Mercy, Righteousness, and Faith.

C. D. Maynard.

Christian Friend vol. 15, 1888, p. 259.

I notice that there are three grounds on which blessing comes from God to men.

First, there is the fountain of grace in His own blessed nature. He gives as He will even to the most undeserving. Thus "the Dayspring from on high hath visited us." And we read, "I was found of them that sought Me not." This is mercy. God falls back, so to speak, on His sovereign prerogative of mercy when the creature has utterly failed, as after the golden calf at Sinai. "I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy." And the feeble creature can fall back on this too, be he a sinner crying, like the publican, for mercy, or the saint "looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life;" that is, not that we have not, as regards the soul, eternal life now, for "he that believeth on Me hath everlasting life," but we look that the grace that has visited us with salvation should rise above all our failures and demerits and land us safe in the glory.

The mercy of God is the first great ground of our blessing, and abides when every other fails; but there are other grounds on which God blesses. There is the blessing on the righteous man. "Verily there is a reward for the righteous: verily He is a God that judgeth in the earth." Now, as regards our relation with God as children of Adam, the law proposed blessing purely on this ground, but neither man innocent nor man fallen secured blessing thus. Jesus alone can claim the blessing of the righteous Man. Still it is the governmental law of God, and most important for us to keep constantly in mind as saints. "The eyes of the Lord are over the righteous." "Who is he that will harm you, if ye be followers of that which is good?" "The face of the Lord is against them that do evil," etc. (1 Peter 3)

But there is a third ground of blessing, and that is faith. Through faith they escaped the edge of the sword; quenched the violence of fire. Women received their dead raised to life again. The history of faith is extremely interesting to us who in some feeble measure are on the ground of faith. It characterizes the Christian that he walks "by faith, not by sight." You could not say this of the Jew as such. One thing that interests one is this, that while faith lasts it gets the blessing; but that when it fails, as, alas! it often does under prolonged and severe pressure, God falls back on His own prerogative of blessing the undeserving in pure mercy; so that the blessing comes, and it may be the very looked-for blessing comes, although the failure of faith may also entail some loss. This, I think, is well illustrated in the history of Moses's infancy.

Here is the story. His parents recognize that he is THE proper child. They had, it appears, the sense that he was God's man for Israel's deliverance. Faith comes in now and gives them power, perhaps to hush the child's cries, or in some way to hide him from the murderous emissaries of the king. Their faith lasted three months. While they had faith they hid him - they kept their beautiful child. At the end of three months they cast him out (Acts 7:21); they "could not longer hide him." (Ex. 2) Had they not come to the end of their faith? Perhaps the child was strong and loud. At all events they put him by the brink of the dangerous river, with probably some lingering hope that, if they "cast him out," God would take him up. Was the proper child to be drowned in the Nile? Better that than Pharaoh's sword. What a day it must have been for the mother! Then God's hand comes in. The thing desired was the child's life. It is preserved. Protection comes from the least-expected quarter - the palace. But a home in Pharaoh's house is not presented to us as an answer to faith. I think it could not be looked at thus. One sees the desire of the heart given - the child's life; but see what the mother loses. She is a hireling - nurse to Pharaoh's daughter; and when the child is grown she loses him, and another woman names her child, and has him for her son. Looking at the mother's side, I see faith was powerful as long as faith was there; and when faith was not there God's mercy was, and was more conspicuously displayed than in the day of faith.

The same principle is displayed in David's history. For long - nine years I believe - he endured the hunting of Saul, in confidence that the anointing oil of Jehovah was on his head, and that therefore the crown would be his. In fact and for faith he was invulnerable. At the end his faith breaks down; and he, fearing he shall one day fall by the sword of Saul, falls away to the Philistines. (1 Sam. 27.) He joins the ranks of the open enemies of Jehovah and his people. Faith has gone. What then? We might expect some rebuke or dreadful chastisement. "But He knoweth our frame; He remembereth that we are dust." A battle happens; and while David is yet on the side of the Philistines, but providentially and most happily far from the battle-field, Saul is slain, and the crown comes to David. This is very striking. The blessing comes in the moment of failure. It displays the infirmity of the vessel and the gracious faithfulness of God. There could not have been a greater rebuke to David's doubt, nor, I think, a greater encouragement to our faith; for faith is the expression of the amount of confidence we have in God. In Jesus this confidence was perfect. There was no question as to the power; so He said, "Thou wilt show Me the path of life," though the road lay through the grave. (Ps. 16) This is what faith wants - a greater power than all that can be against us, and that power for us. The pledge of both we find respectively in the resurrection and death of our Lord. "God raised Him up from the dead, and gave Him glory; that your faith and hope may be in God." May our hearts respond to the encouragement the Lord gives to our faith. C. D. M.