Micah 7:18
Who is a God like You, who pardons iniquity and passes over the transgression of the remnant of His inheritance--who does not retain His anger forever, because He delights in loving devotion?
A God of MercyMontagu Villiers, M. A.Micah 7:18
A Pardoning GodHugh Stowell, M. A.Micah 7:18
An End to SinDavid Davies.Micah 7:18
And Passeth by the Transgression of the Remnant of His HeritageA. Roberts, M. A.Micah 7:18
God MercifulW. Nevins, D. D.Micah 7:18
God's Anger and MercyHenry Varley, B. A.Micah 7:18
God's Delight in MercyE. Brown.Micah 7:18
God's PatienceHenry Ward Beecher.Micah 7:18
He Delighteth in MercyC. Garrett.Micah 7:18
On Venial Sin, and Auricular ConfessionJohn Forbes.Micah 7:18
Peculiarities in God's PardoningW. Nevins, D. D.Micah 7:18
The God of the Christians a God Delighting in MercyA. Waugh, D. D.Micah 7:18
The Grace of God in Pardoning SinD. Wilson, M. A.Micah 7:18
The Grace of God to SinnersA. Whyte, D. D.Micah 7:18
The Incomparableness of God Illustrated in His Forgiveness of SinHomilistMicah 7:18
The Incomparableness of God Illustrated in His Forgiveness of SinD. Thomas Micah 7:18
The Incomparableness of God Illustrated in His Forgiveness of SinD. Thomas Micah 7:18
The Lord's Pardoning MercyMicah 7:18
The Matchless MercyMicah 7:18
The Mercy of GodJ. Clapperton.Micah 7:18
The Mercy of GodWilliam Jay.Micah 7:18
The Mercy of GodSkeletons of SermonsMicah 7:18
The Pardoning GodJ. Stewart.Micah 7:18
Unparalleled PardonJ. Cross, D. D. , LL. D.Micah 7:18
Who is a God Like unto TheeW. E. Light, M. A.Micah 7:18
A Pardoning GodA. Rowland Micah 7:18, 19
Matchless MercyE.S. Prout Micah 7:18, 19

The Lord thy God turned the curse into a blessing unto thee, because the Lord thy God loved thee. These words of Moses receive a striking illustration in the fact that every one of the "minor" prophets who threatens judgments against Israel ends by promises of deliverance which anticipate the days of the Messiah. In none is this more strikingly seen than in Micah. In this chapter the prophet, who has been lamenting the universal corruption of the people (vers. 1-6), finds comfort in God alone, to whom he looks with submission and hope, and obtains an assurance of renewed Divine favour when the chastisement is past (vers. 7-15). This encourages him to pray (ver. 14). His prayer is answered by a promise of deliverance such as God accomplished for his people in Egypt (vers. 15-17). Upon this he breaks forth in adoration of God's matchless mercy, and anticipates the fulfilment of promises which would only be realized by the coming of the long looked for Deliverer (vers. 18-20; and cf. Luke 1:70-75). This matchless mercy is shown both in God's essential character and in his treatment of sinners. Each clause suggests some fresh thought on this attractive subject.

I. "WHO IS A GOD LIKE UNTO THEE?" The reference to the Exodus (ver. 15) reminds us of Moses' words (Exodus 15:11). If there is none like God, "glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders," what wonder can be so great as deliverance from sin? If even ungodly men are charmed rote adoration for a brief period as some deliverance from danger, how profoundly and unceasingly should we adore and glorify God for salvation from sin, which is a more dreadful evil than cholera, lunacy, or death! Notice how a question like this is often asked or answered; e.g. in regard to God's power (Deuteronomy 33:26), his faithfulness (1 Kings 8:23), his deliverance of the oppressed (Psalm 35:10), his condescension to the lowly (Psalm 113:5, 6). In a word, in his character and in all his dealings he stands alone (Psalm 89:6-8).

II. "THAT PARDONETH INIQUITY." This is as essential a part of God's character as is maternal love in a mother's heart. When Moses said to God, "I Beseech thee, show me thy glory," the answer was, "I will make all my goodness pass before thee, and I will proclaim the Name of the Lord before thee" (Exodus 33:18, 19). And when the sublime proclamation was made, one of the essential elements of Jehovah's character, as revealed in his Name, was "forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin" (Exodus 34:5-7). God loves to be reminded of his Name, and to see that it is that on which our hopes of pardon rest; e.g. Numbers 14:17-20; Psalm 25:11; Psalm 86:5, 15; Psalm 130:4; Daniel 9:9.

III. "AND PASSETH BY THE TRANSGRESSION OF THE REMNANT OF HIS HERITAGE." This denotes a continual action on the part of God. Isolated acts of pardon would not meet the case. He comes with his eyes as a flame of fire, and yet he does not "mark iniquities" (Psalm 130:3; and cf. Numbers 23:21). What he commends he practises (Proverbs 19:11). Yet not because of any laxity in his relations to sin, but because of his righteous grace. Such declarations of Divine mercy as the Old Testament is full of can only be perfectly understood when read in the light of the New Testament, and of the atoning sacrifice of Christ, "for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first covenant;" "Whom God set forth to be a Propitiation, through faith, by his Mood, to show his righteousness, because of the passing over of the sins done afore time, in the forbearance of God" (Romans 3:25; Hebrews 9:15).

IV. "HE RETAINETH NOT HIS ANGER FOREVER, BECAUSE HE DELIGHTETH IN MERCY." In the midst of words of grace we have a distinct recognition of anger as one of God's perfections. So in Exodus 34:7, "that will by no means clear the guilty." If he were not angry with sinners he would be less perfect. This truth needs to be emphasized in the present days of superficial views of sin. But if he were to retain his anger forever, it would be fatal (Isaiah 57:16). So "he will not always chide," etc.; he "will not cast off forever; but though he cause grief, yet will he have compassion according to the multitude of his mercies" (Psalm 103:9; Lamentations 3:31, 32). And this "because he delighteth in mercy." In its literal sense "he is bent on mercy." Proofs of this crowd on us from every side. We see it in the history of Israel (Nehemiah 9:16-19, 26-31; Psalm 78.), in the cross of Christ (1 John 4:10), in the long lives of many of the most impenitent (Romans 2:4), and in the experience of those who are now rejoicing in salvation (Ephesians 2:4-7; Titus 3:4-7). It is therefore a joy to God to forgive and save. The parables of Luke 15:1-10 remind us of this. The pearl of parables that follows might be called, not "The prodigal son," but "The long suffering and rejoicing father."

V. "HE WILL TURN AGAIN, HE WILL HAVE COMPASSION UPON US." In our idiom "He will again have compassion on us." When God sent Jesus Christ "preaching peace" to Israel, it was no new thing. It was the latest and sublimest illustration of a Divine habit (Hebrews 1:1). In the wilderness days, "he, being full of compassion, forgave their iniquity, and destroyed them not: yea, many a time turned he his anger away, and did not stir up all his wrath" (Psalm 78:38). Thus God treated them all through their history. See the summary of the later history of Judah in 2 Chronicles 36:14-16, "...till there was no remedy," etc. But he again had compassion; he turned again their captivity, according to his promises by Moses (Deuteronomy 30:1-6). And though they crucified the Christ, and were "broken off," they are still "beloved for the father's sake." God will again have compassion on them (Zechariah 12:10-14; Zechariah 13:1). "And so all Israel shall be saved." These repeated acts of the mercy in which God delights may encourage the vilest to appeal for forgiveness, "according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies" (Psalm 51:1).

VI. "HE WILL SUBDUE OUR INIQUITIES" He will tread them down, trample them underfoot. One of the marked peculiarities of the Divine forgiveness is the result on the sinner himself. No one pardons with such a good effect on the sinner pardoned. Some are disappointed in those they forgive. Not so God. Whenever he remits sin he reforms the sinner. His salvation being from the love and the power as well as the punishment of sin; a sinner cannot grasp the pardon and neglect the purity. Nor does he desire to. The most sacred motives forbid. The promise of pardon is accompanied with the assurance of the purifying Spirit (Ezekiel 36:25-27; Romans 8:1, 2; 1 Corinthians 6:11). Sin is a serpent to be crushed under the heel (Romans 16:20). It is a foe to be conquered, and who shall be conquered because we are "not under the Law, but under grace" (Romans 6:14). The victory is God's, though the blessedness of it is ours (Psalm 98:1), "He will subdue our iniquities."

VII. "THOU WILT CAST ALL THEIR SINS INTO THE DEPTHS OF THE SEA." This indicates the completeness of the Divine salvation. Elsewhere we have the promise (Psalm 103:12). Hezekiah says, "Thou hast cast all my sins behind my back," so that the accuser cannot get them without going behind the very throne of God; and God himself will never turn to see them. Here the figure is still more striking; sins cast, not in the shallows, subject to the tidal waves which might throw them up into sight again, but into the depths of the sea (cf. Jeremiah 1:20). Other figures are used to teach the same truth - the cloud blotted out, never to be seen again (Isaiah 44:22); sin forgotten, even by God himself (Isaiah 43:25). Such is God's matchless mercy in pardoning sin. And when our sins are finally subdued as well as pardoned, cast into the depths of the sea, while we are standing on the eternal shore, justified, sanctified, glorified, then we shall sing the final song, "Thanks be to God who giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ." And because we are already being saved by a God of such matchless mercy, in whom we have placed our trust, we have no fear as to the issue (Romans 8:38, 39).

