« FöregåendeFortsätt »
the marvelle truest and be
the materials employed more costly, but the proportions of the Tabernacle were doubled, “according to the pattern which David had by the spirit of the courts of the house of the Lord.” Here was enough to sway the sense and speak to the eye of the Israelite. But this glory was to be done away, and in its place was to come something infinitely higher and truer-that which should deal with man's spirit, speak to man's soul. It is true indeed, that, even as regards material glory, the Gospel Dispensation could produce its marvels too. There was the ministry of Angels; the Lord Christ's mastery over the visible powers of nature and the bodily frame of man; the solemn close of his life, the darkening of the sun and the rending of the rocks. Even the visible scene on Calvary had accompaniments of grandeur that might well vie with Sinai. But the lustre of the Gospel above the Law lies not in the seen, but in the unseen. The Lord is not in the wind, nor the earthquake, nor the fire, but in the still small voice. Surpassing in power, variety, and benevolence as were our Saviour's miracles, the truest greatness of His life is to be sought, not in the marvels that He did, but in what He was, and what He makes man. He was known to be the Messiah, not only because He opened blind eyes and raised the dead, but because the poor had the Gospel preached to them. He reared no temple; for, on the contrary, He introduced the hour when God's worship should no longer be confined to the mountain of Samaria or Jerusalem, no longer be local, but universal, when, far better, the true worshippers should worship the Father of spirits in spirit and in truth. He called not to swell His train, the singers to go before, nor the minstrels to follow after, nor the damsels in the midst to play with the timbrels. He chose the broken heart, the laden sigh, the smile of peace, in those whom He makes kings and priests to God-a company not visible to the eye of sense, but whose spirits ascend even now to the throne, and whose names are written in heaven. His visage was marred more than any man, and His form than the sons of men; but the look that melted fallen Peter's heart was something far above the brightness of Moses' face, though his eye was not dim, nor his natural force abated. And imposing as must have been the presence of the Jewish High-priest, when robed for the solemn ceremonial of the temple-worship; in the majesty of the Saviour's meekness, in His marvellous stooping from heaven to earth, in His silent patience under insult, and love strong as death, there is a stateliness of condescension, an inner glory and beauty, which far outshines all the externals of the earthly Zion, and justifies the lofty title, “the glorious Gospel of the blessed God.” “Because thou hast seen me, Thomas, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen and yet have believed.”
But the religion of the Old Testament times had its glory, inasmuch as it ever taught its disciples to be looking forward to something better and greater, and to Him that should come to introduce it. The creeds of old heathenism looked backward. Their golden age was past, never to return. But the Law and the Prophets had this special excellence, that they taught that the Desire of all nations was yet to come, and bade the people “ believe on Him that should come after them.” Tacitus tells us of the wide-spread persuasion emanating from Judæa of an universal monarch who was to come from the East, and that this was engendered "antiquis sacerdotum libris.” Many there were, accordingly, “ looking for redemption in Jerusalem," " waiting for the consolation of Israel,” expecting that when Messias was come He would tell them all things. (John iv. 25.) Surely it was a glory to hold out such a hope to a blind desponding world. But if the hope was glorious, how much more its accomplishment. If it was good to foster the expectation, how far better to have it realized. And so it is. * The law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.” The law was introductory, the Gospel is final. The law was the scaffolding, the Gospel is the building. No need now of meats, and drinks, and divers washings; for Christ is come. The New Testament interprets and completes the Old. We know what the insti. tutions of Moses meant. Ritual, ceremony, history, triumphal song—all are clear in the light that streams from the Sun of Righteousness; all the lines converge to this centre; all is unlocked by this master-key. The Gospel is the crown and summit of all previous revelations, the substance of Mosaic shadows, the spirit of the letter, the antitype of the type. The “ministration of righteousness exceeds in glory."
Again, there is a grandeur in the Moral Law. Its language with majestic sternness is,-Do this, and thou shalt live: transgress, and die. A rigidly just government, strictly repressive of offences, must always command our respect. An autocracy, which has the power to punish, and which does punish with undeniable justice and unfailing certainty, cannot fail to claim homage. It has a glory of its own. Power, even if it be mere physical force, has something in it sublime. But here its greatness ends; though it can coerce, it cannot reform; it may crush rebellion, it cannot engender loyalty. Herein, again, the glory of the “ ministration of condemnation” pales before the glory of the “ministration of righteousness.” “The letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.” The law is a mere outward counteraction of the internal corruption of man, a corruption which will not be cured from without; and hence, when it comes home to the conscience, it can only awaken a sense of spiritual death and merited unbappiness. But the Gospel gives power for a new obedience. Let a man go to Christ for salvation, and he not only receives pardon of his sins, but, according to the terms of the New Covenant, because his sins and iniquities are no more remembered, God puts His laws into his mind, and writes them in his heart. “ We love Him, because He first loved us." Only let a man realize for himself the redeeming fatherly love of God in Christ, and there springs up in his soul a childlike love, the free impulse of a life devoted to God. Instead of the former opposition between God's will and the will of man, they are united and made one. The law no longer appears as a written code of rules, opposed to a will estranged from God; but the spirit of the law is transfused into the inner life of the believer. It becomes a part of himself. It is written on his heart. He delights in it after the inward man. There is a willing obedience instead of a forced conformity. “Oh, how. I love Thy law; it is my meditation all the day." Here again, then, does the “ministration of the spirit” excel the “ministration of the letter.” The Gospel produces that obedience to the law, which the law itself could not command. It sanctifies as well as justifies. It heals man's nature, as well as purges his guilt.
