Seemingly Conflicting Scriptures Reconciled--The Roman Catholic Doctrine of Mary's Immaculate Conception Not Sustained--The Birth of Jesus Separate from Sinners Essential to the Divine Arrangement-- Otherwise no Ransom Possible--The Latest Deductions of Science in re the Union of Life and Protoplasm--The Logos Made Flesh--Born of a Woman yet Undefiled--How the Imperfect Mother Could and Did Bring Forth the Undefiled One--This Same Principle Operating in Other Features of the Divine Plan, as Testified by the Scriptures.
"Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? Not one." Job 14:4
"He was manifested to take away sins and in him is no sin." "Such an High Priest was suitable for us--holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners." 1 John 3:5; Heb. 7:26
HERE are Scripture statements apparently in conflict: the first declaring, in harmony with our experience, that all of Adam's posterity is affected by virus of sin from the poisoned fountain: the latter declaring that our Lord Jesus was as a man different from other men--unblemished, undefiled, spotless. And since the entire theory of the Atonement, presented in the Scriptures, demands that of necessity our Redeemer must be an unblemished man--of our race and yet separate from it--this becomes a very important point before the minds of the Lord's thinking people. How did God accomplish in our Lord Jesus' case what is impossible to man, according to all human experience and according to Job's testimony? To give ample proof of how the divine arrangement did accomplish this desired yet seemingly impossible thing of producing a member of the race, yet separate from its blemishes, to be its ransom--to give [E98] a corresponding price for the first perfect man whose sin and its curse blights the race--this is the pleasurable task of the present chapter.
Not that a knowledge of the manner is essential either to the faith or salvation of the true disciple taught of God; but that in the light of present-day destructive criticism (reasonable and unreasonable) it is expedient that this truth, so closely identified with the Atonement, the very center and foundation of true Christianity, should be solidly buttressed, to the intent that the faith of the Lord's people may be able to withstand the assaults of the Adversary against the doctrine of the ransom--from pulpit, press and pew. The Scriptural statement of the fact of our Lord's spotlessness was, thank God, quite sufficient for his saints for centuries; but now as "meat in due season" for the household comes the scientific and philosophic attestation to the possibility of all that is claimed in the divine Word on this subject --quite in harmony with "the laws of nature."
The Roman Catholic Church in its doctrine of "The Immaculate Conception" of Mary, attempts to establish faith in our Lord's mother, as immaculate, spotless, perfect; and thus to prove that Jesus could be born pure and separate from sinners: but this is not our claim. We admit that our Lord's mother was a member of Adam's race, in the same sense as all other members of it--that her life was derived from the Adamic stock, that she inherited human weaknesses and blemishes and unavoidably was, like all others, under the sentence of death. We claim that "the man Christ Jesus" was an exception--the only exception.
And it is well for us not to forget that God's providential care for the children of men is frequently manifested in the exceptions of nature. For instance, it is the rule of nature that heat causes expansion, while freezing causes contraction: but how fortunate it is for humanity that water is an exception to this principle--that water, contrary to the general rule, expands in freezing. Were it to follow the customary law of nature and contract with freezing, it would have the effect of making the ice heavier than the unfrozen water, [E99] and cause it to sink to the river bottoms, so that as a consequence our rivers would become solid ice, which even the summer heat would not dissolve. How fortunate, too, that antimony among the minerals is an exception to this law of nature also: otherwise it would be impossible for us to secure clear-cut edges on our printing types, secured by the mixing of this metal, which contracts, with other metals which expand under heat. So the one exception to sin-defilement in our race was its only hope--its ransom, its salvation under divine providence. With these thoughts we proceed to examine how the Logos was "made flesh," "born of a woman," "of the seed of Abraham," and yet was uncontaminated, and could therefore be a suitable and acceptable ransom for Adam and his race.
The Scriptures hold out the thought that all existence, living energy or being, comes from the father and not from the mother. The mother receives the sperm or seed of life from the father, furnishes it a cell-nucleus out of which a form or body is produced, and nourishes the germ of being until it is able to maintain an independent existence; i.e., until it is able to appropriate to its maintenance the life-sustaining elements which the earth and air supply--then it is born.
