Gleanings from the Inner Life of Ruth Bryan
January 1st, New Year's Morning.—Oh, my Father, bless me, and make me a blessing this year. I ask, in the name of Jesus, for more unctuous entrance into Your Scriptures, more anointing of the Spirit, more communion with a Triune Jehovah, in union to Immanuel.
Night, 11 o'clock.—Though weak and weary, I must record a sweet new year's visit from my Lord this evening, at the family altar, wherein again I feel His exceeding preciousness, and can feelingly say, "You are altogether lovely!" Thus have I already got a new song this year.
January 16th.—I have been depressed, because I see not my tokens. It seems as if I lived a useless, profitless life. I was much blessed this afternoon in Gen. 15:17 "As the sun went down and it became dark, Abram saw a smoking firepot and a flaming torch pass between the halves of the carcasses." It seemed to me that the smoking firepot was a type of the iron furnace of Egypt, where Abraham's seed were in cruel bondage; the flaming torch a type of the Divine guidance they should have out of Egypt, and thence to Canaan. These two passed through the halves of the carcasses, which was a token of the covenant, and seemed to show that all the circumstances of Egyptian bondage, wilderness travel, and Divine teaching, were ordered in the covenant, and so covenant blessings. This, spiritualized as to the children of promise, was very sweet.
Then I sought something touching my own present soul-case, and it seemed powerfully given in these words, "This also we wish, even your perfection." Here Christ was afresh set before me as my perfection in doctrine, experience, and practice; He as the fullness of it all, and, as brought by the Spirit to apprehend Him by faith, it will make me neither barren nor unfruitful in the work of the Lord.
January 18th.—Oh! how has my soul sunk within me in fear and trembling, lest, in the midst of all my varied occupations, I should lose "the piece" of silver—the assurance of faith; lest I should have to say, "While I was busy here and there, He was gone." My Savior withdraw to a distance? Oh! I cannot bear the thought. Seclusion, poverty, anything with Jesus. But life is death without Him.
January 29th, Sacrament-day.—"I will sing unto the Lord;" for that which has been set upon His table is full of fatness. Mr. S— preached this morning from Deut. 33:8, "About Levi he said: Your Thummim and Urim belong to the man you favored. You tested him at Massah; you contended with him at the waters of Meribah." He took the text spiritually, in reference to our glorious Christ; and, in explaining the name of Levi, which means joined, he said many things which had been opened to my soul some months since, from Mal. 2:4, 5, causing me to rejoice greatly in this "Joined One," who is one with His Father, and one with His Church.
When Mr. S— was concluding his sermon this morning, it occurred to me, sweetly, that the Lord's people were a tribe of Levis; every believer is a joined one, for "He who is joined to the Lord is one spirit;" and "we are members of His body, of His flesh, and of His bones." I was blessed in hearing—but still wrestling with the Lord for more; it was not a cup running over. Sensible enjoyments have run in a lower channel for the most part lately, which excites longing and jealousy. My Beloved has seemed "behind the wall," and only looked through the lattice, instead of full, personal communion. I was blessed at the Lord's table more than for some time past. The dignity of that precious Sufferer, and His mightiness to endure, were a little set forth in my soul. He was a royal person, even when made a curse; and the "mighty God" when He stooped to the dust of death—or He never could have taken its sting away.
March 6th, Sacrament-day.—I have had my mind much distressed in hearing of the apparent dishonesty of one whom I thought a brother in Christ; "Lord, what is man that You are mindful of Him?" What an impure mass is the whole human race as found in the fallen head—evil, and only evil. My heart saddens continually at the sin and sorrow I hear of, which makes me groan in my secret places, and long to be away from the body of sin, and the world of guilt and woe. Lord, if this man is Your child, send an arrow of conviction into his soul, humble him in the dust, and restore him to the good and right way. If he is a hypocrite in Zion, let fearfulness surprise him, the mask fall off, and salvation yet reach him—if it is Your holy will. Lord, keep the feet of Your saints from the paths of the destroyer! Oh! hold us in Your ways, order our footsteps in Your word, and "let not any iniquity have dominion over us."
