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ing, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be. And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary; for thou hast found favour with God. And behold thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name Jesus. Then said Mary to the angel, How shall this be, for I know not a man? And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee; there. fore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee, shall be called the Son of God. And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. Thereafter (adds the text) the angel departed from her.”

Now what is there in all this that is any way marvelous? Nothing indeed is more simple than this narrative, If the least reflection is employed on it, the wonderful will vanish ; and we shall find the greatest care has been taken to spare the modesty of the young persons who might read this relation. An angel* enters the house of Mary, whose husband was absent. He salutes her, that is, pays hera compliment, which may be translated as follows -- Good day, my dear Mary! you are indeed adorable-What attractions ! what graces! of all women, you are the most lovely in my eyes. Your charms are pledges to you of my sincerity. Crown then my passion. Fear not the consequences of your complaisance ; your husband is a simpleton; by visions and dreams we can make him believe whatever we desire. The good man will regard your pregoancy as the effect of a miracle of the Most High; he will adopt your child with joy, and all will go on in the best manner possible. Mary, charmed with these words, and little accustomed to receive the like compliments from her husband, replied, “Well! - yield – I rely on your word and address; do with me as you please."


* The quality of angel, which the evangelist gives to Gabriel, cannot perplexus. The difficulty hangs solely on the sy. nonomy

of the words, Angel, God, and Man. Jesus is sometimes called the Son of Man, and sometimes the Son of God. Judges, princes, and grandees, are called gods in several passages of scripture. Exod. xxij. last verse. Psalm xvii. 6. The patriarchs, and Moses, believed that God showed himself in visions but St. Paul, in his epistle to the Hebrews ii. 2, assures us that it was only angels, and not God himself, who promulgated the law, and spoke to the holy patriarchs. Thus is God already reduced to be only an angel. In the New Testament, the doctors are called angels.-St. Matthew, Epist. to Galatians iv. 14, Rev. ii. &c. Here then are angels reduced to men. In short, the names of gods, angels, and saints, among the Jews, were merely titles whicla were given and taken, without attaching any consequence to

Nothing is more easy than to disengage the relation of St. Luke from the marvellous. The event of Ma. ry's pregnaney follows in the order of nature, and if we substitute a young man in the place of the angel, the passage of the evangelist will have nothing incre. dible in it. In fact many bave thought that the an. gel Gabriel was no other than a gallant, who, profiting by the absence of Joseph, found the secret to declare and gratify his passion.

them. This is confirmed by what Christ remarks in St. John X. 34, &c. To form a clear idea of the birth of Jesus, the reader should consult the story of brother Lucius, in the tales of " La Fontaine.” According to the aprocryphal gospel of “ the Nati. vity of Mary,” which Father Jerome Xavier entirely adopts, Mary was consecrated to the Lord, and brought up in the temple, which she did not leave till sixteen years of age. This must create a suspicion that her pregnancy was the effect of some intrigue of the priests, who perhaps inade her believe, that it was God who had begot a child op berm-Codes Apocryph. N. T. p; 19,8

We shall not stop to form conjectures on the true name and station of Mary's lover. The Jews, whose testimony on this subject may appear suspicious, assert, as we shall afterwards relate, that this favourite lover was a soldier ;-the military have always claims on the hearts of the ladies. They add, that from his commerce with the wife of Joseph, the Messiah of the Christians sprung; that the discontented husband left his faithless wise, in order to retire to Babylon, and that Jesus with his mother went to Egypt, where he learned the trade of a conjurer, and afterwards returned to practise in Judea.*

Whether these histories, or, if they will, Rabbinical fables, he true or false, it is certain that the nar. rative of St. Luke, if not stripped of the marvellous, will always present insurmountable difficulties to the minds of the incredulous. They will ask, How God, being a pure spirit, could overshadow a woman, and excite in her all the movements necessary to the production of a child? They will ask, How the divine nature could unite with the nature of a woman? They will maintain, that the narrative is unworthy of the power and majesty of the Supreme Being, who did not stand in need ofeinploying instruments as ridiculous as indecent, to operate the salvation of mankind. It will be thought, that the Almighty should have employed other nieans for conveying Jesus into the womb of his mother; he might have made him appear on the earth without needing to be incarnate in the belly of a woman;

* Such as are curious to see the history and fables which the Rabbis have made about Jesus, will find them in a Hebrew book translated into Latin under the title of Toldes Jeshua, inserted in the collection published by Wagenseil, to which we have already referred,

* but there must be wonders in romances, and especially in religious. It was in all ages supposed that great men were born in an extraordinary manner. Among the Heathens, Minerva sprung out of the brain of Jupiter; Bacchus was preserved in the

* Theologists have agitated the question, whether in the conception of Christ, the Virgin Mary emiserit semen ? According to Tillemont, tom. ij. p. 5, the Gnostics, who lived in the time of the apostles, denied even then that the Word was incarnate in the womb of the woman, and averred that it had taken a body only in appearance--a circumstance which must destroy the mira cle of the resurrection. Basilides, in like manner, maintains that Jesus was not incarnate. Tillemont, tom. ii. p. 221. St. Epiphy, advers, hærat. Theodoret, hæretic. fab. lib. i. p. 195. Lactantius, in order to establish that the spirit of God could impregnate a virgin, cites the example of the Thracian Mares, and other females, rendered prolific by the wind. Nothing is more indecent and ridiculous than the theological questions to which the birth of Jesus Christ has given rise. Some doctors, to preserve Mary's virginity, have maintained, that Jesus did not come into the world, like other men, aperta vulva, but rather per vulvam clau

The celebrated John Scotus, on the contrary, regarded that opinion as very dangerous, as it would follow, that “ Jesus Christ could not be born of the Virgin, but “ merely had come out of her.” A monk of Citeaux, called Plolemy de Luques, af. firmed that Jesus was engendered near the Virgin's heart, from three drops of her blood.--Bibliotheque Angloise, tome ii. p. 354-5. The great St. Thomas Aquinas has examined, whether Jesus Christ could not have been an hermaphrodite ? and whether he could not have been of the feminine gender ? Oihers have agitated the question, " Whether Jesus could have been incarnate in a cow?" We may therefore see, how one absurdity may engender others, in the prolific minds of thcologista,


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thigh of the same god. Among ihe Chinese, the god Fo was generated by a virgin, rendered prolific by a ray of the sun. With Christians, Jesus is born of a virgin, impregnated by the operation of the Holy Ghost, and she remains a virgin after that operation ! Incapable of elevating themselves to God, men have made him descend to their own nature; such is the origin of all incarnations, the belief of which is spread throughout the world.

All the wonders, however, which precede the birth of Jesus, are terminated by a very natural occurrence. At the end of nine months bis mother is delivered like all other women ; and after so many incredible and supernatural events, the Son of God comes into the world like all other people's children. This conformity in birth, will ever occasion the surmise of a conformity in the physical causes which produced the son of Mary. Indeed, the supernatural only can produce the supernatural; from material agents result physical effects; and they maintain in the schools, that there must always be a parity of nature between cause and effect.

Though, according to Christians, Jesus was at one and the same time man and God, persons hard of belief will say, it was necessary that the divine gern brought from heaven, to be deposited in the womb of Mary, should contain at the same time both divinity and body, to become Son of God. To use the language of theologists, the hypostatic union of the two natures in Christ must have taken place before his birth, and immixed in the womb of his mother. In that case, we cannot conceive how it could happen, that the divine nature should continue torpid and inactive during the whole time of Mary's pregnancy, in so much that sho

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