Table of Contents
The Book of Wisdom
The 1st Chapter
O' set your affection upon wisdom, you that be judges of the earth. Have a good opinion of the Lord, and seek him in the singleness of heart. For he will be found of them that tempt him not, and appears unto such as put their trust in him. As for *froward (stubborn, contrary, obstinate, disobedient) thoughts, they separate from God, but virtue (if it be allowed) reforms the unwise. And why? Wisdom shall not enter in a froward soul, nor dwell in the body that is subdued unto sin. For the holy spirit abhors fained nurture, and with draws himself from the thoughts that are without understanding: and where wickedness has the upper hand, he flys from that place. For the spirit of wisdom is loving, gentle and gracious, and well have no pleasure in him that speaks evil with his lips. For God is witness of his reins, and a true searcher out of his heart, and a hearer of his tongue. For the spirit of the Lord fills the round compass of the world, and the same that upholds all things, has knowledge also of the voice.
Therefore he that speaks unrighteous things, cannot be hid, neither may he escape the judgement of reproof . And why? Inquisition shall be made for the thoughts of the ungodly, and the report of his words shall come unto God, so that his wickedness shall be punished. For the ear of jealousy hears all things, and the noise of grudgings, shall not be hid. Therefore beware of murmurings which is nothing worth, and refrain your tongue from sclander (scandal and slander). For there is no word so secret, that it shall go for nought: and the mouth that speaks lies, slays the soul.
O' seek not your own death in the error of your life, destroy not yourselves through the works of your own hands. For God has not made death, neither has he pleasure in the destruction of the living. For he created all things, that they might have their being: yes all the people of the earth has he made that they should have health, that there is no destruction in them, and that the kingdom of hell should not be upon the earth (for righteousness is everlasting and immortal, but unrighteousness brings death) Nevertheless, the ungodly call her unto them both with words and works, and while they think to have a friend of her, they come to naught: for the ungodly that are confederate with her and take her part are worthy of death.
The 2nd Chapter
For the ungodly talk and imagine thus among themselves (but not right:) The time of our life is but short and tedious, and when a man is once gone, he has no more joy nor pleasure, neither know we any man that turns again from death: for we are born of naught and we shall be here after as though we had never been. For our breath is as a smoke in our nostrils, and the words as a spark to move our heart. As for our body, it shall be very ashes that are quenched, and our soul shall vanish as the soft air. Our life shall pass away as the trace of a cloud, and come to nought as the mist that is driven away with the beams of the *Son, and put down with the heat thereof. Our name shall be forgotten by little and little, and no man shall have our works in remembrance. *Son: exactly as found in the text, and they did spell son and sun different.
For our time is a very shadow that passes away, and after our end there is no returning, for it is fast sealed, so that no man comes again. Come on therefore, let us enjoy the pleasures that there are, and let us soon use the creature like as in youth. We will fill ourselves with good wine and ointment, and there shall no flower of the time go by us. We will crown ourselves with rose before they be withered. There shall be no fair meadow, but our lust shall go through it. Let everyone of you be partaker of our *voluptuousness. (sensory wantonness) Let us leave some token of our pleasure in every place, for this is our portion, else we get nothing. Let us oppress the poor righteous, let us not spare the widow, nor old man, let us not regard the heads that are gray for age. Let the law of unrighteousness be our authority, for the thing that is feeble is nothing worth. Therefore let us *defraud (cheat) the righteous; And why? He is not for our profit, yes he is clean contrary to our doings. He checks us for offending against the law, and sclander us as transgressors of all nurture. He makes his boast to have the knowledge of God, yes he calls himself Gods son. He is the betrayer of our thoughts: It grieves us also to look upon him, for his life is not like other mens, his ways are of another fashion. He counts us as but vain persons, he withdraws himself from our ways as from filthiness: he commends greatly the latter end of the just, and makes his boast that God is his father. Let us see if his words be true, let us prove what shall come upon him: so we will know what end he shall have. For if he be the true son of God, he will receive him and deliver him from the hands of his enemies. Let us examine him with despiteful rebuke and tormenting, that we may know his dignity and prove his patience. Let us condemn him with the most shameful death: for like as he has spoken, so shall he be rewarded.
Such things do the ungodly imagine, and go astray, for their own wickedness has blinded them. As for the mysteries of God, they understand them not: they neither hope for the reward of righteousness, nor regard the worship that holy souls shall have. For God created man to be undestroyed, yes after the image of his own likeness made he him. Nevertheless through envy of the devil came death into the world, and they that do hold his side, do as he does.
