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  • ADAM CLARKE'S BIBLE COMMENTARY -
    PROVERBS 31

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    CHAPTER XXXI

    The words and prophecy of King Lemuel, abut what his mother taught him, 1, 2. Debauchery and much wine to be avoided, 3- 7. How kings should administer justice, 8, 9. The praise of a virtuous woman and good housewife, in her economy, prudence, watchfulness, and assiduity in labour, 10-29. Frailty of beauty, 30, 31.

    NOTES ON CHAP. XXXI

    Verse 1. "The words of King Lemuel " - Lkm lawml yrbd dibrey temper melech, "The words to Muel the king." So the Syriac; and so I think it should be read, the l lamed being the article or preposition.

    But who is Muel or Lemuel? Solomon, according to general opinion; and the mother here mentioned, Bath-sheba. I cannot receive these sayings; for 1. Whoever this was, he appears to have been the first-born of his mother: called here emphatically ynfb rb bar bitni, the son of my womb; which is not likely to be true of Solomon, as his mother had been the wife of Uriah, and possibly had borne that rough and faithful soldier some children. 2. It is intimated here that this son had come by a lawful marriage: hence yrdn rb bar nedarai, the son of my vow, her matrimonial covenant; for so it is most natural to understand the words. But is there any proper sense in which we can say that this was correct in reference to David, Bath-sheba and Solomon? For although the son born in adultery died, it is by no means likely that Bath-sheba made any particular vows relative to Solomon; for of her piety, so much vaunted of by some writers, we yet want the proofs.

    But, however this may be, there is no evidence whatever that Muel or Lemuel means Solomon; the chapter seems, to be much later than his time, and the several Chaldaisms which occur in the very opening of it are no mean proof of this. If Agur was not the author of it, it may be considered as another supplement to the book of Proverbs. Most certainly Solomon did not write it.

    "The prophecy that his mother taught him. " - am massa may here signify the oracle; the subject that came by Divine inspiration; see on chap. xxx. 1.

    From this and some other circumstances it is probable that both these chapters were written by the same author. Houbigant thinks that Massa here is the name of a place; and, therefore, translates, "The words of Lemuel, king of Massa, with which his mother instructed him."

    Verse 2. "What, my son? " - The Chaldee rb bar is used twice in this verse, instead of the Hebrew b ben, son. This verse is very elliptical; and commentators, according to their different tastes, have inserted words, indeed some of them a whole sentence, to make up the sense. Perhaps Coverdale has hit the sense as nearly as any other: "These are the wordes of Kynge Lemuel; and the lesson that his mother taughte him. My sonne, thou son of my body, O my deare beloved sonne!" The son of my vows? - A child born after vows made for offsprings is called the child of a person's vows.

    Verse 3. "Give not thy strength " - Do not waste thy substance on women. In such intercourse the strength of body, soul and substance is destroyed. Such connections are those which destroy kings, yklm melachin, the Chaldee termination instead of the Hebrew.

    Verse 4. "It is not for kings-to drink wine " - An intemperate man is ill fit to hold the reins of government.

    Verse 5. "Lest they drink, and forget the law " - When they should be administering justice, they are found incapable of it; or, if they go into the judgment-seat, may pervert justice.

    Verse 6. "Give strong drink unto him that is ready to perish " - We have already seen, that inebriating drinks were mercifully given to condemned criminals, to render them less sensible of the torture they endured in dying. This is what was offered to our Lord; but he refused it. See note on Psa. civ. 15.

    Verse 8. "Open thy mouth for the dumb " - For such accused persons as have no counsellors, and cannot plead for themselves.

    "Are appointed to destruction. " - Pwlj ynb beney chaloph, variously translated, children of passage-indigent travelers; children of desolation - those who have no possessions, or orphans. I believe it either signifies those who are strangers, and are travelling from place to place, or those who are ready to perish in consequence of want or oppression.

    Verse 10. "Who can find a virtuous woman? " - This and the following verses are acrostic, each beginning with a consecutive letter of the Hebrew alphabet: ver. 10, a aleph; ver. 11, b beth; ver. 12, g gimel ; and so on to the end of the chapter, the last verse of which has the letter t tau. From this to the end of the chapter we have the character of a woman of genuine worth laid down; first, in general, ver. 10-12; secondly, in its particular or component parts, ver. 13-29; and, thirdly, the summing up of the character, ver. 30, 31.

