After writing at length about discovering sin daily in his life and then lamenting that though he can see that his heart “is very deep and dark, and full of evil; but as to particulars, I know not one of a thousand!”, John Newton then bursts forth in doxology concerning the depth of grace. Though our sinner is great Newton shows that our Savior is greater:
And if our own hearts are beyond our comprehension, how much more incomprehensible is the heart of Jesus! If sin abounds in us—grace and love superabound in him! His ways and thoughts are higher than ours, as the heavens are higher than the earth; his love has a height, and depth, and length, and breadth, which passes all knowledge! The riches of his grace are unsearchable riches! Eph. 3:8, Eph. 3:18, Eph. 3:19.
All that we have received or can receive from him, or know of him in this life, compared with what he is in himself, or what he has for us—is but as the drop of a bucket—compared with the ocean; or a single ray of light—compared with the sun. The waters of the sanctuary flow to us at first almost ankle deep—so graciously does the Lord condescend to our weakness; but they rise as we advance, and constrain us to cry out, with the Apostle, O the depth! We find before us, as Dr. Watts beautifully expresses it,
A sea of love and grace unknown,
Without a bottom or a shore!
O the excellency of the knowledge of Christ! It will be growing upon us through time—yes, I believe through eternity! What an astonishing and what a cheering thought—that this high and lofty One should unite himself to our nature, that so, in a way worthy of his adorable perfections, he might by his Spirit unite us to himself!
Could such a thought have arisen in our hearts, without the warrant of his Word (but it is a thought which no created mind was capable of even conceiving until he revealed it), it would have been presumption and blasphemy! But now he has made it known, it is the foundation of our hope, and an inexhaustible spring of life and joy. Well may we say, Lord what is man, that you should thus visit him! (From Newton’s Letter Ten to Miss M).