March 8th.—Surely unfixedness of thought has been like a "fiery furnace" to me for some months. Perhaps this thing has come upon me in reproof for some unknown sin—perhaps some lightness of spirit, or something else. I remember the calf which was ground to powder by Moses, for the children of Israel to drink. I have formerly known this bitter experience, when the sin I had trifled with became my daily and sorrowful portion, nor could I rid myself of it. Oh, this is sore work. "Lord, help me!" though I feel I am not worthy of the crumbs which fall from Your table.
March 10th.—I have taken counsel in my heart to fast until tea-time tomorrow—fasting before the Lord, and waiting upon Him to find favor in His sight, and an answer of peace on several pressing accounts, and my own soul-case of unfixedness of thought, which distresses me so much. Oh, my precious Savior! I want You to have all my heart, and all my thoughts; do take what is Your own. Also, I want to plead that my dear Lord will be specially present and precious in the bodily affliction which seems to threaten me; also for our country, and for Your Church; for an outpouring of the Spirit, and for some hard cases which are on my mind. I have much fear lest weariness of the flesh, and languor of spirit, should prevent close dealing with the Lord. I feel tonight like a broken vessel. May the Holy Spirit help my infirmities, and plead in me.
While thinking of the matter, a suggestion came, how vain it would be to put aside my work, and be thus occupied. But this word followed, "those who honor Me, I will honor." Lord, cause me to honor You in my fasts and my feasts. Lord, give me power to plead with You. I would wait like Esther; like her, may I be called to touch the scepter, and gain my request. I do feel helpless: may I "out of weakness, be made strong." Amen. In the midst of my fears, I must confess, to the Lord's praise, that hitherto He has always helped me; and that it will be the first time if He now stands "aloof from my sore."
Half-past Ten.—"For my people who have searched for me, the plain of Sharon will again be filled with flocks, and the valley of Achor will be a place to pasture herds." Isaiah 65:10. "I will return her vineyards to her and transform the Valley of Trouble into a gateway of hope. She will give herself to me there, as she did long ago when she was young, when I freed her from her captivity in Egypt." Hosea 2:15
March 11th, Morning.—
"Lord, I come before You now,
At Your feet I humbly bow;
Lord, do not my suit disdain,
Nor let me seek Your face in vain."
Our God is very gracious—yes, and very merciful; and I feel it, in that I am not straitened or bound in approaching Him—but have permission to speak, who am but dust and ashes. Lord, hear and answer, for Your own name's sake. I want more power and deeper humiliation in my feelings.
After Tea.—I have great cause to praise the Lord for upholding me during my exercise before Him. About three o'clock I was sorely cast down, thinking all was in vain, because I did not feel a sensible answer in my soul. For a short time my grief was very great—but "when the enemy came in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord lifted up a standard (of the Word) against him" in this sweet portion, "As the Father has loved Me, even so have I loved you—continue in My love." It was like oil upon the waves of my troubled soul, producing a great calm. And to the love of Jesus I did commit my petition—pleading for many others and for myself; desiring that His blood might be upon all. Blessed be the Lord, who has not turned away my petitions, or His mercy from me. Dear Lord, send answers of peace and power.
While before the Lord, I thought of the precious Savior, when He fasted forty days and forty nights, and fought that fierce but bloodless battle, with our great foe; and it seemed to the spiritual eye as if the wilderness was strewed over with the broken shafts of hell, and arrows of the mighty, which had been hurled at our great Champion, and by Him repelled and broken. Every weapon that hell could devise was tried—but all were in vain; and now there are no new ones to bring against the Church. Satan can only assail her with those which her Lord has already blunted and spoiled—yes, written "conquered" upon them all. Dear, redeeming Lord, this view encourages this trembling heart in this time of conflict.
March 20th, Sabbath.—Again the Lord has graciously come forth as the answerer of prayer, to the joy of many. This morning it was announced, that those persecuted believers in Tuscany—the Madiai—are set at liberty from prison, and we are to have a thanksgiving meeting on Thursday. Much prayer has been made for them, and it is indeed new encouragement to pour out our heart before the Lord, however hard and difficult the case may appear. Ebenezer!
