Gleanings from the Inner Life of Ruth Bryan
January 1st.—Most dear and precious Christ, I had not thought to see another new-year's day—but hoped before now to have beheld You face to face! Like him of old, who was possessed of a legion of demons, I besought that I might be with You. But for a season You have seen good to withhold the full answer to my request. "Your will be done;" but glorify Yourself in me, and be much, very much with me, until You shall say, "Arise, my love, and come away," to be with me forever! I desire most humbly and unreservedly, in Your own strength, to yield to Your Divine disposal all I have and am, and to continually lose my wish and will in Yours. I would lay at Your feet all creatures and created good, with every seeming evil, and embrace Yourself, my Jesus, as my joy, portion, happiness, wisdom, strength, peace—yes, my all in all—for the coming year, or so much of it as I tarry upon earth; and then my joyful, blissful portion through eternity! Oh, lead me, Holy Comforter, more into Christ and out of self! I have had much of blessing—but I long and pray for more; in Jesus' name. Enlarge my expectations more, I pray You, and more I shall receive—"Lord, increase my faith."
January 15th.—A full cup of consolation has my precious Savior vouchsafed me today--and that in much bodily pain and faintness. A child at school is delighted with a letter from home, reminding him that the vacation is near; so my affliction seemed like a note, a glowing, loving, heart-burning note, from my most dear Jesus, saying, "The discipline of the wilderness will soon be ended--and you shall enter into my immediate presence."
"Ah! then, in the full tide of bliss,
My soul shall see Him as He is;
And prostrate fall before His face,
And shout the loudest, GRACE, FREE GRACE!"
"Bless the Lord, O my soul," for this fresh manifestation of covenant love! I long to praise, in strains more suitable, my covenant God. O Divine Comforter, tune my heart, and teach my lips to praise. It seems as if I knew not how. Lord, warm my heart with living fire, and give me more ability to speak it out.
January 26th.—Hot temptation, fiery darts, sharp conflicts. But Jesus is all-sufficient. In myself, I am weaker than the weakest, and quite unable to bear the present heart-aching anguish, or stand against the traitorous foes of my own house. But in Christ, my Head, even now a conqueror.
February 16th.—Praise, adoration, and thanksgiving to my covenant God for this day's mercies; especially that the soul of my dear, dear mother has experienced an unusual melting. I trust it is a pledge of good things to come; how do I long that she may be comforted. My Jesus, You hear, know all; glorify Yourself in me and mine. Ebenezer!
May 3rd.—Heard a sermon upon the cross of Christ—a special time of love to my soul this evening. Surely, "His left hand is under my head, and with his right hand He does embrace me." Yes; vile, guilty, abominable as I am, my own Jesus bathes me in His blood, robes me in His righteousness, puts upon me His beauty, and then says, "You are absolutely beautiful, my darling, with no imperfection in you." Oh, the wonders of His love! my heart is ravished and overcome, and I would be away to enjoy the full fruition; "I charge you, O you daughters of Jerusalem, that you stir not up, nor awake my Beloved until He please."
"My happy soul would stay
In such a frame as this,
And sit and sing herself away
To everlasting bliss."
May 13th.—A triumphant faith my heart longs for; not only for a submitting, confiding, wrestling faith—but a triumphant one; and what for? Oh, to honour Jesus; and not to rest in—but to go straight out of all the victory, the triumph, and the joy, into Him, the one object of my soul's desire; and with that same triumphant faith to "crown Him Lord of all." Rich indeed is the feast of my Jesus' love again. This very day I banquet with the King, and cannot tell a thousandth part of what my soul enjoys; free, free mercy, sovereign favor; "grace, grace unto it."
May 18th.—The minister supplying for us, very unexpectedly called this morning, and methinks the alabaster box was broken among us, for my soul blessedly caught the fragrance of my Beloved's good ointments; before I had been burdened and buffeted, though certainly recognizing rest in Christ, and Him to be my resting-place.
May 29th.—Jesus has come, and my soul rejoices. We have been painting, papering, and cleaning our little parlor—but I could not enjoy it until He had sanctioned it by His presence; for nothing is anything to me but as He is in it, and approves of it; and this very evening he has come and communed with me most blessedly, granting me the desire of my heart. Many tears have I shed this week, under a sense of my deep ingratitude and shortcomings. But Jesus will conquer; He will pardon; He will bless; and in His smile I am—I must be—happy! Oh! what wonders! and the consummation to come yet. "Bless the Lord, O my soul."
