THE MORNING WATCHES
by John MacDuff, 1852
"In the morning, O Lord, You hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before You — and wait in expectation." Psalm 5:3
"Let the morning bring me word of Your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in You. Show me the way I should go, for to You I lift up my soul." Psalm 143:8
This little book is designed as a companion to the "Night Watches." It is hoped, by the Divine blessing, they may together form a humble auxiliary in promoting what is pronounced in the best of all manuals of devotion to be "a good thing" — the showing forth of God's "loving-kindness in the morning," and His "faithfulness every night" (Psalm 92:2.)
Though more strictly designed for private devotion, and therefore expressed in the first person, it is hoped, by the substitution of the plural pronoun, that the following pages may be appropriate for the family altar.
FOR PARDON OF SIN
"In the morning, O Lord, You hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before You — and wait in expectation."
"For Your name's sake, O Lord, pardon my iniquity — for it is great." — Psalm 25:11
O God, I bless You that You have permitted me to lie down in sleep, and to awake this morning in safety. You have dispersed the darkness of another night — may no shadow of sin obscure the sunshine of Your favor and love. May the returning light of day be to me the type and emblem of that better radiance with which you visit the souls of Your people, when they are enabled, in Jesus, to behold a pardoning God seated on a throne of reconciliation and grace.
I come to You, acknowledging my transgressions in all their heinousness. I have nothing to plead in extenuation. Warnings have been abused, providences slighted, grace resisted, Your Spirit grieved. It is of the Lord's mercies I am not consumed — that You have not long before now consigned me, with all this load of unpardoned guilt, to that place where pardon is unknown.
But I do rejoice to know that "there is forgiveness with You, that You may be feared" — that I can bring my great sins to a great Savior. May I be enabled to feel that this all-glorious name of a reconciled God in Christ is "a strong tower," into which I may "run, and be safe." Give me grace, in self-renouncing lowliness, to disown every other ground of confidence or hope of mercy; and to cast myself, a broken-hearted, humbled penitent, at the feet of Him on whom was laid the burden of all my transgressions. May mine henceforth be the blessedness of those "whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered."
May life's joys be sweetened, and life's sorrows sanctified, and life's terminating hour gladdened, with the assurance: "I am at peace with my God." May Your favor brighten every scene, and the sweet sense of Your reconciling love be interfused with all my occupations. If sorrow should cloud or darken, may I be brought to feel that there can be no true sorrow or disquietude to the soul which has found its rest in the finished work of Jesus, and which has attained that blessed peace here, which is the prelude of glory hereafter.
Give me grace to walk more closely with You in the time to come. Being forgiven much — may I love You all the more. May my life be one habitual effort of self-crucifixion and sin-crucifixion, seeking to consecrate my soul's best energies to Him who is willing to "blot out as a thick cloud" all my transgressions. Overrule the discipline of Your providence for promoting within me this death of sin, and this life of righteousness. Amid earth's many disquietudes, its crosses and its losses — enable me with joy to look forward to that blessed hour when there shall be no more sin, and therefore no more sorrow — when every tear shall be wiped from every eye, and when I shall be permitted to know all that is comprehended in the holy beatitude, how "blessed" indeed are "the pure in heart," who are to "see God."
Direct, control, suggest, this day — all my designs and thoughts and actions — that every power of my body, and every faculty of my mind, may unite in devotedness to Your sole service and glory. And all I ask is for Jesus' sake. Amen.
"Let the morning bring me word of Your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in You. Show me the way I should go, for to You I lift up my soul."
FOR RENEWAL OF HEART
"In the morning, O Lord, You hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before You — and wait in expectation."
"Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me." — Psalm 51:10
Almighty God, who has mercifully preserved me during the unconscious hours of slumber, I desire to dedicate my waking moments and thoughts to You. Pre-occupy my mind with hallowed and heavenly things. May I be enabled throughout this day, by the help of Your Holy Spirit, to exclude all that is vain and frivolous and sinful — and to have my affections centered on You, as my best portion and chief joy. As Your Spirit of old brooded over the face of the waters, may that same blessed Spirit descend in all the plenitude of His heavenly graces, that the gloom of a deeper moral chaos may be dispersed, and that mine may be the beauty and happiness and gladness of a soul that has been transformed "from darkness — to light; and from the power of sin and Satan — unto God."
Forbid, blessed Lord! that I should be resting in anything short of this new creation. May my old nature be crucified; and, as one alive from the dead, may I "walk with Jesus in newness of life." May the new life infused by Your Spirit urge me to higher attainments and more heavenly aspirations. May I be enabled to see the world in its true light — its pleasures fading, its hopes delusive, its friendships perishable. May I be more solemnly and habitually impressed by the surpassing magnitude of "the things not seen." May I give evidence of the reality of a renewal of heart by a more entire and consistent dedication of the life. May my soul become a temple of the Holy Spirit; may "Holiness to the Lord" be its superscription. May I be led to feel that there can be no true joy but what emanates from Yourself, the fountain and fullness of all joy — the God in whom "all my well springs" are.
Whatever maybe the discipline You are employing for this inward heart-transformation, let me be willing to submit to it. Let me lie passive in the arms of Your mercy, saying, "Undertake for me." May it be mine to bear all, and endure all, and rejoice in all — adoring a Father's hand, and trusting a Father's faithfulness — feeling secure in a Father's tried love.
Blessed Jesus! anew would I wash in the opened Fountain. The new heart, like every holy blessing I can ask, is the purchase of that blood which You so freely shed. May it be sprinkled on my guilty conscience. May I ever know what it is to be living on a living Savior, bringing my all-emptiness to His all-fullness; the unworthiness of my infinite demerit — to the worthiness of His all-sufficient, all abounding, grace and mercy.
Shine upon my ways. May I this day get nearer heaven. May I feel at its close that I have done something for God — something to promote the great end for which existence was given me — the glory of Your holy name. Bless all my beloved friends. Unite us together in bonds of holy fellowship here; and at last, in Your presence, may we be permitted to drink together of the streams of everlasting love. And all I ask is for Jesus' sake. Amen.
"Let the morning bring me word of Your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in You. Show me the way I should go, for to You I lift up my soul."
FOR SANCTIFYING GRACE
"In the morning, O Lord, You hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before You — and wait in expectation."
"I am the Lord who sanctifies you." — Exod. 31:13
Most blessed God, You have permitted me in Your great goodness to see the light of another day. May I be enabled to receive every returning morning as a fresh token of Your love — a renewal of my lease of existence — a fresh grant of mercy from the Author of all being. May I seek, this day, and every day, to consecrate the life spared by Your bounty more and more to Your praise.
Lord, I come anew with my burden of sin. It is Your marvelous forbearance that does not make every succeeding morning my last. I bless You that there is still the cleansing blood, the "Wonderful Counselor," the all-gracious Spirit. Give me to know, before I go forth into the world, what it is to have the sense of Your reconciled love. Whether in public or in private, in the communion of life or in the seclusion of solitude, may I realize Your presence. May it be to me the sweetest and most blessed of all thoughts, that a covenant God is "compassing my path" — that by Him I am defended, guided, supported — safe!
Heavenly Father, it is the unholiness of my heart which mars the joys of my communion with You. It is my especial prayer that You may impart largely to me of the sanctifying influences of Your grace and Spirit. Let sin be crucified more and more. Let SELF be subjugated more and more. Under the transforming power of new affections, may You become all in all. May it be mine to know, in growing experience, the happiness of true holiness. May I jealously avoid all that is likely to estrange me from You, and zealously cultivate all that is calculated to draw me nearer towards You. "Your favor is life" — O show me that to lose Your favor is death indeed!
This blessed work of inward sanctification is Yours. Alas! I feel my constant proneness to wander from You, and to seek my happiness in that which is perishable. My best resolutions, how frail! — my warmest affections, how languid and lukewarm! — my holiest moments, how distracted with vain thoughts and worldly cares! — my whole life, how stained with sin! But strengthen me with all might, by Your Spirit, in the inner man. My daily cry would be, "More grace! more grace!" There is no sufficiency in myself; but have You not promised to make Your grace sufficient? May I make it my grand ambition to be marking, day by day, my Zionward progress — my growing conformity to the holy character of a holy God.
For this end, overrule all the dispensations of Your providence. May I hear a voice in each of them proclaiming, "Be holy." May I be led to bear them all, and to rejoice in them all, if they thus be the means of bringing me nearer Yourself.
I commend to Your fatherly protection all my beloved friends, and all for whom I ought to pray. "Sanctify them through Your truth." May they all be presented unblameable before You in the day of Christ's appearing.
And may the grace of the Lord Jesus, and the love of God, and the communion and fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with me now and ever. Amen.
"Let the morning bring me word of Your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in You. Show me the way I should go, for to You I lift up my soul."
FOR SUPPORT IN TEMPTATION.
"Hold me up, and I shall be safe." — Psalm 119:117
Most gracious God, give me grace to begin a new morning with You. Before entering on the world, I invoke Your blessing. Before I hear the voice of earthly friend, or mingle in earthly society, may I have a conscious filial nearness to You, my Father in heaven. O You, who are better, tenderer, dearer, than all on earth, give me the sweet assurance of Your presence and favor. With this, all the day's joys will be joys indeed — with this, the sting will be extracted from the day's sorrows. In quiet confidence I will repose on Your covenant faithfulness. I need no other benediction, Lord, if I have Yours. Other portions may fail me, but I am independent of all, if "You are the strength of my heart and my portion forever."
I adore and bless Your holy name for every past token of your kindness and forbearance. The retrospect of life is a retrospect of love. I am a wonder to myself that You have spared me — that mercy is remembered when nothing but wrath is deserved. "Unless the Lord had been my help, my soul had long before now dwelt in silence."
