In 1829 a Philadelphia man named George Wilson robbed the U.S. mail, killing someone in the process. Wilson was arrested, brought to trial, found guilty, and sentenced to death by hanging. Some friends intervened in his behalf and were finally able to obtain a presidential pardon for him from then president Andrew Jackson. When George Wilson was told about the pardon he refused to accept it! The Sheriff was unwilling to hang Wilson with a presidential pardon, so he contacted the president about the prisoner's unwillingness to accept the pardon and to give him instructions about what he should do, execute him or not? The perplexed president turned to the United States Supreme Court to decide the case. Chief Justice Marshall ruled that a pardon is a piece of paper, the value of which depends on its acceptance by the person who it is given to. If the person chose to refuse it then it is no longer really a pardon! Therefore, the Supreme Court ruled that the pardon had to be accepted or the penalty still stood! George Wilson therefore was hanged, refusing the very pardon that could have set him free! This is the same thing about salvation through Christ, it must be accepted to be valid, though Christ has paid the price, we must accept it or the wrath of God will be ours.
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