Part of my practice this Lenten season is to read daily in the Church Fathers. Yesterday, I came across this from "The First Epistle of Clement to the Corinthians". "The all-merciful and beneficent Father," wrote Clement, "has bowels of compassion towards those that fear Him, and kindly and lovingly bestows His favours upon those who come to Him with a simple mind.." Nathan Parker speaks of that compassion in this continuation of a sermon begun here.
"What then is the designed effect of the divine goodness ?
The benevolence of God is a theme, to which the devout man ever delights to direct his thoughts. He rejoices in the divine mercy. All that he beholds of order, of power, of beauty and wisdom in the works and providence of God, is regarded by him as illustrative of his goodness ; for it has reference to the happiness of his creatures. In the joyous passages of life he rejoices in the smiles of an affectionate Parent, and regards them as the pledges, as well as the proofs of his love. When darkness gathers around him, the hand of mercy is seen. At such seasons his heart, though it may bleed, murmurs not. Deeply sensible of the imperfections of his own character, and of the necessary relation of holiness to happiness, he does not think it either strange or unkind, that he is occasionally called to endure affliction ; but while he suffers he clings more closely to the perfections of his God, rejoicing that infinite love is guarding him in his conflicts. He, therefore, improves afflictions. They are made to minister to the perfection of his character, to the fulness of his joy...
Nature and providence act in perfect harmony with the gospel of God's grace. The general expression around us is that of benevolence. God is not perpetually walking forth in the whirlwind, or sending abroad the terrors of his thunder, or desolating the earth with pestilence and famine. The general voice of nature and of providence is that of mildness and love. Judgment is a strange work. Jesus also speaks to men in accents of compassion, of kindness. He proclaims peace, not peace to the wicked, but to those who are moved, melted, and won by his love..."