On that same arm I would desire still to lean. I am compassed about with a great fight of afflictions, and the sorest and saddest of all are my sins. But I fly to You, helper of the helpless. Give me to know what it is to dismiss all my own guilty misgivings, and to rest by simple faith on a tried Redeemer. It is mistrust of Him that has been the cause of many a bygone fall. I have been dwelling more on the strength of my temptations than on the strength of my Savior. Oh, "You hold me up, blessed Jesus! and I shall be safe." Whenever in the way of sin, give me to realize the all-sufficiency of Your grace. May every hurricane of temptation drive me more under the shelter of the Rock. May the loss of every earthly prop lead me to Yourself — the only abiding refuge. No step in the wilderness journey would I take without You. No loss would I mourn when sustained at Your bidding. No enemy would I fear if You are on my side. You hold me up, and then indeed I shall be safe — safe for time — safe for eternity.
And the same support I ask for myself, I beseech You to give to all near and dear to me. May the Lord God be their "sun and shield." May they experience no temptation "above what they are able to bear;" or, with the temptation, grant them grace that they may be able to bear it. And when all earthly dangers and toils and trials are over, may we all be enabled to meet in glory, and trace there, with adoring gratitude and joy, the way in which Your mercy through life "has held us up."
Anew I commend myself, body and soul, to You this day. For Your dear Son's sake, forgive all my sins. My sole trust is in the atoning blood. May I feel this to be the best preservative against temptation and sin, that all I am, and all I have, is not my own, but belongs to the Lord who died for me. Hear these my unworthy supplications, and grant me an answer in peace, for His sake. Amen.
FOR HELP IN TROUBLE
"Though I walk in the midst of trouble, You will revive me." — Psalm 138:7
Most blessed Lord, who have again permitted me to approach a throne of grace, shine this day into my heart. Anew may I enter on another day's duties and trials, with a soul calm and peaceful amid all other disquietudes, by being at peace with You.
I bless You that I can ever "sing of mercy" as well as of "judgment." Your dealings might have been all in unmixed wrath, but the severest of them are tempered with gracious love. Oh that they may have their designed effect of driving me to the only true rest for the soul, in the bosom of its God! May the breaking of cistern by cistern only endear to me the more the great Fountain-head.
How often do You send tribulations, that Your people may see more of Your gracious hand! How often, when the waters are troubled, do we recognize the presence of the great Covenant-angel himself, and experience the plenitude of His upholding grace and mercy! Lord, my earnest prayer is, that every trial may serve to unfold to me more of the preciousness of Jesus. As prop by prop, which used to support me on earth, may be giving way, may I know what it is to lean my whole weight upon Him, and leave my whole case with Him, repairing to Him as the friend that "sticks closer than any brother" — into His sympathizing bosom to confide my every need — from His inexhaustible treasury to draw every consolation — and on His upholding arm confidingly and habitually to rest.
What, O blessed Savior, are my troubles to Yours! What are my bitterest tears and most aching heart in comparison with what You so freely endured for me! May the remembrance of this Your fellowship in my suffering, and my fellowship in Yours, reconcile me patiently to endure whatever You see fit to lay upon me. Give me grace ever to see that my bitterest trial is my sin, that my heaviest cross is the cross of my wandering treacherous heart. When I think of that blessed time when God shall terminate the tears of a weeping world, may this be my loftiest ground of rejoicing — that there will be then no more sin to cause them.
Humbly I would lie at my Savior's feet, disowning all trust except in Him — exulting in His finished work, and meritorious righteousness, and all-prevalent intercession. I rejoice to think of the redeemed multitude before His throne, "whom no man can number," and to feel that His ability and willingness "to save unto the uttermost" are still the same.
Command, O Lord, Your richest blessing this day on all whom I love. May all my relatives be related to You in the common bonds of the gospel. Though separated by distance from each other on life's highway, may we enjoy the consolation that we are all treading the same invisible road Zionward — that earth's dearest and tenderest ties will, at the end of the checkered journey, be strengthened and perpetuated in the full vision and fruition of You our God.
May the grace of the Lord Jesus, and the love of God, and the fellowship and communion of the Holy Spirit, be with me this day and ever. Amen.
FOR COMFORT IN BEREAVEMENT
"Turn to me, and have mercy upon me, for I am desolate and afflicted." — Psalm 25:16
"O God, I come to You this morning, rejoicing in the simple but sublime assurance that "the Lord reigns." Your judgments are often "a great deep." May it be mine ever to own Your sovereignty, and to rest satisfied with the assurance, "He has done all things well."
It is indeed my comfort to know that "my times" are not in my own hands, but in Yours. When in vain I seek to explain the mystery of Your inscrutable doings, may I be enabled implicitly to trust Your unswerving rectitude and faithfulness. The kindest and best of earthly parents may err — they may be betrayed into unnecessary harshness and severity — but You, O unerring Parent, will not, and cannot inflict one unneeded stroke. I can own Your wisdom where I cannot discern it. I can trust the footsteps of love where I cannot trace them.
I look back with adoring wonder on all Your marvelous dealings towards me in the past. "When my foot slipped, Your mercy, O Lord, held me up." How many tear-drops have been dried by You! How many sorrows have been soothed by you! How many dangers have been averted by you! Instead of wondering at my trials, I have rather reason to marvel at Your forbearance. What are my heaviest afflictions in comparison with the deservings of sin? Lord, if they had been in proportion to my guilt, I could not have had one hour of joy.
Give me grace not only to bear all, and to endure all, but to glory in all which Your chastening love sees fit to appoint. Affliction is your own appointed training-school for immortality. If I need such training, Lord, withhold it not. Rather subject me to the severest ordeal of fatherly discipline, than leave me to vex You more with my guilty departures and backsliding. I will confide in the tenderness of Your dealings — that You will conduct me by no rougher path than is really needful. You have given Your Son for me! After such a pledge of Your love, may it never be mine to breathe one murmuring word.
For all in sorrow, Lord, I pray that they may take their sorrows to the "Man of sorrows." May they be willing to forget their own light afflictions as they behold His bleeding wounds. Blessed God, what a source of joy to the whole family of the afflicted, that the exalted Head and elder Brother has Himself tasted sorrow's bitterest cup! Lord Jesus, You who have suffered so much for me, grant that by patience and uncomplaining submission I may be enabled to "glorify you in the fires."
All my beloved friends I commit to Your care. May the Lord be their everlasting portion. Forbid that I should have to mourn in them what would be bitterer than the pang of all earthly bereavement — that they are bereft of Your favor. Make them Yours, and in the midst of life's vicissitudes and changes, may we all look forward to that better time, and that better world, where sorrow and sighing shall forever flee away. And all I ask is for Jesus' sake. Amen.
FOR LIGHT IN DARKNESS
"To the upright there arises light in the darkness." — Psalm 103:4
Eternal, everlasting God, I bless You for the privilege of access into Your presence. What am I — a guilty, unworthy sinner, deserving only of condemnation — that I should be permitted, with holy boldness, to approach the footstool of Your throne and call You "my Father in heaven!"
I rejoice to know, when "my heart is overwhelmed, and in perplexity," that I can ever look to You as a "Rock that is higher than I" — that, amid all the ebbings and flowings in the tide of my own fitful frames and feelings, You, great Rock of ages, remain fixed and immovable. You have never failed me in the past. When "deep has been calling to deep," and many "waves and billows have gone over me," "the Lord has commanded His loving-kindness in the daytime, and in the night His song has been with me, and my prayer to the God of my life." And I will trust You in the future. In the midst of baffling and mysterious providences I will be still — hushing every murmur, and breathing in lowly resignation the prayer, "divinely taught," "Your will be done."
It is my comfort to know that the darkest cloud is fringed with covenant love. I can repose on the blessed assurance that present discipline is needed discipline, and that all which is mystery now will be cleared up hereafter. May it be mine cheerfully to follow the footsteps of the guiding Shepherd through the darkest, loneliest road, and amid thickening sorrows may I have grace to say, "Though He slays me, yet will I trust in Him."
Lord, increase my faith — let it rise above all difficulties and all trials. Let these drive me closer to Him who has promised to make me "more than conqueror." Let them quicken my longings for the true home of my soul above. May it be my grand ambition here to be a "pilgrim" in everything — to be pitching my tent day by day nearer heaven, imbibing every day more of the pilgrim character, and longing more for the pilgrim's rest. May I be enabled to say, with an increasingly chastened spirit, of a passing world, "Here I have no continuing city." May this assurance dry all tears, and reconcile to all sorrows — "I am journeying to the place of which the Lord has said, I will give it you."
Blessed Jesus, hasten Your coming and Your kingdom. Scatter the darkness which is now covering heathen nations. Stand by Your missionary servants. May they exercise a simple faith on Your own sure word of promise. "Strong in the Lord and in the power of His might," may every mountain of difficulty be made a plain, and "the glory of the Lord be revealed."
God of Bethel, I commend to You all my beloved friends. Shield them by Your protecting providence. Give them every needed blessing in the present life, and in the world to come life everlasting. And all I ask is for Jesus' sake. Amen.
FOR HOPE IN DISCOURAGEMENT
"Why are you downcast, O my soul, and why are you disturbed within me? Hope in God." — Psalm 43:5
O God, in Your infinite mercy You have again spared me to approach Your blessed presence. May each morning find me better prepared for the glorious waking-time of immortality, when "the day shall break," and earth's shadows shall forever "flee away." May I seek to rise this day in newness of life, breathing more of the atmosphere of holiness, and partaking more of the character of heaven.
You are always, by the salutary dispensations of Your providence, reminding me that "earth is not my rest." It is well, Lord, that it should be so; that, by Your own gracious and needed discipline, the world be disarmed of its insinuating power, and I be weaned from what is precarious at the best, and which ultimately must perish.
O my God, I feel heavily burdened by reason of sin. I mourn my guilty proneness to temptation. How anything and everything seems often enough to drive me from you, and to lead me to seek my happiness in created good, rather than in Yourself, the infinite fountain of all excellence! How sad have been my backslidings! — how have solemn vows been broken! — how have abandoned and forsworn sins threatened again to have dominion over me! How little tenderness of conscience has there been! — how little dread of an uneven walk! How often, on the heart which I have consecrated to You as an altar for the perpetual sacrifice of praise, and gratitude, and love, has there been burning incense to strange gods!
