Christ Altogether Lovely
Adapted from John Flavel and Edited/Condensed by James H. Dearmore, Missionary
Christ Is To Be Loved
"Yea, He is altogether
lovely." Song of Songs 5:16.
At the ninth verse of this chapter, you have a question put forth by
the daughters of Jerusalem, "What is your beloved more than another
beloved?" The spouse answers, "He is the chief among ten thousand."
She then recounts many of the things she finds so excellent in her beloved
and then concludes with these words that I have read: "Yes, he is
The words set forth the transcendent loveliness of the Lord Jesus Christ,
and naturally resolve themselves into three parts:
1. Who he is.
2. What he is.
3. What he is like.
First, Who he is: the Lord Jesus Christ, after whom she
had been seeking, for whom she was overcome by love; concerning whom these
daughters of Jerusalem had enquired: whom she had struggled to describe
in his particular excellencies. He is the great and excellent subject of
whom she here speaks.
Secondly, What he is, or what she claims of him: That
he is a lovely one. The Hebrew word, which is often translated "desires,"
means "to earnestly desire, covet, or long after that which is most
pleasant, graceful, delectable and admirable." The original word is
both in the abstract, and plural in number, which says that Christ is the
very essence of all delights and pleasures, the very soul and substance
of them. As all the rivers are gathered into the ocean, which is the meeting-place
of all the waters in the world, so Christ is that ocean in which all true
delights and pleasures meet.
Thirdly, What he is like: He is altogether lovely, the
every part to be desired. He is lovely when taken together, and in every
part; as if she had said, "Look on him in what respect or particular
you wish; cast your eye upon this lovely object, and view him any way,
turn him in your serious thoughts which way you wish; consider his person,
his offices, his works, or any other thing belonging to him; you will find
him altogether lovely, There is nothing disagreeable in him, there is nothing
lovely without him." Hence note,
DOCTRINE: That Jesus Christ is
the loveliest person souls can set their eyes upon: "Thou art fairer
than the children of men." Psalm 45:2.
He is "Altogether Lovely"
Here it is said of Jesus Christ, which cannot be said of any mere creature,
that he is "altogether lovely." In opening this point I shall,
1. Examine the importance of this phrase "altogether lovely."
2. Show you in what respect Christ is so.
What is Meant by "Altogether
Let us consider this excellent expression, and particularly reflect
on what is contained in it, and you shall find this expression "altogether
First, It excludes all unloveliness and disagreeableness from
Jesus Christ. As a theologian long ago said, "There is nothing
in him which is not loveable." The excellencies of Jesus Christ are
perfectly exclusive of all their opposites; there is nothing of a contrary
property or quality found in him to contaminate or devaluate his excellency.
And in this respect Christ infinitely transcends the most excellent and
loveliest of created things. Whatsoever loveliness is found in them, it
is not without a bad aftertaste.
The fairest pictures must have their shadows: The rarest and most brilliant
gems must have dark backgrounds to set off their beauty; the best creature
is but a bitter sweet at best: If there is something pleasing, there is
also something sour. If a person has every ability, both innate and acquired,
to delight us, yet there is also some natural corruption intermixed with
it to put us off. But it is not so in our altogether lovely Christ, his
excellencies are pure and unmixed. He is a sea of sweetness without one
drop of gall.
Secondly, "Altogether lovely," i.e. There is nothing
unlovely found in him, so all that is in him is wholly lovely.
As every ray of God is precious, so every thing that is in Christ is precious:
Who can weigh Christ in a pair of balances, and tell you what his worth
is? "For wisdom is better than rubies; and all the things that may
be desired are not to be compared to it." Prov. 8:11.
Thirdly "Altogether lovely," i.e. He embraces all things
that are lovely: he seals up the sum of all loveliness. Things
that shine as single stars with a particular glory, all meet in Christ
as a glorious constellation. Col. 1:19, "For it pleased the Father
that in him should all fullness dwell." Cast your eyes among all created
beings, survey the universe: you will observe strength in one, beauty in
a second, faithfulness in a third, wisdom in a fourth; but you shall find
none excelling in them all as Christ does.
