The Letters of Ruth Bryan, 1805-1860
The suffering sympathy of Christ
"Therefore, it was necessary for Jesus to be in every respect like us, his brothers and sisters, so that he could be our merciful and faithful High Priest before God. He then could offer a sacrifice that would take away the sins of the people." Hebrews 2:17
To E. M., Good Friday Morning, 1857.
My tenderly-beloved friend,
This morning you are much on my mind in connection with our precious suffering Head, and I must send you a few lines. Jesus has showed Himself again to His poor worm. It was in Psalm 22, especially in the first part, where He is described as suffering the anguish of experimental forsaking, and also great conflict from unanswered prayer. This I never realized so fully before. Oh how He has left His precious footprints in every thorny path—"The footsteps of the flock" are thus so prepared, that "No thorns can harm, for Jesus went before to tread them down."
We feel that He, having suffered before us, is able both to sympathize and to support us. How touching to hear Him compare the deliverances of His people with His own unsuccoured condition—"Our ancestors trusted in you, and you rescued them. You heard their cries for help and saved them. They put their trust in you and were never disappointed." (Psalm 22:4-5) Then stooping to the lowest place of abasement, as if less than any of them, He says, "But I am a worm and not a man. I am scorned and despised by all!" It was as though in that degraded position which He had taken for His people, He must not expect to be dealt with so tenderly as they—
"O love of unexampled kind,
Which leaves all thought so far behind."
My soul was also deeply humbled in the depths of verse 2, "O my God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer; by night, and am not silent!" It was a night season indeed, even darkness which might be felt. For what agony of soul did our Beloved not endure when He had no answer from God. It is astonishing to see how "He was in all points tempted like as we are;" not only tempted with evil by Satan—but tried by His friends, tried by His Father, and tried in all the sensibilities of the nature which He had taken; yet, in all He endured without sin.
His sorrowful utterances were to show that He had the tenderest susceptibility of feeling in all His sufferings. But there was not one murmur or rebellious feeling, or one hard thought. He pitied His disciples—"the flesh is weak;" and though He knew they would all forsake Him through fear. He even made a way for that escape in His matchless love: "If you seek me, let these go their way." His Father He fully justified in all His dealings with Him as the Surety; for while crying with anguish, "You hear not," He directly adds, "But you are holy, O you who inhabits the praises of Israel."
He was indeed a Lamb without blemish. His Father, His enemies, and His Church, have to say, "I find no fault in Him." This precious, spotless One gave Himself for us to the sorrows of death and the pains of hell, which bitter cup of trembling He drained, even to the very dregs; so that He could triumphantly say, "It is finished!" Ah! but never will He say, either of the love or the glory, "It is finished." Oh, no! while eternal ages roll on, love will be ever inflowing, and glory ever unfolding, and all coming to us through that rich medium—His sufferings and death. We read of "the sufferings of Christ, and the glory which should follow." The sufferings are past; He has entered into the glory; but the full revelation of it, in and to His Bride--is yet to come. O wonderful Bridegroom, reveal to us more of Your wonderful love, in Your humiliation and exaltation. Let us live in that undying flame, that in our joys and sorrows we may be a sweet savor of You to Your loved ones—"Bruised Bridegroom, take us wholly;
Take and make us what You will;" only continually draw us out of self into You; and cause us to grow up in You in all things, while many winds and storms and heart-achings cause us to root down in You also. Oh, shine more and more brightly in us, to the perfect day.
It is blessed, dearest friend, to spend Good-Friday under His shadow as the crucified One; there His fruits are sweet to our taste. It is precious to be led on by His Spirit to His joy as the glorified One, for then our joy is full. Those who "dwell in this secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty." It is a secret place for the hidden ones, of which He says, "There is a place by me; and I will put you in a cleft of the rock." This hallowed place is kept secret for all His children--they lack not this blessed hiding-place. No carnal eye never saw it; no carnal heart ever enjoyed the rest. It is the secret chamber for the secret life, where He who is our life says, "There will I give you my love." (Song 7:12) He gives all in Himself. At Calvary we see how He the Living Rock was cleft, that His dove might be spared; and how lovingly He says, "O My dove in the clefts of the rock, in the hiding places on the mountainside, show me your face, let me hear your voice; for your voice is sweet, and your face is lovely." (Song 2:14)
My dear heavenly Boaz has made this a GOOD Friday to His unworthy gleaner. I had feared I should not find Him whom my soul loves, and have fellowship of love in His sufferings; but where my enemies dealt proudly He has been above them. Praise to the worthy Lamb. "Praise is lovely for the upright!" "I made you go upright."
This is not like a letter; but if the Spirit will breathe of Jesus' fragrance through it, you will rejoice with me in Him.
With dear love, your own worthless—but in Him ever affectionate,
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