38
THE SECOND EVE

"The Lord then plainly came to His own; and whilst that of His own creating which He Himself sustains then sustained Himself, He wrought the undoing of that disobedience which took place with the tree [of knowledge] by that obedience which took place on the tree [of the Cross]. That seduction, too, was put an end to, whereby the virgin Eve, already destined for a husband, was evilly seduced. Of all these good tidings the Virgin Mary, already under a husband, was truly informed by the Angel. For as Eve was seduced by an angel's word so as to shun God, after she had transgressed His word, so Mary also by an Angel's word had the good tidings given her, that she might hear God, obeying His word. And if the former had disobeyed God, yet the latter was persuaded to obey God, that the Virgin Mary might be the advocate (paraclete) of the virgin Eve. And as the human race was bound to death by means of a virgin, it is saved by means of a Virgin; the poise of the balance being restored; a virgin's disobedience is saved by a Virgin's obedience. For while the sin of the protoplast was still receiving correction through that punishment of his, the prudence of the serpent having been overcome by the simplicity of the dove, we were set free from those chains by which we had been bound to death."*

Tertullian, A.D. 160-240, writes: --

"Now the whole of this new birth [of the Second Adam] was prefigured, as was the case in all other instances, in ancient type; the Lord being born as man by a dispensation in which a virgin was the medium. The earth was still in a virgin state, wrought as yet by no human labour, with no seed as yet cast into its furrows, when we are told God made man out of it into a living soul. As, then, the first Adam is thus introduced to us, it is a just inference that the Second Adam likewise, as the Apostle has told us, was formed by God into a quickening spirit out of the ground -- in other words, out of flesh as yet unstained by any human generation. But that I may not lose the opportunity of supporting my argument from the name of Adam, why, I ask, is Christ called Adam by the Apostle, unless it be that, as Man, He was of that earthly Virgin?+ And reason, too, here maintains the same conclusion: because it was by a rival operation that God recovered His own image and likeness, of which He had been robbed by the devil. For it was whilst Eve was yet a virgin that the word crept in, which was the framer of death. Into a Virgin, in like manner, must be introduced the Word of God who was the builder up of life: so that by that same sex whence had come our ruin, might also come our recovery to salvation. Eve had believed the serpent, Mary believed Gabriel. The fault which the one committed by believing, the other by believing blotted out. But it might be said, Eve conceived nothing in her womb from the devil's word. Nay, but she did conceive; for the devil's word became to her as seed, that she might conceive as an outcast, and bring forth in sorrow. She gave birth, in fact, to a fratricidal devil; whilst Mary, on the contrary, bare Him who was one day to save Israel, His own brother after the flesh and the murderer of Himself. God sent down therefore into the Virgin's womb His Word to be our true Brother, who should blot out the memory of that evil brother. Hence it was necessary that Christ should come forth for the salvation of man in that condition [of flesh] into which man had entered ever since his condemnation.++

In these passages Mary is set forth as the Second Eve, taking a part with Her Divine Son in our Redemption corresponding to the share which the first Eve had with Adam in our Fall; compensating by her faith and obedience for the unbelief and disobedience of the guilty Eve, and being thus an advocate with God in her behalf.


* Haer. v. 19. See S. Augustine's text of the passage. Contr. Jul. Pel. i. 5.

+ Or it might be interpreted: Were not the Man he is speaking of the true standard whereby to judge of the earthly one.

++ De Carne Christi, 17. Patr. Lat. Tom. 2, p. 782.

 

 

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