Another instance: Suppose I am so situated in my business that day by day such difficulties arise that I continually find that I take wrong steps by reason of these great difficulties. How may the case be altered for the better? In myself I see no remedy for the difficulties. In looking at myself I can expect nothing but to make still further mistakes, and, therefore, trial upon trial seems to be before me. And yet I need not despair. The living God is my partner. I have not sufficient wisdom to meet these difficulties so as to be able to know what steps to take, but he is able to direct me. What I have, therefore, to do, is this: in simplicity to spread my case before my heavenly Father and my Lord Jesus. The Father and the Son are my partners. I have to tell out my heart to God, and to ask him, that, as he is my partner, and I have no wisdom in myself to meet all the many difficulties which continually occur in my business, he would be pleased to guide and direct me, and to supply me with the needful wisdom; and then I have to believe that God will do so, and go with good courage to my business, and expect help from him in the next difficulty that may come before me. I have to look out for guidance; I have to expect counsel from the Lord; and as assuredly as I do so, I shall have it, I shall find that I am not nominally, but really, in partnership with the Father and with the Son.
Another instance: There is a father and mother with seven small children. Both parents are believers. The father works in a manufactory, but cannot earn more than ten shillings per week. The mother cannot earn anything. These ten shillings are too little for the supply of nourishing and wholesome food for seven growing children and their parents, and for providing them with the other necessaries of life. What is to be done in such a case? Surely not to find fault with the manufacturer, who may not be able to afford more wages, and much less to murmur against God; but the parents have in simplicity to tell God, their partner, that the wages of ten shillings a week are not sufficient in England to provide nine persons with all they need, so as that their health be not injured. They have to remind God that he is not a hard master, not an unkind being, but a most loving Father, who has abundantly proved the love of his heart in the gift of his only begotten Son. And they have in childlike simplicity to ask him that either he would order it so that the manufacturer may be able to allow more wages; or that he (the Lord) would find them another place, where the father would be able to earn more; or that he would be pleased, somehow or other, as it may seem good to him, to supply them with more means. They have to ask the Lord, in childlike simplicity, again and again for it, if he does not answer their request at once; and they have to believe that God, their Father and partner, will give them the desire of their hearts. They have to expect an answer to their prayers; day by day they have to look out for it, and to repeat their request till God grants it. As assuredly as they believe that God will grant them their request, so assuredly it shall be granted.
Thus, suppose I desired more power over my besetting sins; suppose I desired more power against certain temptations; suppose I desired more wisdom, or grace, or anything else that I may need in my service among the saints, or in my service towards the unconverted: what have I to do but to make use of my being in fellowship with the Father and with the Son? Just as, for instance, an old faithful clerk, who is this day taken into partnership by an immensely rich firm, though himself altogether without property, would not be discouraged by reason of a large payment having to be made by the firm within three days, though he himself has no money at all of his own, but would comfort himself with the immense riches possessed by those who so generously have just taken him into partnership: so should we, the children of God and servants of Jesus Christ, comfort ourselves by being in fellowship, or partnership, with the Father, and with the Son, though we have no power of our own against our besetting sins; though we cannot withstand temptations, which are before us, in our own strength; and though we have neither sufficient grace nor wisdom for our service among the saints, or towards the unconverted. All we have to do is, to draw upon our partner, the living God. By prayer and faith we may obtain all needful temporal and spiritual help and blessings. In all simplicity have we to tell out our heart before God, and then we have to believe that he will give to us according to our need.
But if we do not believe that God will help us, could we be at peace? The clerk, taken into the firm as partner, believes that the firm will meet the payment, though so large, and though in three days it is to be made, and it is this that keeps his heart quiet, though altogether poor himself. We have to believe that our infinitely rich partner, the living God, will help us in our need, and we shall not only be in peace, but we shall actually find that the help which we need will be granted to us. Let not the consciousness of your entire unworthiness keep you, dear reader, from believing what God has said concerning you. If you are indeed a believer in the Lord Jesus, then this precious privilege, of being in partnership with the Father and the Son, is yours, though you and I are entirely unworthy of it. If the consciousness of our unworthiness were to keep us from believing what God has said concerning those who depend upon and trust in the Lord Jesus for salvation, then we should find that there is not one single blessing, with which we have been blessed in the Lord Jesus, from which, on account of our unworthiness, we could derive any settled comfort or peace.
