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The Beauty of the Lord (19 of 23)
Series: The Hope of the Gospel
'The beauty of the Lord our God.' It was Charles Kingsley, was it not, who was overheard in his last illness murmuring quietly to himself, 'How beautiful God is! How beautiful God is!' Perhaps the phrase, 'the beauty of God,' strikes us as just a little inappropriate and incongruous. We do not often apostrophize God as Augustine did-'O beauty, so old and yet so new, too late I loved Thee.' And yet it must be true that God is beautiful. He is indeed the supreme and absolute beauty. The old Greeks put into their statues and representations of their gods their highest conceptions of human beauty; into their Aphrodite, all they knew of womanly charm; into their Apollo, all they knew of manly grace; into their Zeus, all they knew of royal majesty and dignity. The instinct that made them thus identify the divine with the beautiful was altogether right. It was only the mode of expression that was wrong. It was physical beauty they attributed to their deities, and they did this because their conception of deity was material and anthropomorphic. But the Godhead is not like unto silver or gold graven by art and man's device. God is a Spirit, and the beauty that characterizes Him is moral and spiritual beauty. You cannot express this beauty on canvas or in stone, but you can always feel it with the worshipful and believing heart.
From this point of view-that is, from the standpoint of beauty of character-how beautiful God is! You could guess as much from glancing at His works. I remember a friend of mine, after reading a chapter from, I believe, one of John Ruskin's works, remarking to me, 'What a beautiful mind the man has!' And so exactly when I look out upon the works of God's hands I always feel moved to say, 'What a beautiful mind God has!' Take the glory of the springtide. The earth in springtime fills anyone who has any sense of beauty with a perfect exhilaration of delight. It is full of light and fragrance and life and color. I look upon the trees dressed in their new robes of fresh and vivid green; I look upon the fields, decked as they are with innumerable white-eyed daisies and yellow buttercups; I look at the wealth of color in our gardens; I listen to the joyous song of the birds; and when I remember that God is the Author and Giver of all this color, fragrance, glory and song, I am constrained to cry, with Kingsley, 'How beautiful God is! How beautiful God is!'
'Nature,' as our hymn puts it-
With open volume stands
To spread her Maker's praise abroad;
And every labor of His bands
Shows something worthy of a God.
But it is not in Nature that I find the highest revelation of the beauty of the Lord. For that I turn to the gospel. You remember that passionate psalm in which the singer expresses his love for God's house-'One thing have I desired of the Lord,' he cries, 'that will I seek after, that I may dwell in the house of the Lord ...
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