COMMUNION ADDRESS AT MENTONE."Yea, He is altogether lovely."-Song of
Solomon v. 16.
soul that is familiar with the Lord worships Him in the outer court of
nature, wherein it admires His works, and is charmed by every thought of
what He must be who made them all. When that soul enters the nearer circle
of inspiration, and reads the wonderful words of God, it is still more
enraptured, and its admiration is heightened. In revelation, we see the
same all-glorious Lord as in creation, but the vision is more clear, and
the consequent love is more intense.
Word is an inner court to the Creation; but there is yet an innermost
sanctuary, and blessed are they who enter it, and have fellowship with the
Lord Himself. We come to Christ, and in coming to Him we come to God; for
Jesus says, "He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father." When we know the
Lord Jesus, we stand before the mercy-seat, where the glory of Jehovah
shineth forth. I like to think of the text as belonging to those who are
as priests unto God, and stand in the Holy of holies, while they say,
"Yea, He is altogether lovely." His works are marvellous, His words are
full of majesty, but He Himself is altogether lovely.
we come into this inner circle? All do not enter here. Alas! many are far
off from Him, and are blind to His beauties. "He was despised and rejected
of men," and He is so still. They do not see God in His works, but dream
that these wonders were evolved, and not created by the Great Primal
Cause. As for His words, they seem to them as idle tales, or, at best, as
inspired only in the same sense as the language of Shakespeare or Spenser.
They see not the Lord in the stately aisles of Holy Scripture; and have no
vision of Himself. May He, who openeth the eyes of the blind, have pity on
Certain others are in a somewhat happier position, for they are enquirers
after Christ. They are like the persons who, in the ninth verse of the
chapter, asked, "What is thy Beloved more than another beloved, 0 thou
fairest among women? What is thy Beloved more than another beloved, that
thou dost so charge us?" They want to know who this Jesus is. But they
have not seen Him yet, and cannot join with the spouse in saying, "He is
we enter this sacred inner circle, we must become witnesses, as she does
who speaks of Christ, "Yea, He is altogether lovely." She knows what He
is, for she has seen Him. The verses which precede the text are a
description of every feature of the heavenly Bridegroom; all His members
are there set forth with richness of Oriental imagery. The spouse speaks
what she knows. Have we, also, seen the Lord? Are we His familiar
acquaintances? If so, may the Lord help us to understand our text!
we are to know the full joy of the text, we must come to our Lord as His
intimates. He permits us this high honour, since, in this ordinance, He
makes us His table-companions. He says, "Henceforth I call you not
servants; but I have called you friends." He calls upon us to eat bread
with Him; yea, to partake of Himself, by eating His flesh and drinking His
blood. Oh, that we may
pass beyond the outward signs into the closest intimacy with Himself!
Perhaps, when you are at home, you will examine the spouse's description
of her Lord. It is a wonderful piece of tapestry. She has wrought into its
warp and woof all things charming, sweet, and precious. In Him she sees
all lovely colours,-"My Beloved is white and ruddy." In comparison with
Him all others fail, for He is "chief among ten thousand" chieftains. She
cannot think of Him as comparable to anything less valuable than "fine
gold." She sees, soaring in the air, birds of divers wing; and these must
aid her, whether it be the raven or the dove. The rivers of waters, and
the beds of spices and myrrh-dropping lilies, must come into the picture,
with sweet flowers and goodly cedars. All kinds of treasured things are in
Him; for He is like to gold rings set with the beryl, and bright ivory
overlaid with sapphires, and pillars of marble set upon sockets of fine
gold. She labours to describe His beauty and His excellency, and strains
all comparisons to their utmost use, and somewhat more; and yet she is
conscious of failure, and therefore sums up all with the pithy sentence,
"Yea, He is altogether lovely."
the Holy Spirit will help me, I should like to lift the veil, that we may,
in sacred contemplation, look on our Beloved.
