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The Wisdom of Solomon: Chapter 4

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1It is better to be childless, provided one is virtuous; for virtue held in remembrance is a kind of immortality, because it wins recognition from God, and also from mankind; 2they follow the good person's example while it is with them, and when it is gone they mourn its loss. Through all time virtue makes its triumphal progress, crowned with victory in the contest for prizes that nothing can tarnish. 3But the swarming progeny of the godless will come to no good; none of their bastard offshoots will strike deep root or take firm hold. 4For a time their branches may flourish, but as they have no sure footing they will be shaken by the wind, and uprooted by the violence of the gales. 5Their boughs will be snapped off half grown, and their fruit will be worthless, unripe, uneatable, and fit for nothing. 6Children engendered in unlawful union are living evidence of their parents' sin when God brings them to account.

7But the just person, even one who dies an untimely death, will be at rest. 8It is not length of life and number of years which bring the honour due to age; 9if people have understanding, they have grey hairs enough, and an unblemished life is the true ripeness of age. 10There was once such a man who pleased God, and God accepted him and took him while still living from among sinners. 11He was snatched away before his mind could be perverted by wickedness or his soul deceived by falsehood 12(because evil is like witchcraft: it dims the radiance of good, and the waywardness of desire unsettles an innocent mind); 13in a short time he came to the perfection of a full span of years. 14His soul was pleasing to the Lord, who removed him early from a wicked world. 15People see this but give it no thought; they do not lay to heart the truth, that those whom God has chosen enjoy his grace and mercy, and that he comes to the help of his holy people.

16Even after his death the just person will shame the godless who are still alive; youth come quickly to perfection will shame the person who has grown old in sin. 17The godless will see the end of the wise person, without understanding what the Lord had purposed for him and why he took him into safe keeping; 18they will see it and make light of him, but it is they whom the Lord will laugh to scorn. In death their bodies will be dishonoured, and among the dead they will be an object of lasting contempt; 19for he will fling them speechless to the ground, shake them from their foundations, and leave them barren as a desert; they will be in anguish, and all memory of them will perish. 20So, on the day of reckoning for their sins, they will come cringing, convicted to their face by their own lawless actions.

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Oxford University Press

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