The word father has the significance of life-giver. Accordingly, God was the "Father," or life-giver, while the earth was the mother, of Adam, and hence of the human race. (Luke 3:38) Adam's form or organism was of and from earth (which therefore served as his mother); but his spark of life which constituted him a man came from God (who thus was his Father or life-giver): and in the male of the human species has since resided the power to communicate that spark of life or living seed to progeny.
In harmony with this principle, children are spoken of as being of or from their fathers, and borne by their mothers. (Gen. 24:47) Thus the children of Jacob, counted through his sons, were seventy when he came down to Egypt. All of those seventy souls or beings are expressly said to have come out of the loins of Jacob. (Gen. 46:26,27; Exod. 1:5) So of Solomon, it is said that he came out of the loins of David. [E100] (1 Kings 8:19; 2 Chron. 6:9) So also the Apostle Paul and Israelites in general claimed that they all came out of the loins of Abraham; and of Levi it is written that "he was yet in the loins of his father when Melchisedec met him." Heb. 7:5,10
Thus also the whole race was in and sprang from Adam their father, by mother Eve but not from her. And thus it is written that "all in ADAM die," but not all in Eve. Because the race came of Adam, it was tried in his trial, condemned in his failure and included under his sentence.
This, which the Scriptures teach, is the latest deduction of science on this subject of progeneration, as applied to humanity and to all mammalia. Scientists find abundant and conclusive proof in nature that life or being comes always from the male. The simplest form of illustration is a hen's egg: of itself it originally contains no life, but is merely a cell-germ with its supply of nutriment ready to build up an organism as soon as vivified, fecundated or impregnated with the life-germ or life-seed from the male bird.
The egg contains not only the germ-cell but also the proper elements of nutrition and in proper proportion, adapted to the minute organism begotten in it by the sperm or life-seed; and under proper conditions that organism develops. The germ-cell, or "formative yolk," or protoplasm, receives the life-germ or sperm, and this becomes the embryo chick, which appropriates to its own development the "food-yolk" and the albumen, until it breaks the shell and is able to sustain itself by appropriating cruder elements of nutrition. The principles here involved are the same in human and other animals.
In view of these harmonious testimonies of the Bible and science, it is a reasonable deduction that if the father were perfect, the child would be perfect. Under even moderately favorable conditions a perfect sperm or life-seed in uniting with the female germ-cell would produce a living embryo so vigorous and healthy as to be capable of appropriating the proper elements of nutrition, and voiding, throwing off or neutralizing the unfit. And the perfect being thus produced [E101] would likewise possess the power of neutralizing or repelling, by its perfect functions and without injury or inconvenience to itself, all elements not beneficial. On the contrary, in proportion as the sperm or life-seed be imperfect, the living embryo will be weak and unable to overcome the unfavorable conditions of its environment, and will appropriate whatever its mother furnishes--good or bad--and will be the prey of disease. Being imperfect, it is unable to reject wholly the poisonous elements and the consequence is weakness and disease.
The old proverb, "One man's meat is another man's poison," rests upon the principle here enunciated. A person possessed of good digestive powers can eat and extract nutriment and strength from food which would speedily sicken and eventually kill another of inferior powers. The more rugged extracts the good and avoids the injurious elements: the weaker is unable to do this and is really poisoned, frequently to the extent of sickness. Yet let us remember that no member of our race is nearly perfect-- none are able to defend their imperfect systems against the myriads of foes that assail through food and drink and air. Consequently none are born perfect and none can avoid the encroachments of disease for long. It preys upon the weakest organs first and soon all collapse.
From this standpoint it follows that had mother Eve alone sinned the race would not have died; for had Adam remained perfect, his life unforfeited and unimpaired, his offspring would have been born without blemish. And even had the death sentence passed upon mother Eve, bringing imperfections to her, these would not have impaired her offspring; being perfect, they would have appropriated good elements, and have neutralized, voided or passed off naturally and without injury, any unwholesome elements of nutrition supplied them.
