Luke 6:36

We call this precept of Christ "the golden rule;" probably we intend thereby to pay it the highest honour we can offer it. But it is the "precious metal," rather than the admirable precept, to which the compliment is paid by the association of the two. For if this rule of our Lord were only illustrated in the daily life of men, they would be enriched as no imaginable quantity of gold could enrich them. Then would such a revolution be effected as no statesman has ever dreamed of working; then would all social evils for ever disappear; then would human life wear another aspect from that which now saddens and shames us; for the golden rule, enacted in the lives of men, would soon inaugurate the "golden year." We look at -


1. It is within all men's apprehension. It is no learned, erudite definition, requiring much culture to comprehend. The most simpleminded can understand it.

2. It commends itself to all men's conscience. It is not one of those commandments which require much thought and much practice to appreciate. It is obviously just and fair. It hardly admits of dispute. Every one can see, every one must feel - if "the light that is in him be not darkness" - that it is the right thing for him to do.

3. It excludes all evasions. No man can shield himself under any misrepresentation of the rule. He must know whether or not he is trying to act toward his neighbour as he would that his neighbour should act toward him.

4. It covers the entire range of human life, so far as our relations to one another are concerned. It covers:

(1) Action, and also inaction; including in its sweep not only those things we do, but those we leave undone - the attention, the kindness, the consideration, the return we should render but may be withholding.

(2) The judgment we form of others; the right they have to our patient, impartial, intelligent, charitable judgment; the claim they may fairly make that we should attribute the worthy rather than the unworthy, the pure rather than the impure, the generous rather than the mean motive.

(3) Our speech; the utterance of the kind and true word of our neigh-hour, and also to him.

(4) Conduct-all our dealings and doings, of all kinds whatsoever, in all the varied relations in which we stand to our fellow-men. This one rule of Christ is a powerful test and solvent of all other prescriptions. If they can be carried out and yet leave us short, in our practice, of doing to others as they would like us to act toward them, these rules are imperfect. They leave something to be desired and to be attained.

II. THE INSPIRATION WE NEED TO FULFIL IT. This great precept of Christ is not to be translated into action like any ordinary military or municipal regulation. We must gain some inspiration from our Lord himself if we are to keep this great commandment. And we must be prompted by three things.

1. An earnest desire to follow Christ's own example.

2. A strong purpose of heart to do his holy will, that we may please and honour him.

3. A kind and Christian interest in our neighbours; a gracious pity for those whom he pitied, and for whom he suffered and died; a warm interest in their welfare; a firm faith that they can be raised and renewed and refined; a holy love for all those who love him. - C.

Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful.
"Mercy" is the one great cry of human nature. We dare not ask for justice, we can only plead for mercy. We, who want so much mercy from God, must learn to show mercy to our fellow-men. How can we look to Him for mercy if we never show mercy, how can we ask forgiveness unless we forgive? Think of some of the ways in which we can show mercy.

1. We must show mercy and loving-kindness, practically, by deeds, not words.

2. We can show mercy by for. giving those who injure us. Few things are more talked of, and less practised, than the duty of forgiveness.

3. Mercy ever brings its sweet reward. Every act of loving-kindness comes back to us with abundant interest. Once a farmer, out on the western prairies of America, started for a distant town, to receive some money due to him. As he left his house, his only child, a little girl, clung lovingly to him, and reminded him of his promise to bring her home a present. Late on the same night the farmer left the town on his way home. The night was very dark and stormy, and he was yet far from his home, and in the wildest part of the road, when he heard the cry of a child. The farmer thought that it might be the device of some robber, as he was known to carry money with him. He was weary and wet with his journey, and inclined to hasten on, but again the cry reached him. The farmer determined that whatever happened he must search for the child, if child there were. Groping in the darkness, at last he found a little figure, drenched with rain, and shivering with cold. Wrapping his cloak about the child, he rode homewards as fast as possible, but when he reached his house, he found it full of neighbours, standing round his weeping wife. One said to another, "Do not tell him, it will drive him mad." Then the farmer set down his bundle, and his wife with a cry of joy saw that it was their own lost child. The little one had set forth to meet her father, and had missed her way. The man had, without knowing it, saved his own daughter.

(H. J. Wilmot-Buxton, M. A.)

What can be a more endearing motive to the mind of man, than to propose to him a resemblance to the most high God; to urge the conduct of the Father of the universe, as an example for his imitation.