Bread has one quality, water another, raiment another, medicine another;
but none has them all in itself as Christ does. He is bread to the hungry,
water to the thirsty, a garment to the naked, healing to the wounded; and
whatever a soul can desire is found in him, 1 Cor. 1:30.
Fourthly, "Altogether lovely," i.e. Nothing is lovely
in opposition to him, or in separation from him. If he truly is
altogether lovely, then whatsoever is opposite to him, or separate from
him can have no loveliness in it. Take away Christ, and where is the loveliness
of any enjoyment? The best creature-comfort apart from Christ is but a
broken cistern. It cannot hold one drop of true comfort, Psalm 73:26. It
is with the creature -- the sweetest and loveliest creature -- as with
a beautiful image in the mirror: turn away the face and where is the image?
Riches, honours, and comfortable relations are sweet when the face of Christ
smiles upon us through them; but without him, what empty trifles are they
Fifthly, "Altogether lovely," i.e. Transcending all
created excellencies in beauty and loveliness.If you compare Christ
and other things, no matter how lovely, no matter how excellent and desirable,
Christ carries away all loveliness from them. "He is (as the apostle
says) before all things," Col. 1:17. Not only before all things in
time, nature, and order; but before all things in dignity, glory, and true
excellence. In all things he must have the pre-eminence. Let us but compare
Christ's excellence with the creature's in a few particulars, and
How Manifest Will the Transcendent
Loveliness of Jesus Christ Appear! For,
1. All other loveliness is derived and secondary; but the loveliness
of Christ is original and primary. Angels and men, the world and all
the desirable things in it, receive what excellence they crave from him.
They are streams from the fountain. The farther any thing departs from
its fountain and original, the less excellency there is in it.
2. The loveliness and excellency of all other things, is only relative,
consisting in its reference to Christ, and subservience to his glory.
But Christ is lovely, considered absolutely in himself. He is desirable
for himself; other things are desirable because of him.
3. The beauty and loveliness of all other things are fading and perishing;
but the loveliness of Christ is fresh for all eternity. The sweetness
of the best created thing is a fading flower; if not before, yet certainly
at death it must fade away. Job 4:21. "Doth not their excellency which
is in them go away?" Yes, yes, whether they are the natural excellencies
of the body, acquired endowments of the mind, lovely features, graceful
qualities, or anything else we find attractive; all these like pleasant
flowers are withered, faded, and destroyed by death. But "Jesus Christ
(is) the same yesterday, and today, and for ever," Heb. 13:8.
4. The beauty and holiness of creatures are ensnaring and dangerous.
A man may make an idol out of them, and indulge himself beyond the bounds
of moderation with them, but there is no danger of excess in the love of
Christ. The soul is then in the healthiest frame and temper when it is
most overwhelmed by love to Christ, Song of Songs 5:8.
5. The loveliness of every creature is of a confining and obstructing
nature. Our esteem of it diminishes the closer we approach to it, or
the longer we enjoy it. Creatures, like pictures, are fairest at a certain
distance, but it is not so with Christ; the nearer the soul approaches
him, and the longer it lives in the enjoyment of him, still the sweeter
and more desirable he becomes.
6. All other loveliness cannot satisfy the soul of man. There
is not scope enough in any one created thing, or in all the natural universe
of created things for the soul of man to reach out and expand; but the
soul still feels itself confined and narrowed within those limits. This
comes to pass from the inadequacy and unsuitableness of the creature to
the nobler and more excellent soul of man. The soul is like a ship in
a narrow river which does not have room to turn. It is always running
aground and foundering in the shallows. But Jesus Christ is in every way
sufficient to the vast desires of the soul; in him it has sea-room enough.
In him the soul may spread all its sails with no fear of touching bottom.
