Morning, August 29, edited from Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening
“Have mercy upon me, O God.” — Psalm 51:1
When Dr. William Carey, the missionary, was suffering from a dangerous illness, the enquiry was made, “If this sickness should prove fatal, what passage would you select as the text for your funeral sermon?” He replied, “Oh, I feel that such a poor sinful creature is unworthy to have anything said about him; but if a funeral sermon must be preached, let it be from the words, ‘Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness; according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions.'” In the same spirit of humility he directed in his will that the following inscription and nothing more should be cut on his gravestone:
William Carey, Born August 17th, 1761: Died – –
“A wretched, poor, and helpless worm
On thy kind arms I fall.”
Only on the footing of free grace can the most experienced and most honored of the saints approach their God. The best of men are conscious above all others that they are only men at the best. Empty boats float high, but heavily laden vessels sit low in the water; those claiming to be Christian can boast, but true children of God cry for mercy upon their unprofitableness. We need the Lord to have mercy upon our good works, our prayers, our preaching, our giving, and our holiest efforts. The blood was not only sprinkled upon the doorposts of Israel’s dwelling houses, but upon the sanctuary, the mercy-seat, and the altar, because as sin intrudes into our holiest efforts, the blood of Jesus is needed to purify them from defilement. If mercy is needed to be exercised towards our duties, what shall be said of our sins? How delightful the remembrance that inexhaustible mercy is waiting to be gracious to us, to restore our backsliding, and make our broken bones rejoice!