Robert Hawker's Poor Man's Morning Portions

April 6—Morning Devotion

“Jesus therefore, knowing all things that should come upon him, went forth, and said unto them, whom seek ye? They answered him, Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus saith unto them, I am he. And Judas also, which betrayed him, stood with them. As soon then as he had said unto them, I am he, they went backward and fell to the ground.”—John 18:4-6

What a glorious scripture is this! Ponder it well, my soul; for of all the miracles of thy, Jesus, there is not one more sweet and satisfactory to contemplate. Yesterday thou wast looking at thy Redeemer under a heavy cloud. Look at him as he is here represented, for he is still, in this transaction, in the same garden of Gethsemane; and behold how the Godhead shone forth with a glory surpassing all description. Observe what a willing sacrifice was Jesus. He knew the hour was come, for he had said so. He doth not wait to be taken, and by wicked hands to be crucified and slain: but he goeth forth to surrender himself. Yes! Jesus did not go to the garden of Gethsemane for nothing; he knew Judas would be there; he knew the powers of darkness would be there; he knew his whole soul would be in an agony; but there Jesus would go. He had said at the table of his disciples,” Arise, let us go hence. “Precious, precious Jesus! how endearing to my poor soul is this sweet view of thy readiness and earnestness to become a sacrifice for the sins of thy people. Thou hast this baptism, Lord, to be baptised with; and how wast thou straitened until it was accomplished! There was a time, dear Lord, when the multitudes sought for thee to make thee a king; so convinced were they, for the moment, who thou wert; and then thou didst hide thyself from them. But now thine enemies come to make thee king with a crown of thorns, and to nail thy sacred body to the cross, thou didst hasten to meet them. Well might the prophet say, thou wentest forth for the salvation of thy people. Look at this scripture again, my soul. “Whom seek ye?” said Jesus. Did they not know him? It was a light night, most probably; for the moon was then at the full; besides, the seekers of Christ had lanterns and torches. How was it they did not know him? Didst thou for the moment, dearest Lord, do by them as thine angels at the gate of Lot by the Sodomites, so cause their eyes to be holden that they should not know thee? Was there somewhat of a miracle in this also? But, my soul, behold the wonder of wonders that followed: no sooner had Jesus said to their inquiry, (whom seek ye) “I am he,” than they went backward and fell to the ground. Was there indeed some sudden overpowering emanation of the Godhead, breaking through the vail of Jesus’s flesh, which induced this effect? Was it ever known, ever heard of, in any age or period of the world, of such an effect before? Supposing all the monarchs of the earth, with the mightiest armies of men, could be assembled together, how should such an event be induced by the breath of their mouth? Contemplate this, my soul, again and again Rejoice, my soul, in this view of thy Saviour; for never, surely, was a greater miracle of thy Redeemer’s wrought; and remember how soon it took place after his agony. Never go to Gethsemane in meditation, without taking the recollection of it with thee. “Behold the man!” behold the God! Here was nothing exercised by Jesus; no weapon, no threat, no denunciation, no appeal to the Father. Jesus only simply said, “I am he,” and they fell to the earth. Precious Jesus, what a volume of instruction doth it afford. If such was the effect in the day of thy flesh, how sure is that scripture concerning the day of thy power, in which it is said,” The Lord shall consume the wicked with the breath of his mouth, and destroy them with the brightness of his coming. “2 Thess. 2:8. And if, my soul, there was such power in the word of thy Saviour, when he only said to his enemies, “I am he,” why shouldest thou not feel all the sweetness and gracious power of his love, when he saith, “Fear not, I am he; behold I am with thee: it is I; be not afraid.” Ponder, my soul, in this view also, the awful state of a soul hardened by sin. The enemies of Jesus, though they fell to the ground at his mere word, felt no change, no compunction, at the display of it. Judas also was with them. Yes! he fell also; but Satan had entered into him, and a reprobate mind marked him as the son of perdition. Oh precious Jesus! how fully read to thy people, in every part of thy word, is the solemn truth, that grace makes all the difference between him that serveth God, and him that serveth him not. Oh keep me, Lord, and I shall be well kept; for unto thee do I lift up my soul!

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."

Robert Hawker on the Biblical Covenants (Complete)
Robert Hawker's Poor Man's Morning Portions