Friday, January 30, 2009

Our Eversasting Portion

Today is the anniversary of the death of William Henry Furness (1802-1896) Jesus scholar, abolitionist, FOE (Friend of Emerson) and pastor. His book of prayers, Domestic Worship, has long been a favorite of mine. A representative Morning Prayer:

"God of our lives! Maker of heaven and of earth, who dost every morning command the light to shine out of darkness, shine into our hearts now, and give us the light of the knowledge of thy glory. Let an everlasting day dawn within us. As we have risen refreshed by repose, we would go forth this morning with heart and hand ready for every good work. We would return to the active duties of life with a fresh sense of the great value of life, and more deeply impressed than ever by the thought of the momentous consequences involved in all that we do. But without Thee all our strength is naught, and we labour in vain. Grant us thy blessing. God be with us this day to guard and guide!
Feeble are we, O our Father, and life is a scene of constant danger. The foes of our inward peace assail us in the most deceitful forms, and our own hearts are treacherous. Without unsleeping vigilance and earnest prayer, we may go far astray from the path of life, and miss the only true fountains of life, and find all our labour vanity, vexation and anguish of spirit. We would flee to the shadow of thine all protecting wings. Thou art our refuge, and what are we without thine ever present care!
How deep and hearty should be our gratitude ! How should we call upon our souls and all that is within us to rejoice in Thee, almighty to protect and to save, the God of our salvation, whose bounty the multitude of our wants cannot weary, whose mercy all our sins, though they are many and great, cannot exhaust! Be thou ever present, in thy pure glory, to our hearts. Having Thee ever before our eyes, how shall we bear ever again to yield to evil solicitations or do any thing offensive in thy sight! How can we ever disregard thy will so clearly expressed or violate thy perfect law written on our hearts, announced by all thy works, vindicated by the whole course of thy providence, and revealed in a living form in the person of thy Son, our Saviour! Be Thou thus within us a preserving presence. Give us the most exalted conceptions of thy being, a practical conviction of thy nearness. At home and abroad, in our public walks, in our deepest retirement, let the fear of God restrain and the love of God animate us.
Father in heaven, may no corrupting inclinations be fostered in our bosoms this day. May we be pure hearted and single minded, and possess a perfect command over our passions, lest they alienate us from thee and put us at enmity with thy perfect purity, and cut us off from the light and blessedness of thy presence. Let not our imaginations give a false value to the fleeting gratifications of time and sense. Let us not look too fondly at the things which are seen and temporal, and mistake the shadow for the reality, the glare of the world for the eternal light of truth. May our hearts be set upon the attainment of inward, thorough, personal holiness. And until this be secured, may we feel that we have done nothing and gained nothing, however otherwise the labour of our hands may, in thy providence, be prospered. Save us from the tyranny of ungoverned passions, from those evil practices and habits which despoil the soul of all power and peace and cast it into outer darkness!
We sustain numerous and interesting relations to one another and to the world. Help us this day faithfully to discharge every social duty. May we be governed in all the transactions of this day by the strictest principles of honourable dealing. Let no pride or vanity blind us to the sacred rights of others and induce us to take unfair advantage of their ignorance, or to exult in their infirmities. Be that divine charity our governing principle, that charity which is the bond of Christian perfection, the brightest ornament of the Christian life, that charity which hopeth all things and endureth all things, rejoicing not in iniquity but in the truth. In this spirit may we never deny the claim which all men of every name and denomination have upon our sympathy and respect. May we forgive the injurious as we hope to be forgiven of God, and do unto others as we would they should do unto us.
Make this day, Almighty God, a day of steady improvement. Sanctify all its enjoyments. Disarm all its temptations. May every hour be spent in thy service. Should any calamity befall us, should sickness and death enter this dwelling, may we receive them as sent from God upon an errand of mercy. Whatever may be the course of thy providence, let our souls rejoice in thy goodness, and then we shall not fear though the earth be removed out of its place and the mountains be cast into the midst of the sea. Give us this trust in life and in death, and be Thou, O God, our everlasting portion; and unto thee will we ascribe the glory and the praise for ever. Amen."


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