The Letters of Ruth Bryan, 1805-1860
The fullness of Christ revealed by the Spirit
To E. M., April 30, 1857.
Much beloved friend,
My heart rejoices that the glorious Testifier has been again taking of the things of Jesus, and showing them unto you; for it is in His days that "the righteous flourish." As Jesus is exalted in the soul, self is abased. "He must increase, but I must decrease." (John 3:30)
I confess, some things you mention in your letter I had not before seen in that way. My soul longs more than ever for an increase of this spiritual knowledge of Him. Thorns within and thorns without I often keenly feel; but in Him is also found such rest and refreshing as to make one sing, even while feeling the smart.
May we cleave unto Him with full purpose of heart, that it may be with us as with Paul, "I live, yet not I; but Christ lives in me." Thus, too, will it come to pass that we shall not seek our own things—but the things which are Jesus Christ's; and whether we live we shall live unto the Lord, or whether we die we shall die unto the Lord, and so living or dying, we are the Lord's.
Truly, my dear friend, we should be learning more and more how completely He has saved us in Himself, (Isa. 45:17) and how constantly He delights in us with all His heart, so that we have no need to seek for anything in ourselves to make us more entirely accepted or more beloved—"He cannot love us more, nor will He love us less; for in loving her (His Church, His Bride,) He loves Himself." The experience of this union releases the soul from a host of cares and anxious thoughts. Living in His love, that same love flows back to His own dear Person, and being satisfied with Him and His goodness, the heart has "leisure from itself" to seek His glory. "And you are complete in Him." Colossians 2:10
The things which I taste and handle, I declare unto you, my beloved; and most ardently do I long to grow in willingness to be poor in self, that I may be learning experimentally more of His unsearchable riches, who will be all or nothing. When He is ALL, there is no complaining; much of our complaining shows a desire to be something which He will never gratify. But viewing us in Himself, He ever says, "You are absolutely beautiful, my darling, with no imperfection in you." (Song of Songs 4:7) And the response of faith and love is, "He is altogether lovely!" (Song of Songs 5:16)
You will see where I am--just delighting in the same dear object; yes, I think more absorbed in Him than ever, and more desiring to be so. When I hear anyone speak against so much preaching and talking of Christ, I can only think—Well, if this is to be vile, I must be yet more vile, and will be base in my own eyes--that He may be more and more exalted. I do not wish to conceal this, for it is the truth, and I would always be honest. Moreover, to His praise I must confess, that the more I am taken up with Him, the more blessedly do I realize His grace to be sufficient for me, and that amidst many trials and temptations, and through all the plague of indwelling sin. I find sin is more subdued by looking at Him, rather than looking at it, because our Father has laid all our help upon this mighty One. I humbly conceive, too, that much heartburning would be enjoyed, if pilgrims were to meet to search for Him in all the Scriptures, (Luke 24:32) and to ask for the Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him.
You will remember what a blessing I had in tracing His sorrowful footprints under the pain of unanswered prayer in Psalm 22. It is rather singular that my own steppings since have been in the same path, and thus He sometimes says, "Follow me." But He has given sweet encouraging words, and He is a precious sympathizing companion in tribulation. Yet little did I think, when telling you of my Good Friday feast, that I was going to follow the Lamb in the sharp exercise of unanswered petition, and that when thinking I had the promise of an answer. I believe all is for the further abasing of self, and for the lifting up of my precious Jesus on high. How true is that word, "I will lead the blind by a way which they know not."
I want also to tell you how I have been enjoying those words, "The fire shall ever be burning upon the altar; it shall never go out." You know I have often enjoyed them in an experimental sense—the fire of love burning on the altar of our heart, and kept alive by Him who kindled it. Now the ever-burning fire on the Jewish altar seemed to set forth the unsatisfactory nature of those sacrifices; for, though thousands of goats, of bullocks, of rams, and of lambs were consumed, still the fire burnt on, crying, as it were, "Give, give." And as that flame was kindled from heaven, how did it show that sin remained unatoned for, the law unfulfilled, justice unsatisfied; and that in all the multiplied offerings the Divine Lawgiver had found no pleasure. They were only like promises of payment; and the unextinguished fire seemed like that word, "In burnt-offerings and sacrifices for sin you have had no pleasure. Then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me) to do your will, O God."
And oh, what a glorious contrast: "It pleased the Lord to bruise Him;" because every stroke brought payment of the debt. He did find pleasure in that sacrifice, because it brought honor to His Divine attributes, and salvation to His people. Thenceforward the altar fire burns not again; the fire of justice has gone out as regards the Church, for the blood of the Lamb has quenched and extinguished it. And "this is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, says the Lord: I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more." Oh, what fathomless depths of grace and love are in those words! The sins were remembered against Him—but they shall not be remembered against them; for them waits no unquenchable fire. Their Surety said, "It is finished!" Justice said, "It is enough!" He quenched His Father's flaming sword in His own vital blood!
I know not whether you will get any of the savor of His sacrifice through my weak words; but my endless, blissful theme is ever new, and it is a very transporting one—Jesus and salvation will never wear out. Oh, what will it be to see Him face to face--while foretastes are so blissful? "In whom, though now we see him not, yet believing, we rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory."
I remain your tenderly affectionate (in Him, though in self unworthy)
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