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spirituality of the provisions which the new law contains for the deepest wants and the most longing desires of man, Dr. Fairbairn insists upon the difference between the two dispensations as " relative," and not "absolute," and shows that the fundamental elements of both are the same; the grand and characteristic difference between the two being embodied in the pregnant utterance of Augustine, "The law was given that grace might be sought; grace was given that the law might be fulfilled."
But it is not only with regard to our Lord's teaching that we commend to the careful consideration of our readers Dr. Fairbairn's remarks on "the relation of the law to the mission and work of Christ." It is from that portion of his Seventh Lecture, in which he treats of Christ's sufferings, that we extract a passage which, perhaps more distinctively than any other which we could select, identifies Dr. Fairbairn's school of theology with that of the greatest and profoundest of our old Divines.
"There are many," he writes, "who cannot brook the idea of these legal claims and awful securities for the establishment of law and right in the government of God: the sacrifice of the Cross has no attraction for them when viewed in such an aspect; and the utmost ingenuity has been plied, in recent times more particularly, to accept the language of Scripture regarding it, and yet eliminate the element which alone gives it value or consistence. Thus, with one class, the idea of sacrifice in this connection is identified with self-denial, with 'the entire surrender of the whole spirit and body to God.' .... What, however, is gained by such a mode of representation? It gets rid, indeed, of what is called a religion of blood, but only to substitute for it a morality of blood—and a morality of blood grounded (for aught that we can see) upon no imperative necessity, nor in its own nature differing from what has been exhibited by some of Christ's more illustrious disciples. Such a view has not even a formal resemblance to the truth as presented in Scripture ; it does not come within sight of the vicarious sin-bearing or atonement, in any intelligible sense of the terms." (pp. 248, 249.)
After noticing other similar views of the sufferings of Christ which have been adopted in recent times, Dr. Fairbairn observes:—
"In all such representations, which are substantially one, though somewhat different in form, there is merely an accommodation of Scripture language to a type of doctrine that is essentially at variance with it." (p. 249.)
"In the great conflict of life, in the grand struggle which is proceeding in our own bosoms and the world around us, between sin and righteousness, the consciousness of guilt and the desire of salvation,—itisnotin such a mystified, impalpable Gospel as these finespun theories present to us, that any effective aid is to be found. We mnst have a solid foundation for our feet to stand on, a sure and living ground for our confidence before God. And this we can find only in the old Church views of the sufferings and death of Christ as a satisfaction to God's justice for the offence done by our sin to His violated law." (p. 250.)
In his Eighth Lecture, Dr. Fairbairn discusses the relation of the Law to the Christian Church. There is much force in the consideration, that whilst the fulness and precision of the ceremonials of Jewish worship arose out of, and were essential to, the provisional and typical character of the Levitical economy, the realities thus foreshadowed having come, there is no longer any need of a similar fulness or precision in the ritual of the New Testament. Dr. Fairbairn contrasts, in this respect, the number and minuteness of the directions respecting the observance of Circumcision and the Feast of the Passover, with the paucity and simplicity of those which regulate the observance of the somewhat corresponding ordinances of Baptism and the Lord's Supper. Dr. Fairbairn does not at all dispute the fact, that the form and the mode of ceremonial observances both may be, and (as in the case of Naaman the Syrian) have been, of indispensable importance; but he argues, and, as it appears to us, with great force and perspicuity, that, had a similar precision of form and mode been the condition of acceptable worship under the Christian dispensation, instead of a profound silence, or of obscure indications, we should have received full and explicit directions in the New Testament on the subject of ritual generally, and more particularly with regard to the celebration of the two Sacraments of the Christian dispensation.
Dr. Fairbairn adduces, in this Lecture, many passages from the writings of the New Testament, with a view to show that, although there is a wide distinction between the position occupied by Israel with regard to the Law and that now occupied by Christians, nevertheless the Moral Law, as revealed in the Old Testament, had, with the Apostles, a recognized place in the Christian Church; and "as under the Old Covenant the law-giving was also the loving God, so under the New the loving God is also the law-giving." We entirely concur in Dr. Fairbairn's estimate of the spurious character of that morality which "exceeds duty and outstrips requirement"; and we believe that the highest condition at which man can aim is that in which duty and privilege are so blended that it is impossible to draw the line of demarcation between the two, —in other words, a condition in which man's will is so lost in God's will that his inmost soul responds to those words which were fully realized only in the experience of the One perfect Exemplar, "Yea, Thy law is within my heart."
Not the least important or interesting of this course of Leetures is the concluding one, in which Dr. Fairbairn treats of the "Re-introduction of Ceremonialism" into the Church. Without committing ourselves unreservedly either to the statements or opinions advanced by the learned writer in the course of this Lecture, we have no hesitation in commending it to the careful consideration of our readers, as replete with sound sense, and as exhibiting the results of extensive reading and of accurate observation. The gradual expansion of the sacerdotal and sacramental system, as springing out of the too close and formal application to the Christian Church of the often mistaken language of the Old Testament, and subsequently built up upon the basis of a strange compound of Judaism and heathenism, is in this Lecture clearly traced; and the result of the introduction of this system is briefly but forcibly described in the following words:—
"The ancient worshipper, as regards the mediating of his services and their acceptance with Heaven, had to do only with objective realities, about which he could with comparative ease satisfy himself. .... But the spiritual element, which it has been impossible to exclude from the new law of ordinances, has, in the ritualistic system, changed all this, and introduced in its stead the most tantalizing and vexatious uncertainty. The validity of the Sacraments depends on the impressed character of the priesthood, and this, again, on a whole series of circumstances, of none of which can the sincere worshipper certainly assure himself." (p. 320.)
