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God be Merciful to Me a Sinner

"In his ‘Seven Great Statesmen’ Andrew White tells of the death of Hugo Grotius. It is a recital that touches the deep places of the heart. On his way back from Sweden the ship on which Grotius was traveling was wrecked on the Pomeranian coast. Battered by the elements, he managed to get as far as Rostok, and there the famous scholar lay down to die. The beacon light that had illuminated the darkness of his age was soon to be quenched in the smoke of death. The pastor of the Lutheran church, learning of his presence, came in to see him. He made no effort to wrestle with the great statesman, but simply read to him our Saviour’s Parable of the Publican and the Pharisee, ending with the words, ‘God be merciful to me, a sinner!’ [Luke 18:9-13] At that the dying sage opened his eyes and exclaimed, ‘That publican, Lord, am I!’ Until we are ready to make a like confession Christianity is a closed book, a forbidden garden. Grotius, the poor Publican, wicked David, stainless Paul—all made that prayer, and making it, passed into the city of Forgiveness and Peace. Without that prayer, Christianity may be a history, a philosophy, a code, but not a religion that saves."