The Letters of Ruth Bryan, 1805-1860
Christ able to save to the uttermost
"Peace be unto you. Fear not--you shall not die."
To Miss M., April 1850.
My dear miss M.,
Grace and peace be with you, and may the God of consolation shortly fill you with joy and peace in believing. May He turn your eyes away from the mystery of iniquity within--to the great mystery of godliness, God manifest in the flesh, stretched upon the cross for you, redeeming you from the deserved curse of the law by being made a curse for you, bearing your very sins (which seem to you greater than any other) in His own body on the tree. This is the only sight which can heal your wounded heart and bring rest to your weary, laboring spirit. You are bowed down with the burden of sin, even as the poor woman was with the infirmity wherewith Satan had bound her for eighteen years, and, like her, you are unable to lift up yourself. It must be a power outside of yourself that shall loose you from your heavy burden and bitter bondage.
Poor heart! you are hopeless and helpless unless "the Deliverer" appears on your behalf; and He will do it, for He never said to the seed of Jacob, "Seek me in vain." You are seeking Him and His favor, and you think you shall never find it; but "His thoughts are not as your thoughts," for "as the heavens are higher than the earth," so are His thoughts and ways above yours. You look at your own deservings, and judge by things seen and felt. He judges righteous judgment, and has found a wondrous way in which He can honorably deal with you according to the deservings of another.
O my beloved friend, how will your heart leap and your tongue sing when this secret is opened to you in power! How will your burden fall off when you get a faith view of the cross and of the precious Sufferer there! These words, perhaps, seem now to you like idle tales as regards your personal experience, and you believe them not with any comforting application. "Power belongs unto God," but truly I can believe on your behalf, and have no doubt you will be as a brand plucked from the burning, a trophy of redeeming love, a jewel in my Savior's crown, and that as chief sinners we shall before long sing together, "Where sin abounded, grace did much more abound!"
You may perhaps say, "You cannot know how bad I am, or you would not feel so sure." And you do not know how bad I am, or you would not think yourself worse. The arm that reached me (low indeed in the pit of corruption) can reach you! The blood that cleansed me can cleanse you! The love that sealed my pardon can seal yours. Notwithstanding all you can say concerning your bad case, I fully expect that in the Lord's time you will send me an Ebenezer stone inscribed with pardon free and full. Thereon we will sit down together, and, taking the harp from the willow, sing, "It is the Lord's doing, and marvelous in our eyes." "Grace, grace unto it."
What! do you think you have out sinned the blood, the love, the power, or the will of Him who is able to save to the uttermost all who come unto God by Him; and who said, "Him who comes to me I will never cast out?" Nay, do not so wrong your own soul and the sinner-receiving Savior. His invitation, His promise is to you, "Come unto me, all you who labor and are heavy laden--and I will give you rest."
I was thankful to hear you had some alleviation of bodily affliction, and sincerely hope it will prove permanent, if that will be for your good. It must be distressing to suffer acutely in body and soul too. You kindly mention my health. Through mercy it is considerably established, so that I can engage again in the activities of life. Perhaps you know that this was very contrary to my wish. I was very tired of my wilderness-school, and longed for my glory-home, having such bright views thereof as bedimmed earth and all in it. Yes! I, who once lay trembling at the mouth of the bottomless pit, and felt that by my own corruptions I was preparing for those everlasting burnings, have, by sovereign grace, been taken thence into Beulah's happy land. I have been in the very suburbs of celestial bliss, have felt joys unutterable, and desired to drop this fettering clay, and to be forever with my Lord. But He denied my pressing suit, and sent me back to tell His wondrous love to sister sinners. Oh, would that it might reach your heart, and that mercy-drops of precious blood might take your guilt and grief away!
It seems your affliction came upon you contrary to human probability, and when you were on a pinnacle of worldly ease and honor, and perhaps of fleshly pride. So did Nebuchadnezzar's. He was suddenly brought down from his greatness, lost his mental powers, so that he might well say, "I was as a beast before You." Yet I verily believe the Lord had a favor towards him, to do him good in his latter end; for at the end of the days "he lifted up his eyes to heaven," and spoke like one chastenedóbut not killed; as one judged in himself that he should not be condemned of the world. Read his humble praise and confession in Daniel 4:34óand pick up a crumb of encouragement, if the great Master will let it fall thus from His table for you. You know it is not a new or strange thing He is doing with you; for He has said, "The loftiness of man shall be bowed down, and the haughtiness of men shall be made low; and the Lord alone shall be exalted in that day."
It is one thing to read this in wordsóbut quite another to come under the discipline of it, to find all our ornaments taken away, and truly discover, instead of our imagined beauty--the loathsomeness of our corruption; instead of a belt keeping all in order--a rip; instead of well-set hair to please ourselves and others--baldness; and burning in the conscience--instead of beauty. (Isaiah 3:17, etc.; compare Revelation 3:17, 18) Ah, to go through all this is fearful indeed! I have known it, you now know it, and the poor heart fears that such an abased, polluted creature must only be "a vessel of wrath fitted to destruction." But this is only the spirit of judgment and the spirit of burning, praying the daughters of Zion that the branch of the Lord may be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the earth excellent and lovely; and these very poor creatures shall be called holy, and found written among the living in Jerusalem.
You speak of the rising of your heart in independence against the Lord's dealings to make you dependent. This is exactly His way. Just where we would not have the cross, it shall be laid on; and where nature is the most sensitive, it shall least be spared. The reason is plainóthe deeply-rooted evil needs the knife. Your independence might have passed with you for a virtue, had not close dealing with it by a skillful hand brought out its hidden hideousness, and now you stand aghast at the discovery. But remember, you do not now begin to be so vile, you always were so in God's sightóbut the calm surface hid it from your own eyes! He has broken up the fountain of this great deep, and is discovering your iniquity to turn away your captivity, in which you have willingly been held by the very evil you now deplore. "Lo, all these things works God oftentimes with man" to "withdraw man from his purpose, and hide pride from man." He will give you a humble, thankful spirit, affectionately willing to be dependent, if it will glorify Him.
You speak of being thought obstinate in rejecting comfort. The very same thing was said to me, while truly my heart groaned for itóbut I had no power either to believe or receive. However, when the day of His power came, I was made willing enough. This day is what you are waiting for, and you shall not wait in vain, as the mouth of the Lord has spoken itóIsaiah 30:18; Lamentations 3:25, 26. You speak of some sweet words and promises coming to your mind with comfort, and that afterwards you think it was presumption to take them as yours. This is the enemy trying to snatch the morsel from your hungry soul. He would have you reject everything because you do not get a full deliveranceóbut I pray you receive without fear those little hints of the Lord's kindness to you, lest you grieve His Holy Spirit, who thus helps you with a little help.
And now I commit you to Him who is able to do for you exceeding abundantly above all I can ask or think; who will perfect that which concerns you, and it shall be to the praise of the glory of His grace, wherein He has made us accepted in the Beloved. May the Holy Spirit witness it in your soul.
With deep interest, believe me, though very unworthy, affectionately yours,
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