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§ 9. The Miraculous Conception demanded à priori, and confirmed à posteriori.

IF, then, we conceive the manifestation of Christ to have been a super natural communication of the. Divine nature for the moral renewal of man, a new beginning in the chain of human progress; in one word, if we conceive it as a miracle, this conception itself, apart from any historical accounts, would lead us to form some notion of the beginning of his human life that would harmonize with it.

It is true, this human life of Christ took its appointed place in the course of historical events—nay, all history was arranged with reference to its incorporation; yet it entered into history; not as part of its offspring, but as a higher element. Whatever has its origin in the natural course of humanity must bear the stamp of humanity; must share in the sinfulness which stains it, and take part in the strifes which distract it. It was impossible, therefore, that the second Adam, the Divine progenitor of a new and heavenly race, could derive his origin from the first Adam in the ordinary course of nature, or could represent the type of the species, the people, or the family from which he sprung, as do the common children of men. We must conceive him, not as an individual representative of the type which descended from our first parents, but as the creative origin of a new type. And so our own idea of Christ compels us to admit that two factors, the one natural, the other supernatural, were coefficient in his entrance into human life; and this, too, although we may be unable, à priori, to state how that entrance was accomplished.

But at this point the historical accounts come to our aid, by testifying that what our theory of the case requires did, in fact, occur. The essential part of the history is found precisely in those features in which the idea and the reality harmonize; and we must not only hold fast these essential facts which are so important to the interests of religion, but carefully distinguish them from unimportant and accidental parts, which might, perhaps, be involved in obscurity or contradiction.

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