God is Merciful
by James Smith, 1858
"God is merciful!" said Dick Samson, when warned against sin, and reminded of the wrath of God, just as he was going into the tavern, where he had often got drunk and disgraced himself. True, God is merciful — but mercy was never intended to encourage sin, or embolden the transgressor in his crimes. Can it be thought that God will be merciful to a man who takes advantage of His mercy to insult Him more and more?
Yes, yes, God is merciful — or time would not be given to Dick to repent and forsake his sins: but notwithstanding God's mercy — no drunkard can have a place in heaven. Mercy is for the penitent one, who confesses his sin, believes in Jesus, and repents of his sinful ways. No man has any right to talk of the mercy of God, or to expect mercy from God — who loves sin, lives in sin, or makes light of sin.
"God is merciful!" said Jonah Johnson, who was far gone in a deadly disease — when exhorted to flee to the Lord Jesus Christ at once, and obtain salvation at his hands. He was making God's mercy an excuse for delay, and because he did not realize his danger, nor feel the need of being cleansed from sin in the precious blood of Christ.
Yes, Jonah, God is merciful — but he is just, as well as merciful, and he cannot show mercy at the expense of his justice. Therefore he shows no mercy to sinners — but through Jesus, nor can you obtain mercy but at the hands of Jesus. God has set forth His Son "as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood;" and it is only on the ground of what Jesus Christ has done and suffered, that God can honorably show mercy to us. O Jonah, beware of putting off, beware of procrastinating; seek the Lord at once, come to Jesus without delay — and you shall find mercy; but never make God's mercy an excuse for your negligence!
"God is merciful!" said Sergeant Ventura, when a comrade reminded him of the importance of being prepared for death, before he went into the battle. He had an idea that God would not condemn a soldier who died fighting for his country. But, sergeant, the Lord Jesus Christ has said, "Unless a man is born again — he cannot see the kingdom of heaven." There is no going to heaven without a new birth: "You must be born again," or perish forever! There is a way to hell — from the field of battle and from the military hospital; as well as from the city, or the sick bed. Let Sergeant Ventura take care, or he will trifle with danger, neglect the great salvation, and perish in his sins! There is mercy with God for every soldier who seeks it — but there is wrath for every one that despises, neglects, or disregards it!
"God is merciful!" said Sarah Simpkins, when cautioned against going to the dance, at which so much sin was committed, and so many hearts were hardened. Yes, yes, Sarah, God is merciful — but dancing is folly, and the dancing room is next door to hell. Many a young girl has lost her character, stifled her convictions, and become profane through visiting the dancing room. If you would be advised by me, Sarah, you would avoid such places, read your Bible, examine your heart, and secure a saving interest in the Lord Jesus Christ while you may. True holiness — is true happiness. Real Christians alone have real joy. You may imagine that true religion is gloomy, and that God's people are melancholy — but it is a great mistake. If you doubt it, my advice is, try it, for I have, and I can speak from experience.
"God is merciful!" said old Mrs. Jenkins, as she came from the funeral home where drunken Sam Voller was just laid out. Last night Sam was at "The Fighting Rooster," and drank too much beer, then he quarreled, a fight followed, and Sam got an unlucky blow — and now he has gone to appear before his Maker, to give an account of the deeds! Yes, Mrs. Jenkins, God is merciful — but not always. God is merciful — but not to all. There was no mercy for the world of the ungodly, who perished in the flood. Nor was there any mercy for the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah, who were consumed by fire from heaven. Neither can we see, though we do not wish to judge harshly of our poor fellow-creatures, how there could be mercy for Sam, who lived in sin, died in sin, and died in consequence of his sin. "He who confesses and forsakes his sin, shall find mercy;" but how can he hope for mercy who hardens himself in sin, and perseveres in it until summoned to appear before God to give an account of it?
"There is mercy with God — that He may be feared," not that He may be trifled with, and insulted to His face! Mercy lingers long, warns often, and is reluctant to give us up; but when we exceed the limit — she must.
Reader, beware how you presume on the mercy of God, for mercy often aggravates transgression; as it is more dangerous to sin against love — than law; so it is highly dangerous to sin presuming on mercy. God now says to the greatest sinners, "Come, and let us reason together, though your sins are as scarlet — they shall be as white as snow; and though they are red like crimson — they shall be as wool."
Mercy may now be obtained by any one and every one who seeks it. But the Lord, who is now so merciful and gracious, will by and by manifest His wrathful indignation; and say to those who now refuse to come when He calls them, "Depart from me, you cursed ones, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels!" Terrible words — called forth by persevering in sin, and inflicting a terrible doom! May no reader of these lines, ever endure the threatening contained in them!
How great, how dreadful, that God
Who shakes creation with His nod!
He frowns — earth, sea, all Nature's frame,
Sink in one universal name!
Where now, O where shall sinners seek
For shelter in the general wreck?
Shall falling rocks be o'er them thrown?
See rocks, like snow, dissolving down.
In vain for mercy now they cry;
In lakes of liquid fire they lie;
There on the flaming billows tossed,
Forever — O, forever, lost!
But saints undaunted and serene,
Your eyes shall view the dreadful scene,
Your Savior lives, the worlds expire,
And earth and skies dissolve in fire!
Jesus! the helpless creature's friend,
To you my all, I dare commend!
You can preserve my feeble soul,
When lightnings blaze from pole to pole!