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in the pithy and pointed illustrations of Proverbs, find a quarry out of which to draw some of their materials.
Orientalists are at last recognizing the truth that Proverbs are as deserving of their research as coins and inscriptions; and that whereas the latter refer chiefly to kings and the upper classes, Proverbs throw a light on the dark recesses of social life, on archaisms, old customs, history, and ethnology. Even the Zenana, barred to the stranger, opens its portals to let man have a peep in and spy out the thoughts and feelings of woman, who, in the East, depicts her feelings and thoughts in Proverbs and racy sayings.
The Proverbs selected in this book, though limited to those serving to illustrate moral and religious subjects, show how widely scattered nations under similar circumstances have come to similar conclusions ; many of these resemblances arise from the identity of human nature, or are a portion of the spiritual heritage which men brought away with them from the cradle of the human race, and improved on by subsequent communication ; by shewing the acute observation and sharp moral sensibility of the masses, they prove God has not left himself without witness in the human breast; they, therefore, form a basis for those who are labouring to bridge over the gulf between Eastern and Western thought.
The nineteenth century is pre-eminently distinguished for the attention it gives to elevating the masses by knowledge conveyed to them through the acceptable medium of parable and illustration. On this one point East and West concur—that, to tell on the minds of millions, we must make full use of illustrations from Nature and picturing by words. Buddhist preachers and Sufy teachers alike hoist the flag of Emblems, Parables, and Proverbs. Even the Divine Founder of Christianity Himself adopted the same method; for “without a parable spake He not to the people.”
The modern missionary in the East, Spurgeon, Trench, and Ryle in England, bear, in their preaching and writings, testimony equally with the Buddhist and Biblical writings to the value of the Emblem, Parable, and Proverb. The following statement of Scarborough, in his “ Chinese Proverbs," echoes the same sentiment from far-off Kathay =
“ Used as quotations, the value of proverbs in China is immense. So used in conversation, they add a piquancy and a flavour which greatly delights the Chinese, and makes mutual intercourse more easy and agreeable. But it is to the missionary that the value of an extensive acquaintance with Chinese proverbs is of the highest importance. Personal experience, as well as the repeated testimony of others, makes us bold to assert that even a limited knowledge of Chinese proverbs is to him of daily and inestimable value.
A proverb will often serve to rouse the flagging attention of a congregation, or to arrest it at the commencement of a discourse. A proverb will often serve to produce a smile of good nature in an apparently ill-tempered audience, and so to call forth a kindly feeling which did not seem before to exist. And very often a proverb aptly quoted will serve to convey a truth in the most terse and striking manner, so obviating the necessity for detached and lengthy argument, whilst they fix at a stroke the idea you are wishing to convey."
The proverbs in this book have been selected for the illustrations they contain. Proverbs are not the productions of the book-worm or the midnight oil. Proverbs
were before books—they come from the great books of Nature and common sense- from powers of observation, not blunted by book-cram ; hence among the Proverbs in this book, though principally Eastern,* there are very few that are not intelligible to the European mind; like the Proverbs of Solomon, the Psalms, Bunyan's “ Pilgrim's Progress,” and the Arabian Nights, they speak in a language “understanded by the common people.”
While illustrations by Emblem and Proverb indispensable as media for conveying instruction in the East, they are highly valued in Europe also. The following observations of Archbishop Trench will find a response with all those who have aimed at winning the attention of the working classes, the peasantry, and “the. Arabs of Society:"
“Any one who by after investigation has sought to discover how much our rustic hearers carry away, even from sermons to which they have attentively listened, will find that it is hardly ever the course or tenor of the argument, supposing the discourse tu have contained such; but if anything has been uttered, as it used so often to be by the best Puritan preachers, tersely, pointedly, epigrammatically, this will have stayed by them, while all the rest has passed away. Great preachers to the people, such as have found their way to the universal heart of their fellows, have ever been great employers of proverbs.”
The Author will feel greatly obliged for any corrections or additions to this work forwarded for him to the Publishers.
* Many Russian Proverbs are given, which were collected by the Author in Moscow; but the Russians are a semi-Oriental people, and their Proverbs have an Eastern ring about them.
God-fearing the Fountain of Life The Heart the Fountain
of Action—The Wicked are Foxes .