Gleanings from the Inner Life of Ruth Bryan
January 1st.—Affliction holds my body with a strong hand. But the silken cords of Divine love hold my soul still firmer; and sweet indeed are those bands. I seem to lie in the embrace of God's love, so as to feel no bitterness in what the flesh suffers. It is perfect peace, a quiet calm pervading the inner man. What is pending I know not. If deeper afflictions or a speedy coming forth, may the Lord therein be glorified, in life and death. This is the center wish of the heart. My Father's will is love. Oh, for more submission to it, however strange it may seem to the flesh. Precious Jesus, "Abba, Father," tender Comforter, the holy, holy, holy Lord God of Israel, Your consolations delight my soul this night. O glorious Well-Beloved, how doubly lovely and precious are You, as You are more revealed. Happy, happy sinner saved, am I; to my God be all the glory!
January 3rd.—A most wonderful Ebenezer, in that the Lord has this day sent, to my astonishment, five pounds of the ten which He promised. I muse and marvel, and am sure the other five will come; though I have still a sort of trembling while I write it. But this is in the flesh; the spirit is sealed in assurance on this matter. Very ill all day—but happy in the Lord. I am astonished at the perfect peace I enjoy. To the Lord be praise. Ebenezer!
January 12th, Friday.—Glorious times in the "happy valley," where I now am. Only my dear sister in the Lord and myself at our meeting this evening. But such a blessing as set our souls on fire. I thought surely we were like the two lepers, who ventured out and found great spoil (2 Kings 7:3-8). Truly the glory of the Lord filled the room where we were. To Him alone be glory!
January 14th, Sabbath.—I call my illness a "dinner of herbs" in the "happy valley." Oh, what cause I have to praise my blessed Lord, who is so good to me. At times I feel very ill; still I believe, on the whole, I am getting better. I have today felt more desire "to depart and be with Christ, which is far better." I seem not to like coming into the world again. But it shall be well. I have had blessed dissolving into the Lord's will, and trust it will be continued.
January 15th.—I cannot speak half enough of the Lord's great goodness to unworthy me, I am so much blessed. It is indeed heaven begun below. No one knows how I have dreaded being quite ill, without a dear mother to soothe and cheer me. The Lord has unexpectedly brought me into it, and by His own sweet presence and love He has taken all the bitter away. Oh, that I could praise Him suitably, and live to His glory. It is quite plain that for every circumstance He is all-sufficient; and that according to our day shall be our strength and supply. I had very great power in prayer last night in bed; and, this morning, such blissful communion, that I lay weeping most joyful tears: praising, blessing, loving—wondering at such mercies to one so vile. "Bless the Lord, O my soul." Spiritual Ebenezer!
January 21st, Sabbath.—I much desired to go up to the house of God today—but I am not able. All "my times are in Your hands." They cannot be in a better place. Flesh and strength are still wasting. But I am kept in peace, and surrounded with loving-kindness and tender mercies. Oh, that I could praise my gracious God! Oh, that my heart were as a ten-stringed instrument, and my tongue as a well-tuned harp, to sound His praise! Tune and touch, most gracious Comforter, that melody may be made unto the Lord, who is so good to me.
February 4th, Sabbath.—I have had a week of amazing mercies. I am overwhelmed at the Lord's goodness to me. Sometimes I fear I am too happy; the sweet peace I enjoy is very great. It has quite seemed to me this week that Home is near, and that is pleasant. I love my dear, kind friends very much. But to behold Him who is dearer than all, and to be absorbed in untiring, unceasing worship; yes, to live and breathe in the pure element of holiness and love, will, indeed, be delightful. O Lord, I pray for such an outcome out of this affliction as shall be most glorifying to You; and, if it pleases You, sanctify me for Your service below or above.
February 6th, Tuesday.—Last week I was led in spirit to give up all to the Lord afresh, and I found it sweet. Well, yesterday He put me to the test: for my most kind friends proposed that I should go away for change of air. I, who have not been from home for years, to go now in sickness, and that to a strange place. But I have vowed to the Lord, and dare not hold back; He must do as He will with His own; so I gave myself up to the leading of His Spirit in providence. May He choose the place where I am to rest for a season. Bodily weakness is fast increasing, I think. My cup abounds with mercies, and my heart this evening was overwhelmed in reading Luke 22:37-44. Oh, those drops of blood, more precious than mines of gold! My heart dissolved in love and wonder; surely heaven is indeed begun below; and what a miracle, to think that my joy should come through such a channel!
February 10th.—Though in excessive weakness, I must record the loving-kindness of my covenant-keeping God. Yesterday He sent me the other five pounds, making the twenty, together with that mentioned November 19th; so now my dear mother's grave has a stone upon it; and I have also paid this night the five pounds I borrowed. Thus has the Lord fulfilled every word. He spoke to me on the subject, and proved to me that those peculiar emotions in my soul were of the Spirit, though I tremble at their greatness. He teaches, also, that secular things become spiritual, as we undertake them in the name of Jesus, and seek His glory by them. My mercies are so great, I can hardly believe in their reality. Who should trust so much, or sing so loud, as I? Surely these great wonders should encourage me in the severe trial just at hand, of leaving my home, and going among strangers, with an almost dying body. My Savior, into Your loving arms I cast myself for life or death, at home or abroad. May Your precious name be glorified, and Your saints be edified; then all will be well.
