Gleanings from the Inner Life of Ruth Bryan
January 10th.—A week ago dear Mr. H— called for a few minutes, and, in speaking of Psalm 23:4, he said, "Because Christ had the sting of death for His people, it is, therefore, only a shadow to them, which is elsewhere called a sleep." Last evening I was telling this to Miss W—, and we conversed upon the subject of death; and in the night-watches I was thinking that if death came from union with the first Adam, it must be as a penal punishment, because part of the curse. Then was sweetly opened to me 1 Cor. 3:22, 23, in which everything is included; and, besides, death is especially mentioned there as ours, because we are Christ's; therefore it comes to be so in union to Him. In the first Adam we were death's prey; in the second, death is the gate through which we must pass to obtain the perfect likeness of our Lord. In the first Adam death was a conqueror; in the second, "death is swallowed up in victory" (1 Tim. 1). These meditations were most sweet to my soul, making me at midnight to sing aloud songs of praises unto the Lord.
January 14th.—I heard Mr. S— this morning from Psalm 1:3, "They are like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season without fail. Their leaves never wither, and in all they do, they prosper." This afternoon greatly blessed in meditating upon the first verse, and seeing Christ and the Church therein. Mr. S— spoke of this—but not in the fullness and glory the Spirit showed it to me. Christ is "the blessed Man," as the federal Head of His Church; and the description of Him is quite in accordance with 1 Peter 2:22, 23; Heb. 7:26. He is the Man, who, doing these things of the law, does live in them (Rom. 10:5). His righteousness is of works, and He is blessed in His deeds. His reward is of debt. He owes nothing now. But the Father owes Him the acceptance and glorification of all His seed. Law and justice have payment beforehand, and now owe Him the indemnification and justification of all His people, in their individual experience. He is the blessed Man, and His bride inherits the blessing in Him. She is blessed as Eve was (Gen. 1:27, 28). Eve was not brought out of her husband, when it said, "God blessed them." So it is with us. We are blessed in Christ (Psalm 72:17; Eph. 1:3; Eph. 10), and thus dwell in those mountains where God has commanded the blessing (Psalm 133.); yes, upon Mount Gerizim, where all the blessings of full obedience are promised. See Song 4:7; Ezek. 16:14. To talk of the Church being blessed or beautiful, except in the obedience and beauty of her Husband, is strange language to me. Whatever good works or fruits are seen in her, they are His fruit and flowering through her. They do not procure the blessing—but are the effects of it. He is the tree of life by the waters, and we, receiving His fruit, are made fruitful.
January 16th.—I have been much exercised by my friends wishing me to have further advice for my malady. My soul was greatly bowed down, fearing to dishonor my precious Lord, and yet sorry to grieve kind friends. I desired that this day of quiet my soul might be closely engaged with the Lord about it. All I want is the Lord's will and the Lord's glory. This evening these Scriptures have been applied: Psalm 50:15; Psalm 32:8; Micah 2:7. I trust this is the blooming of the rod, and that it will also blossom and bring forth fruit; for which purpose I lay it up still before the Lord.
January 21st, Sabbath.—There is much snow on the ground this morning, and my Lord melted my heart with Isaiah 1:18, and this because of 2 Cor. 5:21. Before divine service that word came sweetly, Song 7:13; which the Lord fulfilled to me, showing me from His word how, for His own good pleasure, He had long led me in the way of faith, and had been to me, instead of human advisers, medical, legal, and spiritual. Often has He also turned about the cloud to guide and instruct me. I am fully satisfied to be in His loving hands. May he cause my dear friends to know that I do these things by His word. "Those who honor me, I will honor."
Evening.—I venture upon You, Lord, as my way. Answer—"The way of the Lord is strength to the upright." I venture upon You as my wisdom. Answer—"The Lord gives wisdom; out of His mouth comes understanding."
January 22nd.—"The preparation of the heart of man, and the answer of the tongue is from the Lord." He seems to be giving me the first part, and I trust the rest will follow, that I may give an answer to my kind friends.
January 23rd.—I am almost too ill to write tonight. But I must, for further profit, note down that from reading 2 Chron. 16 the Lord has brought me (contrary to the judgment of the flesh) to the decision not to go to Oakham for human medicine—but to commit myself wholly to Him, in whose hands I feel safe and happy. Jer. 42:15, 16, and Hosea 5:13, have seemed weighty.
January 24th.—With the heart we believe, and then with the tongue we make confession. Praise to You, my Lord, for Your kind answer to my poor cries in the hour of trial, when waiting to know Your mind. "Was I ever a barren wilderness to You?" Answer—Never, never, my dearest Lord! It is I who am the barren wilderness. But You make the wilderness to bloom, and rejoice with joy and singing. "You are my witnesses, says the Lord."
January 30th.—Isaiah 33:24, is just as I feel, "The people of Israel will no longer say, 'We are sick and helpless,' for the Lord will forgive their sins." Though afflicted in body, yet I am dwelling in Christ by faith. In my precious Jesus I enjoy experimentally forgiveness and healing. I could not have thought to have seen such good days. I have often prayed to possess the west and the south together. The west—the setting sun, the evening of life; the south—warm, bright, and cheering. And if this disease is taking down my tabernacle, it surely is with me as with Naphtali: "Satisfied with favor, full with the blessing of the Lord;" yet all I enjoy is free and sovereign, "without money and without price."
February 1st.—O Lord, give me a thankful heart. Answer—Do you want one to feed upon? Feed upon Me, and then a thankful heart will not be lacking.
February 18th.—I felt this morning rather weary, and, like Jacob, "would needs be gone," because my soul greatly longed for my Father's house above. I had afterwards a refreshing time in the sanctuary. Mr. D. F— preached from "Having nothing, and yet possessing all things." During service the Lord sweetly renewed in my soul two formerly given portions, in Isaiah 35:10, John 14:3; which came home to my case of affliction, and I felt they were a pearl dropped for me, which I must put among my treasures for this last stage of the journey. "Those who have been ransomed by the Lord will return to Jerusalem, singing songs of everlasting joy. Sorrow and mourning will disappear, and they will be overcome with joy and gladness." "If I go away and prepare a place for you, I will come back and receive you to Myself, so that where I am you may be also."