1. The first excellence in the mercy of God which will naturally occur to our thoughts, as deserving our imitation, is its entire disinterestedness and perfect liberality. Our goodness, therefore, must be void of selfish and earthly motives.

2. Its universality. We must endeavour to do all the good we can to all around us, neither slighting the ignorant, nor despising the mean and indigent, nor abandoning the vicious and unworthy in their distress.(1) Although our mercy may and ought to be universal in will and intention, yet, in consequence of our little power, it must be very limited in reality and in effect (2 Corinthians 8:12).(2) This example of the unconfined extent of the Divine mercy does not hinder us from having a more particular regard to certain persons, and peculiar situations of distress (Galatians 6:10).

3. Its unwearied perseverance. Let us, like God, be "not weary in well-doing."

4. Its long-suffering patience.

5. Its readiness and willingness to forgive.

(James Biddoch, M. A.)

In how many thousand instances does a man hold in his own hands the power of manifesting this blessed quality of mercy! You are an employer; there is some boy in your employment who commits his first transgression, perhaps not really conscious of the evil that he does. Perhaps in an unguarded moment he takes from you something that belongs to you. You do not injure society by exercising mercy towards that boy. How often is it the case that your judicious act of mercy, tempered by justice, has been the means of saving that boy from open exposure, from public punishment; how often it is the salvation of that boy! Do you suppose that it is justice in that case that the penalty of the law shall brand him — that he shall be marked as a criminal, that he shall be self-degraded? This is an instance which men of business will tell me often occurs, and can there be any doubt as to what justice is in that case? So I say, when a man's reputation lies at our mercy, we are bound to make all the allowance we can for his action. If he does a foolish thing, let us be disposed, as far as possible, to make allowance, to think what may have been the peculiar circumstances under which he did it. We are all called upon to exercise this prerogative of mercy, and that in innumerable forms.

(E. H. Chapin, D. D.)

Homiletic Quarterly.
I. WE ARE INCITED TO IMITATION- OF OUR HEAVENLY FATHER. We are His children, and children ought to resemble their parents (Ephesians 5:1, R.V.)

II. AN APPEAL IS MADE TO OUR SELF-INTEREST. It is a principle of the Divine administration that the standard you apply to others shall be applied to you.


(Homiletic Quarterly.)

When God, in His eternal counsel, conceived the thought of man's creation, He called to Him the three ministers who wait constantly upon His throne — Justice, Truth, and Mercy — and thus addressed them: "Shall we make man?" Then said Justice, "O God! make him not: for he will trample upon Thy laws." Truth made answer also, "O God! make him not, for he will pollute Thy sanctuaries." But Mercy, dropping upon her knees, and looking up through her tears, exclaimed, "O God! make him. I will watch over him with my care through all the dark paths which he may have to tread." Then God made man, and said to him, "O man! thou art the child of Mercy: go and deal with thy brother."


Being sent for by a slave-holder who was seriously unwell, to pray with him, Father Craven approached his bedside and inquired if he had in his will bequeathed liberty to his slaves? "No," said the slave-holder, "I have bequeathed them to my children." "Then," said Father Craven, "prayer will be of no avail — God will not show mercy to these who show none to their fellow-men." So he bade him farewell. Soon after a second message was sent for Father Craven to visit the slave-holder and pray with him. He went and asked the slave-holder if he had emancipated his slaves? "Yes," said the slave-holder, "I have now emancipated them by my will. Will you pray for me?" "Certainly," said the good man, and he knelt down and commended to God the soul of the sufferer, who seemed near his end. Father Craven agreed with John Jay, a leader in the American revolution, who said, "Till America comes into the measure (of abolition) her prayers to heaven will be impious."

(Handbook to Scripture Doctrines.)

A minister belonging to the Calvinistic Methodists, in a country town, had taught his little boy, who is in his second year, each night before going to sleep, to repeat the prayer: "God be merciful to me a sinner." The other Sabbath, while the minister had gone to preach to a village congregation, the child upset the inkstand, and was told his father would whip him for the accident. The minister had no sooner returned, than the child climbed his knee, and putting his mouth close to the father's ear, softly whispered: "Be merciful to me, a sinner, papa." Moved by the ingenuity of the plea, the father kissed his boy, and could not find it in his heart to chide or correct the bright little fellow.

