and follow upon them. For when they were yet mourning and making lamentation by the graves of the dead, they devised another foolishness: so that they persecuted them in their fleeing, whom they had cast out before with prayer. Worthy necessity also brought them unto this end, for they had clean forgotten the things that happened unto them before. But the thing that was wanting of their punishment, was requisite so to be fulfilled upon them with torments: that your people might have a marvelous passage through, and that these might find a strange death.
Then was every creature fashioned again of new according to the will of their maker, obeying your commandments that your children might be kept without hurt, for the cloud overshadowed their tents, and the day earth appeared, where before was water: so that in the reed sea there was a way without impediment, and the great deep became a green field: where through all the people went that were defended with your hand, seeing your wondrous and marvelous works. For as the horses, so were they fed, and leapt like lambs, praising you (O' Lord) which had delivered them. And why? they were yet mindful of the things, that happened while they dwelt in the land: how the ground brought forth flies instead of cattle, and how the river crawled with a multitude of frogs instead of fishes.
But at the last they saw a new generation of birds, what time as they were deceived with lust, and desire for delicate meats. For when they were speaking of their appetite, the quails came up unto them from the sea, and punishments came upon the sinners not without tokens which came to pass before by the vehemence of the streams: for they suffered worthily according to their wickedness, they dealt so abominably and churlishly (rude, boorish, miserly) with strangers. Some received no unknown guests, some brought the strangers into bondage that did them good. Beside all these things there were some, that not only received no strangers with their wills, but persecuted those also, and did them much evil, that received them gladly. Therefore were they punished with blindness, like as they that were covered with sudden darkness at the doors of the righteous so that every one sought the entrance of his door. Thus the elements turned into themselves, like as when one time is changed upon an instrument of music, and yet all the residue kept their melody: which may easily be perceived, by the sight of the things that are come to pass. The dry land was turned into watery, and the thing that before swam in the water, went now upon the dry ground. The fire has power in the water (contrary to his own virtue) and the water forgot his own kind to quench. Again, the flames of the noisome beasts hurt not the flesh of them that went with them, neither melted they the ice, which else melted lightly. In all things have you promoted the people (O' Lord) and brought them to honor: you have not despised them, but alway and in all places have you stand by them.
The end of the book of Wisdom
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