    I. Her general character.

    1. She is a virtuous wo man-a woman of power and strength. lyj ta esheth chayil, a strong or virtuous wife, full of mental energy.

    2. She is invaluable; her price is far above rubies-no quantity of precious stones can be equal to her worth.

    Verse 11. "The heart of her husband" - 3. She is an unspotted wife. The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her-he knows she will take care that a proper provision is made for his household, and will not waste any thing. He has no need for spoil-he is not obliged to go out on predatory excursions, to provide for his family, at the expense of the neighbouring tribes.

    Verse 12. "She will do him good" - 4. She has her husband's happiness in view constantly. She recompenses all his kindness to her in beneficent acts. For kind words she returns kind deeds. Her good is unmixed; she will do him aood. and not evil. 2 Her good is not capricious; it is constant and permanent, while she and her husband live. His heart safely trusts in her, for she will do him good all the days of her life. This is her general character.

    Verse 13. "She seeketh wood and flax, and worketh willingly, &c." - II. This is the second part of her character, giving the particulars of which it is composed.

    1. She did not buy ready woven cloth: she procured the raw material, if wool, most probably from her own flocks; if flax, most probably from her own fields.

    2. Here she manufactured; for she worketh willingly with her hands.

    And all her labour is a cheerful service; her will, her heart, is in it.

    It needs no arguments to prove that women, even of the highest ranks, among the Greeks, Romans, and Israelites, worked with their hands at every kind of occupation necessary for the support of the family. This kind of employment was not peculiar to the virtuous woman in the text.

    Verse 14. "She is like the merchants' ships" - 3. She acts like merchants. If she buy any thing for her household, she sells sufficient of her own manufactures to pay for it; if she imports, she exports: and she sends articles of her own manufacturing or produce to distant countries; she traffics with the neighbouring tribes.

    Verse 15. "She riseth also while it is yet night" - 4. She is an economist of time; and when the nights are long, and the days short, her family not only spend a part of the evening after sunset in domestic labour, but they all arise before daylight, and prepare the day's food, that they may not have their labour interrupted. To those who are going to the fields, and to the flocks, she gives the food necessary for the day: Prf teref, prey, a term taken from hunting, the object of which was, the supplying their natural wants: hence applied to daily food . See notes on chap. xxx. 8.

    And to the women who are to be employed within she gives qj chok, the task-the kind of work they are to do, the materials out of which they are to form it, and the quantity she expects from each. Thus all the servants are settled: their food, work, and tasks appointed. Every thing is done orderly.

    Verse 16. "She considereth a field and buyeth it" - 5. She provides for the growing wants of her family. More land will shortly be needed, for the family is growing up; and having seen a field contiguous to her own, which was on sale, she estimates its worth, and purchases it a good bargain; and she pays for it by the fruit of her own industry.

    6. She does not restrict herself to the bare necessaries of life; she is able to procure some of its comforts. She plants a vineyard, that she may have wine for a beverage, for medicine, and for sacrifice. This also is procured of her own labour. Whatever goes out brings its worth in; and barter, not buying, is her chief mode of traffic.

    Verse 17. "She girdeth her loins with strength" - 7. She takes care of her own health and strength, not only by means of useful labour, but by healthy exercise. She avoids what might enervate her body, or soften her mind-she is ever active, and girt ready for every necessary exercise. Her loins are firm, and her arms strong.

    Verse 18. "She perceiveth that her merchandise is good" - 8. She takes care to manufacture the best articles of the kind, and to lay on a reasonable price that she may secure a ready sale. Her goods are in high repute, and she knows she can sell as much as she can make. And she finds that while she pleases her customers, she increases her own profits. 9. She is watchful and careful. Her candle-her lamp, burns all night, which is of great advantage in case of sudden alarms; and in the times and places where there were so many banditti, this was a very necessary family regulation. Perhaps some works were carried on during the night, those employed sleeping in the daytime. Thus labour never stood still; whilst some slept, others worked. This was no unusual thing in ancient times; and it prevails now; but alas! little children are often thus employed to help to support their indigent parents, and to fill the coffers of their unfeeling taskmasters.