The memorandum of October 12th encourages my trembling heart, for when my dear mother was gone, my Beloved looked in upon me, and filled my soul with joy; so, perhaps, when I have really left all, at His bidding, He will come to me with new sweetness. "I will trust, and not be afraid." Hallelujah to the Lamb! If I never write again, I testify that my God is faithful, and worthy to be trusted in life or death. Praise Him, O my soul. Amen.
March 9th.—Ockbrook.—Chamber of peace. It is three full weeks this day since I left my home and friends, to come to a place I knew not—but which the Lord had provided for me. The journey of twelve or fourteen miles laid me very low, and for some time I was fed by the hands of others. My dear friend was most watchful and tender through my extremity; and all are unceasingly kind. The Lord repay them! There has been, indeed—but a step between me and death. But that step was so guarded that I could not take it; and here am I, still fettered in clay, and my soul still encaged in the wires of mortality. But through them beams the glory of the better country, and the loveliness of my Beloved. And though yet in my cage, I can sing His matchless love and worthy praise, for the dear Comforter has tuned my heart. How to recount the Lord's mercies I know not, they have been so beautifully unfolded in this affliction. My strength is somewhat returning. I sat up four hours yesterday—longer than I have done since I came here.
["Fettered in clay," "encaged in the wires of mortality. But through them beams the glory of the better country." Such expressions show at once the character of the writer's mind, and the heavenly-mindedness that pervaded her Christ-aspiring soul. Emphatically it may be said of her, that she was "blessed with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ Jesus."]
March 18th, Sabbath.—Still suffering from great bodily weakness. But the consolation and glory far exceed the pain; such visits as I have had to Gethsemane! such meltings at Calvary! and such beamings of the glories of a risen Redeemer! Being much alone today, I feel drawn out to take hold of the Lord afresh, in order to the further development of this beautiful affliction, that His glory may be manifested, and His dear saints be by any means refreshed. To be willing to come back to the wilderness again costs a struggle. It seems so like leaving this celestial valley, with the glory sometimes full in view, to climb a dark, black hill. But yet I really think the Lord has breathed into my soul sweetly, several times, Isaiah 55:12, 13, on this matter; and if it be so, it will be wonderful indeed. "You will live in joy and peace. The mountains and hills will burst into song, and the trees of the field will clap their hands! Where once there were thorns, cypress trees will grow. Where briers grew, myrtles will sprout up. This miracle will bring great honor to the Lord's name; it will be an everlasting sign of his power and love." My heart is ready to say, "I will trust, and not be afraid."
[Reader, do observe the sweets of either mental or bodily afflictions, when the Lord condescendingly and sovereignly moistens it and mellows it by His sweet presence and blessed power! Oh, how highly favored was the privileged Ruth in these respects. How did the Lord make Himself known to her in the depths of human sorrow, and how did He enrich her with Himself, and with durable riches and righteousness, while at the same time she was the creature of poverty and necessity, in regard to time-things.]
March 20th.—The Lord's leadings and teachings are so wonderful, that I call this "Ockbrook School."
March 21st.—Quite ill again today; unable to leave my bed. Still holding fast by that which holds me—"the name of the Lord." This morning I thought of Hezekiah—"He turned his face to the wall:" so I turn away from all, to trust in the Lord alone; and feel like her of old who would not take a denial. But if the Lord seems (by allowing me to grow worse) to refuse me, in love I would press all my suit upon Him, feeling sure that He will, from the same love in His heart, return with a blessing. This word seemed sweet, "For my own name's sake I will do it."
March 22nd.—Acts 3:16, was brought home with power to me this morning. "By faith in the name of Jesus, this man whom you see and know was made strong. It is Jesus' name and the faith that comes through him that has given this complete healing to him, as you can all see." And I saw, in verse 6, that it was in the name of Jesus the healing was done: so I have got the right end in taking hold of "the name of the Lord." But, like Daniel (chapter 1:12, 13), I desire to be proved awhile, waiting only on the Lord: "He who believes shall not make haste."
March 25th, Sabbath.—I am here in a strange place, and have not one true kindred spirit to commune with in rapturous heights of love Divine. But I have heavenly company, and often feel,
"The saints above, and saints below,
But one communion make."
March 28th.—I have had a blessed, soul-melting view of my precious Lord in His temptation in the wilderness. Every repulse He gave the prince of darkness was a triumph for me; and, as my faith is enabled to lay hold, thereof, Satan can make no way. My heart and eyes have overflowed in the sweetness I have found; and Jesus is again more precious than words can tell. Blessed Comforter! lead me more into the deep, sweet mystery of Christ, my Lord. Eternal praises to the great Three-One!
April 1st, Palm Sunday.—Since I have felt a little stronger in body, I have much desired to go up to the Lord's house before going out to breathe the fresh air. When I heard what day this was, I longed to go and bear by feeble branch before the Lord, in acknowledgment of His great mercies. There was only the Moravian Chapel. But there I went, in the name of the Lord. I was mercifully helped—but found myself much weaker than I expected; and, on my return, thought it impossible I could ever again engage in the activities of life.
April 15th.—"And they sung, as it were, a new song before the throne." Oh, it is ever new! I seem often in spirit to join them; and, when so enabled, I always find a freshness in the theme. Oh, that precious blood! how words fail to express the immense value and efficacy of it! Praise Him, my saved soul!
