This morning I asked the Lord especially that he would be pleased to teach me through the instrumentality of brother C.; and I went to him, that he might have an opportunity of probing my heart. For as I desire only the Lord's glory, I should be glad to be instructed through the instrumentality of any brother, if the matter be not of him. But brother C., on the contrary, greatly encouraged me in it. Therefore, I have this day taken the first actual step in the matter, in having ordered bills to be printed, announcing a public meeting on December 9, at which I intend to lay before the brethren my thoughts concerning the orphan house, as a means of ascertaining more clearly the Lord's mind concerning the matter. December 5. This evening I was struck, in reading the Scriptures, with these words: "Open thy mouth wide, and I will fill it." I was led to apply this Scripture to the orphan house, and asked the Lord for premises, one thousand pounds, and suitable individuals to take care of the children. December 7. To-day I received the first shilling for the orphan house.
December 9. This afternoon the first piece of furniture was given,—a large wardrobe. This afternoon and evening I was low in spirit as it regards the orphan house, but as soon as I began to speak at the meeting I received peculiar assistance from God. After the meeting, ten shillings was given to me. There was purposely no collection, nor did any one speak besides myself; for it was not in the least intended to work upon the feelings, for I sought to be quite sure concerning the mind of God. After the meeting, a sister offered herself for the work. I went home, happy in the Lord, and full of confidence that the matter will come to pass, though but ten shillings has been given. December 10. I have sent to the press a statement, which contains the substance of what I said at the meeting last evening. I have received a letter, in which a brother and sister wrote thus: "We propose ourselves for the service of the intended orphan house, if you think us qualified for it; also to give up all the furniture, etc., which the Lord has given us, for its use; and to do this without receiving any salary whatever, believing that if it be the will of the Lord to employ us, he will supply all our need," etc. In the evening a brother brought, from several individuals, three dishes, twenty-eight plates, three basins, one jug, four mugs, three salt-stands, one grater, four knives, and five forks.
December 12. While I was praying this morning that the Lord would give us a fresh token of his favor concerning the orphan house, a brother brought three dishes, twelve plates, one basin, and one blanket. After this had been given, I thanked God, and asked him to give even this day another encouragement. Shortly after, fifty pounds was given, and that by an individual from whom, for several reasons, I could not have expected this sum. Thus the hand of God appeared so much the more clearly. Even then I was led to pray that this day the Lord would give still more. In the evening, accordingly, there was sent, by a sister, twenty-nine yards of print. Also a sister offered herself for the work. December 13. A brother was influenced this day to give four shillings per week, as long as the Lord gives the means: eight shillings was given by him as two weeks' subscription. To-day a brother and sister offered themselves, with all their furniture, and all their provisions which they have in the house, if they can be usefully employed in the concerns of the orphan house.
December 14. To-day a sister offered her services for the work. In the evening another sister offered herself for the institution. December 15. A sister brought, from several friends, ten basins, eight mugs, one plate, five dessert spoons, six teaspoons, one skimmer, one toasting-fork, one flour-dredge, three knives and forks, one sheet, one pillow-case, one table-cloth; also one pound. In the afternoon were sent fifty-five yards of sheeting, and twelve yards of calico. December 16. I took out of the box in my room one shilling. December 17. I was rather cast down last evening and this morning about the matter; questioning whether I ought to be engaged in this way, and was led to ask the Lord to give me some further encouragement. Soon after were sent by a brother two pieces of print, the one seven and the other twenty-three and three fourths yards, six and three fourths yards of calico, four pieces of lining, about four yards altogether, a sheet, and a yard measure. This evening another brother brought a quantity of household articles, and told me that it had been put into the heart of an individual to send to-morrow one hundred pounds.
December 18. This afternoon the same brother brought, from a sister, a counterpane, a flatiron-stand, eight cups and saucers, a sugar-basin, a milk jug, a teacup, sixteen thimbles, five knives and forks, six dessert-spoons, twelve teaspoons, four combs, and two little graters; from another friend a flatiron, and a cup and saucer. At the same time he brought the hundred pounds above referred to. Since the publication of the second edition, it has pleased the Lord to take to himself the donor of this hundred pounds, and I therefore give, in this present edition, some further account of the donation and the donor.
A. L. was known to me almost from the beginning of my coming to Bristol, in 1832. She earned her bread by needle-work, by which she gained from two shillings to five shillings per week; the average, I suppose, was not more than three shillings sixpence, as she was weak in body. But I do not remember ever to have heard her utter a word of complaint on account of earning so little. Some time before I had been led to establish an orphan house, her father had died, through which event she had come in possession of four hundred and eighty pounds, which sum had been left to her (and the same amount to her brother and two sisters) by her grandmother, but of which her father had had the interest during his lifetime. The father, who had been much given to drinking, died in debt, which debts the children wished to pay; but the rest, besides A. L., did not like to pay in full, and offered to the creditors twenty-five per cent, which they gladly accepted, as they had not the least legal claim upon the children. After the debts had been paid according to this agreement, sister A. L. said to herself, "However sinful my father may have been, yet he was my father, and as I have the means of paying his debts to the full amount, I ought, as a believing child, to do so, seeing that my brother and sisters will not do it." She then went to all the creditors secretly, and paid the full amount of the debts, which took forty pounds more of her money, besides her share, which she had given before: Her brother and two sisters now gave fifty pounds each of their property to their mother; but A. L. said to herself, "I am a child of God; surely I ought to give my mother twice as much as my brothers and sisters." She therefore gave her mother one hundred pounds. Shortly after this she sent me the hundred pounds towards the orphan house. I was not a little surprised when I received this money from her, for I had always known her as a poor girl, and I had never heard anything about her having come into the possession of this money, and her dress had never given me the least indication of an alteration in her circumstances. Before, however, accepting this money from her, I had a long conversation with her, in which I sought to probe her as to her motives, and in which I sought to ascertain whether, as I had feared, she might have given this money in the feeling of the moment, without having counted the cost. But I had not conversed long with this beloved sister, before I found that she was, in this particular, a quiet, calm, considerate follower of the Lord Jesus, and one who desired, in spite of what human reason might say, to act according to the words of our Lord, "Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth." "Sell that ye have, and give alms." When I remonstrated with her, in order that I might see whether she had counted the cost, she said to me, "The Lord Jesus has given his last drop of blood for me, and should I not give him this hundred pounds?" She would also have me take five pounds for the poor saints in communion with us. I mention here particularly that this dear sister kept all these things to herself, and did them as much as possible in secret; and during her lifetime, I suppose, not six brethren and sisters among us knew that she had ever possessed four hundred and eighty pounds, or that she had given one hundred pounds towards the orphan house.
I relate one instance more. August 4, 1836, seven months and a half after she had given the hundred pounds, she came one morning to me, and said: "Last evening I felt myself particularly stirred up to pray about the funds of the Scriptural Knowledge Institution; but whilst praying, I thought, what good is it for me to pray for means, if I do not give when I have the means, and I have therefore brought you this five pounds." As I had reason to believe that, by this time, by far the greater part of her money was gone, I again had a good deal of conversation with her, to see whether she really did count the cost, and whether this donation also was given unto the Lord, or from momentary excitement, in which case it was better not to give the money. However, she was at this time also steadfast, grounded upon the word of God; and evidently constrained by the love of Christ; and all the effect my conversation had upon her was, that she said, "You must take five shillings in addition to the five pounds, as a proof that I give the five pounds cheerfully." And thus she constrained me to take the five pounds and five shillings.—Four things are especially to be noticed about this beloved sister, with reference to all this period of her earthly pilgrimage: 1. She did all these things in secret, avoiding to the utmost all show about them, and thus proved that she did not desire the praise of man. 2. She remained, as before, of an humble and lowly mind, and she proved thus that she had done what she did unto the Lord, and not unto man. 3. Her dress remained, during all the time that she had this comparative abundance, the same as before. It was clean, yet as simple and as inexpensive as it was at the time when all her income consisted of three shillings and sixpence, or at most five shillings per week. There was not the least difference as to her lodging, dress, manner of life, etc. She remained in every way the poor handmaid of the Lord, as to all outward appearance. 4. But that which is as lovely as the rest, she continued working at her needle all this time. She earned her two shillings-sixpence, or three shillings, or a little more, a week, by her work, as before; whilst she gave away the money in sovereigns or five-pound notes. At last all her money was gone, and that some years before she fell asleep; and as her bodily health never had been good as long as I had known her, and was now much worse, she found herself peculiarly dependent upon the Lord, who never forsook her, up to the last moments of her earthly course. Her body became weaker and weaker, in consequence of which she was able to work very little, for many months before she died; but the Lord supplied her with all she needed, though she never asked for anything. For instance, a sister in communion With us sent her, for many months, all the bread she used. Her mouth was full of thanksgiving, even in the midst of the greatest bodily sufferings.
