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Mercy is a quality involved in acts of alleviating suffering or distress, or in showing restraint towards those whom one has the power to punish or harm, whether justly or unjustly, often motivated by the emotion of pity.
- Alphabetized by author
- Ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light; which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy.
- Who liveth alone longeth for mercy,
Maker's mercy. Though he must traverse
Tracts of sea, sick at heart,
– Trouble with oars ice-cold waters,
The ways of exile – Wierd is set fast.
- Special mercy arouses more gratitude than universal mercy.
- Richard Baxter, The Saints' Everlasting Rest (1650), "The Splendor of the Saints' Rest"
- MERCY, n. An attribute beloved of detected offenders.
- Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary (1911)
- Inaction in a deed of mercy becomes an action in a deadly sin.
- H.P. Blavatsky, The Voice of the Silence: Being Extracts from The Book of the Golden Precepts
- Oh the sisters of mercy, they are not departed or gone.
They were waiting for me when I thought that I just can't go on.
And they brought me their comfort and later they brought me this song.
Oh I hope you run into them, you who've been travelling so long.
- There is mercy in every place,
And mercy, encouraging thought!
Gives even affliction a grace
And reconciles man to his lot.
- Our rule is the works of mercy… It is the way of sacrifice, worship, a sense of reverence.
- Dorothy Day, as quoted in The Encyclopedia of American Catholic History (1997)
- Variant: [Practicing] the works of mercy ... is our program, our rule of life.
- As quoted in The Catholic Worker after Dorothy : Practicing the Works of Mercy in a New Generation (2008) by Dan McKanan
- Mercy listens — really listens, with interest and concern — then smiles, and reaches out her hand.
- Oh, Mercy — now I understand: The secret behind your actions, the thread that binds all these seemingly random events. … There's no great or small! No question of size or importance! Each act of compassion — however minor it may appear to our blind eyes — affects all Creation; shakes it to its roots!
- I understand the most profound and simplest Truth of all: Any time any of us reaches out, any time we pour even a drop of love, compassion, simple human decency (no matter how small; how seemingly insignificant) into the sea of earthly existence — we are, each and every one of us — the being called Mercy.
- Reason to rule, mercy to forgive:
The first is law, the last prerogative.
- John Dryden, The Hind and the Panther (1687), Part I, l. 261-262
- God expects Us to have Mercy. God demands it. And yet how much Mercy does He show Us?
- "We cannot hide behind the law and not have mercy" Mr. Jackson said, calling the withholding of food and water inhumane, immoral and unnecessary.
- I will show mercy to whomever I will show mercy, and I will show compassion to whomever I will show compassion.
- It is the duty of nations, as well as of men, to own their dependence upon the overruling power of God, to confess their sins and transgressions, in humble sorrow, yet with assured hope that genuine repentance will lead to mercy and pardon, and to recognize the sublime truths announced in the Holy Scriptures, and proven by all history, that those nations only are blessed whose God is the Lord.
- Abraham Lincoln, Proclamation for a Day of Fasting, Humiliation and Prayer (30 March 1863)
- Mercy is a working that cometh of the goodness of God, and it shall last in working all along, as sin is suffered to pursue rightful souls. And when sin hath no longer leave to pursue, then shall the working of mercy cease, and then shall all be brought to rightfulness and therein stand without end.
And by His sufferance we fall; and in His blissful Love with His Might and His Wisdom we are kept; and by mercy and grace we are raised to manifold more joys.
- Julian of Norwich, Revelations of Divine Love (c. 1393), Ch. 35
- We give our intent to love and meekness, by the working of mercy and grace we are made all fair and clean.
- Julian of Norwich, Revelations of Divine Love (c. 1393), Ch. 40
- I am sure that no man asketh mercy and grace with true meaning, but if mercy and grace be first given to him.
- Julian of Norwich, Revelations of Divine Love (c. 1393), Ch. 42
- The ground of mercy is love, and the working of mercy is our keeping in love. And this was shewed in such manner that I could not have perceived of the part of mercy but as it were alone in love; that is to say, as to my sight.
- Julian of Norwich, Revelations of Divine Love (c. 1393), Ch. 48
- Mercy is a sweet gracious working in love, mingled with plenteous pity: for mercy worketh in keeping us, and mercy worketh turning to us all things to good. Mercy, by love, suffereth us to fail in measure and in as much as we fail, in so much we fall; and in as much as we fall, in so much we die: for it needs must be that we die in so much as we fail of the sight and feeling of God that is our life. Our failing is dreadful, our falling is shameful, and our dying is sorrowful: but in all this the sweet eye of pity and love is lifted never off us, nor the working of mercy ceaseth.
