Transfiguration of the Flesh

[Eph. 2:8-10]-- ' For by grace are ye saved through faith ; and that not of yourselves : it is the gift of God : not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works.'

TRANSFIGURATION! Humanity in the Risen Christ is transfigured, and in that final transfiguration discovers the secret of all its normal growth from the first to the last. That is what we hold. And we mean that man's advance and consumation come to him by virture of his receptivity. His nature is prophetic ; it is capable of becoming the instrument of a higher Power than it can itself account for. It is never complete or intelligible by itself. It waits for a force, beyond its own, to enter it, to possess it, to expand it.

By the arrival within it of this force it discovers itself. It arrives at its true capacities. The story of man is the story, as it unrolls itself, of a cry for some fulfilment which he cannot of himself achieve. It is prophetic. It holds in itself the promise, the potency of what it has not the power to become ; for indeed its own essential reality lies not within its own borders, but in its capacity to receive in itself this arriving power. Human nature is so made that it may become the vehicle and the vessel of this Divine indwelling by which its own qualities will be raised to a higher power and will attain their fuller realization.

It passes down into us. That which is transcendent in Him becomes immanent in us. It recreates. It works upon us. It takes possession. We become remade from within. We become his workmanship, created anew of Jesus Christ. Not of ourselves. It is the gift of God. By grace it is done, through faith.

'We are his workmanship.' We have no single English word to express the Aposle's exact thought, we have to use more than one word and to say that we are 'God's work of art'---to include under that expression all that creation involves and all that redemption implies.

What then, is art? And what is a work of art? In its simplest form, art is the putting of mind into matter, it is the action of thought upon stuff, it is the production of cosmos out of chaos.

Suppose, for instance, that I obtain some lumps of clay, a handful of colors, and a hot fire. Out of these I produce, partly by my fingers, and partly by a potter's wheel, and partly by the assistance of fire, cups and plates in porcelain. One such porcelain vessel was sold recently for several thousands of dollars, though its original materials were worth a few dollars. What made the difference in value? The answer is, that mind made it.

Or, suppose I get me rags, some soot, and some gum, and the quill of a goose ; you combine these together by a series of actions, in a variety of processes of mind co-operating with matter. What do these processes result in? Possibly a Dante's Divina Comedia, and Shakespeare's plays, and Milton's Paradise Lost, and Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress---and in any little books that we may write on our own account.

Or let us go down into the marsh, and pluck a reed. We notice that it is a hollow reed, and we stop one end of it artificially ; at the other we cut a notch, and we blow into the tube thus formed. Do not say "What a noise!"

The humblest reed that trembles in the marsh, If Heaven select it for its instrument, May shed celestial music on the breeze ;

and the more celestial, as the reeds are multiplied and properly placed. For what is that which results? It is the "Moonlight Sonata," and the "Hallelujah Chorus," and "Home, sweet Home." All that, by putting mind into matter.

When St. Paul speaks of the Church as God's work of art, he implies that the Eternal Artist is putting His beauty upon us, He is making His music out of us. For we are His work of art.

In Christ, timothy.