Gleanings from the Inner Life of Ruth Bryan
January 1st.—Precious Jesus! a new-year's blessing my soul craves of You. Oh, deny me not—but shine and smile, and give a pledge of good things to come during this 1843. For my dear mother, spared and restored, I praise You, and for the ten thousand other blessings with which You have blessed me, I would adore You. But most for Yourself, in whom all things are blessings to me. I humbly erect an Ebenezer for the past, and for the future crave earnestly, longingly (but not half earnestly enough) more, much more, of You, my Jesus, that I may live in Christ.
9 o'clock.—The glory, power, love, sweetness, and ravishing communion I have this evening enjoyed, are inexpressible in mortal strains; I think it almost exceeds anything I have ever before known. But, however, it was truly heaven begun, and still I cry, "More of Christ," until "mortality shall be fairly swallowed up of life."
January 15th, Sabbath.—"I have loved the habitation of Your house, the place where Your honor dwells." These words are much on my mind this morning; and, though I know Christ is the fullness of them, still they seemed to bear upon the outward sanctuary as they pressed upon me.
Noon.—It has not been vain to wait upon the Lord. He has blessed me, above the instrument, by Himself, through a passage which was only quoted; it was, "The heaven of heavens cannot contain You." What bliss and glory do I see, in that the heaven of heavens could not contain Jehovah, because of love as well as of greatness. Love brought Him down; love made Him stoop—yes, made Him bring His heaven to earth, and raise His earth to heaven. "Bless the Lord, O my soul," and give me, precious Christ, to dwell in You, for You are love and heaven. Oh, may my soul in these blessed fires kindle and burn for evermore. Truly this dull body cannot long contain this enraptured soul. But it will burst out of prison to be absorbed in Thee—You, oh, precious Three-One Jehovah, its glorious all in all, revealed in Christ by the Spirit, to the glory of the Father.
February 19th.—I felt yesterday, and feel today, that I could just be one of the poor widow's mites which were cast into the treasury in God's temple. My dear mother is a widow, and I am a mite indeed. But into God's treasury, for God's service, I would, and must, be cast. Nothing less can satisfy my longing soul than entire and unceasing dedication to the Lord, and deadness to earth. In all my powers and faculties I would that He might be honored. O Lord, accept this little humble mite for Your own use, and let me be for You alone, and not another's with You.
February 24th.—It is a great thing to be brought to joy in God. But it seems greater still to apprehend that God joys in us: this was with power made known in my soul last evening. A sense of this is overwhelming indeed, not only to have our hearts full of joy in God—but sensibly and feelingly to know that He joys in us; and thus be able to say, not only, "I am my Beloved's," but also, "His desire is toward me." Oh, wonder of wonders! the feeling of it did melt my heart indeed. "Bless the Lord, O my soul."
February 27th, Sacrament Sabbath.—I expect today to commemorate the love of our dying Lord at His table; and, in seeking His presence in so doing, I have just been led to see an evil, of which, I believe, I have been the guilty subject—that of resting in, and being taken up with, certain feelings and sensations experienced by me, rather than with Christ Himself, the Substance of the feast; and thus my feelings become more the object of my pursuit and desire, than His glory. Both in praying and reading the Holy Scriptures, I seem to have been thus beguiled from simplicity, having feeling and enjoyment more in view—than Him from whom they come. And so, when favored with a sensation of comfort, peace, and joy in my reading, I have the next time come to the Word searching for that same sweetness again, more than for Christ, the source and fullness of it. Many dear Christians might not see what I mean—but I see plainly, and beg to be delivered from this seeking the gifts more than the Giver, which is unbecoming to, and not allowable in, a state of liberty. Oh, my Christ Jehovah, how have You been dishonored by worthless me; so blessed, so favored, and yet so prone to rest in Your bestowments rather than Yourself; do pardon, and restore to that simplicity which is alone in You. Oh, do it for Your love and honor's sake!
Evening.—Most blessedly was I privileged this afternoon to triumph in Christ above feeling, and to prove that what we forsake for Him we shall find most abundantly in Him, which I did, until my body was well-near overwhelmed with the love and glory in my soul—one of love's secrets for the abasement of self and exaltation of Jesus. To the Lord be all the glory!
[We venture to detain the reader for one moment; first, to call his attention to the fact of our departed sister's very marked "growth in grace, and in the knowledge of Christ Jesus her Lord," in His Divine Person. And, secondly, to the very clear way in which she now—in contrast to her former inability so to do—distinguishes between faith and feeling—gifts and the Giver! Christ Himself, in His most lovely and adorable Person, has now become her theme—her sole object and subject! Reader, is this the tendency of your experience? There is something lacking—in everything short of it.]
