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explain its application to ourselves. We recognise, as through a glass darkly, an utterance of that “Wisdom that proceedeth out of the mouth of the Most High, and reacheth from one end to the other mightily, sweetly disposing all things;" but we do not pretend to understand it.
We may not pierce behind the veil. So much our hearts will tell us, that in the Lamb slain before the foundation of the world, but offered in time on Calvary, we have the surest pledge and most perfect revelation of a love that cannot fail. From of old He had loved us with an everlasting love, and therefore, when we rebelled against Him, in the compassion of His sufferings He drew us to Himself once more; and He has vouchsafed to reconcile us by so excellent a method of atonement, that it is at once the source of sanctity to the fallen, whose nature He has assumed, and a perfect satisfaction for their sin. And, further, the voice of tradition combines with the surmises of reason to suggest to us, that the mystery of the Atonement is part of a yet deeper mystery in the eternal purpose of God. He had always meant to make His tabernacle among men, but He had not meant to die. Only in so far as we comprehend the charity of the Incarnation, can we hope to comprehend aright its consummation in the shame and self-sacrifice of the Cross.
NOTE TO CHAPTER VII.
ON CERTAIN CONTRASTS OF CHRISTIAN AND HEATHEN
The view expressed in the last chapter as to the comparative absence from the old heathen civilisation of that gentler phase of humanity, which seems a natural outgrowth from the Cross, may not improbably be considered by many exaggerated or unreal. A few words, therefore, shall be added here, in explanation of what it is intended to convey. It is quite true, that a standard of excellence was attained under the Greek and Roman Republics, which in some respects has never been surpassed, while there are points in which the average morality of Christian States has not unfrequently fallen below it. To dispute this would be as little in the interests of Christianity, as of historical truth. Neither, again, is it to be denied, that many individual characters of heathendom present at least foreshadowings and instalments of the peculiarly Christian virtues, those, I mean, which were not only sanctioned but first distinctly inculcated by the Gospel. To use the words of Tertullian, we discover in many of them testimonium animæ naturaliter Christiana. Such pre-eminently were Socrates, Marcus Aurelius, Epictetus, and perhaps Seneca ;' such, in various degrees, were many more who might be named. God never left Himself without a witness among
On the other hand, it must be confessed, that only in rare and almost exceptional cases is anything like the Christian ideal, as represented by the Sermon on the Mount, realised among ourselves.
Seneca must, at least, be placed on a far lower level than the other three. Even though we may reject the grosser charges of his enemies, there is but too abundant evidence in his own writings of his inordinate avarice, and of a servility as loathsome as it is grotesque. The reader may compare the estimates of his character—which do not indeed materially differ—in Farrar's Seekers after God, and the dissertation on “St. Paul and Seneca" in Lightfoot's Philippians. I refer the more gladly to Mr. Farrar's interesting volume, from the admirable illustration it supplies of individual and social contrasts in heathen and Christian life, as well as for the nobleness of its teaching.
It is a common remark, that very few lines need be altered in Juvenal's Satires, beyond what is purely local, to make them applicable to the London, or Paris, or Vienna of to-day. Yet it is important to remember, that, after all allowances, certain broad contrasts remain, which fix a moral gulf between the world of Juvenal and our own. We gaze in a rapture of admiration on that marvellous creation of genius, the Athens of Pericles and Socrates and Phidias, of the mighty orators and poets whose words have rung music in the ears of seventy generations of mankind. We do well to gaze; there has not been such another glory upon the earth. But we are apt to forget that the picture has a darker side, over which distance draws a veil; that, in the language of a writer little likely to undervalue its ideal grace, “if the inner life had been presented to us of that period, which in political greatness and in art is the most brilliant epoch of humanity, we should have turned away from the sight with loathing and detestation.". The Plays of Aristophanes tell us something of that inner life; the pages of Petronius Arbiter reveal under the Roman Empire a yet lower depth of pollution. But the reality must have far exceeded anything our imagination can reproduce.
It is not, however, with the impurity but the cruelty of the old civilisations that we are now concerned, as contrasting with the tenderness of feeling, the scrupulous thoughtfulness for others, which has always been more or less a characteristic of Christian society, and never more so than in our own day. If many things were permitted to the Jews for the hardness of their hearts,' many more and worse were practised by the Gentiles. The usages of war and slavery have been alluded to in the text. The condition of women and children, and in fact the whole system of family life, which was treated simply as a subordinate department of statecraft, are also cases in point; so is the practice of human sacrifice, wherever it prevailed;s and the absence,
They are summed up in the Essay “On the State of the Heathen World," in Jowett's Epistles of St. Paul, vol. ii., pp. 68, 899.
? Ib. p. 71.
