The Letters of Ruth Bryan, 1805-1860
The tenderness of the Good Shepherd
To Miss M., January 19, 1850.
A stranger takes the liberty of sending greeting in that dear Name of Jesus, that Name so precious to the believing soul, precious to the seeking soul, precious to the wounded spirit and to the broken heart, precious to the lame and the lost, to the bound and the bruised, to the leprous and the filthy! Yes, to every spirit-touched soul does this beloved Name sound sweetly, either as that which is known to be precious by enjoyment, or that which is estimated precious as being just what is needed. His name was called Jesus because He saves His people from their sins; and those seeking, trembling souls, who dare not yet say they are of His people--do feel painfully that they need saving from their sins, that such a Savior would suit them well, and to be able, under Divine anointing honestly and lovingly to add the little word "my," would be more to them than possessing mines of gold and crowns of earthly glory. The very thought of saying and feeling "my Savior," sets their hearts longing; and the glow of a little hope that it will come, almost makes their lame feet leap and their dumb tongue to sing.
There is a blessed, holy attraction in this altogether lovely Jesus which acts powerfully upon all quickened souls, drawing them out in desire, and drawing them on in pursuit, until the set time comes to favor them more manifestly. Then the meeting between a sin-sick soul and a sin-bearing Savior has in it such secrets of love and sweetness, that it seems as if a thousand years of the most painful waiting, would be richly repaid by one moment of such bliss. But oh, it is not for a moment and then away; the Savior and the saved shall never really part. He "hates divorce," and though darkness obscures, and clouds seem to intervene after the first meeting--yet union remains, communion shall return, and a glorious eternity consummate the bliss. Of every sheep and every lamb, the Good Shepherd will take care, and fold them all safely above. They shall surely pass under the hand of Him who counts them, and not one be missing. However faint, or feeble, or fearing, or unworthy any one may be, they are all bought and paid for, and the flock must be as complete as the price was satisfactory. The wolf may howl, the dog may bark, the way may be dreary, and the poor heart may often tremble—but the Good Shepherd will not be out of hearing, even if He seem to be out of sight. He will rescue even out of the paw of the lion, and out of the paw of the bear.
Perhaps Miss M—'s heart is saying, "I know all this—but fear I am not one of His flock." Is sin hated, self loathed, the world forsaken, Jesus longed for, His people loved, His ordinances and Word prized and sought unto--to find Him in them, and the good old way inquired after with a desire to walk therein? If so, these surely seem like the breathings and bleatings of the sheep; and let Miss M— be encouraged into the assurance that the Good Shepherd's heart is so loving and tender, it is as easily touched by the half-uttered "baa" of the weakling lamb as by the full-toned "Abba" of the sheep that knows its fold and its owner.
It may be, He is now saying to this fearing one, "I have refined you—but not with silver, I have chosen you in the furnace of affliction." It may be, He is trying, and will before long bring forth as gold; and if He has fixed upon the furnace as a meeting-place between you and Himself, it will be worth enduring a seven times heated flame. It may be, at present you have not seen Him—but He sees you, and is regulating all the fiery process. It may be, that as yet you have but fallen down bound into the midst of the fire. Well, so did some before you, who afterwards, in glorious company with the Son of God, walked loose and unharmed in the flames. Think it not strange concerning this fiery trial, which is to try you, as though some strange thing had happened unto you—but consider that as a father chastens his son, so your God chastens you; and though at present it seems not joyous but grievous, yet afterwards may it yield the peaceable fruits of righteousness, through the divine "exercising" of the Holy Spirit thereby.
Your case is too hard for yourself—but bring it to Jesus, and He will hear it. Surely mine was harder, yes, the hardest of all--so helpless, so hopeless, so sinful, so unbelieving, so hard, so cold, so ignorant, yes, so everything I should not be—but Jesus undertook, and to the uttermost He saved. I was a five hundred pence debtor—but every farthing He paid, and now by Him made free, I live to praise Him, and to encourage all poor, convicted sinners to trust Him with the worst of their bad case. He will not send such empty away. He will in no wise cast them out. None need despair, since He has saved such a worthless, hell-deserving one as myself. May the Holy Spirit enable you to make the venture of faith, and it shall not be in vain. (Esther 4:16, and v. 2)
The Lord bless you, sanctify your affliction, grant you manifest forgiveness of sins, and an inheritance among all those who are sanctified through faith that is in Jesus. You are seeking Him, perhaps sometimes sorrowing—but "those who sow in tears shall reap in joy." My heart desires He may soon be found of you, and though entirely strangers in the flesh, yet for His dear sake, I venture to subscribe myself yours very sincerely,
1 Pet. 5:10.
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