April 29th, Sabbath.—Some heavy tossings in mind. No savor in the preaching. But, this afternoon, sweet meditations upon our great High Priest entering the true Holy Place with His own blood, and of our having boldness to enter there by the same precious blood. The minister, this morning, quoted Heb. 6:1, 2, about first principles; and, on turning to it when I got home, I read forward, and also found Heb. 6:12, very animating; not viewing it as referring to departed saints—but to those who, in experience, have already crossed the Jordan, and are living joyfully in Christ, who is the good land, flowing with milk and honey; thus, through faith and patience, inheriting the promises; for the Lord does, as Job says, "Appoint us a set time, and remember us." Being thus brought in, I desire to follow those who have been walking the land, in the length and in the breadth of it (Gen. 13:17; Rev. 21:7). And here I would erect an altar, as Abraham did, in remembrance of all the mercies which I have received in this place, where I am a stranger.
And now, my glorious Lord, I yield myself afresh to You, for new fillings of the Spirit, and for more communion with Yourself, Your Father, and my Father. And oh, my God, I humbly say, for outward things, "Your will be done." And now unto the glorious Three-One Jehovah, incomprehensible to sense—but blessedly revealed to faith, to the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, Israel's one Lord, be glory in the Church by Christ Jesus, both now and throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.
May 5th, Saturday.—Again has the Lord, this morning, seemed to say in my soul, "Be you faithful unto death, and I will give you a crown of life;" not the death of the body—but the death of self, in all its willing and wishing; and this must be the death of the cross! The Head humbled Himself unto it, and the members must be conformed thereunto; and that experimentally, or they cannot come to resurrection glory, or wear the crown of resurrection life. The Lord has shown me, this morning, that He will not crown my flesh; therefore the sooner it is yielded to the death, the better.
"How rich, how sweet, how full, how free,
O Jesus, are Your grace and Thee!"
I received most blessed bedewings of the Spirit, and opening thereby of the wondrous efficacy of the death of my precious Lord. This life of faith is all of Him, by Him, in Him, and for Him; and it shuts out the creature more than anything beside. It is most blessed, and nothing exceeds it but the life of glory.
May 20th.— I cannot half speak of the fresh glories and beauties I have lately seen in my blessed Jesus—my all-lovely Immanuel! Oh, indeed, I know but a mere nothing of His matchless worth! It is marvelous that Your glorious, holy salvation, should enclose unworthy me. But so it is. The Lord has shut me in; yes, I am brought by Jehovah's own power into holiness, happiness, and everlasting bliss; and who shall pluck me thence? I have them in Himself: and He holds me fast—oh, so fast! Blessed security! law, justice, holiness, all on my side; because I am one with Jesus, who has met them all with infinite satisfaction. I do love a salvation which can look at law and justice with an open face. No other will satisfy a Spirit-awakened conscience. And with such a great salvation am I saved. Happy I, with such a glorious Jesus! Happy, happy, saved sinner!
[Reader, in sweet accordance with the foregoing testimony, "a salvation which can look at law and justice with an open face," some poet has said, most blessedly—
"Here's an amazing change indeed!
Justice is now for me!"
A Spirit-quickened soul would not be saved at the expense of Divine justice; the ground of his rejoicing is that Jehovah can be "just, and yet the Justifier of him who believes on Jesus." It is at Calvary, that "Mercy and truth have met together; and righteousness and peace have kissed each other." Reader, may the Lord mercifully lead you into a personal knowledge and glorious faith's apprehension of these things, for they are most Christ-exalting and God-glorifying.]
May 31st.—My dear — has just left me, after spending two days here. The water of life has flowed refreshingly from on high; and I surely hope she has not been here in vain. It is marvelous that I should have such enjoyments: this quiet retreat, this most beautiful country air and scenery, everything I need, provided without cost to me, and the kindest attentions from dear friends! It is wonderful, for I never looked for anything like prosperity on earth until the Lord so strangely whispered to me in December last. I wait Your will. I do enjoy Your mercies, and Your beautiful creation, now in the freshness of spring. But You Yourself are the sweetness of all.
June 21st.—Surely I must again record, with thankfulness, the Lord's great mercies to one of the unworthiest of His creatures. Health really seems returning. It has cost a painful struggle to be willing to live longer in Meshech, and to return there from the gates of glory. But the last day or two I have felt the Lord's power in my soul, conquering all, and causing me thankfully—yes, joyfully, to receive returning health. I am daily giving myself and the future to the Lord; praying Him to manage all, and to be glorified therein. I feel most unfit for any usefulness: my hope is in the Lord alone. He has most kindly gratified one ardent wish, in opening a way for me to help a friend here to work for the poor. This has, indeed, been to me a sacred place—"the house of God and gate of heaven"—my soul being often filled to overflowing with the love and glories of Jesus.
I felt a peculiar longing for the quickening of dead souls, and for the enlivening of living ones. Oh that the blessed Gospel and so great salvation were more fully preached. "Lord, revive Your work," and send forth more faithful laborers into Your vineyard. How often does my heart turn to the Refuge at N—. May the Lord clothe the Word with power!
June 25th.—Yesterday I was feeling deeply my ignorance, when the Lord seemed to say, "I shall never make you wise, I will be your wisdom; I am killing you." I was inquiring why I am so often depressed, and have thus far got an answer: "When your eye is single, your whole body shall be full of light." Surely I would wait further at Wisdom's gate.
June 26th.—From circumstances which have occurred today, I have been thinking how we each have a distinctiveness of character, and our heavenly Father has a different work for each believer. So that while seeing the excellence of others, and being humbled, let me see to it that my own little measure of ability be not unimproved. This thought has much relieved and encouraged me; and I do afresh, my Lord, consecrate my one talent to You, for increase and use to Your glory.