February 20th.—Mr. T. S— kindly called upon me today. In conversing upon death, he said he had been thinking that Naaman the Syrian had to go into the waters of Jordan before he could get rid of his leprosy; and so the believer goes through the Jordan of death to get rid of the spiritual leprosy. This was very sweet to me. It is at death we drop the image of our fallen head, by whom we received the dreadful disease.
February 22nd.—"We who have believed, do enter into rest." Surely this is known by me this night, after enduring much temptation. Oh, the excellent overcoming life of faith; how it strengthens grace, and is the beginning of glory.
"Believing, we rejoice
To see the curse remove;
We bless the Lamb with cheerful voice,
And sing His bleeding love."
March 4th.—What must I do with these books of my heart's journey through the wilderness? How I shrink from leaving them behind for other eyes than my own to see. Oh, it seems impossible! And yet this word has come, which has made me to pause, "Destroy it not, for a blessing is in it." O Lord, I commit them to You. Your will be done. I cannot be too much abased. Oh, set Your foot on me, if thereby you may be more seen, and exalted, and enjoyed by any of Your redeemed.
March 9th.—For two days I have been asking that I might come more into the light of eternity, which the Lord has graciously answered; for this afternoon, while at the Divine footstool, I was favored with a little revelation of absorption in bliss in the fullness of Jesus. It was a little in comparison to the consummation. But yet, there was that in it, which earth's language cannot express, opening sweetly to me the thought that eternity is, with Jehovah, one "eternal now;" and how there is no night there, no weariness—an everlasting glory, uninterrupted by the revolvings of time. I realized a little of what it is to be unshackled, not only from earth—but from time. But words fail to describe that fullness of glory, activity of worship, and perfection of rest.
March 18th.—I have felt great blessedness this morning, and as if every cloud of guilt and trouble were under my feet, in union with Christ. He has also given me another comfortable whisper about dying, "If you abide in me, you shall not feel it" (John 8:51). What a passage! It never seemed so full before. Dear Lord, fulfill every good word "on which You have caused me to hope." I am pleased to find that while I was so much blessed on Friday, a dear brother was pleading for me, and enjoying much blessed freedom with the Lord, and union with my spirit. This is "communion of saints." Oh, for more walking in the Spirit! It is He who reveals spiritual secrets, and opens love's stores, such as 1 Cor. 2:9, as I am a happy witness. "No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him!" Ebenezer!
March 21st.—Day of national fast and humiliation, on account of the dreadful war. O Lord, hear Your people's cries, and spare our beloved—but guilty land. I have long blushed before You, because of our favoring Popery. O Lord, open the eyes of our King and rulers, that this sin may be put away, and Your just judgments be removed from us.
March 22nd.—"Your will be done," has been the peculiar feeling of my soul today, and for some time previous. The Spirit has kept me bowing to meet every fresh wave as it comes; for, oh! this is a stormy world. But the true feeling, "Your will be done," is like oil upon every wave, so calming the soul that there is no contrary current. The Spirit bends us, the wave passes over us, and we say, "It is well!"
April 2nd.—Precious Jesus, I am glad You bring out good wine at last. I need a strong cordial. Oh! renew the miracle of Cana of Galilee. I know six of Your vessels which are filled with the waters of temptation or tribulation, and Your power is the same as ever. Let us all feel it; and let this very water be turned into the wine of the kingdom. How sweet and strong has this word been to me tonight, "He is able.""Ask the Lord for rain in the spring, and he will give it. It is the Lord who makes storm clouds that drop showers of rain so that every field becomes a lush pasture." Zechariah 10:1. "I pray that you will begin to understand the incredible greatness of his power for us who believe him. This is the same mighty power that raised Christ from the dead and seated him in the place of honor at God's right hand in the heavenly realms." Ephesians 1:19-20. Oh, that mighty power! Lord, give me faith to take hold of it, in my present state.
April 3rd.—This is called "Passion-week." I feel it precious to have the companionship of a once-suffering Savior, who was "a Man of sorrows." He drank of every bitter cup, that He might feel with and support us. The times and seasons are in the Father's power, not in the hands of men. But I am glad, if through these times of commemoration, I can get a view of my Lord in His humiliation or exaltation. Dear, precious Lord, I afresh crave fellowship in Your sufferings.
April 6th, Good Friday.—I have been looking much at the last hours of my precious Lord, this morning. This afternoon I have been somewhat beholding the precious Sufferer on that middle cross. Both the thieves railed on Him. But one of these theives, by the power Spirit, was brought to confess his own sinfulness, and by the same Spirit to call Jesus "Lord." Then how sweet was the answer of peace, "Today you shall be with me in paradise." Thus did redeeming love break forth in a refreshing stream from that suffering heart and those parched lips—to give drink to that other sufferer, who was, indeed, "ready to perish."
After this, came the cry of agony, "My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?" Oh! that was the climax of woe! And then those mysterious words, "I thirst!" Mere bodily suffering was not all which was couched in these words. But that righteous One was dwelling with the devouring fire, and enduring what would have been to us "everlasting burnings." The wrath of the Lawgiver was going forth upon the sin which was found upon Him. He thirsted, as in hell—that He might "lead us to fountains of living waters" in heaven!
And those tender looks and words to His mother and His beloved John, do indeed manifest a heart without an atom of that selfishness which we inherit by the fall.
Truly, I have almost seemed to stand beside His cross, and gather up these precious fragments with wondering love, and mingled joy and grief.