And thus you see what is the importance of this phrase, "Altogether
How Christ is "Altogether Lovely"
Secondly, Next I promised to show you in what respects Jesus Christ
is altogether lovely:
He is Lovely in His Person
First, He is altogether lovely in his person: he is Deity dwelling in
flesh, John 1:14. The wonderful, perfect union of the divine and human
nature in Christ renders him an object of admiration and adoration to both
angels and men, 1 Tim. 3:16. God never presented to the world such a
vision of glory before. Consider how the human nature of our Lord Jesus
Christ is overflowing with all the graces of the Spirit, in such a way
as never any of the saints was filled. O what a lovely picture does this
paint of him! John 3:34 tells us that God gives the Spirit [to Christ]
without limit. This makes him, as Psalms 45:2 says: "Thou art fairer
than the children of men: grace is poured into thy lips: therefore God
hath blessed thee forever." If a small measure of grace in the saints
makes them sweet and desirable companions, what must the riches of the
Spirit of grace filling Jesus Christ without measure make him in the eyes
of believers? O what a glory must it fix upon him!
Secondly, He is altogether
Lovely in his Offices.
Let us consider for a moment the suitability, fullness, and comforting
nature of them.
First, The suitability of the offices of Christ to the miseries
of men. We cannot but adore the infinite wisdom of his receiving
them. We are, by nature, blind and ignorant, at best but groping in the
dim light of nature after God, Acts 17:27. Jesus Christ is a light to lighten
the Gentiles, Isa. 49:6. When this great prophet came into the world, then
did the day-spring from on high visit us, Luke 1:78. By nature we are alienated
from, and at enmity against God; Christ comes into the world to be an atoning
sacrifice, making peace by the blood of his cross, Col. 1:20. All the world,
by nature, is in bondage and captivity to Satan, a miserable slavery. Christ
comes with kingly power, to rescue sinners, as a prey from the mouth of
the terrible one.
Secondly, Let the fullness of his offices be also considered,
which make him able "to save them to the uttermost that come unto
God by him," Heb. 7:25. The three offices, comprising in them all
that our souls do need, become an universal relief to all our distresses;
Thirdly, Unspeakably comforting must the offices of Christ be
to the souls of sinners. If light be pleasant to our eyes, how
pleasant is that light of life springing from the Sun of righteousness!
Mal. 4:2. If a pardon be sweet to a condemned criminal, how sweet must
the sprinkling of the blood of Jesus be to the trembling conscience of
a law-condemned sinner? If a rescue from a cruel tyrant is sweet to a poor
captive, how sweet must it be to the ears of enslaved sinners, to hear
the voice of liberty and deliverance proclaimed by Jesus Christ? Out of
the several offices of Christ, as out of so many fountains, all the promises
of the new covenant flow, as so many soul-refreshing streams of peace and
joy. All the promises of illumination, counsel and direction flow out of
Christ's prophetic office. All the promises of reconciliation, peace,
pardon, and acceptation flow out of his priestly office, with the
sweet streams of joy and spiritual comforts which accompany it. All the
promises of converting, increasing, defending, directing, and supplying
grace, flow out of the kingly office of Christ; indeed, all promises
may be reduced to these three offices, so that Jesus Christ must be altogether
lovely in his offices.
He is Lovely in His Relations.
First, He is a lovely Redeemer, Isa. 61:1. He came to
open the prison-doors to them that are bound. Needs must this Redeemer
be a lovely one, if we consider the depth of misery from which he redeemed
us, even "from the wrath to come," 1 Thess. 1:10. Consider the
numbers redeemed, and the means of their redemption. Rev. 5:9, "And
they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to
open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God
by thy blood, out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation;'"
(then in verses 10 through 13 the Revelator, by inspiration, speaks of
how the redeemed shall reign on the earth with the Lamb, and of the exceeding
glory and riches, power and honour of our Great King, with Whom we shall
reign during the millennial Kingdom)!
He redeemed us not with silver and gold, but with his own precious
blood, by way of price, 1 Pet. 1:18, 19. with his out-stretched
and glorious arm, by way of power, Col. 1:13. he redeemed us freely,
Eph. 1:7-12, fully Rom. 8:1, at the right time, Gal. 4:4-5,
and out of special and particular love, John 17:9. In a word, he
has redeemed us for ever, never more to come into bondage, 1 Pet. 1:5.
