Monday, January 12, 2009

We Have Better Than We Deserve

The LORD is good to all: and his tender mercies are over all his works. Ps. 145.9

It is of the LORD'S mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness. Lamentations 3.22-23

Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance? Rom. 2.4

For who maketh thee to differ from another? and what hast thou that thou didst not receive? now if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory, as if thou hadst not received it? 1 Cor. 4.7

Richard Allestree, The Art of Contentment:

The very breath with which we complain is a blessing.

Matthew Mead (quoted by Edmund Calamy):

Everything on this side of hell is mercy, and the mercies I receive are greater than my burdens.

Thomas Watson, All Things for Good

We can never love God as He deserves. As God's punishing us is less than we deserve (Ezra 9:13), so our loving Him is less than He deserves.

John Bradford, while sitting in prison, upon observing another prisoner on his way to be executed:

There but for the grace of God go I.

John Newton, Sermon upon the death of his wife Mary: a sinner, I had no right, and as a believer, I could have no reason, to complain.

Michael Wigglesworth's diary, January 29, 1662, writing of his famous epic poem, The Day of Doom:

I desire with all my heart and might to serve my Lord Christ (who is my best and only friend and supporter) in finishing this work which I am preparing for the press, acknowledging that the Lord hath dealt abundantly better with me than I deserve, if he shall please to accept such a poor piece of service at my hands, and give me leisure to finish it.

William Secker, The Non-Such Professor, p. 6:

'To whom much is given, of them much shall be required.' The blessings we enjoy are not the fruit of our merit, but the fruit of God's mercy. By how much the more grace we have received, by so much the more glory we are obliged to return to the giver.

Farewell Sermons of Some of the Most Eminent of the Nonconformist Ministers Delivered at the Period of Their Ejectment by the Act of Uniformity in the Year 1662, Preface, p. xii (concerning Richard Baxter):

During his last illness, his usual reply to any question respecting his health was, "almost well" -- and sometimes "better than I deserve to be, but not so well as I hope to be."

Alexander Whyte, Samuel Rutherford and Some of His Correspondents, p. 157 (re George Gillespie):

God does not deal with us as we deserve; He does not deal with us as we, in our guilty apprehensions, fear He will. He deals with the apprehensive, penitent, believing sinner according to the grace and the truth of His word. His promises are canonical to Him, not our apprehensions.

Simeon Ashe, Primitive Divinity; a Treatise on Divine Contentment:

Contentment sweetens every condition. Christ turned the water into wine: so content turns the water of Marah into spiritual wine. "Have I but little? Yet it is more than I can deserve or challenge. This little I have is in mercy: it is the fruit of Christ's blood; it is the legacy of free grace. A small present, sent from a King, is highly valued. (p. 102)
Let us compare our condition and our desert together; if we have not what we desire, we have more than what we deserve. For our mercies, we have deserved less; for our afflictions, we have deserved more.

First, In regard of our mercies, we have deserved less. What can we deserve? -- Can man be profitable to the Almighty? We live upon free-grace. Alexander gave a great gift to one of his subjects. The man, being much taken with it -- "This," saith he, "is more than I am worthy of!" -- "I do not give thee this," saith the King, "because thou art worthy of it, but I give a gift like Alexander." Whatever we have is not merit, but bounty; the least bit of bread is more than God owes us; we can bring faggots to our own burning, but not one flower to the garland of our salvation: he that hath the least mercy will die in God's debt.

Secondly, In regard of our afflictions, we have deserved more. Thou hast punished us less than our iniquities deserve, Ezra, ix. 13. Is our condition sad? We have deserved it should be worse. Hath God taken away our estate from us? He might have taken away Christ from us. Hath he thrown us into prison? He might have thrown us into hell. He can destroy us as easy as to save us. This should make us contented. (pp. 181-182)


  1. What a great reminder of the riches we have in Christ, in comparison to what we truly deserve. I was humbled by all the quotes but I pray I will remember this one the next time I am tempted to complain:

    "The very breath with which we complain is a blessing."

    Thanks once again for sharing, as well as for all your posts of late. They are truly a blessing....Ginny

  2. It's good to see you quoting Bradford. I particularly like the earlier Puritans - he has a certain claim to being the first in England.