December 20. A sister gave five pounds. December 21. A friend sent one pound. Weekly subscription of four shillings. December 22. A sister gave me one pound, and a friend sent two shillings and sixpence. December 23. A brother gave, this evening, a piece of blind line and a dozen of blind tassels. About ten in the evening, a gentleman brought me from an individual, whose name he was not to mention, four pounds, of which I was allowed to take two pounds for the orphan house, and to give the other two pounds to poor believers. December 31. This evening we had a special meeting for prayer and praise. There have been received into the church, during the past year, 59. There are men in communion with us, 95. I have received for my temporal wants, in freewill offerings, presents, etc., L285 1s. 11/4d.
During January to May of 1836, numerous donations were made of furniture, provisions, half-worn clothing, and money (varying from one hundred pounds to a halfpenny). Encouraged by these unsolicited offerings, Mr. Mueller determined to open the Orphan House.
April, 21. This day was set apart for prayer and thanksgiving concerning the Orphan House, as it is now opened. In the morning, several brethren prayed, and brother Craik spoke on the last verses of Psalm xx. In the afternoon, I addressed our day and Sunday school children, the orphans, and other children present. In the evening we had another prayer meeting. There are now seventeen children in the Orphan House.
May 6. I have now been for some years, and especially these last few months, more or less thinking and praying respecting publishing a short account of the Lord's dealings with me. To-day I have at last settled to do so, and have begun to write.
May 16. For these several weeks our income has been little; and though I had prayed many times that the Lord would enable us to put by the taxes, yet the prayer remained unanswered. In the midst of it all, my comfort was, that the Lord would send help by the time it would be needed. One thing particularly has been a trial to us of late, far more than our own temporal circumstances, which is, that we have scarcely, in any measure, been able to relieve the distress among the poor saints. To-day, the Lord, at last, after I had many times prayed to him for these weeks past, answered my prayers, there being seven pounds twelve shillings and one farthing given to me as my part of the freewill offerings through the boxes,—two five-pound notes having been put in yesterday, one for brother Craik and one for me. Thus the Lord has again delivered us, and answered our prayers, and that not one single hour too late; for the taxes have not as yet been called for. May he fill my heart with gratitude for this fresh deliverance, and may he be pleased to enable me more and more to trust in him, and to wait patiently for his help?
THE FIELD WIDENING.
AN UNEXPECTED OBSTACLE—IMPLICIT SUBMISSION—A SECOND ORPHAN HOUSE PROPOSED—AN ENCOURAGING TEXT—THE NEW ORPHAN HOUSE OPENED—COMPLETED ANSWER TO PRAYER—PROGRESS OF THE LORD'S WORK—THE OVERSIGHT OF THE FLOCK.
Under date of May 18, 1836, Mr. M. says:—
In the foregoing pages, a statement has been given of the success with which the Lord has been pleased to crown the prayers of his servant respecting the establishment of an Orphan House in this city. The subject of my prayer was, that he would graciously provide a house, either as a loan or as a gift, or that some one might be led to pay the rent for one; further, that he would give me one thousand pounds for the object, and likewise suitable individuals to take care of the children. A day or two after, I was led to ask, in addition to the above, that he would put it into the hearts of his people to send me articles of furniture, and some clothes for the children. In answer to these petitions, many articles of furniture, clothing, and food were sent, a conditional offer of a house, as a gift, was made, individuals proposed themselves to take care of the children, and various sums of money were given, varying from one hundred pounds to a halfpenny.
It may be well to state that the above results have followed in answer to prayer, without any one having been asked by me for one single thing; from which I have refrained, not on account of want of confidence in the brethren, or because I doubted their love to the Lord, but that I might see the hand of God so much the more clearly.
So far as I remember, I brought even the most minute circumstances concerning the Orphan House before the Lord in my petitions, being conscious of my own weakness and ignorance. There was, however, one point I never had prayed about, namely, that the Lord would send children; for I naturally took it for granted that there would be plenty of applications. The appointed time came, and not even one application was made. This circumstance now led me to lie low before my God in prayer, and to examine my heart once more as to all the motives concerning it; and being able, as formerly, to say, that his glory was my chief aim, i. e. that it might be seen that it is not a vain thing to trust in the living God, and still continuing in prayer, I was at last brought to this state, that I could say from my heart that I should rejoice in God being glorified in this matter, though it were by bringing the whole to nothing. But as still, after all, it seemed to me more tending to the glory of God to establish and prosper the Orphan House, I could then ask him heartily to send applications. I enjoyed now a peaceful state of heart concerning the subject, and was also more assured than ever that God would establish it. The very next day the first application was made, and within a short time forty-three applied. I rented the house No. 6, Wilson Street, as being, on account of its cheapness and largeness, very suitable.
I have mentioned that we intended to take in the children from the seventh to the twelfth year. But after six applications had been made for children between four and six years of age, it became a subject of solemn and prayerful consideration, whether, as long as there were vacancies, such children should not be received, though so young. I came at last to the conclusion to take in the little girls under seven years of age, for whom application had been made. Further, it has been repeatedly brought before me, how desirable it would be to establish also, in this city, an Orphan House for male children, and there were even articles sent for little orphan boys. Partly, then, on account of these reasons; and partly because the Institution already opened was quite filled in a few days; and partly because the Lord has done hitherto far above what I could have expected; I have at last, after repeated prayer, come to the conclusion, in the name of the Lord, and in dependence upon him alone for support, to propose the establishment of an Infant Orphan House.
June 3. From May 16 up to this day I have been confined to the house, and a part of the time to my bed, on account of a local inflammation, which keeps me from walking. Almost every day during this time I have been able to continue writing a narrative of the Lord's dealings with me, which had been again laid aside after May 7, on account of a number of pressing engagements. It is very remarkable that the greatest objection against writing it for the press was want of time. Now, through this affliction, which leaves my mind free, and gives me time, on account of confinement to the house, I have been able to write about a hundred quarto pages.
June 14. This morning brother C——r and I prayed unitedly, chiefly about the schools and the circulation of the Scriptures. Besides asking for blessings upon the work, we have also asked the Lord for the means which are needed; for on July 1, seventeen pounds ten shillings will be due for the rent of school-rooms, and, besides this, we want at least forty pounds more to go on with the circulation of the Scriptures, to pay the salaries of the masters, etc. Towards all this we have only about seven pounds. I also prayed for the remainder of the thousand pounds for the Orphan House.
June 21. This evening brother C——r and I found that the Lord has not only been pleased to send us, through the offerings which have come in during the last week, in answer to our prayers, the seventeen pounds ten shillings which will be due for the rent of two school-rooms on July 1, but that we have five pounds more than is needed. Thus the Lord once more has answered our prayers.
July 28. For some weeks past we have not been able to pay the salary of the masters and governesses a month in advance, but have been obliged to pay it weekly. Brother C——r and I have lately prayed repeatedly together respecting the funds, but we were now brought so low, that we should not have been able to pay even this weekly salary of the teachers, had not the Lord most remarkably helped us again to-day. For, besides one pound, which was given to us, this evening a brother gave eight pounds, which sum had been made up by a number of his workmen paying weekly one penny each, of their own accord, towards our funds. The money had been collecting for many months, and, in this our necessity, it had been put into the heart of this brother to bring it.
July 29. This evening, from six to half past nine, we had a meeting for inquirers. There came twelve fresh cases before us.
October 1. To-day, in dependence upon the Lord alone for means, we engaged a brother as a master for a sixth day school. On account of the many deliverances which we have had of late, we have not hesitated to enlarge the field, as another boys' school was greatly needed.
