587. That it repented Jehovah that He made man on the earth signifies mercy, and that "He grieved at the heart" has a like signification, is evident from this, that Jehovah never repents, because He foresees all things from eternity both in general and in particular; and when He made man, that is, created him anew, and perfected him till he became celestial, He also foresaw that in process of time he would become such as is here described, and because He foresaw this He could not repent. This appears plainly from what Samuel said:
The invincible one of Israel doth not lie, nor repent, for He is not a man that He should repent (1 Sam. 15:29).
And in Moses:
God is not a man that He should lie, or the son of man that He should repent; hath He said, and shall He not do? or hath He spoken, and shall He not make it good? (Num. 23:19).
But to "repent" signifies to be merciful. The mercy of Jehovah, or of the Lord, includes everything that is done by the Lord toward mankind, who are in such a state that the Lord pities them, each one according to his state; thus He pities the state of him whom He permits to be punished, and pities him also to whom He grants the enjoyment of good; it is of mercy to be punished, because mercy turns all the evil of punishment into good; and it is of mercy to grant the enjoyment of good, because no one merits anything that is good; for all mankind are evil, and of himself everyone would rush into hell, wherefore it is of mercy that he is delivered thence; nor is it anything but mercy, inasmuch as He has need of no man. Mercy has its name from the fact that it delivers man from miseries* and from hell; thus it is called mercy in respect to mankind, because they are in such a state of misery, and it is the effect of love toward them all, because all are so.
* The Latin word for mercy-misericordia-by its very construction expresses the idea of a heart that feels for the wretched. [Rotch ed.]