June 14th.—Since the dear Lord has seen fit, in holy sovereignty, and contrary to expectation or desire, in some measure to restore my health, and longer to keep me in this dreary wilderness, I have regretted and wondered that I did not put down that first blast of the jubilee trumpet which was so blessedly blown in my soul, that I might thereby be refreshed in future seasons of trial. It was on this wise. During the week these words followed me with some encouraging effect: "If the Lord had meant to destroy us, He would not have shown us such things as these;" and, on the following Sabbath, which was February 25, 1838, Mr. S— took for his text Judges 13:23. I was surprised at the coincidence, and began to listen with interest to the sermon. The Lord, however, was pleased to manifest His power and sovereignty by taking me aside from the means, while under them, and teaching me Himself, apart from human instruments; for, though I liked what I heard of the sermon, no power attended it—but the Holy Spirit did, quite separate from it, reveal Christ in my soul as my own precious Savior. He was pleased to lead me to recognize Him as born in my soul, and mentally to exclaim, "Unto me a Child is born, unto me a Son is given;" also, to behold Him going through His whole life on earth for me, as my Head, Surety, and Representative; in every part of it obeying the holy law of God, fulfilling all its righteous requirements: the eye of infinite justice following Him through every avenue, and finding no flaw; and all this, not for Himself—but for me. I felt it as fully so as if no other had interest therein. Then His crucifixion, His offering Himself once for all; there was the atonement for all my guilt, the satisfaction for all my breaches of the law; and here, again, I saw justice fully satisfied, my debts being honorably paid, and my soul lawfully acquitted. As a proof of this, I was privileged to behold the resurrection of my glorious Christ: seeing, that having had all my guilt laid before Him, He must have drunk every drop of wrath and curse due to it, or He could not have burst the bars of the tomb, and taken again that life which He said He "laid down of Himself." Then His ascension to His Father's right-hand was blessedly set forth to me, as a token that the infinite Jehovah had accepted all He had done and suffered as on my behalf. I can only describe the view I had of the ascension of my Christ into heaven by recognizing the eternal Father thereby putting "settled" to my long black bill of sin, guilt, and law breaches, and sending down the dear Sacred Comforter to witness and seal home the same most comfortably in my conscience; according to the promise of Jesus, "I will ask the Father, and He will send you another Comforter, that He may abide with you forever;" and again, "the Comforter, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, He shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatever I have said unto you."
And truly thus it was with me, this ever-to-be-remembered morning; for the most Divine Spirit did "take of the things of Christ, and show them unto me," putting, as I call it, individuality and personality into them all; so that I, who had entered the chapel with the sentence of condemnation round my neck, signed with my own hand as just, did come out with a free pardon in its place, signed by the infinite Jehovah; also feeling myself robed in a spotless, seamless righteousness, in which I knew He accepted me, well pleased for His righteousness' sake. I, who had often been longing to have no soul, because of the judgment I saw impending, could now bless God for a soul to know and love Jesus, who had first loved me. My burden was gone, and I came home full of happiness.
But as it has generally been my lot to fight every inch of ground, so all this was questioned by unbelief and Satan that very night, and my soul agonized with sharp and bitter conflict. But it was done, and DONE FOREVER; nor can the howlings of all the monsters in my own fallen nature, or hell itself, ever undo it. Obscured from my view it may be by darkness, or fierce attacks of my enemies; therefore, while thankfully recording and gratefully remembering it, I humbly desire ever to place my whole dependence, and hang the whole weight of my salvation--upon the glorious Person and finished work of my dear and precious Lord Jesus Christ, and not merely upon the revelation thereof in my soul. For I do find that every part of experience, however clear, and every manifestation, however glowing and triumphant, may be questioned, and, for a time, made to appear a delusion, by unbelief and vigilant Satan. But when, by the power of the Holy Spirit, I am enabled to rest simply on Christ—though in myself as helpless and empty as at first—to venture on Him, and plead His blood and righteousness alone before the Divine footstool, and in the face of all threatening foes—ah! then comes the victory; for the battle is the Lord's, and unbelief and Satan are obliged to fly before Him. May I ever remember this, and, while retracing these marvelous displays of His condescension and love, go through them all to Himself, the immovable foundation of my soul, and the inexhaustible source of my happiness; in whom I may still safely confide, should all the streams of manifested comfort be for a season withdrawn. May the dear Lord keep me from dishonoring Him, by making more of His gifts than of HIMSELF! May He also keep me from questioning those gifts, through the power of that hateful and hated enemy, unbelief. Many a dark night and dreary day have I passed since the fore-mentioned dawn of Gospel liberty, which I can now clearly see that it was, though, by reason of sore buffetings, I was not for some time convinced that it was, a blast of the jubilee trumpet for which I had been so long listening. Slow have I been to learn that life of simple faith upon Jesus, which honors Him, and makes us in Him more than conquerors, even now.