The Dictionary of Illustrations.
Mercy is in the air which we breathe, the daily light which shines upon us, the gracious rain of God's inheritance. It is the public spring for all the thirsty, the common hospital for all the needy. All the streets of the church are paved with these stones. What would become of the children, if there were not these breasts of consolation? It is mercy that takes us out of the womb, feeds us in the days of our pilgrimage, furnishes us with spiritual provision, closes our eyes in peace, and translates us to a secure resting-place. It is the first petitioner's suit, and the first believer's article, the contemplation of Enoch, the confidence of Abraham, the burden of the prophetic songs, and the glory of all the apostles, the plea of the penitent, the ecstasies of the reconciled, the believer's hosannah, the angel's hallelujah. Ordinances, oracles, altars, pulpits, the gates of the grave, and the gates of heaven, do all depend upon mercy. It is the loadstar of the wandering, the ransom of the captive, the antidote of the tempted, the prophet of the living, and the effectual comfort of the dying: there would not be one regenerate saint upon earth, nor one glorified saint in heaven, if it were not for mercy.

(The Dictionary of Illustrations.)

— The Marshall D'Armont, having taken Crodon, ordered every Spaniard found in the garrison to be put to death. Though it was death to disobey orders, an English soldier ventured to save a Spaniard. He was arraigned for the offence, confessed the fact, and declared himself ready to suffer death if they would save the life of the Spaniard. Surprised at the request, they inquired why he was so much interested. "Because," replied he, "in a similar situation, he once saved my life." The marshall was so greatly pleased, that he granted him pardon, and saved the Spaniard's life as well.

Abraham Lincoln's doorkeeper had standing orders from him, that no matter how great might be the throng, if either senators or representatives had to wait, or to be turned away without an audience, he must see, before the day closed, every messenger who came to him with a petition for the saving of life.

All that is really good is the outcome of the law of love, and its first result and inseparable companion is mercy.


1. A passion for judging others seems to exist in men. Every one, however backward to amend himself, is ready to correct others. The origin of this spirit is too clear. Deep in man's native selfishness. Exalts self, depresses others.

2. Are we never, then, to judge?(1) One cannot help forming opinions. It would be indicative of a perverted conscience to regard all with equal complacency. Yes, but this is different from the glad readiness to judge.(2) Sometimes needful to speak as well as to judge. But not in a censorious spirit, or overbearing tone.(3) The example of Jesus is the solution of the difficulty. Reprove only when needful. Then in righteous indignation, or in sorrowful rebuke.


1. Revenge is as natural to man as passing judgment.

2. Often as false and hypocritical, hiding itself under similar disguises.

3. Its root is ultimately the same. Selfishness — contradiction of the law of love.

4. Consequently condemned by example and spirit of Christ. His forgiving mercy was habitual, ready, cordial.

III. GIVE. The more active side of mercy. Opposed to bargaining or exchange — no thought of return. An evidence of sonship of God. When we are merciful, we come nearest to the Divine perfection.

(W. R. Clark, M. A.)


1. Consideration.

2. Compassion.

3. Prayer.

4. Helpfulness, according to the need of the object.

II. ITS OBJECTS. Our neighbour.

1. Erring (James 5:19, 20).

2. Offending.

3. Under persecution.

4. In want.

5. In sickness.

6. In misfortune by the loss of good friends, or the unkindness of bad relations.

III. THE MANNER OF ITS EXERCISE. Acts of mercy are to be performed —

1. With readiness and forwardness of mind (2 Corinthians 9:7).

2. With modesty and humility (Matthew 6:1).

3. From a kind and merciful, not from a selfish and mercenary temper (Luke 6:32).

4. Without delay (Proverbs 4:23).

5. Bountifully (1 Timothy 6:18).

6. With minds full of gratitude to God (1 Chronicles 29:13, 17).

7. As to Christ Himself (Matthew 10:42).

IV. THE BLESSING PROMISED TO THE MERCIFUL. AS for external mercies, the Bible promises them very fully to the merciful.

1. Deliverance out of trouble (Isaiah 58:10; Psalm 41:1).

2. God's blessing on his labours and undertakings (Deuteronomy 15:7-10).

3. The staving off of his trouble, and the lengthening of his tranquility (Daniel 4:27).

4. Plenty (Proverbs 19:17; Proverbs 3:9).

5. Honour (Psalm 112:9).

6. Deliverance from enemies (Psalm 41:2).

7. God s comforts in his sickness (Psalm 51:3).

8. A blessing on his posterity (Psalm 37:26).

9. More particularly, man's help in distress and God's providence.

(J. Blair, D. D.)

