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
“Restore to me the joy of Your salvation.” — Psalm 51:12
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.
“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