The Letters of Ruth Bryan, 1805-1860

Jesus the Brother born for adversity

To Miss M., December 7, 1853.
My beloved friend,
I was pleased to receive a few lines from you, though you do not say much about yourself, and I fear from some remarks that your health is not materially improving.

From the views you sent me, I should think the place of your residence very lovely—but well know that no beauties of creation can satisfy a soul breathing after Jesus, who is the peerless Pearl, the matchless perfection of beauty and love. Every lovely feature in creation is but to shadow Him forth, and every sweet endearment in relationship just the same; all that is lovely and loving He comprises in Himself as He stands related to His Church. It is for her He is Emmanuel, and to her, as such, the chief among ten thousand, yes, the altogether lovely One! He stoops so low that she can lean upon Him in these lowlands of sorrow and sin, and He is so exalted that He can bear her up in spirit even above all heavens where Himself is ascended. He is so condescending that He communes with her in her pilgrimage dress, though all dusty and disordered with the weary way. He is so princely in His love that He has provided for her a court-dress, with all the accompaniments suited to His own dignity. Moreover, the beauty she now faintly sees, and will one day fully see, in Him--the same beauty He will yet see in her, for when He shall appear we shall be like Him. And if now she feels too full of sorrow, and grief, and sin, to look so high--she may behold Him "in another form," even in "the likeness of sinful flesh," "a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief," in temptation, in poverty, in reproach. She may behold Him even not having a place where to lay His precious head. She may see Him weep, hear Him sigh, and hear Him groan, if she would know whether He can sympathize with her.

Yes, further, in the days of felt evil, when the iniquity of her life does compass her about, she may hear how He was touched with the very feeling of her infirmity in those memorable words, "Innumerable evils have compassed me about: my iniquities have taken hold upon me, so that I am not able to look up; they are more than the hairs of my head: therefore my heart fails me." But, you will say, He was holy and did no sin, neither was deceit found in His mouth. Ah, true; but it was her sin that took hold upon Him—that very iniquity which is now pressing her down, it pressed Him until His precious blood was forced through His pores with agony intense. Here then is a companion in tribulation! On this Beloved the feeblest, faintest, vilest may venture to lean and to come up from the wilderness. His arm is power, His heart is love and tenderness. It has been a bruised, broken heart; it has felt the shafts of hell, the flames of wrath, and the bitter anguish of desertion amidst it all.

Look, O tempted, sin-burdened one! Look and love, adore and wonder, for there has been sorrow like unto your sorrow, and heavier too, and from the very same cause. Your Lord is so one with you that He calls your iniquities His own, and He was dealt with as if He were the transgressor. He was not a sinner—but He was made to be sin that you might be made the righteousness of God in Him. Though a sinner in yourself or in the first Adam nature, He took all your guilt with Him to the Cross. Go there and learn that God will by no means clear the guilty. Your Surety was accounted guilty for your sake, and therefore you are viewed as guiltless; and that same God who showed Him no mercy; is to you merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth. All praise to a sin-bearing Savior—a sin-pardoning God, who can honorably blot out atoned iniquity with atoning blood. May the Spirit give application, and then your heart will rejoice, even yours. Then what a keeping of Christmas it would be in company with the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world, born for you, obeying for you, bruised for you, bleeding for you, dying, rising, ascending--all for you; and pleading all on your behalf. It is thus to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and we find it glad tidings of great joy, which brings peace to our souls and reveals to us the goodwill of Him who dwelt in the burning bush. The Lord hasten in your experience the fullness of time when to you personally He will send forth His Son, and thus visit you with His salvation, that your liberated soul may say, Now, Lord, let You your handmaid depart in peace, for my eyes have seen and my heart has felt Your salvation! Once get a sight of the King in His beauty, and I know you would long to be with Him. You are now waiting for that sight, and He says, "They shall not be ashamed, who wait for me."

Your letter contains pleasing instances of the Lord's dealings. "I will work, and who shall hinder it?" Like you, I long to have His sensible presence when called to cross over the Jordan of death. Many an invitation have I sent up to my dear Lord to meet me on the banks of that river and "let me breathe my life out in the arms of His Divine embrace." You speak of your lovely retreat as being spiritually barren—but I trust you have some with whom you can take sweet counsel as you journey on; it is a privilege—"How dear to my heart is communion with saints." I shall be happy to hear from you soon, and wish you every blessing, and power to look up and see Jesus appearing in the presence of God for you. Adieu, my dear friend.

With kindest love in that precious Jesus who is our bond of union, I remain your very affectionate,