Lord, when I look to my inner self I have good cause indeed for misgivings and despondency. Conscience repeats, over and over again, a sentence of condemnation, and I have nothing to extenuate my guilt or excuse my sin. Where can I flee? Where can I look but to You, O Lamb of God, sin-bearing and sin-forgiving Savior!
Enable me to be living more from moment to moment on Your grace — to rely on Your guiding arm with more childlike confidence — to look with a more simple faith to Your finished work, disowning all trust in my own doings, and casting myself, as a poor needy pensioner, on the bounty of Him who has done all, and suffered all, and endured all, for me. Thus relying on the unseen arm of a covenant-God, when the hour of darkness and discouragement overtakes me — when trials multiply, and comforts fail, and streams of earthly blessings are dried up — may I have what compensates for the loss of all, "Your favor, which is life, and Your loving-kindness, which is better than life." "I will go in the strength of the Lord God." "Though He slays me, yet will I trust in Him."
Be the God of all near and dear to me. May all my relatives be able to claim a spiritual relationship with You, that so those earthly bonds of attachment, which sooner or later must snap asunder here, may be renewed and perpetuated before the throne.
Pity all who are in sorrow. Comfort the feeble-minded. May "the joy of the Lord be their strength." May valuable lives be prolonged. May those appointed unto death be prepared for their great change. And all I ask is for Jesus' sake. Amen.
FOR WISDOM IN PERPLEXITY
"Cause me to know the way wherein I should walk, for I lift up my soul to You." — Psalm 143:8
O eternal Lord, whose nature and whose name is love, I bless You that I am again invited into Your presence. What am I, that I should be permitted to speak to the infinite God! I might have been left through eternity a monument of Your righteous vengeance. I might have known You only as "the consuming fire." But "Your ways are not as man's ways;" mercy is remembered when wrath might have come upon me to the uttermost.
I desire to begin this day, blessing and praising You for "Your unspeakable gift," Jesus the Son of Your love. Adored be your name, that the guilt of my sin, which the holiness of Your law could not permit otherwise to be cancelled, has to Him been transferred — that, as the scape-goat of His people, He has borne the mighty load into the land of oblivion, never more to be remembered. May I be enabled to show forth my lively gratitude to You for this wondrous token of Your Love, not only by lip homage, but by heart and life devotion. Sanctify and seal me in body, soul and spirit; and present me at last "faultless before the presence of Your glory with exceeding joy."
O my God, I rejoice to know that my interests for time and eternity are confided to Your keeping. Though often "wonderful in counsel," You are ever "excellent in working." You are "God only wise" — "righteous in all Your ways, and holy in all Your works." I commit my way and my doings unto You. "You hold me up, and I shall be safe." May I trust Your wisdom and faithfulness even amid crosses and losses, and frowning providences. Make them all work together for my good.
If my path be in any way now hedged up with thorns, "undertake for me," "Guide me with Your counsel." Let me take no step, and engage in no plan, unsanctioned by Your approval. Let it be my grand aim and ambition, in all the changes of a changing life, to hear Your directing voice, saying, "This is the way, walk in it;" and then shall all life's trials be sweetened, and life's burden lightened, by knowing that they are the appointment of infinite wisdom and unchanging love, and that, though man may err, God never can.
May Your Holy Spirit lead me this day into all the truth. May all its duties be pervaded by the leavening power of vital godliness. While in the world, may I seek to feel and to exhibit that I am not of it. May I give evidence, in my walk and conversation, of a renewed nature, and of a nobler destiny.
Hasten, blessed Jesus, Your coming and Your kingdom. "How long shall the wicked triumph?" "Save Your people, and bless Your inheritance; feed them also, and lift them up forever."
Let the voice of salvation be heard in the household of all I love. May theirs be the dwellings of the righteous. May this be their name, "The Lord is there." May they know Him who has said, "I will never leave you nor forsake you."
And "now, Lord, what do I wait for? my hope is in You." Hear and answer these unworthy supplications, for Jesus' sake. Amen.
FOR STRENGTH IN WEAKNESS
"My strength is made perfect in weakness." — 2 Cor. 12:9
O high and mighty God, inhabiting eternity, draw near to a poor unworthy sinner, who ventures anew this morning to approach the footstool of Your throne. Give me now the gracious aids of Your gracious Spirit, that out of much weakness I may be made strong. It is Your own gracious assurance, that "those who wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength." I would rely on the faithfulness of a promising God. May my own utter emptiness drive me to all fullness. May my own conscious weakness wean me from all earthly props, and confidences, and refuges, to "abide under the shadow of the Almighty."
Lord, I confess this day with shame and confusion of face my many infirmities, my coldness and lukewarmness, my distrust of Your providence, my insensibility to Your Love, my murmuring at Your dealings, my tampering with sin, my resisting of Your grace. How often, like the slender reed, have I bent before the blast of temptation, my best resolutions proving "as the morning cloud and the early dew!"
And yet gracious Father, You have not broken "the bruised reed" — You have not "quenched the smoking flax." I am here this morning a marvel to myself that You are still sparing me. "Your ways are not as man's ways." Had it been so, You would long since have grown weary. But it is the prerogative of the everlasting God that "He faints not, neither is weary." You are this morning giving me fresh grants of mercy, renewed proofs and tokens of unmerited love. I am receiving "at the Lord's hand double for all my sins."
I rejoice to know, blessed Jesus, it is Your burdened ones You have specially promised "gently to lead." You will conduct me by no rougher road than is necessary. "Undertake for me." May the wilderness journey be this day resumed and renewed with a more simple, and childlike, and habitual leaning on You. Put this new song into my mouth, "The Lord is my Rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust." Say to me, in the midst of my weakness, "Fear not, you worm Jacob." With the pillar of Your presence ever before me, "I will go from strength to strength."
Keep me this day from sin. May no evil thoughts, or vain imaginings, or deceitful lusts, obtrude on my walk with God. May an affecting sense of how frail I am, keep me near the atoning sacrifice. May the "horns of the altar" ever be in sight. Blessed Jesus, my helpless soul would hang, every moment upon You.
Look down in Your kindness on all connected with me by ties of earthly kindred. May the blessing of the God of Bethel rest on every heart and household I love. May we all be journeying Zionwards, and be so weaned from earth as to feel that Zionwards is homewards. If pursuing different paths, and separated, it may be, far from one another, may the journey have one blessed and happy termination. May we meet in glory, and meet with You. And all I ask is for the Redeemer's sake. Amen.
FOR GRATITUDE IN MERCIES
"What shall I render to the Lord for all His benefits towards me?" — Psalm 116:12
O God, I adore You as the Author and Giver of every good and every perfect gift. You are daily loading me with Your benefits. Every returning morning brings with it fresh causes for gratitude — new material for praise. I bless You for Your temporal bounties — "how great has been the sum of them!" While others have been pining in poverty, or wasted by sickness, or racked in pain, or left friendless and portionless, You have been making showers of blessing to fall around my dwelling. I laid me down last night and slept — I awoke, for the Lord sustained me. I might never have seen the morning light. Mine might have been the midnight summons to meet a God in whose righteous presence I was all unfit and unprepared to stand. And yet I am again spared, a monument of Your goodness. Oh, enkindle a flame of undying gratitude to You, on the clay-cold altar of my heart. I mourn and lament that I am so little and so feebly affected by the magnitude of Your mercies, and especially by the riches of Your grace and love manifested in Jesus — that my affections are so little alive to the incalculable obligation under which I am laid to Him who has "loved me with an everlasting love." I am doubly Yours. Creation and redemption combine in claiming all I am, and all I have, for You and Your service. Good Lord, preserve me from the sin of insensibility to Your unwearied kindness — of taking Your mercies as matters of course, and thus living in a state of independence of You. May my whole existence become a sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving — may all my doings testify the sincerity and devotion of a heart feeling alive to every gift of the great Giver; and, especially, may I be so brought under the constraining influence of redeeming love, as to consecrate every power of my body and every faculty of my soul to Him who so willingly consecrated and shed His very life's blood for me.
Lord, this day shine upon me with the light of Your countenance; may every mercy I experience in the course of it be hallowed and sweetened by the thought that it comes from God. And, while ever mindful and thankful in the midst of present mercies, teach me to keep in view the crowning mercy of all — the hope of at last sharing Your presence and full fruition, and of joining in the eternal ascription with the ransomed multitude above, who cease not day nor night to celebrate Your praises.
Bless all near and dear to me. Defend them by Your mighty power. Give them, too, gratitude for mercies past, and the sure and well-grounded hope of a glorious inheritance in that better world, where mercy is unmixed with judgment, and joy undarkened by sorrow. And all I ask is for Jesus' sake. Amen.
FOR CRUCIFIXION OF SIN
"I die daily." — 1 Cor. 15:31
Heavenly Father, who have permitted me, in Your great mercy, to see the light of another day, enable me to begin and to end it with You. Let all my thoughts and purposes and actions have the superscription written on them — "Holiness to the Lord."
Give me to know the blessedness of reconciliation — what it is, as a sinner, and the chief of sinners, to come "just as I am, without one plea," to that blood "which cleanses from all sin." I desire to take hold of the sublime assurance that Jesus is "able to save unto the uttermost" — that He has left nothing for me as a suppliant at Your throne — a pensioner on Your bounty — but to accept all as the gift and purchase of free, unmerited grace.
