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The Beautiful Image of God


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Listen, O daughter, give attention and incline your ear:
Forget your people and your father’s house;
Then the King will desire your beauty.
Because He is your Lord, bow down to Him.

—Psalm 45:10–11

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Such of you, my dear sisters, as are espoused to the Lord Jesus Christ are very beautiful. I do not mean in respect of your bodies; you may have less of external comeliness than others, in respect of your bodies. But as to your souls you will exceed in beauty, not so much in the eyes of man, as in the eyes of God. Such have the most beautiful image of God stamped upon them; none in the world beside them, have the least spark of spiritual beauty. Such as are not married to Christ, are unregenerated, they are not born again, nor brought from sin unto God, which must be done before you be espoused to Christ.

And the Lord Jesus Christ desireth to see this beauty in his spouse, for he cries out, ‘O my dove, thou art in the clefts of the rock, in the secret places of the stairs, let me see thy countenance, let me hear thy voice, for sweet is thy voice and thy countenance is comely’ [Song of Songs 2:14]. He calleth his spouse his love, being the dear object of his love and he admireth her loveliness. He repeats it twice in one verse, ‘Behold thou art fair, my love, behold thou art fair.’ Thus you see he describes their beauty. And then, my sisters, we have wonderful expression of Christ to his spouse, ‘Thou hast ravished my heart, my sister, my spouse, thou hast ravished my heart with one of thine eyes, with one chain of thy neck.’ Thus you see how pleased the Lord Jesus Christ is with his spouse.

—George Whitefield, “Christ the Best Husband; or, An Earnest Invitation to Young Women to Come and See Christ” in Lee Gatiss (Ed.), The Sermons of George Whitefield (Crossway, 2012), 1:113–114.




Lord’s Day 45, 2018

Sunday··2018·11·11
I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go to the house of the Lord.” How great is Your goodness, Which You have stored up for those who fear You, Which You have wrought for those who take refuge in You, Before the sons of men! —Psalm 31:19 XXXIV. The goodness which God has wrought, and laid up for his people. Psalm xxxi. 19. Our souls with pleasing wonder view The bounties of thy grace; How much bestow’d; how much reserv’d For them that seek thy face! Thy lib’ral hand with worldly bliss Oft makes their cup run o’er; And in the cov’nant of thy love They find diviner store. Here mercy hides their num’rous sins; Here grace their souls renews; Here thine own reconciled face Doth heav’nly beams diffuse. But O! what treasures yet unknown Are lodg’d in worlds to come? If these th’ enjoyments of the way, How happy is their home? And what shall mortal worms reply? Or how such goodness own? But ’tis our joy that, Lord, to thee Thy servants hearts are known. Thine eyes shall read those grateful thoughts, No language can express: Yet when our liv’liest thanks we pay, Our debts do most increase. Since time’s too short, All-gracious God, To utter half thy praise, Loud to the honour of thy name Eternal hymns we’ll raise. —Philip Doddridge, Hymns Founded on Various Texts in the Holy Scriptures (Salop, 1755). Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Please don’t miss worshiping with your local congregation if you can possibly help it. But if you’re in need of a good sermon, try these.

In Preparation for the Lord’s Day: Behold the Glories of the Lamb

Saturday··2018·11·10
Behold the Glories of the Lamb LYNGHAM Behold the glories of the Lamb amidst His Father’s throne! amidst His Father’s throne! Prepare new honors for His name, and songs before unknown, and songs before unknown. Let elders worship at His feet, the church adore around, the church adore around, with vials full of odors sweet, and harps of sweeter sound, and harps of sweeter sound. Now to the Lamb that once was slain be endless blessings paid; be endless blessings paid; salvation, glory, joy, remain forever on Thy head, forever on Thy head. Thou hast redeemed our souls with blood, hast set the pris’ners free, hast set the pris’ners free, hast made us kings and priests to God, and we shall reign with Thee, and we shall reign with Thee. —Hymns to the Living God (Religious Affections Ministries, 2017). The current hymnal for this series is Hymns to the Living God, recently published by Religious Affections Ministries. This is such a good hymnal that I’m pretty sure I could happily post every hymn it contains, but I’ll be limiting selections to hymns I have never posted here before, especially those unfamiliar to me (of which there are many). For more information and to purchase this hymnal, visit Religious Affections Ministries.

