Of the monarch who, having perpetrated a twofold enormous crime, prayed: “Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness; according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions. Hide thy face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from thy presence, and take not thy Holy Spirit from me. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.”
Of the king of Judah who, having made the streets of the holy city run red with the blood of Jehovah’s witnesses and caused his children to pass through the fire in the valley of the son of Hinnom, humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers and besought him on this wise: “My transgressions, O Lord. are multiplied; my transgressions are multiplied. I acknowledge mine iniquities. I humbly beseech thee. forgive me; O Lord, forgive me. Be not angry with me forever. neither condemn me into the lower parts of the earth.”
Of the young man who, having spent his substance in riotous living in a far-away country, returned home with the confession in his heart and mouth; “Father, I have sinned against heaven and against thee, and am no more worthy to be called thy son.”
Of the publican who, conscious of his profligacy, stood afar off in the house of God, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast and gasped: “O God, have mercy on me, sinner that I am.”
Of the woman who, having sinned much, loved the Saviour much because much had been forgiven her.
Of the apostle who, having three times denied the Lord Jesus, twice with a vehement oath, went out into the darkness of the night and wept bitterly.
Of the criminal who, when suffering the admittedly just penalty of accursed crucifixion, stammered: “Lord. remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.”
Of the man of Tarsus who, having breathed out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Nazarene and, in so doing. having persecuted the very Son of God, wrote: “This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief.”
Of the church father Augustine, who, having spent his youth in dissolute living, committed himself wholly to the grace of God and on his deathbed perused and prayed the penitential psalms.
Of the preacher who, seeing a murderer being led to the gallows, pointed to the man and said; “But for the grace of God there goes Richard Baxter.”
Emphatically not of such as thank God that they are better than other men, despise the erring, boast of their strict observance of the letter of the law, trust for salvation in traditionalism, and conclude from their enrollment as church members that their names are written in heaven.
Only of such as know themselves to be hell-deserving sinners and, despairing utterly of saving themselves by being good and doing good, abandon themselves to the crucified Christ with the cry,
Nothing in my hand I bring, Simply to thy cross I cling; Naked, come to thee for dress; Helpless, look to thee for grace; Foul, I to the fountain fly. Wash me, Saviour, or I die.
Jesus said: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”