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I.

CONCEPTION1

I

IT

T is so difficult for me to enter into the feelings of a person who understands the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception, and yet objects to it, that I am diffident about attempting to speak on the subject. I was accused of holding it, in one of the

This Memorandum is given as written off by the Cardinal for Mr. R. I. Wilberforce, formerly Archdeacon Wilberforce, to aid him in meeting the objections urged by some Protestant friends against the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception. The italics are the Cardinal's.

The Memorandum and the Extract which follows are inserted as an endeavour to par tially meet the Cardinal's wish that an instruction on the subject of each of the four portions of the Litany should accompany each division ; a wish which the Cardinal could not himself

first books I wrote, twenty years ago. On the other hand, this very fact may be an argument against an objector-for why should it not have been difficult to me at that time, if there were a real difficulty in receiving it?

2. Does not the objector consider that Eve was created, or born, without original sin? Why does

not this shock him? Would he have been inclined to worship Eve in that first estate of hers? Why, then, Mary?

3. Does he not believe that St. John Baptist had the grace of God -ie. was regenerated, even before his birth? What do we believe of Mary, but that grace was given her at a still earlier period? All we say is, that grace was given

fulfil owing to his continued disappointment in regard to the loss of certain notes which he had intended to make use of. It was not till he felt himself too ill to begin writing afresh that he knew the notes would not be forthcoming at all, and he therefore recommended the use of something already written by him to supply the want, mentioning in particular his sermon on the Annunciation. This disappointment also hindered his giving the Meditations his final revision. [W.N.]

1 Parochial and Plain Sermons, vol. ii.

her from the first moment of her

existence.

4. We do not say that she did not owe her salvation to the death of her Son. Just the contrary, we say that she, of all mere children of Adam, is in the truest sense the fruit and the purchase of His Passion. He has done for her more than for anyone else. To others He gives grace and regeneration at a point in their earthly existence; to her, from the very beginning.

5. We do not make her nature different from others. Though, as St. Austin says, we do not like to name her in the same breath with mention of sin, yet, certainly she would have been a frail being, like Eve, without the grace of God. A more abundant gift of grace made her what she was from the first. It was not her nature which secured her perseverance, but the excess of grace which hindered Nature acting as Nature ever will act. There is no difference in kind between her and us, though an inconceivable difference of degree. She and we

are both simply saved by the grace of Christ.

Thus, sincerely speaking, I really do not see what the difficulty is, and should like it set down distinctly in words. I will add that the above statement is no private statement of my own. I never heard of any Catholic who ever had any other view. I never heard of any other put forth by

anyone.

II

Next, Was it a primitive doctrine? No one can add to revelation. That was given once for all; --but as time goes on, what was given once for all is understood more and more clearly. The greatest Fathers and Saints in this sense have been in error, that, since the matter of which they spoke had not been sifted, and the Church had not spoken, they did not in their expressions do justice to their own real meaning. E.g. (1) the Athanasian Creed says that the Son is 'immensus' (in the Protes

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