While I look to Him as my Savior from the penalty, may I know Him also as my Deliverer from the power of sin. I have to lament that so often I have yielded to its solicitations — that my heart, a temple of the Holy Spirit, has been so often profaned and dishonored by the "accursed thing," marring my spiritual joy, and sorely interrupting communion with the Lord I love. Give me grace to exercise a godly jealousy over my traitor affections — to live nearer You — to have the magnet of my heart more centered on Yourself — to keep the eye of faith more steadily on Jesus — to live more habitually under "the powers of the world to come." You know my besetting sin — the plague of my heart, which so often leads to a guilty estrangement. Lord, cut down this root of bitterness. Let me nail it to Your cross. Let me be ever on the watchtower, ready to resist the first assault of the enemy. Let it be to me at once a precept and a promise — "Sin shall not have dominion over you." Oh show me that my strength to repel temptation is in Jesus alone. Put me in the cleft of the rock when the hurricane is passing by. May I be as willing to surrender all for my Savior — my heart sins and life sins — as He willingly surrendered His all for me. May I be enabled to say, "Lord I am Yours."
Every idol I utterly abolish. Save me, blessed Savior from a deceitful heart and a seductive world. Let me see more and more the beauties of holiness. Let me ever be basking in the rays of Your love — approaching nearer and nearer You, the "Sun of my soul." May Your loveliness and glory eclipse all created beams and may I look forward with bounding heart to that time when all that helps to lighten up earth's pathway shall be obscured in the shadow of death, and I shall be ushered into the glories of that better and brighter scene, where "the sun shall no more go down, neither shall the moon withdraw itself, but where the Lord my God shall be my everlasting light."
And what I ask for myself, I desire in behalf of those near and dear to me. "Sanctify them wholly." May they, too, crucify sin, and "die daily." May this be the happy history of all of us — "Being made free from sin, and having become the servants of God, we have our fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life." Amen.
FOR GROWTH IN HOLINESS
"Grow in grace." — 2 Pet. 3:18
O God, draw near to me in fullness in Your great mercy. Another peaceful morning has dawned upon me. May it be mine to know the happiness of those who walk all the day in the light of Your countenance.
O best and kindest of Beings, teach me to know, amid the smiles and the frowns, the joys and the sorrows, of an ever-changing world, what it is to have an unchanging refuge and portion in You. I can mourn no blank, I can feel no solitude, when I have Your presence and love. If I have nothing beside — stripped and divested of every other blessing — I have the richest of all, if I am at peace with God.
I desire to dwell with devout contemplation on the infinite loveliness of Your moral nature. Lord, I long to have this guilty, erring soul, molded and fashioned in increasing conformity to Your blessed mind and will. Let my great concern henceforth be, to love and serve and please You more and more. May all Your dealings with me, of whatever kind they be, contribute in promoting this growth in holiness. May prosperity draw forth a perpetual thank-offering of praise for unmerited mercies. May adversity purify away the dross of worldliness and sin. May every day be finding the power of sin weaker and weaker, and the dominion of grace stronger and stronger. Living under the powers of a world to come, may I look forward with joyful expectation to the time when sin shall no longer impede my spiritual growth — when Satan shall be disarmed of his power, and my own heart of its deceitfulness — when every faculty of a glorified and exalted nature shall be enlisted in Your service in a world of eternal joy.
O blessed Advocate within the veil — You who are even now interceding for Your tried and tempted saints, "that their faith fail not" — Impart to me a constant supply of Your promised grace. Not only sprinkle my heart with Your blood, but conquer it by Your love. Fill me with deep contrition for an erring past — inspire me with purposes of new obedience for the future. May I know, in my sweet experience, that "Your yoke is easy and Your burden light" — that, growing in holiness, I am growing in happiness too. Give me an increasing tenderness of conscience about sin — lead me, with more filial devotedness, to cultivate a holy fear of offending so gracious a Father. Habitually realizing my new covenant relationship to You, may I ever be ready to exclaim, with joyful sincerity "O Lord, truly I am Your servant!"
Revive, blessed God, Your own work everywhere. "Take to Yourself Your great power, and reign." Remove all hardness and blindness of heart — all contempt of Your Word. May it have free course and be glorified.
Bless my dear friends. However far separated from one another, we can ever meet at the same throne of the heavenly grace, pleading the same "exceeding great and precious promises." May we all be following the same path of grace now, and meet amid the endless joys of glory hereafter. And all I ask is for Jesus' sake. Amen.
FOR VICTORY OVER THE WORLD
"Everyone born of God overcomes the world." — 1 John 5:4
O eternal, everlasting God, You are glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, continually doing wonders. Heaven and earth are full of the majesty of Your glory. You, the almighty keeper of Israel, never slumber. There is not the moment I am away from your wakeful vigilance. In the defenseless hours of sleep, as well as amid life's activities and toils, You are ever the same — "compassing my path and my lying down, and intimately acquainted with all my ways."
I rejoice to think that I have the assurance of such unwearying watchfulness and care, in a world "lying in wickedness." Blessed Jesus, in the world You have forewarned me to expect tribulation, but, nevertheless, I will "be of good cheer, for you have overcome the world." You have traversed its wilderness-depths — You have passed through the shadow of its darkest valley. I cannot dread what You have trodden and conquered.
But, alas! I have to mourn that the world which crucified You should be so much loved by me — that its pleasures should be so fascinating — its pursuits so engrossing. Wean me from it. Break its alluring spell. Strip it of its counterfeit charms. Discover to me, its hollowness — the treachery of its promises — the precariousness of its best blessings — the fleeting nature of its most enduring friendship. I take comfort in the thought, "The Lord God is a sun and shield." The world has deceived me, but You never have. Guide me by Your counsel. Savior-God, let me come up from the wilderness leaning on Your arm, exulting, amid its legion-foes, that greater is He who is with me than all those who can be against me.
O You who, in Your last prayer on earth, did so touchingly say of Your pilgrim people, "These are in the world;" still bend Your pitying eye upon me, as I travel, burdened with sin and sorrow, through the valley of tears. So "sanctify me through Your truth," that, though in the world, I may not be of it — not conformed to its sinful practices and lying vanities. Bring me to say, with regard to all in it that was once so fascinating, "My soul is even as a weaned child." With my face Zionward, may I declare plainly that I seek "a better country."
Grant that this day, in all my worldly communion, I may have the realizing sense of Your presence and nearness. May I set a watch on my heart, and keep the door of my lips. May cherished feelings of love and devotion to You be intermingled with all life's duties and engagements. May I know that a simple faith in Jesus is the great secret of victory over the world. Oh, may the trembling magnet of my vacillating affections be ever pointing to Him, and then I shall be made "more than conqueror."
Through His all-prevailing merits and advocacy, hear my prayer. In His most precious blood, forgive all my sins. By His indwelling grace, sanctify my nature, that my whole body, soul, and spirit may be preserved blameless until His coming. Amen.
FOR DEEPER VIEWS OF SELF
"Search me, O God, and know my heart." — Psalm 139:23
O eternal, everlasting God, who have once more enlightened my eyes, and allowed me not to sleep the sleep of death, bestow upon me this day the riches of Your grace and love. Morning after morning is dawning upon me, with new tokens of Your mercy. Oh, may these be bringing me nearer the glorious day which is to know no night — that eternal noon-tide when all shadows and darkness are forever to flee away!
Lord, I am unworthy to come into Your presence, and yet I have to mourn that I do not feel this deep unworthiness as I ought. I am unwilling to see into the unknown depths of my sin. I do not know myself. I have no depressing consciousness of the desperate wickedness of my own evil heart. I have buried many past transgressions in oblivion. I have deluded myself with the thought, that many were too trivial and unimportant to incur Your disapproval. Even any imperfect good which Your grace has enabled me to perform, I have been too prone to take the merit to myself, instead of ascribing all the praise to You. There has been pride in my humility. There have been mingled motives in my best services. My best resolutions have been fitful and transient. My purest and most unselfish actions could not stand the scrutiny of Your eye. The holiest day I ever spent, were I to be judged by it, would condemn me.
O You who "searches Jerusalem with lighted candles," "search my heart." Bring me to the publican's place of penitential sorrow, exclaiming, in self-renouncing humility, "God be merciful to me a sinner!"
I would seek to make a more entire and undivided surrender of all I am and have to You. Give me such a dreadful and affecting sense of my vileness, that I may never feel safe but when close to the atoning Fountain, drawing out of it hourly supplies. May mine be a daily heart and self and sin crucifixion — an eternal severance from those bosom traitors which have so long separated between me and my God. Make me more zealous for Your honor and glory — "Cleanse the thoughts of my heart, by the inspiration of Your Holy Spirit" — "Let no iniquity obtain dominion over me." But may it be my daily ambition to become more like You, reflecting more of the image, and imbibing more of the spirit, of my Divine Redeemer, that thus the atmosphere of holiness and of heaven may be diffused all around me. May my own soul be pervaded with lofty and purified aspirations. May I be enabled to exhibit to the world the felt happiness of close walking with God.
And gracious Father, "send forth Your light and Your truth" to a darkened world. May Your own ancient people be speedily gathered in with the fullness of the Gentile nations, that all ends of the earth may see the salvation of God.
Bless all my dear friends, near or distant. May they have the heritage of those who fear Your name. Defend them now by Your mighty power, and at last number them with Your saints in glory everlasting. Amen.
FOR BRIGHTER VIEWS OF JESUS
"That I may know Him." — Phil. 3:10
Blessed Jesus! — Sun of my soul! — Light of my life! — Shine upon me this morning with the "brightness of Your rising." May I enjoy this day union and communion with You. May a sense of Your favor pervade all its duties, sanctify its blessings, and lighten its trials. May it be to me the sweetest and holiest of all thoughts, that You are ever with me — that, though unseen to the eye of sense, the eye of faith can discern Your gracious presence and the manifestations of Your nearness and love. May the realized assurance, that You are thus at my side, dispel every misgiving, and dry every tear. May I hear You, even now, saying to me, "Lo, I am with you" — I am with you now — I shall be with you "always" — and when the world is ended "I will" that you "be with me where I am, that you may behold my glory!"
