by John MacDuff
Day 21 through 31
21st Morning—SALVATION TO THE UTTERMOST
"Therefore he is able also to save to the uttermost, all who come unto God by him, seeing he ever lives to make intercession for them." Hebrews 7:25
O Lord, I desire to draw near into Your merciful presence as to a most loving Father, and joyfully pay my morning sacrifice. Glory be to You for watching over me during another night—giving me the refreshment of sleep, and permitting me to awake in health and strength. May this be to me the emblem of a better waking in the morning of immortality, to partake with Yourself of endless life.
All my trust is in the atoning sacrifice of the Great High Priest—the covenant Angel at Your right hand—the ever-living, ever-loving Intercessor, who is pleading the cause I cannot plead for myself, and who never pleads in vain. May He receive my imperfect prayers into His fragrant censer—that all unworthy in themselves, sprinkled with the incense of His adorable merits, they may ascend with acceptance before the Throne.
Most Gracious God, how insensible have I proved to the multiplied tokens of Your love and kindness. Your mercies have been unworthily requited, my duties have been perfunctorily performed. Corruption within has responded to temptation from without. There has been too often pride where there should have been humility—resentment where there should have been forgiveness—unbelief where there should have been trust—murmuring where there should have been submission and resignation. For Your name's sake, O Lord, pardon my iniquity, for it is great. A sinner to the uttermost, I rejoice that, in Your dear Son, there is salvation to the uttermost. "If any man sins, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous—and He is the Propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world." I rejoice in Him as the very Savior I need. While omnipotence slumbers in His arm, He is touched with a fellow-feeling for all my infirmities. He can enter, with tender sensitiveness, into every temptation that crosses my path, and into every pang that rends my heart. O Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, have mercy upon me! O Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, grant me Your peace! This is Your name and Your memorial throughout all generations, "Mighty to save." I would lay hold anew on the blood besprinkled horns of the altar; and listen to Your voice of power and grace and love saying, "Your sins which are many are all forgiven you."
Give to me, I beseech You, salvation from the power, as well as from the guilt, of sin. This is Your will concerning me, even my sanctification. Keep me from all hardness of heart and contempt of Your holy word and commandment—from envy and malice—from pride and vain-glory—from vanity and lies—from tampering with temptation in any form, and thus endangering my present peace and imperiling my soul's everlasting interests. Guard every loophole by which any spiritual foe might enter. Give me resolute energy of will, to resist and to endure as seeing Him who is invisible. I rejoice that, in the extremity of my own weakness, I have the promise of Almighty strength, and that too "abundantly above all that I can ask or think." I can do all things through Christ strengthening me. In the calm and assured hope of forgiveness in Him—a saving interest in His great salvation; and with the promised aids of the Holy Spirit, may I go from strength to strength, from grace to grace, from virtue to virtue, from attainment to attainment, until at length I appear before You perfect in Zion.
I pray for those who are bartering so great salvation for the sins and the follies of a fleeting present. Convince them, before it be too late, of their danger, and discover to them the one thing needful, the better part—the only part, which never can be taken from them. Bring all men to a knowledge of Your gospel—to a saving belief of the truth as it is in Jesus. Send times of refreshing unto Zion. Bless Your faithful ministers—may they be valiant for the truth—polished shafts in their Master's quiver. May the day soon arrive when the glory of God shall be the supreme sovereign motive, governing every thought and feeling and action. May our own nation, as heretofore, continue the honored instrument of advancing Your cause on earth—a dispenser and almoner of spiritual blessings. May the precious privileges civil and religious bequeathed to her, be handed down unimpaired from generation to generation.
Pity the case of the sick, the destitute, and the bereaved. O You, who when on earth did turn aside from Your own path of suffering, to weep with those that wept—bless all afflicted ones. Give them grace to look beyond the cloudy present to the stormless skies of that better land, where the pang of sorrow can neither be felt nor feared. Lying passive in Your hands, may it be theirs through their tears to say, "Father, glorify Your name!"
I anew commend myself, and those near and dear to me, to You and to the word of Your grace. Lord, ever enable me so to pass through things temporal, that finally I lose not the things eternal. And all I ask is for Jesus' sake. Amen.
21st Evening—THE STRONGHOLD IN TROUBLE
"The Lord is good, a stronghold in a day of distress; He cares for those who take refuge in Him." Nahum 1:7
O God, I come this night to the Gates of this glorious stronghold. The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust—my shield, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower. I rejoice in the assurance that You are good. You are a refuge in the day of perplexity—a strength in the day of weakness—a light in the day of darkness—a stronghold in the day of trouble. May I feel it to be a privilege to draw near unto You. Give me filial trust and confidence. Enable me to unburden, without reserve, into Your ear, all my trials and difficulties. A suppliant at the Gates of prayer, may I receive fresh tokens of Your love and goodness—even the blessing which makes rich and adds no sorrow with it. The Lord is good unto those who wait for Him, unto the soul that seeks Him.
How unworthy, Lord, I am of Your paternal regard and patient forbearance! How much have I done to forfeit Your favor! I have been rebellious and wayward—unthankful and unholy—leaving too often Your countless mercies unacknowledged—dethroning You from my affections, and giving to others the loyalty and allegiance which should be Yours alone. I have experienced little of the depressing consciousness, I ought to have had, of my sin and danger, and of my need of a Savior. I have little realized, as I ought to have done, the thought of death, and of the precarious tenure which binds me to the world's best blessings. You have, from time to time, been putting lover and friend far from me, and my acquaintance into darkness; yet I have been traveling as if with my back to the grave, keeping it out of sight. Careful and troubled about earth's many things, I have been sadly prone to forget the one thing needful.
Give me deep contrition for an erring past. Inspire me with new resolutions for the future. Graciously give me Your help. Lord, I feel that this struggling with sin, this conflict with temptation, is a hopeless contest without You—without Your strengthening, sustaining, restraining grace. Hold me up. You who have revealed Yourself to Your people, in all past ages, as a stronghold in the day of trouble and a shield in the day of battle—be my defense, and my glory, the lifter up of my head. I can overcome, only through the blood and the help of the Lamb. Anew I repair, this night, to the clefts of the Rock—anew I take refuge in the only sheltering stronghold—anew I seek the light and direction of the only safe guiding pillar. Keep my eye single, that my whole body may be full of light. May all my duties and avocations be transfigured by the elevating Christian motive, "Whatever you do, whether in word or in deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus." Let it be my habitual aim to imbibe His meek, lowly, patient, unworldly spirit—not seeking my open interests, but willing rather to surrender these, if He be honored and glorified—endeavoring to bear and forbear, even under the conscious infliction and endurance of wrong. Enable me to put the best construction on motives and failings, giving heed to the monitory word—"Considering yourself, lest you also be tempted."
Lord, have mercy on the afflicted. May they specially recognize You as a stronghold in the day of trouble. Knowing that finite wisdom has no place in Your dealings, may they seek to bow in unmurmuring submission to Your holy will. Turn the shadow of death into the morning. Give them the sanctified use of Your dispensations. May chastisement which, for the present, is not joyous but grievous, nevertheless afterward, yield the peaceable fruits of righteousness. You know those who trust in You. May they trust in the Lord forever, for in the Lord Jehovah is everlasting strength; and amid present affliction and sadness, anticipate the time when voices will be heard saying, "There shall be no more death, neither sorrow nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain—for the former things are passed away."
Bless my beloved friends. May they, too, trust in the name of the Lord, and stay themselves upon their God. If called at times to the endurance of trouble, may they know You and cling to You as a sure stronghold. Number each and all of them among the favored pilgrim band, who are now seeking Zion with their faces there, and who shall finally reach it with everlasting joy upon their heads.
Take me, gracious Father, under Your care and keeping. I will both lay me down in peace and sleep, for You, Lord, alone make me to dwell in safety. May I repose, as under the shadow of Your wings; and may I wake tomorrow refreshed and invigorated for duty. Let each returning day of life find me better furnished and prepared for Your service on earth, and at last for the enjoyment of Your presence in glory. Through Jesus Christ, my only Lord and Savior, Amen.
22nd Morning—THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS
"This is His name whereby He shall be called, The Lord our Righteousness." Jer. 23:6
O God, prepare my heart for approaching anew, this morning, the Beautiful Gate of Your Temple. I come into Your presence in the name of Him whom You hear always, our advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the Righteous. I rejoice that He who was dimly revealed in type and vision and prophecy, has been manifested as the brightness of the Father's glory and the express image of His person—that He became a sin-offering for us, though He knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him. Lord, I am utterly destitute of any righteousness of my own, and of any claim to Your favor. Every hour I live might be cited as a witness against me, telling of unrequited mercies—neglected opportunities—unimproved warnings—resisted grace. Look upon me not as I am in myself. Behold my shield—look on the face of Your anointed One. My sole trust is in the doing and dying of the All-righteous One. I am absolved in Him. He has cancelled my debt and absorbed my curse; taken off my filthy garments, and clothed me in fresh clothing. May I be enabled to cleave to Him, in greater simplicity of heart and confidence, as the Lord my Righteousness. May His cross be my shelter; His wounds my healing; His death my life. I would go up and on through the wilderness, leaning on His arm; feeling that He who is with me and for me, is greater far than all that can be against me.
While I look to Him for the righteousness imputed—I would look to the promised grace of the Holy Spirit, for the righteousness implanted—that holiness of heart and life, without which no man can see the Lord. May I put on the Lord Jesus Christ in the beauty of His divine character and example—imbibing more of His spirit, and reflecting more of His image. Bestow upon me "the clothing clean and white, which is the righteousness of the saints;" and present me at last faultless before the presence of Your glory with exceeding joy.
I know not what difficulties, or trials, or temptations, may be before me. Do prepare me whether for duty or for conflict. May that glorious shield of Your righteousness cover my head in every day of battle. Knowing the treachery of the heart, I desire this morning, and each morning, to receive fresh supplies of Your grace. Hold up my goings in Your paths; that thus, I may not be of them who draw back unto perdition, but of those who believe to the saving of the soul. Lord, bless me in all the relations and circumstances of my life. May I be a faithful steward in whatever has been entrusted to my keeping. If You have given me worldly substance, may I regard these gifts of Providence as a talent, not to be selfishly appropriated, but to be shared by others, for their good and Your glory. May all my business dealings and transactions be regulated by transparent honor—spotless integrity—unswerving love of truth. May my daily avocations prove incentives, not drags and hindrances, in running the Christian race. Give me that charity which is the bond of perfectness. May I seek to overcome evil with good; ever aiming at the more complete conquest of self—subduing pride and restraining temper—sitting meekly at the feet of Jesus.
