Gleanings from the Inner Life of Ruth Bryan
January 1st.—Goodness and mercy, loving-kindness and longsuffering, have hitherto surrounded me. The past year has been marked with love. But, methinks, actual communion has run in a lower channel, which sometimes makes my heart jealous. Lord, keep me close, very close to You; and, whether faith or sight will most honour You, mark You the way, and give submission. But, if Your will, continue my beloved seclusion from the world. Bless the Lord for the mercy-seat! Oh, the great, great privilege! Would it were more enjoyed and valued! Ebenezer!
"Your mercy, my God, is the theme of my song,
The joy of my heart, and the boast of my tongue;
Your mercy is more than a match for my heart,
Which wonders to feel its own hardness depart;
Your mercy is matchless, most loving and free,
How great is that mercy extended to me!"
January 20th.—Passing under cloud and depression—but "the Lord is my light and my salvation;" and, "though now I see Him not, yet believing, I rejoice," even in sorrow, and know He still is faithful, even though He hides His face. I much long to know what it means, whether a chastisement for sin, or a trial of faith, for its strengthening and increase. May the Lord speak—actual communion and love-embraces, my soul longs for—but fears to be impatient.
January 30th, Saturday.—The Lord has dealt wondrously with me this week. He first condescended to show me that I was unduly anxious about my work, which has much pressed upon me lately, from Hebrews 12:5, and 1 Peter 5:7. He then enabled me, after a sharp struggle, to cast all the care of it upon Him, and to prefer His will to the accomplishment of a portion of work, which I had thought very desirable for the accommodation of the owner. After this, when I had quite given it up, He most wonderfully gave me ability to accomplish it with ease, to my own astonishment; thus proving again, that in what we forego for His sake we shall be no losers. I believe my over anxiety was one cause of the cloud I have been under. He does, indeed, lead poor, blind me in a way I know not. But it leads to a city of habitation. "Bless the Lord, O my soul." Proverbs 22:15; blessed correction.
February 8th.—I have been traveling rather heavily, my soul often bowed down in me because of the distance of my Beloved; that is, as to manifestation; for I know His eye is upon me, and His heart ever towards me, and that all His discipline is love. I believe the Lord is dealing with me to humble me and empty me of self, which is what I long for; therefore, though painful the process, I can trust His hand of love; for it is love, Almighty love, which lets out the life-blood of self. I have been exceedingly harassed by the fear that my extreme concern to live to the Lord, and be used for His glory, has arisen from self-seeking, and a desire for self-exaltation. The Lord teach me the right way; I am sure this case is "too hard for me." I almost think I shall not write here again for the present, lest this also be self. Well, now, if I stay away from the mercy-seat because of this my sinfulness, and wait until (through the power of the Spirit) I am enabled to walk more closely with God, and then approach because my conscience is less burdened, what will have become of my sin? It may for a time be forgotten—but will not be the less, and may arise again, to my extreme anguish. Nothing can safely put away sin but blood. Oh, then, away to the Fountain at once, though Satan or unbelief suggest it is presumption, and that I should wait until I am better. I cannot "find out the Almighty," but He can reveal Himself to me. That may be unfolded to me, which never could have been found out by me. I am formed capable of receiving—but not of acquiring. "Bless the Lord, O my soul," that He could descend where I could not ascend, and raise me to where I could never climb (John 17:24). Infinite fullness can fill a finite being (Eph. 3:19), and a finite being be brought to dwell in Infinite fullness (1 John 4:15, 16).
[Reader, mark this momentous distinction, "Found capable of receiving—but not of acquiring." This cuts up, as it ought to do, our poor fallen Adam nature, root and branch. Reader, are you made willing to such a flesh-and-blood-crushing ordeal? If so, blessed be God for what He has done, both for you and in you.]
