The birth of the Logos from a woman is a fact that is similar and analogous to our birth; and a comparison of the two similar and analogous facts throws light upon each and upon both and brings to light the truths hidden in them. For this reason let us study these two similar and analogous facts and compare them with each other, in order to learn the nature and value of each and infer from them truths that are of exceedingly great interest to us.
The generation of every human being has two factors: an Adam and an Eve, a man and a woman. The man introduces into the woman’s womb seed in which is the invisible substance of the man to be born, which becomes a soul; the woman receives the seed together with the substance in it. Round it, as the center and foundation of the whole man, the body is organized in accordance with the natural laws known to God; and after a period of nine months an imperfect infant is born that has need of nourishment, which is immediately found in the breast of the woman who gave birth to it and by whom it is nourished and grows. Therefore, the natural laws governing the conception, formation, and generation of a human being may be counted a third factor; for without the power and operation of the natural laws a man and woman cannot bring forth a human being. So man and woman, both earthy and substantial, earthly seed and natural laws – these are the factors of our birth. Let us now consider the factors of the birth of the Logos.
The begetting, or birth, of the Logos has as factors a virgin woman and God the Father, who bears the relation of a husband to her. Through an angel God calls the Virgin to conception, and she asks: “How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?” and she is told by the angel: “The Holy Spirit shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.” The Virgin receives the Logos, and wishes it to be to her as she was told; and she at once conceives the eternal substance of the Logos, upon which the Holy Spirit forms the living flesh of the Son of God out of the living flesh of the holy Virgin. Instead of the substantial seed of a human being, the Virgin received from God the eternal and only-begotten substance of the Logos together with the Holy Spirit, which Spirit operated in her instead of natural laws. Therefore, God and a Virgin woman, the substance of the Logos of God and the Holy Spirit – these are the factors of the birth of the Logos, equal in number to the factors of our birth, but in nature and value immeasurably superior; for the beginningless and eternal God is immeasurably superior to an earthly male, the holy Virgin to any woman, the substance of the Logos of God to the substantial and most paltry seed of a human being, and the Holy Spirit to the operation of natural laws. In consequence, our birth is inferior and subordinate to the superior and transcendent birth of the Logos.
The birth of the Logos, who had God and the holy Virgin for His parents, is characterized as the divinest, noblest, most venerable, highest, and unique in all Creation; the reason being that there is but one birth of the Logos, and there is no other like it among things born of womankind. The first and eternal birth, or generation, of the Logos from God is an only-begotten and noble one; His birth in time from a Virgin woman is also an only-begotten and noble one. Through the first the Logos became by nature a God of the same essence with the Father; by the second He became a human being of the same essence with the Mother; and through both births one and the same Logos is recognized as a perfect God and a perfect man, beyond the taint and sin of men, of the same essence with God the Father as respects divinity, and of the same essence with the Mother as respects humanity, having eternally the attributes of God’s perfect nature, and having in time acquired the attributes of human nature, having been nourished, having grown up, and having been perfectly developed, and having been deified in His divine substance. For He was born an infant child, who grew, and waxed strong in spirit, being filled with wisdom, until He become a mature and perfect man, and was anointed and consummated in the Jordan, and was witnessed from on high as the beloved Son, in whom and through whom the good God was pleased to have our salvation be effected.