O adorable Savior, how sadly is Your beauty obscured from my view, by reason of my own sin! How feebly do I apprehend the mystery of Your love — the glories of Your person — the perfection of Your atonement! Hide me in the clefts of the rock, and while there, "I beseech You, show me Your glory." May every fresh glimpse of "the great love with which You have loved me" rebuke the lukewarmness of my own. May I covet a closer walk with You. May my existence be one continued Emmaus journey — its hours passing joyfully by, because happy in the presence and converse of a risen Redeemer. Blessed Jesus, "abide with me," for the day is "far spent." Let me walk with You in newness of life. May I breathe Your spirit of holy submission — of cheerful obedience — of patience under injuries. May I not repine at bearing the cross, so meekly borne for me; nor murmur at my trials, when I think of Yours. May I be enabled to make every lineament of Your spotless character my daily study, so as gradually to be transformed into the same image, from glory to glory — looking forward to that blessed time when I shall see You without one stain of remaining sin to dim the contemplation, and when I shall be permitted to bathe in the ocean of Your eternal love.
I thank You for the mercies of the past night. Allow me to consider every new day a fresh gift of Your dying grace — to regard all its hours as redeemed hours — every moment as "bought with a price." May these days, and hours, and moments, thus stamped with the cross, be consecrated more than ever to Your praise.
Again I beseech You, "abide with me." "Where You go I will go, and where You dwell I will dwell." Abide with me from morning to evening, and from evening to morning again. "Without You I cannot live" — "without You I dare not die." Living or dying, Lord, I would seek to be Yours.
Forgive all my many sins, and when the feeble glimpses of a feeble love on earth are at an end, bring me at last to enjoy brighter views of You in glory everlasting. Amen.
FOR NEARER VIEWS OF HEAVEN
"They shall behold the land that is very far off. "Isaiah 33:17
O God, in the multitude of Your mercies I am again permitted to see the light of a new day. With another rising morn scatter all the clouds of sin and unbelief from my soul. Unfold to my view bright glimpses of Yourself — sweet foretastes of those joys which "eye has not seen, nor ear heard."
Here, Lord, I have "no continuing city" — change is my portion in this the house of my pilgrimage — I would not desire to live here always. I am "willing rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord." Wean me from this uncertain world. Bring me to live under the powers of a world to come. I rejoice to think of the happy myriads already in glory — "clothed in white robes, with palms in their hands" — safe in the presence of the Master they love, with every tear-drop wiped away. I rejoice to know that the blood and grace to which they owe their crowns are still free as ever. Oh, may I be enabled, with some good measure of triumphant assurance, to say, "Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, shall give me at that day." May the thought of that endless, sinless, sorrowless immortality reconcile me to all earth's severest discipline. Let me not murmur under the heaviest cross in the prospect of such a crown. Let me not refuse to pass cheerfully through the hottest furnace which is to refine and purify me for this "exceeding weight of glory;" but bear with calm serenity whatever You see fit to lay upon me. "Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning."
Lord, grant that the approach of eternity may urge me to greater diligence in Your service. May I have my loins girded and my lamp burning. May I spend each day, and this day, as if it were to be my last. When the shadows of evening gather around me, may I feel that I have spent a day for God. Nearer a dying hour — may it find me nearer heaven.
What I ask for myself I would seek in behalf of all my beloved friends. Sprinkle each heart with the blood of the covenant. May every eye be directed to Jesus, and every footstep be pointing heavenward. Though severed from one another now, may we not be found gathered in different bundles on the great reaping-day of judgment.
Lord, unite Your own people more and more. Why should we be guilty of such sad estrangements, crossing and recrossing one another on life's highway with alien and jealous looks, when professing to be sprinkled with the same blood, to bear the same name, and be heirs of the same inheritance? Let me live near to Jesus, and then I shall live near all His people, looking forward to that blessed time when we shall see eye to eye and heart to heart — no jarring or discordant note to mar the everlasting ascription of "blessing, and honor, and glory and power, to Him who sits upon the throne, and to the Lamb, forever and ever." Amen.
FOR WEANEDNESS FROM THE CREATURE
"There is none upon earth that I desire besides You." — Psalm 73:25
O Lord, blessed fountain of all happiness and joy, draw near to me this morning in Your great mercy. All creature-comforts are emanations from You. Your favor is life — Your displeasure is worse than death. In losing You, we lose our all — in having You, we can lack nothing.
I have to acknowledge, with shame and confusion of face, that I have not thus been seeking my true enjoyment in You. I have been in pursuit of fleeting shadows, which one by one have eluded my grasp. I have been worshiping and serving the creature more than the Creator, who is "God over all, blessed forevermore." Lord, bring me to see that nothing short of Yourself can satisfy the longings and desires of my immortal nature. Wean me from what is perishable. Let me reverentially acquiesce in whatever means You may employ to bring my wandering heart back to You, O you who are the alone-satisfying portion of my soul. Rather, Lord, would I submit to the hardest discipline than listen to the withering words, "Ephraim is joined to idols: let him alone." Let me feel that Your presence and love can compensate for the loss of all earthly joys. As prop after prop which has gladdened my pilgrimage totters and falls, may I know what it is to "dwell in the secret place of the Most High, and to abide under the shadow of the Almighty." As You are ever proclaiming over creature-confidence, "Dust you are, and into dust shall you return," may I know what it is to cleave to One who is better and surer than the nearest and dearest on earth — the Friend that never fails, and never wearies, and never dies — "Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, and to day and forever."
Blessed Savior, I cast my every care on You. You are noting now on Your throne, the pangs and sorrows of every burdened heart. All other love is imperfect. All other sympathy is selfish but Yours. May my affections be consecrated to You. May it be my joy to serve You — my privilege to follow You, and, if necessary, to suffer with You. May every cross lose its bitterness by having You at my side. May I feel that nothing but absence from You can create a real loss in my heart. Your presence takes the sting from all afflictions, and imparts security in the midst of all troubles. Living or dying, may I be Yours.
Sprinkle me this new morning with the blood of the covenant. May I feel all throughout the day the joy of being reconciled to God. May my heart be made a little sanctuary of praise. May I breathe the atmosphere of heaven. May God Himself be so enthroned in my affections, that I may be enabled to say, in comparison with Him, of all that the world can give, "There is none upon the earth that I desire beside You."
Heavenly Father, I leave all that belongs to me to You — "Undertake for them." Bless them and make them blessings. "Hide them under the shadow of Your wings" until earth's "calamities be over." Hear this my morning supplication; and when you hear, forgive. And all I ask is for Jesus' sake. Amen.
FOR LOWLINESS OF MIND
"He gives grace to the humble." — 1 Pet. 5:5
O God, You are "the high and lofty One who inhabits eternity." There is no being truly great but You. All other excellence and glory is derived — Yours is underived. All else is finite — Yours is infinite. The burning seraph nearest Your throne is the humblest of all Your creatures, because he gets the nearest view of the majesty of Your glory.
Lord, fill my soul this morning with suitable views of Your greatness, and a humbling estimate of my own nothingness. I would lie low at Your feet — in wonder and amazement that dust and ashes should be permitted to approach that Being whom angels worship with folded wings, and in whose sight the very "heavens are not clean." Repress every proud, self-glorifying imagination.
Let me feel I cannot abase myself enough in Your presence. "Lord, I am vile; what can I answer You?" My best thoughts, how polluted! — my best services, how imperfect! — my best affections, how lukewarm! — my best prayers how cold! — my best hours, were I judged by them, how would I be condemned!
I desire to take refuge at the cross of a crucified Savior. Here, Lord, give me that grace You have promised to the lowly. Self-renouncing and sin-renouncing, I would seek to be exalted only in Jesus, crying out, "God be merciful to me a sinner!" In broken-heartedness of soul, I mourn the past. Distrustful of the future, I look only to You. Full of my own unworthiness, I turn to the infinitely worthy One. I seek to be washed in His blood — sanctified by His Spirit — guided by His counsel — depending on Him for every supply of grace — and feeling that without Him I must perish.
May I take the humility and gentleness of Jesus as my pattern. Like Him, may I be meek and lowly in heart. Give me grace to avoid ostentation and pride, haughtiness and vanity, envy and uncharitableness. "In lowliness of mind may I esteem others better than myself." Let me realize every moment that I am a pensioner on Divine bounty — that I am alike "for temporals and spirituals" dependent on You — and that it well becomes me to be "clothed with humility." Oh, let me meekly and submissively lose my own will in Yours, in childlike teachableness, saying — "What will You have me to do?" May no murmur escape my lips at Your dealings. May this lowliness of spirit lead me rather to wonder at Your sparing mercy, that the great and holy Being I have provoked so long by my rebellion has not "cut me down."
Bless all connected to me by endearing bonds. May nature's ties be made doubly strong by those of covenant grace. Bless Your cause and kingdom in the world. May Your Spirit descend "like rain upon the mown grass, and showers that water the earth."
I commit myself to You, and to the word of Your grace. Guide me this day by Your counsel. May I spend it as if it were to be my last. And when my last day does arrive, may it be to me the eve of a happy eternity. And all I ask is for Jesus' sake. Amen.
FOR SIMPLICITY OF FAITH
"Only believe." — Mark 5:36
O eternal, ever-blessed Fountain of all light — Source of all happiness — "God of all grace" — look down upon me this morning with that love which "You bear to Your own," as I venture anew into Your sacred presence. Let me enjoy a sweet season of fellowship with You. Let the world be shut out, and may I feel alone with God. "Under the shadow of Your wings would I rejoice."
I come in the nothingness of the creature, standing alone in the fullness of Jesus. I come, "just as I am, without one plea" — as a sinner, and as the "chief of sinners" — to You, almighty Savior. I seek to disown all creature confidence, and, with all the burden of my guilt, to cast myself, for time and for eternity, at Your feet. "Lord, save me, else I perish." I cannot stand in myself. I can stand only in Him who has stood so willingly a Surety for me — who is still at the right hand of the Majesty in the heavens, presenting my name, and my prayers, and my plea, before the throne. I have no other confidence, and I need no other. Jesus, I am complete in You. Let me not look inwardly on myself, where there is everything to sink me in despondency and dismay; but let me look with the undivided and unwavering eye of faith to Your bleeding sacrifice. I rejoice to think of the many robes in the Church triumphant Your blood has already made white. I rejoice to know that the same blood is free as ever — the same invitation is addressed as ever — the promise and the Promiser remain "faithful" as ever — "Him who comes to me I will in no wise cast out."