The 3rd Chapter
But the souls of the righteous are in the hand of God, and the pain of death shall not touch them. In the sight of the unwise they appear to die, and their end is taken for very destruction, but they are in rest. And though they suffer pain before men, yet is their hope full of immortality. They are punished but in few things, nevertheless in many things shall they be well rewarded. For God proved them, and finds them mete (worthy) for himself: yes as gold in the furnace does he try them, and receives them as a burnt offering, and when the time comes they shall be looked upon.
The righteous shall shine as the sparks the sparks the run through the reed bush. They shall judge the nations, and have dominion over the people, and their Lord shall reign for ever.
They that put their trust in him, shall understand the truth, and such as be faithful, will agree unto him in love: for his chosen shall have gifts and peace. But the ungodly shall be punished according to their own imaginations, for they have despised the righteous, and forsaken the Lord.
Who so despises wisdom and nurture, he is unhappy, and as for the hope of such, it is but vain, their labors unfruitful, and their works unprofitable. Their wives are *indiscreet, (*deceptive, uncaring, foolishness) and their children most ungodly. Their creature is cursed. Blessed is rather, the barren and undefiled, which has not known the sinful bed: she shall have fruit in the reward of the holy souls. And blessed is the gelded, which with his hands has wrought no unrighteousness, nor imagined wicked things against God. For unto him shall be given the special gift of faith, and the most acceptable portion in the temple of God. For glorious is the fruit of good labor, and the root of wisdom shall never fade away. As for the children of *advouters, they shall come to an end, and the seed of an unrighteous bed shall be rooted out. And though they live long, yet shall they be nothing regarded, and their last age shall be without honor. If they die hastily, they have no hope, neither shall they be spoken to in the day of knowledge. For horrible is the death and end of the unrighteous. *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
The 4th Chapter
O' how fair is a chaste generation with virtue? The memorial, for it is known with good men. When it is present, men take example there at: and if it go away, yet they desire it. It is all way crowned and holden in honor, and wins the reward of the undefiled battle. But the multitude of ungodly children is unprofitable, and the things that are planted with whoredom, shall take no deep root, nor lay any fast foundation. though they be green in the branches for a time, yet shall they be shaken with the wind for they stand not fast, and through the vehemence of the wind they shall be rooted out. For the unperfect branches shall be broken, their fruit shall be unprofitable and sour to eat, yes *mete (worthy) for nothing. And why? All the children that are born of the wicked, must bare record of the wickedness against their fathers and mothers, when they are asked. But though the righteousness be over taken with death, yet shall he be in rest.
Age is an honorable thing: nevertheless it stands not only in the length of time, nor multitude of years: But a mans wisdom is the gray hair, and an undefiled life is the old age. He pleased God, and was beloved of him: so that whereas he lived among sinners, he was translated him. Yea suddenly was he taken away, to the intend that wickedness should not alter his understanding, and that hypocrisy should not beguile his soul. For the crafty bewitching of lies make good things dark, the unsteadfastness also and wickedness of voluptuous desire turn aside the understanding of the simple. though he was soon dead, yet fulfilled he much time. For his soul pleased God therefore hasted he to take him away from among the wicked. This the people see, and understand it not: they lay not up such things in their hearts, how that the loving favor and mercy of God is upon his saints, and that he has respect unto his chosen.
Thus the righteous that is dead, condemns the ungodly which are living: and youth that is soon brought to an end, the long life of the unrighteous. For they see the end of the wise, but they understand not what God has devised for him, and wherefore the Lord has taken him away. And why? they see him and despise him, therefore shall God also laugh them to scorn: So that they themselves shall die here after (but without honor) Yes in shame among the dead forevermore. For without any voice shall he burst those that be puffed up, and remove them from the foundations, so that they shall be layed waste unto the highest. They shall mourn, and their memorial shall perish. So they being afraid shall remember their sins, and their own wickedness shall betray them.
The 5th Chapter
Then shall the righteous stand in great steadfastness against such as have dealt extremely with them, and taken away their labors. When they see it, they shall vexed with horrible fear, and shall wonder at the hastiness of the sudden health: groaning for the very distress of the mind, and shall say within themselves, having inward sorrow, and mourning for very anguish of mind:
These are they, whom we sometime had in derision, and jested upon. We fools thought their life was very madness, and their end to be without honour. But lo, how they are counted among the children of God, and their portion is among the saints. Therefore have we erred from the way of truth, the light of righteousness has not shined unto us, and the sun of understanding rose not up upon us. We have wearied ourselves in the way of wickedness and destruction. Tedious ways have we gone: but as for the way of the Lord, we have not known it.
