The Letters of Ruth Bryan, 1805-1860
All spiritual blessings are in Christ Jesus,
and to be dispensed to the poor and needy
To E. M., Nottingham, November 1848.
There is in my heart a strange and unaccountable drawing towards you and your dear sister, a full tide of feeling which will break through all opposing timidity, and find its way to you, in the shape of earnest longings after you "in the affections of Jesus Christ," that He may be formed in you "the hope of glory." I would not mention this, but in the hope that it may be from the Lord, and for His glory, which He can accomplish by the most weak and insignificant means. With this encouragement, then, I venture to write to you in that Name, through faith in which the lame do "leap as an deer," "and the tongue of the dumb" is made to "sing,"—that Name which is to the believing soul "as ointment poured forth"—the Name of Jesus, who was so called because He would "save His people from their sins."
This well suits a sin-sick soul. His name is also Emmanuel, which is "God with us;" "God manifest in the flesh;" God taking our nature—becoming our brother, born for our adversity—to bear our griefs and carry our sorrows, to be tempted as we are tempted, that He might for us conquer the tempter, and deliver His tempted brethren. He can pity, for He has felt; (Heb. 2:18) He can relieve, for He has broken the power; He "was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin." Satan tried every arrow in his quiver; but our glorious God-man repelled them all. Satan foiled the first Adam with one temptation, and all his seed in him; he came against the same nature in the second Adam, "the Lord from heaven," in whom again a seed was included to stand or fall with Him. And here our nature came off victorious in union with our glorious Head. Truly it makes my heart glow to see Jesus as our champion on the battle-field, vanquishing our foes—Satan, sin, the world, our old man, and death itself. They have all been so overcome by our spiritual David, that they shall never be the destruction of the least lamb in His flock. The lion and the bear may come out together against them, and seem just ready to devour; but He will arise, smite the beasts of prey, deliver His trembling one, and none shall pluck it out of His hand.
This is precious consolation to such as feel they have no might at all, and feel, too, the world drawing, Satan tempting, sin striving, and the flesh lusting. Oh, what would we do at such times if we had not One to fight for us, and fight in us too! We would certainly be "swallowed up quick," but the Lord has laid help upon "One who is mighty;" and this mighty One that is for us is more than all that can be against us. What makes it so beautiful is, that Himself is our very strength and victory; so that our weakness and inability are no hindrance at all. Of this one of old was so well convinced, that he exclaimed, "When I am weak, then am I strong." What a paradox to carnal reason! and how long we are learning this lesson perfectly, by reason of the working of our carnality and self-love!
Our Father has determined that Christ shall be all, and we nothing. To accomplish this experimentally, He undoes our work. When we have been washing with soap, He plunges us in the ditch; when we seem to be getting on a little better than usual, He turns us upside down. This is hard work, and while the process is going on, we think it must be for destruction, for we appear to grow worse and worse. But in truth it is for salvation—to show ourselves to ourselves, to bring us to forsake ourselves, (Luke 9:23) and to give us Christ, instead of ourselves. (Gal. 2:20) Oh, what a blessed exchange! It is worth being spoiled in all the labor of our hands, and marred in our very best things--to possess such a treasure. There can be no drinking of the living waters while we have a price in our hand, be it much or little; no buying the gospel wine and milk while we have any money; no triumphing in "the Lord our righteousness," while we are hunting about for shreds of our own, and sewing them together. All this is Christ-rejecting and God-dishonoring. Therefore be not cast down at the Lord's ways towards you, for if we are anything, or have anything, Jesus cannot be everything; and if He is not everything, He is nothing. He must be all, for holiness and happiness, for justification and sanctification, (1 Cor. 1:30) for acceptable appearing before God and suitable walking before men, for holy living and happy dying.
Do we want good works? we are "created" unto them in Him. (Eph. 2:10) Do we desire "the fruits of righteousness?" we are filled with them by union with Him. (Phil. 1:11) In short, our Father has "blessed us with all spiritual blessings" in Him; (Eph. 1:3) and the reason we do not enjoy them more is because we seek them in ourselves. Oh to have the single eye which looks at Jesus only! Then would our whole body be "full of light." But thus to venture right away from self is a venture indeed, and can only be done by the power of the Holy Spirit. It is He effects that blessed closure of the soul in Christ, which is like the weary dove getting into the ark; and you know she was pulled in after vainly seeking rest elsewhere. May you have such a precious pull of Divine power, that you may enter into rest by believing; (Heb. 4:3) which faith is "not of" ourselves, it is the gift of God. (Eph. 2:8)
When once admitted to the loving heart and loving arms of Jesus, you will find that which would superabundantly compensate for more than a thousand years waiting: such a complete and blessed salvation—such a precious and glorious Savior—such fullness in His work, blood, righteousness, love, and person--as to eternity will never be fully developed—and such blessed entrance thereinto by faith now, that, though I dare not trust myself to speak of it, I sincerely wish you its happy and speedy enjoyment. May the sweet love of Jesus constrain us more and more to speak well of His name, and may its savor perfume our souls, lips, and lives, that men may take knowledge of us, as being much with Him, and much like Him! May you have full experience of those words, "And in view of this, we always pray for you that our God will consider you worthy of His calling, and will, by His power, fulfill every desire for goodness and the work of faith, so that the name of our Lord Jesus will be glorified by you, and you by Him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ." (2 Thess. 1:11, 12)
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