Soul Depths and Soul Heights by Octavius Winslow

Written 140+ years ago (1874), the Puritan Octavius Winslow's collection of sermons, Soul Depths and Soul Heights, on Psalm 130 is fresh, deep, and timely. 

Winslow walks through Psalm 130 phrase by phrase, following the ardent prayer of a man who is distressed by God's anger against his sin. Winslow follows the earnest penitent turning to God, and longing for forgiveness. The trajectory of the Psalm is upward: depth; prayer; conviction; light; hope; waiting; watching; longing; confidence; assurance; and joy. 

Winslow invites to follow this upward trajectory in our own hearts and is such a faithful and thoughtful guide along the way. There are times when he is surprisingly contemporary: "To look then, within ourselves for spiritual light, joy, and hope, is just as unwise and vain as to put sound for substance" (11). 

The depth of Winslow's pastoral wisdom is profound. To those struggling with the doctrine of election he urges, "You are not called to believe that you are one of the elect; but you are called to believe in Jesus Christ -- that you are a poor, lost sinner, feeling your need of the Saviour, looking only to his blood and righteousness as the ground of your pardon, justification, and final glory. Thus called by grace to be a saint of God, election will become to you one of the most encouraging, comforting, and sanctifying doctrines of the Bible" (15). As such, as deep as we may sink in sin, we are never out of the embrace and hold of Christ. 

Winslow has a heart and eye for the beauty of Christ: "Oh, to learn experimentally these two great facts -- sin's infinite hatefulness and loves' infinite holiness! The love of God in giving his Son to die; the love of Christ in dying; the essential turpitude an unmitigated enormity of sin, which demanded a sacrifice so divine, so holy, and so precious!" (36). In the cross, the grace of Christ has "not only cancelled the built, but it has conquered the power of sin; it has not only deposed, but it has slain the tyrant" (53). 

Read this book, friend, and be encouraged. "Arise from your 'depths', and give yourself to prayer! Lift up your eyes, dim with tears though they be, and gaze upon those sunny heights of divine communion towering above and smiling down upon you, and inviting your ascent. There sits your Father! There ministers your Intercessor!" (127).