IV. There is one other point, which, in connection with several portions of the word of God which bear on the subject, I desire to bring before the believing reader, and it refers to the "scriptural way of overcoming the difficulties with which the believer now meets who is engaged in a business, trade, profession, or any earthly calling whatever, which arise from competition in business, too great a number of persons being occupied in the same calling, stagnation of trade, and the like." The children of God, who are strangers and pilgrims on earth, have at all times had difficulty in the world, for they are not at home, but from home; nor should they, until the return of the Lord Jesus, expect it to be otherwise with them. But whilst this is true, it is also true that the Lord has provided us in all our difficulties with something in his own word to meet them. All difficulties may be overcome by acting according to the word of God. At this time I more especially desire to point out the means whereby the children of God who are engaged in any earthly calling may be able to overcome the difficulties which arise from competition in business, too great a number of persons being occupied in the same calling, stagnation of trade, and the like.
1. The first thing which the believer who is in such difficulties has to ask himself is, Am I in a calling in which I can abide with God? If our occupation be of that kind that we cannot ask God's blessing upon it, or that we should be ashamed to be found in it at the appearing of the Lord Jesus, or that it of necessity hinders our spiritual progress, then we must give it up, and be engaged in something else; but in few cases only this is needful. Far the greater part of the occupations in which believers are engaged are not of such a nature as that they need to give them up in order to maintain a good conscience, and in order to be able to walk with God, though, perhaps, certain alterations may need to be made in the manner of conducting their trade, business, or profession. About these parts of our calling which may need alteration, we shall receive instruction from the Lord if we indeed desire it, and wait upon him for it, and expect it from him.
2. Now suppose the believer is in a calling in which he can abide with God, the next point to be settled is, "Why do I carry on this business, or why am I engaged in this trade or profession?" In most instances, so far as my experience goes, which I have gathered in my service among the saints during the last fifteen years and a half [i. e. in 1845], I believe the answer would be, "I am engaged in my earthly calling that I may earn the means of obtaining the necessaries of life for myself and family." Here is the chief error from which almost all the rest of the errors which are entertained by the children of God, relative to their calling, spring. It is no right and scriptural motive to be engaged in a trade or business or profession merely in order to earn the means for the obtaining of the necessaries of life for ourselves and family, but we should work because it is the Lord's will concerning us. This is plain from the following passages: 1 Thess. iv. 11, 12; 2 Thess. iii. 10-12; Eph. iv. 28. It is quite true that, in general, the Lord provides the necessaries of life by means of our ordinary calling: but that that is not THE REASON why we should work, is plain enough from the consideration that if our possessing the necessaries of life depended upon our ability of working, we could never have freedom from anxiety, for we should always have to say to ourselves, And what shall I do when I am too old to work, or when by reason of sickness I am unable to earn my bread? But if, on the other hand, we are engaged in our earthly calling because it is the will of the Lord concerning us that we should work, and that thus laboring we may provide for our families, and also be able to support the weak, the sick, the aged, and the needy, then we have good and scriptural reason to say to ourselves, Should it please the Lord to lay me on a bed of sickness, or keep me otherwise by reason of infirmity, or old age, or want of employment, from earning my bread by means of the labor of my hands, or my business, or my profession, he will yet provide for me. Because we who believe are servants of Jesus Christ, who has bought us with his own precious blood, and are not our own, and because this our precious Lord and Master has commanded us to work, therefore we work: and in doing so our Lord will provide for us, but whether in this way or any other way he is sure to provide for us, for we labor in obedience to him; and if even a just earthly master give wages to his servants, the Lord will surely see to it that we have our wages, if, in obedience to him, we are engaged in our calling, and not for our own sake.
How great the difference between acting according to the word of God and according to our own natural desires, or the customs of the world, will be plain, I trust, by the following case: Suppose I were engaged in some useful trade. Suppose I had the certain human prospect that within the next three months my labor would bring me in nothing, for certain reasons connected with the state of mercantile affairs. As a man of the world I should say, I shall not work at all, because my labor will not be paid; but as a Christian, who desires to act according to God's holy word, I ought to say, My trade is useful to society, and I will work, notwithstanding all human prospects, because the Lord Jesus has commanded me to labor; from him, and not from my trade, I expect my wages. In addition to this, the Christian ought also to say, Idleness is a dreadful snare of the devil; he has especial opportunity to get an advantage over the children of God when they are unoccupied; and, therefore, I will work though I have no human prospect of obtaining payment for my labor, but shall get only the cost price of the material, and shall have to give my work for nothing. Moreover, the Christian ought to say, Though according to human probability I shall have to labor for nothing during the next three months, yet I will work, because the Lord may speedily alter the state of things, contrary to all human expectation; but whether he be pleased to do so or not, I labor because I am the Lord's, bought by his precious blood, and he commands me to labor.