How I wonder, whether, in the multitude of those gazers, anyone in that hour beheld the "Fountain opened to the house of David, and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem." We know that, afterwards, some were washed therein, as Peter testifies, in Acts 23, 36: "Whom you with wicked hands have crucified and slain;" at which time they were pricked in their hearts, and brought to look by faith "upon Him whom they had pierced; and by His stripes they were healed."
Then came the end, when, after receiving the vinegar, Jesus said, "It is finished!" Then bowing His head, He gave up His spirit. What amazing weight and fullness is in those three words, "It is finished!" Finished for me, the vilest of the vile, whom You have privileged to stand, with dear Mary Magdalene, at the foot of Your cross, and listen to Your dear lips, which, even there, do drop as the honeycomb. If these sips in grace are so sweet, what will those draughts in glory be? Ah! when I have received the vinegar, I shall follow Him. Hasten on the happy day! Oh, bless all my loved ones with like sweets from Your bitter cup.
April 8th.—My precious Lord, I long for entrance today into the glories of Your resurrection by the power of the Spirit. Oh, come and show Yourself to me, as You did to Mary Magdalene. I seem to have gotten to Your feet for a moment, as my risen Lord, and You have sweetly repeated in my heart, that "where I am, there shall you be also;" above sin, the world, and death. But, dear Lord, I want a fuller revelation of Yourself, as it is written in John 16:1. Come, and do the same to me. On Friday You gave me a place with Mary Magdalene at Your cross, where, as chief sinners, we loved and wept to Your praise. Oh! now give me her privilege in the garden—to see You risen; and show me, as You did those other disciples, Your hands and Your feet; and let me hear You say, "Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself!"
May 6th.—I have been in the deep of soul-exercise and anguish, five days in this week—but have since enjoyed a Bethel visit, when meeting with two dear saints. It was a time long to be remembered. My soul's sins seemed to be lost in Jesus, and for some moments I enjoyed heaven beyond expression, in all the stillness of love. Oh! did dear saints speak more of Him, they would have more heart-warming seasons. My heart gladly sings, "Hosannah to the Son of David;" for though I go down to the deeps, His love is under all; and when I get above earth, self, and creatures, His love is above all, whether I apprehend it or not. Praise to my covenant God forever. My outward things are rough—but it brings my Beloved nearer, and that is more than all. Oh, that I could praise and honor Him more, and win His loved ones and mine to walk closer with their God, by abiding in Him. Oh, precious Christ, eclipse all earthly vanities, by revealing Yourself more fully!
May 13th.—I heard the sermon with a blessing this morning, from Hab. 3:18. The minister remarked, that where it says, in verse 17, "Though the fig-tree shall not blossom," it intimates, not only dearth at the present—but also a prospect of it for the future; for, if there is no blossom, there will be no fruit; yet would the prophet "rejoice in the God of his salvation." In this thought there is something solemn as well as sweet. When present trials are heavy, flesh would take shelter in hope. But when there is no blossom, and therefore no fruit, faith only can rejoice here. Jesus is the object of faith, and He is "the same yesterday, and today, and forever." "Though the fig tree does not blossom and there is no fruit on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will triumph in the Lord; I will rejoice in the God of my salvation! Yahweh my Lord is my strength; He makes my feet like those of a deer and enables me to walk on mountain heights!" Habakkuk 3:17-19
May 14th.—I have this day learned a lesson, never to do anything when feeling very impetuous. Then should we wait, and waiting is the work of faith, which is no easy matter at such a time. Dear Savior, seal home this lesson to my heart.
May 27th, Sacrament-day.—The past month has been a stormy one with me—but I have had great joy in the Lord. I think I shall never have much ease in the flesh, because I am so very covetous of the Lord's choice spiced wines—and they are chiefly found in trials and adversity.
July 6th.—Jubilee. My birthday. I had scarcely thought to see another—but hoped I was almost at home. Disease has made decided progress, and I have suffered much—but in the furnace of affliction many sins have been burnt off, and I certainly now walk more at large with my Lord. I am this day fifty years old, therefore it is the time of Jubilee; and surely, during some past months, a blessed return has been proclaimed in my soul. I had been suffering much for a year or two, from lack of that close sweet contemplation enjoyed before. In this affliction it has been restored—all glory to the Lord. Another peculiarity has been, that when very ill I saw such folly, extreme folly, in my anxious care about outward things, because the Lord knew He would soon take me home, and that little would do. Oh! I felt ashamed of my perplexities and lack of trust.
"I find myself a learner yet,
Unskillful, weak, and apt to slide."
I am much abased in my own eyes, and truly dependent on the Lord for faith and everything else. I have had a quick succession of trying events this year—but much spiced wine of my Lord's love. Oh! what cause I see to praise Him, for He has indeed done great things for unworthiest me; and yet I am desiring more. With thanksgiving I further seek enlargement into a glorious Christ, and abiding in Him by faith, that His fruits may more abundantly flow out in my life and conversation to His glory. Anew, my precious Lord, have I this day sought that all I have, and am, should be consecrated to You, and You much honored in all that shall befall me. Oh! guide me with Your eye, make Your way plain before my face. If I live, may I live unto the Lord; if I die, may I die unto the Lord; may Jesus be more revealed to me and through me; may His savor and perfumes be breathed to living souls. Oh, bless all my dear friends abundantly, and may we all be full of Him. Grant still more, a south land, and springs of water also. Amen, and amen. Ten thousand thanks for all Your matchless favors, in the sunshine and in the storm. I dare not look forward with the eye of sense—but would go forth by faith, with Jesus only. Lord, give the single eye. A poor, weak, lonely creature, leans all her weight on You—and shall be blessed and shall bless You, for You have blessed, and none shall reverse it.