Have pity on those who are sinning away their privileges. While they "have the light"—while they still enjoy gospel privileges—may they be led to "believe in the light"—turning from every false ground of confidence, to Him who has made reconciliation for iniquity and brought in an everlasting righteousness, and who alone can give rest and peace to their souls.
Extend Your sympathy and love to the case of all in affliction—support, support, and comfort them. Let them manifest a spirit of uncomplaining submission, saying, "Not our will, but Your will be done!" May any who have been bereft of beloved friends, see in the removal of those near and dear to them, only the coming of the Savior to fetch His children home, and to give them the promised lodgment in the "many mansions." May they rejoice in the happy assurance, that the silver cord on earth is loosed and the golden bowl broken, only to usher into the deathless joys of a world where friendships cannot be severed, and trial can neither be felt nor feared.
I pray for all mankind. Look in compassion on earth's valley of vision. Behold the bones are very many and very dry. Come from the four winds, O Spirit of the living God!—breathe upon these slain that they may live. Clothe every moral desolation with the verdure of spiritual life. May the wilderness and the solitary place be made glad—may the desert rejoice and blossom as the rose; and all the ends of the earth see the promised salvation.
I commend myself, and those belonging to me, to Your keeping and protection throughout this day. Lift upon us the light of Your countenance; never leave and never forsake us. And all I ask is for the Savior's sake. Amen.
22nd Evening—THE GREAT LOVE
"But God, who is abundant in mercy, because of His great love that He had for us, made us alive with the Messiah even though we were dead in trespasses. By grace you are saved!" Ephesians 2:4-5
Most gracious and everlasting God, I desire to approach the footstool of Your throne this evening, through the golden gates of mercy. You did so love the world as to give Your only-begotten Son. I adore the wonders of Your sovereign grace in Him. Scarcely for a righteous man will one die, yet perhaps for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commends His love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
Under a grateful sense of the riches of that love, I would desire to compose myself to rest. O Shepherd of Israel, who never slumbers nor sleeps—guard me during the unconscious hours of night. May I rise refreshed for duty and service—rejoicing to bear about with me, in the course of a new day, the elevating sense of my relationship to You, as my Covenant God and Heavenly Father. Saved by the grace and purchased by the blood of Jesus, may I yield You, not the constrained service of the bond-slave, but the spontaneous, devoted, love and obedience of Your adopted child. May a sense of the infinite obligation under which I am laid for all Your mercies, and especially for their crown and consummation on the Cross of Calvary, stimulate to greater ardor in running the Christian race—to more singleness of eye and simplicity of aim. Saved by grace from the guilt of sin, may I ever remember that I am saved too by grace from the power of sin.
Bring me to act more habitually under the influence of unseen spiritual realities. From the dominion of Satan—from the enslavement of lust and passion—from the absorbing love of the world—from the deceitfulness of riches—good Lord, deliver me! May the law of love, which has its highest exemplification in the life of Your dear Son, find expression in my daily walk. May I be molded, more and more, in conformity with His will, and copy more of His example—in His meekness and gentleness, in His unselfish and tender consideration for others. I have no ability in myself to carry out one good or holy resolution. Undertake for me. If there is any indication of spiritual quickening or vitality within me, it is derived from You, the source and inspiration of all energy and goodness. I can do all things through Christ strengthening me. "More grace! more grace!" may this be my constant prayer. Hold me up, and I shall be safe.
Prosper Your cause and kingdom everywhere. Send times of refreshing unto Zion. May she rise from the dust, and put on her beautiful garments. Stand by all Your faithful ministering servants. Clothe Your priests with salvation, let Your saints shout aloud for joy. May a spirit of unity pervade the varied branches of the Church universal—that unity, which will be the prelude to the Gospel's final triumph—when, in answer to the prayer of the Great Intercessor, His people shall be one, and the world shall believe.
May my dear friends be savingly united to You, in the bonds of the new and better covenant. Quicken them also together with Christ, and save them by Your grace. Defend them from the temptations of a present evil world, and bring them in safety to the everlasting home above. Sanctify trial to all the family of sorrow. Many whom You love are sick—make You their bed in their sickness. Draw near to every broken, bereaved heart. Give beauty for ashes; the oil of joy for mourning; and the garment of praise for a spirit of heaviness. May affliction, which, in the light of immortality is but for a moment, work out a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.
I ask these and all other needed blessings for myself and others, in the name of Him whom You hear always, and to whom, with You the Father, and You the ever-blessed Spirit, one God—be ascribed all blessing and honor and glory and praise, world without end. Amen.
23rd Morning—TRUST IN GOD
"Trust you in the Lord forever; for in the Lord Jehovah is everlasting strength." Isaiah 26:4
O God, I bless and praise Your holy name, that You have spared me during another night—permitting me, once more, to kneel at the Gates of Prayer, and to offer anew my morning sacrifice of thanksgiving. Give Your benediction and blessing. Sprinkle me afresh with the peace-speaking blood. Grant me forgiveness for the past—impart grace and strength for the future. In all my ways I would acknowledge You—direct my paths. That future is in Your hands. I will trust and not be afraid. O my God, when my soul is cast down within me, "I will remember You from the land of Jordan and of the Hermonites, from the Hill Mizar." I will recall former tokens and pledges of Your love and favor, and implicitly confide in You for the time to come. Your hand is never shortened—Your ear is never heavy. Give me cheerful acquiescence in Your most holy will—undeviating reliance in the wisdom and rectitude of Your appointments. Save me from all impatience; all fretting and disquietude. Whatever may now be crossing my wishes, or thwarting my plans, or disappointing my hopes—may my faithlessness be rebuked, by the assurance from lips which cannot err—"Your heavenly Father knows that you have need of all these things."
Blessed Savior, in whom stands our eternal life, be my guide and protector this day. May I be enabled to maintain my temper unbroken and my conscience undefiled; to stand fast in my integrity, with a single eye to Your glory. Keep me from all deflection from the paths of purity and peace. Keep me from envy and uncharitableness—from pride and ambition—from discontent and dissatisfaction with the position I am called to occupy—from all that would bring discredit on the religion I profess, and that would form a blot in life's retrospect at the hour of death. Let me set a watch on every questionable and wayward impulse. May Your present discipline, however mysterious at times it may be, tend the better to fit me for the duties and occupations of that blessed world, where I shall no longer need to trust You in the midst of dark dealings, but where trust shall be merged in the full and everlasting enjoyment of Your presence and love.
Look in great mercy on the children of sorrow. In absolute self surrender, may they lean on You. If, when called to traverse mazy and thorny paths, they are led, in the lack of faith, to say, "Not here, Lord"—may Your voice be heard, gently rebuking their distrust, "What is that to you, follow Me." May those bereft of loved ones, listen to divine accents breaking over the sleepers in the silent land—"Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord, from henceforth; yes, says the Spirit, for they rest from their labors and their works do follow them." Meanwhile, may they confide in a wisdom that never errs, and a love that never changes; anticipating that better time, when no angel of sorrow shall evermore come dawn "to trouble the pool;"—and when their "loved and lost" shall be loved, never to be lost again.
Extend the gracious influences of Christianity. Reveal Christ to many needy, sin-stricken souls, as the Physician who heals all diseases. Blessed Savior—Prince of Peace! take to Yourself Your great power and reign. Hasten the day, when, by the regenerating influences of Your gospel, You shall sprinkle many nations, and kings shall shut their mouths at You—when, seated on the throne of universal empire, angels shall laud You and saints shall crown You; and Your Church triumphant, gathered in from every kindred and tribe and people and tongue, shall unite in the eternal ascription—"Unto Him who loved us, and washed us from our sins in His own blood."
O God, I desire anew to commit myself, and all belonging to me, to You and to the word of Your grace—rejoicing that the blessings of the covenant are in Your hands. Give us whatever You know to be good—deny us whatever You know to be evil. And all I ask is for the sake of Jesus Christ, my blessed Lord and Savior. Amen.
23rd Evening—THE FINAL WELCOME
"Enter into the joy of your Lord." Matt. 25:23
O God, I desire to come into Your presence on this the close of another day—adoring You for the gracious welcome You ever give to the mercy-seat. Have You not said, "Knock and it shall be opened?" Have You not set Your seal to the words, that if an earthly father, in the tenderness of his love, knows how to give good gifts unto his children—much more may I expect to receive a plenitude of blessings from the hands of my Father in heaven? Open unto me the gates of righteousness; and, from Your holy habitation, command upon me the blessing, even life for evermore.
I thank You, O great Redeemer, for the reception You did accord of old in Your ministry of love on earth, to all who sought You in penitence and faith. I bless You for that welcome which You bestowed on "the weary and heavy laden"—on the sin-stricken and the sorrow-stricken. No bruised reed was ever broken by You—no smoking flax was ever quenched by You. The most erring sheep was pursued by You, the Great and Good Shepherd—until You found it, and laid it upon Your shoulders rejoicing. Still it is Your blessed prerogative to welcome back the wanderer—to seek and to save that which is lost.
I bless You, that exulting in Your free welcome, seated on the Throne of Grace, I can also with hope and confidence anticipate Your last and most joyous welcome on the Throne of Glory. All my boldness in the prospect of that Great day, is founded on Your completed work and glorious righteousness. I would exclaim now—what will form my sole plea then—"Behold, O God, my shield—look on the face of Your anointed!" I know that I have a living Redeemer, and that He shall stand in the latter day upon the earth, to plead my cause before an assembled world, and to give the glad summons—"Enter into the joy of your Lord!" Keep me, meanwhile, earnestly and habitually looking for this blessed hope. Preserve me from whatever would dim or darken its elevating influences—from all sloth and carelessness—all frivolity and sin. May I seek to make life, more than it has been, a preparation for eternity. In all my worldly duties and engagements, with the prospect of giving in my account at His appearing and His kingdom, may I hear the voice of Jesus saying, "Occupy until I come."