But there are motives still lower than to be engaged in our earthly calling merely that we may earn the means of obtaining the necessaries of life, why even Christians, true children of God, may be engaged in their calling, such as, to obtain a certain sum of money, and then to retire from business and to live upon the interest; or to provide something for old age; or to obtain a certain amount of property, without intending to give up business. If it be unscriptural to be engaged in our calling merely even for the sake of earning the means for procuring the necessaries of life for ourselves and family, how much more unbecoming that a child of God should be engaged in his calling for the sake of any of the last-mentioned reasons.
This second point, then, Why do I carry on this business? Why am I engaged in this trade or profession? ought first to be settled in the fear of God, and according to the revealed will of God; and if we cannot say, in honesty of heart, I do carry on my business, I am engaged in my trade, or art, or profession, as a servant of Jesus Christ, whose I am, because he has bought me with his precious blood, and he has commanded me to work, and therefore I work,—I say, if we cannot say this in honesty of heart, but must confess that we work on account of lower motives, such as that we may earn our bread, or on account of still lower motives, and such as are altogether unbecoming a child of God, who is not of the world, but of God, such as to obtain a certain sum of money in order to be able to live on the interest without having to work, or to provide something for old age, or to obtain a certain amount of property without intending to give up business;—if these are our motives for being engaged in our calling, I say, can we be surprised that we meet with great difficulties in our business, and that the Lord in his abounding love to us, his erring children, does not allow us to succeed? But suppose this second point is scripturally settled, and we can honestly say that, because we are servants of Jesus Christ, we are occupied as we are; we have further to consider,—
3. Whether we carry on our business, or are engaged in our trade, art, or profession, as stewards of the Lord. To the child of God it ought not to be enough that he is in a calling in which he can abide with God, nor that he is engaged in his calling because it is the will of his Lord and Master that he should work, but he should consider himself in his trade, business, art, or profession, only as the steward of the Lord with reference to his income. The child of God has been bought with the precious blood of the Lord Jesus, and is altogether his property, with all that he possesses, his bodily strength, his mental strength, his ability of every kind, his trade, business, art, or profession, his property, etc.; for it is written, "Ye are not your own; for ye are bought with a price." 1 Cor. vi. 19, 20. The proceeds of our calling are therefore not our own in the sense of using them as our natural heart wishes us to do, whether to spend them on the gratification of our pride, or our love of pleasure, or sensual indulgences, or to lay by the money for ourselves or our children, or use it in any way as we naturally like, but we have to stand before our Lord and Master, whose stewards we are, to seek to ascertain his will, how he will have us use the proceeds of our calling.
But is this indeed the spirit in which children of God generally are engaged in their calling? It is but too well known that it is not the case! Can we then wonder at it, that even God's own dear children should so often be found greatly in difficulty with regard to their calling, and be found so often complaining about stagnation or competition in trade, and the difficulties of the times, though there have been given to them such precious promises as, "Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you;" or, "Let your conversation (disposition or turn of mind) be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee." Heb. xiii. 5. Is it not obvious enough that when our heavenly Father sees that we his children do or would use the proceeds of our calling, as our natural mind would desire, that he either cannot at all intrust us with means, or will be obliged to decrease them? No wise and really affectionate mother will permit her infant to play with a razor, or with fire, however much the child may desire to have them; and so the love and wisdom of our heavenly Father will not, cannot, intrust us with pecuniary means, except it be in the way of chastisement, or to show us finally their utter vanity, if he sees that we do not desire to possess them as stewards for him, in order that we may spend them as he may point out to us by his Holy Spirit, through his word.