"We lift our hands exulting
In thine Almighty favour,
The love Divine, which made us thine,
Shall keep us thine forever." E.S.P.

Who is a God like unto Thee, that pardoneth iniquity?
Micah and Isaiah were contemporaries. They lived in the same land, they lived in the same city; they ministered, we may say, to the same congregation, and they preached the same Gospel. They were very unlike in some respects, so far as we can judge from the remnants of their ministry they have left behind them. Isaiah was, perhaps, the most eloquent man that God ever made, and He made him for the most splendid of service. Long ago, , the great Latin scholar, in translating into the Vulgate these books, said of Isaiah that he was the evangelical prophet, and ever since that day the Church of Christ in all her branches has subscribed to that striking description of Isaiah. Micah, again, would seem to be a man of different kind, with a full equipment of spiritual experience. His sayings are short and penetrating; not so captivating to the mind, it may be, as Isaiah's eloquence, but piercing and penetrating to the understanding and conscience and heart of all who heard him. We have an epitome of his ministry in these closing verses, a summary of his lifelong service of God and Jerusalem. "Who is a God," he says, "like unto Thee?" He begins to speak to the people, but forgets the people in the presence of God and His glorious grace, and he makes his sermon begin with a doxology, a cry of wonder, an astonishment at the grace of God. It is not written, but I can read it — I am as sure of it as if it had been written — that many a time before he exclaimed, "Who is a God like unto Thee?" he said, "Who is a sinner like unto me?" No man ever is amazed at the grace of God till he is confounded with his own sin. There is a thrill of astonishment and amazement at the grace of God that has borne with him for so long and fruitless a ministry and so sinful and unsanctified a life. There may be an allusion, as allusions run up and down all the prophets, comparing the God of Israel with the gods of the nations round about. The form of the exclamation is, no doubt, taken from that which was a continual debate between the prophets of Israel and false prophets and false gods of the nations round about. They had their gods — he admits that in a kind of way for argument's sake — but he turns and says, "Who is a God like unto Thee?" What priest of Baal or Ashtoreth has a god like unto the prophet Micah? They had their gods of war and their gods of wine; gods of love, gods of the woods, gods of the streams, gods of the seas, gods of the storm clouds; but never did any prophet outside of Israel say, "Our God pardoneth iniquity." The thing that astonishes him is that God forgives iniquity. "He pardoneth iniquity." Rabbi Adam Duncan, the great Hebrew professor, a man of genius and a saint, if there has been one in our day in Scotland, one day was tottering along the street to his class. A wag of a fellow came out of the door of one of the clubs in Edinburgh: and thought he would have a joke out of the old Doctor, a story to tell. "Well, Doctor, any news the day?" "Oh, great news," says the Doctor, with his blazing eyes; "great news, sir." It staggered the youngster. He said, "What is it, Doctor?" He thought it was some revolution, some tremendous thing that had not come to their ears in the club yet. But, says the Doctor, laying his hand on the youth's shoulder, "the blood of Christ still cleanseth from all sin." There is grace in the grammar, he pardoneth iniquity. He does it now. The school boy will tell you this is the present tense. It is not that He pardoned in Micah's day, but His grace is dried up this day; or will pardon some time again when there is more prayer and preparation and faith; but He pardons now — He pardons here. This is the joy of the Gospel; this makes it fresh every morning; this makes every minister experimental and autobiographical, because he can say, like Rabbi Duncan, "Come all ye people, and I will tell you what God has done for my soul this very morning; He pardoneth iniquity — things you would rather drown yourself than hear it ever said you had done; He pardoneth it, and you will go home clapping your hands, and saying, 'Who is a God like unto Thee?'" We need many things, but first pardon. If you went into your prison and some man lay waiting execution, and you said, "What can I do for you, my man? I have influence with the magistrates, the Government, the King — what can I do?" He would reply, "Get the rope off my neck, get that scaffold taken away, and then there may be other things you can do; but get my pardon, and get it quick." And therefore it is in the forefront of the message to you and me, when we wakened this morning. There is a note of the Passover there. He passeth by, He does not see it, He does not want to see it. "He retaineth not His anger forever." He is angry, mind you. He is maybe very angry with you here this morning. I am quoting Goodwin, but I am in a good atmosphere. He says: "The conscience is a little window in the soul through which God throws in a coal of hell fire to let a man taste beforehand what it will be to make his bed in hell." You say, some fine, young gentleman, that there is no fire in hell. Wait and see! Says Goodwin again: "Hell is not culinary fire." There were sceptics in his day, too, and he said: "Oh, no, not kitchen fire; quite right. You know better than the apostles and prophets and the Master Himself. It is not culinary fire — that could be put out. But I will tell you what cannot be put out, remorse." But though He is angry for a little season, He delighteth in mercy. It is worth travelling across the country just to say that to a fellow sinner. Our Maker and Judge and Redeemer, He delighteth in mercy. It is never said He delighteth in anger. It is against His nature, but mercy is His very innermost nature. If the devil casts my sins in my teeth, I will say, "Yes, it is all true, and you cannot tell the half of it, but I have to do with One who delighteth in mercy." "He delighteth in mercy." He enjoys it, it is His nature, and you can satisfy His mercy as, maybe, no one else can. There may be some sin in your case that makes you a peculiar sinner, and makes you a peculiar ornament to the grace of God to all eternity. "He will turn again." Has He left you? Have you sinned away the peace of God out of your conscience? But He will turn again. He is, maybe, turning this moment. "He will have compassion." Samuel Rutherford was once at the Communion season talking to the elders after the people were away, and said, "Now, we have been preaching about justification today; whether do you think you will be more thankful in heaven for justification or sanctification?" None of them spoke; then an old man said, "Mr. Samuel, we'll thank Him for baith." So we will thank Him, some of us, "for baith," for a pardon that passeth all understanding, and for a sanctification of sinful hearts rotten to the core and running over with all manner of sin.

(A. Whyte, D. D.)

God regards you, and the Bible describes you as sinners; and so you are. Sinners condemned, and needing pardon; for condemnation follows sin as a matter of course. When a man has sinned he must receive a pardon, or suffer the penalty. One great object of revelation is to tell you that you may be pardoned. Revelation declares the ground, the manner, the conditions of pardon. What is there peculiar and distinguishing in God's exercise of pardon? There are not many points in which creatures resemble God. The attributes and ways of creatures are for the most part in contrast to those of God. In nothing is God more unlike other beings than in pardoning.

1. No being pardons with such honour to the law broken, and with such security to the government offended, as God.

2. No one pardons at such an expense to Himself as God does.

3. No one pardons with such a good effect on the sinner pardoned.

4. No one pardons so many as God.

5. God also pardons many sins of each sinner. Men's pardonings are limited and restrained. He abundantly pardons.

6. Notice the peculiar character of the sins which God pardons.

7. He forgets as well as forgives.

8. He makes provision for the pardon of future sins.

9. God does more than pardon; He justifies, adopts, sanctifies, and eventually glorifies us.

10. God pardons on the most reasonable conditions.

11. These very conditions of pardon God fulfils in us. He gives us repentance, and our faith is the gift of God.

(W. Nevins, D. D.)

In the Gospel of our salvation, all God's moral perfections are developed and glorified. No one of them is sacrificed to another, nor eclipsed by another's splendour. Each has its own special office, but freely accords their claims to all the rest. But there is one of these perfections on which the sacred writers dwell with peculiar pleasure — mercy, the first need of the fallen, the everlasting song of the redeemed. It is the theme of the Old Testament prophecy, and the charm of the New Testament history. In this text the prophet asserts, not merely that God is merciful, but that "He delighteth in mercy." Develop the thought of the peculiarity of the Divine mercy in the forgiveness of human guilt.

I. WHO PARDONETH AT SO GREAT A COST? Take parable of sending only son to the rebellious husbandman. The affection of a father for an only son, though the best that human relations can furnish, is a poor emblem of God's ineffable delight in His co-equal and co-eternal Beloved. And from the first He foresaw what His Son must suffer.

II. WHO PARDONETH ON SO EASY A CONDITION? Offenders are frequently forgiven in consideration only of some valuable service rendered. Many imagine that they can merit Divine mercy by their moral virtues. It is a fatal delusion. Man is a creature. His Creator has the unquestionable right to all he is, and all he has. When the creature has done his utmost, he is still an unprofitable servant. And man is a fallen and guilty creature. As such, he is already in arrears with God. His perfect obedience being always due, he can never make up any deficiencies. There is no possibility of doing anything beyond our bounden duty, to be set down to our credit over against any record of former delinquency. Moreover, the fallen creature cannot keep the Divine law, without the grace of its Divine Author — His prevenient grace to prepare the way — His cooperative grace to assist the effort. Not through any worthiness of our own can we hope for absolution. What is the condition of a sinner's pardon? Simple faith in Christ. What is the justifying faith? It is accepting the record which God hath given of His Son, and relying upon that Son's mediatorial merit with an undoubting trust. It is receiving Christ as the one only suitable and sufficient Saviour, and thus appropriating His purchased and proffered salvation. It is quite conceivable that other and altogether different conditions might have been imposed. But what other could have been so merciful in God, so suitable to sinners, and so easy of performance as this?

