January 19th.—The conclusion of the last year and commencement of this have been marked by trial and anxiety. May the Lord sanctify it. I am ashamed to acknowledge that backslider is still my name—but past mercies encourage me to hope the Lord will again restore my soul. I expect to go to Birmingham with my beloved mother tomorrow. The Lord protect us, and our habitation, while absent from it, and grant us that degree of prosperity which will be most for our spiritual interest and His glory, and bring us home in peace and safety. My mind is somewhat depressed. "Lord, increase my faith."
February 2nd.—When I view the mercies received during the last two weeks, I am lost in wonder, and wish to have my heart melted with gratitude. We have been taken to Birmingham, and brought back in safety. Our habitation has been preserved in peace during our absence. We have been treated with much kindness by those with whom we sojourned. My dear mother has been wonderfully supported under a considerable degree of anxiety and fatigue, and we have obtained payment of the legacies left us by my uncle J—, which will add considerably to our temporal comforts; and I trust my beloved mother will have more rest and ease than formerly. Oh, may the Lord fill our hearts with gratitude, and add His blessing to what He has given, for without this I would tremble at the possession of it. Dearest Lord, grant us grace to live to Your glory, to "set our affection on things above, not on things on the earth;" and grant us much communion with You, conformity to You, and enjoyment in your ways and worship. I am now ashamed of my former distrust. "Ebenezer."
March 16th.—I have had a season of temporal bustle, and, alas! of much spiritual deadness. The Lord revive me! I have heard the Word preached with very little profit since we came from Birmingham. I do not wish to condemn the preaching; I fear the cares of this world have had a bad influence on my soul. During the last day or two, I have suffered fearfully from the old temptation, in another form; the Lord preserve me from yielding! but alas! I did yield in the first instance. I tampered with temptation; gave the reins to my inventive and sinful imagination; and then, when I would have retraced my steps, that which had been imaginary was partly realized; and what I am indulged in fancy and for amusement, became, through coinciding circumstances, the constant and tormenting inmate of my bosom, showing me the danger of being off my watch-tower. May the Lord pardon and deliver me from the temptation, and say to the storm, "Peace, be still." I know He can, and do believe He will.
Mr. B—'s text this morning, was, "The heart knows his own bitterness," &c.; very suitable to me. My sin, and its punishment, being both mental, no creature knows. But the eye of my heavenly Father is upon me, and I hope, by making my sin its own punishment, He is teaching me a valuable lesson, and will bring glory to His own name, and humble me in the dust. His ways are mysterious, and He brings good out of evil.
March 23rd, Sabbath.—Much calmness of mind, morning and afternoon—but dreadfully tempted and distressed this evening. The billows have, indeed, gone over my soul, and the proud waves well-nigh overwhelmed me. May the Lord deliver, specially support me, and, above all, preserve me from yielding to temptation.
March 29th.—My mind mercifully relieved of its burden; may my heart be filled with gratitude, and my tongue with praise.
April 20th.—May the Lord direct my path, and enable me to bow in silence when He says--Resign! He only knows the feelings which agitate my bosom, and, I believe, He will not be an unconcerned Spectator. May I commit all to Him in faith, and wait with patience the development of His will.
August 3rd, Sabbath.—Much depressed. Behold! I am vile and full of sin and unbelief. I cast my helpless soul on Jesus for life and salvation—but do not feel that confidence of my safety which I desire, seeing He has said, "Whoever believes on Him shall not be ashamed." I do believe; Lord! help against my unbelief, and enable me to receive the testimony of Your Word, without looking at feelings. I want to realize that darkness and light are alike with You, and to believe You love me--even when You hide Your face.
Evening.—While mourning over my barrenness, it has just struck me, that I am thinking more of fruit than of JESUS HIMSELF; that I want to bring forth fruit to rejoice in, instead of glorifying in Christ alone! When quite barren in ourselves, we will rejoice. If this is a right view, the Lord strengthen me in it. "Even though the fig trees have no blossoms, and there are no grapes on the vine; even though the olive crop fails, and the fields lie empty and barren; even though the flocks die in the fields, and the cattle barns are empty, yet I will rejoice in the Lord! I will be joyful in the God of my salvation." Habakkuk 3:17-18
[Those who know the plague of their own hearts are deeply conscious of the absolute necessity of the "line upon line, precept upon precept" ordeal. It is this, and this alone, under God, produces the rooting, the grounding, and settling in the truth. This is, as it were, the first budding forth of that sweet germ of grace, which afterwards so beautifully and conspicuously shone in this plant of the Lord's right-hand planting. None, perhaps, were ever more clearly shown the distinction between root and fruit, than the deeply-taught, and subsequently highly-privileged, Ruth Bryan. During the perusal of the Diary, we would have the reader keep this prominently before him, as it is evident the deep exercises of her heart were all, in the issue, to tend this way; leading to a humbling of the creature, and to the setting of the crown upon the right head; Jesus, at length, being so sweetly her all-engrossing theme.]
