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The Full Persuasion of God’s Mercy

“No man prays aright but he who, having experienced his grace, believes and is fully persuaded that he will be merciful to him.”

So Calvin on Psalm 5:7 (“And I, in the multitude [or abundance] of thy mercy, will enter into thy house; I will worship in thy holy temple in thy fear,” as he has it) and its “general truth”:

will come into thy temples says he, in the multitude of thy mercy; as if he had said, I may now seem to be in a condition almost desperate, but by the favor of God, I shall be kept in perfect safety. This passage, therefore, teaches us, that when we are afflicted by the most distressing temptations, we ought to set the grace of God before our eyes, in order thereby to be supported with the hope of the divine interposition amidst the greatest dangers. Farther, as our carnal minds either wickedly undervalue the grace of God, or put the low estimate upon it which is commonly put by the world, let us learn to extol its wonderful greatness, which is sufficient to enable us to overcome all fears. The primary object of David was to encourage himself in the assured hope of preservation from the mercy of God; but at the same time he shows, that upon obtaining deliverance, he will be grateful to God for it, and keep it in remembrance. And as hypocrites, in giving thanks to God, do nothing else but profane his name, inasmuch as they themselves are unholy and polluted, he therefore resolves to come in the fear of God, in order to worship him with a sincere and upright heart. Again, we may hence draw the general truth, that it is only through the goodness of God that we have access to him; and that no man prays aright but he who, having experienced his grace, believes and is fully persuaded that he will be merciful to him. The fear of God is at the same time added, in order to distinguish genuine and godly trust from the vain confidence of the flesh.”

By E.J. Hutchinson

E.J. Hutchinson is Assistant Professor of Classics at Hillsdale College.