We would do so, first, with reverent emotions. In the words before us,
"Yea, He is altogether lovely," two emotions are displayed, namely,
admiration and affection.
is admiration which speaks of Him as "altogether lovely" or beautiful.
This admiration rises to the highest degree. The spouse would fain show
that her Beloved is more than any other beloved; therefore she cries, "He
is altogether lovely." Surely no one else has reached that point. Many are
lovely, but no one save Jesus is "altogether lovely." We see something
that is lovely in one, and another point is lovely in another; but all
loveliness meets in Him. Our soul knows nothing which can rival Him: He is
the gathering up of all sorts of loveliness to make up one perfect
loveliness. He is the climax of beauty; the crown of glory; the uttermost
admiration of Him, also, is unrestrained. The spouse dared to say, even in
the presence of the daughters of Jerusalem, who were somewhat envious,
"Yea, He is altogether lovely." They knew not, as yet, His perfections;
they even asked, "What is thy Beloved more than another beloved?" But she
was not to be blinded by their want of sympathy, neither did she withhold
her testimony from fear of their criticism. To her, He was "altogether
lovely", and she could say no less. Our admiration of Christ is such that
we would tell the kings of the earth that they have no majesty in His
presence; and tell the wise men that He alone is wisdom; and tell the
great and mighty that He is the blessed and only Potentate, King of kings,
and Lord of lords.
admiration of our Lord is inexpressible. We can never tell all we know of
our Lord; yet all our knowledge is little. All that we know is, that His
love passeth knowledge, that His excellence baffles understanding, that
His glory is unutterable. We can embrace Him by our love, but we can
scarcely touch Him with our intellect, He is so high, so glorious. As to
describing Him, we cry, with Mr. Berridge,-
"Then my tongue would fain express All His love and loveliness;
I lisp, and falter forth
Broken words, not half His worth. "Vex'd, I try and try again,
Still my efforts all are vain:
Living tongues are dumb at best,
must die to speak of Christ."
is altogether lovely." Do we not feel an inexpressible admiration for Him?
There is none like unto Thee, 0 Son of God!
Still, our paramount emotion is not admiration, but affection. "He is
altogether"-not beautiful, nor admirable,-but "lovely." All His beauties
are loving beauties towards us, and beauties which draw our hearts towards
Him in humble love. He charms us, not by a cold comeliness, but by a
living loveliness, which wins our hearts. His is an approachable beauty,
which not only overpowers us with its glory, but holds us captive by its
charms. We love Him: we cannot do otherwise, for "He is altogether
lovely." He has within Himself and unquenchable flame of love, which sets
our soul on fire. He is all love, and all the love in the world is less
than His. Put together all the loves of husband wives, parents, children,
brothers, sisters, and they only make a drop compared with His great deeps
of love, unexplored and unexplorable. This love of His has a wonderful
power to beget love in unlovely hearts, and to nourish it into a mighty
force. " It is a torrent which sweeps all before it when its founts break
forth within the soul. It is a Gulf Stream in which all icebergs melt.
When our heart is full of love to Jesus, His loveliness becomes the
passion of the soul, and sin and self are swept away. May we feel it now!
There He stands: we know Him by the thorn-crown, and the wounds, and the
visage more marred than that of any man! He suffered all this for us. 0
Son of man! 0 Son of God! With the spouse, we feel, in the inmost depths
of our soul, that Thou art "altogether lovely."
would I lift the veil a second time, with deep solemnity, not so much to
suggest emotions as to secure your intelligent assurance of the fact that
"He is altogether lovely." We say this with absolute certainty. The spouse
places a "Yea" before her enthusiastic declaration, because she is sure of
it. She sees her Beloved, and sees Him to be altogether lovely. This is no
fiction, no dream, no freak of imagination, no outburst of partiality. The
highest love to Christ does not make us speak more than the truth; we are
as reasonable when we are filled with love to Him as ever we were in our
lives; nay, never are we more reasonable than when we are carried clean
away by a clear perception of His superlative excellence.
us meditate upon the proof of our assertion. "He is altogether lovely" in
His person. He is God. The glory of Godhead I must leave in lowly silence.