July 23rd.—I received part of my rent this morning, and, when going to take a tenth for the Lord, I felt an incitement to give it all; and was reminded of David, who would not drink the water brought to him at the risk of life—but poured it out before the Lord. Knowing what great straits I had been in before my illness, I waited a day or two to prove if it was from the Lord: the impression continued, and I dare not touch the money for my own use. I had some more to receive, and almost thought I might have that. But these words stopped me, "he kept back part of the price;" so I put all into my charity purse, asking pardon of the Lord for not doing it more heartily, and yet having some fear that I might come to need it. Oh, for a more clear understanding of the intimations of the Spirit! Today I most unexpectedly received five pounds from town, for rent. Surely this says I was right in giving the other. I am indeed astonished at the Lord's mercies. I am most unworthy of the least—but it is all for Jesus' sake. I trust You to guide me aright. You know my deep conflicts—but with thanksgiving I renew my trust, and yield myself afresh to You; from which Satan and the flesh have tried to hinder, urging that I only bring myself into fresh suffering and fiery trials. May the Lord pardon me for being beguiled by it for one moment; bring me to new and full surrender of heart—not courting affliction, yet not withholding myself from my Lord to escape it.
July 29th, Sacrament-day.—I have not the outward privilege of the Lord's table—but much desire to remember His dying love. Trials have arisen; and Satan's power was terrible. But the Lord is above him, and He has graciously supported and delivered me. A family from town have been staying in this house for twelve weeks; they are quite worldly, and the gentleman delicate. I have had great wrestlings of spirit for them—but could not speak. Just before they left, it was strongly laid upon my mind to write to the lady, expressing my concern for their souls. After much heart-exercise, I wrote, and put it into her hand as she was leaving the house. Oh that the Lord may bless that or some other means. I can hardly expect so great a favor as to see the fruit. But "power belongs unto God."
I have now earnest desires for new closing with a precious Christ, as my all in all; that the shadowy things of time may less cumber me, however contrary to flesh, and to live Christ be my one concern. I also cry to You, my conquering Captain, against the power of Satan over me, either by depression, or anxious care, or in any other way he has worked or may work. I pray against him, and embrace You by faith as my power to resist him. I fear I have been ignorant of his devices, and sunk under what I ought to have stood against. But now I yield up all to You, and myself to follow afresh hard after You, and afresh to "count all things but loss" for Your sake. Oh, my beloved, my all-lovely Savior, You are gain, and gain enough. Something whispers that trouble is near. I commit to You whatever is approaching: keep me in You abiding, and all shall be well.
August 8th.—Again I am renewed in earnest pleadings, and taking hold of the Lord for a token, about my future home. My Father, to You I cry, in the name of Jesus. My precious Jesus, Your company and communion—yes, fellowship with a Triune Jehovah, is what I seek; and for it give up as nothing what mortals so pursue—riches, honor, appearance, fleshly indulgence. I ask, my Father, at Your hands, for Your glory, a home within the means You have given, that I may minister to Your saints, and that my soul may be free for fullness of Yourself. O Lord, hear. I have great hope that You will, though the enemy has well-near smitten my life down to the ground with fear and terror.
August 12th.—Much harassed lately about writing so much in my diary. But it is such a blessed help to me on the pilgrim-road, I cannot refrain. I seem to see with fresh light, that it is vain to expect to come to a certain state, when we shall live by grace, constantly and spontaneously. The desirable position is, to live in felt dependence and emptiness—seeking constant renewings of the Holy Spirit—to live by simple faith on Jesus. Therefore, if I receive ever such large and fresh inflowings of grace today, I must not think that it is a stock for tomorrow; or think then to act by this day's power, or walk by this day's light. "Be merciful unto me, O Lord: for I cry unto You daily." Psalm 86:3. "Give us this day our daily bread." Matthew 6:11. "Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens." Psalm 68:19. "As your days, so shall your strength be." Dt. 33:25.
I have at times had a word of power brought home to my soul, which has been like light, and food, and strength, and all I could need; and by faith it has been used with wondrous profit, and I have felt now that I had only to go on using this glorious word, certain of success; and so I have done, until it has seemed dry and powerless, and my soul was defeated and disappointed. I think the Lord now shows me this was wrong, and that it is in constant renewings and fresh power that the work of the Lord must go on; this is living by faith, the other by sense; this is more emptying, humbling, and abasing; the other more independent and exalting. Another Ockbrook lesson.
Five o'clock.—I feel most thankful that the Lord has graciously kindled in my soul the desire again to follow hard after Him. I fear that the pressure of outward things upon my spirit since the loss of my dearest mother, has been a great hinderance to me. I have used my feet too much, my wings too little; I have lingered on earth, instead of anticipating heaven. Dear Lord, renew in the fervor of holiness and love, which will abound in me as I abide in Him.
"Oh, glorious hour! oh, blessed abode!
I shall be near and like my God;
And sense and sin no more control
The glowing pleasures of my soul."
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!
August 16th.—Psalm 27:4, "The one thing I ask of the Lord—the thing I seek most—is to live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, delighting in the Lord's perfections and meditating in his Temple." More and more anxious to be delivered from worldly care. Oh, I must not be buried in the stuff of Egypt, and have the health of my soul eaten away by corroding cares for this world's gain. I have thought that, as I am waiting for a token of my future way, and know not whether it will come by the Word or by providence, I will, by the Lord's help, when I am alone, take my dear Bible, and on my knees before God, looking to Him, see whether He will give the token there. I began this morning, and opened strikingly upon 1 Chron. 4:10, the prayer of Jabez, which is, to the letter, what I want; and the last clause is, "and God granted him that which he requested." I wondered with great admiration; my soul was melted and humbled: "Lord, do as You have said." I wait for Your salvation with trembling confidence. Lord, guide plainly, and give me as much of Yourself as possible in this mortal body. My purpose is to wait on the Lord, in and with the Word, directly after breakfast each morning, until deliverance comes. I think much, with encouragement, of Abraham's servant (Gen. 24:13-15). I do not want a creature-companion, as he did for Isaac—but I want to be as clearly guided about a home where I may enjoy my best Beloved. "Is anything too hard (or too large, or too small) for the Lord?" I trow not.
