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Friday, March 6, 2015

The Loveliness of Christ # 4

Branch 2. If Christ is thus full of sparkling beauties, then fall in love with this lovely object. With the spouse; be love-sick for Christ. Beauty draws love. Ministers are friends of the bridegroom. This day I come a wooing for your love. Love Him who is so lovely. Let Christ lie as a bundle of myrrh always between your breasts. "If anyone does not love the Lord, that person is cursed!" (1 Corinthians 16:22). "Love," said Chrysostom, "is the diamond that only the queen wears," that is, the gracious soul. Oh, that all these surpassing beauties of Christ might kindle a flame of divine love in our hearts. Christ is the very extract and quintessence of beauty. He is a whole paradise of delight. He is the rose of Sharon, enriched with orient colors and perfumed with the sweetest fragrance. Oh, wear this flower not in your bosom—but in your heart—and be always smelling it.

Show your love to this lovely Savior by the strength and effects of it. Love Him above all other things; let Him carry away the crown and the glory from the creature. Love Him more than your relations. Matthew 10:37: "He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me." Nay, our love to relations must be hatred in comparison with our love to Christ (Luke 14:26). Great is our love to relations. The creatures void of reason have natural affection; the young stork feeds the aged mother stork—and helps to carry her when she is old and cannot fly. Children should exceed and outfly the stork in affection.
Christ must be dearer to us than all. He must weigh heavier than relations in the balance of our affections, for He is altogether lovely. If parents lie as a stumbling block in our way to Christ, if they either come in competition with Christ or stand in opposition against Christ—we must either leap over them or tread upon them!

Love Christ more than your estate. Gold is but shining dust; though it may be lovely—yet it is not altogether lovely. Gold is worse than yourself; it is of an earthly extract. If you love anything, love something better than yourself; and that alone is Christ, who is altogether lovely. Riches avail nothing in the day of wrath (Proverbs 11:4). Riches are no lifeguard to defend us from divine fury; but how lovely is Christ who can screen off the fire of God's wrath from us! Oh, then love Him more than these perishable things. Christ's gleanings—are better than the world's vintage. Do not be like Noah's raven which, when it had found a carrion to feed on, did not care to return home to the ark. He who loses all for Christ—shall find all in Christ.

Love Christ more than your life. Revelation 12:11: "They loved not their lives to the death." They carried their sufferings as signs of their glory. They had pangs oflove—stronger than the pangs of death. Did the Curtii die for the Romans, the Codri for the Athenians—and shall not we be willing to lay down our lives for Christ, who is so infinitely lovely?

Show your love to this lovely Savior by the effects of love. The first fruit of love, is desire for COMMUNION. Love is a transporting of the affections; lovers desire to be often talking and conversing together before the marriage day. Christ converses with the soul by His Word and Spirit—and the soul converses with Him by prayer and meditation. The soul that loves Christ, desires to be much in His presence. He loves the ordinances; he thinks it is good lying in the way where Christ passes by. Ordinances are the chariots of salvation. Christ rides into the believer's heart in these chariots. Ordinances are the feast of fat things. The soul feasts with Christ here. Song of Solomon 2:4: "He brought me to the banqueting house." In the Hebrew it is, "He brought me to the house of wine." The Word, prayer and the sacraments are to a Christian, the house of wine. Here, often Christ turns the water of tears into wine! How lovely is this house of wine! The ordinances are the lattice where Christ looks forth and shows His smiling face to His saints. Christ's parents found Him in the temple (Luke 2:46). The soul that loves Christ desires conference with Him in the temple.

Where there is love to Christ, there is SYMPATHY. Friends who love, grieve and rejoice together; they have sympathizing spirits. Lovers grieve together. Thus, if we love Christ, we shall grieve for those things which grieve Him. Psalm 119:158: "I beheld the transgressors—and was grieved." We shall grieve to see truth bleeding, and heretics increasing. We shall grieve to see heresy setting up its mast and topsail—and multitudes sailing in this ship to hell. It was a charge drawn up against the church of Pergamos "You have some there who hold to the teaching of Balaam" (Revelation 2:14). By toleration of heresy, we adopt other men's sins and make them our own. I pray God, that this does not hasten England's funeral. He who loves Christ, will lay these things to heart.

