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67. Catholic Devotion to the Virgin.

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There is some ingenuity as well as some nonsense in this rhapsodical address to the great Goddess of the Roman Catholics.

“You, O Mother of God, are the spiritual Paradise of the second Adam; the delicate cabinet of that divine marriage which was made betwixt the two natures; the great hall wherein was celebrated the world’s general reconciliation; you are the nuptial bed of the eternal word; the bright cloud carrying him who hath the cherubins for his chariot; the fleece of wool filled with the sweet dew of heaven, whereof was made that admirable robe of our royal Shepherd, in which he vouchsafed to look after his lost sheep; you are the maid and the mother, the humble Virgin and the high heaven both together; you are the sacred bridge 124whereby God himself descended to the earth; you are that piece of cloth whereof was composed the glorious garment of hypostatical union, where the worker was the Holy Ghost, the hand the virtue of the Most High, the wool the old spoils of Adam, the woof your own immaculate flesh, and the shuttle God’s incomparable goodness, which freely gave us the ineffable person of the word incarnate.

“You are the container of the incomprehensible; the root of the world’s first, best, and most beautiful flower; the mother of him who made all things; the nurse of him who provides nourishment for the whole universe; the bosom of him who unfolds all being within his breast; the unspotted robe of him who is clothed with light as with a garment; you are the sally-port through which God penetrated into the world; you are the pavilion of the Holy Ghost; and you are the furnace into which the Almighty hath particularly darted the most fervent 125sun-beams of his dearest love and affection.

“All hail! fruitful earth, alone proper and only prepared to bring forth the bread corn by which we are all sustained and nourished; happy leaven, which hath given relish to Adam’s whole race, and seasoned the paste whereof the true life-giving and soul-saving bread was composed; ark of honour in which God himself was pleased to repose, and where very glory itself became sanctified; golden pitcher, containing him who provides sweet manna from heaven, and produces honey from the rock to satisfy the appetites of his hungry people; you are the admirable house of God’s humiliation, through whose door he descended to dwell among us; the living book wherein the Father’s eternal word was written by the pen of the Holy Ghost. You are pleasing and comely as Jerusalem, and the aromatical odours issuing from your garments outvie all the delights of Mount 126Lebanus; you are the sacred pix of celestial perfumes, whose sweet exhalations shall never be exhausted; you are the holy oil, the unextinguishable lamp, the unfading flower, the divinely-woven purple, the royal vestment, the imperial diadem, the throne of the divinity, the gate of Paradise, the queen of the universe, the cabinet of life, the fountain ever flowing with celestial illustrations.

“All hail the divine lanthorn encompassing that crystal lamp whose light outshines the sun in its mid-day splendour; the spiritual sea whence the world’s richest pearl was extracted; the radiant sphere, inclosing him within your sacred folds, whom the heavens cannot contain within their vast circumference; the celestial throne of God, more glistering than that of the glorious cherubims, the pure temple, tabernacle, and seat of the divinity.

” You are the well-fenced orchard, the 127fruitful border, the fair and delicate garden of sweet flowers, embalming the earth and air with their odoriferous fragrance, yet shut up and secured from any enemy’s entrance and irruption; you are the holy fountain, sealed with the signet of the most sacred Trinity, from whence the happy waters of life inflow upon the whole universe; you are the happy city of God, whereof such glorious things are every where sung and spoken.

“Jesus, Maria, Joseph, or the Devout Pilgrim of the Ever-Blessed Virgin Mary, in his Holy Exercises, Affections, and Elevations, upon the sacred Mysteries of Jesus, Maria, Joseph” Amsterdam, 1657.

The volume from whence these Flores Catholicæ are extracted has more pious finger unction upon it than any other in my library. Great is Diana of the Ephesians!

There is nothing in which the ingenuity of the papists has been more amusingly 128exercised than in converting the Old Testament into types of their own creature-worship. This address to their Magna Mater is a good instance. A more curious one is in one of the pictures in the Vatican, which in Lassels’s time, was over the long room leading to the gallery of maps. “At the first looking upon it, he says, you see nothing but certain types or figures of the blessed sacrament, out of the Old Testament; but being placed directly under it, and looking upwards, you see all the fore-said types contracted into the form of a chalice and an host over it, to shew that those old types and shadows prefigured only the Body and Blood of our Saviour, in the holy sacrifice of the altar.”

Italian Voyage, Part 2. 2d edit. p 36.