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Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature
(1 Kings 22:8-9). (See IMLA). Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary, a doctrine early broached in the Roman and Greek churches, that the Virgin Mary was conceived without the stain of original sin. Bernard, in the 12th century, rejected this doctrine in opposition to the canons of Lyons, but it was not much agitated until (1301) the Franciscan Duns Scotus took strong grounds in favor of the doctrine, and henceforward it became a subject of vehement controversy between the Scotists and Thomists. The Dominicans espoused the cause of the Thomists, who impugned the dogma; the Franciscans that of the Scotists, who defended it. Sixtus IV, himself a Franciscan, in 1483 declared himself in favor of toleration on the point. The Council of Trent (Sess. 5) declared that the doctrine of the conception of all men in sin was not intended to include the Virgin. The controversy was revived in the University of Paris towards the close of the 16th century. During the pontificates of Paul V and Gregory XV, such was the dissension it occasioned in Spain, that both Philip and his successor sent special embassies to Rome in the vain hope that this contest might be terminated by a bull. The dispute ran so high in that kingdom that, in the military orders of St. James, of the Sword, of Calatrava, and of Alcantara, the knights, on their admission, vowed to maintain the doctrine. In 1708, Clement XI appointed a festival to be celebrated throughout the Church in honor of the immaculate conception. It is firmly believed in the Greek Church, in which the feast is celebrated under the name of the Conception of St. Anne; but it was not till 1854 that it was made a dogma in the Roman Catholic Church.
Pope Pius IX, during his whole pontificate, has showed himself the most devoted of the worshippers of Mary. In his exile at Gaeta in 1849 he addressed his famous ‘ Encyclical on the Mystery of the Immaculate Conception' (Feb. 2) to the patriarchs, primates, archbishops, and bishops of the whole Catholic Church, affirming the existence of ‘ an ardent desire throughout the Catholic world that the apostolic see should at length, by some solemn judgment, define that the most holy Mother of God, the most loving mother of us all, the immaculate Virgin Mary, had been conceived without original sin.' These desires,' he adds, ‘ have been most acceptable and delightful to us, who, from our earliest years, have had nothing dearer, nothing more at heart, than to revere the most blessed Virgin Mary with an especial piety and homage, and the most intimate affections of our heart, and to do everything which might seem likely to procure her greater glory and praise, and to amplify her worship.' A commission was appointed for the examination of the question, under the presidency of cardinal Fornarini; cardinal Lambruschini produced his tract, and Perrone the work — De In 779 caculato B. V. Aarice conceptu; Passaglio also wrote a large essay, and the results of these investigations were issued by the Propaganda press (2 vols. 4to). The special commission reported, in a full conclave of the Sacred College, May 27,1854.
Answers had come from 602 bishops, all favorable to the dogma, though 52 doubted the opportuneness, and four the possibility of a decision. The ‘ special congregation' demanded the definition with alacrity and zeal. A consistory of consultation was proclaimed, and held at Rome Nov. 4, 1854; it was not a general council, nor was any authority attributed to it. Fifty-four cardinals, 46 archbishops, and about 400 bishops are reported to have been present at these deliberations; 576 votes are said to have been cast for the dogma, and only four against it; among the latter were the archbishop de Sibour, of Paris, on the ground that the pope had no power to decide such a question; and also the bishop Olivier, of Evreux, lately deceased, who sent in his vote by proxy. On the 8th of December, in St. Peter's, in the midst of the celebration of the ‘ Conception,' in the presence of more than 200 ecclesiastical dignitaries, and in answer to a petition presented by the Sacred College of the Cardinals, the supreme pontiff, with a ‘ tremulous' voice, read in Latin the following decree: ‘ We declare, pronounce, and define that the doctrine which holds that the blessed Virgin Mary, at the first instant of her conception, by a singular privilege and grace of the omnipotent God, in virtue of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Savior of mankind, was preserved immaculate from all stain of original sin, has been revealed by God, and therefore should firmly and constantly be believed by the faithful.' The cannon of the castle of St. Angelo, the joyful chime of all the bells of Rome, the enthusiastic plaudits of the assembled thousands, the magnificent illumination of St. Peter's church, and the splendor of the most gorgeous festive rites, gave response to the infallible decree. It was a grand pageant, befitting an idolatrous enthusiasm.
