The Letters of Ruth Bryan, 1805-1860
Bearing one another's burdens
To E. M., September 25, 1850.
My very dear,
Breathe, Holy Comforter, on our souls that they may be quickened. Breathe in providences, that we may be edified by them. Breathe in the written Word that we may be instructed. Breathe on the Rose of Sharon, the Incarnate Word, that by the fragrance thereof our souls may be revived and refreshed. Breathe upon these hearts, that we may commune sweetly in and of, the Beloved, for His glory, and our soul-strengthening. Amen, amen. "Awake, north wind, and come, south wind! Blow on my garden, that its fragrance may spread abroad. Let my lover come into His garden and taste its choice fruits." Song of Songs 4:16.
Jesus is the never-tiring theme! It is He who is the precious stone, wherever He turns, he succeeds. (Prov. 17:8) On the mount of high communion He is precious. In the valley of humiliation He is precious. Also, unto you who believe, He is precious. Faith is the "Christ-receiving grace." By faith we apprehend Him, by faith we know more and more of His preciousness; by faith we have the felt benefit of His blood and righteousness, (Romans 3:22, 25) and by faith we cast anchor on this Rock, when to sense and feeling all is dark and stormy.
Ah! indeed there are seasons in experience when we can neither see nor hear nor feel Him whom our souls love and long for; and all within seems barren and powerless--then is the trial of faith, and the time for its exercise. If we are walking by sense, our confidence will be shaken, and we shall draw wrong conclusions (Isa. 9:14;) but if faith prevaisl, we shall not be greatly moved. The soul does not voluntarily choose to be "a spring shut up, a fountain sealed," neither, if under self-direction, would it prefer to travel "three days in the wilderness and find no water." We would rather linger always at Elim, beside the wells and the palm-trees. Thus sense would grow mightily, and faith become weak for lack of exercise. But He who ordains all our encampments, and who is to us "instead of eyes," knows best where to lead us; having determined that "faith, though the smallest, shall surely be tried."
Therefore, my beloved and longed-for, "think it not strange concerning the trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you." Whether that trial be inward exercise from indwelling sin, or the fiery darts of the wicked one, or outward affliction, or something in prospect which makes the heart tremble; for all these, and every other, we have the promise, "My grace is sufficient for you, my strength is made perfect in weakness."
What can be weaker than a worm? Yet the Lord says, "Do not be afraid, O worm Jacob, O little Israel, for I myself will help you--declares the Lord, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel. I am holding you by your right hand--I, the Lord your God. And I say to you--Do not be afraid. I am here to help you." "But now, O Israel, the Lord who created you says--Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you. I have called you by name; you are mine. When you go through deep waters and great trouble, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown! When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you. For I am the Lord, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior!" (Isaiah 41:13, 14; 43:1-3)
These are sweet cordials for a time of weakness and trial. May the Lord fulfill them in your experience, and grant that your faith fail not. May you be kept instant in prayer, "watching thereunto with all perseverance" to learn the mind of the Lord respecting you. Times of trial are inquiring times.—See Gen. 25:22, 23; 1 Sam. 23:2, 4, 11; 1 Sam. 30:8; 2 Chron. 18:4; Job 10:2. There are those now living who can testify to the Lord's glory, that they have found a great blessing, in the close dealing with God to which they have been brought by afflictive dispensations under the Divine exercising (Heb. 12:11) of the Holy Spirit. It is spoken of ancient Israel that "the more they were afflicted, the more they multiplied and grew." Often, indeed, is it thus with the spiritual seed of Abraham, being "chastened of the Lord" there is growth out of SELF--into Christ. Blessed is it when we turn our face to the wall; that is, away from every creature expectation, and pour out our hearts before Him. One who did so, in the bitterness of his soul, had afterwards thankfully to say, "O Lord, by these things men live, and in all these is the life of my spirit; so will You recover me, and make me to live." The Lord grant you like experience, that with me you may have to say, "It is good for me that I have been afflicted."
My heart earnestly desires for you that the present afflictive dispensation, and what may be approaching, may be very much sanctified, that the Lord's name may be glorified, and you come forth as gold, saying, "I know, O Lord, that your judgments are right, and that you in faithfulness have afflicted me;" (Psalm 119:75) and heartily choosing, as Moses did, "to suffer affliction with the people of God, rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season." (Heb. 11:25)
"For though our cup seems mixed with gall,
There's something secret sweetens all."
Is it not so? Have you not found some drops of Divine love in this bitter cup? May the Beloved further show Himself through this lattice, and walk with you in this furnace, causing some fetters to be burned off, that you may freely walk in the way of His commandments. It is better to walk with Jesus in the fire, than to walk after the flesh in the slippery places of worldly indulgence and carnal security. I trust He has a special favor towards you, and means to have you walk very closely with Himself. Would that I could speak more worthily of our precious Well-Beloved, who may safely be trusted in the flood and in the flame. Praise Him, O our souls. Adieu, much-beloved.
Your very affectionately,
1 Thess. 3:3.
You have many petitions to present to the King just now. Psalm 20.
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