7. The Publican’s Prayer
“God be merciful to me a sinner.”—Luke 18:12
[At the time that the following sermon was preached, Mr. Gadsby had no idea of its ever being printed, nor did he know that a short-hand writer was present to take it down. The sermon was preached at the particular request of a lady on her death-bed, to whom a sermon by Mr. G. from the same text had been blessed some time previously, and who had had to encounter considerable opposition from her friends. The members of her family, however, attended to hear this “funeral sermon,” and it was made a blessing to one of their number.]
The verse which I am about to read as my text, I am going to read by the particular request of some present, who have lost a beloved relative. It is a passage particularly pointed out to your attention, as having been made within these walls a blessing to a departed child of God. She is no longer repeating the words here below; but she is in the blessed enjoyment of that grace for which, when here, she prayed, under a feeling sense of her prayer being answered. I shall say no more at present upon that subject, but I shall read the passage, and I hope you will be enabled to mark and feel the words. You will find them recorded in Luke 18:13: “God be merciful to me a sinner.”
The dear Lord, in’ this part of Scripture, has set before us two characters, and these characters are set before the world, the professing world, both in that day and in this. They are the characters of a pharisee and a publican. The pharisee is one that outwardly professed great piety and holiness; the publican one that, in the eyes of the Jews, was hateful and despised. He was the collector of the Roman tax, but that wickedly and villanously; a man, in fact, that was an awful sinner in the sight of men as well as in the sight of God. These two “went up into the temple to pray;” but, alas! alas! the pharisee forgot his errand. He never attempted to pray. He was too good to pray. Instead of praying, he said, “God, I thank thee that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers.” And he saw at some distance this poor publican; and no doubt he felt himself a little disgraced to be there at the same time with such a wicked sinner; therefore, with the utmost religious scorn and indignation, he looked up to God and said, “and that I am not like this publican. I fast twice in the week; I give tithes of all that I possess.” Here you see, is both a negative and a positive good. Now the greatest part of the professing world, in spirit, is just here; something of their own goodness, something of their own piety, to bring to God. But whenever God lays open the heart of a sinner, that sinner would as soon bring the devil as any of his own goodness to God. For the world’s goodness, what is it but filthy rags?” We are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousness as filthy rags.” Therefore the poor soul can never expect that filthy rags will recommend him to the favour of a holy, just, and righteous God. And yet filthy rags is the best, is all he has to offer; and if his righteousness is as filthy rags, Lord help us! what are his sins? Now, whenever God comes to lay the heart open, man is brought to feel this, and to stand in awe before a heart-searching God. This appears to be the case with the poor publican. Hence we find that “the publican, standing afar off,” (he dare not get half so near as the pharisee,) “would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven,” (for guilt pressed him down with a grievous weight, and he sank before God a sinner,) “but smote upon his breast,” (as a sinner in agony and torture of heart,) saying, “God be merciful to me a sinner.”
Now, before I enter upon the subject, I would just premise that if any of you are fostering up your minds with your own goodness, you are deceiving yourselves; you are under the awful crime of a soul-damning delusion, believing a lie, and, if grace prevent not, at the last you will be lost for ever. But, on the other hand, if there is a soul here feelingly and experimentally in the case of the poor publican, you are at the door of God’s mercy. You are as sure of it as if you had it. There never was a sinner, since God made the world, whose heart the Lord had opened to feel his loathsomeness, his ruined condition, to bow down his heart and his head before God as a guilty wretch, and to be feelingly compelled to say, “God be merciful to me a sinner,” that ever the Lord let perish, or ever will. Hence the Holy Ghost says, “If we confess our sins, God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 Jn 1:9) But this must be a confession from a feeling sense of their hatefulness, their loathsomeness and vileness, and under a deep feeling of their detestable nature against the most holy God.
From the passage which I have read as a text, I shall,
I. Show that we are all sinners.
II. That when God lays open the heart and discloses it to us, this petition will be our prayer, “God be merciful to mo a sinner.” There is a great body of professors that assume to have considerable talent in prayer, but they pray for every body but themselves, ft never seems to enter into their heart to pray for themselves, for God to be merciful to them. But this will be the case when God comes to lay open the heart, and to discover to us what sinners we are, we shall pray for ourselves.
III. Notice the channel through which God’s mercy flows, and the certain manifestation of it to every one that is thus brought to feel and made to cry, “God be merciful to mo a sinner.”