March 10th.—How sweet and powerful has the Holy Spirit been in me this morning, as a Spirit of adoption, and with what endearment has my soul cried, "My Father!" It seems that I could with delight be all day at the footstool, repeating the rapturous sound, my God, Abba, Father; and, oh, what love my Father has, to give me to Christ, and Christ to me, and to "bruise Him" for my worthless sake. "Wonder, O heavens! and be astonished, O earth! for the Lord has done it." An eternity is before us to dive into, and to explore this matchless love.
March 19th, Sabbath Morning.—Much sweetness and power in reading Psalm 91, and this promise seems mine, "There shall no evil befall you, nor any plague come near your dwelling." The Lord fulfill this, in every sense.
Noon.—Truly my soul has been in heaven, and heaven in my soul, this morning. I do not know whether great power has been felt by minister and people; that is with the Lord, and He will work in His own way. But I do know that I, the most unworthy of all, have power and powerful love vouchsafed to me, and still feel we shall be blessed as a people, and by this minister. All that is from You, O Lord—establish and fulfill. All that is of the flesh—pardon and crush.
March 26th.—I heard with much power this morning, though under the deepest abasement, on account of sin—it almost breaks my heart to feel it working so powerfully, and then I am led to see that my Jesus has borne it, and that I am dead to it, through union to Him, and that breaks it again. The meltings and dissolvings of Christ's love none can know, but those who experience them; and, methinks, those who feel sin most, feel love most. It is so amazing and so humbling to find love, blood, and salvation abounding over the aboundings of felt iniquity; the Lord only knows how I have been broken under the evils of my nature this week, and how I have longed to be released from the body, that I may sin no more.
March 28th.—How tremblingly do I venture on this day, and how gladly would I leave this polluted body, and be away in the full perfection of glory, love, and praise. Oh, my dear Jesus, how precious are You to me, and how willingly I would be with You, and be like You, and dishonor You no more—You know. "Your will be done."
April 2nd.—Truly it is very blessed, safe, and profitable to take a gift from Jesus in the dark, all shut up in mystery, and not being able to see what it is—but trusting the Giver, taking it because He gives it; and for His sake content that it should be to us that measure of cross and that measure of comfort which will glorify Him; this is very flesh-puzzling and humbling—but it will turn to good account. "Bless the Lord, O my soul."
Jesus in His person, Jesus in His work, Jesus in His love—has been my feast this morning, and I know not how to leave off writing of His wonders. John might well say, "And I suppose that if all the other things Jesus did were written down, the whole world could not contain the books." And so it seems, if my soul was indulged, I should write page after page, and book after book, and so spend my inch of time, and atom of energy, in trying to speak well of His name, and, after all, say nothing in comparison of what is to be said; for what can poor feeble I say of infinite majesty, infinite holiness, infinite love, and infinite condescension? Oh, I can only acknowledge that, having enjoyed much, I can say nothing. But desire to launch quite out of self, into the eternal fullness treasured up in Christ.
April 10th.—On this 10th day of April, 1843, I, Ruth Bryan, do most humbly and solemnly desire to devote myself afresh to the Lord, in His own way, praying that He may be pleased to be more glorified in and by me than heretofore. I know most feelingly that I have no capabilities for this. I have lately been very sensibly realizing that I am nothing; and thus, worthless and helpless, I cast myself upon the Lord, who will be very greatly magnified, if he will condescend to be glorified in me.
April 12th, Wednesday Evening.—Returned from hearing Mr. C— preach from Psalm 143:8, "Let me hear of your unfailing love to me in the morning, for I am trusting you. Show me where to walk, for I have come to you in prayer." The text itself was enough for me, being most suitable to my present state. I have just read 2 Chron. 20, and find it in my heart to ask the Lord to fulfill it in me, on the subject which has much harassed me for some days; that He would be pleased to fight the battle while I look on, though the very subject of the conflict; and then bring me by His mighty power to the Valley of Beracah (praise). Oh, yes; I do want to praise Him on this very ground, where flesh and Satan have so sharply troubled me. So be it, Lord. May I "stand still and see Your salvation," and rejoice in it too, though it cut the flesh all to pieces.
April 14th, Good Friday, Noon.—I have had a season of great power and blessedness in reading John 19, and pleading at the footstool with my dear mother, since breakfast. Why does the Lord so bless and favor me? In holy sovereignty, and because I am one of the most unlovely members of Christ, and have, therefore, put upon me more abundant honor, whereby I am humbled and Jesus much exalted. The fifth verse of the chapter was very powerful to me, "Behold the man!" crowned with thorns; that the woman, His bride, might be crowned first with loving-kindness, and then with glory, and that she might have ability and privilege to crown her glorious Bridegroom with praise—yes, "crown Him Lord of all." And He stoops to hear her low notes, and to receive her feeble adoration; and there are, even here, such mutual endearments and communion, that no carnal mind can conceive. Thoughts of the crucified Immanuel much dwelling in my soul, at this time the sun was darkened; may I be privileged to view by faith the mystic wonders of that scene, which the light of nature could never reveal, nor the eye of nature ever behold. Precious, precious Jesus! once crucified—but now glorified, do give me a season of power in Your sanctuary tonight. May love and blood flow richly around to the redeemed, and let minister and people rejoice together.