? — Do we not sometimes take pleasure in making a criticism as sharp and pungent as we can make it? Do we in our literature, in our judgments of the political work or social life of others, strive to speak charitably; or rather, is it not a keen gratification to think that the world enjoys the criticism when the writer is sharp and piquant, and seasons his criticism with that unkindness which sends it home as the feather sends the arrow?

(Bishop W. C. Magee.)

Do we feel that those around us in domestic service, in business, should have their feelings carefully considered? Surely there is a sad want of thoughtful mercy amongst us all I There is no lack of that mercy which comes of being strongly appealed to, and which moves a man to give largely of his money, time, and energy, for the removal of suffering. But the thoughtful, considerate mercy which seeks to prevent suffering and to hinder crime is what we desire to see.

(Bishop W. C. Magee.)

The world of the natural man is by no means predominantly a merciful world. "The tender mercies of the wicked are cruel." A thoroughly bad man is seldom a kind man. The kindliness of a bad man is generally both capricious and selfish. At its best it lacks the essential condition of a Christian charity. Not everything which passes for kindness, not everything which is kindness, is "mercy" in the sense here intended. There is another word in Scripture, which stands for pity, and the two ideas differ.

1. The objects of pity are the unhappy: the objects of mercy are the undeserving.(1) Mercy is seen towards those who have no claim upon us. The good Samaritan was merciful as well as pitiful; because the robbed and wounded man whom he succoured was wholly unconnected with him; was not only no relation, but even an alien and of a hostile race.(2) Mercy is shown, yet more strongly, towards those who have forfeited their claim upon us; those who had a claim, and have lost it. The prodigal son.

2. The nature of mercy.(1) Sympathy. A fellow-feeling with the undeserving. A deep consciousness of personal demerit, making me at once the equal and the brother of the undeserving.(2) This sense of fellowship with the sinner is accompanied with a sense of the evil of sin. By this it is prompted.(3) A desire for the good — the highest good — of the sinful. Mercy rests not in the fall. Mercy is not satisfied with bewailing the misery. Mercy expends not itself in sighs and tears, sits not down with the sorrow and the sinfulness which she both beholds and feels: she looks upward, and she looks onward — upward for help, onward to salvation; and is as ready to succour as she is prompt to sympathise.

3. The working of mercy.(1) Compassionate thoughts. Mercy, like every grace, has its seat within. We must begin with the heart. The thoughts of mercy will be disciplined into charitableness before she begins to speak or to do. She will recount inwardly the revelation of God concerning sin itself; how it first entered into the world; how it spread its reign hither and thither, till a flood of evil had hidden earth itself from heaven; how it works in the child, struggles for mastery in the man, and leads captive in unsuspected bonds souls born for immortality and for God. She knows how subtle are its workings, how fatal its delusions, how strong its chains. She pities even where she must condemn, and, where she cannot trust, she can at least hope still.(2) Compassionate thoughts come forth naturally into kindly words. The merciful man speaks mercifully.(3) Compassionate thoughts and kindly words will run on, lastly, into practical efforts. A man who has a feeling of compassion should always act upon it.

(Dean Vaughan.)

What is it to be "merciful"? Like other virtues, this, too, has its imitations, worthless and spurious. There is a mercy current among men which is merely an outlet for energy, or the fashion of the day. There is a mercy, so called, which is in reality a luxury, a refined sort of self-indulgence. There is a sort of mercy which people call charity, which gives, but without discrimination or thought. But these, none of these, are mercifulness. No, nor, on the other hand, is it to be confused with pity, a feeling of compassion for the unfortunate; nor has it to do with merely deeds of mercy, acts of kindness. For mercifulness and mercy do not mean the same thing. Mercifulness is what we are and what we do. Mercy, as men count it, may be all outside, no heart in it, or may take its rise from wrong or unworthy motives; while mercifulness must go down to the inner springs of actions, not stop short of guiding principles, have its roots in sound and holy motives. It deals with the quality of the deed rather than the quantity; it examines the texture of which it is made, not the smoothness or bright shimmer; it asks not whether it glitters, but whether it is gold with the true ring.

1. True mercifulness is a characteristic of those who hunger and thirst after righteousness, and they alone will be merciful in God's way, seeking not to please themselves, but to do His will "who is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and plenteous in mercy."

