The goodness, kindness, mercy, and love of God are major themes in all parts of Holy Scripture. It’s always one of my favorite parts of theological reading when I come across good explanations of God’s goodness and love that are very much based on Scripture. In volume two of his Theoretical-Practical Theology Petrus Van Mastricht wrote an excellent section on the love, grace, mercy, long-suffering, and clemency of God. After doing some exegetical work on Exodus 34:6 (…The LORD is a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger and abounding in faithful love and truth [CSB]), Van Mastricht discussed in detail what these terms mean and how they apply to the Christian life. Here are some quotes that I really appreciate. I’ve edited the layout to make it easier to read:
…There is in God a certain benevolent and beneficent propensity toward his creatures….
That propensity is called benevolent when considered intrinsically and beneficent when considered extrinsically.
In itself generally considered it is love;
insofar as it is independent, free, and is not owed, it is grace;
insofar as it considers the creature as miserable, it is mercy;
insofar as it considers the offending sinner whom it endures, it is patience;
insofar as it endures him a long time, it is long-suffering;
insofar as it also does good to him, it is clemency and beneficence.
Petrus Van Mastricht, Theoretical-Practical Theology, vol 2., p 348-349.
Hammond, WI, 54015