The Letters of Ruth Bryan, 1805-1860
Christ the portion of His people
"I will lead the blind by a way they did not know; I will guide them on paths they have not known. I will turn darkness to light in front of them, and rough places into level ground. This is what I will do for them, and I will not forsake them." Isaiah 42:16
"The cup which my Father has given me--shall I not drink it?" John 18:11
To Mrs. H., May 20, 1858.
My ever-dear Amelia,
Yes, you shall drink it and praise the Lord. He wisely appoints and times every bitter cup--and all is given in love. Bitters are strengthening, sweets are comforting, and through all He will sustain the hidden life with the hidden manna, of which, if a man eats, he shall live forever. It was said of the Paschal Lamb, "with bitter herbs you shall eat it," which remains true to this day, as I experimentally proveóbut find it truly
"Sweet to lie passive in His hands,
And know no will but His."
When I attempt to judge His dealings I get into bewilderment and confusion. When I attempt to choose my own ways I make endless mistakes, and at length fall at His feet abased at my own foolishness. The government shall be upon His shoulders, and of the increase of His government and peace there shall be no end. Therefore "I will go in the strength of the Lord God; I will make mention of Your righteousness, even of Yours alone."
I have been passing through many deep trials since I last communicated with you, my dear friend, all proving that the Lord's thoughts are not our thoughts, nor His ways our ways. My thoughts are vain, and I hate them; but "how precious are Your thoughts unto me, O God! how great is the sum of them!" if I could reckon them up--they are more than can be numbered. "I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord; thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end."
Many thanks for dear Hó Mó's letter. It is precious. It is indeed an indulgence to you both to dwell together in the Lord; but you are holding all, ready to resign at His word, knowing that He alone is your sure dwelling-place and companion forever. Oh! sweet privilege, to hold all in Him, and for Him, and so live on Him, that we shall not be impoverished if all else be withdrawn.
"There nothing is in the creature found,
But may be found in Thee;
I must have all things and abound,
While Christ is all to me."
"I am your inheritance," says our loving Lord; and as we live by faith, we find that we have a treasure in the heavens which fails not. Brooks dry up, cisterns become brokenóbut the all-fullness treasured in Jesus is inexhaustible; and in the greatest outward straits we may be living in plenty and rejoicing in Him, as "Even though the fig trees have no blossoms, and there are no grapes on the vine; even though the olive crop fails, and the fields lie empty and barren; even though the flocks die in the fields, and the cattle barns are empty--yet I will rejoice in the Lord! I will be joyful in the God of my salvation!" Habakkuk 3:17-18
What need I have to cry, "Lord, increase my faith!" We are not straitened in Him but in our own affections; too often are they straitened; then we can only rejoice in His gifts: but when enlarged into Himself we can rejoice in Him whether He bestows or withholds--spiritually or temporally. He is our peaceable habitation, our own dwelling, and quiet resting place--for so far as we live in His will, we are insured from disappointment, and are not afraid of evil tidings, our heart being fixed, trusting in the Lord. "You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You." "The eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect towards Him." Faith can "be still" with such a refuge and helper.
He who has given all up to God--has nothing to lose. He who has found all in God--has nothing outside of Him to desire. Thus Mary sits still in the house until she receives the stirring message, "The Master has come, and calls for you;" and she also sits still at the feet of Jesus, feeding on Him, while busy Martha is preparing for Him. How plain that He was Mary's ALL, and that she realized that He had entertainment enough in Himself without any of her additions; she therefore leaves Martha to serve alone, while she feeds on her Lord, and He delights in her, and the satisfaction is mutual. May Mary's place and Mary's portion be yours and mine forever; but it is only His own almighty power that can hold us to it. The flesh would ever be moving and meddling, for truly the professing Church in this day is a city full of stirrings; and many of the living family are tossing to and fro in the general tumult, while their spiritual complainings are many, and amount to this, "While I was busy here and there--He was gone." Oh! keep us, gracious Lord, abiding in You, while others go and come.
Now, my beloved friend, I have many desires towards you. Having just left off writing to take tea, I read over it Isaiah 35 with much sweetness, and if the Lord opens it to your faith as He has to mine, you will not lack this day's bread, and with tomorrow will come its portion also. "Take no thought for the morrow; sufficient for the day is the evil thereof." "As your days, so shall your strength be." "For the Lord God is your strength, and He will make your feet like hinds feet." Even upon the mountains of difficulty, He makes a way for His ransomed to pass over; yes, He is the way in which you shall run and not be weary, walk and not faint; He is the straight way through crooked circumstances. "I will cause them to walk by the rivers of waters, in a straight way wherein they shall not stumble."
Now, beloved, I commend you to Him who "is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory, with exceeding joy." To Him alone be glory by us, and in all that befalls us, in this wilderness journey, for we are not our ownóbut are bought with a price, that we should be to the praise of His glory, who has made us accepted in the Beloved.
In Him, our bond of union indissoluble, yours, with fervent love,
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