THE MERCY OF GOD.
The next attribute is God’s goodness or mercy: mercy is the result and essential of God’s goodness, Ps, xxxiii. 5. Ps, cxiv. 64. So then this is the next attribute, God’s goodness or mercy. The most learned of the heathens thought they gave their god Jupiter two golden characters, when they styled him Good and Great; both these meet in God, Goodness and Greatness, majesty and mercy.
God is, 1. Essentially good in himself. And 2. Relatively good to us. They are both put together, Ps. cxix. 68. ‘Thou art good, and dolt good.’ This relative goodness is nothing else but his mercy, which is an innate propensity1 in God, to pity and succor such as are in misery. Concerning God’s mercy.
1st, I shall lay down these twelve positions, 1. It is the great design of the scripture to represent God as merciful. This is a loadstone to draw sinners to him, Exod. xxxiv. 6. ‘The Lord merciful, gracious, long-suffering, abundant in goodness’ &c. Here are fix expressions to set forth God’s mercy, and but one to set forth his justice: who will by no means clear the guilty, Pf. lvii. 10. ‘God’s mercy, is far above the heavens,’ cviii. 4. God is represented as a King and a rainbow was about his throne. Rev. iv. 23. The rainbow was an emblem of mercy, the scripture doth oftener represent God in his white robes of mercy than with his garments rolled in blood; oftener with his golden scepter, than his iron rod.
Position 2. God is more inclinable to mercy than wrath. Mercy is his darling attribute, which he most delights in, Mic. vii. 13. ‘Mercy pleases him.’ It is delightful to the mother, faith Chrysostom, to have her breasts drawn: so it is to God, to have the breasts of his mercy drawn, Isa. xlvii. 4. ‘Fury is not in me;’ that is, I do not delight in it. Acts of severity are rather forced from God, he doth not afflict willingly. Lam. iii. 33. The bee naturally gives honey, it stings only when it is provoked; God doth not punish till he can bear no longer, Jer. xliv. 22. ‘So that the Lord could bear no longer, because of the evil of your doings.’ Mercy is God’s right hand, that he is most used to; inflicting of punishment is called God’s strange work, Isa. xxviii. 21. He is not used to it. And when the Lord would shave off the pride of a nation, he is laid to hire a razor, as if he had none of his own, Isa. vii. 20. ‘He shall shave with a razor that is hired.’ ‘He is slow to anger,’ Psal. ciii. 28. ‘But ready to forgive,’ Psal. Ixxxvi. 5.
Read the rest of this entry »