April 15th, Saturday.—Why me? why me so favored? Surely my heart will be right down broken with love and mercy. Just received a note from my sister-friend, to say it is on her mind to come and unite in supplicating for large power tomorrow—"a pentecostal season." And what is this but an answer to the Spirit's breathing on Sunday evening? The Lord keep us waiting and praying.
April 16th, Sabbath.—It is mine to endure sharp temptation just now, almost constantly, notwithstanding what I enjoy. Sometimes the bodily frame sinks under the soul exercise of joy and sorrow, which do much exhaust poor nature.
April 18th.—"The backslider in heart shall be filled with his own ways." A bitter, bitter portion—but most richly deserved.
April 22nd.—Much powerlessness, much fleshliness, and much heart-coldness have been mine this week. I dreaded our little Friday meeting, nor could I think there would be a blessing. But there was one. My heart was broken, and brought close to the mercy-seat, under the prayer of my dearly beloved Mrs. F—. Now mercy and power followed, and truly it was a season of solid profit. The Lord be praised, and His name glorified.
April 30th.—My heart broken to pieces under the sermon this morning from Isaiah 42:3, "He will not break a bruised reed, and He will not put out a smoldering wick." Surely it was my privilege to weep at the feet of my faithful and ever-loving Jesus, to whom I have made such unworthy returns; and I believe He will come and heal the broken heart, and restore me to that intimacy and endearment of friendship which I have enjoyed with His Divine Majesty; and thus defeat Satan, who is trying to mar it, and crucify my flesh, which has lately been so busy.
Some power and sweetness in partaking of the Lord's Supper; and, near the close, a most powerful and melting assurance that the dear Lord Jesus is about to come into us more manifestly, and bless us more abundantly in that place. Lord, confirm and fulfill all that You have spoken. I am astonished You will speak to me, and whisper Your sweet secrets. But it is because of union, as we were told, "Communion springs from union." Oh, though I, and union springs from love—yes, I think love is union; it is, as it were, the root of it; where we love we are united really, whether present or absent. One in spirit, there is union of soul; manifestive union springs out of this, and the communion succeeds; thus it was that "everlasting love" in the heart of Jehovah was the origin of our union to Jesus—that is, in the sense in which it had a beginning. We were loved, chosen, united; and neither earth nor hell can separate us. We had a being in Christ before all time—but we began to be, or really existed, in our flesh-and-blood nature in time, first representatively in Adam, then consciously in our own persons, when we were born into the world. In Adam the first we lost all creature holiness and perfection, and in our own persons we experimentally prove the loss; we feel our distance from God, and our estrangement from Him, and we think we are undone forever, and all is gone. But the secret has to come out, the secret of love and union, and it does come out in the Lord's time, and love comes in, "and because we are sons, God sends the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, Abba, Father." The Divine Spirit communicates a new nature, born of God, one with Jesus, which cannot sin, because it is born of God; and He makes us know also that this body and soul, which fell in the first Adam, were redeemed by the second from all iniquity, corruption, and misery, of which they are now the subjects, and also from the curse due to that iniquity. He makes us know that we are the chosen bride of Christ, notwithstanding "our low estate;" that He has betrothed us unto Himself from all eternity, and that even then His delights were with us, and He rejoiced in us (Prov. 8.)
Thus we discover a relationship we never thought of; union where we could not have conceived it; and love which was so beforehand with us, as to provide a patrimony which we can never waste, riches which we can never spend, holiness which we can never mar, purity which we can never sully, a life which can never die, a crown which we must wear, and an inheritance which we must enjoy forever! Oh, the wonder of union to Jesus, really before time, manifestly in time, and its consummation in eternity! It is very moving and melting, as revealed in the soul by the Holy Spirit, who does further and further develop the mysteries and privileges thereof, as we go on in the Divine life. Truly, union is of love, and communion is in love; and soon love and communion will absorb and overwhelm us forever and ever!
May 2nd.—A little drop of love let into my soul at the family altar this morning. Come, my Beloved, and overpower me again by Your glories, as in former seasons.
May 3rd.—Oh, this hateful and hated apathy, how it strives to gain upon me! I cannot bear not to feel. My heart is deeply grieved. How can I honor Jesus? How can I be useful and profitable to my dearest mother, and my much-loved Christian friends? How can it be? The Lord only knows. May He anew baptize me with the Holy Spirit, that my converse and actions may be full of power. I often think that the sands in my little glass of life are nearly run out. Oh that Jesus would take all that are left, for His own use and honor.
