Royal Courts of Justice

London’s Royal Courts of Justice are located on the Strand and look remarkably like a church. The gothic facing, the soaring spire, the lancet windows: all would look at home on a cathedral close. Having removed from Westminster Hall, the law courts occupied this spot from 1882. Atop the building, but not visible on my photograph, are four statues

…symbolising the pillars of English legal tradition. They can be seen to this day. We would strain our eyes in vain looking for statues of Locke or Bentham or Mill. Instead, directly above the entrance, we find a statue of Jesus Christ, to the right a statue of King Alfred the Great, and to the left the statue of King Solomon. Situated behind, and symbolising their common foundation in biblical law, is the statue of Moses with his tablets. (Ofir Haivry, The Critic, 15 May, 2023)

Alfred bequeathed our system of common law (law established by custom and precedent rather than statute); Solomon tempered justice with wisdom; Moses received the divine commands at Horeb, but what of Jesus Christ? On first consideration, He appears to offer His own laws on the Sermon on the Mount (an interpretation I reject). Or, worse, it is sometimes claimed that He did away with Moses’ moral laws, permitting later generations’ departure from previously drawn differentials of right and wrong. So why is Jesus Christ among the four? He is the final Judge before whom we must all appear:

“Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.” Acts 17: 30-31 NKJV

More terrifying than the Lord Chief Justice is the Lord Jesus Christ who came first as loving Saviour but will come again as dreadful Judge.

With great and awful power,
Jesus, the Judge, shall come,
To bid his foes depart,
And take his children home;
How will the wicked quake and fear,
When they before him must appear.

He comes, the world to judge,
Nor will he take a bribe;
His wrath none can escape,
But his beloved bride;
Millions will unto mountains call,
To hide them and upon them fall.

Poor soul, what is thy hope?
On what dost thou depend?
Art thou a stranger still
To Christ, the sinner’s Friend?
Soon thou must leave thy all below,
And then, O then, what wilt thou do?

-William Gadsby, No 666 in Gadsby's Hymns