The pope himself; with ‘ trembling joy,' crowned the image of the Virgin; medals of Australian gold were struck, and distributed in her honor. ‘ Rome,' say the beholders, ‘ was intoxicated with joy.' An infallible voice had spoken; a new article of faith was announced by ‘ divine' authority; the people rejoiced in hope that Mary would be yet more ‘ propitious,' that her ‘ prevalent intercession would give peace and plenty, would stay the power of infidelity, put an end to insurrection, and crown Rome with higher honor and success.' The controversy of seven hundred years is brought to a final decision; Rome is committed irrevocably to the worship of the ‘ Virgin mother of God, conceived without original sin.' ‘ Roma locuta est,' and doubt is now heresy. The work begun by the third general council at Ephesus in 431, proclaiming Mary ‘ the mother of God,' is declared to be consummated by the papal decree of Dec. 8, 1854, asserting the privilege of her immaculate conception on the authority of Peter's chair." For an account of the history of the dogma, and a full discussion of its theological merits, see Smith, in Methodist Quarterly Review, April 1855. See also The Official Documents connected with the Definition of the Dogma of the Immaculate Conception (Lat. and Eng.), published with the approbation of the Abp. of Baltimore (Balt. 1856, 8vo). (See CONCEPTION).
Theology of the Doctrine. — The theology of the doctrine of the immaculate conception of Mary has been the subject of many distinguished writers in the Roman, Greek, and Protestant churches. The greatest difficulties which the advocates of the doctrine have to contend against are really the following three: 1. It lacks the evident support of the Holy Scriptures. 2. It lacks the authority of the early Church, and may well be termed ‘ a comparative novelty in theology." 3. It is directly and most ‘ distinctly opposed to the doctrine of original sin. As to the first, the scriptural arguments advanced by the advocates, they are certainly very slight and untenable, and have been virtually yielded by the best of the Roman Catholic authorities, such as Perrone (De Inmnac. B. V. Marice conceptu., etc., p. 35 sq., 57 sq., 112 sq.). There are only two passages which the best and most learned of Rome have adduced. The first of these is Genesis 3:15, the πρωτευαγγέλιον of divine revelation: "And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it (she) shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel." "The argumentation here is curious. The received Vulgate reading, not found, however, in all the copies, is ‘ ipsa,' she; while the Hebrew reads םהוא he, or it; Jerome, too, reads αὐτός;' Sixtus V's edition of the Septuagint reads abroq." The best Roman critics (see De Rossi's criticism in Pusey's Eirenicon, 2, 385) discard the reading as it stands in the received Vulgate.
