The Portal Bell: Better on Time Than Too Late

Book Title: De bykorf des gemoeds : honing zaamelende uit allerly bloemen / vervattende over de honderd konstige figuuren ; met godlyke spreuken en stichtelyke verzen, door Jan Luiken

Author: Luiken, Jan, 1649-1712

Image Title: The Portal Bell: Better on Time Than Too Late

Scripture Reference:

Description: A man tolls the bell next to the city gate; two men, a woman, a child, and a dog run along the wall of the city to reach the gate before it closes. 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 Revelation 22:14.

He who hears the Bell being tolled,
Should think about Heaven’s-gate.

The Bell tolls, the Gate will close,
Each one hurries from outside to the city,
Before the horrid night overcomes him:
When the closing of the gate,
Would shock him as if in exile,
And would keep the entire City walled in.
How the Gospels are heard,
So clearly by everyone’s ears,
That Bell of Heaven’s Gate!
During the entire time of human life,
Which God has given to each one,
How many go slowly forward!
How many sit down to rest,
Who don’t even feel like going on,
Notwithstanding that dismal night,
That long eternal lasting night,
Those walls too high to be climbed,
And the moat too deep to wade through!
That night, that will keep life,
In pain, and regret, and repenting,
From all too shameful neglect,
Because of the delay from all the trifles,
While his feet went strolling,
But disgrace lay in wait.
O Lazy, careless, and slow Soul,
Awake from the dream and hurry,
The Bell has already tolled for a long time,
Who knows how quickly it will stop,
That thou wilt not make it inside,
When that Gate of all gates closes.

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

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