A Conversational Canine

Friday··2018·11·09
Long ago, in a far away land,* this blog was born on blogger.com. I soon began posting jokes on Saturday, and continued the practice until, to the relief of many, I ran out of material. Eventually, it occurred to me that Saturday space was more appropriately spent preparing minds for Sunday worship. Hence, I began posting hymns, a decision that has been richly rewarding for me and, as occasional emails attest, for a number of readers. However, being who I am, I miss the levity of those days and have decided to resurrect it—on Friday, this time—beginning by reposting the old ones from the old blog. You may like it, or you may not; you may laugh, and you most certainly will groan (if my hopes are met). So, without further ado, . . . One Day, at the Stable A group of race horses was loafing around the stable one day when one of them began bragging about his racing record. “Out of the last fifteen races, I’ve won ten,” he boasted. “That’s pretty good,” said another, “but I’ve won nine out of the last twelve.” “That’s nothing,” scoffed a third. “I’ve won nine out of the last ten races.” As this was going on, a greyhound walked in. After listening to the horses boast, he growled, “You guys think you’re hot, but I’ve got you all beat. I’ve been undefeated this entire season.” The horses were silent for a moment, looking at each other in amazement. Finally one of them spoke. “Incredible . . .” he said, in awe. “I can’t believe it!” exclaimed another. “Unbelievable!” said the third, in hushed tone. “A talking dog!” * It was actually right here.

Ready-Made Sermons

Thursday··2018·11·08
Patrons of pastors.com might find the following anecdote from the life of Augustus Toplady of interest. As Toplady was approaching ordination the famous incident occurred where he was approached by a well known bookseller when leaving the shop he was asked: “Sir, you will soon be ordained. I suppose you have not laid in a very great stock of sermons. I can supply you with as many sets as you please. All originals: very excellent ones and they will come for a trifle.” Toplady's response was that “I certainly shall never be a customer to you in that way, for I am of opinion that the man who cannot or will not make his own sermons is quite unfit to wear the gown.” The bookseller responded “Nay, young gentleman, do not be surprised at my offering you ready-made sermons, for I assure you I have sold ready-made sermons to many a bishop in my time.” Toplady responded by stating that “if you have any concern for the credit of the Church of England, never tell that news to anybody else from thenceforward for ever.” The Church of England may have been in moral crisis, Toplady certainly was not.

Abraham stretched out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. But the angel of the Lord called to him from heaven and said, “Abraham, Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” He said, “Do not stretch out your hand against the lad, and do nothing to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me.” Then Abraham raised his eyes and looked, and behold, behind him a ram caught in the thicket by his horns; and Abraham went and took the ram and offered him up for a burnt offering in the place of his son. —Genesis 22:10–13 Learn, O saints . . . to sit loose to all your worldly comforts. And stand ready prepared to part with everything, when God shall require it at your hand. Some of you perhaps may have friends, who are to you as your own souls. And others may have children, in whose lives your own lives are bound up. All I believe have their Isaacs, their particular delights of some kind or other. Labour, for Christ’s sake, labour, ye sons and daughters of Abraham, to resign them daily in affection to God, that when he shall require you really to sacrifice them, you may not confer with flesh and blood, anymore than the blessed patriarch now before us. And as for you that have been in any measure tried like unto him, let his example encourage and comfort you. Remember, Abraham your father was tried so before you. Think, O think of the happiness he now enjoys and how he is incessantly thanking God for tempting and trying him when here below. Look up often by the eye of faith and see him sitting with his dearly beloved Isaac in the world of spirits. Remember, it will be but a little while and you shall sit with them also and tell one another what God has done for your souls. There I hope to sit with you and hear this story of his offering up his Son from his own mouth and to praise the Lamb that sitteth upon the throne, for what he hath done for all our souls, forever and ever. —George Whitefield, “Abraham’s Offering Up His Son Isaac” in Lee Gatiss (Ed.), The Sermons of George Whitefield (Crossway, 2012), 1:95.