III. WHO PARDONETH WITH SO CORDIAL A LIBERALITY? What heathen divinity? What human government? What prince or potentate? Often, in the exercise of human clemency, the rich and the powerful are preferred to offenders of inferior rank; and generally, small offences are more readily forgiven than greater. But God pardoneth without partiality, and without respect of persons. Alike, to His all-forgiving love, is the debt of fifty pence, and the debt of five hundred. Though men may pardon a second or third offence, they are not likely to pardon the same offence in its frequent repetition. But God pardoneth a thousand times, pardoneth the same crime a thousand times committed. Monarchs and governors require to be petitioned and importuned for mercy: often it is necessary that others with their intercessions should enforce the plea of the offender, and even thus pardon is obtained with great difficulty, and after long delay. But God waiteth to be gracious, hasteth to be merciful, more ready to forgive than sinners are to be forgiven. Men pardon one offence out of many, and leave the rest for punishment; or they forgive, but never forget. But God pardons all offences at once, and blots them from His memory forever. You may pardon the offender, without giving him any intimation of the fact. But God absolves when He forgives. Such is the mercy of God in the forgiveness of human guilt — rich beyond all parallel in earth or heaven — admirable beyond all expression of men or angels. Then who can despair? Who can even doubt?

(J. Cross, D. D. , LL. D.)

In this marvellous and mysterious world alone is mercy harmonised with justice, and it is manifested that "there is forgiveness with God that He may be feared." None pardons like God. This is the sublime import of the text.

I. NONE PARDONS SO FREELY AS GOD. He acts self-prompted, self guided. Free must His salvation be, for it was devised before earth began. There is no other fountainhead whence the tide of boundless love gushes forth to a ruined race. Will it be thought any let or bar to the freedom of God's sovereign love in our salvation, that His love flowed to us through the channel of His own Son crucified for us, bringing to us pardon and forgiveness?

II. NONE PARDONS SO GRACIOUSLY AS GOD. Freely as He has prepared forgiveness, so freely does He dispense forgiveness. If we think to purchase it with a price, God will say unto us, "Thy money perish with thee." It costs the poor suppliant sinner nothing but acceptance, — nothing but simple, humble, self-abandoning reception.

III. NONE PARDONS SO PROMPTLY AS HE. God's promptness in forgiving is a striking peculiarity which ought not to be passed over. "Before they ask, I will answer." This is the rule of God's dealing.

IV. NONE PARDONS SO PERFECTLY AS GOD DOES. It is a pardon that He represents as so absolute that it utterly puts away all that is past as if it never had been. The sinner is pardoned completely, accepted completely, in the very righteousness of God — the Divine righteousness wrought out by Immanuel, in our nature, for us, and imputed to us when we believe in Him.

V. NONE PARDONS SO CONSISTENTLY AND MAJESTICALLY AS GOD DOES. "A God all mercy were a God unjust." God might cease to be, rather than cease to be just.

VI. NONE PARDONS SO EFFECTUALLY AS GOD DOES. Then "shall we sin in order that grace may abound"? Nothing slays the carnal mind in us like sovereign grace.

(Hugh Stowell, M. A.)

The ground foundation of all our hope and comfort, in our restoration after our distresses, is the Lord's pardoning mercy. "Who is a God like unto Thee?" This abrupt and passionate admiration of God's pardoning mercy showeth that all these promises had their rise there. There were great difficulties to be overcome before these promises could take place; but the greatest difficulty and obstruction lay in their sins. And the prophet wondreth more at His grace subduing sin, than at His power overcoming difficulties.

1. Sin is the greatest obstacle. Take that out of the way, and then mercies come freely from God. If there be any restraint of God's blessing, it is because of man s sin.

2. Sin is the cause of all our evils, as well as it stoppeth and hindereth our mercies. Sin being pardoned, the cause of the misery is removed, and the cause being removed, the effect ceaseth.

3. Outward mercies, were they never so great and full, would never yield any true satisfaction, unless they be joined with reconciliation with God, and pardon of sin. No solid happiness till pardon. Use this to reprove(1) Them that look not after pardon of sin in their distresses, but temporal blessings in the first place.(2) Those that hope to remove evil either by sinful means, or be natural means, without being reconciled to God.(3) Those that, lying under the fruits of sin, have not a heart to seek their recovery from the Lord's pardoning mercy, Use this —

4. To instruct us, what should most affect our hearts. Not so much God's acts of power, as His acts of grace. Doctrine — That the chief glory of the true God consisteth in the pardon of sins, wherein there is none like Him. Evidence this by these considerations —

1. We have not a true apprehension of God, till we see Him singular and matchless in excellency, and do give Him a distinct and separate honour, far above all other things which are in the world.

2. Among all His excellences, His pardoning mercy shineth forth most conspicuously in the true religion, and is represented with such advantages as cannot be found elsewhere. The business of a religion is to provide sufficiently for two things; to provide a suitable happiness for mankind, and a sufficient means for the expiation of the guilt of sin. Till there be a due course taken for the pardon of sin, there is no provision made for establishment, either of the creature's comfort or duty. Natural light giveth some evidence of this truth, that God is placable. The Gentiles were all of this opinion, that their gods were inclined to pardon. Thence came all their sacrifices and expiations. They thought their gods would be propitious to sinners, if they did come humbly and ask pardon. God's commanding us to forgive one another is an argument that mercy and forgiveness are pleasing to God. In the Christian religion all things are provided for which are necessary to establish a regular hope of pardon.

1. There is full satisfaction given to Divine justice, and the foundation laid for pardon in the death of Christ.

2. We have privileges offered to us by a sure covenant in Christ's name.

3. It is dispensed upon rational terms, such as faith and repentance.

4. In the manner of dispensing forgiveness. God doth it in a free, full, and universal remission of our sins. It is a free pardon. It is not given without our desiring, but it is without our deserving. God doth it for His name's sake, pitying our misery, and for the glory of His own mercy. And there is no renovation of any one sin, but that sin for which men will not ask pardon.Application —

1. Information. To show us the excellency of the Christian religion above other religions in the world; because it discovereth pardon of sins upon such terms as may be most commodious for the honour of God, and satisfactory to our souls. The heathen were mightily perplexed about the terms, how God might dispense it with honour, and man receive it with comfort. Somewhat they conceived of the goodness of God, but they could not apprehend Him reconciled to the sinner, without debasing His holiness.

2. To put us upon self-reflection. Do we entertain this offered pardon as such a singular thing deserves?What impressions should it leave upon us?

1. The sense of God's glorious grace in pardoning, should work in us a great love to God, and commend and endear Him to our hearts.

2. Where it is rightly entertained, it breedeth admiring thoughts. Everything about God is marvellous, but especially His mercy.

3. It breedeth a reverence of God. That sense of pardon which worketh no reverence, but rather a contempt and commonness of spirit in all our transactions with God, is justly to be suspected.

4. It confirmeth us in the true religion. Carnal comforts tickle the senses. False religions leave us in darkness and perplexity. But the grace of Christ truly propounded, soon brings ease and peace.

5. It takes off the heart from other things, and brings us back from the flesh to God.

6. It giveth us strength and encouragement to new obedience.

7. It melteth us into the forgiveness of others. We press you to admire the grace of God in the pardon of sins. It is a necessary mercy: a great mercy. This truth should refresh the weary, and make glad the mournful soul.

( T. Manton, D. D.)

How is God magnified in pardoning sin?

I. IN THE PARDON OF SIN, WE SEE A MANIFESTATION OF THE DIVINE SOVEREIGNITY. It is the prerogative of God to give law. It is equally, and on the same grounds, the prerogative of God to forgive the breach of law. Hence the Jews accused Christ of blasphemy, etc. Human forgiveness does not affect guilt. Divine majesty appears, then, in forgiving.

II. IN THE PARDON OF SIN, WE SEE A MANIFESTATION OF MARVELLOUS FORBEARANCE. Sin denies God's propriety in us. It disclaims His authority as a Ruler. It denies the perfection of His character as a standard. Hence it sets aside His Godhead and Being. It wars with and injures all that are His.


1. Consider from whence man had fallen, and there was nothing to awaken compassion.

2. Consider him as fallen, and there was seemingly nothing to provoke commiseration. There is —

(1)Hatred of God.

(2)Active hostility.

(3)Contempt of pardon.

IV. IN THE PARDON OF SIN, THERE IS A BRIGHT DISPLAY OF THE INFINITE LOVE OF GOD. In order that sin might be pardoned, God gave His Son to suffer and die. We cannot apply this measure of God's love. The love, however, like the gift, must be infinite.

V. IN THE PARDON OF SIN, THERE IS A TERRIBLE AND STRIKING PROCLAMATION OF THE JUSTICE OF GOD. Justice pronounces the pardon of sin. And it is justified in doing so. He who sings of pardon, sings of mercy and judgment.

VI. IN THE PARDON OF SIN, THERE IS AN UNEQUALLED DISPLAY OF THE UNSEARCHABLE WISDOM OF GOD. Seen in reconciling what seemed necessarily and eternally at variance. Not only is man's salvation made consistent with God's glory, but God is glorified thereby. Apply —

(1)Seek for pardon as a sovereign gift.

(2)As a mighty gift.

(3)For God's name's sake.

(4)Through the only channel in which it can be attained.

(5)Being pardoned, praise God.

