The Incomprehensibility of the Mercy of God
Isaiah 55:8-9
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, said the LORD.…

"Lo, these are parts of His ways, but how little a portion is heard of Him! " This is one of the most sententious sayings of Job, and it expresseth, in a very emphatic manner, the works of God. what this holy man said of the wonders of nature, we, with much more reason, say of the wonders of grace. Collect all that pagan philosophers have taught of the goodness of the Supreme Being. To the opinions of philosophers join the declarations of the prophets. Add the discoveries of the evangelists and apostles. To the whole join your own experience; your ideas to their ideas, your meditations to their meditations, and then believe that ye are only floating on the surface of the goodness of God, that His love hath dimensions, a "breadth, and length, and depth, and height," " which the human mind can never attain": and, upon the brink of this ocean, say, "Lo, these are only parts of His ways, and how little a portion is heard of Him l Three things are necessary to explain the text.

I. THE MEANING MUST BE RESTRAINED. It is certain, that, in many respects, God's ways are our ways, and His thoughts our thoughts. I mean, that there are many cases in which we may assure ourselves that God thinks so and so, and will observe such or such a conduct. To contrast the supreme grandeur of the Creator with the insignificance of the creature; to persuade mankind that the great Supreme is too lofty to concern Himself with us, that our conduct is entirely indifferent to Him; that it signifies nothing to Him whether we be just or unjust, humane or cruel, happy or miserable: to say in these senses, that "God's ways are not our ways," that "His thoughts are not our thoughts," these are the arms that infidelity hath sometimes employed with success, and against the attacks of which we would guard you. For these reasons, the meaning of the text must be restrained, or it will totally subvert religion and morality. The exercise of my reasoning powers produceth in me some incontestable notions of God, and, from these notions immediately follow some sure consequences, which become the immovable basis of my faith in His Word, of my submission to His will, and of my confidence in His promises. These notions, and these consequences compose the body of natural religion. Let it be granted that God is, in many respects, quite incomprehensible, that we can obtain only a small degree of knowledge of this infinite Object, yet it will not follow that the notions which reason gives us of Him are less just, or, that the consequences, which immediately follow these notions, are less sure. If reason affords us some adequate notions of God, if some necessary consequences follow these notions, for a much stronger reason we may derive some adequate notions of God, and some sure consequences, from revelation.

II. THE OBJECT MUST BE DETERMINED. The prophet's expressions would have been true, had they been applied to all the attributes of God; however, they are applied here only to one of them, that is, to His goodness. Wherein do the thoughts of God differ from ours Z In God there are treasures of mercy, the depth of which no finite mind ten fathom. In Him goodness is as inconceivable as all His other attributes. In God, a sinner, who seems to have carried his sin to its utmost extravagance, and to have exhausted all the treasures of Divine grace, shall still find, if he "return unto the Lord," and cast himself at the foot of Him who "abundantly pardoneth," a goodness, a compassion, a love that he could not have imagined to find.


(1)  The means by which God conciliated His justice with HIS love.

(2)  His patience with those who abuse this means.

(3)  His intimate union with those who fall in with the design of His patience.Let us address the text to the gloomy mind of a melancholy person, who, having failed in the courage necessary to resist temptations, fails again in that which is necessary to bear the thought of having fallen into them. What madness possesseth thy melancholy mind? The Holy Spirit assures thee that "though thy sins be as scarlet" He will make them "white as snow;" that "though they be red like crimson" He will make them "as wool;" and dost thou think that thy sins are too aggravated to be pardoned in this manner? The Holy Spirit gives thee a long list of the most execrable names in nature; a list of idolaters, murderers, extortioners, adulterers, persecutors, highway robbers, and blasphemers, who obtained mercy when they sought it: and art thou obstinately bent on excluding thyself from the number of those sinners to whom mercy is promised; and because thou dost not believe it attainable, dost thou obstinately refuse to ask for it? The Holy Spirit hath lifted up a Cross, and on that Cross a Redeemer, who is "able to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by Him;" and who Himself saith to all sinners, "Come unto Me, all ye that labour, and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." And dost thou flee from this Cross, and rather choose to sink under the weight of thy sins than to disburden them on a Redeemer who is willing to bear them? But, passing all these, let us return to the text. "My thoughts are not your thoughts," etc. This is sufficient to refute the whole system of a despairing mind.

(J. Saurin.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD.

WEB: "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," says Yahweh.

The Human and the Divine
Top of Page
Top of Page