In connection with this subject, I give a few hints to the believing reader on three passages of the word of God. In 1 Cor. xvi. 2, we find it written to the brethren at Corinth, "Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God has prospered him." A contribution for the poor saints in Judea was to be made, and the brethren at Corinth were exhorted to put by for it, every Lord's day, according to the measure of success which the Lord had been pleased to grant them in their calling during the week. Now, ought not the saints in our day also to act according to this word? There is no passage in the word of God why we should not do so, and it is altogether in accordance with our pilgrim character, not only once or twice, or four times a year, to see how much we can afford to give to the poor saints, or to the work of God in any way, but to seek to settle it weekly. If it be said, I cannot ascertain how much I have gained in the course of the week by my business, and therefore I cannot give accordingly; my reply is this, Seek, dear brethren, as much as possible, to bring your business upon such a footing as that you may be able, as nearly as possible, to settle how much you have earned in your calling in the course of the week. But suppose you should be unable to settle it exactly to the shilling or pound, yet you will know pretty well how it has been with you during the week, and therefore, according to your best knowledge, contribute on the coming Lord's day towards the necessities of the poor saints, and towards the work of God, as he, after your having sought his guidance, may lead you.
Perhaps you say, the weeks are so unlike; in one week I may earn three or even ten times as much as in another week, and if I give according to my earnings from my calling during a very good week, then how are such weeks, when I earn scarcely any thing, or how are the bad debts to be met? How shall I do when sickness befalls my family, or when other trials productive of expense come upon me, if I do not make provision for such seasons? My reply is, 1. I do not find in the whole New Testament one single passage in which either directly or indirectly exhortations are given to provide against deadness in business, bad debts, and sickness, by laying up money. 2. Often the Lord is obliged to allow deadness in business, or bad debts, or sickness in our family, or other trials which increase our expenses, to befall us, because we do not, as his stewards, act according to stewardship, but as if we were owners of what we have, forgetting that the time has not yet come when we shall enter upon our possessions; and he does so in order that, by these losses and expenses, our property which we have collected may be decreased, lest we should altogether set our hearts again upon earthly things, and forget God entirely. His love is so great, that he will not let his children quietly go their own way when they have forsaken him; but if his loving admonitions by his Holy Spirit are disregarded, he is obliged in fatherly love to chastise them. A striking illustration of what I have said we have in the case of Israel nationally. The commandment to them was, to leave their land uncultivated in the seventh year, in order that it might rest, and the Lord promised to make up for this deficiency by his abundant blessing resting upon the sixth year. However, Israel acted not according to this commandment, no doubt saying, in the unbelief of their hearts, as the Lord had foretold, "What shall we eat in the seventh year? Behold, we shall not sow, nor gather in our increase." Levit. xxv. But what did the Lord do? He was determined the land should have rest, and as the Israelites did not willingly give it, he sent them for seventy years into captivity, in order that thus the land might have rest. See Levit. xxvi. 33-35. Beloved brethren in the Lord, let us take heed so to walk as that the Lord may not be obliged by chastisement to take a part of our earthly possessions from us in the way of bad debts, sickness, decrease of business, and the like, because we would not own our position as stewards, but act as owners, and keep for ourselves the means with which the Lord had intrusted us, not for the gratification of our own carnal mind, but for the sake of using them in his service and to his praise.
It might also be said by a brother whose earnings are small, should I also give according to my earnings? They are already so small that my wife can only with the greatest difficulty manage to make them sufficient for the family. My reply is, Have you ever considered, my brother, that the very reason why the Lord is obliged to let your earnings remain so small may be the fact of your spending everything upon yourselves, and that if he were to give you more you would only use it to increase your own family comfort, instead of looking about to see who among the brethren are sick, or who have no work at all, that you might help them, or how you might assist the work of God at home or abroad? There is a great temptation for a brother whose earnings are small to put off the responsibility of assisting the needy and sick saints, or helping on the work of God, and to lay it upon the few rich brethren and sisters with whom he is associated in fellowship, and thus rob his own soul!
It might be asked, How much shall I give of my income? The tenth part, or the fifth part, or the third part, or one half, or more? My reply is, God lays down no rule concerning this point. What we do we should do cheerfully and not of necessity. But if even Jacob, with the first dawning of spiritual light (Genesis xxviii. 22), promised to God the tenth of all he should give to him, how much ought we believers in the Lord Jesus to do for him: we, whose calling is a heavenly one, and who know distinctly that we are children of God, and joint heirs with the Lord Jesus! Yet do all the children of God give even the tenth part of what the Lord gives them? That would be two shillings per week for the brother who earns one pound, and four shillings to him who earns two pounds, and two pounds per week to him whose income is twenty pounds per week.
