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Harmony of Justice and Mercy

Such diverse excellencies are expressed in [God] towards men, that otherwise would have seemed impossible to be exercised towards the same object; as particularly these three, justice, mercy, and truth. The same that are mentioned in Psalm 85:10, “Mercy and truth are met together, righteousness and peace have kissed each other.” The strict justice of God, and even his revenging justice, and that against the sins of men, never was so gloriously manifested as in Christ. He manifested an infinite regard to the attribute of God’s justice, in that, when he had a mind to save sinners, he was willing to undergo such extreme sufferings, rather than that their salvation should be to the injury of the honour of that attribute. And as he is the Judge of the world, he doth himself exercise strict justice; he will not clear the guilty, nor at all acquit the wicked in judgment. Yet how wonderfully is infinite mercy towards sinners displayed in him! And what glorious and ineffable grace and love have been and are exercised by him, towards sinful men! Though he be the just Judge of a sinful world, yet he is also the Saviour of the world. Though he be a consuming fire to sin, yet he is the light and life of sinners. “Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation, through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; to declare, I say, at this time his righteousness, that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus” (Romans 3:25-26).

Jonathan Edwards, WJE, 1:682–683.

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Ask for Grace

All our prayers should carry a correspondence with our great aim. What is our great aim? To be with God in heaven, as remembering that is the centre and place of our rest, to which we are all tending: “If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God” (Colossians 3:1). We come to our Father which is in heaven. He will have his residence there, that our hearts might be there. Therefore the main things we should seek of God from heaven are saving graces, for these “come down from above, from the Father of lights” (James 1:17). We have liberty to ask supplies for the outward life, but chiefly we should ask spiritual and heavenly things: “Your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things” (Matthew 6:22, 23). What then? “First seek the kingom of God,” etc. If we have to do with a heavenly Father, our first and main care should be to ask things suitable to his being, and his excellency. If children should ask of their parents such a thing as is pleasing to their palate, possibly they might give it them; but when they ask instruction, and desire to be taught, that is far more acceptable to them. When we ask supplies of the outward life, food, raiment, God may give it us; but it is more pleasing to him when we ask for grace. In every prayer we should seek to be made more heavenly by conversing with our heavenly Father.

Thomas Manton, The Complete Works of Thomas Manton, 1:61–62.

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For His Name’s Sake

God’s name is, in like manner, spoken of as the end of his acts of goodness towards the good part of the moral world, and of his works of mercy and salvation towards his people. As 1 Samuel 12:22, “The Lord will not forsake his people, for his great name’s sake.” Psalm 23:3, “He restoreth my soul, he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness, for his name’s sake.” Psalm 31:3, “For thy name’s sake, lead me, and guide me.” Psalm 109:21, “But do thou for me … for thy name’s sake.” The forgiveness of sin in particular, is often spoken of as being for God’s name’s sake. 1 John 2:12, “I write unto you, little children, because your sins are forgiven you for his name’s sake.” Psalm 25:11, “For thy name’s sake, O Lord, pardon mine iniquity, for it is great.” Psalm 79:9, “Help us, O God of our salvation, for the glory of thy name; and deliver us, and purge away our sins, for thy name’s sake.” Jeremiah 14:7, “O Lord, though our iniquities testify against us, do thou it for thy name’s sake.” …

When God, from time to time, speaks of showing mercy, and exercising goodness, and promoting his people’s happiness for his name’s sake, we cannot understand it as of a merely subordinate end. How absurd would it be to say, that he promotes their happiness for his name’s sake, in subordination to their good; and that his name may be exalted only for their sakes, as a means of promoting their happiness! especially when such expressions as these are used, “For mine own sake, even for mine own sake will I do it; for how should my name be polluted?” and “Not for your sakes do I this, but for my holy name’s sake.”

Jonathan Edwards, WJE 1:112.

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Better Things

It should be the Christian’s chief care to obtain from God the choicest mercies. The worldly are indeed easily put off with the meanest, because their inquiry is only who will show them any good. But O Christian! Let nothing please or satisfy you, but the light of God’s countenance and do so receive from God here, as that you may be received to God hereafter. Desire not gifts, but mercies from God; not pebbles but pearls, and always labor for that which God never bestows but in love. Luther, when he had a rich present sent to him, professed with a holy boldness to God that such things should not serve his turn. Always desire the favor of God rather than outward felicity. O desire from God that your portion may not be in this life, but that what you enjoy here may be a pledge of better things hereafter.

William Jenkyn, Dying Thoughts, 1.

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Justification and Grace

Grace gives a Christian his form and being, his work and his working, for all working is from the inward being and form of things. By grace we are what we are in justification, and work what we work in sanctification.

Richard Sibbes

(Works, 6:245)