How mysterious is the law of this transmission from our origin ! How unsearchable ! yet how plain a proof that we are not made now as God first made us. Were some spirit of another sphere to hear for the first time that in this planet, on which his gaze was fixed, dwelt beings made to God's image who multiplied their kind ; struck with the gift of so sublime a power, would he not conclude that the exercise of a privilege so like unto creation, must be the most exalted hour in the existence of those beings ? Alas ! for the fall. We can only close our lips in silence ; and then exclaim, " What is born of flesh is flesh. For, behold I was conceived in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me." But this is not the conception from which that Blessed one should be formed who shall give her flesh unto the Son of God. Grace may remove the sin, and blot out the culpability, as day removes the darkness of the night ; but as, when the night is gone, it leaves effects behind the cold, the fogs, the frosts, and the keen blasts, so, after original sin has departed, there remain debilities, habits, depraved emotions, penalties, and, above all, that irreparable loss of original innocence, which, like lost virginity, can never be restored. However atoned for, that dishonour rests on the soul like the stain on the escutcheon, which no after deeds can succeed in erasing. And what is that stain, but that the supernatural image of God had been blotted out, but that the soul had been beforetimes disinherited of life, but that she had been hated of God, but that, in the language of Scripture, she had been " a vessel of contumely" and of the " mass of corruption ?" And if our faith will not allow that the Blessed Mary ever contracted actual sin, though but venial, though but the dust which touches the beauty of the soul without wounding deeply, etill less destroying, its charity ; if, as St. Thomas says : " She would not have been a suitable Mother of God if she had sinned at any time, because, as in Proverbs it is written, ' the glory of the children are their parents,' consequently the ignominy of the mother is reflected on the son."'* If then neither our faith nor our piety will allow, that those motes and specks of sin fell ever on the face of Mary, though quickly brushed away, how can we suppose that she had been entirely covered and penetrated with sin of another kind, as with a pestilential leprosy ?
To sum up the nature of this sin, in the words of the Council of Trent, " Original sin, which in its origin is one, and is transfused by propagation, not by imitation, is in all and belongs to each one" But is so in each of all who contract it, that they are immediately " defiled, lose their innocence, are made by nature children of wrath, become the servants of sin, and are brought under the power of the devil." Let us now raise up our minds towards that infinite purity of God. Let us invoke His blessed light, that it may purify our vision, and give the clear truth unto our sight. The most pure spirit flies from sin, and will not dwell in a soul that is subject to sin. Let us contemplate now the eternal decree of the In- carnation, the holiest and purest of created mysteries. Let us consider that decree which follows so close upon it, and is bound up with it, that decree which provides a Mother for the Eternal Son of God. Let us consider, that if, as St. Paul says, Christ took the likeness of sinful flesh, it was yet without sin, and that, by an infinite distance, He was separated from sinners. And then can we say, that the God, who had the power, had not the will to make His mother sinless and immaculate? When we consider that Jesus and Mary for nine months were one flesh ; can we say this ? When we consider, that for thirty years the will of Mary was the law of Jesus, can we say it? When we consider the compass of God's power, and the height of His great plan, of which that Incarnation wrought in Mary, is the most unfathomable mystery ; when we consider how in accomplishing this deepest of mysteries, God surrounds it with exceptions which rise above all nature's laws ; when we consider that spirit of preparation, by which God turns nature so often from its course, to ripen the hour of its fulfilment ; when we consider that the law of gradation needs the crowning of perfection in woman as in man, and that the accumulation of all the possible excellence of which woman is capable, must be looked for in a Mother of God, if there can be such a person, and that Mary actually is that person ; when we consider, once more, the infinite holiness of Jesus, and His filial consanguinity with Mary ; what other conclusion is open to us, than , that He who could make His Mother immaculate, did not abandon her to His enemy, but in the view of His own merits did make her most pure, and full of grace, and immaculate ?
Above all, when we consider that the Eternal Word did, in the splendour of the Most Holy, mirror forth to the contemplation of the Father and of the Holy Ghost, and of Himself, and that from an eternity, the express form and image of His predestined Mother, can we say that He contemplated her as defiled, as unclean, as a child of wrath, as the servant of sin, as brought under the power of the devil? But after a moment of sin she is cleansed and sanctified, say certain objectors. But if we grant to sin and the devil but that one moment, we give up everything, and abandon her stainless honour. She comes to God from the hands of Satan, and gives to Jesus what once was Satan's. But for a moment ! With God the first moments are supreme moments. Lucifer fell from God in a moment, and with but a thought. And of what moment was that mo- ment ! For sin is measured not by time, but by depth of defilement. And better is it to be an exile from God for eternity, than to be the sinner of that moment. Would not Mary have preferred to have been neither the Virgin, nor the Blessed One, nor the Mother of God, nor the Queen of angels and saints, than to have been for that moment graceless, stripped of innocence, hateful to God, and defiled with sin? On that one moment are all those treasures staked, which alone are most dear and precious to the Virgin Mother of God. Say anything else of Mary, but do not say that she was ever accursed, this only could grieve her beyond all, that she had ever been corrupted and defiled. But Christ alone is born without man's intervention. Mary is a child of Adam, and by nature a child of wrath. Where, then, shall a refuge be found her from the deluge of sin ? Where but in the arms of her divine Son ? Where but in His infinite power to save and redeem? Where but in the inexhaustible treasury of His grace? The law of transmission is accomplished ere the soul has joined the body.
And the cause of original sin, which comes with the body, is not a necessitating cause, for it remains in that body still, after that baptism has repelled it from the soul. It is that pre- vious absence of grace from the soul which leaves her a prey to the corrupting flesh. But let the soul of Mary be fall of grace, when her union with the body is accomplished, and she is not only preserved, but all laws are satisfied. And He who in the face of the universal law- gave sanctity to the soul of John the Baptist, before he was born, could give sanctity to the soul of Mary at the moment of its conception. But in that case was Mary a child of redemption ? Did her Son die for her salvation ? Was she the offspring of His glorious' blood ? Most surely was she redeemed by His blood. Her redemption was the very masterpiece of His redeeming wisdom. It presents one instance more, the very noblest, of that law of accumulation of excellence, as the one absolutely perfect work of redemption. For to enter upon the celebrated argument of Scotus, our Lord is the universal Redeemer and most perfect Medi- ator. Must we not, then, look for some most complete and exquisite example of His mediatorial and redeeming powers? an example of such surpassing excellence that a greater cannot be imagined ? And if He has not wrought that absolutely perfect redemption in His Blessed Mother, of whom alone it is predicated, has He yet put forth in any case His full powers of redemption ?