“The Experience of Rachel Bruff, of Talbot-County, Maryland [Written by Herself]
Arminian Magazine March 1787, V. X, pgs. 135-137, April 1787, pgs . 191-192, May 1787, pgs. 243-246.
In the month of February, 1768, I was brought under deep distress of soul, being made sensible of my undone estate by nature: and was constrained to implore the aid of the blessed Spirit; knowing that I could do nothing of myself. Not having the advantage of hearing the gospel preached in its purity, the Lord pointed me to his blessed word, in which I read, and meditated day and night; and found that it was by grace I was to be saved. I betook myself to constant prayer, which I considered as a great weapon against the enemy of my soul. I saw that Jesus was my Advocate with the Father, and that I could have access to God in no other name. My heavenly Father shewed me that his dear Son tasted death for every man. From the time I was brought to see the need of a change, I was sweetly drawn by the cords of love, having the precious promises opened to me.
One night under deep distress, after addressing the throne of grace, I fell into a kind of sleep, or rather doze. I seemed to be in a small house, waiting on a woman that was dangerously ill. A Person appeared in the other part of the house as if he came out of the wall. His countenance was very comely: his dress plain and grace, and he had a towel tied round his waist as white as snow. I looked earnestly at him, and knew him to be the Son of God: on which a sacred awe rested on my mind. O how awful the place seemed to be, because of the presence of the Lord! He then came straight to me; untied the towel, and gave it me with these words, “Do as I have done,” and then vanished in a moment. When I awoke, I was more determined than ever, to devote the remainder of my days to the service of God. I grew weary of the world, and all its vanities:
I could find no happiness in any thing beneath the sun; but prayer was my constant delight.
I was now strongly impressed on my mind, to withdraw from the world, and spend the remainder of my days in retirement, where I had an opportunity of employing much of my time in reading, prayer, and self-examination.
One evening I was much drawn out in prayer, and received a blessed visit from my Lord, and Master! My soul seemed to be filled with the love of God. Another night I walked out to praise the Lord. The night was beautiful and clear; the starts seemed as so many seraphs, shining forth their Maker’s praise, and I saw a beauty in the whole creation. The very air seemed to breathe sweetness, and my soul glowed with love divine! As I was looking up to heaven, praising my great Creator, I felt that my sins were forgiven. At this my soul was wonderfully transported. I shall never forget the time and place where I received this great manifestation.
Shortly after I had found the pearl of great price, I covenanted with my dear Lord as follows: I choose God the Son, to be the Rock of my salvation, and Advocate with the Father, I choose God the Holy Ghost, to be my sanctifier, and preserver. Lord grant that I may never break this solemn covenant!
After this, I met with many trials, from various quarters; but, blessed be God! He stood my friend, and led me on from month to month, and from year to year!
In the year of our Lord, 1776, there were great troubles in this country, occasioned by the unhappy war. My friends persuaded me to leave my quiet habitation. I did so to my sorrow, and went and lived in a family where great care was taken for the bread that perisheth; but very little for that which endureth to eternal life. The blessed Lord permitted many enemies to rise up against me here. I lost my peace; but glory be to God! I kept my confidence. I continued here but one year, when God made a way for my return to my former habitation.
I then covenanted with Him to double my diligence, and found my soul as much drawn out as ever, and had as great a degree of sweetness in his service as ever.
In the year 1778, the people called Methodists had been preaching in different parts of the country, sometime before I went to hear them. They were much spoken against. It being much pressed on my mind, in the month of February, I went to hear Mr. Shadford. I liked his doctrine exceeding well; but I had no mind to join the Society, till it was made known to me that they were the Servants of God, sent to shew us the way of salvation. However, I went from time to time to hear, and grew more and more happy every day. After some time, I again covenanted with God in the following manner: Lord, as I have chosen Thee to be my God and Guide, I now choose thy People to be my people. I then joined the Society, for which I have much reason to praise God ever since.
About this time the Lord began to pour out his Spirit upon my neighbours; many of whom were brought to experience the goodness of God. Shortly after this, the Preachers began more fully to insist on Christian Perfection. At first I did not so fully understand them; but after making a more diligent search into the Oracles of God, I found the doctrine clearly set forth therein, and was determined to seek the blessing with my whole heart. I had not done this long, before I found myself sweetly drawn out, and sometimes was almost ready to conclude the work was done. In November I went to a Love-feast. I thought I never before saw such a loving people. At this meeting the work was much deepened in my soul. But still, as I had not that witness which others spoke of, I was determined not to rest without it.
From the time I was convinced of the necessity of this blessing, there was a struggle in my soul. I was sensible the
Promise was to be received by faith, and the language of my heart was, Lord, help me! About this time the enemy of my soul broke in upon me, and wanted to rob me of my confidence. But I was determined to wrestle with God until he set my soul at liberty. This struggle continued for eight days. All this while I groaned in secret; and intreated God to destroy the last remains of sin.
