The Letters of Ruth Bryan, 1805-1860
Encouragements to one afar off, to come unto Jesus
To Miss F., May 12, 1860.
You do not know how much I have thought of you since you have been ill, and how I have hoped this cough might be as the rough messenger, by which the Lord would effectually touch your heart, making you feel yourself a lost, helpless sinner--and bringing you to plea for mercy at the foot of the Cross, where no needy sinner ever perished yet. No, my beloved young friend, there is no perishing at the footstool of mercy. You cannot be too sinful, too hard, too cold, too powerless--for Jesus to save.
If you feel your need of Him--it is His gift. Oh that it may be so! My heart yearns after your soul, travails in birth until Christ is formed "in you the hope of glory," and I grudge every year and month that you and your dear brother and sister continue far off from God, and strangers to "the peace that is made by His blood."
"Oh that the time of love may come!
When you shall surely see,
Not only that He shed His blood,
But each shall say--for me!"
For you, dear one, I have been thinking of this word, "I have refined you—but not with silver, I have chosen you in the furnace of affliction." And if it be so, you will say, "It is good for me that I have been afflicted," for "before I was afflicted I went astray." I sometimes long for a peep into your heart, for I cannot think your thoughts and desires are all after the empty things of this world. I think there is under all a longing to be "found" by the Good Shepherd, and marked for His own.
Perhaps you sometimes think, "If I am not chosen, it is of no use desiring and praying." So I thought once, and it lay like a stone on my heart, choking and chilling each little sigh for mercy, when the cry would have risen, "Lord, save me!" But I have found it was one of Satan's devices to keep me from prayer—and so it is with you, if such are your feelings. Even as it was with the young man whom Satan attacked when they were bringing him to Jesus. But he could not hinder the blessing, and that is comfort. "As the boy came forward, the demon knocked him to the ground and threw him into a violent convulsion. But Jesus rebuked the evil spirit and healed the boy." (Luke 9:42)
The question with you should be, not whether you are chosen—but what are the characters whom Jesus came to save, and invites to come to Him? "The Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost." "I am not come to call the righteous—but sinners to repentance." "This man receives sinners and eats with them." "Come unto me all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." Jesus is a great Savior, and you are a great sinner, therefore you are the very case for Him.
It is true, with all your endeavors you cannot repent—but "Him has God exalted to give repentance and remission of sins." Neither can you pray—but He gives the spirit of grace and supplication. You cannot mourn for sin—but He makes the "heart soft." "They shall come with weeping, and with supplications will I lead them." You cannot believe but He is the Author and Finisher of faith. So all these are things not to keep you away—but just to bring you to Him, even though you do not know assuredly that He has chosen you. He says, "Him that comes to me I will never cast out." The Spirit says, "Come!" The Bride says, "Come!" And "whoever will, let him take the water of life freely!" May you, dear friend, come, and come again, you will not be cast out.
But perhaps in this very furnace the Lord will say to you, "Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love, therefore with loving-kindness have I drawn you. I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried; they shall call on my name, and I will hear them. I will say, It is my people. And they shall say, The Lord is my God." Amen, so let it be with you, my dearest friend.
I have been writing mentally all the week—but was too ill to pen my thoughts. I am rather better today, and so have done it freely. Perhaps my thoughts may not have touched yours; all depends upon the Spirit of power. Oh breathe, celestial Dove, in that dear heart the breath of life divine. Move upon the dark waters of that soul, and say, "Let there be light," and the light of life shall burst forth. Be in that loved one the spirit of supplication, that she may pray and not faint. The Lord preserve you in journeying, restore your health, and bless your soul, that you may heartily say—
"Gladly the world's poor toys I leave
For those who know not Thee."
I know you will excuse the many imperfections of these poor lines, written from the bed of pain and weakness.
With much love, I remain your affectionate friend,
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