The Letters of Ruth Bryan, 1805-1860
The snare broken
"Stop trusting in man, who has but a breath in his nostrils. Of what account is he?" Isaiah 2:22
To Miss M., January 19, 1856.
My beloved friend,
I am ashamed of my long silence. I think of you and grieve that your mind is still tried and perplexed by the inconsistencies of others, as I learned from your last pensive note. But, perhaps, before now that cloud has been dispersed. I earnestly hope that it is so, for, indeed, my beloved friend, there is so much crookedness, even in the living family, that we need to remember constantly the words of the Lord which head this page, and which were made powerful to my own soul a few days since. But how slow we are to obey this divine injunction. Even in this sense we may well say, "My soul cleaves to the dust," while we should pray for grace to cease from creatures, neither confiding in them too much for comfort, nor too much expecting to find all consistency within. Frail and imperfect are the best, and this is nothing new, for one of old says, "The most upright is sharper than a thorn hedge," and another, "I have seen an end of all perfection."
Oh! that your tried, tempest-tossed heart may be led to find refuge in the perfect One--the Friend who loves at all times, and sticks closer than a brother, for this precious "neighbor who is near, is better than a brother who is afar off." A brother may look on our wound and pass by on the other sideóbut this good Samaritan attends to our case from whatever cause be our sorrow, and whatever the hand that may have wounded. His oil and wine heal, and His sweet words soothe the troubled heart, for He has got the tongue of the learned, and knows how to speak a word in season to him that is weary. He is merciful, and He can have compassion on the ignorant. The Spirit of the Lord is upon Him, so that He is anointed to preach the gospel to the poor, to heal the broken-hearted, and bring deliverance to the captives, and to open the prison to those who are bound, to set at liberty them that are bruised.
Did I tell you how much I had been profited sometime since by Mark 1:18? The Spirit showed me how many things are as "nets" to entangle us, and to keep us back from following Jesus, and also in how many ways we may be using "nets" to catch some desire of our carnal hearts; but then how blessed when brought to that, "straightway they forsook their nets and followed him." You know, dear friend, that too much poring over the inconsistencies of others may become as a "net" to catch our own feet, and hinder us from looking to Jesus. A friend of mine was once grievously annoyed by what was God-dishonoring in another person. It fretted him much, though he had no power to prevent it; but at length he heard the Shepherd's voice, saying, "What is that to you? follow me," which broke the snare. It is vain to dwell upon that which hinders our own souls and helps no one.
How is your health now, and how is the health of your soul? Have you been brought to the venture of faith, even as one dear to me lately said in the view of the all-sufficient Savior, "I felt that I could venture the whole weight of my soul upon Him, though vilest of the vile I felt I was." This was my maid, who has been with us eleven years, and the Lord has just sweetly sealed her for His own, which has made me rejoice with exceeding great joy, for I have long been watching for her soul. Oh, my dear friend, may the blessed Spirit bring you to this.
All your weight of sins, sorrows, and cares the Burden-Bearer can sustain. "Casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you." And it is no honor to Him to be carrying it yourself; it must sink you into gloom and dejection. A minister once said, "The Lord tells us to carry our cross and cast our careóbut we try to cast our cross and carry our care." I felt much self-conviction from the remarkóbut must say with the Psalmist, "Nevertheless, he being full of compassion, forgave their iniquity, and destroyed them not." S
o that, notwithstanding my willfulness and sin in many ways, I am still "the living, the living" to praise Him, as I desire to do this day, and to encourage you to put your trust under the shadow of His wings, for there is healing there. (Mal. 4:2) Do excuse this sad scrawl, I hope you will write soon, if able; and, warmly wishing you every covenant favor, I remain, with much love in our precious Jesus, your affectionate friend,
"The Lord upholds all those who fall and lifts up all who are bowed down." Psalms 145:14
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