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Mercy, Not Sacrifice

From my daily Bible reading:

IFBut when he heard this, he said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have come to call not the righteous but sinners.”” — Matthew 9:12-13 NRSV.

They that be whole need not a physician. A common proverb, which none could either misunderstand or misapply. Of it the reader may make the following use:—1. Jesus Christ represents himself here as the sovereign Physician of souls. 2. That all stand in need of his healing power. 3. That men must acknowledge their spiritual maladies, and the need they have of his mercy, in order to be healed by him. 4. That it is the most inveterate and dangerous disease the soul can be afflicted with to imagine itself whole, when the sting of death, which is sin, has pierced it through in every part, infusing its poison every where.

I will have mercy, and not sacrifice. Quoted from 1 Samuel 15:22. These are remarkable words. We may understand them as implying, 1st. That God prefers an act of mercy, shown to the necessitous, to any act of religious worship to which the person might be called at that time. Both are good; but the former is the greater good, and should be done in preference to the other. 2dly. That the whole sacrificial system was intended only to point out the infinite mercy of God to fallen man, in his redemption by the blood of the new covenant. And 3dly. That we should not rest in the sacrifices, but look for the mercy and salvation prefigured by them. This saying was nervously translated by our ancestors, I will mild-heartedness, and not sacrifice.

“Go ye and learn. ולמד ax tse velimmed, a form of speech in frequent use among the rabbins, when they referred to any fact or example in the Sacred Writings. Nothing tends more to humble pretenders to devotion than to show them that they understand neither Scripture nor religion, when, relying on external performances, they neglect love to God and man, which is the very soul and substance of true religion. True holiness has ever consisted in faith working by love.”

— Comments by Adam Clarke (17601832).

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2 Responses

  1. James Lung January 4, 2016 / 11:26 pm

    In reading this, I was reminded of (his name escapes me–I’m thinking of one of John Wesley’s Moravian mentors–was it Boehner? Spangenburg?)’s advice to Wesley: Preach faith until you have it; then because you have it, you will preach faith. Like faith, love is of no effect as a noun; it moves mountains when it is a verb.

    • Craig L. Adams January 5, 2016 / 9:06 am

      Yes. Peter Böhler, actually, as I recall. But, yes, that’s the idea.

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