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"He delighteth in mercy." — Micah 7:18.

Causes are best discovered in their effects. We determine the nature of the spring by the quality of the streams. The tree is known by the fruits. We judge of men's principles and dispositions, by their pursuits and conduct. God himself, so to speak, submits to be examined in the same way. To ascertain what he is, we have but to consider what he does. The things the Scripture testifies concerning him, are confirmed and exemplified by the facts to which it refers us. Thus says the Church, "As we have heard, so have we seen in the city of our God." Is he called, "The God of all grace," "The Father of mercies?" Is it said, "He is rich in mercy," "He delighteth in mercy?" Let us pause and reflect, and we shall find the proofs and illustrations more wonderful than the assertion itself.

We are saved by hope: hope is the first step in the return of a sinner to God; and "what hath God wrought," to gain the confidence of our guilty, and therefore foreboding and misgiving minds! Here let us follow the example of the inspired John. What is it that arrests and enraptures his attention? "Herein is love" Where? In what? "Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins." Not that he would overlook the other doings of God, but here he saw most clearly that "God is love." God's soul delights in his own Son, yet he would seem to delight more in mercy; for when he met with him and us on Calvary, he said. Thou shalt die, and they shall live. It therefore pleased the Lord to bruise him, that by his stripes we might be healed, and, through his sweet-smelling sacrifice, become dearer to God than if we had never sinned. And we must here take in, not only the expensiveness of the act, but the character of the objects. It is the reasoning of another Apostle, "Scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love towards us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." And having made the provision, so that all things are now ready, would he endeavour to awaken our attention to it, would he send forth the ministry of reconciliation to beseech us to accept it, unless he delighted in mercy?

He delights, also, not only in the exercise of mercy to us, but by us. He, therefore, would not leave mercy to the operation of reason and religion only, but, as our Maker, he has rendered it a law of our being. By our very physical constitution pity is an unavoidable emotion. When we see the pain and distress of a fellow-creature, the eye affecteth the heart. We involuntarily feel an uneasiness, which prompts us to succour him, even to relieve ourselves. As far, indeed, as this is implanted in us, it is a mere instinct. But who produced it there? Who made it natural? Who rendered it so difficult to be subdued and destroyed, but a Being who delighteth in mercy? Besides, though it be originally an instinct only, by cherishing it, we render it a virtue, and, by exciting and exercising it from religious motives, we turn it into a Christian grace.

And see what stress he has laid upon it in his word. How often does he enjoin it! How dreadfully has he threatened the neglect of it! And what promises has he made to the practice of it! "He shall have judgment without mercy, that showed no mercy." "But blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy." He has told us, that no clearness of knowledge, no rectitude of opinion, no fervour of zeal, no constancy of attendance on ordinances, no talking of divine things, will be a compensation for charity. "Whoso hath this world's good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?" And hence the pre-eminence our Saviour gives it in the proceedings of the last day. "Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat; I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink; I was a stranger, and ye took me in; naked, and ye clothed me; I was sick, and ye visited me; I was in prison, and ye came unto me." The language has been perverted, for men dream of merit, where, above all things, we need mercy. This word "for" is here not causative, but evidential: just as we may say, the spring is come, for the birds sing; the singing of the birds does not cause the coming of the spring, but is the effect and proof of it. But even this distinction affords the merciless no favour; for though the practice here so noticed be not the procuring of the blessedness, it is the character of the blessed. On every ground, therefore, the man who is a stranger to it, is not entitled to hope. For which reason, too, our Lord goes on to the subjects of condemnation. And who are these? Tyrants, robbers, murderers of fathers and mothers, perjured persons? No; but the slothful and the selfish, the unkind tongue, the close hand, the unfeeling heart, the unpitying eye, the foot that knew not the door of misery. "Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the Devil and his angels; for I was an hungered, and ye gave me no meat; I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink; I was a stranger, and ye took me not in; naked, and ye clothed me not; sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not."

Let us, therefore, not only admire, but let us be followers of Him who delighteth in mercy. We cannot love him, unless we are concerned to please him, and we cannot please him, unless we are like-minded with him. Neither can we enjoy him. Resemblance is the foundation of our communion with him. He only that dwelleth in love, dwelleth in God, and God in him. "BE YE THEREFORE MERCIFUL, EVEN AS YOUR FATHER WHO IS IN HEAVEN IS MERCIFUL."

Morning Exercises For Everyday In The Year
By Rev. William Jay

 
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