In connection with 1 Cor. xvi. 2, I would mention two other portions: 1. "He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he that soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully." 2 Cor. ix. 6. It is certain that we children of God are so abundantly blessed in Jesus, by the grace of God, that we ought to need no stimulus to good works. The forgiveness of our sins, the having been made forever the children of God, the having before us the Father's house as our home;—these blessings ought to be sufficient motives to constrain us in love and gratitude to serve God abundantly all the days of our life, and cheerfully also to give up, as he may call for it, that with which he has intrusted us of the things of this world. But whilst this is the case, the Lord nevertheless holds out to us in his holy word motives why we should serve him, deny ourselves, use our property for him, etc., and the last mentioned passage is one of that kind. The verse is true, both with reference to the life that is now, and that which is to come. If we have been sparingly using our property for him, there will have been little treasure laid up in heaven, and therefore a small amount of capital will be found in the world to come, so far as it regards reaping. Again, we shall reap bountifully if we seek to be rich towards God, by abundantly using our means for him, whether in ministering to the necessities of the poor saints, or using otherwise our pecuniary means for his work. Dear brethren, these things are realities! Shortly, very shortly, will come the reaping-time, and then will be the question whether we shall reap sparingly or bountifully.
But while this passage refers to the life hereafter, it also refers to the life that now is. Just as now the love of Christ constrains us to communicate of that with which the Lord intrusts us, so will be the present reaping, both with regard to spiritual and temporal things. Should there be found, therefore, in a brother, the want of entering into his position as being merely a steward for the Lord in his calling, and should he give no heed to the admonitions of the Holy Ghost to communicate to those who are in need or to help the work of God, then can such a brother be surprised that he meets with great difficulties in his calling, and that he cannot get on? This is according to the Lord's word. He is sowing sparingly, and he therefore reaps sparingly. But should the love of Christ constrain a brother, out of the earnings of his calling, to sow bountifully, he will even in this life reap bountifully, both with regard to blessings in his soul, and with regard to temporal things. Consider in connection with this the following passage, which, though taken from the Book of Proverbs, is not of a Jewish character, but true concerning believers under the present dispensation also: "There is that scattereth, and yet increaseth; and there is that withholdeth more than is meet, but it tendeth to poverty. The liberal soul shall be made fat; and he that watereth shall be watered also himself." Prov. xi. 24, 25.
In connection with 1 Cor. xvi. 2, I would also direct my brethren in the Lord to the promise made in Luke vi. 38: "Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again." This refers evidently to the present dispensation, and evidently in its primary meaning to temporal things. Now let any one, constrained by the love of Jesus, act according to this passage; let him on the first day of the week communicate as the Lord has prospered him, and he will see that the Lord will act according to what is contained in this verse. If pride constrain us to give, if self-righteousness make us liberal, if natural feeling induce us to communicate, or if we give whilst we are in a state of insolvency, not possessing more perhaps than ten shillings in the pound, were our creditors to come upon us; then we cannot expect to have this verse fulfilled in our experience; nor should we give at any time for the sake of receiving again from others, according to this verse; but if indeed the love of Christ constrain us to communicate according to the ability which the Lord gives us, then we shall have this verse fulfilled in our experience, though this was not the motive which induced us to give. Somehow or other the Lord will abundantly repay us, through the instrumentality of our fellow-men, what we are doing to his poor saints, or in any way for his work, and we shall find that in the end we are not losers, even with reference to temporal things, whilst we communicate liberally of the things of this life with which the Lord has intrusted us.
Here it might be remarked, But if it be so that even in this life, and with regard to temporal things, it is true that "to him that gives shall be given, good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over," and that "he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully," then in the end the most liberal persons would be exceedingly rich. Concerning this remark we have to keep in mind, that the moment persons were to begin to give for the sake of receiving more back again from the Lord, through the instrumentality of their fellow-men, than they have given; or the moment persons wished to alter their way, and no more go on sowing bountifully, but sparingly, in order to increase their possessions, whilst God is allowing them to reap bountifully, the river of God's bounty toward them would no longer continue to flow. God had supplied them abundantly with means, because he saw them act as stewards for him. He had intrusted them with a little which they had used for him, and he therefore intrusted them with more; and if they had continued to use the much also for him, he would have still more abundantly used them as instruments to scatter abroad his bounties. The child of God must be willing to be a channel through which God's bounties flow, both with regard to temporal and spiritual things. This channel is narrow and shallow at first, it may be; yet there is room for some of the waters of God's bounty to pass through. And if we cheerfully yield ourselves as channels for this purpose, then the channel becomes wider and deeper, and the waters of the bounty of God can pass through more abundantly. Without a figure, it is thus: At first, we may be only instrumental in communicating five pounds, or ten pounds, or twenty pounds, or fifty pounds, or one hundred pounds, or two hundred pounds per year, but afterwards double as much; and, if we are still more faithful in our stewardship, after a year or two four times as much, afterwards perhaps eight times as much, at last perhaps twenty times or fifty times as much. We cannot limit the extent to which God may use us as instruments in communicating blessing, both temporal and spiritual, if we are willing to yield ourselves as instruments to the living God, and are content to be only instruments, and to give him all the glory.
