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MORNING OF A FAST DAY.
O LORD, who art the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, we this morning present ourselves before thee in his name, and plead his righteousness as our only ground of acceptance in thy sight. For his sake look favourably upon us, we beseech thee; and though we have offended against thee, and are not worthy of the least of thy benefits, yet for thy great mercy's sake in him, be pleased to turn an eye of compassion upon us, and grant us those things of which thou knowest we stand so greatly in need.
In thy presence, O Lord, we acknowledge ourselves to be sinners. Sin, we confess, has emptied us of all goodness, has put a stain upon our nature which thy grace alone can remove, and has exposed us to evils, the least of which is more than we can bear. We mourn over the ruins of a soul which thou didst originally crown with honour and with dignity. We mourn the desolations which sin has introduced into the chiefest and best of thy lower works. With sorrow and self-abasement, we acknowledge that sin has defiled thy sanctuary, and provoked thee to depart from the heart of thy creatures—that the gold within us has become dim, and the fine gold has changed.
But we look up to thee, O Lord, for mercy. Out of the abyss into which sin has plunged us, we would look with the eye of faith towards thy holy temple. We rejoice that thou delightest in mercy, and that mercy is not more a blessing which we need, than a blessing which it is consistent with thy justice, and conducive to thy glory, freely to bestow. Depending on thy Son, we now cast ourselves upon the exercise of thy mercy. Be merciful to our unrighteousness ; our sins and our iniquities, do thou remember no more. Wipe out the memory of the dishonour done to thy law.--the despite shown to thy grace—the unworthy returns we have too often made to thy goodness—the folly, the depravity, the unbelief by which we have so often crucified the Son of God, and put him to an open shame. Cast all our sins, O Lord, behind thy back; and let not the remembrance of any of them come up before thee any more for ever.
And being justified by faith, may we have peace with God. O may our consciences be satisfied with that which has satisfied the justice of God. To all the guilt with which our consciences may charge us, may we present the atoning blood of the great sacrifice for sin : and while a remembrance of former sins keeps us humble and makes us watchful, may we admit into our minds that reviving sense of divine forgiveness, which is the fruit of believing in the perfect righteousness of Him who, though he knew no sin, was made sin for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.
Thus, O Lord, may the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, keep our hearts and minds; and being made free from the bondage of fear, may we walk at liberty and keep thy law. By the grace of thy Spirit, may we walk worthy of the vocation wherewith we are called ; and under a sense of obligation which keeps us ever prostrate at the cross in humility and love, may we live not unto ourselves, but unto him who loved us and gave himself
Thus, O Lord, help us to live and walk this day. May all our ways please the Lord. May all we undertake and do be in dependence on thy grace, in conformity to thy will, and with a view to thy glory. Assist us in our preparation for the solemn service of a communion Sabbath. With joy may we look forward to a renewed opportunity of holding fellowship with thee in thine ordinances; and in all our previous exercises of humiliation, self-inquiry, and prayer, may we enjoy the presence and aid of thy Holy Spirit.
May all our friends, and all whom we ought to unite with ourselves in our supplications at thy throne, be protected by thy power, guided by thy wisdom, sanctified by thy grace, and in due time received into thy glory. Hear us, we beseech thee, O Lord, and accept of us; and all that we ask is for the sake of our Lord Jesus Christ, who is all our hope, to whom, with thee and the Holy Spirit, be all honour and glory, world without end. Amen.
EVENING OF A FAST DAY.
We come before Thee, () Lord, this evening, humbled under a sense of infinite distance and insignificance; lamenting our unworthiness and illdesert ; but sustained and encouraged by those good hopes which thou hast given us in Jesus Christ. Through him who is the way, and the truth, and the life, we now approach thy throne; in him is all our confidence ; and through him alone, we entreat the pardon and the grace we so greatly need, but which we only presume to hope for as the fruit of unmerited and abounding mercy.
Before thee, O Lord, we acknowledge that we are sinners-sinners by nature and by actual transgression; sinners in thought, in word, in deed ; sinners who have violated the strongest obligations, and broken through the most powerful restraints. We have sinned, O Lord, before heaven and in thy sight, and are no more worthy to be called thy children. Wert thou to act towards us as our iniquities deserve, we should be cast out for ever from thy presence, and be left eternally to understand and to feel how evil and how bitter a thing it is to depart from the living God.
But do thou, O Lord, have mercy upon us, have inercy upon us; and according to the greatness of thy loving-kindness, blot out our iniquities. Blot them out as with a cloud, and as with a thick cloud
We rejoice that thou hast assured us that thou hast no pleasure in the death of the wicked : we rejoice that thou hast said, “ Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts, and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him, and to our God, and he will abundantly pardon."
Behold, O Lord, we now, thy prodigal children, would return unto thee. Behold we come unto thee, for thou art the Lord our God. We come, sensible that there is no happizess at a distance from thee. We acknowledge that while we have wandered from thee, we have been but pursuing the phantom of happiness, grasping the shadow while we have despised and rejected the substance. In thee, O Lord, are all our well-springs; with thee is the fountain of life ; and we, the creatures whom thou hast formed to derive enjoyment from thee as the portion of our souls, would now accept of thee as our chief goodour best and truest felicity. We come to thee, lamenting the blindness and infatuation that have led us to forsake the fountain of living waters, and to attempt to hew out for ourselves cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water. We lament that such hearts should be in us, as have proved themselves capable of making another choice than God for their portion.