    Verse 19. "She layeth her hands to the spindle" - 10. She gives an example of skill and industry to her household. She takes the distaff, that on which the wool or flax was rolled; and the spindle, that by twisting of which she twisted the thread with the right hand, while she held the distaff in the guard of the left arm, and drew down the thread with the fingers of the left hand. Allowing that spindle and distaff are proper translations of rwyk kishor, and lp pelech, this was their use, and the way in which they were used. The spindle and distaff are the most ancient of all the instruments used for spinning, or making thread. The spinning-wheel superseded them in these countries; but still they were in considerable use till spinning machinery superseded both them and the spinning-wheels in general.

    Verse 20. "She stretcheth out her hand to the poor" - 11. She is truly charitable. She knows that in every portion of a man's gain God requires a lot for the poor; and if this is not given, God's blessing is not in the rest. And she is not contented to give common alms. While with one hand ( dy yad) she relieves the general poor, with both hands ( hydy yadeyha) she gives to the needy, yn[l leaney, to the afflicted poor.

    Verse 21. "She is not afraid of the snow" - 12. She is not anxious relative to the health and comfort of her family in the winter season, having provided clothes sufficient for each in the cold weather, in addition to those which they wore in the warm season.

    "For all her household are clothed with scarlet. " - Not scarlet, for the colour can avail nothing in keeping off the cold; nor would it be a proper colour for the bogs and dirt of winter. But yn shanim, from hn shanah, to iterate, to double, signifies not only scarlet, so called from being twice or doubly dyed, but also double garments, not only the ordinary coat but the surtout or great-coat also, or a cloak to cover all. But most probably double garments, or twofold to what they were accustomed to wear, are here intended. If the general clothing be intended, scarlet cannot be the meaning, nor did our translators entirely rely on it; and therefore put double garments, the true meaning, in the margin, from which it cannot be too speedily transferred to the text. The Vulgate has "duplicibus." And my old MS. very properly, "Alle forsoth hir hoomli men, ben clothid with double". And Coverdale, with equal propriety, "For all hir householde folkes are duble clothed." But if her husband and children alone are referred to, scarlet, which in the general meaning of the term, may be proper enough; as even in these countries of ours, scarlet, as being a lively bright colour, is used in the winter dresses.

    Verse 22. "She maketh herself coverings of tapestry" - 13. She is not regardless either of her own person, or of the decent, proper appearance of her presses and wardrobe. She has coverings or carpeting for her guests to sit upon; she has also tapestry, ydbrm marbaddim, either tapestry, carpeting, or quilted work for her beds; and her own clothing is shesh, flne flax, or linen cloth, and purple; probably for a cloak or mantle. The fine linen or cotton cloth of Egypt is probably intended. I have often seen it wrapping the bodies of mummies; it is something like our coarse calico. The purple was supposed to have been dyed by a precious liquor obtained from the pinna magna, a large shellfish, of the muscle kind, found on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea. I have seen some of them nearly two feet in length. But it is a doubt whether any such liquor was ever obtained from this or any other fish; and the story itself is invented merely to hide the secret, the proper method of dying purple; which was kept so well that it certainly died with the ancients.

    Verse 23. "Her husband is known in the gates" - 14. She is a loving wife, and feels for the respectability and honour of her husband. He is an elder among his people, and he sits as a magistrate in the gate. He is respected not only on account of the neatness and cleanliness of his person and dress, but because he is the husband of a woman who is justly held in universal esteem. And her complete management of household affairs gives him full leisure to devote himself to the civil interests of the community.

    Verse 24. "She maketh fine linen, and selleth it" - 15. She is here remarkable for carrying on a traffic of splendid and ornamental dresses, or habits, as she is, ver. 13, for "a coarser manufacture," The wds sidon is supposed to come from in Arabic; and to signify a kind of loose inner garment, shirt, chemise, or fine muslin covering. Some of these are so exceedingly fine, like the abrooam, that when spread on the grass, they are scarcely discernible. Some such garments as these are still worn by ladies in India and in China, and are so thin and transparent, that every part of the body may be seen through them. I have many representations of persons clothed in this way before me both of the Chinese, the Hindoo, and the Malabar ladies. Probably this eminent Jewish matron had such articles manufactured in her own house.