Lord, I come — I plead Your word. I come, irrespective of all I am, and all I have been. Magnify Your grace in me. Show me my utter beggary and wretchedness by nature — that every step to glory is a step of grace; and while, with childlike faith, I rest on the finished work of Jesus, may I have the same simple trust and confidence in all His dealings towards me. May I feel that the Shepherd of Israel cannot lead me wrong — that His own way must be the safest and the best. Lord, "undertake for me" — "I will follow You to prison and to death." Take me — lead me — use me, as You see good. If I need chastisement, give me chastisement. If I need rebuke, let me not complain under the rod. Let me trust a Father's word — a Father's love — a Father's discipline. "Though You slay me, yet will I trust in You."
And as for myself, so for all dear to me. I pray that it may please You, of Your infinite mercy, to visit them with Your salvation — to guide them by Your counsel — to overrule all life's changes and vicissitudes and trials for their well-being, and at last to bring them safe to Your eternal kingdom, through Jesus Christ — to whom, with You, O Father, and You, O eternal Spirit, three in one in covenant for our redemption, be ascribed, all blessing, and honor, and glory, and praise, world without end. Amen.
FOR CONSISTENCY OF WALK
"Walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing." — Col. 1:10
O Lord, You are the heart-searching and the thought-trying God. To You all hearts are open — from You no secrets are hidden. Cleanse the thoughts of my heart this day, by the inspiration of Your Holy Spirit. I would seek to begin its hours with You. May all its business and employments be perfumed with the fragrance of "the morning sacrifice."
O You who are the great origin and end of all things, be to me the Alpha and the Omega of my daily being. May I feel existence to be a blank without You. May I feel that I can only be truly happy when a sense of Your favor and friendship, and love is sweetly intermingled with life's duties — thus lessening every burden — hallowing every trial — diminishing every cross!
I come to You once more, an unworthy sinner, to cast myself at my Savior's feet. What am I, that You should have borne with me so long! The ax "laid at the root of the trees" might long ago have cut me down; but I, a guilty cumberer, am still spared. The retrospect of existence, while a retrospect of patience and forbearance on Your part, is one of mournful rebellion and ingratitude on mine. I have had a "name to live," but how much spiritual death in my best frames! I have had a form of godliness; how little have I lived out and acted out its power! More careful have I been to appear to be a Christian than really to be a Christian. How much unevenness in my walk — how much proclaimed and professed by the lip has been undone and denied in the life!
I come this morning to ask anew for mercy to pardon, and grace to help me. Especially give me the grace of a holy consistency, doing all for Your glory, having boldness to speak for You in the world. May my walk and conversation be the living evidence and expression of the sincerity and reality of the inner life.
For this end may I live more on Jesus. May my life be "hidden with Christ in God." May I grow more and more out of myself and into my living Head. Self-humbled and self-emptied, may I be ever resorting to the all-fullness of an all-sufficient Savior. May this be my habitual feeling — "Without Him I can do nothing." May this be my constant prayer — "Help me, Savior, or I die."
May I be enabled this day, in His strength, to do something for God. However lowly my lot, however humble my abilities, may I feel, Lord, that You have work for me in Your vineyard. Let me not bury my talent in the earth; may I "occupy it until You come," that "You may receive Your own with interest."
Have mercy on Your whole Church. Pour out on all its members and office-bearers the spirit of meekness and zeal, of power and love, and of a sound mind. May "Holiness to the Lord" be written on its portals!
Hasten the blessed period when the love of Jesus, being enthroned in every heart and every Church, "we all shall be one." And all I ask is for the Redeemer's sake. Amen.
FOR SINGLENESS OF EYE
"O Lord, in the morning will I direct my prayer unto You."
"This one thing I do." — Phil. 3:13
My Father in heaven, teach me, in childlike faith and confidence, to draw near this morning to Your throne of grace. Give me the blessed influences of Your Holy Spirit, that I may wait on You undisturbed by worldly distractions, and enter on the duties of another day with my mind "stayed on God."
Blessed Jesus! — You who so freely gave Yourself a ransom for many — save me, else I perish! I have no peace but in Your pardoning, reconciling love. May Your blood and righteousness be to me "a glorious dress," arrayed in which I may now and forever stand fearless and undismayed. I bless You, O God, if I have in any degree felt the preciousness of the Savior and His adaptation to all the needs and weaknesses of my sinful, and sorrowful, and tempted nature. I thank You if You have already hidden me in the clefts of the smitten Rock. My prayer is, that You may keep me there — that I may lean upon Jesus more than ever, and seek my happiness more exclusively in His service. May I every morning be drawn more closely by the cords of His love, and be led to fight more faithfully under His banner.
Oh for greater singleness of aim! — more self-emptying and self-abasing — that He may be all in all! Lord, I am conscious often of mingled motives, that would not stand the test of Your pure eye and Your holy Word! How often do I forfeit the joys of assurance by admitting rival claimants to the throne of my affections! How often are the surpassing interests and glories of eternity dimmed and obscured by the engrossing things of time and of sense! How mixed with imperfection and earthliness and self-seeking are my best attempts to serve You! If weighed in the balance, how would my holiest services be found lacking!
Give me more of this unity and simplicity of purpose. Give me to make salvation more the one thing needful. Let all other love be subordinated to Yours. Be my "chief joy." May Your service be my delight. May my heart become a little sanctuary, where the incense of praise and love and thanksgiving is ascending continually. May it glow with holy zeal to promote Your cause, and testify of Your grace. Remembering all that You have done for me, may I be animated to make a more entire consecration and surrender of all I am and have to Your glory.
Let me feel that whatever my rank or station or circumstances are, I have some mission to perform for You. How often do You choose "the foolish things of the world to confound the things that are mighty!" Let me not think my talent too trifling to trade upon. May I "occupy it until my Lord comes." Let me not squander fleeting moments, or forego fleeting opportunities. "The night is coming, when none of us can work." Enable me now, bowing at Your mercy-seat, to replenish anew my empty vessel with the oil of Your grace, that the lamp of faith may be kept burning brightly all the day. All that I ask is for Jesus' sake. Amen.
FOR FILIAL NEARNESS
"Abba, Father." — Rom. 8:15
Most blessed God, I rejoice that I can look up to You, the mightiest of all beings, and call You by that name, which may well dispel all misgivings, and hush all disquietudes — "My Father who is in heaven."
Father, I have sinned against heaven and in Your sight. The kindest of earthly parents could not so long have borne with ingratitude and waywardness like mine. Long before now You might righteously have driven me an exile and a castaway from Your presence. But the voice of parental mercy is not silenced. The hand of parental patience and love is "stretched out still." In the midst of deserved wrath, this is Your own gracious declaration, "I will be a Father to you!"
I mourn my grievous departures — my repeated declensions — my heinous ingratitude. Oh, let me no longer live in this state of guilty estrangement — forfeiting all the joys of a Father's tenderness, the sunshine of a Father's smile. May I know what it is for the soul, orphaned, and portionless, and friendless by nature, to repose in the security of Your covenant-love. May I be enabled to enjoy more and more, every day, holy filial nearness to the mercy-seat — there unburdening into Your ear all my needs and trials — my sorrows and perplexities — my backslidings and sins. Give me grace to bow with childlike submission to a Father's will — to bear without a murmur a Father's rod — to hear in every dealing, joyous or sorrowful, a Father's voice — and when death comes, to have every fear dispelled by listening to a Father's summons — "Today you shall be with me in paradise."
Jesus, blessed Elder Brother! "in whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named," may I be enabled to imitate Your example of holy resignation to Your Father's will. May the cup of bitterest earthly sorrow be taken into my hands with Your own breathing of devout submission — "This cup which You give me to drink, shall I not drink it? Even so, Father, for so it seems good in Your sight." It is my comfort, blessed Lord, to know, that while the best of earthly parents may err, You, the unerring God, never can. In Your most mysterious dealings there is wisdom. In Your roughest voice there is mercy.
Adorable Redeemer, all these filial blessings and adoption-privileges I owe to You. It is Your precious blood-shedding which has "set me among the children" — it is that which still keeps me there. Anew this day would I repair to Your cross — anew would I supplicate that the Holy Spirit, the Divine Comforter, would be sent forth into my heart, enabling me to cry, "Abba, Father." May the thought of this blessed trust in You, support me amid life's fitful changes and transient friendships, and may I be enabled to dwell with holy delight on that glorious time, when, no longer an exiled pilgrim in a strange land, I shall be received at the gates of glory with a Father's welcome — "Son, you are ever with me, and all that I have is yours."
I commend myself and all near and dear to me, this day, to Your fatherly care and keeping. And all I ask is for Jesus' sake. Amen.
FOR RESTORATION TO FAVOR
"Restore to me the joy of Your salvation." — Psalm 51:12http://-Ps.li/
O God, another morning has dawned upon me. "Better Sun of righteousness" — with the brightness of Your rising may all the shadows of guilt and sin be dispersed. I come, weak and weary, guilty and heavy-laden, to You, beseeching You to bend Your pitying eye upon me — to deal not with me as I have deserved, nor reward me according to my iniquity. Blessed Jesus, look upon me. In You may I be pitied, pardoned, and forgiven!
