Gleanings from the Inner Life of Ruth Bryan
January 4th, Sabbath.—Dear day of sacred rest and heavenly peace. I cannot now go up to the house of the Lord to worship, because my dear mother requires my attendance. But the Lord of the house comes to me, and makes me happy in Himself! Though "He loves the gates of Zion," He neglects not "the dwellings of Jacob;" but sweetly visits His imprisoned ones with His love and favor, which are better than life. I feel most anxious that the new year may be full of Christ to me; that is, that my soul may be more filled with Him, and my life more spent for Him, that it has ever yet been. How it shall be accomplished, I leave to Himself. Amen, amen. I almost dreaded entering upon last week. But the Lord has been with me, and, through all, has helped me wonderfully. To His name be glory! I now look especially to Him for the week to come, and desire to cast my whole weight upon Him, doing which, I know I shall be borne up.
February 1st.—On reading the memoranda of the last two months, I am much melted to review and remember that, on the 1st of December, my heart was much encouraged from Gen. 46:3, 4. It seemed as if the Lord told me not "to fear to go down into Egypt, for He would be with me." Since then, yes, on the 16th of that month, I did go into Egypt indeed. But my dear Lord has been with me, and now He seems to be bringing me up again, according to His word. But, if it be not so, and heavier trials await me, He still is with me, and it shall be well.
February 22nd, Evening.—I have been to the feast. My heart was pressed down with heaviness about my dear mother. "Oh that You would rend the heavens and come down, and that the mountains might flow down at Your presence." O Lord, hear me, I beseech You: O Lord, hear me, for my heart is sore pained within me, and I am so troubled, I can hardly speak. "I mourn in my complaint, and make a plea." O Lord, make haste to hear me, and deliver us. "Make no tarrying, O my God." Oh, let my mother live before You.
March 1st, Sabbath.—"Bless the Lord, O my soul," that again at our Friday evening meeting much power and blessedness were felt by us. Unworthy I had very strengthening, ravishing views of our "Well-Beloved;" truly and surely Christ was all, and then how little, how verily nothing, am I. It is astonishing that such a worm should be so favored with discoveries of His beauty, who "is fairer than the children of men;" and on whom saints and angels gaze with ineffable delight. But, after all, I know not yet a thousandth part of what He is, and what I have in Him. Oh, for more unfoldings; the door of faith is open; may I enter farther, and yet farther; it is heaven begun, in Jesus to abide; it is as if the pearly portals were thrown back, and open entrance given to one yet dwelling in mortality. Oh! that my lips, my life, and every action, might speak His praise and glorify His name, who is a heaven to me!
A most blessed sermon this morning from Psalm 72:17, especially these words, "And men shall be blessed in Him;" which "Him" was sweetly and truly applied to a precious Christ. My soul was feasted with marrow and fatness, and I praised the Lord with joyful lips.
Evening.—Another sermon full of Christ. To the Lord be all the glory! Oh, what a happy, blessed day this has been to my soul; I would like every day a Sabbath. Dear Lord, be with me through the week. Oh, leave me not, I beseech You.
March 3rd.—How plainly do I see this morning, that as the eye of faith is fixed singly upon Christ, we are ready for anything to which He calls us. But as we are walking by sense, and looking at things "seen," we are fit for nothing; the hands hang down, and the knees are feeble.
March 8th, Evening.—A beam of light breaks in upon my soul. One great cause of gloom has been, that I am so much like a drone in the Lord's service, and have done and can do so little. He has now shown me how varied are the different offices and employments of His children. Some have their work outside, much seen and noticed—bringing those in who are afar off by wicked works; others are all within doors, they have a quiet, unobserved path, just among the living family, with whom is all their engagement, and about whom is most of their solicitude. "But the Lord has need of them;" and in them, however feeble, He can honor Himself; although often they say, when looking at others, I am but a "dry tree." Well, dear Lord, You have untied one hard knot, and I say—content; content, if You will be honored in me. It is all I want. Anyhow, anywhere that pleases You, only let me know that I am in Your service, which is so sweet that I would abide in it fervently to my life's end; even if I knew I should not see Your face in glory.
[Reader, this may seem a hard saying—but it contains the very germ of a godly jealousy and divine love. Jehovah's glory—not the creature's happiness—is the great object of faith, next to the person of Christ himself.]