John 10:28. O how lovely is Jesus Christ in the relation of a Redeemer
to God's elect (all who will believe)!
Secondly, He is a lovely bridegroom to all that he betroths
to himself. How does the church glory in him, in the words following my
text; "this is my Beloved, and this is my Friend, O ye daughters of
Jerusalem!" Heaven and earth cannot show anyone like him, which needs
no fuller proof than the following particulars:
1. That he betroths to himself, in mercy and in loving kindness,
such deformed, defiled, and altogether unworthy souls as we are. We
have no beauty, no goodness to make us desirable in his eyes; all the origins
of his love to us are in his own breast, Deut. 7:7. He chooses us, not
because we were, but in order that he might make us lovely Eph. 5:27. He
came to us when we lay in our blood, and said unto us, "Live";
and that was the time of love, Ezek. 16:5-6.
2. He expects no restitution from us, and yet gives himself,
and all that he has, to us. Our poverty cannot enrich him, but he made
himself poor to enrich us, 2 Cor. 8:9. 1 Cor. 3:22.
3. No husband loves the wife of his bosom, as much as Christ
loved his people, Eph. 5:25. He loved the church and gave himself for it.
4. No one bears with weaknesses and provocations as Christ does;
the church is called "the Lamb's wife," Rev. 19:7-9.
5. No husband is so undying and everlasting a husband as Christ is;
death separates all other relations, but the soul's union with Christ is
not dissolved in the grave. Indeed, the day of a believer's death is the
day of his fullest enjoyment of Christ. No husband can say to his wife,
what Christ says to the believer, "I will never leave thee, nor forsake
thee," Heb. 13:5.
6. No bridegroom enriches his bride with such honours by marriage,
as Christ does; he makes them related to God as their father, and from
that day the mighty and glorious angels think it no dishonour to be their
servants, Heb. 1:14. The angels will admire the beauty and glory of the
spouse of Christ, Rev. 21:9.
7. No marriage was ever consummated with such triumphal proceedings
as the marriage of Christ shall be in heaven, Psalm 45:14, 15. "She
shall be brought unto the king in raiment of needle-work: the virgins,
her companions that follow her, shall be brought unto thee. With gladness
and rejoicing shall they be brought: they shall enter into the king's palace."
Among the Jews, the marriage-house was called the house of praise; there
was joy upon all hands, but nothing like the joy that will be in heaven
when the spouse of Christ, shall be brought there.
God the Father will rejoice to behold the blessed accomplishment
and confirmation of those glorious plans of his love. Jesus Christ,
the Bridegroom will rejoice to see the travail of his soul, the blessed
birth and product of all his bitter pains and agonies, Isa. 53:11. The
Holy Spirit will rejoice to see the completion and perfection of that
sanctifying design which was committed to his hand, 2 Cor. 5:5, to see
those souls whom he once found as rough stones, now to shine as the bright,
polished stones of the spiritual temple.
Angels will rejoice: great was the joy when the foundation of
this design was laid, in the incarnation of Christ, Luke 2:13. Great therefore
must their joy be, when the top-stone is set up with shouting, crying,
The saints themselves shall rejoice unspeakably, when they shall
enter into the King's palace, and be forever with the Lord, 1 Thes. 4:17.
Indeed there will be joy on all hands, except among the devils and damned,
who shall gnash their teeth with envy at the everlasting advancement and
glory of believers. Thus Christ is altogether lovely, in the relation of
Thirdly, Christ is altogether lovely, in the relation of an Advocate.
1 John 2:1-2, ". . . . And if any man sin, we have an advocate with
the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: And he is the propitiation for
our sins: and not for our's only, but also for the sins of the whole world."
It is he that pleads the cause of believers in heaven. He appears for them
in the presence of God, to prevent any new alienation, and to continue
the state of friendship and peace between God and us. In this relation
Christ is altogether lovely.
1. He makes our cause his own, and acts for us in heaven, as
if for himself, Heb. 4:15. He is touched with a most tender understanding
of our troubles and dangers, and is not only one with us by way of representation,
but also one with us in respect of sympathy and affection.