I. Now it is an easy matter for men to acknowledge the truth of this. The adulterer is a sinner; the swearer is a sinner; but, beloved, a man must be a sober man, a chaste man, and use no profane language, and yet be an awful sinner, and have in his heart the seed of every evil that the damned in hell have. Yes, and be accountable to God for the monstrous seed of evil, for he has the root of it in him. They have the fruit and the root too; but, God knows we all have the root, and there is the ground and beginning of tho fruit. If you have no root, there will be no fruit. This is a point that appears to me but little understood,—that the root, the core of all the evil that is produced in the world, is a corrupt nature, derived from our first father Adam. Then, before I make any remarks upon external evil, I will endeavour to prove that we possess the root of it, and not only so, but that we have even the tree. The chapter we have been reading this morning (Rom 5) leads us even beyond that, viz., to consider that we are righteously condemned in Adam for sin. We are all contaminated with it, guilty in it; and if God had damned the whole human race for Adam’s first transgression, he would still have been a righteous and a just God. In Adam was the first spring and fountain of evil. We are but filthy drops of the same filthy stream; and you will never know the bottom of evil, nor the glorious, the blessed salvation of Christ, till God makes you feel this. You may have a little acquaintance with it; but it is merely on the surface; you will never know the value of his mercy nor your own undeserved state till then. And when the Lord makes you feel that, you will be awfully vile in the sight of yourselves as well as in the sight of a heart-searching God. An old professor, who had been a very pious and zealous man in the eyes of his neighbours, and in his own eyes too, but had never been brought to a full assurance of the enjoyment of the pardoning love and blood of Jesus, lay upon his bed one morning, when God opened his heart, and let him see that he was justly condemned in Adam’s first transgression. He came out of his bed, confessed it before God, acknowledged his loathsomeness in Adam’s first sin, and confessed, in heart and feeling, his own sins; and God brought him, by his divine light, and life, and majesty, and glory, to taste and to know his mercy; and the devil could never make that man into an Arminian after that. Why? Because he was brought to a knowledge and experience of these two fundamental truths—that he was totally lost in himself, and that he was immortally saved in the Lord Jesus Christ. With these two solemn truths sealed upon the heart, there is a reality felt that all the world can never put away.
Now, just let us glance at a sentence or two in the chapter I read this morning, viz., the 5th of Romans. My design is to show that Paul in this chapter speaks as though we were righteously condemned, as we really are, in Adam’s first act and transgression. We begin at verse 12 : “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin,” (that is, by one man’s sin,) “and so,” (in that one man’s sin,) “death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.” That is, in one man’s sin, in that one act, all have sinned, all are considered guilty; all are considered righteously condemned in that one man’s sin. Therefore, how can we stand before a heart-searching God? Now, our actual transgressions are what proceed from this one act. This is the root, there is the seed, there is the fountain, there is the spring; and that root, that seed, that fountain, being communicated to us in the channel of our proceeding from his loins, we all come into the world justly damned in the sight of God’s holy law. “But,” say you, “that is rather hard.” Well; we will prove it by the Word of God; and if we deny that, you know we are infidels. We cannot be anything else than infidels if we deny the Word of God. We must abide by that, both here and at the great burning day: “For until the law sin was in the world; but sin is not imputed when there is no law.” Yet there was a law in God’s Bible, and our sin was against it.—”Nevertheless, death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression,”—over even the infant race that had not actually committed sin; death reigned over them. Now, “the wages of sin is death.” “What then,” say you, “do you believe that infants are sinners?” I am sure of it; and there is nothing in the world that an infant demonstrates sooner than its having tho root of evil in it. Its little nasty pettish tricks begin to peep out as soon as anything, and demonstrate that the root of evil is within. “Then,” say you, “if children die in their infancy, where do you think they will go to?” In the judgment of charity I believe they are among God’s elect; but they never go to heaven on the ground of their innocence. There is not such a creature in heaven as a mere human innocent. “Then on what ground do you believe that infants go to heaven?” Upon the same ground as you and I,—the blood and obedience of the God-Man Mediator; and I believe that God, in the riches of his grace, grants this special blessing to all that die in their