April 2nd.—My ever dear mother has had a whisper from the Lord this morning, as soon as she awoke; it was this, "Come unto me, all who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest," etc. She said, "Oh, it was sweet." Bless the Lord for this gleam of light.
April 12th, Sabbath.—My dear mother has been to the sanctuary this morning, perhaps for the last time; for, indeed, I see her growing weaker. May our precious Lord glorify Himself all through the dispensation, and reveal Himself powerfully and graciously to us both; and for the rest, His will be done. He only knows my heart-anguish; He only sees my secret tears of keenest sorrow. But, yet, His will be done. Ten thousand thanks to Him for the sweet feast I have had in His house this morning; the text, Gen. 24:31, 32. The minister spoke of Abraham as a type of the Father; of Isaac, as Christ; of Eliezer, the messenger to Rebekah, as a type of the Spirit, and of Rebekah, as the Church; that is, in this matter. Some might think it strained—but it did not seem so to me; and very sweetly did the truths, and the love of Jesus, flow into my soul, making me forget all my sorrows, and rejoice greatly in Him, my precious Isaac, who loved me before I heard of Him; and who was not only laid on the altar, as Isaac was—but was also really put to death for my sake, and was raised, too, from the dead in my nature, all glorious; a fitting Bridegroom for His Church, glorified in His glory. And the dear Comforter has come, and told me of His love, and loving-kindness, and made me willing to leave all to go to this rich, blessed Isaac; and, surely, we have met, for Christ and I are one; and I know the sweetness and privilege of Isaiah 54:5. Bless the Lord, who has blessed you, O my soul.
April 19th.—My dear mother seems a little better today. This word exceedingly sweet to my soul: "You are not your own." Then whose am I? His who has bought me with the immense, the amazing price of His own precious blood. My heart bounds with rapture to be His, and not my own; I feel He is my present heaven.
April 24th.—Much pressed with anxiety this week; and many fears lest the care which devolves upon me should cause me to be in the leastwise farther from Jesus. Dear Lord, keep me close, very close to You. I think we are, as regards my dear mother's soul, like Simeon and Anna, waiting for the "Consolation of Israel."
April 25th, Saturday.—My dear mother seems weak. This evening I read John 14, and Mr. S— prayed, during which she evinced unusual fervency. Afterwards, I expressed my hope that the Lord would yet appear; with much energy the loved one replied, "I believe He will, I trust Him for it." This word has been most sweet to me today: "When my father and mother forsake me, then the Lord will take me up;" especially this part, "take me up."
April 26th.—On reviewing the past month, I fear I have walked too much after the flesh, especially the last two weeks. How has my fond heart clung and turned about to its darling object, now fast withering from my warm embrace. Dear Jesus, pardon all that has been undue sorrow and tenderness; fix my eye singly on Yourself, and in You may I triumph even now. And can I triumph? Oh, yes, I can. I shall, if You will please to make and keep me single-eyed and single-hearted. I am accustomed, on these days, anew to give up myself, and my all to You. I desire to do so now without reserve. What, oh, what will have transpired before this sacred season returns? May I then have to erect an Ebenezer to the Lord's praise; and may I and my dear mother triumph yet together in Jesus. I desire to rise and shake myself from the dust, to which I have too much cleaved. Oh, precious Well-Beloved, surely I have felt the fibers of Your love today; and my soul says, "Set me as a seal upon Your heart, as a seal upon Your arm: for love is strong as death; jealousy is cruel as the grave." "O Love! O Life Divine! I would be only Yours." Come, with Your conquering charms, and all absorb this longing soul of mine! Through flood or flame, with You it is safe to go. Lead on, O precious One, and be Yourself my courage, and get great glory by all that befalls me. You, my Lord, do seem to strengthen me; and how I long, through the dark scenes approaching, to honor You. Do let it be so, my glorious, precious Savior.
May 5th, Tuesday.—I have felt last evening and this morning as if I did not half pray, and were not half in earnest. The Lord help me to pray more earnestly. This morning, at family worship, had strong cries for free mercy, free pardon, free grace, free love; all irrespective of the worthiness of the object—all free indeed. My dear mother seemed to weep abundantly, and feel deeply.
