I Am In A Strait Betwixt Two 

Sacramental Meditation XI 

By John Willison, Practical Works (London: Blackie & Son, 1844), 257-8; minimally edited 

“For I am in a strait betwixt two…” (Philippians 1:23). 

As the apostle was in a strait whether to choose to die or to live, so I am in a strait whether to go to the Lord's table, or to stay back. Now, thou callest me, Lord, to celebrate the memorials of thy death, yea, to feast with thee at thy holy table, and I know not what to choose; I am in a strait betwixt two. My heart is so unholy, and my unworthiness so great, I tremble to go forward to feast with a God so holy, and whose purity is infinite; and yet my wants are so many, and my necessities so great, that my case is so hopeless if I stay back! Lord, I can go to no one else in all the world to supply my needs, but to thyself alone. But O! when I think of going forward, my guilt stops my mouth, and fills me with blushing. Lord, if the holy angels, these pure and unspotted seraphims, who burn in zeal for thy service, must even cover their faces before thee; how shall I venture into thy presence, I whose zeal is so languishing, whose love is so cold, whose mind is so earthly, and prayers so dull? Shall I approach so near a holy God in such a case? But what then shall I do? Shall I join with these worldlings who were bidden to the feast of the great king, refuse, and make my excuse? Then I fear the King will be angry, declare me unworthy to taste of his supper, yea, swear in his wrath that I shall never enter into his rest. 

Lord, I abhor myself for my unworthiness and vileness, my guilt and pollution; but where shall I go to get help and remedy for it, but unto thee alone? Hast thou not bidden me come, though my sins be red as crimson? Have not many such come to thee, and found relief and help? Surely, O Lord, thy goodness is greater than my sinfulness, and thy mercy surpasseth my misery; for though my sins reach even to the clouds, yet thy mercy is above the heavens! O merciful Father, extend thy free boundless mercy to a miserable, helpless sinner: surely misery is the proper object of mercy. Holy God, if thou help me not for the sake of my miseries which I have deserved, yet help me for the sake of thy mercies which thou hast promised in Christ thy dear Son.

Wherefore I plead for Christ’s sake, that thou wilt hear the cry of my miseries, and not the cry of my sins. O doth not his precious blood cry louder for pardon, than my sins for punishment? Lord, hear the cry of that blood, and let it not be as water spilt upon the ground. For the sake of that prevalent blood, pity, pardon, and accept a poor unworthy creature, that desires to obey thy call, and prepare his heart to seek thee, though he be not cleansed according to the purification of the sanctuary. 

O Lord, though I may be ashamed to come to thee, my needs are so pressing and pinching that I cannot stay away. “To whom shall I go but unto thee, for thou hast the words of eternal life?” The whole creation cannot supply my wants. Thou only art my sun, from whose beams I must receive saving light: thou art my Head, from whom I must get spiritual life: thou art my Root, from which I must derive sap and growth; thou art the Fountain, from which I must draw living water: thou art the Treasurer from which I must obtain the riches of grace. So that without thee I am nothing, I have nothing, I can do nothing. To thee then I must go for all my supplies, and out of thy fulness receive grace for grace. Lord, thou hast enough to supply many worlds of needy souls; for the sun is not so full of light, nor the sea so full of water, as thou art full of grace and mercy to needy creatures: and as thou art full, so I am assured thou art free, and willing to communicate thy fulness. In spite then of all objections and difficulties, forward to thee I will go, and cast myself down at thy feet; “If I perish, I perish.” O! did any ever perish at mercy’s door ?

Lord, I have heard of thy mercy to the very chief of sinners, and cannot this mercy reach the like of me? Surely the viler sinner I am, the fairer thou hast opportunity to shew the riches of thy mercy, the freeness of thy love, and the efficacy of thy blood; and if I be allowed to share therein, the sweeter and louder will the eternal hallelujahs be, that will be sung to the Lamb of God on my account. O that he would glorify his mercy, his love and blood, in my relief. O where shall a poor heavy-laden sinner go, but to him that can free him of his burden? Where shall I go with a multitude of sins and miseries, but to thee who hast a multitude of tender mercies? Where shall I go with my deep and heinous guilt, but to thee who hast a deep fountain to wash it away? Behold one depth calleth to another, the depth of my misery to the depth of thy mercy? My wound is great but thy balm is excellent! My sore is broad, but thy plaster is answerable! “O Lord, be merciful unto me, heal my soul, for I have sinned against thee.” 

Lord, is not the gospel-feast I am invited to a feast of charity, to which thou callest not the rich, but the poor, maimed, halt and blind, who cannot make any return for thy bounty? And may not such a miserable object as I am take encouragement from such a free extensive invitation? Luke 14:21— My blest Redeemer, while he was on earth, did not disdain to eat with publicans and sinners, nor to dine with Simon a leper. And though he is now exalted in the highest, heavens, yet he still retains the bowels of a man, and all the pity and charity to perishing sinners he had while here in this state of humiliation. Wherefore, sensible of my unworthiness, loathing myself for my vileness, and trusting to my Saviour’s compassion to the miserable, I desire to go forward to his holy table: O that he would direct and strengthen me to go about such a weighty work! Let not that ordinance, which God hath instituted for a blessing, be made a curse to me through my unworthy partaking. Lord, rebuke all unseasonable thoughts and wanderings that would mar the duty; excite and actuate in me every proper grace, and enable me to manage so, that I may not dishonour, but glorify thee; I may not increase my guilt, but augment my grace: I may not bring more hardness, but softness into my heart. Lord, descend thou into my heart by the influences of thy spirit, that I may ascend unto thee by the actings of grace; and when the king sits at his table, let my spikenard send forth the smell therefore. Lord, I look to thee for strength, conduct and through-bearing, in every strait. I trust not in my preparation, but in thy free mercy, for acceptance; I trust not in my faith but in thy faithfulness, who hast promised to give power to the faint; I trust not in my repentance, but in thy free pardoning mercy; I trust not in my doings, but in Christ’s doings. O take away my filthy garments, and clothe me with the best robe, The Lord our Righteousness. I will go in the strength of the Lord God; I will make mention of thy righteousness, even of thine only.—Awake, O north-wind, and come thou south, blow upon my garden, that the spices may flow out.—If thy presence go not with me, carry me not up hence. 

The Lord made a breach on the Israelites, for not seeking him after the due order, 1 Chr 15:13. He smote 50,000 of the Bethshemites for an irreverent look into the ark, which typified Christ; and what cause have I then to fear a stroke, should I rashly touch the symbols of his body and blood! Seeing this ordinance is intended for doing honour to the King of Zion, O save me from doing indignity to him, by betraying him with a kiss, or by throwing his picture, or great seal, into a puddle. May I so prepare for this feast, that the blessed Master of it may see I am watchful of his eye, tender of his honour, and fearful of his anger. Lord, awake my heart, stir up my graces, and prepare me for a meeting with my Saviour; and let not my soul, whose only hope is to be saved by Christ’s blood, be sent away from his table with the guilt, instead of the benefit, of that blood upon it. Ω