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
“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.
“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