Whatever talents You have confided to me, give me grace diligently and faithfully to improve them. Keep me from the abuse of my stewardship. If You have given me worldly means—material prosperity—preserve me from selfishly hoarding the gifts of Providence, but, according to my ability, may I rejoice at being the almoner of Your bounties to others. Thus faithful over a few things, may I finally be made partaker of Your own gracious promise of abundant recompense. If You have denied me earthly good, may I strive all the more, to give You the consecration of the heart, and to lay up my treasure in heaven. Give me increasing aspirations after holiness. May I be enabled to walk in the path of obedience—daily renouncing and overcoming the power and practice of sin. Having the hope of seeing the Redeemer as He is, may I purify myself even as He is pure—and thus, having obtained victory over all my spiritual enemies, may I be ushered at last into that glorious land, where there is no sin to crucify, no corruption to subdue—where there is nothing to be delivered from—where the joy and the presence of the Lord will be an eternal strength.
Lord, have mercy on the whole world. Let the people now sitting in darkness see a great light. On those that are in the region and shadow of death, may the Sun of Righteousness arise with healing in His beams. Adored be Your name for the assured word of promise, that the day is approaching, when alike obdurate Jew and idolatrous heathen will join their voices together in the shout of welcome—"Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord."
O Comforter of all who are cast down—Healer of the brokenhearted—Friend of the friendless, look in infinite compassion on those who need Your pitying love. Stay Your rough wind in the day of Your east wind. May those laid on couches of sickness, manifest a spirit of unmurmuring submission to Your will; recognizing Your hand, and Your hand alone—remembering that You are never arbitrary in Your dealings—that even "wearisome nights are appointed." Give them strength to be silent ministers of the truth, by exhibiting the power of Your sustaining grace; looking beyond the cloudlands of earth, to the better country, where the inhabitant shall no more say, "I am sick." Thus patiently bearing their cross, may they anticipate, with calm and joyful expectancy, that blessed hour, when all the sorrows and tribulations of earth will be forgotten in the words of welcome, "Come, you blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom."
Graciously accept of my thanks for the mercies of the by-past day; and give to me, this night, the sleep of Your beloved; for Jesus Christ's sake. Amen.
24th Morning—THE BLOOD OF JESUS
"Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus." Heb. 10:19
Almighty and everlasting God, draw near to me in Your great kindness this morning. You have permitted me to awake in health and strength. I would seek to enter on the duties of a new day with my mind stayed on You—looking for Your guidance and direction. O You who commanded the light to shine out of darkness—shine into my heart. The day will be happy and peaceful, if begun, carried on, and ended, with the conscious possession of Your favor and love.
I come to You, relying on the one only Sacrifice, and exulting in the one sole plea—that the blood of Jesus Christ Your Son cleanses from all sin. Blessed be Your name, I have boldness to enter into the holiest through this new and living way—God's way to the sinner, and the sinner's way to God. Countless multitudes have entered through the same Gate of access. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb; they are now before Your throne, to testify to the fullness and freeness of that great Redemption. And, still, there is blood for all, and grace for all, and salvation for all. Sprinkle the lintels and door-posts of my heart with that same covenant token. Have You not said, "When I see the blood I will pass over you." I have no other argument but this, and blessed be Your name—I need no other.
Lord, grant that that precious blood may not only be sprinkled on my conscience, but that it may purify me from dead works to serve You—the living God. Make me holy—keep me holy. Sanctify me, in body, soul, and spirit. Bearing about with me continually the dying of the Lord Jesus, may the life also of Jesus be made manifest in my mortal flesh. Further me this day, in all lawful undertakings, with Your blessing. I know not, in the course of it, what guilty thoughts may rise, and which may find expression in unworthy and hasty and sinful words or actions, defiling my own conscience, injuring my neighbor, and dishonoring Your holy name. May I ever seek to exercise a conscience void of offence; to deal tenderly with those around me—refraining from magnifying failings, or circulating the injurious report. O Lord, forearm me by Your grace. In the battle with evil, around me and within me—I would overcome alone by the blood of the Lamb.
Bless my beloved friends—those who are living near—and those who may be separated by intervening oceans and continents. O ever-present God! be their help and friend. May Christian memories follow them wherever they go. May they live under a sense of the All-Seeing Eye; rejoicing that no distance and no locality can divide between them and You. And whatever separations may take place on earth, may there be, at last, a happy and glorious meeting-place for us before Your throne in glory, to exult together in ties that can never be dissolved.
Bless Your Zion everywhere. Set faithful watchmen to guard her battlements, and to sound the trumpet of alarm. In times of doctrinal defection and laxity, and of defiant skepticism, may they earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints. Prosper the cause of truth and righteousness, and hasten, in Your own good season, Your Son's coming and kingdom. Have great compassion on the afflicted. Visit in mercy the poor—the widow—the solitary—the unbefriended. Spare useful and valued lives. If it be Your holy will, bring back the shadow on life's dial, and utter the omnipotent words, "You shall live and not die."
May those who are appointed to death have boldness in the prospect of entering Your immediate presence, through the same blood of Jesus. With His cross before their eyes, and the music of His name on their lips, may they be able to say, "We are confident, and willing rather, to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord."
I commend myself anew to Your gracious care, looking to You this day and forever—for pardon, and peace, and eternal life, through the merits of Jesus Christ, my only Lord and Savior. Amen.
24th Evening—THE FELLOW-SUFFERER
"For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are--yet was without sin." Hebrews 4:15
O God, my heavenly Father, I desire to approach Your sacred presence tonight, in the name of Him who is my Great High Priest—the ever-living, ever-loving Redeemer. May He touch my lips as with a live altar-coal, in the hour of evening sacrifice—that my prayer may ascend before You as incense, sweetly perfumed with His adorable merits. You have graciously shielded me this day by Your good Providence. Accept my humble tribute of gratitude and thanksgiving for all the unmerited tokens of Your love. How great has been the sum of them! and there are no small kindnesses with You, for the least of them are undeserved. Even when You see fit occasionally to mingle the cup, and to cause the shadows of affliction to fall, how little has been the proportion between the trials sent—and the deserts of sin! Adversity has been alleviated by unexpected solaces, and mercy has attuned my lips to sing in the midst of judgment.
O adorable Redeemer, in whom is all my hope—in whose most precious blood alone, I rely for pardon and acceptance—O pleading Angel-Intercessor, made not after the law of a carnal commandment, but after the power of an endless life—I bless You that You are touched with a fellow-feeling of all my infirmities. In coming to the Gates of Prayer, in seasons of pain and suffering, loneliness and sorrow, I can cherish the consoling assurance that, as the Brother on the throne, there is not a pang I endure but You have felt the same. When the best of earthly sympathy is inadequate and unavailing, You, who in the days of Your flesh did suffer the reproach of Your people to break Your heart, can enter with tender sensitiveness into the keenest woes of humanity. I can think of You, the Prince of Sufferers, feeling for me—weeping for me—bleeding for me—dying for me. Three is no extremity of distress, when I can find You, as You did find Your disciples in Your own hour of agony, asleep. Your hand is never shortened, Your ear is never heavy. You do not faint, neither are weary.
Subdue within me whatever is inconsistent with Your mind and will. However afflictive at times may be Your Providential dispensations, Lord, may I ever deeply feel that there is no sorrow like the sorrow of alienation from Your favor—that the heaviest cross I have to bear, is the cross of an unbelieving, wandering, treacherous Heart. God be merciful to me a sinner! O Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world—have mercy upon me and grant me Your peace. You who, though sinless Yourself, did confront sin in every shape and form—You whose infinite tenderness and compassion of old, dictated the merciful excuse for the unfaithful watchers of Gethsemane, "The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak," compassionate my weakness—sympathize with my struggles—give me the strength I have not in myself. It is by Your grace alone I stand. Hold me up and I shall be safe. Shield me from the snares of a seductive world; fortify me against the assaults of temptation. Pray for me, as You did for Your erring disciple, that my faith fail not.
May the Lord arise and have mercy upon Zion. With the blessed gift of the Holy Spirit sent down at Pentecost and perpetuated from age to age, Your Church never can be orphaned or desolate. Cause the plentiful rain to descend, with which You refresh Your heritage when it is weary. Illuminate the world which is now in darkness. Sheathe its swords—break its chains—redress its wrongs. Let it welcome a long rejected Savior as its Lord and King.
Shepherd of Israel, be my guardian-keeper through the silence and darkness of another night. Abide with me, for it is toward evening and the day is far spent. Let all near and dear to me share Your loving care. Lying down to rest in Your fear, may we awake in Your favor, fitted and prepared for the duties of a new day. And all I ask is for the sake of Jesus Christ Your only Son, my Savior. Amen.
25th Morning—THE ONE WAY
"Neither is there salvation in any other—for there is no other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved." Acts 4:12
Father of mercies and God of all grace, impotent and helpless in myself, I wait this morning at the Gate of Your temple to listen to Your divine word of pardon and healing. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, enable me to rise up and walk. I thank You for that all powerful Name; that all sufficient Savior—I thank You for that new and living way of access into the holiest of all, through His precious blood. There is no other way, and blessed be Your name I need no other. I rejoice that, in Him, every barrier which guilt and sin interposed has been removed; that although countless multitudes have already availed themselves of the free invitation, still is the door of welcome—the gate of mercy open—still are the gracious words true as when first they were uttered—"Him who comes unto Me I will never cast out."
Blessed Redeemer, I desire to repose with implicit confidence in Your finished work, and glorious righteousness, and all prevailing intercession. Wash me in the Fountain You have opened for sin and for uncleanness. Lord, if You will, You can make me clean. If You wash me not, I can have no part with You. It is You alone who can whisper forgiveness, quiet misgivings, quicken faith, subdue corruption. Feeling the yoke of sin heavy and grievous, I come to You, whose yoke is easy and whose burden is light. Weary and heavy-laden—in Your cross and passion—in Your will and service—I would find rest for my soul. May I lean upon You with unfaltering dependence—may I be linked to You in holy fellowship—may I be consecrated to You in unswerving allegiance.
