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means of dishonour and indignity to her Divine Son.
If Holy Scripture be true, if the teaching of the ancient Church be true, the modern systematized devotion to the Blessed Virgin, the modern theory, too, which seems to have apportioned to her in the economy of Grace a distinct office on the ground of her Maternity, as Mediatrix between ourselves and her Divine Son-all this, however widespread it may unhappily have become, is not only absolutely unjustifiable, but perilously sinful.
The early ages of the Church knew nothing of this. When this new form of illicit and sentimental devotion to the creature first began tentatively to show itself in the fourth century (as our Lord's significant and half-prophetic words to His Mother strangely seem to indicate that it would ere long show itself) it was sternly denounced by the Fathers of the Church as simply idolatrous.
I well know that devotion to the Mother of God has been insisted on as a safeguard and defence of the doctrine of the Incarnation. Probably it has to a certain extent served this purpose, and acted as a temporary stay. But, like all mere human supports, it cannot stand. Being in itself unsound, it must give way; and then what will become of the Christianity of those countries, where the very central Truth of the Gospel has been propped and buttressed up by means of a lie ?
But I will say no more on so sad a theme, on this Holy Feast of the Annunciation. In the Church of England, our danger does not lie in the direction of over-exalting the saintly Virgin, but, by a natural re-action from excesses elsewhere, of forgetting her, and withholding from the holiest and most blessed of womankind that mede of affectionate reverence which is her due.
Cherish we ever lovingly and gratefully the memory of her gentle holiness, of her spotless purity, of her profound humility, of her wondrous meekness. Let her history, too, remind us (as I have said) that wherever GoD signally graces, there He signally tries; and that if suffering and humiliation were necessary for the perfection of her whom “all generations shall call blessed," they must be no less needful for us ; and that if God dearly loves us, He will chasten us "even as a father the child in whom he delighteth.” And whether He call us to joy or sorrow,
whether to some unlooked for dignity and success, or to some crushing humiliation and trial, learn we humbly and meekly to acquiesce, with that trutsful repose, that self-forgetting resignation of soul which breathed forth in the memorable words, “ Behold the handmaid of the Lord ; be " it unto me according to Thy word.”
EARNESTNESS IN FAITH.
BY REV. EDWIN C. COLLARD,
(l'icar of Alton Pancras, Dorset.)
2 TIMOTHY IV. 11.
- " Take Mark, and bring him with thee; for he is profitable to me
for the ministry."
I.- We are told but little in Holy Scripture respecting the Evangelist, St. Mark. His name occurs only some four or five times in God's Word. This much, however, we do read of him: It was to the house of his mother, Mary, that St. Peter went, upon being delivered by the Angel from prison. It was St. Mark, whom Barnabas and Saul took with them on their return from Jerusalem to Antioch. It was St. Mark, whom “Paul thought not good to take with them,” because he had “departed from them from Pam“phylia, and went not with them to the work.” It was St. Mark respecting whom, on this very account, “the contention ” between the Apostles “ was so sharp,” “that they departed asunder one from the other," Barnabas taking Mark with him and sailing “unto Cyprus.”
And once more. In spite of his having been at the commencement of his ministry so greatly in fault, it is of the same blessed saint, that St. Paul in the text, warmly and approvingly speaks, when to St. Timothy he writes, “ Take Mark, and bring him with thee; for he is “ profitable to me for the Ministry.”
II.-At one time, then, words of blame and disapproval are spoken of him, “he departed “ from them ... and went not with them to the work”; at another, words of approval and commendation are used, “he is profitable. 6 for the Ministry.” Now, how is this?. How can we reconcile these things ?
Plainly, it was no want of earnestness in the work, no failing faith. For though he left Paul and Barnabas in Pamphylia, yet he left not the work. Immediately after, we find him going with Barnabas to labour in Cyprus. The explanation then, is no doubt this. Pamphylia and the countries beyond were wholly Gentile regions; Cyprus, on the other hand, had a large Jewish population. And St. Mark, not yet freed from his old deep Jewish prejudices and predilections,