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of spotless virginity. 3dly, Her relation to Christ, as his true mother.
XIX. It was necessary, according to the prophecies, that the Messiah should be “ the seed of Abraham ;"C_ of the posterity of Israel, who is represented as the heir of the promise made to his grandfather ;d—of the tribe of Judah, to which the same inheritance was restricted ; e --and of the house of David, from whom indeed he was to spring when the posterity of Jesse were to be as a decayed trunk,* without blossom, leaf, branch, or ornament.4 All these circumstances were united in Mary. She was of the tribe of Judah, for “ it is evi“ dent that our Lord sprang out of Judah ;"g—and of the house of David; for the expression “ of the house of “ David,” in the gospel of Luke,h must be referred to Mary no less than to Joseph. And in how depressed and degraded a state that family then was, appears from the circumstance, that in Joseph, to whom Mary was betrothed, it was reduced to the axe and the hatchet of the carpenter. It is accordingly affirmed in ecclesiastical history, that Domitian derided the near relations of Christ for their poverty, and for having hands brawny with labour.
xx. It is not inconsistent with this genealogy, that Elizabeth is said to have been the cousin” of Mary, and at the same time one of the daughters of Aaron. There is nothing to hinder Mary's mother from hav
* yra truncus succisus. Is. xi. 1.
e Gen. xlix. 8, 10.
Luke i. 27.
į Verse 5. 4 See Note IV.
ing been of the tribe of Levi, and of the family of Aaron; and some of the ancients affirm, that she was sister to Elizabeth. It was also possible for the mother or grandmother of Elizabeth to have been of the tribe of Judah, and thus very nearly related by blood to the father of Mary, while her father or grandfather was of the tribe of Levi. But according to the rule of genealogy most commonly observed amongst the Jews, a family is reckoned, not from the mother, but from the father. The objection brought forward by some, that it was unlawful for the Israelites to take a wife, or to marry, without the limits of their own particular tribe, is assumed gratuitously. Such marriages were, at least, not universally unlawful. In the sacred records, we find no prohibition, but, on the contrary, several examples, of such connexions. Aaron, a Levite, married Elisheba, daughter of Amminadab, sister of Naashon,k who was “prince of the children of Judah.”l If it is objected that that marriage took place before the law, behold another example after the giving of the law. Jehoiada, a priest, consequently a Levite, and a descendant of Aaron, took to wife a daughter of king Jehoram, of the tribe of Judah, of the house of David.m If you insist, that greater liberty was allowed the priests and Levites than other tribes, I shall not at present demand evidence, as I justly might of their possessing this privilege. I only remark, that the instance now produced is sufficient for removing the difficulty under our consideration; for according to your own hypothesis, it was possible for the father of Elizabeth, being a descendant of Aaron, to take to himself a wife of the family of David, and thus related by her parents to Mary. But we see the same liberty taken by other tribes. David, at least, who belonged to the tribe of Judah, had a daughter of Saul, a Benjamitess, for his wife. Nor do we find any law to the contrary; for in Numbers xxxvi. 6. we have the determination of a special case relating to young women that are heiresses,* on whom the whole inheritance devolves, all the male issue being dead, whose marriages were limited to men, not merely of their own tribe, but also of their own family. A special determination of that sort, however, serves rather to confirm, than to destroy, the liberty which was generally enjoyed. Besides, it is really not improbable that Mary was one of those young women to whom that determination referred, and therefore espoused to Joseph, as her nearest kinsman. It is not our intention to involve ourselves at present in other genealogical difficulties, which are sufficiently perplexing. Learned men have given very satisfactory replies to the cavils of impious mockers of the Scriptures.
1 i Chron. ii. 10.
k Exod. vi. 23.
XXI. That the Messiah should be born of a VIRGIN, was foretold in Isaiah vii. 14. On this passage the blind and infatuated Jews contend to no purpose about the signification of the word nowy, than which none stronger is furnished by the Hebrew language to denote a female of unspotted virginity. Mary professes before the Angel, that she was a female of this description;° nor does the Angel accuse her of falsehood. Joseph, too, was informed by an Angel, that the woman whom he had espoused, was found with child, not from
*'Etiraneos. n Comp. Mat. i. 21. VOL. II.
• Luke i. 34.
the knowledge of a man, but from the power of the Holy Ghost.? And who would now presume to question that a virgin conceived, that a virgin brought forth; since even the most inveterate enemies of Christ, amidst the numerous reproaches which they cast upon him, never ventured to upbraid him with the least disgrace attached to his mother's bed; since nothing would have been easier, had she been guilty of adultery, than to convict and punish her, the law requiring this, and her husband not objecting; and since they might have been able, at a single stroke, to ruin the whole glory of the Son, by the ignominious punishment of the mother? How, too, could it have come into the mind of any woman not entirely lost to modesty, to pretend that when a Virgin she had brought forth a child ? How could she believe such a thing of herself? How could she expect or require, that others should give her credit? How, in particular, could a woman of low rank and in indigent circumstances, hope to obtain credit to a story, which would not have been believed from the lips of a Queen in her kingdom, or palace ? Truly unless the testimony of her conscience, the invincible force of truth, the miracle of the overshadowing Spirit, and the assurances of Angels, had obliged her to profess her virginity, what effrontery is sufficiently bold and shameless to induce her to make pretensions so utterly incredible ?
XXII. With these particulars relating to the blessed Virgin, derived from the sacred records of the Gospels, we rest satisfied, exploding the tales which inconsiderate writers of fables have added about her extraordi
P Mat. i. 20.
nary birth and education in the temple, or even in the Holy of Holies, and her vow of perpetual virginity, and the examination of her chastity by the priest and by a female named Salome, and other impertinent stories of the same kind, taken from the spurious Gospel of James,*6 from Nicephorus, and from other injudicious authors. Baronius, amidst all the light of this literary age, has not been ashamed to repeat, and, in a great measure, to countenance those ridiculous fables. Xavier the Jesuit, too, more impudent than he, has detailed them in the History of Christ which he has composed in the Persian language, and obtruded them on the nations of the East, as if they were of the same certainty with the divine and infallible records of the Gospel ; for which he has been justly chastised by Ludovicus de Dieu. The curious will find a specimen of the Gospel of James in Boxhorn's Universal History.t
XXIII. Let us now go on to show that Mary was, in reality, the Mother of Christ. It is certain that she is often called his Mother.9 But she could not have been so, unless Christ had taken his human nature from her substance. I Accordingly it is said that he was “made of a woman,"r—that he was “the fruit of “ Mary's womb,” s—and “the seed of the woman.” +
XXiy. These expressions overthrow the opinion of certain Anabaptists, who assert that Christ brought down his human nature from heaven, that it was form
* Jacobi Protevangelium.
Ex illius substantia, sive seminc ac sanguine. 9 Mat. i. 18. Luke i. 43. John ü. 1. and in other places passin. 1 Gal. iv. 4.
Luke i. 42. * Gen. iii. 15.
6 See Note VI.