    She dealt also in girdles. These are still a very general and very expensive article of dress. I have seen them made of silk, and highly ornamented with gold and silver thread, worked into flowers and various curious devices.

    The loose Eastern robe is confined by these; and the word may also take in the shawl of the turban, which is often superb and costly. It is properly the girdle for the head. As these were generally woven, the consumption was great; and an able artist must have had a good trade.

    The Arabic gives a remarkable translation of this verse: "She maketh towels, (or tablecloths,) and sells them to the inhabitants of Basra, (a city in Mesopotamia,) and fine linens, and sells them to the Canaanites." My old MS. Bible has, "Sandel sche made and sold, and a litil girdil sche toke to Chanane". Perhaps yn[nkl lakkenaani, for the merchant, may stand here for yn[nkl lakkenaanim, the Canaanites.

    Verse 26. "Strength and honour are her clothing" - 16. All the articles manufactured by herself or under her care have a double perfection:

    1. They are strong. 2. They are elegant; Strength and honour are her clothing; and on account of this she shall rejoice in time to come; she shall never have occasion to blush for any thing she has made, for any thing she or hers have worn, or for any thing she has sold. Besides, she has so conducted herself that she has reason to expect that the hand of the Lord shall be still with her, and shall keep her from evil that it may not grieve her.

    Verse 26. "She openeth her mouth with wisdom" - 17. He comes now to the moral management of her family. 1. She is wise and intelligent; she has not neglected the cultivation of her mind. 2. She is amiable in her carriage, full of good nature, well tempered, and conciliating in her manners and address.

    "In her tongue is the law of kindness. " - This is the most distinguishing excellence of this woman. There are very few of those who are called managing women who are not lords over their husbands, tyrants over their servants, and insolent among their neighbours. But this woman, with all her eminence and excellence, was of a meek and quiet spirit. Blessed woman!

    Verse 27. "She looketh well to the ways of her household" - 18. She is a moral manager: she takes care that all shall behave themselves well; that none of them shall keep bad company or contract vicious habits.

    A religious industry, or an industrious religion, is the law of her house. She can instruct them in religion, as well as she can teach them in their labour. In her house, diligence in business, and fervency of spirit, serving the Lord, go hand in hand.

    "And eateth not the bread of idleness." - 19. She knows that idleness leads to vice; and therefore every one has his work, and every one has his proper food. That they may work well, they are fed well; and every one, at least, earns the bread that he eats-eateth not the bread of idleness.

    Verse 28. "Her children arise up, and call her blessed" - 20. She considers a good education next to Divine influence; and she knows also that if she train up a child in the way he should go, when he is old he will not depart from it. 1. Her children are well bred; they rise up and pay due respect. 2. They are taught the fear of the lord, and obedience to his testimonies; therefore they call her blessed. So they are of a decent, orderly, respectable, religious behaviour. 3. Her husband is so satisfied with her conduct towards himself, his household, his business, and their children, that he praiseth her. He shows himself sensible of her excellence, and encourages her, in her work, by the commendations he bestows.

    Verse 29. "Many daughters have done virtuously " - This is undoubtedly the speech of the husband, giving testimony to the excellence of his wife: "Her husband also, and he praiseth her, saying, 'many daughters,' women, 'have done virtuously,' with due propriety as wives, mistresses, and mothers; 'but THOU,' my incomparable wife, 'excellent them all;' hnlk l[ tyl[ taw veath alith al cullanah, but THOU hast ascended above the whole of them-thou hast carried every duty, every virtue, and every qualification and excellency, to a higher perfection, than any of whom we have ever read or heard." And let the reader seriously consider the above particulars, as specified under the different heads and subdivisions; and he will be probably of the same mind. But high as the character of this Jewish matron stands in the preceding description, I can say that I have met at least her equal, in a daughter of the Revelation Dr. Samuel Annesly, the wife of Samuel Wesley, sen., rector of Epworth in Lincolnshire, and mother of the late extraordinary brothers, John and Charles Wesley. I am constrained to add this testimony, after having traced her from her birth to her death, through all the relations that a woman can bear upon earth. Her Christianity gave to her virtues and excellences a heightening, which the Jewish matron could not possess. Besides, she was a woman of great learning and information, and of a depth of mind, and reach of thought, seldom to be found among the daughters of Eve, and not often among the sons of Adam.

