LESSON 65.

THE VIRGIN BIRTH.

510.     We have demonstrated that a virgin birth does not contravene physiological law, though it may be exceptional; and that it might occur, in the case of the birth of Jesus Christ. It is very essential to Christian faith, and also essential to woman's dignity, to believe this. We have shown, in the words of Orestes, how the argument for male kinship exclusively was based by him upon the precisely contrary assertion,¾namely, that as Pallas Athene (Minerva) sprang from the head of Zeus (Jupiter), it was demonstrated that the mother was nurse only to her child.

511.      Though the argument has not usually been based upon this particular myth, yet its doctrine does prevail among men; and has determined decisions in law courts. Up to the present, laws which govern wedded life often proceed upon the fallacy that the mother is merely the pre-natal nurse of the father's seed. The precise physiological truth is so immensely different as to absolutely demonstrate (what nearly every human being knows by instinct), a nearer kinship between mother and child than father and child. That "reform" which displaced female kinship for male kinship was the greatest "reform against nature" this world has ever seen, and nothing but misery and social degradation, for man as well as woman, can follow in the train of the maintenance of such a systematic defiance of nature's laws and just claims. The virgin birth of Jesus Christ is woman's charter of rights in the matter of kinship to her own offspring, ever branding as false any counter-claim on the part of a father to superior property in their joint offspring.

512.     Now we will listen to Prof. James Orr, of Glasgow, Scotland, as to the importance of the belief in the virgin birth to Christian faith. We prefer, in this case, the language of a scholarly man to anything of our own, lest feminine prejudices might be alleged. He has written a very concise, short essay on the subject for an American periodical called The Fundamentals, Vol. 1. From this we quote, but we would recommend the reading of an extensive, valuable book which he has written on the same topic.

513.     "It is well known that the last ten or twenty years have been marked by a determined assault upon the truth of the virgin birth of Christ . . . because it is supposed that the evidence for this miracle is more readily got rid of than the evidence for public facts, such as the resurrection. The result is that in very many quarters the virgin birth of Christ is treated as a fable. . . . It is likened to the Greek and Roman stories, coarse and vile, of heroes who had gods for their fathers. . . . Among those who reject the virgin birth of the Lord few will be found¾I do not know any¾who take in other respects an adequate view of the Person and work of the Savior. . . . Rejection of the virgin birth seldom, if ever, goes by itself. As the late Prof. A. B. Bruce said, 'with denial of the virgin birth is apt to go denial of the virgin life.'"

514.     "Those who take the lines of denial . . . do great injustice to the evidence and importance of the doctrine they reject. The evidence, if not of the same public kind as that for the resurrection, is far stronger than the objector allows, and the fact denied enters far more vitally into the essence of the Christian faith than he supposes. . . . It is, in truth, a very superficial way of speaking or thinking of the virgin birth to say that nothing depends on this belief for our estimate of Christ. Who that reflects on the subject can fail to see that if Christ was virgin born¾if He was truly 'conceived' as the creed says, ‘by the Holy Ghost, born of the virgin Mary'¾there must of necessity enter a supernatural element into His Person, while, if Christ was sinless, much more, if He was the Word of God incarnate, there must have been a miracle¾the most stupendous miracle in the universe¾in His origin?"

515.          "One's mind turns first to that oldest of all evangelical promises, that the seed of the woman would bruise the head of the serpent. 'I will put enmity,' says Jehovah to the serpent-tempter, 'between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; He shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.' (Genesis 3:15 R. V.). It is a forceless weakening of this first word of Gospel in the Bible to explain it of a lasting feud between the race of men and the brood of serpents. . . . The 'seed' who should destroy him is described emphatically as the woman's seed. . . . It remains significant that this peculiar phrase should be chosen to designate the future deliverer. I cannot believe the choice to be of accident. The promise of Abraham was that in his seed the families of the earth would be blessed; there the male is emphasized, but here it is the woman—the woman distinctively. There is, perhaps, as good scholars have thought, an allusion to this promise in 1 Timothy 2:15, where, with allusion to Adam and Eve, it is said 'But she shall be saved through her (or the) childbearing' (R. V.)."

516.     "By general consent the narratives in Matthew 1 and 2 and in Luke 1 and 2 are independent; that is, they are not derived one from the other, yet they both affirm, in detailed story, that Jesus, conceived of the Holy Spirit, was born of a pure virgin, Mary of Nazareth, espoused to Joseph, whose wife she afterwards became. . . . A perusal of the narratives shows clearly¾what might have been expected¾that the information they convey was derived from no lower source than Joseph and Mary themselves. There is a marked feature of contrasts in the narratives¾that Matthew's narrative is all told from Joseph's point of view, and Luke's is all told from Mary's. The signs of this are unmistakable. Matthew tells about Joseph's difficulties and action, and says little or nothing about Mary's thoughts and feelings. Luke tells much about Mary¾even her inmost thoughts¾but says next to nothing directly about Joseph. The narratives are not . . . contradictory, but are independent and complementary. The one supplements and completes the other. Both together are needed to give the whole story. They bear in themselves the stamp of truth, honesty, and purity, and are worthy of all acceptation."

517.     "It is sometimes argued that a virgin birth is no aid to the explanation of Christ's sinlessness. Mary being herself sinful in nature, it is held the taint of corruption would be conveyed by one parent as really as by two. It is overlooked that the whole fact is not expressed by saying that Jesus was born of a virgin mother. There is the other factor¾'conceived of the Holy Ghost.' . . . The birth of Jesus was not, as in ordinary births, the creation of a new personality. It was a divine Person¾already existing entering on this new mode of existence.”

518.     "The belief in the virgin birth of Christ is of the highest value for the right apprehension of Christ's unique and sinless personality. Here is One who . . . free from sin Himself and not involved in the Adamic liabilities of the race, reverses the curses of sin and death brought in by the first Adam, and establishes the reign of righteousness and life. . . . As one of Adam's race, not an entrant from a higher sphere, He would have shared in Adam's corruption and doom¾would Himself have required to be redeemed."

These quotations, although brief, will serve our purpose,¾though, of course they cannot do full justice to Prof. Orr's valuable article.

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