“Do not call God just, for His justice is not manifest in the things concerning you. And if David calls Him just and upright (cf. Ps. 24:8, 144:17), His Son revealed to us that He is good and kind. ‘He is good,’ He says, ‘to the evil and to the impious,’ (cf. Luke 6:35) How can you call God just when you come across the Scriptural passage on the wage given to the workers? ‘Friend, I do thee no wrong I will give unto this last even as unto thee. Is thine eye evil because I am good (Matt. 20:12-15)?’ How can a man call God just when he comes across the passage on the prodigal son who wasted his wealth with riotous living, how for the compunction alone which he showed, the father ran and fell upon his neck and gave him authority over all his wealth (Luke 15:11 ff.)? None other but His very Son said these things concerning Him, lest we doubt it; and thus He bare witness concerning Him. Where, then, is God’s justice, for whilst we are sinners Christ died for us (cf. Rom. 5:8)! But if here He is merciful, we may believe that He will not change.” …
“His recompense of sinners is, that instead of a just recompense, He rewards them with resurrection, and instead of those bodies with which they trampled upon His law, He enrobes them with perfect glory and incorruption. That grace whereby we are resurrected after we have sinned is greater than the grace which brought us into being when we were not. Glory be to Thine immeasurable grace, O Lord! Behold, Lord, the waves of Thy grace close my mouth with silence, and there is not a thought left in me before the face of Thy thanksgiving. What mouths can confess Thy praise, O good King, Thou Who lovest our life?” – St. Isaac the Syrian.
St. Isaac the Syrian was a favorite of John Wesley. It is a disservice to John Wesley to declare him to be a semi-Pelagian, for he is not. There is not a trace of Pelagian in Mr. Wesley, but there is a high regard for God’s merciful work among us.
Many of the sayings of St. Isaac the Syrian would find a home in American Evangelicalism. His writings on grace are profound. His understanding of God’s love is profound. It is no surprise that Charles Wesley writes:
“And can it be that I should gain an interest in the Savior’s blood! Died he for me? who caused his pain! For me? who him to death pursued? Amazing love! How can it be that thou, my God, shouldst die for me? Amazing love! How can it be that thou, my God, shouldst die for me?”
As Orthodox, we need to always have a high appreciation of God’s mercy toward us. It is that mercy that allowed the Desert Fathers to admit their sin. It is that mercy that allows each and every one of us to recognize our sin and work to remove our sin. It is that mercy that gives us the strength to cooperate with God (synergy) and to keep on keeping on.
Were not God’s mercy to be an ever-present part of our life, then there would be no Christian hope at all.