What good has our pride done unto us? Or, what profit has the pomp of riches brought us? All those things are passed away like a shadow, and as a messenger running before: As a ship that passes over the waves of the water, which when it is gone by, the trace thereof cannot be found, neither the path of it in the floods. Or as a bird that flys through the air, and no man can see any token where she is flown, but only hears the noise of her wings, beating the light wind, parting the air through the vehemence of her going, and flys on shaking her wings, where as afterward no token of her way can be found. Or like as when an arrow is shot at a mark, it parts the air, which immediately comes together again, so that a no man can know where it went through. Even so we in like manner, as soon as we were born, began immediately to draw to our end, and have showed no token of virtue, but are consumed in our own wickedness.
Such words shall they that have sinned speak in hell: For the hope of the ungodly is like a dry thistle flower (or dust) that is blown away with the wind: like as thin scum that is scattered abroad with the storm: like as the smoke which is dispersed here and there with the wind, and as the remembrance of a stranger that tarries for a day, and then departs. But the righteous shall live for evermore: their reward also is with the Lord: and their remembrance with the Highest. Therefore shall they receive a glorious Kingdom and a beautiful crown of the Lords hand: for with his right hand shall he cover them, and with his own arm shall he cover them, and with his own arm shall he defend them. His jealousy also shall take away the harness, and he shall weapon the creature to be avenged of the enemies. He shall put unrighteousness as a breastplate, and take sure judgment instead of an helmet. The invincible shield of equity shall he take, his cruel wrath shall he sharpen for a spear, and the whole compass of the world shall fight with him against the unwise.
Then shall the thunder bolts go out of the lightnings, and come out of the rainbow of the clouds to the place appointed: out of the hard and stony indignation there shall fall thick hails, and the water of the sea shall be wroth against them, and the floods shall run roughly together. Yes a mighty wind shall stand up against them, and a storm shall scatter them abroad. Thus the unrighteous dealing of them shall bring all the land to a wilderness, and wickedness shall over throw the dwellings of the mighty.
The 6th Chapter
Wisdom is better then strength, and a man of understanding is more worth than one that is strong. Hear therefore (O' you Kings) and understand: O' learn you that be judges of the ends of the earth. Give ear, you that rule the multitudes, and delight much people. For power is given you of the Lord, and the strength from the Highest: which shall try your works and search out your imaginations: Hoe the you being officers of his Kingdom, have not kept the law of righteousness, nor walked after his will. Horribly and that right soon shall he appear unto you: for an hard judgment shall they have that bear rule. Mercy is granted unto the simple, but they that be in authority shall be sore punished. For God which is Lord over all, shall except no mans person, neither shall he stand in awe of any mans greatness: for he has made the small and great, and cares for all alike. But the mighty shall have the sorer punishment.
Unto you therefore (O' Kings) do I speak, that you may learn wisdom and not go amiss: For they that keep righteousness shall be righteously judged: and they that are learned in righteous things, shall find to make answer. Wherefore set your lust upon my words, and love them, so shall you come by nurture. Wisdom is a noble thing, and never fades away: yes she is easily seen of them that love her, and found of such as seek her. She prevents them that desire her, that she may first show herself unto them. Whoso awakes unto her by times, shall have no great travail, for he shall find her sitting ready at his doors. To think upon her, is perfect understanding: and whoso watches for her, shall be safe, and that soon. For she goes about, seeking such as are mete (worthy) for her, shows herself cheerfully unto them in their goings, and meets them with all diligence. For the unfeigned desire for reformation is her beginning: to care for nurture is love, and love is the keeping of her laws. Now the keeping of the laws is perfection and an uncorrupt life, an uncorrupt life makes a man familiar with God. And so the desire of wisdom leads to the Kingdom everlasting. If your delight be then in royal seats and scepters (O' you kings of the people) set your lust upon wisdom, that you may reign for evermore. O' love the light of wisdom, all you that be rulers of the people. As for wisdom what she is, and how she came up I will tell you, and will not hide the mysteries of God from you: but will seek her out from the beginning of the nativity, and bring the knowledge of her into light, and will not keep back the truth: Neither will I do with consuming envy, for such a man shall not be partaker of wisdom. But the multitude of the wise is the welfare of the world, and a wise king is the upholding of the people. O' receive nurture then through my words, and it shall do you good.
The 7th Chapter
I myself also am a mortal man, like as all other, and am come of the earthly generation of him that was first made, and in my mothers womb was I fashioned to be flesh: In the time of ten months was I brought together in blood through the seed of man, and the commodious appetite of sleep. When I was born, I received like air as other men, and fell upon the earth, (which is my nature) crying and weeping at first, as all other do. I was wrapped in swaddling clothes, and brought up with great cares. For there is no king that has had any other beginning of birth. All men have one entrance unto life, and one going out in like manner.
