There are, at present, 86 orphans in the three houses, i. e. 31 in the Girls' Orphan House, 31 in the Infant Orphan House, and 24 in the Boys' Orphan House. The whole number of orphans who have been under our care from April 11, 1836, to Dec. 9, 1838, amounts to 110.
The total of the income for the orphans, from Dec. 9, 1836, to Dec. 9, 1838, has amounted to L1,341, 4s. 7d.; the total of the expenses to L1,664, 4s. 03/4d. There was two years ago a balance of L373, 4s. 81/4d. in hand, and now the balance is L50, 5s. 3d.
Dec. 16. There was a paper anonymously put into the box at Bethesda Chapel containing four pounds ten shillings. In the paper was written, "For the rent of the Orphan Houses, from Dec. 10 to Dec. 31, 1838. 'O, taste and see that the Lord is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him!'" In order that the reader may be able to enter into the value of this donation, I would request him to read over once more what I wrote under "Sept. 29" of this year. [The individual who gave this four pounds ten shillings for the rent of the Orphan Houses for the first three weeks after the public meetings, at which the matter about the rent, for the instruction of the brethren, was fully stated, continued for three years, up to Dec. 10, 1841, to give regularly, but anonymously, one pound ten shillings a week for the same purpose, which was exactly the sum required every week for the rent of those three houses. Thus the Lord rewarded our faithfulness in carrying out the light which he had given us. But the chief blessing resulting from this circumstance I consider to be this,—that several brethren, who earn their bread by the labor of their hands, have learned through this circumstance that it is the will of the Lord they should lay by their rent weekly. I beseech those brethren who are not pursuing this course to do so, and they will soon prove by experience the benefit of acting on scriptural principles even as it regards this life.]
Dec. 17. To-day eleven brethren and sisters were proposed for fellowship.
Dec. 20. As the expenses for the orphans have been above forty-seven pounds within the last six days, and as but little above thirteen pounds has come in, and as the money for printing the Report had to be kept back, in order that we might not be in debt, we were again to-day very low in funds, though it is but six days since the public meetings. As I knew that to-morrow several pounds would be needed to supply the matrons, I gave myself this morning to prayer. About a quarter of an hour afterwards I received three pounds, the payment of a legacy left by a sister, who fell asleep in Jesus several months since, in Ireland. Besides this I received from the brother through whom the legacy was paid, two pounds ten shillings for the orphan fund. With this five pounds ten shillings I hope to be able to meet the expenses of to-morrow.
Dec. 22. A solemn day. I received to-day the information that my brother died on October 7. "Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?" must be the stay of the believer at such a time, and, by grace, it is my stay now. I know that the Lord is glorified in my brother, whatever his end has been. May the Lord make this event a lasting blessing to me, especially in leading me to earnestness in prayer for my father!
REVIEW OF THE YEAR 1838.
1. As to the church. There are 405 at present in fellowship with us; 61 having been added last year, of whom 36 have been brought among us to the knowledge of the truth.
2. As to my temporal supplies. The Lord has been pleased to give me during the past year L350, 4s. 8d.
During no period of my life had I such need of means, on account of my own long illness and that of my dear wife, and on account of the many and particular calls for means, as during the past year; but also during no period of my life has the Lord so richly supplied me. Truly, it must be manifest to all that I have served a most kind Master, during this year also, and that, even for this life, it is by far the best thing to seek to act according to the mind of the Lord as to temporal things!
ASKING AND RECEIVING.
HELP FOR THE POOR SAINTS—THE UNFAILING BANK—MEANS EXHAUSTED—LIBERALITY OF A LABORING SISTER—"HE KNOWETH OUR FRAME"—REDEEMING THE TIME—GODLINESS PROFITABLE UNTO ALL THINGS.
January 1, 2, and 3, 1839. We have had three especial church prayer meetings these three days. The year commenced with mercies. In the first hour of the year there came in for the orphans two pounds seven shillings, which was given after our usual prayer meeting on December 31, which this time lasted from seven in the evening till after midnight.
Jan. 5. To-day I received another new hat, the eleventh which in succession has been given to me since I have been in England.
Jan. 20. For some time past it has appeared to me that the words, "Ye have the poor with you always, and whensoever ye will ye may do them good," which the Lord spoke to his disciples, who were themselves very poor, imply that the children of God, as such, have power with God to bring temporal blessings upon poor saints or poor unbelievers through the instrumentality of prayer. Accordingly, I have been led to ask the Lord for means to assist poor saints; and at different times he has stirred up his children to intrust me with sums, both large and small, for that especial object; or has, by some means or other, put money at my disposal, which I might so use. In like manner I had been asking again for means, a few days since, to be able more extensively to assist the poor saints in communion with us, as just now many of them are not merely tried by the usual temporal difficulties arising from its being winter, but especially from the high price of bread. And now this evening the Lord has given me the answer to my prayer. When I came home from the meeting I found a brother at my house who offered to give me ten pounds a week, for twelve weeks, towards providing the poor saints with coals and needful articles of clothing, but chiefly with bread. [Accordingly, this brother sent me, two days afterwards, one hundred and twenty pounds, whereby very many, especially poor widows, were greatly assisted, chiefly with flour and bread. This money just lasted till the price of bread was reduced from ninepence halfpenny to sevenpence halfpenny.]
Feb. 7. This day has been one of the most remarkable days as it regards the funds. There was no money in hand. I was waiting upon God. I had asked him repeatedly, but no supplies came. Brother T. called, between eleven and twelve o'clock, to tell me that about one pound two shillings would be needed, to take in bread for the three houses and to meet the other expenses; but we had only two shillings ninepence, which yesterday had been taken out of the boxes in the Orphan Houses. He went to Clifton to make arrangements for the reception of the three orphans of our sister Loader, who fell asleep on the 4th; for, though we have no funds in hand, the work goes on, and our confidence is not diminished. I therefore requested him to call, on his way back from Clifton, to see whether the Lord might have sent any money in the mean time. When he came I had received nothing, but one of the laborers, having five shillings of his own, gave it. It was now four o'clock. I knew not how the sisters had got through the day. Toward the close of the day I went to the Girls' Orphan House, to meet with the brethren for prayer. When I arrived there I found that a box had come for me from Barnstable. The carriage was paid, else there would have been no money to pay for it. (See how the Lord's hand is in the smallest matters!) The box was opened, and it contained, in a letter from a sister, ten pounds, of which eight pounds was for the orphans, and two pounds for the Bible Fund; from brethren at Barnstable, two pounds eleven shillings twopence; and from another brother, five shillings. Besides this, there were in the box four yards of merino, three pairs of new shoes, two pairs of new socks; also six books for sale; likewise a gold pencil-case, two gold rings, two gold drops of earrings, a necklace, and a silver pencil-case. On inquiry how the sisters had been carried through the day, I found it thus: Everything was in the houses which was needed for dinner. After dinner a lady from Thornbury came and bought one of my Narratives and one of the Reports, and gave three shillings besides. About five minutes afterwards the baker came to the Boys' Orphan House. The matron of the Girls' Orphan House seeing him, went immediately with the six shillings sixpence which she had just received (to prevent his being sent away, as there was no money in hand at the Boys' Orphan House), and bought bread to the amount of four shillings sixpence. The two remaining shillings, with the little which was in hand, served to buy bread for the Girls' Orphan House. By the donations sent in the box I was enabled to give a rich supply to the matrons before the close of the day.
February 13. This evening five pounds was given me, which had come in under the following circumstances: A gentleman and lady visited the Orphan Houses, and met at the Boys' Orphan House two ladies who were likewise visiting. One of the ladies said to the matron of the Boys' Orphan House, "Of course you cannot carry on these Institutions without a good stock of funds." The gentleman, turning to the matron, said, "Have you a good stock?" She replied, "Our funds are deposited in a bank which cannot break." The tears came into the eyes of the inquiring lady. The gentleman, on leaving, gave to the master of the boys five pounds, which came in when I had not a penny in hand.
March 5. To-day, however, I knew that there would be again several pounds required, as, besides the daily provisions, there were coals needed, the treacle casks in two houses were empty, and there was but five shillings in hand. I gave myself therefore to prayer this morning. WHILST I WAS IN PRAYER Q. Q. sent a check for seven pounds ten shillings.
March 23. To-day I received a letter from brother T., who is, on account of his health, in Devonshire, to inform me that a heavy gold chain, a ring set with ten brilliants, a pair of gold bracelets, and two pounds, have been given to him. He gave a Report to a brother, who, having read it, was thereby stirred up to prayer, and knowing that his believing sister possessed these trinkets, he asked the Lord to incline her heart to give them up for the benefit of our orphans, which she soon after did. By means of these donations I am able both to meet the remaining expenses of this week, and also to pay fifteen pounds, which still remains due on account of the salaries. My fellow-laborers not only never ask me for anything, but are willing to part with money, or anything else, in the hour of need; nevertheless, I asked the Lord about this point frequently, and he has now given me my request, whereof I am glad.
