Where would you have been but for grace? To repeat the old saying of John Bradford, when he saw a cartful of men going off to Tyburn to be hanged, ‘There goes John Bradford but for the grace of God.’ When you see the swearer in the street, or the drunkard rolling home at night, there are you, there am I, but for the grace of God. Who am I? What should I have been if the Lord, in mercy, had not stopped me in my mad career? I know there are some of us who can remember the old story of Rowland Hill, when a good Scotsman called to see him, and without saying a word, sat still for some five minutes, looking into the good old gentleman’s face. At last, Rowland Hill asked him what engaged his attention. Said he, ‘I was looking at the lines of your face.’ ‘Well, what do you make out of ’em?’ ‘Why,’ said he, ‘that if the grace of God hadn’t been in you, you would have been the biggest rascal living;’ and some of us do feel just that, that if it had not been for the grace of God, we should have been out-and-out ringleaders in every kind of infamy and sin. I know for myself I can never do things by halves. If I had served Baal, I would have built him an altar, and made victims smoke upon it day and night; and if we serve God zealously and earnestly, we have the more reason to be humble and to lay low in the dust; for that very zeal of spirit would have been turned to the very worst account unless grace had been pleased to transform us.
For meditation: God’s saving grace is his free undeserved favour towards people spiritually dead in sin (Ephesians 2:5,7–8). Where would you be now but for the grace of God? See Ephesians 2:1–3. That is exactly where you are now, if you are still rejecting his grace—and the worst is yet to come (Hebrews 10:29).