The Letters of Ruth Bryan, 1805-1860

The precious trial of faith

To Miss C., January 1, 1848.
Beloved friend,
I wish you joy in the Lord, peace in believing, and, as we commonly say--a happy new year. I was sorry, my dear Anne, to hear you had been so poorly, and your sister also. You will be glad to nurse her, and she will do the same for you, so the benefit will be mutual. I trust you will both soon recover. Through mercy we are much as usualóbut sickness abounds on all sides, and many saints have fallen asleep. We seem to be in a great hospital, so many loved ones are sick; but Jesus walks the wards where His own loved ones lie, and whether He wills that they die or live, He says unto the righteous--it shall be well with you.

Though there are times when we have no sensible feeling of enjoyment, yet, if really hanging upon Christ, there must be safety. The more simple faith is, the less will it be shaken by the removal of comfortable feelings or apparent absence of effects and fruits; and I humbly believe the Lord is pleased at times to let us feel the lack of these things--to discover to us that we were taking somewhat of our satisfaction from the fruits of faith, instead of wholly from the object of faith. Well may it be said to us--herein you have done foolishly. For since all the fruits of righteousness are by Christ Jesus, the more we would abound in them the more we must have to do with Him by faith, and be the more cleared from everything else. This clearing process, as effected by the Lord, is very painful to us. But it is good to be emptied, and thereby prove whether Christ is all our salvation and all our desire.

Though this trial should convince us that our eye is not single, we need not fearóbut, however humbling, be thankful for the discovery, and make use of it as a plea to the Lord to go forward, even though further abasement should follow. We must abide the fire, and be more anxious for purification, than for relief from pain. For what is the perfection of refining? Not only to have the gold pureóbut for the refiner to see himself in it; and you know, for one face to be fully seen in another, more than brightness is needed to reflect it, there must be a direct position of feature to feature, and the least turning aside to another object will prevent the full development of the countenance. So you see, when the fire has produced the intended effect, the subject of it is not to be taken up with the purity producedóbut rather to be absorbed with Him who managed the process, and, beholding Him with open face, be changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.

May we come experimentally to know these mysteries, and have faith to trust our best Beloved, not through our frames and feelingsóbut with them seeking more and more that He may be glorified. Oh, this is a conquering point! for when His honor is our object, our selfish aims are scattered, and we glory only in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, willing to die with Him that He may be our only life. Therefore, though there may seem to be a death on our prospects and joys and feelings, as well as on our fruits, the word is, "Fear not, only believe. I am the resurrection and the life." Being one with Him, we may safely follow Him wherever He leads; and, looking unto Him alone, we shall do so triumphantly.

Yours ever,
His gleaner, Ruth