Mercy is one of God’s glorious attributes. It is as essential to the character of God as righteousness, truth, holiness, power, and justice. Not until he ceases to be God, will he cease to be just. And not until he ceases to be God, will he cease to be merciful.
John Gill said, “The mercy of God arises from the goodness of his nature, from his special love to his people, and from his sovereign will and pleasure. As he loves whom he pleases, and ‘is gracious to whom he will be gracious,’ so ‘he has mercy on whom he will have mercy.’”
The mercy of God is infinite, eternal, and immutable. The mercy of God is freely and sovereignly bestowed. And the mercy of God is constant and fresh. In these respects, it is similar to both the love and grace of God.
However, mercy presupposes misery. In that regard it is distinguished from both God’s love and his grace. The elect angels are the objects of God’s love and his grace. In love he chose them. In grace he preserved them when others fell, and confirmed them in their holiness. But the angels of God never have or can experience God’s mercy. Mercy presupposes misery.
The mercy of God is in Christ, only in Christ. God out of Christ is a consuming fire. It is only in Christ that the triune God reveals himself and proclaims his great and glorious name, "The LORD, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin!”
Christ is the mercy seat and throne of grace, at which men obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need. He is the channel through which mercy flows to guilty sinners. All the blessings of God’s mercy love and grace come to chosen sinners through Christ, only through Christ.
We cast ourselves upon Christ our mercy-seat and upon the mercy of God in him like the Publican (Luke ). Mercy is spoken of here as that in which God distinctly delights. It is spoken of throughout the Scriptures as exceedingly great, abundant; and bounteous. We read that there is in our great God and Savior a multitude of tender mercies. Our God is "rich" in mercy. And his mercy to sinners in Christ is "plenteous" mercy (Psa. 103:11, 51:1; 1 Pet. 1:3; Eph. 2:4; Psa. 86:5).
It is foolish to talk of Divine mercy or to call for Divine mercy apart from Christ. When Micah says, “He delighteth in mercy,” he is talking about God as he is revealed in Christ. It is a vain delusion of proud and sinful men to trust in God’s mercy when they refuse to trust in God’s Son. Out of Christ there is no mercy to be had. God does not show mercy except “for Christ’s sake” (Eph. ). Yet, in Christ, and for his sake, the holy Lord God is both able and willing to be merciful to perishing sinners. Indeed, it is that in which he delights!