The more bloody--the more lovely!
(Thomas Watson, "The Loveliness of Christ")
"Yes, He is altogether lovely!" Song of Solomon 5:16
Lost men cannot see the stupendous beauty of Christ. All sparkling beauties are found in Him, but they lack eyes!
He is infinitely and superlatively lovely! All that we could ever say about Jesus falls infinitely short of His matchless worth. He is pure, unspotted beauty! There is an infinite resplendency, a sparkling luster to His beauty!
Jesus is most lovely in His sufferings, when He made an atonement for our sins. What, lovely in His sufferings? Lovely when He was buffeted, spit upon, and besmeared with blood?
Oh yes, He was most lovely upon the cross, when He showed most love to us.
He bled love at every vein!
Those drops were love drops!
The more bloody--the more lovely!Oh how lovely ought a bleeding Savior be to our eyes! Let us wear this blessed crucifix always in our heart!
The cross of Christ is the key that opens paradise to us!
How beautiful is Christ on the cross!
The ruddiness of His blood, took away the redness of our guilt!
Christ's crucifixion, is our coronation!
He left His Father's bosom, that hive of sweetness, to come and live in this poor world. Truly, He exchanged the palace for the dunghill.
"The unsearchable riches of Christ!" Not even the angels can dig to the bottom of this mine! They adore Christ, being ravished with His amazing beauties!
Jesus is the very extract and quintessence of beauty. He is a whole paradise of delights!
t takes a long and painful process to purge it out!
(James Smith, "The Love of Christ! The Fullness, Freeness, and Immutability of the Savior's Grace Displayed!")
"I have refined you, but not as silver is refined. Rather, I have refined you in the furnace of suffering!" Isaiah 48:10
The love of Jesus will not preserve His people from trials--but rather, assures them of trials! All whom He loves--He chastens! He has a furnace to purge our dross, and refine our souls. His Word and the Spirit reveal to us our defilement and impurity--and His grace and providence co-operate to remove them. "I am the Lord God, who sanctifies you."
It is divine love which . . .
prepares the furnace,
kindles the flame,
brings the Christian into it,
superintends the whole process, and
brings him out as gold, seven times purified!
"From all your filthiness and from all your idols, I will cleanse you!" He cleanses them in the laver of the Word by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Spirit. But He also cleanses them by a variety of afflictive dispensations, through which He causes them to pass.
Our sin calls for trials--His love sends them!
Our nature repines at trials--but grace submits to them!
Our flesh is enraged at trials--but the Spirit sanctifies them to our good, and our Savior's glory.
He makes His people choice ones--in the "furnace of affliction!" He says, "I will put you into the fire--and will purely purge away yourdross."
Believer, never repine at your trials, nor be over-anxious for their removal. They are appointed by Jesus as your Purifier--and are choice blessings in disguise!
Seek their sanctification,
wrestle with God that you may see His love in every stroke, and
look to Jesus that you may enjoy His presence when passing through the flame!
Nothing can hurt you--while Jesus is near you; and He is never nearer to you--than when you are in the furnace! For He sits right there as the Refiner . . .
watching the process,
regulating the heat, and
waiting to effect a gracious deliverance--when the ends of His love are answered.
He is only preparing you for fresh manifestations of His glory--and fitting you for larger communications of His love.
In the furnace, you will lose nothing that is worth keeping--but you will obtain what is truly valuable!
The flesh and the soul need constant cleansings--for corruption is so deeply rooted in our nature, that it takes a long and painful process to purge it out! But in reference to the furnace, your Lord says, "The Lord did this to purge Israel's wickedness, to take away all her sin!"
"If anyone would come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me." Luke 9:23
You hear ministers tell you of the odiousness and danger and sad effects of sin; but of all the sins that you ever heard of, there is scarce any more odious and dangerous than selfishness; and yet most are never troubled at it, nor sensible of its malignity. My principal request therefore to you is, that as ever you would prove Christians indeed, and be saved from sin and the damnation which follows it—take heed of this deadly sin of selfishness, and be sure you are possessed with true self-denial; and if you have, see that you use and live upon it.
And for your help herein, I shall tell you how your self-denial must be tried. I shall only tell you in a few words, how the least measure of true self-denial may be known: wherever the interest of carnal self is stronger and more predominant habitually than the interest of God, of Christ, of everlasting life, there is no true self-denial or saving grace; but where God's interest is strongest, there self-denial is sincere. If you further ask me how this may be known, briefly thus:
1. What is it that you live for? What is that good which your mind is principally set to obtain? And what is that end which you principally design and endeavor to obtain, and which you set your heart on, and lay out your hopes upon? Is it the pleasing and glorifying of God, and the everlasting fruition of Him? Or is it the pleasing of your fleshly mind in the fruition of any inferior thing? Know this, and you may know whether self or God has the greatest interest in you. For that is your God which you love most, and please best, and would do most for.
2. Which do you most prize—the means of your salvation and of the glory of God, or the means of providing for self and flesh? Do you more prize Christ and holiness, which are the way to God—or riches, honor, and pleasures, which gratify the flesh? Know this, and you may know whether you have true self-denial.
3. If you are truly self-denying, you are ordinarily ruled by God, and His Word and Spirit, and not by the carnal self. Which is the rule and master of your lives? Whose word and will is it ordinarily that prevails? When God draws, and self draws—which do you follow in the tenor of your life? Know this, and you may know whether you have true self-denial.
4. If you have true self-denial, the drift of your lives is carried on in a successful opposition to your carnal self, so that you not only refuse to be ruled by it, and love it as your god—but you fight against it, and tread it down as your enemy. So that you go armed against self in the course of your lives, and are striving against self in every duty. And as others think—it then goes best with them, when self is highest and pleased best; so you will know that then it goes best with you—when self is lowest, and most effectually subdued.
5. If you have true self-denial, there is nothing in this world so dear to you, but on deliberation you would leave it for God. He who has anything which he loves so well that he cannot spare it for God, is a selfish and unsanctified wretch. And therefore God has still put men to it, in the trial of their sincerity, to part with that which was dearest to the flesh. Abraham must be tried by parting with his only son. And Christ makes it His standing rule, "Any of you who does not give up everything he has, cannot be my disciple" (Luke 14:33).
Yet it is true that flesh and blood may make much resistance in a gracious heart; and many a striving thought there may be, before with Abraham we part with a son, or before we can part with wealth or life; but yet on deliberation, self-denial will prevail. There is nothing so dear to a gracious soul, which he cannot spare at the will of God, and the hope of everlasting life. If with Peter we would flinch in a temptation—we should return with Peter in weeping bitterly, and give Christ those lives that in a temptation we denied Him.
6. In a word, true self-denial is procured by the knowledge and love of God, advancing Him in the soul—to debasing of self. The illuminated soul is so much taken with the glory and goodness of the Lord, that it carries him out of himself to God, and as it were estranges him from himself, that he may have communion with God. This makes him vile in his own eyes, and to abhor himself in dust and ashes. It is not a stoical resolution, but the love of God and the hopes of glory—which make him throw away the world, and look contemptuously on all below, so far as they are mere provision for flesh.
Search now, and try your hearts by these evidences, whether you are possessed of this necessary grace of self-denial. O make not light of the matter! For I must tell you that self is the most treacherous enemy, and the most insinuating deceiver in the world! It will be within you when you are not aware of it and will conquer you when you perceive not yourselves much troubled with it. Of all other vices, selfishness is both the hardest to find out and the hardest to cure. Be sure therefore in the first place, that you have self-denial; and then be sure you use it and live in the practice of it.