Wherefore I desired, and understanding was given me: I called, and the spirit of wisdom came in to me. I set more by her then by kingdoms and royal seats, and counted riches nothing in comparison of her. As for precious stone I compared it not unto her: for all gold is but gravel unto her, and silver shall be counted but clay before her sight. I loved her above welfare and beauty, and purposed to take her for my light, for her shine can not be quenched. All good things come to me with her, and innumerable riches through her hands. And I was glad in them all, for this wisdom went before me, and I knew not that she was the mother of all good things. Now as I myself learned unfainedly, so do I make other men partakers of her, and hide her riches from know man: For she is an infinite treasure unto men, which who so use, be come partakers of the love and friendship of God, and are accepted unto him for the gifts of wisdom.
God has granted me to talk wisely, and convenient to handle the things that he has graciously lent me. For it is he, that leads unto wisdom, and teaches to use wisdom and right. In his hand are we and our words: yes all our wisdom, our understanding and knowledge of all our works. For he has given me the true science of these things: so that I know how the world was made, and the powers of the elements: The beginning, ending and midst of the times: how the times alter, how one goes after another, and how they are fulfilled: the course of the year: the ordinances of the stars: the natures and kinds of beasts: the furriousness of beasts: the power of the winds: the imaginations of men: the diversities of young plants: the virtues of roots, And all such things as are secret and not looked for, have I learned. For the workmaster of all things has taught me wisdom. In her is the spirit of understanding, which is holy, manyfold, one only, subtle, courteous, discreet, quick, undefiled, plain, sweet, loving the thing that is good, sharp, which forbids not to do well, gentile, kind, steadfast, sure, free having all virtues, circumspect in all things: receiving all spirits of understanding, being clear and sharp. For wisdom is nimbler then all nimble things: she goes through and attains to all things, because of her cleanness. For she is the breath of the power of God, and a pure clean expressing of the clearness of Almighty God. Therefore can no undefiled thing come unto her: for she is the brightness of the everlasting light, the undefiled mirror of the majesty of God, and the image of his goodness. And for so much as she is one, she may do all things: and being steadfast herself she renews all, and among the people conveys she herself in to the holy souls. She makes Gods friends and prophets: for God loves no man, but him in whom wisdom dwells. For she is more beautiful then the Sun and gives more light then the stars, and the day is not to be compared unto her: for upon the day comes night. But wickedness can not overcome wisdom, and foolishness may not be with her.
The 8th Chapter
Wisdom reaches from one end to another mightily, and lovingly does she order all things. I have loved her and labored for her even from my youth up, I did my diligence to marry myself with her, such love had I unto her beauty. Who so has the company of God, commends her nobility, yes the Lord of all things him self loves her. For she is the schoolmaster of the nurture of God, and the chooser out of his works. If a man desired riches in this life, what is richer than wisdom, that works all things? You will say: understanding works. What is it among all things, that works more than wisdom? If a man love virtue and righteousness, let him labor for wisdom, for she has great virtues. And why? She teaches soberness and prudence, righteousness and strength, which are such things as men can have nothing more profitable in their life. If a man desire much knowledge, she can tell the things that are past, and discern the things for to come: she knows the subtleties of words, and can expound dark sentences. She can tell of tokens and wondrous things, or ever they come to pass, and the ends of all times and ages. So I purposed after this manner: I will take her unto my company, and commune lovingly with her: no doubt she will give me good counsel, and speak comfortably unto me in my carefulness and grief. For her sake shall I be well and honestly taken among the common men and Lords of the counsel. though I be young, yet shall I have sharp understanding, so that I shall be marvelous in the sight of great men, and the faces of Princes shall wonder at me. When I hold my tongue, they shall bide my leisure: when I speak, they shall look upon me, and if I talk much, they shall lay their hands upon their mouth. Moreover, by the means of her I shall obtain immortality, and among them that come after me. I shall set the people in order, and the nations shall be subdued unto me. Horrible tyrants shall be afraid, when they do but hear of me: among the multitude, I shall be counted good, and mighty in battle. When I am come home, I shall find rest with her: for her company has no bitterness, and her fellowship has no tediousness, but mirth and joy.
Now when I considered these things by myself, and pondered them in my heart, how that to be joined unto wisdom is immortality, and great pleasure to have her friendship: how that in the works of her hands are infinite riches: how that, whoso keeps company with her shall be wise: and that he which talks with her, shall come to honor: I went about seeking, to get her unto me. For I was a lad of ripe wit, and had a good understanding.