April 13. I conversed with another of the orphans, who seems to have been truly converted, and who has walked consistently for many months. To-morrow she will be united with the saints in communion.
April 14. To-day five pounds eightpence came in for the orphans, one pound of which is one of the most remarkable gifts that we have ever had. A poor brother, with a large family and small wages,—there are eight in the family, and he had fifteen shillings wages till lately, when they were raised to eighteen shillings—put by this money by little and little of what was given him by his master for beer. This brother, who was converted about five years ago, was before that time a notorious drunkard.
July 2. To-day was given to me, when there was not one shilling in hand, fifty pounds, for the school, Bible, and missionary fund.
July 15. Monday. To-day two pounds seven shillings threepence was needed for the orphans, but we had nothing. How to obtain the means for a dinner, and for what else was needed, I knew not. My heart was perfectly at peace, and unusually sure of help, though I knew not in the least whence it was to come. Before brother T. came, I received a letter from India, written in May, with an order for fifty pounds for the orphans. I had said last Saturday to brother T. that it would be desirable to have fifty pounds, as the salaries of all my fellow-laborers are due, the three treacle casks empty, all the provision stores exhausted, several articles of clothing needed, and worsted for the boys to go on with their knitting.
August 19. Monday. This has been again a day in which our faith has been particularly tried; but even this day we have not been confounded. Not one penny was in hand when the day began. We had, therefore, now, for more than one hundred persons, again to look to the Lord. But this I must say, to the praise of the Lord, my soul was perfectly at peace. I meant to have gone very early to the Orphan Houses to meet with my fellow-laborers for prayer; but as one person after the other called upon me, I was kept from it the whole morning. When brother T. called upon me, between twelve and one o'clock, for money, I had none to give. In the afternoon at four I was able to meet with the brethren and sisters. When I came to the Girls' Orphan House, I found that one of those children, for the reception of whom we had given notice, had been brought from Bath, and with him was sent one pound five shillings. After the meeting was over one of the laborers gave ten shillings. By means of this one pound fifteen shillings we were able for this day also to provide everything needful.
August 22. In my morning walk, when I was reminding the Lord of our need, I felt assured that he would send help this day. My assurance sprang from our need; for there seemed no way to get through the day without help being sent. After breakfast I considered whether there was anything which might be turned into money for the dear children. Among other things there came under my hands a number of religious pamphlets which had been given for the benefit of the orphans; but all seemed not nearly enough to meet the necessities of the day. In this our deep poverty, after I had gathered together the few things for sale, a sister, who earns her bread by the labor of her hands, brought eighty-two pounds. This sister had seen it to be binding upon believers in our Lord Jesus to act out his commandments: "Sell that ye have (sell your possessions) and give alms," Luke xii. 33; and "Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth," Matt. vi. 19. Accordingly, she had drawn her money out of the bank and stocks, being two hundred and fifty pounds, and had brought it to me at three different times, for the benefit of the orphans, the Bible, missionary, and school fund, and the poor saints. About two months ago she brought me one hundred pounds more, being the produce of some other possession which she had sold, the half of which was to be used for the school Bible, and missionary fund, and the other half for the poor saints. This eighty-two pounds which she has brought to-day is the produce of the sale of her last earthly possession. [At the time I am preparing this fifth edition for the press, more than sixteen years have passed away, and this sister has never expressed the least regret as to the step she took, but goes on quietly laboring with her hands to earn her bread.]
September 4. I have been led to pray whether it is the Lord's will that I should leave Bristol for a season, as I have for the last fortnight been suffering from indigestion, by which my whole system is weakened, and thus the nerves of my head are more than usually affected. There are, however, two hindrances in the way—want of means for the orphans, and want of means for my own personal expenses. To-day I have received a check from Q. Q. for seven pounds ten shillings for the orphans, which came, therefore, very seasonably. Also four pounds besides have come in since the day before yesterday.
September 5. To-day a sister sent me five pounds for myself, to be used for the benefit of my health. She had heard that my health is again failing. I do not lay by money for such purposes; but whenever I really need means, whether for myself or others, the Lord sends them, in answer to prayer; for he had in this case again given me prayer respecting means for myself, and for the orphans, that my way might be made plain as to leaving Bristol for a season.
September 7. Trowbridge. This has been a very good day. I have had much communion with the Lord. How kind to take me from the work in Bristol for a season, to give me more communion with himself. I remembered the Lord's especial goodness to me in this place at the commencement of last year. How kind has he also been since! I prayed much for myself, for the church at large, for the saints here and in Bristol, for my unconverted relatives, for my dear wife, and that the Lord would supply my own temporal necessities, and those of the orphans; and I know that he has heard me. I am surrounded with kind friends in the dear saints, under whose roof I am, and feel quite at home. My room is far better than I need: yet an easy chair, in this my weak state of body, to kneel before in prayer, would have added to my comfort. In the afternoon, without having a hint about it, I found an easy chair put into my room. I was struck with the kindness, the especial kindness of my heavenly Father, in being mindful of the smallest wants and comforts of his child. Having had more prayer than usual, I found that my intercourse with the saints at tea was with unction, and more than usually profitable.
September 9. I returned to Bristol, to go from hence to-morrow to Exeter, if the Lord permit, on account of my health. I had been earnestly asking the Lord while I was staying at Trowbridge that he would be pleased to send in supplies for the orphans before I go into Devonshire, and I had the fullest assurance that means would come in before I left Bristol. I therefore asked my wife, on my return, how much had come in, and found that it was only eight pounds nine shillings seven and three-fourths pence. This was not nearly as much as I had expected, and would not answer the end for which I had particularly asked means, i. e. that I might be able to leave enough for several days. My reply, therefore, was according to the faith given to me, and judging from the earnestness and confidence of my prayer that the Lord would send more before I left. About an hour after, brother Craik brought me ten pounds, and also a letter, in which the arrival of a large box full of articles, to be sold for the benefit of the orphans, is announced.
Upon his return from his journey, Mr. M. writes:—
During my stay at Plymouth, I was stirred up afresh to early rising, a blessing, the results of which I have not lost since. That which led me to it was the example of the brother in whose house I was staying, and a remark which he made in speaking on the sacrifices in Leviticus, "that as not the refuse of the animals was to be offered up, so the best part of our time should be especially given to communion with the Lord." I had been, on the whole, rather an early riser during former years. But since the nerves of my head had been so weak, I thought that, as the day was long enough for my strength, it would be best for me not to rise early, in order that thus the nerves of my head might have the longer quiet. On this account I rose only between six and seven, and sometimes after seven. For the same reason also I brought myself purposely into the habit of sleeping a quarter of an hour, or half an hour, after dinner: as I thought I found benefit from it, in quieting the nerves of my head. In this way, however, my soul had suffered more or less every day, and sometimes considerably, as now and then unavoidable work came upon me before I had had sufficient time for prayer and reading the word. After I had heard the remark to which I have alluded, I determined that, whatever my body might suffer, I would no longer let the most precious part of the day pass away while I was in bed. By the grace of God I was enabled to begin the very next day to rise earlier; and have continued to rise early since that time. I allow myself now about seven hours' sleep, which, though I am far from being strong, and have much to tire me mentally, I find is quite sufficient to refresh me. In addition to this I gave up the sleeping after dinner. The result has been that I have thus been able to procure long and precious seasons for prayer and meditation before breakfast; and as to my body, and the state of the nervous system in particular, I have been much better since. Indeed, I believe that the very worst thing I could have done for my weak nerves was to have lain an hour or more longer in bed than I used to do before my illness; for it was the very way to keep them weak. As this may fall into the hands of some children of God who are not in the habit of rising early, I make a few more remarks on the subject.
I. It might be asked, How much time shall I allow myself for rest? The answer is, that no rule of universal application can be given, as all persons do not require the same measure of sleep, and also the same persons, at different times, according to the strength or weakness of their body, may require more or less. Females also, being generally weaker in body, require more sleep than males. Yet, from what I can learn, it is the opinion of medical persons that men in health do not require more than between six and seven hours' sleep, and females no more than between seven and eight hours; so that it would be rather an exception for a man to require more than seven and a woman more than eight hours. But my decided advice, at the same time, is, that children of God would be careful not to allow themselves too little sleep, as there are few men who can do with less than six hours' sleep, and yet be well in body and mind, and few females who can do with less than seven hours. Certain it is that for a long time, as a young man, before I went to the university, I went to bed regularly at ten and rose at four, studied hard, and was in good health; and certain also, that since I have allowed myself only about seven hours, from the time of my visit at Plymouth in Oct. 1839, I have been much better in body, and in my nerves in particular, than when I was eight or eight hours and a half in bed.
