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"...The church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth."
I Timothy 3:15
From The Pulpit Cyclopedia, 1851
"Unto thee, O Lord, belongeth mercy."—Psalm 62:12
One of the most interesting characteristics of the Deity to fallen man is that of mercy. Angels may have noon-tide blessedness from the exercise of the divine goodness. But sinful dust and ashes overwhelmed with the misery of their state require the interposition of mercy.
Mercy in a certain sense may be considered a modification of the divine goodness, having for its objects, the guilty and the miserable. It differs from pity, as that may be called, forth by the wretchedness of those who have had no share in procuring their adversities. But mercy regards its objects as miserable through their own personal guilt, and voluntary transgression.
How delightful that the great and august Being we have been contemplating as holy, and just, and true, that unto him in an especial and infinite degree belongeth mercy! We might argue the divine mercifulness, from the benevolence of God, from the impress on the human conscience as to its excellency, and from the bounty which he is continually bestowing on the ungodly. But let us look at it as it is resplendently exhibited in the volume of eternal truth. Notice,
I. THE DECLARATIONS AND DESCRIPTIONS OF THE DIVINE MERCY WITH WHICH THE HOLY SCRIPTURES ABOUND.
He is the "Lord God merciful;" "Keeping mercy for thousands." His mercifulness is said to reach the heavens. He is "of great mercy;" "The Father of mercies;" "The God of all mercy." He is represented as "rich in mercy;" that he "delighteth in mercy." We read of "his tender mercy;" "the multitude of his mercies.” His mercies are said to be "over all his works," "and his mercy is from everlasting to everlasting." And it is reiterated in his Word, that his "mercy endureth for ever."
II. NOTICE SOME OF THE EXERCISES OF THE DIVINE MERCY.
It triumphed in the day of man's apostasy and ruin. It was exercised towards the most notorious sinners both in the Old and New Testament times. Manasseh, Nebuchadnezzar, the woman who was a sinner, the dying thief, Saul of Tarsus to the inhabitants of Nineveh, and to the sinners at Jerusalem. These are but a few out of the many instances of the exercise of the divine mercy. Observe,
III. THE EMBODYMENT OF THE DIVINE MERCY IN THE PERSON OF THE REDEEMER.
He is emphatically "the mercy promised to the fathers." His mission was one of pure mercy. His incarnation was the advent of mercy. His offices were all identified with the intentions of mercy. His doctrines were doctrines of mercy. His invitations, yea, and even his warnings, were the rich displays of his mercy. His work in all its variety of duties was one great work of mercy. His miracles were miracles of mercy. His sufferings and death were for the opening of a wide and deep channel of mercy. His resurrection, and ascension, and pleading in heaven, are all essential to the communication of the divine mercy.
IV. THE PUBLICATION OF MERCY IN THE GLAD TIDINGS OF THE GOSPEL.
The gospel is the grand amnesty between God and a rebellious world; the revelation of his mercy in and through Jesus Christ. How merciful its provision—how merciful its addresses—how merciful its conditions—how free and universal is the mercy offered in the gospel! How vast the blessings of mercy which it publisheth! Mercy for giving, — healing, — renewing, — sanctifying,—comforting,— preserving, —sustaining,—upholding,—restraining,—and finally bestowing the crown of eternal life. Salvation in its origin, progress, and consummation, is entirely of the divine mercy.
1. The mercy of God is exercised in strict harmony with justice and holiness. It has been pertinently said, that justice seeks a fit object, mercy a fit occasion.
Justice looks to what is deserved; mercy to what is needed. Justice is never exercised unmercifully, nor mercy unjustly. God is infinitely just in punishing the incorrigible, and infinitely merciful in pardoning the penitent sinner. There is no clashing of interests in the exercise of the attributes of Deity.
2. We observe all men are the objects of the divine mercy. Equally needing it, and to whom it is equally announced. In a state of nature, guilt is the condition of every man, from the most moral to the most debased, and all must therefore have recourse to the fountain which mercy has opened for sin and uncleanness. As it is with sinners, so is it with saints. None are too holy to dispense with mercy. It must be by the exercise of divine mercy that their salvation must be carried on from the foundation-stone to the completion of the superstructure.
3. Mercy flows to all men through the same channel. God is merciful to no man abstractedly and alone, but to all through the mediation of the better and merciful covenant. In Christ mercy rejoiceth against judgment. In him "mercy and truth met together, and righteousness and peace kissed each other."
4. The mercy of God is ever associated with believing penitence and prayer; a penitence which is the forsaking of all sin, and the lowly returning of the soul to God. "Let the wicked forsake his ways," &c. "Whosoever confesseth and forsaketh his sin shall find mercy." How appropriate then the prayer of the psalmist, "Have mercy upon me, O God." And of the publican, "God be merciful to me a sinner."
5. The divine mercy towards us must be the model of our mercy towards our fellowmen; see Matt. 6: 14, also 18:28, &c.
6. The divine mercy will be celebrated in the anthems of the redeemed forever and ever.