But when I grew to more understanding, I came to an undefiled body. Nevertheless, when I perceived that I could not keep my self chaste, except God gave it to me (and that was appointed of wisdom also) I slept unto the Lord, and besought him, and with my whole heart I said after this manner:
The 9th Chapter
O' God of my fathers, and Lord of mercies (you that have made all things with your word, and ordained man through your wisdom, that he should have dominion over the creature which you have made: that he should order the world according to equity and righteousness, and execute judgment with a true heart) Give me wisdom, which is ever about your seat: and put me not out from among your children: For I your servant and son of your handmaid, am a feeble person, of a short time, and too young to the understanding of judgment and the laws. And though a man be never so perfect among the children of men, yet if your wisdom be not with him, he shall be nothing regarded. But you have chosen me to be a King unto your people, and the judge of your sons and daughters.
You have commanded me to build a temple upon your holy mount, and an altar in the city wherein you dwell: a likeness of your holy tabernacle which you have prepared from the beginning, and your wisdom with you, which knows your works: which also was with you, when you made the world, and knew what was acceptable in your sight, and right in your commandments. O' send her out of your holy heavens and from the throne of your majesty, that she may be with me, and labor with me: that I may know what is acceptable in your sight. For she knows and understands all things: and she shall lead me soberly in my works, and preserve me in her power. So shall my works be acceptable, and then shall I govern your people righteously, and be worthy to sit in my fathers seat. For what man is he, that may know the counsel of God? Or, who can think what the will of God is? For the thoughts of mortal men are miserable, and our forecasts are but uncertain. And why? A mortal and corruptible body is heavy unto the soul and the earthy mansion keeps down the understanding that muses (ponders) upon many things. Very hardly can we discern the things that are upon earth, and great labor have we, or we can find the things that are before our eyes: Who will then seek out the ground of the things that are done in heaven? O' Lord, who can have knowledge of your understanding and meaning, except you give wisdom, and send your holy ghost from above? That the ways of them which are upon the earth may be reformed: that men may learn the things that are pleasant unto you, and be preserved through wisdom.
The 10th Chapter
Wisdom preserved the first man, whom God made a father of the world, when he was created alone, brought him out of his offense, took him out of the mould of the earth, and gave him power to rule all things. When the unrighteous went away in his wrath from this wisdom, the brotherhead perished through the wrath of murder. Again, when the water destroyed the whole world, wisdom preserved the righteous through a poor tree, whereof she was governor herself. Moreover when wickedness had gotten the upper hand, so that the nations were puffed up with pride, she knew the righteous, preserved him faultless unto God, and layed up sure mercy for his children. She preserved the righteous, when he fled from the ungodly that perished, what time as the fire fell down upon the five cities: Like as yet this day the unfruitful, waste, and smoking land gives testimony of their wickedness: yes the unripe and untimely fruits that grow upon the trees.
And for a token of a remembrance of the unfaithful soul, there stands a pillar of salt. For all such as regarded not wisdom, got not only this hurt, that they knew not the things which were good, but also left behind them unto men, a memorial of their foolishness: so that in the things wherein they sinned, they could not be hid. But as for such as take heed unto wisdom, she shall deliver them from sorrow.
When the righteous fled because of his brothers wrath, wisdom lead him the right way, showed him the kingdom of God, and gave him knowledge of holy things, made him rich in his labors, and brought to pass the things that he went about. In the deceitfulness of such as defrauded him, she stood by him, and made him rich. She saved him from the enemies, and defended him from the deceivers. She made him strong in battle and gave him victory, that he might know, how that wisdom is stronger than all things. When the righteous was sold, she forsook him not, but delivered him from sinners. She went down with him into the dungeon and failed him not in the bands: till she had brought him the scepter of the realm, and power against those that oppressed him. As for them that had accused him, she declared them to be liars, and brought him to perpetual worship.
She delivered the righteous people and faultless seed, from the nations that oppressed them. She entered into the soul of the servant of God, and stood by him in wonders and tokens against the horrible king. She gave the righteous the reward of their labors, and lead them forth a marvelous way: on the day time she was a shadow unto them, and a light of stars in the night season. She brought them through the reed sea, and carried them through the great water. She drowned their enemies in the sea, and brought them out of the deep. So the righteous took the spoils of the ungodly, and praised your holy name, O' Lord, and magnified your victorious hand with one accord. For wisdom opens the mouth of the dumb, and makes the tongues of babes to speak.
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