July 8th.—Surely some of the silvery tones of the Jubilee trumpet are sounding in my soul, in which I discern liberty, return, rest. Oh! my precious Lord, thoroughly fulfill these in my experience while I sojourn below. In Lev. 25:13, it is said, "In the year of this Jubilee you shall return every man to his possession." I much enjoy this in connection with Numbers 18:20, where the Lord says, "I am your part and your inheritance among the children of Israel." This includes just the very thing I want, which is, fully to leave all trials and perplexities, and dwell in Christ as my possession and experience. Lev. 25:19: "And the land shall yield her fruit, and you shall eat your fill, and dwell therein in safety." I do not mean any outward improvement—but to dwell in Christ by faith, feeding upon His fruits, and to receive all outward things for His sake, seeking only His glory; and so to welcome them, whether pleasing or painful. This is walking uprightly in union-privilege. To have this fully, I humbly seek as my Jubilee, in connection with experience of Romans 6. Oh, my precious near Kinsman, You have redeemed me: and, in right of Your redemption, I seek these things. I, a poor, enthralled, sin-bound worm, could have had no Jubilee but for Your redemption. You have bought me with Your blood, I am Your land, and I must return unto You—love brings me. Oh, possess me fully in every power and faculty—dwell in Your poor land, and be its riches—dwell in Your poor garden, and be its fruitfulness, and then eat Your pleasant fruits. Oh, come, for it is Jubilee; and Your land cries unto You to come, that she may enjoy her Sabbath, and be refreshed by resting in You. And then also You, Your own self, are my Land, for we are married; "my Beloved is mine, and I am His." Oh, delight of delights! And You possessing me, I shall possess You; and this makes my heavenly Jubilee my foretaste of the fullness of joy.
July 24th.—The following portions, as heavenly manna with dew, have come into my soul today: "You are complete in Him," which was repeated in my heart when feeling the abominations there. And then Song 4:8, Look "from the lion's den, and from the mountains of the leopards" (our own corruptions), to Jesus to subdue! Then Psalm 110:3, these words, "Your people shall be willing in the day of Your power," willing "in the beauties of holiness." Here was the power at this time—Christ "the beauties of holiness;" even amidst all we feel within, He is our loveliness—and the Spirit does strengthen faith to be willing to glory in Him alone. This is a mystery, and a mighty triumph of faith—but not too hard for the Lord; and, moreover, faith is enabled to embrace Jesus as its victory over the very evils which the soul may be feeling and loathing. The "beauties of holiness." How that word has sparkled as a description of my Lord. "Will you go with this Christ?" Ah! willing, most willing, indeed, am I to leave all, and follow Him whithersoever He goes.
I had also much sweetness in Gen. 22, especially verse 8. Our Father has provided Himself a Lamb. He has looked into Himself for it. He spared not His own Son—His beloved Son: He delivered Him up to bear all that sin deserved. Here is the sufficient sacrifice for all the abominations which are my plague. Hence it is that my sins cannot damn me; the guilt of them has been atoned for; and, therefore, it is not presumption to have rich consolation in Christ, and to rejoice that I am complete in Him, even while feeling that in my flesh dwells every evil thing, and groaning under it, too. Adored and adorable Lord, seal Your lessons with power on my soul! Let my meditations of You be increasingly sweet! Make me glad in You, the Lord—the Lord my Righteousness.
July 25th.—I was much profited last evening in hearing a sermon from Psalm 119:75, "I know, O Lord, that your laws are righteous, and in faithfulness you have afflicted me." It was very simple—but many remarks were suitable for those in tribulation, and I have since had great profit from the text itself. It has been most searching in my soul. In my bodily affliction all seems right—but in those providential trials which have so continually come upon me, am I in them thoroughly reconciled to the Lord's will? Do I realize that it is all love? have I not often been kicking against the goads? Have I not at times thought it hard? Have I not listened to carnal reason instead of walking by faith? And thus this text has, by the blessed Spirit, searched me as with a candle. Oh! gracious Lord, bring me fully to the experience of it in all things.
This word has been sweet today, "I have refined you—but not with silver, I have chosen you in the furnace of affliction." Ah! indeed, I seem to see that I must not pray to come out of the furnace; I am not half broken and humbled. Do, dear Lord, bring Your glory, and my soul health, out of those things so bitter to the flesh. I render praise that I heard that text and sermon.
July 29th, Sacrament-day.—This morning I heard a sermon from Heb. 4:14, in which Isaiah 53:6 was quoted, and never did I see so much in the last half of it—"The Lord has laid upon Him the iniquity of us all." I seemed to realize the weight of sin and guilt so ponderous that none but Jehovah could have laid it upon the Surety, and none but such a Surety could have borne it! My soul was humbled and melted.
I did not enjoy the Communion as sometimes—but faith and love were stretching after a dear crucified Savior in all His solemn glories, where it is said, "His soul was made an offering for sin," by which "one offering He has perfected forever, those who are sanctified," whereof the Holy Spirit also is a witness to us. And also, "he who believes has the witness in himself," the Spirit bearing witness to our spirits that we are the children of God. That is a wonderful word, perfected by His one offering—may the Spirit seal it with instruction in my heart, that I may feed and grow thereby.
Oh, glorious King, come and sit at Your table: and, while faith is feeding upon You, my spikenard will send forth the fragrance thereof, which can be nothing else but the graces of the Spirit. Oh! do bid the north and south wind blow upon my soul, that the spices may flow out, and You may be regaled with Your own—for from You is all my fruit and spice found. I offer You warm thanks for all Your mercies during the past month; indeed You have not been a barren wilderness to me. Though in tribulation, You have been with me, and Your paths drop spiritual fatness upon the pastures of the wilderness. I praise You, and would praise You more, and rejoice that Your "mercy endures forever," and that Your will runs as a straight line through all the crooked things of this time-state. Oh! reveal Yourself to me in more fullness; let the shadows of temporal things shorten, and the substance of eternal things brighten and deepen in my soul; let me live above while I walk below. I am not refined—but refining: sustain me under the more fire that may be needful. Many clouds are around me—but this word is on my mind, "The way of the righteous shall be made plain." I can only be righteous in You, "the Lord MY RIGHTEOUSNESS."
