The Letters of Ruth Bryan, 1805-1860

Signs of spiritual life

To E. M., September 15, 1851.

"Look unto Me, and be saved!"

I thought much of you last evening, while hearing a sermon from Phil. 1:6. "The day of Jesus Christ" was spoken of, as the day when He comes to receive the soul unto himself; and the glorious day when He will raise the body in His own likeness. It was said, how surely the Lord will carry on His work in the soul, through all the doubts, fears, temptations, sins, and corruptions which assail it, and are bitterly felt. Though they threaten to swallow up and destroy, the Lord is above them, and will secretly maintain the precious life He has given. Perhaps, however, the great point with some is, whether they truly have this life. They are thoroughly established in the comfortable doctrine we speak of—the final perseverance of the saints—but fear they are not one of them. How is it with you? Do you hunger and thirst for Christ? Do you plead, pant, groan, strive against sin, and for salvation? Then you are alive, and it is eternal life, which cannot die; incorruptible seed which cannot decay; and grace which was given to you in Christ before the foundation of the world; (2 Tim. 1:9.) nor can anything which occurs in time take it away.

I well know the night is long and dreary to the quickened soul, while the Lord delays His coming. It is no longer "alive without the law," but the Spirit has brought the commandment home; it bears upon the conscience heavily; and in the pure light of that holy law is discovered evil, only evil, and that continually; fresh sin at every turn; new stumbling at every step. It is night with the soul, and "he who walks in the night stumbles." Though the law is light, (Prov. 6:23.) it is only to make manifest evil, (Eph. 5:13.) not to guide in the way of peace. The Holy Spirit must do that. The light of the law upon the black soul only makes its night more horrible before it has found the Law-fulfiller; the sun has not arisen, and corruptions creep forth to its great dismay. But He that shall come will come in the set time, and will not tarry. He knows those who love His appearing, and will not let them long for it in vain. As in His law they have seen their own darkness and deformity, so in this light they see light, even the light of life when He comes; and then they learn that all those sharp reproofs of instruction were the way of life, though, indeed, they felt like death and destruction.

I am not writing to you merely from the map, but marking down a few of my own steppings, that you may thereby trace whether you are in the footsteps of the flock; and though this cannot satisfy you, because the way is not the end, yet it may comfort and stimulate you afresh to press on towards the mark, looking for and hastening to the coming of the day of Christ in your own soul. There are times when the hands hang down and the knees are feeble, and the soul says, "Our hope is lost, we are cut off for our parts." (Ezek. 37:11.) Then a word from the Lord, through a fellow-traveler, does good, like a medicine; the Word of the Lord is precious in those days when there is no open vision. I mean when the soul has never been able to say, "I have found Him whom my soul loves," and cannot make the personal appeal, "You know that I love You," but does long to know, it is loved by Him. Then it sometimes gets a sweet melting season in hearing that others have trodden the same in and out path; and a feeling of comfortable hope that "being in the way," the Lord will before long meet with it, and lead it into the House of the Master's brethren. (Gen. 24:27.) Be it mine to welcome you there in the appointed season, and to try to encourage you while you occupy the waiting-place. It is at least a safe one: "Blessed are all those who wait for Him." But through unbelief we are too apt to think we shall wait in vain, and He never will come to us; although He has said, "They shall not be ashamed that wait for Me." This passage was very sweet to me in days gone by, when tasting the wormwood and gall; and it is so still. My soul has the bitterness still in remembrance, and is humbled in me, (Lam. 3:19, 20.) for instead of tasting only, I deserve to be drinking to all eternity; but He has taken the cup of trembling out of my hand, and has given me the cup of salvation and blessing. He has brought my soul out of prison; and dealt bountifully with me, and now I like to point other poor prisoners to the way of escape.

I know the heart of a "captive exile," as well as of a stranger, and would not impose heavy burdens; but you know how happy I would be to hear from you. How blessed when the captive exile, described in Isaiah 51:14, experiences the deliverance spoken of in Zech. 9:11, 12. Affectionate remembrance to you all in the Beloved. May the blessing of the Lord flow freely in your family circle. 2 Thess. 3:16 and 18.

Yours ever,