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Bible Encyclopedias

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature

Mercy

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(properly חֶסֶד, che'sed, kindness; ἔλεος, pity), a virtue which inspires us with compassion for others, and inclines us to assist them in their necessities. That works of mercy may be acceptable to God, as Christ has promised (Matthew 5:7), it is not enough that they proceed from a natural sentiment of humanity, but they must be performed for the sake of God, and from truly pious motives. In Scripture mercy and truth are commonly joined together, to show the goodness that precedes and the faithfilness that accompanies the promises; or, a goodness, a clemency, a mercy that is constant and faithful, and that does not deceive. Mercy is also taken for favors and benefits received from God or man; for probity, justice, goodness. Merciful men-in Hebrew, chasdim are men of piety and goodness. Mercy is often taken for giving of alms, Proverbs 14:34; Proverbs 16:6; Zechariah 7:9. (See CHARITY).

Mercy, as derived from misericordia, may import that sympathetic sense of the suffering of another by which the heart is affected. It is one of the noblest traits of character. The object "of mercy is misery: so God pities human misery, and forbears to chastise severely; so man pities the misery of a fellow-man, and assists to diminish it; so public officers occasionally moderate the strictness of national laws from pity to the culprit. But only those can hope for mercy who express penitence and solicit mercy; the impenitent, the stubborn, the obdurate, rather brave the avenging hand of justice than beseech the relieving hand of mercy. (See PARDON).

Mercy is an essential attribute of Jehovah, for the knowledge of which we are indebted wholly to revelation. By the propitiatory sacrifice of our Divine Redeemer a way is opened for the exercise of mercy and grace towards the human family perfectly honorable to the attributes and government of God. He appears a just God and a Saviour: "He is just, and yet he justifieth him that believeth in Jesus." Thus the plan of salvation by Jesus Christ provides for the exercise of infinite mercy, consistently with the most rigid demands of truth and righteousness; so that, under this gracious dispensation, "mercy and truth" are said to "have met together," and "righteousness and peace have kissed each other" (Genesis 19:19; Exodus 20:6; Exodus 34:6-7; Psalms 85:10; Psalms 86:15-16; Psalms 103:17; Luke 18:13; Romans 9:15-18; Hebrews 4:16; Hebrews 8:12). The expression "I will have mercy, and not sacrifice" (Hosea 6:6; Matthew 9:13), signifies, as the connection indicates, that God is pleased with the-exercise of mercy rather than with the offering of sacrifices, though sin has made the latter necessary (1 Samuel 15:22; Micah 6:6-8). (See ATONEMENT).

Mercy is also a Christian grace, and no duty is more strongly urged by the Scriptures than the exercise of it towards all men, and especially towards such as have trespassed against us (Matthew 5:7; Matthew 18:33-35).


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Bibliography Information
McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Mercy'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/tce/m/mercy.html. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.

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Thursday, December 12th, 2019
the Second Week of Advent
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