Bethel Cottage, December 27th, 1854.
"And she said, It is well."
My precious A—, I thank you for your affectionate note,
which is very sweet to my heart, because it savors of Him, and He does not
let you hang on my skirts, to hold me back from His embrace. I thank you, in
His name, for all your tender expressions of love—I will not say sympathy,
for you know I need none, even as the betrothed needs no sympathy when her
Beloved comes to claim her for Himself. She may have to leave those who are
very near and dear—but she is sure to find all more than made up in Himself;
and, mark you, the closer you walk with Him, the less will you realize
separation. Seek to live very closely with your Beloved, and He will give
you many good things, which yet you have no conception of (1 Cor. 2:9, 10).
I much feared to tell the nature of my ailment. But, as
my health was failing, it did not seem right to hide it longer from my loved
ones; and, do you know, since it has been disclosed, my precious Lord has
lovingly said to me, when I have felt timid, "Why should you be ashamed of
what I have done?" and I answered Him, that if He will be glorified and
revealed in it, I will, for His sake, forget all the rest. Oh, yes; most
gladly would I glory in my infirmity, if He be thereby magnified in this
body, whether by life or by death.
As for the affliction itself, I call it a bosom friend,
because it tells of home, where every heart will always burn with love, and
glow with praise. It seems to me like receiving a card of invitation to go
to the King's palace. Every line and every letter is love; though the flesh
has suffered, the Sun has long since arisen with healing power, and I truly
praise Him for it. It has been like the first day; "evening and morning"—the
shade first, and afterwards the brightness. My precious Lord distinctly said
to me, some months ago, Rev. 3:10, and Isaiah 43:2. Then must I not praise
Him? Oh, yes; and here, in the midst of the waters of affliction, would I
set up a stone of memorial in honor of His love and faithfulness, who has
helped me hitherto. I do cry to Him that my precious friends may have a
large rich blessing in this my mercy, and through it they may have a sweet
savor of Jesus, to swallow up the ill-savor of this corrupting body, and be
so taken up with Him, that, together, we may have a foretaste of that
fullness of joy which is in His presence for evermore.
I see not an inch of the road before me, and have no
stock of strength or ability for the journey. But I must live moment by
moment on the Lord God, who will make my feet like hinds' feet, to tread
upon very high places—even the God who performs all things for me. Moreover,
to use another figure, I must lie in the arms of my Beloved as a helpless
infant—without wisdom or power to do anything for myself—but believing that
"the everlasting arms of love" will prove a safe conveyance. I have only one
deep, sharp-pointed pang, which makes me daily mourn, and that is, the
thought of my unfaithfulness, and the dishonor done to my dearest Lord since
I have known His love. I know He has forgiven all, and that His own precious
blood has paid the uttermost farthing—but such love makes me hate myself the
more, and ever hide my blushing face in His dear bosom, singing, "Sovereign
grace over sin abounding!" Who is a God like unto You, multiplying and
manifesting pardons to those who have "nothing to pay?"
Oh! what a blessed Jesus we have—who can so soften
affliction and so sweeten Marah's bitter stream, making us exceeding joyful
even in tribulation, so that I lack power to praise Him as I would.
Oh, that my heart were a ten-stringed instrument, and my life a living
epistle, in which all might read Him. But, alas! it is so blotted
over with unbelief and other sins, that it is hard to pick out His dear name
in most of the pages. Oh! when I see Him face to face, and behold those
love-prints in His glorious body, what shall I feel? That will be heaven—not
one of harps and crowns, or of anything else—but JESUS and the open vision
of His unveiled glories, the ineffable glories of Deity, and perfect
beauties of humanity ever beaming with new effulgence in the person of our
Bridegroom. Then shall we reflect His glory, and show forth His praise.
But I must cease; being still in the body, though
sometimes at the gate of heaven.
My dear —, you are young in experience. I feel towards
you as 2 Cor. 11:2, 3, fearing, lest by any means--not that Jesus would lose
you—but you would lose Jesus, experimentally; lest any should take your
crown of rejoicing from you, and cause you to cast away your confidence. May
He keep you very close to Himself, and, whatever strange voices perplex, may
He cause you to listen to what your Lord says in John 21:22. Remember also 2
Tim. 3:12. There is much which is called godliness which is not "living
godly in Christ Jesus." To know nothing but Him—to delight in no
other—to look nowhere else for holiness, happiness, and fruitfulness—this is
the life of faith so fought against by unbelief and carnal reason, both in
ourselves and others, as well as by Satan, who knows that hereby he gets
more overcome than in any other way (Eph. 6:16; 1 Peter 1:13-15). May the
Lord the Spirit open to you this way of faith, and keep you therein to the
end of your days, as Gal. 2:19, 20; Prov. 4:18. I can now testify that it is
a solid and blessed reality, notwithstanding my instability. The Lord bless
and comfort you (Psalm 87:7). He says, in substance, "All my springs are
Thanks, many, for all kind wishes. I am most unworthy of
any love, and often wonder my Lord can bear with me, I am so unlovely in all
things, so unlike His handmaids. But it is all His love which flows to me
through your heart, and His love is a bottomless, shoreless ocean, in
which we shall be absorbed forever and ever.
Our union is forever in indissoluble bonds.
Yours, ever in Him,
Ruth, the happy gleaner