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§ 1. The Presence of God.

RECALL and turn thy mind frequently to the Lord thy God, and walk reverently before Him, who is everywhere by the presence of His majesty and the greatness of His power. For He Himself saith by His Prophet, “I fill heaven and earth” (Jerem. xxiii. 24). He is everywhere present; but no place contains 169Him, no place encloses Him. He is everywhere whole and undivided; yet He is uncontaminated by any uncleanness. Sensible defilement is not attributed to objects of sense as they are conceived by the mind, but as they are perceived by the senses. Nothing is unclean to God except sin, by which He cannot be defiled, as the sun’s rays are not corrupted by shining in filthy places.

If thou enquirest, where was God before He created the world? 1 answer, that He was with Himself, He was in Himself, and now, after the creation of the world, He is in Himself. God, therefore, who is everywhere, penetrates all creatures, and by His simple and occult Essence is nearer to them than they are to themselves. From Him it comes that all things are, since all created things depend upon Him, and with out Him all things are nothing, and speedily relapse into nothingness unless they are preserved by Him. All things are in God, who sustains and rules them by His power. Wherefore St. Paul saith in the Acts of the Apostles, that “in God we live, and move, and be” (Acts xvii. 28). Moreover, all things are in God ideally; for the ideas, or intelligible forms of all things, were from eternity in the mind and knowledge of God, and therein they abide, fixed and unchangeable; and, being one with God, are life in Him, whose being is life; and God Himself, or the Divine Essence, is the one idea and one pattern of all things, intellectually representing all things. Hence, when St. John the Evangelist had said that all things were made by the Eternal Word of God, and without Him 170nothing was made, he added: “that which was made was life in Him” (St. John i. 3, 4).77   Many of the early Fathers followed the reading given above, and they explained the words of the Evangelist, as follows. All created things, before they came into being, existed, not in themselves, but in God; just as a house, before it is built, exists in the mind of the architect who has designed it. And since, by reason of God’s simplicity, whatever is in God is God and is life, therefore all created things, as they exist ideally in God, are life.

As we have said, God is in all things. He is in a most noble manner in rational creatures, stamped with His image, although He be far removed from the perception of the impious. For every wicked man is removed from God by dissimilitude, as every pious man approaches Him by likeness. Therefore God is present to the good by the saving bestowal of His grace; to the citizens of heaven He is present by the bright manifestation of His glory; to the lost by the congruous execution of His justice. Happy is that soul which, sincerely loving God, in this exile knows how to contemplate His presence (with the help of His grace) by the free, bright, serene, and simple perception of the mind!

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