October 5. This evening twenty-five pounds was given to me for the Scriptural Knowledge Institution. Thus the Lord has already given the means of defraying the expenses of the new boys' school for some months to come.
October 19. To-day, after having many times prayed respecting the matter, I have at last engaged a sister as matron for the Infant Orphan House, never having been able, up to this day, to meet with an individual who seemed suitable, though there has been money enough in hand, for some time past, for commencing this work, and there have been applications made for several infant orphans.
October 25. To-day we obtained, without any trouble, through the kind hand of God, very suitable premises for the Infant Orphan House.
November 5. There was given by a brother one hundred pounds, fifty pounds of which was previously promised, to insure the rent for premises. It is a remarkable fact, concerning this donation, that I had, in December of last year, repeatedly asked the Lord to incline the heart of this brother to give this hundred pounds, and I made a memorandum of this prayer in my journal of December 12, 1835. On January 25, 1836, fifty pounds was promised by him, and on November 5, fifty pounds besides that sum was given; but it was not till some days after, that I remembered that the very sum for which I had asked the Lord had been given. When it came to my mind that this prayer had been noted down in my journal, and I showed it to the donor, we rejoiced together; he, to have been the instrument in giving, and I to have had the request granted.
November 30. On account of many pressing engagements, I had not been led, for some time past, to pray respecting the funds. But being in great need, I was led, yesterday morning, earnestly to ask the Lord; and in answer to this petition a brother gave me, last evening, ten pounds. He had had it in his heart, for several months past, to give this sum, but had been hitherto kept from it, not having the means. Just now, in this our great necessity, the Lord furnished him with the means, and we were helped in this way. In addition to this ten pounds, I received last evening a letter with five pounds, from a sister whom I never saw, and who has been several times used by God as an instrument to supply our wants. She writes thus: "It has been so much on my mind lately to send you some money, that I feel as if there must be some need, which the Lord purposes to honor me by making me the instrument of supplying. I therefore enclose you five pounds, all I have in the house at this moment."
December 9. One pound, with Mark ix. 36-7: "And taking a little child, he set him in the midst of them," etc., a most encouraging passage for this work, the force of which I had never felt before.
December 15. This day was set apart for prayer and thanksgiving respecting the Infant Orphan House, which was opened on November 28. In the morning we had a prayer meeting. In the afternoon, besides prayer and thanksgiving, I addressed the children of our day schools and the orphans, about 350, on Ecclesiastes xii. 1.
In addition to the items mentioned above, donations were received during the year, of money, food, clothes, books, boxes, coal-hods, ornaments (to be sold), etc.; also, the offer of gratuitous medical attendance, and medicine. Up to the close of 1836, seven hundred and seventy pounds and ninepence halfpenny had been given, and forty pounds promised.
December 31. We had this evening a prayer meeting to praise the Lord for his goodness during the past year, and to ask him for a continuance of his favors.
During the past year there have been received into the church, 52; and the Lord has been pleased to give me, as it regards my temporal supplies, L232 11s. 9d.
January 2, 1837. This evening the two churches had again an especial prayer meeting.
January 5. To-day a sister called and told me about the conversion of her father, who, in his eightieth year, after having for many years lived openly in sin, is at last brought to the knowledge of the Lord. This sister had long prayed for the conversion of her father, and at last, though only after twenty years, the Lord gave her the desire of her heart.
May 18. There are now sixty-four children in the two Orphan Houses, and two more are expected, which will fill the two houses.
May 28. The narrative of some of the Lord's dealings with me is now near being published, which has led me again most earnestly this day week, and repeatedly since, to ask the Lord that he would be pleased to give me what is wanting of the one thousand pounds, for which sum I have asked him on behalf of the orphans; for though, in my own mind, the thing is as good as done, so much so that I have repeatedly been able to thank God that he will surely give me every shilling of that sum, yet to others this would not be enough. As the whole matter, then, about the Orphan House had been commenced for the glory of God, that in this way before the world and the church there might be another visible proof that the Lord delights in answering prayer; and as there was yet a part of the thousand pounds wanting; and as I earnestly desired the book might not leave the press before every shilling of that sum had been given in answer to prayer, without one single individual having been asked by me for anything, that thus I might have the sweet privilege of bearing my testimony for God in this book;—for these reasons, I say, I have given myself earnestly to prayer about this matter since May 21. On May 22 came in seven pounds and ten shillings, and on May 23, three pounds. On May 24, a lady, whom I never saw before, called on me, and gave me forty pounds. This circumstance has greatly encouraged me; for the Lord showed me thereby, afresh, his willingness to continue to send us large sums, and that they can even come from individuals whom we have never seen before. On May 25, three pounds and six shillings were sent, from two unexpected quarters. On May 27 was sent, anonymously, a parcel of worn clothes, from London, and a sovereign. To-day (May 28) I received again four pounds three shillings and sixpence; and also a parcel was sent from a considerable distance, containing seven pairs of socks, and the following trinkets, to be sold for the support of the orphans: one gold pin with an Irish pearl, fifteen Irish pearls, two pins, two brooches, two lockets, one seal, two studs, eleven rings, one chain, and one bracelet, all of gold.
June 15. To-day I gave myself once more earnestly to prayer respecting the remainder of the thousand pounds. This evening five pounds were given, so that now the whole sum is made up. During eighteen months and ten days this petition has been brought before God almost daily. From the moment I asked till the Lord granted it fully, I had never been allowed to doubt that he would give every shilling of that sum. Often have I praised him beforehand, in the assurance that he would grant my request. The thing after which we have especially to seek in prayer is, that we believe that we receive, according to Mark xi. 24: "What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them."
As the Lord has so greatly condescended to listen to my prayers, and as I consider it one of the particular talents which he has intrusted to me to exercise faith upon his promises, as it regards my own temporal wants and those of others; and as an Orphan House for boys above seven years of age seems greatly needed in this city; and as also without it we know not how to provide for the little boys in the Infant Orphan House, when they are above seven years of age, I purpose to establish an Orphan House for about forty boys above seven years of age.
July 12. The same friend who gave me on May 24, 1837, forty pounds for the orphans, and whom, up to that time, I had never seen, gave four hundred and sixty pounds more, being altogether five hundred pounds.
It is now three years and four months since brother Craik and I began, in dependence upon the Lord for funds, to seek to help the spread of the gospel through the instrumentality of schools, the circulation of the Holy Scriptures, and by aiding missionary exertions. Since then there have been circulated, through our instrumentality, 4,030 copies of the Scriptures; four day schools, for poor children, have been established by us; 1,119 children have been instructed in the six day schools, and 353 children are now in those six day schools. Besides this, a Sunday school and an adult school have been supplied with all they needed, and missionary exertions in the East Indies, in Upper Canada, and on the continent of Europe, have been aided. In addition to this, the word of God has been preached from house to house among the poor, in connection with the Scriptural Knowledge Institution, by brother C——r, within the last two years.
On the 15th of August, 1837, the preceding portion of this narrative was published.
Aug. 17. To-day two more children were received into the Infant Orphan House, which makes up our full number, sixty-six in the Girls' and Infant Orphan Houses.
September 2. I have been looking about for a house for the orphan boys, these last three days. Everything else has been provided. The Lord has given suitable individuals to take care of the children, money, etc. In his own time he will give a house also.
September 19. It was to-day particularly impressed upon my heart that I ought to seek for more retirement, though the work should apparently suffer ever so much; and that arrangements should be made whereby I may be able to visit the brethren more, as an unvisited church will sooner or later become an unhealthy church. Pastors, as fellow-laborers, are greatly needed among us.
September 28. I have for a long time been too much outwardly engaged. Yesterday morning I spent about three hours in the vestry of Gideon, to be able to have more time for retirement. I meant to do the same in the afternoon, but before I could leave the house I was called on, and thus one person after the other came, till I had to go out. Thus it has been again to-day.
October 16. For a long time past brother Craik and I have felt the importance of more pastoral visiting, and it has been one of our greatest trials that we have been unable to give more time to it. This evening we had purposely a meeting of the two churches, at which brother Craik and I, and a brother from Devonshire, spoke on: I. The importance of pastoral visiting. II. The particular obstacles which hindered us in attending to it. III. The question whether there was any way of removing some of the obstacles.
