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is a correspondence in the Apocalyptic vision. If then there is reason for thinking that this mystery at the close of Revelation answers to the mystery in the beginning of it and that “the Woman” mentioned in both passages is one and the same, then she can be none other than St. Mary, thus introduced prophetically to our notice immediately on the transgression of Eve.
Here, however, we are not so much concerned to interpret Scripture as to examine the Fathers. Thus St. Justin says, “ Eve, being a virgin and incorrupt, having conceived the word from the Serpent, bore disobedience and death; but Mary the Virgin, receiving faith and joy, when Gabriel the Angel evangelized her, answered, “Be it unto me according to thy word.”1 And Tertullian says that, whereas Eve believed the Serpent, and Mary believed Gabriel, “ what Eve failed in believing, Mary by believing hath blotted out.”2 St. Irenæus speaks more explicitly:"As Eve,” he says, “was seduced by the Angel's speech so as to flee God, having transgressed His word, so also Mary by an Angel's speech was evangelized so as to contain God, being obedient to His Word. And as the one was seduced to flee God, so the other was persuaded to obey God, that the Virgin Mary might become the Advocate (Paraclete) of the Virgin Eve, that as mankind has been bound to death through a Virgin, through a Virgin it may be saved,—virginal disobedience by virginal obedience, the balance being made equal.” And elsewhere, “ As Eve, becoming disobedient, became the cause of death to herself and to all mankind, so Mary too, having the predestined Man, and yet a Virgin, being obedient, became cause of salvation both to herself and to all mankind ... The knot formed by Eve's disobedience was untied through the obedience of Mary; for what the Virgin Eve tied through unbelief, that 1 Tryph. 100. * Resurr. Carn. 17.
the Virgin Mary unties through faith.” 1 This becomes the received doctrine in the Post-nicene Church.
One well-known instance occurs in the history of the third century of St. Mary's interposition, and it is remarkable from the names of the two persons, who were, one the subject, the other the historian of it. St. Gregory Nyssen, a native of Cappadocia in the fourth century, relates that his name-sake Bishop of Neo-cæsarea, surnamed Thaumaturgus, in the preceding century, shortly before he was called to the priesthood, received in a vision a Creed, which is still extant, from St. Mary at the hands of St. John. The account runs thus: He was deeply pondering theological doctrine, which the heretics of the day depraved. “In such thoughts," says his name-sake of Nyssa, “ he was passing the night, when one appeared, as if in human form, aged in appearance, saintly in the fashion of his garments, and very venerable both in grace of countenance and general mien. Amazed at the sight, he started from his bed, and asked who it was, and why he came; but, on the other calming the perturbation of his mind with his gentle voice, and saying he had appeared to him by divine command on account of his doubts, in order that the truth of the orthodox faith might be revealed to him, he took courage at the word, and regarded him with a mixture of joy and fright. Then on his stretching his hand straight forward, and pointing with his fingers at something on one side, he followed with his eyes the extended hand, and saw another appearance opposite to the former, in shape of a woman, but more than human .... When his eyes could not bear the apparition, he heard them conversing together on the subject of his doubts; and thereby not only gained a true knowledge of the faith, but learned their names, as they addressed each other by their respective appellations. And thus he is said to have heard the person in woman's
Hær. iïi. 22, § 4, v. 19.
shape bid “John the Evangelist' disclose to the young man the mystery of godliness; and he answered that he was ready to comply in this matter with the wish of the Mother of the Lord,' and enunciated a formulary, well-turned and complete, and so vanished. He, on the other hand, immediately committed to writing that divine teaching of his mystagogue, and henceforth preached in the Church according to that form, and bequeathed to posterity, as an inheritance, that heavenly teaching, by means of which his people are instructed down to this day, being preserved from all heretical. evil.” He proceeds to rehearse the Creed thus given, “ There is One God, Father of a Living Word,” &c. 1 Bull, after quoting it in his work upon the Nicene Faith, alludes to this history of its origin, and adds, “No one should think it incredible that such a providence should befall a man whose whole life was conspicuous for revelations and miracles, as all ecclesiastical writers who have mentioned him (and who has not?) witness with one voice."2
It is remarkable that St. Gregory Nazianzen relates an instance, even more pointed, of St. Mary's intercession, contemporaneous with this appearance to Thaumaturgus; but it is attended with mistake in the narrative, which weakens its cogency as an evidence of the belief, not indeed of the fourth century, in which St. Gregory lived, but of the third. He speaks of a Christian woman having recourse to the protection of St. Mary, and obtaining the conversion of a heathen who had attempted to practise on her by magical arts. They were both martyred.
In both these instances the Blessed Virgin appears especially in that character of Patroness or Paraclete, which St. Irenæus and other Fathers describe, and which the Medieval Church exhibits, a loving Mother with clients. Nyss. Opp. t. ii. p. 977. 2 Def. F. N. ii. 12.
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§ 5. Specimens of Theological Science. It will be observed that in nothing that has hitherto been adduced from the Ante-nicene Church, is there any evidence of a theology, that is, of a conscious deduction of proposition from proposition, and the formation of a doctrinal system. Though the series of divine truths proceeded from the Incarnation and Resurrection to the merit of Martyrdom, the sanctity of Relics, the intercession of Saints, the excellence of Virginity, and the prerogatives of St. Mary, yet there was no very clear evidence that the preachers of these doctrines understood their connexion with each other. Thus I am not aware of any passage in which the religious observance of Relics is clearly connected with the doctrine of the Resurrection, from which it undoubtedly proceeds. This may afford matter for an objection. It may be said that we are connecting together for a particular purpose certain opinions or practices, which are found among others in primitive times, and which are really unconnected and accidental. It may be urged, moreover, that there are many things in the documents or the history of the period which have a contrary bearing; that the Fathers also speak against idols, and invocation of Angels; that some of them have been betrayed into statements which savour of heresy or pagan philosophy; and that by putting all these together we might form as imposing a catena against the Catholic doctrines as can be formed in their favour.
But this is to misunderstand the drift of this argument, which is merely to determine whether certain developments, which did afterwards and do exist, have not such sufficient countenance in early times, that we may pronounce them to be true developments and not corruptions. If existing developments can be produced of an opposite kind,
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and the question arises whether these also are really such or corruptions, then will be the time, and then will it be fair, to make mention of such antagonist instances as shall be forthcoming. Nay, if there be but an hypothesis which has never been realized, with which they fall in, which interprets more consistently than the Catholic creed the whole mass of Ante-nicene testimony, this will have its weight, though it rest on no historical foundation. But this is not the case. Stray heterodox expressions, Sabellian or Unitarian, or what was afterwards Arian, Platonisms, argumenta ad hominem, assertions in controversy, omissions in practice, silence in public teaching, and the like, such as alone can be adduced, can be made up into no systein. They are "a rope of sand,” to use the familiar phrase, not a catena; each stands by itself, with an independence, or an irrelevancy, which precludes the chance of assimilation or coalition. On the other hand, the Catholic anticipations which have been instanced, are parts of a whole, and have innate attractions towards each other, and have been proved to have them by the event; and therefore, it is no paradox to say, that even were they much fewer than those of a contrary character, they would be the rule, and the majority would be the exception: for they have a principle of consistence, and tend to be something; whereas the others must be mere accidents and errors, because they have no meaning, and come to nothing.
However in fact there is very clear evidence of the formation of a theology in Christianity from the first, and that founded on the very views of the relation of Matter to the Evangelical Dispensation, which has been above selected for illustration; though that theology in the primitive age does not extend to all the developments which have been already instanced in their popular and devotional aspects. In order to make this plain, I shall make