God's Omnipresence

The Lord is here! awful thought! – the just the holy God, who cannot endure sin in his sight, is present! – how then can I appear before him all sinful and polluted? – O whither shall I fly from his presence? what gloomy cave, what impenetrable shade shall I seek, to hide me from his glorious eye? – Vain enquiry!

One single glance, one piercing ray,

Would kindle darkness into day. WATTS.

Lord thou knowest my down-sitting and my uprising, thou understandest my thoughts afar off, thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways.

Thou see’st my heart though every winding maze,

Each secret rising thought thine eye surveys.

What then can I do, but fall prostrate in the dust before thee, acknowledge my guilt and beg for mercy? – But oh! how can I open my polluted lips in the presence of infinite purity! what argument shall I use? – I deserve nothing at thy hand but immediate punishment, irretrievable perdition! – Lord I humbly plead the all-sufficient merits and righteousness of Jesus thy beloved son! Jesus, the Mediator, Redeemer and Intercessor! I fly to his atoning cleansing blood! O let the powerful influences of thy holy Spirit apply it, with almighty efficacy, to my soul! Let thy abounding grace remove my guilt, and purge away my every deadly stain in that sacred fountain! Wash me and I shall be whiter than snow! Then shall I approach thy throne with humble confidence, and rejoice in the delightful thought, that God, my God, is ever present with me!

Tremble my soul with awful conscious fear,

The Lord, the God of holiness is here!

Ye sins and empty vanities, depart,

Too long, alas, you have possest my heart.

Hence to eternal distance fly,

Nor dare the lightnings of his eye,

Dreadfully keen they pierce the soul and every thought descry.

In vain I bid my lurking foes be gone:

Lord, ’tis thy grace, thy mighty grace alone,

Can drive them hence and all my guilt forgive;

O speak the powerful word and bid me live!

Life flows amid the crimson tide

Which issued from the wounded side

Of Jesus when for guilty man, he suffer’d, groan’d and died!

O let it flow to my polluted heart,

And life, and health, and purity, impart!

The sacred flood shall wash my sins away;

Thy glories then shall shine with kindest ray,

(Unmix’d with terrors) round my trembling soul,

And sovereign mercy all my fears controul.

Then shall the thought inspire delight,

That I am in my Father’s sight,

And thy bright presence bless mine eyes with beams of heavenly light.

Let me pursue the reviving thought. – If God is my Father, my reconciled God and Father, through a Redeemer, what consolation will the reflection afford, that he is ever present with me? – What have I then to fear or wish? what though I am surrounded with dangers, the Lord is here! in his gracious presence is safety, beneath his kind protecting care, no danger can approach me. – Though beset with enemies on every side, and sin and hell unite with dreadful power, and threaten my destruction: my God is present! and greater is he that is with me than they which are against me. His almighty arm is my defence, he can controul their utmost rage, can give me strength to resist, and make me more than conqueror.

One beam of glory from his radiant face

Can drive the powers of darkness all away.

And when pain and sickness assault this feeble frame, and the shades of death hang black and heavy o’er me, O my god, let thy kind hand support me, let thy cheering voice speak divine consolation to my drooping soul! and pain and sickness can never hurt me: let thy blissful smiles irradiate the dismal gloom, and all its terrors shall vanish! – Bless’d with thy gracious presence what have I to wish? earth’s vain allurements lose their charms, nor all the joys it can bestow are worth one faint desire!

No more their faded lustre strikes the sight

Than tapers dying in meridian light!

Were all created beauty sunk in darkness, and every charm of nature, every delight of sense withdrawn for ever – blest with thy gracious presence I should not mourn their loss! thy gracious presence can create a paradise of light and joy amid the gloomy desart!

Should the world frown, and all its pleasures fly,

Should every earthly comfort disappear,

And all the charms of nature sink in darkness!

If thou art with me, if thou art my God,

Am I not happy? can I wish for more?

Thy gracious presence well supplies the loss

Of earthly bliss, and yields superior joy

To all that universal nature boasts!

My God, O may I call thee mine indeed!

And may the humble breathings of my soul

Accepted rise, before thy throne of grace,

In his dear name, his all-sufficient merits,

Who died, and rose, and intercedes above

For guilty rebels! reconcil’d in him

Smile on my soul, all placid and serene!

O let thy gracious visits cheer my heart

In this sad wilderness, and light my passage

Through the last gloomy scene, the shades of death!

Then raise me to those bright those blest abodes,

Where thy kind presence with unclouded ray

For ever shines! full joys for ever smile,

And pleasure triumphs in immortal bloom!

Text: Text: STE 3/4, no. 13, Steele Collection, Angus Library, Regent's Park College, Oxford; Miscellaneous Pieces in Verse and Prose, 1780, pp. 194-98; also Nonconformist Women Writers, vol. 2, ed. Julia B. Griffin, pp. 236-38.