The Letters of Ruth Bryan, 1805-1860
The immutability of God's purposes in grace
To Miss M., February 21, 1851.
My dear afflicted friend,
I am sorry to hear that you are too ill to write. The Lord has indeed spread His net over you, and laid affliction upon you. He has added grief to your sorrow, and broken you with breach upon breach, until you feel but as a wreck, and as one "ready to perish." But "they shall come, who were ready to perish." However lame, however lost, they "shall come;" however vile and base, however far off by wicked works, and further still by unbelief, they "shall come." Nothing shall hinder the accomplishment of the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God; for "whom He did foreknow, those He also did predestinate;" and "whom He did predestinate, those He also called; and whom He called, those He also justified; and whom He justified, those He also glorified." It is all done in God's account, and nothing in earth or hell can undo it. What has been done above on the sinner's account, shall be done below in the sinner's experience. Effectual calling, irresistible power, omnipotent grace, combine to accomplish the "shall come." They "shall come" to Mount Sinai, and amidst the thunders of the righteous law learn their own unrighteousness, by nature and practice. They "shall come" to judgment here, be made to plead guilty, feel condemned in heart and conscience; and wait with fear and trembling, expecting execution, until the great trumpet is blown. The jubilee sound tells of release; it chiefly affects those in debt, distress, and difficulties. Then, to their own astonishment, those prisoners which were ready to perish "shall come" out of a strait place--into a large place; from just condemnation--to free pardon for all offences, past, present, and to come. They "shall come" to be washed in the fountain of blood; they "shall come" from wearing sackcloth and ashes, to be covered with the robe of righteousness, and clothed with the garments of salvation; they "shall come" from the spirit of heaviness to have the garment of praise, the ring of love, the crown of loving-kindness and tender mercy; they "shall come" from the mount of terrors to the mount of peace, and to all the blessings and blessed company there, of which you may read in Heb. 12:22-24. They "shall come" there by faith, while dwellers in mortality. And, moreover, when their wilderness days are ended, they "shall come" to Mount Zion above; and the Shepherd will rejoice over the sheep which was lost; and the sheep will tell, to the Shepherd's praise, how it wandered as far as it could, how it destroyed itself, how it was "ready to perish," how it was so lost and so helpless, that when it desired to return it could not; and then how the Shepherd found it, and through floods of guilt, mountains of fears, and hosts of foes, had brought it safe home to glory. Oh, then will not they all again sing Hallelujah! worthy is the Lamb which was slain! And the much sinning and much forgiven one, will strive to be loudest in the song.
"Ah," say you, "what has this to do with me? I am more fit for the depths of hell than the heights of heaven!" Why, it has to do with you, my beloved; it is strong consolation that your vile sin, stubborn will, proud spirit, desperate unbelief, and cruel, powerful foe shall not prevail against God. His "shall come" will be stronger than all these; and I do solidly believe this "shall come" includes you, and that you "shall come," and are coming, as it is written, "They shall come with weeping, and with supplications will I lead them." Are you not weeping over your sins? Are you not supplicating pardon for them, and power against them? And do you not often feel as if none were like you, none could know how bad you are, and none help you but the crucified Savior? And do you not mourn for a sight of Him crucified for you? It is said, "They shall look upon Him whom they have pierced, and shall mourn for Him." Surely this "shall come" will bring you to that sacred place, even the cross, where, gazing by faith upon the wondrous Sufferer, your burden will fall off into His sepulcher, never to appear before God again, for "their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more." Who is a pardoning God like unto You? "A just God, and a Savior." Your hard case, my beloved friend, does not go beyond His "uttermost," to which He is able to save. What you are, cannot help your salvation; what you are, shall not hinder it. All is of free grace from first to last! Help is laid upon One that is mighty, whose own arm brought salvation, who trod the wine-press alone, and of the people there were none with Him. He finished the transgression, made an end of sin, and brought in everlasting righteousness. He is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.
Wander no longer, then, upon the dark mountains of your own doingsóbut lift up your eyes unto the hills of salvation, from whence comes your help. Your help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth--and who says, "Come now, and let us reason together: Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool." "I will pardon them whom I reserve." Surely you are a reserved one, and a preserved one too, that you may be a pardoned one. The indwelling of sin will be felt, and the plague of sin mournedóbut the curse and condemnation are forever removed from them whom He reserves; for "the iniquity of Israel shall be sought for, and there shall be none; and the sins of Judah, and they shall not be found." For "who shall lay anything to the charge of God's elect? It is God who justifies; who is he that condemns? It is Christ who died, yes rather, who is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us." So that "if any man sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: and He is the propitiation for our sins."
Oh that it would please the Holy Spirit to pour this spiced wine, this strong consolation into your trembling soul; that out of weakness you may be made strong, may wax valiant in the fight, and by faith turn to flight those armies of the aliens, which so proudly threaten you with destruction! "Now I commend you to God, and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified." He "is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy." To Him be glory, both now and ever, Amen.
I trust you have been restored to some degree of calmness concerning your heavy loss. The Lord's "judgments are a great deep;" we must not attempt to fathom them. "His ways are past finding out;" we must not expect to trace them. Quiet submission befits sinful worms. The Lord give it you, and all your trials will be much lightened. "The cup which my Father has given me, shall I not drink it?"
The Lord "guide you by His counsel, and afterwards receive you to glory."
So desires, with kindest love and sympathy, your affectionate friend,
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