The Mortar

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 Mortar

Scripture Reference:

Description: While a child empties a container with coarse pieces onto a table, a servant uses a mortar and pestle to crush them. Luiken’s poem likens the coarse pieces, to be ground fine with the mortar and pestle, to the crosses that humans need to endure. People must choose between remaining coarse through their sins or suffering briefly when ground finely to escape eternal suffering. Similarly, the prophet Isaiah saw a redemptive purpose in the punishments that God meted out to his people (Isaiah 12:1). 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: It is necessary.

The Mortar serves, to break coarse things,
And make them into dust;
So breaks the coarse and hard Heart,
When it must suffer and endure,
The pounding and the blows of the cross,
To become of service to God.
Yet everyone is full of fears,
To be put in that Mortar,
Would rather be coarse and useless,
In the unbroken and free life,
Surrounded by the Rest and Desire of the flesh,
While the Narrow-Gate, demands, rather, the Fine matter.
How will the choice then be made here,
Between these Two things?
One places them together on the Scale,
Of well and mature consideration,
And sees then clearly and completely,
Which one, weighs more than the other:
Either Suffering for a brief time,
For Eternal endless rejoicing,
Or short luxury and desire,
That vanishes like a Dream in the night,
To await Eternal endless suffering,
Where pain’s fire is not extinguished.
He who watches closely here with his eyes,
And is not deceived by sorcery,
Does not have broad and long deliberation;
Whether it is best, to continue in the Coarse,
Or to become fine in the Mortar,
Where suffering is beaten into Eternal joy.
(Translation by Josephine V. Brown, with editorial assistance from William G. Stryker).

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