Henry Hibbert (1601/2-1678) on the Mercy of God

   Posted by: CalvinandCalvinism   in God is Merciful


Mercy, as it referred to God, is the Divine Essence inclining itself to pity and relieve all his creatures; but more peculiarly of his elect children, without respect of merit.

God’s most glorious mercy. “Show me thy Glory” (says Moses). It follows what it was, “The Lord God, merciful and glorious,” [Exod. 34.] &c. In this he is superlative, and outstrips.

1. Helping his elect, and comforting

1. General,

2. In scattering and confounding the enemies.

Mercy is,

1. In promising.

2. More particular,

2. In performing.

And these are the flagons of win to comfort distressed souls.

Mercy is an attribute, in the manifestation of which, as all our happiness consists so God takes greatest complacency, and delights in it above all his other words. “He punishes to the third and fourth generation, but shows mercy unto thousands” [Exod. 20. 5,8.]. Therefore the Jews have a saying, “That Michael flies with one wing, and Gabriel with two”; meaning, that the pacifying angel, the Minister of Mercy, lies swift; but the exterminating angel, the Messenger of wrath, is slow.

1. Because we are thereby more indebted

The more mercy we receive, the
more humble we ought to be,      2. In danger to be more sinful; worms crawl after rain

3. We have more to account for.

But alas! Even as the glorious sun, darting out of his illustrious beams, shines upon the stinking carrion , but still it remains a carrion, when the beams are gone; so the mercy of God shines (as I may say) upon the wicked, but he remains wicked.

For the Lord is good, his mercy is everlasting [Psal. 100.5.]. The Lord is good to all, and his tender mercies aare over all his works [Psal. 145.9.]. He delights in mercy [Micah 7.18.].

Henry Hibbert, Syntagma Theologicum: Or, a Treatise Wherein is Concisely Comprehended the Body of Divinity, and the Fundamentals of Religion Orderly Discussed, ([London: Printed by E.M. for John Clark 1662]), 11. [Some reformatting; marginal Latin reference not included; marginal Scripture references cited inline; some spelling modernized; and underlining mine.]


Alvah Hovey (1820-1903) on John 3:16-17

   Posted by: CalvinandCalvinism   in John 3:16


16. For God so loved the world, etc. This verse has been called an epitome of the whole gospel, and no single statement of the New Testament is better entitled, to this designation. (1) It goes back of the whole work of redemption, and reveals the motive in which that work had its origin. (2) It describes that motive as love or good-will, not merely to the chosen people, or to the elect from every nation, but to all mankind; for this is the only tenable meaning of the world, as here used. (3) It pronounces the gift of Christ, with the work implied in that gift, a sufficient reason for the salvation of every man who will believe in him. And (4) it presents that salvation to the mind as eternal life, or, in other words, a blessed state of being begun on earth and continued forever. On the other hand, it may be said to imply (a.) that, without the work of Christ, men could not have had eternal life, and (b) that, without faith in him, they cannot now have eternal life, although he has been lifted up on the cross. The adverb so means, with so great a love, and the verb gave has respect to all the humiliation and suffering which he endured for men, and which culminated on Calvary. (See Rom. 8: 32.)

17. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world, etc. The word translated condemn, literally signifies to judge; but generally, in this Gospel, with an implication that the decision is unfavorable. Hence it is not improperly rendered condemn. The Jews are said to have expected a Messiah who should judge and punish the Gentile world, and the language here used may be directed against this error. But it can hardly be supposed that this was the principal reason for these words. They have a larger scope. They apply to all men–Jews as well as Gentiles. In so far as men are concerned, the object of the Father in sending the Son was to furnish them the means of salvation. They were already judged and condemned as sinners; but the Father had purposes of mercy, and sent his Son to open a way of escape to those under condemnation. Yet it was a provision which recognized the moral agency of man. The sending of the Son did not, in and of itself, save the world; hut it was necessary, in order that the world might be saved, if it would. These two verses (16 and 17) give the motive and purpose of the incarnation. The result of it is next pointed out.

Alvah Hovey, Commentary on the Gospel of John (Philadelphia: American Baptist Publication Society, 1885), 101-102. [Underlining mine.]


Alvah Hovey (1820-1903) on Divine Benevolence

   Posted by: CalvinandCalvinism   in God is Good


III. Benevolence. By this, we mean that God desires the welfare of his creatures, with a desire most powerful and most pure. In proof of this may be alleged[:]

(1) The testimony of Scripture (Ps. lvii. 11 ; cxlv. 9; ciii. 11- 13 ; cxxxvi. 1-26; Isa. xlix. 14-16; Matt. v. 45; vii. 11; Luke xii. 7; John iii. 16; 1 John iv. 8, 18; 1 Tim. ii. 4; 2 Cor. xiii. 11; Ezek. xviii. 23; xxxiii. n).

