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EIGHTEENTH SUNDAY AFTER TRINITY

I will bring you into the wilderness of the people, and there will I plead with you face to face. Like as pleaded with your fathers in the wilderness of the land of Egypt, so will I plead with you, saith the Lord God. Ezekiel xx. 35, 36.

It is so — ope thine eyes, and see —

What viewest thou all around?

A desert, where iniquity

And knowledge both abound.

In the waste howling wilderness

The Church is wandering still,9393Revelations xii. 14.

Because we would not onward press

When close to Sion’s hill.

Back to the world we faithless turn’d,

And far along the wild,

With labour lost and sorrow earn’d,

Our steps have been beguil’d.

Yet full before us, all the while,

The shadowing pillar stays,

The living waters brightly smile,

The eternal turrets blaze,

Yet Heaven is raining angels’ bread

To be our daily food,

And fresh, as when it first was shed,

Springs forth the Saviour’s blood.

From every region, race, and speech,

Believing myriads throng,

Till, far as sin and sorrow reach,

Thy grace is spread along;

Till sweetest nature, brightest art,

Their votive incense bring,

And every voice and every heart

Own Thee their God and King.

All own; but few, alas! will love;

Too like the recreant band

That with Thy patient spirit strove

Upon the Red-sea strand.

O Father of long-suffering grace,

Thou who hast sworn to stay

Pleading with sinners face to face

Through all their devious way:

How shall we speak to Thee, O Lord,

Or how in silence lie?

Look on us, and we are abhorr’d,

Turn from us, and we die.

Thy guardian fire, Thy guiding cloud,

Still let them gild our wall,

Nor be our foes and Thine allow’d

To see us faint and fall.

Too oft, within this camp of Thine,

Rebellions murmurs rise;

Sin cannot bear to see Thee shine

So awful to her eyes.

Fain would our lawless hearts escape,

And with the heathen be,

To worship every monstrous shape

In fancied darkness free.

Vain thought, that shall not be at all!9494That which cometh into your mind shall not be at all, that ye say, We will be as the heathen, as the families of the countries, to serve wood and stone. Ezekiel xx. 32.

Refuse we or obey,

Our ears have heard the Almighty’s call,

We cannot be as they.

We cannot hope the heathen’s doom

To whom God’s Son is given,

Whose eyes have seen beyond the tomb,

Who have the key of Heaven.

Weak tremblers on the edge of woe,

Yet shrinking from true bliss,

Our rest must be “no rest below,.”

And let our prayer be this:

Lord, wave again Thy chastening rod,

Till every idol throne

Crumble to dust, and Thou, O God,

Reign in our hearts alone.

“Bring all our wandering fancies home,

For Thou hast every spell,

And ’mid the heathen where they roam,

Thou know’st, Lord, too well.

“Thou know’st our service sad and hard,

Thou know’st us fond and frail;

Win us to be belov’d and spar’d

When all the world shall fail.

“So when at last our weary days

Are well-nigh wasted here,

And we can trace Thy wondrous ways

In distance calm and clear,

“When in Thy love and Israel’s sin

We read our story true,

We may not, all too late, begin

To wish our hopes were new.

“Long lov’d, long tried, long spar’d as they,

Unlike in this alone,

That, by Thy grace, our hearts shall stay

For evermore Thine own.”


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