“‘That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace,’ says he, ‘in his kindness towards us through Christ Jesus.’
There is yet one hint behind. It is said that God saved these for his love; that is, as I think, for the setting forth, for the commendations of his love, for the advance of his love, in the hearts and minds of them that should come after.
As who should say, God has had mercy upon, and been gracious to you, that he might shew to others, for their encouragement, that they have ground to come to him to be saved.
When God saves one great sinner, it is to encourage another great sinner to come to him for mercy.
He saved the thief, to encourage thieves to come to him for mercy;
He saved Mary Magdalene, to encourage other Mary Magdalene’s to come to him for mercy;
He saved Saul, to encourage Saul’s to come to him for mercy; and this Paul himself doth say, ‘For this cause,’ saith he, ‘I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might shew forth all long-suffering for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting;’ 1 Timothy 1:16.
How plain are the words! Christ, in saving of me, has given to the world a pattern of his grace, that they might see and believe, and come, and be saved; that they that are to be born hereafter might believe on Jesus Christ to life everlasting.
But what was Paul?
Why, he tells you himself; I am, says he, the chief of sinners: He says I was, “a blasphemer; a persecutor, an injurious person; but I obtained mercy.” 1 Timothy 1:14-15.
Yes, that is well for you, Paul; but what advantage have we by this? Oh, very much, he says; for, ‘for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first, Jesus Christ might shew all longsuffering for a pattern to them which shall believe on Him to life everlasting.’
Thus, therefore, you see that this third reason is of strength, namely, that Jesus Christ would have mercy offered in the first place to the biggest sinners, because, by their forgiveness and salvation, others, hearing of it, will be encouraged the more to come to him for mercy.”