Consequently, and in conformity with the two births of the Logos, two natures are also attributed to Him: the divine and the human; and two activities analogous to His two natures and wills, unconfusedly, unconvertibly, indivisibly, and inseparably, each of which acts its own part and preserves the properties that distinguish it, while both are harmoniously combined and co-exist in the one, identical substance of the Logos. For this reason the attributes of the divine nature cannot be predicated of the human nature, nor can the attributes of the human nature be predicated of the divine nature; yet both the former and the latter attributes can be predicated of the one, identical substance of the Logos, who is called Christ the Lord, God-man, God, and man, and receives and has all the attributes of each nature that go to compose it. When Christ is called the Son of God and God, He receives also the peculiarities of human nature, being called a passive and mortal God; not, however, as respects His divinity, but only as respects His humanity, to which these affections, or passions, are peculiar. But when He is called the Son of man, and a man, He receives also the peculiarities of divine nature, being called a pre-eternal and beginningless man; not, however, as respects His time-limited human flesh, but only as respects the eternity of His divine substance. In sum, all attributes, both divine and human, may be predicated of the substance of the Logos; but only those attributes may be predicated of each of His two natures which actually belong to it; that is to say, divine attributes are to be predicated of His divine nature, and human attributes of His human nature. Thus the Logos can be known as He was, and as He became, and as He now is – a perfect God and a perfect man, a single God-man, the Son of God eternally, and the Son of man in time, the beginning and the end of all Creation, which was brought into existence through Him and for His sake, to the glory and praise of God, His Father. Amen.
Thus is the birth of the Logos from a Virgin woman to be understood and explained, when compared with our birth; and thus by means of the two births of the Logos are His two natures, wills, and activities to be accounted for and explained, being unconfusedly united in one and the same substance; just as the fourth, fifth, and sixth Ecumenical Councils, or Synods, dogmatized in Holy Spirit, when refuting the heresies of the Monophysites and the Monotheletes, and the previous heresy of Nestorius, who admitted two substances instead of one, and denied the birth of the Logos from the holy Virgin and Mother of God. Here, too, science proves the dogmas of the Orthodox Church to be true as concerns the one substance of the Logos and His two natures, wills, and activities; while the antidogmatic heresies are proved to be false, and the heretics to have been deluded and led away from knowledge of the truth, and justly condemned and anathematized on account of the love they showed for falsehood and the aversion they manifested for the truth testified to by the holy Scriptures. The Holy Virgin who gave birth to the Logos is actually and truly the Mother of God, and a virgin even after His birth, that is, an ever-virgin. The proof of these titles is established by means of the following logical principle, or logical axiom.
Consequences naturally follow principles, and in conformity with the nature of the principles, the nature of their consequences is to be admitted. If, for instance, it be supposed that a virgin woman had intercourse with a man, the destruction of her maidenhead would follow as an immediate natural consequence; and when the destruction of the maidenhead becomes known, the connection of the virgin with a man may be inferred logically. Moreover, if the virgin who has had intercourse with a man should conceive, her connection with a man and the destruction of her maidenhead may be inferred from the conception; while her connection with a man, the destruction of her maidenhead, and the conception nine months ago may all be inferred from the fact of birth. But the human being born of this connection at the beginning of birth is naturally ignorant of his own birth and of the parents who have given birth to him. Such natural consequences always and everywhere follow the intercourse of a man with any virgin woman.
But one woman, a virgin, whose name was Mariam, or Mary, the daughter of Joachim and Anna, conceived of God divinely the divine substance of the Logos. From such a superior principle consequences of an inferior one cannot possibly follow; on the contrary superior consequences follow analogous to the nature of their superior principle, analogous to the divine conception divinely wrought of God. The Virgin who has divinely conceived of God necessarily remains a virgin, because there is lacking the cause of the destruction of the maidenhead, that is, the intercourse with a man. To ascribe to the holy God the destruction of a maidenhead, due to carnal intercourse, is highly unreasonable and blasphemous and unworthy of rational men. Only madmen and fools can utter such a blasphemous judgment against God. But be who remains a virgin after conception necessarily remains a virgin even after birth, the divine infant being unable to destroy a maidenhead undestroyed that is the sign of a supernatural, divine, and marvelous birth; a sign that is great in depth and in height, as God foretold through the mouth of that emphatic prophet Isaiah. “Therefore,” he says, “the Lord himself shall give you a sign: Behold, a virgin hall conceive, and bear a on, and hall call his name Emmanuel” (Isaiah 7:14), which is interpreted God-man. The great sign and miracle in depth and height is that a virgin woman should conceive God of God and give birth to a God-man; and the maidenhead before birth and after birth betokens the divine conception and the birth of Emmanuel as resulting from God. Therefore, Mariam is the Mother of God (Theotokos) and Ever-virgin (Aeiparthenos), while the Patriarch of Constantinople, Nestorius, is a heretic and misbeliever, whom the Third Ecumenical Council, or Synod, held in Ephesus, justly dismissed and anathematized because he denied both her ever-virginity and her motherhood of God, and held falsely and erroneously that the Virgin conceived and bore, not God the Logos Himself, but a mere man.
