Bodily Deformity — Spiritual Beauty
Timothy Shay Arthur, 1856
Who has not observed in passing through the crowded streets of our city, how great, comparatively, is the number of those, who are more or less deformed? My heart aches for these poor unfortunates, who are deprived of some of the legitimate avenues of enjoyment which God has so bounteously given to me.
Here is one (and it would seem to me the most unmitigated of all the catalogue) who is groping his way along in darkness, holding fast the hand of a little girl. There is another who has lost a limb, and makes his way along with the utmost difficulty. Yonder is one so extremely deformed, that his sensitiveness forbids him to often appear in the crowded streets. And there is another still, who is quite helpless, sitting in a little wagon drawn about by a faithful dog.
In the minds of different individuals, these various aspects of deformity produce pity, disgust, and horror; but I have often thought, could we but look, as God looks — down into the audience chamber of the spirit — the heart — how differently our minds would be affected at the sight of these bodily deformities.
Perhaps yon poor blind man, grinding away upon his hand-organ, whose natural eyes for long, weary years, have been closed against the profusion of beauty around him — has had the eyes of his understanding opened, and the pure light from the eternal throne illumes the depth of his soul.
Perhaps he, who hobbles slowly and sadly along upon his crutches, treads with care and unknown joy, the 'narrow way' — and when, life's journey's over, he walks through the valley of the shadow of death, he will fear no evil; for a rod and a staff unknown to his earthly pilgrimage, 'they will comfort him'.
Who shall say but he, whose deformity drives him from the public way, walks continually before God — a perfect man?
It may be, that yon helpless one — 'so' helpless that his mother feeds him — has power to move the arm that moves the world; for God hears his prayers.
It is a most solemn truth, that He who is the judge of the living and the dead, looks not upon the 'outer' man — but upon his inner, spiritual nature. With His judgment, it matters not, that a man is deformed; that his eyes are blind; or his tongue is tied. Is the heart all right? Has it become a sanctuary, fit for the Spirit's residence and lighted by the Sun of Righteousness, where every word, thought, and deed, becomes an acceptable sacrifice to God? Is it not disturbed by sin, or blinded by passion? These are the things which are important, in the estimate which God puts upon every intelligent creature. Take good care then, my brother pilgrim, that your heart is right — though the body which covers it for a little season — is distorted and maimed.