August 4th.—Favored with a wonderful manifestation of the love and grace of Jesus last night, after service; my soul was, indeed, filled with rapturous delight. What condescension! May I be thankful, and bless His name.
August 13th.—Darkness has veiled my mind; my Savior has withdrawn, and my soul is mourning His absence. Nothing on earth can fill the vacuum in my soul, nor do I wish it should. But long, though in the dark, to hold fast my confidence; to this I do not attain: my heart is timorous and fearful, lest all should not be well at last. "Lord, increase my faith!"
August 14th.—My dear mother rather poorly yesterday—but better this morning. She was taken this afternoon with sudden and violent pain, which has much alarmed me; the Lord grant restoring mercy, and prepare us both for the whole of His will. How does my heart tremble at the thought of losing my beloved parent. Lord Jesus, increase my faith; let me recognize Your hand, and say, "Your will be done." Precious Savior! make me less fleshly, and more spiritual; restore, if it pleases You, restore my dearest mother.
August 19th.—I awoke last night with a violent fit of coughing; my breath quite went, and had not the Lord granted relief, I must in a few seconds have been in eternity. I felt afterwards much agitated, and could not realize that my soul would have been safe, had the veil of mortality be drawn aside. Precious Jesus, leave me not in uncertainty. Come and show me my real situation, strengthen my weak nerves and weak faith. You may call me suddenly into Your presence. But, whatever may be the messenger, oh, meet me on the banks of Jordan, and then I shall not fear the swelling tide. Absent not Yourself, precious Savior, when my heart and flesh fail, and the world is receding from my view. Oh, then come, come to be the strength of my heart, and my portion forever. Thanks to Your name, O Lord, for sparing mercy; write gratitude upon my heart for Your distinguishing favors.
August 28th.—I trust the Lord is doing "great things for me, whereof I am glad"—namely, bringing me now into the liberty of the Gospel, and showing me more of its simplicity. The Word says, "He who believes shall be saved." I do believe in the dear Lord Jesus. I cast my naked, helpless soul on Him for salvation; He is my only hope and refuge, and will He send me empty away? No! He is a tried stone, a sure foundation, and I believe (not without intervals of doubt) that He will get glory to His great name by saving me--vile, abominable, hell-deserving me! Thanks and praise to You, adorable, precious Savior, for this hope; however weak my faith, let me trust You implicitly, love You supremely, and be with You eternally!
October 28th, Sacrament Sabbath.—Not favored with enjoyment under the Word preached—but enabled at the Lord's table to lay hold, as it were, of the Lord Christ, and with importunity to cry to Him. And, though He seemed to hide Himself from me, and appear to deny my request, still I was kept pleading, and did He not Himself enable me to do so? Yes; and I bless Him for it. I am resting upon the promise, "Him that comes to me, I will never cast out," but not favored with a sensible manifestation of my interest, yet believing--vile, abominable, and guilty as I am--I shall never perish; because I am enabled to cast my soul upon Christ for salvation, and to believe He will never allow a soul to perish at His feet. I long to hear Him say, "I have loved you with an everlasting love!"
November 30th.—Much blessed in reading a letter from the Rev. Ralph Erskine to a Mr. Fisher, in which he plainly shows the difference between faith and feeling. How often do I stumble here.
[It was this most important distinction our departed sister was to learn by her protracted exercises; and as the reader proceeds with her memoranda, he will perceive how blessedly the Lord brought out His servant in her clear definition of faith and feeling.]
December 25th.—My Savior hides His face, and I am troubled, and my mind dark and distressed. Heard Mr. S— this morning, a very spiritual and simple discourse. I trust I have been profited—but want a fresh manifestation of my Redeemer's love. I desire to bear patiently the chastisement of the Lord, because I have sinned against Him—but I cannot be satisfied with His absence. "Return, O Lord, how long?"