II. If it be asked, But why should I rise early? The reply is, "To remain too long in bed" is, 1. Waste of time, which is unbecoming a saint, who is bought by the precious blood of Jesus, with his time and all he has, to be used for the Lord. If we sleep more than is needful for the refreshment of the body, it is wasting the time with which the Lord has intrusted us as a talent, to be used for his glory, for our own benefit, and the benefit of the saints and the unbelievers around us. 2. To remain too long in bed injures the body. Just as when we take too much food, we are injured thereby, so as it regards sleep. Medical persons would readily allow that the lying longer in bed than is needful for the strengthening of the body does weaken it. 3. It injures the soul. The lying too long in bed not merely keeps us from giving the most precious part of the day to prayer and meditation, but this sloth leads also to many other evils. Any one need but make the experiment of spending one, two, or three hours in prayer and meditation before breakfast, either in his room, or with his Bible in his hand in the fields, and he will soon find out the beneficial effect which early rising has upon the outward and inward man. I beseech all my brethren and sisters into whose hands this may fall, and who are not in the habit of rising early, to make the trial, and they will praise the Lord for having done so.
III. It may lastly be said, But how shall I set about rising early? My advice is, 1. Commence at once, delay it not. To-morrow begin to rise. 2. But do not depend upon your own strength. This may be the reason why before this you may have begun to rise early, but have given it up. As surely as you depend upon your own strength in this matter, it will come to nothing. In every good work we depend upon the Lord, and in this thing we shall feel especially how weak we are. If any one rises that he may give the time which he takes from sleep to prayer and meditation, let him be sure that Satan will try to put obstacles into the way. 3. Do trust in the Lord for help. You will honor him if you expect help from him in this matter. Give yourself to prayer for help, expect help, and you will have it. 4. Use, however, in addition to this, the following means: a. Go early to bed. If you stay up late, you cannot rise early. Let no society and no pressure of engagements keep you from going habitually early to bed. If you fail in this, you neither can nor ought to get up early, as your body requires rest. Keep also particularly in mind, that neither for the body nor soul is it the same thing whether you go to bed late and rise late, or whether you go to bed early and rise early. Even medical persons will tell you how injurious it is to sit up late, and to spend the morning hours in bed; but how much more important still is it to retire early and to rise early, in order to make sure of time for prayer and meditation before the business of the day commences, and to devote to those exercises that part of our time when the mind and the body are most fresh, in order thus to obtain spiritual strength for the conflict, the trials, and the work of the day. b. Let some one call you, if possible, at the time which you have determined before God that you will rise; or procure, what is still better, an alarum, by which you may regulate almost to a minute the time when you wish to rise. For about twelve shillings a little German clock with an alarum may be bought almost in every town. Though I have very many times been awakened by the Lord, in answer to prayer, almost to the minute when I desired to rise; yet I thought it well to procure an alarum to assist me in my purpose of rising early: not indeed as if it could give the least help, without the Lord's blessing, for I should remain in bed notwithstanding the noise of the alarum, were he not to give me grace to rise; but simply looking upon it as a means. c. Rise at once when you are awake. Remain not a minute longer in bed, else you are likely to fall asleep again. d. Be not discouraged by feeling drowsy and tired in consequence of your rising early. This will soon wear off. You will after a few days feel yourself stronger and fresher than when you used to lie an hour or two longer than you needed. e. Allow yourself always the same hours for sleep. Make no change except sickness oblige you.
On December 10, 11, and 12 we had public meetings, at which the account of the Lord's dealings with us in reference to the Orphan Houses and the other objects of the Scriptural Knowledge Institution was given. It is now—December 10, 1839—five years and nine months since the Scriptural Knowledge Institution has been in operation.
During the last year also. 1. We have been enabled to continue to provide all the needful expenses connected with the six-day schools, three for boys and three for girls. The number of the children who are at present in them amounts to 286. 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 1,795. 2. There are at present 226 children in the Sunday school. 3. There are 14 taught to read in the adult school, and there have been about 130 adults instructed in that school since the formation of the Institution. 4. There have been circulated, during the last year, 514 copies of the Scriptures, and 5,592 since March 5, 1834. 5. There has been laid out, during the last year, L91, 6s. for missionary purposes. 6. There have been received into the three Orphan Houses, from December 9, 1838, to December 9, 1839, 16 orphans. There are at present 96 orphans in the three houses. The number of all the orphans who have been under our care from April 11, 1836, to December 9, 1839, amounts to 126.
For the Orphan Houses, without any one having been asked for anything by us, the sum of L3,067, 8s. 91/4d. has been given, entirely as the result of prayer to God, from the commencement of the work up to December 9, 1839.
The total of the expenses connected with the objects of the Institution, exclusive of the Orphan Houses, from November 19, 1838, to November 19, 1839, is L542, 13s. The balance in hand on November 19, 1839, was 18s. 5d.
The total of the expenses connected with the three Orphan Houses, from December 9, 1838, to December 9, 1839, is L960, 9s. 23/4d. The balance in hand on December 9, 1839, was L46, 8s. 1d.
December 31. My health is much better than for years. My mental powers also are as good as they have been at any time during the last three years. I ascribe this to God's blessing, through the instrumentality of early rising, and plunging my head into cold water when I rise.
REVIEW OF THE YEAR 1839.
1. As to the church: During the last year have been added 115; of whom 34 have been brought to the knowledge of the Lord among us.
2. As to my temporal supplies, the Lord has been pleased to give me, during the past year, L313, 2s. 5d.
PLENTY AND WANT.
A PURE OFFERING REQUIRED—A JOURNEY PROPOSED—SEASONABLE PROVISION—LOOKING ONLY TO THE LORD—THE WRATH OF MAN PRAISING GOD—A PROMISE FULFILLED—BENEFIT OF TRIAL—NEW SPRINGS OPENED—BEFORE THEY CALL I WILL ANSWER—TRUST IN GOD COMMENDED—SPIRITUAL BLESSINGS.
January 1, 1840. This morning, about one hour after midnight, I received a paper with some money sealed up in it for the orphans. A few minutes afterwards, I remembered that the individual who gave it was in debt, and I was aware that she had been repeatedly asked by her creditors for payment. I resolved, therefore, without opening the paper, to return it, as no one has a right to give whilst in debt. This was done when I knew that there was not enough in hand to meet the expenses of the day. About eight, this morning, a brother brought five pounds, which he had received just then from his mother, for the orphans. Observe, the brother is led to bring it at once!
January 25. I have been much in prayer this week about going to Germany: 1. To see certain brethren who purpose to go as missionaries to the East Indies; and, 2. To see my father once more. I am led to go just now, instead of delaying it, because my health is again so failing that it seems desirable I should leave Bristol at all events; and thus I could continue to serve in the work of the Lord, and yet attend to the benefit of my health at the same time. Lord, keep me from making a mistake in this matter!
January 31. There is only one shilling fivepence in hand. The Lord will provide! I feel quite comfortable, though in three days I shall have to leave the work for several weeks. After I had written the above, I received sixteen pounds for the orphans, and twenty-four pounds for the other objects of the Scriptural Knowledge Institution. Thus Lord will kindly allow me to leave a little money behind on my departure, and I have also a still further answer to my prayer for means to purchase Bibles, for which I have asked the Lord repeatedly, and which he began to answer by the donation which I received on the 22d. I have received five pounds, besides, for the other objects.
Feb. 2. To-day and yesterday has come in still further, before my departure, nearly nine pounds for the orphans. How kind of the Lord to send this money just now, on the eve of my leaving home!
Mr. Mueller's absence lasted from Feb. 3 to March 9. Under the latter date he writes:—
During the whole time of my absence the Lord not only supplied all the need of the orphans, but on my return I found more in hand than there was when I left. The donations, which came in during my absence, amount to between eighty and ninety pounds.
March 26. On the 17th of this month I received the following letter from a brother who several times had been used by the Lord as an instrument in supplying our need, and who also, two months since, sent thirty pounds.
"I have received a little money from ——. Have you any present need for the Institution under your care? I know you do not ask, except indeed of Him whose work you are doing; but to answer when asked seems another thing, and a right thing. I have a reason for desiring to know the present state of your means towards the objects you are laboring to serve, viz. should you not have need, other departments of the Lord's work, or other people of the Lord, may have need. Kindly then inform me, and to what amount, i. e. what amount you at this present time need, or can profitably lay out."
At the time when this letter came we were indeed in need. Nevertheless, I considered that, as I have hitherto acted (i. e. telling the Lord alone about our need), I ought to continue to do, as otherwise the principal object of the work, to be a help to the saints generally, by seeking to lead them to increased dependence upon God alone, through this Institution, would be frustrated. I answered therefore the letter in substance as follows:—
"Whilst I thank you for your love, and whilst I agree with you, that, in general, there is a difference between asking for money and answering when asked, nevertheless in our case I feel not at liberty to speak about the state of our funds, as the primary object of the work in my hands is to lead those who are weak in faith to see that there is reality in dealing with God alone."
After having sent off the answer, I was again and again led to pray to the Lord in this way: "Lord, thou knowest that for thy sake I did not tell this brother about our need. Now, Lord, show afresh that there is reality in speaking to thee only about our need, and speak therefore to this brother, so that he may help us."
