Lord, I Am Not Worthy

Sacramental Meditation XVIII

By John Willison, Practical Works (London: Blackie & Son, 1844), 267-9; Minimally Edited.


“I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof…” (Matthew 8:8)

Faith and repentance go together; every believer is a true penitent. He that puts on the Lord Jesus is also clothed with humility. The higher thoughts a man hath of Christ, the lower thoughts will he have of himself. When the man’s eyes are open to see the holiness and excellency of Christ, he is made to own his own nothingness before him, and his infinite distance from him, and to say, like the Centurion in the text, “I am not worthy that thou shouldst come under my roof.” It is too great an honour for such a guilty and filthy creature to entertain a Saviour of infinite purity; my heart is more unworthy than my house. I have nothing to commend me to thee. The lowly soul abhors himself as vile in the sight of a holy God; he says, I am all as an unclean thing, and all my righteousness is as filthy rags; in me dwells no good thing; I am insufficient of myself to do any thing that is good, or even to think a good thought. The lowly man hath undervaluing thoughts of himself, and of all his own doings and attainments. He renounces all confidence in his own righteousness, and humbly submits to the righteousness of God by faith. He is content to be stripped of his own garments that Christ may be his clothing. The man that is lowly in heart, submits to the will of God in all his dispensations, is content with every condition he thinks best for him; he is patient in affliction, and silent under God’s rod without answering again. He is sensible that he justly deserves hell, and therefore is very thankful for the least mercy. He will be thankful for a word from Christ, for a look, for a smile, for the least token of his favour, or the smallest influence of his Spirit.

Wherever faith is in exercise, it is a soul-humbling and self-emptying grace, and lays the soul very low before God; and God always hath respect to such faith, and to such lowliness (Ps 138: 6). Christ put great respect upon the lowly Centurion: “I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel; go thy way, and as thou hast believed, so be it unto thee” (Mt 8:10-13). He also put great respect upon the humble publican (Lk 18:13, 14), and declared him justified; for (said he) “he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.” He put great honour upon the humble woman of Canaan, that owned herself vile as a dog. “Oh woman, great is thy faith, [said he] be it unto thee even as thou wilt” (Mt 15: 27, 28). And he says of himself, that though he be “the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, yet he dwelleth with the humble spirit” (Isa 57:15)

And thus he sets himself before us, as the great pattern of humility, and bids us learn it of him. When he appeared unto Moses, it was not in a lofty cedar, but in a low, mean, humble bush. And when he would appear in our nature, it was not a great, exalted woman he takes up with, but a low, humble virgin, as Mary herself observes (Lk 1:48-52). May I be helped then to appear before him at his holy table, with a humble spirit, and lowly frame, that he may vouchsafe to dwell and hold communion with me!

Oh that I had the marks of a lowly heart, and could say, that I blush, and am ashamed before God in prayer, because of my sinfulness and pollution! that I am made to wonder at free grace in sparing such a vile unthankful wretch, in offering me Christ and pardon through his blood, and calling me to his table. That I disclaim all righteousness by the law, and expect nothing but wrath and ruin from that spider’s web, that I look only to Christ, and have admiring thoughts of him and his law biding righteousness. That I have a deep sense of indwelling sin, and of the corruptions of my heart, and think more meanly of myself than any other person can. That I am jealous of my wicked heart, and afraid lest I betray or wound the Son of God, and contract blood-guiltiness; and therefore I adventure to his Table with much fear and trembling. Lord, bestow upon me such an humble heart.

Oh can such an ill-deserving creature appear before God, and expect mercy, who hath so long abused mercy! Lord, instead of stretching forth a sceptre of mercy to invite me to thy table, thou mightest, with the rod of thy justice, justly dash me in pieces as a potter’s vessel. Instead of entertaining me with the bread of life, and the cup of blessing, thou mightest give me the bread and water of affliction; yea, cast me into that pit, where I should cry in vain for a drop of water to cool my tongue. Oh shall such a wretched dog as I presume to come to thy table, and eat of the children’s bread, who am not worthy to gather the crumbs that fall from it! But I have heard of the mercy of the king of Israel, that he delights to show it to the unworthy that humble themselves before him. Oh, I am vile and unfit to appear before thee; but, surely they are undone that keep away from thee. I am come to thee not because I am fit or worthy, but because thou art rich in mercy, and hast contrived a way for saving the like of me. Lord, I am not worthy to come within sight of thee, but far less that thou shouldst come under my roof to lodge with me. “Will God in very deed” come and “dwell with men!” This is a wonder, though all men were as innocent and righteous as once Adam was! But will he lodge or feast with me that am a leper? Will he come under the roof of my soul, a house so ruinous, smoky, and denied, where he has not a fit place to lay his head? But, oh my humble, condescending Saviour, did not disdain to lie in a manger among beasts, nor to dine with Simon a leper! O Lord Jesus, come in thyself and furnish the house, prepare an upper room in my soul, large, swept, and garnished, and there abide, and keep the passover with me.

Lord, I am not worthy to eat the crumbs that fall from my own table, much less those that fall from thine. Shall I, who deserve not the bread of men, be admitted to eat the bread of angels? Shall I sit down with him, at whose feet they fall? If John the Baptist (one of the greatest that was born of women, who was filled with the Holy Ghost from the womb) thought himself not worthy to loose Christ’s shoes, how unworthy am I, the meanest of creatures, to be admitted to touch, nay, feed upon Christ’s broken body and shed blood? If Peter, after seeing Christ’s glory, and his own vileness, judged himself unworthy to be in the same ship with Christ, and cried, “depart from me, for I am a sinful man;” how shall I, the chief of sinners, venture to sit down at the same table with him in a familiar way? If the woman with the bloody issue was afraid to come and touch the hem of Christ’s garment, how much more may I, who am full of the running issues of sin, fear to touch the symbols of his body and blood, or put my hand into his side? If the purest angels must cover their faces when before him, how shall I, who am so impure, appear openly in his presence? But glory to God for the blessed covering provided for my guilty soul, under which I may appear and be accepted. I come to thee wrapped in it, Lord, accept of me.

Oh how distinguishing are thy favours to me an unworthy creature! Thou mightest justly have put in my hand a cup of trembling and unmixed wrath, a cup filled with horror of conscience and fearful despair. But, instead thereof, thou givest me the cup of blessing, filled with the hope of pardon and eternal life. I might have been in hell, drinking the damned’s cup of wrath, into which justice is still pouring in as fast as they drink out. But, glory to free grace, thou callest me to drink the cup of salvation, which my Saviour hath purchased with his blood, and sweetened with his blessing. Thanks be to God for it forever. W