I. As to the importance of pastoral visiting, the following points were mentioned: 1. Watching over the saints, by means of visiting them, to prevent coldness, or to recover them from backsliding. 2. To counsel and advise them in family affairs, in their business, and in spiritual matters. 3. To keep up that loving and familiar intercourse which is so desirable between saints and those who have the oversight of them. These visits should be, if possible, frequent; but in our case there have been several obstacles in the way.
II. The particular obstacles in our case are: 1. The largeness of the number who are in communion with us. One hundred would be quite as many as we have strength to visit regularly, and as often as would be desirable; but there are nearly four hundred in fellowship with us. 2. The distance of the houses of the saints from our own dwellings, as many live more than two miles off. 3. The Lord's blessing upon our labors. Not one year has passed away, since we have been in Bristol, without more than fifty having been added to our number, each of whom, in general, needed several times to be conversed with before being admitted into fellowship. 4. That brother Craik and I have each of us the care of two churches. At the first sight it appears as if the work is thus divided, but the double number of meetings, etc., nearly double the work. 5. The mere ruling, and taking care, in general, of a large body of believers, irrespective of the other work, takes much more time, and requires much more strength, than the taking care of a small body of believers, as we, by grace, desire not to allow known sin among us. 6. The position which we have in the church at large brings many brethren to us who travel through Bristol, who call on us, or lodge with us, and to whom, according to the Lord's will, we have to give some time. 7. In my own case, an extensive needful correspondence. 8. The weakness of body on the part of both of us. When the preaching is done,—when strangers who lodge with us are gone,—when the calls at our house are over,—when the needful letters, however briefly, are written,—when the necessary church business is settled,—our minds are often so worn out that we are glad to be quiet. 9. But suppose we have bodily strength remaining, after the above things have been attended to, yet the frame of mind is not always so as that one could visit. After having been particularly tried by church matters, which in so large a body does not rarely occur, or being cast down in one's own soul, one may be fit for the closet, but not for visiting the saints. 10. Lastly, in my own case, no small part of my time is taken up by attending to the affairs of the Orphan Houses, schools, the circulation of the Scriptures, the aiding missionary efforts, and other work connected with the Scriptural Knowledge Institution.
III. What is to be done under these circumstances? 1. In the days of the apostles there would have been more brethren to take the oversight of so large a body as we are. The Lord has not laid upon us a burden which is too heavy for us; he is not a hard master. It is evident that he does not mean us even to attempt to visit all the saints as much as is evidently needful, and much less as frequently as it would be desirable. We mention this, to prevent uncomfortable feelings on the part of the dear saints under our pastoral care, who find themselves not as much visited as they used to be when we came to Bristol, when the number of them was not seventy, and now it is about four hundred, and when in many other respects the work in our hands was not half so much as it is now, and when we had much more bodily strength. 2. It is therefore evident that there are other pastors needed; not nominal pastors, but such as the Lord has called, to whom he has given a pastor's heart and pastoral gifts. 3. Such may be raised up by the Lord from our own number, or the Lord may send them from elsewhere. 4. But in the mean time we should at least see whether there are not helpers among us. 5. As to the work itself, in order that time may be saved, it appears desirable that the two churches, Bethesda and Gideon, should be united into one, that the breaking of bread should be alternately, and that the number of weekly meetings should be reduced.
October 21. To-day the Lord has given me a house for the Orphan Boys, in the same street in which the other two Orphan Houses are.
Mr. Mueller's health having suffered from his cares, money was sent him from unexpected sources, to be used in travelling and recreation.
REVIEW OF THE YEAR 1837.
1. There are now eighty-one children in the three Orphan Houses, and nine brethren and sisters, who have the care of them. Ninety, therefore, daily sit down to table. Lord, look on the necessities of thy servant!
2. The schools require as much help as before; nay, more, particularly the Sunday school, in which there are at present about 320 children, and in the day schools about 350. Lord, thy servant is a poor man; but he has trusted in thee, and made his boast in thee, before the sons of men; therefore let him not be confounded! Let it not be said all this was enthusiasm, and therefore it is come to naught!
3. My temporal supplies have been L307 2s. 61/2d.
THE MINISTRY OF SICKNESS—PEACE OF MIND—JESUS A PRESENT HELP—DEEP POVERTY—PLEADING WITH GOD—UNITED PRAYER.
January 6, 1838. I feel little better in my head, though my general health seems improved; but my kind physician says I am much better, and advises me now change of air. This evening a sister, who resides about fifty miles from hence, and who is quite unacquainted with the medical advice given to me this morning, sent me fifteen pounds for the express purpose of change of air; and wrote that she felt assured, from having been similarly afflicted, that nothing would do me so much good, humanly speaking, as quiet and change of air.
January 7. This is the ninth Lord's day that I have been kept from ministering in the word. My affliction is connected with a great tendency to irritability of temper; yea, with some satanic feeling, foreign to me even naturally.
January 10. To-day I went with my family to Trowbridge. Jan. 14. Lord's day. I have spent several hours in prayer to-day, and read on my knees, and prayed for two hours over Psalm lxiii. God has blessed my soul much to-day. My soul is now brought into that state that I delight myself in the will of God, as it regards my health. Yea, I can now say, from my heart, I would not have this disease removed till God, by its means, has bestowed the blessing for which it was sent.
January 15. I have had, since yesterday afternoon, less suffering in my head than for the last eight days; though it is even now far from being well. I have still an inward assurance, on account of the spiritual blessings which the Lord has granted to me, that through this affliction he is only purifying me for his blessed service, and that I shall be soon restored to the work. To-day, also, God has continued to me fervency of spirit, which I have now enjoyed for three days following. He has to-day, also, drawn out my soul into much real communion with himself, and into holy desires to be more conformed to his dear Son. When God gives a spirit of prayer, how easy then to pray! Nevertheless, it was given to me in the use of the means, as I fell on my knees last Saturday, to read his word with meditation, and to turn it into prayer. To-day I spent about three hours in prayer over Psalms lxiv. and lxv. In reference to that precious word, "O thou that hearest prayer," (Ps. lxv. 2,) I asked the Lord the following petitions, and entreated him to record them in heaven, and to answer them.
1. That he would give me grace to glorify him by a submissive and patient spirit under my affliction.
2. That as I was enabled now, and only now from my heart, to praise God for this affliction, he would not remove his hand from me until he had qualified me for his work more than I have been hitherto.
3. That he would be pleased to grant that the work of conversion, through the instrumentality of brother Craik and myself, might not cease, but go on as much now as when we first came to Bristol, yea, more abundantly than even then.
4. That he would be pleased to give more real spiritual prosperity to the church under our care than ever we have as yet enjoyed.
5. Having praised him for the sale of so many copies of my Narrative in so short a time, I entreated him to cause every copy to be disposed of.
6. I asked him to continue to let his rich blessing rest upon this little work, and more abundantly, so that many may be converted through it, and many of the children of God truly benefited by it, and that thus I might now be speaking through it, though laid aside from active service.
7. I asked him for his blessing, in the way of conversion, to rest upon the orphans, and upon the Sunday and day-school children under our care.
8. I asked him for means to carry on these Institutions, and to enlarge them.
These are some of the petitions which I have asked of my God this evening, in connection with this his own word. I believe he has heard me. I believe he will make it manifest in his own good time that he has heard me, and I have recorded these my petitions, this 15th day of January, 1838, that when God has answered them he may get, through this, glory to his name. [Whilst writing this second part, I add to the praise of the Lord, and for the encouragement of the children of God, that petitions 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8, have been fully answered, and the other petitions, likewise, in part.]
January 16. Tuesday. A blessed day. How very good is the Lord! Fervency of spirit, through his grace, is continued to me; though this morning, but for the help of God, I should have lost it again. The weather has been very cold for several days; but to-day I suffered much, either because it was colder than before, or because I felt it more, owing to the weakness of my body, and having taken so much medicine. I arose from my knees and stirred the fire, but I still remained very cold. I was a little irritated by this. I moved to another part of the room, but felt the cold still more. At last, having prayed for some time, I was obliged to rise up and take a walk to promote circulation. I now entreated the Lord on my walk that this circumstance might not be permitted to rob me of the precious communion which I have had with him the last three days; for this was the object at which Satan aimed. I confessed also my sin of irritability on account of the cold, and sought to have my conscience cleansed through the blood of Jesus. He had mercy upon me, my peace was restored, and when I returned I sought the Lord again in prayer, and had uninterrupted communion with him.