Enable me more and more to crucify sin. May its power be subdued and its love mortified. May I set watch at every avenue by which temptation may gain entrance. Lord, be with me this day in all my worldly duties. Keep me from the selfishness which narrows and debases. May I stoop to no base compliances—no equivocal or unworthy means of bettering my circumstances. May my work and duty be done in a pious spirit; carefully avoiding whatever would interfere with the surrender of heart and soul to Your service. Let me exercise a jealousy over my motives as well as my actions; let my converse be sincere—my conscience clear as the noonday. Deliver me from rashness of speech—may I be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath—seeking to discharge faithfully whatever trust You have in Your providence confided to me. In my relation to all around, give me Your own most excellent gift of love, remembering the tenderness of Him who would not break the bruised reed nor quench the smoking flax. May I consider the beam that may be in my own eye, when I detect the mote that is in my brother's.
I pray for my dear friends. Unite them to You in the bonds of the everlasting covenant. If there are any who are still going about to establish their own righteousness, and refuse to submit themselves to the righteousness of Christ, lead them to own and to confess, that is there salvation in no other. Bring them under the Beloved's shadow. Number them with Your saints in glory everlasting.
Hasten the happy period, when all the ends of the earth shall come to exult in this same salvation of God. When alike Jew and Gentile shall recognize in Messiah, the one sole way and the truth and the life, and be led to crown Him as Lord of all.
I commend to Your sympathy the wide family of sorrow. When every other source of comfort fails—may all their springs be in You. When no longer filling their cup, but emptying them from vessel to vessel—may they adore Your sovereignty, and own Your wisdom, and trust Your love. May Christ be magnified in them whether by life or by death. As He is the one way to pardon—may they find Him also the one way to consolation and peace.
I anew supplicate Your grace and blessing, May the Lord this day be my keeper—my stay and my strength at my right hand—through the same Jesus Christ, my blessed Lord and Savior. Amen.
25th Evening—THE PURIFYING HOPE
"And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself just as He is pure." 1 John 3:3
O God, my Heavenly Father I come this night a needy suppliant to the Gates of Prayer. Give me Your presence and benediction. Give me the golden Key which unlocks the treasures of Your grace. Let all wandering thoughts—all worldly cares and disquietudes, be hushed and set aside—that I may enjoy a brief season of fellowship with You. Though the darkness of night has gathered around me, may it be mine to know that You are light, and that with You there is no darkness at all. "As the deer pants after the water-brooks, so my soul pants after You, O God—my soul thirsts for God, for the living God."
I desire to exult anew in the plenitude of Your great mercy in Christ. I bless You that I have such a Savior to flee to. Under the consciousness of my own utter sinfulness and unworthiness, I look alone to Him for pardon and peace. May He be formed within me, the hope of glory—made unto me wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption. Planted in the likeness of His death, may I be planted also in the likeness of His resurrection. May my life now be hidden with Christ in God, that when Christ who is my life shall appear, I may also appear with Him in glory. Having this hope in Him—the blessed hope of seeing Him as He is, and of enjoying His everlasting fellowship—may I purify myself even as He is pure; daily imbibing more of His meek, gentle, unselfish, unworldly spirit; withdrawing my affections from things which are of the earth, earthy—and consecrating them to His service. Enable me to exercise a vigilant jealousy over my thoughts, words, and actions; seeking to renounce whatever is displeasing to Him, and that would mar my peace of conscience.
In every difficult and perplexing duty, may this always form the testing question and final appeal—"How would my Lord and Savior have acted here?" And knowing His will, may it be my delight to do it. Strengthen the things which remain and that may be ready to die. Let the power of sin wax weaker and weaker, and let the power of Your grace within me wax stronger and stronger. Thus, blessed Savior, whatever may be the changes and sorrows I experience in this precarious, uncertain existence; with the conscious assurance of Your presence and love, I must be happy. If You are near to me—if You abide with me—there can be no terror in trial, no bitterness in tears, no sting in death. With You for my portion, I am independent of every other. In all Your dealings towards me, may I recognize the gracious purpose and design of making me more and more fit for that glorious world, where obedience to You shall never falter, and consecration shall never fail; where every thought and wish shall be in unison with the divine.
O You, whose heart beats responsive to the smallest sorrow of Your stricken people, look down in great mercy on Your sons and daughters of affliction. May they know that You have this same wise end in all Your discipline. May they come to feel that their greatest trials are the ladder-steps to their greatest blessings—links in the chain which draws them to heaven. Whether You chasten or gladden, may they be enabled to say, "Even so, Father, for it seems good in Your sight."
Bless all related to me by whatever tie. May theirs be the tabernacles of the righteous, where the voice of gladness and rejoicing is heard. May none of them be among the number of the loitering and presumptuous, who say, "My Lord delays His coming." May their loins rather be girded and their lights burning. Set as gems in Immanuel's crown, may they be found unto praise, and honor, and glory, at His appearing and kingdom.
Send times of refreshing unto Zion. Enlarge her borders; lengthen her cords and strengthen her stakes. Purify the sons of Levi, that they may offer to You sacrifices of righteousness. Raise up faithful and devoted ambassadors of the cross, who will sound the trumpet whether men will hear or whether they will forbear. May the Lord give the word, and great shall be the company of those who publish it.
Forgive, Lord, the sins I may have committed against You this day—failures in duty, rashness of speech, covetous thoughts, infirmities of temper, uncharitable words or insinuations. If I have been quick in taking offence, or betrayed into giving offence—if I have tampered with conscience, or grieved Your Spirit—I would seek pardon and remission through Him who is ever waiting to be gracious, and who is alike able and willing to bestow upon me full forgiveness of all transgressions, negligences, and ignorances. Spare me, if it be Your will, to see the light and to enjoy the comforts of a new morning. And all I ask is for Jesus' sake. Amen.
26th Morning—JUSTIFICATION BY GRACE
"Being justified freely by his grace, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus."—Romans 3:24
O God, I desire to come into Your blessed presence this morning, thanking You for the mercies of the by-past night, and the renewed comforts of another day. I laid me down and slept—I awaked for the Lord sustained me. Day by day are You loading me with Your benefits, and giving me unceasing cause for gratitude and praise. I bless You for my creation, preservation, and all the blessings of this life. But I adore You especially for the grace of the Lord Jesus, who though He were rich—rich in all the attributes of Godhead—rich in all the plenitude of the Divine perfections—yet for our sakes He became poor—stooped to the lowest depths of humiliation, that we through His poverty might be rich. I bless You that around His cross, mercy and truth have met together; righteousness and peace have embraced each other. You are, in Him, the just God and yet the Savior.
I acknowledge with deep humiliation my unworthiness and guilt. Each day, as it brings with it the memory of Your great goodness, brings with it also the memory of my multiplied offences. I confess my sins, alike of omission and commission; that I have done the things I ought not to have done, and have left undone those things I ought to have done. I have often no affecting sense of the need of salvation, and of the enslaving power of sin. I have too often resorted to false and unavailing refuges for satisfaction and happiness. I have too frequently sought to slake my thirst at the world's polluted cisterns, and failed to remember that all my fresh springs are in You. Lord, have mercy upon me!—Christ, have mercy upon me! It is by free, sovereign, unmerited grace, I am what I am. If I stand at last accepted before Your throne, this will be my plea, my confession, my eternal avowal—"Being justified freely by His grace, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus." Let me know, more and more, the blessedness of that word—"No condemnation." From personal experience, may I exult in the infinite treasures that are hidden in Christ; may I live under the elevating consciousness that I stand clothed in His righteousness, and that nothing can ever separate me from His love. Once within the fold, I am in the fold forever. Loving His own at the beginning, He will love them unto the end.
In response to Your summons, I would desire to go forth this day, to willing work and service. Be my shield, my glory, and the lifter up of my head. Keep me from conformity to the evil maxims and practices of the world. While grateful for the many mercies of my lot, and for the diversified sources of pleasure and enjoyment in this beautiful earth, enable me to use its blessings without abusing them, and to live under the powers of the world to come. May I know the conquering, transforming influence of Redeeming love; raising my affections, purifying my desires, elevating my life. Keep me from all that is unworthy of my Christian profession; from all malice and uncharitableness, from all impatience and irritability. Let me be guarded in language, tender and considerate in my dealings with others. May even unmerited reproach receive the gentle answer—may I endure as seeing Him who is invisible. Let this grace of God which brings salvation—teach me, that denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, I should live soberly and righteously and godly in the world; looking for that blessed hope and the glorious appearing of the great God our Savior.
Blessed Spirit of all grace! come from the four winds, and breathe upon earth's slain that they may live. In the might of Your omnipotence, say to every gate of unbelief and error, Ephphatha! be opened! May the Church be a reflector of You her Lord—shining for Your glory. Hasten the day, when no jarring note will disturb her blissful harmonies—when the watchmen on her walls shall see eye to eye, and over all the glory, You shall be a defense.
Bless poor afflicted ones. If You are leading into deep waters, may the everlasting arms be underneath and round about. Whatever the cross be, which Your suffering people are called to carry, may they enjoy the assurance, that the same Lord who died for them, lays it on, and keeps it on—that no unnecessary thorn is in their chaplet of sorrow. When the unquiet dream of earth is over, may they awake in the morning of immortality, to see and to own, that mercy and faithfulness regulated all Your earthly dealings; and to utter with fervid lip the confession, "We have known and believed the love which God has to us."
Anew I supplicate Your grace and blessing on myself, my family, and household this day. Lift upon us the light of Your countenance—never leave and never forsake us. May the Lord be the portion of our inheritance and of our cup; the maintainer of our lot and then, the lines shall have fallen unto us in pleasant places; yes, with God, we shall have a goodly heritage. And all I ask is for Jesus' sake. Amen.
26th Evening—A FAITHFUL GOD
"Faithful is he who calls you, who also will do it." 1 Thess. 5:24
O God, I approach Your sacred presence, on this the evening of another day, through the gateway of Your tried faithfulness. Amid the vicissitudes of a changing world—amid the instability of human props and confidences—the fitfulness of human friendships—there is no change in You. With You is the fountain of life. For the weak, the weary, the sin-burdened and sorrow-burdened, there is ever an open door of welcome. All Your promises are yes and amen to those who believe.
I desire to utter the memory of Your great goodness—to recall with heartfelt gratitude Your faithfulness in the past. My way through life has been paved with mercies. I have abundant reason to set up my Ebenezer, and to write upon it the inscription, "Hitherto has the Lord helped me." You have been the same in sickness and in health, in joy and in sorrow, amid comforts or crosses.
