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