August 19th, Sabbath.—I leave my temporal requests today, and sum all up in seeking Christ, whom I desire to seek more earnestly and exclusively. Renew me, O most Holy Comforter, that I may make diligent search for Christ in everything, pleasing or painful, He being the very kernel of all. The Lord has been very gracious to me the past week; to His name be the glory.
August 24th.—Most exceedingly blessed this morning in family prayer, wherein it came suddenly to my mind what instances we have of answers to prayer in the Word, and how God will even turn the course of nature at His people's cry. He bade the sun and the moon stand still a whole day, and the world was wondering what was the matter, while only a sinful man (but a redeemed man) was praying. At another time, at the voice of prayer, the Lord shut up the heavens from giving rain, three years and six months, and the whole land was parched with barrenness and thirst, because of His people's sin: and again He opened heaven, and gave abundance of rain, when His servant prayed for it. Peter, too, when bound fast with chains, between two soldiers, and secured with bolts and bars besides—could not be held, for "prayer was made without ceasing of the Church unto God for him." Jacob prayed, and wept, and prevailed; and the promise is, "I will make you a new sharp threshing instrument, having teeth; and you shall thresh the mountains." Surely, this is the prayer of faith. Truly, the whole Bible seemed opened to me, as full of answers to prayer; and this did much encourage and fire my soul to pray—yes, to pray on. The Lord increase faith and prayer.
August 26th, Evening, Sacrament-day.—It has pleased my gracious Lord again to weaken my body. But all is well, though in very deed it is like a dying life. The Lord has been near and precious in the affliction. A month of love and mercy has just closed. I have had the blessed benefit of more realization of the love of my Beloved. I have at times been absorbed in the dear element of love divine, which is the home of my soul. I have not today had the sensible communion which I sought. But my condescending Lord will not be waited on in vain. He has some reason for tarrying out of my sight, and will come again with His overmatching love, of which mine is but the effect. But, however, while He seems absent, I would engage in recording His praise. Praise Him, O my soul. And now afresh I give myself to You, my blessed Jesus, to look at You, and only You; all else is confusing. I must erect an Ebenezer to the honor of my gracious Lord, who has been above my foes, above my fears, and immeasurably above my deserts.
August 27th.—I do not know anything about being at sea, literally. But am just taught in spiritual matters, when the wind blows hard against us, it is best to hold firm at anchor: since striving then to get forward is wasting strength in vain. I think I must always be thus engaged on Monday morning, which is generally stormy, and the wind contrary. My blessed Rock, keep me from getting one inch further from You.
September 8th.—I have again to record loving-kindness and tender mercies. Still waiting upon the Lord in the morning about going to my little Bethel home. I think Gen. 35:3, and the last clause of Gen. 32:9, are words upon which I am caused to hope. Also one morning it was rather opened to me that I had been, like Hezekiah and Judah (2 Kings 19), standing a long siege of the enemy, and hearing the dreadful threatening—but still, by divine power, kept trusting in the Lord; and that, like them, I should be fully delivered from the straitness and scarceness. I was mercifully blessed last evening in a poor cottage, which I have weekly visited for some time. It is sweet to find some poor who love to hear of Jesus. Dearest Lord, use me where and how You will. But let me be a savor of You, and let souls be benefitted.
September 13th.—The occurrence of this morning seems remarkable. Some weeks ago I met with a poor girl in the fields reading her Bible. I spoke to her, and found she really seemed to be a lamb of Christ's flock, who had felt both sin and salvation. I have since seen her—but have never had much liberty in speaking to her. I have made inquiries, and find she has a mother of bad character, which makes one feel for her. This morning, to my great surprise, she came to beg from me, and though I could not relieve her, yet my mouth was opened to speak solemnly to her of her state as a sinner, and of the awful consequences if she died in sin. Words flowed freely indeed, and she wept abundantly. I prayed with her, wondering at the courage and power I felt. Oh that this sinner might be turned from darkness to light! it would indeed be worth coming back from the gates of glory. "Power belongs unto God." Oh that she may be slain, and then the Holy Spirit breathe upon her, that she may live. A light springs up, showing me that my forte is not to dispute against false doctrine—but to warn poor sinners, and to seek to comfort and establish saints. This somewhat relieves my mind, which has been much harassed about the former.
September 16th, Sabbath.—I expect this will be the last at Ockbrook, and on Tuesday I shall journey home. My precious Lord has afresh ravished my soul with His love. I humbly desire that my spared life may be for His glory, and my return to N— for His people's good; for which I must look to Him alone. He has graciously granted me some sweet communion with Mrs. B— this last few days. I do think Satan has striven hard to hinder it.
September 18th, Tuesday Morning.—I am preparing to depart hence this evening. My heart this morning has said, "Who has believed our report? and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?" But, though I see no signs, "the day will declare it." And now an Ebenezer in remembrance of all the spiritual and temporal mercies received in this place. To the Lord be glory in the highest.
