(We here behold only shadows, etc., p.335.)
Schleiermacher, in commenting on Plato's Symposium, remarks: |Even natural birth (i.e., in Plato's system) was nothing but a reproduction of the same eternal form and idea....The whole discussion displays the gradation, not only from that pleasure which arises from the contemplation of personal beauty through that which every larger object, whether single or manifold, may occasion, to that immediate pleasure of which the source is in the Eternal Beauty,| etc. Our author ennobles such theorizing by mounting up to the great I Am.
(Christ Himself is the one who is born, p.337.)
Wordsworth, and many others of the learned, sustain our author's comment on this passage. So Aquinas, ad loc., Bede, and many others. Methodius is incorrectly represented as rejecting the idea that |the woman| is the Blessed Virgin Mary, for no such idea existed for him to reject. He rejects the idea that the man-child is Christ; but that idea was connected with the supposition that the woman was the Church of the Hebrews bringing forth the Messiah. Gregory the Great regards the woman as the Christian Church. So Hippolytus: |By the woman...is meant most manifestly the Church, endued with the Father's Word, whose brightness is above the sun,| etc. Bossuet says candidly, |C'est l'Église, tout éclatante de la lumière de J. C.,| etc.
Now, note the progress of corruption, one fable engendering another. The text of Gen. iii.15, contrary to the Hebrew, the Seventy, the Syriac, and the Vulgate itself, in the best mss., is made to read, |She shall bruise thy head,| etc. The |woman,| therefore, becomes the Mother of our Lord, and the |great red dragon| (of verse 3), from which the woman |fled into the wilderness,| is next represented as under her feet (where the moon appears in the sacred narrative); and then the Immaculate Conception of her Holy Seed is transferred back to the mother of Mary, who is indecently discussed, and affirmed to have been blest with an |Immaculate Conception| when, in the ordinary process of nature, she was made the mother of the Virgin. So, then, the bull Ineffabilis -- comes forth, eighteen hundred years after the event, with the announcement that what thousands of saints and many bishops of Rome have denounced as a fable must be received by all Christians on peril of eternal damnation. The worst of it all is the fact, that, as the mystery of the Incarnation of the Son of God has heretofore been the only |Immaculate Conception| known to the faith of Christendom, thousands now imagine that this is what was only so lately set forth, and what we must therefore renounce as false.