The Letters of Ruth Bryan, 1805-1860
Christ proved to be all-sufficient in near views
of eternity, and recommended to seeking souls
To E. M., April 1849.
It was not my intention that your kind notes should be so long unanswered; but true, indeed, is Jeremiah 10:23, "I know, Lord, that a person's life is not his own. No one is able to plan his own course." And my heavenly Father had prepared for me a journey I then knew not of--I mean down into the valley of affliction, having been much prostrated in health since I had the pleasure of hearing from you. The descent was gradual, and quite safe, for I was enabled to lean upon my Beloved, who kindly granted me, that as the outer man was weakened, the inner man was renewed by the Spirit day by day. From the beamings of celestial glory which sparkled through the crevices of a decaying body, I joyfully hoped soon to put off mortality and enter the presence-chamber of my Lord, to behold Him, not "through a glass, darkly," but "face to face;" to see that countenance, once "marred more than any man's" for my sake, but now in resurrection glory, shining above the brightness of the sun in his meridian splendor. Such was my anticipation, but apparently not my Lord's intention at this time, as He is now gradually strengthening this poor tabernacle, and sending me back a second time from the very gates of the Celestial City. May He condescend to be glorified in my return to the discipline of the wilderness, and pardon my unwillingness.
Perhaps He is saying to me as before, "The man from whom the demons had gone out begged to go with him, but Jesus sent him away, saying--Return home and tell how much God has done for you." (Luke 8:38, 39) And my heart says, "We cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard;" (Acts 4:20) and, "Come and hear, all you who fear God, and I will declare what he has done for my soul." (Psalm 66:16)
I must come to you again in the sweet name of Jesus; and if ever one poor sinner more than others had cause to extol that precious name, it is she who now addresses you; in whose SOUL it is "as ointment poured forth;" in whose EAR it is more melodious than music; and in whose HAND it is a staff either to pass over Jordan, or journey forward in the pilgrim road. Feeling that I am the most vile, worthless, and unlikely of all creatures to have sat down so blissfully at the banquet of Love--this poor heart must praise the Founder of the feast, who is also the substance of it; and who, by His own irresistible power, sweetly brought me in, and then said, "Eat, O friend, drink, yes, drink abundantly, O beloved!" "For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed." Having thus partaken of life, I am constrained to testify in my feeble way that this is the bread of God, which nourishes the soul; this is the wine of the kingdom, which cheers the heart, and, with the oil of the Spirit, makes the face to shine.
Moreover, having just come from very near views of eternity, I must solemnly testify that Christ only is the Rock upon which the soul can be safe and triumphant, when the waves of death seem going over the body. At such a time the world stands afar off; friends can only look on, or look up; and all that is to come appears a vast forever--either in the fiery wrath, or the blissful presence of the Lord God and the Lamb. Nothing can be solid but "Christ in you, the hope of glory." To realize this at such a moment is worth a thousand such worlds as this; and, indeed, whatever you may be called to give up, is not worth a name in comparison of a precious Christ. My heart glows with a desire to speak well of His dear name, His finished work, His glorious person, and, if it might be His will, to set other souls on fire with love or longing after Him. For what can I do while away from my glory-home, but to be a savor of Christ, telling poor dead sinners, that whatever be their profession, they are "feeding on ashes;" that "a deceived heart has turned them aside" from the only way of salvation?
I would also seek to encourage poor, trembling souls, who are already brought into judgment, and feel the sentence of death in themselves, to put their case, bad as it is, into the hands of the "Wonderful Counselor," (Isa. 9:6) prevailing Intercessor, (Rom. 8:34) and "Advocate with the Father," who is "Jesus Christ the righteous." (1 John 2:1) I think, beloved, He is just what you seemed to need when you wrote to me, for the sentence of death appeared to be working deeper, that you might not trust in yourselves; (2 Cor. 1:9, 10.) And the goodliness of your flesh seemed to be fading, I hope, by the blowing of the Spirit Jehovah thereupon, (Isa. 40:6, 7) to make way for the beauty of Jesus. By your words, your loveliness seemed turning into corruption, (Dan. 10:8) and the Lord, with inward rebukes correcting you for iniquity, was making your beauty to consume away like a moth. (Psalm 39:11) Though to your feelings these dark discoveries make against you, they are in truth for you, for it is the light which makes manifest; and better that the leprosy should be exposed, than have it working death unheeded.
When the things over which you lament were within, they troubled you not; and now they are disclosed, the great enemy would suggest that you are too filthy for the fountain, too cold for the fire, too much diseased to appear in the presence of the great Physician. He does this in a wily way, bringing to mind, when you would approach the mercy-seat, some shortcoming or misdoing, in order to turn your eye away from that sprinkled blood which is the sinner's all-prevailing plea. May the Comforter reveal Christ, as He convinces of sin, and take of His precious things--and set them against your vile ones, giving you heavenly skill and understanding to plead--His precious blood against your sin--His perfect obedience against your constant disobedience--His power to heal against your desperate disease.
You know those before the throne overcame Satan "by the blood of the Lamb;" and our victories must come in the same way. Yet this way we are so slow to learn, because it is completely out of and against that SELF which it is so hard to leave. However, the Holy Spirit will not forsake His own work; the least beginning shall have a sure ending, for He will perfect that which concerns us. David tells us how he became such a skilful warrior: "It is God who girded me with strength." "He teaches my hands to war." "By you I have run through a troop; by my God have I leaped over a wall."
There is a very encouraging word in Hebrews 11:33-34, "who through faith . . . out of weakness were made strong"—strong through faith; which faith leaves the creature and 'creature-working' behind--and fastens upon a precious Christ, determined to go through all, trusting in Him, and saying heartily, "May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world." (Gal. 6:14) My soul earnestly desires that you may obtain "like precious faith" to venture wholly upon Jesus; and though that faith should seem small "like a grain of mustard seed," it will not prove a delusion; for "He knows those who put their trust in Him," although sometimes they know not to whom they really belong. May it please our gracious Lord soon to reveal Himself, as you desire, and grant you that sealing of the Spirit (Eph. 1:13) for which you long. May the Lord bless you indeed, enlarge you out of SELF into Christ, and keep you from evil, that it may not grieve you.
So prays, yours affectionately,
1 Peter 5:10; Eph. 3:14-19; 1 John 5:21; Jer. 29:11-13.
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