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