3 Mommsen denies the practice of human sacrifice at Rome; others affirm it. In Greece it did not prevail in historical times, but the public taste was not shocked by legends which record it ; nor was the Spartan cryptia looked upon with any special horror, though it would have been alien to Athenian habits.
already mentioned, of any public provision for sickness or other inevitable suffering. There is, again, in individuals, even the best of them, a hardness, a want of sympathy and considerateness, of much that falls under the notion of Christian courtesy, which to us would seem almost incredible, if we came across it in real life, at least among the educated classes. There are, of course, exceptions ; but I speak of the general standard, and of what was not found inconsistent with a stainless reputation and distinguished personal excellence. Even a man with all the refinement of Horace never dreamt of regarding slaves as other than mere chattels; the highest Roman ladies gazed with eager and unpitying enjoyment on the hideous spectacles of the Coliseum. Nor was the stern morality of Juvenal shocked at the gladiatorial shows, but only at the nobles taking part in them. No public sentiment of Rome was outraged when 20,000 slaves were killed in a mock sea-fight for a summer afternoon's pastime to the spectators. But I need not multiply illustrations of what will be readily admitted.
Now it is clearly a fact, that in these and such like matters the common feeling and practice of Christendom is a marked improvement on that of preceding ages. Cruelties no doubt, both public and private, have been perpetrated in Christian countries, some of a kind the heathen never dreamed of. Still it remains true, that the average standard, whether national or individual, is not what it was then. No one questions, for instance, that the influence of the Church contributed in the long run to the abolition of slavery, and softened the horrors of war. Care for the sick and poor was from the beginning a noticeable speciality of Christians; hospitals, as has been observed, were first erected in Christian cities. It is surely no mere fancy to connect the changed temper of modern society with the great event which has engaged our attentiou in this volume. There is a sequence of causation, as well as of chronology. An Order was founded by St. Camillus of Lelli in the sixteenth century, under the name of Cruciferi, for attending those afflicted with incurable diseases, or at the point of death. May we not say that all who represent the more tender and compassionate spirit of Christian civilisation are so far, in their measure, bearers of the Cross ?
LEWIS AND SON, PRINTERS, SWAN BUILDINGS, MOORGATE SIREET.
HE CATHOLIC DOCTRINE OF THE ATONEMENT: An Historical Inquiry
Theological Developments. Second Edition,
EXTRACTS FROM REVIEWS OF THE FIRST EDITION. " It is written with some learning, with great clearness, with much grace, and the Author has happily avoided that prolixity which is the besetting sin of theologians, ... To all those who watch with interest the widening rings produced by the Liberal movement in the waters of opinion, we heartily recommend Mr. Oxenham's Introductory Essay. With it the political student may stop short. His theological brother will read on, certainly with interest, and probably with edification.”-Pall Mall Gazette.
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“or Mr. Oxenham's treatise we desire to speak in high terms of praise. We are not aware of any book in which so much information on so important a subject, is condensed with equal precision and method, We cannot discover a single point in which bis sympathies have misrepresented any opinion held hy Fathers, Schoolmen, Reformers, or modern theologians. Mr. Oxenham writes like a scholar and a man of taste, and his readers will find more than one passage of no inconsiderable eloquence."-London Review.
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“Mr. Oxenbam's is the work of a scholarly divine, and is worthy both of his first training at Oxford, and of the countenance of his eminent Roman Catholic friend, Dr. Döllinger.”_Westminster Review.
"It appears to us to show throughout a devout and reverent spirit, much thoughtful reading, and in point of style is a good model of clear, refined, and nervous English; and lastly, we think the author shows a gift of dealing fairly by the views of opponents, not altogether common.:-Weekly Register.
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"Mr. Oxenham's book traces in language always clear and nervous, and sometimes eloquent, the various phases of speculation through which the doctrine of the Atonement has passed, both among Catholics and Protestants. . . . Nothing can be more admirable than the tone throughout. ?Ecclesiastic.
“ We believe that this is the first time the subject (of the Atonement) has been systematically treated by any contemporary writer, whether among ourselves or Roman Catholics. ... Mr. Oxenham has done wisely to choose a method ' not controversial, but historical,' tracing the doctrine from the early Fathers down to the present time, instead of plunging into mere polemical discussion. We may add, that the vigour and eloquence of style will commend the work even to non-theological readers.”- Union Review.
BY THE SAME AUTHOR,
Some Remarks on Two Articles in the Dublin
Review. Price ls. 6d. “That Mr. Oxenham has met with scant courtesy or fairness is not only his own view, but that of others also who have come forward in his defence, and is made out (so far as we can judge without seeing the whole of the articles) by his argument."-Guardian.
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DR.PNTEXT. A Letter to the Rev. Father Lockhart
of the Institute of Charity.--8vo., price 3s. 6d.
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