HH, Sir Godfrey Gregg D.Div
The Wonder of God’s Gentleness in View of Sin
Again, to feel the wonder of God’s gentleness, we must set it against the background of God’s righteousness. It is when we hear the seraphs crying “Holy” that we thrill to the thought of the gentleness of God. There is a kind of gentleness–we are all familiar with it–that springs from an easy and uncaring tolerance. It is the happy good nature of those characters to whom both right and wrong are nebulous. Never inspired by any love of goodness and never touched by any hate of evil, it is not difficult to walk the world with a certain smiling tolerance of everybody.
Now there have been nations whose gods were of that kind. Their gentleness was the index of their weakness. Living immoral lives in their Olympus, why should they worry about man’s immorality? But I need hardly take time to point out to you that the one radical thing about the Jewish God—one unchanging feature of His being–was that He was infinitely and forever holy. He was of purer eyes than to behold iniquity. “The soul that sinneth,” said the prophet, “it shall die.” And He visits the sins of the fathers on the children, even unto the third and fourth generation. All this was graven on the Jewish heart and inwrought into Jewish history; yet the psalmist could sing in his great hour, “Thy gentleness hath made me great.” I beg of you, therefore, never to imagine that the gentleness of God is only an easy tolerance. Whatever it is, it certainly is not that, as life sooner or later shows to every man. Whatever it is, it leans against the background of a righteousness that burns as doth a fire, and I say that helps us to feel the wonder of it.
The same jewel upon the bosom of omnipotence flashes out as we survey the Bible. The Bible is really one long record of the amazing gentleness of God. Other features of the divine character may be more immediately impressive there. And reading hastily, one might easily miss the revelation of a gentle God. Yet so might one, walking beside the sea, where hammers were ringing in the village workshop, easily miss the underlying music of the waves ceaselessly breaking on the shore. But the waves are breaking although the hammers drown them, and the gentleness of God is always there. It is there–not very far away–at the heart of all the holiness and sovereignty; it is there where the fire of His anger waxes hot and His judgments are abroad upon the earth, and men are crying, “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”