1) Merciful. God’s mercy appears in this: 1. That he wills the salvation of all men. 2. That he defers punishment, and invites all to repentance. 3. That he accommodates himself to our infirmity. 4. That he redeems those who are called into his service. 5. That he gave and delivered up to death his only begotten Son. 6. That he promises and does all these things most freely out of his mercy. 7. That he confers benefits upon his enemies, and such as are unworthy of his regard. Obj. 1. But God seems to take pleasure in avenging himself upon the ungodly. Ans. Only in as far as it is the execution of his justice. Obj. 2. He refuses mercy to the ungodly. Ans. Only to such as do not repent. Obj. 3. He does not save all when he has the power. Ans. God acts thus that he may exhibit his justice with his mercy. Obj. 4. He does not exercise his mercy without a sufficient satisfaction. Ans. Yet he has most freely given his Son, that he might make satisfaction by his death.

Bountiful. God is said to be bountiful; I. Because he creates and preserves all thing. 2. Because he confers benefits upon all, even upon the wicked. 3. Because of the free and boundless love which he exercises towards his creatures, especially to man. 4. Because of the love which he cherished towards the church, and in giving eternal life and glory to his people. Obj. 1. But the Scriptures speak of God as cherishing anger. Ans. Be is angry with sin and depravity, but not with his creatures. Obj. 2. God often inflicts punishment upon his creatures. Ans. Only upon such as are impenitent.  Ursinus, Commentary on the Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 8, Q 25, p., 127.

2) Obj. He who rigorously exacts his right, shuts out every expectation of clemency. God rigorously exacts his right. Therefore with him there is no clemency. Or the objection may be thus stated: He who does not yield any thing in relation to his rights, is not merciful, but only just. God does not yield any thing as it respects his rights, because he punishes every sin with a punishment that corresponds with its just desert. Ana. We deny the minor proposition, because God, although he punishes sin with eternal punishment, does nevertheless yield much as it respects his right. He exhibits great clemency, for instance, towards the reprobate, for he defers the punishment which they deserve, and invites them to repentance by strong and powerful motives. And as to the punishment which he will inflict upon them in the world to come, it will be lighter than they deserved. So he also exercises great mercy towards the faithful, for he has, from his mercy alone, without being bound by any law or merit on our part, given his son, and subjected him to punishment for our sake. We also deny the major proposition, if applied either to him who is endowed with such wisdom that he can discover a method of exercising mercy without violating his justice, or when applied to him who, whilst he executes his justice, does not rejoice in the destruction of man, but would rather that he be saved [Lat. “sed mallet eu esse saluum“]. As a judge, when he passes the sentence upon a robber that he deserves to be put to the torture, and yet does not take pleasure in his punishment, exhibits great equity and clemency, even though he seems to exact the most rigorous demand of the law,so God is far more equitable and clement, although, in his just judgment, he punishes sin, for he does not delight in the destruction of the wicked, (Ez. 18:23; 33:11.) and has also shown his mercy and compassion towards us, by laying the punishment which we deserved upon his own Son.  Ursinus, Commentary on the Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 4, Question 11, pp., 69-70. [Note: on this last, the earliest English translation of Ursinus’ commentary has nearly identical wording, even down to, “but had rather he were saved.”  The Summe of the Christian Religion, Delivered by Zacharias Ursinus, trans., D. Henry Parry, (London: Printed by Robert Young, 1633), 102.]

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