Isaiah lviii. 13. Call the Sabbath a delight.
Blessed be Your name, O Lord, that though You are the High and Holy One who inhabits eternity, You also delight to dwell with the man who is humble and of a contrite heart.
Surely, O Lord, I am not worthy to lift my eyes to the place where Your honor dwells,—for myriads of pure intelligences serve You day and night in Your temple; and they offer to You a service undebased by the imperfections which pollute the purest offering that man can present.
Yet blessed be Your name, that You condescend to take pleasure in the imperfect sacrifices of human praise,—and that You have especially set apart this day, that man may refresh himself from his many toils, and may consecrate all his occupations by imploring Your blessing, and placing himself under Your care.
How pleasing are the meditations which this season awakens,—and how good was it of You, O Father who is in heaven, to allure me to such contemplations by the rest You have appointed for this day!
In the beginning You created the heavens and the earth,—when as yet the generations of man had not begun to exist, You graciously arranged for them their future dwelling-place; and all Your thoughts towards them were thoughts of love.
I desire, O Lord, this day to look back with gratitude and wonder to that hour when the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy,—when You looked from Your throne upon the world which You had made, and beheld that all things were very good,—and, when resting from Your work, You consecrated the first Sabbath, by shedding one blessed day of peace and love over the new-born glories of the yet unpolluted world.
Blessed be Your name, that You have never left Yourself without a witness: for the heavens continue to declare Your glory, and the firmament shows forth Your handy-work;—day to day utters speech, and night to night shows knowledge; their line is gone into all the earth, and their words to the end of the world.
The covenant of the day and of the night is not broken,—for still You give the sun for a light by day, and the moon and stars to shine by night; and You have also been faithful to Your covenant of promise, that while the earth remains, seed-time and harvest, summer and winter, shall not fail.
The heaven, even the heaven of heavens, is Yours; but the earth You have given to the children of men. You visit the earth, and waters it; You prepare them corn, when You have so provided for it; You water the ridges thereof abundantly: You settles the furrows thereof: You makes it soft with showers: You blessed the springing thereof: You send the springs into the valleys which run among the hills; they give drink to every beast of the field,—and by them the fowls of heaven have their habitation, which sing among the branches.
How manifold, O Lord, are Your loving-kindnesses to the children of men!—the earth is full of Your tender compassion’s.
Blessed be Your name, for the watchful care with which You have ever regarded the generations of mankind. You were the God of my fathers, and of the old time before them. You led Jacob like a flock, and Israel like a shepherd, when as yet the earth was un-peopled before them. At sundry times, and in divers manners, You spoke to the fathers by the prophets,—and in these last days You have spoken to me by Your own Son from heaven.
But, alas! O Lord, we have all forsaken the covenant of Your peace. We all like sheep have gone astray; there has not been a just man upon the earth, who has in all things done that which it was his duty to do.
But blessed be Your name, that this day has likewise been appointed to remind mankind that there is mercy with You, that You may be feared,— and that with my God there is plenteous redemption. Blessed be Your name, that this day I am invited to hear the joyful sound, that, though I have rebelled against You, You will not for ever deny me Your grace,—but that when the wicked man turns away from his wickedness, and does that which is lawful and right, he shall save his soul alive; and that, to show more fully Your purpose of mercy, You have sent Your beloved Son to take upon him my nature, and to die for my sins. Hosanna to the Son of David! blessed be he who came in the name of the Lord to save me: Hosanna in the highest!
I delight, in an especial manner, to remember that this day has been consecrated by the resurrection of Your Son from the dead,—and that as Christ is risen and become the first-fruits of them that sleep, I also shall be made alive; but every man in his own order, Christ the first-fruits, afterwards they that are Christ’s at his coming.
I look forward therefore, this day, with triumph to that coming hour when the innumerable multitudes of the dead shall rise from the slumber of their long sleep,—when they shall stand a mighty army in the valley that had been full of bones,— and when they who have kept Your law and followed the example of Your Son shall go with him into that new heaven and new earth, where righteousness and love only shall dwell.
Surely, O Lord, the dispensations of Your providence are all full of mercy and of great pity to my sinful race. O enable me to trust in Your love, and so to order all my thoughts and actions, that, when Christ cometh to judge the world, I may be taken for ever into his heavenly kingdom.
Bless, for this purpose, the sacred services of this holy day. Enable me to enter Your courts with thanksgiving, and Your gates with the voice of praise, —to offer to You the sacrifice of a truly humble and contrite heart,—and to learn from Your law the great things which You have promised to do for them that love You.
Keep my foot, O Lord, when I go into Your courts; and grant that I may be more disposed to hear than to offer the sacrifice of fools. Clothe Your priests with salvation, and make all Your people to shout aloud for joy. May the triumphs of Messiah this day be great upon the earth. Let every valley be exalted, and every mountain and hill be brought low; let the rough places be made plain, and the crooked be made straight; and let all flesh see the salvation of my God.
Hasten the time when the tyranny which man exercises over man shall be brought to an end.
Let not those who equally bear Your image presume to enslave, or to act with cruelty to one another,— but may the humanizing influence of the gospel of Christ banish all injustice and violence from the earth,—and incline Jew and Greek, barbarian and Scythian, bond and free, to live together as brethren in Christ, and to become helpers together of each other’s joy.
O forgive the great sins that have been done by man towards his fellowmen. Over all the earth may the peace of this Sabbath-day be felt,—and may the oppressed and the oppressors equally repose from their sufferings and their crimes, and feel, in approaching Your throne of grace, that there is no respect of persons with God.
Let the rest of this Sabbath-day be to all Your intelligent creatures an earnest of the blessedness and the peace of heaven. And to Your name, Father, Son, and blessed Spirit, be ascribed on earth, as in heaven, all glory and honour, dominion and praise, world without end. Amen.
Book: The Morning and Evening Sacrifice or Prayers for Private Persons and Families (9th Edition)
Published by: Oliver & Boyd, Tweeddale Court; and Simpkin, Marshall, & Co., London 1837
Revised & Edited by: Karrol 2014