Perrone, however, contends that it is indifferent which reading is adopted, because, at any rate, Mary could not have had the power to conquer the serpent except through Christ. But how does this prove the immaculate conception-give to the dogma "a firm foundation?" Simply for the reason that in these words a "special privilege is conferred upon Mary," and that special privilege could "only have been the immunity from original sin." But the privilege conferred is solely, even on the author's own ground, that she should be in some way a means of subduing Satan, and that she was this as the mother of our Lord. To assert that in order to be the mother of Christ, she must be free from original sin, is purely to beg the whole question. The "Letters Apostolic" of Pius IX upon the dogma sanction infallibly the application of the clause "bruise thy head" to Mar, who, the pope says, "has crushed the serpent's head with her immaculate foot." Another passage adduced, upon which Perrone lays less stress than on the one already cited, is the angelic salutation Luke 1:28, comp. Luke 1:30, coupled with the words spoken by Elizabeth, Luke 1:42 : "Hail, thou that art highly favored, the Lord is with' thee: blessed art thou among women Fear not, Mary, for thou hast found favor with God Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb." They argue that the greeting Χαῖρε, κεχαριτωμἑνη , translated in the Vulgate by gratiaplena, means fullness of grace in a sense that necessitates exemption, from the very beginning of existence, from any possible taint of sin, and that the same meaning must necessarily be allowed to the expression "blessed art thou among women" (comp. Lie. bermann, Instit. Theol. 2, 833; Perrone, Praelect. Theol. 2, 651). Roman Catholic writers assign, however, no reason why these words should be so interpreted. "They are, in fact, uncritically and illogically forced into the service of the doctrine, and, as hi the case of the ‘ Protevangelium' of the O.T., they offer no real support of it whatever." As for other passages of a mystical type which are used as a secondary evidence, they would be of value only' as confirming and illustrating any in which the fact was directly and undoubtedly stated, Certain it is that in the gospels Mary is represented as she is, and not as an immaculate being; that neither in the Acts nor in the Epistles, notwithstanding Paul's mute description of Christ's scheme of salvation, is she mentioned at all. The great trouble, in short, with Roman Catholic theologians, is that they transfer the sayings of the prophets and of the apostles concerning Jesus Christ, and all the passages which point to one mediator between God and man, virtually to Mary, the mother of Christ, instead of assigning this position to Christ, the Son of God.
The comparative novelty of the doctrine in theology is proved by history. There is not one great teacher of the Christian Church who, before the breaking out of the controversy between Lyons and Bernard in 1140 that is, Tor the first eleven centuries of our aera-was favorable to the doctrine as now propagated by the Church of Rome. "The question does not exist for them; they know nothing of this specific doctrine.; they speak in respect to original sin and the Seed of redemption in such a way as to prove that the immaculate conception of Mary could not have been any part of their creed. Their praises of the Virgin are often immoderate; they defend her perpetual virginity (Epiphanius, Haer. 78; Jerome, adv. Helvidianum, etc.); many of them believe that she was ‘ sanctified' in the womb; most of them declare that she never was guilty of actual sin; but they do not know anything about her exemption from all infection of original sin. Augustine defends her only against the charge of actual sin (De Natura et Gracia, c. 36): ‘ Excepta sancta Virgine Maria, de qua propter honorem Domini nullam prorsus, cum de peccatis agitur, haberi volo quaestionem.' This passage is quoted in favor of the dogma, but it plainly refers only to actual transgression, and it is contained in a reply to the position of Pelagius, that there were saints who had not sinned. In his treatise on the Remission of Sins (bk. 2, ch. 24:§ 38), this greatest of the Latin fathers says explicitly that Christ alone was without sin: ‘ Solus ergo ille etiam, homo factus, manens Deus, peccatum nullum habuit unquam;' nor does he intimate any exception.
In his work De Genesi, ad lit. c. 18, n. 32, he speaks of ‘ the body of Christ as taken from the flesh of a woman, who was conceived of a mother with sinful flesh;' and he indicates a clear distinction between Mary's nature and Christ's nature in this respect. Augustine's followers make similar statements. Eusebius Emissenus (supposed by some to be Hilary) on the ‘ Nativity' says, ‘ From the bond of the old sin is not even the mother of the Redeemer free.' Fulgentius writes, ‘ The flesh of Mary, which was conceived in unrighteousness in a human way, was truly sinful flesh;' and he adds that ‘ this flesh is in itself truly sinful.' referring to Paul's use of the term ‘ flesh' to designate our common hereditary sinfulness. Others of the fathers make use of similar statements, irreconcilable with a belief in the immaculate conception. (See Perrone, p. 40 sq. Bandellus, De Siygulari Puritate et Praerogativa Conceptionis Christi , a work by a Dominican, contains some four hundred testimonies against the dogma from the fathers: see also the work of the cardinal Turrecamata, De Veritate Conceptionis ). It is, indeed, true that the fathers do not often speak directly upon the point in question; but this is for the simple reason, conclusive against the claim of universality, that they did not know anything, about it. The doctrine is declared, A.D. 1140, by Bernard, to be a ‘ novelty;' and he says that the festival is ‘ the mother of presumption, the sister of superstition, and the daughter of levity' (Ep. 174, ad Canon Lugd. § 5 sq.; comp. Serm. 78 in Song of Solomon).