I have erred and strayed from Your way as a lost sheep. I have wandered from the home of my God. I have been seeking my happiness in what is shadowy and unreal. The world and its delusive hopes have been preferred to You. My heart, which ought ever to be a little altar and sanctuary of praise, has burned with false incense. Your love and glory have not maintained their paramount place in my affections. I have righteously forfeited "the joys of Your salvation." My only marvel is, that, as a wandering star, You have not left me to drift onwards to the blackness of darkness forever. O leave me not to perish! I mourn my wanderings. In leaving You, I feel I have left my Best Friend. I have caused an aching void in this heart, which the world, with all its joys and riches and pleasures, can never fill. I cannot have one hour of happiness, if mingled with the thought that I am estranged from You, my God. Blissful hours of Your favor I once enjoyed, come sorrowfully to my remembrance; and, though the cup of earthly happiness be full to the brim, I have still to breathe the prayer — "Oh that it were with me as in months past, when the candle of the Lord did shine!"
"Restore to me the joy of Your salvation." Leave me not in this state of distance and alienation. "O Lord, I beseech You, deliver my soul." Snap these chains of earthliness that are still binding me to the dust, that, on the wings of faith, I may soar upwards, and find rest and quietude where alone it can be found — in Your renewed love and favor. May past backslidings drive me more to Your grace. Nothing in myself, may I find and feel that my all in all is in You. Reveal to me my own emptiness, and the overflowing fullness of Jesus. May I every day see more of His matchless excellencies — His incomparable loveliness — the sweets of His service — that I may never feel tempted to wander from His fold, and carefully avoid all that would risk the forfeiture of that favor in which indeed is "life."
Lord, let me know this day something of this happiness. Let me not be content with the name to live. Let religion be with me a real thing — let it be everything — life-influencing, sin-subduing, self-renouncing. Let me diffuse all around me the happy glow of a spirit that feels at peace with God.
And now, Lord, what do I wait for? "My hope" for myself, my friends, and all for whom I ought to pray, "is in You." Listen to these my supplications; and all I ask is for Jesus' sake. Amen.
FOR A PILGRIM SPIRIT
"And confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth." — Heb. 11:13
O God, again, in the multitude of Your mercies, You are permitting me to approach the footstool of Your throne. I am another day nearer death — oh, may I be a day nearer You! With a new morning's dawn may I hear the pilgrim summons — "Arise, for this is not your rest." Before I mingle with the world, give me to feel I am not of it, but born from above, and for above; and cherishing more of a pilgrim spirit, may my prayer and watchword be — "I desire a better country."
Lord, I bless You for the rich provision You have made for the wilderness journey — for all Your mercies, temporal, providential, and spiritual. Forbid that the many gifts of Your love should draw me away from Yourself, the bountiful Giver, or obliterate the solemn impression — "I am a stranger with You and a sojourner, as all my fathers were." May I "use the world without abusing it." By the varied discipline of Your providence, may I be led to feel that all my well-springs are in You. May the world's fascinations be becoming more powerless — sin more hated — holiness more loved — heaven more realized — God more "the exceeding joy" of my soul. Driven from all creature supports and earthly refuges, may Jesus be the prop and staff of my pilgrimage. When the world is bright, may I rest upon Him, and seek that He sanctify my prosperity. When the wilderness is dreary, and the way dark, may He hallow adversity. When friends are removed, may I feel that I have One left more faithful than the best of all earthly friends; and when death comes, and the pilgrim warfare ceases, leaning confidingly on that same arm, may I enter the pilgrim's rest.
O adorable Savior! — You who were once Yourself a pilgrim — the lonely, weary, homeless, afflicted One — who had often no arm to lean upon, and no voice to cheer You — an outcast wanderer and sojourner in Your own creation — I rejoice to think that You have trodden all this wilderness-world before me — that You know its dreariest paths. I take comfort in the assurance that there is at the right hand of the Majesty on high, a fellow-Sufferer, who has drunk of every "brook in the way" — shed every tear of earthly sorrow — heaved every sigh of earthly suffering — and who, being Himself the "tried and tempted One," is able and willing to support every pilgrim who is tried and tempted too.
I beseech You this day to look down in great kindness on all my beloved friends. Seal to them a saving interest in Your great salvation. Wash them all in Your blood — sanctify them all by Your Spirit. May not one be missing on "the day when You make up Your jewels."
Pity a fallen world. Your Church is slumbering — the enemy is all vigilant — souls are perishing. Arise, Lord, and plead Your own cause. Promote greater unity and love and concord among Your own people. Let us be nearer Jesus, and then we shall be nearer one another. Give us all more of the single eye to Your glory. Make us more self-sacrificing — more heavenly-minded — more Savior-like. And all I ask is for Jesus' sake. Amen.
FOR PREPARATION FOR DEATH
"Prepare to meet your God." — Amos 4:12
O eternal, everlasting God — Author of my being — my continual, unwearied Benefactor — I desire to come anew this morning into Your presence, thanking You for Your sparing mercies. Instead of making my last night's pillow a pillow of death, I am again among the living to praise You. Oh that I were enabled to live every day, and to rise every morning, as if it were to be my last, as if my next waking were to be in the morning of immortality!
Lord, how little am I influenced and impressed by the solemn records of death all around me! Friend after friend is departing — the circle of acquaintance is narrowed. The proclamation is ever sounding with fresh emphasis in my ears, "You also be ready;" and yet how prone to disregard the solemn admonitions! how apt to peril my preparation on the peradventures of a dying hour! Blessed God, my prayer is, that I may have my loins girded and my lamp burning. Let me not wait to have my vessel replenished until the voice of the Bridegroom is heard and I am summoned to meet Him. May I now so repose my every confidence in Jesus, that the hour which to the unwary and unwatchful is one of darkness and terror, may be to me the eve of the blessed Sabbath of eternity — the threshold and the portal of a world of endless joy.
Lord, let me feel that "the sting of death is sin" — that, not until I get the blessed sense of all my sins cancelled and forgiven in the blood of the Surety, can I be ready for my departure. "To me to live, may it be Christ," that so "to die" may be great and eternal "gain." Let me be enabled, by faith in death's great Conqueror, to cultivate that holy familiarity with a dying hour, that I may be enabled, when it comes, to fall sweetly "asleep in Jesus," and to hear His voice of love saying, "It is I, don't be afraid."
Look in mercy on the multitudes who are content to live on, unfit and unprepared for their great change. Awaken them to a sense of their guilt and peril. Show them their affecting need of Jesus — that time is wasting and eternity is hastening — that, "as the tree falls, so must it lie."
I pray for the heathen who are perishing for lack of knowledge. Countenance and bless all the efforts of Your Church to disseminate among them the gospel of the grace of God. May Your missionary servants, who have gone with their lives in their hands to the dark places of the earth, experience a peace which the world knows not of. May they have many souls as their glory and joy and crown at the day of Christ's appearing.
Oh give us all grace, in our varied stations and relations in life, to do something for You. Let us not bury or hide our talents; but as members of a ransomed priesthood, may we lay our time, our opportunities, our substance, on Your altar, and seek to "show forth the praises of Him who has called us out of darkness into His marvelous light." And all I ask is for Jesus' sake. Amen.
FOR A JOYFUL RESURRECTION
"Awake and sing, you who dwell in dust." — Isa. 26:19
Gracious God, You have again dispersed the darkness of another natural night. Every rising earthly sun is bringing me nearer the gladdening day-break of immortality. O grant that, when the trumpet shall sound and the dead shall be raised, I may be ready to listen undismayed to the summons, "Behold, the Bridegroom comes, go out to meet Him."
My prayer is, that I may now be made partaker of the blessedness of the first resurrection from a death of sin. As one "alive from the dead," may I rise and walk with a living Savior in "newness of life," that thus I may at last share also in the more glorious resurrection of His ransomed saints, when His "dead men shall live," and together with His body "they shall arise," obeying the joyous mandate of their risen Head, "Awake and sing, you who dwell in the dust."
Blessed Jesus, I do rejoice to think of Your own triumphant rising from the tomb. I rejoice to be able to visit in thought Your vacant sepulcher, and to hear the glad tidings, "He is not here, He is risen!" "The Lord is risen!" — it is the blessed pledge and earnest of my own redemption from the power of the grave — that "because Christ lives, I shall live also." O may "my life be now hidden with Christ in God, so that when Christ, who is my life, shall appear, I may also appear with him in glory." Keep me ever in the frame I should wish to be found in when my Lord comes. May the lamp of faith and love be brightly burning. May it never be mine to be awakened, by the midnight cry, to the dreadful consciousness, "My lamp has gone out." May I rather be among the number of "waiting servants," who, when their Lord comes and knocks," are ready to open to Him immediately."
Impart to all near and dear to me this day the same spiritual and eternal blessings I ask for myself. May they, too, be united to Jesus — "planted in the likeness of His death," that they may be found also "in the likeness of His resurrection." May we all seek to bear an increasingly holy resemblance in love one to another, and to our great living Head, in whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named; and if for a little while separated by death, may we, on the great day of His appearing, be reunited in bonds that shall know no dissolution.
Hasten that blessed time when our world, so long groaning and travailing in pain, shall put on her resurrection attire, and exult in the glorious liberty of Your children. "Come, Lord Jesus; come quickly." "Why delay the wheels of Your chariot?"
Lord, I commend myself to You. Prepare me for living, prepare me for dying. Let me live near You in grace now, that I may live with You in glory everlasting. Let me be reconciled submissively to endure all that Your sovereign wisdom and love seem fit to appoint — looking forward, through the tears and sorrows of a weeping world, to that better day-spring, when "I shall behold Your face in righteousness," and be "satisfied, when I awake in Your likeness." And all I ask is for the Redeemer's sake. Amen.
FOR THE CONQUEST OF SATAN
"The God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly." — Rom. 16:20
O God, I bless You for the returning mercies of a new day. "I laid down and slept; I awoke, for the Lord sustained me. I will not be afraid of the ten thousands who have set themselves against me." Give me, I beseech You, Your fatherly protection and blessing, that all my thoughts may be ordered by You, and all my plans and purposes overruled by You, and all my joys hallowed by You, and all my sorrows sanctified by You. Keep me near Yourself. While I seek to realize, every hour of this day, the power and subtlety of my spiritual adversaries, may I rejoice in the assurance that greater is He who is with me than all those who can be against me — that, "though a host should encamp against me," with God on my side, "I need fear no evil."