To-day, in answer to this my request, this brother sent one hundred pounds. Thus I have means for establishing the infant school, and for ordering more Bibles. Also the orphans are again supplied for a week; for when the money came in, there was not one penny in hand for them.
April 7. This evening I received information from my little half brother that my dear father died on March 30. During no period did I pray more frequently or more earnestly for the conversion of my dear aged parent than during the last year of his life; but, at all events, it did not please the Lord to let me see the answer to my prayers.
April 9. We are on the point of sending some money to the East Indies for missionary objects. Whilst I was on my knees respecting this object, five pounds was brought for it.
May 2. Nothing having come in for five days, we were to-day again penniless. In answer to prayer five shillings sixpence came in, and some trinkets were sent, the names of which the donor does not wish to be known. Thus we were helped through this day. Observe here how the Lord allowed five days to pass away without influencing the hearts of any to send us supplies; but the moment there is real need, the stream runs again.
May 3. Last evening a brother was baptized, who on the first Lord's day of this year came with his intended wife to Bethesda Chapel. Both were in an unconverted state. Only since April 1, forty-one persons have come to us to speak about their souls.
May 8. There are four believers staying at my house, and to-day we had only a few shillings of our own money left. I gave myself, therefore, to prayer for means for our own personal expenses. In answer to my request, I received this morning five pounds.
May 10. To-day five of the orphans were baptized. There are now fourteen of them in fellowship.
May 26. Nothing had come in. My engagements kept me from going to the Orphan Houses till seven in the evening, when the laborers met together for prayer. When we met I found that one of them had given seventeen shillings, which had been divided between the three houses. This, with the little which had been left yesterday, had procured all necessary articles. We are now very poor.
May 27. We met for prayer at eleven this morning. No money had come in, but there was enough for dinner in all the houses. This morning the last coals were used in the Infant Orphan House, and in the Boys' Orphan House there were only enough for to-day, and there was no money in hand to buy more. In this our need T. P. C. sent a load of coals. We purpose to meet again at four this afternoon. May the Lord graciously be pleased to send help in the mean time!
Evening. The Lord has had mercy! A person bought some days since several articles, which had been given to be sold for the benefit of the orphans, and owed six pounds fifteen shillings. This morning I asked the Lord to incline his heart to bring the money, or a part of it, as we were in such need. Just as I was going to meet for prayer with my fellow-laborers this afternoon, he came and brought four pounds. But our kind Father showed us still further to-day that only for the trial of our faith he had for a season withheld supplies; for there was given this evening, with Eccles. ix. 10, five pounds. There came in also nine shillings for articles which had been put into the hand of a sister, who has taken on her the service of disposing of articles which are given for sale. Thus the day, which had begun with prayer, ended in praise. But there is one thing more to be recorded respecting this day, as precious or more so than what has been said: I was to-day informed that the Lord has begun to stir up several of the boys to care about their souls.
June 17. For several days past I had been very poor in reference to my own temporal necessities, as well as in reference to the orphans. To-day we were especially poor, in both respects; but our kind Father remembered not merely the need of the dear orphans, but gave me also some money for my own personal expenses. The same sister just referred to, who brought five pounds ten shillings sixpence for the orphans, brought me also seven pounds for myself.
June 22. To-morrow, the Lord willing, I purpose, with my wife, to accompany the three German brethren and the five German sisters to Liverpool, who purpose to sail from thence. Under these circumstances it is desirable to leave at least a little money behind. This desire of my heart the Lord has granted; for this morning D. C. gave me five pounds, and there came in by sale of articles ten shillings fivepence. In the evening a sister, who has left Bristol to-day, sent me by her mother five pounds.
During the absence of Mr. M. the wants of the orphans were supplied in a wonderful manner. To mention but one instance, at a time when there was extreme need, a poor German missionary, just embarking for a heathen land, gave six pounds ten shillings, being his all.
The following event came to his notice during his journey:—
About October, 1837, I sent some Bibles and forty-six copies of my Narrative to a brother in Upper Canada, who, in dependence upon the Lord for temporal supplies, is laboring as a missionary in that country. About eighteen months afterwards I heard that this box had not arrived. I had reason to think that the broker had never sent off the box. My comfort, however, was, that though this poor sinner had acted thus, yet the Lord, in his own place and way, would use the Bibles and my Narratives. Now, almost immediately after my arrival in Liverpool, a brother told me that several persons wished to hear me preach who had read my Narrative; and that he knew a considerable number had been bought by a brother, a bookseller, from pawnbrokers, and sold again; and that some also had been ordered from London when there were no more to be had otherwise. It was thus evident that the ship-broker pawned these Narratives before he absconded; but the Lord used them as I had hoped.
Aug. 1. A few days since a brother was staying with me, on his way to his father, whom he had not seen for above two years, and who was greatly opposed to him, on account of the decided steps which his son had taken for the Lord. Before this brother left, that precious promise of our Lord was brought to my mind: "If two of you shall agree on earth as touching anything that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven." (Matt. xviii. 19.) Accordingly, I went to the brother's room, and having agreed to pray about a kind reception from his father, and the conversion of both parents, we prayed together. To-day this brother returned. The Lord has answered already one part of the prayer. The brother was most kindly received, contrary to all natural expectation. May the Lord now help us both to look for an answer to the other part of our prayer! There is nothing too hard for the Lord!
Since the publication of the last edition, the father of this brother died. He lived above ten years after Aug. 1, 1840, until he was about eighty-six years of age, and as he continued a life of much sin and opposition to the truth, the prospect with reference to his conversion became darker and darker. But at last the Lord answered prayer. This aged sinner was entirely changed, simply rested on the Lord Jesus for the salvation of his soul, and became as much attached to his believing son as before he had been opposed to him, and wished to have him about him as much as possible, that he might read the Holy Scriptures to him and pray with him.
Aug. 8. Saturday. This evening I was meditating on the fourth Psalm. The words in verse three, "But know that the Lord has set apart him that is godly for himself; the Lord will hear when I call upon him," I was enabled to apply to myself, and they led me to prayer for spiritual blessings. Whilst in prayer, the need of the orphans, there being now again not one penny in hand, was also brought to my mind, and I asked the Lord respecting this likewise. About five minutes afterwards I was informed that a sister wished to see me. She brought one pound ten shillings for the orphans. Thus the Lord has already kindly sent a little to begin the week with. There was also still further given to-day, one shilling elevenpence; and five shillings one penny was taken out of the boxes in the Orphan Houses.
Aug. 15. There was to-day the greatest poverty in all the three houses; all the stores were very low, as the income throughout the week had been so small. In addition to this it was Saturday, when the wants are nearly double in comparison with other days. At least three pounds was needed to help us comfortably through the day; but there was nothing towards this in hand. My only hope was in God. The very necessity led me to expect help for this day; for if none had come, the Lord's name would have been dishonored. Between twelve and one, two sisters in the Lord called on me; and the one gave me two pounds, and the other seven shillings sixpence for the orphans. With this I went to the Boys' Orphan House about one o'clock, where I found the children at dinner. Brother B. put the following note into my hand, which he was just going to send off:—
"DEAR BROTHER,—With potatoes from the children's garden, and with apples from the tree in the playground (which apples were used for apple-dumplings), and four shillings sixpence, the price of some articles given by one of the laborers, we have a dinner. There is much needed. But the Lord has provided and will provide."
August 23. Lord's day. As we have often found it to be the case, so it is again now. After the Lord has tried our faith, he, in the love of his heart, gives us an abundance, to show that not in anger, but for the glory of his name, and for the trial of our faith, he has allowed us to be poor. The Lord has kindly given to-day twelve pounds seventeen shillings.
August 29. For many weeks past very little has come in for the other funds. The chief supply has been by the sale of Bibles. Last Saturday I was not able to pay the whole of the weekly salaries of the teachers in the day schools, which, however, does not make me a debtor to them, as it is an understood thing that they have not to look to me for payment, but to the Lord. To-day again only two shillings was in hand, whilst several pounds were needed to pay the salaries. It appeared now plainly to be the will of the Lord that, as all the laborers in the Orphan Houses know about the state of the funds, so the brethren and sisters who labor in the day schools should share the trial of faith and the joy of faith with us. Accordingly we all met, and after I had laid on their hearts the importance of keeping to themselves, for the Lord's sake, the state of the funds, we prayed together.
September 5. Saturday. Because there had come in so little during the last days, at least three pounds was requisite to supply the need of to-day. There was, however, not one penny in hand when the day commenced. Last evening, the laborers in the Orphan Houses, together with the teachers of the day schools, met for prayer. This morning, one of the teachers, who had a little money of his own, brought one pound five shillings sixpence. Thus we were enabled to provide for the dinner. In the afternoon all of us met again for prayer. Another teacher of the day schools gave two shillings sixpence, and one shilling came in besides. But all this was not enough. There was no dinner provided for to-morrow, nor was there any money to take in milk to-morrow, and besides this a number of other little things were to be purchased, that there might be no real want of anything. Now observe how our kind Father helped us! Between seven and eight this evening, a sister, whose heart the Lord has made willing to take on her the service of disposing of the articles which are sent for sale, brought two pounds ten shillings sixpence, for some of the things which came a fortnight ago from Worcester, and last Wednesday from Leeds. The sister stated, that though she did not feel at all well, she had come because she had it so laid on her heart that she could not stay away.