But with regard to temporal things it will be thus, that if indeed we walk according to the mind of God in these things, whilst more and more we become instruments of blessing to others, we shall not seek to enrich ourselves, but be content, when the last day of another year finds us still in the body, to possess no more than on the last day of the previous year, or even considerably less, whilst we have been, however, in the course of the year, the instruments of communicating largely to others, through the means with which the Lord had intrusted us. As to my own soul, by the grace of God, it would be a burden to me that however much my income in the course of the year might have been, I were increasing in earthly possession; for it would be a plain proof to me that I had not been acting as a steward for God, and had not been yielding myself as a channel for the waters of God's bounty to pass through. I also cannot but bear my testimony here, that in whatever feeble measure God has enabled me to act according to these truths for the last fifteen years [this was written in 1845]; I have found it to be profitable, most profitable to my own soul; and as to temporal things, I never was a loser in doing so, but I have most abundantly found the truth in 2 Cor. ix. 6, and Luke vi. 38, and Prov. xi. 24, 25, verified in my own experience. I only have to regret that I have acted so little according to what I have now been stating; but my godly purpose is by the help of God, to spend the remainder of my days in practising these truths more than ever; and I am sure that when I am brought to the close of my earthly pilgrimage, either in death, or by the appearing of our Lord Jesus, I shall not have the least regret in having done so; and I know that, should I leave my dear child behind, the Lord will abundantly provide for her, and prove that there has been a better provision made for her than her father could have made, if he had sought to insure his life or lay up money for her.
Before leaving this part of the subject, I mention to the believing reader, that I know instance upon instance in which what I have been saying has been verified, but I will only mention the following: I knew many years ago a brother as the manager of a large manufactory. Whilst in this capacity he was liberal, and giving away considerably out of his rather considerable salary. The Lord repaid this to him; for the principals of the establishment, well knowing his value to their house of business, gave him now and then, whilst he thus was liberally using his means for the Lord, very large presents in money. In process of time, however, this brother thought it right to begin business on his own account, in a very small way. He still continued to be liberal, according to his means, and God prospered him, and prospered him so that now, whilst I am writing, his manufactory is as large as the one which he formerly managed, or even larger, though that was a very considerable one. And sure I am that if this brother shall be kept by God from setting his heart upon earthly things, and from seeking more and more to increase his earthly riches, but shall delight himself in being used as a steward by God, cheerfully communicating to the need of God's poor children, or to his work in other ways, and doing so not sparingly, but bountifully, the Lord will intrust him more and more with means; if otherwise, if he shut up his hands, seek his own, wish to obtain sufficient property that he may be able to live on his interest, then what he has to expect is that God will shut up his hands, he will meet with heavy losses, or there will be an alteration in his affairs for the worse, or the like.
I also mention two other cases, to show that the Lord increases our ability of communicating temporal blessings to others if we distribute according to the means with which he has intrusted us, though we should not be in a trade or business or profession. I know a brother who many years ago saw it right not only to spend his interest for the Lord, but also the principal, as the Lord might point out to him opportunities. His desire was not, as indeed it ought never to be, to get rid of his money as fast as possible, yet he considered himself a steward for the Lord, and was therefore willing, as his Lord and Master might point it out to him, to spend his means. When this brother came to this determination, he possessed about twenty thousand pounds sterling. According to the light and grace which the Lord had been pleased to give, he afterwards acted, spending the money for the Lord, in larger or smaller sums, as opportunities were pointed out to him by the Lord. Thus the sum more and more decreased, whilst the brother steadily pursued his course, serving the Lord with his property, and spending his time and ability also for the Lord, in service of one kind or another among his children. At last, the twenty thousand pounds were almost entirely spent, when at that very time the father of this very brother died, whereby he came into the possession of an income of several thousand pounds a year. It gives joy to my heart to be able to add, that this brother still pursues his godly course, living in the most simple way, and giving away perhaps ten times as much as he spends on himself or family. Here you see, dear reader, that this brother, using faithfully for the Lord what he had been intrusted with at first, was made steward over more; for he has now more than one third as much in a year coming in as he at first possessed altogether.