May 6th.—Our Friday evening most exceedingly and solidly profitable to my soul; fresh closing with Christ, and fresh actings of faith upon Christ, brought about in my soul by the Holy Spirit, of which my dear Mrs. F— was the medium, by proposing some queries on 1 John 3:7. "Bless the Lord, O my soul!"
May 10th.—My heart sorely grieved that I honor Jesus so little in my daily life. The moments are rapidly flying over, and how little are they redeemed. Truly my spirit mourns within me. Oh for new baptisms of the Holy Spirit! "Lord, what will You have me to do?" Can it once be that I can live to Your glory? I know it must be by Yourself alone; and I now desire afresh, by faith, to take Jesus only as the answer of my earnest request, expecting from—yes, in You, O Beloved, all fruit and fruitfulness. Read Daniel 1 at family worship this morning. Felt a good deal of power then, and since, from verses 8 and 12. Daniel's desire is mine; and as he fed on vegetables, so I on Christ, would live alone, henceforth and forever; so be it, Lord. Do You say so too. "Prove me now herewith, I beseech You." Cause me to take Christ for my all, in time and eternity. Keep me from that beguiling by which I have been so robbed; and then I know I shall honor You more, and more reflect Your glory. Oh, let it be so! my poor heart pants and thirsts for this high privilege.
May 22nd.—Enjoying much; whether it be a preparation for trials on earth, or speedy glory in heaven—the Lord only knows. I am seeking to have no self—but CHRIST instead, since it with Him was crucified. Oh, the overwhelming happiness of being yielded up by the Spirit's power to Christ alone, and to daily crucifixion in all that the flesh loves and longs for!
June 4th.—Much blessed this morning; not from what was said—but from a sweet view of Psalm 23, especially verse 4, compared with Rom. 7:24. This present flesh-and-blood state of existence, with all its sins and sorrows, seemed to me "the valley of the shadow of death;" and very triumphantly did I see and feel that, as we experimentally abide in Christ by faith, we may walk through it and "fear no evil." "He turns the shadow of death into the morning." It was truly blessed. I seem now to give myself up afresh, to seek that hidden and mysterious life of faith, so little known in the fullness of its privileges. I would just be watching daily at the gates of Christ, the true Wisdom, and waiting at the posts of His doors. I would only know His righteousness, and in that walk before God and man; so be it, Lord, to me, a poor sinner in myself—but a sinner saved by You; so let it be, for Your honor, that I may be experimentally saved into You.
June 11th.—My dear mother has been out this morning—but she seems very ill, and has a great deal of internal fever. Part of my exercise in the house of God has been trusting my dear mother with Jesus, as able to do for us all we need and desire. My struggle is to rest in His will, however contrary to my flesh, and to look at Him more than circumstances. May we both know the triumph, as well as the trial, of faith.
Evening.—Come, precious Jesus, and wind me up to the climax of love, as You before have done, and then it is impossible to withhold anything from You. My life, love, health, friends, circumstances—all are given to You; and You are sweetly proved to be infinitely more than all. Nearest and dearest—all must give place, that You may have the nearest, first, best place in the soul's affections. So be it, Lord, my loving and all-lovely Jesus; so be it to me, and to my dearest parent, for Your glory, in and by us. Then, come life, come death, if You are but honored, and we behold Your glory and feel Your love. Methinks earth is not long my country, for surely my soul catches celestial breezes, and almost rises into the overwhelming love of Deity, which, in the glories of its fullest radiance, would overpower mortality.
June 15th.—My dearest mother once more raised up to moderate health. The Lord be praised! His mercies to us are very great. I am groaning under extreme powerlessness of mind, as if all energy and vigor for meditation, or other spiritual exercises, were dried up. Surely the Lord will restore it, for thus to live, yet not to live, would be an affliction indeed; and to slip out of life without a word from Jesus is what I shrink from.
June 16th.—Mercifully relieved from the above-mentioned powerlessness this evening (Friday) at our little social meeting; to the Lord be all the glory!
June 19th.—My mind a good deal solemnized by finding I have spit up blood. Feel no alarm. Blood is a peaceful sign. When the destroying angel sees it on the lintel, he passes by; when it is applied to the conscience, it proclaims peace; and, should it now be a token of the speedy laying down of this frail tabernacle, it is peaceful still. For to be "absent from the body" will be to be "present with the Lord." Still, I would hereby be led to the footstool for deep heart-searching, to seek that Jesus may be honored in the remainder of my life, and exceedingly magnified in my death. Death, did I say?—rather laying down mortality—going to sleep. Death is all gone. Jesus had that, and "abolished death, and brought life and immortality to light by the Gospel." Oh, glorious, conquering Savior may I, by the Spirit's power, abide in You by faith. Then shall I, experimentally as well as really, be conqueror too. May Rev. 3:11, 12, be fulfilled in me, whether a speedy dissolving or a longer sojourning be appointed me. "Look, I am coming quickly. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take away your crown. All who are victorious will become pillars in the Temple of my God, and they will never have to leave it. And I will write my God's name on them, and they will be citizens in the city of my God—the new Jerusalem that comes down from heaven from my God. And they will have my new name inscribed upon them." "To depart and be with Christ is far better."