September 8. How kindly has the Lord so ordered it that for some time past the income for the school fund should have been so little, in order that thus we might be constrained to let the laborers in the day schools share our joys and our trials of faith, which had been before kept from them! But as above two years ago the Lord ordered it so that it became needful to communicate to the laborers in the Orphan Houses the state of the funds, and made it a blessing to them, so that I am now able to leave Bristol, and yet the work goes on, so, I doubt not, the brethren and sisters who are teachers in the day schools will be greatly blessed by being thus partakers of our precious secret respecting the state of the funds. Our prayer meetings have been already a blessing to us, and united us more than ever in the work. We have them now every morning at seven, and we shall continue them, the Lord helping us, till we see his hand stretched forth, not merely in giving us means for the teachers, but also for other purposes; for we need a stove in one of the school-rooms, a fresh supply of several kinds of Bibles and New Testaments, and it is desirable to have means to help missionary brethren who labor in dependence upon the Lord for the supply of their temporal necessities.
September 21. To-day a brother from the neighborhood of London gave me ten pounds, to be laid out as it might be most needed. As we have been praying many days for the school, Bible, and missionary funds, I took it all for them. This brother knew nothing about our work, when he came three days since to Bristol. Thus the Lord, to show his continual care over us, raises up new helpers. They that trust in the Lord shall never be confounded. Some who helped for a while may fall asleep in Jesus; others may grow cold in the service of the Lord; others may be as desirous as ever to help, but have no longer the means; others may have both a willing heart to help, and have also the means, but may see it the Lord's will to lay them out in another way;—and thus, from one cause or another, were we to lean upon man, we should surely be confounded; but, in leaning upon the living God alone, we are BEYOND disappointment, and BEYOND being forsaken because of death, or want of means, or want of love, or because of the claims of other work.
October 7. It is now five weeks since we have daily met for prayer. Not indeed merely to ask for means, but for grace and wisdom for ourselves in reference to the work, for the conversion of the children under our care, for grace for those children who stand already on the Lord's side, for a blessing upon the circulation of the Scriptures, for a blessing upon the work with reference to the church at large, etc. But whilst we thus, as the Spirit led us, prayed for various things, nevertheless, the lack of means was that which had brought us day after day together. We asked the Lord to give us the means which are needed for carrying on the day schools, for buying Bibles, as several sorts are needed, and to enable us to assist missionary work in foreign countries. Never at any previous time, since first the work commenced on March 5, 1834, have we had to continue so long a time in prayer for these funds, without obtaining the answer. The Lord, however, gave us grace to "continue in prayer," and kept our hearts in the assurance that he would help. Now, though he delayed long, before he sent us the answer, in his own time he made it manifest that he had not only not shut his ear against our prayers in anger, but that he had answered them even before we called; for there was sent to-day, from the East Indies, a bank order for one hundred pounds, which had been sent off two months since, therefore several days before we even began to pray. It was left to me to apply this money as it might be needed. As we had so long and so particularly prayed for these funds, I took the whole of it for them, and not for the orphan fund.
October 26. Yesterday morning, when I took my hat from the rail, I found in one of my gloves a note containing a five-pound note, and the following words: "Two pounds for the orphans, the rest for dear brother and sister Mueller." There came in still further yesterday two pounds twelve shillings sixpence. Thus we are again supplied for about three days.
In reference to the note which was put into my hat, containing five pounds, I just add, that I had repeatedly asked the Lord for means for our own personal expenses, previous to the reception of it, as we had but very little money for ourselves. Indeed, the very moment before I took my hat from the rail, I had risen from my knees, having again asked the Lord for means for ourselves and for the orphans.
November 8. I purposed to have gone to Trowbridge yesterday, and had settled it so on Friday evening with brother ——. But no sooner had I decided to do so, than I felt no peace in the prospect of going. After having prayed about it on Friday evening and yesterday morning, I determined not to go, and I felt sure the Lord had some reason for not allowing me to feel happy in the prospect of going. I began now to look out for blessings for this day, considering that the Lord had kept me here for good to some souls. This evening I was especially led to press the truth on the consciences of the unconverted, entreating and beseeching them, and telling them also that I felt sure the Lord had, in mercy to some of them, kept me from going to Trowbridge. I spoke on Genesis vi. 1-5. Immediately after, I saw fruit of the word. An individual fully opened his heart to me. I walked about with him till about ten o'clock, even as long as I had any strength left. [About ten days afterwards, a brother told me of a poor drunkard who heard me that evening, and who since then had stayed up till about twelve o'clock every night to read the Scriptures, and who had not been intoxicated since.]
At the close of these details, with reference to the year from December 9, 1839, to December 9, 1840, I make a few remarks.
1. Though our trials of faith during this year also have been many, and recurring more frequently than during any previous year, and though we have been often reduced to the greatest extremity, yet the orphans have lacked nothing; for they always have had good nourishing food, and the necessary articles of clothing, etc.
2. Should it be supposed by any one, in reading the plain details of our trials of faith during this year, that on account of them we have been disappointed in our expectations, or are discouraged in the work, my answer is, that the very reverse is the fact. Such days were expected from the commencement of the work; nay, more than this, the chief end for which the Institution was established is, that the church of Christ at large might be benefited by seeing manifestly the hand of God stretched out on our behalf in the hour of need, in answer to prayer. Our desire, therefore, is, not that we may be without trials of faith, but that the Lord graciously would be pleased to support us in the trial, that we may not dishonor him by distrust.
3. This way of living brings the Lord remarkably near. He is, as it were, morning by morning inspecting our stores, that accordingly he may send help. Greater and more manifest nearness of the Lord's presence I have never had than when after breakfast there were no means for dinner, and then the Lord provided the dinner for more than one hundred persons; or when, after dinner, there were no means for the tea, and yet the Lord provided the tea; and all this without one single human being having been informed about our need. This moreover I add, that although we who have been eyewitnesses of these gracious interpositions of our Father, have not been so benefited by them as we might and ought to have been, yet we have in some measure derived blessings from them. One thing is certain, that we are not tired of doing the Lord's work in this way.
4. It has been more than once observed, that such a way of living must lead the mind continually to think whence food, clothes, etc., are to come, and so unfit for spiritual exercises. Now, in the first place, I answer that our minds are very little tried about the necessaries of life, just because the care respecting them is laid upon our Father, who, because we are his children, not only allows us to do so, but will have us to do so. Secondly, it must be remembered, that, even if our minds were much tried about the supplies for the children, and the means for the other work, yet, because we look to the Lord alone for these things, we should only be brought, by our sense of need, into the presence of our Father for the supply of it; and that is a blessing, and no injury to the soul. Thirdly, our souls realize that for the glory of God, and for the benefit of the church at large it is that we have these trials of faith, and that leads again to God, to ask him for fresh supplies of grace, to be enabled to be faithful in this service.
5. My heart's desire and prayer to God is, that all believers who read this may by these many answers to prayer be encouraged to pray, particularly as it regards the conversion of their friends and relations, their own state of heart, the state of the church at large, and the success of the preaching of the gospel. Do not think, dear reader, that these things are peculiar to us, and cannot be enjoyed by all the saints. Although every child of God is not called by the Lord to establish schools and orphan houses, and to trust in the Lord for means for them; yet there is nothing on the part of the Lord to hinder, why you may not know, by experience, far more abundantly than we do now, his willingness to answer the prayers of his children. Do but prove the faithfulness of God. Do but carry your every want to him. Only maintain an upright heart. But if you live in sin; if you wilfully and habitually do things respecting which you know that they are contrary to the will of God, then you cannot expect to be heard by him. "If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me; but verily God hath heard me; he hath attended to the voice of my prayer." Psalm lxvi. 18, 19.
6. As it regards the children of God, who by the labor of their hands, or in any business or profession, earn their bread, particularly the poorer classes of them, I give my affectionate yet solemn advice to carry into practice the principles on which this Institution is conducted as it regards not going into debt. Are you in debt? then make confession of sin respecting it. Sincerely confess to the Lord that you have sinned against Rom. xiii. 8. And if you are resolved no more to contract debt, whatever may be the result, and you are waiting on the Lord and truly trust in him, your present debts will soon be paid. Are you out of debt? then, whatever your future want may be, be resolved, in the strength of Jesus, rather to suffer the greatest privation, whilst waiting upon God for help, than to use unscriptural means, such as borrowing, taking goods on credit, etc., to deliver yourselves. This way needs but to be tried, in order that its excellency may be enjoyed.