Others of the earlier fathers speak of Mary in such a way as is absolutely irreconcilable with the idea that they believed in her immaculate conception. Hilary (Psalms 119, lib. 3, § 12; comp. Tracts for the Times, No. 79, p. 36) declares that she is exposed to the fire of judgment. Irenaeus, Tertullian, Origen, Basil the Great, and Chrysostom, do not hesitate to speak of faults of Mary, of her being rebuked by Christ. ‘ If Mary.' says Origen, ‘ did not feel offence at our Lord's sufferings, Jesus did not die for her sins;' Chrysostom ascribes to her ‘ excessive ambition at the marriage festival at Cana;' Basil thinks that she, too, ‘ wavered at the time of the crucifixion;' all of which statements are utterly inconsistent, not only with the dogma of the immaculate conception, but also with a belief in her perfect innocency (comp. Gieseler, Ch. Hist. § 99, note 30, with the references to Irenaeus, 3, 18; Tertullian, De Carne Christi, 7; Origen, in Lucam Hom. 17; Basil, Ep. 260 (317); Chrysostom, Hom. 45 in Matthew, Hom. 21 in John). Tertullian, De Carne Christi, § 16, declares that ‘ Christ, by putting on the flesh, made it his, and made it sinless;' Irenaeus, that ‘ Christ made human nature pure by taking it;' Athanasius, on the ‘ Incarnation,' teaches the same doctrine, that ‘ Christ sanctified his own body,' and that ‘ he hath purified the body, which was in itself corruptible.' Of course, the body he assumed was not in and of itself sinless. Gregory of Nazianzum, and John of Damascus (730), teach expressly that the Virgin was sanctified by the Holy Ghost. If Christ, by assuming human nature in Mary, ‘ made it sinless,' it was not so before his incarnation" (Smith, ut sup.). The view which some hold on the title of θεοτόκος , given to Mary at the Council of Ephesus, we think bears so wholly on the incarnation of Christ that we refrain from introducing it here. (See NESTORIANISM).
Of the numberless passages from the fathers which set forth the doctrine of the universality of sin, and the universal. need of redemption through Christ, without making the Virgin Mary the exception, we will speak under the third head. An additional source of evidence is afforded us by the early liturgies of offices of the Church. "They exalt Mary and her conception but they do never call it an ‘ immaculate' conception. It is only in the latest years that the term ‘ immaculate' has been introduced into the Western offices of the highest authority. The offices themselves, in honor of the Virgin, did not become current in the West till the 11th century. In the office for her birth, in the ancient churches, it is read that ‘ she was sanctified from the stain of sin;' in one of the German liturgies, ‘ that she was born with a propensity to sin;' in the Roman Church itself, the office spoke of the ‘ sanctification of the Virgin.' This silence, and the late alteration of these offices, are conclusive as to the non-existence of the dogma. In the year 791 (al. 796) a council was held at Friuli (Concilium Forojuliense), called by Paulinus (Paulus), patriarch of Aquileia, during the pontificate of Adrian I, to consider the Trinity and the Incarnation, in respect to the procession of the Holy Spirit, and ‘ Adoptianism,' that is, the opinion maintained by archbishop Elipandus of Toledo, and others, that Christ in his human nature was the Son of God only by ‘ adoption.'
A long and explicit Confession of Faith was published by this council, in the course of which it is said, ‘ Solus enim sine peccato natus est homo, quoniam solus est incarnatus de Spiritu Sancto et immaculata Virgine novus homo. Consubstantialis Deo Patri in sua, id est, divina; consubstantialis etiam matri, sine sordepeccati, in nostra, id est, humana natura' ‘(Harduin, Acta Concil. 1714, 4:856, C.). If the belief in the immaculate conception of the Virgin had been any part of the orthodoxy of the times, it would have been impassible for a council to have spoken in this way of Christ, as ‘ alone born without sin;' and the ‘ immaculateness' ascribed to the Virgin cannot possibly, in the connection, be interpreted of her conception, or even of her birth; for, if it could, then Christ could not be said to be the ‘ only' one of men born without sin" (professor Smith, ut sup.).