Alas! Lord, these memories of Your great goodness are sadly marred and clouded by the memory of my own transgressions. I offer no extenuation for their guilt. I have sinned against light and love, against the warnings of Your providence, against the riches of Your grace. I have too often given way to rebellion and presumption, to pride and unbelief. I have not lived up to my privileges. I have not realized, as I ought, my responsibilities. Whether You have spoken to me in the whirlwind, or in the still small voice—I have alike been slow to listen. Blessings innumerable have been poured into my lap, but they have often been received with an unthankful heart. Shadowing palms and wells of refreshing have studded my pilgrim path; but I have too frequently reclined under the shadow, and partaken of the refreshment, without any breathing of gratitude to the Bountiful Provider. And when the palm-shade and the well-spring have been exchanged for the dry and thirsty land, where no water is—when the sun of earthly joys has gone down, and I have been left to walk in darkness, how apt have I been to murmur under Your chastening hand, and to impeach the rectitude and wisdom of Your dispensations.
O faithful, covenant-keeping God, have compassion on my unfaithfulness; heal my backslidings—receive me graciously—love me freely. Cast me not away from Your presence, and take not Your Holy Spirit from me. Restore unto me the joys of Your salvation, and uphold me with Your free Spirit. You have promised "all-sufficiency in all things;" make Your grace sufficient for me, and perfect Your strength in my weakness. Keep me lowly—keep me pure—keep me watchful. May I neither seek the world's applause—nor dread the world's censure. My soul; wait only upon God, for my expectation is from Him. All my purposes and plans of life I leave to Your better direction. Guide me, while I live, by Your counsel, and afterward receive me to glory. Make me, at last, in Christ more than conqueror. Faithful is He who calls me, who also will do it.
O You who had a kindly word even for the outcast's tears, look in great mercy on those who are resisting Your grace—grieving Your Spirit—rushing against the thick bosses of Your shield. Lord, reclaim them, before it is too late. Reveal to them the glorious name, and person, and work of Him, whose divine mission it was to seek and to save those who are lost. Amid the misery and disquiet of their alienation and guilt, may they flee to His cross, and there obtain rest for their souls.
Have mercy on the afflicted. There is not one broken, bleeding heart among the aching children of humanity, but what is known to You. Look upon them with Your pitying eye. May they regard each trial as an angel beckoning them nearer heaven. May the thought that He who sends their afflictions is the same God who gave Jesus for them, lull all misgivings and silence all murmurings. Harboring no suspicions of Your faithfulness, may they breathe the prayer divinely taught—"Your will be done," and trust Him to be faithful, who promised—"I will never leave you nor forsake you."
Bless all my dear friends—pour upon them the continual dew of Your blessing. May they be among the beloved of the Lord who dwell in safety, and who are quiet from fear of evil. Hasten the promised and predicted conversion of the world—when the Gentiles shall come to Your light, and kings to the brightness of Your rising. Let Your mighty power be manifested as of old, in behalf of Your Church; that men may know that You, whose name alone is Jehovah, are the most High over all the earth. "Let the people praise You, O Lord, yes let all the people praise You."
I would retire to rest this night rejoicing in a faithful God, and reposing under the covert of Your wings. Watch over me; and, if spared until tomorrow; may I rise refreshed and invigorated for the duties of a new day. And all I ask is for the Redeemer's sake. Amen.
27th Morning—VISION AND FRUITION
"As for me, I will behold your face in righteousness—I shall be satisfied, when I awake with your likeness." Psalm 17:15
God Almighty, who are ever good and doing good—Father of all mercies and God of all grace—I thank You for the gladsome return of day. I thank You for the glories of sunshine—for the varied delights of this beautiful earth—for its summer and winter—its seed-time and harvest—its grateful alternation and vicissitude of season. You have never left Yourself without a witness, in that You are continually doing us good; giving us rain from heaven and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and with gladness. Your tender mercies are over all Your works. Do grant me Your benediction, as I wait upon You anew at the Gates of the morning. Shine upon me, O better Sun of Righteousness, with the brightness of Your rising. May no cloud of sin or unbelief be suffered to obscure Your radiance, or to dim the sense of Your favor and love.
I desire to make a full and unreserved acknowledgment of all my many offences. You know how apt I am to offer vain excuses for my faults; to plead my inability, when it is my unwillingness—to call that my misfortune, which is my sin. Truly I have no palliation or extenuation for my transgressions. Enter not into judgment with Your servant, for in Your sight shall no man living be justified.
I bless You that in Your dear Son, You are waiting to be gracious; that in Him I can even now behold Your face in righteousness. My own heart condemns me, and You are greater than my heart. But let Your hand be upon the Man of Your right hand, on the Son of Man whom You have made strong for Yourself. Behold, O God, my Shield, and look on the face of Your anointed.
And while I turn to His cross for pardon and reconciliation—I would pray that Your Holy Spirit may fulfill within me all the good pleasure of Your goodness, and the work of faith with power. May it be my habitual and constant endeavor to aim after that holiness of heart and life, without which no man can see You or enjoy You. Keep me from, and keep from me, all that would be detrimental to my soul's interests. Deliver me from hardness of heart, from worldliness and uncharitableness, from those absorbing anxieties of earth which tend to dim and impair the spiritual vision. Make me a more loving and obedient follower of the Great Exemplar; seeking daily to walk in His blessed footsteps, and to imbibe His blessed spirit; and thus rising to the true dignity and greatness of redeemed humanity, to become gradually more and more fit for His full vision and fruition, when I shall be like Him, for I shall see Him as He is.
While I pray for myself, I would pray, also, for all whom it is alike my privilege and duty to remember at the throne of the heavenly grace. May the voice of rejoicing and salvation be heard this day in the tabernacles of those I love. Shield their households from danger, and their souls from sin. Beholding now Your face in righteousness—may they, too, at last wake up from the dream of earth in the morning of immortality, wearing Your likeness, and tasting the joys of Your own beatitude—"Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God."
Have mercy on the sick, the sorrowing, the bereaved; those who have secret, unspoken afflictions, with which no stranger—no friend—can intermeddle. If they see not yet any bright light in the cloud, may they take comfort in the promise—that "at evening time it shall be light."
Bless Your Zion everywhere. Hasten the coronation day of the Church triumphant. Let the Year of Your Redeemed speedily come, when all wrongs shall be redressed—all calumnies and aspersions wiped away. Return and visit the Vine which Your own right hand has planted, and the branch You have made strong for Yourself.
I put myself this day under Your gracious care. I would re-enter the battle of life girded with Your strength, clothed with the armor of righteousness on the right hand and on the left. Let me engage in nothing that will violate the dictates of conscience, or do despite unto the Spirit of Grace. May I seek that—my hands may be clean—my heart pure—my words kind—my actions unselfish. May I, and all near and dear to me, live and walk and act, from day to day and from hour to hour, as we would wish we had done, in a dying hour. With the glorious prospect of at last beholding You face to face, may this urgent question exercise over us an ever-present influence, "What kind of people ought we to be, in all holy conversation and godliness; looking for, and hastening unto the coming of the Day of God?" Oh may we be diligent, that we may be found by him in peace, without spot and blameless.
Hear, O God, in Heaven Your dwelling-place, these my morning supplications—when you hear, forgive, and grant me an answer in peace; for the sake of Him whom You hear always—Jesus Christ, my only Lord and Savior. Amen.
27th Evening—THE GRAND PERSUASION
"For I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day." 2 Tim. 1:12
Almighty God, Father of all mercies, draw You near to me in Your infinite loving kindness, as I now commend myself, soul and body, to You in well-doing, as unto a Faithful Creator. The shadows of night have again gathered around me. I would close the portals of another day with the golden key of prayer; rejoicing that You are more willing to hear than I am to ask. I would retire to rest with Your blessing and benediction breathed upon me. May He who came of old to His disciples at eventide, and said unto them, "Peace be unto you," abide with me, "for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent."
I desire to look, blessed Savior, with the unwavering eye of faith, to Your completed work and unchanging promises. I know whom I have believed. You are all I need, living or dying. I commit my temporal as well as my everlasting interests to Your keeping—all that concerns alike this world, and the next. I rejoice that they are in safe custody in Your hands. To whom can I go but unto You? You have the words of eternal life.
Deepen within me the sense of my solemn responsibilities. Keep me ever mindful of "that Day"—that the Great Being who is now my omniscient witness, will shortly be my Judge. I rejoice to think that He who is then to be exalted on a Throne of glory, is that same gracious Redeemer who is now seated on a Throne of grace. "But as for me, I know that my Redeemer lives, and that he will stand upon the earth at last. And after my body has decayed, yet in my body I will see God! I will see him for myself. Yes, I will see him with my own eyes. I am overwhelmed at the thought!" O Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world—who has done all, and suffered all, and procured all on my behalf—and out of whose infinite fullness I have the promise of receiving grace for grace—do strengthen me with might by Your Spirit in the inner man. Defend me from every snare and danger which may beset my path. Be my Shield in prosperity—my Refuge in adversity—my Comforter in sorrow—my Light in darkness—my Hope in death—my Defender and Vindicator in judgment—my Joy and Portion through all eternity.
Forgive, Lord, whatever I have said amiss, or done amiss this day. If in my worldly occupations there has been any turning aside from the path of duty or rectitude—any tampering with temptation and sin—any exhibition of temper or passion inconsistent with my Christian profession—any impurity of thought or selfishness of motive—Lord, forgive me. Sprinkle my erring heart anew with the covenant token. Cleanse me from secret faults. Keep back Your servant also from presumptuous sins, and allow them not to have dominion over me. Come, Lord, and search me; try me, and know my thoughts, and see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. May the Holy Spirit, the Sanctifier, expel whatever is unholy, and transform me more and more into the image and likeness of Your dear Son.
Every blessing I ask for myself, I implore in behalf of all near and dear to me. May they too be led to make this sacred, everlasting deposit, into the hands of the Great Redeemer. O forbid that His advent should overtake any of us as a thief. May we be looking for it, longing for it, preparing for it, living for it. The Lord grant unto us that we may find mercy of the Lord on that day.
