The China

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 China

Scripture Reference:

Description: Just as this woman proudly shows her visitor the beautiful porcelain plates displayed along the walls of her home, dishes for show but not for serving food, so many devote their lives to ostentatious display rather than to the cultivation of virtue. According to the attendant scripture (Luke 8:18), such lives are empty and vain and elicit the judgment of God. 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’s only for show.

They are Dishes, but are not used,
To carry Food to the Table,
Which supports life,
But merely serve for pleasure,
As Eye-delight and Ostentation:
They are Empty Vessels, at all times;
Thus Needs pass them by.
And Necessities of life shove them aside.
What is a trunk without treasure?
What is a body without Virtues?
What else than an empty Vessel,
A pleasure for Vanity,
But from which Hunger is never satisfied.
O Man! become one of the useful Vessels,
And thus a friend to the Almighty,
Then art thou Honorable beyond measure.
For nothing else will help thee,
Even though thou art loaded on the outside
With beauty, seen by the world’s eye,
And so art for show with ornaments:
The Vessel that is not useful,
Is by Wisdom only despised.

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

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