The Letters of Ruth Bryan, 1805-1860

Christ is all!

To E. M. December, 1850.

My very dear,
I cannot but again inquire--Is it still well with you? Has Israel's God proved faithful in your time of need? Have you had 'strength as your day' and can you now say, "It is good for me that I have been afflicted?" The cloud of affliction or trial often looks very dark at first. "Men see not the bright light which is in the cloud, but the wind passes and CLEANSES them." (Job 37:21.) The Holy Spirit by His Divine exercising, comes with the affliction, and then is discovered some light of instruction, and the dark cloud is found to be full of mercy, and "breaks with blessings on our head." Earnestly do I hope this is the case with yourself and your husband. I desire mercies of the God of heaven for you my beloved, that when you come to the tribulated waters they may either divide, that you may go over dryshod; or, if they overflow, that their depths may only prove to you the deeps of God's mercy, faithfulness, and love. May you feel the Rock firm beneath while the billows roll over your head; and may you be brought up again with a new song of praise, even "salvation is of the Lord."

Our God is a refuge for us. Our Rock will stand the storm. Our Guide may be safely trusted, though we see neither sun nor stars for many days. He sees us when we can see nothing but gloom, and cannot see Him at all—when we have not one glimpse of the King in His beauty. He hears us when we cannot hear Him--when He seems to answer us never a word; but many an answer of peace is prepared, while the poor petitioner is long allowed to go on pleading in sackcloth and ashes. (Dan. 9:3, 23.) Our God is wonderful in His way of working; and, for myself, I must confess that He generally deals very contrary to my expectations. Yet "He does all things well." It is

"Sweet to lie passive in His hands,
 And know no will but His."

I have proved my own strength to be complete weakness, my own wisdom consummate folly, and my own righteousness filthy rags. What a mercy, then, to be stripped of all, and have Christ for wisdom, Christ for righteousness, Christ for strength, Christ for purity, Christ for power, Christ for beauty, Christ for holiness, Christ for acceptance above, Christ for our daily walk, Christ for our daily work, Christ for rest, Christ for food, Christ for medicine; yes, to know nothing among men or before God--but Jesus crucified and glorified!

But, say you, I cannot be so free with Christ, I dare not claim Him for everything. Perhaps not, and we read that Ruth felt no claim upon the mighty man of wealth when she fell at his feet to thank him for a few handfuls of corn, (Ruth 2:10) and a morsel at meal-time. But there was the secret of relationship behind, and she afterwards found a claim and made it, nor did she do so in vain; for she obtained not only her hands full and her veil full, but also the Lord of the Harvest Himself! I trust before long you will be thus led on by the Spirit from gleaning ears of mercy and pardon, to say, "Spread your skirt over me--for you are my near kinsman." He will then acknowledge relationship, and give you that freedom of love which may now appear almost presumptuous, though indeed it is not so. Where Christ is thus revealed in the soul in His fullness, He is to be to us instead of ourselves--and all besides. As Rutherford says, "Not myself but Christ, not my ease but Christ, not my honor but Christ." Oh! blessed are those who can deny themselves, and put Christ in the room of themselves. Ah, indeed! this is the true starvation of the flesh, and the true strengthening of that inner man--the life of which is Christ.

Well-beloved friend, if you have not yet full possession, I hope you are Christ-hungry and Christ-thirsty; then I am sure you will not die for lack--for such are blessed and shall be filled. Take encouragement. May the Lord give it, and make your soul as a watered garden, for He shall come down as the rain, as showers which water the earth.

All this is from one who has had an exchange of hearts with Jesus, and therefore he is the never-tiring theme! That He should be my constant subject needs no apology--but only that He is not more worthily spoken of. Ah, indeed! of all words and comparisons, we may say—

"All are too base to speak His worth,
 To set Immanuel's glories forth!"

To His loving heart and powerful arm I again commend you for all your needs; and may you both receive of His fullness, and grace for grace.

Yours affectionately,