Thomas Watson (1620-1686) on Divine Mercy

   Posted by: CalvinandCalvinism   in God is Merciful



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 »


Obj. It is said, Christ died for all; “‘he is the Lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world,” John i. 29., how doth this consist with God’s truth, when some are vessels of wrath, Rom. ix. 22.”

Ans. 1. We must distinguish of world. The word is taken either in a limited sense, for the world of the elect; or in a larger sense, for both elect and reprobates. “Christ takes away the sins of the world,” that is, the world of the elect.

A. 2. We must distinguish of Christ’s dying for the world. Christ died sufficiently for all, not effectually. There is the value of Christ’s blood, and the virtue; Christ’s blood hath value enough to redeem the whole world, but the virtue of it is applied only to such as believe. Christ’s blood is meritorious for all, not efficacious. All are not saved, because some put away salvation from them, Acts xiii. 46., and vilify Christ’s blood, counting it an unholy thing, Heb. x. 29.

Thomas Watson, “A Body of Practical Divinity,” in The Select Works of Thomas Watson (New York: Robert Carter & Brothers, 1855), 71-72. [Some reformatting.]

Read the rest of this entry »


Censure: Christ is the expiation for the sins of the whole world as far as it pertains to the worth and sufficient price (lutron). But by reason of the efficiency and the giving of faith by him, adjoining the gratuitous election of God, he is the savior only of the elect. Jn. 10.15. Other [places] in Scripture Christ is said to have died for all (1 Tim. 2.6; Heb 2.9); and for many, viz. the elect, for the sons of God and for believers. Matt. 20.28; John 17.9, 19; Rom 3.22; which containing an apparent contradiction to be removed, it ought to be represented that Christ is said to have died for all in three ways: First, he has effectually died for all his sheep. Jn. 10.15. And in these all and alone is there a certain special universality as it is in the writings of Ambrose book 1 De Vocatione Gentium chapter 3. The apostle expresses this universality of believers (Rom. 3.22). Second, in certain places of Scripture by means of the expression “all” a universal and indeterminate object of the death of Christ is understood: Which are all men without exception of a nation, condition, and sex. So that, therefore, by this phrase the extent of grace in the New Testament is indicated. Finally, Christ is said to die for all men if the sufficiency or magnitude of the price is considered. Of course, the death of the Son of God and spotless lamb is an unparalleled, perfect, and sufficient price, sufficient for all the sins of the whole world to be expiated and erased: by which all reprobates are sufficiently rendered inexcusable.

Johann Heinrich Alsted, Theologia Polemica: Exhibens Praecipuas Huius Aevi In Religionis Negotio Controversias Septem in Partes Tributa (Hanau: Conrad Eifrid, 1620), 619.

[Credit to Michael Lynch for the translation.]

Read the rest of this entry »


The Scriptures, therefore, in the most explicit terms teach that the external call of the gospel is addressed to all men. The command of Christ to his Church was to preach the gospel to every creature. Not to irrational creatures, and not to fallen angels these two classes are excluded by the nature and design of the gospel. Further than this there is no limitation, so far as the present state of existence is concerned. We are commanded to make the offer of salvation through Jesus to every human being on the face of the earth. We have no right to exclude any man; and no man has any right to exclude himself. God so loved the world, that He gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Hun might not perish but have everlasting life. The prediction and promise in Joel ii. 32, “Whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be delivered,” is repeatedly renewed in the New Testament, as in Acts ii. 21; Romans x. 13. David says (Psalm lxxxvi. 5), “Thou, Lord, art good, and ready to forgive; and plenteous in mercy unto all them that call upon thee.” The prophet Isaiah lv. 1, gives the same general invitation: “Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money, and without price.” Our Lord’s call is equally unrestricted, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matt. xi. 28.) And the sacred canon closes with the same gracious words, “The Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst, come: and whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.” (Rev. xxii. 17.) The Apostles, therefore, when they went forth in the execution of the commission which they had received, preached the gospel to every class of men, and assured every man whom they addressed, that if he would repent and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ he should be saved. If, therefore, any one holds any view of the decrees of God, or of the satisfaction of Christ, or of any other Scriptural doctrine, which hampers him in making this general offer of the gospel, he may be sure that his views or his logical processes are wrong. The Apostles were not thus hampered, and we act under the commission given to them.

Charles Hodge, Systematic Theology, 2:642-643.

[Credit to Eugene Norton for the find.]


2. About proving Christianity by Argument; of which I have heard from none since I published my papers against Infidelity. 3. About the universality of redemption: and 4. About the controversies of this book.

For the former of these last I find a reverend learned man endeavoring to load me with some note of singularity, I mean Dr Ludovicius Molinæus, in his Preface to his Parænesis ad ædificatores Imperii in Imperio (a book that has much learning, and more truth than is fairly used, the face of it being written to frown upon them that own it, and parties wronged even where truth is defended, though through the unhappiness of the distinctions oft clouded when it seems to explicated, and through–I know not what, the controversy seldom truly stated). This learned man has thought it meet, for the disgracing of Amyraldus, by the smallness of his success to mention me thus, as his only proselyte in England [Forsan eo consilio Amyraldus cudit suam Methodum, ut Lutherans subpalparet, & gratiam apud eos iniret, sperans per eam Lutheranos reconciliatum iri Calvinistis: sed revera dum falsam studet iniri gratiam, nulli parti eo nomine gratus est, nec ulla parte ha ret apud lutheranos, ut censet Calovius Clarissimus Wittenergæ Theologus; nec devincit sibi Anglos aut Belgas: In Belgio enim nulli nisi Arminiano; in Anglia uni Baxtero, apprime placet ejus Methodus] And three leaves later, [Sed in solatium Dallæo, ut Amyraldus Baxterum Anglum, sic Dallæus Woodbridgium itidem Anglum, peperit proselytam & admiratorem.] It is an ungrateful task to answer a writer, whose error is a multiplication of palpable untruths in matter of fact; for they are usually more unwillingly heard of than committed. But I shall lay these following considerations in the way of this learned man, where is conscience may find them.

1, If in England Amyraldus’ Method do please uni Baxtero, and yet Dallæus have proselyted Woodbridg also and Amryaldus and DallæusMethod be the same, Quær. Whether Baxter and Woodbridge are not the same man?

2. Qu. Whether this learned man know the judgment of all England?

3. I meet with so many of Amyraldus’ mind in the point of universal redemption, that if I might judge of all the rest by those of my acquaintance, I should conjecture that half of the divines in England are of that opinion.

Read the rest of this entry »