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Good Words 1860
Out of the Depths - In Christ


There are depths of despair where silence reigns and whence no cry ascends to God; but there are depths out of which the soul cries to God, and the Lord delivers.

Out of the depths cried the publican to God, when he could see no other bridge than mercy between a righteous God and himself, whose name was sinner. Out of the depths cried the prodigal, when he resolved to return to his father, against whom he had sinned. Without any excuse to offer, without any palliation of his guilt, he could only say, "I have sinned, and am no more worthy to be called thy son." Out of the depths cried the woman, who was a sinner, though she had no words but only tears—the depths of helplessness and anguish—the hopelessness and sadness of a bruised reed. Out of the depths cried Saul, when his wisdom was suddenly shewn to him to be folly, his righteousness fighting against God, his strength and boast his weakness and shame. Out of the depths cried the thief on the cross, when he beheld his sinful life behind him, death and eternity before him, and, without one plea, asked the holy and innocent Sufferer to remember him. These cried out of the depths of unforgiven sin. When the waters overwhelmed them they had learned to distrust the sand of the surface; they had digged deep, till they came to depths of hopelessness ; and deeper than the depth of self-despair they found the outstretched arms of Divine mercy, to receive them into everlasting safety and peace.

Out of the depths cried David, after his bach-sliding and grievous sin. He had been silent before God, and though outwardly praying to Him and singing His praises, he had not enjoyed real communion with his God and Father, and he confessed and appealed to God's mercy. ''Have mercy upon me according to thy loving-kindness; according to the multitude of thy tender mercies, blot out my transgressions. Nothing else have I to look to but thy mercy." Out of the depths cried Peter, when the look of Jesus smote the rocky heart, and he went out and wept bitterly. They cried out of the depths of the burdened conscience of backsliders, and the Lord restored their souls, and led them in the paths of righteousness for His name's sake.

Out of the depths of indwelling sin cried Paul, when he felt that though he delighted in the law of God with the inner man, there was another law striving within his members. ''O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?" In the subtle fowler's snare, in the heat of the world's turmoil, in the tumult of sinful thoughts, unhallowed desires, and worldly habits, the believer feels weak and helpless; and out of the depths he cries unto God, and the Lord delivers him, and takes his feet out of the net, and gives him the victory over all that hate him, yea, prepares a table before him in the presence of his enemies.

Out of the depths of sufferings, brought about by their own sin and disobedience, the saints cry unto God. So prayed Jacob to be delivered from the hand of Esau; and when disobedient Jonah was in the belly of the whale, the depths closed him round about, the weeds were wrapped about his head—-when his soul fainted within him he remembered the Lord, and cried unto Him, and the Lord heard the voice of his supplication. The children of Israel are brought low for their iniquity; nevertheless He regarded their affliction when He heard their cry. (Psalm cvi. 43, 44.)

Out of the depths of priestly sorrow and sympathy God's people cry to Him. Thus did Jeremiah and Daniel humble themselves, on account of their guilty nation, before God, and confess their sin and supplicate mercy. They were in the depths of sorrow and grief. Thus did Paul, the servant of the Lord, weep for the ungodly; he felt great heaviness and continual sorrow in his heart on account of his brethren, his kinsmen according to the flesh; and the supplications, which ascend out of the depths of Christlike zeal for God's glory and compassion towards sinners, bring down the answer of the most High in power and blessing.

While we are in this valley of our pilgrimage, compassed about with sorrow, temptation, and a godless world, and have within us sin and unbelief and selfishness, contending not merely with flesh and blood, we shall have to cry out of the depths. In heaven the prayers will be changed into songs of deliverance; but even now the child of God knows not merely ex profundis, but a hymn of joy and gladness, for he is "in Christ."

He was once against Christ, crucifying Him, like the Jews of old, persecuting Him, like Saul of Tarsus ; he was once without Christ, ignoring His offers and invitations, destitute of His righteousness and strength ; he was once only near Christ, admiring His holiness, His life, His death, His love, wishing to please and serve Him, trying to obey and trust Him ; but now he is in Christ.