For I beheld the property of mercy, and I beheld the property of grace: which have two manners of working in one love.
- Julian of Norwich, Revelations of Divine Love (c. 1393), Ch. 48
- When we, by the working of mercy and grace, be made meek and mild, we are fully safe; suddenly is the soul oned to God when it is truly peaced in itself: for in Him is found no wrath.
- Julian of Norwich, Revelations of Divine Love (c. 1393), Ch. 49
- In this life mercy and forgiveness is our way and evermore leadeth us to grace. And by the tempest and the sorrow that we fall into on our part, we be often dead as to man’s doom in earth; but in the sight of God the soul that shall be saved was never dead, nor ever shall be.
- Julian of Norwich, Revelations of Divine Love (c. 1393), Ch. 50
- All our life is in three: in the first we have our Being, in the second we have our Increasing, and in the third we have our Fulfilling: the first is Nature, the second is Mercy, and the third is Grace.
- Truly-if a person does not have money but knows how to encourage and inspire the poor, the miserable, by speaking about mercifulness-would he not do just as much as someone who throws some money to poverty or preaches charitable donations out of the rich man’s pocket! So we shall now consider: mercifulness, a work of love even if it can give nothing and is able to do nothing. We shall endeavor according to the capacities granted to us to make as clear as possible, as inviting as possible, to bring as close as possible to the poor person what comfort he has in being able to be merciful. If that man well known for eighteen hundred years, the merciful Samaritan, had not come riding but walking along the road from Jericho to Jerusalem, where he saw the unfortunate man lying, if he had been carrying with him nothing with which he could bind up his wounds, if he had then lifted up the unfortunate man on his shoulders, and carried him to the nearest inn, where the innkeeper refused to receive either him or the unfortunate one because the Samaritan did not have a penny, could only beg and beseech this hard-hearted man to be merciful since a man’s life was involved-would he not therefore. …. but, no the story is not yet finished-if now the Samaritan, far from losing patience over this, had gone away carrying the unfortunate man, had sought a softer resting place for the wounded one, had sat by his side, had done everything to stanch the flow of blood-but the unfortunate one died in his hands-would he not have been equally as merciful, just as merciful as that merciful Samaritan, or is there some objection to calling this the story about the merciful Samaritan?
- Soren Kierkegaard Works of Love, 1847, Hong 1995 p. 316-317
- And what does the Lord require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?
- Micah 6:8
- Teach me to feel another's woe,
To right the fault I see;
That mercy I to others show,
That mercy show to me.
- Alexander Pope, in The Universal Prayer (1738), Stanza 10
- Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.
- Psalms 23:6
- The quality of mercy is not strain'd
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath: it is twice blest;
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes;
'Tis mightiest in the mightiest; it becomes
The throned monarch better than his crown;
His sceptre shows the force of temporal power,
The attribute to awe and majesty,
Wherein doth sit the dread and fear of kings;
But mercy is above this sceptred sway;
It is enthroned in the hearts of kings,
It is an attribute to God himself;
And earthly power doth then show likest God's
When mercy seasons justice.
- Consider this,
That in the course of justice none of us
Should see salvation; we do pray for mercy;
And that same prayer doth teach us all to render
The deeds of mercy.
- No ceremony that to great ones 'longs,
Not the king's crown nor the deputed sword,
The marshal's truncheon nor the judge's robe,
Become them with one half so good a grace
As mercy does.
- How can we pray to God for mercy if we ourselves have no mercy? Every kind of killing seems to me savage and I find no justification for it. I believe that the religion of the future will be based on vegetarianism. As long as people will shed the blood of innocent creatures there can be no peace, no liberty, no harmony between people. Slaughter and justice cannot dwell together.
- Isaac Bashevis Singer, as quoted in Animal life in Jewish tradition: attitudes and relationships (1984) by Elijah Judah Schochet, p. 297
- Variant :
- How can we pray to God for mercy if we ourselves have no mercy? How can we speak of right and justice if we take an innocent creature and shed its blood?
- As quoted in Judaism and Vegetarianism (2001) by Richard H. Schwartz, p. 178
- Whoever shuts his ears to the cry of the poor
Will also cry himself and not be heard.
- Everywhere the need exists for maternal sympathy and help, and thus we are able to recapitulate in the one word motherliness that which we have developed as the characteristic value of woman. Only, the motherliness must be that which does not remain within the narrow circle of blood relations or of personal friends; but in accordance with the model of the Mother of Mercy, it must have its root in universal divine love for all who are there, belabored and burdened.