No better does the case fare in the medieval Church. "The amount of the argument and the result of the testimony here are, that the doctrine was first invented in the 12th century, that it was opposed by the greatest and best of the scholastics, and that it made its way, in spite of this opposition, through the force of popular superstition, and from the necessary working out of the inherent tendencies of a system of creature-worship. Some of the mediaeval testimony we have already adduced; we add only the most important citations. Anselm (1070), though cited for the immaculate conception, teaches in his Cur Deus Homo (2:16) that Mary was conceived in sin: ‘ Virgo tamen ipsa, unde assumptus est, est in iniquitatibus concepta, et inpeccatis concepit eam mater ejus, et cumn originali peccato nata est, quoniam et ipsa in Adam peccavit, in quo omnes peccaverunt.'" (See also the close of that chapter and the next, 2:17.) We thus notice that, up to the time of Bernard, that is, for the first eleven centuries of our era, no writer of the Church used such strong language about the holiness of the Virgin Mary as he did in his letter to the canons of Lyons (1140) already referred to. He writes "The mother of God was, without doubt, sanctified before she was born; nor is the holy Church in error in accounting the day of her nativity holy. I think that even a more abundant blessing of sanctification descended on her, which not only sanctified her birth, but also preserved her life from all sin, as happened to none other of the children of men. It was befitting, indeed, that the queen of virgins should pass her life in the privilege of a singular sanctity, and free from all sin, who, in bearing the Destroyer of all sin and death, obtained for all the gift of life." There is certainly, even here, no advocacy of the immaculate conception of Mary. Exactly similar views were held by Peter Lombard, whose Four Books of Sentences were "the theological text-book of the Middle Ages," and "upon which all the great scholastics made their comments and built their systems. He says (Liber Sentent. 3, distinct. 3) of the flesh of Mary, which our Lord assumed, that it was ‘ previously obnoxious to sin, like the other flesh of the Virgin, but by the operation of the Spirit it was cleansed.' The Holy Spirit, coming into Mary, purified her from sin, and from all desire of sin.'" Very explicit is also the testimony of Alexander of Hales, the irrefragable doctor and master of St. Bonaventura, the commentator on Lombard: "It was necessary that the blessed Virgin; in her generation should contract sin from her parents; she was sanctified in the womb."
Bonaventura, the seraphic doctor, the glory of the Franciscans, who died in 1274, and was canonized in 1482, is exhaustless in the praise of Mary in his Speculum and Corona. He sanctifies her veneration in the most rapturous terms. Yet on this question he is also decided, explicitly declaring that "the sanctification of the Virgin was after she had contracted' original sin;" she was "sanctified in the womb" (lib. 3 dist. 3, p. 1, qu. 2, 3). Albertus Magnus, who taught in Cologne 1260 to 1280, made the same avowals. Bonaventura was the pupil of Alexander of Hales, Albertus Magnus of Bonaventura, and next succeeds the greatest of all the scholastic theologians, Thomas Aquinas, "the angelic doctor," who died in 1274, was canonized in 1323, and in 1567 was declared by Pius V to be "teacher of the Church." In his Summa Theologiae, p. 3, qu. 27, art. 1, it stands, "Mary was sanctified in the womb." Art. 2. "Not before the infusion of the soul; for if she had been she would not have incurred the stain of original sin, and would not have needed the redemption of Christ." Art. 3. The complete deliverance from original sin was only given her when she conceived Christ ("Ex prole redundaverit in matrein totaliter fomite subtracto"). About the festival of the Conception, he says that the Roman Church does not observe it herself, yet it tolerates the custom of other churches: "Unde talis celebritas non est totaliter reprobanda." Such is the testimony of the most eminent mediaeval divines, to which we need not add names of less weight. It is not to be wondered at that, in the face of the difficulties to be encountered by the modern defenders of the immaculate conception, cardinal Perrone, "the general rector of the Roman College," and "the prince of contemporary theologians," is led to argue that if these scholastic divines had reasoned correctly from what they conceded about the birth of the Virgin, they would have made her conception immaculate; also, that what they teach can all be best explained in harmony with the doctrine; or, if not so, that they taught what they did as private teachers; as also that they were ignorant of antiquity; and again, that their views on original sin were such as allowed them to speak as they did; in fine, that they did not have any guidance from an infallible decision in what they uttered; and that while they were wrangling in the schools, the dogma was making its way among the people.