Yet is our Jesus also man, more emphatically man than anyone here present
this afternoon, for we are English, American, French, German, Dutch,
Russian; but Christ is man, the second Adam, the Head of the race: as
truly as He is very God of very God, so is He man, of the substance of His
mother. What a marvellous union! The miracle of miracles! In his
incomparible personality He is altogether lovely; for in Him we see how
God comes down to man in condescension, and how man goes up to God in
close relationship. There is no other such as He, in all respects, even in
heaven itself: in His personality He must ever stand alone, in the eyes of
both God and man, "altogether lovely."
for His character, time would fail us to enter upon that vast subject; but
the more we know of the character of our Lord, and the more we grow like
Him, the more lovely will it appear to us. In all aspects, it is
lovely; in all its minutiae and details, it is perfect; and as a whole, it
is perfection's model. Take anyone action of His, look into its mode, its
spirit, its motive, and all else that can be revealed by a microscopic
examination, and it is "altogether lovely." Consider his life, as a whole,
in reference to God, to man, to His friends, to His foes, to those around
Him, and to the ages yet to be, and you shall find it absolutely perfect.
More than that: there is such a thing as a cold perfection, with which one
can find no fault, and yet it commands no love; but in Christ, our
Well-beloved, every part of His character attracts. To a true heart, the
life of Christ is as much an object of love as of reverence: "He is
altogether lovely." We must love that which we see in Him: admiration is
not the word. When cold critics commend Him, their praise is half an
insult: what know these frozen hearts of our Beloved? As for a word
against Him, it wounds us to the soul. Even an omission of His praise is a
torture to us. If we hear a sermon which has no Christ in it, we weary of
it. If we read a book that contains a slighting syllable of Him, we abhor
it. He, Himself, has become everything to us now, and only in the
atmosphere of fervent love to Him can we feel at home.
Passing from His character to His sacrifice; there especially "He is
altogether lovely." You may have read "Rutherford's Letters"; I hope you
have. How wondrously he writes, when he describes his Lord in garments red
from His sweat of blood, and with hands bejewelled with His wounds! When
we view His body taken down from the cross, all pale and deathly, and
wrapped in the cerements of the grave, we see a strange beauty in Him. He
is to us never more lovely than when we read in our Beloved's white and
red that His Sacrifice is accomplished, and He has been obedient unto
death for us. In Him, as the sacrifice once offered, we see our pardon,
our life, our heaven, our all So lovely is Christ in His sacrifice, that
He is for ever most pleasing to the great Judge of all, ay, so lovely to
His Father, that He makes us also lovely to God the Father, and we are
"accepted in the Beloved." His sacrifice has such merit and beauty in the
sight of heaven, that in Him God is well pleased, and guilty men become in
Him pleasant unto the Lord. Is not His sacrifice most sweet to us? Here
our guilty conscience finds peace; here we see ourselves made comely in
His comeliness. We cannot stand at Calvary, and see the Saviour die, and
hear Him cry, "It is finished," without feeling that "He is altogether
lovely." Forgive me that I speak so coolly! I dare not enter fully into a
theme which would pull up the sluices of my heart.
Remember what He was when He rose from the grave on the third day. Oh, to
have seen Him in the freshness of His resurrection beauty! And what will
He be in His glory, when He comes again the second time, and all His holy
angels with Him, when He shall sit upon the throne of His glory, and
heaven and earth shall flee away before His face? To His people He will
then be "altogether lovely." Angels will adore Him, saints made perfect
will fall on their faces before Him; and we ourselves shall feel that, at
last, our heaven is complete. We shall see Him, and being like Him, we
shall be satisfied.