We should but inadequately convey to our readers our sense of the value of Dr. Fairbairn's latest (we trust not last) contribution to our theological literature, were we to omit a notice of the very able and interesting Appendix to the volume under review, in the form of ': Supplementary Dissertations" on "the Double Form of the Decalogue," "the Historical Element in Revelation," and "Whether a Spirit of Revenge is countenanced in the writings of the Old Testament;" the second of which Dissertations we commend more especially to the perusal of our readers, as containing an antidote, of more than ordinary value, to some of the prevailing errors of the present day.* We can only add, that an "Exposition of the more important passages on the Law in St. Paul's Epistles forms the concluding portion of a volume which, independently of his other works, would, in our judgment, suffice to secure for Dr. Fairbairn a place amongst the ablest and soundest of the theologians of the present century.
• Amongst the subjects of practical his Fourth Lecture, his dissertation °n
interest treated of in this volume, to "The Historical Elements in Revela
which our limits will not permit us to do tion," and his Exposition of Rom. x17
more than alludo, we are anxious to 1—7, as deserving the serious consido
dircct attention to Dr. Fairbairn's re- ration of those who are now agitatm?
murks on the moral elements of the this subject. Fourth Commandment, as contained in
STRAY THOUGHTS ON MONUMENTAL INSCRIPTIONS.
Believing in the resurrection of the Body, and in the life of the world to come, it is not a matter of utter indifference to the Christian, that the humbler companion of his soul, without which the bliss of that soul will not be finally perfect, should rest in peace until the great day, when the Lord Himself shall come to raise the dead. A reverential care of churchyards is soothing to our feelings, as we know ourselves to be mortal; and is congenial, in the pious minds of Christians, with their sacred recollections of that "new tomb" in a garden, wherein, for a brief season, our Saviour was Himself laid. The old yew trees of our quiet country churchyards, or the avenues of beech or lime trees leading from the gate to the porch, the flowers near the graves, the well kept grass, all testify to the care bestowed on the last resting-places of our dead; for the yew trees have seen generation after generation pass away, and remind us that it is not only in our day that such reverent care has been manifested. Nor is it otherwise than very important that the memorials of the dead should speak to the living. Every tombstone should remind us of "Jesus and the resurrection." This was the great topic of Apostolic preaching; and if the inscriptions on tombstones would point the passer-by to the one hope of the sinner, they would indeed preach to him solemnly, and, by the grace of God, effectually. Nor can this object be better attained than by the use of well selected texts; for in the solemn presence of death man's words should be as few as possible, God's words are best.
Alas I the inscriptions on many monuments only display the worldliness and pride of surviving friends, and give us no comforting hope concerning the departed. For instance, with some pleasing exceptions, the epitaphs composed in the last century are of a very unsatisfactory character. They are often heartless, trivial, and thoroughly unchristian in their tone. They speak of the virtues of the deceased as some heathen moralist might have spoken; and often leave the reader quite unassured that their subject ever heard of, far less that he believed, the Gospel. The monumental inscriptions of the era of the Reformation and of the succeeding century are generally far preferable. They have, at least, no hesitation in speaking of Christ and Him crucified; in professing faith in His glorious second coming, and in the resurrection of the dead. And our own day has witnessed a very general return to better things. The Cross,
Vol. CS.—No. 380. i I
that symbol of our redemption, now often supersedes the unmeaning urn, or other emblem of heathenism; and, in the majority of cases, the accompanying inscription speaks Christian language, and shows reverence for God's holy word.
Probably many of our readers can test this statement by visiting some old church in their neighbourhood, where the members of some noble, or knightly, family have been interred for numerous generations. They will trace the religious sentiment alike in the recumbent mediaeval effigy, with hands clasped in prayer, and in the quaint inscription, recording some contemporary of Shakespeare and Bacon; they will be pained by its frequent absence amid long and pompous enumerations of the virtues and honours of the deceased judge or courtier of the later Stuart or Georgian era, and they may (let us hope) have to hail its re-appearance in the latest monuments of the series.
Or again, let them visit Westminster Abbey, and they will read there inscription after inscription on the tomb of hero, statesman, or man of letters, which would be equally suitable to that of a Greek or Roman who lived and died before the rising of the Sun of righteousness. What a charming contrast (especially remarkable, as belonging to the eighteenth century) is presented to many other epitaphs in the Abbey, by this text engraved over the mortal remains of Handel: "Awake, thou lute and harp! I myself will awake right early."*
Two less generally known monumental records from the opposite extremities of England will supply examples of the strange fancies of the writers of epitaphs in former days. Curiously enough, they are each found in a church bearing St. Michael's name; the one that of Penkevil near Tregothnan in Cornwall; the other that of Barton in Westmoreland, some miles from the beautiful lake of Ulleswater. In the former of these is the monument of the celebrated Mrs. Boscawen, the accomplished friend of Dr. Johnson and of Hannah More. The inscription which it bears concludes thus: "Her manners were the most agreeable, and her conversation the best of any lady with whom I ever had the happiness to be acquainted."f Little could "the great lexicographer" have thought, when he expressed, or his faithful Boswell when he recorded, this doubtless justly complimentary opinion, that it would be deemed the most suitable testimonial that could be produced to the worth of a departed Christian!
The other epitaph records the grief of Dr. Lancelot Dawes, Vicar of Barton parish, at the untimely death of his young and
* Handel was in the habit of praying lege to depart to his Saviour on the
for direction before he engaged in the samp day on which that Saviour
composition of an oratorio. He died tasted death for him.
on a Good Friday; feeling it a privi- f Boswell's Life of Johnson.