(J. Stewart.)

? —

I. THE CHIEF PARTICULARS OF GOD'S GRACIOUS DEALINGS WITH HIS PEOPLE (ver. 18). What now calls forth the admiration and praise of the prophet, is the manner in which God deals with His people's sins. Our God is distinguished from all others as a God that pardoneth iniquity. All iniquity is rebellion against infinite love and goodness, a trampling upon God's laws, a casting off of His authority, a doubt of His holiness, a contempt for His power. Then it surely is marvellous that the Most High God should pardon iniquity; and go about to pardon iniquity in such a costly way, even by the incarnation and death of His own co-equal Son. But the prophet is not content with merely stating this precious truth, but he amplifies it, and keeps our attention fixed on it, by adding more particularly, "and passeth by the transgression of the remnant of His heritage." God calls His Church His heritage or possession, His "peculiar treasure." His heritage is only a remnant. And even this remnant, is not pure and holy. As a person can least brook faults or blemishes in that which he hath especially set apart for his own honour and pleasure, so it was least to be expected that the "transgression of the remnant of God's heritage" should be spared. It was every way most justly to be feared that they would be cast off as unprofitable, rejected forever. But such are not the ways of our God. He passeth by their transgression. The reason is not in them, but in God Himself. He is thus merciful to them, because He "delighteth in mercy."

II. THE BELIEVER'S ENCOURAGEMENT IN THE EXPECTATION OF YET FUTURE MERCIES. This is the invariable result of a lively sense of God's goodness, it leads us to desire and look for more. The Lord hath always abundantly more grace in store for His people than they have appetite to enjoy. The prophet adds to his previous account of God's great mercy to His people, this confiding expectation of future blessing. It is not all God's desire that sin should be forgiven, He would also have it overcome. He will subdue our iniquities.

III. THE BELIEVER'S WARRANT FOR HIS HOPEFUL ANTICIPATIONS. The grounds on which these promises rest for their fulfilment. It is because of the covenant which God made with Abraham and his seed for evermore, that we may confidently look for the sure performance of God's gracious word to them that believe. It is called "mercy to Abraham," because it was made with him, in the first instance, entirely of God's free grace. This covenant was "truth to Jacob," because the faithfulness of God was now engaged to make good to the son of Isaac what He had freely promised to his father. And God confirmed His promise to Abraham by an oath. And "because God could swear by no greater, He sware by Himself." This covenant was made sure in Christ. Can we then, after this brief review of God's great mercy to us in Christ, refuse to unite with the prophet in ascribing glory to His name? And must we not, at the same time, be careful to see to it, that we answer to this description of Christ's covenant members; and that we "do justly, and love mercy, and walk humbly with our God"?

(W. E. Light, M. A.)

Micah is so struck with the Divine patience as to break out in the adoring language of the text, "Who is a God like unto Thee?" He sees a day coming when the promises, frustrated so long by man's unbelief, shall be fulfilled to the letter, and the reproach of prophecy shall be rolled away. God's matchless way of redeeming man is the subject for wonder presented by the text.

I. GOD IS WITHOUT HIS; LIKE IN FORGIVING OUR SINS. Micah has an eye to the notorious sins of the nation. In saying that God retains not His anger forever, he means to say that there was cause for anger. A patience that bears daily with many provocations, when it can deal summarily with its objects, is, indeed, a wonder. It is more agreeable to God to forgive than to punish. He delighteth in mercy, and judgment is His strange work. He forgives to the uttermost, and that is only saying that He forgives like Himself — royally, absolutely, omnipotently. We honour God when we magnify His saving power. And God is a very ready God to pardon. His compassion is ever ready to awake at the call of penitence. Compassion kindles within His merciful bosom without any constraint. He is ever only too ready to turn to us, and it takes far less to turn Him to us, than it takes to turn Him from us. Our sins do hurt the fatherly heart of God. We must not think that God cannot be grieved.

II. GOD IS WITHOUT HIS LIKE IN SUBDUING OUR SINS. When Micah said, "He will subdue our iniquities," he probably had in view the beneficial effect of the captivity on the religious future of the people. Babylon would give the deathblow to their besetting sin. It did so. They never returned to idolatry after the severe lesson of those seventy years by the rivers of Babylon. They were cured of that great defect in their national life; but even Babylon could not cure them of their iniquities. Idolatry vanished, but their iniquities, like the fabled Hydra, were not long in repairing the loss of this one severed head by throwing out the seven new and deadly heads of pharisaism. The words teach us to believe in a power which is death to sin, even as sin at first was death to man. Man's conqueror is to be in turn conquered by man. If Satan had the brief pleasure of nailing our Saviour to the accursed tree, it was at the expense of being himself crushed to death beneath His subduing heel. We learn from this promise that it is the purpose of God to renew us in His own image, to fill us with that hatred of iniquity and love of holiness that distinguish His own nature. With the Gospel freedom, there comes the call to take on the yoke of Christ, the yoke of obedience, and consequently the yoke of peace and joy. Our faith, being assured of the reality of Christ's victory over sin, gives us an assurance of our own victory over it, and summons us to the attempt. Ideally, in the mind and purpose of God, we are already complete, already without sin, already with the earnest of eternal life, already without spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing. This ideal is not to be thought of as a picture of the imagination. It should be the very best help to the working out of a high practical aim.

III. GOD IS WITHOUT HIS LIKE IN REMOVING OUR SINS. Micah here warrants us in believing that the forgiveness of our sins by God is irrevocable. When he says, "And their sins Thou wilt cast into the depths of the sea," he prophesies a complete forgetfulness of them, a total burial as of something sunk in mid-ocean. What is sunk in the depths of the sea never rises up to the surface again. Such will be the merciful dealing of God with us if we ask Him to forgive our sins. He will not even mention them again, as having no desire to raise one thought of shame in the pardoned breast ever after.

(David Davies.)

These words are to be understood as ascribing the power of forgiving sins to God only; as declaring that to do so is His sole prerogative; and that He is jealous of this attribute. Mercy, as an attribute, belongs to God only. We must ascribe to God the whole power of forgiving sin. This doctrine is so consonant with reason, so agreeable to Scripture, and so honourable to God, that it might seem unnecessary to say anything with a view to confirm its truth, or to illustrate its importance. Yet there are many who deny it in substance, and more who, though they admit it in words, do not act as if they believed it. Such a doctrine goes directly to show the infinite evil which sin involves in every case. It is the disposition of our corrupt minds to think lightly of the evil of sin. In consequence of this habit, multitudes live without feeling any lively concern about forgiveness at all. Some with but an imperfect sense of guilt in their consciences, conceive that they may merit forgiveness by their good works, or by doing penance, or in some other way equally fallacious and unsatisfactory.

1. As all sin is committed against God, and is an offence in which His honour is concerned, we are led to the conclusion that forgiveness is an act, the exercise of which God will reserve to Himself, and which He will not delegate to any other. Sin is a transgression of His law, and implies a disregard of His will, and a contempt of His authority. The kinds of sins that men may be guilty of are various, and some discover a greater degree of impiety and of depravity of character than others. But the very first departures from the line of duty involve the guilt of despising the command, of contemning the authority, and of contravening the will of God, and are therefore exceedingly sinful. From overlooking this, many seem to be insensible of the danger of first steps in sin, which are usually so decisive of the character and of the future destiny of a man. When you can sin against God without remorse or fear, you have already lost the only principle which can effectually secure your continuance in the paths of righteousness. As every sin is a dishonour done to God, and an offence committed against His government, it seems peculiarly appropriate that God should reserve the exercise of mercy wholly to Himself, and render it necessary for guilty and rebellious creatures to humble themselves before Him, confess their guilt, and seek for mercy. No repentance can be considered genuine which does not originate in a sense of the evil of sin as committed against God.

2. God alone knows what the honour of His government, and the maintenance of His glory, render necessary. There is no act of government which requires greater wisdom and prudence than that of dispensing pardon; for if it be done without care, it is calculated to give rise to the most pernicious results. Injudicious and indiscriminate mercy emboldens offenders to go on in wickedness, induces others to be less careful to avoid transgression than they would be, and leads to a general contempt of the authority of law, and of the obligations of duty. To conceive that God would surrender to a mere creature the power of forgiving sin, is as difficult to be believed as that He would give a creature power to govern the material creation. In what sense then was power to remit or retain sins given to the apostles? They were specially inspired; and were only agents in stating God's forgiveness.

3. In exercising His power to forgive, God must have regard to His other attributes. The work of mercy must be perfect, as every work of God is perfect. God will exercise mercy only in perfect consistency with the truth, the righteousness, the wisdom, the holiness of His nature. That God might thus exercise mercy in consistency with all the perfections of His nature, He sent His Son into the world, to die in our room and stead. Since God has appointed this way of forgiving sins, who may safely act in opposition to it, either for himself, or by leading others to neglect the great salvation? The way in which forgiveness is exercised, is the way in which God has seen it best for His glory, and most consistent to His perfection, that it should be exercised. He is consulting, in the work of redemption, high and holy ends.

