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of natural scenery exhibited in classical and in Christian literature. There was no subjective poetry among the ancients. What was evening to the Greek? What was it to the Roman? It was not till Christianity, that true but sadder second thought, had drawn a veil over much that seemed, but only seemed, so clear; till all the light that lay on human life had faded into the hues of twilight, that men began to feel, dimly at first, and as if by instinct, the true significance of that wondrous interval which is not night nor yet day, but more to the heart than either.” ? Even in mere earthly enjoyments there is nothing pure, or noble or enduring without the sense of mystery and the cost of sacrifice. And both are learnt on Calvary As the prismatic hues are centred in the sunbeam, the tenderness of affection and the experience of life are summed up and harmonized in the Cross.
5. It follows from this, that the vision of Calvary interprets, while it chastens, our yearning for ideal loveliness. Why has even physical beauty so powerful an attraction for us? Why do we so fondly, so madly, so wildly, so passionately love it? Why is it, as a modern writer has truly said, that no heart is pure which is not passionate, no virtue safe which is not
" See Humboldt's Kosmos, rol. ii. ch. 1., Eng. Tr. with the quotations from St. Basil and the two Gregories. Cf. Newman's Church of the Fathers (London, 1840), pp. 126, 127.
? I am indebted for this passage to the unpublished Essay of a friend. The nearest approach, as far as I am aware, to modern idealism and subjectivity in classical poetry is to be found in the Idylls of Theocritus, which in their way are uvique. Virgil is perhaps an extreme case on the opposite side.
enthusiastic?1 Degraded, indeed, the feeling may easily become into shapes of nameless horror, for there is a blight over all that is loveliest in this fallen world. But in itself it is surely part of our unfallen nature, a relic of primeval innocence and earnest of future beatitude; it is the instinctive cry
of the creature for the Creator, the longing of the exiled spirit for the sympathies of an immortal home. In this ideal sense the poet's words are true:
“Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting,
The soul that rises with us, our life's star,
And cometh from afar." 3
He was not wrong who taught that the love of Beauty is indeed no other than the love of Eternal Truth. And only in the brightness of the uncreated Vision can that love find its adequate satisfaction."
“Wir müssen nach der Heimath gelien,
Um diese heilige Zeit zu sehen.” 5
But the corruption of what is noblest is most base.
I Ecce Homo.
Perhaps no man can attain the highest excellence, who is insensible to sensuous beauty...... it gives conceptions which are infinite, but it never gives or realizes the infinite. Still it leads on to it. To see the King in His beauty is the loftiest and most unearthly attainment. Can anyone be keenly alive to this who has no heart for external beauty ?” Robertson's Letters, vol. i. p. 223-1. Cf. vol. ii. p. 54. “I am quite certain that beauty attracts an invitiated heart only because it seems, by a law of our thought, the type of mental and moral beauty.”
Novalis, Hymn to Death.
The records of Heathendom tell us into what strange aberrations even religious enthusiasm, when undisciplined, may lead its votaries. He, who is the Flower of humanity, “fairest among the sons of men,” is proposed to our adoration, not so much as modern art has striven to represent Him, in that winning brightness of His Boyhood which riveted the gaze of the assembled doctors in the temple, or the grace of maturer years which drew upon Him the eyes of all the worshippers in the synagogue of Nazareth before He had begun to speak, but with countenance “ marred more than any man,” with “no form or comeliness that we should desire Him," in the dishonour of His Passion, and the cold repose of death. He is lifted on the Cross, a bleeding Victim, to draw all men to Himself. It is the stream that flows from Calvary, whose living waters make glad the city of our God. And thus the Cross is a response to our unfulfilled aspirations, while it consecrates our discipline of sorrow. It is a pillar of fire to lighten our eyes, and the shadow of a great Rock in a weary land; pointing upwards to the thrones on the right hand and on the left, but reminding us of the chalice of agony, the Red Sea of the baptism of blood.
6. It was observed in an earlier chapter, that Heathen sacrifices could scarcely, if at all, be taken as prefigurements of the death of Christ, and that St. Augustine and others regard even the Jewish sacrificial worship more as a concession to temporary exigencies, and a safeguard against idolatry, than as
having any special prophetic value. But it must not be forgotten, that such rites tell much of sin, if they throw no light on its expiation. Sacrifice, even, nay chiefly, in its most revolting and criminal shapes, not only the thousands of rams, the burnt offerings and calves of a year old, but the first-born offered for transgression, “ the fruit of the body for the sin of the soul,” like other forms of superstition and self-torture, gives unmistakable though distorted expression to man's instinctive sense of guilt, and his dread of punishment. Other meanings it might have besides, sa in the Oriental notion of absorption into the divine essence, or anima mundi, through self-annihilation; but still this feeling, however undefined, of remorse and terror is its most radical and universal explanation. The facts of nature and the experience of human history tended to confirm these impressions. Men could at best but feel after God, if perchance they might find Him, and “faintly trust the larger hope,” though much in the outward appearance of things seemed to contradict their creed. To assuage this terror, and turn remorse into repentance, some act, so to speak, was needed on God's side, which might reveal the depths of His compassion and notify to men, not indeed that He would leave sin unpunished, but that for all who turned to Him with contrite hearts punishment was tempered by mercy. And such an assurance was given in the Incarnation and death of the Eternal Son.
Why Christ's death was requisite for our salvation,
See Butler's Analogy, Pt. ii. ch. 5.
and how it has obtained it, will ever be a mystery in this life. But, on the other hand, the contemplation of our guilt is so growing and so overwhelming a misery, as our eyes open on our real state, that some strong act (so to call it) was necessary, on God's part, to counterbalance the tokens of His wrath, which are around us, to calm and reassure us, and to be the ground and the medium of our faith. It seems, indeed, as if, in a practical point of view, no mere promise was sufficient to undo the impression left on the imagination by the facts of Natural Religion; but in the death of His Son we have His deed-His irreversible deed—making His forgiveness of sin and His reconciliation with our race, no contingency, but an event of past history." It was the Divine response to the long and exceeding bitter cry of tortured humanity, deepening from age to age in its conscious or unconscious yearning for the advent of a Redeemer, as it rose from the sinning, suffering multitudes of the Patriarchal, or the Hebrew, or the Heathen world; O Adonai et Dux domûs Israel, O Rex gentium et Desideratus earum, veni et salva hominem quem de limo formâsti !
Such, then, are some of the inferences that may be drawn from the fact of the Atonement wrought by Christ, though we could not, I repeat, have used them beforehand as arguments to show that it was needed, or that it would be vouchsafed. They do not unlock the secret of the divine counsels, but they help to
| Newman's University Sermons, p. 106.