The Lord's Day & Morning and Evening Prayers, by John Armstrong (1634-1698).
Concerning the Lord’s Day.
Let it always be remembered before it comes, to prepare for it; and when it is come, to keep it holy. It has been honoured 1. by God the Father, forming thereupon the elements of the world, 2. by God the Son, rising from the dead, and appearing several times after his resurrection, 3. by God the Holy Ghost descending with his miraculous gifts and graces upon the Apostles and others, 4. by the Christian Church making it the time of her solemn assemblies.
Let us not therefore profane any part of it, but be now as careful for the welfare of our souls, as we are upon other days for our bodily sustenance. Excepting such time as is for works of absolute necessity, which cannot be done the day before or the day following; let us with cheerfulness spend it wholly in hearing the Word of God read and taught; in private devotion and public prayers, which are both for the morning and afternoon; in acknowledgment of our offences to God, and amendment of the same; in reconciling ourselves charitably to our neighbours where displeasure has been; in often receiving the communion of the body and blood of Christ; in visiting of the poor and sick, and using all good and sober conversation.
Thus we shall please the will of God, and conscientiously obey our civil and ecclesiastical governors, who strictly enjoin the same by their power derived from God. Thus we shall have a more deep and lasting sense of God and religion impressed upon our hearts, and so live more holily the week following.
Besides prudent and good men have observed their outward worldly affairs most prospered that week, which they began with a diligent and religious observation of the Lord’s Day. But however that is, most certainly, if we duly sanctify this day of rest here, we shall celebrate an everlasting rest and Sabbath hereafter. If now we sincerely and willingly join with the congregations of God’s people, to worship him as we ought to do, we shall in due time join with the blessed company of Saints and Angels above to sing his praises for evermore.
Psal. 118. 24. This is the Day which the Lord hath made, we will rejoice and be glad in it. V. 20. This is the gate of the Lord, the righteous shall enter into it. Psal. 122. 1. I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into the house of the Lord. Revel. 1. 10, I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day. Acts 20. 7. And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them. 1 Cor. 16. 2. Upon the first day of the week, let every one of you lay by him in store as God hath prospered him.
A Morning Prayer for the Lord’s Day
Praised be thy holy name, O God, for all thy favours and benefits bestowed upon us from time to time, concerning this, or a better life. Blessed be thy goodness for the mercies of the last night, and this morning; that thou hast brought us to the beginning of another Christian Sabbath. Oh let not our former unfruitfulness hinder thy present blessing and assistance in what we have to do; but do thou we pray thee in Christ Jesus pardon and mend us both at once. And help us now so to remember and esteem this thy day, as to lay aside all secular businesses and diversions, and to apply ourselves to all those private and public duties which concern the sanctification thereof; not seek after our own ways, nor finding our own pleasures, nor speaking our own words; but consecrating our own selves and services to thy more especial worship; spending the whole day in works of religion, necessity and mercy.
Be graciously present with all those assemblies of thy saints which do on this day meet together for thy worship and service. More especially be pleased to direct and assist the minister to whose charge we belong; that he may speak to the consciences and conditions of this people. And do thou remove from us all irreverence, distraction, dullness, prejudice, and unbelief in hearing of thy word, that having the same accompanied by the power of thy Spirit, it may be effectual for the further enlightening of our minds, the quickening of our affections, the bettering of our hearts, and the amendment of our lives. And let us think we have done nothing in hearing, reading, praying, receiving, singing of Psalms, conferring, meditating, till in all we have glorified Thee our Creator, Redeemer and Sanctifier, till our souls be brought something nearer unto Heaven, unto Thy Self; And all we beg upon the account of Christ, saying further as he hath taught us, Our Father, &c.
A Family Prayer for the Evening on the Lord's Day.