But here I am, pressing after it, longing for it, and blessedly tasting a little of its sweetness; and, by the good hand of my God upon me, I continue to this day a monument of sovereign, saving mercy, and free rich grace. "Bless the Lord, O my soul," for all His amazing benefits to the very chief of sinners! Oh that I could praise Him a thousand thousand times more! Giving myself up to You afresh, at this time, most precious Christ, to be wholly at Your disposal and under Your direction, I humbly crave that You will condescend to be exceedingly, increasingly glorified in me, while You continue me here; and that my short remaining span may be one glow of praise and love, kindled at Your own fire, and kept alive by Your own Spirit. In remembrance of Your miracles on my behalf, I here erect a stone of help. Ebenezer! praise the Lord.
August 23rd, Sabbath.—Of what wonders do I live to be the happy partaker; and all in Christ, through Christ, and by Christ! "Bless the Lord, O my soul." Having heard that some dear friends were grieved by my not receiving Mr. B—'s ministry, I began to fear lest I should be a stumbling-block to them, and might have done wrong in absenting myself. I went therefore to hear him this morning, for the sake of others, and that I might in no way dishonor that precious Jesus who has done so much for me; and truly the Lord was present indeed; and of a truth, "the Word came in demonstration of the Spirit, and with power;" and my soul was melted in love, gratitude, and astonishment. What Mr. B— advanced was deeply searching. But I desired to be searched to the very bottom, cut to the quick, and then healed by the blood of Jesus, and thus made thoroughly sound. I love to hear of the obedience of faith and the fruits of faith, as well as the joy of faith. The doctrine, experience, and precepts of the Word are dear to my soul—my Christ being to me the life of the doctrine, vitality of the experience, and the activity of the practice; from Him is my fruit found, and there will be no lazy walking, flesh feeding, or sin loving, as we are brought by the Holy Spirit to "abide in Him." Blessed be the Lord, who daily loads me with benefits.
August 26th.—It has never been by looking at circumstances—but by looking to Jesus, that I have conquered. The Lord teach me this again, at this very time, and give me a song of victory through the blood of the Lamb!
October 8th.—With thanksgiving and the voice of melody would I record the mercies of my God and Savior, in that He has condescended to appear for me most manifestly, in a circumstance connected with my employment; proving that He is a God who "reveals secrets," and that He does as manifestly give wisdom now, as when He fitted Bezaleel and Aholiab to devise curious words for the tabernacle.
October 31st.—This ever-memorable night I must mark down; for this very evening, on hearing a dear friend read the last illness of Caroline Smelt, my heart has been broken to pieces to find that the joy, ecstacy, power, glory, and blissfulness which she experienced, I too have known; and have bathed almost in bliss ineffable, while caged in mortal clay. But here has been the bitterness--the grief, the wound, the anguish—my deep, deep ingratitude. My Jesus took her home; me He restored to tell His own wonders, sound His praises, shine His glory forth. But oh, how have I sunk into myself, and creatures, and dishonored Him, my loving and glorious Lord. My heart does bleed, and to the very quick is pained. But all my pain is nothing to the cause of it--my wicked, shameful slothfulness and selfish sinfulness. Oh, pardon me, my Jesus, and in Your power restore; and, whether long or short be my life, let it henceforth be Yours, and Yours alone. Amen, most solemnly so be it; O Lord, Amen.
December 4th.—It seems to me that Christ is the stooping-down of Jehovah; the arm of Jehovah, on which we can lean; the heart of Jehovah, of which we feel the sympathy; the eye of Jehovah, of which we can bear the glance—yes, whose look is love; the glory of Jehovah, upon which we can gaze unconsumed, and, while we gaze, are changed into the image thereof by the Spirit of the Lord; the voice of Jehovah, which is music, melody, and peace; the revealing of Jehovah. Oh, infinite abyss of love and joy, and peace, and grace, and truth, and holiness! my Christ, what is there not, what have I not, in You? In vain I try to ascend the wondrous heights, and explore the mighty depths! I am lost, overwhelmed, absorbed in love and You—almighty, boundless, matchless, endless love; "for God is love," and in this dwelling-place I would rest for evermore.
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