The Letters of Ruth Bryan, 1805-1860

Counsels to hearken to the voice of the good Shepherd alone

To Mrs. H., February 20, 1850.
My loved one in our beloved, and for His precious sake,
In His own sweet love I salute you in spirit, and in our oneness in Him desire to commune of Him, joyfully forgetting ourselves and each other, that He alone may be remembered. May He be the glow between us, His living love being the fire of our fervor. Truly we want no false fire of the flesh, for all such will go out in utter darkness; we want no sparks of our own kindling, for He says of such, "This shall you have at my hand, you shall lie down in sorrow." God himself has kindled his own fire of love in our souls, and in the renewings of it by His Spirit we flow out to each other in His praise. Oh, blessed privilege, not to know or be known after the flesh—but "all for the lifting of Jesus on high," that He may increase and we decrease!

Very sweet is the flow of your love-strain, my dear Amelia. It is sweet for His sake who is to His bride what no earthly language can ever fully express; for when we have said all we can, the fullest and sweetest remains untold. Each bosom must know for itself the secrets of love, or they are not known at all; and where really enjoyed, they will flow from soul to soul in something more powerful than words. I feel it, beloved friend, it is inexpressible—one life, one love, one Beloved, one blissful eternity, in which we shall know as we are known, and see as we are seen. What, what shall I render that I, so unworthy, should be the object of such love? "If a man would give all the substance of his house for love, it would utterly be scorned." (Cant. 8:6) Oh, it comes free, or I had never known it; and most freely, without creature effort, does it flow back to its source and flow out to those kindred souls who are enkindled by its sacred fire. Truly I am formed by love, for love. To the God of love, who is love, be all the praise! "This people have I formed for myself, they shall show forth my praise."

O our precious Christ, surely we will welcome the fiery coals of Your jealousy, the vehement flame of which shall burn out from our hearts every name, every image—but Your own, for only then can our inner man be satisfied, "when we awake up in Your likeness." Oh, then, set us "as a seal upon Your heart, as a seal upon Your arm" forever.

It seems the will of our Father that you and I, dear Amelia, should walk for a season in much circumstantial contrariety, and perhaps just as we seem ready to cast the anchor or touch the shore, we are unexpectedly sent out again into a fresh storm. So it has been with me—but all is well. There is no perishing with Christ on board; "the winds and waves obey Him," and the storm blows up or blows over, precisely according to His loving will. This morning our family reading was Matt. 12, and at verse 20 my soul melted, and your spirit seemed blended in its softness and its triumph. Yes, it seemed for you: "A bruised reed shall He not break, and smoking flax shall He not quench, until He send forth judgment unto victory." "Judgment unto victory,"—it needs no comment; I could say much—but words will only impoverish. I cast this bread upon the waters of your soul and of your circumstances; if you are fed by it in all its fullness, it will not only invigorate now—but be found after many days. May He who kindled the flame of our friendship be pleased constantly to take off all that is of the creature, that it may burn free and bright to His glory alone, and that we may live in each other's hearts without leaving any the less room for Him "who fills all in all." O holy, lovely Savior, keep Your poorest, vilest worm in her true nothingness, in all her and Your beloved ones, and just make her only help them to love You more. Take this loving Amelia and consecrate the union of our hearts, in oneness with You, to Your especial service and Your glory; ever keep us clear of each other—ah, and of all others—that communion may be free and blissful in You, of You, with You, and for You. Amen.

Now, my beloved friend, one word more. The work of grace in my soul never would be systemized, and never could I square it to any model which creatures have presented, even the very best of them. I have had just to give up all into the forming hands of my Beloved, and be willing to be what I call a "nondescript." I am too high for some, and too low for others, and exactly like none, except as we both are in Christ. I do not say it will be thus with you—but, if it should, you will not be alone; and I must say it is truly glorious to go on with Jesus only. Many would cut us off and cast us out—but He says, "Because I live, you shall live also." Though now hidden in the deshabille of this mortal state, yet when "He who is our life shall appear, then shall we also appear with Him in glory." And though not understood by many of our "mother's children," yet do we rejoice to be naked and open to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do. As for our leading in experience, when we try to keep in any line chalked out to us by others, we only get bewilderment; for one builds up, and another pulls down, and the confusion becomes more confused. So, at least, I have found.

My first real establishing, after years of tossing, came exactly as Gal. 1:12--"For I did not receive it from a human source and I was not taught it, but it came by a revelation from Jesus Christ." And I believe that in the same way only will the teaching go on. I speak not to bring you into my line of things—but just to encourage your heart, if your teaching seem not fully to conform to that of any of your fellows. It is vain to pare off or piece on, to please those we most esteem; each stone has its place in the spiritual buildings, and each member its office in the body; the preparation for which, is best understood by Him who works all things after the counsel of His own will. We need not fear, if He only knows what He is doing with us, and what is to be the outcome—but love will still confide.

And now, my dear friend, methinks I have lost both you and myself in the absorbing glories of Him who is the only "altogether lovely." Ah, He has borne away my poor heart in triumph—but He has left His own in its place. Happy exchange! Heartless for earth I would henceforth remain that I may be heart-full of Him. Whatever wise ones or great ones prescribe, be it mine to live in sweet simplicity in the element of love, which truly is most congenial to my soul. Here I breathe freely, live joyfully, and not only take every cup from my Beloved's own hand—but drink it for His own sake, not because of what is or is not in it. Now, a warm adieu from the truest worm, who has, by divine light, life, and power, been made a living monument of sovereign, saving grace.

In the endearment of undecaying love, your most unworthy—but warmly affectionate,