Every feature of our Lord is lovely. You cannot think of anything that has
to do with Him which is unworthy of our praise. All over glorious is our
Lord. The spouse speaks of His head, His locks, His eyes, His cheeks, His
lips, His hands, His legs, His countenance, His mouth; and when she has
mentioned them all, she sums up with reference to all by saying, "Yea, He
is altogether lovely."
There is nothing unlovely about Him. Certain persons would be beautiful
were it not for a wound or a bruise, but our Beloved is all the more
lovely for His wounds; the marring of His countenance has enhanced its
charms. His scars are, for glory and for beauty, the jewels of our King.
To us He is lovely even from that side which others dread: His very frown
has comfort in it to His saints, since He only frowns on evil. Even His
feet, which are "like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace,"
are lovely to us for His sake; these are His poor saints, who are sorely
tried, but are able to endure the fire. Everything of Christ, everything
that partakes of Christ, everything that hath a flavour or savour of
Christ, is lovely to us.
There is nothing lacking about His loveliness. Some would be very lovely
were there a brightness in their eyes, or a colour in their countenances:
but something is away. The absence of a tooth or of
an eyebrow may spoil a countenance, but in Christ Jesus there is no
omission of excellence. Everything that should be in Him is in Him;
everything that is conceivable in perfection is present to perfection in
Him is nothing excessive. Many a face has one feature in it which is
overdone; but in our Lord's character everything is balanced and
proportionate. You never find His kindness lessening His holiness, nor His
holiness eclipsing His wisdom, nor His wisdom abating His courage, nor His
courage injuring His meekness. Everything is in our Lord that should be
there, and everything in due measure. Like rare spices, mixed after the
manner of the apothecary, our Lord's whole person, and character, and
sacrifice, are as incense sweet unto the Lord.
Neither is there anything in our Lord which is incongruous with the rest.
In each one of us there is, at least, a little that is out of place. We
could not be fully described without the use of a "but." If we could all
look within, and see ourselves as God sees us, we should note a thousand
matters, which we now permit, which we should never allow again. But in
the Well-beloved all is of a piece, all is lovely; and when the sum of the
whole is added up, it comes to an absolute perfection of loveliness: "Yea,
He is altogether lovely."
are sure that the Lord Jesus must be Himself exceedingly lovely, since He
gives loveliness to His people. Many saints are lovely in their lives; one
reads biographies of good men and women which make us wish to grow like
them; yet all the loveliness of all the most holy among men has come from
Jesus their Lord, and is a copy of His perfect beauty. Those who write
well do so because He sets the copy.
What is stranger and more wonderful still, our Lord Jesus makes sinners
lovely. In their natural state, men are deformed and hideous to the eye of
God; and as they have no love to God, so He has no delight in them. He is
weary of them, and is grieved that He made men upon the earth. The Lord is
angry with the wicked every day. Yet, when our Lord Jesus comes in, and
covers these sinful ones with His righteousness, and, at the same time,
infuses into them His life, the Lord is well pleased with them for His
Son's sake. Even in heaven, the infinite Jehovah sees nothing which
pleases Him like His Son. The Father from eternity loved His
Only-begotten, and again and again He hath said of Him, "This is My
beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." What higher encomium can be
passed upon Him?
we had time to think over this subject, we should say of our Lord that He
is lovely in every office. He is the most admirable Priest, and King, and
Prophet that ever yet exercised the office. He is a lovely Shepherd of a
chosen flock, a lovely Friend, lovely Husband, a lovely Brother: He is
admirable in every position that He occupies for our sakes.