His health remaining feeble, Mr. M. left England on April 6, for Germany, and returned to Bristol May 7. He continues his narrative:—
May 8. This evening I went to the prayer meeting at Gideon. I read Psalm ciii., and was able to thank the Lord publicly for my late affliction. This is the first time that I have taken any part in the public meetings of the brethren since November 6, 1837.
July 12. The funds, which were this day twelvemonth about seven hundred and eighty pounds, are now reduced to about twenty pounds; but, thanks be to the Lord, my faith is as strong, or stronger, than it was when we had the larger sum in hand; nor has he at any time, from the commencement of the work, allowed me to distrust him. Nevertheless, as our Lord will be inquired of, and as real faith is manifested as such by leading to prayer, I gave myself to prayer with brother T——, of the Boys' Orphan House, who had called on me, and who, besides my wife and brother Craik, is the only individual to whom I speak about the state of the funds. While we were praying, an orphan child from Frome was brought, and some believers at Frome, having collected among them five pounds, sent this money with the child. Thus we received the first answer at a time of need. We have given notice for seven children to come in, and purpose to give notice for five more, though our funds are so low, hoping that God will look on our necessities.
July 17 and 18. These two days we have had two especial prayer meetings, from six to nine in the evening, to commend publicly to the Lord the Boys' Orphan House. Our funds are how very low. There are about twenty pounds in hand, and in a few days thirty pounds, at least, will be needed; but I purposely avoided saying anything about our present necessities, and spoke only to the praise of God, about the abundance with which our gracious Father, "the Father of the fatherless," has hitherto supplied us. This was done in order that the hand of God, in sending help, may be so much the more clearly seen.
July 22. This evening I was walking in our little garden, meditating on Heb. xiii. 8, "Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to-day, and forever." Whilst meditating on his unchangeable love, power, wisdom, etc., and turning all, as I went on, into prayer respecting myself; and whilst applying likewise his unchangeable love, and power, and wisdom, etc., both to my present spiritual and temporal circumstances,—all at once the present need of the Orphan Houses was brought to my mind. Immediately I was led to say to myself, Jesus in his love and power has hitherto supplied me with what I have needed for the orphans, and in the same unchangeable love and power he will provide me with what I may need for the future. A flow of joy came into my soul whilst realizing thus the unchangeableness of our adorable Lord. About one minute after, a letter was brought me, enclosing a bill for twenty pounds.
August 18. I have not one penny in hand for the orphans. In a day or two again many pounds will be needed. My eyes are up to the Lord. Evening. Before this day is over, I have received from a sister five pounds. She had some time since put away her trinkets, to be sold for the benefit of the orphans. This morning, whilst in prayer, it came to her mind, "I have this five pounds, and owe no man anything, therefore it would be better to give this money at once, as it may be some time before I can dispose of the trinkets." She therefore brought it, little knowing that there was not a penny in hand.
August 29. To-day sixteen believers were baptized. Among those who were baptized was an aged brother of above eighty-four years, and one above seventy. For the latter, his believing wife had prayed thirty-eight years, and at last the Lord answered her prayers in his conversion.
August 31. I have been waiting on the Lord for means, as the matron's books from the Girls' Orphan House have been brought, and there is no money in hand to advance for housekeeping. But, as yet, the Lord has not been pleased to send help. As the matron called to-day for money, one of the laborers gave two pounds of his own, for the present necessities.
September 1. The Lord in his wisdom and love has not yet sent help. Whence it is to come, need not be my care. But I believe God will, in due time, send help. His hour is not yet come. As there was money needed in the Boys' Orphan House also, the same brother just alluded to gave two pounds for that also. Thus we were delivered at this time likewise. But now his means are gone. This is the most trying hour that as yet I have had in the work, as it regards means; but I know that I shall yet praise the Lord for his help.
September 5. Our hour of trial continues still. The Lord mercifully has given enough to supply our daily necessities; but he gives by the day now, and almost by the hour, as we need it. Nothing came in yesterday. I have besought the Lord again and again, both yesterday and to-day. It is as if the Lord said: "Mine hour is not yet come." But I have faith in God. I believe that he surely will send help, though I know not whence it is to come. Many pounds are needed within a few days, and there is not a penny in hand. This morning two pounds was given for the present necessities, by one of the laborers in the work. Evening. This very day the Lord sent again some help to encourage me to continue to wait on him, and to trust in him. As I was praying this afternoon respecting the matter, I felt fully assured that the Lord would send help, and praised him beforehand for his help, and asked him to encourage our hearts through it. I have been also led, yesterday and to-day, to ask the Lord especially that he would not allow my faith to fail. A few minutes after I had prayed, brother T—— came and brought four pounds one shilling and fivepence, which had come in in several small donations. He told me, at the same time, that to-morrow the books will be brought from the Infant Orphan House, when money must be advanced for housekeeping. I thought for a moment it might be well to keep three pounds of this money for that purpose. But it occurred to me immediately, "Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof." The Lord can provide by to-morrow much more than I need; and I therefore sent three pounds to one of the sisters whose quarterly salary was due, and the remaining one pound one shilling and fivepence to the Boys' Orphan House for housekeeping. Thus I am still penniless. My hope is in God; he will provide.
September 6. This morning the books were brought from the Infant Orphan House, and the matron sent to ask when she should fetch them, implying when they would have been looked over, and when money would be advanced for housekeeping. I said, "to-morrow," though I had not a single penny in hand. About an hour after, brother T—— sent me a note, to say that he had received one pound this morning, and that last evening a brother had sent twenty-nine pounds of salt, forty-four dozen of onions, and twenty-six pounds of groats.
[Footnote 16: Groats. Oats or other grain, with the hulls removed.—ED.]
September 7. The time had come that I had to send money to the Infant Orphan House, but the Lord had not sent any more. I gave, therefore, the pound which had come in yesterday, and two shillings and twopence which had been put into the box in my house, trusting to the good Lord to send in more.
September 8. It has not pleased my gracious Lord to send me help as yet. Yesterday and to-day I have been pleading with God eleven arguments why he would be graciously pleased to send help. The arguments which I plead with God are:—
1. That I set about the work for the glory of God, i. e. that there might be a visible proof, by God supplying, in answer to prayer only, the necessities of the orphans, that he is the living God, and most willing, even in our day, to answer prayer; and that, therefore, he would be pleased to send supplies.
2. That God is the "Father of the fatherless," and that he, therefore, as their father, would be pleased to provide. Psalm lxviii. 5.
3. That I have received the children in the name of Jesus, and that therefore he, in these children, has been received, and is fed, and is clothed; and that therefore he would be pleased to consider this. Mark ix. 36, 37.
4. That the faith of many of the children of God has been strengthened by this work hitherto, and that, if God were to withhold the means for the future, those who are weak in faith would be staggered; whilst, by a continuance of means, their faith might still further be strengthened.
5. That many enemies would laugh, were the Lord to withhold supplies, and say, Did we not foretell that this enthusiasm would come to nothing?
6. That many of the children of God, who are uninstructed, or in a carnal state, would feel themselves justified to continue their alliance with the world in the work of God, and to go on as heretofore in their unscriptural proceedings respecting similar institutions, so far as the obtaining of means is concerned, if he were not to help me.
7. That the Lord would remember that I am his child, and that he would graciously pity me, and remember that I cannot provide for these children, and that therefore he would not allow this burden to lie upon me long without sending help.
8. That he would remember likewise my fellow-laborers in the work, who trust in him, but who would be tried were he to withhold supplies.
9. That he would remember that I should have to dismiss the children from under our scriptural instruction to their former companions.
10. That he would show that those were mistaken who said, that, at the first, supplies might be expected, while the thing was new, but not afterwards.
11. That I should not know, were he to withhold means, what construction I should put upon all the many most remarkable answers to prayer which he had given me heretofore in connection with this work, and which most fully have shown to me that it is of God.