On the other hand, suppose that Adam had sinned and Eve had remained sinless: Adam's condemnation and death would have affected the entire posterity just the same. However perfect the germ-cells and nourishment [E102] provided by mother Eve, only imperfect dying beings could be produced from diseased sperm or life-seed from Adam. Hence the appropriateness of the Scriptural statement that "All in Adam die," and "By one man's disobedience... death passed upon all." 1 Cor. 15:22; Rom. 5:12,19
How wonderful the correspondence here between the first and second Adams and their brides. As the death of the race depended not upon Eve but wholly upon Adam, and yet she shared in the bringing of it, so the restored life of the redeemed race depends not at all on the bride of Christ, but upon Jesus, the Redeemer, though by divine favor it is arranged that his bride shall share in the restitution of "that which was lost."
The fountain, Adam, having become contaminated by sin and death, none of his posterity can be free from contamination; for, "Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? Not one." The reference here must be understood as applying to the man, and not to the woman: none coming from or out of the contaminated fountain can be clean. Hence, "There is none righteous, no, not one"; none can redeem his own life, much less give to God a ransom for his brother. Rom. 3:10; Psa. 49:7
It is a well-recognized fact that the mind of a mother, during the period of gestation, has an important bearing upon the character and disposition of her children, for good or evil. There are many instances of mental as well as of physical "birthmarks." Whether at all or how much a perfect embryo, begotten of a perfect life-germ, might be injured by an evil mind in the mother, it would be impossible for humanity under present conditions to determine; for we have no opportunity for proofs along this line. Nor is it necessary to our argument to determine this proposition, for it was not under such conditions that the "man Christ Jesus" was born. The Scriptures explicitly point out: (1) That the Lord chose for the mother of Jesus a holy woman "blessed among women," who had "found favor with God" (Luke 1:28,30,42); (2) Mary was full of faith and the joy of the Lord, to be an instrument in his plan: and (3) not regarding fear of [E103] reproach from Joseph or the world, she lived rejoicing in God, saying--"My soul doth magnify Jehovah; my spirit rejoiceth in God my Savior." (Luke 1:45-47) Thus we perceive that the mind of Jesus' mother, instead of being antagonistic to his perfect development, cooperated to that result.
It follows, then, that the only obstacle to the generation of a perfect man of an imperfect, blemished, but well-willed mother is the lack of a perfect father to supply perfect spermatozoa. And hence the consistency of the teaching of Scripture, that in the case of Jesus a perfect life (not of or from the Adamic fountain) was transferred by divine power from a pre-existent condition to the embryo human condition, was born "holy" (pure and perfect), though of an imperfect mother. (Luke 1:35) That Jesus was thus uncontaminated with the imperfections, mental, moral or physical--which his mother in common with the entire human race shared, is entirely reasonable and, as we have just seen, in perfect accord not only with Scripture but also with the latest scientific findings and deductions.
Another fact which scientists are demonstrating to themselves, which seems to concur with the Scripture testimony, is, that though life or being comes from the father, form and nature come from the mother. The scientific proofs of this are more abstruse and less easily grasped by the ordinary mind; and this, because in wisdom God has not only separated the various kinds or natures, but in great measure has limited them, so that they cannot mix or blend beyond certain limits without losing the powers of fecundation. A common illustration of this is the mule, a hybrid which cannot propagate.
The old idea that form and nature came from the male is abandoned by modern students of nature, who now agree that the female furnishes organism as well as sustenance--in fact furnishes all except the life-seed or sperm which comes from the father or life-giver. Take as a Scriptural illustration of the foregoing claims the improper union between "the daughters of men" and those angels which kept not [E104] their proper estate or condition. (Gen. 6:2,4; Jude 6; 2 Pet. 2:4) The angels, when they assumed human form, being perfect in vitality, begat children far superior to the then greatly fallen race of Adam in mental acumen as well as in physical powers, so that the record is--"the same were men of renown." These wonderful men, let us remember, were born of imperfect, dying mothers, but begotten by vigorous, unimpaired fathers.