I mourn the prevalence of sin, both in the world and in my own heart. Your creation still groans and travails under its power. "The Prince of the power of the air still works in the children of disobedience." "The whole world lies in the Wicked One." Often is Satan still "desiring to have me, that he might sift me as wheat" — "standing at my right hand to resist me" — to oppose my plea and damage my cause — sending some "thorn in the flesh to buffet me" — marring my peace, disturbing my joy, and hindering and impeding my spiritual growth and advancement. But, Lord, it is my comfort to know that there is in heaven a "stronger than the strong man" — that no time can impair or diminish the comfort of the assurance, "I have prayed for you, that your faith fail not." When Satan assaults, blessed Jesus, I will think of Your continual intercession. "Your hand is never shortened, that it cannot save."
May I ever have grace given me to "resist the devil, that he may flee from me" — to keep watchfully guarded every loophole of the heart. May I abstain from all appearance of evil, avoiding every place and every company where his unholy influences are likely to prevail. "Lead me not into temptation," and, if tempted, Lord, make a way of escape, that I may be able to bear it.
O adorable Intercessor within the veil, it is my comfort to know that, in Your season of humiliation on earth, You were "not ignorant of his devices." You also, of him, "suffered, being tempted," and You are therefore the more able "to aid those who are tempted." I rejoice to think that, exalted on Your mediatorial throne, You shall reign until Satan and every other enemy be put under Your feet, and until the kingdoms of this world (so long usurped by him) shall become the "one kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ."
Heavenly Father, take this day all my beloved friends under Your guardian care. May they dwell in the secret place of the Most High, and abide under the shadow of the Almighty. May they, too, be able to take up the triumphant challenge — "God is for us, who can be against us?" and when their earthly work and warfare is accomplished, may we all meet in that sinless world where Satan's seat no more can be found, and Satan's temptations shall no longer be felt or feared. And all that I ask is for Jesus' sake. Amen.
FOR THE OUTPOURING OF THE SPIRIT
"I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh." — Joel 2:28
O God, I desire this morning to approach with lowly reverence the footstool of Your throne, adoring and praising You for the rest of the past night, and the comforts and blessings of a new day. O holy, blessed, eternal Trinity, three persons, one God, have mercy upon me, and grant me Your benediction and love.
Most blessed Spirit of all grace, more especially would I at this time invoke Your presence and nearness. I acknowledge, with shame and confusion of face, how often I have grieved You by resisting Your gracious influences. How often have You pleaded with me by the voice of Providence, and yet I have turned a deaf ear to Your repeated warnings and remonstrances! You have spoken to me in prosperity, when the full cup demanded in return a heart full of gratitude. You have spoken to me in adversity, when, by the emptied cup and the broken cistern, You would have driven me from all earthly things, to the everlasting God Himself, as my only satisfying Portion. You have spoken to me by the terrors of the law and by the tender accents of gospel love, and yet I have continued to "spend my money for that which is not bread, and my labor for that which satisfies not." Long before now I might have exhausted Your patience. "It is of the Lord's mercies I am not consumed."
But "take not, O gracious God, Your Holy Spirit from me." Come, blessed Enlightener, Quickener, Sanctifier, and inspire this dull cold heart. Touched as with a live coal, may the flame of a holy love to You be rekindled on its altar. "Return, O Holy Dove, Messenger of rest," from the true ark of God. Give me grace to hate the sins which drove You away from this guilty breast. Breathe upon me and say, "Peace be to you; receive the Holy Spirit." Invigorate my languishing affections. May I realize my dependence on You for every pulsation of spiritual life. Without You I perish.
While I pray for this Blessed Agent in behalf of my own soul, Lord, it is my earnest prayer that He may be poured out upon all flesh — that that time may soon come, when the rain of His gracious influences shall descend on a barren church and parched world. Hasten the Pentecost of the "latter day." Earth is at present but as the prophet's "valley of dry bones." Come, blessed Spirit of all grace, "breathe upon these dry bones, that they may live."
And may the same blessed and benevolent influences be shed on every heart that is dear to me. The Spirit of the Lord is not restricted. O my Father in heaven, have You not promised to give the Holy Spirit to those who ask You? I pray that all my beloved friends may become members of that mystical body of which Jesus is the living Head, so that the oil of anointing grace poured upon Him by the Spirit, and flowing down to the skirts of His garments, may be shared by His humblest and unworthiest members, O that each and all of our hearts may become living temples, in which the Holy Spirit dwells! May nothing that is unholy find admission there, but, "sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise, the earnest of our inheritance," may we be daily and habitually living in the expectation of eternal glory. Through Jesus Christ. Amen.
FOR THE UNION OF YOUR PEOPLE
"That they all may be one." — John 17:21
O God, the eternal Fountain of all excellence and glory! — through the one "new and living way" I desire this morning to approach You. Powerless in my own pleadings, I look up to the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens, to that "Prince who has power with God," and at all times "prevails." Guilty, I come to this guiltless Redeemer. Diseased, I come to this great Physician. Outcast, I come to Him who has promised that He will by no means "cast out." May His presence always be with me. May I know Him, and believe in Him, and rejoice in Him. May I feel that I need no other Savior — that He is all I require for life or for death — for time or for eternity.
I rejoice to think of the glorious multitude around Your throne — the trophies of Your grace — already wearing the white robe and the immortal palm. I rejoice to think of the blessed unity which pervades their glorified ranks: no note of discord disturbing their lofty harmonies — all seeing eye to eye, and heart to heart.
I lament the sad and mournful estrangement of Christian from Christian in Your Church below — that so many, treading the same heavenly journey, with the same glorious portals in view, should be following separate and diverse footpaths — that so many brethren in the Lord whose interchanges ought to be all love, should be looking coldly and censoriously on one another. How much ungodly jealousy, and heart-burning, and mutual recrimination, among Your professing people! How little of the spirit which of old provoked the testimony even of heathen gainsayers — "See how these Christians love one another!" O blessed "Author of peace and lover of concord," in Your mercy, pour out on Your Church on earth, a greater spirit of unity and brotherly-kindness, and charity. In Your mercy, heal the bleeding wounds of Your mystical body — casting over them the mantle of love. Bring us all, blessed Jesus, as individuals and as churches nearer Yourself, and then shall we be nearer one another. It is because of our distance from You, the great Sun of Righteousness, the Source of light and life and peace, that we, as wandering stars are revolving in such devious and distant orbits. Give us to feel that we are all members of one mighty family, of which You are the glorious Head — that, though following diverse tracks, we are sheep of the same pasture, owning the same "Chief Shepherd" — that, though enrolled in different ranks, we are allies in the same great army, fighting under the banner of the same great Captain of salvation. O forbid that, in these "latter days" — in these times of trouble, and rebuke, and blasphemy, when "the enemy is coming in like a flood" — we should waste our strength on petty and puny dissensions! May we be led to merge the few points in which we differ, in the many in which we can unite.
Preserve me, good Lord, this day, from all uncharitableness. May I "judge not, that I be not judged." May I have Your favor resting upon me in all the day's duties, and Your love softening and sanctifying all its trials. May all my beloved friends be one with me in Jesus — one now, and one in glory everlasting. Amen.
FOR THE COMING OF YOUR KINGDOM
"May Your kingdom come." — Luke 11:2
O eternal, ever-blessed God, whose merciful kindness is new to me every morning — give me throughout this day that peace which the world cannot give. As the beams of the material sun are lighting up anew my earthly chamber, may the inner chamber of my soul be illuminated by a better and brighter radiance. Jesus! blessed Fountain of light, and life, and glory, disperse all the darkness of unbelief and sin. May Your presence and love hallow all my joys, and mitigate and sanctify all my sorrows.
Before I enter on the day's duties, sprinkle once again the lintels and doorposts of my heart with Your own most precious blood; may my inmost thoughts, and purposes, and desires, and affections be consecrated to that God whose property they are. May I have an increasing experience of the sweets of Your favor, and friendship, and love. With You, blessed Lord, I am rich, whatever else I lack; without You, I am poor, though I have the wealth of worlds beside. Take what You will away — but take not Yourself. Nothing can fill and satisfy the longings of my immortal nature but You — all worldly happiness and creature joys are poor substitutes for the inexhaustible source of all joy. Let me know what it is, amid the wreck of earthly refuges and hopes, to exult in the persuasion, "The Lord lives; and blessed be my Rock; and let the God of my salvation be exalted."
While I pray that Your kingdom may come in my own heart, I would especially pray for its extension throughout the world. Arise, O God, and let Your enemies be scattered. May the blessed day soon arrive when a rejoicing and emancipated world shall own no longer habitations of darkness and horrid cruelty — when Jew and Gentile shall welcome the Prince of Peace to the Throne of Universal Empire — and "all ends of the earth shall see the salvation of God." "Come, Lord Jesus; come quickly." Let the cry soon break over Your now burdened Church, "Let us be glad and rejoice, for the marriage of the Lamb is come and His wife has made herself ready." Grant, Lord, that I may be in readiness to meet You. May my loins now be girded, and my lamp brightly burning, that, at the Bride-groom's summons, I may be able joyfully to respond, "Lo, this is my God! I have waited for Him."
Grant this day to all near and dear to me, as well as to myself, the special tokens of Your blessing and love. Fold my beloved friends in the arms of Your mercy. Teaching them to do Your holy will, say of them and to them, "The same is my mother, and sister, and brother." Guide us all by Your counsel here. May we feel that the way in which You are leading us is the kindest and the best that covenant love can devise; and when our appointed time on earth is finished, receive us into everlasting habitations through Jesus Christ our Lord.
And now, to God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit be ascribed, as is most due, all blessing, and honor, and glory, and praise, world without end. Amen.