infancy. “But then,” say you, “if they be sinners, they must be regenerated; and infants cannot be regenerated.” Who told you so? “Oh, they have not common capacities; so they are not capable of receiving the truth.” Away with your common capacities! It is all a parcel of lumber in the matter of regeneration,—lumber altogether. Regeneration is the solemn instantaneous work of God the Holy Ghost in the soul. Our capacities have no more to do with it than they have with the creation of the world or with bringing ourselves into existence. It is the God of heaven that works it by his power, and winks it mightily in the hearts of all them that believe. But suppose I direct your attention to one circumstance in God’s word. I have often noticed it, and noticed it with pleasure. When Elizabeth was pregnant with John the Baptist, and Mary was pregnant with the Messiah, Mary went to see her cousin Elizabeth, and as soon as she got upon the threshold of her door Elizabeth begins, “Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb. For, lo, as soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded in mine ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy.” How could little John know this, according to his rationality, think ye? And yet little John danced in the womb of his mother, when Mary, who was pregnant with the Messiah, saluted her. How came he to know anything about it? God the Spirit, God the Holy Ghost, made it known to the little infant in his mother’s womb. And millions on millions of little infants that have just breathed, if I may so speak, in their mother’s womb and then breathed their vital air in ineffable glory, have, by the divine influence of the Spirit, been quickened and made alive to God, and they have been cleansed from their pollution in Adam’s transgression, by the atoning blood of Christ, and thus brought to the blessed enjoyment of heaven. Some men, thinking the reflection was,not of a pleasant, nature, have exclaimed, “Oh, these Calvinists, especially these Antinomians, say that there are infants in hell not a span long.” Now, none but a fool could have invented such an expression; for there is no such thing as a soul a span long, neither in heaven nor in hell. But at the same time the doctrine! has been charged upon me; and a female, a class-leader in this town, and one in high esteem, told a friend of hers that she heard mo say that there were infants in bell not a span long. A greater lie was never told; and she knew she told a lie when she said so; she knew that I had never said any- thing of the kind. No, no; I believe no such thing. I believe that our God, in the riches of his grace, constitutes dying infants of his own blood-bought family. And, therefore, I believe that there have been and shall be millions and millions of infants that have never made any appearance in this world, but just peeped into it to die, and numbers that have never peeped into it at all,, that yet have been and shall be brought, through the blood of Jesus, to enter into the mysteries of the God of everlasting love.
But we must pass on: “But not as the offence, so also is the free gift. For if through the offence of one,” (that is the core, that is the fountain,) “many be dead, much more the grace of God and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many. And not as it was by one that sinned, so is the gift; for the judgment was by one to condemnation,” (that is, by one single act,) “but the free gift is of many offences unto justification. For if by one man’s offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ. Therefore, as by the offense of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.” Now here you see that the Lord contrasts the safety of his people with the condemnation of the whole world by the first sin; for by that sin death came, judgment came; all sin, all condemnation, came by that one sin. But our God hath, in one act of grace, by the Lord, as it were, teeming out the grace of God in Christ, taken away the sin. And if the certain consequences of that one act of Adam were such as to condemn not only him but all mankind, how much richer and more certain is it, that the fulness of God’s mercy should justify and bring to God all them that are brought to the Lord Jesus Christ and led to hope in him.
You will find the whole chapter go on in the same way. I perceive I must not continue the explanation; but we will just call to mind the 19th and 20th verses: “For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one many shall be made righteous.” It is so given,—”righteous,” in the sight of God, without an iota of their own goodness. That is the reason why God says, when speaking by Paul, “For it is God which worketh in you, both to will and to do of his good pleasure.” Now is there a feelingly ungodly sinner here, loathsome in your own eyes, detestable and hateful to yourself? Well, poor soul! “God justifies the ungodly,” (Rom 5:6) and brings many that are altogether unlike God into the perfect obedience of the Lord Jesus Christ. And when this blessed obedience is brought home to the heart, it is sure to lead the soul to love holiness and to practise it, and to love God for granting to it such special favours.
