The Axe: Do Not Desist

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 Axe: Do Not Desist

Scripture Reference:

Description: A lumberjack wields an axe to fell a tree. In the background two men drag cut-up tree trunks away. 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 Hebrews 10:35-36.

Beginning prepares the path,
But Ending finishes it.

He who wanted to strike one blow with the Axe,
And with that stop the work,
Would not fell the Oak;
But, steady work, with blow upon blow,
Continually, the entire day,
That makes it finally fall over.
He who sees this truth clearly,
No longer deceives himself,
That he will fell the tree of a sinful life,
(Which constantly grows thicker,
And is firmly and tightly enclosed)
With one blow.
Thus do not delay it until the Deathbed,
Through such a thoughtless decision,
But pick up thine axe immediately,
And undertake the labor,
Thou certainly hast work thine entire life,
Or else thou wilt be clearly shamed.
Is it not strange,
That someone, at the very last,
Wishes to begin clearing away,
What obstructs him, from in front of his foot,
Since he must pass that way!
O Man do sharpen thy dumb senses,
And strike (as with a sharp axe,)
Thine entire life at Sin’s trunk.

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

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