4. As the forgiveness of sins is an inestimable blessing, it is reserved by God to Himself to exercise it, that He may draw forth our love and gratitude, in return for His infinite compassion and kindness. The blessing implied in the forgiveness of sin, is of all others the most precious which men can receive, and the most important which they can seek for. How daring is that individual who would step in between God and His creatures, and lay claim to the power of exercising pardon, and dispensing forgiveness! Four grounds of practical improvement —(1) The duty of confessing our sins to God, and to God only.(2) The insufficiency of all human absolution and pardon; and the delusive nature of these rites as practised by the Roman Church.(3) The danger of calling any sin venial.(4) The obligation of those who have obtained forgiveness to devote themselves to the service of God, and to walk before Him with attached and dutiful dispositions, as becomes the children of so many mercies.

(John Forbes.)

The prophet speaks these words in a transport. He is telling us something about God which drew his wonder and amazement. It was God's pardoning mercy to His sinful creatures.

I. WHOM GOD PARDONS. "The remnant of His heritage." The reference is to the Jews, but the expression is equally descriptive, in all ages, of those whom the Lord pardons. They are but a small remnant of a sinful world. All need pardon, but multitudes die without having received pardon. Men like to hear of pardon, but they like not the way in which God offers to bestow it on them. Those whom the Lord pardons are also called "His heritage," or His inheritance, His portion, His property. The term is frequently applied to Israel, but it is applicable, in a stricter sense, to that company of pardoned sinners who constitute the Church of Christ. They are, peculiarly, eternally, the Lord's heritage. How many belong to this heritage of God we know not.

II. HOW DOES GOD PARDON? Observe the variety of expressions which the prophet uses. Literally it is "who beareth iniquity," and it refers to the way in which the Lord pardoneth sinners by bearing their iniquities Himself. He hath caused them to rest like a tremendous burden on His own sacred head, and what sinners themselves deserved to suffer, He hath suffered in their room. The prophet also says, "He passeth by the transgression." Here is the consequence of a man's coming to the Cross, of his putting faith in what the Saviour has been doing for him. God "passeth by" that man's "transgression," just as He passed over the blood-sprinkled houses in Egypt. The prophet says, "He will turn again, He will have compassion upon us." Here is another representation of the riches of God's pardoning grace. And what an affecting representation does it give of God's tender dealing towards the penitent transgressor! The prophet says, "He will subdue our iniquities." Here our iniquities are considered in the light of formidable enemies rising up against us to destroy us. What will God do on behalf of those who make His Son their Saviour? He will "subdue" both their past and their present iniquities. The last expression the prophet uses is, "Thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea." Here is indicated the extent of God's pardon, and the completeness of it. The pardon is final, unchangeable, eternal.

III. WHY DOES GOD PARDON? What moves the Holy and the Just to save a remnant of His guilty creatures from destruction? The text does not answer in a way to flatter man; as if any estimable qualities in him were the moving cause of Divine compassions, The reason is "because He delighteth in mercy." It is, as it were, His favourite attribute. He hath pleasure in mercy. Gladly do the redeemed of the Lord ascribe every tittle of their blessedness to the mercy of their God.

(A. Roberts, M. A.)

He retaineth not His anger forever
Can God be angry? The ancient philosopher, and the modern man of science, represent the Infinite Spirit as incapable of any emotion. The old Greek thinkers tell you that the Divine existence is passionless and free from pain. Our modern men of science laugh at us if we attribute feeling to the Almighty. They tell us we are guilty of anthropomorphism, and that is a pitiable weakness in their eyes, if not a sin. Not only is it impossible for God to be angry. He is incapable of any emotion at all. And we must admit there is considerable difficulty in reconciling the idea of anger in the Divine nature with any large and spiritual conception of it. Note two considerations —

1. Anger, as shown by man to man, always goes along with some measure of surprise. But God cannot be surprised.

2. In anger there is a desire to put some one to pain. The disobedient child, the careless servant, the treacherous friend, shall be made to suffer for what they have done. But you cannot think of God as desiring to put any one to pain. How stand the facts of the case, and what do they teach? They teach that we, with our triple nature of body, mind, and spirit, stand in the midst of an everlasting order, and live in a universe of unvarying law. This constancy of nature, this unfailing order, this universality of law is the great postulate upon which all our action proceeds, and all our thought. The cause being the same, the effect will be the same always and everywhere. Law is everywhere; facts teach that. But they teach something besides. That to disobey the laws, to violate the order, brings punishment and pain. These two truths are of capital importance in answering the question whether psalmists, prophets, and apostles meant anything when they spoke of the anger of God. We say that the fact of universal law is not the ultimate fact. There is somewhat behind it — not somewhat, but some One. Eternal Power, Infinite Life, God. This law and order we call the will of God. Then if the laws under which we live are to us the declaration of the personal will of the Eternal, then it is no figure of speech to say that the pain and punishment that follow on the violation of the laws are the anger of the Eternal. Anger not vindictive, but righteous. "Sin is the transgression of the law." Of what law? Of the law which unfolds to us the conditions of spiritual life and health for us; the law which stands written in the conscience of every man, which may be spelled out from the sacred writings of all nations, of whose growing clearness and fulness the Bible is a magnificent record — the law which tells us that if we would enter into life, we must keep the commandments. To love God — that is religion. To love man — that is morality. Obedience to this twofold law is the way to the enjoyment and strengthening of the very highest life possible to man. If, knowing this law, you do not obey it, there will come to you a sense of defeat, of unrest, of dissatisfaction, of spiritual weakness and decay, which will be keen and crushing in proportion to your knowledge of your moral and religious duty. This experience is the punishment and pain which always follow upon the violation of God's law. It is His anger. It is anger with a heart of love as its centre. But God does not retain His anger forever. He delights in mercy, He pardons iniquity, He passes by transgressions. Are these things true? In one sense He does not forgive sin. God is Infinite Love and Infinite Law. Forgiveness of sins, as commonly understood, means one of two things. Either it means that when you ask God to forgive you your sins, you ask Him to forbear to retaliate; or it means that you ask Him to save you from the consequences of them. But the first meaning is inconsistent with God's nature as the Infinite Love. What does your request signify? This — that you entreat Him not to serve you as you have served Him. But can Infinite Love ever be suspected of such conduct? And the second meaning is inconsistent with God's nature as the Eternal Law. The law of God — the expression of His will — brings pain and punishment to him who transgresses it. This is the case in all spheres of life, bodily, mental, spiritual. The consequences of transgressions are natural, bound up with the very constitution of things. To pray for the forgiveness of sins is, in many minds, equivalent to a prayer for deliverance from their consequences. But such deliverance would involve a perpetually repeated miracle, the suspension of the action of those very laws which God has placed us under as the conditions of life and good for us. Is He, then, going so to stultify and contradict Himself? In one sense for God to forgive sin is an impossibility. Yet, in another sense, God does forgive sin. God retains His anger only so long as you are transgressing His law. The moment you repent, that moment His mercy, in which He delights, comes to you, bringing healing and remedial blessing on its soft wing. In those spiritual relations between God and ourselves, with which, in the great question of sin and its forgiveness, we are primarily concerned, the central thought of the soul when awaking to a sense of sin, is not the violation of the impersonal laws, but the grieving of the Father-spirit behind the laws, whose expression they are. We dare not attribute to the Eternal such anger as is vindictive, and desires to put the cause of it to pain, but we may attribute to Him such grief over human sin as found its most pathetic earthly expression in the broken heart of Christ upon the Cross.

(Henry Varley, B. A.)

He delighteth in mercy
For the proof of this we are entirely dependent on revelation. The deist is challenged to produce one valid argument in demonstration of the Divine mercifulness. The light of nature discovers nothing beyond mere forbearance, and forbearance does not necessarily imply mercy.Revelation —

1. Announces to us that God is merciful, and this repeatedly, and in terms the most explicit. The fact is declared that God is merciful; but there is something very peculiar in the manner in which this doctrine is taught. Notice the words that are synonymous, or nearly so, with mercy; such as gracious, long suffering, slow to anger, pitiful. Notice that the inspired writers, not content with the singular, mercy, by a felicitous fault of style, employ the plural form, mercies. They speak of "the multitude of His mercies." Notice that they speak of God as rich in mercy, plenteous in mercy, and full of compassion. Notice that the mercy of God is compared to certain human exercises. "Like as a father pitieth," etc. Notice that it is said of God, "He delighteth in mercy." Some things we do by constraint, some by a sense of duty; others we delight to do. It is not by constraint that God is merciful. See some proofs that God delights in mercy. Infer it from the fact that He has made mercy a part of our moral constitution. He has made it a part of our duty, not merely to show mercy, but to love it: He requires us to delight in it. He expresses the highest displeasure against the unmerciful Infer it from the manner in which God exercises mercy to sinners of the human race.Illustrate by following particulars —

1. He shows mercy without waiting to be asked to do it.

2. He shows mercy at great expense to Himself.

3. He lets us see how it is that He can consistently exercise mercy towards us; discloses to us the plan of salvation, as well as the fact of its possibility.

4. The first moment that sinners manifest a willingness to comply with the terms on which He exercises mercy, they are met by His mercy.

5. The terms of mercy are brought down as low as they could be.

6. To those very terms His mercy brings us. He even fulfils in us the conditions of salvation.

7. He waiteth to be gracious; spares us long, and overlooks many provocations.

8. He makes many offers of mercy.

9. He shows mercy to many sinners.

10. He shows mercy to His enemies. Then what shall we make of this doctrine? Shall we infer that God is not just, not holy, not faithful, because He is merciful? Surely sinners, sensible of their sins, have the greatest encouragement to hope in God's mercy. If God delights in mercy, what can be plainer than that men should?