Night.—Before service this evening, I was musing on the Lord's mercy in answering prayer about the Madiai, when there came a sweet encouragement to my soul, that He would also graciously answer about my —, for whose salvation I have prayed, and groaned, and travailed heavily for years. Lord, do as You have said. Mr. T— preached from Acts 13:38, in which I feel a sweetness I never did before. "Brothers, listen! In this man Jesus there is forgiveness for your sins." Through the heart of this precious Man—Christ Jesus—comes every covenant blessing to unworthy me.
March 22nd.—Much enlarged into Christ in writing to Mr. T— today. How often has that correspondence been a blessing to my soul. I have felt somewhat of the blessedness of dwelling upon Mount Hermon, "where God commands the blessing—even life for evermore." I have seen, that, though for some time "the iniquity of my heels" has compassed me about, in those wandering thoughts which have so distressed me—yet I am safe from condemnation, because that very iniquity compassed my precious Jesus about first, when He felt the substance of those words which were prophetically spoken of Him (Psalm 40:12). He called His people's sin His own, because He had taken their place in law, and "the Lord laid upon Him the iniquity of us all." Thus I am free from sin in Christ, and I have afresh blessedly felt this freedom; and, though I dwell in dust, have afresh been made to rise and sing unto the Lord, for mercy and judgment—judgment to Jesus, and mercy to me—to the glory of a Triune Jehovah. Oh, it is wonderful! Blessed are those to whom "the Lord will not impute sin." Dear Lord, let me into the sweet secret of which I have tasted a little, and find such celestial flavor—debasing the creature and exalting a glorious Christ.
March 25th, Good Friday.—I love to meditate upon what this day commemorates, for the Lord does at times make the keeping of it a door of communion to my soul. It is now between one and two, and the sun is shining beautifully. But, on that solemn day when Jesus suffered, it withdrew its beams from the guilty earth, refusing to enliven that scene so shrouded in gloom, so darkened with sin, curse, wrath, and suffering—when the Lamb without blemish, the Antitype of the Paschal, was offered "once for all," and by that one offering entirely put away sin from His Church. Oh! the agonies He endured when His righteous soul was made sin—when "He was bruised for our iniquities." I would now, in spirit, sit at the foot of that cross, and learn more and more deeply and experimentally the mysteries thereof. Only those who eat the Paschal supper here with bitter herbs shall sit down at the Marriage-supper with everlasting joy. This word is sweet to me, "He turns the shadow of death into the morning." Our blessed Surety had the substance and sting of death; and what He so endured is turned into a spiritual morning to us, because by it our deliverance comes.
March 27th, Sacrament-day.—"Peninnah had children—but Hannah had no children." How this word has sounded in my heart this morning. It is just like — and me, spiritually; she is made useful to souls, and I am a poor barren thing, not knowing that one has been called through me. It says that Elkanah gave to Hannah "a worthy portion," and this is spiritually true of me. "The Lord is my portion, says my soul." I do rejoice in Him, though I am the least and most insignificant of His members. I was much blessed the other day in seeing Psalm 89:32, fully applicable to Christ, as shown out in 1 Peter 2:24. He was the Surety, and He had the stripes; and coming to realize this in faith, heals sin's malady in its guilt and power more than anything else, because it is God's own way. O "Abba Father," I humbly beg for the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Jesus, and of You in Him.
"Prove His wounds each day more healing,
And Himself more deeply know."
The threatening symptoms of disease have seemed to abate. I have no liberty to speak of the matter, excepting to my dear Lord. I have no wish He should remove it—but that He would come in it, and sanctify it, and glorify Himself. I commit it all to my precious Savior, who "Himself took our infirmities, and carried our sicknesses."
April 17th.—From weak nerves and unfixedness of thought I am unable to meditate closely—but I am sure my soul is fixed all the while on my covenant God, and my precious Savior. This lack of power to think is my infirmity, You, Lord, know. My heart says, "Whom have I in heaven but You? and there is none upon earth I desire beside You." Amidst all I am suffering, the Lord seems strongly confirming me in the doctrines of grace. Exceeding light and power keep breaking in upon my soul upon the Divine sovereignty; and the majestic holiness, love, and, glory of Jehovah, are increasingly revealed. Thus, though a tempest-tossed, I am safe; and I think I shall soon be at home—in the haven of rest.
