When one of God’s choice servants, William Carey, was suffering from a dangerous illness, the inquiry 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 on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy 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 Your 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 men at best. Empty boats float high, but heavily laden vessels are low in the water; mere professors 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 offerings, and our living sacrifices. The blood was not only sprinkled on the doorposts of Israel’s houses, but upon the sanctuary, the mercy-seat, and the altar, because as sin intrudes upon our holiest things, the blood of Jesus is needed to purify them from defilement. If mercy is needed to be exercised toward our duties, what will be said of our sins? How sweet the remembrance that inexhaustible mercy is waiting to be gracious to us, restore our backslidings, and make our broken bones rejoice!