“Watchman, what of the night? Watchman, what of the night?”—Isaiah 21:11
While this solemn inquiry may be supposed to have peculiar reference, as addressed to the servants of the Lord, whom he hath set as watchmen upon the walls of Zion, may it not be made personally to every man’s bosom also, as it refers to himself? And the repeating of it twice should seem to imply the importance and earnestness with which it should be followed up. My soul, what is the night with thee? Art thou watching in it more than they that watch for the morning: yea, I say, more than they which watch for the morning? How art thou exercising this watchfulness? Is all safe respecting thine everlasting welfare? Art thou watching the approaches of the enemy? Art thou watchful in prayer; watchful for the gracious moment of the Spirit’s helping thee in prayer; watchful in guiding thee in the exercise of it; watchful of the Lord’s gracious answers to prayer; and, like the prophet on the watch tower, having given in thy petition to the heavenly court, into the hands of thy High Priest and Intercessor, art thou waiting to see what the Lord will say unto thee? Lord, make me eminently watchful in these things. Go on, my soul, in this heart-searching inquiry. Art thou waiting and watching thy Lord’s return? What of the night is it now? May not Jesus come at even, or at midnight, or at cock-crowing, or in the morning? Pause, my soul. Suppose his chariot wheels were at the door, wouldest thou arise with holy joy, crying out, It is the voice of my beloved, saying, “Behold I come quickly?” And wouldest thou answer, “Even so come, Lord Jesus?” Oh for grace to be of that happy number, of whom the Lord himself saith, “Blessed are those servants whom, at his coming, he shall find so doing.”
Robert Hawker (1753-1827) was an Anglican (High-Calvinist) preacher who served as Vicar of Charles Church, Plymouth. John Hazelton wrote of him:
“The prominent features…in Robert Hawker's testimony…was the Person of Christ….Dr. Hawker delighted to speak of his Lord as "My most glorious Christ.” What anxious heart but finds at times in the perusal of the doctor's writings a measure of relief, a softening, and a mellowing? an almost imperceptible yet secret and constraining power in leading out of self and off from the misery and bondage of the flesh into a contemplation of the Person and preciousness of Christ as "the chiefest among ten thousand and the altogether lovely." Christ and Him crucified was emphatically the burden of his song and the keynote of his ministry. He preached his last sermon in Charles Church on March 18th, 1827, and on April 6th he died, after being six years curate and forty-three years vicar of the parish. On the last day of his life he repeated a part of Ephesians 1, from the 6th to the 12th verses, and as he proceeded he enlarged on the verses, but dwelt more fully on these words: "To the praise of His glory Who first trusted in Christ." He paused and asked, "Who first trusted in Christ?" And then made this answer: "It was God the Father Who first trusted in Christ."