Some ministers seem most taken up in delineating the features of Christ as reflected in the Church; others rise up into the personal glories of the Beloved, and, almost forgetting mortality and creatures, gaze upon "the perfection of beauty;" and, while they thus gaze, that beauty is, and must be, most clearly seen in them. No fear of crooked walking while the eye is fixed fully on Jesus! I know my flesh must be crucified—but I was never told how many nails should be put in. So as one after another comes, I have no right to say, There are too many. Have I not been too contracted in my ideas of communion, thinking it must be ecstacy, delight, and pleasurable sensations? May there not be communion in patience, faith, submission, waiting, trust, venturing, etc.? The less I am, the more room there will be for the largeness of other people. But as self-importance swells me out, so their importance annoys and offends me. Real humility will pity the pride of others—but not take offence at it; because, always wishing to be least and lowest, it will easily concede what the other demands, and thus there will be nothing to contend for.
February 16th.—A time of love this evening; that is, a nearer approach of my Beloved than that with which I have, of late, been favored, though not that close and ravishing communion which my soul longs for, and which I have enjoyed. Oh, that the fires of Almighty love would descend and melt my frozen heart, and unloose my icebound affections, that they may glow and flow towards their source and center. "If you see my Beloved, tell Him I am sick with love." Ebenezer, for one more visit in this far-off country.
March 28th.—Much blessed in living on the fullness in Christ during the last few weeks; I was tempted today to think that this continual victory in Christ was not right, and that the faith-embracements of Him to which my soul is brought were all imaginary. I was enabled to take this matter simply to the Lord Jesus, entreating to be searched to the bottom, probed to the quick, and separated from all false peace, and the Spirit's work in me still further confirmed. This has been done by 1 John 5:4, from which I plainly see that the work has been of God; and I am led to desire still more constant baptism "into Christ," and more venturing acts of faith upon Him as my whole salvation, by the power of the Holy Spirit. "Bless the Lord, O my soul," that Satan is again foiled by Jesus; it is his constant aim to get something, anything between me and Christ. The Lord prevent it.
April 9th, Good Friday.—After all I have received, I bless the Lord I have not had, or known, a thousandth part of Christ yet; it is still above and beyond me; and out of all I have had would I rise into Him "in whom dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily," to whom, with the Father and the Spirit, be glory evermore. Amen.
April 20th.—I do find it in my heart to entreat earnestly and anxiously that no future circumstances of life may experimentally separate between me and my precious Jesus, or cause me to walk at a greater distance from Him. I plead for no exemption from the trials of life, or the mortification, crucifixion, and continued disappointments of the flesh. But I do plead, that in and through all, I may be brought to closer, closer walking with Him who loved me, and gave Himself for me, and that nothing may be allowed to intervene to bring leanness of soul, or that dreaded coldness, lightness, and worldliness of spirit, at the thought of which I tremble and recoil. Oh, hear me, precious Jesus, and grant my one request—to be more like You, and more with You, and that You may be more glorified in me. You have, You do, You will deliver.
April 25th, Sacrament Sabbath.—A good day in Christ. I have today blessedly seen how He is my Brother, born in my nature on purpose for adversity; for it was the adversity of His "sister-spouse" which brought Him down to bear her woes. Oh, what love and fullness do I find in Jesus; may I go on to know Him more. Precious Christ, I embrace You as "my life and the length of my days;" in Yourself the good land into which You have brought me, and in which, experimentally, You alone can keep me. I do now, irrespective of outward circumstances, give myself again to You, imploring that You will be more glorified in me and mine. The weakest, lowest, vilest of all Your family, I embrace You as my energy, ability, life, and righteousness—my all in all; and do close this book,* this page of my life, acknowledging the mighty mercies which have surrounded me hitherto, and the Ebenezers which crowd my path; and, had I room, would here erect an Ebenezer of Ebenezers!—a pile of stones of help.
* The Diary was written in separate books. This closed one of them.
May 4th.—A blessed and refreshing shower of unction from the Holy Spirit upon my soul today, leading me to fresh faith-embracements of Jesus, in whom I lose my sins, my sorrows, and myself. "Bless the Lord, O my soul," and still cry after, and seek for, more Christ.
