Exodus 33:14--"And He said, My presence shall go with
The children of Israel had grievously sinned--the cloudy
pillar had disappeared--the anger of the Lord was kindled, and the courage
of Moses failed. Earnestly he pleaded in behalf of the erring people, and at
length he prevailed. The Lord assured His servant, that His gracious
presence would still accompany him, in leading Israel to Canaan, the
God's presence! Reader! reflect on this high honor.
That He who reigns supreme amid the hosts of heaven--who is King of kings
and Lord of lords, should condescend to become the friend, the companion of
sinful, erring man. Was ever pilgrim more honored? ever traveler in better
company? Yet God has ever been, and ever will be, the companion of those who
fear Him. Enoch walked with God. Abram was addressed in these words--"Walk
before Me, and be perfect." Christian! have you not also realized the
fulfillment of the gracious promise? "Yes," methinks I hear you say, "It has
been the mainstay--the very life of my faith and trust, in the hour of
trial--it has enabled me to lift up my head on high, and to exclaim, even
from the deep waters, 'Yet will I rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God
of my salvation.'"
To the true believer, there is no promise so precious and
encouraging--it nerves him for conflict--fills him with peace, and animates
him with hope. With God by his side, what enemy need he fear? what path
refuse to enter? Is he stripped of worldly prosperity? He has One who
can a thousandfold make up for the loss. Is he called to resign the loved
and the cherished, and to pass through the troubled waters of affliction? "I
am still with you," calms the anguish of his soul, and is as balm to the
wounded spirit. Whatever else maybe taken from him, he knows that if "he
keeps near to God, God will keep near to him;" that, amid flame and flood,
amid storm and calm, in pain and health, in peril and safety, "the eternal
God will be his refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms."
Reader! do you sometimes feel that God is not near to
you--that your confidence, your faith, your strength have failed you? Ah!
may not this be the reason? You have wandered from God. His presence is
near, but you perceive it not, The world--its joys, and pleasures, and
cares, have come between, and darkness is spreading, all around and within
you. Oh! hasten to your Father and your God; away from these passing
vanities, and, again, He will take you by the hand, and lift up upon you the
light of His countenance. Let our past experience of "the joy of His
presence" constrain you to "count all things else but loss"--that you may
have the fulfillment, the realization of this sweet promise.
For, if ever you have truly known what it is to have "God
by your side," then you know how precious, how delightful is the
companionship. It can make the cottage bright and warm; it can sweeten the
hard crust, and make even a cup of water blessed; it can inspire the soul
with peace and triumph, in the dark night season of sorrow; and breathe
sweet music over the scene of sadness and of gloom. Has it not, in times
past, hushed the tempestuous billows, with the gentle command, "Peace, be
still?" Has it not filled the dungeon with the voice of praise, and made the
inner prison re-echo with the songs of joy? Has it not enabled many a tried
believer to say–
"Let good or ill befall,
It must be good for me;
Secure of having You in all,
Of having all in Thee."
Christian! Be it yours to "walk with God;"--strive to
behold Him, by faith, amid your joys and sorrows--in the family, and in the
world--in the secrecy of the closet, and in the daily walks of life. See
Him, as He fills your cup and makes it run over. See Him, as He dashes it
from your lips, not in anger, but to draw you to Himself. See Him, in the
smiles and love of the unbroken family circle, and in the sorrow and sadness
which you must feel, as you gaze on the empty chair, or the picture
on the wall. See Him, leading you onward, step by step, never failing nor
forsaking you, but "faithful unto all His promises." Let this be the
language of your soul–
"What though the world deceitful prove,
And earthly friends and joys remove,
With patient, uncomplaining love
Still would I cling to You!
"Oft', when I seem to tread alone
Some barren waste, with thorns o'ergrown,
Your voice of love, in tenderest tone,
Whispers, 'Still cling to me!'
"Now that the sun is gleaming bright,
Implore we, bending low,
That He, the uncreated Light,
May guide us as we go.
"No sinful word, nor deed of wrong,
Nor thoughts that idly rove;
But simple truth be on our tongue,
And in our hearts be love.
"And while the hours in order flow,
O Christ, securely fence
Our gates, beleaguered by the foe–
The gate of every sense.
"And grant that to Your honor, Lord,
Our daily toil may tend,
That we begin it at Your word,
And in Your favor end."
–Translation of an old Mediaeval Hymn