In some small measure I now understand, experimentally, the meaning of that word, "how long," which so frequently occurs in the prayers of the Psalms. But even now, by the grace of God, my eyes are up unto him only, and I believe that he will send help.
Sept. 10. Monday morning. Neither Saturday nor yesterday had any money come in. It appeared to me now needful to take some steps on account of our need, i. e. to go to the Orphan Houses, call the brethren and sisters together (who, except brother T——, had never been informed about the state of the funds), state the case to them, see how much money was needed for the present, tell them that amidst all this trial of faith I still believed that God would help, and to pray with them. Especially, also, I meant to go for the sake of telling them that no more articles must be purchased than we have the means to pay for, but to let there be nothing lacking in any way to the children, as it regards nourishing food and needful clothing; for I would rather at once send them away than that they should lack. I meant to go for the sake also of seeing whether there were still articles remaining which had been sent for the purpose of being sold, or whether there were any articles really needless, that we might turn them into money. I felt that the matter was now come to a solemn crisis. About half-past nine sixpence came in, which had been put anonymously into the box at Gideon Chapel. This money seemed to me like an earnest that God would have compassion and send more. About ten, after I had returned from brother Craik, to whom I had unbosomed my heart again, whilst once more in prayer for help, a sister called who gave two sovereigns to my wife for the orphans, stating that she had felt herself stirred up to come, and that she had delayed coming already too long. A few minutes after, when I went into the room where she was, she gave me two sovereigns more, and all this without knowing the least about our need. Thus the Lord most mercifully has sent us a little help, to the great encouragement of my faith. A few minutes after I was called on for money from the Infant Orphan House, to which I sent two pounds, and one pound sixpence to the Boys' Orphan House, and one pound to the Girls' Orphan House.
To-day I saw a young brother who, as well as one of his sisters, has been brought to the knowledge of the Lord through my Narrative.
Sept. 11. The good Lord, in his wisdom, still sees it needful to keep us very low. But this afternoon brother T—— called, and told me that one of our fellow-laborers had sold his metal watch, and two gold pins, for one pound one shilling, that nine shillings sixpence had come in, and that two of our fellow-laborers had sent two lots of books of their own, nineteen and twenty-one in number, to be sold for the orphans.
Sept. 12. Still the trial continues. Only nine shillings came in to-day, given by one of the laborers. In the midst of this great trial of faith the Lord still mercifully keeps me in great peace. He also allows me to see that our labor is not in vain; for yesterday died Leah Culliford, one of the orphans, about nine years old, truly converted, and brought to the faith some months before her departure.
Sept. 13. No help has come yet. This morning I found it was absolutely needful to tell the brethren and sisters about the state of the funds, and to give necessary directions as to going into debt, etc. We prayed together, and had a very happy meeting. They all seemed comfortable. Twelve shillings sixpence was taken out of the boxes in the three houses, twelve shillings one of the laborers gave, and one pound one shilling had come in for needlework done by the children. One of the sisters, who is engaged in the work, sent a message after me, not to trouble myself about her salary, for she should not want any for a twelvemonth.
Sept. 14. I met again this morning with the brethren and sisters for prayer, as the Lord has not yet sent help. After prayer one of the laborers gave me all the money he had, sixteen shillings, saying that it would not be upright to pray, if he were not to give what he had. One of the sisters told me that in six days she would give six pounds, which she had in the savings bank for such a time of need. Up to this day, the matrons of the three houses had been in the habit of paying the bakers and the milk-man weekly, because they had preferred to receive the payments in this way, and sometimes it had thus been also with the butcher and grocer. But now, as the Lord deals out to us by the day, we consider it would be wrong to go on any longer in this way, as the week's payment might become due, and we have no money to meet it; and thus those with whom we deal might be inconvenienced by us, and we be found acting against the commandment of the Lord, "Owe no man anything." Rom. xiii. 8. From this day, and henceforward, whilst the Lord gives to us our supplies by the day, we purpose, therefore, to pay at once for every article as it is purchased, and never to buy any thing except we can pay for it at once, however much it may seem to be needed, and however much those with whom we deal may wish to be paid only by the week. The little which was owed was paid off this day.
Sept. 15. Saturday. We met again this morning for prayer. God comforts our hearts. We are looking for help. I found that there were provisions enough for to-day and to-morrow, but there was no money in hand to take in bread as usual, in order that the children might not have newly baked bread. This afternoon one of the laborers, who had been absent for several days from Bristol, returned, and gave one pound. This evening we met again for prayer, when I found that ten shillings sixpence more had come in since the morning. With this one pound ten shillings sixpence we were able to buy, even this Saturday evening, the usual quantity of bread (as it might be difficult to get stale bread on Monday morning), and have some money left. God be praised, who gave us grace to come to the decision not to take any bread to-day, as usual, nor to buy anything for which we cannot pay at once. We were very comfortable, thankfully taking this money out of our Father's hands, as a proof that he still cares for us, and that, in his own time, he will send us larger sums.
"PERPLEXED BUT NOT IN DESPAIR"—FAITH JUSTIFIED—A LESSON OF OBEDIENCE—BOUNTIFUL SUPPLIES—SPIRITUAL INGATHERING—A DAY OF MERCIES—TIMELY AID—A SEASON OF PLENTY—OBEDIENCE REWARDED.
Sept. 16, 1838. Lord's day afternoon. We met again for prayer respecting supplies for the orphans. We are in peace, and our hope is in God, that he graciously will appear, though but one shilling has come in since last evening.
Sept. 17. The trial still continues. It is now more and more trying, even to faith, as each day comes. But I am sure God will send help, if we can but wait. One of the laborers had had a little money come in, of which he gave twelve shillings sixpence; another laborer gave eleven shillings eightpence, being all the money she had left: this, with seventeen shillings sixpence, which partly had come in, and partly was in hand, enabled us to pay what needed to be paid, and to purchase provisions, so that nothing yet, in any way, has been lacking. This evening I was rather tried respecting the long delay of larger sums coming; but being led to go to the Scriptures for comfort, my soul was greatly refreshed, and my faith again strengthened, by Psalm xxxiv., so that I went very cheerfully to meet with my dear fellow-laborers for prayer. I read to them the Psalm, and sought to cheer their hearts through the precious promises contained in it.
Sept. 18. Brother T. had twenty-five shillings in hand, and I had three shillings. This one pound eight shillings enabled us to buy the meat and bread which was needed, a little tea for one of the houses, and milk for all: no more than this is needed. Thus the Lord has provided not only for this day, but there is bread for two days in hand. Now, however, we are come to an extremity. The funds are exhausted. The laborers who had a little money have given as long as they had any left. Now observe how the Lord helped us! A lady from the neighborhood of London, who brought a parcel with money from her daughter, arrived four or five days since in Bristol, and took lodgings next door to the Boys' Orphan House. This afternoon she herself kindly brought me the money, amounting to three pounds two shillings and sixpence. We had been reduced so low as to be on the point of selling those things which could be spared; but this morning I had asked the Lord, if it might be, to prevent the necessity of our doing so. That the money had been so near the Orphan Houses for several days without being given, is a plain proof that it was from the beginning in the heart of God to help us; but, because he delights in the prayers of his children, he had allowed us to pray so long; also to try our faith, and to make the answer much the sweeter. It is indeed a precious deliverance. I burst out into loud praises and thanks the first moment I was alone after I had received the money. I met with my fellow-laborers again this evening for prayer and praise; their hearts were not a little cheered. This money was this evening divided, and will comfortably provide for all that will be needed to-morrow.
Sept. 20. Morning. The Lord has again kindly sent in a little. Last evening was given to me one shilling and sixpence, and this morning one pound three shillings. Evening. This evening the Lord sent still further supplies; eight pounds eleven shillings and twopence halfpenny came in, as a further proof that the Lord is not unmindful of us. There was in the box of the Girls' Orphan House one pound one shilling, and in that of the Boys' Orphan House one pound seven shillings and twopence halfpenny. One of the laborers, in accordance with her promise this day week, gave six pounds three shillings. About eighteen months ago she saw it right no longer to have money for herself in the Savings Bank, and she therefore, in her heart, gave the money which she had there to the Orphan Houses, intending to draw it in a time of need. Some time since (she told me this evening) she drew a part of it to buy several useful articles for the Orphan Houses; now the sum was reduced to six pounds. When she found out the present need, she went this day week to the Savings Bank, and gave notice that she wished to draw her money to-day.
