The Letters of Ruth Bryan, 1805-1860
Mercy for the chief of sinners
To Miss M., April 23, 1854.
My dear Miss Mó,
Grace be with you, my beloved, and mercy and peace from God our Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ. I write again to you as a companion in wilderness-tribulation, to inquire how you are getting on in your travels from the City of Destruction towards the Mount Zion above. Are you still compassing the mount which burns with blackness and darkness; from whence issues a fiery law which makes the convinced sinner tremble, and cry out, "I am vile!" For "by the law is the knowledge of sin." Have you still the burden on your back? and are your eyes still blinded, so that you cannot see Jesus; but only see mountains of guilt rising darkly before you? Are your transgressions still increasing and accumulating? and the arrows of the Almighty still sticking fast in you? and does "hope deferred" often make the poor heart sick? Ah then, surely, you are the tossed with tempest, and not comforted; whose stones shall be laid with fair colors, and your foundations with sapphires; (Isa. 54:11) for blessed are they whom the Lord chastens, and teaches them out of His law. He will in due time have mercy upon these His desolate, and will comfort His afflicted. He will not always chide, neither will He keep His anger forever; but will receive graciously, love freely, and heal through the stripes of His dear Son. (1 Pet. 2:24)
"He who has begun the good work in you," by the north wind of conviction, will perform it unto the day of Jesus Christ, when the south wind of His love shall blow softly, and you be filled with joy and peace in believing. Surely He will bring you on from the terrible Mount of Condemnation--to the place of the cross; and when looking up, by faith, you see "One hanging crucified for you," then will your soul dissolve in love; and you will feelingly understand how the holy Jehovah can be just and yet justify ungodly you; having had full satisfaction for all your sins in the person of His Son.
Why, my dear friend, the Prince of Life, the Lord of glory did not come from heaven to save little sinnersóbut chief sinners, lost sinners, helpless sinners, the vilest of sinners--such sinners as poor Ruth and her trembling friend. He did not come to cleanse from only moderate guiltóbut sins as red as scarlet and crimson; yes, sins as black as hell does His blood take away. Oh, dishonor Him not by saying you are too bad, or your case too hard! There are now before the throne, and on the way to it, those as bad, as hard, as unlikely as ever you can be. What can resist Omnipotence? He who died for sinners has an omnipotent arm to pluck them from the burning, and bring them up from the pit, however low they may be sunk in the mire! This I have proved many a time. May the Holy Spirit testify of Jesus in your soul, and may that faith spring up which is the gift of God, so that with another unbelieving one you may cry out, "My Lord and my God!" Is anything too hard for the Lord? No, verily, He is able from Gentile sinners, as hard as stones--to raise up children to Abraham. The more unlikely the material, the greater glory to His name in forming thereof a vessel fit for His use. Oh that your heart may be encouraged, and that you may see what honor He will have in forgiving and saving you and I--who owe Him, not fifty, or five hundred penceóbut ten thousand talents! Oh, think what joy is in heaven over such sinners as we are, when our repentings are kindled by Him who is exalted to give repentance unto His Israel, and remission of sins; and think, when we reach the heavenly shores, how those bright angels who never sinned, will adore Him, while we recount to them the mighty sum He cancelled for us. Surely, with new ardor, they will cry, "Worthy is the Lamb!" And we respond, "For He has redeemed us unto God by His blood!"
Come, my friend, take courage; hate sin and loathe it as much as you willóbut never magnify it above the efficacy and merits of the death and blood of Jesus. Forget not how great will be his glory in our salvation, in bringing those who were so very far off "near by the blood" of His cross. It may be your outward path is rough, and you are still the subject of thorny trials. Well, be not cast down on this account, for we know that it is through much tribulation we must enter the kingdom. This world is not the pilgrim's rest; it is the place of his passage through which he must journey to a better country; but Divine love will make all things work together for good. The loftiness of man must be bowed down, and the haughtiness of man made low, that the Lord alone may be exalted. Seek a resigned, submissive will; it is the Lord's own gift, and a great lightening of the outward cross. Murmuring thoughts ill become worms who deserve the lowest hell; everything on this side hell is more than we deserve. The Lord grant that mercies may melt us as well as meet us. Oh, for a grateful spirit! I long to dissolve in thankfulness for the Lord's great benefits to such an unworthy creature; and I wish you, my dear friend, the same blessing. Your afflictions are heavyóbut you must sing of mercy as well as judgment, and may your experience be as Psalm 119:50, 67.
Fare you well. To Israel's Shepherd I do not fail to commend you; though He needs not my poor reminding, for Himself loves you. Delays are not denials.
With sympathetic love, affectionately I remain your unworthy friend,
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