For he shall have judgment without mercy, that has showed no mercy; and mercy rejoices against judgment.
Far in the Empyrean heights, above the rolling spheres, is the Eternal City, the central seat of the great King. In its midst is a throne, all resplendent with celestial glories. There sits the Ancient of Days, the Creator and Ruler and Judge. Before the throne appears a personage of shining character, clothed in robes of light, celestial in her aspect, yet with bended knee, and with a tear upon her cheek. She appears there in supplication; not for herself, but for others; an intercessor for offenders. "Sire Eternal, admit Thy humble creature's utterance. Down in far distant space is a speck of dust. There dwells a creature of humble grade, composed of dust himself in part, yet having a spark of intellectual being — a germ of immortality. That creature, though formed but last of all Thy works, has sinned. O Sovereign of the universe, suffer a plea to be presented for his pardon!" While these words were being uttered another personage appeared, and approached the throne. She was shining, like the former, of heavenly mien, yet different in her aspect. She stood erect, and no tear was on her face. She came, as the other ceased, to present a counter-plea. "Sovereign Judge," she said, "the Just! the True! how can Mercy's plea be granted? Justice has claims which cannot be dispensed with. Man, having sinned, must meet the due recompense. How can Justice be turned from her right?" Mercy interposed, in her beseeching tones: "But man is frail — a creature of flesh and ignorance, a creature of a day. He is as nothing compared with Thee, O Sovereign Judge! Yet his happiness is much to him. Turn from him the tokens of Thy displeasure, and let him live!" Justice again presents her counter-plea. "True," she says, "compared with some other orders of being, man is frail; yet is he an appropriate subject of law. Insignificant, in himself, he may indeed be; yet have not his crimes given him consequence? He has knowingly transgressed, and continued to transgress. With the law in his hand — the law of universal love — he has disregarded alike its requisitions and its threatenings, and filled the world with idolatry and irreligion, corruption and crime. And has not the law threatened death to the transgressor?" But Mercy, intent on her purpose, still finds an argument to urge in reply. "Is not death," she says, "the death threatened, an evil of too great magnitude? Can any creature endure it? Will the Infinite allow Himself to award to any creature, however far from righteousness, so dreadful a doom? Is not mercy one of Thy chief glories? Wilt Thou not, then, show Thyself merciful to man?" To which Justice rejoined: "The threatened punishment is no more than sin deserves. If it is great, it is only so because sin is a great evil, is committed against a great, an infinitely perfect, an infinitely glorious God, against boundless riches of goodness — infinite, eternal, and unceasing love. Moreover, the punishment, great as it may be, grows out of the very sin committed, as its natural consequence. If man take fire into his soul, can he complain if he be left to feel it burning there?" But further Justice pleads: "Has not the Infinite declared that sin shall be thus punished? How can the utterances of Thy lips be set aside? Who will believe again that Jehovah is true? Who again will tremble at His threatening, or fear to sin? If one sinner may escape a righteous recompense, and that in violation of a solemnly uttered sentence, then may another, and another; and the government of the Infinite, the Eternal Supreme, is undermined, and passes away for ever!" So Justice reasoned. And Heaven saw and felt the cogency of her plea. Even Mercy can say no more. She bows in silence, though still sorrowing. Man is bound and delivered over to the executioner's power, and the sword of Justice is lifted over him. At this awful moment another scene arrests attention. From the light inaccessible which surrounds the throne comes forth a Personage, unseen before, partaker in the Godhead. With infinite pity He approaches the Eternal Sire, and says: "On Me be the wrong of man. On Me let Justice exact her utmost claims. By Me, descending to the world of sin, and dwelling in flesh like its lost inhabitants, and yielding up My life a sacrifice to Thee in their behalf, shall law be honoured and veracity and equity sustained, and man, accepting the preferred favour, shall live." Deep silence was in heaven. Rapt wonder and awe held its circling throngs. The Eternal Sire assented to the Son. Alight, a glory shone, such as heaven itself had not before seen. Mercy and Justice bowed together before the throne, and bowed together before the wondrous Deliverer, and owned Him for their Lord. Justice herself wept. And suddenly, bursting from all the lips of the blessed, there went up a song, in strains like the voice of many waters, and like many thunderings, and harpers harping with their harps, saying, "Alleluia!" "O the depth of the riches," &c. "Mercy and Truth are met together," &c. Tiros "Mercy rejoiceth against judgment."
(L. F. Dimmick, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: For he shall have judgment without mercy, that hath shewed no mercy; and mercy rejoiceth against judgment.