Sept. 22. Both yesterday and to-day we have again assembled for prayer and praise. We are in no immediate want, but on the 29th, nineteen pounds ten shillings will be due for the rent of the three Orphan Houses. To-day there was only four shillings and sevenpence in hand for the other objects of the institution, though it was the payday for some of the teachers. My comfort was the living God. During this week he had helped me so repeatedly and in such a remarkable way, as it regards the Orphan Houses, that it would have been doubly sinful not to have trusted in him for help under this fresh difficulty. No money came in this morning. About two, the usual time when the teachers are paid, a sovereign was given, with which I went immediately to brother T., who attends to this part of the work, to pay, at least in part, the weekly salaries. I found that he had received a sovereign in the morning. By means of this sovereign, together with the one which I had received just at the moment when it was needed, we were helped through this day.
Sept. 25. Yesterday and the previous days we have continued to assemble for prayer. In four days the rent for the Orphan Houses will be due, and we have nothing towards it; also the housekeeping money in the three houses is now again gone. May the Lord have compassion on us, and continue to send us help! This morning there was found nine shillings and sixpence in the box in my house. We met yesterday again for prayer. To-day I was not able to go, on account of indisposition; I sent, therefore, to brother T. to request him to divide the eighteen shillings and sixpence (ten shillings of which had come in last evening, and eight shillings and sixpence of which we had in hand) between the three matrons.
Sept. 29. Saturday evening. Prayer has been made for several days past respecting the rent, which is due this day. I have been looking out for it, though I knew not whence a shilling was to come. This morning brother T. called on me, and, as no money had come in, we prayed together, and continued in supplication from ten till a quarter to twelve. Twelve o'clock struck, the time when the rent ought to have been paid, but no money had been sent. For some days past I have repeatedly had a misgiving, whether the Lord might not disappoint us, in order that we might be led to provide by the week, or the day, for the rent. This is the second, and only the second, complete failure as to answers of prayer in the work, during the past four years and six months. The first was about the half-yearly rent of Castle-Green school-rooms, due July 1, 1837, which had come in only in part by that time. I am now fully convinced that the rent ought to be put by daily or weekly, as God may prosper us, in order that the work, even as to this point, may be a testimony. May the Lord, then, help us to act accordingly, and may he now mercifully send in the means to pay the rent!
Oct. 2. Tuesday evening. The Lord's holy name be praised! He hath dealt most bountifully with us during the last three days! The day before yesterday five pounds came in for the orphans. O, how kind is the Lord! Always before there has been actual want he has sent help. Yesterday came in one pound ten shillings more. Thus the expenses of yesterday for housekeeping were defrayed. The Lord helped me also to pay yesterday the nineteen pounds ten shillings for the rent. The means for it were thus obtained: One of the laborers had received through his family ten pounds, and five pounds besides from a sister in the Lord; also some other money. Of this he gave sixteen pounds, which, with the three pounds ten shillings that was left of the above-mentioned five pounds, made up nineteen pounds ten shillings, the sum which was needed. This day we were again greatly reduced. There was no money in hand to take in bread, as usual, for the Boys' and Infant Orphan Houses. But again the Lord helped. A sister who had arrived this afternoon from Swansea brought one pound seven shillings, and one of the laborers sold an article, by means of which he was able to give one pound thirteen shillings. Thus we had three pounds,—one pound for each house,—and could buy bread before the day was over. Hitherto we have lacked nothing!
Oct. 9. To-day we were brought lower than ever. The provisions would have lasted out only to-day, and the money for milk in one of the houses could only be made up by one of the laborers selling one of his books. The matron in the Boys' Orphan House had this morning two shillings left. When in doubt whether to buy bread with it, or more meat, to make up the dinner with the meat which she had in the house, the baker called, and left three quarterns of bread as a present. In this great need, some money having been given to one of the laborers, he gave two pounds of it, by which we were able to buy meat, bread, and other provisions.
Oct. 10. The coals in the Infant Orphan House are out, and nearly so in the other two houses. Also the treacle casks in all the three houses are nearly empty. On this account we have asked the Lord for fresh supplies.
Oct. 11. The "Father of the fatherless" has again shown his care over us. An orphan from Devonshire arrived last evening. With her was sent two pounds five shillings and sixpence. The sister who brought her gave also a silver tea-pot, sugar-basin, and cream-jug, of the weight of forty-eight ounces, having found true riches in Christ. There was also in the boxes nine shillings. One of the laborers paid for a ton of coals. We obtained sixteen pounds sixteen shillings for the silver articles. Thus we were helped through the heavy expenses of the following days.
Oct. 12. To-day seven brethren and sisters were added to us in fellowship, and eight were proposed. May the Lord send helpers for the work!
Oct. 15. I knew that there would be money needed this morning for many things in the Orphan Houses, and my heart was therefore lifted up to the Lord. Just when I was going to meet my fellow-laborers for prayer, I received from Trowbridge four pounds. There had come in also at the Orphan Houses seven shillings and threepence. To this one of the laborers added one pound. Thus I was enabled abundantly to supply all that was wanted, and to pay for a cask of treacle and a ton of coals. We are now, however, cast again on the love of our Lord for further supplies, as there is neither anything in hand, nor have the laborers any more of their own to give.
Oct. 16. I was looking up to the Lord for help early this morning, when, almost immediately afterwards, brother T. came, and brought two silver tablespoons and six teaspoons, which had been left anonymously, yesterday afternoon, at the Girls' Orphan House. This afternoon I received twelve pounds from Staffordshire.
Oct. 22. To-day our funds were again quite low. In the Infant Orphan House only twopence was left, and very little in the other two houses. But the Lord most manifestly again answered prayer, by sending four pounds three shillings and one penny.
Oct. 27. Thanks to our adorable Lord! this day also we have not been confounded; for there was six shillings in the box at the Infant Orphan House, and six shillings came in for things which had been given to be sold. To this one of the laborers added eighteen shillings. By means of this one pound ten shillings we have been able to meet all pressing demands, and to procure provisions for to-day and to-morrow.
Oct. 29. Monday. The Lord has again given us this day our daily bread, though in the morning there was not the least natural prospect of obtaining supplies.
Oct. 30. This has been again a day of peculiar mercies in reference to the funds. Whilst I was in prayer respecting them a brother brought two and a quarter yards of cloth. He had bought it for himself; but afterwards, considering that he had sufficient clothes, he gave it to be sold for the orphans. This evening a sister gave me twenty pounds, ten of which were for the Orphans, and ten for the other objects.
Nov. 7. The funds are now again completely exhausted.
Nov. 10. Saturday. All seemed to be dark, so far as regards natural appearances, at the commencement of this day. But the Lord has helped us, and enabled us to meet all demands. We were brought to the close of one more week, having been able to supply the necessities of ninety-seven persons in the Orphan Houses, without owing anything.
Nov. 13. This morning our want was again great. I have twenty pounds in hand which has been put by for rent, but, for the Lord's honor, I would not take of it. Nothing had come in, and the laborers had scarcely anything to give. I went, however, to the Orphan Houses, to pray with my fellow-laborers, and, if it might be, to comfort them, and see what could be done. When I came there I found that nineteen shillings and sixpence had come in this morning. On inquiry I heard that only two shillings and sixpence more was needed to carry us through the day. This one of the laborers was able to add of his own. Thus the Lord has again helped us out of our difficulty. One of the laborers gave some things which he could do without, and another gave a workbox to be sold for the orphans. Before this day has come to an end, the Lord has sent in one pound two shillings and fourpence more, so that we have also a little for to-morrow.
Nov. 20. To-day our need was exceedingly great, but the Lord's help was great also. I went to meet with the brethren and sisters as usual. I found that one pound would be needed to supply the necessities of to-day, but three shillings only had come in. Just when we were going to pray, one of the laborers came in, who, after prayer, gave ten shillings. Whilst we were praying, another laborer came in, who had received one pound. Thus we had one pound thirteen shillings,—even more, therefore, than was absolutely needed.