The parallel might be easily expanded, but enough has been suggested to show the Divine wisdom of the inspired word. We gain a fresh assurance of the spiritual character of the Gospel. It deals with things unseen, and does not ask for external magnificence. We are not to find its glory in symbolism and outward ceremonial. It is no reason that, because Solomon's temple was fragrant with cedar, and glittering with golden pomegranates, and cloudy with incense, and gorgeous with the robes of its priesthood, therefore Christianity should be thus attired.* It is rather just the very reason why it should not; for here is one of the strongest points of contrast. We go back to a defunct system, when we aim at pageantry and pomp. What was lawful once, is sin and folly now. We turn from the living to the dead when thus we act; and were Paul to speak now to us, who “have been brought out of darkness and error into the clear light and true knowledge of God and of His Son Jesus Christ,”+ his language might be sterner than to the neophytes of Corinth,—“But now, after ye have known God,
* One of the earlier and best known by adopting the very practices, which of our modern perverts has alleged that appeared to the former Incumbent of he was attracted to Romanism by find. St. James', Ryde, so unwarranted by ing nothing in our Church order cor- her as to compel his secession, Doctors responding to the Ritual of Exodus and certainly differ, and it seems time that Leviticus. It is strange that the in- our Law Courts should tell us what cumbents of St. Alban's and St. Ethel are "the ornaments of the Church and burga's should satisfy themselves in the ministers thereof." remaining in the Church of England † Proper Preface for Whit Sunday.
them the appearance of being merely a very subordinate part of or rather are known of God, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage ?”
Great were the privileges of Israel. Ours could hardly be spoken of in higher terms, and yet they are nothing to ours. We have the last best gift of heaven. There will be nothing higher or better till the restitution of all things. How shall we conserve that for which we are all so deeply responsible ? Shall we not seek day by day to know the “ministration of righteousness” better, to live on it more, to purify our souls by the love of the truth, to realize increasingly our true standing as men, redeemed, pardoned, justified, in Christ Jesus? It is only vigorous spiritual health that will repel spiritual epidemics. The
“low fever ranges round to spy
The weakness of a people or a house;" and it is only the sound and strong that can venture into infected atmosphere and not be tainted. May we sue out for ourselves, and claim as our rightful inheritance, through the New Covenant, the power of the indwelling Spirit to expel sin; tracing Christ through the whole of His word, as the end of the law and the prophets, and evermore growing in grace. The light on Moses' countenance gradually died away. The Christian may daily gain such clearer insight into the Gospel of his Lord, that the reflection of His glory may be ever deepening in him, and brightening ever; even as the Apostle's contrast culminates in the snblime thought,–“But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image, from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.”
THE RISE AND PROGRESS OF MARIAN WORSHIP, AS EXHIBITED
IN ROMAN MONUMENTS. . Roma Sotterranea ; or, Some Account of the Roman Catacombs.
Compiled from the works of Commendatore de Rossi, with the consent of the Author By Rev. J. S. Northcote, D.D., President of St. Mary's College, Oscott, and Rev. W. R. Brown
low, M.A. Longmans. 1867. A History of Ancient Christianity and Sacred Art in Italy. By
C. J. Hemans. Williams and Norgato, London. 1866. .
From various causes, upon which we need not now dwell, a great impulse has been given of late years to the study of Vol. 68.-No. 383.
primitive Christian Art. Early monuments are still in existence, many but recently discovered, not a few of them either all but unknown or known only in disguise, which are of the highest importance for their bearing upon disputed questions of doctrine or of discipline. And of all the fields for such research open to the student, none is more rich in hidden treasure than “ Subterranean Rome;" no records of Primitive Christendom more suggestive than the rude frescoes depicted on the walls of the Catacombs, or the simple inscriptions there to be read.
The history of these “Catacombs,” to use the name by which they are popularly known, abounds with an interest all its own, quite apart from all reference to the controverted questions of these our own days; though upon these also, as we have already intimated, their evidence is of the highest ralue. We speak of their history absolutely; but we should rather say their history as far as at present it admits of being written. For all that as yet has been determined concerning them, is confessedly imperfect. And though there is much that may now be regarded as conclusively established, there is also much that still is, and probably will yet remain, subject for conjecture, rather than for well grounded and certain conclusion.
The “Roma Sotterranea," edited by Dr. Northcote and Mr. Brownlow, is a compendium of what has been written on the subject by Cavaliere De Rossi of Rome, more particularly of a work, as yet incomplete, the title of which they have preserved in their own volume. No one living is so fitted to be the historian of the Catacombs as the distinguished antiquary we have just named. But the language (Italian) in which his book is written, and in these days of “short and cheap” publications, we fear we must add, its size, and cost, nay, even the exactness of its research and great learning,—all these combine to deter many English readers from making acquaintance with its contents. And this being so, we think that the compilers of the volume before us have done good service, in laying before the English public a summary of the results of De Rossi's investigations. Their book would have been more valuable if they had adhered more religiously than they have done to his guidance. For in spite of the deep importance to doctrinal ques
| This name properly applies only to one particular cemetery beneath the church of St. Sebastian, which from early times was known as “Ad Catacumbas" (this last probably a barbarous corruption of a Greek word). This particular cemetery was easily accessible, and was still known and visited
at a time when all the others had passed into oblivion. Hence it was that, when the older cemeteries were discovered in the sixteenth century, the special designation of that ono cemetery became a generic term applied to them all.