The Epitaph

James Smith, 1859

I have often derived benefit from wandering in a graveyard; therefore, I never see a church, if the gate is unlocked and I have time—but I take a turn round the graveyard. Many a one has seen me thus rambling in a country graveyard, reading the inscriptions on the headstones, and then musing on them. Often have I been annoyed by the silly things I have read there. Surely if the dead knew how they are flattered and misrepresented by their friends after their decease, it would greatly annoy them. Only now and then do we meet with a good epitaph. But I have lately met with one, a part of which I transcribe,

"Oh, that this moldering stone, may remind a sinner,
  of the mercy that may be found in a Savior."

This is touching! It is striking! It is calculated to do good! It is the breathing of a soul filled with the love of God, and influenced by benevolence to man.

It is sure to be read by sinners, for who but sinners will ever be found standing before that stone, and reading its inscription. It reminds the sinner of his need—mercy; and informs him where mercy is to be found—in a Savior. Yes, every sinner needs renewing mercy—pardoning mercy—preserving mercy—sanctifying mercy—in a word, saving mercy. He must be saved by mercy—if saved at all. The mercy he needs is in Jesus, who is the mercy promised to our forefathers; and who is the channel, through which the ocean of mercy which is in God's heart, flows down into our sinful world.

Yes, yes, there is mercy in Jesus, for sinners. For miserable, vile, and wretched sinners. For all classes, and all kinds of sinners. He has mercy that suits all, and mercy for all, who are willing to receive mercy from him. The mercy that is in Jesus, flows freely to the vilest of men. Every poor, miserable, condemned, and wretched creature is welcome to it. But sinners need to be reminded that they need mercy, and that there is mercy in Jesus for such as they.

Reader! my soul breathes out the desire of the epitaph for you, for everyone that shall read these lines. From the bottom of my heart I say, "Oh, that these poor lines of mine, may remind a sinner of the mercy that may be found in a Savior." Holy Spirit, convince the reader, whose eye may rest on this page, of his need of mercy—show him that there is mercy in Jesus for him, and for all like him—and lead him to seek mercy until he obtains it!

Mercy, sweet word! Mercy in a Savior, precious provision! Mercy to be found in a Savior, glorious fact! Mercy to be found in a Savior by sinners—vile, base, and hell-deserving sinners—blessed news! May we seek, obtain, enjoy, and then publish this mercy to all around us.