The "Morning Exercise" began with Thomas Case, minister of Mary Magdalene Church on Milk Street, London. He responded to a need for prayer when during the first civil war many were concerned about family and friends serving in harm's way.
"But, besides the monthly fast, the opening of the war gave rise to another exercise of prayer and exhortation to repentance for an hour every morning in the week. Most of the citizens of London having some near relation or friend in the army of the Earl of Essex, so many bills were sent up to the pulpit every Lord's Day for their preservation, that the minister had neither time to read them nor to recommend their cases to God in prayer; it was therefore agreed, by some London divines, to separate an hour for this purpose every morning, one half to be spent in prayer, and the other in a suitable exhortation to the people. The Reverend Mr. Case, minister of St. Mary Magdalen, Milk-street, began it in his church at seven in the morning, and when it had continued there a month, it was removed by turns to other churches at a distance, for the accommodation of the several parts of the city, and was called the morning exercise. The service was performed by divers ministers, and earnest intercessions were made, in the presence of a numerous and crowded audience, for the welfare of the public as well as particular cases. When the heat of the war was over it became a casuistical lecture, and was carried on by the most learned and able divines till the restoration of King Charles II. Their sermons were afterward published in several volumes quarto, under the title of the Morning Exercises,” each sermon being the resolution of some practical case of conscience."—Daniel Neal's History of the Puritans
1660. The first volume was published by Thomas Case: The Morning Exercise Methodized: or, Certain Chief Heads and Points of the Christian Religion Opened and Improved in Divers Sermons, by Several Ministers of the City of London, in the Monthly Course of the Morning Exercise at Giles in the Fields, May 1659. London, Printed by E. M. for Ralph Smith, at the sign of the Bible in Cornhil, near the Royal Exchange. 1660.
From the Introduction:
"That since the preaching of these Sermons, there hath been no general review; but every one took care of transcribing his own discourse, and sending me the copy: accordingly I sent it to the press."
From the first sermon:
The fruits of the Morning Exercise in the city.
Truly God hath been pleased to make this Morning Lecture a great mercy to this city, ever since it was first erected; which was, when Leicester was besieged. It hath been like the ark in the house of Obed-edom, a blessing wherever it hath come, a morning cloud which hath let fall sweet, refreshing showers in every place.
Comfort against fear. For the strengthening of the weak hands, and confirming the feeble knees, of the people of God. (Isai. xxxv. 3, 4.)—Who in this time of England's troubles have been of a fearful heart and of a trembling spirit. Many poor Christians, who in times of public dangers and confusions have come to these morning-assemblies, like the Marys to the sepulchre of our Lord, with their hearts full of fears and their eyes full of tears, have been dismissed those assemblies “with fear and great joy;” (Matt. xxviii. 8;) their hearts have been revived, and their hands strengthened in the Lord their God.
A preservative against apostasy. God hath made use of this Exercise for the preserving of thousands from error and damnable doctrines in these times of sad apostasy.—While many ignorant and unstable souls, being “led away with the error of the wicked, have fallen from their own steadfastness,” (2 Peter iii. 17,) there want not multitudes, through grace, who are ready to acknowledge that they owe their confirmation and stability in the truth, (under God,) in a very eminent manner, to the labours of those godly, orthodox divines who have bestowed their pains in these early Lectures from time to time.
Conversion. God hath commanded his blessing upon it for the conversion of many souls to Jesus Christ.—Blessed be God! “the Morning Exercise” hath not been childless since it was set up. Some there be, to my knowledge, who have calculated their spiritual nativity from the time that this Exercise was in the places of their habitation; as in this Place some can bring-in their testimony to the honour and praise of free-grace.
Edification. It hath been a very choice instrument in the hand of the Spirit for the “building up of Christians in their most holy faith.”—Many of them that have attended “daily at the gates of wisdom, waiting at the posts of her doors,” (Prov. viii. 34, 35,) in this ministerial course, have been observed to have made eminent proficiency in the school of Christ, “to grow’ in God, “in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.” (2 Peter iii. 18.)
Partly, by reason of the frequency and assiduity of them. Sabbath day-sermons and weekly lectures, being distanced with such long intervals of worldly encumbrances, are for the most part forgotten before the return of their weekly course: whereas, these Exercises treading so close upon the heels one of another, they that have constantly attended them have, as it were, lived under a constant vision, the sun of the gospel arising upon them as assiduously as the sun in the firmament; whereby they have been carried on in a daily progress of gospel-proficiency.
1661. The second volume was edited by Samuel Annesley. The Morning-Exercise at Cripple-gate: or, Several Cases of Conscience Practically Resolved, by Sundry Ministers, September, 1661. London: Printed for Joshua Kirton and Nathaniel Webb, and are to be sold at the Kings Arms, and at the Royal Oak in St. Paul's church-yard, 1661.
1674. Samuel Annesley. A Supplement to the Morning-Exercise at Cripple-gate: or Several more Cases of Conscience Practically Resolved by Sundry Ministers. London, Printed for Thomas Cockerill, at the Sign of the Atlas in Cornhil, near the Royal Exchange, 1674.
1675. Nathaniel Vincent. The Morning-Exercise against Popery: or the Principal Errors of the Church of Rome detected and confuted, in a Morning-Lecture preached lately in Southwark: by Several Ministers of the Gospel in or near London. London, Printed by A. Maxwell for Tho: Parkhurst, at the Bible and three Crowns in Cheapside near Mercers-Chappel, and at the Bible within the Gate on London-Bridge. 1675.
1683. Samuel Annesley. A Continuation of Morning-Exercise Questions and Cases of Conscience, Practically Resolved by Sundry Ministers, in October 1682. London, Printed by J.A. for John Dunton, 1683.
1690. Samuel Annesley. Casuistical Morning-Exercises. The Fourth Volume. By Several Ministers in and about London, Preached in October, 1689. London, Printed by James Astwwod for John Dunton, at the Raven in the Poultrey, over against the Compter. 1690.
The series was republished with reorganized volumes, carefully collated and corrected, with notes and translations, by James Nichols. London: Printed for Thomas Tegg, 73, Cheapside, 1844 and 1845.
Volume 1. The Morning Exercises at Cripplegate, St. Giles in the Fields, and in Southwark: Being Divers Sermons, Preached A.D. 1659–1689. By Several Ministers of the Gospel in or near London. In Six Volumes. 1844 (Contains the 1661 volume - Several Cases of Conscience, etc, sermons 1–28; and part of the 1674 volume, A Supplement to the Morning-Exercise at Cripple-gate, etc. sermons 1–4).
Volume 2. The Morning Exercises at Cripplegate, etc. (Contains the remainder of the 1674 volume, A Supplement to the Morning-Exercise at Cripple-gate, etc. sermons 5–31).
Volume 3. The Morning Exercises at Cripplegate, etc. (Contains the 1683 volume, A Continuation of Morning-Exercise Questions etc., sermons 1–25).
Volume 4. The Morning Exercises at Cripplegate, etc. (Contains the remainder of the 1683 volume, sermons 26–31), and also the Casuistical Morning-Exercises. sermons 1–18).
Volume 5. The Morning Exercises at Cripplegate, etc. (Contains the 1660 volume, The Morning Exercise Methodized, etc., sermons 1–28) and also the 1675, The Morning-Exercise against Popery, etc, sermons 1–6).
Volume 6. The Morning Exercises at Cripplegate, etc. (Contains the remainder of the 1675 The Morning-Exercise against Popery, etc, sermons 7–25). Also contains the indexes of authors, Scriptures, topics, and authors cited.