Archive for the ‘God is Merciful’ Category


Thomas Watson (1620-1686) on Divine Mercy

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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.

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John Yates (fl. 1612–1660) on the Mercy of God

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vbi interim

Q. What is mercy?
A. Whereby he uses compassion also towards his creatures offending. Gen. 6:3, and 8:21, Psal. 78:38, 39. Mercy is more common than grace, for he pities all, though he but receive some again into favour. He feeds the filthy as well as the faithful with his hid treasures, and makes his sun to shine, and his rain to fall on the just and unjust. He vouchsafes them (ill deserving) common mercies, that they might seek him for more special graces. Thus mercy is offered before the sentence be executed, and then justice, which was all this time burning, flames out upon sinners that would not come at his call.


Q. How manifold is this mercy?
A His clemency and bounty: God is both gentle and kind to all sinners, mild in mercy, and bountiful in his benefits. Rom 2:9, 2 Chron. 36:15,Isa. 55:7,8,9.

In patientia & longanimitata

Q. What is his gentleness, or clemency?
A. Whereby in justice he remembers mercy, kindly inviting sinners to repentance. He bears the reproaches of sinners, and a while stays and waits for their repentance. Erech appajim in Hebrew is one that has a long nose; and it is frequently given to God, for is patience and longanimity. The nose is the seat of anger, and a long one is not easily contracted. God is slow to frowning upon sinners, and he is hardly provoked. Numb. 14:18, Psal. 86:13, and 103: 8 and 145:8, Joel 2:13, Nah. 1:3, Jon. 4, verse 2, Rom. 2:4 and 3:25, and 9:22, 1 Pet. 3:20, 2 Pet. 3 verse 15. These places say not that God is without anger, or wrath, but that he is not easily, quickened, or rashly moved thereunto. Yet most true is that God is not subject to anger properly called, being simple in his nature and so free from all passion and alteration.

John Yates, A Model of Divinity, Catechistically Composed. Wherein is Delivered the Matter and Method of Religion. According to the Creed, Tenne Commandements, Lords Prayer, and the Sacraments (Printed by John Legatt, for Faulke Clifton and are to be sold on New-fish streete Hill, Under St. Margrets Church, 1623), 189. [Some spelling modernized; italics original; and marginal references included.]


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

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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.]


John Knox (1514-1572) on Common Mercies and Common Graces

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But leaving thee, I return to those whom gladly I wold instruct, and to them I say, that the wordes of David and of Iaaiah do speake of that rich and inestimable mercie which God laieth up in store for his chosen children, to whom althogh God somtymes shew himself severe and angry, yet indureth that but for a short space; but his mercie is everlasting, and his goodnes infinit, by the which he marieth his chosen children to himself for ever; and whether that them wordes be onely spoken to the Elect, or els that they be generally spoken to all, let the Holie Ghost decyde the controversie. After that David had affirmed that God is liberall, mercifull, patient, and of great gentilnes; and also, that he is good to all, and that his mercie is over all his workes [Psal. 145.]; that the eies of all creatures look upon him, and that he is just in all his workes: By which sentences he praiseth the goodnes, the mercie, and the providence of God in the regiment and government of his universall creation; which goodnee end mercie do so abounde, that the innumerable iniquities of mankind and his detestable ingratitude can not utterly hinder the same from the creatures. After these oommon mercies, I say, whereof the reprobate are often partakers, he openeth the treasure of his riche mercies, which are kept in Christ Jesus for his Elect, saying, "The Lord is nigh to all that call upon him, to all that call upon him in veritie; he doeth the will of those that fear him, and he heareth their crie and saveth them.

Note the plain

The Lord kepeth all those that love him, but he destroieth all the wicked." Such as willingly delite not in blindnes may clerely see that the Holie Ghost maketh a plaine difference betwixt the graces and mercies which be common to all and that soveraign mercie which is immutably reserved to the chosen children; and further, that the Lord himself shall destroy the wicked, albeit his mercie be over all his workes. And so that mercie by the which God pronounceth to gather his Church is everlasting, and is not common to the reprobate, but is onely proper to the flocke of Christ Jesus.

John Knox, “An Answere to a Great Nvmber of Blasphemovs Cavilations Written by an Anabaptist, and Aduersarie to Gods Eternall Predestination,” in The Works of John Knox, ed. David Laing (Edinburgh: Printed for the Bannatyne Club, 1851), 5:86-87. [Spelling original; marginal notes cited inline; and underlining mine.]


Roger Hutchinson (d. 1555) on the Mercy of God

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1) HE is also full of mercy; letting the sun shine upon good and evil, and sending rain to both sorts. “Thou, most gracious Lord, brings forth grass and herbs for cattle, and food out of the earth; thou gives us wine to make our hearts glad, and oil to cheer our countenance, and bread to strengthen the heart; thou satisfies all men’s desires with good things” [Psal. civ.], and specially of those that be merciful; as the only-begotten Son makes proclamation in the mountain: “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy” [Matt. v.]. The earth is full of thy mercies: and it, O Lord, reaches unto the heaven” [Psal. xxxiii.]. No place is empty of thy mercies. Roger Hutchinson, The Works of Roger Hutchinson (Cambridge: CUP, 1842), 56. [Some spelling modernized; some reformatting; marginal references cited inline; and underlining mine.]

2) HE is full of all goodness, St James witnessing of him, that “every good gift is from above, and comes down from the father of light” [James i.] that is, father of good men; for they are called light. Vos estis lux mundi, “you are the light of the world” [Matt. v.]. “What have we, that we have not received!” [1 Cor. iv.]. He is liberal, patient, merciful, wise, strong, constant, equal, faithful, magnifical, affable. Liberal, “giving to all men indifferently, and casting no man in the teeth;” patient, “calling us through his long-suffering unto repentance,” [Rom. ii.], merciful, “not dealing with us after our sins, nor rewarding us according to our wickedness” [Psal. ciii.] wise, for “of his wisdom,” David saith, “there is no number” [Psal. cxlvii.], strong, for “he is our buckler, our shield, our strength and defense, the rock of our might, and castle of our health” [Psal. Lxii.], constant, “with whom no man can prove any variableness,” [James i.], equal, for “there is no partiality with God,” [Rom. ii.], “there is no Jew neither Gentile, neither bond nor free, neither man ne woman, but all be one in Christ Jesu” [Gal. iii.], faithful, for “he is a strong God and a faithful; stable in all his words” [Deut. vii.], magnifical, for “the work of the Lord is great, and worthy to be praised” [Psal. cxlv.], “the heavens, the sun, and the stars, the waters, and great fishes therein, are the work of thy fingers,” [Matt. vii.], affable, exhorting us continually to ask, knock, and pray unto him; and talking with us most familiarly, first by holy fathers, his prophets and patriarchs; afterward by his only begotten Son, Jesus Christ [Heb. i.], walking here upon earth, to whom belongs all power, majesty, rule, and honor. We read of a certain ruler, which called Christ “Good master,” asking him what he should do to obtain everlasting life: whom Christ rebuked, saying, “Why call thou me good! None is good, save God only” [Luke xviii.]. If God only be good, then all goodness is in him. Roger Hutchinson, The Works of Roger Hutchinson (Cambridge: CUP, 1842), 60-61.