The Hammer: Everything Has Its Requirement

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 Hammer: Everything Has Its Requirement

Scripture Reference:

Description: A man demonstrates to two visitors how he will use a hammer to hit a nail into the wall; a basket full of nails is located on a nearby table. A city scene can be viewed through the open doors. 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 Ecclesiastes 12:11.

If hitting does not make it happen,
With pushing it would not succeed at all.

Where is the Man with such strength,
Who without the stroke of a hammer,
Drives the Nail into the wall with the hand?
His fists put honor to shame.
The Heart demands a hard resistance:
Hard is the Hard of human life,
But Wisdom’s Nail, was not,
By soft fists driven in.
Through the soft life of Nature,
Must this not be undertaken,
But through bitter and sour,
Can this business come to an End.
Not through comfort and ease,
Would Wisdom prepare us for Salvation,
But through suffering and sorrow,
Will its hand lead us to Heaven.
Thus is the condition of the flesh,
From worldly desire and pleasure,
That soft and tender hand,
Wholly incapable of hammering in nails.
Whoever then still wishes, that in his flesh,
The Nail of Wisdom would be hammered,
Should leave what he found earlier,
Obtained through wealth and pleasure:
A firm focused mind,
In the hands of the desire for God,
Does hammer in the Nail of Wisdom,
So as to gain the most important benefit.

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

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