Lord's loveliness appears in every condition: in the manger, or in the
temple; by the well, or on the sea; in the garden, or on the cross; in the
tomb, or in the resurrection; in His first, or in His second coming. He is
not as the herb, which flowers only at one season; or as the tree, which
loses its leaves in winter; or as the moon, which waxes and wanes; or as
the sea, which ebbs and flows. In every condition, and at every time, "He
is altogether lovely."
is lovely, whichever way we look at Him. If we view Him as in the past,
entering into a covenant of peace on our behalf; or, in the present,
yielding Himself to us as Intercessor, Representative, and Forerunner; or,
in the future, coming, reigning, and glorifying His people; "He is
altogether lovely." Behold Him from heaven, view Him from the gates of
hell, regard Him as he goes before, look up to Him as He sits above; He is
as beautiful from one point of view as from another; "Yea, He is
altogether lovely." Wherever we may be, He is the same in His perfection.
lovely He was to my eyes when I was sinking in despair! To see Him
suffering for my sin upon the tree, was as the opening of the gates of the
morning to my darkened soul. How lovely He is to us when we are sick, and
the hours of night seem lengthened into days! "He giveth songs in the
night." How lovely has He been to us when the world has frowned, and
friends have forsaken, and worldly goods have been scant! To see "the King
in His beauty" is a sight sufficient, even if we never saw another ray of
comfort. How blessed, when we lie dying, to hear Him say, "I am the
resurrection and the life"! Mark that word; He says not, "I will give you
resurrection and life," but, "I am the resurrection and the life." Blessed
are the eyes which can see that in Jesus which is really in Him. When we
think of seeing Him as He is, and being like Him, how heaven approaches
us! We shall soon behold the beatific vision, of which He will be the
centre and the sun. At the thought thereof our soul takes wing, and our
imagination soars aloft, while our faith, with eagle eye, beholds the
glory. As we think of that glad period, when we shall be with our Beloved
for ever, we are ready to swoon away with delight. It is near, far nearer
than we think.
III. The little time which we can give to this meditation has run out, and
therefore I hasten to a close. I have bidden you look at our Lord as
"altogether lovely" with reverent emotions, and with absolute certainty.
Now, to conclude, think of Him with practical results. "He is altogether
lovely." What shall we do for this chief among ten thousand?
First, we will tell others of Him. For that cause was our text spoken. The
daughters of Jerusalem asked the spouse, "What is thy Beloved more than
another beloved?" Her answer is here: "He is altogether lovely." It is a
great joy to praise our Lord to enquiring minds. We, who are preachers,
have a glorious time of it when we extol our Lord. If we had nothing to do
but to preach Christ, and had no discipline to administer, no sin to
battle with, no doubts to drive away, we should have a heavenly service.
For my part, I wish I could be bound over to play only upon this one
string. Paul did well when he turned ignoramus, and determined to know
nothing among the Corinthians save Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. As the
harp of Anacreon would resound love alone, so would I have but one sole
subject for my ministry,-the love and loveliness of my Lord. Then to speak
would be its own reward; and to study and prepare discourses would be only
a phase of rest. Fain would I make my whole ministry to speak of Christ
and His surpassing loveliness.
who are not preachers cannot do better than speak much of Jesus, as
Make Him the theme of conversation. People talk about ministers; but we
beg you to talk of our Master. Our undecided neighbours are always talking
of hypocrites and inconsistent professors; but we would say to them,
"Never mind about His followers: talk about the Master Himself." His
followers, by themselves considered, never were worth your words; but what
a theme is this,-"He is altogether lovely"! Our Lord's people are far
worthier than the world thinks them to be; for my part, I rejoice in the
many gracious and beautiful characters with which I meet, but even if all
the ill reports we hear were true, this would not detract from the
loveliness of our Lord, who is infinitely beyond all praise.