September 22nd.—What a death is put upon my return home, in the excessive bodily weakness I feel. Lord, what can it mean? "Your will be done!"
September 23rd.—When wondering, with much perplexity, I thought there was whispered, "Stand still, and see the salvation of God;" and this morning, "Those who sow in tears shall reap in joy;" and, "Weeping may endure for a night—but joy comes in the morning;" and this evening, "Cast your burden upon the Lord, and He shall sustain you." I have, in answer, cast it all upon You, my Lord. Oh, increase my faith; and make me willing to endure as well as to enjoy. Let me not live to dishonor You, or be a cumberer of the ground.
"Once they were mourning here below,
And wet their couch with tears;
They wrestled hard, as I do now,
With sins, and foes, and fears."
Yes, there are dear ones before the throne, who once in this very cottage groaned and prayed, as their poor child does now. But they had "victory through the blood of the Lamb;" and so shall I, though now sore buffeted in the place of dragons.
September 25th, Tuesday.—A day set apart in Nottingham, by the suspension of business and observance of public worship—to acknowledge the Lord's hand in the cholera, which is devastating our country; and to call upon Him, as a God of mercy and judgment, praising Him for a plentiful harvest, and for sparing our town from the pestilence, and praying Him to stay it where it is raging. I feel it very solemn and blessed too.
Night.—I have attended the three services. It was an extra effort to this poor body. But I felt it so good to be there, and so precious to hear the breathings of the dear saints: their songs of praise did thrill through my soul, and indeed I am glad to be again among my own beloved people. May the Lord hear, and be gracious to the pleadings of His children for our guilty country! The cholera has been within four or five miles of Nottingham.
September 30th, Sacrament-day.—I see He did not send to the poor widow some sacks of meal and a large quantity of oil; then her faith might have had a holiday. But He just kept the little in the barrel, and the cruse from wasting, and so faith had exercise every time she had a renewal of need. Oh, I must, I must believe, and not want an independent stock.
October 1st, Monday.—Oh, what depths and darkness I have gone through this day, as regards temporal and spiritual matters—feeling ill in body, and unable to bear such roughs, and the harrowing suggestion within; and bewildered, too, and beclouded, as if I could not tell right from wrong, and enjoying no sweet communion with my Beloved, and no power in prayer. I told Him I would pray, and spread out my case before Him—but could not; so I must kneel in silence, and He would know what it meant; and when I did pray, it was just like "the chattering of a crane or a swallow." Oh, I do know what that means, and felt I could only make a noise while mourning in my petitions. It has been a day of night. I felt, as I was reading Psalm 23:4, that I was passing through the "valley of the shadow of death," as regards the Lord's promises, without the sensible enjoyment of His presence. And then it was as though He said, "I am with you—trust Me in the dark." My very soul was bowed down with tears of anguish flowing, and I thought, "You shall hear the voice of my weeping." And, in the middle of this day of night, I thought how silly I was to write what I did last night about faith and this house; it looked to me like nonsense, and I thought I would not write again for a long, long time, as only worse seemed to follow. But just now this word has melted my heart, "At midnight Paul and Silas sang praises, and the prisoners heard them." It is just like me, midnight enough, in stocks fast enough. But I too, in my poor way, will praise my God. I can only take the three last Psalms of David to express His worthy praise; and I find there that "all deeps" are called upon to praise the Lord; and why should not mine? They are deep enough and dark enough to sense. But praise Him they must, and I sing in the stocks to the praise of Jehovah. I praise Him, indeed, for His longsuffering and forbearance with me, whom Satan has so sorely provoked to murmur; and I praise Him more for His precious, most precious Son, my glorious Well-Beloved.
"Jesus, the gift of gifts, appears,
To show that God is love."
My soul, praise the Lord! Hallelujah! For, notwithstanding all seeming contrarieties, "the Lord God Omnipotent reigns."
October 3rd.—Very specially has my Beloved been to me today--as the suffering Lord of glory. Oh! what blood was that—what rich, rich drops flowed for vile, unworthy me! I wonder, and adore! "He shall see of the travail of His soul, and shall be satisfied." And His spouse shall see somewhat of His soul-travail for her, and be satisfied with His love and favor. And that You, immaculate Lamb, should be bruised and wounded for my sake—is overwhelming indeed!
"I long to see You as You are,
With eyes made strong to bear the sight."
I long to fall at Your dear feet, and, before all the glorious company, confess myself a trophy of redeeming love—a miracle of Your saving grace and cleansing blood! I long to be with You. But You have sent me back, to confess first on earth and before men, what You have done for my soul. Your will, not mine, be done. Speak through me, and that to win souls.
October 14th.—I find my blessed Lord is calling me to walk by faith—believing against appearances; and I am sure it is well. I love sensible delights. But through divine power, my soul is being taught to walk confidingly in the dark, trusting to my Beloved to keep me from going astray, though no guide-posts appear. My heart says to Him this evening, "We are now in your hands. Do to us whatever seems good and right to you" (Josh. 9:25).
"Man does not live on bread alone." Luke 4:4. I remember that during great straits, many blessed words of God have come to me, and thus my faith has been greatly strengthened. But because deliverance did not come immediately, I have sunk lower than ever: and on that account I have almost shrunk from being so revived, lest disappointment should follow. But now I stand thankfully reproved, inasmuch as I was thinking that I could only live by the bread of deliverance, whereas I am to live also by every word of God which I have received with power.
