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

“Foolish men, while they desire injuries, become impious and hate wisdom.32123212    Prov. iii. 29, 30. These quotations are from the LXX. version. Devise not evil against thy friend. Be not angry with a man without a cause. The impious exalt contumely. 32133213    iv. 24Remove from thee the evil mouth, keep far from thee the wicked lips, the eyes of him that speaketh evil, the tongue of the unjust, the hands which shed the blood of the just,32143214    vi. 18 the heart that deviseth evil thoughts, and the feet which hasten to do evil. He that resteth upon falsehood feedeth the winds, and followeth the flying birds. For he hath left the ways of his own vineyard, and hath made the wheels of his tillage to err. He walketh through the dry and desert places, and with his hands he gathereth barrenness.32153215    x. 14 The mouth of the froward is near to destruction, and 32163216    x. 18he who uttereth evil words is the chief of fools. Every simple man is a soul that is blessed; but a violent man is dishonourable. 32173217    xii. 13By the fault of his lips the sinner falleth into a snare. 32183218    xii. 15All the ways of a fool are right in his own eyes. 32193219    xii. 16The fool showeth his anger on that very day. 32203220    xii. 22Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord. 32213221    xiii. 3He that keepeth his lips guardeth his own soul; but he that is rash with his lips shall be a terror to himself. 32223222    xiii. 16The evil man in his violence doeth evil things, and the fool spreadeth out his folly. 32233223    xiv. 6Seek for wisdom among the evil and thou shalt not find it. 32243224    xiv. 14The rash man shall eat of the fruit of his own ways. 32253225    xiv. 16The wise man by taking heed avoideth the evil; but the fool is confident, and joins himself to it. 32263226    xiv. 29A long-suffering man is strong in his wisdom; the man of little mind is very unwise. 32273227    xiv. 31He who oppresseth the poor reproacheth his Maker. 32283228    xv. 12The tongue of the wise knoweth good things, but the mouth of fools speaketh evil. 32293229    xv. 18A quarrelsome man preferreth strife, and every one that lifteth up his heart is unclean before God. 32303230    vi. 5Though hand join with hand unjustly, they shall not be unpunished. 32313231    vi. 17He that loveth life must be sparing to his mouth. 32323232    vi. 18Insolence goeth before bruising, and evil thoughts before a fall. 32333233    vi. 30He who closeth his eyes speaketh perverse things, and provoketh all evil with his lips. 32343234    xviii. 6, 7The lips of a fool lead him into evil, and the foolhardy speech calleth down death. The man of evil counsel shall suffer much loss. 32353235    xix. 1Better is a poor man who is just than a rich man that speaketh lies. 32363236    xx. 3It is a glory to a man to turn away from evil words; but he that is foolish bindeth himself therewith. 32373237    xx. 13Love 541not detraction, lest thou be rooted out. 32383238    Prov. xx. 17The bread of lying is sweet to a man, but afterwards his mouth shall be filled with gravel. 32393239    xxi. 6He that gaineth treasures with a lying tongue followeth vanity, and shall come into the snares of death. 32403240    xxiii. 9Say thou nought in the ear of a fool, lest haply the wise mock at thy words. 32413241    xxv. 18The bludgeon and the sword and the arrow are hurtful things; 32423242    xxv. 18so is the man who beareth false witness against his friend. 32433243    xxvi. 2As the birds and the sparrows fly away, so the curse shall be vain and shall not overtake him. 32443244    xxvi. 4, 5Answer not an unwise man according to his lack of wisdom, lest thou become like unto him; but answer a fool according to his folly, lest he appear to himself to be wise. 32453245    xxvi. 19He who layeth wait for his friends when he is discovered saith, I did it in sport. 32463246    xxvii. 21A faggot for the coals, and wood for the fire, and a man of evil words for the tumult of strife. 32473247    xxvii. 14If thine enemy ask thee aught, sparingly but with a loud voice, 32483248    xxvi. 24, 25consent thou not to him, for there are seven degrees of wickedness in his heart. 32493249    xxvii. 3, 4The stone is heavy, and the sand hard to be borne; but the anger of a fool is heavier than either; indignation is cruel, anger is sharp, and envy is impatient. 32503250    xxviii. 25, 26The impious man speaketh against the poor; and he that trusteth in the audacity of his heart is most foolish. 32513251    xxix. 11The unwise man putteth forth all his anger, but the wise dealeth it out in parts. 32523252    xxx. 14An evil son—his teeth are swords, and his grinders are as harrows, to consume the weak from off the earth, and the poor from among men.”

Such are the lessons in which I have been trained and therefore I was unwilling to return bite for bite, and to attack you by way of retaliation; and I thought it better to exorcise the madness of one who was raving, and to pour in the antidote of a single book into his poisoned breast. But I fear I shall have no success, and that I shall be compelled to sing the song of David, and to take his words for my only consolation:32533253    Ps. lviii. 3–8

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

And again:32543254    Ps. lviii. 10, 11

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

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