2. True mercifulness is always guided by meekness. It is exercised towards those who have ill requited our kindness, and are undeserving of our mercy.

3. True mercifulness can only be felt by those who have learned to mourn their sin, and in repentance turned unto God, and so have a fellow feeling with those who sin, and long to rescue them.

4. True mercifulness has, as its earliest beginning, poverty of spirit, for only those who in humility know themselves aright will never despair of others, or tire of showing mercy to the undeserving.

(C. J. Ridgeway, M. A.)

1. He was merciful to all, not to some.

2. His mercifulness was provident, thoughtful, wise, seeking the real good of men, marked by the discrimination of prudence, withholding to-day what will do harm instead of good, giving to one what He refuses to another, always keeping before Him as the only true object of mercifulness the well-being of those He came to succour.

3. His mercifulness is unchanging. Time does not wear it out, nor years weaken it. He was merciful even as He loved, unto the end. Many waters could not quench it, neither the floods drown it. The waters came in even unto His soul, suffering and anguish overwhelmed Him; but His mercifulness lived on; it burned like the beacon light of the lighthouse, undimmed by the great storm of affliction that raged around. Nor is He changed now. His mercifulness is as true in His exaltation as in His Passion (Hebrews 2:17, 18; Hebrews 7:24, 25).

(C. J. Ridgeway, M. A.)

Compare what we call mercifulness with His. His a mercifulness which always kept God's glory in view, and ours so often centring about self. His a mercifulness shown towards those who were ever seeking His heart, and ours so easily quenched by the first appearance of ingratitude. His a mercifulness that recognized sin as the source of every man's misery, and ours so indifferent to the deepest needs of the men and women around us. His a mercifulness that stooped to help, that touched as well as pitied, and ours always bestowed with a gloved hand, and at a safe distance. His a mercifulness so catholic and wide in its embrace, and ours so narrow and limited by national or religious, or, worse still, party prejudice. His a mercifulness that was provident and wise, and ours capricious and thoughtless, giving to the professional beggar because she importunes us at the very door of the church, or to the man who in veriest cruelty drags little children, often hired for the purpose, through the wet and muddy streets, in the cold and wet, for they are never to be seen on fine days; while to calls that come from those that can guarantee their worth, or to the really poor who will not beg, or to the appeals which are made in God's house for definite objects, our mercifulness turns a deaf ear. Believe me, it is time for us to learn that true mercifulness is discriminating, thoughtful, wise. His a mercifulness that is always the same, ours so fitful, uncertain, unreliable. His a mercifulness that cost Him self-sacrifice, ours a doing or giving what will not even cost us a thought. His a mercifulness that permeated the whole man in every thought, and word, and deed, ours so superficial, so unreal, our thoughts often breathing harsh judgment upon others, our actions marked by so little consideration of those about us or below us to whom we might be merciful.

(C. J. Ridgeway, M. A.)


1. It has its seat in the heart.

2. It is a supernatural quality.

3. It is an active principle.(1) It will be manifested toward the inferior animals.(2) To those of our fellow-creatures who are under bodily affliction and misery.(3) It will extend to the spiritual miseries of our fellow-min. Mercy to the soul, is the soul of mercy.(4) Towards our greatest enemies.


1. Because it is strictly enjoined by God.

2. Because we stand in constant need of Divine mercy. Were it withdrawn, there would be nothing before us but a fearful looking for of judgment.

3. Because our profession binds us to imitate Christ, who is the perfect pattern of mercy. In Him mercy was embodied. If we are His disciples, we will walk even as He walked.

4. We should be merciful because of the true pleasure which is associated with acts of mercy.

5. Because it is an express condition of our obtaining mercy.


1. A good name.

2. A peculiar interest in the kind and merciful arrangements of Divine providence.

3. The merciful are blessed with the prayers and blessings of the miserable whom they have relieved.

4. They shall be blessed with the public approval of Christ at the last day. Application:

1. Let the exercise of mercy be pressed on all Christ's disciples. Cultivate it. Rejoice in all opportunities of doing good.

2. Let the mercy of God to us be highly valued. We need it daily. Only one channel for its communication — through Christ. Only one way to obtain it — through faith in His word.

3. The unmerciful shall have judgment without mercy. What a dreadful portion to the guilty sinner!

(J. Burns, D. D.)

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