Today I have a little history lesson for you.
In 1829, George Wilson robbed a United States mail carrier. He was captured and tried in a court of law where he was found guilty of six charges. Wilson’s sentence was execution by hanging.
Influential friends pleaded for mercy to the President of the United States, Andrew Jackson, on his behalf. President Jackson issued a formal pardon, dropping all charges.
George Wilson refused the pardon.
An official report stated Wilson chose to “waive and decline any advantage or protection which might be supposed to arise from the pardon….”
Nobody knew what to do about this strange turn of events.
President Jackson felt that George Wilson had no choice but to take the pardon. Wilson argued that the pardon had no value if he did not accept it.
The case went all the way to the Supreme Court.
The Justices ruled that Wilson could not be forced to take the pardon and if Wilson did not accept the pardon then it did not have any value.
Chief Justice John Marshall wrote, “A pardon is an act of grace, proceeding from the power entrusted with the execution of the law. But delivery is not completed without acceptance. It may then be rejected by the person to whom it is tendered, and we have no power in a court to force it on him.”
George Wilson went to the gallows,
even though he had been pardoned.
Did you get that?
A pardon is an act of grace.
It is not complete without acceptance.
This act of grace cannot be forced on a person.
It is a free gift, but it can be rejected.
Seek the Lord while he may be found;
call upon him while he is near;
let the wicked forsake his way,
and the unrighteous man his thoughts;
let him return to the Lord,
that he may have compassion on him,
and to our God,
for he will abundantly pardon.