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
“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.
“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