LXIV. The Publican’s Prayer.

LUKE xviii. 13.
“God be merciful to me a sinner.”

THIS is the only thought which befits a living man in the
presence of his Creator.
What other link can come between the God of holiness
and love, and the sinner, but mercy ! “God be merciful.”
I. In these few words of the contrite soul there is an
argument which God will never reject. It is the plea God
loves. “God be merciful to me because I am a sinner.”
David knew that blessed argument when he said : “Lord
pardon my iniquity, for it is great.” God has made a book,
and it is for sinners; God has filled it with promises, and
they are for sinners. He has given His own Son, and it is
only for sinners.
II. The way to obtain this fitting condition of mind. It
is to be reached in the same way as the publican attained
it. His whole mind appears to have been occupied with
God, the rest was only secondary. Most persons when
they try to cultivate penitence, look into themselves. It
is the study of God, not of ourselves, which makes the
penitent mind. Nothing makes sin seem so sinful and so
hateful as the contemplation of the love of God.
III. Whoever would be truly a penitent must have right
views of mercy.
It is an easy thing to say “God have mercy upon me.”
Upon the just apprehension of what this mercy is depends
the whole power and acceptability of the prayer.
If God, simply by an act of sovereignty, forgave a sin
and remitted the punishment, it would not be mercy. Such
a pardon so given, would be practically a licence to all
others to sin.
Before God can show Himself merciful to a sinner He
must receive a satisfaction and an equivalent That satis-
faction is Christ. The believing penitent presents Christ
and God is satisfied, and His mercy, which was from all
eternity, but which was kept back by the barrier of man’s
sins, the barrier being removed by the death of Christ,
now flows free and unrestrained. It is essential that every
man who would find forgiveness must have this view of
God’s mercy in his mind, fixedly on the affections, grasp-
ingly in his faith, as he lifts up his prayer, “God be merci-
ful to me a sinner.”
James Vaughan, M.A.