He who loves Christ will endeavor to preserve His MEMORY. Friends will preserve the memory of those people they love, by keeping their pictures, letters, love-tokens, sometimes by preserving their monuments. Herein Artemisia, Queen of Caria, showed an act of singular love to her husband Mausolus; for he being dead, she caused his body to be reduced to ashes and to be mingled in her drink every day, so making her body a living tomb to hold her dead husband. Thus the soul that loves Christ will be often eating His body and drinking His blood in the sacrament, that he may remember Christ's death until He comes. They who live without sacraments show plainly that they have no love to Christ, because they do not desire to preserve His memory among them.

He who bears love to Christ, this lovely object, will not entertain any other lovers; "What more have I to do with idols?" (Hosea 14:8) The Hebrew word is "with sorrows." Indeed, sin raises a tempest of sorrow in the soul; and he who is espoused to Christ has now changed his judgment. Those sins he before looked upon aslovers—he now looks upon as sorrows. He who loves Christ can look a temptation in the face—and turn his back upon it. When Cyrus would have tempted the chaste wife of Tygranes, she took no notice of him, though he was a king; for she had a husband at home. When sin, like Mercury's rod with a snake about it, would wind itself subtly into the soul, he who loves Christ, dares not give it entertainment. He will say, "All the rooms are taken up already for Christ—and a better guest cannot come; for He is altogether lovely!"

Branch 3. If Christ is so lovely in Himself, then you who profess Christ, labor to render Him lovely in the eyes of others.

Commend Him and tell others of His beauty—so that they may admire Him. So the spouse in this chapter labors to portray and set Him forth in His glory: "My Beloved is white and ruddy—the chief among ten thousand!" Tell others that Christ is all marrow, all sweetness. Christ is the richest jewel in the cabinet of heaven! Set up the trophies of His honor and triumph in His praises so that you may entice others to fall in love with Him! The tongue is the organ of praise; it is a pity the organs are so often out of tune in murmuring and complaining. Oh, let these organs be still going; let our tongues sing forth the praises of Him who is altogether lovely! Daughters of the royal blood have the pictures of kings brought to them—and by seeing the pictures they fall in love with their persons and are married to them; by our commendations of Christ, we should so paint out Christ to others and draw His picture that, when they see His picture, they may fall in love with Him—and the match may be presently struck up.

Render Christ lovely in the eyes of others by adorning His gospel and walking worthy of Him (Colossians 1:10). It is an honor to a master to have good servants—and how it proclaims Christ to be lovely and glorious—when they who profess Him are eminent for piety! Christ appears lovely in the holy lives of His people.
Brethren, there are some people among us whose scandalous impieties, masked over with religion, have made Christ appear unlovely in the eyes of others; it is enough to make them afraid to have anything to do with Christ, as if He abetted men in their sin, or at least connived with them. The blood of some will not make reparation for the injury which their sins have done to Christ. I have read of certain images which on the outside were covered with gold and pearl, resembling Jupiter and Neptune—but within nothing but spiders and cobwebs. And have not we many who have been covered with the gold and pearl of profession, resembling the saints of the Most High God—but within, as Christ said, are full of uncleanness (Matthew 23:27), insomuch that we may see the spiders creeping out of them! Oh, that all who profess the name of Christ might depart from iniquity (2 Timothy 2:19), so that they might set a crown of honor upon the head of Christ—and make Him appear lovely in the eyes of others!

C. Consolation. Here is comfort to those who are by faith, married to Christ. This is their glorious privilege: Christ's beauty and loveliness shall be put upon them; they shall shine by His beams. This is the apex and crown of honor: the saints shall not only behold Christ's glory—but be transformed into it. 1 John 3:2, "We shall be like Him, for we will see Him as He really is!" That is, we shall be irradiated and enameled with His glory. Christ is compared to the beautiful lily in Song of Solomon 2:1. His lily-whiteness shall be put upon His saints. A glorified soul shall be a perfect mirror or crystal, where the beauty of Christ shall be transparent. Moses married a black woman—but he could not make her complexion white; but whoever Christ marries, He alters their complexion. He makes them altogether lovely. Other beauty causes pride; but no such worm breeds in heaven. The saints in glory shall admire their own beauty—but not grow proud of it. Other beauty is soon lost. The eye weeps to see its furrowed brows, and the cheeks blush at their own paleness; but this is a never-fading beauty. Age cannot wither it; it retains its glossiness, the white and vermillion mixed together to all eternity!

Think of this, O you saints, who mourn now for your sins and bewail your spiritual deformities! Remember, by virtue of your union with Christ, you shall be glorious creatures; then shall your clothing be of wrought gold; then shall you be brought unto the King in glorious raiment—and you shall hear Christ pronounce that blessed word from Song of Solomon 4:7: "You are all beautiful, My love—there is no spot in you!"

~Thomas Watson~

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