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created a new thing upon earth, a woman shall compass a man. In this remarkable passage, the production of the human nature of our Saviour, by a woman alone, is called not only a new thing,' but a thing so wonderful as to be equivalent to “a creation. In still clearer language, Isaiah saith, “Behold, a Virgin shall conceive, and shall bear a Son, and shall call his name Emmanuel.' And in most strict accordance with these predictions, the inspired histot rians relate the name and condition of the Virgin Mary, . who was favored with the high distinction of being the Mother of our Lord.
It is well known to what an idolatrous extent the veneration entertained for the Virgin Mother has been carried, during several centuries, by the Roman Church: that to this day, in many parts of the world, her images are exhibited, and her altars thronged with zealous worshippers ; and that even in the most solemn forms of their public devotions, prayers and supplications are offered to her, by the titles of Queen of heaven,' "Mother of God,” • Intercessor,' &c. In all of which, it is manifest how far these Churches have departed, not only from the Scriptures, but also from the purity of the early faith. For as regards the testimony of Scripture, it is remarkable, that, although our Lord has commemorated the zeal of John the Baptist, the faith of the Apostles, and the devoted tenderness of Mary Magdalene, he has said nothing to warrant any undue exaltation of his mother; doubtless, because he foresaw the abuse that was likely to pollute his Church from that source, through the idolatrous propensities of mankind. So far, indeed, is our Lord from manifesting any peculiar respect for the Blessed Virgin, that his language to her, on some occasions, would seem expressly designed to be less affectionate and respectful than we should have anticipated, in
order to guard his Church against this very error. Thus, when he was but twelve years of age, we read that he tarried behind the company, and after three days his mother and Joseph found him in the temple, sitting with the doctors, both hearing them and asking them questions. And when she gave him a gentle rebuke, by saying, “Son, why hast thou thus dealt with us ? Thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing,' he replies, 'How is it that ye sought me ? wist ye not that I must be about my Father's business ?' An answer, which conveyed a rebuke in turn, for he reminds her, that his father was not Joseph, but God, and that she should not judge of his conduct by the rules of ordinary children, but remember who he was,--her son, indeed, according to the flesh, but her Saviour, and the Saviour of the world, in office and in dignity, whose first duty must be regulated by the great work which he came to perform. Again, at the marriage supper of Cana in Galilee, his mother informs him that they had no wine. And his answer seems, at first sight, ungracious in a high degree,
Woman, what have I to do with thee? Mine hour is not yet come. Again, when he is informed that his mother and his brethren stand without, desiring to speak with him, he answers, Who is my mother, and who are my brethren? And he stretched forth his hand towards his disciples, and said, ' Behold my mother and my brethren ; for whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother.' By this, he clearly places his mother on the broad and general ground of faith and of obedience, and pays her no special reverence whatever. And at last, when expiring on the cross, he provides for her by saying to St. John, “Behold thy mother, and to his mother, Woman, behold thy son.' Even in this most bitter hour, he exhibits no feeling of tenderness, he utters no breathing of affection towards his earthly parent; nor, after his resurrection, does it appear that he had any conversation with her whatever.
Now when to all this, we add, that in the whole Book of the Acts of the Apostles, and in the Epistles, the name of the mother of Christ is not so much as mentioned, and that in the Book of Revelation, although St. John speaks largely of heaven and its inhabitants, there is not a syllable of the Virgin Mary, it will surely be most manifest that there is not only no scriptural warrant for paying to her any worship, but that the whole strain of Scripture is decidedly opposed to this idolatry. What is most remarkable, however, in the Gospel on this subject, is that our Lord never addresses her by the title of mother, but calls her “woman;' and when a female among the multitude cries out, · Blessed is the womb that bare thee, and the paps which thou hast sucked, the Saviour, instead of encouraging this movement of veneration towards his mother, checks it immediately by saying, “ Yea, rather blessed are they that hear the word of God and keep it.' To every affectionate and pious mind, this course of conduct seems almost unaccountable, until we recollect, that he must have known perfectly well the idolatry that would hereafter corrupt his Church in reference to his earthly parent, and that, in his infinite wisdom, he saw it to be necessary, not only that his conduct while on earth should guard against this error, but also that his recorded word should not give it the slightest encouragement. Hence she no where appears to have been the organ of communication from the people to him, or from him to the people, nor does any one apply to her for the purpose of laying his wants or his necessities before the Saviour. On the contrary, a high and holy distance seems to have existed between them, showing, on his part, a Divine foresight' of danger to the purity of the Church's faith, and, on her part, manifesting most clearly, that her maternal affection for him, as her son, was awed into the deepest veneration, by her devotion to him, as her Redeemer and her God.
But while, as Protestants, we see and deplore the errors into which the Church of Rome has been seduced, by a blind adoration of the Virgin Mary, yet we should be wanting in justice and in feeling, if we withheld from her that honor which is fairly due. The language of the primitive Church was, “Let Mary be honored and esteemed, but let Christ be worshipped and adored. It was her own prediction, that henceforth all generations should call her blessed; and her cousin Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, when she said to her, ‘Blessed art thou among women.' Still more 'enlarged is the honor paid to her by the angel Gabriel : “Hail,' saith he, thou that art highly favored ; the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.' And when he saw her troubled with alarm, at this extraordinary visitation, he re-assures her by saying, 'Fear not, Mary, for thou hast found favor with God. Yea, how great was the distinction, how exalted the privilege, that when the fulness of the time was come for the Eternal Son of the Father to be united to our nature, she alone, among the millions of the earth, and the many thousands of Judea, should be selected as the instrument whereby this wondrous manifestation should be displayed. Far be it, then, from any Christian, to refuse honoring her whom the Lord thus honored. Well may she be ranked highly in our favor whom the Lord thus favored ; and most unseemly would it be if the Church on earth denied the epithet, ‘Blessed, to her who was pronounced blessed by the God of heaven.
2. The Eternal Son, being thus conceived of the Holy Ghost, and born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under
Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried.' In this branch of the Creed, we have the time of our Lord's death fixed by a reference to the name of him, who was then the Roman procurator of Judea, under Tiberius. About sixty years before our Saviour's birth, Pompey the great had brought the Jews under tribute to the Romans. During the life of Hyrcanus, the high Priest, the reign of Herod, and that of his son Archelaus, the Romans suffered the Jews to be governed by their own laws and rules; but when Archelaus was banished by Augustus, Judea was annexed to the Roman Province of Syria, and received its governors from Rome. After the death of Augustus, Valerius Gracchus was governor ; and he was succeeded by Pontius Pilate.
By this Providential arrangement, the power of life and death was taken from the Jews, and vested in the Roman Governor ; and thus the determinate council of God was fulfilled, which had decreed that Christ should suffer in a manner not known to the Jewish law. On this account it was, that, although the Chief Priests and Elders, who composed the Jewish Sanhedrim, condemned Christ, yet it was not lawful for them to put any man to death,' and, therefore, they were obliged to deliver him to Pilate. But how Pilate could be induced to depart so far from his duty, as to crucify his innocent prisoner, seems not a little unaccountable. He cared nothing about the religious disputes of the Jews, and was well satisfied that for envy the Chief Priests had delivered Jesus. When he examined our Lord, he found no fault in him.' Thrice he demanded of Christ's accusers, . What evil hath he done ?'
Thrice he professed, 'I have found no cause of death in him. To his own convictions of our Lord's innocence, his wife added her entreaties; for, heathen as she doubtless