November 5th.—My case is very pressing; I must be importunate. My heart cries unto the Lord. Oh, it will be great grace if He does now rise for my help! Lord, help me, and be glorified in me; and let Your dear saints have some benefit by me. Abraham's servant did not pray in vain. Hannah, when provoked sorely, did not pour out her soul before the Lord in vain. David, when harassed and hunted like a partridge upon the mountains, did not ask counsel at the mouth of his God in vain. The poor woman of Canaan did not press her suit in vain; and unworthiest Ruth will not sigh and cry in vain; she will be heard and answered, though she dare hardly believe it. Surely a cheerful hope beams in upon my heart. "My soul, wait only upon God; for my expectation is from Him." Dear Lord, all hearts are in Your hand; the silver, and the gold, and the blessing are Yours. I must follow You, with importunate prayer, until You arise and help me.
November 8th.—I received tidings from dear Mrs. F— of a trying nature, respecting the rent of the house in London—but the love of my crucified Lord sweetened it all. However, I was enabled most feelingly to bless the Lord for my temporal mercies, and still more for my cross-sweetening Savior. I cannot see the least token of deliverance. But
"God is His own Interpreter,
And He will make it plain."
My heart, in the midst of all adversity, adores, confides, and loves. "My soul waits for the Lord, more than those who watch for the morning."
November 9th.—How sweet is the precious Bible to me this morning; and such a melted heart, that I think perhaps more trouble is at hand: the will of the Lord be done. Isaiah 25:9, very sweet, "Look, this is our God; we have waited for Him, and He has saved us. This is the Lord; we have waited for Him. Let us rejoice and be glad in His salvation." And also these words, "Your God reigns!"
November 10th, Saturday Night.—I have taken counsel again in my heart, to humble myself before the Lord tomorrow, with fasting. I felt some trembling in so doing, somewhat like Esther, who thought it was a venture to go into the royal presence with her petition. But my case, in some respects, grows very urgent; and, like her, I say, "If I perish, I perish." What I seek is like asking for a miracle. But that does not prevent my plea, for the Lord has wrought many, and He can again. Oh that I may have audience, with power to plead!
November 11th, Sabbath Morning.—The Lord has never stood aloof in the day of my calamity, and, although I am not yet delivered, He has already given me cause to say, "It was good for me that I was afflicted." I humbly desire to seek heart-holiness, and life-holiness, through union to Jesus, and faith in Him; also close walking with God, and the fullest enjoyment of Christ and salvation—present salvation, that can be had in the body; also devotedness to the Lord's service.
Night.—I seem to have been praying through a dense cloud today, without the sensible power I desired. But was kept crying on, assured the Lord did hear, although He saw fit not to speak. And, by my lack of felt power, I was driven to lay firmer hold of that dear name, in which alone we can prevail. I now feel it has been a profitable exercise—outcome is with the Lord. And now, my Lord, I wait, expecting You will answer—how I know not. But it is Your great love which makes me bold to believe, and sink deeper into the depths of that love. I yet know nothing, comparatively, of that love which "passes knowledge." Oh! to be filled with the fullness of God. Surely this my cross has become a budding cross; and I humbly hope it will be a fruitful cross, to the glory of Your name.
November 15th.—This day is set apart, by our sovereign and rulers, for public worship and thanksgiving; in that the Lord has been pleased graciously to subdue the fearful pestilence of cholera, which has killed 13,000 in the metropolis, besides its ravages in other parts of our land. His people cried, and He has answered them: now we return to render Him the praise. The latter part of yesterday I was in much heaviness, and feared that my songs would be choked with sighs. But I cried to the Lord for a praising spirit, and in great mercy He has vouchsafed it. Bless, O my soul, your faithful God. This has been a favored day. I would like two Sabbaths every week. My own mind, also, has been much relieved today, without the least change in outward things. But it has seemed to me like this word, "We walk by faith, and not by sight."
November 17th.—Yesterday and today I have been suffering under the deepest depression, almost past endurance. "Surely an enemy has done this." I sent this evening to ask my friend A—, whom I observed last night to be under a heavy trial, to come and unite in prayer, as I thought we might present both our cases to the Lord; she did so, after which came these words to my mind—
"And Satan trembles, when he sees
The weakest saint upon his knees,"
and also Christian's weapon of "all prayer." Oh! what a solemn season I had in wrestling with the Angel of the covenant; beseeching Him for strength against our spiritual foe, and for enjoyment of the fullness of redemption, and that we might be filled with all the fullness of God. In doing this I so lost sight of my temporal case, that when I would, I could not remember one outward thing I needed. So I finished without naming my temporal needs; it was truly a blessed season, and Christ all in all.
November 23rd.—This evening I opened upon Job 7, and felt the truth of verse 20, "I am a burden to myself;" but then with what sweet power did it follow in my soul, "I am not a burden to You, my Lord;" for You do lovingly bear with all. Oh! what condescension! What unutterable love! My soul wonders and adores!
November 25th, Sacrament-day.—I was much blessed this morning, in hearing a sermon from Deut. 32:4, "He is the Rock, His works are perfect, and all His ways are just. A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is He." It was a time of love and power. Surely the Lord has come into my heart, as His guest-chamber. But it is not I who entertain Him; He entertains me, and most blessedly too. Surely, He is fulfilling the word He gave me on Friday (Isaiah 44:3, "I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground."). I have again taken the emblems of the broken body and shed blood of my precious Lord. It was a solemn season; I did surely eat and drink in remembrance of my Beloved, and gave myself to Him afresh for all His holy will. And, under a sense of His majesty, even in His humiliation, I was constrained to kneel before the crucified one, and to worship Him as my God and Savior. The last month has been peculiar. Many teachings and sweet inlets of love and communion—but no outward opening or apparent answer to my cry. Still, all is love. I desire to go forth only in Your name, and for Your glory.