April 24th.—I have been unexpectedly called to visit Miss G—, who is dying. I saw her on Friday; she was in great distress, fearing she had been deceived. During conversation she said, "I fear I do not feel sin enough; that I only have a dread of punishment. I cannot pray; I can't believe." I saw her again yesterday; she was more comfortable. I read Zech. 3, in which she seemed deeply interested.
April 27th.—I had a blessed time again, with Miss G—; she is rather better. I trust it was profitable. I read Mark 5. In speaking I referred to Isa. 13:2; in reading which I was struck with verse 3, and told her of some different explanations I had heard. When I had finished, Miss G— said, "How singular you should speak of that verse; we were so wondering what it meant."
May 27th.—When thinking of a proposed journey to Scotland, I had much trembling about traveling by the express train—but last evening the Lord gave me a sweet assurance of safety, and this morning Psalm 139. We are not going to "the uttermost parts of the earth," but we are going far away; yet, even there Your right hand shall keep, and guide, and hold me up, O my God.
Edinburgh, May 31st.—Ebenezer! Through Divine mercy, we find ourselves located, for a short time, in this great city, to which we were safely brought last evening, about half-past eight. Great was the Lord's mercy in protecting, and He kindly communed with me in the night-watches, so that I did sing, and weep, and bless my loving Lord. Oh! for faith to live in all the fullness of Jesus.
June 8th.—The first minister I heard here was on Thursday evening, Mr. M. S—. A word in season to my soul, from Eph. 1:11, "In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, in order that we, who were the first to hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory." He was speaking much on the subjugation of the will in us, which was just what the Lord was instructing me about on Monday night. Oh, to learn the lesson! There is one dear saint in this house, and we have together been holding fellowship with the King, while all the rest were in bed.
June 20th.—I "am ready to depart on the morrow." The Lord has been bountiful and gracious to my soul in this place. I have been favored with the communion of saints, with the King of saints. I have had some severe exercise also, according to that saying, "Day and night shall not cease;" it is also written, "Because they have no changes, therefore they fear not God;" but, indeed—
"My soul through many changes goes,
His love no variation knows,"
And "Now, Lord, what do I wait for?" "My eyes are upon you," for a parting blessing, and for journeying mercies on the coming day.
June 23rd.—Ebenezer! I was favored with a safe journey; and my dear Lord let me feel His presence along the way, and spoke to me by His holy Scriptures: praise Him, O my soul! I felt peace of soul on arriving at my sweet little home. In Jesus—I am as safe as I can be, and very happy—a sinner saved by grace! Free grace and free love is all my theme.
June 26th.—Scotland was a place of royal dainties to my soul: may the Lord pour out His Spirit upon His people there. He is still fulfilling to me Isaiah 43:16. "I am the Lord, who opened a way through the waters, making a dry path through the sea." I desire to be still learning His will—to the subduing of my own.
July 3rd.—I have been to see Miss G— for the first time since my return. I think her not so well. My spirit feels refreshed with a comfortable hope that she is a vessel of mercy.
July 10th.—Again I find a blessing in taking up the cross. I sought deliverance from it. But I find the Lord had placed deliverance in it; praised be His name for not letting me escape, and turn away from the blessing.
August 15th.—"The earth is the Lord's, and the fullness thereof;" why, then, are so many of His people poor? To draw out their faith upon Him; to show forth His marvelous works; and because this world is neither their home nor their portion. It is all right, and I feel it so. We need not be in abject poverty to be in financial straits, as those who have small incomes well know; for they often "see the works of the Lord, and His wonders in the deep." A life of faith is a life of miracles, temporal and spiritual.
September 3rd.—"Out of the depths have I cried unto You, O Lord." In addition to outward trial, there is deep inward conflict. Under an agonizing sense of unprofitableness, there seems to come a blight upon everything I touch! Oh, it is bitter! I have not a doubt of my precious Savior's love—but I feel as if all else is torn from me; and I am covered with shame because I make such poor returns to Him. Dear Lord, enable me to endure all You see needful. I am sure it is well, though I feel something like David, in Psalm 66:12, "You sent troops to ride across our broken bodies. We went through fire and flood. But you brought us to a place of great abundance." But I deserve a thousand times worse. "Father, Your will be done."
