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fear of man by the higher duty of declaring the whole truth in Jesus. Therefore, having now passed six-sevenths of the ordinary period allotted to human life - resting my whole and sole hope of salvation and immortality on the divinity of Christ, and the redemption by His cross and passion, and holding the doctrine of the Triune God as the very ground and foundation of the Gospel faith I feel myself enforced by conscience to declare and avow, that, in my deliberate judgment, the 'Christopædia' prefixed to the third Gospel, and incorporated with the first, but according to my belief the latest of the four, was unknown to, or not recognized by, the Apostles Paul and John; and that instead of supporting the doctrine of the Trinity and the Filial Godhead of the Incarnate Word, as set forth by John i. 1, and by Paul, it, if not altogether irreconcilable with this faith, doth yet greatly weaken and bedim its evidence; and that by the too palpable contradictions between the narrative in the first Gospel and that in the third, it has been a fruitful magazine of doubts respecting the historic character of the Gospels themselves. I have read most of the criticisms on this
text, and my impression is, that no learned Jew can be expected to receive the common interpretation as the true primary sense of the words. The severely literal Aquila renders the Hebrew word veâvis a young woman, girl, maiden. But were it asked of me: Do you then believe our Lord to have been the son of Mary by Joseph? I reply: It is a point of religion with me to have no belief one way or the other. I am in this way like St. Paul, more than content not to know Christ Himself κατά σάρκα. It is enough for me to know that the Son of God became flesh, σαρξ εγένετο γενόμενος ἐκ yuvaɩkòs, and more than that, it appears to me, was unknown to the Apostles, or, if known, not taught by them as appertaining to a saving faith in Christ. October, 1831." 1
1 "Works," Shedd's ed., v. 79. Commenting on one of Donne's sermons, where he is dealing with the Virginity in partu, which is the authorized interpretation by the Greek and Roman churches of the clause, " Born of the Virgin Mary," Coleridge remarked: "I think I might safely put the question to any serious, spiritual-minded Christian: what one inference tending to edification, in the discipline of will, mind, or affections, he can draw from the speculations of the last two or three pages of this sermon, respecting Mary's pregnancy and parturition? CanI write it emphatically-can such points appertain to our faith as Christians, which every parent would decline speaking of before a family, and which, if the questions were propounded by
Dr. Donne thought it was the wish of Christ that the Virgin-birth should not be taught or mentioned.
"Very ingenious," says Coleridge, "but likewise very presumptuous, this arbitrary attribution of St. Paul's silence and presumable ignorance of the virginity of Mary, to Christ's own determination to have the fact passed over." The further expression of Coleridge's thought is given in the following citations from his writings:
"O, what a tangle of impure whimsies has this notion of an immaculate conception, an Ebionite tradition, as I think, brought into the Christian Church. I have sometimes suspected that the Apostle John had a particular view to this point in the first half of the first chapter of his Gospel and met it by the true solution, the Eternal Filiation of the Word." (p. 276.)
"Non nude hominem - not a mere man do I hold Jesus to have been and to be; but a perfect man, and by personal union with the Logos, perfect God. That His having
another in the presence of my daughter, aye, or even of my, no less in mind and imagination, innocent wife, I should resent as as an indecency?" (p. 80.)
an earthly father might be requisite to His being a perfect man, I can readily suppose; but why the having an earthly father should be more incompatible with His perfect divinity, than His having an earthly mother, I cannot comprehend. All that John and Paul believed, God forbid that I should not." (P. 436.)
"It may deserve attention from the zealous advocates of the authenticity of the Evangelium Infantiæ, prefixed to the Gospel of Luke and concorporated with the canonical revision of Matthew's - whether the immaculate conception of the Virgin is not a legitimate corollary of the miraculous conception of our Lord, so far at least that the same reason, that rendered it impossible for Him to have an immaculate father, is equally cogent for the necessity of an immaculate mother.
"But alas! in subjects of this sort, we can only stave off the difficulty. It is a point in a circle, on whichever side we remove from it, we are sure to come round to it again. So here, either the Virgin's ancestors, paternal and maternal, from Adam and Eve downward, were all sinless; or her immediate father and mother were not so, but like the
rest of mankind involved in original sin. But if a sin-stained father and mother could produce an immaculate offspring in one instance, why not in the other? That the union of the Divine Word with the seed and nature of man should preclude the contagion of sin in the Holy Child, is as much to be expected on the one supposition of our Lord's birth as on the other. So far from being a greater miracle, it seems so necessarily involved in the miracle of the Incarnation, common to both, as scarcely to be worthy of being called an additional miracle. The accidental circumstance, that the Unitarian party, most palpably to their own disadvantage, reject or question the chapter in question, is the chief cause of the horror with which our orthodox divines recoil from every free investigation of the point." (P. 532.)
It was one of the ecclesiastical events in the last century, which amazed all thoughtful men, when the Roman Church, under the lead of Pope Pius IX, proclaimed the new dogma of the immaculate conception of Mary. It was to be sure the necessary and logical sequence of the belief that the birth from a virgin was essential to the Incarnation; that the Incarnation could