June 25th.—The subject of much depression today; no power in hearing; and Hosea 2, first clause of verse 2, with Jeremiah 11:15, seem my sad sentence, under which I fall, willing to receive the deserved stripes of dishonored love—but begging to be restored to that life of simple faith from which I have too much departed, as shown me by the above passages. Some little whisper of the Spirit in my soul this afternoon, prompting me to rise above effect into cause, and to be more engaged in looking at and believing in Jesus, than in looking at the fruits of so doing; and here, methinks, I have gone wrong. The Lord restore me and teach me, for I am a poor ignorant thing. I would now surrender myself afresh to the instruction of the Holy Spirit, to learn to live Christ and walk in Him, trusting Him with consequences, and rising above effects, however pleasing, into Himself, the glorious cause. Lord, condescend to teach me this mysterious, flesh-crucifying life of faith, so little known or preached about. Very plainly do I now see how I have failed, and how prone I am to think more of the fruit than of Him from whom it comes.
For example, supposing I have some experimental victory, how am I wrapped up in it, instead of in the Conqueror? If I find that, when walking uprightly in Christ, no good thing is withheld (Psalm 84:11), anon, I get delighting in the good things, and then does the stooping infirmity creep upon me again, and they are withheld, for my correction, and to teach me that Christ must be more delighted in than His benefits. In a thousand other ways I have been beguiled, so foolish am I, and so ignorant; and such a narrow path is the highway of holiness, that it must be all Christ; there is not room for one bit or scrap of self. This whisper from the blessed Comforter is like a gleam from afar. May it shine brighter unto the perfect day. May Christ increase, and I decrease, until again I am nothing, and He all in all, experimentally. I do loathe myself, O Beloved, for my wanderings; be pleased to work in me until I not only hate self—but forsake it also. I feel what a hard thing I am seeking, "but all things are possible with God," and "all things possible to those who believe." "Lord, increase my faith," and give me now to venture out upon Christ for the desired blessing.
I write this because I see I have gone wrong. I trust the Lord is about to restore me, and I would have this a word of warning and caution in some future day, if I live to need it. I seem afresh now to see that as faith is kept, by the Spirit, in continued actings upon Christ, there will be much emptying, purging, and purifying; not making the flesh better—but purifying from the flesh, and purging from dead works. The old nature will remain what it was, not a whit improved—but it will have starvation; for I am quite certain that, as faith is feeding upon Christ, there will be more flesh-denying and crucifying than in any other way.
But in the word before mentioned (Jer. 11:15), "holy flesh" is spoken of. I have wondered what this meant; it has just now opened beautifully to my mind while at the footstool; and seems to be explained by Lev. 27:9, 10, 21, and last clause of 28th verse; from which I now see that a thing is holy because it is devoted to the Lord, without any real intrinsic holiness of its own. Would that I could express all the fullness and beauty I see here—but I cannot. It is partly thus: The spouse of Christ is His, in her body as well as spirit, for He has redeemed her body, though it is now the subject of sin; well, when Christ is revealed in the soul, and we are brought into liberty, finding to whom we belong, and what He has done for us, we are led to devote ourselves wholly to the Lord; or, at least, thus it has been with me again and again; not expecting our flesh to become righteous—but giving it to Jesus, earnestly craving that it may be the instrument of His glory; and, like the Gibeonites, devoted to be "a hewer of wood and a drawer of water for the house of my God."
Now, this being the case, my flesh is not my own—but the Lord's: doubly so—His by purchase (1 Cor. 6:20), and His by a loving and entire surrender (Rom. 12:1), being made willing thereto in the day of His power; and thus it is holy (not righteous), being dedicated to the Lord (Lev. 27:28), either for doing or suffering, and, most assuredly, for crucifixion (Gal. 5:24). Being brought to this state, my proper and only legitimate life is that of faith on, by, and for the Son of God, who is that holiness, in which I see the Lord, and whose glory is now to be the object of my constant pursuit. Nor am I to choose whether it shall be promoted by my passing through the fire, or through the water; lying down in green pastures, or tossing on the foaming billows; eating rich fruits, or keeping solemn fasts;—circumstances and feelings must all be considered as secondary and subservient to the glory of Jesus, by me. Here seems the "holy flesh" (not holiness of the flesh), entirely set apart to the service of that Master to whom it belongs (2 Tim. 2:21). Now, if after this I draw back, and through self-love seek to spare the flesh from suffering, or seek self-honor, self-ease, or self-satisfaction, then shall I know what it is, experimentally, to have the "holy flesh" pass from me—that is, the devoted thing employed to unlawful use; and the Lord then says, "What has my beloved to do in my house," seeing she has preferred her own? How much this is my case, the Lord knows; I know, to my shame, that I have been sadly seeking my own things, instead of the things of Christ; and my gratification, instead of His glory. Humbly I would seek restoration to a simple life of faith upon Jesus; and with trembling ask that I may be henceforth for Him alone. Lord, be pleased to lead still further into this mystery.