May 20th, Thursday Morning, 7 o'clock.—What means this? My soul is at the mercy-seat, crying to my Abba, Father, "A shower of blessings, a shower of blessings!" and it is as if the word to me is "Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it." Oh, is the mercy so long sought at hand? Father, glorify Your own name.
June 14th, Sabbath.—My loved mother rather weaker in body, and much weaker in mind. But, through mercy, collected upon spiritual subjects; and though not more comforted, still deeply anxious. This morning, when taking her medicine, she said—
"When I can read my title clear
To mansions in the skies—"
I said, "What then?" She replied,
"I'll bid farewell to every fear;
And wipe my weeping eyes."
I said, "Would you wish to fly away and leave me?" She said, feelingly, "Yes." This afternoon, as I sat writing to a dear sister, she spontaneously said, "Oh that the Lord would reveal Himself, and prepare me for heaven!" "Do you long for it?" I said. "Yes, more; yes, more and more." I have to raise a new Ebenezer to the Lord's glory, in that He has helped me triumphantly through a very heavy week, proving that "all things are possible" with Him. Oh! what happiness have I felt in soul, while the body has been greatly weighted. Christ has, indeed, been a glorious all to me.
June 28th.—This morning I thought my dearest mother spoke, and, listening on the stairs, I heard her say, feelingly, "Lord Jesus, pardon me. Blessed Jesus, look on me. Speak the word only, and I shall be healed. Do, Lord. O Lord, grant it." Yesterday I heard her say, "Have mercy, have mercy."
During the last month the Lord has been very gracious to unworthy me, in upholding under the most painful circumstances; there have been bitters in my cup such as I never expected—but my precious Well-Beloved is still sweetness. Oh, may He be glorified in this dispensation, and may I understand what He intends me to learn in and by it. I have felt very ill during the last week, at times nearly sinking. But I am held up hitherto, and shall be. It is when sense looks at the waves I feel sinking; thus it was on Thursday evening. Almost more feelingly than ever, I joined Jacob in saying, "All these things are against me." Sorrowful indeed were the tears I shed. But, alas! this was "my infirmity," for good is all the will of the Lord concerning me; and again I will "remember the years of the right-hand of the Most High." Dearest Lord, do keep me from dishonoring You, and do yet, somehow, be greatly glorified in what is now befalling us.
July 12th, Sabbath.—On Wednesday last, my ever dear mother had an attack most sudden and alarming; and, from its effects, I believe, is sinking into the arms of death, even at this very time. My anguish is very acute; it seems as if the tie that makes us one would not give way—but must be cut to sever us. I try to give her up. I do so and feel so. But when I think her going, the anguish comes again. There is no further manifestation, except a sweet pleading with the Lord, very evident. Twice it has seemed if death was upon her, and she could not revive; and now she is gradually sinking away—but peace breathes in her chamber. The Son of peace is here, and I trust we shall yet see more of His glory, and praise Him together on earth. Yet His will, not mine, be done.
July 26th.—The Lord has indeed "shown us great and sore troubles." It has seemed, at times, as though I could not live under the distressing pressure and peculiar trial. But "hitherto the Lord has helped," and I am sure He is doing all things well. I have this day been led to remember, how at different times I have devoted all I have to the Lord, and no devoted thing is to be redeemed. So now that He is putting everything, almost, into the furnace, I have no right to complain or draw back. I am to live upon the Lord, when all else is withdrawn, and so doing I shall have no lack. The Lord keep me in this fiery trial, and hour of temptation. I am sure His eye is upon us, as the skillful, loving Refiner; and, though my flesh often faints and fails, He is "the strength of my heart, and my portion forever."
"As myrrh, new bleeding from the tree,
Such is a dying Christ to me."
Precious in His blood, precious in His dying, precious in His rising again, is my glorious Lord. This is Sacrament-day; I cannot go up to the feast—but the great Master has brought me my portion; yes, He Himself my portion is, and truly "my soul does magnify the Lord, and my spirit does rejoice in God my Savior," saying, "God forbid that I should boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ."
Evening.—My Christ, my glorious Sun, seems so large and full in my soul, as if I could see no other object; oh, may I study Him more, and be absorbed in and with Him.
