Mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other.…
The words "truth," "righteousness," and "judgment" in these passages we shall take to represent the stern, the inflexible, and severe in God's dealing with men; and the words "mercy" and "peace" to represent the mild and the clement.
I. In God's procedure with man these principles are found in HARMONIOUS CO-OPERATION.
1. We see these two principles harmoniously operating in God's dealing with us through the phenomena of nature. In the earthquake and the tornado, in the fierce lightnings and the rolling thunders, in the raging oceans and the furious winds, we feel ourselves confronted with the stern, the rigorous, and the terrible; but in the serene and the sunny we feel ourselves in the presence of the mild and the lenient. Both in nature work together, they "kiss each other," and bring about the good ordained.
2. We see these two principles harmoniously operating in God's dealing with us through the events of human history. When we read the history of our race — its wars, famines, pestilences, and innumerable calamities — we are brought before the severe and awful in God; whilst in the happiness of tribes, the prosperity of nations, and the gradual advancement of the race, we see the merciful and the kind; but both principles co-operate, the rigorous and the clement. They "meet and kiss each other." They are in a blessed partnership in their endeavours to make humanity what God would have it be.
3. We see these two principles harmoniously operating in God's dealing with us through the circumstances of individual life. In the various afflictions, physical, intellectual, and social, which every man has, God in the sterner aspects of His character appears before us; whilst in the pleasures and enjoyments of our life He faces us in an aspect tender and kind. But both principles co-operate. "Our light afflictions, which are but for a moment," etc.
4. We see these two principles harmoniously operating in God's dealing with us through the means of redemptive Providence. In the life of Christ, God seems in one aspect terribly righteous, on the other side infinitely merciful, but the two are one; they meet, kiss, and co-operate in making a perfect Saviour. It is so in the redemptive training of men for everlasting blessedness. First, law comes to the man with its flashing light and terrible thunder, rousing conscience, and kindling the terrible fames of remorse, and the Divine One seems rigorous and awful. Then comes the assurance of forgiveness, the centralizing the affections in infinite love, and ell in God seems tender and merciful. But the two principles meet together and co-operate in bringing about the same blessed result, viz., the training of the soul for a higher life.
II. Though these principles harmoniously co-operate in God's procedure with man, ONE IS EVER IN THE ASCENDANT. "Mercy rejoiceth against judgment."
1. In the phenomena of nature you see more of the clement than the stern. The mild, and not the rigorous, is the queen of nature; storms and earthquakes, thunderings and lightnings are but the exceptions; sunny days, serene earth, and calm atmospheres are the rule.
2. In the events of human history you see more of the clement than the stern. History, it is true, records bloody wars, blasting pestilences, and writhing famines, but these after all are only exceptions in God's dispensations with mankind; peace, health, and plenty, have been the rule.
3. In the circumstances of individual life you see more of the element than the stern. It is true we have our afflictions and our sorrows, but these are exceptions. As a rule, the existence of most men is that of health and judgment; goodness and mercy follow us. "Mercy rejoiceth against judgment," in our experience.
4. In the means of redemptive Providence you see more of the clement than the stern. In the Christian life there have been the pains connected with conviction, repentance, and conversion; but these are in the initial stages of the Christian life; succeeding stages are generally calm, and often jubilant, and the end everlasting life.
Parallel VersesKJV: Mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other.