But to go on: “Moreover, the law entered that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound.” Now you must see that Paul has throughout been speaking of two Adams,—Adam the first, as bringing all men into death and condemnation by his transgression, so that all died in him; and Adam the second, as having all God’s elect in his loins, so that by his obedience all live in him. For the apostle says, “Where sin abounded, grace did much more abound.” Now that cannot be to any who are not of God’s elect in the second Adam. You may not look to the damned in hell, and say so, for sin abounds in them much more than grace. Grace in them did not keep pace with their sins. It is only in the people of God united to Christ and brought to Jesus by the blessed power of the Spirit that grace abounds much more than sin. Therefore, poor soul! if thou hast been led to see thy lost and ruined state, and hast been made to groan and cry to God on account of it, there is more grace in Christ for thee than there is sin in thee, and more efficacy in the blood and obedience of Christ than there is damnable nature in thy crimes. God help thee to believe it, and to feel it, and to rejoice in the God of all salvation, and for the knowledge and appreciation of the truth that “where sin abounded, grace did much more abound;” and so you will be led to glorify God as the God of your hope. Well, then, considering this as the root of evil, our union to the first Adam, and deriving a corrupt nature from him, as from the fountain and spring of all crime, beloved, if you and I are preserved from committing murder, fornication, and adultery, give God thanks, for we have it all in our nature. There is not a sinner, nor a saint, but what has the whole in his nature; and it is God that preserves them and keeps them from actual sin, and they must give God the thanks. “Can you prove that?” Well, we will see. We will just direct your attention to another portion of God’s word upon this solemn subject, and we shall find that it was so even from the beginning, before man multiplied so much on the earth, and before it exhibited so strange a picture of what the human heart has grown to in our day, because every propensity is found towards actual transgression. Well, then, God, in Genesis 6:5, says, “And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thought of his heart was only evil,” (sometimes?—Nay, not so,) “continually” So that every imagination of the thought of man is one stream of evil, without any good, without any real spiritual good, wholly evil, and that continually. “But, then,” say you, “if a person has a pious education, and pious instructors to leach him, and he listens to them, is that evil?” I will tell you where it is evil; in the natural pride of the heart, which makes their very piety into idols and devils. It sets up something of their own, instead of trusting in the Lord Jesus Christ. I will tell you what was the fact with respect to her whose death has been the occasion of this discourse. She had a pious education, and in some measure was led to see that she was a sinner, and was aiming at salvation, and yet she did not then reach it. But as God would have it, she came here, and I preached from this text, where, as she expressed it, God laid her heart open, and it appeared to her that every word was said to her, and never till then did she know what a sinner she was before God. Then she was deeply and truly humbled under a sense of her own vileness, and she never had rest till God was pleased to manifest his pardon through the precious blood of the Lamb. I once saw her in her affliction, and 1 was happy to find her soul resting its hope of salvation in the blood and obedience of her blessed Redeemer, and demonstrating the truth of God’s mercy in her deliverance. In all her sufferings God blessed her with patience and resignation to his will, and she is now gone where all is. well, and where God is all and in all.
Oh! Spirit of God! If it be thy gracious pleasure, lay the hearts of this people open today; let them know what devils they are as sinners before thee, that they may never have rest till they find rest in the Redeemer through the blessed atonement of Immanuel, and that they may know that by nature “every imagination of the heart is evil, only evil, and that continually.”
Now what did David, after he had been brought to commit an awful crime before God? He was led to confess it in tho sight of a heart-searching God, and to acknowledge his vileness. “What did he say? See Psalm 51:5: “Behold, I was shapen in iniquity,” (then what good could there be about him?) “and in sin did my mother conceive me.” Here we have a picture for all,—shapen in iniquity; conceived in sin; coming into the world a mass of sin and rebellion against God. That is the reason why Job says, “I have said unto corruption, Thou art my father; and to the worm, Thou art my mother and my sister. (Job 17:14) Hervey says that the original may be more correctly translated as the “grub,” which is nursed and bred in corruption and putrefaction. And this is just what we shall all face when God lays our hearts open, when tho Holy Ghost lets us know the sap and core of sin; it is what all must feel, that they are nothing better than a grub or worm hatched and bred in putrefaction. And then we shall know and feel that there is no room for pride indeed, no room for creature boasting, no room for self-exaltation. We must all be saved by the matchless grace of God, or we must sink into black despair. What says the prophet Jeremiah (17:9)? “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked. Who can know it?” (Aye, who does, know it?) “I, the Lord, search the hearts; I try the reins.” Well, then, this heart-searching, this rein-trying God, lays our hearts open and lets us feel the core. We then acknowledge that what this man of God has said is true, that the heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked, that there is no getting to the bottom of it. A poor woman was once making application to be received into church membership with us, when she made use of the text that the heart was deceitful above all things and desperately wicked, and she was asked how she knew that her heart was deceitful above all things. “O,” she said, “because it has deceived me so many times. I never had anything that deceived mo like my heart.” And thus we can bear witness, that nothing deceives us like our own hearts. Then here is the core. But if we wanted further proof we can bring a passage out of more than one spoken immediately and directly from the Lord, or by the Lord’s own mouth. See Mark 7:21: “For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: all these evil things come from within, and defile the man.” Now is the Lord a deceiver or is he not? If Immanuel be true, if the Son of God were not the most barefaced deceiver that ever God let live, every evil, that ever comes to any fruit, is here in the root, before it grows into fruition. There is the seed within, and all proceeds from this corrupt fountain, our evil nature. And we all have that. Then all have sinned in the sight of God’s law, if thoroughly weighed up; and we must be some day or other judged, either in this world or the world to come. The law is given that every mouth shall be stopped, so we shall not have many stones in our pockets to throw at other people. Alas! no; we must plead guilty before the Lord, and here we stand as sinners.
