The Old Building: They Have Been There

Book Title: De Bykorf des Gemoeds : Honing zaamelende uit allerley Bloemen / Vervattende over de Honderd konstige Figuuren ; Met Godlyke Spreuken En Stichtelyke Verzen, Door Jan Luiken

Author: Luiken, Jan, 1649-1712

Image Title: The Old Building: They Have Been There

Scripture Reference:

Description: A couple in the foreground discusses the ruins of an old building or castle. A man with a cane can be seen through an opening in the ruins; a church is located in the distance. The Dutch artist and poet Jan Luiken (1649-1712), whose initials are at the lower right, was responsible for drawing and etching this emblem, as well as for the poem that accompanies it (below). The attendant Scripture text is 1 Peter 1:24-25.

What remains here, when we are gone,
Does not benefit the poor Soul.

When I regard the Old Building,
I think: O, where are they now!
Those hands, which made all of this,
When it was first completed!
The work remained after they departed,
And lay long in sand and dust,
Decayed, rejected and thrown away,
For hundreds of years forgotten.
O If they haven’t done anything else,
How might it stand with their Souls!
Alas whereto, may they wander,
In darkness and nasty holes!
Since always most hope was directed,
Towards the general world’s course:
But had they in their days,
Put their hands to the work,
And the heart to God’s will,
They would have built walls like a Rock.
So many have appeared before us,
And have again disappeared from the Stage.
Now it is your and my turn,
If only time doesn’t pass away,
In producing many earthly things,
Which remain when we die,
But that we may make in our heart,
That what is taken along,
And remains eternally, in the Eternal life,
To which we are given the plan,
The opportunity and place and time,
Each one of us should then be diligent.

(Translation by Josephine V. Brown, with editorial assistance from William G. Stryker)

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