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Mary.

Mary.

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Published by GLENN DALE PEASE
BY ALEXANDER GARDINER MERCER, D.D.


Mary, of whom was bom Jesus, who is called Christ. — Matt, i., i6.

How small a space does Mary hold in the New Testa-
ment ! — how vast a space in the history of the Church !
Indeed, so vast that for hundreds of — I might say for a
thousand — years she is easily the head and mistress of
the whole religion.
BY ALEXANDER GARDINER MERCER, D.D.


Mary, of whom was bom Jesus, who is called Christ. — Matt, i., i6.

How small a space does Mary hold in the New Testa-
ment ! — how vast a space in the history of the Church !
Indeed, so vast that for hundreds of — I might say for a
thousand — years she is easily the head and mistress of
the whole religion.

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Published by: GLENN DALE PEASE on Jul 14, 2014
Copyright:Traditional Copyright: All rights reserved

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MARY. BY ALEXADER GARDIER MERCER, D.D. Mary, of whom was bom Jesus, who is called Christ. — Matt, i., i6. How small a space does Mary hold in the ew Testa- ment ! — how vast a space in the history of the Church ! Indeed, so vast that for hundreds of — I might say for a thousand — years she is easily the head and mistress of the whole religion. As to her character, all that I can find about her in any way significant is a few slight details, — in the Temple and at Cana. In both we notice, I think, (as was to be expected through custom and daily life,) a slight sinking of her sense of the supernatural character of " that Holy Thing " born of her. At Cana we notice more than this. Wanting wine, she delicately intimates, " They have no wine." This is met by His rebuke, to which, however, she is silent, only saying unto the ser- vants : ** Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it." I find in her conduct here entire submission, a sort of gentle- ness, of meekness mingling with a trust in His relenting love. It certainly means, ** I know him, and though he rebukes, he will do it ; so be ready." Observe the silence. Shakespeare, the highest among all who have conceived the human heart or portrayed human life, is marked above all others, as the ew Tes- 133 134 BIBLE CHARACTERS. tament is, by the use of significant silence in representing character, — led by his deep instinct to know that what-
 
ever is peculiarly fine or high can only in this way be hinted to the apprehension. The highest traits of his highest women especially, and in their highest moments, are indicated — how ? Just by a few words, a few touches, coming in between silences of far deeper tone, and so the exquisite outline of those wonderful characters is made out. I find the same in the ew Testament. othing in it is, to me, so deep and bottomless in meaning and effect as the silences of Christ, — a stroke or two, a few lines, giving figure and expression to the formless deep lying below. And the same as to Mary. How few the touches! — only just enough to mark out and give char- acter to the deeps of silence, as, when you hear a strain of music at night, the stillness which follows it is made richer still and more musical than any possibility of sound. The evangelists, having given us certain facts as to Mary, do afterward almost nothing but remain quiet, and not interfere with the inferences of the Christian heart as to the beautiful nature and wonderful conscious- ness of the virgin mother. The same method is followed in the very few particulars of her life given to us. Here, for example. He rebukes her eager wish, though deli- cately expressed. Then nothing is said as to her feel- ings — (silence), — but we understand, from a general MAI^Y. 135 sense of her character, how meek and submissive that silence is. We feel at once that it is the same person who, when the announcement of the great wonder and glory was first made to her, simply submitted herself: " And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord ; be it unto me according to thy word."
 
In things which are above her thought, and which seem to men impossible, in things which bring glory to her or in things which bring shame, the characteristic of this woman is deep, meek, silent submission ; and this, as it is the natural top or perfection of true woman- hood, so also is it of true Christianity. What she was, her Son was also in his wider and grander relations to God. That this was the feeling which pervaded her silence at Cana is also denoted by this, that when she did speak, it was simply to say to the servants : " Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it." In this little speech, also, is indi- cated what I have called her faith in His relenting love. It seems to reveal a trait in Him known to her, namely, denial only in order to a proper assent, the Son doing just as the Father is wont to do in the government of the world. But, apart from this, her very trust and hope naturally arose, I think, from her deep submission to His will. The selection of Mary as the one " highly favored," and the terms in which she is spoken of in sacred Scrip- ture, lift her, as near as possible, to an ideal character ; 136 BIBLE CHARACTERS. yet in this scene at Cana see how natural and simple and thoroughly human she is, — an ideal person, yet strongly contrasted with any current ideal of the world. She asks the first miracle, and for what ? ot to convert, as the religious world would expect ; not to amaze or exalt ; but simply to meet a household want, — a want of that sort which would be keenly felt by any woman. Her friends, I presume, were poor, and she wished their feelings spared. "They have no wine," she whispered to Him. She wished also to sustain the joy and dignity of the marriage festival.

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