One day I bowed myself at the Redeemer’s feet, and determined not to let him god without the blessing. And glory be to his Name! in a moment my burden was gone. My soul was no so enraptured with a sense of his love, that I was constrained to praise his name aloud. From that time he had been constantly with me, and has borne me up above all my sins, temptations, and sufferings.
In May, 1781, I was laid under the afflicting hand of God. I could scarce call it an affliction, as my soul was so exceedingly happy. For though my body grew weak, my faith was strengthened every day. I could look into the world of spirits, and view a God reconciled in Jesus Christ. On this I longed to be dissolved, and be with Him whom my soul loved.
On Whitsunday, I went to bed weak in body, but happy in mind. In my sleep, I dreamed that I heard a band of Angels singing around me in a most delightful manner. On this I awoke with my heart full of love, and quite transported. O if a blind world did but feel what I then did, how would they also love and adore the God of their salvation! How would they run in the ways of Wisdom, and partake of the felicities of thy chosen! L:ord open their blind eyes, and shew them their undone condition by nature. Then shew them the blood which bought their peace, and help them to wash therein, that they may be cleansed from all their filthiness, both of flesh and spirit, and perfect holiness in thy fear, O God!
In the month of August, 1783, being greatly distressed on account of my friends, and neighbours, I was drawn out in prayer in an uncommon manner. Soon after this, there was a glorious revival of Religion among them, and many were brought to a sense of the dying love of Jesus. One night in September, I went to bed deeply humbled. I had scarce closed my weeping eyes, when the 15th verse of the 57th chapter of Isaiah was brought to my mind: Thus saith the High and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity. I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite, and humble spirit, to revive the
spirit of the humble , and to revive the heart of the contrite ones. When I awoke, my soul was greatly refreshed. Since then, I have been constantly happy.
At present, whether I go out, or come in, lie [die] down, or rise up, Jesus is precious to me.
On August 2, 1783, I saw, by faith, by blessed Redeemer, praying for me, till he sweat, as it were, great drops of blood, falling down to the ground. O what an agony was my soul in! My heart was so melted, that I mourned, and wept at his feet most bitterly!
Jan. 1784. I praise God that I am spared to see another year! My soul was happy every day the last year; but I trust I shall be more so the present, and abundantly more devoted to God.
Feb. 12. I awoke this morning, at the dawning of the day, and blessed my gracious God for his parental care of me. My soul is happy, at present, and it is my meat and drink to do his will.
March 2. Glory be to God, he is still with me! I have many comforts without, and much peace, and joy within.
March 5. This evening Jesus is precious to my soul. I seem as if I lived in heaven. O the sweet name of Jesus! How it charms my soul! He is my Beloved, and he is my Friend, O daughters of Jerusalem!
March 21. My dear Jesus so showers his blessings upon me, that I find his yoke easy, and his burden light.
March 30. In the evening (a delightful season for prayer) I was much drawn out to God for the prosperity of Zion. Whilst I was viewing the sun, moon, and stars, as the work of God’s fingers, my soul was drawn up to him in heavenly raptures. O my blessed, and glorious Saviour, who hast purchased so many comforts for me: how shall I praise thee worthily?
April 2. While I was under the word, my dear Lord visited my soul. O how precious are his ordinances to my poor soul!
The feet of his Servants are indeed beautiful on the mountains. While I see their footsteps, and hear their voice, my faith and love grow stronger and stronger.
April 4. The eve of Good Friday (a time to be remembered by all the lovers of Jesus) as I was meditating on my weeping, wounded Saviour, I thought, ere long I shall see him all glorious, shining in his Father’s kingdom, amidst ten thousand saints and angels! Then all tears will be wiped away from his people’s eyes, and they will view him without a veil between.
On Easter-day, going to see the sick, it was made a great blessing to me. When I returned home, my soul was overwhelmed with a sense of the love of Jesus. Glory be to God that my lot was ever cast in a gospel-land, and that the joyful sound every reached my ears! Jesus is precious to my soul indeed! At present, I rejoice that he is no longer a man of sorrow, in this vale of tears; but rather seated at his Father’s right-hand in glory everlasting, making intercession for the heirs of salvation.
Now hallow’ed flames, help to adorn that head,
Which once the blushing thorns environed;
While crimson drops of precious blood hung down,
Like rubies to enrich his humble crown.
Blessed be God, he is my Shepherd, and feeds my soul day by day with the bread of life! There is a precious treasure in my heart, that is dearer to me than all the world. Jesus is every thing I want, by day and by night.
Some may think it strange when they read these lines; but glory be to God, these things are faithful and true. I speak in humility. My happy soul seems sometimes to be taking its flight in the mansions of eternal glory. My little cottage is a paradise. Angel-bands pitch their tents around it. O that I cold invite all the world to come to Jesus, and taste how good he is! He is the Rose of Sharon, and the Lilly of the Valley.
He is the fairest among ten thousand, and altogether lovely. O for the tongue of an Archangel to se forth his praise! O Jesus – Words fail – Time is too short to publish all I feel! But I am waiting to be released from time, and all its impediments. Was this the moment of my release, how would I rejoice! How would I
Clap my glad wings, and tower away,
To mingle with the blaze of day!