    Verse 30. "favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain, &c." - III. Here is the summing up of the character. 1. Favour, j chen, grace of manner may be deceitful, many a fair appearance of this kind is put on, assumed for certain secular or more unworthy purposes; it is learned by painful drilling in polished seminaries, and, being the effect of mere physical discipline, it continues while the restraint lasts; but it is rq seeker, a lie, a mere semblance, an outward varnish. It is not the effect of internal moral regulation; it is an outside, at which the inside murmurs; and which, because not ingenuous, is a burden to itself.

    2. Beauty, ypyh haiyophi, elegance of shape, symmetry of features, dignity of mien, and beauty of countenance, are all lbh hebel, vanity; sickness impairs them, suffering deranges them, and death destroys them.

    3. "But a woman that feareth the Lord," that possesses true religion, has that grace that harmonizes the soul, that purifies and refines all the tempers and passions, and that ornament of beauty, a meek and quiet mind, which in the sight of God is of great price: - She shall be praised. - This is the lasting grace, the unfading beauty.

    Verse 31. "Give her of the fruit of her hands " - This may be a prayer. May she long enjoy the fruit of her labours! May she see her children's children, and peace upon Israel! And let her own works praise her in the gates. - Let what she has done be spoken of for a memorial of her; let her bright example be held forth in the most public places. Let it be set before the eyes of every female, particularly of every wife, and especially of every mother; and let them learn from this exemplar, what men have a right to expect in their wives, the mistresses of their families, and the mothers of their children. Amen.

    MASORETIC NOTES ON THIS BOOK

    Number of verses in the book of Proverbs, 915.

    Middle verse, chap. xvi. 18.

    Sections, 8.

    The Syriac reckons 1863 verses.

    The Arabic concludes thus: - "The discipline of Solomon written out by the friends of Hezekiah, king of Judah, the interpretation or translation of which is extremely difficult, (but) is now completed by the assistance and influence of the Son of God." IN the introduction to the book of Proverbs, among the several collections of a similar nature which are mentioned there, I have referred to M. Galand's Maximes des Orientaux. From this work, as contained in the supplement to the Bibliotheque Orientale, I have translated the following selection. They will serve to show the curious reader how many sayings similar to those of Solomon still abound in the East.

    ASIATIC PROVERBS

    I fear God; and beside him I fear none, but that man who fears him not.

    He who knows not his Maker cannot know himself.

    Godliness is the greatest wisdom, and implety the greatest of follies.

    The fear of God is the greatest safeguard.

    To sin once is too much; but a thousand acts of devotion towards God are not sufficient to honour him.

    If a man foresaw his end, and his exit from life, he would abhor his actions, and their deceitfulness.

    Life is a sort of sleep, from which many awake not but in death.

    The life of man is a path that leads to death.

    The orphan is not the person who has lost his father; but he who has neither wisdom, nor a good education.

    Want of good sense is worse than all the degrees of poverty.

    Nothing so effectually hides what we are as silence.

    He who has least wisdom has most vanity.

    There is no greatness of soul in avenging one's self.

    The heart of the fool is in his mouth, and the tongue of the wise man is in his heart.

    He who runs with a slack rein, guided only by hope, encounters the last moment of his life, and falls.

    Envy has no rest.

    When you have once received a benefit, render yourself not unworthy of it, by a want of gratitude.

    The desire of revenge is a constant hinderance to a happy and contented life.

    When you have got an advantage over your enemy, pardon him, in returning God thanks for that advantage.

    When you are in prosperity, you need seek no other revenge against him who envies you than the mortification he has from it.

    How advantageous must wisdom be to its possessor, seeing it is of so great value as not to be purchased by money! Nothing obtains pardon more speedily than repentance.

    There is no disease so dangerous as the want of common sense.

    Of all vices, vanity and a love of contention are the most difficult to be corrected.

    Visiting your neighbour is no crime, but your visits should not be so often repeated, as to induce him to say, It is enough.

