The Washtub

Book Title: Het leerzaam huisraad : vertoond in vyftig konstige figuuren, met godlyke spreuken en stichtelyke verzen / door Jan Luiken

Author: Luiken, Jan, 1649-1712

Image Title: The Washtub

Scripture Reference:

Description: Washing clothes requires hard work, hot water, and soap, just as perseverance and divine assistance sustain the righteous life (Psalm 51:9-10, though Psalm 51:11-12 appears in the text). The poem notes that souls are cleansed through forgiveness and grace, but also require one to work hard to keep out lust and other evils from the soul. The Dutch artist and poet Jan Luiken (1649–1712), whose initials are at the lower right, was responsible for drawing and etching this emblem and wrote the accompanying poem.

Motto: Indeed, the most worthy.

The Garment becomes clean again: but how?
It doesn’t happen without suffering:
Not without water, fire and lye:
But it must go through this roughness,
To be rid of its dirt,
And become pleasing to the Eye.
Many dirty Souls in general,
Fearing this cleansing,
Are comforted with these dreams;
That they so dirty and gritty,
Into the cleanest house of all,
Still will be admitted:
Or become clean through a wish:
And without suffering by the Old man,
Through favor, forgiveness and mercy:
As if the dirty linen garment said,
I would like to be clean, without suffering:
That, the cleansing-hand would despise.
Mercy exists, very much so,
But thou dost desire it around thee,
And dost turn it with force inside,
So that, without pushing out
The unworthy thing of earthly desire,
It gains a place in thy Soul.
Stand sometime before this Mirror,
And consider how it will end with thee.

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

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