2. Christ our Advocate tracks our cause and business in heaven, as
his great and primary design and business. For this reason in Hebrews
7:25. he is said to "live for ever to make intercession for us."
It is as if our concerns were so attended to by him there, that all the
glory and honour which is paid him in heaven would not divert him one moment
from our business.
3. He pleads the cause of believers by his blood. Unlike other
advocates, it is not enough for him to lay out only words, which is a cheaper
way of pleading; but he pleads for us by the voice of his own blood, as
in Heb. 12:24, where we are said to be come "to the blood of sprinkling,
that speaketh better things than that of Abel." Every wound he
received for us on earth is a mouth opened to plead with God on our behalf
in heaven. And hence it is, that in Rev. 5:6 he is represented standing
before God, as a lamb that had been slain; as it were exhibiting and revealing
in heaven those deadly wounds received on earth from the justice of God,
on our account. Other advocates spend their breath, Christ spends his blood.
4. He pleads the cause of believers freely. Other advocates plead
for reward, and empty the purses, while they plead the causes of their
5. In a word, he obtains for us all the mercies for which he pleads.
No cause miscarries in his hand, which he undertakes, Rom. 8:33, 34.
O what a lovely Advocate is Christ for believers!
Fourthly, Christ is altogether lovely in the relation of a friend,
for in this relation he is pleased to acknowledge his people, Luke
12:4, 5. There are certain things in which one friend manifests his affection
and friendship to another, but
There Is Not One Like Christ. For,
1. No friend is so open-hearted to his friend as Christ is to his
people: he reveals the very counsels and secrets of his heart to them.
John 15:15. "Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth
not what his Lord doeth; but I have called you friends; for all things
that I have heard of my Father, I have made known unto you."
2. No friend in the world is so generous and bountiful to his friend,
as Jesus Christ is to believers; he parts with his very blood for them;
"Greater love (He says) hath no man than this, that a man lay down
his life for his friends." (John 15:13). He has exhausted the precious
treasures of his invaluable blood to pay our debts. O what a lovely friend
is Jesus Christ to believers!
3. No friend sympathizes so tenderly with his friend in affliction,
as Jesus Christ does with his friends: ". . . .; but (that is,
Christ, our high priest) was in all points tempted like as we are, yet
without sin." (Heb. 4:15). He feels all our sorrows, needs and burdens
as his own. This is why it is said that the sufferings of believers are
called the sufferings of Christ, Col. 1:24.
4. No friend in the world takes that contentment in his friends,
as Jesus Christ does in believers. Song of Songs 4:9. "Thou hast
ravished my heart, (he says to the spouse) my sister, my spouse; thou hast
ravished my heart with one of thine eyes, with one chain of thy neck."
The Hebrew, here rendered "ravished," signifies to puff up, or
to make one proud: how the Lord Jesus is pleased to glory in his people!
How he is taken and delighted with those gracious ornaments which himself
bestows upon them! There is no friend so lovely as Christ.
5. No friend in the world loves his friend with as impassioned and
strong affection as Jesus Christ loves believers. Jacob loved Rachel,
and endured for her sake the parching heat of summer and cold of winter;
but Christ endured the storms of the wrath of God, the heat of his indignation,
for our sakes. David manifested his love to Absalom, in wishing, "O
that I had died for you!" Christ manifested his love to us, not in
wishes that he had died, but in death itself, in our stead, and for our
6. No friend in the world is so constant and unchangeable in friendship
as Christ is. John 13:1, "Having loved his own which were in the
world, he loved them unto the end." He bears with millions of provocations
and wrongs, and yet will not break friendship with his people. Peter denied
him, yet he will not disown him; but after his resurrection he says, "Go,
tell the disciples, and tell Peter." Let him not think he has forfeited
by that sin of his, his interest in me. Though he denied me, I will not
disown him, Mark 16:7. O how lovely is Christ in the relation of a friend!
