Gleanings from the Inner
Life of Ruth Bryan
I am going to aim at keeping a kind of DIARY, to write
down my feelings, thoughts, and the occurrences of the days as they pass
away, in hopes of finding it beneficial. May the Lord grant His blessing!
Sunday, September 1st, 1822.—Attended
the seven o'clock prayer-meeting this morning for the first time. The
affectionate prayers which were offered up for my dearest father affected
me. May they be answered! Seem to have some feeling about Divine things;
but, alas! this afternoon am as stupid as usual. Nothing, nothing will break
this hard heart. The services of another Sabbath are over; how have my
privileges been abused! I feel this evening I cannot tell how; I know not
which way to turn. Oh, that I may be directed by the Spirit of truth to the
right way of happiness!
Monday, 2nd.—Have spent this afternoon at a friend's.
Alas! alas! I have still to mourn my insensibility to serious things;
indeed, I seem not to have any desire.
[Reader, this may appear a strange expression from a
quickened, living soul; but have you known nothing of having been brought so
low, under the power of unbelief, and the entanglements of worldliness,
carnality, and sin, as to be brought to halt—to hesitate—to doubt, and, in
your inner heart to sigh for even a desire after spiritual
manifestations, and such tokens of mercy as you had once hoped were yours?
Was not the prophet here when he said, "My strength and my hope is perished
from the Lord!"]
I fear that I am not affected as I ought, and have only a
faint desire to become a Christian; and that merely to escape hell. Lord,
have mercy upon me! Lead aright; break this hard, hard heart! You, Lord,
know what I would have, even the forgiveness of my sins. During service was
as cold as a stone. Oh, when will this vile heart be melted and subdued by
Tuesday, 3rd.—Have been more light and trifling than
usual today. I not only indulged a worldly spirit, but encouraged and
courted it. How have I to lament every day my sinfulness. I am afraid I have
been in some measure trusting to what I hoped to do; but the more I strive
to do something acceptable, the shorter I come. I know the right way, but
find it hard to depend only on Christ, and to exercise faith. I have no
faith, no humility, no sense of sin, no confidence in the promises, no fear
of the threatened punishments; nor anything that I ought to have. Oh, what a
This evening heard a sermon from John 2:11; but, alas!
felt next to nothing. O Lord, break this heart into ten thousand pieces! Oh!
I would sooner suffer all horrors and terrors imaginable, and be saved at
last, than be in my present dreadful and stupid state. Break—break, oh,
break my heart, and make me give it entirely to You, O blessed Savior!
Wednesday, 4th.—This evening have been to a friend's.
No profitable conversation, nor did I wish for any; but joined in the
nonsense, and seemed almost to forget I had a soul. What shall we say to
these things? Every night I have to look back upon a day spent in folly
and sin. Alas! I fear, and with too much reason, that I never felt the
plague of my own heart. Oh, for all the sorrows imaginable, sooner than
indulge in such wickedness! Lord, forgive, and rouse me from this worse than
death. Oh, what a hypocrite I am!
Friday, 6th.—Went with Miss B— this morning for a
walk. Enjoyed it very much. She seems to think there is good hope even for
me. Surely I have not deceived her. I think I told her all I felt; but hope
and encouragement seem almost impossible. I have been informed by one of my
companions that Miss B— has with pain observed in me a spirit of
censoriousness and sneering. I sneer! the last person in the world
who ought to do it, feeling so guilty myself. I am afraid I did not receive
the reproof in a proper spirit; but felt hurt, as it came from those younger
than myself. Lord, subdue the abominable spirit of pride which I feel,
and enable me to overcome the censorious looks which are observed in me!
Sunday, 8th, Evening.—I have enjoyed or
understood a little of what has been delivered today; but now it seems to
have gone from me, and I am the same stupid creature again. Oh, how long
shall I groan under this worse than Egyptian bondage? Oh, that I may be
enabled to look to Christ for deliverance, and to wait patiently His good
Tuesday, 10th.—The day has passed as usual; we have
little variation, and my feelings vary almost as little. I am generally as
cold and dead as the stones in the street. This evening heard a sermon from
Psalm 50:13. Felt a little encouragement to hope that I should some time be
delivered from my burden of sin; but then, when I thought of feeling what
was said, and looking upon myself as a sinner, it came into my mind, "Oh,
you hypocrite! you whited sepulcher!" From whence it proceeded I know not.