(2) The testimony of reason. The moral perfection of God, and the predominance of happiness over misery in the animal world, may be insisted upon in this connection. It may now be remarked, (a) That the grace of God is his benevolence as exercised towards the guilty or the undeserving, (b) That the mercy of God is his benevolence, as exercised towards those who are miserable, as well as guilty. (c) That the patience of God is his benevolence, as exercised in forbearing to punish the guilty without delay, (d) That the wisdom of God is his omniscience, exercised with righteousness and benevolence in securing the best ends by the best means.

Alvah Hovey, A Manual of Christian Systematic and Christian Ethics (Boston: [Henry A. Young] 1877), 94-95. [Some reformatting and underlining mine.]

Du Moulin:

IX And when we say that Christ died for all, we take it thus, to wit, that the death of Christ is sufficient to save whosoever do believe, yea, and that it is sufficient to save all men, if all men in the whole world did believe in him: And that the cause why all men are not saved, is not in the insufficiency of the death of Christ, but in the wickedness and incredulity of men. Finally Christ may be said to reconcile all men to God by his death, after the same manner, that we say that the Sun does enlighten the eyes of all men, although many are blind, many sleep, and many are hid in darkness: Because if all and several men had their eyes, and were awake, and were inn the midst of the light, the light of the Sun were sufficient to enlighten them. Neither is it any doubt but that it may be said, not only that Christ died for all men, but also that all men are saved by Christ, because among men, there is none saved but by Christ: After the same manner, that the Apostle says, 1 Cor. 15.20, that, “all men are made alive by Christ,” because no man is made alive but by him. Peter Du Moulin, The Anatomy of Arminianism (London: Printed for Nathanael Nevvbery, at the signs of the star in the Popes-Head-Alley, 1635), 198-199. [Some spelling modernized and underlining mine.]

Read the rest of this entry »





The Scriptures plainly teach, that though Christ has made a full and complete atonement for sin, yet the salvation of sinners is entirely of grace. “By grace ye are saved.” Eph. 2 : 5. Many, however, have found it difficult to treat the subject as though these doctrines were reconcilable, the one with the other. But this difficulty has probably arisen from mistaken views of the nature of the atonement which Christ has made. Understanding the atonement to be, literally, a purchase, or the payment of a debt, some have inferred from it, that, since Christ is represented as a propitiation for the sins of the whole world, all men must be saved; others, that, inasmuch as it is evident that all will not be saved, the atonement could not be made for all; and others, again, that, if sinners are saved on account of the atonement, their pardon and salvation cannot be of grace.

These conclusions are much more consistent with the premises, from which they are respectively drawn, than either the premises or conclusions are with the truth. For, if the atonement did consist in the payment of a debt literally, it seems very obvious that there could not be any grace exercised in the acquittal of sinners, and that atonement and actual salvation, must be co-extensive. If Christ has really paid the debt of sinners, they, of course, must be free. Justice must be satisfied, and can make no further demand. On this ground it must, indeed, follow, that if Christ died for all, then all will be saved; and that if all are not saved, then he could not have died for all. And it equally follows, that none can be saved by grace. Their debt being paid, it cannot be forgiven.

Since, therefore, the Scriptures represent the pardon and salvation of sinners as being wholly of grace, we may be certain that the atonement cannot be the payment of a debt, nor, strictly, of the nature of a purchase. This, too, it is apprehended, has already been made evident, in what has been shown concerning the necessity and nature of atonement. But since many, at the present day, have adopted this scheme of the atonement, and have deduced sentiments from it which are of the most dangerous tendency, it may not be improper to examine, a little more directly, the reasoning by which they endeavor to make their scheme consistent with the exercise of grace, in the actual bestowment of pardon and salvation.

The Scriptures are so very explicit and particular, respecting the terms of pardon and justification, that few believers in divine revelation can be found, who do not appear anxious to have it understood that, in some way or other, they hold the doctrines of grace. It has been said by some, that though atonement be the payment of a debt, yet the pardon of a sinner may be called an act of grace, because it is founded in other acts, which certainly are acts of grace. God’s giving his Son to make atonement, and his actually making it, are acts of grace. And since the pardon of sinners has its foundation on these gracious acts, it may be called an act of grace itself. But this is, certainly, strange reasoning. To say that pardon is an act of grace, only because it is grounded on other acts which are gracious, is nothing less than to say, that it is an act of grace, though it is not an act of grace.

Read the rest of this entry »