A wise man is here advised not to set his wit to a fool’s, not to dispute with him, or by contending with him to think either of fastening reason upon him or gaining right from him: If a wise man contend with a wise man, he may hope to be understood, and, as far as he has reason and equity on his side, to carry his point, at least to bring the controversy to a head and make it issue amicably; but, if he contend with a foolish man, there is no rest; he will see no end of it, nor will he have any satisfaction in it, but must expect to be always uneasy. 1. Whether the foolish man he contends with rage or laugh, whether he take angrily or scornfully what is said to him, whether he rail at it or mock at it, one of the two he will do, and so there will be no rest. However it is given, it will be ill-taken, and the wisest man must expect to be either scolded or ridiculed if he contend with a fool. He that fights with a dunghill, whether he be conqueror or conquered, is sure to be defiled. 2. Whether the wise man himself rage or laugh, whether he take the serious or the jocular way of dealing with the fool, whether he be severe or pleasant with him, whether he come with a rod or with the spirit of meekness (1 Cor. 4:21), it is all alike, no good is done. We have piped unto you, and you have not danced, mourned unto you, and you have not lamented.
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