Eternal God, and most gracious Father, we thine unworthy servants do here cast down our selves at the footstool of thy grace, acknowledging that we were conceived in sin, and have actually in thought word and deed transgressed thy holy and righteous precepts; so that if thou shouldest look upon us as in ourselves, we could not expect any thing but thy wrath and our own condemnation. But, O Holy Father, for Jesus Christ thy dear Son’s sake, for the merits of his obedience and bloodshed, we beseech thee to have mercy upon us, pardoning to us all our sins, and freeing us from the shame and confusion which is due unto us for them.
And we pray Thee inspire thy Holy Spirit into our hearts, that by his illumination and effectual working, we may have the inward sight and feeling of our sins and natural corruptions, and not through custom be blinded or hardened in them. That we may more and more loath them, and be heartily grieved for them, endeavouring by the use of all good means to overcome, and to get out of them. Oh let us feel the Power of Christ’s death killing sin in our mortal bodies, and the virtue of his resurrection raising up our soul’s unto newness of life; that living in thy fear unto thy glory, we may die in thy favour, and in thine appointed time, attain unto the blessed resurrection of the just, unto eternal life.
In the mean while, O Lord, increase our faith in the sweet promises of the Gospel, and our repentance from dead works; the assurance of our hope; and our love unto thyself, and thy children, especially those whom we shall see to stand in need of our help and comfort; that so by the fruits of piety and a righteous life, we may be assured that thy Holy Spirit does dwell in us, and that we are thy children by grace and adoption. And grant us, good Father, the continuance of health, peace, maintenance, and all other outward things, so far forth, as thy divine wisdom shall think meet and necessary for us.
And we beseech thee, O Lord, to be merciful likewise to thy whole Church, and particularly to these kingdoms wherein we live, vouchsafing to us those mercies we stand in need of, and turning from us those judgements which our sins may cry for. Preserve the King’s Majesty, bless all the Royal Family; bless our Magistrates and Ministers, this place, those that are near unto us by kindred or neighbourhood; be graciously present with all our Christian brethren that suffer sickness or any other affliction or misery; grant them patience to bear thy cross, and deliverance when, and which way it shall seem best unto Thee. And O Lord, let us not forget our last end, and those accounts which then we must render unto Thee. In health and prosperity make us mindful of sickness, and the evil day that is behind; that these things may not overtake us as a snare, but that we may in good measure, like wise virgins, be found prepared for the coming of Christ to call us by death unto judgement.
And here, O Lord, we do from our very souls, render unto Thee most humble and hearty thanks, for all thy blessings bestowed upon us, concerning this life and that which is to come. We praise thee especially for Christ the fountain and foundation of all thy mercies we ever yet received, or hope hereafter to receive from Thee. In him we praise Thee for the mercies thou hast this day bestowed upon us, or given us occasion to remember, whether concerning the creation of the world, or the redemption of mankind. We praise thee for thy holy Word and Sacraments, and seasons of grace yet vouchsafed unto us. We praise Thee that by thy good providence we have been preserved and provided for to this very moment; intreating Thee likewise to continue thy merciful protection over us this night.
And, O Lord, we beseech Thee let those saving truths which have been delivered unto us, sink down into our hearts, and spring up in our conversations. Let us keep up such holy purposes and heavenly affections as may have been wrought in any of us whilst attending upon Thee. Let our lives be in some measure answerable to the means we enjoy. Let the fruit of this day appear in us the week following, and all the days of our lives following. Henceforth let our resolution of pleasing Thee, and doing good in our generation be more confirmed; let the felicities of Heaven be more esteemed; let our desires of earthly things be more abated; let the breathings of our souls after a fuller enjoyment of Thy Self be more enlarged; Let our sins, those of our holy things, be pardoned, our persons and performances accepted, and our Souls eternally saved; And all upon the alone account of Jesus Christ, it whose prevailing name we continue to pray unto Thee.
Extract from, Secret and family prayers with brief helps for the more devout receiving of the Lords-Supper And better observation of the Lords-day, as also to further the needfullduties of catechizing, visiting the sick, and personal instruction. Fitted for the use and benefit of the inhabitants of Cartmel in Lancashire. John Armstrong (1634 - 1698)