Let the wanderer be brought back to the fold. Let the impenitent and stouthearted be subdued and humbled; and let those who love You be as the sun when he goes forth in his strength. Support the sick and the distressed. Pity the careless—reclaim the backsliding. Comfort the widow, the orphan, the fatherless, the poor also, and him who has no helper. May trial result in the quickening and sanctifying of Your true people. May the dying be prepared for their great change—may the light of Your love cheer them in their passage through the dark valley—may the hour of departure be to them the birthday of glory everlasting. And may those who have recently committed their loved ones to the silence of the tomb, exult in the assurance which robs Death of its sting and the Grave of its victory—that this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal immortality; and that those who sleep in Jesus, will God bring with Him.
I would lie down to rest this night, at peace with You, and in charity with all mankind. O Shepherd of Israel, who never slumbers, be around my pillow during the unconscious hours of sleep. If spared until tomorrow, may I awake refreshed and invigorated for the duties of another day, and for renewed consecration to Your will and service. Through Jesus Christ my only Lord and Savior. Amen.
28Th Morning—THE SACRED WORD
"Your word is very pure—therefore Your servant loves it." Psalm 119:140
O Lord, I come this morning into Your gracious presence, adoring You as God over all, blessed for evermore. You have never left Yourself without a witness. The heavens declare Your glory, the skies shows forth Your handiwork. The sun and moon and stars are silent evangelists discoursing of Your greatness. They have no speech nor language, their voice is not heard—but they bear mute and ceaseless testimony to Your eternal wisdom, power, and Godhead.
I bless You that You have not left Your children to these utterances of material creation. I bless You for that sublime Revelation of Your character and attributes You have given in Your holy Word. The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul—the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple. I bless You, that in this favored land of religious freedom, each is permitted to sit under his own vine and fig-tree without any to make him afraid, and to read in his own tongue the marvelous works of God. By the teaching of Your Spirit, may I be enabled duly to value the Holy Scriptures, and to know from personal experience that they are able to make wise unto salvation. O Enlightener, Teacher, Sanctifier of the whole Church, open mine eyes that I may behold wondrous things out of the Divine law, and cause it to be esteemed by me, better than thousands of gold and of silver.
I desire, Lord, to acknowledge how unworthy I am of this and of every other spiritual boon and blessing. I have to mourn the poverty of my faith—the lukewarmness of my love—the fitfulness of my obedience—the perfunctory performance of my religious duties. How little the precepts of Your sacred Scriptures have been treasured in my heart, and reduced to practice in my daily walk and conversation. How often I have indulged in tempers and feelings inconsistent with Your revealed will, and with the character of Him who was meek and lowly in heart. I have too often yielded to the power of temptation—bent like a brittle reed in the storm; dishonoring Your name and grieving Your Spirit. You might righteously have left me to reap the fruit of my own ways and to be filled with my own devices—saying, "Ephraim is joined to his idols, let him alone."
Lord, have mercy upon me. Forgive me, for Your dear Son's sake. I would make it my prayer, "Teach me the way of Your statutes, and I shall keep it unto the end." May I hold fast the profession of my faith without wavering. May my worldly engagements and calling, whatever these be, be sanctified and sweetened by the consciousness of Your approval and love. Let all life's duties be pervaded by a sense of Your presence—laying out my time and talents and opportunities for Your glory, and being tenderly solicitous about the happiness and well-being of others. Let me not prefer my own word, and my own will, to Yours—but may all the plans of my life be framed in accordance with Your testimonies. With docility may I listen to their divine teachings. Amid the fretting annoyances of everyday life, may they prove my infallible counselors. Amid all earth's joys, may they be the songs in the house of my pilgrimage. Amid all earth's changes—when the grass withers and the flower fades, may I know that the Word of our God shall stand forever; and at last, with it as a staff in my hand, may I cross the border river.
Lord, let Your Word have free course and be glorified throughout the whole world. May it be mighty as ever in the pulling down of strongholds. May Your faithful missionary servants, going forth with the sling of faith and a few pebbles from the brook, overcome every foe—may this be their joyful testimony—"So mightily grew the word of God and prevailed." We thank You for that plentiful rain with which, from time to time, You refresh Your inheritance when it is weary. May the shower still come down in its season—let there be showers of blessing. Spirit of the living God! You who can alone give efficacy to the living Word—as the Dove of peace, do speed with this true olive branch from country to country and from shore to shore. May the leaves of the Tree be for the healing of the nations.
Bless all who are in sorrow. May they, too, be enabled from heartfelt experience to say, "This is my comfort in mine affliction—Your Word has quickened me." May they kiss the rod that smites, and adore the hand which lays them low. And by Your gracious discipline here, may they be trained for the higher services of the heavenly sanctuary.
I anew commend myself, and all near and dear to me, to You this day. Deliver my soul from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from falling. Keep my tongue from evil and my lips from speaking deceit. Your Word have I hid in my heart, that I may not sin against You. Hold up my goings in Your paths, that my steps slip not; and lead me in the way everlasting. Through Jesus Christ my only Lord and Savior. Amen.
28th Evening—THE GIFT OF PEACE
"Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you—not as the world gives, give I unto you." John 14:27
O God, compose my mind for venturing now into Your presence. I thank you for so precious a legacy bequeathed by the adorable Savior to all His true people. I desire, in retiring to rest, to pass through this Beautiful Gate of the Temple, and anew to repose on Him who alone can speak peace to the sin-burdened and sorrow-burdened. Looking to His glorious, completed work, I can triumphantly say, Return unto your rest—your peace—O my soul, for the Lord has dealt bountifully with you.
Forbid that I should ever be found seeking peace elsewhere—searching for forgiveness and comfort in anything short of the peace purchased and secured through the blood of His cross. O Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, grant me Your peace. It is "not as the world gives." If You give peace, who then can give trouble? May the possession of that peace preserve me calm and tranquil amid all adverse providences. May I be enabled to repose with unswerving confidence in the wisdom of the divine guidance, and in the rectitude of the divine dealings. O God of peace, who has brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that Great Shepherd of the sheep—who has, in the past, caused me to lie down in green pastures, and led me by the still waters—often disappointing my fears and more than realizing my hopes—loading me with the blessings of Your goodness—I will still go in Your promised strength. I would seek to have no wish, and no will, and no way of my own. Do to me, and with me, as seems good in Your sight, only make me possessor of this best blessing—the peace of Yours, which passes all understanding—that peace which the world knows not of—which the world with its riches and pleasures, its blandishments and fascinations, cannot give; and which the world, with all its troubles and anxieties, its sorrows and its trials, cannot take away.
Having peace with You, my God, give me that charity which is ever the associate and companion of peace. Fill me with the fruits of the Spirit, which are love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, goodness, meekness, faith, temperance. Hasten the time when the waves of this troublesome world will be rocked to rest. Promote the cause of true and universal brotherhood. Come, O blessed "Father of peace!" give to all the nations of the earth unity, and concord. Come, O blessed Prince of peace!—go forth with that sword which smites only to heal, "conquering and to conquer." Come, O Holy Spirit! Dove of peace—"sweet Messenger of rest!"—and brood, as You did of old, over the waste of chaos—bringing light out of darkness and order out of confusion.
Give, I beseech You, to my beloved friends, a personal interest in the same dying legacy of the Great Redeemer. To ensure to them the enjoyment of this peace, may they look to Him for everything, and may they look to Him in everything; seeking to live day by day, under the invigorating motive, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." I pray for those who are in any way afflicted or distressed, in mind, body, or estate—tossed with tempest and not comforted. O sympathizing Savior—draw near to them, and say, "Peace, be still." You will keep them in perfect peace, whose minds are stayed on You. May they know Your own gracious word of promise, that "this is the rest with which You cause the weary to rest, and this is the refreshing."
I would lie down tonight in peace, and sleep, under the comforting assurance that You alone Lord, make me to dwell in safety. It is You who give Your beloved sleep. And when all earthly nights are past—may I wake up to endless peace, in glory everlasting; and be made partaker of the true rest which remains for Your believing people; through Jesus Christ my Lord. Amen.
29th Morning—THE HOPE OF ETERNAL LIFE
"In hope of eternal life, which God, who cannot lie, promised before the world began." Tit. 1:2
O God, I desire to come to the Gates of Prayer this morning, thanking and praising You for all Your great mercies. The pleasant radiance of another day has visited my chamber. Glory be to You for the blessings of the light. You might have made my pillow last night a pillow of death. But another sun has risen upon me. You might have forbidden that sun to rise; or, as in the case of many who started life with me, it might now have been shining on my grave. But You have spared me to enjoy the blessings of existence, and the many sources of its happiness. O You who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, do shine into my heart with the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. May He who is the true Sun of Righteousness disperse all the mists of unbelief, and ignorance, and sin; and may I enjoy the elevating satisfaction of a soul at peace with You.
Lord, I acknowledge how much I have done to quench the light of Your countenance, to forfeit Your favor, and incur Your righteous displeasure. I have no apology to plead for my sins. You have spoken to me in the lessons of Your Providence, and by the teachings of Your Word—by the voices of the living, and the silent voices of the dead—in prosperity, by Your manifold mercies—in adversity, by their curtailment or withdrawal. And yet, how callous and unconcerned have I been! How careful and troubled about the many things of this life, and how prone to forget the realities of the world to come.
I bless You for the revelation of this higher existence; for the hope of eternal life given by the God who cannot lie—the glorious assurance that death is but the moment of transition into purer being—that through Him who by His own death has been death's Vanquisher, the gates of the grave open on a limitless beatific future. May all the beneficial discipline of Your Providence wean me from earth, and train me up in a fitness for that heavenly Kingdom, whose truest rest will be the unceasing activities of Your service. Deaden unnecessary solicitude about the present. Enable me to walk through the world with a conscience void of offence both towards God and towards man. Let me strive after a closer and more consistent walk with You, and a more habitual dependence on the aids of Your grace and Spirit. I cannot soar to the region of faith without Your strength; I cannot live under the powers of the world to come, without Your teaching and guidance. Show me Your ways, O Lord—teach me Your paths.
Remembering that this present life of probation molds and shapes and determines the life that is to come—that as men live here, so will they live forever—may I be so enabled faithfully to occupy, as best I can, and while I can, whatever niche You have assigned me in Your Temple, that when I come to resign my stewardship, it may be with the humble hope that I have not been a traitor to my trust. Feelingly alive to my momentous responsibilities—may I be diligent, that I may be found of You in peace without spot and blameless.
