Brethren Archive

His Workmanship We Are.

by Harold St John

The above phrase occurs in Paul's masterpiece, the Epistle to the Ephesians (2: 10 R.V.) and, as is well known, the noun, in the Greek, which he so strongly emphasizes, is poema, from which is derived our word "poem."
But words, like coins, often get defaced or clipped in course of circulation and in this case, "poema" stands for any work of art and not merely, as with us, the expression of high thoughts in harmonious verse.
How shall we define art?  Surely it is simply the action of mind upon matter, of thought upon material, the production of cosmos out of chaos.
For instance, a tinker once sat in jail with a bottle of soot, a goose's quill and some pieces of parchment; the work of art was finished when Pilgrim's Progress was completed.
Two centuries ago, a man sat at a wheel with a lump of wet clay with an oven near at hand; the result was sold at Christie's the other day for 1200 pounds, and the purchaser of that china jar seemed to be well satisfied.
Sixty centuries ago, in a garden, Jehovah Elohim took of the dust of the ground and made (potted) a man; scarcely was His work finished than a shadow and a blow fell upon it and His work lay ruined.
With exhaustive patience, He waited for centuries and at last sent One into the world who confessed, "I am like a broken vessel," but through that "breaking," God is making His masterpieces in five continents today!
At Ephesus, Paul had found a mass of devil-driven and shameful men and women in a cemetery (ch. 2: 1, 2), but after three years of toil, he looks at his work and then at himself and writes with mingled humility and pride "His workmanship we are."
It is a dignified and awe-inspiring reflection that each one of us is lying beneath the hand of an Artist and that soon He will be satisfied with His work, and, putting His name upon it, will set it on a shelf or give it its place in the libraries of eternity.
What first started my mind upon this chain of thought was an incident that I came, across lately and, as it seems to offer us a very perfect specimen of the divine handiwork, I give it.
In a certain ironworks in Yorkshire, a brother is employed as a metal worker, and since his witness is clear and decisive, he is strongly disliked by a certain section.
One day when he was out at dinner, some of his fellow-workers took one of his tools, heated it in the furnace until it was white and then dropped in into the dust.
A moment later, the Christian entered the shop and walking to his place, noticed the fallen tool and stooping, grasped it with his right hand—he dropped it at once, but the shop was filled with the sickening odor of burnt flesh.
There was a brief pause and then, holding up his maimed hand, he quietly said, "Mates, I shan't be able to work for a few days; I'm going home to ask God's blessing upon you all and especially upon those of you who did this." 
Any comment would spoil that story.
“The Believer's Magazine" 1929

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