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,
Because we would not onward press
When close to Sion’s hill.
Back to the world we faithless turned,
And far along the wild,
With labour lost and sorrow earned,
Our steps have been beguiled.
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 abhorred,
Turn from us, and we die.
Thy guardian fire, Thy guiding cloud,
Still let them gild our wall,
Nor be our foes and Thine allowed
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!
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.