    If a prince would worship God in truth, he must remain in his limits, be true to his treaties, be content with what he has, and suffer patiently the privation of what he has not.

    Nothing so much resembles flowers planted on a dunghill, as the good which is done to an ignorant or worthless man.

    In whatsoever company or society you be, engage not in those matters which concern the whole; for if you succeed, the whole company will attribute the success to itself; and if you succeed not, each person will lay the blame on you.

    When the soul is ready to depart, what avails it whether a man die on a throne or in the dust? Take and give with equity.

    We need not be surprised when those who ask or seek for improper things, fall into misfortunes which they did not expect.

    Riches dwell no longer in the hand of a liberal man, than patience in the heart of a lover, or water in a sieve.

    As soon as a person takes pleasure in hearing slander, he is to be ranked in the number of slanderers.

    That which a man suffers for this world, fills his heart with darkness; but that which he suffers for the other, fills it with light.

    The greatest repose which a man can enjoy, is that which he feels in desiring nothing.

    One seldom finds that which he seeks, when he searches for it with impatience.

    Do not reproach a man for the sin which he has committed, when God has forgiven him.

    He who pushes a jest farther than good breeding requires, shall never fail to be hated or despised.

    He who is worthy of being called a man, is unshaken in adversity, humble in prosperity, active and bold in danger; and, if he be not learned, has at least a love for learning.

    The man who is governed by his passions is in a worse state than the most miserable slave.

    Men often give themselves much trouble to succeed in an affair from which they derive only vexation in the end.

    He is a free man who desires nothing; and he is a slave who expects that which he wishes.

    The advice of a wise man is to be considered as a prediction.

    Be sincere, though your sincerity should cost you your life.

    Live not on credit, and you shall live in liberty.

    A wise man practises the three following things: he abandons the world before it abandons him; he builds his sepulcher before the time of entering it; and he does all with a design to please God, before entering into his presence.

    He who lords it over those who are below him, shall one day find a master who will lord it over him.

    Sin not, if you would have less vexation in the hour of death.

    He who takes not counsel beforehand, will surely fail in accomplishing his projects.

    Covetousness leads to poverty; but he is truly rich who desires nothing.

    He who relates the faults of others to you, designs to relate yours to them.

    Watch your friends; except those of whom you are certain; but know, that none can be a true friend but he who has the fear of God.

    The most perfect pleasures in this world are always mingled with some bitterness.

    He who considers consequences with too much attention, is ordinarily a man of no courage.

    The world is the hell of the good, and the heaven of the wicked; i.e., it is all the evil that the former shall meet with, and all the good that the latter shall enjoy.

    By doing good to those who have evil intentions against you, you thereby shut their mouth.

    He who knows well what he is capable of, has seldom bad success.

    He who has too good an opinion of himself, drives all others away from him.

    He who loves jesting and raillery, brings himself into many troubles.

    Partial knowledge is better than total ignorance; if you cannot get what you wish, get what you can.

    He who has lost shame may bury his heart.

    The poor should get learning in order to become rich; and the rich should acquire it for their ornament.

    A man should accommodate himself to the weakness of his inferiors, in order to derive from them the services he requires.

    An avaricious man runs straight into poverty. He leads a life of poverty here below; but he must give the account of a rich man in the day of judgment.

    The greatest advantage that a man can procure for his children, is to have them well educated.

    Do good to him who does you evil, and by this means you will gain the victory over him.

    Men, because of speech, have the advantage over brutes; but beasts are preferable to men whose language is indecent.

    If you can do good to-day, defer it not till tomorrow.

    The excellence of many discourses consists in their brevity.

    Two things are inseparable from lying; many promises and many excuses.

    Deceivers, liars, and all persons who lead an irregular life, are intoxicated by the prosperity which smiles upon them in all things; but that intoxication is the just recompense of their evil actions.

    He lives in true repose who bridles his passions.

    It is in vain to expect these five things from the following persons: A present from a poor man; service from a lazy man; succour from an enemy; counsel from an envious man; and true love from a prude.

    It is unbecoming the character of a wise man to commit the fault for which he reproves others.

    A passionate man is capable of nothing; how unfit then is such a person for a governor! A rich man who is not liberal, resembles a tree without fruit.

