his name is mercy

In his book The Method of Grace, John Flavel takes Luke 1:72 to suggest that ‘the Mercy’ is one of the titles of Christ, like the Lamb of God, the light of the world, the Redeemer. And in characteristic fashion he then expands on a vast number of ways in which this is an appropriate name for the Saviour to have.

  1. He is free and undeserved mercy, called on that account ‘the gift of God,’ John 4:10. And to show how free this gift was, God gave him to us when we were enemies, Rom5:8. That mercy must be free which is given not only to the undeserving but to the ill-deserving: the benevolence of God was the sole cause of this gift, John 3:16.
  2. Christ is a full mercy, replenished with everything that answers to the wishes or needs of sinners: in him alone is found whatever the justice of God requires for satisfaction, or that the necessities of souls require for their supply. Christ is full of mercy; in him are all kinds of mercies; and in him are the highest and most perfect degrees of mercy …
  3. Christ is the seasonable mercy, given by the Father to us in due time, Rom 5:6, in the fullness of time, Gal 4:4 – a seasonable mercy in his exhibition to the world in general, and in his application to the soul in particular: the wisdom of God fixed upon the best time for his incarnation, and takes the best time for its application. When a poor soul is distressed and ready to perish, then comes Christ. …
  4. Christ is the needful mercy: there is an absolute necessity for Jesus Christ; hence in scripture he is called the ‘bread of life,’ John 6:35; he is bread to the hungry. He is the ‘water of life,’ Rev 22:17, as cold water to the thirsty soul. He is a ransom for captives, Matt 20:28; a garment to the naked, Rom 13:14. Bread is not so necessary to the hungry, nor water to the thirsty, nor a ransom to the captive, nor a garment to the naked, as Christ is to the soul of a sinner. The life of our souls is in Jesus Christ.
  5. Christ is a fountain-mercy, and all other mercies flow from him. …
  6. Christ is a satisfying mercy: he that is full of Christ can feel the need of nothing. …
  7. Christ is a peculiar [particular] mercy, applied to a remnant among men. …
  8. Jesus Christ is a suitable mercy, suited in every respect to all our needs and wants, 1 Cor 1:30 … Are we enemies? He is reconciliation. Are we sold to sin and Satan? He is redemption. Are we condemned by the law? He is the Lord our righteousness. Has sin polluted us? He is a fountain opened for sin and for uncleanness. Are we lost by departing from God? He is the way to the Father. …
  9. Christ is a wonderful mercy: his name is called Wonderful, Isa 9:6, and as his name is, so is he – a wonderful Saviour. His person is wonderful. … His abasement is wonderful. His love is a wonderful love; his redemption is full of wonders …
  10. Jesus Christ is an incomparable and matchless mercy. Draw the comparison what way you will between Christ and all other enjoyments: you will find none in heaven on earth equal to him.
  11. Christ is an unsearchable mercy: who can express his wondeful name? Prov 30:4. Who can count his unsearchable riches? Eph 3:8. Hence it is that saints never tire in the study or love of Christ, because new wonders are eternally rising out of him.
  12. Christ is an everlasting mercy, the same yesterday, today, and for ever.

This is drastically abridged from Chapter 11. It’s just one of the ways of filling out the details of what’s meant by calling the Saviour a ‘suitable and sufficient’ Saviour – those terms are weighty enough but they’re still only a shorthand. But the more clearly the perfection and suitability of the Saviour is seen, the more serious it becomes for people to turn away from him, whether through disinterest or outright hostility. When salvation is so great, how can we think to escape if we neglect it?

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