I mention another instance: I know a brother to whom the Lord has given a liberal heart, and who bountifully gave of that over which the Lord had set him as steward. The Lord, seeing this, intrusted him with still more, for through family circumstances he came into the possession of many thousand pounds, in addition to the considerable property he possessed before. I have the joy of being able to add also concerning this brother, that the Lord continues to give him grace to use his property as a steward for God, and that he has not been permitted to set his heart upon his riches, through the very considerable increase of his property, but that he continues to live as the steward of the Lord, and not as the owner of all this wealth.
And now, dear reader, when the brethren to whom I have been referring are brought to the close of their earthly pilgrimage, will they have one moment's regret that they have used their property for the Lord? Will it be the least particle of uneasiness to their minds, or will their children be the worse for it? O no! The only regret they will have concerning this matter will be, that they did not serve the Lord still more abundantly with their property. Dear reader, let us each in our measure act in the same spirit. Money is really worth no more than as it is used according to the mind of the Lord; and life is worth no more than as it is spent in the service of the Lord.
Whilst the three points mentioned—1. That our calling must be of that nature that we can abide in it with God; 2. That unto the Lord we should labor in our calling, as his servants, because he has bought us with his blood, and because he will have us to labor; 3. That as stewards we should labor in our calling, because the earnings of our calling are the Lord's and not our own, as he has bought us with his blood;—I say, whilst these three points are particularly to be attended to in order that the Lord's blessing may rest upon our calling, and we be prospering in it, there are, nevertheless, some other points to be attended to, which I mention in love to my brethren in the Lord, by whom they may be needed.
4. The next point is, that a believer in the Lord Jesus should do nothing in his calling which is purely for the sake of attracting the world; such as, for instance, fitting up his shop or rooms of business in the most costly manner. I do not in the least mean to say that his shop or rooms of business should not be clean, orderly, and of such a character as that there may be no positive hindrance in persons going there. All the needful conveniences that are expected may be there, and ought to be there. But if any child of God seek to have the front of his shop, or the interior of his shop, or of his place of business, fitted up in a most expensive way, simply for the sake of attracting attention, then let him be aware that, just in so far as he is trusting in these things, he is not likely to succeed in his calling, because he puts the manner of fitting up the shop in the room of trust in the Lord. Such things the Lord may allow to succeed in the case of an unbeliever, but they will not prosper in the case of a child of God, except it be in the way of chastisement, just as the Lord gave to Israel in the wilderness the desire of their hearts, but sent leanness into their souls. Should any brother have fallen into this error, the first thing he has to do, when the Lord has instructed him concerning this point, is to make confession of sin, and, as far as it can be done, to retrace his steps in this particular. If this cannot be done, then to cast himself upon the mercy of God in Christ Jesus.
5. Of the same character is, to seek to attract the attention of the world by "boasting advertisements," such as "no one manufactures so good an article," "no one sells this article so cheap," "we sell the best article in the city," etc. Suppose these statements were quite correct, yet they are unbecoming for a child of God, who has the living God to care for him and to provide for him, and therefore needs not to make use of such boasting, whereby he may seek to insure custom to himself and keep it from others. The law of love is, "Whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them." Matt. vii. 12. Now what do I wish in this particular that others should do to me, but that they should not seek to keep away persons from dealing with me; but if I use such like expressions in my advertisements, as have been mentioned, what do they imply but that I wish all people should come to me, and deal with me? If, however, already under the old covenant it was said, "Thou shalt not covet," how much more sinful and altogether unbecoming is it for us children of God, who are in fellowship with the Father and the Son, to make use of such means in order to insure to ourselves pecuniary advantages. But, however much the Lord may allow a man of the world to prosper in using such means, they are only hindrances to the child of God to getting on in his calling, because the Lord sees that they are substituted instead of trust in himself; and should the Lord for a season allow his child apparently to be benefited by them, it will only be for his chastisement and connected with leanness in his soul. Therefore, my brethren in the Lord, I beseech you to put away all these things out of your calling, lest you should be hindering instead of furthering your real welfare.
