Thursday, 6 March 2014

Henry Scougal’s Daily Prayers for St Machar’s Cathedral

Henry Scougal was the author of “The Life of God in the Soul of Man”, a 17th century devotional classic that influenced, among others, George Whitefield.

He died young, at the age of 28.  By that stage he had served as a lecturer, a pastor and a professor of theology.  It was while serving as a Professor of Divinity at Aberdeen University that Scougal penned the morning and evening prayers that were used at St Machar’s cathedral.  These two prayers well repay study and are an excellent example of Scougal’s spirituality.  Some of the phraseology echoes that of the Book of Common Prayer. They are not included in his collected works.  I have not attempted to update the language.


GREAT and glorious Lord God, Maker of Heaven and earth,  and Ruler of Angels and men, who art infinitely exalted  above the highest of our thoughts ; look down from Thy heavenly dwelling-place, and behold in mercy Thy poor creatures, who are here humbled before Thee, to adore and worship Thy Divine Majesty ; to acknowledge our sins, and beg Thy mercy and favour ; to learn our duty from Thy Word, and be further engaged to Thy service and obedience, Raise our souls unto Thyself, 0 God ; and bow down Thy gracious ears to hear our prayers. Let the words of our mouths, and the meditations of our hearts, be acceptable in Thy sight, O Lord, our Strength, and our Redeemer.

Unworthy are we, alas ! to come into Thy presence, or to take Thy holy name in our mouths ; being the wicked offspring of sinful parents, strongly inclined to that which is evil, and averse to anything that is truly good. We have erred and strayed from Thy ways like lost sheep. We have followed too much the devices and desires of our own hearts.

We have offended against Thy holy laws. We have left undone those things which we ought to have done ; and we have done those things which we ought not to have done ; and there is no health in us. But Thou, O Lord, have mercy upon us, miserable offenders. Spare Thou them, O God, which confess their faults ; restore Thou them that are penitent ; according to Thy promises declared unto mankind in Christ Jesus our Lord. And grant, O most merciful Father, for His sake, that we may hereafter live a godly, righteous, and sober life, to the glory of Thy holy Name, and the salvation of our own souls.

Preserve us, we beseech Thee, from everything that is displeasing in Thy sight ; and let never the temptations of Satan, the allurements of the world, or the corrupt custom, or bad example of those we live amongst, so far prevail with our evil hearts, as to draw us unto those sins which may dishonour Thee, or wrong our neighbours, or wound our own consciences.
Keep us, O Lord, from neglecting Thy worship, or profaning Thy holy ordinances ; from abusing Thy mercies, or murmuring at any of Thy providences ; and from that grievous sin which doth so much everywhere abound, the taking of Thy holy Name in vain.

Work in us an utter detestation of all fraud and deceit, all malice and envy, all strife and contention, all slander and backbiting; that we may never do, or wish any evil to others, nor delight to speak evil of them. Let us never deface Thy image, nor grieve Thy Holy Spirit, by pride,passion, or discontent ; by gluttony, drunkenness, or uncleanness, or any of those filthy vices whereby the greatest part of the world are carried headlong into perdition. But teach us so to obey Thy Holy Laws, and follow the perfect example which the Lord Jesus hath given us, that we may assure to ourselves an interest in that everlasting happiness which is the purchase of His precious blood.

To this end, bless us in reading and hearing Thy Holy Word, that it may instruct our judgments, and affect our hearts, and rule our lives, through Jesus Christ our Lord.


After reading the Holy Scriptures, followeth the Decalogue, and   then this Prayer :

All honour, praise, and glory be ascribed to Thy Divine majesty, O God, our Creator, Redeemer, and Comforter, by us and all reasonable creatures ; for Thy infinite perfections, which we can never comprehend ; for the creation, and that wise providence whereby Thou rulest and governest the same ; for all the mercies we have met with since we came into the world ; that Thou hast preserved us from so many evils, and bestowed so many good things upon us.

We bless Thee for our health and strength, for our food and raiment, for all the means of our subsistence, and comforts of our life ; that it hath pleased Thee to preserve us and our habitations this bygone night from fire, violence, and every evil accident ; and to bring us in safety to the beginning of this day. But above all, we  adore and magnify Thee for that infinite mercy Thou hast declared unto mankind, in Jesus Christ our Lord : for the example of His holy life ; for the merits of His bitter death ; for all themeans of grace,  and for the hopes of everlasting glory.

But what are we, to set forth Thy praise? Let the people praise Thee, O God ; yea, let all the people praise Thee ! Make Thy ways known upon earth, Thy saving health among all nations ; that from the rising of the sun, to the going down thereof, there may be an holy and acceptable sacrifice offered unto Thee. Open the eyes of the blind Jews. Bring in the fulness of the Gentiles. Deliver the world from Popish superstition, and the carnal delusion of Mahomet, and everything that may hinder the progress and power of this everlasting Gospel, by which we are taught to pray unto Thee.

Inspire Thy universal Church with the Spirit of holiness and love ; and grant unto all Christian kings, princes, and governors, a large measure of wisdom and grace, that they may be both able and willing to advance the great interests of piety and religion.

Endue our Sovereign the King with the Spirit of counsel and judgment; make him happy in wise and faithful counsellors, in loyal and peaceable subjects, and in the good success of all his enterprises, for Thy glory, and for his people's tranquility. Bless all our Rulers and Magistrates, that judgment may run as a river, and righteousness as a mighty stream.
Illuminate all the Bishops and Pastors of Thy flock, that they may feed the people with knowledge, and lead them in the ways of righteousness. (Comfort the afflicted; relieve the poor ; heal the sick and diseased, especially those recommended to the aid of our prayers.) Grant that all men in every condition of life may be contented, bettered, and amended.

Bless us with seasonable weather, that the earth may yield her increase, and the poor be satisfied with bread. Bless all our friends and neighbours. Reward those that have done us good; and pardon all those that have done us evil.

Take care of us, and all our interests, throughout this day : Guide us by Thy Holy Spirit, and guard us by Thy watchful providence ; and suffer no evil to come near our dwellings. Bless us in our outgoing and incoming ; and establish the work of our hands.

Above all, enable us to do something for Thy glory, and the salvation of our souls; and grant that we may return with our hearts full of love and thankfulness to Thee, in the evening, to praise and magnify Thy continued favour towards us. And when these few days and nights which we are to pass in this wretched and sinful world shall come to a close, conduct us, O most merciful Father, unto that everlasting blessedness which was purchased by the blood of our glorious Redeemer : by whom we are encouraged to address ourselves unto Thee ; and in whose most holy words we close our imperfect prayers, as He hath taught us, saying, Our Father, &c.

(To be continued… )

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