In the 1100's in England people who couldn't pay their debts were placed in debtor prisons. Also people who expressed political views that were not in harmony with the king or reigning monarch could find themselves sentenced to royal prisons.

       It was not until the 1700's in America that criminal prisons, as we know them, came into being. Up until that time, offenders of public law were flogged in the public square or if the offense was serious enough, sentenced to public execution.

       In 1790, the Quakers in Pennsylvania built what has become known as a "penitentiary." This was a place for penitents. People who felt or expressed sorrow for their sins or misdeeds.

       The penitents worked hard each day and were separated by their cells. The Quakers believed that this separation would cause these people to think about their sins and repent, that is, have a change of mind, a change of heart that caused one to turn away from evil.

       In Acts 24:24-25, the story is told of the apostle Paul, who spoke to a man named Felix, about faith in Jesus Christ. As Paul talked about righteousness, self-control, and about a time when God would judge everyone, Felix became afraid and said, "That's enough for now! You may leave" (NIRV).

       It is uncomfortable to think that we must answer for our deeds. "For there is going to come a Day of Wrath when God will be the just Judge of all the world. He will give each one whatever his deeds deserve" (Rom. 2:5-6, LB).

       In 1829, a man named George Wilson, robbed the United States mails, killing a person in the process. Later he was caught, found guilty and was sentenced to die for his crime. Some friends intervened in his behalf and were able to speak to the then President of the United States, Andrew Jackson. President Jackson gave a pardon on Wilson's behalf. When Wilson was informed of this pardon he refused to accept it!

       An appeal was sent back to President Jackson asking to advise. The President, not knowing what to do, turned to the United States Supreme Court for an answer. The Court gave this ruling: "A pardon is a piece of paper, the value of which depends upon its acceptance by the person implicated. It is hardly to be supposed that a person under the sentence of death would refuse to accept a pardon; but, if it is refused, it is no pardon. George Wilson must die." The sentence of death was carried out upon George Wilson, even though a pardon was lying in the Sheriff's office.

       The Bible tells us that God was in Christ, restoring the world to Himself, no longer counting men's sins against Christ's ambassadors...we beg you, as though Christ Himself were here pleading with you, RECEIVE THE LOVE HE OFFERS YOU - be reconciled to God [that is, come back to Him and receive His pardon] (2 Cor. 5:19-20, LB).

       Can't you see that the pardon is there waiting for you? But it must be received in order to avoid the Day of God's Judgment. "The Wages of Sin is Death" [separation from God eternally] (Rom. 6:23). Who earns those wages? You and I do, as sinners. DO YOU WISH TO TAKE YOUR WAGES or the pardon that God so freely offers you today?

       God says, "I call heaven and earth to witness...that today I have set before you life or death, blessing or curse. Oh, that you would choose life; ..that you might live!" (Dt. 30:19, LB).

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Tract No. 20 by Don Krow