May 30th, Sabbath Morning.—The Lord has been very gracious to me through the past week, not allowing the pressure of circumstances to overwhelm me—but accomplishing for me wonders therein. I have felt at times like a ship becalmed, having the sails spread, and waiting for celestial breezes from the Holy Spirit. But feeling that, because of my wanderings, they were in justice withheld. Again, however, sacred gales have sprung up, wafting sweet odors of my Beloved, and carrying me forward towards the desired haven, under a melting sense of pardoning love and restoring grace. How precious and blessed is a life of faith, wherein everything spiritual and temporal, providential and circumstantial, minute and important--becomes matter of exercise and medium of communion. And how great a privilege is the use of the pen, whereby these things are recorded, and reverted to again and again. I cannot tell the solace and profit it has been to me. No doubt my dear father well knew its pleasures, since he recommended me very early in life to commence this system of mental bookkeeping, if I may so call it; and truly I have found my account and profit in so doing.
June 16th, Wednesday.—My dear mother was in bed nearly all yesterday—but I trust she is better today. May the Lord be glorified in this sickness, and may she be comforted. I think I have found it profitable, though very painful; it has been like loosening the earth about me, that I might cleave less to it; and shaking my comfort in the creature, that I might find it all in Jesus; and truly I do find it there most richly. He has this morning shone on me with love, and is now very near to my spirit. "Bless the Lord, O my soul," for light in a dark place.
June 18th.—My mother is better, the Lord be praised! This affliction has been a very merciful one to me, giving fresh opportunity for the display of the love of Jesus, which has sweetly flowed into my soul, proving that He is better to me than all earthly mothers, fathers, husbands, brothers, or any other. Oh, what have we in our precious Christ! Heart cannot conceive it, tongue cannot utter it! He is all love and loveliness, all glory and majesty. He is Jehovah manifested, communed with, and delighted in! It is heaven begun to dwell in His embrace—yes, heaven—while fettered in mortality, surrounded by creatures, and roared at by Satan too. Oh, for higher, loftier strains of praise to the Three-One Jehovah, my all in all.
July 6th, my Birthday.—I desire to give myself more unreservedly than ever to be the Lord's alone. Yours I am, O Jesus; Yours, O Son of David. Oh, stamp Your image on me; breathe Your fragrance through me, and be exceedingly glorified in me in life and death. Thanks and praise be to You for the great mercies of the past year; thanks that I was ever born to know You, and thanks that I am born to live forever; thanks and praises, endless and ceaseless, to my covenant God in Christ, for being in Him who loved me and gave Himself for me. Ebenezer!
July 25th.—Amidst the changes of this changing world, O Lord, give me to find sweet repose in You, in Your unchangeability, who is ever the same! May Jesus be the Alpha and Omega of the coming week and month.
July 31st.—I humbly trust Jesus has been the Alpha and Omega of this week, and the one object of my desire and pursuit. I have been much blessed, and have had some gracious bedewings and anointings of the Spirit, and that in "holy sovereignty;" for my undeservings have indeed been manifest, and I am constrained to say, "Grace, grace unto it."
August 8th.—The past has been a week of manifested mercy; it began with fears and faintings, because of things cross and contrary. But the Lord has been my stay, bearing me up, through, and above all--in Christ! He has also, this week, vouchsafed me an outward token of His faithfulness, which has been precious. Some months since, He put it into my heart to do without a dress I wanted, that I might give the money to a saint of His, united to me in the flesh and in the Lord, and who was in need. This was a privilege, and so I esteemed it. But the dear Lord would not be behind in payment, for He has now sent me, through a dear relative, a dress and a shawl too. To Him be the praise and glory of all I receive; also that every occurrence in life affords matter of fellowship and communion with Him, and fresh proofs of His faithfulness. Oh, to trust all with Him, and to forsake all for Him more and more! "Bless the Lord, O my soul," for the privilege of thus beholding a part of His ways.
August 15th.—Lord, increase practical faith in my soul—
"For I am but a learner yet,
Unskillful, weak, and apt to slide."
August 22nd, Sabbath Morning.—If the richness and riches of Jesus shall roll over, rise above, and come through the poverty of the instrument today, my soul will rejoice; and He shall have the praise who holds the stars in His right hand, and makes them sparkle forth His glory, according to His own will.