I might further show you the loveliness of Christ in his ordinances
and in his providences, in his communion with us and communications to
us, but there is no end of the account of Christ's loveliness: I will rather
choose to press believers to their duties towards this altogether lovely
Christ, which I shall briefly conclude in a few words.
1. Is Jesus Christ altogether lovely? Then I beseech you,
set your souls upon this lovely Jesus. I am sure such an object as has
been here represented, would compel love from the coldest breast and hardest
heart. Away with those empty nothings, away with this vain deceitful
world, which deserves not the thousandth part of the love you give it.
Let all stand aside and give way to Christ. O if only you knew his worth
and excellency, what he is in himself, what he has done for you, and deserved
from you, you would need no arguments of mine to persuade you to love him!
2. Esteem nothing lovely except as it is enjoyed in Christ, or
used for the sake of Christ. Love nothing for itself, love nothing
separate from Jesus Christ. In two things we all sin in love of created
things. We sin in the excess of our affections, loving them above the proper
value of mere created things. We also sin in the inordinacy of our affections,
that is to say we give our love for created things a priority it should
3. Let us all be humbled for the corruption of our hearts
that are so eager in their affections for vanities and trifles and so hard
to be persuaded to the love of Christ, who is altogether lovely. O how
many pour out streams of love and delight upon the vain and empty created
thing; while no arguments can draw forth one drop of love from their stubborn
and unbelieving hearts to Jesus Christ! I have read of one Joannes Mollius,
who was observed to go often alone, and weep bitterly; and being pressed
by a friend to know the cause of his troubles, said "O! it grieves
me that I cannot bring this heart of mine to love Jesus Christ more fervently."
4. Represent Christ to the world as he is, by your behaviour towards
him. Is he altogether lovely? Let all the world see and know that
he is so, by your delights in him and communion with him; zeal for him,
and readiness to part with any other lovely thing upon his account. Proclaim
his excellencies to the world, as the spouse did in these verses. Persuade
them how much your beloved is better than any other beloved. Show his
glorious excellencies as you speak of him; hold him forth to others, as
he is in himself: altogether lovely. See that "ye might walk worthy
of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing
in the knowledge of God;" Col. 1:10. "Show forth the praises
of Christ," 1 Pet. 2:19. Let not that "worthy name be blasphemed
through you," James 2:7. He is glorious in himself, and he is sure
to put glory upon you; take heed that you do not put shame and dishonours
upon him; he has committed his honour to you, do not betray that trust.
Never be ashamed to be counted as a Christian: he is altogether
lovely; he can never be a shame to you; it will be your great sin to be
ashamed of him. Some men glory in their shame; do not let yourself be ashamed
of your glory. If you will be ashamed of Christ now, he will be ashamed
of you when he shall appear in his own glory, and the glory of all his
holy angels. Be ashamed of nothing but sin; and among other sins, be ashamed
especially for this sin, that you have no more love for him who is altogether
6. Be willing to leave every thing that is lovely upon earth,
in order that you may be with the altogether lovely Lord Jesus Christ
in heaven. Lift up your voices with the bride, Rev. 22:20 "Even so,
come, Lord Jesus." It is true, you must pass through the pangs of
death into his intimacy and enjoyment; but surely it is worth suffering
much more than that to be with this lovely Jesus. "And the Lord direct
your hearts into the love of God, and into the patient waiting for Jesus
Christ," 2 Thessalonians 3:5.
7. Let the loveliness of Christ draw all men to him. Is
loveliness in the creature so attractive? And can the transcendent loveliness
of Christ draw none? O the blindness of man! If you see no beauty in Christ
that causes you to desire him, it is because the god of this world has
blinded your minds.
8. Strive to be Christ-like, if ever you would be lovely in the
eyes of God and man. Certainly, my brethren, it is only the Spirit
of Christ within you, and the beauty of Christ upon you, which can make
you lovely persons. The more you resemble him in holiness, the more will
you show of true excellence and loveliness; and the more frequent and spiritual
your communication and communion with Christ is, the more of the beauty
and loveliness of Christ will be stamped upon your spirits, changing you
into the same image, from glory to glory. Amen.
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