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    October 29, 1896

    “‘The Immaculate Conception’” The Signs of the Times 22, 43, pp. 6, 7.

    BY ALONZO T. JONES

    THERE is a large number of Protestants as well as other non-Catholics who entertain the mistaken view that the doctrine of the immaculate conception refers to the conception of Jesus by the Virgin Mary. The truth is that it refers not to the conception of Christ by Mary, but to the conception of Mary herself by her mother. The official and “infallible” doctrine of the immaculate conception as solemnly defined as an article of faith by Pope Pius IX., speaking ex cathedra, on the 8th of December, 1854, is as follows:—SITI October 29, 1896, page 6.1

    By the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, of the blessed apostles Peter and Paul, and by our own authority, we declare, pronounce, and define, that the doctrine which holds that the most blessed Virgin Mary, in the first instant of her conception, by a special grace and privilege of Almighty God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Saviour of mankind, was preserved free from all stain of original sin, has been revealed by God, and, therefore, is to be firmly and steadfastly believed by all the faithful.SITI October 29, 1896, page 6.2

    Wherefore if any shall presume, which may God avert, to think in their heart otherwise than has been defined by us, let them know, and moreover understand, that they are condemned by their own judgment, that they have made shipwreck as regards the faith, and have fallen away from the unity of the church.—Catholic Belief, p. 214.SITI October 29, 1896, page 6.3

    What the Dogma Means

    In these days of the general acceptance of Catholicism as Christianity, and the compromises with the Catholic Church, and apologies for her, it is well that we should study such things as this, that we may know for ourselves what is their real effect upon the doctrine of Christ, and what their consequences in those who accept the dogma. The first consequence of it is to make the Virgin Mary, if not actually divine, then the nearest to it of any creature in the universe, and this, too, in her human nature. In proof of this we have the following statements of Catholic fathers and saints:—SITI October 29, 1896, page 6.4

    The ancient writer of “De Nativitate Christi,” found in St. Cyprian’s works, says: Because (Mary) being “very different from the rest of mankind’s human nature, but not sin, communicated itself to her.”SITI October 29, 1896, page 6.5

    Theodoret, a father who lived in the fifth century, says that Mary “surpassed by far the cherubim and seraphim in purity.”SITI October 29, 1896, page 6.6

    In the Greek liturgy of St. Chrysostom, a father of the fourth century ... the following words are directed to be chanted by the choir during the canon of the mass: “It is truly meet that we should praise thee, O mother of God.... thou art the mother of our God, to be venerated in preference to the cherubim; thou art beyond comparison more glorious than the seraphim.’SITI October 29, 1896, page 6.7

    “Theodore, patriarch of Jerusalem, said in the second council of Nice, that Mary ‘is truly the mother of God, and virgin before and after child-birth; and she was created in a condition more sublime and glorious than that of all natures, whether intellectual or corporeal.’”—Id. pp. 216, 217.SITI October 29, 1896, page 679.1

    This then puts the nature of Mary infinitely beyond any real likeness or relationship to mankind.SITI October 29, 1896, page 679.2

    Having this clearly in mind, let us follow to the next step. And here it is in the words of Cardinal Gibbons:—SITI October 29, 1896, page 679.3

    We affirm that the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, the Word of God, who, in his Divine nature is, from all eternity, begotten of the Father, consubstantial with him, was in the fulness of time again begotten, by being born of the Virgin, thus being to himself from her maternal womb, a human nature of the same substance with hers.SITI October 29, 1896, page 679.4

    As far as the sublime mystery of the incarnation can be reflected in the natural order, the Blessed Virgin, under the overshadowing of the Holy Ghost, by communicating to the Second Person of the unalterable Trinity, as mothers do, a true human nature of the same substance with her own, is thereby verily and truly his mother.—Faith of Our Fathers, pp. 198, 199.SITI October 29, 1896, page 679.5

    Now put these two things together. First, we have the nature of Mary defined as being but only “very different from the rest of mankind,” but “more sublime and glorious than all natures;” thus putting her infinitely beyond any real likeness or relationship to mankind as we really are.SITI October 29, 1896, page 679.6

    Next, we have Jesus described as taking from her a human nature of the same substance as hers.SITI October 29, 1896, page 679.7

    Robs the World of a Saviour

    It therefore follows, as certainly as that two and two make four, that in his human nature the Lord Jesus is “very different” from mankind, is further from us than are the cherubim and the seraphim, and is infinitely beyond any real likeness or relationship to us as we really are in this world. And in this it follows also that the dogma of the immaculate conception puts Jesus Christ infinitely beyond the reach of mankind as far beyond our reach indeed as tho he had never offered himself at all. Thus completely does the doctrine of the immaculate conception rob the world of Jesus Christ, the Saviour, to just the extent that the doctrine is received.SITI October 29, 1896, page 679.8

    We know the answer that “the Church” makes to this—that Mary and Joseph especially, and all the other saints, intercede with him for those who would have his help, and that through these he is enabled to reach mankind tho he himself is so far beyond us. But this is as great a fraud as is all the reset of the scheme. For the Virgin Mary and Joseph and all the rest of the saints are dead, and can not intercede for anybody. For the word of God says plainly that “the dead know not anything.” Ecclesiastes 9:5. And “in death there is no remembrance of thee.” Psalm 6:5. And Jesus said to his disciples all, “Whither I go ye can not come.” John 13:33.SITI October 29, 1896, page 679.9

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