There are a few points more which may be of interest to the believing reader, which I shall now add.
1. There have been, during this year, six day schools for poor children entirely supported by the funds of our Institution, all of which have been established by us.
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 2,216; the number of those at present in the six day schools is 303.
These day schools have defrayed, by the payments of the children, about the sixth part of their own expenses.
2. There is one Sunday school entirely supported by the funds of the Institution.
3. There has been, since the formation of the Institution, one adult school connected with it, in which, on the Lord's day afternoons, since that time, about 150 adults have been instructed.
4. The number of Bibles and Testaments which have been circulated through the medium of our Institution, during the last year, amounts to 452 copies.
There have been circulated since March 5, 1834, 6,044 copies of the Scriptures.
5. There have been laid out, during the last year, of the funds of the Institution, L120, 10s. 2d. for missionary purposes.
6. There are at present ninety-one orphans in the three houses. The total number of the orphans who have been under our care from April 11, 1836, to December 9, 1840, amounts to 129.
Without any one having been asked for anything by us, the sum of L3,937, 1s. 1d. has been given to us for the Orphan Houses, as the result of prayer to God, since the commencement of the work.
THE BLESSING OF THE LORD UPON THE WORK IN REFERENCE TO THE SOULS OF THE CHILDREN.
1. During the last fourteen months there have been meetings purposely for children, at which the Scriptures have been expounded to them. At these meetings an almost universal attention is manifested by them, which I thankfully ascribe to the Lord, and upon which I look as a forerunner of greater blessing.
2. During the last year three of the Sunday-school children have been received into fellowship.
3. At the end of last year there had been eight orphans received into communion; during the present year fourteen have been received; in all, twenty-two.
It was stated in the last year's Report that we were looking for fruit upon our labors as it regards the conversion of the children, as the Lord had given to us a measure of earnestness in praying for them. The Lord has dealt with us according to our expectations. But I expect far more than what we have seen. While the chief object of our work has been and is still the manifestation of the heart of God towards his children, and the reality of power with God in prayer, yet, as we hoped, and as it has been our prayer, the Lord gives to us also the joy of seeing one child after another brought to stand openly on the Lord's side. As far as my experience goes, it appears to me that believers generally have expected far too little of present fruit upon their labors among children. There has been a hoping that the Lord some day or other would own the instruction which they give to children, and would answer at some time or other, though after many years only, the prayers which they offer up on their behalf. Now, while such passages as Proverbs xxii. 6, Ecclesiastes xi. 1, Galatians vi. 9, 1 Cor. xv. 58, give unto us assurance not merely respecting everything which we do for the Lord, in general, but also respecting bringing up children in the fear of the Lord, in particular, that our labor is not in vain in the Lord; yet we have to guard against abusing such passages, by thinking it a matter of little moment whether we see present fruit or not; but, on the contrary, we should give the Lord no rest till we see present fruit, and therefore in persevering yet submissive prayer we should make known our requests unto God. I add, as an encouragement to believers who labor among children, that during the last two years seventeen other young persons or children, from the age of eleven and a half to seventeen, have been received into fellowship among us, and that I am looking out now for many more to be converted, and that not merely of the orphans, but of the Sunday and day school children. As in so many respects we live in remarkable times, so in this respect also, that the Lord is working greatly among the children in many places.
The total of the expenses connected with the objects of the Institution, exclusive of the Orphan Houses, from November 19, 1839, to November 19, 1840, is L622, 2s. 61/2d. The balance in hand on Nov. 19, 1840, was L13, 2s. 93/4d.
The total of the expenses connected with the three Orphan Houses, from December 9, 1839, to December 9, 1840, is L900, 11s. 21/2d. The balance in hand on December 9, 1840, was L15, 1s. 61/4d.
REVIEW OF THE YEAR 1840.
1. As to the church. There are 525 at present in communion; 114 have been added during the past year, of whom 47 have been brought to the knowledge of the Lord among us.
2. As to the supply of my temporal necessities. The Lord has been pleased to send me, by the freewill offerings of the saints, L242, 8s. 111/2.
[Footnote 17: It may not be improper to state here that the little patrimony to which Mr. Mueller became entitled upon the decease of his father was devoted to the purposes of charity and religion, in accordance with the principle of action indicated on page 67. This fact is not mentioned by Mr. M., but has come to the knowledge of the editor through another channel.—ED.]
FAITH STRENGTHENED BY EXERCISE.
A WANT SUPPLIED—RESOURCES EXCEEDING THE DEMAND—EVIL OF SURETYSHIP—POWER OF CHRISTIAN LOVE—GOD'S WORD THE FOOD OF THE SOUL—PREPARATION FOR THE HOUR OF TRIAL—POVERTY—DEPENDING ONLY ON THE LIVING GOD.
January 1, 1841. During this week we have daily met for prayer, for the especial purpose of asking the Lord to give us the means of having the last year's Report printed. It is three weeks since it might have been sent to the press. We felt this now to be a matter of especial importance, as, if the Report were not soon printed, it would be known that it arose from want of means. By the donations which came in during these last days for the orphans, and by ten pounds which was given to-day for the other funds, we have the means of defraying the expense of about two thirds of the printing, and therefore a part of the manuscript was sent off, trusting that the Lord would be pleased to send in more means before two sheets are printed off; but if not, we should then stop till we have more. Evening. There came in still further five pounds; also, ten shillings and three shillings.
Jan. 11. Monday. During the last week the Lord not only supplied us richly with all we needed for the orphans, but enabled us to put by several pounds towards printing the Report. On Saturday evening there was only three shillings sixpence left. On this account I was looking out for answers to my prayers for means, and the Lord did not disappoint me. There came in altogether yesterday nine pounds sixteen shillings fourpence. We have now enough even for the last part of the Report.
Jan. 12. To-day I have received a letter from a brother, in which he empowers me to draw upon his bankers, during this year, to the amount of one thousand pounds, for any brethren who have it in their hearts to give themselves to missionary service in the East Indies, and whom I shall consider called for this service, as far as I am able to judge. [This power lasted only for that year; but no brethren who seemed to be suitable offered themselves for this service. This is another fresh proof how much more easily pecuniary means can be obtained than suitable individuals. Indeed, in all my experience I have found it thus, that if I could only settle that a certain thing to be done was according to the will of God, the means were soon obtained to carry it into effect.]
Jan. 13. This evening I was called to the house of a brother and sister who are in the deepest distress. The brother had become surety for the debts of his son, not in the least expecting that he ever should be called upon for the payment of them; but, as his son has not discharged his debts, the father has been called upon to do so; and except the money is paid within a few days, he will be imprisoned.
How precious it is, even for this life, to act according to the word of God! This perfect revelation of his mind gives us directions for everything, even the most minute affairs of this life. It commands us, "Be not thou one of them that strike hands, or of them that are sureties for debts." Prov. xxii. 26. The way in which Satan ensnares persons, to bring them into the net, and to bring trouble upon them by becoming sureties, is, that he seeks to represent the matter as if there were no danger connected with that particular case, and that one might be sure one should never be called upon to pay the money; but the Lord, the faithful Friend, tells us in his own word that the only way "to be sure" in such a matter is "to hate suretyship." Prov. xi. 15. The following points seem to me of solemn moment for consideration, if I were called upon to become surety for another: 1. What obliges the person who wishes me to become surety for him to need a surety? Is it really a good cause in which I am called upon to become surety? I do not remember ever to have met with a case in which in a plain, and godly, and in all respects scriptural matter such a thing occurred. There was generally some sin or other connected with it. 2. If I become surety, notwithstanding what the Lord has said to me in his word, am I in such a position that no one will be injured by my being called upon to fulfil the engagements of the person for whom I am going to be surety? In most instances this alone ought to keep one from it. 3. If still I become surety, the amount of money for which I become responsible must be so in my power that I am able to produce it whenever it is called for, in order that the name of the Lord may not be dishonored. 4. But if there be the possibility of having to fulfil the engagements of the person in whose stead I have to stand, is it the will of the Lord that I should spend my means in that way? Is it not rather his will that my means should be spent in another way? 5. How can I get over the plain word of the Lord, which is to the contrary, even if the first four points could be satisfactorily settled?
March 4. From February 22 up to this day our necessities in the day schools were supplied by thirteen small donations, and by a donation of eight pounds from Q. Q. To-day I received fifteen pounds. When this arrived there was not one penny in hand for the day schools, whilst two days after about seven pounds was needed. This money came from a considerable distance, and from a brother who never had assisted in this work before, whereby the Lord afresh shows how easily he can raise up new helpers.
For the encouragement of believers, who are tried by having unconverted relatives and friends, I will relate the following circumstance, the truth of which I know.