Let a rain-shower of blessing descend on all near and dear to me. May they too, be enabled to know Him and to love Him, whom to know and whom to love is life eternal. Bless all in sorrow. May they lie passive in the arms of Your mercy. Raise up the sick. Be the God of the widow—the Help of the poor—the Friend of the unbefriended—the Father of the fatherless. Conduct the dying through the swellings of Jordan. "Whom the Lord loves He chastens." May this prove a quieter to all fears, lull all misgivings, and repress all murmurs.
O great Ruler of mankind, hasten the time when all shall know You, from the least unto the greatest. Extend and establish the principles and the reign of Righteousness. Scatter the people that delight in war. Let the cruel sword long slumber. Give peace in our time, O Lord, for there is none other who fights for us but You alone, O God. Let the dew of Hermon—the dew which descended on the mountains of Zion, come down on the Holy Church throughout all the world. May all Your churches, walking in the fear of God and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, everywhere be multiplied. Save Your people; bless Your inheritance; feed them also, and lift them up forever.
Anew I commend myself to Your gracious keeping this day. Guide me by Your counsel—guard me from temptation—lead me in the way everlasting. May every unloving thought—every unworthy aim and aspiration—give place to what is pure and unselfish and kind. And when You have finished Your course and Your purposes with me here below, may an abundant entrance be ministered into Your kingdom and glory. Through the merit and mediation of Jesus Christ, my only Lord and Savior. Amen.
29th Evening—ACCESS TO THE FATHER
"For through him, we have both access by one Spirit unto the Father." Eph. 2:18
Blessed God, I am again permitted this night to approach the Throne of Grace, in the name of Him whom You hear always—who ever stands by the golden altar with the fragrant censer in His hands. The voices of countless suppliants are at this moment ascending into His ear, but He can listen to them all, and answer them all.
Give me now filial confidence in drawing near to You, my Father in heaven. Let me rejoice that the Key which unlocks these gates, admits to a Father's presence and a Father's love. Through Him who has secured this glorious liberty of access, let my prayer come up before You as incense, and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice.
Great Keeper of Israel! Keep me under the shadow of Your wings. Gladden me with that inner sunshine which brightens and beautifies and glorifies every earthly lot, and makes Your people independent of all the varying and changing circumstances of outer life. Under the consciousness of Your friendship and blessing, may I feel that I am rich, whatever else may be lacking.
But while rejoicing in this freedom of approach accorded to Your children, I have reason also to utter the confession, "Father, I have sinned against heaven and before You, and am no more worthy to be called Your son." I acknowledge my great unworthiness—my declensions and backslidings by reason of indulged sin, leading too often from weakness to weakness, instead of from strength to strength. I have not habitually frequented the mercy-seat as I ought to have done, and prized the privilege of unfettered access to Your presence—My prayers have too often been cold and listless—formal and insincere; instead of being the unburdenings and outpourings of filial confidence and trust. Where would I have been this night but for Your paternal forbearance.
Blessed Savior, I desire to rest on the preciousness of Your atoning blood—on the perfection of Your glorious righteousness—on the tenderness of Your all-wise dealings—on the prevalence of Your continual intercession. In You I have all and abound. In You, in the midst of my spiritual poverty, I am rich—nothing can touch my divine patrimony. In You, I have the pledge and guarantee for the bestowment of every other needed blessing.
Lord, I would plead this night for increased communications and supplies of Your grace. Strengthen me with all might by Your Spirit in the inner man. Keep me from all that would be detrimental to my spiritual interests—all that would weaken or impair this filial confidence, and lead me to restrain prayer. Whatever be my dominant sin—ease or pleasure—pride or passion—covetousness or ambition—enable me by the promised help of Your Spirit, to subdue it—nailing it to the Redeemer's cross. Enable me to follow His meekness and gentleness; to be kind and forgiving—tender and charitable towards the weak and the absent—the tempted and the erring. Conscious of the supreme enthronement of Your love, may life be, more than it has been, an effort to crucify self and to please You. Even when there may be mystery in Your dealings, let me not wrong Your goodness and wisdom with one shadow of suspicion. Whether by giving or by taking, by smiting or by healing—by the sweet cup or the bitter, may it be mine to say, "Father! glorify Your name!"
Bless my beloved friends. Though severed from one another by distance, we can meet in thought at the mercy-seat, and, through Christ, have access by one Spirit unto the Father. Breathe upon us and say, "I will be a Father unto you, and you shall be my sons and daughters."
Compassionate all in sorrow. If there has been, with any, the thwarting of favorite schemes and the blighting of fond hopes—may these, too, be met with the breathing of meek acquiescence, "Even so, Father." May the realized consciousness of Your paternal love, sustain amid adverse experiences and foster submissive trust. Stand by every couch of sickness. If it be Your will, give back loved ones. Show that, with You, all things are possible, and that to the Lord our God belong the issues from death.
Bless Your universal Church. Beautify every sanctuary with Your presence; and hasten the promised day, when the wilderness and the solitary place shall be made glad, when the desert shall rejoice and blossom as the rose. Bring Your true people nearer one another. May the watchmen on Zion, who, by reason of present infirmity and weakness and prejudice, may be alienated and estranged, come to see eye to eye. May we all look forward to that happy time when filial love shall be perfected, and consecration of heart and service be complete; when every human will shall be in harmony with Yours—the intellect purified and ennobled—the memory made the repository of pure and hallowed recollections—the whole soul converted into a spiritual temple, where God is all in all. For Jesus' sake. Amen.
30th Morning—A REIGNING GOD
"The Lord God omnipotent reigns." Rev. 19:6
O God, I adore Your sovereignty. Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom. All space is Your dominion. You do according to Your will in the armies of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth. You count the number of the stars, and name every one. You heal the broken in heart and bind up their wounds. The sparrow's fall is appointed by You—the young raven's cry is heard by You—the very hairs of our head are numbered by You. From the drop of the forest leaf, to the departure of the soul in death—all is known to You and ordered by You. You appoint the bounds of our habitation. Man proposes, but You dispose; and You dispose all things well. Let it be thus ever a joyous thought—that whatever concerns me, is under the control and direction of infinite wisdom and unchanging, everlasting love. I cannot forecast the future; but it is in Your hands. Even if there be cloud and tempest, it is You who walk upon the wings of the wind. Omnipotence treads the stormy waters. Omnipotence directs the roll of every billow and, when it is fit, Omnipotence utters the mandate, "Peace, be still!"
O God, I have to acknowledge that I have not always thus realized Your constant supervision, and taken the comfort I ought to have derived from Your sovereign rule. I have too often practically forgotten the Great Supreme, by dwelling on second causes. I have allowed myself to be disturbed and harassed with little vexations—anxious thoughts for the present, and misgivings and forebodings for the future. Enable me to cast all my cares, great or small, on You; knowing that You care for me. Let me brace myself for duty or for trial under the sheltering promise, "I will make My grace sufficient for you—I will perfect strength in weakness." If I enjoy the consciousness of having You on my side, who has given me the mightiest pledge of Your love in Jesus—I may confidently trust Your faithfulness for lesser blessings. Every other rill of comfort may be withdrawn—but if my well-springs are in You, I am independent alike of what the world may give or take away. With You as my heritage and portion, I need no other.
Keep me pure and unspotted in my interactions with the world, whether in my duties or my enjoyments. Forbid that I should offer at the shrine of self, or pleasure, or mammon, my best—and be content with giving the remnants of worn and wasted affections to You. May I beware of any and every deviation from the straight path. Hold me up and I shall be safe. This day, guard me from whatever would be detrimental to my soul's good. Preserve me from the guilt of wasted hours and slighted opportunities. Enable me to renounce all evil habits—all debasing compliances. May every idol that would usurp Your place be overthrown. May no corrupt thought pollute my heart—no unworthy utterance defile my tongue—no unholy action stain my life.
O mighty reigning God—give peace in our time! Maintain peace among the nations; or if You should send war as one of Your four sore judgments, let the sword prepare the way for the ploughshare, and the spear for the pruning hook. If darkness be now covering the lands and gross darkness the people, may it usher in the longed-for era of millennial bliss, when the Prince of Peace shall take to Himself His great power and reign—when the cry shall be heard from shore to shore and from pole to pole, "The kingdoms of this world have become the one kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ."
Keep, and preserve, and comfort, all the sons and daughters of sorrow. In the spirit of weaned children may they say, "Father, not our will—but Your be done." May they feel that in You they have enough for every emergency, and that they can write under each trying hour, "As your days, so shall your strength be." Compassionate those laid on beds of sickness and languishing. Assuage suffering—smooth the pillow of pain. Prepare the dying for death, and what is after death. And may the living remember that they too must die.
Before I now go out into the world I would cling to the horns of the altar. There I would bind with cords, my morning sacrifice of confession and penitence—of gratitude and praise. The Lord is my light and my salvation, whom shall I fear? the Lord is the strength of my life, of whom shall I be afraid? Lead me in Your truth and teach me, for You are the God of my salvation; on You do I wait all the day. Whom have I in heaven, O Savior, but You; on earth there is none I would desire in comparison with You. My flesh and my heart fail, but You are the strength of my heart, and my portion forever. Unto You, with the Adorable Father and the Eternal Spirit, I would ascribe all blessing and honor, and glory and praise; world without end. Amen.
30th Evening—THE CHASTENING OF LOVE
"As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten." Rev. 3:19
O God, I desire to come into Your gracious presence, thanking You for the mercies of the past day. The shadows of another evening have gathered around me—may I feel that "it is not night if You are near." May "no earth-born cloud arise" to eclipse the sunshine of Your love, and deprive me of the sensible tokens of Your favor.
Adored be Your name, that all events are at Your disposal and under Your righteous ordination and control. I rejoice to know that Your dealings, though sovereign, are never arbitrary. You are my Father. Give me trust, and confidence, and filial reverence. Like as a father pities his children, so the Lord pities those who fear Him—for He knows our frame, He remembers that we are dust. Your way is sometimes in the sea, and Your path in the deep waters, and Your judgments unsearchable; but the day is coming when You will vindicate the rectitude of Your procedure, and bring every tongue to confess that You have done all things well.
