The Letters of Ruth Bryan, 1805-1860

A New Year's greeting

To E. M., January, 1859.
My beloved friend,
I wonder if you got a new-year's portion yesterday. Last night, while seeking Jesus, these words came to my mind with sweetness: "The soul of the diligent shall be made fat." (Proverbs 13:4) Therefore I conclude they are to be my motto for the new year. I feel them to be very reproving to my sluggish heart; but there is such sweetness in the mouth of our Beloved, that even a reproof from His dear lips falls like a honey-drop into the soul. Oh may the blessed Spirit inspire us with true spiritual diligence which brings us to more than wishes and desires; for we may possess 'wishes and desires' and be slothful still. "The soul of the sluggard desires and has nothing." "Diligent hands will rule--but laziness ends in slave labor"--under slavery to the world and the flesh, instead of in the liberty of the Spirit. Gracious Lord, do make us diligent, and keep us so by the renewings of the Holy Spirit.

But my main object in writing was to give you a word which melted my heart on Friday night, from Isaiah 50, a favorite chapter of mine, and in reading which our precious Lord showed Himself lovingly through the following verse: "I offered my back to those who beat me, my cheeks to those who pulled out my beard; I did not hide my face from mocking and spitting!" No, He would hide us--by not hiding Himself. He would be smitten, that by His stripes we might be healed. Our living balm-tree would have the fearful incisions in His own flesh, that His balsamic virtues might flow out to our diseased souls. Our well of Bethlehem was opened on Calvary. There may we poor sinners be gathered today, and clustering round His cross, drink freely of the best wine, drink away our sloth, and drink until we are wide awake in holy diligence, seeking for more of the living stream, and so feeding upon Him experimentally, live by Him. (John 6:56, 57) Oh that holy, loving face, not hidden from such indignities for our sakes! I wonder and adore!

May your meditation of Him be sweet, and may He bring His prisoner the bread and the wine.

Your warmly-affectionate,