From the sermons of John Flavel
What is Meant by "Altogether Lovely"
Let us consider this excellent expression, and particularly reflect on what is contained in it, and you shall find this expression "altogether lovely."
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? "His price is above rubies, and all that thou canst desire is not to be compared with him," Prov. 8:11.
Christ is the apotheosis of loveliness. There is nothing about His person that is unlovely. If we are put off by Him, as sometimes we are, it is because His perfect light exposes the flaws in us--we think for all to see. However, Christ is altogether lovely in this as well, for more often than not, our own unloveliness is for ourselves alone--it is not shared nor bruited about nor a cause for rejoicing or ridicule. Christ, in His loveliness, holds up a mirror to us and asks us to transcend it and to reflect Him instead.
Jesus is without taint of unloveliness. He is perfect and holy, and in His perfect holiness He is not boastful nor self-righteous. He is perfectly hospitable, inviting everyone to share at His table and to rejoice in the triumphs of the Kingdom of Heaven. Jesus is unquestionably welcoming to all who give their hearts to Him, who subsume their fleshly heart in His divine heart.
Jesus is altogether lovely and altogether loving. His love makes us lovable and worthy of love. His compassionate gaze transforms us completely. When we live at all times within that gaze, we become a new people, a people of tender heart and of great mercy.
Jesus Christ is altogether lovely and altogether worthy of everything we can muster in the way of love. Jesus Christ embraces us, loves us, nurtures us, protects us, and gathers us back to the Father.
Jesus is altogether lovely. And all of me, all of my thoughts, all of my goods, all of my feelings, everything I have and am is insufficient to praise His loveliness. Yet, it utter graciousness (and loveliness) He takes the little I offer, accepts it, perfects it and offers it with great Joy to the Father who loves me. And because of this, there is great joy in Heaven over me.
O my Jesus,
altogether lovely beyond words,
let the world breathe a little of your loveliness.
Let me be a vehicle of some small part
of your loveliness. May I decrease so the greater
part shines through. May I transmit
your perfection to all the world
through an unsullied pane of glass.
Let everything about me reflect your loveliness
and bless everyone who is near me today
with an experience of your loveliness.
My blessed Lord, transform me
into your eternal loveliness for the world.
Take what I am and mold it into what you would
have me be--because it must be as you are--
Later: I note that I have commented upon this in somewhat less detail before; however, there is a litany of loveliness here. Amazing the way we return to certain lovely things.