I had a very sweet view of death while in God's house this morning. I saw that this mortal flesh is like a veil upon my spirit, and it was as if my Beloved said, "At death I shall only come to turn the veil aside, because I want to see you face to face." Oh! this was precious, for surely I do want to see Him face to face; and, if disease should remove the veil of this flesh with a rough hand, my dear Lord will sustain me, and one view of Him will swallow up all remembrance of self-suffering.
August 19th.—I was much blessed this morning under the word preached from Col. 3:1, "Risen with Christ." Oh! what volumes of blessedness are in it. I see it in that we are risen with Christ in three ways—virtually, vitally, and experimentally. The sermon was very strengthening. Oh! to live constantly in this privilege by the renewing of the Holy Spirit. Much glory beams on my soul in seeing how we are risen with Christ, which must be in His perfection and purity. This is the fact of the case, and it is establishing to search into and meditate on facts, and not be circumscribed merely within our feeling of them; though where faith realizes the former, the latter will not be predominantly at low tide.
I have been feasting on, "Where here is no law—there is no transgression." "We are dead to the law by the body of Christ;" hence He can say, "There is no spot in you," no transgression. "He has borne our sins in His own body on the tree." Law and justice took hold on Him, and therefore they let us go—they cannot hold both; as the sin He died, and as His members, we died with Him; and as we abide in Him do we enjoy the freedom, for "he that abides in Him sins not." This is the true Gospel way of having the power of sin broken. Oh! what glories do we inherit in union to the Lamb. We lose our own impurities, and are ever beheld, in the Divine eye—in His perfect holiness. Precious Beloved of my soul, bring me by the Spirit to live in You, walk in You, and never wander more.
August 26th, Sacrament-day.—How very wondrous did it appear to see the King of Glory crowned with the curse—showing, as one has said, that He has conquered it for His people. Oh! for more revelations of Christ crucified—this is the way to enjoy Christ glorified.
August 31st, Thursday.—Today I have enjoyed Him as the smitten Rock. I see how all grace-fullness was stored up in Him for His needy members. But He must be smitten, that they might honorably receive of it. Moses smote the rock—the law smote Christ, because His people had broken it; and thus streams of grace flow out to them, their conscience being smitten by the same law with conviction of sin, which makes them thirst for this suitable supply. The dear Savior says, "If any man thirsts, let Him come unto me and drink." Precious Jesus! You have refreshed me with this living water; keep me coming, keep me believing, for You have said, "He who comes to me shall never hunger; he who believes on me shall never thirst."
September 2nd, Sabbath.—I came home on Friday, and the dew of Divine blessing has richly rested in my soul since. Dearest Lord, You have been most kind to provide this little rivulet of love in such a dry and thirsty land.
September 7th.—Very refreshing gales from the everlasting hills have revived my soul this week, and cheered me on in the pilgrim way, drawing out my heart afresh in faith upon Jesus. For the two past nights, in the silent watches, my dear Lord has given instruction—the first night upon union with Himself, and last night showing most plainly that it is not feeling and knowing corruption is salvation—but knowing the Deliverer and deliverance by Him.
September 16th.—I have had a sweet meditation on the miracles of our Lord. I saw how in the first Adam every part and power were broken by the fall—and this is shown by the blind eyes, deaf ears, lame feet, withered hand, palsied limbs, maddened brain, leprous flesh, etc., which were brought to the second Adam; "and He healed them all," for He was in all senses the Restorer of the breach, and was manifested in flesh for this very purpose, to destroy the works of the devil. These diseases of the different parts of the body which He healed, seem to show what I feel spiritually—even so maimed and broken, that I cannot use this body for His service as I would; and I feel sweetly encouraged to bring each diseased part (every one is diseased) to Him, that, having quickened me from the dead, He would so dwell in me that my members shall be instruments of righteousness, and by His own healing power overcome the dry and barren land; that while sin dwells within, it may in no part reign over me. I feel that "without You I can do nothing!" I may, by the Spirit's enabling, come to Him by faith, and find also, "I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me." I have heard it said, that our dear Lord living so many years in seclusion, shows the hidden life of the believer. This is very sweet to me, and I see that those works which are manifest must, if they are worth anything, flow from that hidden life, and the power of God therein.
September 22nd.—A few mornings ago these words were sweetly opened in my soul—"The just shall live by faith;" and the subject has continually returned since, showing the Lord's way of working, in giving a promise and faith to receive and enjoy it—at times so fully, that the soul feels it to be almost like the possession of the blessing included in the promise, according to that word, "faith is the substance of things hoped for;" which substance is for the time so satisfactory, that no further trial is expected. Frequently, however, the Lord permits contrary winds to blow after this, which make the soul to stagger. In such seasons we can only "live by faith;" and, if the blessed Spirit keep faith in exercise, there will be a steady going on through these dark shades of death, saying, "I will fear no evil, for You are with me."
Usually, every child of promise has to be offered up in sacrifice at the word of the Lord, for these are deaths which the redeemed family are continually called to pass through, because, being "children of the resurrection," their blessings shall have a death put upon them, that flesh may be kept down, and they enjoy all, within and without, in resurrection power. Here the "just shall live by faith." The Lord is showing me how these things apply to my own providential matters, as regards the rejoicing confidence given me in the winter; and feeling the folly of anxious care, as noticed July 6th, and also the unlooked-for trials which have come since. I now see the latter are only to try the faith of the former; and the fears and tremblings I have at times felt, prove how much sense there was mixed therewith. Inasmuch as faith prevails, I do experimentally live in the trial, and look for resurrection life out of seeming death. "Lord, increase my faith." How plainly does each living soul discern His coming and going, that is, in manifestation.
On Tuesday I was much favored with the liberty of the Spirit. Yesterday more bound—but in the afternoon Judges 6:38, seemed powerful; and this morning the word in Exod. 16 has been sweetly fulfilled in my soul, about the dew, and the manna, etc. Oh! how full of instruction and refreshment has that chapter been. "Bless the Lord, O my soul."
