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ably farther away from the truth when he reaches Calvary. This being so, it is of vital importance that we should solve the question, "Who were the parents of Jesus ?" if we would reach a right conclusion as to other questions which lie farther on.

Mary was the mother of Jesus. All are agreed

so far.

The whole world pays reverence to her as the "handmaid of the Lord.” Her song of thanksgiving is perpetuated in the service of the universal church: “My soul doth magnify the Lord and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour. For he hath looked upon the low estate of his bondmaid! For behold from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed !” And all generations do call her “blessed."

O wondrous mother, was there ever joy like thine?

To thee it came, that message from the Highest,
Such as to woman ne'er before descended;
The Almighty's shadowing wings thy soul o'erspread,
And with thy life the life of world's was blended!

But thoughtful Christians call a halt when the song is raised, "Holy Mary, mother of God, pray for us!” We decline to accord her a divine homage which she herself would be the first to repudiate. Could she appear to-day in the midst of her devotees, of a certainty she would say as the angel did to kneeling John, “See that thou do it not; for I am thy fellow-servant. Worship God!"

Say of me as the Heavenly said, "Thou art
The blessedest of women”-
Not holiest or noblest- -no high name
Whose height misplaced may pierce me like a shame
When I sit meek in Heaven!

What of Joseph?—But the question has to do also with Joseph; and here is the possibility of the great mistake. Was he the father of Jesus or not?

In the group at Bethlehem he stands with perplexity in his eyes. For in the great drama which is being enacted he is, however vitally interested, a mere looker-on.

His character is written in the brief monograph, "He was a righteous man.” If there must needs be a Calendar of Saints by all means let him be accorded a place in it. His simple faith, humility, devotion to principle and acquiescence in the divine will make him worthy of the highest honor due to mortal man.

On receiving the announcement that he had been appointed to rest under an imputation of dishonor, in pursuance of the divine plan of redemption, he "arose and did as the angel of the Lord commanded him." All his life he carried in his breast a great secret which the world knew not. His neighbors looked askance, hinting at a bar sinister on his domestic shield, but he heeded them not. A less humble, less righteous, less magnanimous, less consecrated man would have revolted against the shameful imputations which were passed upon him; but without a murmur he took his assigned place and filled it.

He was the guardian of Jesus in his early years. He watched over him, led him to the synagogue and the Levitical school, taught him as an apprentice in the carpenter shop and took him up to Jerusalem to attend the annual feasts. Doubtless he felt thankful for being permitted to occupy this relation to the supernatural Boy. So, I say, if there must needs be a Calendar of Saints let us thus revere him. But he was not the father of Jesus.

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Who, then, was the father of Jesus?--God. So runs the record: “And the angel said unto Mary, The Holy Spirit shall come upon thee and the power of the Most High shall overshadow thee; wherefore also the holy thing which is begotten shall be called the Son of God."

So run the prophesies, also. No sooner had man sinned than the promise was given, “The Seed of woman shall bruise the serpent's head." And clearer and ever clearer grow the predictions in the succeeding pages of Scripture: “Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a Son and shall call his name Immanuel, which being interpreted is 'God with us!”; and again, "For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder and his name be called Wonderful, Counsellor, Mighty God,

Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his

ever.

government and of peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David and upon his kingdom, to establish it, and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from henceforth even for

The zeal of Jehovah of hosts will perform this.”

And this, moreover, is the claim of Jesus. He arrogated to himself the title of Messiah, that is, the promised "Seed of Woman” who was to bruise the serpent's head. He assumed the Messianic title, “Son of God.” He repeatedly affirmed that he was "the only-begotten Son of God.” We are all sons of God by creation. Some are also sons by adoption, as it is written, “Ye received the spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. The Spirit himself beareth witness with our spirit that we are children of God.” But in all the history of the children of men there is only One of whom it can be said that he was begotten of God. And Jesus claims to be that One. As such, all true believers receive him. They have seen “his glory, the glory as of the only-begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.”

The God-Man.—This view of the divine paternity of Jesus is necessary to the validity of the gospel. He came into the world to suffer and to save. He could only save by suffering; inasmuch as expiation must be made for sin. He must be “very man" in order to suffer; and he must be "very God" in order to save, since his suffering must be sufficient to atone for the whole world's sin. He must therefore be both man and God. He is “very man" because he was “of a woman born”; he is “very God” because he was conceived by the miraculous overshadowing of the Spirit. His nature is thus unique and singular. There is in all the universe no other who can be called Theanthropos, that is, God-man. And, for this reason, “there is none other name given under heaven among men whereby we must be saved.” He only is able, through his vicarious passion, to save unto the uttermost all who have come unto him. And to my mind it is inconceivable that salvation could have been provided for us in any other way.

The foundation truth.-The truth thus formulated as to the parentage of Jesus is the primal postulate and foundation of our religion. For this reason we are accustomed to say, in our historic creed, “I believe in God the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, and in Jesus Christ his only Son, our Lord; who was conceived by the Holy Ghost and born of the Virgin Mary.”

But what difference does it make whether we thus believe or not? The "liberal” pastor of one of our evangelical churches makes this statement : “I cannot see that it makes any difference, so far as the practical application of Christianity is concerned, whether we believe that God or Joseph was the father of Jesus.” In fact, however, it makes all the difference in the world.

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