I have no reason to wonder at any afflictions or chastisements. I have rather reason to wonder at Your patience and kindness; that the cumberer's sentence has not been pronounced, and the cumberer's doom has not been visited upon me. Blessed Redeemer, how coldly have I requited Your love—how unworthily have I resisted Your grace, evaded Your pleadings, grieved Your Spirit. How often have I kept You standing at the door of my heart—Your head wet with dew and Your locks with the drops of the night resigning myself to spiritual sloth and indifference—allowing worldly interests and engrossments to supersede the concerns of the soul and eternity. And yet You are still waiting to be gracious—Your hand of mercy and forbearance, is stretched out still.
Let me trust that same love and mercy, in whatever means You see fit to employ in order to promote the life of faith, to quicken obedience, and stimulate my spiritual graces. We are apt to settle on our lees, when we are not emptied from vessel to vessel. We need at times, a thorn put into our nest, that we may not build too securely here. We need, ever and always, the monition to be sounded in our ears, "Arise and depart, for this is not your rest." Lord, by Your own beneficial discipline—wean me from earth, and train me for heaven. Destroy all self-sufficiency. Give me the ornament of a meek and quiet, a peaceful and contented spirit. Keep me from being fretted by real or imagined injuries. Keep me from whatever would inflict pain on others—or infringe in any way the sacredness of the golden rule. In lowliness of mind may I seek to esteem others better than myself. Preserve me from all that would generate rebellion, or foster worldliness, or deaden spirituality of heart. Whether by active work or by passive endurance, may I seek to glorify Your holy name. If You have curtailed me of some earthly good, let me feel that some higher spiritual blessing is in reversion. Let my will be resolved into Yours; and then will the trials of life be disarmed of their sting, when I view them as part of Your own plan of infinite wisdom.
I pray for all the children of God that are scattered abroad. I pray for Your tempest-tossed Church. Amid environing storms, may she look to Him who rules the raging of the sea. Bring Your true people nearer one another. Hasten the time when, no longer ranged under different banners bearing the shibboleth of party—they shall be found, side by side, fighting the battles of their Lord.
O Help of the helpless, Father of the fatherless, Friend of the friendless—O Great and Good Shepherd who gently leads the weak, the weary, the burdened of Your flock—do look in especial tenderness on the afflicted. May they be enabled to sing of mercy in the midst of judgment. May they know from experience, that You ever mingle sweet ingredients in the cup of sorrow—opening well-springs in the Valley of Baca, and transforming Achor into a door of hope. Be the healer of the broken-hearted, the comforter of all that are cast down. In the midst of the blighting of cherished hopes and the failure of favorite schemes, may they glorify You by unquestioning submission. Take off their sackcloth and gird them with gladness. May the assurance "whom the Lord loves He chastens"—still and quiet every misgiving. Prepare the dying for death. May they pass from the cherished scenes and associations of earth, to the presence of angels and the fruition of God.
Take the charge of me through the silence and darkness of another night. May I lie down to sleep with the assurance that You sustain me, and when I awake, may I be still with You. And all I ask is for the Blessed Redeemer's sake. Amen.
31st Morning—BANISHED FEARS
"He shall not be afraid of evil tidings—his heart is fixed, trusting in the Lord." Psalm 112:7
Heavenly Father, I desire to approach Your gracious presence through this blessed Gateway of Trust. My heart is fixed, O God, my heart is fixed—I will trust and not be afraid, for the Lord Jehovah is my strength and my song; He also has become my salvation. I bless You that in this holy confidence, I can enter on the work and duties—the joys and sorrows—the trials and temptations of a new day. You have been in the past a refuge in the time of trouble, vouchsafing help when vain was the help of man. I will trust You still; leaning on Your arm—confident in Your grace, I will go in the strength of the Lord God, making mention of Your righteousness, even of Yours alone.
I come to You supplicating Your pardoning mercy. Forgive my many sins in all their heinousness and aggravation—may every guilty stain be washed away—may I stand now and ever in Your sight, accepted in the Beloved. Other Refuge—other Savior—other Righteousness—I have none, and I need none—I cast my helpless soul for time and for eternity on His finished work and atoning sacrifice. May the Holy Spirit—the Spirit of all grace—promised by Him on His departure from the world, come down to cleanse and regenerate and sanctify me, and make me fit to be partaker of the inheritance of the saints in light. Your Spirit, O God, is good, lead me to the land of uprightness.
Lord, equip me this morning for Your service. May the great predominating motive, to love and to glorify You, regulate and control my actions—quicken my energies—and give direction to all my schemes and purposes. Clothe and panoply me with the armor of righteousness on the right hand and on the left. The name of my spiritual foe is "legion," for they are many. I have no might against this great multitude, neither know I what to do—but my eyes are upon You. Your hand is never shortened; Your ear is never heavy. He who is with me and for me, is greater far than those who are against me. I will trust in the Lord forever, for in the Lord Jehovah is everlasting strength. "O Lord, in You have I trusted, let me never be confounded."
And may all near and dear to me enter by this same Gate of the righteous; and exercise the same loving, unwavering confidence in Your faithfulness. If any are in trouble—support them; if any are bereaved—comfort them. May they know, in their happy experience, that those who trust in the Lord shall be like Mount Zion, which cannot be moved, but abides forever. If any are dying—flood the dark Valley with glorious light; and when the dust returns to its dust, may the spirit return to the God who gave it.
Bless this great country in its varied interests, civil and sacred. May it be distinguished for the righteousness which alone exalts. May there be more of lofty principle and sterling integrity and honor, regulating and influencing transactions between man and man. Grant us the inestimable blessing of peace. May the sword long slumber. Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we will remember the name of the Lord our God.
Bless Your Church throughout the whole world. Be a wall of fire around Your Zion, and the glory in the midst thereof; over all the glory be a defense. Bless Your ministering servants—the ambassadors of Your Word at home, as well as Your faithful missionaries abroad. May it specially be theirs, amid manifold discouragements, to rise by faith above the fear of evil tidings, and to have their hearts fixed trusting in the Lord. May the joy of the Lord be their strength.
And now, Lord, what do I wait for? my hope is in You. Hear in heaven, Your holy habitation, these my unworthy prayers; and when You hear, forgive, and grant me an answer in peace—through Jesus Christ, in whom is all my trust; and to whom, with You the Father, and the Holy Spirit—Three in one in covenant for my salvation—be ascribed all blessing, and honor, and glory, and praise world without end. Amen.
31st Evening—THE EVERLASTING LIGHT
"Your sun will never set again, and your moon will wane no more; the Lord will be your everlasting light, and your days of sorrow will end." Isaiah 60:20
O God, I come to You this evening, as the Everlasting Light; with whom there is no darkness at all. I beseech You show me Your glory. May the din of the world be shut out—allow not its distracting thoughts and cares to intrude in this the hour of my evening oblation. Bring me under the solemnizing influence of unseen realities. May the Gate of prayer become as the Gate of heaven.
I bless You for the glimpses given of the things prepared within the veil, for those who love You. I thank You for the images and emblems contained in Your most holy Word, of this future world of bliss—"the rest which remains"—"the kingdom which cannot be moved"—"the Father's house" with its "many mansions"—"the sun that shall no more go down"—the moon that shall never wax nor wane—a sinless, sorrowless, tearless immortality. All present joys are transient, shadowy, unreal, compared with these. Grant, Lord, that when I awake from the sleep of death, I may partake of endless life in You—satisfied with Your likeness; and served heir to Your own gracious beatitude—"Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God."
Alas! the love which ought to have reigned paramount, has too often been supplanted and superseded by other affections. I have to lament my bias to sin—the latent principles of corruption—the evil heart of unbelief which is ever tempting me to stray from the living God—the burdens and impediments which clog the wings of faith and prevent me soaring heavenwards. Lord, elevate my affections, purify my desires, quicken my new obedience. May my life become, more than it has been, an offering of gratitude—a sacrifice of praise for all Your many mercies. By the blessings You are bestowing, as well as by the beneficial discipline of Your providence in curtailing or removing these, may I become gradually prepared for the enjoyment of Your presence—for taking my place as a worshiper in that Temple, where my present imperfect and divided service and love will be merged in the bliss of perfect, unalloyed, uninterrupted consecration. Meanwhile, keep me from the absorbing power, the benumbing influence of earthly things. Keep me mindful that my little day is flitting fast, and that opportunities of serving and glorifying You must speedily terminate. May I be enabled so to live, that when the hour of departure arrives, I may lean with unfaltering and unwavering trust on the promised rod and staff, and pass from a death full of hope to an immortality full of glory.
I pray for all mankind. Lord, pity the heathen kingdoms, still the habitations of cruelty; hear the loud cry of oppression and tyranny and wrong which is ever ascending from an enslaved world. Break these bonds asunder; and send the nations forth, walking and leaping and praising God. Prince of Peace! take to Yourself Your great power and reign. Upbuild the walls of Zion, and hasten the fulfillment of the glorious things spoken of the city of God.
Have mercy on the afflicted—the poor—the orphaned—the widowed—the friendless—the sick—the dying. Reveal Yourself to all such as the Great Physician. May those lamenting the earthly loss of loved ones—fallen asleep in Jesus—rejoice that to them the shadow of death has been turned into the morning, and that the Lord their God has become their everlasting light.
Bless those connected with me by ties of kindred or affection. Be to them as a pillar of cloud by day, and as a pillar of fire by night. If You send them blessings, may they connect every gift with the Great Bestower—if You give the full cup, may they be enabled to carry it with a steady hand. If You appoint them crosses, may they have strength to bear them—afflictions and bereavements, may they regard them as Your own special messengers sent on a mission of wisdom and mercy. However far we may be separated from one another here, may an entrance at last be ministered unto us abundantly, into the abiding Home, whose walls are Salvation, and its GATES, PRAISE.
Anew I commit myself to Your gracious protection. Give me quiet and refreshing sleep, and spare me, if it be Your will, to see the light and to enjoy the comforts of another day.
And now, unto Him who alone is able to keep me from falling, and to present me faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy—Unto Him who loved me, and washed me from my sins in His own blood—Unto Him who, Himself having overcome the sharpness of death, has opened the Kingdom of Heaven and the Gates of Righteousness to all Believers—be ascribed all blessing and honor, might, majesty, and dominion, world without end. Amen.