September 13th.—My dearest mother much the same. My Jesus all and all-sufficient. The past week a heavy one—but brought through it blessedly. In the coming week much labor in prospect. But, "looking unto Jesus," it will only be a new source of triumph to His glory. Still waiting and watching for the Lord in the soul of my loved one—on Him we cannot wait in vain. Much refreshed today by reading a sermon on Heb. 13:8. Oh how often do we legalize and carnalize. But what unceasing triumph and imperishable blessedness we have in Christ. My heart leaps for joy, though in great outward tribulation (1 Cor. 1:31; Isa. 45:25). Oh! to glory and boast in Him all the day long, and all the night too.
September 27th.—Great have been the Lord's mercies to me the last month. My dear mother's many infirmities have much increased. But I cannot resign my post to another. I wish to minister to my dear one to the last. It is not I—but Christ in me, who works. Praise Him, O my soul! My dearest mother's death appears to be drawing near—but the Lord has not yet spoken peace. I seem to hold Him here in faith and prayer, that He will hold her body in life until the vision has spoken which shall soften the pang of parting, and gain to our dear Lord glorious praise. Oh! that I may yet have this Ebenezer of Ebenezers to erect to the Lord, on the dark ground of separation. All hail! beloved Savior; You have done wonders. Oh! do yet greater marvels, I beseech You. My Christ is my rest and refreshing, in all my weariness: as I lean on Him, I triumph; when I confer with flesh, and look to creatures, I get shame and loss. The unknown future is coming, when I must stand alone in this dark, dreary wilderness. But then my Beloved will be all-sufficient, and perhaps He is withholding Mrs. B—, whom I desired in this time of need, that Himself may be all to me.
October 6th, Tuesday.—I am watching beside the dying bed of my dearest mother; I think she can hardly live through the day—no word of power in her soul, and her mind quite rambling. I desire to be this day in great stillness from fleshly avocations, and to wait much on the Lord in this chamber of death.
October 7th, Wednesday.—My dear mother still lives—but is evidently sinking. The Lord has not spoken—but I hope I am coming to feel completely, "Your will be done." I have had nothing special from the Lord but this word, "As one whom his mother comforts, so will your God comfort you;" and this has been reiterated in my soul again and again.
[And what could you want more, dear Ruth? What does not this precious promise comprehend and embrace?]
October 8th, Thursday.—The dearest of mothers left this sorrowful world at a quarter-past six this morning.
October 10th.—With wonderful cordials, and comforts of love divine, has the Lord supported my aching heart; indeed, He is fulfilling His promise, "As one whom his mother comforts, so will your God comfort you."
October 11th, Sabbath.—Still the Lord is wonderful in working, and most tenderly ministers strong consolation to my needy soul. He did not please to speak with power in my dear mother's soul—but He has in mine about her, since her departure; and a sweet assurance I have that she is now in glory; "not lost—but gone before." I am often ready to sink—but the Lord revives and restores me, to my astonishment.
[Reader, the Lord may not answer His people in their time and in their way—but He does in His own. Ruth expected a word from the Lord before her beloved one's departure. It pleased the Lord, in the exercise of His divine sovereignty, to withhold that word until after her removal; and then gave consolation by a calm, sober assurance centering in and upon Himself, rather than upon a word spoken by Himself. Reader, do you comprehend the distinction? Was it not upon the same ground that the Shunammite exclaimed, "It shall be well"? Had she as yet, or at the time, any direct word from the Lord? We think not. And yet she was not confounded in regard to her simple but blessed venture upon the Lord.]
October 15th, Thursday—Funeral-day.—The dear remains conveyed to the tomb, "in sure and certain hope of the joyful resurrection." A day to be remembered. In the waterfloods He is with me.
October 18th, Sabbath.—Oh, what multiplied mercies I have to record. While the dear body lay in the house, there was a solemn holy convocation to the Lord, who did graciously minister, and bring out choice and spiced wines for sustaining and reviving. "Devout men," and dear brethren, carried my loved one to her resting-place. They told me there was a peculiar and holy solemnity through the service; and I am sure in this house of mourning, there was a holy calm, and love and peace breathing through each heart. I felt it sweet to belong to the dear living family, and to be in the midst of them. While my dear mother lived, I was once looking forward to the day of her funeral, and the Lord gave me this promise, "When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;" and most lovingly and faithfully did He fulfill it. Yesterday my heart was rent and riven in feeling; my loved one gone; it was a heavy day. The Lord lift me out of the flesh! I find over-much sorrow brings darkness instead of light.