The dying race of Adam would have had hard masters in those superior Nephilim (Hebrew, fallen ones) which were never recognized by God, either by a trial for life, or by a condemnation to death. It was a mercy indeed which, not having authorized their existence, blotted them from existence in the flood, and sparing as a new beginning for the race Noah and his family, with the comment--"Now Noah was perfect in his generation," which implies that the majority of Adam's posterity had become greatly contaminated and more or less a new race by association with the angels in human form. We say a new race because of their new life and vigor coming from new fathers.
So great was the renown of these "Nephilim," that the dread of them is to be found with more or less distinctness in heathen mythologies to this day; and hundreds of years after their destruction in the flood, the false report that some of these were yet alive caused a panic among the Israelites while flushed with the victory of recent battles. (See Num. 13:33; 14:36,37.) No doubt there were some large men in Canaan, as other scriptures show, but never except in this "evil report" are they called Nephilim.
Another illustration of this principle that life (vitality) comes from the father, and organism (nature) from the mother, is found in the fact that Jehovah, himself of the divine nature has begotten sons of various natures. He is the father or life-giver to those sons of angelic nature (Job 2:1; 38:7; Heb. 2:9), as well as to sons of human nature (Luke 3:38), as well to the "new creatures" who, in the first resurrection, shall be made partakers of his own divine nature. (2 Pet. 1:4) The spirit or energy of Jehovah operating upon [E105] spirit-substances produced and developed angels; the same energy or spirit operating upon earthly substances produced man and the lower animals. (Gen. 2:7; 1 Cor. 15:47) And when God would give us a clear conception of the generation of the new creatures to the divine nature, he represents them as begotten of his word of promise in the womb of the Covenant which he made with Abraham, which Covenant was symbolized by a woman, Sarah, telling us that as Isaac was the heir of Abraham and child of promise (by Sarah), so we, as or like Isaac, are children of God, being children of the promise, or Sarah Covenant. See Gal. 4:23-31; 1 Pet. 1:3,23; 2 Pet. 1:4.
The same principle is illustrated in the fact that in the typical Jewish dispensation, prior to the Christian age, a child inherited blessings and privileges of its father, according to the favor and standing of its mother, thus again declaring that the mother's nature, rights, privileges and liberties attached to the child, though not of necessity the father's. See Gen. 21:10; Ex. 21:4; Gal. 4:30.
The foregoing arguments are clinched by the fact that our Lord Jesus was born of a woman. The "holy thing" born of a woman partook of the woman's nature, i.e., human nature--"of the earth, earthy." Though retaining all the purity and perfection of the pre-existent (spirit) state, the transferred germ of being (in harmony with this law we are examining) partook of the nature of the mother and was "made flesh" by being "born of a woman." Yet the "clean thing" came not out of the unclean race, but "proceeded forth and came from God" and was merely developed and nourished in Mary. John 8:42; Gal. 4:4
It is yet further in harmony with this same principle that though our Lord Jesus has since been highly exalted to the divine nature, and is no longer human, yet it is declared of him that he shall be the life-giver or "father" of the whole human race, while it is also shown that his work for the race is to restore the perfection of human nature, which was lost for all through Adam's sin. Thus, while their "father" or life-giver will be on the divine plane, his children will be on the [E106] human plane, born out of a Covenant of restitution, illustrated by Keturah, Abraham's third wife.
Reviewing our subject then, we perceive that the "miraculous" birth of our Lord Jesus, perfect, unblemished, of an imperfect mother, was not contrary to the usual procedure of the Creator's arrangements, but in full harmony with them: we see that similarly father Adam was born into being perfect because he was born of God, though his mother (the earth) was still imperfect except the specially prepared Garden of Eden. The Scriptural assurance then that our Lord had a prehuman existence, the life-principle of which was transferred to Mary's womb and born of her "holy," is abundant assurance that he was as the same Scriptures declare "holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners." Just such an one "became us" or was suitable to the necessities of our case--such an one as could be accepted by Justice as our ransom-price; and then being made humanity's High Priest in things pertaining to God, would be able to compassionate the weak and burdened--having been touched with a feeling of human infirmities when he himself compassionately took our sicknesses. Matt. 8:16,17; Heb. 7:26
We pass on now to the consideration of how he could be thus without sin and yet be "made like unto his brethren."