"Give - Give" - Dr. K. Schilder 

Translated by: JOHN DE VOS
 

Taken from the Clarion Vol.27, No 20,Oct. 7, 1978
 

From Licht in de Rook, Third printing 1951, W D. Meidema 8. V. - Delft.
 

The horseleech hath two daughters: Give, give. There are three that are never satisfied,. four say not.' enough: the grave and the barren womb, the earth that is not filled with water and the fire that saith not.. it is enough.
 

Proverbs 30:15- 16 In our society of give and take, one need not strain one's ears to hear this demand: "Give, give." Such a voice was also heard by the writer of the Proverbs, and he deems it wisdom to pass on what he learned from it. "Give, give;" this gruff demand comes to him from two, opposite, directions, and in the central point between those extreme positions from where the call resounds stands he, together with his readers. On the one side there is the womb that calls so. From the other side, however, from the open mouth of the grave, comes the same command: "Give, give." And in both is heard the lust of the leech. Because this drinker of blood represents the insatiable monster, the symbol of desire beyond measure. It is the image of that which thrives on the life blood of others, the symbol of that which will never of itself say: "Enough."

Such, then, are the daughters of the leech, that is to say: thus these two - the grave and the womb - have that bloodsucker nature in common. The grave; that is the one great devourer. Like the leech it attaches itself to the crust of the earth from which we were taken and drinks our red blood. Of that no end is in sight. "0 earth, cover not my blood!" Job [1] cries in his misery, when he can see the grave open wide its mouth to drink his blood and close it again to cover Job's blood. But the grave is not satisfied. It has no knowledge of that theme: "Gib dich zufrieden." It does indeed cover Job's blood. But then it goes on: "Give, give; not enough!"

And were the grave the only one to desire without measure, then it would have to remain unsatisfied one day, when no new life would arise to present itself as prey to be devoured. But that would be foolish utopia - at least for the pessimist. There is another power, another "principle," lusting with great desire, it is the closed womb. Also this one calls for labour, is tireless in bringing forth, desiring to open up and to greet life from within. The mating urge is indestructible. Also the womb never relents in calling for action. And this lust for life was earlier than death. It ever precedes the other. But the other follows on its heels. Life and death were not, as is sometimes suggested, twin brothers; the one was first alone. But now that on account of sin death has been placed on life's pathway as its opponent and persecutor, now the grave follows the uterus on its heels, and in that pursuit neither ever gives in. "Give, give," each calls for itself, and neither makes room for the other. Hades penetrates the uterus and the uterus will not be frightened into inactivity by any hades horror tale.

And so, in the circuits of this life, which brings forth for the grave, unless intercession comes from on high, there is no escape; womb and grave will remain insatiable. For their desires there is neither relative nor absolute satisfaction ever to be found.

"Give me children, or I die," cried Rachel. Either the one, or the other; her first wish, because the first desirer does not give in to the second. But: give me children and I die; that, after all, did become reality. The one first, but then the other also; the womb for the tomb: the second desirer does not give in to the first.

Such, then, is the treadmill of life after the Fall. It has some frightening qualities, something like the white-hot fires in the smelter ovens, a never-ceasing labour: the fuel is injected and the ashes are collected, but the fire never goes out while sweating workers change shifts. And as for us, we have been given our place between those two desirers. Before we were aware of them they had already placed their mark on us. And we see no end of that process, no opportunity to stop it. Even in our own existence the womb calls for action, and we answer that call: first come, first serve. We assure the grave of its prey ....

The Bible has a strong word: "In those days shall man seek death, and shall not find it and shall desire to die, and death shall flee from them." Never can one shut the mouth of the hades monster; it ever calls for more. And yet, neither can anyone persuade this hades monster to precede the uterushyena so as to manoeuvre out of the race that supplier of the prey which the other desires to swallow up. They shall indeed both come to an end - at one time. But not through a process designed by us. Only the "catastrophe" of God's judgement in the last day shall move these two desirers into a checkmate position - and end their activity.

Womb and tomb, the giving and the taking, the uncovering and the covering, the building and the breaking force - declared enemies they are, like water and fire. Water; no, never was the earth satiated by it. The ground on which our feet walk never tires of drinking water. If things remain as they are, then the earth can never tell water: "Enough." Because opposing water is fire, and it in turn consumes water. Fire makes water lose its form, decomposing it into vapour, until it has fled so far from the fire with its heat that it can regain its greater density, so that it can rain down, so that it can again come near to the fire, so that it can again be consumed, and go through these stages again and again and again. And vice versa in that continuous, laborious cycle.

And all these things become so weary .[2] As water and fire continuously battle with each other, so cradle and grave are opponents in a continuous struggle, and neither will ever say: "Enough," and neither can ever win or be overcome, neither can consume or be consumed.

And man becomes so tired. He gives birth for the grave; he knows it and takes it for granted. Man cannot cause death to stop life from carrying on, nor can he halt death by living. And, with desire having been placed on the roiling stairs of time, while men keenly seeks this forward motion, that second desirer immediately stretched out its hand to them. That the grave does not say: "Enough," and that the earth never is tired of drinking water they realize it sometimes with horror. But fright wears away. "See, we all," they complain, "we all are as water spilt on the ground which cannot be gathered up again; so we must needs die. [3] and the waterdrinking earth does not say: "Enough"; "the waters fail from the sea and the flood decayeth and drieth up - thus lie men down and stand not." [4] The vicious circle drags them all along, and no one has seen the end.

