Incomprehensible Love- Dr. Jesse Mercer


Dr. Jesse Mercer was born on December 16, 1769 in Halifax County, North Carolina into a large family with seven siblings. Though he was provided with limited opportunity to gain an education this did not stop him; he was a bright student. He would grow up to be a great songwriter and author. He came to the saving knowledge of Jesus at age fourteen and was baptized by his father at the age of eighteen. He began to preach and was ordained as a minister. He served many churches alongside his loving wife, Sabrina Chivers, whom he was married to for over 40 years. The area in which he served was some of the most densely populated and arguably one of the most important areas in the state of Georgia. He had a great connection to these areas and felt a sense of obligation to the areas in which he lived.

Mercer was a huge reason for the churches in the area adding to their numbers. Burrage quotes Dr. Basil Manly as saying, “In his happy moments of preaching he would arouse and enchain the attention of reflecting men beyond any minister I have ever heard.” Perhaps it was his simplicity in which he spoke of the original views he held that drew in crowds. He contributed to the mission field and was even president of the Georgia Baptist Convention for 18 years. He also had a passion for education. He never took his education for granted and donated $40,000 to Mercer University. He was also an author and included many works on topics such as: Christian duties, on unity of the churches, the Baptist faith, and the Lord’s Supper. Mercer compiled collections of poems and hymns, several of which he wrote. One such compilation of his was, “The Cluster of Spiritual Songs, Divine Hymns and Sacred Poems.” This book was used in many Baptist churches.

Mercer drew people to the Lord while he was alive and continues to draw many to the Lord because of the works of his hands. His impact on others is still felt around the world today. Below, a selection from one of Mercer's compilations, "Cluster of Spiritual Songs, Divine Hymns and Sacred Poems," from 1823.

Incomprehensible Love
  Were oceans, rivers, floods, and lakes,
All that the name of water takes,
Beneath th’ expanded skies,
Turned into ink of blackest hue:
Add all the drops of fallen dew,
To make the wonder rise:

 Were there a book, could we suppose,
Which thinnest paper could compose,
Large as this earthly ball;
Were ev’ry shrub, and ev’ry tree,
And ev’ry blade of grass we see,
A pen to write withal:

  Were all who ever lived on earth,
Since nature first received her birth,
The aptest scribes declared,
T’ explain the fullness of that love,
Found in the heart of God above,

To men by sin ensnared:
 Were each Methuselah in age,
And ev’ry moment wrote a page,
They’d all be tired and die;
The pens would ev’ry one wear out,
The book be filled within, without,
The ink would all run dry.

 And then to show that love, O then,
Angels above, as well as men,
Archangel e’en would fail;
Nay, ’till eternity shall end,
A whole eternity they’ll spend;
Nor then have told the tale.


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