Baron Von K., who resided in my own country, the kingdom of Prussia, had been for many years a disciple of the Lord Jesus. Even about the commencement of this century, when there was almost universal darkness or even open infidelity spread over the whole continent of Europe, he knew the Lord Jesus; and when, about the year 1806, there was the greatest distress in Silesia among many thousands of weavers, this blessed man of God took the following gracious step for his Lord and Master. As the weavers had no employment, the whole continent almost being in an unsettled state on account of Napoleon's career, it seemed to him the will of the Lord that he should use his very considerable property to furnish these poor weavers with work, in order to save them from the greatest state of destitution, though in doing this there was not only no prospect of gain, but the certain prospect of immense loss. He therefore found employment for about six thousand weavers. But he was not content with this. Whilst he gave the bread which perishes, he also sought to minister to the souls of these weavers. To that end he sought to set believers as overseers over this immense weaving concern, and not only saw to it that the weavers were instructed in spiritual things, but he himself also set the truth before them. Thus it went on for a good while, till at last, on account of the loss of the chief part of his property, he was obliged to think about giving it up. But by this time this precious act of mercy had so commended itself to the government that it was taken up by them and carried on till the times altered. Baron von K. was, however, appointed director of the whole concern as long as it existed.
This dear man of God was not content with this. He travelled through many countries to visit the prisons, for the sake of improving the temporal and spiritual condition of the prisoners, and among all the other things which he sought to do for the Lord was this also in particular: He assisted poor students whilst at the university of Berlin, especially those who studied divinity, as it is called, in order to get access to them, and to win them for the Lord. One day a most talented young man, whose father lived at Breslau, where there is likewise a university, heard of the aged baron's kindness to students, and he therefore wrote to him, requesting him to assist him, as his own father could not well afford to support him any longer, having other children to provide for. A short time afterwards young T. received a most kind reply from the baron, inviting him to come to Berlin; but, before this letter arrived, the young student had heard that Baron von K. was a pietist or mystic, as true believers are contemptuously called in Germany; and as young T. was of a highly philosophical turn of mind, reasoning about everything, questioning the truth of revelation, yea, questioning, most sceptically, the existence of God, he much disliked the prospect of going to the old baron. Still, he thought he could but try, and if he did not like it, he was not bound to remain in connection with him. He arrived in Berlin on a day when there was a great review of the troops, and, being full of this, he began to speak about it to the steward of the baron. The steward, however, being a believer, turned the conversation, before the young student was aware of it, to spiritual things; and yet he could not say that it had been forced. He began another subject, and a third, but still it always came presently again to spiritual things.
At last the baron came, who received young T. in the most affectionate and familiar manner, as if he had been his equal, and as if young T. bestowed a favor on him, rather than that he was favored by the baron. The baron offered him a room in his own house, and a place at his own table, while he should be studying in Berlin, which young T. accepted. He now sought in every way to treat the young student in the most kind and affectionate way, and as much as possible to serve him, and to show him the power of the gospel in his own life, without arguing with him, yea, without speaking to him directly about his soul. For, discovering in young T. a most reasoning and sceptical mind, he avoided in every possible way getting into any argument with him, while the young student again and again said to himself, "I wish I could get into an argument with this old fool; I would show him his folly." But the baron avoided it. When the young student used to come home in the evening, and the baron heard him come, he would himself go to meet him on entering the house, would light his candle, would assist and serve him, in any way he could, even to the fetching the bootjack for him, and helping him to take off his boots. Thus this lowly aged disciple went on for some time, whilst the young student still sought an opportunity for arguing with him, but wondered nevertheless how the baron could thus serve him. One evening, on the return of young T. to the baron's house, when the baron was making himself his servant as usual, he could refrain himself no longer, but burst out thus: "Baron, how can you do all this? You see I do not care about you, and how are you able to continue to be so kind to me, and thus to serve me?" The baron replied, "My dear young friend, I have learned it from the Lord Jesus. I wish you would read through the Gospel of John. Good night." The student now for the first time in his life sat down and read the word of God in a disposition of mind to be willing to learn, whilst up to that time he had never read the Holy Scriptures but with the view of wishing to find out arguments against them. It pleased God to bless him. From that time he became himself a follower of the Lord Jesus, and has been so ever since.
May 7. It has recently pleased the Lord to teach me a truth, irrespective of human instrumentality, as far as I know, the benefit of which I have not lost, though now, while preparing the fifth edition for the press, more than fourteen years have since passed away. The point is this: I saw more clearly than ever that the first great and primary business to which I ought to attend every day was, to have my soul happy in the Lord. The first thing to be concerned about was not how much I might serve the Lord, how I might glorify the Lord; but how I might get my soul into a happy state, and how my inner man might be nourished. For I might seek to set the truth before the unconverted, I might seek to benefit believers, I might seek to relieve the distressed, I might in other ways seek to behave myself as it becomes a child of God in this world; and yet, not being happy in the Lord, and not being nourished and strengthened in my inner man day by day, all this might not be attended to in a right spirit. Before this time my practice had been, at least for ten years previously, as an habitual thing to give myself to prayer, after having dressed myself in the morning. Now, I saw that the most important thing I had to do was to give myself to the reading of the word of God, and to meditation on it, that thus my heart might be comforted, encouraged, warned, reproved, instructed; and that thus, by means of the word of God, whilst meditating on it, my heart might be brought into experimental communion with the Lord.
I began therefore to meditate on the New Testament from the beginning, early in the morning. The first thing I did, after having asked in a few words the Lord's blessing upon his precious word, was, to begin to meditate on the word of God, searching as it were into every verse, to get blessing out of it; not for the sake of the public ministry of the word, not for the sake of preaching on what I had meditated upon, but for the sake of obtaining food for my own soul. The result I have found to be almost invariably this, that after a very few minutes my soul has been led to confession, or to thanksgiving, or to intercession, or to supplication; so that, though I did not, as it were, give myself to prayer, but to meditation, yet it turned almost immediately more or less into prayer. When thus I have been for a while making confession, or intercession, or supplication, or have given thanks, I go on to the next words or verse, turning all, as I go on, into prayer for myself or others, as the word may lead to it, but still continually keeping before me that food for my own soul is the object of my meditation. The result of this is, that there is always a good deal of confession, thanksgiving, supplication, or intercession mingled with my meditation, and that my inner man almost invariably is even sensibly nourished and strengthened, and that by breakfast time, with rare exceptions, I am in a peaceful if not happy state of heart. Thus also the Lord is pleased to communicate unto me that which, either very soon after or at a later time, I have found to become food for other believers, though it was not for the sake of the public ministry of the word that I gave myself to meditation, but for the profit of my own inner man.
With this mode I have likewise combined the being out in the open air for an hour, an hour and a half, or two hours, before breakfast, walking about in the fields, and in the summer sitting for a little on the stiles, if I find it too much to walk all the time. I find it very beneficial to my health to walk thus for meditation before breakfast, and am now so in the habit of using the time for that purpose, that when I get into the open air I generally take out a New Testament of good-sized type, which I carry with me for that purpose, besides my Bible; and I find that I can profitably spend my time in the open air, which formerly was not the case, for want of habit. I used to consider the time spent in walking a loss, but now I find it very profitable, not only to my body, but also to my soul. The walking out before breakfast is of course not necessarily connected with this matter, and every one has to judge according to his strength and other circumstances.
The difference, then, between my former practice and my present one is this: Formerly, when I rose, I began to pray as soon as possible, and generally spent all my time till breakfast in prayer, or almost all the time. At all events I almost invariably began with prayer, except when I felt my soul to be more than usually barren, in which case I read the word of God for food, or for refreshment, or for a revival and renewal of my inner man, before I gave myself to prayer. But what was the result? I often spent a quarter of an hour, or half an hour, or even an hour, on my knees, before being conscious to myself of having derived comfort, encouragement, humbling of soul, etc.; and often, after having suffered much from wandering of mind for the first ten minutes, or a quarter of an hour, or even half an hour, I only then began really to pray. I scarcely ever suffer now in this way. For my heart being nourished by the truth, being brought into experimental fellowship with God, I speak to my Father and to my Friend (vile though I am, and unworthy of it) about the things that he has brought before me in his precious word. It often now astonishes me that I did not sooner see this point. In no book did I ever read about it. No public ministry ever brought the matter before me. No private intercourse with a brother stirred me up to this matter. And yet now, since God has taught me this point, it is as plain to me as anything, that the first thing the child of God has to do morning by morning is, to obtain food for his inner man. As the outward man is not fit for work for any length of time except we take food, and as this is one of the first things we do in the morning, so it should be with the inner man. We should take food for that, as every one must allow. Now what is the food for the inner man? Not prayer, but the word of God; and here again, not the simple reading of the word of God, so that it only passes through our minds, just as water runs through a pipe, but considering what we read, pondering over it, and applying it to our hearts. When we pray, we speak to God. Now, prayer, in order to be continued for any length of time in any other than a formal manner, requires, generally speaking, a measure of strength or godly desire, and the season, therefore, when this exercise of the soul can be most effectually performed is after the inner man has been nourished by meditation on the word of God, where we find our Father speaking to us, to encourage us, to comfort us, to instruct us, to humble us, to reprove us. We may therefore profitably meditate, with God's blessing, though we are ever so weak spiritually; nay, the weaker we are, the more we need meditation for the strengthening of our inner man. There is thus far less to be feared from wandering of mind than if we give ourselves to prayer without having had previously time for meditation. I dwell so particularly on this point because of the immense spiritual profit and refreshment I am conscious of having derived from it myself, and I affectionately and solemnly beseech all my fellow-believers to ponder this matter. By the blessing of God I ascribe to this mode the help and strength which I have had from God to pass in peace through deeper trials, in various ways, than I had ever had before; and after having now above fourteen years tried this way, I can most fully, in the fear of God, commend it. In addition to this I generally read, after family prayer, larger portions of the word of God, when I still pursue my practice of reading regularly onward in the Holy Scriptures, sometimes in the New Testament and sometimes in the Old, and for more than twenty-six years I have proved the blessedness of it. I take, also, either then or at other parts of the day, time more especially for prayer.
