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Ursinus on the General Mercy of God

September 16, 2008

Ursinus:

General Mercy:

1) 3. There are some traces and remains of moral virtues, and some ability of regulating the external deportment of the life. 4. The enjoyment of many temporal blessings. 5. A certain dominion over other creatures. Man did not wholly lose his dominion over the various creatures which were put in subjection to him; for many of them still remain subject to him, so that he has the power of governing and using them for his own benefit. These vestiges and remains of the image of God in man, although they are greatly obscured and marred by sin, are, nevertheless, still preserved in us to a certain extent; and that for these ends: 1. That they may be a testimony of the mercy and goodness of God towards us, unworthy as we are. 2. That God may make use of them in restoring his image in us. 3. That the wicked may be without excuse. Ursinus, Commentary on the Heidelberg Catechism, 32.

2) Merciful. God’s mercy appears in this: 1. That he wills the salvation of all men. 2. That he defers punishment, and invites all to repentance. 3. That he accommodates himself to our infirmity. 4. That he redeems those who are called into his service. 5. That he gave and delivered up to death his only begotten Son. 6. That he promises and does all these things most freely out of his mercy. 7. That he confers benefits upon his enemies, and such as are unworthy of his regard. Obj. 1. But God seems to take pleasure in avenging himself upon the ungodly. Ans. Only in as far as it is the execution of his justice. Obj. 2. He refuses mercy to the ungodly. Ans. Only to such as do not repent. Obj. 3. He does not save all when he has the power. Ans. God acts thus that he may exhibit his justice with his mercy. Obj. 4. He does not exercise his mercy without a sufficient satisfaction. Ans. Yet he has most freely given his Son, that he might make satisfaction by his death. Z. Ursinus, Commentary on the Heidelberg Catechism, 127.

The Gospel announces the mercy of God:

1) The gospel is, therefore, the doctrine which the Son of God, our Mediator, revealed from heaven in Paradise, immediately after the fall, and which he brought from the bosom of the Eternal Father; which promises, and announces, in view of the free grace and mercy of God, to all those that repent and believe, deliverance from sin, death, condemnation, and the wrath of God; which is the same thing as to say that it promises and proclaims the remission of sin, salvation, and eternal life, by and for the sake of the Son of God, the Mediator; and is that through which the Holy Spirit works effectually in the hearts of the faithful, kindling and exciting in them, faith, repentance, and the beginning of eternal life. Or, we may, in accordance with the eighteenth, nineteenth, and twentieth questions of the Catechism, define the gospel to be the doctrine which God revealed first in Paradise, and afterwards published by the Patriarchs and Prophets, which he was pleased to represent by the shadows of sacrifices, and the other ceremonies of the law, and which he has accomplished by his only begotten Son; teaching that the Son of God, our Lord Jesus Christ, is made unto us wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption ; which is to say that he is a perfect Mediator, satisfying for the sins of the human race, restoring righteousness and eternal life to all those who by a true faith are ingrafted into him, and embrace his benefits. Ursinus, Commentary on the Heidelberg Catechism, 101-102.

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