The Jewel Chest

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 Jewel Chest

Scripture Reference:

Description: As one woman admires the beautiful things in a jewelry chest, another admonishes her that such things pale in comparison with the treasures from the mouth of Christ. Those who obey God will be declared righteous at the end (Romans 2:13). 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: False, compared to the true.

There is a country with rich earth,
Each grain of sand, gold; extraordinary,
Each little piece found,
A Pearl or a precious Stone.
O! (Given the desire for such Treasures,)
If I were in that countryside,
How I would grope and seize,
And fill a desired wished-for bag.
Ignorance, wishes that thou wouldst encounter such,
Where is thy mind then gone?
That country is under thy feet,
Thy blindness steps over it.
Thou dost scorn the wise, who show it to you,
Whose love pities thy great poverty,
Whose favor thou, therefore, dost seek to praise,
So thou wouldst be richly honored.
But in spite of all these witnesses
Though it’s told thee clearly,
Thou dost not wish to bend down,
And pick up what is lying there.
Where are the pearls on the earth,
And the finest gold of the richest country,
The Precious stones high in value,
And the best that anyone ever found,
As dear as the beloved words,
From Christ’s most precious mouth?
If only one would declare those as wealth,
And lock them in the bottom of the heart.
That is the rarest of all,
That is that silver and that gold,
Those are the Pearls and the Precious Stones,
From which the house of salvation is built.
That house that Eternally will not fall down,
That scorns every flood and thunderstorm
And every attack on its walls,
Because it stands on the strong rock.
For how may all things
Granted by the sea and the earth,
(To enrich the flesh and blood)
Compare to what Salvation brings?
Its value cannot be exceeded,
Its Nobility cannot be grasped,
Its virtue no Soul can realize,
That is what surpasses all.
O Words of Christ’s Golden Sayings!
Which like Dew of balsam dripped,
Down from his lips,
Bringing desire for Salvation, not to be bought!
How wise they are who receive thee,
As the most precious Treasure,
How rich they are who acquire thee,
And enclose thee in their heart’s vessel!
Those who not merely with Donkey’s ears
(Which the fleshly heart does not imitate,)
Listen with negligent carelessness,
But listen with the ears of the Soul.
Those who preserve the word of Salvation,
To make it fruitful,
And so gather a Heavenly-treasure,
So that its wealth grows eternally.
These are the Pearls and Jewels,
That thou, the very richest land
Dost want to share from its bounty,
And give from thine open hand.
But while thou art used to grubbing,
Like blind Moles in the earth,
Thou dost kick the Noble with thy feet,
And dost find, what is bad and unworthy.
That, thy ignorance does not want to leave behind,
Because it glitters in the glass eye,
Which cannot be admitted into the Soul,
Because beautiful illusion deceived thee.
But the Noble that thou from now on dost hear,
Whose value is unutterable,
The Eternal speaking Word are words,
Those treasures of mystery,
Which do not shine in the Donkey’s eyes
Of the coarse and dark flesh and blood,
Through which so many are deceived,
But in the Eyes of the Spirit.
The eyes of Faith and Hope,
As the clear eyes of the Soul,
Those stand open for this wealth,
So that its worth fell into them.
Whoever truly wishes to enrich himself,
Should turn the eye of this Time,
To look sharply and well,
To that place where the Gospel leads
An Earth that lies close by for each one,
So that Wealth will be gained.

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

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