The Letters of Ruth Bryan, 1805-1860
Oh, this wondrous Savior!
To Miss W.
November 2nd, 1857.
My beloved friend—I rejoice in the token your dear letter contains of the Lord's leading, which I cannot doubt, though oftentimes you are not able to realize the teaching of the Spirit as you desire. It seems to me like that word in Hosea 11:3, 4. All this was done to them of whom it is said, "My people are bent to backsliding from me," even to poor Ephraim, who seems in the Word to be often used as a type of the backslider. In this case he had wandered so long and so far as not at first to recognize the voice of the Good Shepherd, or to realize that He was really "restoring his soul, and leading him again in the paths of righteousness for His name's sake." But nevertheless it was so. The fact remained the same. Ephraim was a sheep, nor could all his waywardness make him a goat, although it robbed him for a time of much of the sheep's privilege, and kept him from feeding and resting in the green pastures; so that, instead of being fat and flourishing, he was lean from day to day. But now the Shepherd of Israel is seeking and searching him out from all the places where he has been scattered, "in the cloudy and dark day," and, though he has become so bewildered in judgment as not to know where he is, or who is guiding him, yet his faithful Friend will not leave him. He will bring him out from the people, and feed him in a good pasture: on the high mountains of Israel shall his fold be. "Ephraim loved idols." "Ephraim hired lovers." "Ephraim mixed himself among the people." Ephraim's goodness is "like a morning cloud, and as the early dew it goes away."
Now can my dear Miss W— trace any of her own features in this description of Ephraim? Is she convicted, in her own conscience, of the like evils, as she reads the charges against the backsliding one? Then, let her listen to the sequel, and, though Satan and unbelief may rob her of the comfort of many promises, by insinuating that she is not the character described, and they are not given to her, yet surely she may look for Ephraim-mercies, and plead Ephraim-promises, and hope in Ephraim's pardoning God, who says, "Is Ephraim my dear son? is he a pleasant child? For since I spoke against him I do earnestly remember him still; therefore my affections are troubled for him: I will surely have mercy upon him, says the Lord" (Hosea 11:8, 9). Ephraim shall say, "What have I to do any more with idols?" "I will heal their backsliding, I will love them freely; for my anger is turned away from him," even from the Surety on whom their sin was found, and punished. From Him is the Divine anger turned away, because He has endured the utmost penalty which justice could require, and therefore a holy God can love us freely (Isaiah 53:6).
Oh, my beloved and longed-for, I know your dear heart is fully convicted of backsliding; here you can painfully read your name and character. Well—the Word abounds with rich promises to such; promises of correction, of reviving, and restoration. Search them out: you will wonder at their fullness and freeness. If you dare not think any other bosom of consolation belongs to you, this is an abundant one. May you, by faith, drink it in and be satisfied, and may the blessed Spirit bring home these free-grace promises so warmly to your heart, that it shall "dissolve in wonder, love, and praise." May you, by faith, look upon Him whom you have pierced, and mourn for Him, while at the same time you rejoice in His benefits, and receive, by His precious blood, the blotting out of all transgressions. That blood has blotted them out of the Book, so that, when sought for, they shall not be found, and it alone can blot them out of the conscience; this also shall be done (Heb. 9:13, 14). Oh, this efficacious blood! Oh, this wondrous Savior! He opens the secret of our wanderings and transgressions, only to declare how entirely He has put them all away by the sacrifice of Himself.