next practical result of viewing the loveliness of our blessed Lord is,
that we appropriate Him to ourselves, grasping Him with our two hands of
faith and love, and making the rest of the verse to be our own: "This is
my Beloved, and this is my Friend,
daughters of Jerusalem!" Since He is so amiable, He must be "my Beloved";
my heart clings to Him. Since He is admirable, I rejoice that He is "my
Friend"; my soul trusts in Him. The heart that most appreciates Jesus is
the most eager to appropriate Him. He who beholds Jesus as "altogether
lovely" will never rest till he is altogether sure that Jesus is
altogether his own. I think I may also add that appreciation is in great
measure the seal of appropriation, for the soul that values Christ most is
the soul that hath most surely taken possession of Christ. Sometimes a
heart prizes the Lord very highly, and tremblingly longs for Him; but it
is my conviction that the very fact of prizing Him argues a measure of
possession of Him. Jesus never wins a heart to which He refuses His love.
If thou lovest Him, He loves thee: be sure of that. No soul ever cries,
"Yea, He is altogether lovely," without sooner or later adding, "This is
my Beloved, and this is my Friend."
Rest not, anyone of you, till you know of a surety that Jesus is yours. Do
not be content with a hope, struggle after the full assurance of faith.
This is to be had, and you ought not to be content without it. It may be
your lifelong song, "My Beloved is mine, and I am His." You need not pine
in the shade: the sun is shining, "walk in the light." Away with the idea
that we cannot know whether we are condemned or forgiven, in Christ or out
of Him! We may know, we must know; and, as we appreciate our Lord, we
shall know. Either Jesus is ours, or He is not. If He is, let us rejoice
in the priceless possession. If He is not ours, let us at once lay hold
upon Him by faith; for, the moment we trust Him, He is ours. The enjoyment
of religion lies in assurance: a mere hope is scant diet.
Once more, it is a fair fruit of our delight in our Lord that our
valuation of Him becomes a bond of union between us and others. The spouse
cries, "This is my Beloved, and this is my Friend, a
daughters of Jerusalem!" and they reply, "Whither is thy Beloved gone, a
thou fairest among women? Whither is thy Beloved turned aside, that we may
seek Him with thee?" Thus, you see, they institute a companionship through
the Well-beloved. Few of us, in this room, would ever have known each
other, had it not been for our common admiration of the Lord Jesus. We
should have gone on walking past each other by the sea to this day, and we
should have missed much cheering fellowship. Our Lord has become our
centre; we meet in Him, and feel that in Him we are partakers of one life.
We seek our Well-beloved together, and around His table we find Him
together; and finding Him, we have found one another, and the lost jewel
of Christian love glitters on every bosom. We have differing views on
certain parts of divine truth; and I do not know that it is wrong for us
to differ where the Holy Spirit has left truth without rigidly defining
it. We are bound each one devoutly to use his judgment in the
interpretation of the Sacred Word; but we all agree in this one clear
judgment: "Yea, He is altogether lovely." This is the point of union.
Those who enthusiastically love the same person are on the way to loving
each other. This is growingly our case; and it is the same with all
spiritual people. Professors quarrel, but possessors are at one. We hear
much discourse upon "the Unity of the Church" as a thing to be desired,
and we may heartily agree with it; but it would be well also to remember
that in the true Church of Christ real union already exists. Our Lord
prayed for those whom the Father had given Him, that they might be one,
and the Father granted the prayer: the Lord's own people are one. In this
room we have an example of how closely we are united in Christ. Some of
you are more at home in this assembly, taken out of all churches, than you
are in the churches to which you nominally belong. Our union in one body
as Episcopalians, Baptists, Presbyterians, or Independents, is not the
thing which our Lord prayed for; but our union in Himself. That union we
do at this moment enjoy; and therefore do we eat of one bread, and drink
of one cup, and are baptized into one Spirit, at His feet who is to each
one of us, and so to all of us, altogether lovely.
"White and ruddy is my Belov'd,
His heavenly beauties shine;
Nature can't produce an object,
so glorious, so divine;
my soul to realms above. "Farewell, all ye meaner creatures, For in Him is
Wealth, or friends, or darling beauty, Shall not draw me any more;
have found a glorious whole."
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