The Plague: To Sin Is the Plague

Book Title: Beschouwing der wereld : bestaande in hondert konstige figuuren, met godlyke spreuken en stichtelyke verzen / door Jan Luiken.

Author: Luiken, Jan, 1649-1712

Image Title: The Plague: To Sin Is the Plague

Scripture Reference:

Description: Two men lay dying in the foreground of a town square. One of them is given something to drink by a third man who holds a hand in front of his mouth. Further away, a dead person is dragged away, persons are dying and bodies are heaped up against a building. The Dutch artist and poet Jan Luiken (1649–1712) was responsible for drawing this emblem and composed the poem that accompanies it. The etching was executed by Jan Luiken or his son Casper Luiken (1672–1708) who adapted this image from one used in an earlier work, which may be found in the Digital Image Archive under the call number 1699Weig. The attendant scripture text is Hosea 13:14.

If thou dost not want to fear,
Make thyself a Holy Shield.

The Plague, a terrible messenger,
With a Scythe in its hand,
That he wields along the roads,
And mows down the flourishing human race,
Esteemed as the grass of the green fields,
Very fiercely and fast;
Cry, be Frightened; so that each one from the report,
Flees grown pale, scared, and skittish,
Because he seems to hear the misery;
Give up status, desire and courage,
Luxury, pleasure, goods and blood,
Everything that thou hast favored.
It directs its fiery arrows,
He, who is hit, with him it’s over,
Who can turn that bold enemy?
Here helps, no smart conduct of war,
Nor heroic courage and valor,
Here helps neither struggling nor defending.
What advice in this great danger?
The Noble little herb against death:
Living attentively and God-fearing.
A loathing of transitoriness,
Of temporary pleasure,
That through desire is raised to a higher good.
Belief, and Hope in God’s Covenant,
Grounded on the foundation of virtue,
That is a Shield, that covers,
The inner heart,
So the arrow of death is avoided,
That would take life away from us.
Though the pestilence death,
Shot its arrow into inferior parts
It would give man no deadly wound;
For if the earthly life would fall,
The true heart of life, the Soul,
Would remain uninjured in the eternal life.
The careful life should then put on,
This noble armor,
Not when it first sees the evil come,
But already of old, so that it learns,
The action of this weapon,
In order not to fear with all the rest.

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

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