Saturday, 21st.—I have this day been rather more
still than I am sometimes; but must take shame and confusion of face to
myself for all the events thereof. O Lord, make me humble, and allow me not
to depend upon anything it is in my power to perform. Oh, keep me humble!
keep me from self-deception! begin the good work, if it is not yet begun.
Oh, may I not be a castaway! Break, break this stony heart! How long, Lord,
how long? Make me feel. Oh, leave me not to this insensibility! What
argument can I use? Oh, leave, leave me not! Allow me not to perish! Mercy,
mercy is all my plea; for Christ's sake, have mercy on me! Oh, precious,
precious Christ Jesus! be my Savior, Husband, Friend—my Jesus, and my
all. Jesus! Jesus! Oh, that You were precious to my soul!
[To a mere novice in Divine things, or speculators in
religion, these heart-exercises would appear strange and anomalous; but by
such as have been brought into the school of Christ, and are set by the
Divine Teacher to the study of the human heart, the struggles—the
contention—the warfare between flesh and spirit—that which is from beneath,
and that which is from above—will be perfectly and practically understood.]
October 25th—My dear father has been severely
exercised with pain; for five hours he endured such agony as he never felt
before. My distress during that period was such as I cannot express. The
fear that I should soon lose such a dear parent, and the misery of hearing
his groans without being able to afford relief, exceeds all I ever felt;
but, thanks be to the Lord! my father is fast recovering. Here is cause for
a fresh Ebenezer. Oh, I can never be sufficiently thankful! O Lord, grant
that both my dear parents may be spared many years, unworthy as I am of
October 31st.—Have just returned from a
prayer-meeting. My dear father gave us a sweet address from the words, "I
know it shall be well with those who fear the Lord;" but, alas! it was not
for me—I cannot say that I fear the Lord in the manner described.
Everything I hear seems to add to my distress; to hear of the high
privileges of true believers, to long to enjoy, and yet to be left almost
without hope, is trouble. What shall I do? The door of mercy seems eternally
closed against my petitions. I am ready to give up all for lost; but, Lord,
make me pray! never let me neglect the means. Oh, sometimes I feel as though
I never should give up crying for mercy. I think, if I am cast into hell, I
will still cry to Jesus for mercy. Oh, that the Lord would appear for my
relief! How long will You hide Your face from me?
November 1st.—Alas! this has been another day of sin.
I have given up writing in this book for some time, until this week, for
fear it should be pride; but my father says it is a temptation; but I
write sin, sin, all sin, nothing but sin. Lord, have
mercy! A week ago, my ever dear father suffered unutterable anguish; I
cannot be thankful enough to the Lord for restoring him. I have to engage in
prayer tonight;* may the Lord help me! but, alas! I tremble.
* Her Friday-evening meetings (of which she often speaks
in the course of her Diary) were commenced with one or two Christian
friends, at or about this time; and were continued until within a few days
of her death.
December 22nd, Sunday.—For the last month, or
more, my feelings have been tried indeed. My dear father has been, and still
continues under severe affliction. This is the fourth Sabbath he has been
confined from his usual labors, but he has enjoyed sweet peace under his
sufferings—no fear of death—but he has been enabled to bow to the will of
his heavenly Father. He said to me one day, "I care not what pain I suffer,
or what affliction, if I could but preach;" the tears came into his
eyes, and he was much affected. He longs again to be among his little flock,
and to preach to them Christ crucified. May the Lord, if it be His blessed
will, soon restore him! But, alas! how stupid and dead have I been under
this affliction; my natural feelings have been keen, but, as to spiritual
things, I remain unimpressed and cold. Lord, rouse my stupid
affections!—leave me not to myself! but take some means to rescue me from
that destruction to which I am rushing with impetuosity!