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The Mother of Jesus

The Mother of Jesus

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Published by glennpease

Mary, the mother of Jesus. Acts i : 14.

Mary, the mother of Jesus. Acts i : 14.

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Published by: glennpease on Nov 08, 2011
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THE MOTHER OF JESUS.JOH A. BROADUSMary, the mother of Jesus. Acts i : 14.THERE is a well-known tendency of human thoughtto oscillate from one extreme to another. I think this tendency was exhibited in several points of what wecall the Protestant Reformation. In certain importantrespects, we are all agreed that there was a real andthorough reformation. In certain other respects most of us think it was a very partial reformation. And thereare yet several other respects in which it was a violentreaction from one extreme to the opposite extreme. Itappears to me that this has been the case as regards theposition of Protestants toward the mother of Jesus.The Romanists, we may say without uncharitableness,have come very near making her an object of worship.Their theologians make nice distinctions on the subject,but practically, for the ignorant mass, she is really anobject of worship, a sort of goddess. The Protestantmind, starting back in horror from that terrible idolatry,has seemed to shrink sensitively away from ever sayinga word or ever thinking for a moment about the motherof Jesus.It is all natural enough, the growth of what we con-sider to be the grave Romanist error about Mary. Theassociation? connected with all those who followed Jesus124THE MOTHER OF JESUS. 125would naturally have caused the early Christians to feela peculiar interest in her, as they ought to have done.And then the feeling which rapidly grew up, of a de-sire for human mediation between us and God betweenus*, and the Saviour himself and which led, in the
course of the centuries, to praying to the saints for theirmediation, would naturally cause the mother of Jesus tobe regarded as the most influential of all these interced-ing saints. Moreover, the Roman Church, with thattalent for governing which has characterized the Romanpeople through all their history, readily adapted itself tothe tastes of mankind, to the tendencies of human naturein general, and to the special usages of the old PaganRomans, introducing, for example, a number of festivals,so that there would be something corresponding to theancient festivals to please the people. And as all Pagannations had their female deities, there naturally arose afeeling which made the mother of Jesus a sort of femaledivinity. Then, when art came into use in the churches,when they introduced image worship, there was nothingmore natural than that the mother and the babe in herarms should be the chosen subject of artistic representa-tion in places of worship ; that the great artists of Italyshould not only find this most popular and remunerativefor their pencil, but most pleasing for themselves. Sogalleries were filled with many charming delineations of the Virgin and child. I suppose, also, that the spirit of chivalry in the Middle Ages may have had something todo with this. There was then a high, romantic senti-ment towards woman as such, and this may have causedMary to be regarded as the representative woman, so126 THE MOTHER OF JESUS.that romance added itself to devotion. For these andother causes it has come to pass that not only in theRoman Church, but in the Greek and Armenian andCoptic Churches, and all through the East, they talk agreat deal more about Mary than about her son. I haveat home a great collection of Latin hymns of the Mid-dle Ages, made by a German scholar, in which there arethree times as many about Mary as about Jesus and theapostles all put together.ow, I say the Protestant mind has violently reacted
from all this, and it is not strange that we should shrink shuddering from what is practical idolatry, no matterhow skillfully explained away. But isn't it a pity thatwe should go to the opposite extreme as regards themother of our Lord? Let us look, then, at what theScriptures teach. It was said to her by the angel,"Blessed art thou among women," and she said,"Henceforth all generations shall call me blessed."There is no ground there for worship. " Blessed amongwomen," Elizabeth was called, and Jael, who killedSisera. The meaning of Mary's own saying is, all gen-erations shall call me happy, shall felicitate me, shallrecognize that my position is a happy one. There is nofoundation for calling her " the Blessed Virgin Mary,"as an act of worship, but there is a foundation for tak-ing peculiar interest in what the Scriptures teach con-cerning her. It is not much that they do teach, anddoubtless that is well, for otherwise it would have beenperverted in the interest of that semi-idolatry we havebeen speaking about ; but from what they do teach wemay draw some useful lessons, and may, at the sameTHE MOTHER OF JESUS. 127time, get some interesting views of her son, who is, Owonder of wonders ! our Divine Redeemer.1. First recall Mary's early life. ow, I could bringyou some so-called manuals about the Blessed VirginMary, which would give you a great mass of detailabout her early life, but unfortunately they are all latetradition ; in fact, they are all pure fiction, and withoutthe advantage of being well invented. They are com-monly dull and stupid. But when we look to the Scrip-tures themselves, some things we do know about herearly life. We know that instead of being at a conventat Jerusalem, as the silly traditions say, she lived at thelittle town of azareth.This village, nestling down in its deep and retired

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