The Letters of Ruth Bryan, 1805-1860
The tried and convinced sinner encouraged
To Miss M., June 25, 1855.
My beloved friend,
I am sorry to hear you have been so much out of health and spirits; the latter is far the worst, for "the spirit of a man will sustain his infirmity; but a wounded spirit who can bear?" Satan seems to have gained sad advantage over you in causing you almost to give up communion and correspondence with the living in Jerusalem. Ah! how hard he strives to get us for himself, and to hinder us from anything which would tend to weaken his devices; and how we too often give place to him, and forsake our own mercies. But the Lord will not leave us in his hands. He may, when permitted, sift us as wheat—but our dear Redeemer says, "I have prayed for you, that your faith fail not." Faith indeed often seems to fail us as to the exercise of it—but the precious grace itself shall never fail from the living soul until sight and full possession, make it no longer needful. Oh, that the Lord may be pleased to increase your faith, that you may resist the devil. He who has delivered you out of his kingdom of darkness can deliver you from the power of his cruel and cunning suggestions. He can teach your hands to war and your fingers to fight, and make you strong in faith giving glory to God. Oh, may He bruise him under your feet shortly, enabling you to overcome him by the blood of the Lamb.
You speak as though you had been under heavy trials. I can feel for you, having many crooks in my lot, and a sadly too susceptible and anxious heart which feels everything so much. But yet I can say with David, "I know, O Lord, that your judgments are right, and that you in faithfulness have afflicted me." I do not find bodily affliction the most painful part of tribulation; many other things distress me much more; but the Lord knows best what to send; and a great mercy it is when He enables us quietly to take up the cross as it occurs, for everything is doubly bitter when our heart frets against the Lord, or even against our fellow-worms. They could not afflict us without His permission, and though that does not lessen their wrong, it may stop our murmuring, and humble us before Him, like David, who looked away from Shimei and said, "Let him alone, and let him curse; for the Lord has bidden him;" and again, "So let him curse, because the Lord has said unto him, Curse David. Who shall then say, Therefore have you done so?" Oh, my beloved friend, whatever be the nature of your trials, whether they arise from self, Satan, or any other creature; there is but one refuge, one place of safe retreat, and that is Jesus—He who is a hiding-place from the wind, and a covert from the tempest, and from this cruel foe that has been striving hard to overcome you.
But, my dear friend, happy you who are brought now to judgment, that you should not be condemned with the world. Happy they who are now brought in guilty before God, and their mouths stopped. Their Redeemer is mighty; He will thoroughly plead their cause. By the scars in His own precious body He will show that their sins have been punished in Him, and that therefore they cannot be condemned; the sentence having been executed upon Him in their stead. Therefore it is written, "Cry unto her that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned: for she has received of the Lord's hand double for all her sins." But am I, says my friend, among those thus described? Well, have you not been made feelingly to plead guilty? And if you have not yet sensibly received the full release by the "double," are you not waiting at that door, even the door of mercy? And is not your only hope in the death of the Redeemer, the King's Son? And are you not desiring that before long you may by faith find that you are really engraved on the palms of His pierced hands? Well then, if that be your position, I can answer for Him that you shall not wait in vain.
I do know enough of Him for that, and fear not to aver that in the pit of darkness, there is not one who perished hoping in His mercy, through His own blood, and waiting for His salvation. He is faithful, and what He says He means, and will perform, though earth and hell rise up against it. "Come unto me, all you who labor and are heavy-laden, and I will give you rest." "All that the Father gives me shall come to me; and him that comes to me I will never cast out." "Seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened." "Blessed are those who mourn: for they shall be comforted." "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness; for they shall be filled." The precious lips that spoke those words "were never known to lie;" but "your enemies shall be found liars unto you;" and "as the shepherd takes out of the mouth of the lion two legs, or a piece of an ear," (Amos 3:12) (a poor mutilated thing;) so shall you be delivered, and stand upon the mount Zion above, with the harp of God in your hand.
Do not be alarmed, beloved, at my confidence: it is not grounded on you—but on Him who came into this dreary wilderness on purpose to seek and to save those who are lost. I wonderfully like those words of David, "I have gone astray like a lost sheep; seek your servant; for I do not forget your commandments." He felt that he had got into a labyrinth, and cried to his Good Shepherd to come and seek him, for he felt quite lost, and the answer is as above, "The Son of man has come to seek and to save that which was lost." So you see, if you are so sadly off that you cannot come to Him, He will come to you, and find you, and bring you home on His strong shoulder with rejoicing.
You speak of fearing that what you have felt is a delusion, and your convictions only the workings of your human nature. If it is so, something from nature will quiet them and satisfy you—but if they are from Jehovah the Spirit, nothing but reconciliation to Jehovah the Father by Jehovah the Son will bring peace—nothing but Christ will satisfy your soul. Judge now, I pray you, and do not give place to the devil—but give the Lord the glory due unto His name, and praise Him for opening your blind eyes, even if you think you only see men as trees walking, for He will most surely perfect that which concerns you.
He says, "Whoever offers praise glorifies me. Jeremiah 33:14, has just been brought home with sweetness to me. May the day of performing the promise draw near in your experience. I trust your health is again improving, and your mind more calm. In the winter there was every reason to think that I was about to go "home," but in Divine sovereignty the Lord has rebuked the disease for the present, and I may have long to sojourn in Mesech. Moreover, since "home" has looked more in the distance, many other storms have arisen, and trials crossed the path, that patience may have her perfect work, and faith plenty to do at the "court of requests." But though we are at times like Hannah, who was a woman of a sorrowful spirit, yet the end is to see more wonders from Him who has given that sweet bill of promise, "Call upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me." O that I could honor Him more in the sunshine and in the storm, for He is worthy; but shame and confusion of face do indeed belong unto unworthiest me at all times. The Lord bless you, comfort you, set your feet upon the rock, and establish your goings there.
With kindest love, believe me, your ever affectionate,
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