All this goes to show that the mediaeval testimony is against it; that, as far as the Middle Ages are concerned, only isolated opinions are for the doctrine, and the weight of authority is against it. The only distinct argumentative attempt which Perrone makes to parry the force of their authority and arguments is the assertion that these doctors of the schools, when they speak of the conception of Mary, have reference to what he calls the first, or active conception, and not tooth passive, or the infusion of the soul into the seed. But this explanation is irrelevant, for two reasons; one is, that many of these doctors do not make this distinction, and, of course, they include both parts of the conception in their statement. They make the distinction between "conception" and "sanctification," and say that all that precedes sanctification belongs to the "conception," and is infected with original sin; this, of course, includes the "passive" conception. Another reason that invalidates this mode of explanation is, that some of these doctors do make the very distinction in question, and yet maintain that the whole conception, both active and passive, was in original sin. Thus Alexander of Hales says that "the Virgin after her nativity, and after the infusion of the soul into the body, was sanctified;" Bonaventura asserts that the infusion of grace may have been soon after the infusion of the soul, and Aquinas declares expressly that the cleansing can only be from original sin; that the fault of original sin can only be in a rational creature, and, therefore, that before the infusion of the rational soul the Virgin was not sanctified. In fact, this mode of meeting the difficulty can' only be carried through by supposing that the mediaeval divines believed that original sin could exist in the mere fleshly material derived from parents, an opinion widely abhorrent to their well-known views. We may therefore well say that the doctrine of the immaculate conception of Mary, the mother of Christ, is a "novelty in theology," for the historical records of antiquity are silent; in the Middle Ages the great authorities are divided; and in modern times, as our historical sketch has shown, there have been perpetual contests and divisions. Twenty years ago hardly a single name of eminence among the Roman Catholics of Germany would have pronounced in its favor. Spain, it is true, continued her devotions, but France was indifferent, until the Ultramontane party began to gain power, and to look about for the means of arousing popular feeling in behalf of the papacy.
There remains for us now only to consider the doctrine as opposed to the doctrine of original sin. The very necessity for a miraculous conception in the case of him who was to be without sin (See INCARNATION) is in itself a proof that every person conceived in a natural manner must be conceived in sin (See NATURE, HUMAN), and the Bible is too express and unmistakable on this point, that all are conceived in sin, (See ORIGINAL SIN).
In the position which the Roman Catholic Church thus assumes, we encounter again the vital defects of her theology on original sin, that semi- Pelagianlism against which all the Protestant Confessions. have protested as unscriptural. "The Roman Catholic doctrine puts the essence of original sin solely in defect; makes it negative; asserting that it is only the want of that righteousness in which Adam was created; this is, in scholastic usage, the ‘ formal' part, or the very essence of original, sin. Concupiscence is not of the nature of sin. This is the doctrine of original sin, which Perrone expressly lays down in the opening of his treatise (p. 2, 3 sq.), ‘ that the essence of original sin is in the defect of grace or of original righteousness.' This is the only view of the matter with which the dogma of the immaculate conception can possibly be reconciled. If this view is false-if original sin, as Protestants hold, according to the Scriptures, be positive and not negative, and come by descent, then the conclusion is irresistible that Mary, by descent, must have had a part therein. The dogma of her immaculate conception is possible only with a false view of the nature of the ‘ sin of birth.' Augustine could not have held it, nor could Aquinas.
