ON BEING MERCIFUL
Consider first, the words of the fifth beatitude: ‘Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy;’ and reflect on the necessity we continually lie under of the mercy of God, and how easy a means our Lord has here furnished us with for obtaining this mercy. All our good must come from God; and, as we have rendered ourselves absolutely unworthy of any good at all by our sins we can allege nothing for ourselves, but can only appeal to the divine mercy, that he may give us the graces we have not deserved, and forgive us the punishments we have deserved and the sins by which we have deserved them. So that the finding mercy with God is all in all; and the means of finding this mercy is to show mercy to one another. ‘Forgive, and you shall be forgiven. Give, and it shall be given to you,’ Luke vi. 37, 38. O how lovely, how beautiful, how beneficial, both for time and eternity, is this virtue of mercy! How sweet are all her fruits! She is the favourite of heaven; and makes all her lovers favourites of heaven; she is the eldest daughter of the great king, (whose mercy distinguishes itself, and shines most brightly over all his works;) she shows herself to all them that seek her; she carries them home with her to her father’s house, even to the sacred mansions of a happy eternity.
Consider 2ndly, the divers ways of showing mercy that are recommended to us by the word of God. Such are, first, the works of mercy corporal, by almsdeeds; by feeding and clothing any of the poor members of Jesus Christ; by visiting and relieving the sick or imprisoned, &c. Such works as these, according to the scripture, Tob. xii. 9, ‘deliver from death; they purge away sins, and make us find mercy and life everlasting.’ ‘Such works as these entitle us to an eternal kingdom,’ Matt. xxv. 34, 35. 2ndly, The works of mercy spiritual, by assisting or relieving our neighbours in their spiritual necessities, by giving them good counsel or instruction; by comforting them under their afflictions; by encouraging them in temptations; but especially by reclaiming them from their errors and vices, and by that means delivering their souls from the second and everlasting death; and putting them in the right way of coming to live for ever with the ever-living God. O how acceptable to God – how precious in his sight are these spiritual works of mercy! The Son of God came down from heaven to exercise these kinds of works upon earth; in these he employed the days of his mortal life. O let us be glad to follow this great example as far as our weakness will allow us!
Consider 3rdly, the reward that is here promised to the merciful, viz., that they shall obtain mercy; and that both here, as well temporally as spiritually, by having their own wants redressed and their sins forgiven them, and hereafter by their being received into everlasting dwellings by those to whom they had here shown mercy, and finding there the fruit of all the seed of the works of mercy they had here sown multiplied a hundredfold. Alas! how wretched shall the best of us be if God does not show us mercy! For who can stand the judgment of God if his mercy be set aside? How happy, then, are they who, by being merciful to one another, ensure to themselves the mercy of God, to stand by them in the time of need. But, on the other hand, how unhappy are they who refuse to show mercy to their neighbours! For ‘judgment without mercy to them that have not done mercy,’ saith St. James ii. 13.
Conclude to be ever merciful to thy neighbours, that thou mayest find mercy with God. For ‘with the same measure you shall mete withal it shall be measured to you again,’ Luke vi. 38; yea, with infinite advantage, according to that of the same gospel: ‘good measure, and pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall they give into your bosom’ ibid.