This union is of God, (1 Cor. i. 30;) it is of Christ, (Eph. v. 25;) it is of the Spirit. (1 Cor. vi. 17.)

This union is necessary and essential to salvation. Know ye not that ye are in Christ Jesus, except ye be reprobates? Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. But what is meant by being born again? If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature.

This union is mysterious, and yet can be compared to many things, which all understand. Jesus calls himself the Bread of Life. He gives us His body and blood to be the strength and life of our souls. We feed on Him. The Father sends the manna; the Son gives us His body to eat, and His blood to drink; the Spirit enables us to receive and to partake by faith.

Jesus calls Himself the vine, and us the branches. His life is ours; we are dead and barren without Him. If we abide in Him, it is He who lives in us, and brings forth fruit through us. The Father is the Husbandman; His is the glory; the Spirit grafts us into the vine; faith is the connexion between us and Christ. Christ is the Head, the Church the body. There is perfect union and sympathy between the Head and the members. Christ is the life, the wisdom, the guide of His people.

Christ is the foundation laid by the Father; we the building, resting and depending upon Him.

Christ is the Bridegroom, the Husband of the Church. He loved us, and gave Himself for us, that we may love Him, yield to Him all our affections, lean on Him at all times, and find our joy in His presence and fellowship.

These comparisons are to help us in understanding and believing that there is a real and intimate union between Christ and His people.

See, then, O believer, thy safety. Thou art accepted in the Beloved. If Christ is safe, thou art safe. Why was Christ crucified? He was delivered for our offences. Why was Christ raised and glorified? Because of our justification. Christ ascended; Christ sitteth now at the right hand of God; and if Christ is our Head, if we are in Him, we are safe.

See your danger. Only one danger exists, that is, to leave Christ. As long as you abide in Him as your only hope and confidence ; as the supreme object of your love and gratitude; as your guide and example and Sovereign, you are safe; His grace is sufficient for you, His strength is made perfect in your weakness. To lose sight of Him; to be unfaithful to Him in your heart, unmindful of Him in your life—this is the only real evil.

See your happiness. "As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love. These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy-might remain in you, and that your joy might be full." If we are in Christ, what infinite love of the Father is resting upon us! One with the Beloved of God, how near and dear are we to the heart of the heavenly Father! What a contrast is here. O prodigal, clothed with the best robe, remember the depths, when thou didst sojourn in the far country. If in Christ, fellow-heirs with Him, what a glorious future is awaiting us. Christ gives us not merely heaven, but a right to heaven —His own right, as it were: "I will grant to him to sit with me in my throne!"

See here what constitutes your misery and your weakness: "Without me ye can do nothing." When we do not abide in Christ, and do not let His word abide in us, our peace becomes shallow, our joy becomes hollow, our strength unreal, feverish, and effervescent. Only by decreasing in self-dependence and confidence in the flesh, and by allowing Christ to increase, to become more indispensable to us, and claiming more His strength and the supplies of His grace, can our souls prosper and glorify God.

Learn here to seek the Spirit. He joins us to Christ. It is He who keeps us in Christ, even to the end.

Learn here the importance of obedience. Ponder Christ's saying: "If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love." Oh, what an. earnest, heart-stirring, heart-constraining preaching of the law have we here. Obedience is the way of abiding in Christ's love. It is when we obey that we rest in the embrace of our Saviour.

If not in Christ, then, instead of bread, we feed on poison; instead of a sure foundation, we build on sand; instead of being living branches, we are withered, ready to be cast out and burnt; instead of having life in Him who is the resurrection and life, we are in Adam, children of wrath and disobedience, and heirs of death; instead of the marriage supper, we must look forward to never-ending separation from the source of all light, and purity, and blessedness. If in Christ, we wait for a glorious harvest—for the perfect manifestation of the sons of God—for the inheritance which God has promised to Christ, and all who, by the Spirit, are joined to Him.

Once in Christ, in Christ for ever i While Peter denied Him, Christ remembered him. Before Peter fell, Christ had prayed for His disciples. In the depths, the everlasting arms are beneath thee. Will not His goodness lead thee to repentance, to tender, loving, faithful, zealous obedience?


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