The dogma is conceived in a defective notion of original sin. Yet again, even with this defective view of original sin, the dogma is involved in difficulties and internal conflicts by what it asserts and implies as to the origin of the soul of Mary. The theory on which it rests is, that Mary's soul was directly created by God. It declares that the Virgin Mary, at the first instant of her conception,' was preserved immaculate. What is meant by ‘ conception' here? It is the so called ‘ passive conception,' or the infusion of the soul into the seed, the union of the soul of Mary with the body, prepared beforehand in the ‘ active conception.' Whence, now, this soul? It as ‘ created.' The ‘ Letters,' in another passage, say that Mary was the ‘ tabernacle created by God himself.' Pius IX also cites the formula of Alexander VII as having ‘ decretive' authority, and that formula declares ‘ that Mary's soul, at the first instant of creation and of infusion into the body.' was preserved free from original sin. This hypothesis of ‘ creationism' is also the only hypothesis consonant with the doctrine. But now put these two positions together, namely, that original sin consists essentially in privation; that is, in the defect of original justice; and that Mary's soul was directly created by God, and we arrive at the following difficulties and dilemmas. The position is this: When Mary's soul was created and infused into her body, she was by grace preserved free from original sin. Would the original sin, from which she was kept, have come to her from her body or from her soul? — for it must have come from one or the other. If one says that it would have come from the soul, this involves the consequence that God usually creates original sin in the soul before it is united with the body, and, of course, before it is connected with Adam by descent. If one says, on the other hand, that original sin would have come to Mary from her ‘ active conception,' that is, from her prepared body, then it was already there, in germ and seed, before the infusion of the soul. God either creates the human soul with original sin, or the original sin is from the parents. If the former, we have original sin without any connection with Adam; if the latter, Mary must have been really possessed of it. But it may be said original sin consists in defect, privation, and that the dogma means that God created Mary's soul perfectly holy.
This raises another difficulty; for it is also asserted that he created her thus holy on the ground of Christ's merits, and that, had it not been for Christ's merits, she would have shared the sin of the race. This creation, now, must have been either through the race (the connection with Adam) or above the race either mediate or immediate. If through the race or mediate, then she must have had a part in its sinfulness; if above the race, or an immediate creation, then there is no theological, or rational ground for saying that, as far as her creation was concerned, she was liable to sin, or could be saved from it through Christ's merits. Nor can any relief be found by conjoining the two points, and asserting that the exemption from original sin concerns the time or point of union of the soul with the seed, the conjunction of the active with the passive conception. For the still unanswered question here is, and must be this: In the union of the soul with the body, from which of the two, soul or body, would the original sin have come, if grace had not prevented? — for it must have come from one or the other. If from the soul, then you have original sin without any connection with Adam; if from the body, then original sin must already have been there; if from both together, this simply dodges the question, or else resolves original sin into some act consequent upon the union-that is, into actual transgression. Nor is the matter helped by saying that original sin is essentially negative, privative; for the privation has respect to either the soul or the body, or to both conjoined, and the same dilemmas result.
The ‘ Letters Apostolic,' in other passages, speak of the dogma in this wise: that the ‘ Blessed Virgin was free from all contagion of body, soul, and mind;' that she had ‘ community with men only in their nature, but not in their fault:' and that ‘ the flesh of the Virgin taken from Adam did not admit the stain of Adam, and on this account that the most blessed Virgin was the tabernacle created by God himself, formed by the Holy Spirit.' These expressions imply that the fault in the case could have been a fault of ‘ nature;' that the contagion might have been of the ‘ body;' that the ‘ stain from Adam' would, under other circumstances, have come to her through the ‘ flesh.' But in her ‘ active conception,' before the infusion of the soul and of grace, the ‘ nature.' the ‘ body,' the ‘ flesh,' were already extant, ere the ‘ passive conception' took place: were they with or without the fault? If with the fault, then you have original sin; if without, then it would follow that the flesh, the body, the nature, before the passive conception, had been already delivered from the bondage of corruption. In short, if original sin come from the race, from the ‘ active conception,' then Mary must have had it; if it come from the ‘ passive conception,' then God is its direct author in every individual case. This dogma of the immaculate conception, then, contains contradictory elements; it rests on a false view of original sin. Even that false view cannot well be reconciled: it assumes the theory that souls are directly created, and here again it involves itself in inextricable difficulties in relation to original sin. It is opposed to Scripture, to tradition, and it is self-opposed."
