(The following is taken from Arthur Pink)  "Excerpted text Copyright AGES Library, LLC. 

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          THE MERCY OF GOD from The Attributes of God


                                             Arthur Pink



            “O give thanks unto the Lord: for He is good, for His mercy

            endureth forever” (Psalm 136:1).


For this perfection of the Divine character God is greatly to be praised.

Three times over in as many verses does the Psalmist here call upon the

saints to give thanks unto the Lord for this adorable attribute. And surely

this is the least that can be asked for from those who have been such

bounteous gainers by it. When we contemplate the characteristics of this

Divine excellency, we cannot do otherwise than bless God for it. His mercy

is “great” (1 Kings 3:6), “plenteous” (Psalm 86:5), “tender”

(Luke 1:78), “abundant” (1 Peter 1:3); it is “from everlasting to

everlasting upon them that fear Him” (Psalm 103:17). Well may we

say with the Psalmist, “I will sing aloud of Thy mercy” (Psalm 59:16).


“I will make all My goodness pass before thee, and I will proclaim

the name of the Lord before thee; and will be gracious to whom I

will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy”

(Exodus 33:19).


Wherein differs the “mercy of God from His grace”? The mercy of God has

its spring in the Divine goodness. The first issue of God’s goodness is His

benignity or bounty, by which He gives liberally to His creatures as

creatures; thus has He given being and life to all things. The second issue

of God’s goodness is His mercy, which denotes the ready inclination of

God to relieve the misery of fallen creatures. Thus, “mercy” presupposes



Though it may not be easy at the first consideration to perceive a real

difference between the grace and the mercy of God, it helps us thereto if

we carefully ponder His dealings with the unfallen angels. He has never

exercised mercy toward them, for they have never stood in any need

thereof, not having sinned or come beneath the effects of the curse. Yet,

they certainly are the objects of God’s free and sovereign grace. First,

because of His election of them from out of the whole angelic race

(1Timothy 5:21). Second, and in consequence of their election, because of

His preservation of them from apostasy, when Satan rebelled and dragged

down with him one-third of the celestial hosts (Revelation 12:4).

Third, in making Christ their Head (Colossians 2:10; 1 Peter 3:22),

whereby they are eternally secured in the holy condition in which they were

created. Fourth, because of the exalted position which has been assigned

them: to live in God’s immediate presence (Daniel 7:10), to serve Him

constantly in His heavenly temple, to receive honorable commissions from

Him (Hebrews 1:14). This is abundant grace toward them but “mercy”

it is not.


In endeavoring to study the mercy of God as it is set forth in Scripture, a

threefold distinction needs to be made, if the Word of Truth is to be

rightly divided” thereon.


First, there is a general mercy of God, which is extended not only to

all men, believers and unbelievers alike, but also to the entire creation:

“His tender mercies are over all His works” (Psalm 145:9): “He

giveth to all life, and breath, and all things” (Acts 17:25). God has

upon the brute creation in their needs, and supplies them with suitable



Second, there is a special mercy of God, which is exercised toward the

children of men, helping and succouring them, notwithstanding their

sins. To them also He communicates all the necessities of life:

for He maketh His sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and

sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust” (Matthew 5:45).


Third, there is a sovereign mercy which is reserved for the heirs of

salvation, which is communicated to them in a covenant way, through

the Mediator.

Following out a little further the difference between the second and third

distinctions pointed out above, it is important to note that the mercies

which God bestows on the wicked are solely of a temporal nature; that is

to say, they are confined strictly to this present life. There will be no mercy

extended to them beyond the grave:


“It is a people of no understanding: therefore He that made them

will not have mercy on them, and He that formed them will show

them no favor” (Isaiah 27:11).


But at this point a difficulty may suggest itself to some of our readers,

namely, Does not Scripture affirm that “His mercy endureth forever”

(Psalm 136:1)? Two things need to be pointed out in that connection.

God can never cease to be merciful, for this is a quality of the Divine

essence (Psalm 116:5); but the exercise of His mercy is regulated by

His sovereign will. This must be so, for there is nothing outside Himself

which obliges Him to act; if there were, that “something” would be

supreme, and God would cease to be God.


It is pure sovereign grace which alone determines the exercise of Divine

mercy. God expressly affirms this fact in Romans 9:15, “For He saith

to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy.” It is not the

wretchedness of the creature which causes Him to show mercy, for God is

not influenced by things outside of Himself as we are. If God were

influenced by the abject misery of leprous sinners, He would cleanse and

save all of them. But He does not. Why? Simply because it is not His

pleasure and purpose so to do. Still less is it the merits of the creature

which causes Him to bestow mercies upon them, for it is a contradiction in

terms to speak of meriting “mercy.”


Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according

to His mercy He saved us” (Titus 3:5)


—the one standing in direct antithesis from the other. Nor is it the merits

of Christ which moves God to bestow mercies on His elect: that would be

putting the effect for the cause. It is “through” or because of the tender

mercy of our God that Christ was sent here to His people (Luke 1:78).

The merits of Christ make it possible for God to righteously bestow

spiritual mercies on His elect, justice having been fully satisfied by the

Surety! No, mercy arises solely from God’s imperial pleasure.

Again; though it be true, blessedly and gloriously true, that God’s mercy

endureth forever,” yet we must observe carefully the objects to whom His

mercy” is shown. Even the casting of the reprobate into the Lake of Fire

is an act of mercy. The punishment of the wicked is to be contemplated

from a threefold viewpoint. From God’s side, it is an act of justice,

vindicating His honor. The mercy of God is never shown to the prejudice

of His holiness and righteousness. From their side, it is an act of equity,

when they are made to suffer the due reward of their iniquities. But from

the standpoint of the redeemed, the punishment of the wicked is an act of

unspeakable mercy. How dreadful would it be if the present order of things

when the children of God are obliged to live in the midst of the children of

the Devil, should continue forever! Heaven would at once cease to be

heaven if the ears of the saints still heard the blasphemous and filthy

language of the reprobate. What a mercy that in the New Jerusalem


there shall in nowise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither

worketh abomination” (<662127>Revelation 21:27)!


Lest the reader might think that in the last paragraph we have been drawing

upon our imagination, let us appeal to Holy Scripture in support of what

has been said. In Psalm 143:12 we find David praying, “And of Thy

mercy cut off mine enemies, and destroy all them that afflict my soul: for I

am Thy servant.” Again; in Psalm 136:15 we read that God

overthrew Pharaoh and his hosts in the Red Sea: for His mercy endureth

forever.” It was an act of vengeance upon Pharaoh and his hosts, but it was

an act of “mercy” unto the Israelites. Again, in Revelation 19:1-3 we

read, “I heard a great voice of much people in heaven, saying, Alleluia;

Salvation, and glory, and honor, and power, unto the Lord our God: for

true and righteous are His judgments: for He hath judged the great whore,

which did corrupt the earth with her fornication, and hath avenged the

blood of His servants at her hand. And again they said, Alleluia. And her

smoke rose up forever and ever.”


From what has just been before us, let us note how vain is the

presumptuous hope of the wicked, who, notwithstanding their continued

defiance of God, nevertheless count upon His being merciful to them. How

many there are who say, I do not believe that God will ever cast me into

Hell; He is too merciful. Such a hope is a viper, which if cherished in their

bosoms will sting them to death. God is a God of justice as well as mercy,

and He has expressly declared that He will “by no means clear the guilty”

(Exodus 34:7). Yea, He has said,


“The wicked shall be turned into hell, all the nations that forget

God” (Psalm 9:17).


As well might men reason: I do not believe that if filth be allowed to

accumulate and sewerage become stagnant and people deprive themselves

of fresh air, that a merciful God will let them fall a prey to a deadly fever.

The fact is that those who neglect the laws of health are carried away by

disease, notwithstanding God’s mercy. Equally true is it that those who

neglect the laws of spiritual health shall forever suffer the Second Death.

Unspeakably solemn is it to see so many abusing this Divine perfection.

They continue to despise God’s authority, trample upon His laws continue


in sin, and yet presume upon His mercy. But God will not be unjust to

Himself. God shows mercy to the truly penitent, but not to the impenitent

(Luke 13:3). To continue in sin and yet reckon upon Divine mercy

remitting punishment is diabolical. It is saying, “Let us do evil that good

may come,” and of all such it is written, whose “damnation is just”

(Romans 3:8). Presumption shall most certainly be disappointed; read

carefully Deuteronomy 29:18-20. Christ is the spiritual Mercy-seat,

and all who despise and reject His Lordship shall


perish from the way, when His wrath is kindled but a little”

(Psalm 2:12).


But let our final thought be of God’s spiritual mercies unto His own

people. “Thy mercy is great unto the heavens” (Psalm 57:10). The

riches thereof transcend our loftiest thought. “For as the heaven is high

above the earth, so great is His mercy toward them that fear Him”

(Psalm 103:11). None can measure it. The elect are designated

vessels of mercy” (Romans 9:23). It is mercy that quickened them

when they were dead in sins (Ephesians 2:4,5). It is mercy that saves

them (<560305>Titus 3:5). It is His abundant mercy which begat them unto an

eternal inheritance (1 Peter 1:3). Time would fail us to tell of His

preserving, sustaining, pardoning, supplying mercy. Unto His own, God is

the Father of mercies” (2 Corinthians 1:3).


                        “When all Thy mercies, O my God,

                           My rising soul surveys,

                        Transported with the view I’m lost,

                          In wonder, love, and praise.”





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