The Letters of Ruth Bryan, 1805-1860
The Believer "cast down" by the power
of indwelling sin, "yet not destroyed"
"He will not always accuse us or be angry forever." Psalms 103:9
"Though he brings grief, he will show compassion, so great is his unfailing love." Lamentations 3:32
To E. M., 1857.
My very dear friend, and now companion in tribulation,
My heart yearns towards you, and will indulge itself a little, because we are both in the same low place—feeling our vileness, and mourning after our Beloved. Surely there never was such an one as I, so weak and wicked; so willful, not full of His will—but of my own. How I need the emptying from vessel to vessel. I need to have my purposes and enterprises broken that I may learn that His purposes shall stand fast, and that He will do all His pleasure. I can say, as the repenting thief did, I am "in the same condemnation," and "indeed justly," receiving but the due reward of my deeds. I have been walking after the sight of my eyes. "The legs of the lame are not equal;" so when we act from sight and sense, our walk is not consistent; it is only when walking by faith that it is so. Vile, ungrateful worm that I am, what has it cost me in bitter anguish; yet the sorrow is nothing to the sin. And, as I said to you, the ill savor will come up continually, until the blessed Comforter brings the savor of rest, even the fragrant sacrifice for sin which was once offered, and which is now pleaded by Him who is the sinner's surety and the sinner's friend. Well, I can only lie at His feet and continue confessing all. I dare not promise to do better; I am in self-despair; but to Him will I look for pardon of the sin, and power against it.
And shall it be in vain? Is His mercy clean gone forever? No, dear friend, we will speak well of Him. He is faithful. He rests in His love, nor does it cool in the least in the midst of all our treacherous dealings. "Once again He will have compassion on us. He will trample our sins under your feet and throw them into the depths of the ocean!"--having cast all our sins into the deep red sea of His own blood! Where our sin has abounded, His grace shall much more abound. And again we shall sing of pardoning mercy and restoring love.
How vain is the help of man. We may listen to the song of some, and join in the mourning of others—but none can lift the burden off, but Jesus. He is the Physician of value who says, "I have seen his ways, and will heal him, and restore comforts unto him and to his mourners." Indeed, I do expect it; faith is looking again towards His holy temple, and love is stretching out for the first sight or sound of the Beloved's approach. "Look unto me, and be saved"—saved from the sin and from the punishment. "Is anything too hard for the Lord?" Nothing, nothing; we will hope in Him, for we shall yet praise Him for the help of His countenance.
Since writing the above this word has come to me with sweet encouragement, "Your enemies shall be found liars unto you; and you shall tread upon their high places." (Deut. 33:29) The very things which Satan and the flesh cast up as hindrances, faith shall tread upon in the name of the Lord. Oh, this is the victory, even our faith. Sweet have I found that verse also, "For with God nothing shall be impossible;" therefore I would say to myself and my friend, "Cast not away your confidence, which has great recompense of reward." His blood shall cleanse, and His power shall conquer: I feel a sweet assurance of it, though with an aching heart. Flesh shall not prevail against Him, for He has that mighty power "whereby He is able to subdue all things unto Himself." What then is better for the poor Esthers than to be still going in unto the king with the venture of faith—"if I perish, I perish." "She fell down at his feet, and besought him with tears to put away the malice of Haman the Agagite." Yes, this is what we want, to have the devices of the flesh frustrated and brought to nothing, when, like Haman, they seem most powerful. Shall Esther thus press her plea against the enemy; and shall the earthly king yield to her suit, devising means to put away that which seemed to be irrevocable? and shall we have worse success with Him who waits to be gracious, and is exalted to show mercy? No, no! He will arise to deliver. (Psalm 12:5)
Therefore, though shame and confusion of face belong unto us, we will, by the Spirit's help, keep crying to the King against sin and self; and if for a long time He answers us never a word, we deserve it, (Psalm 119:75) and must still follow Him with "Lord help me!" This sowing in tears will be followed by a harvest of joy, love, and praise. Yes, O gracious near Kinsman, Your treacherous one does heartily believe that love will bring You back, and that we shall sing together for Your goodness, for wheat, for wine and for oil, and for the young of the flock, for in Your feast are royal dainties. A little waft of Your fragrance comes now and then, which betokens You near; though the cloud has hid You out of our sight, and our sin is not yet blotted out of the conscience with precious blood--yet it is all blotted out of Your book. Nothing stands against us there; the debt is paid; and You can holily and honorably come and receive us afresh to Your embrace, and show us every black item put away by the sacrifice of Yourself. "Even so come, Lord Jesus."
Thus have I written to you, dear friend, in hope; and I scarcely know why; only as I have often sent you a song from the mount, I thought you should hear also the low note of the valley, from whence only at times the heart could pour itself out to the Lord.
Take courage. The precious blood of the Surety is more powerful for us--than sin, flesh, and all the foes against us! (Rom. 8:37) Whether at your worst, or at your best, do not be looking more at yourself than at Jesus. He is the way of escape, and He is the strength to endure; and we shall be helped in all, though we sometimes faint.
Warm love from the weakest and worst of all, your very affectionate,
"Because of the covenant I made with you, sealed with blood, I will free your prisoners from death in a waterless dungeon. Come back to the place of safety, all you prisoners, for there is yet hope! I promise this very day that I will repay you two mercies for each of your woes!" Zechariah 9:11-12
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