    You cannot keep your own secret; what cause then have you to complain, if another to whom you have declared it should reveal it? It is the same with the administration of the affairs of kings as with sea voyages; you may lose, gain, amass treasures, and lose your life.

    He who submits to a voluntary poverty neither possesses, nor is possessed by, any thing.

    A wicked man should be considered as dead while he is alive; but a good man lives even in the tomb.

    No man should undertake any thing till he has thoroughly examined it.

    He who possesses any art or science, is at least equal to a great lord.

    Honours, employments, and dignities cannot recompense a man for the pains he has taken to acquire them.

    On many occasions a good book supplies the place of an agreeable companion.

    That day in which a man neither does some good action, nor acquires some useful knowledge, should not be (if possible) numbered in the days of his life.

    He who is of a surly and unyielding disposition, never fails to excite troubles even among relatives and friends.

    A great monarch should fix a good reputation as an object to which he should continually bend his pursuits; because, of all the grandeurs and eminences of this world, this is the only thing that shall survive him.

    Leave not till to-morrow what you can perform to-day.

    To have pity on one's enemy, when he is in distress, is the mark of a great soul.

    He who does good shall not lose his reward. A good action never perishes, neither before God nor before men.

    Covetousness proceeds ad infinitum; therefore, determine the bounds of your desires, and the objects of your pursuits. He who does not act thus shall never become either rich or happy.

    A monarch who considers his own interest should ever abide in his kingdom, and consider himself as a rose in the midst of a garden, which continually reposes on thorns.

    Never despise a man because his employment is mean, or his clothing bad.

    The bee is an insect which is not very pleasing to the sight, yet its hive affords abundance of honey.

    The people enjoy repose when governed by princes who take none. The monarch who watches causes his people to repose in safety.

    Confer your opinion with that of another, for truth is more easily discovered by two than one.

    Do not rejoice at the death of your enemy; your life is not eternal.

    Be always employed, that ye become not slothful, and refer to God all that you acquire by labour, otherwise you shall live in a continual and condemnable idleness.

    It is extremely difficult to render him wise who knows nothing; because his ignorance causes him to believe that he knows more than he who attempts to instruct him.

    One coat, one house, and one day's food, is enough for you; and should you die at noonday, you will have one half too much.

    A covetous man is an enemy to all the poor; and is cursed both in this and the coming world.

    Interested friends resemble dogs in public places, who love the bones better than those who throw them.

    In order to live well, a man should die to all his passions and every thing that depends on them.

    A thousand years of delight do not deserve the risk of our lives for a single moment.

    You shall only receive in proportion to what you give.

    The service of kings may be compared to a vast sea, where many merchants traffic, some of whom acquire great riches, and others are shipwrecked.

    Fear the man who fears you.

    Do nothing without design.

    Humble yourself in asking, that you may be raised up in obtaining what you request.

    A wicked woman in the house of a good man is a hell to him in this world.

    It cannot be said of a miser that he possesses his riches, however attached he may be to them.

    The thought of evil frequently derives its origin from idleness.

    Kings and subjects are equally unhappy, where persons of merit are despised, and where ignorant men occupy the chief places of trust.

    Answer those who ask questions of you in such a manner as not to offend them.

    The most proper method of punishing an envious person is, to load him with benefits.

    Prudence suffers between impossibility and irresolution.

    When you speak, let it be in such a manner as not to require an explanation.

    The most precious acquisition is that of a friend.

    Never trust to appearance. Behold the drum: notwithstanding all its noise, it is empty within.

    Keep not an evil conscience: but be diffident, to the end that you be never surprised nor deceived.

    Nothing remains with punishment or reward.

    A wise man by his speeches does things which a hundred armies conjoined could not execute.

    Do not speak till you have thought on what you intend to say.

    Those who believe they may gain by seditions and commotions never fail to excite them.

    The best friends we have in this world are the spies of our actions, who publish our faults.

    Hope for nothing from this world, and your soul will enjoy rest.

    He who applies himself to acquire knowledge, puts himself in the capacity of possessing all good things.

    He who does not succeed in the business in which he is employed, because he is incapable of it, deserves to be excused; for it is to be believed that he has done all he could to accomplish his end.