But a mere man can be neither conceived nor born without the seed of a man. Accordingly, if the Virgin had borne a mere man, in agreement with the blasphemous assertion of Nestorius, the conception, too, must have been from a man, and not from God. But the Gospel account disproves the blasphemous hypothesis and its consequence; for, on hearing from the angel that she should conceive in the womb and bear a Son, the Virgin asked in perplexity: “How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?” And she was told the solution to her perplexity by the angel, who said: “The Holy Spirit shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.” These words of the angel obviously refute the “mere man” of Nestorius, and the manner in which a mere man is conceived and born.
They confirm, moreover, the divine conception divinely wrought of God of the begotten Logos, and the birth of a God-man and not of a mere man. The ever-virginity of the Mother of God is a natural consequence of the conception from God, just as the destruction of the maidenhead of women is a natural consequence of their intercourse with men, whether conception follows or not.
The woman who conceives from God, naturally and necessarily brings forth a God-man, Emmanuel according to the Bible, and not a mere man; just as any woman who conceives from a man necessarily brings forth a mere man, and not a God-man. To predicate the destruction of the maidenhead of a woman who has not known a man and to call the God-man born of her a mere man, are illogicalities, falsehoods, and blasphemies exposed by right reason; and were justly condemned and anathematized by the unerring Church. Demonstrative science, too, in agreement with the dogmas of the Church, contends that the Virgin conceived of God and bore a God in the shape of a man, or a God-man; and that she is really and truly the Mother of God and an Ever-virgin; for the Virgin, not having known a man, remained a virgin, the divine birth being unable to destroy her indestructible maidenhead, the great sign of the divine, marvelous, and wonderful birth. Really and truly, therefore, the Mother of our Lord Jesus Christ is the Mother of God, and Ever-virgin, being proved both logically and scientifically; and this proof should suffice to silence and shame both faithless and foolish heretics who have dared to ascribe the affections and attributes of human birth to divine birth, violating reason and failing to note that consequences follow according to principles, and that it would be illogical to ascribe the consequences of human birth to divine birth but deny the natural consequences of the principles of the birth of the Logos. The principles of the birth of the Logos are God and a virgin woman; the substance of the Logos and the Holy Spirit, from all of whom a God-man and not a mere man is naturally and logically born; and the Mother of the God-man is truly and justly lauded and blessed as the Mother of God and Ever-virgin. Moreover, the childbearing of the Mother of God took place not in accordance with nature and reason, but in accordance with a unique and superlative divine nature much superior to our own nature and birth. The ecclesiastical phrases, “above nature” (supernatural) and “above reason and understanding” (transcendental) are to be taken relatively to our nature and the consequences and meanings resulting from it, which, of course, the divine nature and birth exclude.
Thus, the anthropology of the Logos gives an understanding of the Logos from the time that He became a man, and thus proves by the light of science the truth of the dogmas of the Orthodox Church, as well as the fallacies and blasphemies of the heretics, who have been given over to a reprobate mind to think and do improper things, because they did not care to keep aware of God, who enlightens, disciplines, and guides to all truth all who are upright in heart and who sincerely love truth and hate falsehood. In the Ecumenical Councils that have been held, those who sincerely loved the truth were enlightened by the Holy Spirit, and saw it and dogmatized it; the obstinate heretics, on the other hand, were blinded, and saw perversely falsehood as truth and truth as falsehood, and, though admonished again and again and called upon to change their minds, they would not adopt a sensible point of view nor be persuaded. They were justly, therefore, anathematized and cut off from the Church in accordance with the word and commandment of Christ, “If he shall neglect to hear the church, let him be as a heathen man and a publican.”