[Reader, be it yours and ours to prayerfully weigh the foregoing observations. They are full of importance. In fact, within the last page or two, is what may be termed the summary of that deep and special teaching for which Ruth BRYAN was remarkable. There is no disguising nor denying that hers was a standard in the truth to which but few, even of the Lord's living ones, are privileged to attain. While they are, for most part, in the lowlands, entramelled by self and sin, Satan and the world, Ruth was fed and nourished upon the high mountains of Israel. What she so constantly craved, she as constantly enjoyed—namely, a living out of self, above creature-changes, in and upon the person of Christ. None more sensibly felt the truth of His words than she did; "Without me you can do nothing," and "From me is your fruit found;" but she at the same time correspondingly gloried in the fact that Christ was hers, and that Christ was all she wanted. Hence she was, so to speak, lost in Him! "Not I—but Christ lives in me," was her watchword; this her theme, this her triumph and her boast. Thus it was, as she so constantly expressed it, she "lived Christ." This she craved, when she so coveted "the abiding" of which she so frequently speaks.]
July 1st.—A providential return of income-tax today, which proves, afresh, that it is very safe to trust in the Lord in the dark, and go through any difficulty, leaning upon Him alone. I was led to act thus in this matter, not going to any creature; and the answer has come when I did not expect it. There are also other bills filed in the High Court above, which will have answer in the time appointed. The Lord teach me more of a life of faith; not merely for its own sake, or for its benefits—but for the honor of Jesus, its Author (Heb. 12:2). And methinks this is one of its secrets, to be pressing after the glory of Jesus, more than any other thing whatever; so that, however painful the circumstances, we cannot seek so much for their alleviation as the glory of Jesus in them; and however pleasing the circumstances, the glory of Him, our Beloved, by them, is much more pleasing still. I see it, Lord, a little. Oh, bring me to it, experimentally, more and more. Ebenezer! Trust, and be not afraid in what lies darkly beyond.
July 2nd, Evening.—My experience this day has been that of seeking from my precious Jesus the restoration of a life of faith upon Him and for Him, from which I fear I have been considerably beguiled. I too often forget that the life of faith is to be as much for Jesus, as on Him and by Him. I want to live on Him for my own advantage—but this will not do. He must be Omega as well as Alpha. O Holy Comforter! teach me this practically, as well as in my judgment.
July 9th, Sabbath Morning.—The Lord be praised for all the mercies of the past week; the dark and the light has all been love; I feel it so; my spirit has been as much refreshed by the outward trials we have had, as my body is, when weary and thirsty, by a cup of cold water; so that I can say it is "very good to be afflicted," though not pleasing to the flesh. I trust the Lord is hereby bringing me a little lower, and teaching me, more, how unimportant are outward appearances, and how secondary outward possessions.
July 20th.—Outward circumstances still tending downwards. The Lord teach us to descend, and make us willing to come as low as He pleases. How am I plagued by my unamiabilities! Surely very few of the Lord's people ever dwelt in such a crusty piece of flesh; and few were ever more painfully aware of it, or loathed themselves more completely. I would be what I am not, and do what I do not. How can the Lord Jesus be honored in this matter? Is it possible? I long to find in Him the remedy of this malady, the healing of this malignant sore—my reserved, unkind, and selfish self. Oh that I could "glory in my infirmities, that His power may rest upon," and be manifest in, me. Methinks, if precious Jesus might be honored in the cure, it would be better than being whole in myself. But what if He sees fit I should not be cured? and will be glorified by my bearing the hated part of my disposition or temper all my life? Then it is a grief, and I must bear it. But, Lord, "if You will, You can make me whole." Would it not honor You to subdue myself? You only know what I feel, and how I groan and mourn, that I do not honor You more in my exterior. "Lord, if You will, You can." Do speak to me on this subject. I inquire of You, "What will You have me to do?" Let faith go out upon You, my unseen Deliverer, for a yet unfelt deliverance. That I am not more amiable, in myself, will be well, if You will gain glory thereby—Yourself being manifested, and I subdued, and kept out of sight.
