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is as necessary for our life as the air we breathe, or as the watery element is for the fish that move through it. Not even a bird "shall fall on the ground without your Father."1
But while God exists in all His creatures by His essence, knowledge, and power, He 'is present with the chosen members of the human family in a still more intimate manner. He dwells in them by His friendship, grace, and love. It is of this mysterious indwelling that the Prophet Jeremias speaks when he says: "Behold the days shall come, saith the Lord, and I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Juda: not according to the covenant which I made with their fathers. But this shall be the covenant that I shall make with the house of Israel: I will give My law in their bowels, and I will write it in their heart and I will be their God, and they shall be my people."2 I will not again call Moses to Me on the mount, but I will descend into the valley of your heart, and "all thy children shall be taught of the Lord, and great shall be the peace of thy children."3 I will no longer fix My seat in Jerusalem alone, but I will establish My throne in every devout soul. There will I lovingly dwell. And My eyes shall be open and my ears attentive to the prayers of him that shall pray to Me within this living sanctuary.
It is of this Divine Presence that the Apostle
1 Matt. X., 29.
2 Jer. XXXI., 31-33.
* Isaias LIV., 13.
speaks when he says: "Know ye not that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? But if any man violate the temple of God, him shall God destroy. For the temple of God is holy, which you are."1
It is of this sacred indwelling that our Lord speaks when He says: "If any one love Me, My Father will love Him, and We will come to him, and will make our abode with him." 2
It was thus that God abode with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; with Moses, Josue, and David, with His Prophets and Apostles, whom He so often addresses in these words: "Behold, I am with you." I am with you by My knowledge to witness and approve; by My power to defend and encourage; and by My grace to sanctify.
1 I. Cor. III., 16, 17.
2 John XIV., 23.
LESSONS DRAWN FROM THE RECOGNITION OF GOD'S PRESENCE.
There are some persons who affect not to see any relation between faith and morals, between intellectual conviction and practical duties. They are fond of using this popular maxim: It matters not what I believe, provided I am an honest man. But this maxim is more plausible than solid. Religion without fixed belief is sentimental, emotional, and vapory; it evaporates at the first breeze of temptation.
The superstructure of moral integrity must rest on the solid basis of dogmatic truth and intellectual conviction. How can I love God, unless I believe in Him as the Author of my being and the Source of every blessing that I receive?
How can I love my neighbor, unless I recognize him as my brother, descended from the same primeval parents, and redeemed by the same Precious Blood of Jesus Christ?
How can I be always honest and equitable toward him, unless I am convinced that there is a Supreme
Judge who will hold me responsible for every violation of my just obligations?
How can I be induced always to tell truth even against my personal interests, unless I am persuaded that, for every lying word of which I may be guilty, I shall have to render an account on the Day of Judgment?
How can I be moved to avoid secret sins and to curb my passions, unless I am confronted with the thought that the all-seeing eye of God, who loves righteousness and hates iniquity, is upon me?
How could consecrated virgins immolate themselves on the altar of charity, daily make their rounds through the hospital, unless they were conscious that the eye of God is upon them, saying to them what He said to Abraham: "Fear not, for I am with you, and I will be your reward exceeding great."
There never was a martyr or hero that was not a man of strong faith and earnest convictions.
I do not know of any revealed truth that can exercise so dominant an influence on our moral conduct as the belief in the abiding presence of God. The more we are penetrated with this thought, the more perfectly shall we possess interior freedom, indifference to human judgment, and a habitual disposition to rectitude of conduct.
I shall draw four obvious inferences from the truths I have laid down.
1o. God seeth me. He readeth the hidden thoughts of my heart, and He is a God who hateth
iniquity. Should not this salutary reflection deter me from sin? Who, I ask, would conceal his impiety under the veil of hypocrisy, if the fact were brought home to him that there are no successful hypocrites with God? Who would presume to nurse a spirit of resentment, did he reflect that his inmost thoughts are known to One who calls the revengeful man a spiritual murderer? Who could, with an easy conscience, indulge in unchaste desires, did he bear in mind that his heart is open to the eyes of the Lord, who condemns lascivious affections not less than illicit actions? Who would stealthily defraud his neighbor, did he remember that the eye of the great Detective is upon him, and that He will exact even to the last farthing? Who would not tremble to tell a deliberate lie, did he remember that he lies before the God of truth? "Thou hast not lied to men, but to God," said Peter to Ananias. Who would bear false witness against his neighbor, did he reflect that the Supreme Judge is at that moment passing sentence upon him and recording his condemnation in the Book of Life?
God seeth me! How many thousands has this simple reflection preserved from sin! How many others has it drawn out of the vortex of crime! was this thought that made Joseph exclaim: "How can I sin before my God?" It was this truth that filled the guilty David with compunction when