We might direct your attention to what Paul by the Spirit of God says in Romans 3, but I perceive I must forbear Just, then, notice that we all have this awful sin. Men and women, dying mortals! See what a picture we are! What-a monstrous picture we are! We are at this moment sitting or standing before a heart-searching God, and are ourselves pictured forth in this awful, way. And we have this vile, this dreadful sin, even in our best acts. Human virtue! Talk of human virtue getting you to heaven! Lord, bless your souls, you might as well talk of a sparrow emptying the sea. It must be a virtue, an efficacy, with all the majesty of God in it, to save a sinner; and without that efficacy we shall never obtain salvation. And that blessed efficacy is alone to be found in the God-Man Mediator, and there it is that a sinner shall find rest and peace to his soul.
We might notice actual transgressions as proceeding from this corrupt fountain and root of evil; but that I must necessarily omit. But all our actual transgressions add to the score, increase the evil, adding sin to sin and guilt to guilt, and so going on to weight us down deeper and deeper in misery before the Holy Lord God. And what an awful state we shall be in, when arraigned before God, if we have not something better than our own goodness to present to him, when the best we have is filthy rags!
II. We pass on to notice that whenever God opens the heart and brings a sinner to see what there is there. O what a scene presents itself to him! Why, let the poor sinner turn his eyes which way he will, he can see nothing but sin. “My every thought is sin; my goodness is sin; my repentance needs to be repented of; my reason is sin; all my religious devotion is connected with sin. I am guilty in heart, guilty in lip, guilty in life.” Why, the poor creature is brought to the feeling and crying, “What am I? where am I? What is God about to do with me? I am damned if I pray. I am damned if I don’t pray. I am lost in my sins to all intents and purposes.” “Oh! but,” say some, “there is such a thing as good works. I’ll do my part, and God will do his part, and so I shall be saved at last.” Oh! poor pharisee, worse than the Egyptian task-masters. God have mercy on thee, and find thee a better job to do, and let thee feel that all thy good works will do nothing but add sin to sin. Thus it was with our departed friend. She laboured under a sense of her guilt, of her loathsomeness and baseness, till at last she appeared to sink almost into black despair; and if she attempted to pray she could not. The enemy tried to persuade her that it was of no use, and that she might go to heaven without; but, blessed be God, she could not believe him. The word of God she seemed to feel that she dared not read, because everything in it seemed against her; and yet she wanted to obtain some relief to her poor soul; but at length, brought, as we have said, almost into a state of desperation, she was obliged to adopt the language of the text that had been the means of opening her heart, “God be merciful to me a sinner.” And this prayer reached heaven, and brought God down, (if I may so speak,”) for her heart was relieved by the manifestation of God’s mercy to her soul. O that this may be the case here, that some poor sinners’ hearts may be laid open to clay, and that they may be brought to cry feelingly, “God be merciful to me a sinner;” for we can never feelingly cry this till God lets us know in some solemn measure what sinners we are. Then, like Lydia, our hearts will be opened; as it is said, “The Lord opened Lydia’s heart, that she attended to the things which were spoken of Paul.” (Acts 16:14) Some people, I dare say, think that God opened her heart as with a feather; but it is not so easy a thing. God does not open hearts with a feather. It is a sharp and a painful operation to the sinner. It is like cutting out an ulcer. The heart is laid open as with a knife, and then outcomes the evil. They are sensible of their ruined condition, and, as God’s Spirit directs them, they are glad to attend to the things which God speaks in the groat mysteries of gospel salvation, as Lydia attended to the things which were spoken of Paul.