(W. Nevins, D. D.)

When we speak of mercy in God, we must realise that it differs from the corresponding affection in man. In God it is not a passion, causing any mental disturbance. In Him, infinite goodness, perpetually, without any disquiet, impels to the manifestation of kindness. In the exercise of this attribute Jehovah delights. The ministration of justice is necessary, that of mercy is voluntary.

I. CONSIDER THE NATURE OF GOD. His very essence is love, and mercy is but one of the forms of love.

1. Take a view of the perfections of His nature. Infinite, Eternal, All-wise, Just, Almighty, Faithful. Turn to whatever perfection of God you may, still His mercy comes into view.

2. View His nature in the powers which He exercises. In Scripture we read of His eyes, ears, lips, hands, etc. He is said to think, to will, to remember. He is afflicted, and He rejoiceth. All these powers are set forth as occupied in the exercise of mercy.


1. The words of His law. Here mercy holds a distinguished place. It requires of us that we "be merciful."

2. His words in the Gospel. Truly these are full of mercy. Viewed as a whole, the Gospel is simply "the grace of God, which hath appeared unto all men, and bringeth salvation." Doctrines, promises, and invitations are all full of mercy.


1. What God does in the purchase of redemption.

2. In the application of redemption.


1. Their value and variety.

2. Their constancy and permanence. Then be merciful, as God is merciful.

(1)Deal kindly with enemies.

(2)Show compassion to the afflicted.

(3)Seek the salvation of sinners.

(E. Brown.)

He will have compassion
My text is the keynote of the Bible, and reveals the very heart of God. You will see there is in the beginning of the passage a recitation of God's wonderful works, "pardoning iniquity, passing by the transgression of the remnant of His heritage, and retaining not His anger forever." And then the Prophet gives the reason for it, and looks joyously out into the future and says, "He will turn again; He will have compassion upon us, He will subdue our iniquities; and Thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea."

I. I WANT TO EXPLAIN THE TEXT, "God delighteth in mercy" What is meant by mercy? Of course, a great many people don t think about God. It never enters into their heads to ask what God is, what His intentions are; and there are those who seem to confound His attributes most painfully. Some confound this beautiful word mercy with others of His attributes. They confound it with love, with pity, with justice. We cannot make an error in this matter without suffering more or less from doubts and fears. Let us try to get a clear idea of the meaning of this blessed word. Now, I will put the question to each of you, what do you understand to be the meaning of this word mercy? Let my illustration help us. Here is a man who is a father and a master. Let us follow him five minutes, and I think we shall have a clear idea of the meaning of the word mercy. The men go to the master for the wages. When you go to the master for the wages do you ask for mercy in that transaction? Your labour is your capital, and you have entrusted your master with your capital for six days, and now you bring in your bill for your master to pay; if the master pays you, you say he is just; if he does not pay, you say he is unjust. There is no idea of mercy in that transaction. We have not found mercy, have we? We have found justice, having to do with right. Let us try again. I said this man was a father. Tomorrow is his child's birthday. He has had a good week, and is in a generous mood. He makes up his mind on his way home that he will buy a book that will gladden his child's heart. He reaches the bookseller's shop, purchases the book, pays the money, and goes on his way. What was that? That was not justice, for he had not promised it to the child. You say at once it was love, having to do with the lovable. Now then, there is nothing of mercy in that. We have found justice having to do with right, and we have found love having to do with the lovable; but we have not found mercy yet. As he goes along he sees on the doorstep a little half-naked, hunger-bitten, shivering child. He hurries by; but he has seen that face, and he cannot get away from it. He compares it with the little sunny faces awaiting his arrival at home. That morning when he was with his companions he said what a wrong thing it was to relieve beggars, it did harm to the recipient and it did harm to society, and it ought to be carefully avoided. That is his theory. But he can see the child s face, and he stops, and his heart runs away with his head. He comes back to the child, puts his hand into his pocket for the third time, and puts something into the little trembling hand. That was not justice. The claims of justice were met in the Poor Law arrangement. It was not love; for when he had relieved the child he shrank from kissing it. What was it? Pity, to be sure, pity having to do with misery; but no mercy in the sense used in my text. Let us try again. A concrete instance. I said this man was a master. He has in his employ a man who is a splendid workman, but he is a drunkard. He knows where some of his master's property is, and under the shadow of evening he lays his hand upon it, and takes it to the pawn shop, and finds his way to the drink shop again. Just after the master had relieved the little child he meets this man full face. The poor man wishes there was a corner to run into; but there is not one. The master says, "William, you have not been for your wages today." "No, sir; I have not done anything this week." "And you knew that you had work to do that was very important, and you knew that I should suffer by your absence." "I am very sorry, sir." "But that is not the worst of it; not only have you not done your duty, but you have taken my property, and you have applied it to your own base, sensual purpose." Tell me, what will that man say to the master.? Will he say, "Be just"? That would be to imprison him. Will he say, "Love me"? Such a thought never presents itself. Will he say, "Have pity"? He would have pity on the drunkard's wife and children. He looks at the master and he says, "Do have mercy on me." When the master says, "Well, William, I will. The past shall be as if it had never happened, and shall never be mentioned. Here's your full week's wages. Go, and sin no more," would not that man know what mercy was? Mercy is kindness shown to the guilty. When you go, then, to God in prayer, let this thought be before you: I am coming not for justice, I am coming for mercy. If I am wronged I can appeal to God's justice, and He will take my part. If I am in trouble I can appeal to His pity and He will sympathise with me. But if I am guilty, mercy is the only attribute that I can appeal to. There is an attribute which can touch the sinner without damning him.

II. I WANT TO GIVE YOU A FEW PROOFS THAT THIS BLESSED DECLARATION IS TRUE. Why should I do that when it is expressly stated in the Book? My answer is this, as soon as a man's eyes are opened and he sees his sins, then despair takes hold of him. I read the text to him tonight, "God delighteth in mercy," and he says, "Too good to be true, too good to be true." The Devil brings out the past sins, and aggravates them and flings them into our heart till the pangs of hell get hold of us and we dare not think of God. Can it be true, He delights in mercy? Let me give one or two proofs.

1. First, I know God delights in mercy because He says so much about it. "Out of the fulness of the heart the mouth speaketh." That is so with man, and that is so with God. I go to a home where I hear the music of children's voices, and I always know I shall be happy with such music. I sit down at the tea table, and the mother tells me about the wonderful things the children have said and done, and she goes on and on, and I listen interestedly. I try to say a little about my own, but it does not go, so I listen to her and thank God for a mother's love. When I get home they ask me, "Well, how did you get on?" "Very well, but how she does delight in her children." They ask, "How do you know?" "Because she was never tired of talking about them, that is how I know." I come to you tonight and I say to you with a glad heart, our God delights in mercy, for He is never tired of talking about it. Take the Book. What did I say, mercy was kindness to the guilty? To whom did God give the Bible? Not to saints, but to sinners. Now, I find that this word "mercy" studs the pages of the Bible like the stars stud the heavens. God's mercy is higher than the heavens, is longer than eternity. God is rich in mercy, "God delighteth in mercy." Over and over you have it in one of the Psalms. In that one Psalm we are told twenty-six times God delights in mercy, because "His mercy endureth forever."

2. Again, I know God delights in mercy, because so many people have found mercy. Look at the millions on the earth in all lands, in all climes, in all colours, that could stand before us and bear the same testimony. "I obtained mercy." If we could write out the names of the people who ha(l found mercy, and were to unroll it, would it not reach from the gate of heaven to hell and back again? And hundreds of you could say, My name is there. Ah, what a lot of trouble God took to get us to yield to Him. How He followed us, how He knocked at the door, how He pleaded with us many long rebellious years. When at last we cried for help He shewed us mercy, and our names were on the roll. Thank God, if your name is not there it may be there tonight. Does God delight in mercy? Yes. How do I know it? You want solid ground to rest upon. How do I know that God delights in mercy! "Behold the Lamb of God." How can one speak in His presence, beholding the bleeding Saviour, and hearing Him say, I suffered this for thee." See Him on the Cross. Is it too easy? Is the mercy bought at such a price too easy? Fling thy doubts to the wind. "Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved." "It is so easy," said a young girl; "I wonder I did not believe before." We have all felt the same, I daresay. It is so blessedly easy that a dying man may find mercy. And now, may I say a word to you? When you go to the Throne of Grace, never forget that you are coming for mercy. The Devil never troubles me so much as in prayer. He brings up the horrible past, and asks me how dare I to stand face to face with that holy God. It is said, in the time of Napoleon one of his officers was accused of disloyalty and was apprehended. His daughter prepared a petition. One day when the Emperor entered Paris she approached with her petition. The Emperor was struck with her looks, and the earnest words she used in presenting the petition, and he read it. He said, I will inquire about it. In a day or two her father was liberated. Two or three years afterwards that same officer was involved in some scheme against the Emperor and was again apprehended. The daughter came again with a petition to the Emperor. The Emperor saw the petition, but did not take it. He said, "Child, you came to me before for your father, and I granted your request; I cannot grant it again." "Sir," she said, "my father was innocent then, and I asked for justice; now my father is guilty, and I ask for mercy." Take the name of Jesus with you; link Him with your prayers, and ask for that mercy which God never denies.

