a Bible passage

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O that you would tear open the heavens and come down,

so that the mountains would quake at your presence—


as when fire kindles brushwood

and the fire causes water to boil—

to make your name known to your adversaries,

so that the nations might tremble at your presence!


When you did awesome deeds that we did not expect,

you came down, the mountains quaked at your presence.


From ages past no one has heard,

no ear has perceived,

no eye has seen any God besides you,

who works for those who wait for him.


You meet those who gladly do right,

those who remember you in your ways.

But you were angry, and we sinned;

because you hid yourself we transgressed.


We have all become like one who is unclean,

and all our righteous deeds are like a filthy cloth.

We all fade like a leaf,

and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.


There is no one who calls on your name,

or attempts to take hold of you;

for you have hidden your face from us,

and have delivered us into the hand of our iniquity.


Yet, O L ord, you are our Father;

we are the clay, and you are our potter;

we are all the work of your hand.


Do not be exceedingly angry, O L ord,

and do not remember iniquity forever.

Now consider, we are all your people.


Your holy cities have become a wilderness,

Zion has become a wilderness,

Jerusalem a desolation.


Our holy and beautiful house,

where our ancestors praised you,

has been burned by fire,

and all our pleasant places have become ruins.


After all this, will you restrain yourself, O L ord?

Will you keep silent, and punish us so severely?


10. The cities of thy holiness. The Church again recounts her miseries, that she may move God to mercy and obtain pardon. She says that the cities have been reduced to “a wilderness;” and, for the sake of amplification, adds that “Zion is a desert;” because it was the royal residence, in which God wished that men should call upon him. She adds also Jerusalem, in which Zion was; for it appeared to be shameful that a city, which God had consecrated to himself, should be ruined and destroyed by enemies.

She calls them “cities of holiness,” because, as the Lord had sanctified a people, so he also wished that the cities, and even the whole country, should be consecrated to himself. Seeing, therefore, that the cities were dedicated to God, they are justly called “cities of his holiness;” for in them God reigned, and men called upon him. In the same manner we may at the present day give the appellation of “cities of God’s holiness” to those which, laying aside superstitions, worship him in a sincere and right manner.

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