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the intrinsic necessities of God's kingdom, and of man's fallen state, require a redemption which is wrought by a Person who is able to fulfil the requirements of the Divine Law, and to perfect in Himself the redeemed nature of mankind. And what is this but the Catholic doctrine of the Incarnation ? which is, that the Word, the second Person of the ever-blessed Trinity, took upon Him, not by way of nature, but of miracle, our manhood, “ of the substance of the Virgin Mary His Mother, without spot of sin ;" and in that nature He sanctified our humanity, fulfilled the perfect will of God, bare our sins in His own body, and by death destroyed him that had the power of death. That which as God He could not suffer, He became man that He might undergo. The impassible, eternal God was made flesh, that in the flesh He might endure all that sin had brought upon mankind. His Person was capable of the whole mystery of the fall, sin only excepted.
But here two questions have been asked. One, Why need He to have taken a body of a human mother, instead of creating one for Himself? And the other, How, if human nature be corrupt, and if the Son of God took on Him that very nature, did He escape the original sin which is in us?
To these the answer is direct and easy. It is the very same that the Catholic Church made to the heresy of Arius, in defence of Christ's true Godhead. To the first it must be said, It was necessary that He should partake of our very nature. Had He taken a body created, as in the beginning, from the dust, it would have been a like nature, but not the same. It would have been a second creation of another and a new humanity; and His person would not have been partaker in the very flesh and blood derived to us from the first Adam, for the redemption of which the
Word was made flesh. It was necessary that He should be united to us in our own humanity, that the grace of His Incarnation might be communicated to mankind. God, who is the Origin of all being, the Creator of all things that are, does not destroy any work He once has made, but raises it from its fall, and heals it of its wounds and dis
Therefore He took our very nature, that He might restore it in Himself to its original purity. That very humanity in which the first Adam was created is the same in which the Second was incarnate. There was no other way, than either to create a new nature, which would not be our own, or to restore the old, in which we are fallen and dead.
And to the second question the answer is, that in taking our nature, He took it without spot of sin; for He took it not by the way of natural descent, but by a miracle, which broke through the transmission of the original fault. Isaac and John Baptist, though born by miracle, were, nevertheless, conceived and born in sin. Eve was made from the side of Adam; Adam was made of the dust; both by miracle and without sin. The second Adam was made by the operation of the Holy Ghost, of the substance of a pure virgin. He was born in a way of which our regeneration is a shadow, “not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God."* And, again, from the mystery of the conception, that pure substance which He took 'was so united to His Divine Person that it was hallowed and sinless, in like manner as the flesh of Adam when God created him and filled him with His own Divine presence. From the moment of His birth every motion of His human soul and flesh was sinless and
* St. John i. 13.
pure ; every inclination of His will was holy. He had all the powers, affections, capacities of our nature, filled with more than original righteousness, with the holiness of God. Yet He was very man, with all our sinless infirmities, susceptible of temptation, sorrow, hunger, thirst, weariness, solitude, weeping, fear, and death. And what are all these but properties of man by creation, not by the fall? They were in our first father before he sinned ; and in them is no sin. In Christ man was exalted above the state of creation, and united to God by a bond of personal and substantial unity. The second Adam not only restored in Himself the losses of the first, but endowed the nature of man with new gifts of Divine perfection. “ The first man was of the earth earthy, the second man is the Lord from heaven ;" "the beginning”—that is, the originating principle and productive life of the new " creation of God."*
Now, this supreme doctrine of the faith throws light upon two other doctrines closely related to it.
And, first, it shows us what is the true nature of original sin. It is “the fault and corruption of the nature of every man that naturally is engendered of the offspring of Adam.” This, therefore, could not reach to the manhood of our Lord, because, though born in our nature, He was not "naturally engendered,” but “conceived by the Holy Ghost.” Adam, by sinning, forfeited his original righteousness,-the grace of God's presence, whereby he was sanctified: through loss of this gift his nature became faulty and corrupt; and through this fault and corruption inclined to evil. We are born with this fault and corruption, whereby we are by nature inclined to evil. The human will, acting
* Rev. iii 14. áexy' tñs xTiGEWS TOÙ Oso.
under the conditions of this inclination, tends universally and by its own free choice to fulfil the lusts of the flesh, and becomes itself carnal; and “the carnal mind is enmity against God, for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be ;''* wherefore “it deserveth God's wrath and damnation.” Such is our first birth into this world : “ that which is born of the flesh is flesh.” And in this inheritance of evil we were passive and unconscious: the fault and corruption was in us before we knew that we were in being. Such as man made himself by the fall, such are we who are born from him.
2. The other doctrine which is related to the mystery of the Incarnation is our regeneration. It is the correlative and opposite to the doctrine of original sin. So the Catholic Church has ever taught, arguing, by contraries, from the ote to the other: for example, as original sin is the transmission of a quality of evil, so regeneration is the infusion of a quality of good; as original sin is inherited without the personal act of us who are born of the flesh, so regeneration is bestowed without personal merit in us who are born of the Spirit ; as in the inheritance of original sin we are passive and unconscious, so in regeneration ; as original sin precedes all actings of our will, so also regeneration ; as original sin is the root of all evil in us, so regeneration is the root of all good. Strange is the cycle in which errors run. Those very tokens by which the gift of regeneration is manifested to be freely given to us of God, are the very grounds of modern unbelief. Men will have it to be no more than change of state, and not of nature; a mere outward transfer into the outward means of grace; and that, forsooth, because a passive, unconscious child is, in their eyes, incapable of
* Rom. viii. 8.
the infusion of a quality of good. What is this but the Pelagianism of regeneration? How can they defend the doctrine of original sin as the transmission of evil to passive, unconcious infants, by inheritance from a man that sinned, while they deny the infusion of a quality of good by the free gift and grace of God? In truth it is much to be feared that this is simple unbelief in the great freeness of God's grace, in the presence and reality of spiritual mysteries. And it is to be feared too, that it is an unbelief which spreads further into the doctrines of faith. Can it be thought that even the doctrine of original sin is thoroughly believed ? or the doctrine of the creation of Adam from the dust, and of Eve from the side of Adam ? or of the mysterious Incarnation of the Word, of the substance of His mother? or of the resurrection of the body? or of the doctrine of regeneration in any sense or shape ? For, if the passiveness and unconsciousness of the subject be any objection to the regeneration of infants in baptism, it is an objection to the doctrines of creation, incarnation, resurrection, and regeneration, in any form, unless we be Pelagians and Rationalists. After all, will it not be found that the root of all this is a rationalistic unwillingness to believe any thing which does not base itself upon the active and conscious workings of the human soul ?an error fatal to faith in the Gospel of Christ; subversive of the freeness and sovereignty of God's grace, which it assumes to magnify. Let us not give up the faith of a childlike heart for petulant, half-sighted reasonings. “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights.” “What have we that we have not received ?” “ By the grace of God I am what I am.” All things come from Him; we are but receivers, empty vessels to be filled out of His fulness; passive and unconscious till