The Mirrors of the Lord

But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the spirit of the Lord.

— 2 Corinthians 3:18

Of all writers I know, Paul seems to me the most plainly practical in his writing. What has been called his mysticism is at one time the exercise of a power of seeing, as by spiritual refraction, truths that had not, perhaps have not yet, risen above the human horizon; at another, the result of a wide-eyed habit of noting the analogies and correspondences between the concentric regions of creation; it is the working of a poetic imagination divinely alive, whose part is to foresee and welcome approaching truth; to discover the same principle in things that look unlike; to embody things discovered, in forms and symbols heretofore unused, and so present to other minds the deeper truths to which those forms and symbols owe their being.  I find in Paul’s writing the same artistic fault, with the same resulting difficulty, that I find in Shakespeare’s—a fault springing from the admirable fact that the man is much more than the artist—the fault of trying to say too much at once, of pouring out the plethora of a soul swelling with life and its thought, through the too narrow neck of human utterance. Thus we are at times bewildered between two or more meanings, equally good in themselves; but the uncertainty lies always in the intellectual region, never in the practical. What Paul cares about is plain enough to the true heart, however far from plain to the man whose desire to understand goes ahead of his obedience, who starts with the notion that Paul’s design was to teach a system, to explain instead of help to see God, a God that can be revealed only to childlike insight, never to keenest intellect.