“And every one that was in distress, and every one that was in debt, and every one that was discontented, gathered themselves unto him, and he became a captain over them.”—1 Samuel 22:2
My soul, was not this thy case when thou first sought after Jesus? Thou wert, indeed, in debt under an heavy load of insolvency. Distress and discontent sadly marked thy whole frame. Unconscious where to go, or to whom to seek, and no man cared for thy soul. Oh! what a precious thought it was, and which none but God the Holy Ghost could have put into thine heart —Go unto Jesus! And when I came, and thou didst graciously condescend to be my captain, from that hour how hath my soul been revived! My insolvency thou hast taken away; for thou hast more than paid the whole demands of the law; for thou hast magnified it, and made it honourable. My distress under the apprehension of divine justice thou hast removed; for God’s justice, by thee, is not only satisfied, but glorified. My discontent can have no further cause for exercise, since thou hast so graciously provided for all my wants, in grace here, and glory hereafter. Hail, thou great and glorious Captain of my salvation! In thee I see that Leader and Commander which Jehovah, thy Father, promised to give to the people. Thou art indeed, blessed Jesus, truly commissioned by thy Father to this very purpose, that every one that is in soul distress, by reason of sin, and debtors to the broken law of God, may come unto thee, and take thee for their Captain. And truly, Lord, thy little army, llke David’s, is composed of none originally but distressed souls. None would take thee for his Captain, whose spiritual circumstances are not desperate. None but the man whose heart hath felt distress, by reason of sin, and is sinking under the heavy load of guilt, will come under thy banner. Oh! the condescension of Jesus to receive such, and be gracious unto them. Oh! that I had the power of persuasion, I would say to every poor sinner, every insolvent debtor, every one who feels and knows the plague of his heart—would to God you were with the Captain of my salvation, he would recover you from all your sorrow. Go to him, my brother, as I have done; he will take away your distress by taking away your sin. He will liberate you from all your debt by paying it himself. He will banish all discontent from the mind, in giving you peace with God by his blood. Yes, blessed, Almighty Captain! thou art indeed over thy people, as well as Captain to thy people. By the sword of thy Spirit, which is the word of God, thou workest conviction in our hearts; thou makest all thine enemies fall under thee; thou leadest thy people on to victory, and makest them more than conquerors through thy grace supporting them. Lord, put on the military garments of salvation on my soul, and the whole armour of God, that under thy banner I may be found in life, in death, and for evermore!
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."