July 26th.—How very sensibly do I discover the workings of the two natures at this time—the spirit rising ardently upward, the flesh clinging to earth and creatures. But "the elder shall serve the younger"—Jesus shall prevail, and the works of Satan be destroyed.
Noon.—Afresh, precious, precious Jesus, I resign this body to You, for doing or suffering, for living or dying. Will You accept it? Will You use me for Your glory more than heretofore, that You may have some little return for all the benefits You have done to me? Oh, do grant this request; my heart longs for it, my spirit pleads for it; and "if You will, You can." You know the hot temptation of which I am the subject. Bring Your glory out of it, and keep me from the evil, and it shall be well.
August 1st.—My precious Jesus! You are worth more than a thousand worlds to me, in sorrow as well as joy. When friends frown, and circumstances frown, and the heart is bleeding, how precious then Your love and sympathy! So I feel it now, and find it very sweet to trust You still, though much outwardly is dark, and rough, and painful. You will make the darkness light, the rough places plain, the crooked things straight before us (Isaiah 42:16). It seems a strong word, "You will;" but You have said it first, and I only echo it back to You again; it does not come with felt power to me—but I plead it. You have said it. Fulfill it for us.
Evening.—This day my heart has been weeping, though no tears have been shed. But through all, my broken, softened spirit feels that love prevails; and if my sweetest Lord Jesus should blight outward things, I must still love the hand that smites, and crops, and withers, for He is all love and loveliness—which thought melts my soul before Him, and I find such deliciousness in Him, that all the bitters on earth seem as nothing in comparison.
August 13th, Sabbath.—Rose this morning sorely beset with the trifles of earth; and oh, it seemed as if there were scarcely any rising above them. But the Lord kept me crying, and at the family altar the blessing came; for I felt it was like the poor woman with the issue of blood—the sore was running, and the crowd hindering—but it was for faith, by the Spirit's power, to press through all to Jesus; and so it was, I trust. And now—
"Dissolved by the sunshine, I fall to the ground,
And weep to the praise of the Jesus I've found."
September 9th.—Had unexpectedly a conversation with Mr. — on Monday, in which something was said about faith. It appears to me that he thinks it entirely passive, and I humbly conceive it to be active; then, on Tuesday, while preaching on the subject, he said, "faith is only a receiver." I was a good deal exercised, and went to the Lord, not to have my view of the subject established—but to be taught by Him what is right. Today (Friday) this word has come with power, "As you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk you in Him" (Col. 2:6). We received Him by faith, we also walk in Him by faith, and walking must be active; faith in itself has not power—Christ is its power to walk, fight, overcome, etc., and it gives Him all the glory. Then I saw the three stages mentioned in 1 John 2:12, 13. Now if faith be passive in the little children merely receiving the forgiveness of sins, it certainly is not in the young men; for it is said, they "have overcome the wicked one;" and it is by faith we overcome both the world and the devil (1 John 5:4, 1 Peter 5:9, and James 4:7, compared with Eph. 6:16). I also see plainly how the Lord has taught me the activity of faith, by experimentally bringing me into it. It is not in my soul a matter of theory, learned from books—but it is the mysterious life, walk, fight, and triumph, which I much long to know in the power of it—but am very slow in learning, because it is so contrary to myself; and yet I must thankfully acknowledge that the Holy Spirit has led me into a little of its blessedness and privileges. I am now thankful the above has transpired, although it made me tremble lest I should be wrong, and sent me to the Lord to be searched and proved. May Mr. — have as much blessing from it as I have; and to the Lord shall be all the glory. He can speak and teach, when and where we least expect it.
September 17th.—Why was wine lacking at the marriage feast in Cana? To open a chasm for Jesus to fill up, and just make a way for His power and glory. So it is with us; and it is worth feeling the need, to receive supplies from such a hand.
September 18th.—Last evening, Jonah 4:7 met my eye, and it made me tremble. (God appointed a worm that attacked the plant, and it withered.) The Lord prepare me for His will, and preserve me from resting in His gifts instead of in Himself!
September 21st.—Very great glory have I felt and seen this evening, at our prayer meeting, in these words, "The righteousness of God in Him;" and more especially those two words, "IN HIM," did sweetly echo in my soul again and again.
September 23rd.—A circumstance occurred tonight very mortifying to my flesh; and I have since been exceedingly buffeted on account of it. It was respecting one of the gifts sent us last week; and I just now see it to be in accordance with that word (Jonah 4:7) which so much struck me last Sabbath evening. But am I angry for the gourd? The Lord forbid! If I am, in the leastwise, I do not well indeed; rather, precious Jesus, would I surrender all I have on earth, to be withered by Your touch, if You see it a needful discipline. Give me grace to say, "Your will, not mine, be done;" and faith to take refuge in the unchangeable Giver, until these calamities be overpast. A Saturday evening gloomy indeed; the Lord get glory out of this unexpected exercise, and it will be worth the smart. How singular that the verse about the gourd should catch my eye, and that I should feel as if it had some reference to me.