How different, when the soul is refreshed and made happy early in the morning, from what it is when, without spiritual preparation, the service, the trials, and the temptations of the day come upon one!
Oct. 1. When I had again not one penny in hand for the necessities of this day, there was brought to me this morning ten shillings for the orphans, which had been sent from Kensington. In the paper which contained the money, was written: "Your Heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of these things." "Trust in the Lord." This word of our Lord is to me of more value than many bank notes. About five minutes later I received from an Irish sister ten pounds, through her banker in London. I mention here, as a point particularly to be noticed, that after the season of comparative abundance had come to an end in September, the Lord did not at once allow us to be so sharply tried as we were afterwards. He dealt in the same gentle way with us three years before, when the trials of faith in this part of the work first commenced.
Nov. 2. At a time of the greatest poverty one pound was sent by a lady from Birmingham. About half an hour afterwards I received ten pounds from a brother who had saved up one hundred and fifty pounds, and put it into a savings bank, but who now sees that to devote this money to the promotion of the work of God tends more to the glory of the name of Jesus than to retain it in the savings bank upon interest for a time of sickness or old age; for he is assured that should such times come, the same Lord, who has hitherto cared for him whilst in health and strength and able to work, will also care for him then. The same brother gave me three pounds a fortnight since. This ten pounds came in very seasonably; for, though we had been able to provide for the absolute necessities of to-day, yet there was want in many respects, especially as a boy is just going out as an apprentice, who needs tools and an outfit.
Nov. 13. Saturday. This morning I took one shilling out of the box in my house. This shilling was all there was towards the need of to-day. Pause, dear reader, for a few moments! Consider that there are more than a hundred persons to be provided with everything they require; consider that there is no money in hand; and consider also that this is the case not once nor twice in the course of the year, but very frequently. Is it not precious, under such circumstances, to have the living God as a father to go to, who is ever able and ever willing to help, as it may be really needed? And to this privilege every one has a title who believes in the Lord Jesus, being as such a child of God. Galatians iii. 26. For though all believers in the Lord Jesus are not called upon to establish orphan houses, schools for poor children, etc., and trust in God for means; yet all believers, according to the will of God concerning them in Christ Jesus, may cast, and ought to cast, all their care upon him who careth for them, and need not be anxiously concerned about anything, as is plainly to be seen from 1 Peter v. 7, Philippians iv. 6, Matthew vi. 25-34. Under these circumstances of need, a silver watch, which only yesterday afternoon had become the property of the orphan fund, was disposed of, whereby we were helped through the expenses of to-day. The coals are almost gone in each of the houses. Every article of provision, etc., is likewise much reduced. Truly, we are exceedingly poor; nevertheless there are the necessary provisions till Monday morning, and thus we are brought to the close of another week. This afternoon all the laborers met for prayer.
Nov. 14. When we met again this afternoon for prayer, we had reason to praise, for the Lord had sent in means. This morning was given to me five pounds, and six shillings had come in by sale of articles.
Nov. 15. Last Friday brother Craik and I had a meeting for inquirers and candidates for fellowship. We saw eight, and had to send away ten whom we could not see, our strength being quite gone after we had seen the eight, one after another. This evening we saw seven, and had to send away three.
Nov. 16. The last four days we have daily met for prayer, there being no means to pay the teachers in the day schools. Besides this, we need a stove in one of the school-rooms; also some Bibles and tracts. To-day I received two pounds from a brother at Exmouth.
Dec. 9. We are now brought to the close of the sixth year of this part of the work, having only in hand the money which has been put by for the rent; but during the whole of this year we have been supplied with all that was needed.
During the last three years we had closed the accounts on this day, and had, a few days after, some public meetings, at which, for the benefit of the hearers, we stated how the Lord had dealt with us during the year, and the substance of what had been stated at those meetings was afterwards printed for the benefit of the church at large. This time, however, it appeared to us better to delay for a while both the public meetings and the publishing of the Report. Through grace we had learned to lean upon the Lord only, being assured that if we never were to speak or write one single word more about this work, yet should we be supplied with means, as long as he should enable us to depend on himself alone. But whilst we neither had had those public meetings for the purpose of exposing our necessity, nor had had the account of the Lord's dealings with us published for the sake of working thereby upon the feelings of the readers, and thus inducing them to give money, but only that we might by our experience benefit other saints; yet it might have appeared to some that in making known our circumstances we were actuated by some such motives. What better proof, therefore, could we give of our depending upon the living God alone, and not upon public meetings or printed reports, than that, in the midst of our deep poverty, instead of being glad for the time to have come when we could make known our circumstances, we still went on quietly for some time longer, without saying anything. We therefore determined, as we sought and still seek in this work to act for the profit of the saints generally, to delay both the public meetings and the Reports for a few months. Naturally we should have been, of course, as glad as any one to have exposed our poverty at that time; but spiritually we were enabled to delight even then in the prospect of the increased benefit that might be derived by the church at large from our acting as we did.
WALKING IN DARKNESS.
"GOD'S WAY LEADS INTO TRIAL"—GROUNDS OF THANKFULNESS—PROTRACTED DARKNESS—CAST DOWN, BUT NOT DESTROYED—TRUST IN GOD COMMENDED—THE MEANS OF ITS ATTAINMENT—REVIEW OF THE WORK.
December 15, 1841. From Nov. 12 to this day my fellow-laborers in the church and I have seen thirty inquirers and candidates for fellowship, and some of them we have seen repeatedly. How can we sufficiently praise the Lord for still continuing to use us in his service?
Dec. 18. Saturday morning. There is now the greatest need, and only fourpence in hand, which I found in the box at my house; yet I fully believe the Lord will supply us this day also with all that is required.—Pause a few moments, dear reader. Observe two things. We acted for God in delaying the public meetings and the publishing of the Report; but God's way leads always into trial, so far as sight and sense are concerned. Nature always will be tried in God's ways. The Lord was saying by this poverty, "I will now see whether you truly lean upon me, and whether you truly look to me." Of all the seasons that I had ever passed through since I had been living in this way, up to that time, I never knew any period in which my faith was tried so sharply as during the four months from December 12, 1841, to April 12, 1842. But observe further: We might even now have altered our minds with respect to the public meetings and publishing the Report; for no one knew our determination, at this time, concerning this point. Nay, on the contrary, we knew with what delight very many children of God were looking forward to receive further accounts. But the Lord kept us steadfast to the conclusion at which we arrived under his guidance.—Now to return to Saturday, Dec. 18. Evening. The Lord has been very kind to us this day. In the course of the morning six shillings came in. We had thus, with what provisions there were in hand, all that was needed for the dinner, but no means to provide for the next meal in the afternoon. A few minutes after the laborers had met together for prayer this morning, there was given to one of them a sovereign for himself. By means of this all that was needed for tea could be procured. When we again met in the evening for prayer, we found that the supplies amounted to two pounds eight shillings twopence, enough for all that was required to-day. But one thing more is to be noticed respecting this day. I was informed that three more of the orphans have been recently brought to the knowledge of the truth. We have now been meeting daily for prayer during the last five weeks, and thus the Lord has not merely heard our prayers respecting the funds, but has also blessed these children.
Dec. 23. This is now the sixth week that the laborers in the day schools and Orphan Houses have daily met for prayer. Several precious answers we have already received since we began to meet, as it regards pecuniary supplies, fresh instances of conversion among the children, etc. One of our petitions has been that the Lord would be pleased to furnish us with means for a stove at Callowhill Street schoolroom. But, though we had often mentioned this matter before the Lord, he seemed not to regard our request. Yesterday afternoon, while walking in my little garden, and meditating and praying, I had an unusual assurance that the time was now come when the Lord would answer our request, which arose partly from my being able to believe that he would send the means, and partly from the fact that the answer could no longer be delayed without prayer having failed in this matter, as we could not assemble the children again, after the Christmas vacation, without there being a stove put up. And now, dear reader, observe: This morning I received from A. B. twenty pounds, and we have thus much more than is required for a stove.