    Every kind of employment requires a particular sort of genius.

    Riches increase in proportion as you give to the poor.

    The greatest reputation is frequently an embarrassment.

    Do not despise a poor man because he is such: the lion is not less noble because he is chained.

    A young man who has the wisdom of an old man is considered as an old man among those who are wise.

    A righteous prince is the image and shadow of God upon earth.

    As soon as virtue begins to discover itself, vice begins its insolent insults.

    Can it be said that a man has wisely considered what he has done, when the end corresponds not with what he proposed? To the end that what you desire may be advantageous too you, never desire any thing but that which is proper for you.

    Those who will not forgive an offense are the most accursed of all men.

    Though it be pretended that no man can shun his destiny, yet it is well to do nothing without precaution.

    It is a double present when given with a cheerful countenance.

    Nobility is nothing unless supported by good actions.

    Evil speaking and calumny never quit their hold till they have destroyed the innocent on whom they have once seized.

    Consider your estate, and leave playing and jesting to children.

    Soft words may appease an angry man; bitter words never will.

    Would you throw fire on a house in flames to extinguish them? Continue to speak the truth, though you know it to be hateful.

    It is a blessing to a house to have a number of guests at table.

    Five things are useless when they are not accompanied each with another thing: advice without effect; riches without economy; science without good manners; almsgiving to improper objects, or without a pure intention; and life without health.

    If you wish your enemy never to know your secret, never divulge it to your friend.

    Art thou a man in honour? Wouldst thou live without inquietude or remorse? Then do actions worthy of thy character.

    When subjects are ill treated by subaltern officers, and cannot make remonstrances to the prince, because the too great authority of ministers of state deprives them of the means; their lot is like to that of a man who, half dead with thirst, approaches the river Nile to drink; but perceiving a crocodile, is obliged to perish for lack of water, or submit to be devoured.

    It is better to perish with hunger, than to deprive the poor of their bread.

    If you be reproved for your faults, do not be angry with him who does it: but turn your anger against the things for which he has reproved you.

    Poisonous food is preferable to bad discourse.

    Do not discover the faults of others, if you be unwilling to have your own known.

    Wage war against yourself, and you will thereby acquire true peace of soul.

    One resembles those the company of whom he most frequents.

    The best expended riches are those which are given for God's sake.

    If you have a dispute with any person, take heed that you say not of him all the evil which you know; otherwise you will leave no room for accommodation.

    Your conversation is the index of your intellect, and your actions show the bottom of your heart.

    It is more difficult to manage riches well, than to acquire them.

    The grandeur of kings is evidenced in the administration of justice.

    Honour your parents, and your children will honour you.

    Cultivate no friendship with him who loves your enemy.

    If you have a friend who takes offense at trifles, break entirely with him, for he is not to be trusted.

    The happiness of life is only to be found, when the conscience ins pure and clean.

    Measure every man with his own measure; i.e., "Do not expect or require from him more than is in him." Can any man boast who considers what he is come from? In whatever corner of the world you are, you will have something to suffer.

    It will be more profitable for thee to adorn thy inside than thy outside.

    THE WORDS OF LOCKMAN TO HIS SON My son, I wish thee to observe these six maxims which comprehend all the morality of the ancients and moderns.

    1. Have no attachment to the world, but in proportion to the short duration of thy life.

    2. Serve God with all that fervour which the need thou hast of him demands.

    3. labour for the other life that awaits thee and consider the time it must endure.

    4. Strive to escape that fire, out of which those who are once cast in can never escape.

    5. If thou hast temerity enough to sin, measure beforehand the strength thou shalt require to endure the fire of hell, and the chastisements of God.

    6. When thou wishest to transgress, seek for a place where God cannot see thee.

    THE WORDS OF ALI TO HIS SONS

    My sons, never despise any person: consider your superior as your father, your equal as your brother, and your inferior as your son.

    WORDS ADDRESSED BY A MOHAMMEDAN TO THE MESSIAH

    The heart of the afflicted draws all its consolation from thy words.

    The soul receives life and vigour at the bare mention of thy name.

    If ever the human spirit be rendered capable of contemplating the mysteries of the Divinity, it is thou alone who givest it the light by which it understands, and the attractions by which it is penetrated.

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