September 24th.—Heard a sermon this morning from John 3:7, and much was said against living above feelings. The Lord be judge between Mr. R— and me, for I verily believe the Holy Spirit Himself has taught me a little what it is to live upon Christ, the source of true spiritual feeling, more than upon the feeling with which He favors me; and great stability have I found in so doing. Mr. R— seems to think that to live above feeling is to live without it. How mistaken he is; for truly I find that it flows most sweetly and constantly when I am not so much delighted and taken up with it, as with Him from whom it comes. But I would go to my Counselor and infallible Teacher, and spread the matter before Him, begging him to confirm what is His own, and deliver from what is error, either in Mr. R— or myself.
October 20th.—My soul much exercised, and also distressed, by a fearful threatening, from Jer. 17:4, that I shall experimentally "discontinue from the heritage" the Lord has given me. I wait to know whether this sentence is from Himself, or the voice of an enemy.
October 21st.—Some comfort this morning, in thanking my Father for "His unspeakable gift," and also in realizing that the atonement is made, the obedience is accomplished, the salvation is finished—let my feelings vary as they may. I trust I found a little of the "rest of faith," which is the most solid and lasting relief we can be favored with. I trust also the sentence which has seemed to threaten me, will not be executed; real separation I have not feared—that is impossible. But experimental distance, with apathy and powerlessness of soul, is what I have trembled at, and that the Lord should lay me upon the shelf as a thing not in use, and withhold from me entrance into His Word, into His Christ, into His love, and into His glories, seems to me the worst evil that can befall me. The Lord avert it in love, though he might afflict me with it in justice. "Bless God for Jesus Christ."
October 22nd.—Again I am taught that what we ask in and for the flesh, if it be granted us, will very often be with, or as, a cross to the flesh which desired it. I think I did ask the Lord for a temporal thing, a year or more since—I thought I wanted it; it came not—but it has come lately, and it is a withered gourd, for the flesh is mortified by it. Oh, may I at length learn to be content with Jesus only, and not be importunate for any outward thing—but just take what He gives.
November 7th.—Happy, oh, so happy, in the love of Jesus—yes, in Jesus Himself; for it is in Him I begin my heaven, and have my all. Much privileged at the family altar, and very loath to leave it. "Bless the Lord, O my soul." How the world has lessened and deadened to me lately I cannot tell. It seems a very nothing, and vanity indeed; and to see the living ones gathering its golden dust, and playing with its tinsel toys, is monstrous. Oh, come away, you foolish ones, and leave the ash-heap, and rise into Christ—your priceless inheritance and your eternal riches! "But I have no power." And are you digging for power under those clods of the valley, where you seem to be exhausting all your energies? What find you there, that you work so eagerly? When you have dug out and heaped up a mountain of shining dust, will you have more power then to rise with Jesus? Do you think it comes that way? Preposterous! It is like saying I cannot get fire, and then plunging the last warm coal you possess into water.
November 20th.—My cough is nearly gone, and my health better. But I seem to think the sappers and miners have begun their operations in my constitution; and, if so, the effect will before long manifest itself. "This mortal must put on immortality, and this corruptible must put on incorruption;" and then will death be manifestly "swallowed up in victory." This body must go to sleep for a season; the Lord only knows how soon. Oh that He may be more honored in it while in its present state of animation!
December 3rd, Sabbath.—I have this morning given myself afresh to the Lord, in His house, feeling much affliction in my body, and not knowing but that more may await me. I am enabled, however, to leave that with the Lord, only begging that He will be glorified in me. I belong to Jesus, and have just yielded my whole self anew to Him, embracing Him as my strength for whatever may be coming upon me.
Dear Lord, I am all emptiness, powerlessness, and weakness: in You I must, and do, cast all the cost and charges of this affliction, whether it be long or short, light or heavy; nor do I believe You will refuse or disappoint me—but carry me triumphantly through in Your own arms of love and power. Accept, sweetest Jesus, this offering of my poor self, which is of and from Your own free will—not mine. "Praise the Lord, O my soul," for such a privilege! To be His in eternal love and purpose, and His by free surrender, through the sweet constrainings of His own Spirit!
December 15th.—I think the Lord is teaching me that I shall not only "have no other gods but Him," but also that I shall have no other goods but him; and that if I pursue any object, whether minute or important, for its own sake alone, or my own gratification, my purposes shall be frustrated, and disappointment sent. Last week I planned about my work, and thought to accomplish much (for my profit, not for the Lord's glory)—but this week a lock has been put on the wheel, and I have moved slowly—yes, labored, as it were, in the fires. I bless the Lord for what He is teaching me, and feel much humbled under His mighty hand.
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