September 30th, Sacrament-day.—A blessed month has passed away, "full with the blessing of the Lord." My heart would praise You. Oh! tune it, touch it, that there may be spiritual melody unto You. Much blessed in hearing this morning from John 17:24, "Father, I desire those You have given Me to be with Me where I am. Then they will see My glory, which You have given Me because You loved Me before the world’s foundation." What a glorious view I had of my precious Lord having finished perfectly the work of obedience unto sufferings and death, for through them He must enter into His glory. It seemed as if He had said, "I have finished Your work—now smite me. I have loved You, served You, never transgressed at any time Your commandment—now bruise me, and call for the sword of justice to awake against me." But why smite, if thus perfect in His work? It was for the sins of His bride. He had worked for her, and He would now suffer for her; for when He added, "Now, O Father, glorify me," etc., He knew that He stood as Surety for His Church, and that neither He nor she could be glorified until He had drained the fiery cup of indignation—and again said, "It is finished!"
He was perfect in His Person, and perfect in His work: thus He stood now before the Father, as a lamb without blemish, to be offered for the transgressors, and as a fatted calf, ready to be slain for the prodigals. My soul melted in this view of Him, and on Him by faith I sweetly fed. At the Lord's table, too, this afternoon, I was again refreshed with "living bread," which words were read, and seemed fuller than ever. A precious Christ is living manna, rained down from heaven for those who are written among the living in Jerusalem. His body was broken—but not His bones, which represent His members; these He preserved by yielding up Himself to the stroke—"If you seek me, let these go their way."
Precious Jesus! I would now thank You for every wound and every sorrow You endured; for "Your bloody sweat," caused by agony of soul. It was all in payment of my debt, all was atonement for my guilt. It was the dignity of Your Person, which made every stroke and stripe of worth indeed. My poor body is worn and weary—but I would gladly go on; for the Rock pours me out rivers of oil, and my happy soul longs still to pour it out, as I have been trying to do before, to one dear to You and me.
Oh, what will it be to see You face to face? If 'streams' are so sweet, what must the 'Fountain' be? I long to be there; until then, oh, do renew living faith in lively actings upon Your precious Person, and work continually by the operation of Your blessed Spirit. Use me for Your glory and for the profit of my loved ones. I am fit for nothing. But You are the Worker, and the fitness, in all things.
October 8th.—Praise! It is nine years today since my dearest mother was taken to the bosom of Jesus. I never felt so much longing to gird up the loins of my mind and look up, and look on—but not look back. This heart would swell, and this bosom would heave at times today. But then did I struggle towards my Savior, desiring to leave the dead for the living, sweetly feeling that in our living Redeemer we are still and forever one; and that to look at her, my loved one, with fleshly regrets, is to dishonor Him, and darken my own soul. To You I come, my glorious Beloved. Oh! take and use me for Your glory, and make my remaining 'inch of life' below show forth Your praise. I thank You for my revered parents, and for all blessings by them: I thank You they are safely housed—
"Far from this world of noise and sin,
With God eternally shut in."
October 28th, Sacrament-day.—I have the last three weeks had deep soul exercise, with many tears, about allowing my letters to be published in the "Gospel Magazine;" but, when covered with shame and grief before the Lord, He seemed to say, "For your shame you shall have double," and Exod. 2:3, 4, has come with power. When Moses could no longer be hidden, then his mother in faith laid him in an ark at the river's brink; it looked like giving him up to the Lord at a venture, and so I must do, hiding what He has done no longer. This word has come to me with power, "Go, borrow vessels of your neighbors, even empty vessels; borrow not a few;" also (though I do not know that it is Scripture), "like oil from vessel to vessel." Oh! it is most blessed to be under Divine teaching. Dear Lord, I wonder and adore. Oh! pardon the vilest of all Your children. If You will take just the fag end of my days, and honor Yourself therein, it will be another of Your wondrous stoops. Behold the handmaid of the Lord; "be it unto me according to Your word" and Your will. I am ashamed of the past, and my tears will often flow on reviewing it. I had a blessed season at the Lord's table: I went to sacrifice freely unto the Lord in the above matter. Oh! my precious Beloved, if this thing is of You, let the yoke of my timidity be destroyed by the anointing. Lay Your cause, truth, and people closer upon my heart, and, at whatever cost to my flesh, be honored through me. Oh! can it be? It can! "Nothing is too hard for the Lord."
November 26th, Sacrament-day, Morning.—Ebenezer! O my God, my soul has been cast down in me. But now You comfort me before any outward deliverance comes, and are filling me with Your hidden treasures of spiritual wine and oil, in Ezek. 44, where, O blessed Spirit, You do richly preach Christ unto me. Oh, how blessedly does that 27th verse show how we are to go to the Lord's table, even with Christ as our sin-offering; and especially how we who feel our own unholiness may come near to a holy God, and worship Him within the veil which has been rent in twain. The outward rite of this is fully shown in Lev. 16, and the spiritual secret in 2 Cor. 5:21, where we find our sin-offering, which God first found for us—which our High Priest has offered (Heb. 9:14, 7:27)—and which God has accepted. We who are thus made priests unto God are to bring the same offering by faith under the anointing of the eternal Spirit, and that, not only when we first believe and know that this precious Jesus was made sin for us individually—but also in all our after approaches to the mercy-seat. Now those who would come near to God, must do so with a true heart and a single eye to Christ (Heb. 10:22). There is no other way of approach. Then verse 26 of Ezek. 44 points to Christ again: "They shall eat the meat-offering and the sin-offering;" explained by "Take, eat, this is my body;" also, John 6:53, is another exercise of faith-feeding on Christ. But verse 28 is most blessed, alluding to the sin-offering: "It shall be unto them for an inheritance;" not a thing enjoyed and done with—but that which is to continue a blessing and benefit. Then follows, "I am their inheritance." How striking! for surely here shines out that He is our sin-offering, since both the sin-offering and Himself are our inheritance, and we, as His priests, are to have no other; also, Numb. 18:20. He gave to Abraham, in the promised land, none inheritance; no, not so much as to set his foot on. He dwelt there a stranger and sojourner, and yet he lacked no good thing—but had a goodly portion; for the Lord said unto him, "I am your shield, and your exceeding great reward." So, in all things here below, we too are but strangers and sojourners—but our Christ is our inheritance; and we find in Him all that a holy God requires—even precious blood without taint, and a sacrifice fat with perfect obedience to the law. "The fat and the blood are the Lord's" (Lev. 3:16, 17, and verse 15, of this 44th chapter)—but we partake with Him, for "He has made a feast of fat things full of marrow, and wines on the lees well refined," which is spoken of in John 6:55.
