The Letters of Ruth Bryan, 1805-1860
It is well
(This letter was written under peculiar circumstances, when the friend to whom it is addressed had just heard that Ruth was suffering from an incurable disease.)
Bethel Cottage, December 27th, 1854.
"And she said, It is well."
My precious A—, I thank you for your affectionate note, which is very sweet to my heart, because it savors of Him, and He does not let you hang on my skirts, to hold me back from His embrace. I thank you, in His name, for all your tender expressions of love—I will not say sympathy, for you know I need none, even as the betrothed needs no sympathy when her Beloved comes to claim her for Himself. She may have to leave those who are very near and dear—but she is sure to find all more than made up in Himself; and, mark you, the closer you walk with Him, the less will you realize separation. Seek to live very closely with your Beloved, and He will give you many good things, which yet you have no conception of (1 Cor. 2:9, 10).
I much feared to tell the nature of my ailment. But, as my health was failing, it did not seem right to hide it longer from my loved ones; and, do you know, since it has been disclosed, my precious Lord has lovingly said to me, when I have felt timid, "Why should you be ashamed of what I have done?" and I answered Him, that if He will be glorified and revealed in it, I will, for His sake, forget all the rest. Oh, yes; most gladly would I glory in my infirmity, if He be thereby magnified in this body, whether by life or by death.
As for the affliction itself, I call it a bosom friend, because it tells of home, where every heart will always burn with love, and glow with praise. It seems to me like receiving a card of invitation to go to the King's palace. Every line and every letter is love; though the flesh has suffered, the Sun has long since arisen with healing power, and I truly praise Him for it. It has been like the first day; "evening and morning"—the shade first, and afterwards the brightness. My precious Lord distinctly said to me, some months ago, Rev. 3:10, and Isaiah 43:2. Then must I not praise Him? Oh, yes; and here, in the midst of the waters of affliction, would I set up a stone of memorial in honor of His love and faithfulness, who has helped me hitherto. I do cry to Him that my precious friends may have a large rich blessing in this my mercy, and through it they may have a sweet savor of Jesus, to swallow up the ill-savor of this corrupting body, and be so taken up with Him, that, together, we may have a foretaste of that fullness of joy which is in His presence for evermore.
I see not an inch of the road before me, and have no stock of strength or ability for the journey. But I must live moment by moment on the Lord God, who will make my feet like hinds' feet, to tread upon very high places—even the God who performs all things for me. Moreover, to use another figure, I must lie in the arms of my Beloved as a helpless infant—without wisdom or power to do anything for myself—but believing that "the everlasting arms of love" will prove a safe conveyance. I have only one deep, sharp-pointed pang, which makes me daily mourn, and that is, the thought of my unfaithfulness, and the dishonor done to my dearest Lord since I have known His love. I know He has forgiven all, and that His own precious blood has paid the uttermost farthing—but such love makes me hate myself the more, and ever hide my blushing face in His dear bosom, singing, "Sovereign grace over sin abounding!" Who is a God like unto You, multiplying and manifesting pardons to those who have "nothing to pay?"
Oh! what a blessed Jesus we have—who can so soften affliction and so sweeten Marah's bitter stream, making us exceeding joyful even in tribulation, so that I lack power to praise Him as I would. Oh, that my heart were a ten-stringed instrument, and my life a living epistle, in which all might read Him. But, alas! it is so blotted over with unbelief and other sins, that it is hard to pick out His dear name in most of the pages. Oh! when I see Him face to face, and behold those love-prints in His glorious body, what shall I feel? That will be heaven—not one of harps and crowns, or of anything else—but JESUS and the open vision of His unveiled glories, the ineffable glories of Deity, and perfect beauties of humanity ever beaming with new effulgence in the person of our Bridegroom. Then shall we reflect His glory, and show forth His praise.
But I must cease; being still in the body, though sometimes at the gate of heaven.
My dear —, you are young in experience. I feel towards you as 2 Cor. 11:2, 3, fearing, lest by any means--not that Jesus would lose you—but you would lose Jesus, experimentally; lest any should take your crown of rejoicing from you, and cause you to cast away your confidence. May He keep you very close to Himself, and, whatever strange voices perplex, may He cause you to listen to what your Lord says in John 21:22. Remember also 2 Tim. 3:12. There is much which is called godliness which is not "living godly in Christ Jesus." To know nothing but Him—to delight in no other—to look nowhere else for holiness, happiness, and fruitfulness—this is the life of faith so fought against by unbelief and carnal reason, both in ourselves and others, as well as by Satan, who knows that hereby he gets more overcome than in any other way (Eph. 6:16; 1 Peter 1:13-15). May the Lord the Spirit open to you this way of faith, and keep you therein to the end of your days, as Gal. 2:19, 20; Prov. 4:18. I can now testify that it is a solid and blessed reality, notwithstanding my instability. The Lord bless and comfort you (Psalm 87:7). He says, in substance, "All my springs are for you."
Thanks, many, for all kind wishes. I am most unworthy of any love, and often wonder my Lord can bear with me, I am so unlovely in all things, so unlike His handmaids. But it is all His love which flows to me through your heart, and His love is a bottomless, shoreless ocean, in which we shall be absorbed forever and ever.
Our union is forever in indissoluble bonds.
Yours, ever in Him,
Ruth, the happy gleaner
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