In conclusion, there is left to us only the present attitude of the Roman pontiff, who, since his declaration of infallibility, more than ever, is forced into a position which puts the matter of papal infallibility in a disagreeable dilemma and dualism. "The decree of Pius IX is in opposition to the express declarations of preceding pontiffs; pope is arrayed against pope; infallibility is discordant with infallibility. Not only has ‘ a probable opinion become improbable.' but Peter's chair is divided against itself; and how, then, can that kingdom stand? The Jansenist Launov, in his Praescriptions, has collected the opinions adverse to or irreconcilable with the dogma, of seven of the successors of St. Peter, who never change. From pope Leo (440-461), the greatest and most learned of the early bishops of Rome, he cites four passages in which Leo declares that Christ alone ‘ was innocent in his birth,' alone was ‘ free from original sin,' and that Christ received from his mother ‘ her nature, but not her fault;' and he asserts that Mary obtained ‘ her own purification through her conception of Christ.' This is wholly averse to the dogma. Innocent III, who called the Lateran Council in 1213, in a sermon on the ‘ Assumption of Christ,' comparing Eve and Mary, writes': ‘ Illa fuit sine culpa producta, sed in culpa produxit; haec autem fuit in culpa producta, sed sine culpa produxit.' Gregory says (590-604), ‘ John the Baptist was conceived in sin; Christ alone was conceived without sin.' Innocent V (1276), in his Commentary on the Master of Sentences: ‘ Non convenit tantae Virgini ut diu morata sit in peccato;' and he adds that she was sanctified quickly after the animation (that is, of the body by the soul), although not in the very moment. This is directly against the dogma. John XXII or Benedict XII (c. 1340) says that Mary ‘ passed at first from a state of original sin to a ‘ state of grace.' Clement VI (1342-52), ‘ I suppose, according to the common opinion as yet, that the blessed Virgin was in original sin' modicca moula, ‘ because, according to all, she was sanctified as soon as she could be sanctified.'
"Thus the papacy, in committing itself to this new and idolatrous dogma, is in hostility to Scripture, to universal consent, and also to itself. It explains the sense of Scripture by tradition; and it explains the sense of tradition by an infallible expositor, and that infallible expositor contradicts itself. The new dogma makes the whole of the early Church to have been ignorant of a truth which is now declared to be necessary to the faith; it makes Leo, Innocent III, Innocent V, and Clement V to have taught heresy; it puts the greatest scholastic divines under the ban; and, while doing this, it declares that what is now decreed has always been of the faith of the Church, and that it is a part of the revelation of God, given through Christ and the apostles, and handed down b constant succession and general consent."
See Smith, in Meth. Qu: Rev. April 1855; Christian Remembrancer, Oct. 1855, p. 419; Jan. 1866, p. 175; July, 1868, p. 134; Westminster Rev. April. 1867, p. 155 sq.; Ffoulkes, Christendom's Divisions, 1, 103; Neander, Chr. Dogmas, 2, 599; Haag, Hist. des Dogmes Chretiennes, 1, 291 sq., 435 sq.; Cramp, Text-book of Popery, p. 104 sq.; Milman. Lat. Ch ristiasity, p. 8,208; Preuss, Die romische Lehre v. d. unbefleckten Emphfadngeiss a. d. Quellen dargestellt u. a Gottes Wort widerlegt (Berlin, 1865); Blunt, Theol. Encyclop. 1, 328 sq. (See MARY); (See MARIOLATRY).
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McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Imlah'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/eng/tce/i/imlah.html. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.
the Week of Christ the King / Proper 29 / Ordinary 34