Hear Him speak, Isaiah 43:22-26. Thus "He receives sinners, and eats with them," having been made sin for them, that they "might be made the righteousness of God in Him." Let us join to praise Him, for, if He had meant to destroy us, He would not have shown us such things as these. Oh, what mercy that He did not say, "Let them alone, they have loved idols, after idols let them go." What mercy that by His light He has manifested our darkness, and searchingly said to us, "Is there any secret thing with you? Has it not been thus with you?" And has He not caused you to reply, Psalm 139:23? Christ is the Way (John 14:6). Has He not raised you from the bed of spiritual sloth, to seek your Beloved? And have you not caught some little savor of His good ointments, drawing you on in seeking Him still? Oh, yes; your letter plainly declares it in those little revivings, inflowings of the Word, and encouragements at the mercy-seat; of all which you may say, "It is the voice of my Beloved, behold He comes, leaping upon the mountains, skipping upon the hills." You cannot yet say He is come so as to embrace you—but His tokens are sure, and by them He is saying, "You shall see greater things than these." More of your own vile heart--and more of His loving heart. More of your sin--and more of His great salvation. More of your deformity--and more of His beauty. The blessed Spirit discovers both (John 16:8, 14). Fear not, He will "perfect that which concerns" you; and, though you may not yet have felt the depth of your nature's evil, as some have, you will learn it more and more as you go on (Ezek. 8:13). Yet remember, this is not salvation, neither will it bring rest to your soul. But, in following Isaiah 45:22, "Turn to Me and be saved, all the ends of the earth. For I am God, and there is no other."--that will be found. It is while beholding Jesus by faith you will be changed into His image (2 Cor. 3:18). I rejoice to hear you say that you are longing above all to know Him. Go on wrestling for it, and may you fully experience Phil. 3:7-16.
I, too, have felt the sweetness of that word, Isaiah 42:8. It is a consolation that when He brought us into the banqueting house, and said, "Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love," even then He knew how faithless we should prove; therefore when that faithlessness came out in action, it did not diminish His love, or touch our union, though it did interrupt communion. I am glad, however, that He has so stirred you up, that you cannot rest without it, and that He has made you willing for any trial to the flesh, rather than to follow Him afar off. Do still beg for fuller revelation of Himself and His love. Do not be considering so much how you love Him, as how He loves you. Your love is but the effect; His is the cause; and the more you have to do with the cause, the more fully will the effect flow from it (1 John 4:19, and John 15:9). So with faith; if you would have it grow, it must be by looking at Him, not at it. In short, the more you "consider Him," and are continually coming unto Him, the more lively and healthy will be the graces of the Spirit in your soul, while yet you rejoice, not in your fruitfulness—but only in Him and in what He has done and suffered. If the Holy Spirit open this to you, you will find the secret of peace and power. It is all in Christ, and He says, "Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away." Away from self, away from all besides, to be absorbed in Him. Then shall your peace flow as a river, and "your righteousness as the waves of the sea" (Micah 5:5; Jer. 23:6). I am ashamed of writing so much—but know not how to leave off. Jesus is very precious, and you are dear; and I long for your eye and heart to be fixed on Him. Then will your course be steady, and you will not be greatly moved by the many changes you will ever find within. Your letter breathes with tokens of life. You could not feel His blood so precious, and long for His love, unless you were alive; and I believe He is come to you that you may have life more abundantly, and that your heart, which seemed desolate, may be again tilled sown (Ezek. 36:32 to end).
If it is for the Lord's glory that we meet again, He will bring it about. But if you expect anything from me, you must be disappointed. "He will not give His glory to another." Jesus will be all your need, and, if we ever meet, both looking to Him, it will be a warm meeting indeed.
It has pleased my dear Lord most wonderfully to renew my bodily health. Oh, for grace to spend all in His service. He has been most kind, to open the "upper springs" sweetly since my return home. Oh, press on after a life of faith in Jesus, for it is next in blessedness to a life of glory with Jesus. Beg of the blessed Spirit to draw your faith out continually upon His Person and work. Then will you find that He is a "good land, flowing with milk and honey." I long for you to be brought to rejoice in the Lord, and have sweet fellowship with Him. May He keep you pleading and waiting for it, until He shall say "Be it unto you even as you will." He loves our importunity, and waits to answer prayer.
P.S.—You mention that sometimes all you thought you had enjoyed seems a delusion. You say, "I do not know what to do in such cases." Come to Jesus afresh, in all your emptiness, as if you never had received anything from Him, and He will not cast you out; no, never! If you fear you were deceived, and think you had false peace and comfort, come and tell Him, and ask Him to take away the wrong, and make you right. Hide nothing from Him. Thus you will get more relief from self, and victory over Satan, than by any other means. Let nothing keep you from Him.
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