一個拒絕被饒恕的男人

By: Ken Korkow

假設,你被判決一項罪行,自己都為此感到深深的後悔。也許是有意,或是無意,但後來被無罪開釋,你會接受這樣的結果嗎?讓我告訴你一個拒絕赦免令的男人的故事。

1829年兩個男人George Wilson 和James Porter搶了一個美國的郵差。之後兩人被捕送到法庭。1830年5月兩個人身上有6條罪名,包括:搶劫郵件以及讓司機生命陷入危險等。兩個人都接受了隔年2月執行絞刑的審判。

Porter在2月伏法,但是Wilson卻沒有。因為一些有力人士代表他向美國總統Andrew Jackson(美國的第七任總統(1829-1837)安德魯 傑克遜)請求緩刑。Jackson總統因此頒佈正式的赦罪令,免除他所有的起訴,Wilson只需要爲其犯的罪服刑20年。但令人不敢置信的是他竟然拒絕這個赦罪令。

一個正式的報告如此描述:「Wilson選擇並且拒絕來自這個赦罪令的任何好處或是保護」。他自己說:「我沒有什麼好說的,也不希望藉由任何的方法來避免刑責」。美國的最高法院最後決定:「除非犯人自己接受這個赦免令,法庭不能給拒絕赦免令的犯人免罪,這是他的天賦人權之一,他有權利接受或是拒絕這個赦免令。」審判長John Marshall寫到:「赦免是一種恩典,法律有權執行它。但是,如果對方不接受則無法釋放。被赦免的這個人若是拒絕,在法庭我們也沒有能力強迫他接受。」

George Wilson認罪、被審判然後判刑,他被判了死刑。但是總統給了他赦免令,當他拒絕的時候等於是選擇了死亡。當讀到這個令人百思莫解的故事時,我們想:「怎麼可能有人會拒絕死刑的赦免令?天底下怎麼會有這麼笨的人?」但其實你也拒絕了一個赦罪令:神賜給你站在祂的面前直到永遠,而非到地獄永遠與祂隔絕的權利。

聖經明白地說所有的罪人都不斷重複打破神的律法。例如在羅馬書3章23節說到:「 因為世人都犯了罪,虧缺了上帝的榮耀。另外一段經節也提到:我們若說自己無罪,便是自欺,真理不在我們心裏了。」(約翰一書1章8節)

罪的代價和後果是甚麼?罪的工價乃是死(羅馬書6章23)。舊約也說:…犯罪的,他必死亡。(以西結書18章4節)這聽起來是個壞消息,但是神給我們一個赦罪令,所有的人都得到赦免。

在彼得後書3章9節,我們讀到:「主所應許的 尚未成就,有人以為他是耽延,其實不是耽延,乃是寬容你們,不願有一人沉淪,乃願人人都悔改。」在約翰一書1章9節又解釋說:「我們若認自己的罪,上帝是信實的,是公義的,必要赦免我們的罪,洗淨我們一切的不義。」

如果你還沒有認罪,請問你是接受或是拒絕了神的赦罪令?我們每個人都必須要做選擇。信祂的人不至被定罪,但是不信神差來的獨生子就是拒絕了被赦罪的機會。

肯恩.寇克住在美國內布拉斯加州的Omaha市,在那裡他擔任CBMC的區域總幹事。本篇文章改編自他每週寫的「生活傳真」專欄。我們獲得允許轉載。

省思/討論題目
當你聽到這個面對死刑的人卻拒絕赦罪令的故事時,你有甚麼反應? 你是否做過一些令你相當後悔的事,希望能得到赦罪令而非懲罰?如果你願意分享的話,解釋一下當時的狀況。 你覺得為什麼會有人拒絕赦罪令?原因是甚麼? 這篇週一嗎哪的最後,作者問讀者是否選擇了接受神給所有罪人恩典與原諒赦罪令?你接受了嗎?若你想要看或討論聖經中有關此主題的其他經文,請看:以賽亞書64章6節;耶利米書17章9節;羅馬書3章10節、5章8節、8章1節;以弗所書2章8-9節;提多書3章5節;約翰一書1章8節


THE MAN WHO REFUSED A PARDON

Imagine being convicted of a crime you deeply regretted – intentional or unintentional – and being offered a pardon to absolve you of any penalty. Would you accept it? Let me tell you about a man who did not.

In 1829 two men, George Wilson and James Porter, robbed a United States mail carrier. Both were subsequently captured and tried in a court of law. In May 1830 both men were found guilty of six charges, including robbery of the mail "and putting the life of the driver in jeopardy." Both Wilson and Porter received their sentences: Execution by hanging, to be carried out on July 2.

Porter was executed on schedule, but Wilson was not. 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. Wilson would have to serve only a prison term of 20 years for his other crimes. Incredibly, 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…." Wilson also stated he "…had nothing to say, and did not wish in any manner to avail himself in order to avoid sentence…." The U.S. Supreme Court determined, "The court cannot give the prisoner the benefit of the pardon, unless he claims the benefit of it…. It is a grant to him: it is his property; and he may accept it or not as he pleases.” Chief Justice John Marshall wrote, "A pardon is an act of grace, proceeding from the power entrusted with the execution of the laws…. (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 committed a crime, was tried and found guilty. He was sentenced for execution, but a presidential decree granted him a full pardon. When he chose to refuse that pardon, he chose to die. Reading this amazing story, we might wonder, "How could anyone refuse a pardon for the death sentence? The man was a fool!" But what if you also are refusing a pardon, one enabling you to spend eternity in the presence of God rather than eternal separation from Him in a place the Bible calls hell?

The Bible plainly teaches we all are sinners, people who have repeatedly broken God”s laws. For instance, Romans 3:23 states, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” Another verse says, “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us” (1 John 1:8).

What about the penalty of sin – what are the consequences? We are told, “For the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). The Old Testament concurs: “The soul that sins, it shall die” (Ezekiel 18:4). That does not sound like good news, but God has provided a pardon, one He makes available to us all.

In 2 Peter 3:9 we read, “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise…. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” Later, 1 John 1:9 explains we must accept this pardon: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

If you have not already done so, the question is this: Will you receive or reject the pardon? We each must choose. “Whoever believes in him is not condemned: but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God”s one and only Son” (John 3:18).

Reflection/Discussion Questions
What is your first reaction to hearing about someone literally refusing to accept a pardon that would save him from having to face a death sentence? Have you ever done something for which you wish you could have received a pardon, rather than having to face the penalty for your actions? If you feel the freedom to do so, explain a little about those circumstances. Why do you think someone would intentionally refuse a pardon if it were offered? What factors could result in someone doing so? The final portion of this “Monday Manna” asks each reader whether they have chosen to receive the pardon, the free gift of mercy and forgiveness, that God offers for the sins we have committed? Have you accepted His pardon?If you have a Bible and would like to review some other passages that relate to this topic, consider the following verses: Isaiah 64:6; Jeremiah 17:9; Romans 3:10, 5:8, 8:1; Ephesians 2:8-9; Titus 3:5; 1 John 1:8

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