October 25th.—Oh, may Jesus clearly mark my path; already more than one way has presented itself. I wait His guidance. Lord, I beseech You—let the pillar of cloud be visible to faith by day, and the pillar of fire by night.
November 22nd, Monday.—My poor heart is low indeed this morning. Memory brings back, and affection entwines again around its object; and every word and every look revived, is precious, though piercing. But my spirit strives and longs to look only at Jesus, my Best-Beloved. Oh, to look up instead of back! Mine is indeed a widowed state, for the only one on earth in whom my heart fully confided is gone. Blessed Jesus, take these lingering affections, and cause them to be wholly absorbed in Yourself. Oh, fill up all the void, and consign not this poor, this too fond heart, to any other earthly bosom, as a resting-place for love.
How solacing is the use of the pen; it is a luxury indeed, which has often and often soothed my anguished spirit; and, when too full of joy, the overflowings have thus gathered up as a store for future times of scarcity; and both these kinds of musings have had their after-use, as well as present relief. Mine has been the benefit: to my God be all the glory. Last week I had a small house empty, and with no hope of renting it; also, some mischievous people stole one of its outer doors. I expected to have the expense of a new one this week. But I told the Lord of it and He has made them bring it back in the night; it was in the night they stole it. Ebenezer. That door will now be of value to me, as a proof of an answer to prayer.
December 6th.—I have had great soul exercise about letting my maid go—and being left alone, night and day. I never had been; and now, in my deep sorrow, and so soon after my great loss, it made me almost tremble. But yet I could not feel at liberty to ask anyone to sleep in the house, for fear I should dishonor the Lord. I felt something like Ezra, in Ezra 8:22, and I knew the Lord would be with me. So I did not tell any friend—but the Lord overruled it that M. C—, who had been staying with me (quite casually), overheard us talking about it, and consequently asked me of the matter, feeling grieved to leave me alone; then followed a message from her mother (who knew nothing of this), saying, she did not want her, if well; so altogether it seemed of the Lord's doing that she should stay with me, and His blessing is with us. I take this little matter as a token for good, and believe, that as the Lord has begun to direct manifestly, He will go on to do so in all things. This is my earnest desire. M. C— is gone out today; and I am outwardly alone—but not lonely. "Bless the Lord, O my soul!"
We both had a message from the Lord, in His house, by His servant, this morning, each according to our case. Mr. B— spoke of the impropriety of growing slack in the Lord's service, through the pressure of our own personal or relative trials; and oh! what fear I felt, lest the deep I had been feeling should become so absorbing as to weaken my hands in the Lord's cause. May He prevent it. I trust it was a word in season, though somewhat sharply spoken. Oh! it is good to be rebuked by our dear Lord when needful. I desire to cast myself as a "mite" into the Lord's treasury, to be used in His service, for His glory.
December 27th, Sacrament Sabbath.—These are my review-days; and I must testify to the Lord's honor that the last has been a month of peculiar mercies; and I do trust my poor heart is somewhat strengthened in the Lord. How much I feel my loss and loneliness, He only knows. But He can make this wilderness and solitary place glad by His presence. He can, for His own glory, make it blossom as the rose. My heart seems anew prompted to seek His glory above everything; and so I yield, by the constraining power of love, myself, my circumstances, my feelings, to the will and wisdom of my Almighty Bridegroom, believing His love to unworthy me is a sure guarantee from all harm. I desire that Christ's love may be active, instead of self-love; and Christ-seeking, instead of self-soothing and self-pitying. Dear Lord, renew old lessons with new power, and raise me triumphantly above myself.
December 31st, Thursday Evening.—The last day of 1846; a most eventful year—but one of great mercies. And how shall I close it?—with praise. The Lord has brought poor me through wonders. What I have most feared has come upon me—but I have been upheld until now; my loved one, my dearest earthly friend, has left me. But the Lord has comforted me, and, looking up, I still find triumph in Christ. I feel an increase of confidence in the Lord for the future; afresh I commit all my way to Him, and it will not be in vain. The Lord is my helper; He has strengthened me with strength in my soul—and I expect to see more wonders. To God alone be glory! Amen, and amen.
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