« السابقةمتابعة »
not have been otherwise in the nature of the case. God and Mary, so ran the argument, were the parents of Jesus, the one furnishing the divinity, the other the humanity. But since the humanity of Jesus was exceptional and divine, and the flesh of His body sacred and life-giving, Mary must herself have been an exceptional being, a quasi divine person, sinless, and in order to sinlessness immaculately conceived. But to glorify Mary was also an end in the mind of Pius IX. In the famous painting in the Vatican, executed at the order of the Pope to commemorate the new dogma, Mary has taken her place in the sacred Trinity, along with the Eternal Father and the Eternal Son, as having an equal share with Deity, in bringing to the world the blessing of the Incarnation.
The nineteenth century was, by common consent, the most enlightened, the most progressive, in the world's history. No other century could compare with it for great discoveries, for powerful illumination in every department of life, in science, in literature, in art, in philosophy. How, then, could so retrogressive a step have been taken, which outdid the dreams in the Middle Ages? Among those who wondered was the late Frederick Robertson, who was preaching in the fifties, and for whom the new dogma fur
nished the subject of two of his most notable sermons, "The Glory of the Virgin Mother" and "The Glory of the Divine Son."
"How comes it to pass," he asks, “after three hundred years of Reformation, we find Virgin-worship restoring itself again in this reformed England, where, least of all countries, we should expect it, and where the remembrance of Romish persecution might have seemed to make its return impossible? It is the doctrine to which the converts to Romanism cling most tenaciously."
Robertson had felt the force of that severe reaction through which the last century passed, when humanity, as it were, rose up in its might to dethrone the deity. But he escaped its evil effects, and his answer to the question is true. Mary worship is "idolatry, in modern Romanism, a pernicious and most defiling one," where the worship of the mother overshadows the worship of the Son, and the love given to her is so much taken from Him. The remedy for it is to get back to the full humanity of Jesus. Because the humanity of Christ had been lost sight of or obscured, through inferences from a wrong conception of the Incarnation, the world had
turned to Mary as a substitute.
Robertson's prophetic call to return to the humanity of Christ, as the way to overcome false worship, has been fulfilled, but in larger and different measure than he anticipated. The ecclesiastical reaction, which was moving Romeward, was checked by the rise of Biblical and historical criticism, - by the "higher criticism of the New Testament in particular, which has brought back to the world the historical Christ, till at last we are beginning to know what manner of man He was. Through the contemplation of His personality, He now begins to stand revealed to the modern world, as never before, in all the history of the Church, was He seen or known. No greater boon was ever given to the world than this. But as we study the records of His life, the mystery of His person also grows. Into the depths of His consciousness, no one can ever hope fully to penetrate. But at least Christ realizes to faith all that the religious imagination
could ask for, if "God was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself" (2 Cor. v. 19). We can understand how St. Paul, from his knowledge of Christ after the flesh, should have been led to say, "Wherefore God also hath highly exalted Him, and given Him a name which is above every name, that in the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven and things in earth, and things under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father."
MODERN SENSITIVENESS ABOUT THE VIRGIN
It is to have been devoutly wished that the present controversy about the Virgin-birth had not arisen to disturb the peace of the Church. Many of those who feel keenly the modern difficulties would have preferred to allow objections to slumber, in the conviction that no serious issue was involved. There will always be a large number brought up from infancy within the Church, who will continue to think and to talk in the old way, however the critical questions regarding the fact may be determined. There are many subjects in the field of religion or theology where the mind, the intellectual faculties, remain willingly in suspense, and in such an attitude may lie prudence and the highest wisdom, even the possibility of the larger growth. There is much to be said in behalf of the Virgin-birth which should moderate or conciliate those who oppose it. The first man, who was of the earth earthy, came into the