(C. Garrett.)

The deliverances from Egypt and Babylon were types of our deliverance from the captivity and bondage of a natural state by our Lord Jesus Christ.


1. Mercy is an essential attribute of the Divine nature. Mercy in God differs in two important respects from mercy as it is to be found in any of His rational creatures. Not only is the mercy of God infinite, while in them it is only finite; but mercy is essential to God, while it is not so either to men or angels. In them mercy is only a quality which they either may or may not possess.

2. Guilty and miserable creatures are the proper objects of Divine mercy. Mercy is otherwise named bounty or grace. The bounty of God respects all the creatures as creatures. Grace respects the creatures as unworthy. Sinners are the proper objects of mercy. In what does the mercy of God towards them consist? In His willingness and readiness to pity, help, and relieve them. Sympathy with the distressed, or a fellow feeling of their sorrows and pains, is not essential to mercy.

3. The exercise of mercy in God depends entirely on His sovereign will and pleasure. In this justice differs. It requires that every sin shall be punished. Were God to allow sin to pass with impunity He would cease to be what He is — the infinitely perfect Jehovah; there would be an end to His moral government, which consists in governing His rational creatures according to the law of perfect holiness and righteousness. But this is not the case with the exercise of mercy. It is as natural for God to exercise mercy as justice; for both are essential to His nature. The difference lies here. The existence of sin in His rational creatures is a sufficient reason for the exercise of justice; but the existence of misery in these creatures is no reason why mercy should be dispensed to them; for misery is richly deserved as the just consequence of sin, and certainly neither sin nor its consequence, misery, can entitle the sinner to mercy. When God exercises mercy, it is of His sovereign, wise, and gracious pleasure.


1. From the express testimony of Scripture.

2. From the astonishing medium through which mercy flows to sinners, namely, the atonement of Christ. By a single act of His will the scheme of human redemption was devised and fixed.

3. From the names of glory which God takes to Himself from the exercise of mercy, "The Lord God, merciful and gracious," etc. etc.

4. From the great variety of means which God employs to make sinners partakers of His mercy. Such as the mediation of Christ, a standing ministry, gracious providences, etc.

5. From the sins that mercy pardons.

6. From the kindness which He shows to His own people after they have been made sharers of mercy. They are under a dispensation of mercy.

7. From His merciful conduct towards sinners in this world. There is nothing more wonderful than God's unwearied patience and mercy towards sinners.

(J. Clapperton.)

I. THE MERCY OF GOD. See His mercy in pardoning iniquity. It is a full pardon. It is a free pardon. Observe the persons to whom pardon is extended. The promises do not apply to the careless, thoughtless, and indifferent. This full pardon is not promised to any who are ignorant of the scheme of salvation offered to us in Christ. It is those who have known God, who have been called to God, and who have been sanctified through the Spirit, who are pardoned. But mercy and anger, on the part of God, do and must consist together. Chastisements are fatherly mercy.

II. THE CLAIMS THAT MERCY HAS ON OUR OBEDIENCE. It has a claim on our love. We are always to remember that our love does not purchase God's love, but that God's love has a claim upon ours. If we would have our love increased towards Him we must avoid all those things that would lead us from Him. We must be jealous of ourselves, lest we dishonour Him by our inconsistency.

(Montagu Villiers, M. A.)

Causes are best discovered in their effects. 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 proofs and illustrations of this text are more wonderful than the assertion itself. "What hath God wrought" to gain the confidence of our guilty, and therefore foreboding and misgiving, minds? In God's sending His Son, the inspired John saw most clearly that "God is Love." God's soul delights in His own Son, yet He would seem to delight more in mercy. He delights 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. We involuntarily feel an uneasiness, which prompts us to succour a fellow creature in distress, even to relieve ourselves. Though this 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. See what stress God has laid upon it in His Word. 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. Let us therefore not only believe and 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 that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.

(William Jay.)

There is scarcely anything in religion more difficult than deeply to feel our sins, and mourn over them, and yet to believe firmly in the readiness of God to forgive them. It is easy to yield to despondency, and to consider the pardon of them as impossible. To oppose such gloomy suggestions is an important as well as pleasing duty.

I. THE MATCHLESS EXTENT OF GOD'S PARDONING MERCY. The uniform character of God in His dispensations to His Church in all ages is that of a God who "pardoneth iniquity, transgression, and sin." Note the several expressions in verse 18. He is ever engaged in remitting the sins of those who plead His mercy. "He pardoneth iniquity." He voluntarily overlooks offences. "Passeth by the transgressions of the remnant of His heritage." He does not allow Himself, as He justly might, to be hindered or stopped by our sins, but acts as one who sees them not. When God pardons sin, He passes, as it were, over it, even as a hastening traveller urges on his way, and neglects the impediments in his road. "He retains not His anger forever." He is provoked with the obstinate and rebellious; but when they truly repent and turn to Him, He lets go His wrath, He views them with infinite compassion, He pardons them, He passes by their sins, and accepts them "to the praise of the glory of His grace." The spring of all this grace and consideration is, that He "delighteth in mercy." He does not pardon reluctantly, and pass by our sins with hesitation or backwardness, but with willing promptitude and satisfaction. There is a force in the original phrase which deserves notice. It reads literally: "Because, as for Him, He delighteth in mercy"; or "He delighteth in mercy, even He." His very nature prompts Him to it. Why, then, should any inquiring and self-condemned penitent despair of pardon? The difficulties in the way of remission may be great, and to us may appear insurmountable, but the glory of God in bestowing it is therefore so much the more illustrious.

II. THE CONSOLING APPLICATION OF THIS MERCY TO THE CASE OF THE PENITENT SINNER. In the text this general truth is applied to the particular circumstances of the Jewish Church. It would be of little moment to have some surprising ideas of the clemency of God unless this application of it to the actual circumstances of the Church were added, and unless the faithful were assured for themselves that God would be merciful to them when they call upon Him. And this is indeed the true reasoning of humble piety in every age. The awakened inquirer may be assured that God "will turn again." Though He may have withdrawn from us on account of our sins, yet He will return and bless us with His salvation. And how will He return? "He will have compassion upon us." All the misery and distress which we endure will be observed by Him; all our state will touch His heart, and move His pity. A claim to merit we cannot advance, but an appeal to the compassion of God in Christ will never fail. And what will be the effect of this compassion? "He will subdue our iniquities"; that is, God will bestow the very blessing we need, and which we most ardently desire. He will, by His grace, overcome the power and dominion of iniquity in the heart, and enable the penitent to love and obey Him. To subdue the tyranny of our sins is one blessing which flows from the compassion of God. But what shall become of our past iniquities and present imperfections? To meet this question, it is added, "God will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea." His forgiveness shall be signal and complete. It shall be as ii the whole mass of our guilt were buried in the mighty waters. What is cast into the depths of the fathomless ocean sinks never to rise again.

III. THE CONFIRMATION BOTH OF THE EXTENT OF GOD'S PARDONING MERCY, AND OF THE CONSOLING APPLICATION OF IT, WHICH IS TO BE DERIVED FROM THE COVENANT OF MERCY ITSELF. God had chosen Abraham, and had made a covenant with him and his seed. In this covenant, pardon, grace, strength, consolation were assured to all God's heritage. A distinction may be observed between the words "mercy" and "truth" as they are applied to this covenant. God is said to "perform His truth to Jacob, and His mercy to Abraham." Possibly because His covenant, as it was given to Abraham, was an act of mere mercy; but in ratifying it to Jacob, God only made good what He had before promised. Mercy first bestowed, then truth confirmed, the covenant. So still, God first offers Himself freely to us, and then is faithful and true to His promises. Application —

1. Encourage the trembling penitent to act on the views thus unfolded.

2. Ascertain your interest in the Everlasting Covenant.

3. Allow that possibly your sins may be pardoned, and your case relieved.

4. Nay, cherish a fully assured hope of being pardoned and accepted.

(D. Wilson, M. A.)

