Where I spoke of the “frivolity of beauty,” Adolph Saphir speaks of the God-givenness of superfluities.

I was first introduced to Saphir by my friend and mentor Fred Sanders, who is preparing an edited version of his devotional work, The Hidden Life.  He also pointed me toward this memoir of Saphir’s life, where I found Saphir ruminating on the Miracle at Cana:

This is not a case of people starving, as when in the wilderness Jesus fed them, or of disease and suffering when He in love delivered them from it. This was simply a superfluity, a luxury ; they had no wine, and what does this mean ?—for it is a sign, and must signify something.

That God created man not merely that he should endure existence, that he should drag through life, but that he should rejoice; that there should be a happiness, a festivity, a gladness within him ; not only that he should be reconciled to his existence and have what is needful, but that he should feel within him a music, a rhythm ; that he should be able to say, It is a joy to live, He hath crowned me with loving-kindness and tender mercies.

So that in one sense the world is not wrong when it seeks for the ornamental and the beautiful; it is an instinct of what is true, that God created us for brightness and glory.

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Posted by Matthew Lee Anderson

Matthew Lee Anderson is the Founder and Lead Writer of Mere Orthodoxy. He is the author of Earthen Vessels: Why Our Bodies Matter to our Faith and The End of Our Exploring: A Book about Questioning and the Confidence of Faith. Follow him on Twitter or on Facebook.

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