For Deeper Views of Self

The Morning Watches— 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

“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.

“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

For Victory Over the World

The Morning Watches— 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

“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.

“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

For Growth in Holiness

The Morning Watches— 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

“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.

“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

For Crucifixion of Sin

The Morning Watches— 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

“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.

“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

For Gratitude in Mercies

The Morning Watches— 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

“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.

“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

For Strength in Weakness

The Morning Watches— 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

“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.

“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