The drift and scope of this place is to show God's infinite and constant mercies to His children. This is propounded in the benefits they receive: justification by the blood of Christ, and sanctification by His Spirit. Justification is thus set forth. He shows what He will take away; even original sin, and our rebellion. What He will pass by; "the transgression of the remnant of His heritage." Sanctification is amplified in two degrees: in this life, and in the life to come. The reasons moving God are taken from His nature, from His mercy, and from His truth. Strengthened and confirmed from divers other reasons, from antiquity, from the often repetition thereof; and God has even sworn it. Doctrine

1. There is none so merciful as God. Reasons — Mercy is God's nature. All creatures in heaven and earth have their mercy by derivation from this mercy of God. Mercy in God is free, without any cause of us moving Him to the same. Doctrine

2. That it is the mercy of all mercies to have our sins forgiven, to have them covered, buried, and done quite away, Reasons — Because other mercies reprobate men may have, as an abstinence from some sins, a show of sanctification, some outward gifts of the Spirit, etc.; but this mercy of forgiveness none can have but the elect. Because this benefit is the chiefest fountain which flowed from Christ's blood. Because it bringeth unto us the happiest fruits and benefits here and hence. Because it brings us to an everlasting peace in heaven. Doctrine

3. That God in a wonderful and special manner respecteth His heritage. Reasons — Because they are God's purchase. Because of His providence, in that He keepeth a continual watch over them. Because He dwelleth amongst His Church, and therefore He will have a special care to His own heritage, to do them all manner of kindnesses. Doctrine

4. That the people of God be, but a remnant in regard of the wicked, even like the gleanings of the corn, a small company. We must not be discouraged though we see few go with us in the way to heaven. Doctrine

5. That the afflictions of God's children shall have a seasonable and a speedy end. Reasons — Because "the Lord doth not afflict willingly, nor grieve the children of men." Because we have such a sure Friend in the court of heaven. Because by afflictions we gain instruction. Because God correcteth only for our profit. Doctrine

6. Those who have once heel any saving comfort shall have it again. Reasons — Because all God's saving graces be given for everlasting. Because He will turn again and have compassion, for His heart is near unto us. Because of all burdens the absence of God's favour is so intolerable. Doctrine

7. Where God forgiveth sin, there He also subdueth sin. Reasons — Because the virtue of Christ's death can never be separated from the merit of the same. Because without this subduing of sin upon forgiveness, neither should we have comfort from Him, nor He glory from us. Doctrine

8. Those who have their sins subdued whilst they live shall have them all drowned when they are dead. Doctrine

9. That wherein God delighteth it is impossible but it must needs come to pass. And He delighteth in mercy. Doctrine

10. God is bound, in regard of His truth, to fulfil all His former mercies to His children. Too often we neglect God's promises, because we do not receive immediate help. We must labour by all means to remember and apply the promises, and so turn them into prayers.

( Sibbes, Richard.)

Heathen religions rest on the principle of terror. This appears in the very aspect of their gods. The enlightened nations even formed their gods on this principle. They put the thunder into the right hand of their Jupiter; they placed the eagle at His feet; they represented Him as ruling the world by terror. It was reserved for revelation to present the Divine character in the full circle of His perfections. To "delight in mercy" was a conception, in connection with the Deity, which the heathen world would never have formed.

I. THE GOD OF THE CHRISTIANS IS LOVE. "God is Love," said the Apostle John; and all His various perfections are but so many modifications of love.

II. ALL HIS TRANSACTIONS WITH MEN HAVE PROVED HOW MUCH HE DELIGHTS IN MERCY. Even the covenant of works was but an introduction to the display of Divine mercy; and if sin had not entered into the world we should not have known the thousandth part of His love.

III. THE GOD OF THE CHRISTIANS HAS WRITTEN HIS CHARACTER IN A BOOK. Its histories, prophecies, laws, doctrines, threatenings, promises, all tell of the mercies of the Lord.

IV. ALL THE WORKS OF GOD GO TO SHOW THAT THE GOD OF THE CHRISTIANS DELIGHTETH IN MERCY. The world was made as a theatre for His mercy. His providence displays His mercy. Every act of mercy is to allure men to the provisions of mercy; every act of judgment is to alarm men that they may avail themselves of His mercy.

V. VIEW THE SUBJECT IN REGARD TO THE SCHEME OF OUR RECOVERY. This, from first to last, is a revelation of the richest mercy. What is the incarnation of the Son of God? What are the miracles? What were His sighs, but the heart's breath of His mercy? What His death, but the sacrifice of His mercy? What is the Gospel, but the royal proclamation of mercy?

VI. ALL THE PERFECTIONS OF GOD ARE EMPLOYED IN ILLUSTRATING HIS MERCY. His eyes are employed in exercises of mercy, in watching its objects, and ascertaining their wants. His ears are ever open to the cry of the needy. His lips are employed in uttering the thoughts and purposes of mercy. His hands are engaged in works of mercy. His feet are ever hastening to the relief of the objects of His mercy. His wisdom, power, justice, truth, sovereignty, immutability are all occupied in the designs of His mercy.

VII. THE INNUMERABLE FORMS IN WHICH GOD'S MERCY APPEARS SHOW THAT HE DELIGHTETH IT MERCY. The whole of the water of the world is called the ocean, but this takes various names, according to the shores it washes. As the Atlantic, German, Pacific, Indian, etc. So it seems with the mercy of God. It bears different names, according to the state of those whom it visits. It is either calling, protecting, pardoning, or comforting mercy. How unbounded are the stores and resources of Divine mercy. Then should not we too be merciful; delighting in mercy even as doth our heavenly Father?

(A. Waugh, D. D.)

In the Old Testament much is special to its age, and has to us only a secondary value. But while the elements that were local and special to one people and one age no longer have to us the importance which they had to them to whom they were first delivered, yet other portions contain universal truths, — that is, truths that belong to men everywhere, in every age. Joys, sorrows, the literature of those sorrows, universal afflictions, remorse, yearnings after goodness; in short, all the moral sentiments, and all the natural affections, are the same under all governments, under all laws, and in every age. The Scriptures that relate to these things are perennial. If you cast into oblivion the Psalms of David, you throw away the best literature of the feelings that has ever appeared in human language; and where can you replace it? The noblest applications of moral principles to human affairs are to be found in the prophets. Let anyone ask himself where he will find a substitute for that sublime conception of God that rules throughout the Old Testament. There are not, even in the New Testament, any descriptions of God that, for majesty and completeness and symmetry and harmony, go beyond and higher than those contained in the oldest parts of the Old Testament. One of these Divine elements comes before us this morning — God's great patience with men, and His forgiveness of them.

1. Our sin is not so much a violation of a law that lies outside of the bosom of God, as it is a disregard of the feelings and nature of God Himself. There is a marked distinction between personal feeling infringed upon and law transgressed. In worldly affairs there is a distinction between a disregard of the rules of business and a personal disagreement with you yourself. When a man offends against you, his wrong is more heinous and provoking than when he offends against your rules and laws. God and His laws are one, in such a sense that when you offend against His moral law you offend against His own personal feeling. In this light it may be seen that every man sins every day of his life. There are innumerable evils and wrongs and injuries, against God's feelings in the history of every single man Men have been living in a perpetual violation of all the thoughts and feelings of God's mind. And yet the race has thriven; there have been joys, there have been mercies and blessings, there have been reforming and stimulating influences developed in the world. These things explain what is meant when God is spoken of as being so patient, so long suffering. He suffers and endures; and the reason is, that He delighteth in mercy. He delights to be kind. Kindness harmonises with His nature. Consider the literature of this kindness as it is represented in the Bible. He is the one who, though offended, needs no persuasion to forgive. He is not only merciful, He is magnanimous.

3. Consider what it is to have such a Being as this at the centre of power and administration. The most intensely thoughtful and the most intensely active of any being in the universe is God. In view of this brief opening of the character of God, and of His feelings towards men that are sinning and trespassing against Him, I remark —(1) This conception of God should quicken every moral sensibility, and make a life of sin painful and distasteful to us.(2) There is in this presentation of God's character an argument against a dishonourable reliance on God's goodness as a means of sinning.(3) Consider, in the light of this discourse, how we ought to forgive each other when we have been offended one by another. Contrast our ordinary mode of forgiveness with that of our God.(4) In this view of God there is encouragement to all who are honest, and who are seeking to live a godly life.

(Henry Ward Beecher.)

Skeletons of Sermons.
Consider God's mercy —

I.In its rise.

II.In its progress.

III.In its consummation.

(Skeletons of Sermons.)

I. THE NATURE OF HIS FORGIVENESS. The Bible generally sets Divine forgiveness forth under figures corresponding to the aspects in which sin stands before the mind of the writer at the time. For example —

1. When sin appears as a debt, an unfulfilled obligation, then pardon is spoken of as cancelling.

2. When sin appears as an estrangement from God, then forgiveness is represented as reconciliation.

3. When sin appears as an indictment, forgiveness is spoken of as justification.

4. When sin appears as a pollution, forgiveness is represented as a cleansing.

5. When sin appears as a disease, forgiveness is represented as a healing.

6. When sin appears as an obstruction between the soul and God, forgiveness is represented as a clearing. There are three points of contrast between Divine forgiveness and human.(1) In human governments forgiveness is exercised with most cautious limitations. There is no such limitation to the exercise of this prerogative in God.(2) In human forgiveness there is no guarantee against future criminality. But the God-pardoned man is a changed man.(3) Human forgiveness can never put the criminal in such a good position as he had before his transgression. But in Divine forgiveness the criminal is raised to a higher status even than that of innocence.

II. THE SOURCE OF HIS FORGIVENESS. Anger in God is not passion. but principle; not antagonism to existence, but to the evils that curse existence. Here is the source of forgiveness, "He delighteth in mercy."

1. Forgiveness as a merciful act. It is not an act of equity but of compassion; not of justice, but of love.

2. This act of mercy is the delight of God. Mercy is a modification of benevolence.(1) If He delights in mercy, then hush forever the pulpits that blasphemously represent Him as malign.(2) If He delights in mercy, then let no sinner despair on account of the enormity of his sins.(3) If He delights in mercy, may we not hope that one day there will come an end to all the misery of the moral universe?


1. The entire subjugation of all sins. Sin is the enemy of all enemies. Divine forgiveness is the destruction of sin in us.

2. The entire submersion of all sin. Forgiveness is deliverance from sin. Figures employed — "Blotting out of a thick cloud." "Thou hast cast all my sins behind Thy back." Casting sins "into the depths of the sea." "Remembering sin no more." All true forgiveness involves forgetfulness.


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