The Holy Bible – Knox Translation
The Book of Ecclesiasticus
Naught that is, but God made it; he, the source of all right, the king that reigns for ever unconquerable.
And wouldst thou tell the number of his creatures,
trace his marvellous doings to their origin,
set forth in words the greatness of his power, or go further yet, and proclaim his mercies?
God’s wonders thou shalt learn to understand, when thou hast learned to increase the number of them, or diminish it.
Reach thou the end of thy reckoning, thou must needs begin again; cease thou from weariness, thou hast nothing learnt.
Tell me, what is man, what worth is his, what power has he for good or ill?
What is his span of life? Like a drop in the ocean, like a pebble on the beach, seem those few years of his, a hundred at the most, matched with eternity.
What wonder if God is patient with his human creatures, lavishes mercy on them?
If none reads, as he, their proud heart, none knows, as he, the cruelty of their doom;
and so he has given his clemency full play, and shewed them an even path to tread.
Man’s mercy extends only to his neighbour; God has pity on all living things.
He is like a shepherd who cares for his sheep, guides and controls all alike;
welcome thou this merciful discipline of his, run thou eagerly to meet his will, and he will shew pity on thee.
My son, bestow thy favours ungrudgingly, nor ever mar with harsh words the gladness of thy giving.
Not more welcome the dew, tempering the sun’s heat, than the giver’s word, that counts for more than the gift.
Better the gracious word than the gracious gift; but, wouldst thou acquit thyself perfectly, let both be thine.
The fool, by his scolding, mars all; never yet did eye brighten over a churl’s giving.
First arm thyself with a just cause, then stand thy trial; first learn, then speak.
Study thy health before ever thou fallest sick, and thy own heart examine before judgement overtakes thee; so in God’s sight thou shalt find pardon.
While health serves thee, do penance for thy sins, and then, when sickness comes, shew thyself the man thou art.✻
From paying thy vows✻ let naught ever hinder thee; shall death find thee still shrinking from acquitting thyself of the task? God’s award stands for ever.
And before ever thou makest thy petition, count well the cost.✻ Let it not be said of thee that thou didst invite God’s anger.
When his vengeance is satisfied, bethink thee still of his vengeance; of his retribution, when his glance is turned away.✻
When all abounds, bethink thee of evil times; of pinching poverty, when thou hast wealth in store.
Between rise and set of sun the face of things alters; swiftly God changes all;
and he is wisest who walks timorously, shunning carelessness in a world where sins abound.
They are well advised that master wisdom’s secret; much cause for thankfulness she bestows on him who finds her.
Wise man that has the gift of utterance does more than wisely live; no stranger to truth and right, he is a fountain of true sayings and of right awards.
Do not follow the counsel of appetite; turn thy back on thy own liking.
Pamper those passions of thine, and joy it will bring, but to thy enemies.
Love not the carouse, though it be with poor men; they will be vying still one with another in wastefulness.
And wouldst thou grow poor with borrowing to pay thy shot, thou with thy empty coffers? That were to grudge thy own life.
The Holy Bible