The Livestock: Captured, to Be Free

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 Livestock: Captured, to Be Free

Scripture Reference:

Description: At a farmhouse, three persons drive the livestock consisting of cows, sheep, and poultry into a stable in order to guard them against attacks by beasts of prey. 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 Luke 14:23.

The Hand, that doesn’t do what we wish,
Is yet the Hand that protects us.

Like the animal,
That goes grazing in the open meadow,
Is taken and driven into a stable,
With pressure, coercion and force,
By humans with more wisdom,
So that, in the course of time,
It is not eaten by the fox,
And by the Wolf, who is lurking.
So are the teachings and laws,
(Which constrict, press and beset,
The life in the large Meadow,
From behind, and from every side)
Only out of love and mercy,
So that it would enter,
Into the open Stable, to hide from the evil,
And escape the very severest harm.
He who now doesn’t want to be forced,
But with his own wild mind,
Wants to jump over Salvation’s enclosure,
And walk again in the large meadow;
Released from constraining bonds,
And chooses that freedom for his part,
Exposes himself to the Enemy’s teeth,
And Hell’s open throat.
O Poor Humans let yourself be guided,
By Him, who is wiser than thou,
We are for him like dumb animals,
Therefore place thyself under his guidance.
Everything he will burden us with,
However bitter, for flesh and blood,
Is only one thing, not to be said in any other way,
Than; come to me, In the Eternal Good.

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

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