Our God has, indeed, "prepared of His goodness for the poor," and with Him we feed on His own chosen Lamb, in whom He is forever delighting. The 5th verse strikes me very solemnly. I look not at any of the literal meanings of the prophecy—but at those which are experimental. The entering in is by Christ, and the going forth is by self. Mark it well, O my soul, for indeed thus you have found it. When Christ is all, and your eye single, there is blessed entering into holy nearness with God. When self is set up, there is a going forth from that near approach. Verse 4 says, "the glory of the Lord filled the house." Christ is that glory, "whose house are we," and when our hearts are full of Him, and fixed on Him, then self falls, and our spirit worships in Christ, who is "the beauties of holiness" (verse 17, 18). Those who entered the inner court were to wear nothing that "causes sweat," as sweat was connected with the curse: "In the sweat of your brow you shall eat bread." But when Jesus took away the curse from His people, He sweat for them great drops of blood, that they might enter into rest by believing, and worship in quietness and peace, not in the warmth or effort of fleshly feeling and excitement. They must have on the fine linen, even "the righteousness of the saints," being clothed with His obedience, who is the "Lord our Righteousness."
December 3rd.—I had a rich feast yesterday in Lam. 3, where Christ did have the pre-eminence as the Prince of sufferers. On Friday evening those words were most powerful, as the language of Jesus (Lam. 1:12), and I saw how much His own children pass Him by—how much I pass Him by. O precious Lord, how can You bear with me so?
December 9th.—This morning Job 38:4 was opened to me. God asks, "Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? declare, if you have understanding." In Prov. 8, Jesus, under the name of Wisdom, says, "I am understanding;" and it is in Him we find the answer. The Church was in God from everlasting (Psalm 90:1). But she was left to fall from her creature perfection in the first Adam into the mire of actual transgression; yet has He devised means whereby His banished ones should not be expelled from Him (1 Sam. 14:14). The Church is of God; there is her Divine origin. But also in Christ Jesus (1 Cor. 1:30); for "the Father gave her to His Son, and Christ betrothed her for His own." Then comes Heb. 2:14. The elder Brother taking flesh and blood is the devised means to brink back the younger children—His banished, saying, "Return, you children of men" (but children of God also). Now we could not return where we never had been before. Here, therefore, is plainly shown that eternal truth (which I never could receive until God Himself revealed it in my soul)—eternal union as well as eternal choice. In the resurrection, this "purchased possession" shall awake from the dust, incorruptible, and return "to Zion with songs and everlasting joy." The first return is experimental, when quickened, or rather new born; and these privileges are opened by the Spirit as the new man grows. But the fuller, and more glorious return will be in the resurrection. Truly, the Lord fed my soul with the fatness of His spiritual house. I had been much awake in the night, and was earnestly longing to apprehend Jesus by faith, as the death of my old man, and the life of my new. "They shall not be ashamed which wait for me." Blessed are all those who by the Spirit wait for Him. That I should be one—oh, what a marvel! Grace, grace unto it.
December 23rd.—I have been much desiring the grace of the coming season (Christmas), to commemorate the incarnation of our Lord. He can make it as a lattice, through which He will show Himself to His believing people, and often has He done so to my soul. Never did I need it more than now. This very morning a trifle seized my fleshly mind, and stirred up its vanity and folly, by which my thoughts were for a time brought into captivity. How abominable and filthy is my natural heart, drinking down any iniquity or foolishness like water. Truly, raven-like it is, for it feeds upon corruption, which brings the Dove, or new nature, into true mourning. Thus am I now. Behold, I am vile. Woe is me, that such a mere feather weight of temptation, finding me off the watch, should carry me away into lightness of spirit, with vanity of mind, etc. My precious Savior, I fly to You by faith. Only You can give me rest and peace, by Your blood and in Your love.
Evening.—Let me remember the sweet sacred power with which the following thoughts have just melted my soul, while crying to the Lord for instruction in the way of wisdom, and for faith to apprehend afresh the atoning efficacy of the death of Jesus as regards my present feeling of sin. First, I was much arrested with Exodus 30:1-3, etc. The altar of incense, made of shittim wood and of gold, on which sweet spices were daily burned. Here my precious Jesus beamed upon me, to the reviving of my soul; and methinks I did by faith take hold of the horns of that altar while waiting for a word from the Lord with much desire. After that came to my mind, "The just [or justified] shall live by faith." "There is not a just man upon earth that does good and sins not." "He that abides in Him sins not." When the Spirit brings the sentence of justification into the conscience, through the blood and righteousness of the Surety, thenceforward the justified one lives in the blessedness and grace of justification before God. But we have experimental access and continuance in it by faith alone. There is not a justified person on earth who so constantly lives by faith as always to realize experimentally that he is, before God, as one that sins not, because of union to Him who was made sin for him, and bore it all away. "He who abides in Him sins not." It is not that he sins less, or sins unwillingly, or hates it while he does it. All this is true—but more also. In a law sense, he sins not. He is one to whom God will not impute sin, because his Surety has stood in his law place, and has had it all imputed to Him. This is a sinning not which will stand the strict scrutiny of a holy God, for it is the way of His own devising and accomplishing. So to live by faith, looking only to Jesus and His blood and righteousness, is blessed indeed!