- Edith Stein, in The Significance of Woman's Intrinsic Value in National Life (1928)
- I’m trying to decide whether we can afford to be merciful. The Arbai were merciful, but when confronted with evil, mercy becomes an evil.
- A wise man will not leave the right to the mercy of chance, nor wish it to prevail through the power of the majority. There is but little virtue in the action of masses of men.
- Let despair be known
as my ebb-tide; but let prayer
have its springs, too, brimming,
disarming him; discovering somewhere
among his fissures deposits of mercy
where trust may take root and grow.
- R. S. Thomas, "Tidal", Mass for Hard Times (1992), p. 43
- A severe mercy — the phrase haunted him: a mercy that was as severe as death, a death that was as merciful as love. For it had been death in love, not death of love. Love can die in many ways, most of them far more terrible than physical death; and if all natural love must die one way or another, Davy's death — he and she in love — was the death that hinted at springtime and rebirth. Sitting there on the rough wood of the bridge, he remembered his absolute knowing — something beyond faith or belief — in the moments after her death, in that suddenly empty room, that she still was. She had not ceased with that last light breath.
She and he would meet again.
Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations
- Quotes reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 509-10.
- When all thy mercies, O my God,
My rising soul surveys,
Transported with the view I'm lost,
In wonder, love and praise.
- Joseph Addison, Hymn
- Have mercy upon us miserable sinners.
- Book of Common Prayer, Litany
- Mercy to him that shows it, is the rule.
- William Cowper, The Task (1785), Book VI, line 595
- And shut the gates of mercy on mankind.
- Thomas Gray, Elegy in a Country Churchyard, Stanza 17
- A sentinel angel sitting high in glory
Heard this shrill wail ring out from Purgatory:
"Have mercy, mighty angel, hear my story!"
- John Hay, A Woman's Love
- Being all fashioned of the self-same dust,
Let us be merciful as well as just.
- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Tales of a Wayside Inn (1863-1874), Part III, The Student's Tale, Emma and Eginhard, line 177
- The corn that makes the holy bread
By which the soul of man is fed,
The holy bread, the food unpriced,
Thy everlasting mercy, Christ.
- John Masefield, Everlasting Mercy, Stanza 88
- Mercy stood in the cloud, with eye that wept
- Robert Pollok, The Course of Time, Book III, line 658
- To hide the fault I see:
That mercy I to others show,
That mercy show to me.
- Alexander Pope, Universal Prayer.
- 'Tis vain to flee; till gentle Mercy show
Her better eye, the farther off we go,
The swing of Justice deals the mightier blow.
- Francis Quarles, Emblems, Book III. Emblem XVI
- Think not the good,
The gentle deeds of mercy thou hast done,
Shall die forgotten all; the poor, the prisoner,
The fatherless, the friendless, and the widow,
Who daily owe the bounty of thy hand,
Shall cry to Heaven, and pull a blessing on thee.
- Nicholas Rowe, Jane Shore (1714), Act I, scene 2, line 173
- Mortem misericors sæpe pro vita dabit.
- Mercy often inflicts death.
- Seneca the Younger, Troades, 329
- Whereto serves mercy,
But to confront the visage of offence?
- You must not dare, for shame, to talk of mercy;
For your own reasons turn into your bosoms,
As dogs upon their masters, worrying you.
- Open thy gate of mercy, gracious God!
My soul flies through these wounds to seek out thee.
- Mercy is not itself, that oft looks so;
Pardon is still the nurse of second woe.
- Mercy but murders, pardoning those that kill.
- Who will not mercie unto others show,
How can he mercie ever hope to have?
- Edmund Spenser, The Faerie Queene (1589-96), Book VI, Canto I, Stanza 42
- Pulchrum est vitam donare minori.
- It is noble to grant life to the vanquished.
- Statius, Thebais, VI, 816
- Sweet Mercy! to the gates of Heaven
This Minstrel lead, his sins forgiven;
The rueful conflict, the heart riven
With vain endeavour,
And memory of earth's bitter leaven
- William Wordsworth, Thoughts Suggested on the Banks of the Nith
Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895)
- Quotes reported in Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895).
- Nothing humbles and breaks the heart of a sinner like mercy and love. Souls that converse much with sin and wrath, may be much terrified; but souls that converse much with grace and mercy, will be much humbled.
- Thomas Brooks, p. 409
- God loves our mercy to one another; but not upon conditions at variance with sanctity to Him.
- James Martineau, p. 409
- Kind hearts are here; yet would the tenderest one
Have limits to its mercy; God has none.
- Adelaide Anne Procter, p. 409
- Who will not mercy unto others show,
How can he mercy ever hope to have?
- Edmund Spenser, p. 409