“God be merciful to me a sinner.” Is that your prayer? not carelessly, not indifferently, but feelingly? Has tho Lord discovered to you your vileness, your pollution, your ruin, and that in self and of self you are nothing but a walking pestilence and loathsome plague; that you have the plague in your heart and the scum of Satan in your nature; that you are nothing but vileness from head to foot? Has he made you tremble at his footstool? Have you feelingly confessed, “Behold, I am vile altogether? If so, you have cried for mercy, and you will never rest till you are relieved by the mercy of God in Christ Jesus.
Sometimes you will be crossed. The enemy of souls will say to you, “Well; you have felt this disease many a week, and you have cried”, and cried, and cried again, and yet no deliverance comes. You had better pray no more. It is of no use. You had better give it up.” Well; you get up some morning and post away to your work without bending your knees before the Lord. You finish your work, and you come home, and go to bed at night, and try to close your eyes in sleep, and think you never will pray again; that God will have nothing to do with you; that you are too bad for God to pardon; and that it is of no use at all to pray. You sleep, and you are horrified with dreams and visions! You can say as Job said, “Then thou scarest me with dreams, and terrifiest me through visions.” (Job 7:14) You awake; you are all alarm, all horror; and Satan himself cannot keep you in your bed. You are obliged to get out, and on your poor bended knees, and with your half-naked body, you are obliged to cry, “God be merciful to me a sinner.” O what a mercy it is that you are obliged to cry! And thus it will be with the dear child of God. In the midst of temptations, mercy is what he needs, and for mercy he cries, “God be merciful to me a sinner.”
III. Now, then, we observe lastly. Through what channel does mercy flow? From the absolute Godhead? The face of absolute Godhead is full of wrath, and his jealousy burns with awful indignation against transgressors. “In the sight of God no flesh living can be justified.” The channel through which mercy flows then to a guilty sinner is the precious atonement of tho dear Redeemer. He stands in the stead of the sinner. He has borne the guilt; he has sweated under the awful and preponderating weight of his peoples transgressions; he has been cursed that they may be blessed; he has drunk in wrath that they may drink in mercy: he hits shed his blood under the pressure of their guilt, and that vital blood has put out the holy flames of the wrath of God kindled against them. O, blessed be his precious name! This is the channel, the divine channel of mercy! Here grace reigns through righteousness to eternal, life, and God, in the person of his Son, thus does his mightiest works. There is redemption through the blood of Christ, even the forgiveness of sins. Well: as this is the blessed channel, the glorious, the certain, the infallible channel, through which mercy flows and in which mercy shines, it is certain to them that are brought to have their hearts opened and their sin discovered unto them, “Call upon me in the day of trouble, and I will deliver thee, saith the Lord, and thou shalt glorify me;” “This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles;” “Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved;” “Whatsoever ye ask in the name of Christ, believing it shall be given you, it shall be done unto you;” and, therefore, mercy is infallibly certain, mercy is immortally sure, to all them that are brought by the Spirit of the living God to call upon the Lord Jesus Christ, under a feeling sense of their lost condition, saying, “God be merciful to me, to me a sinner.” There is majesty in tho cry when God opens the heart. It is a teeming out of the majesty of God in tho soul. How many bosoms are there in this assembly that thus feel? Let me look around. God look into you, beloved, and help you to look into, yourselves! How many bosoms are there here with a broken heart under their vileness, ready to cry, “God be merciful to me a sinner?” Are you feelingly so or are you not? If not, what an awful state you are in! But if the Lord has brought you to feel truly that you are sinners, you will be brought to repent of your sins, and eventually to glorify his blessed name for his rich grace in the person of the dear Redeemer.
The Lord help us to feel it, and to bless God for it, for his mercy’s sake. Amen.
William Gadsby (1773-1844) was a Strict and Particular Baptist preacher, writer and philanthropist. John Hazelton wrote of him—
“[Gadsby’s] labours extended to well-nigh every part of the country, and who by his sermons, hymns, and other writings, exerted a wide spiritual influence, and his interest in the poor and needy in Lancashire and elsewhere rendered his public advocacy of their cause of great value. In him we have a man of eminent public spirit, as well as of originality and spiritual force…The first time he preached was in 1798, in an upper room in a yard at Bedworth, from the words, "Unto you therefore which believe, He is precious." His Hymn Book, now so widely known, was first published in 1814, his desire being "to have a selection of hymns free from Arminianism and sound in the faith, that the Church might be edified and God glorified.” He removed to Manchester in 1805, and while over the Church there he travelled over 60,000 miles and preached nearly 12,000 sermons.”