Nov. 21. Never were we so reduced in funds as to-day. There was not a single halfpenny in hand between the matrons of the three houses. Nevertheless, there was a good dinner, and by managing so as to help one another with bread, etc., there was a prospect of getting over this day also; but for none of the houses had we the prospect of being able to take in bread. When I left the brethren and sisters at one o'clock, after prayer, I told them that we must wait for help, and see how the Lord would deliver us at this time. I was sure of help, but we were indeed straitened. When I came to Kingsdown, I felt that I needed more exercise, being very cold, wherefore I went not the nearest way home, but round by Clarence-place. About twenty yards from my house I met a brother, who walked back with me, and after a little conversation gave me ten pounds to be handed over to the brethren, the deacons, towards providing the poor saints with coals, blankets, and warm clothing; also five pounds for the orphans, and five pounds for the other objects of the Scriptural Knowledge Institution. The brother had called twice while I was gone to the Orphan Houses, and had I now been one half minute later I should have missed him. But the Lord knew our need, and therefore allowed me to meet him.
Nov. 24. This again has been a very remarkable day. We had as little in hand this morning as at any time, and yet several pounds were needed. But God, who is rich in mercy, and whose word so positively declares that none who trust in him shall be confounded, has helped us through this day also. While I was in prayer, about ten in the morning, respecting the funds, I was informed that a gentleman had called to see me. He came to inform me that a lady had ordered three sacks of potatoes to be sent to the Orphan Houses. Never could they have come more seasonably. This was an encouragement to me to continue to expect help. When I came to the prayer meeting, about twelve o'clock, I heard that two shillings had come in, also one pound for a guitar, which had been given for sale. The payment for this guitar had been expected for many weeks. It had been mentioned among us repeatedly that it might come just at a time when we most needed it; and O, how true! But with all this we could not have put by the rents for this week, amounting to thirty shillings. One of the laborers therefore gave his watch to the orphan fund, under this condition, that should the Lord not enable us before December 21 to make up this deficiency, it should be sold, but not otherwise, as he needs it in the Lord's service. [A few days after the Lord gave the means to put by the thirty shillings, and thirty shillings besides for the next week's rent.] Thus the Lord helped us through this day, and with it brought us to the close of one more week.
Nov. 28. This is perhaps of all days the most remarkable as yet, so far as it regards the funds. When I was in prayer this morning respecting them, I was enabled firmly to believe that the Lord would send help, though all seemed dark as to natural appearances. At twelve o'clock I met as usual with the brethren and sisters for prayer. There had come in only one shilling, which was left last evening anonymously at the Infant Orphan House, and which, except twopence, had already been spent, on account of the great need. I heard also that an individual had gratuitously cleaned the timepiece in the Infant Orphan House, and had offered to keep the timepieces in the three houses in repair. Thus the Lord gave even in this a little encouragement, and a proof that he is still mindful of us. On inquiry, I found that there was everything needful for the dinner in all the three houses; but neither in the Infant nor Boys' Orphan Houses was there bread enough for tea, nor money to buy milk. Lower we had never been, and perhaps never so low. We gave ourselves now unitedly to prayer, laying the case in simplicity before the Lord. Whilst in prayer there was a knock at the door, and one of the sisters went out. After the two brethren who labor in the Orphan Houses and I had prayed aloud, we continued for a while silently in prayer. As to myself, I was lifting up my heart to the Lord to make a way for our escape, and in order to know if there were any other thing which I could do with a good conscience, besides waiting on him, so that we might have food for the children. At last we rose from our knees. I said, "God will surely send help." The words had not quite passed over my lips, when I perceived a letter lying on the table, which had been brought whilst we were in prayer. It was from my wife, containing another letter from a brother with ten pounds for the orphans. The evening before last I was asked by a brother whether the balance in hand for the orphans would be as great this time, when the accounts would be made up, as the last time. My answer was that it would be as great as the Lord pleased. The next morning this brother was moved to remember the orphans, and to send to-day ten pounds, which arrived after I had left my house, and which, on account of our need, was forwarded immediately to me. The brother who sent the ten pounds for the orphans sent likewise ten pounds to be divided between brother Craik and me, with the object of purchasing new clothes for ourselves.
Nov. 29. The Lord has greatly blessed our meetings for prayer. They have been instrumental in leading us to much prayer for the children in the Orphan Houses, in the day schools, and in the Sunday school. They have led us to prayer for ourselves, for the day-school teachers, and for the Sunday-school teachers, that grace may be given to us so to walk before the children, and so to deal with them, as that the Lord may be glorified by us. We have also often been led to intercede for the believers with whom we are in fellowship, and for the church at large. We have especially prayed that our work may lead the church generally to a more simple confidence and trust in the Lord. That these meetings have not been in vain, as regards the procuring of funds, has been already sufficiently seen by the many instances which have been recorded in the foregoing pages. To-day, however, we have had another particular proof of this. When we met I found that ten shillings had come in yesterday afternoon. When I returned home I found one pound had come in, and shortly after I received another pound. In the evening I received fifty pounds, which was sent from Suffolk by a sister who had often expressed how gladly she would contribute more largely to the work which is in our hands had she the means, and who just now, in this our time of need, has obtained the means to carry out the desire of her heart. I rejoice in the last donation particularly, not because of the largeness of the sum, but because it enables me to pay to my brethren and sisters in the Orphan Houses the salary which is due to them.
Dec. 6. This afternoon I received one hundred pounds from a sister,—fifty for the orphans, and fifty for the school, Bible, and missionary fund. This same sister, who earns her bread with her own hands, had given, on October 5, 1837, fifty pounds towards the Boys' Orphan House, and gave for the necessities of the poor saints, in August, 1838, one hundred pounds more; for she had been made willing to act out those precious exhortations: "Having food and raiment, let us be therewith content." "Sell that ye have, and give alms; provide yourselves bags which wax not old, a treasure in the heavens that faileth not, where no thief approacheth, neither moth corrupteth." "Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal." Respecting the fifty pounds which has been given of this sum for the school, Bible, and missionary fund, it is worthy of remark, that we would not order reference Bibles till we had the means. We had repeatedly prayed respecting this want of Bibles, and particularly again this morning. It had been also much laid on our hearts to-day to request that the Lord would enable us to have the Report printed, which we could not do unless he first sent the means. Lastly, we had also repeatedly asked him to supply us so largely, if it were his will, as that at the time of the public meetings we might be able to speak again of abundance. For though for some months past the time has been fixed for the public meetings, without any reference to the state of the funds, nevertheless, it might have had the appearance that we had convened the brethren for the sake of telling them about our poverty, and thus to induce them to give.
Dec. 11, 12, and 13. On the evenings of these three days there were public meetings, at which I gave an account of the Lord's dealing with us in reference to the Orphan Houses and the other objects of the Scriptural Knowledge Institution. As the work, and particularly that of the Orphan Houses, was begun for the benefit of the church at large, it appeared well to us that from time to time it should be publicly stated how the Lord had dealt with us in reference to it; and as, on Dec. 9, the third year had been completed since the commencement of the orphan work, this seemed to be a suitable time for having these meetings.
I notice briefly the following particulars respecting the first three objects of the Scriptural Knowledge Institution. 1. There is at present—December, 1838—a Sunday school supported by it, which contains four hundred and sixty-three children. This part of the work calls for particular thanksgiving; for during these last eighteen months the number of the children has been nearly three times as great as it used to be. Five of the scholars have been converted within the last two years, and are now in fellowship with the church, and three of them are teachers in the school. 2. There is in connection with the Institution an adult school, in which, since the commencement of the work, above one hundred and twenty adults have been instructed, and in which at present twelve are taught to read. 3. The Institution has entirely supported, since its commencement, several day schools for poor children, and within the last two years six of such,—three for boys and three for girls. The number of all the children that have had schooling in the day schools through the medium of the Institution, since its formation, amounts to 1,534; the number of those at present in the six day schools is 342. 4. During the last two years there have been circulated 1,884 copies of the Scriptures in connection with the Institution, and since the beginning of the work, March 5, 1834, 5,078 copies. 5. For missionary purposes have been laid out L74, 18s. 4d. 6. The total of the income for the first three objects, during the last two years, was L1,129, 13s. 1d.; the total of the expense, L1,111, 13s. 71/2d.