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additional illumination from every source, yet if left to themselves appeal to every people and every age. And such considerations apply with special force to the works contemplated in such a series as this; works in the historic discussion of which scholarship of equal eminence can be cited as pronouncing with equal positiveness on opposite sides of irreconcilable alternatives; while merely to state accurately the position of authorities makes a bulk of discussion sufficient to crowd out the thing discussed.

The Proverbs, which is the subject of the present volume, is a Miscellany of Wisdom in five books. Four of these are various collections of the isolated proverbs and sayings; the first book contains Poems on Wisdom in general. It may be well for the reader to know beforehand what is the matter and form of the literature he is to encounter.

To speak first of the proverbs themselves. Their fundamental topic is the world controversy between good and evil, wisdom and folly; both the antagonism itself and the judgment that is to decide between them. This judgment is not that which the prophets sometimes paint - a great Day of the Lord in which the whole earth is doomed, but a continual judgment, going on at all periods and in every individual life, by which the evil are constrained to bow before the good. Even the righteous are to be recompensed in the earth: how much more the

COPYRIGHT, 1895,
BY MACMILLAN AND CO.

Set up and electrotyped November, 1895. Reprinted January, April, July, November, 1896; January, July, No. vember, 1897: July, 1898; January, 1900 ; July, 1901.

Norwood Press
J. 8. Cushing & Co. - Berwick & Smith

Norwood Mass. U.S.A.

INTRODUCTION

NKTI

Trans, from Thet. 7-16-2

In the wide range of books described by the collective title “The Bible' a department that stands out separate from all the rest is Wisdom Literature. Side by side with prophets defending the theocracy and singers taking their inspiration from Temple service, with historians compiling annals of kings and scribes expounding the law, there was a class of Wise Men, who had habits of thought and forms of literature peculiar to themselves. Prophecy has much in common with the lyric psalms; prophecy again overlaps with history, and the line between historic and epic narrative is difficult to draw. But every reader feels how the proverbs of practical life differ from prophetic denunciations of sin, and how widely apart are the lyrics of worship and lyric celebrations of wisdom. Yet this is a distinctness in which there is no clashing: the wise hav reached the same conclusions as the prophets and psalm ists, only they have reached them by a different route. It is true that the name of Israel is found in only one of the books of wisdom, and only two give any recognition to

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the chosen people; there is not a hint in these books of Messianic hopes, and in only one place is there a reference to Temple service; there is little said even of a personal God. The wise have, not inappropriately, been called humanists; but it would be a great mistake to describe their works as secular. The whole is pervaded by a spirit of devoutness; and if there is little discussion of God it is plainly because the idea of God is so entirely taken for granted.

The principle underlying Wisdom literature and giving it its unity may be described by the single word Observation. The prophet rests his message on an immediate Divine revelation: the wise men only claim to have observed life Modern Science is not more faithful to its root idea of examining details and grouping results than is the wisdom of the Bible to its principle of analytic observation. This same idea of observation gives us a key for determining the relation of the books of wisdom to one another. The earlier works, Proverbs and Ecclesiasticus, give us only Isolated Observations of life; these are reflected in brief proverbs, or in literary forms but little removed from proverbs, and each is entirely distinct and complete in itself. The further notion of the connectedness of all things is not ignored in these earlier books, but is looked upon as no subject for reflective analysis ; the wise men approach the universe as a whole with feelings only of adoration, and the philosopher becomes a poet singing of

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