Alas, however, deceitfulness comes in, and, by giving a side-look at self, we go down again into the ditch of our sin; for if we will, through legality, touch our own responsibility, we must fall and sink under the weight of our guilt. If we, in our own personality, say we have no sin, "we lie, and do not the truth;" for the mystery of iniquity is all within, and we shall feel it. It is only in union-privilege we sin not; the Husband standing, in law, responsible for the wife. It is not that she contracts no debts—but all is in His name; so it is as if He contracted them, and not His bride. Thus the law and the divine Lawgiver look at it. But, woe is me, I fail in faith, and turn to sense, and bow down under my sin. Yet rich have been those words to me: "If any man sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: who is the atoning sacrifice for our sins;" and afresh we do realize, that though sin works in us, yet we are "complete in Him;" which humbles and melts more than anything else, as my heart does this evening prove.
All my feeling of sin and shame this day has not softened my heart so much as a sense of non-condemnation through non-imputation. Words cannot express the rich healing grace that flows in. I wonder and adore, and long to live by faith to honor my glorious Lord, who has justified me from all things, and forever. The poor dove has got back to the ark, and the raven may starve. Never does the old man get so little food as when we are truly living and walking by the faith of the Son of God. O precious near Kinsman and Redeemer, You have taken my responsibilities and liabilities. Oh, give me faith to live in this blessed freedom—loathing sin, renouncing self, exalting Christ, "made wise unto salvation." All praise to a Triune Jehovah, from a chief sinner saved. Surely such a one should be a chief singer upon the stringed instrument of the new heart. "Unto Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood, be glory and dominion forever and ever.
December 24th, Christmas-eve.—Praise! Ebenezer! The well of Bethlehem opened.
"A debtor to mercy alone,
Of covenant mercy I sing."
Through a covenant Savior, yes, through His very heart and veins so precious, which were pierced that there might be an outflow of the living stream to the covenant family, and that we might know how deep was His love, who thought not such a cost too much for His bride the Church. And am I a covenant child? Am I one of that happy number? Can such a vile worm be of the Royal family? Even so—all praise to my covenant God!
I am alone in the house. But while at tea, my royal Lord came, to the joy of my heart, and over my lonely meal He caused me to sing with heart and voice, "Crown Him Lord of all," while joyful tears flowed in love and wonder at His great kindness to His "sparrow alone." Through free grace, I experience Isaiah 45:24, 25. How I am thinking of the shepherds and the angel's message: "Unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior—who is Christ" Jehovah. And now we can take up the song in nearer interest, "Unto us a child is born; unto us a Son is given." Oh! it is "an unspeakable gift," a precious gift. I feel it to be so, and long ardently that all my loved ones might share my full cup of joy and gladness. Precious, precious Jesus, visit them all, and then they will, they must, sing unto You, and will not condemn me for being too happy in You. O Father! do pour out Your Spirit more copiously upon Your redeemed, to raise them more above flesh and sense, that they may sit in heavenly places. Oh! that they sought it more, for You are a liberal Giver. Yet for all these things will I be inquired of by the house of Israel, says the Lord.
That was a blissful day when, in the stable, the Lord of glory came forth in the prepared body—an Infant of days, and yet the Father of eternity. Profound mystery! in contemplation of which I am happily lost—but find Him whom my soul loves, and in His praise would join that most wonderful concert, when a multitude of the heavenly host sang His entrance into the Church by the door; for He was the good Shepherd, and did not climb up some other way. And now He is to me an open door, a gate of praise, a way of life, my glorious all in all. "Glory to God in the highest."
December 25th, Christmas-day.—I had not thought to be yet in these lowlands. Last Christmas-day I seemed getting near home—but my disease has been rebuked; its progress is now slow; and I may still have long to wait in this leprous house. Dear Lord, let it be all to Your glory, and it shall be well. My cup of joy has not been so full today as last evening—but my fountain is still the same, and in Him I do rejoice. I welcome Him into my nature as "the branch of the Lord," beautiful and glorious. Now do I long for more unfolding of the glories of His Person. These words have been rich in my soul today: "You are complete in Him." There is a wonderful mine of tried gold in them, which just suits my poverty.
December 30th, Sacrament-day Morning.—What! Do you think that He will not come to the feast? Do come, precious Jesus, and meet me there, and renew my faith in lively actings upon Your Person and works, love, and blood, and righteousness. These are the green pastures of Your own providing. Oh! lead me afresh therein. May I journey today from Bethlehem to Gethsemane and Calvary, and find You in them all—the Man who has "stood in the gap" for me, in contrast with Ezek. 22:30, 31, and has borne on Your own holy devoted Person those vials of wrath which were justly my due. During the night-watches I had a solemn view of the exceeding vileness of my past life. I am sure I am the worst of all.
"My faith would lay her hand,
On that dear head of Yours"
as my "sin-offering," and there confess it all. Blessed Spirit, grant me solid soul-exercise this last Sabbath in another year. There cannot be a thorough faith-view of Jesus, and entrance into His finished work, if we fear to see the worst of ourselves which He is pleased to show us. The whole we can never know. But oh! what an abasing sight it is. I seem to myself a monster of iniquity.
December 31st, Monday Night.—An eventful year is just closing; for it heights and for its depths I have cause to praise the Lord. Oh, my heavenly Boaz, Your unworthy gleaner gives You praise for all Your covenant handfuls of spiritual favor—but most for Yourself, my boundless, endless treasure; my everlasting all. It was wonderful to let me into Your field; more so to invite me to Your meal. But most wonderful of all to take me for Your own, and give Yourself to me in everlasting bonds. Oh! that I could praise You. Time cannot attain to suitable strains; and oh! eternity will be too short to utter the half of what You are worthy to receive. Renew faith in lively actings upon Yourself—then will You be more known, more loved and honored. Ebenezer!
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