Gleanings from the Inner Life of Ruth Bryan
January 3rd.—Precious Jesus! grant me a fresh manifestation, another token for good. Eternal Spirit! pour upon me the grace of supplication, for I cannot pray but as You do dictate. Oh, then, pity my abject condition, and bring my soul out of the prison of unbelief, in which it is confined. Oh, that this may be a year of deadness to the world and close walking with God. Remember, Ruth, the flesh will not like this; do not present this petition and calculate upon outward ease in the fulfillment of it, or you will be disappointed.
January 10th.—I want to realize in my experience that I am dead to the law by the body of Christ. Precious Immanuel, give me that faith which shall enable me to lay hold of You as my righteousness, and to run into You as my city of refuge, receiving the sweet assurance that I am safe. Oh, come as the heavenly Boaz, and wed Your abject handmaid; black and filthy as I am, give me to know that You view me all beautiful in Your own robe, which You put upon Your bride. Tell me You have paid all my debts, and relieve me from the constant anxiety and distress which I feel, lest I should be taken away to prison and to judgment. Assure me, also, that You have provided for the future, and that You will not allow sin to have the dominion over me, my enemies to destroy me, nor my adulterous heart to provoke You to jealousy by seeking after other lovers. Thus, dear Jesus, condescend to comfort me. It is long since You kissed me with the kisses of Your mouth, and caused me to lean on Your precious bosom; long since You called me Your love and Your dove, enabling me to respond, "You are fairer than the children of men," yes, the chief among ten thousand, the altogether lovely One. I know my sin has caused Your absence, I confess it with shame. But, oh, come in the sovereignty of Your love, and melt me with Your free favor; come skipping over the mountains of my sin, leaping over the hills of my unworthiness, and cause me to rejoice in Your precious salvation. Dear Jesus, hear my cry; grant me a manifestation of your beauteous self—if it pleases Your Divine Majesty. "Come, Lord Jesus, come quickly."
March 22nd.—Much struck with hearing this passage read this morning: He will "keep them alive in famine" (Psalm 33:19). I thought it was often fulfilled spiritually, the Lord keeping the souls of His people alive, when to their own feelings they are in the midst of dearth, and cannot obtain a morsel of spiritual bread; that is, I mean, when there are no enlivenings in the soul, no love-visits, no openings of Scripture, no savor in the preached Word; in short, the streams seem cut off from their mouth, and they think all hope must be given up. Still it is wonderful to observe, and more wonderful to trace, in one's own experience, how the spark of Divine life is invisibly and imperceptibly fed, so that there is a breathing, a panting, a longing for another taste of the Paschal Lamb. And, though there may be no fire to be seen, the smoke keeps rising from the smouldering embers, and the soul is kept alive in famine.
August 7th.—Much struck with a remark of Mr. Huntington's which I have just read; speaking of a certain author, he says, "He seemed to be more earnest for fruit than for engraftings; and, I believe, would be better pleased with a crop of leaves than with a good root." It immediately occurred to me, how much more we hear about the fruits of a holy life and an upright conversation, than about the root from which alone real holiness can spring. The Savior told us not to expect grapes from thorns, and I think I never saw so clearly—that the most beautiful moral works from a natural heart are not acceptable in the sight of God, who will only accept the fruits of faith, which are wrought in the soul by the Holy Spirit, and cannot be produced by the unregenerated, though there will be the outward effect of a moral life, etc. May I thus be made more and more fruitful.
September 11th.—The past week has been one of distance and darkness. I am now, and have been for some time, in a miserable condition, from extreme nervous depression and irritability, together with active corruptions, carnality of affections, hardness of heart, and, indeed, everything which is contrary to what I would have. I look at my friends, and envy them their spirituality, cheerfulness, and sociability, often concluding there is not another being on earth so wretchedly miserable and sinful as myself; for such is my state lately, that I cannot look, speak, walk, work, hear, read, or think, without sin—manifest sin, abominable sin; and such sin as brings me into the very depths of distress, shame, and self-loathing—but yet unaccompanied, as I fear, with true repentance and godly sorrow.
I am sometimes almost desperate to find myself in such an awful condition, and yet, as it seems to me, so utterly without power to extricate myself from that which I hate. Oh, that the Lord Jesus would stretch out His almighty arm, and deliver me from the infidelity, unbelief, and other abominations of my evil heart, which seem to triumph over me. I often wonder what the Lord intends to do with me, and fear I am only drying, as it were, for everlasting burnings! The very vitals of my soul seem scorched up by the heat of temptation and corruption, so that I shrivel in selfish misery, and would sometimes be shut out from society, because I am unfit for it. None, or very few, drink the same bitter cup as myself, the most noxious ingredient in which is, my own sinfulness; for, as Moses burnt the calf, and ground it to powder, and then made those who had sinned by it, to drink it; so it seems with me, my sins are my daily and sorrowful portion. The Lord have mercy upon me, and pardon my ingratitude, murmuring, and unbelief, for Christ's sake.
September 25th.—I have taken the Sacrament this afternoon, and surely there was not another communicant so vile. Unless the Lord Jesus put forth His almighty power, I must sink into despair, carnality, and sin.
"Other refuge have I none,
Hangs my helpless soul on You."
Leave me not to myself, for my wicked heart is longing after fleshly indulgence! I want, dear Immanuel, to be Yours alone—but cannot. Oh, no; I cannot! a divided heart You will not accept. I fall a dead weight on Your sovereign, undeserved mercy, by which, if I am not caught, I must continue falling until I reach the lowest, hottest place in Tophet, which is my merited portion. But, blessed Jesus, take me for Your own, and magnify the riches of Your grace in my deliverance! "Lord, save, or I perish!"
December 4th.—My flesh and unbelief have been insinuating that it is in vain to wait for the Lord any longer. But with considerable sweetness, and some power, the following words came to my mind: "Those who wait for Me, shall not be ashamed." Dearest Lord, carry on Your own work in Your own way, and keep me waiting on and for You!
December 25th.—Christmas Day and Sabbath.—A very heavy snow descending; the face of nature is enrapt in a mantle of most beautiful whiteness. May my poor soul be so covered with the spotless robe of Immanuel's righteousness; that wedding garment, without which I shall be "speechless" before Him. It is our Sacrament today. May Jesus be there, and we enabled by the precious Spirit to follow Him from the manger to the tomb, and by faith recognize our individual interest in all that He did and suffered, eating His flesh and drinking His blood; thus having a taste of fat things. Then would this be a Christmas day to be remembered. It may be the last I shall spend on earth. The Lord carry on and perfect His own work in my soul, and all will be well, whether for life or death.
December 26th.—I was much gratified in hearing a Caffre chief and a missionary describe the work of grace which has been carried on in the souls of the Hottentots and Caffres in Africa. But, oh, how ashamed do I feel of my lack of zeal; and I am ready on this ground, to question whether I am the subject of that new birth which produces in the poor heathen such fervor of love and devotion.
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