“His heart is a fountain of mercy wide enough to take in and give forth to us all God’s manifestative mercies” by Thomas Goodwin

“‘God is love,’ as John says (1 John 4:8), and Christ is love covered over with flesh, yea, our flesh.

And besides, it is certain that as God hath fashioned the hearts of all men, and some of the sons of men unto more mercy and pity naturally than others, and then the Holy Spirit, coming on them to sanctify their natural dispositions, useth to work according to their tempers, even so it is certain that He tempered the heart of Christ, and made it of a softer mould and temper than the tenderness of all men’s hearts put together into one, to soften it, would have been of.

When He was to assume a human nature, He is brought in saying, ‘A body hast thou fitted me,’ (Heb. 10:5); that is, a human nature, fitted, as in other things, so in the temper of it, for the Godhead to work and shew His perfections in best.

And as He took a human nature on purpose to be a merciful high priest (Heb. 2:14), so such a human nature, and of so special a temper and frame as might be more merciful than all men or angels.

His human nature was ‘made without hands;’ that is, was not of the ordinary make that other men’s hearts are of; though for the matter the same, yet not for the frame of His spirit.

It was a heart bespoke for on purpose to be made a vessel, or rather fountain, of mercy, wide and capable enough to be so extended as to take in and give forth to us again all God’s manifestative mercies; that is, all the mercies God intended to manifest to His elect.

And therefore Christ’s heart had naturally in the temper of it more pity than all men or angels have, as through which the mercies of the great God were to be dispensed unto us. And this heart of his to be the instrument of them.

And then this man, and the heart of this man so framed, being united to God, and being made the natural Son of God, how natural must mercy needs be unto Him, and therefore continue in Him now He is in heaven!

For though He laid down all infirmities of our nature when He rose again, yet no graces that were in Him whilst he was below; they are in Him now as much as ever; and being His nature, for nature we know is constant, therefore still remains.

You may observe, that when He was upon earth, minding to persuade sinners to have good thoughts of Him, as He used that argument of His Father’s command given Him; so He also lays open His own disposition, ‘Come to He, you that are weary and heavy laden… for I am meek and lowly of heart.’ (Matt. 11:28)

Men are apt to have contrary conceits of Christ, but He tells them His disposition there, by preventing such hard thoughts of Him, to allure them unto Him the more. We are apt to think that He, being so holy, is therefore of a severe and sour disposition against sinners, and not able to bear them.

No, says He; ‘I am meek,’ gentleness is My nature and temper. As it was of Moses, who was, as in other things, so in that grace, His type; he was not revenged on Miriam and Aaron, but interceded for them.

So, says Christ, injuries and unkindnesses do not so work upon me as to make me irreconcilable, it is my nature to forgive: ‘I am meek.’

Yea, but (may we think) He being the Son of God and heir of heaven, and especially being now filled with glory, and sitting at God’s right hand, He may now despise the lowliness of us here below; though not out of anger, yet out of that height of His greatness and distance that He is advanced unto, in that we are too man for him to marry, or be familiar with.

He surely hath higher thoughts than to regard such poor, low things as we are. And so though indeed we conceive Him meek, and not prejudiced with injuries, yet He may be too high and lofty to condescend so far as to regard, or take to heart, the condition of poor creatures.

No, says Christ; ‘I am lowly’ also, willing to bestow My love and favour upon the poorest and meanest. And further, all this is not a semblance of such an affable disposition, nor is it externally put on in the face and outward carriage only, as in many great ones, that will seem gentle and courteous, but there is all this ἐν τῇ καρδίᾳ, ‘in the heart;’ it is His temper, His disposition, His nature to be gracious, which nature He can never lay aside.

And that His greatness, when He comes to enjoy it in heaven, would not a whit alter His disposition in Him, appears by this, that He at the very same time when He uttered these words, took into consideration all His glory to come, and utters both that and His meekness with the same breath:

‘All things are delivered to me by my Father,’ (Matt. 11:27) and presently after all this he says, ‘Come unto Me, all you that are heavy laden… I am meek and lowly,’ (11:28-29).”

–Thomas Goodwin, “The Heart of Christ in Heaven Towards Sinners on Earth,” The Works of Thomas Goodwin, Volume 4 (Grand Rapids, MI: Reformation Heritage, 1862/2006), 4: 116-117.

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Filed under Bible, Christian Theology, Jesus Christ, Love of God, Preaching, Puritanical, Quotable Quotes, Sanctification, The Gospel, Thomas Goodwin

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