Therefore, this life of our experiences; therefore, nature can never by itself comfort us. Yet, there is comfort. But it is a comfort that flesh and blood has not conceived. See, you know God's witness. In His word God has told us of a reality, other than that which we perceive from what is before our eyes. It is that which we do not "experience" but only hear proclaimed from the revelation of God; it is this: Whatever calls for more shall once no longer find its desire fulfilled, but remain unsatisfied. God's "catastrophic" involvement after Genesis 1, when He brought forth a world in eruptions of energy, did not relent. Not even after Genesis 3. It presses everything to the final completion, the consummation, the "Catargese" [5] of the grave, and it has already found its glory in a life that is not haunted by the grave: a life out of God's hand, a life of regeneration.

The struggle of two in equilibrium, two who in that respect are equals - it is an endless burden. But if a third one intervenes, then the outcome can still be happiness, provided that third one is the stronger. Or rather: if that third one is the first. Or better yet, if he be THE FIRST. And that THIRD, that First One is there: lord of Hosts is His name.
 

He says "Enough" also to those who choose not to hear it.

He says so to the water.

He says so to the fire.

He says so to the grave.

He says so to the womb.

For, as over the waters of the flood that drenched the earth, God's command "Enough"did once resound, so shall the fire that one day will go through the world again hear God's voice: "Enough."

Water and fire shall not strive for ever. And so shall it be with the womb and the tomb. The womb has known this wondrous thing: the Eternal One has come forth from it. But not according to its own desire. The one that always called: "Give, give," was taken and occupied. It was used and brought to subjection. Thus were its boundaries established. The uterus, without desires of its own designs, had caused to come forth to see the light Him Who would earn the right of catastrophical intercession in the cosmos. That includes also the right of ending, in and through the catastrophes of the day of judgement, the swing of every pendulum. Then it was said - not by, but - to the uterus: "Enough." Then it was Christmas. The womb had not, according. to its nature, taken, but had, supernaturally, been taken. The terminal at the beginning of the world's course, the terminus a quo, was now occupied by the Prince of Life.

And, in its turn, the grave has also contained the Eternal One, according to His human nature. But again that grave could not do its idion, its typically own work, to Him. God had not suffered His Holy One to see corruption. And when that Eternal One came out of the tomb to greet the light, then, after Christmas, it had become Easter. Then it was said - not by, but - to the grave: "Enough." The grave had not, according to its nature, taken, but had, supernaturally, been taken. The terminal at the end of the world's course, the terminus ad quem, was now occupied by the Prince of Life.

Thus the whole world course was then in the hands of the Prince of Life. That brings great joy to all the cosmos.

That which was in itself insatiable and restless has by God Himself been brought to the fulfilment and so was stilled. The -numerous clausis" of election and rejection, and thus of God's steadfast counsel, could not be related to a mechanically guided law of nature, nor to a blind fate. Therefore, God allowed no blind play of chance to intervene in the course of humanity between the terminus a quo and the terminus ad quem. Thus, when he occupied both stations, desiring to hold on to that "numerous clausis," God's counsel prevailed therein, prevailing for ever and ever. That, then, is the proclamation of Christmas and of Easter, which since Pentecost has been spread over the world, there to run its due course.

Therefore, let all the house of Israel know assuredly that this gospel is not of nature, but from the eternal Spirit. Not the undefined experience, but only the all-defining revelation has made that known to us. The weariness of empirical nature can only be overcome by the comfort of the authoritative gospel. For what no eye in turbulent waters and in raging fires has ever seen, nor ear has heard in birth-cry or death-rattle, and what in the heart of man with his contemplations on the shiftiness of beginning and end has not been conceived, that has God on the Feasts of Christ's birth and of His resurrection prepared for those who love Him.

And now all is well. Now the struggle between life and death is not the end of everything. Now bitterness is not without that which sweetens neither is death outside the realm of Him, Who brings about the eternal peace. Now rebirth prevails over birth; the first resurrection decides for the second one. Sunday now precedes Friday. Dying unto sin means death to all dying. Now the uterus has been taken into service and hades has been called to liturgy (that is, service in the Kingdom). Now can our song of praise again be heard, of praise, not to "Love," but to the God Who made His love to shine in peace on that dark domain between the cradle and the grave:
 

'Midst myriads lost ones, Thee ignoring, yielding curse nor praise,

Thy chosen people Thee adoring joyful anthems raise.

Tears Thou sendest, and through blur of wet stained broken light,

dawns new morrow, with the stir of eyes regaining sight.

Fear and valour, from Thy giving hands, heavenly bread was won

Endless sweet from Thee the Living, death bitterness has undone. [6]

Twice has a word been underlined in the last stanza. Without that, it would be an accursed heresy. But now it can be said with the Catechism: Lord's Day 14 of the uterus, Lord's Day 16 of hades, and over all: Immanuel.

There is for us a terminus a quo. There is no longer one ad quem.

[1] Job 16:18.

[2] Ecclesiastes 1.

[3] 11 Samuel 14:14.

[4] Job 14:11-12.

[5] Biblical word meaning: "making inactive," and thus ineffective.

[6] P.C. Bouteus, Invocatis Amoris - Vergeten liedjes (translated).
 

Note from the translator:
 

"K.S." could bring a simple message in a most brilliant way. Above is an attempt to restate in English one of those gems, one of which I had become very fond. Much of the brilliance will have been lost in the process. But the message is there, in all its simplicity. If along with that, some of the poetic qualities in Schilder's writing are still found back in this translation, I shall be more than happy.

JOHN DE VOS
 

*Printed [in Clarion] with permission of W.D. Meidema B.V., Delft, The Netherlands.