True, Justifying Faith

Tuesday··2018·11·06
Abraham stretched out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. But the angel of the Lord called to him from heaven and said, “Abraham, Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” He said, “Do not stretch out your hand against the lad, and do nothing to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me.” Then Abraham raised his eyes and looked, and behold, behind him a ram caught in the thicket by his horns; and Abraham went and took the ram and offered him up for a burnt offering in the place of his son. —Genesis 22:10–13 From hence we may learn the nature of true, justifying faith. Whoever understands and preaches the truth, as it is in Jesus, must acknowledge, that salvation is God’s free gift and that we are saved, not by any or all the works of righteousness which we have done or can do. No, we can neither wholly nor in part justify ourselves in the light of God. The Lord Jesus Christ is our righteousness and if we are accepted with God it must be only in and through the personal righteousness, the active and passive obedience, of Jesus Christ his beloved Son. This righteousness must be imputed, or counted over to us and applied by faith to our hearts, or else we can in no wise be justified in God’s sight. And that very moment a sinner is enabled to lay hold on Christ’s righteousness by faith, he is freely justified from all his sins and shall never enter into condemnation, notwithstanding he was a fire-brand of hell before. Thus it was that Abraham was justified before he did any good work. He was enabled to believe on the Lord Christ. It was accounted to him for righteousness. That is, Christ’s righteousness was made over to him and so accounted his. This, this is the gospel. This is the only way of finding acceptance with God. Good works have nothing to do with our justification in his sight. We are justified by faith alone, as saith the article of our church, agreeable to which the Apostle Paul says, ‘By grace ye are saved, through faith. And that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God.’ Notwithstanding, good works have their proper place. They justify our faith, though not our persons. They follow it and evidence our justification in the sight of men. Hence it is that the Apostle James asks, ‘was not Abraham justified by works?’ (alluding no doubt to the story on which we have been discoursing) That is, did he not prove he was in a justified state, because his faith was productive of good works? This declarative justification in the sight of men, is what is directly to be understood in the words of the text, ‘Now know I, says God, that thou fearest me, since thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me.’ Not but that God knew it before. But this is spoken in condescension to our weak capacities and plainly shows, that his offering up his son was accepted with God, as an evidence of the sincerity of his faith and for this, was left on record to future ages. Hence then you may learn, whether you are blessed with and are sons and daughters of, faithful Abraham. You say you believe. You talk of free grace and free justification. You do well. The devils also believe and tremble. But has the faith, which you pretend to, influenced your hearts, renewed your souls and, like Abraham’s, worked by love? Are your affections, like his, set on things above? Are you heavenly-minded and like him, do you confess yourselves strangers and pilgrims on the earth? In short, has your faith enabled you to overcome the world and strengthened you to give up your Isaacs, your laughter, your most beloved lusts, friends, pleasures and profits for God? If so, take the comfort of it. For justly may you say, ‘We know assuredly, that we do fear and love God, or rather are loved of him.’ But if you are only talking believers, have only a faith of the head and never felt the power of it in your hearts, however you may bolster yourselves up and say, ‘We have Abraham for our father, or Christ is our Saviour,’ unless you get a faith of the heart, a faith working by love, you shall never sit with Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, or Jesus Christ, in the kingdom of heaven. —George Whitefield, “Abraham’s Offering Up His Son Isaac” in Lee Gatiss (Ed.), The Sermons of George Whitefield (Crossway, 2012), 1:93–95.


2018·11·05
Stupendous Love
2018·11·04
Lord’s Day 44, 2018
2018·11·03
In Preparation for the Lord’s Day: Majestic Sweetness Sits Enthroned
2018·11·02
Walking in the Word
2018·11·01
An Habitual Bent
2018·10·31
Reformation Day, 2018
2018·10·30
Then Shall the Righteous Shine

2018·10·22
The Humility of George Whitefield
2018·10·21
Lord’s Day 42, 2018
2018·10·20
In Preparation for the Lord’s Day: The Head That Once Was Crowned with Thorns
2018·10·19
A Malicious Musician or The Pianist’s Plot
2018·10·18
Preaching and the Reformation
2018·10·17
The Concert that Precedes the Worship
2018·10·16
Eight Words, Five Themes

2018·10·29
Between Doing and Teaching
2018·10·28
Lord’s Day 43, 2018
2018·10·27
In Preparation for the Lord’s Day: Lord, Enthroned in Heavenly Splendor
2018·10·26
Encouragement for “Faithful Nobodies”
2018·10·25
Remember that Friends episode, in which Chewbacca, Hamlet, and Frodo . . .
2018·10·24
George Whitefield, Theologian
2018·10·23
Whitefield’s Unintended Consequences



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