September 12th.—I do not now wonder that Satan did formerly press me so heavily, hunt me so closely, and tempt me so fearfully about the Divinity of my precious Christ; for, as He is dishonored and rejected by unbelief, the soul is kept weak, dark, and uncertain. But as He is received by faith, through the Spirit's power, no mortal tongue can express the benefits, the blessedness, the glory we find in Him. I know it, for I prove it; and though it be contradicted by those who have never tasted or handled, yet the fact remains the same, and in it we do, must, and will rejoice. "Lord, increase our faith."
September 19th.—It is not all eating, even when with Jesus, as Matt. 15:32, "Now Jesus summoned His disciples and said--I have compassion on the crowd, because they’ve already stayed with Me three days and have nothing to eat. I don't want to send them away hungry; otherwise they might collapse on the way." How much of the three days they fasted, is not said. But so much, that they were in danger of fainting, if not refreshed. Let me not, then, be cast down by fasting times, even though long; they are often the prelude to a blessed and miraculous supply, when and where least expected; neither let me think, as Satan would insinuate, that because I am not enjoying, Jesus is not with me. He is here as much to regulate the length and effects of the fast, as to bless, give out, and enliven the feast.
September 30th.—A most blessed feast of love, and glimpse of glory today; my soul ravished, and lifted in enjoyment far away from all earthly objects. Somewhat of the grace-fullness and glory-fullness of Jesus revealed to my wondering, admiring soul. But more is yet behind to be unfolded. "Praise the Lord, O my soul.".
October 22nd.—A blessed interview with Mr. D— this morning, one of the Lord's dear ministers; and truly a heart-warming season it was to me. Oh, why, why am I so favored? The dear Lord does melt me with kindness. Mr. D— seems to know blessedly the power of "love and blood," and the efficacy of prayer; he said, very sweetly, "If you can say nothing else at the footstool, cry, Blood, blood!"
[Reader, nothing disturbs the devil like the cry of "Blood, blood!" He has no answer for the glorious testimony—the sinner's last and only plea—"The blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from ALL sin."]
October 29th.—I have been completely shaken this morning by a letter from dear Mr. T—, in which he tells me that he has sent my last for insertion in the "Gospel Magazine." I cannot describe the distress it occasioned me. Publicity is so completely contrary to my wish and inclination; seclusion and hiding are what I love. But it is done, and without my knowledge. What the Lord intends by it, I know not; my heart aches—but still I would not dishonor Him, for the sake of five times, nor a hundred times, the anguish. I do know I have given myself, and my feelings, to my precious Jesus, to be used for His honour, as He sees best; and shall I draw back when He says, "Come forth?" No, Lord; if it be Your voice, I submit, though clean contrary to my natural feelings. But if it be an act of the creature, contrary to Your will, I beg and entreat that You will frustrate it. I know well, that in writing that letter, You did bear me up into such bliss and blessedness as no language can describe; it came from You, therefore do as You will with Your own. I remember Vashti, who refused to come forth at the king's commandment, and I tremble; for though my precious Jesus will never divorce me, yet His absence in anger, and the frown of His displeasure, are more terrible than death. Oh, pity Your trembling one; let the cordial of Your love and blood keep me from fainting; and again, in Your presence, solemnly do I say, "Your will be done," though it cuts closely and keenly, and I sensibly feel the smart, for I would be shut up from human observation to my life's end, You know; and yet I would joyfully be a witness for You to the world's end.
October 31st.—Reading this morning Luke 8:22, 23, etc., it struck me thus: Why, Jesus knew, when He entered that ship, what a storm would come on the lake; and He knew, when he went to sleep, in His human nature, how that sleep would draw forth the fears of His disciples; and yet He did all this to show forth His glory, and exercise their faith; and so, when I wrote that letter to Mr. T—, and You, blessed Jesus, did lift me up so blessedly in communion with Yourself, beholding Your glory, You knew what would come out of it, though I had not such a thought; therefore I do trust it with You, and commit it to You. Bring out of this event Your own glory, and my soul will be content, though I suffer deeply in my feelings. Now is the time of the storm—but You are controlling its waves and its billows, and I am safe amidst its tossings; and, when a calm will honor You, it shall come at Your command, nor would I desire it one moment sooner.
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