The Letters of Ruth Bryan, 1805-1860

Submission to the ways of God

To Miss M., June 12, 1851.
My beloved afflicted one,
There will be no true peace in your bosom until you are reconciled in the submission of faith to the Lord's righteous and providential dealings. (1 Samuel 3:18; Job 2:10) "It is hard for you to kick against the goads," as your wounded soul and bleeding heart evince. Oh, judge not Him who is infinite in wisdom, all His ways are judgment, a God of truth and without iniquity; just and right is He. It is presumption in vain man so to do. Seek reconciliation to His will and His way; and though He blights your choicest flower and withers your most cherished gourd, say, say, my beloved--do you well to be angry? Does it alter anything? Does it alleviate anything? Nay, verily—but it brings death in your feelings and darkness in your soul; and if there were a beam of hope arising it is thus beclouded again. The enemy knows this, and therefore he provokes you to murmur against the God of your mercies. "The Lord rebuke you, O Satan--is not this a brand plucked out of the fire?"

Oh, my dear friend, "give no place to the devil!" "Whom resist steadfast in the faith." "Resist the devil, and he will flee from you." "Taking the shield of faith, with which you shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one". He works upon your weak frame, enfeebled mind, and painful circumstances; and from or by these leads you to draw wrong conclusions and unjust inferences, and thus tighten the cords of your bondage. But oh, fly for refuge to the hope set before you in the gospel; fly to the shadow of the Cross, the shelter of the Rock! There is pardon for the guiltiest, cleansing for the filthiest, safety for the weakest, and conquest for the most faint-hearted. "Not by might, nor by power—but by my Spirit, says the Lord of hosts." "For when I am weak, then am I strong," said a captain in Emmanuel's army, who, like you, wanted the thorn to be taken out of the flesh; but his King knew better, the proud flesh needed the piercing thorn, and the buffeted soldier was brought to say, "Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me." See what the grace of God can do, and presume not to think your case is beyond its power, while the same witness declares, "Where sin abounded, grace did much more abound." It abounds "to pardon crimson sins," to break the rebellious will, to stop the murmuring tongue, and take the guilt away; and He who has all fullness of grace received gifts for the rebellious also, that the Lord God might dwell among them.

My heart sympathizes with you in your afflictive bereavement. There is a veil of mystery thrown over some of the Lord's proceedings, and over the destinies of some we love. If we attempt to lift the veil, we add grief to our sorrow, and get sharp rebukes; for "secret things belong unto the Lord our God," and "He gives no account of any of His matters." Seek for absorption in His will. He sees not as man sees—but always judges righteous judgment. When the enemy comes into your soul like a flood, with temptations and insinuations, may the Spirit of God lift up a standard against him. And I must again repeat that striking word, "Give no place to the devil." Parley not, listen not; for, O my beloved, he is insulting your best Friend, your pardoning, long-suffering God, who has borne with your rebellion in the wilderness, and who still forbears; to whom still belong forgiveness, though you have so rebelled against Him. True, He has, in the exercise of His royal prerogative of sovereignty, permitted that which confounds your reason and pierces your heart—but presume not to think Him "cruel." Wait the light of eternity, when you will see clearly that He has dealt unjustly with none. And surely, my dear one, He has not been cruel to you, for you are in the land of hope, and your trembling lips can yet cry, "God be merciful to me a sinner." Oh, may mercy dissolve that wounded heart into thankfulness and love! Truly, my soul is grieved for you, well knowing the dark, cold region you are cheerlessly traversing. Oh that the good Shepherd would take you to "the sunny side of the hill," that in His light you might look more at your mercies and less at your miseries!

How should I rejoice to know that you were feeling it—
"Tis sweet to lie passive in His arms,
 And know no will but His."

Your natural hopes and prospects are a wreck; but how short would have been your enjoyment, if they had had the brightest accomplishment! Our life is but a vapor, and all that concerns us is shadowy and fleeting. The brightness might have beguiled you, the shadow deceived you; and your heart have centered its delights in creature good, instead of being set "on things above." Then cease regrets, my beloved, for that which is not. Remember Lot's wife; she looked back, and went forward no more. Oh, may a gracious God, by the power of His Spirit, say to your distracting reminiscences and forebodings, "Peace, be still," that there may be a great calm, and your soul be "quieted as a weaned child." You have long been as a weaning one—fractious and fretful. Forgive me; I do not speak unkindly, my heart is pained for you; but I see where you suffer loss, and your cruel foe is gaining great advantage, and love makes me speak. I myself am of a thoughtful, anxious mind, and the Lord has rebuked me sharply, and made me feel what a puny being I am. I cannot make one hair white or black, or by one corroding care avert what I most dread, or insure what I most desire. Why then waste time and energies in these fruitless and weakening anxieties which alter nothing? Moreover, my Divine Teacher shows me the blessedness of committing all to Him, (Psalm 37:5) and being still; and then He often does wondrously, while we look wondering on. I am very slow to learn, and slower to practice—but I see the privilege of the lesson, and have felt a little of it in sharp trial, and I want you also to have the benefit of the instruction; and may the Lord bless you, and give you understanding in all things.

I have been staying at Great Malvern, in Worcestershire. I wonder if you know it? It is a beautiful place, very romantic; the air peculiarly pure and renovating; the water possessing excellent qualities, and flowing from many springs; the hills very majestic, and the valleys as lovely--all fresh and fertile, in the beauties of spring; and the sweet love of Jesus enlivening the whole. Oh for deep-felt gratitude for preservation in traveling, the privilege of beholding the beautiful creation, and many other mercies!

"I bless His name for lower things,
 But they are not my God."

And now, farewell. May the Holy Spirit work in your heart the work of faith with power!

To know which, would much rejoice your very affectionate,