September 11th, Sabbath evening.—In the past week I have had deep conflict, many storms—but sweet interminglings of mercy. I feel weak and faint, as if the journey were too great for me. But my dear Lord will sustain me. I am the poorest worm—and must let fall my whole weight upon You, my precious Savior. Lord, help me on, and help me home. Isaiah 43 is very sweet today, "Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you. I have called you by name; you are mine. When you go through deep waters and great trouble, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown! When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you. For I am the Lord, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior!" I am much pleased with the expression, "dragons and owls honoring the Lord" (verse 20; Job 30:29).
September 18th.—I bring a hard case to You, my Lord; some of Your dear children think I am in a wrong position, and would delight to have me again in the depths of my own corruption. My heart is deeply wounded—I commit it to You. If constantly looking at what I am in the first Adam will most honor You, I resign myself to it. If looking to my dear Lord, and learning what I have and am in Him, is most God-glorifying, I pray for it, whoever may fight against it. I do marvel that some of the living family should so seek to take off my eye from Jesus. O Lord! undertake for me, and judge between us. Make me know the right; confirm what is Yours; deliver from what is mine, or any other creature's.
October 30th, Sacrament-day.—The past week one of trial, and I have not had such near communion with my Lord as formerly; many sweet visits from Him—but not that constant abiding with me, and I with Him, as once. I received great blessing at the Lord's table this afternoon; surely the King was held in the galleries. My heart-backslidings reprove me; all withholdings, all trials are deserved. I do not deserve that my dear Lord should ever speak in love to me again on this side Jordan. But I must cling to Him. He is my Sun, though he refrains to shine—
"Though for a moment He depart,
I dwell forever on His heart,
Forever He on mine."
November 24th.—"Blessed be the Lord God, the God of Israel, who alone does wondrous things. And blessed be His glorious name forever: and let the whole earth be filled with His glory. Amen and Amen!" (Psalm 72:18, 19). Fill, O Lord, my body, which is Your earth, with Your glory, by using all its powers in Your service. This I have long asked. But I feel so unprofitable that I have lately come into despair about it, and thought that I must just be useless in the bosom of Divine love. I have had some blessed hours with a poor tempted and distressed soul, with whom I have been often of late. Her trouble comes from the death of a brother, whom she dearly loved. Her body is weak, her nerves shattered, and evidences all clouded; at times she seems almost distracted. She sent for me this afternoon. I went; and oh! what a season we had in mutual prayer and reading of the Scriptures. It was indeed a pouring out of the Spirit. Our mouths were filled with arguments, and my soul with power. No creature effort, no fleshly excitement; all was calm and quiet—but very powerful; it was a hallowed season, "a shadow of good things to come." The dear soul was encouraged. Satan and her trouble may return—but deliverance is sure to this daughter of Abraham; either below or above, she shall surely sing the praises of our covenant God. Shall the typical David slay the lion and the bear, and rescue the lamb they had taken out of the flock? and shall not the spiritual David, our Good Shepherd, rescue this torn sheep from the roaring lion? He will! He will!
December 18th.—On Friday this word was sweet to me, "In the days of famine they shall be satisfied." I felt satisfied with Christ, although I had not a shilling in the house to call my own, and money is needed for many things. My dear friends would help me if they knew of this trial. But I could not thus go before the Lord, and lose the blessing which is in it. "My soul, wait only upon God; for my expectation is from Him." Phil. 4:19 was very sweet an hour ago. I saw more largeness and richness than ever in those words, "According to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus." What a rule to be supplied by! It is like an infinite investment on our behalf, from which shall flow all we need for the wilderness journey. "Lord, increase my faith." "O God, command deliverances for Jacob."
December 31st.—The last evening of 1853. Truly the past year has had deep trial to me; I think more so in experience than ever since I came into liberty. It is worth anything to have my dear Lord's presence, and fixedness of mind. But oh! what a blessed mingling of mercy in my cup during the past year. Lord, increase my gratitude and my praise.
"Here I raise my Ebenezer;
Hither by Your help I'm come;
And I hope, by Your good pleasure,
Shortly to arrive at home."
This has been my word today: "As dying—and behold we live!" Ebenezer!
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