Moral Beauty
Psalm 90:17
And let the beauty of the LORD our God be on us: and establish you the work of our hands on us; yes…

What are some of the characteristics of moral beauty?

1. Beauty has no sharp angles, but its lines of continuance are so gentle that curve melts into curve. The truly beautiful life has no breaks, no harsh traits, or times when the better nature seems asleep or on a journey; no sudden starts from moral torpor into fresh spiritual life. The moral life is uniform; varied, it may be, at times, but pervaded always by the same spirit. But let it be said emphatically that this beauty cannot be put on. The blast that shall awake the soul's rich melody must come, not from without, but from within. This beauty can be sustained only by taking our Saviour's motto, "I am not alone, but the Father is with me." The felt presence of God will be efficient beyond all things in keeping passion subdued and temper under control, while we maintain in the daily flow of life that sweet serenity with which everything good is seen to be in harmony. I remember seeing a picture of Joseph's workshop, representing the carpentership of our Lord. The holy light which encircled the place rested on the shavings, the chips, the plane, and the saw, making it look like a picture of heaven. The painter was right; for with our Lord there was just the same Divine beauty in His handling of the plane and the saw as when He stooped at the grave of Lazarus and bade him rise and come forth. In so far as we can put this spirit into the humblest of work or play we make it divinely beautiful.

2. This beauty grows, or, if not, it cannot be. This is so with the outward beauty of the universe and its changes; year by year the spring in its delicate foliage is beautiful as it comes upon us so full of promise from the lifeless winter; but not less beautiful is the glow of summer; nor is the limit of this beauty reached till the fields bend with ripening grain, the trees with golden, luscious fruit, and the vines are drooping with the purple clusters. But the beauty of character, as that of nature, fades as soon as it ceases to grow. Take God's perfect law, and look at it as the microscope for the examination of your characters; bring it to the level of your thought, feeling, and conduct for a single day; look close and deep, endeavour to ascertain precisely how your soul would appear with the strictest standard of judgment applied. I trust many of you would find ample reason to be happy and thankful; but are you sure that the microscopic mirror would not reveal to you those defects of which otherwise you were not aware? But apply this scrutiny to your Saviour's character, and it only brings to light finer lines and richer hues of spiritual beauty; and those who have been long in the holy temple of that Divine character feel that it still grows upon them, and they can see more and more to admire every year they live. Thus it is that the best of men and women can talk of themselves in the humblest terms, not because they are less good, but because they use the microscope of God's law upon themselves, and therefore see the difference between themselves and their heavenly Father. The more of His Spirit they have the more earnestly they crave for more.

3. Such are some of the characteristics of moral or spiritual beauty; and we need it for our own sake and for the sake of our fellowman.

(1) For our own sake, because without it we cannot in any sense be satisfied with ourselves.

(2) We need this beauty of character for the sake of others; it is this which, far more than anything else, confers goodness and the power of doing good. You will do good not so much by what you say as by what you are. What you say and do for others, and what you give, is the mere multiplicand of which yourself and the soul of goodness in you is immeasurably the larger multiplier; and the nature of the product depends mainly upon the multiplier.

4. Contemplate for one moment the union of strength and beauty in our great Exemplar, Christ; and the degree to which that strength, in Him so peculiar, lay in His beauty of character. As for strength, the world has not seen might like His. You know how the multitudes were silenced into respect by His presence. His days were full of energetic toil, and the prophetic phrase, "travelling in the greatness of His strength," seems to refer to the momentous journey from His baptism to His cross; but would this might have come down through the ages had it not been for its majestic and transcendent beauty?

5. Take with you on your life's journey the motto given in our text: "Let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us." Seek with strength that beauty that shall make your strength immeasurably stronger; so far as you can see along your path, instead of thorns, instead of briars, show by your faithful conduct that the flowers of heaven can grow on earthly ground. Worship God in the beauty of holiness; not alone in formal prayer and praise, but by making your work itself worship, your enjoyments thanksgiving. Rejoice in the Lord always; and so live that yours shall ever be a happy, lovely service, one that waits not for its reward in heaven, but is in itself an exceeding great reward

(A. P. Peabody, D.D.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: And let the beauty of the LORD our God be upon us: and establish thou the work of our hands upon us; yea, the work of our hands establish thou it.

WEB: Let the favor of the Lord our God be on us; establish the work of our hands for us; yes, establish the work of our hands.

Moral Beauty
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