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ness of the midnight heavens; not when the Paschal alleluias sound over the open Grave, or the mighty wind is rocking the upper chamber, where the Paraclete descends in tongues of flame on the first believers of the infant Church. No; but in the grave solemnity of the Good Friday procession, when altars are stripped, and bells are hushed, and lights burn dim, and the crucifix is veiled, and for that day alone of all the year the daily sacrifice has ceased, as though the reign of Antichrist were come, and the abomination of desolation set up in the most holy place; it is then the strange unearthly melody of the Vexilla Regis breaks on the silence of our supernatnral sorrow, with the tidings that He, the Crucified, is Lord and King.
“The royal banners forward go,
The Cross shines forth in mystic show.”
And, therefore, when scarce four centuries had passed since the Crucifixion, the greatest Father of the Church could openly appeal to the glory of that Cross, “once trampled on by the enemy, but now the brightest ornament of a monarch's crown." 1 The foolishness of that preaching of the Cross overcame the world ; it subdued the pride of philosophy, and tamed the fire of lust. Domuit orbem non ferro sed ligno. He with great power had exalted His chosen people, and they exalted His head on the accursed tree; but from that tree, stained with the blood-red dye of empire and of
martyrdom, He claimed and conquered the allegiance of mankind. Sacrifice is the grand law of the universe, and the Cross revealed it. In the words of a writer too early snatched away, “All the other bonds that had fastened down the Spirit of the universe to our narrow round of earth were as nothing in comparison to this golden chain of suffering and selfsacrifice, which at once riveted the heart of man to One, who, like himself, was acquainted with grief.” In this sense also His sacred limbs
What is it, again, that gives to the rolling music of the Psalter, which has echoed for above three thousand years along the corridors of the Jewish or the Christian Church, its peculiar force and charm—a sweetness that never wearies, a power that never fails—and has fitted it to record the most various experiences of individuals and of nations, to syllable the deepest thoughts, whether of joy or sorrow, which have stirred the hearts, and shaped the destinies, of a hundred generations of the chosen people of God? It is not only that marvellous fulness and diversity of human utterance, that profound spirituality, that exquisite refinement and tenderness of pathos, which strike a responsive chord in our inmost being, that have made the Psalter our most cherished manual of secret devo
' Arthur Hallam's Remains.
tion, the most familiar and universal organ of our public praise. It is this, but it is more than this; their inspired sympathy with every phase of the Redeemer's life-long Passion, with every sentiment of the Heart which gathered up and recapitulated in Itself the collective heart of humanity, has made the songs of Israel the rightful heirloom and common ritual of Christendom. For the history of the Passion is, in one sense, the history of the Church, and in the streets of that "great city, which is spiritually called Sodom and Egypt,” our Lord is not once, but perpetually crucified. 2. Once more.
Jesus not only drew us to Himself by what in our fallen nature was the most intimate and holiest bond of sympathy; He also transmuted suffering from a chastisement into a means of grace. It became a kind of supplementary sacrament, consecrated in the prayer of Gethsemane, “Thy will be done." He died not, as some have imagined, to supersede our imperfect satisfactions, but to ennoble them and give them worth. Thenceforth they have a true though derivative value, because they are shadows of His Cross, and sprinkled with His atoning blood. They have merit, not in spite of His meritorious Passion, but because of it. Just as His obedience was not to be the substitute, but the pattern and rule of ours,
See a striking passage on the wide appreciation and use of the Psalter in Stanley's Jewish Church, vol. ii. pp. 146—162. The author's view is not identical with that taken in the text, for it lays less stress on the Messianic, and especially the Passion element of the Psalter, but is consistent with it.
so too in suffering He left us an example of penance. He did not abolish for His disciples the common doom of sorrow, but sanctified it. He bade them take up their daily cross, but He showed how that cross might be turned from a curse to a beatitude. The cloud of doubt or perplexity has melted away, and His people are free to serve Him, in the spirit not of slaves but
We know that our poor satisfactions are accepted, because they are joined with His. We therefore pray Him to help His servants, because He has redeemed them with His precious Blood. The great law of retributive justice, that sin must suffer, Spáoavti Tradeiv, which suggested the grandest and most religious drama of the ancient world, lay as a heavy burden at the poet's heart. The Sacrifice of Calvary assures us that the law of justice is also a law of love. Suffering is as the rough ore embedded in the earth, out of which may be fashioned crowns of glory or chains of bondage. It is ours to make friends of the wages of iniquity, by offering our righteous chastisements in atonement for our sin. The Passion has impressed on every act of Christian service a new power of reparation. Since Jesus lived as a “Man of sorrows,' the trials of life have attained a meaning and a dignity; since Jesus died, the solitude of death, of which a Christian philosopher has spoken,' is less terrible than before, the stone is rolled away from the door of the sepulchre, and a light is shed from the Cross on the
I "Je mourrai seul." Pascal. Pensées.
cleansing fires of the world beyond the
When “the two voices' are striving in man's soul for the mastery, there are others than Faust whose hand has been arrested by the music of the Easter bells.
3. In the method of the Atonement, and in its abiding presence in the Church, we are taught the spirit of self-sacrifice, which lies at the root of all human excellence and is the true measure of our perfection. When we come to present that great Sacrifice on the altar, we are bidden to say; “We give Thee thanks because of Thy great glory.” He who has learnt the meaning of those words, has caught the spirit of the Eucharist and of the Cross. Nor only so. tral act of Christian worship is at once a Scrifice and a Communion. It teaches us both parts of the precept of charity, self-devotion to God and self-devotion for the good of man. All genuine nobility of character springs from self-oblivion, and self-oblivion is the spirit of sacrifice. The toil of the mission, the zeal of the apostle, the varied ministries of bodily or spiritual consolation, the meekness of endurance, the heroism of action, the patience of confessorship, the courage of martyrdom-all these are fruits and tokens of the Cross. It is the source of their energy, and the rule of their fulfilment. Tender children, like the boy-martyrs of Japan, have rapturously kissed the cross, whereon
I “The Mass is the compendium of the Gospel. It is a heresy in doctrine to acknowledge the Sacrament and to deny the Sacrifice. Worldliness is guilty of a similar practical beresy with regard to holiness. It admits the claims of all its obligations but one, and that is the obligation of sacrifice." -- Faber, Precious Blood, p. 303.