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14When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus.

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14. And seeth Jesus standing It may be asked, Whence arose this mistake, that Mary does not recognize Jesus, with whom she must have been intimately acquainted? Some think that he appeared in a different form, but I think that the fault lay rather in the eyes of the women, as Luke (Luke 24:16) says of the two disciples, their eyes were withheld from knowing him We will not say, therefore, that Christ was continually assuming new shapes, like Proteus 197197     Proteus, (Πρωτεύς,) a king of Egypt, is mentioned by Herodotus, who relates that at Memphis, his native place, a magnificent temple was erected for him. The historian quotes as his authorities, the Egyptian priests with whom he had conversed, and who detailed to him the most mentorable transactions of that reign, connected with the carrying of Helena into Egypt; and he produces passages from the Iliad and the Odyssey, to prove that Homer was well acquainted with the leading facts, though he chose to disguise or palliate them, so as to make a better figure in his story, (Herodotus, Book 2 112-116.) The key to the present allusion, however, must be found in the fabulous accounts of Proteus, as a sea deity, whom Ovid describes as Protea Ambiguum, the shape-changing Proteus, (Metamorphoses, Book 2. Fable 1. 5:9,) and whose alleged habit frequently changing his shape passed into a proverb. “he had (says Lempriere) received the gift of prophecy from Neptune, and from his knowledge of futurity mankind received the greatest services. He was difficult of access, and, when consulted, he refused to give answers, by immediately assuming different shapes, and eluding the grasp, if not properly secured by fetters.” Proverbial references to this fable occur frequently in the ancient writers. — Ed. but that it is in the power of God, who gave eyes to men, to lessen their sharpness of vision whenever he thinks proper, that seeing they may not see.

In Mary we have an example of the mistakes into which the human mind frequently falls. Though Christ presents himself to our view, yet we imagine that he assumes various shapes, so that our senses conceive of any thing rather than of the true Christ; for not only are our powers of understanding liable to be deceived, but they are also bewitched by the world and by Satan, that they may have no perception of the truth.




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