November 28th.—Yesterday I received a request to go to the House of Refuge, on Friday. And this morning my soul is humbled in reading Eph. 3:8 "Although I am less than the least of all God's people, this grace was given me—to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ." How did the apostle seem to marvel at the great privilege of telling poor sinners of Jesus; and how am I melted at the thought, that unto me, "whom am less than the least of all saints," should this grace be given, to taste of salvation, and then to tell fellow-sinners what a Savior I have found. I am astonished at the mercy, and weighed down under the sense of my insufficiency. But my sufficiency for all, shall be of God alone.
December 2nd, Sabbath.—On Friday I went to the Refuge. The dear Lord made good His promise, given me two days ago. His grace was sufficient for me. I do earnestly long and cry that souls may be quickened into spiritual life.
9 o'clock.—I trust my desire has been granted. It has been a time of privilege, I think both in reviewing and renewing; and again I give myself up to live on, and for Christ alone. "There is a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing," so the Scriptures declare; and surely this is my time for renewed faith-embracements of my Beloved, whom I have afresh turned to for all I need; and I trust it is by the power of the Holy Spirit. "My meditation of Him has been sweet." Oh! what fullness of grace and glory is there in Him! Under divine anointings, I will be glad in Him. Ah! and seek for gladness in nothing else. This is the secret of peace. O God the Holy Spirit, renew in living Christ; I have lived myself too much. You happy hours of this favored Sabbath, adieu! You are fled—but you have been to me a breathing of Sabbatic rest; and I hope my soul is fresh energized in the way of faith. Surely, no one is so much indebted to the Lord as unworthy I. Even now that He is keeping me shut up in outward things, He sweetly blesses me with the flowing of the "upper springs."
These words have been sweet to me today, "He shall be to you instead of silver." Mr. C— once said, Job 22:25, might be so read; and now I feel it verified in myself; and, as the next verse says, "For then shall you have your delight in the Almighty, and shall lift up your face unto God." "Accepted in the Beloved," my soul blesses the Lord!
December 5th.—I have received no money yet—but all is well. I feel, that when I was first put into the furnace, I fell down bound. But that now I am loosed, and my precious Beloved is sweetly with me, and I walk with Him unharmed amidst the flames. I praise and adore!
December 14th.—I have been to the Refuge, to me a solemn, sacred place. I was favored to see — overwhelmed in tears, in repeating that verse—
"I would—but can't, repent,
Though I endeavor oft."
It seemed to be the very feeling of her soul, and I do trust she is a repenting sinner, though she feels her heart is so hard. I had hopes of her before my illness. The Lord be very gracious unto her at the voice of her cry; and when He hears it, may He answer. — says she has found pardon and peace since I saw them. May the work be real, and that which will stand the test of fire.
December 26th.—Heard Mr. H— preach with power from Psalm 39:7, 8, "Now, Lord, what do I wait for? My hope is in You. Deliver me from all my transgressions." I did earnestly cry, this morning, that the grace of the Gospel might flow into my soul, as well as that the words of the Gospel might sound in my ears; and I humbly trust it proved so under the sermon. The minister said, "The living soul waits for answers to prayer, for mercy, for salvation, for the presence of God, and the revelation of the Person of Christ. To have the husband's inheritance will not alone satisfy the bride: if she has affection, she must have personal communion with the bridegroom. Just so, all spiritual blessings will not satisfy the Church, without the Person of Christ. The soul also waits for particular deliverances in trials and perplexities, and sometimes has to wait long; and also waits and longs to be gathered home, to be with the Lord forever and ever. For this she hopes. Hope is called the anchor—but there must be anchorage as well as an anchor. And so hope takes hold of the everlasting love of God; the 'everlasting covenant, ordered in all things and sure;' the Person and finished work of Christ; the Word of God; the promises, as spoken to the soul by the Holy Spirit; and the power and faithfulness of God." Oh, my precious Jesus, my heavenly Bridegroom, I commit the events of this evening to You. Oh yes, keep me for Yourself, until You shall call me home.
The last Sabbath in 1849.—What a peculiar year! How rich in mercy, high in joy, deep in conflict, sweet in love—the love of my precious Beloved, the love of my covenant God. I think I never endured such anguish as at times during this year, from the deep feeling of bereavement, and also from pressing contrarieties and fears, lest I should not be in the right outward path. But love has softened and sweetened all the trial; and here I am—a monument of love's upholding power, feeling sweetly assured that the Lord has heard my prayers, seen my tears, and is with me in this way which I go. Oh, yes; all shall be well; and this deep and dark dispensation shall end in songs of praise. "He knows the way that I take," and though, to the flesh, it is like a long dark road, with only occasional rays of brightness, yet, "my soul, wait only upon God," and wait for Him still; it will not be in vain. He will either release from this fettering clay, or He will carry triumphantly on. And all shall redound to His praise who lived and died for me—my Lord, my life, my all. Praise for the past, trust for the future, befits Your favored worm, O Lord. My blessed Lord, on You Your poor Hannah does call, provoked sorely to fret. I do afresh embrace You by faith, as better to me than ten sons, as my joy, my treasure, and my absorbing all. I fall heavily into Your arms, with all my weights. You will sustain. You will still further bless me in Your love, and use me for Your glory—in life or death, as seems best to You. Amen.
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