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SERMON XVIII.

The Saint employed in his Morning Devotions.

PSALM v. 3.

My voice shalt thou hear in the morning, O Lord; in the morning will I direct my prayer unto thee and will look up.

DAVID, the author of this Psalm, was eminent for his devout and heavenly spirit. No man was more frequent, or more fervent in praise and prayer. His various afflictions and signal deliverances greatly contributed to the improvement of his piety.

The stated seasons of his devotion were morning and evening; these he observed with conscientious exactness. He says, "I cry unto thee in the day time; and in the night season I am not silent. I prevented the dawning of the morning and cried; I hoped in thy word. Mine eyes prevent the night watches, that I might meditate in thy word."

The Psalm, from which our text is taken, was one of his morning exercises. In the time when he composed it, he was under persecution from the ad

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herents of Saul, or the partizans of Absalom. He speaks of his enemies who took counsel against him. He was driven out from the house of God, to which he expresses a hope of being restored. And in the place where he was, he resolved still to remember the temple of God, and to pray with his face directed toward it.

An attention to this psalm will be useful to assist our devotional exercises.

1. We will consider the season which David chose for his devotions. <6 'My voice shalt thou hear in the morning." He had other seasons of communion with God: But this he esteemed an important one, and this he was careful not to lose.

The scripture, by direct precepts, and by approved examples, teaches us, that we ought daily to call upon God. Our Savior instructs us, in our prayers, to say, "Give us this day our daily bread.” The apostle exhorts us to " pray without ceasing" to "pray always with all prayer." The psalmist resolves, " Every day will I praise thee-I will daily cry unto thee-I will daily perform my vows."

Morning and evening are seasons, which scripture recommends, and which reason approves, for our daily stated devotions.

The prophet says, "With my soul I have desired thee in the night, and with my spirit within me I will seek thee early." The Psalmist approved it as a good thing" to shew forth God's kindness in the morning and his faithfulness every night."

In the morning when we awake, it is reasonable that we should thankfully acknowledge God's preserving care, and devote to him afresh the life which his power has protected, and the strength which his influence has restored. Our sleep has been the image of death. And what is our awaking from it but a new life given us by the Creator? It is the

faculty of reasoning, sensation and voluntary motion renewed by his favor. We have, every morning, fresh proof of our dependence on God, and of his watchfulness over us; and we have new encouragement to trust our interests in his hands, and new motives to spend our lives in his service. “Thou, O Lord," says David, "art a shield for me, my glory, and the lifter up of my head. I cried unto the Lord, and he heard me, I laid me down and slept; I awaked for the Lord sustained me."

David in the morning would direct his prayer to God His best moments-his purest frames he would employ in so sacred a work. He would not venture to look abroad on the world, before he had looked upward to heaven. To God he would give the preoccupancy of his heart, lest an intruding world should enter and take possession. To heaven he would send up his affections and meditations in season, before they had mingled with the corruptions and occupations here below, and hence had contracted a disqualifying pollution.

There are certain external dangers peculiar to the hours of sleep. But the danger of contracting guilt to our souls is when we are awake. We then resume the employments, and return to the society of the world. Sensible objects again allure us, and. spiritual enemies again assault us. Before we step forth on the busy stage, it is our wisdom to call up pious sentiments and resolutions, and put ourselves under God's gracious protection and guidance.

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In the evening, when we have finished the work of the day, we should recognize God's mercies, review our thoughts and actions, confess our follies and transgressions, and commit our souls to the forgiving mercy, and our bodies and substance to the watchful Providence of God.

II. As David began the day with prayer so he entered on the solemn duty with serious recollection and meditation. "Give ear to my words, O Lord; consider my meditation; hearken unto the voice of my cry, my king and my God, for unto thee will I pray."

His prayers were not the ceremonious formalities of prevailing custom; but the genuine breathings of a pious heart. "With his whole heart he sought

the Lord."

Prayer is the sacred intercourse of the soul with God. We should enter upon the duty with fear and caution. So Solomon advises; "Be not rash with thy mouth, and let not thine heart be hasty to utter any thing before God; for God is in heaven, and thou upon earth; therefore let thy words be few."

David's first petition is, that God would "give ear to his words." Sensible of his own unworthiness, he relied on God's mercy and faithfulness, as the only ground of his hope; and cried to him as "his king and his God.”

"He who cometh to God must believe, that he is, and that he is the rewarder of them who diligently seek him." We are to prepare our hearts for communion with him, by meditating on his wisdom, power and goodness, the gracious promises and invitations of his word, and the glorious way of access to him through the mediation of his Son. Our encouragement in prayer is to be derived, not from ourselves; but from God-not from the value of our works, or the fervor of our petitions; but from his perfections and promises, from our experience of his goodness, and from the discoveries of his word.

III. David, in his morning devotion, looks up to God as a Holy Being, who can be pleased with those

only, who are of pure hearts and virtuous lives. "In the morning I will direct my prayer to thee; for thou art not a God, that hath pleasure in wickedness, neither shall evil dwell with thee. The foolish shall not stand in thy sight; thou hatest all workers of iniquity. Thou wilt destroy them that speak falsehood; the Lord will abhor the bloody and deceitful man.”

A sensible view of God's holiness will humble our souls in prayer, and strengthen our resolutions against sin. While we look up to God as a Being who hath no pleasure in wickedness, we should implore his grace to preserve us from it, and to work in us the good pleasure of his will.

How solemn is the thought, that we are going. forth to transact the business of the day under the inspection of a holy God-that wherever we are, we are surrounded with his presence, and penetrated with his eye-that our secret imaginations are open to his view, and our softest' whispers reach his ear. What manner of persons ought we to be? Let us begin each day with serious meditation on God's holy character, with humble reliance on his quickening and restraining grace, and with deliberate resolutions against the sins which most easily beset us; then we shall spend the day virtuously, and finish it peacefully.

David, in his morning meditation, contemplates God as abhorring, in a peculiar manner, the men of falsehood and slander, injustice and violence. And doubtless he entered upon the day with a particular resolution to guard against these sins.

The duties which we owe to our neighbors, such as justice, charity, sincerity and faithfulness, are not only essential parts, but some of the weighty matters of religion. They are all included in the love of God. For the love of God is a love of his moral

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