The Letters of Ruth Bryan, 1805-1860

Warnings to an unconverted friend

"But one thing is needful."

To Mr. J. A., January 19, 1856.
Dear sir,
I must thank you for your very kind reply to my note. When I wrote, I had not the slightest thought you would answer it; and your letter, therefore, was doubly welcome. The candor and honesty of its contents much delight me; while at the same time I truly mourn over your present state of soul. Yet I do not sorrow without hope; for I humbly trust the Lord has a purpose of saving mercy towards you, and that before long He will make you "see" and "feel" those things which, at present, you say you only hear of. I beg to say that what you hear is "true report;" and it is solemn to remember that the things of eternity are stern realities--and will be proved to be so whether you now realize it or not. The "broad road" will "lead to destruction," however carelessly people may walk therein. The threatenings of God's Word against sin will be executed, however indifferently people may hear or read of them. It will not stand as an excuse before Him to say, "I did not feel the force of the threatenings, or did not see any evil in my pursuits." What God has declared to be evil is so; and those who do such things will be judged by Him as evil-doers, just as His Word declares, "He will render to every man according to his deeds." Now the pleasures of the world are not only empty and unsatisfactory—but they destroy the soul and displease God, as the Scriptures declare; and all who persist in them are His enemies, as we read, "The friendship of the world is enmity with God; whoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God." They are called "lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God." What a true description!

You say that before anyone can give up the fascinations of the world he must have a dread of the consequences, and that to this point you are not yet come. But I would now bring before you the certainty of those consequences, even if they are not believed or dreaded. They do not hinge upon the perception or feeling of the creature—but upon the truth of Him who has said, "The end of those things is death." This is a real matter of fact; and, however unfelt, the truth of it will follow you into every party of pleasure, yes, into every one of those streams which are truly called, "The pleasures of sin;" for "whatever a man sows that shall he also reap."

You will perhaps think me harsh—but "faithful are the wounds of a friend." These things are so; I see them, and see your danger, and cannot but say—"Stop and think--before you further go!" And would ask with the prophet, "Lord, I pray you, open (the young man's) eyes that he may see."

But perhaps you will say, "I have no other sources of pleasure; would you have me quite miserable?" O beloved, there is not a blood-redeemed sinner before the throne but was miserable once; and I well remember a time in my early days when I was miserable too. I could not enjoy the world as some I knew seemed to do; there was something lacking. I could not enjoy religion and the things of God as believers did. I felt unlike everybody else, and as if I never would find happiness either in the world or in the church. But though I knew it not, the Lord's hand was in it; and He drew me by a strange way, until at last He brought me to the foot of the cross, to find true peace and happiness in the love of a bleeding Savior. I should not, therefore, be sorry for you to lose your present poor pleasures, and feel "an aching void;" for in my Savior's heart there is yet room, and He can fill it all. I find His love so precious that I long for others to enjoy it, and cannot help saying, "Oh taste and see that the Lord is good!"

I am delighted that you do seek, if it is only sometimes, and ever so feebly. May the Holy Spirit enable you to pray more earnestly and seek more diligently; it will not be in vain. You little know what are the joys of His salvation. It is well worth being miserable half one's life to attain such substantial enjoyments which are forever!

I have been sorry to hear that you are out of health; and yet a hope sprang up in my heart that the Lord might thereby speak to your soul with power, saying, "Seek my face." He called Samuel many times before he knew whose voice it was; and He will make you "willing in the day of His power."

I fear you will think I am taking too much advantage of your kindness by writing again; but I could not let your note remain without a reply, because I am affectionately watching for your soul. The Lord bless you.

With much interest, I am yours very sincerely,
Ruth Bryan