6. Likewise of a similar character is the following point, which God may suffer to be a real hindrance to his children in their calling; it is, To seek the very best, and therefore the most expensive, situations which can be had in a town or city. Now, I do by no means intend to say, that in our trade, business, art, or profession, we should seek the most obscure, retired, out of the way place possible, and say, "God will provide, and I need not mind in what part of the town I carry on my calling." There are most assuredly certain things to be considered. The persons who are likely to buy the articles I sell, or employ me, are to be considered, and I have not to say, it matters nothing to me whether I make them come a mile or two to my house, or to the most dirty and disagreeable part of the town; this would be the extreme in the other way. But whilst there is a certain consideration to be used with reference to those who may employ us in our calling, yet if the trust of the child of God respecting temporal prosperity is in the fact that he lives in the best situation, the Lord will surely disappoint him. He will have to pay a very high rent for the best situation, and yet not succeed, because his trust is in the best situation. He is substituting it for dependence upon the living God for customers. He is robbing his soul, not only in not taking the customers as from the hands of the Lord, but he is also obliging his heavenly Father, in the very love of his heart, to cause him to be disappointed, because he is not trusting in him. If the child of God were saying and acting thus: the best situation would cost me fifty pounds a year more rent than one which is not really inconvenient for my customers, nor in an improper neighborhood, and the like; this fifty pounds I dedicate unto the Lord, to be paid in instalments for his work or his poor saints, whenever the rent-day comes; such a brother would find himself to be no loser, if this indeed were done in dependence upon the Lord, and constrained by the love of Jesus. But if the fifty pounds more is paid for rent, and yet the living God, in the very love of his heart, should be obliged to withhold prosperity from his child in his calling, because he sees that he is laying undue stress upon the situation of the house, then not only the fifty pounds extra rent per year is lost, but also that which the Lord is obliged to withhold from his child besides, in order to teach him the lesson; and thus year after year, by our own fault, we may have scarcely anything to give for the work of God.
7. The next obstacle to prosperity in our calling which I now would mention is, That children of God often use such expressions as these with reference to their calling: "This is our busy time," or "This is our dead time;" which implies that they do not day after day deal with God about their calling, but that they ascribe their having much or little to do to circumstances, or to times and seasons. That the people of the world should do so is not to be wondered at; but that the children of God should act thus, who in the most minute affairs of life should seek the help of God, and deal with God about them, is a matter of sorrow to the spiritual mind, and is altogether unbecoming saints. But what is the result? The Lord, according to the expectations of his children, allows them to be without employment, because they say, "This is our dead season." "He did not many mighty works there because of their unbelief," contains a truth which comes in here. But what is the right way of looking at the matter? It is this: the child of God should say, though generally about this time of the year there is little employment to be expected, looking at it naturally, just as want of employment is neither good for the outward nor inward man, and as I only desire employment to serve God in my business, to have to give to those who are in need, or help in other ways the work of God, I will now give myself to prayer for employment, for I can by prayer and faith as a child of God obtain blessings from my heavenly Father, though not in the ordinary course of things. If thus the child of God were to say and to act, he would soon have employment in his calling, except the Lord meant to use his time otherwise in his work, which he would point out to him.
8. A further reason why God may be obliged to resist children of God in their business, may be this, that they with the greatest carefulness seek to obtain persons for their shop who are considered "good salesmen," i. e. persons who have such persuasive ways, as that they gain an advantage over the customers and induce them not only to buy articles for which they ask, whether suitable or not, but that they also induce them to buy articles which they did not at all intend to buy when they came to the shop. Concerning this I notice, in the first place, that if the child of God puts his dependence upon the "good salesmen," let him not be surprised if his heavenly Father should be obliged to disappoint him, because he sees his child lean upon the arm of flesh, instead of trusting in the living God; and therefore the business does not succeed. Further, it is altogether wrong for a child of God to induce the customers, by means of such men or women who have a persuasive tongue, to purchase articles whether they suit or not, and whether they are needed or not. This is no less than defrauding persons in a subtle way, or leading them into the sin of purchasing beyond their means, or at least spending their money needlessly. However such sinful tricks may be allowed to prosper in the case of a man of the world, in the case of a child of God they will not prosper, except God allow them to do so in the way of chastisement, whilst leanness and wretchedness are brought into the soul. I knew a case of this kind where it was the whole bent of the mind of a professed believer to obtain such "good salesmen," and where even a Jew was kept outside the shop, walking up and down, to induce persons to come in and buy; and yet that same professed believer failed twice in his business.
9. Another evil with reference to business, and why children of God do not get on in their calling, is, that they enter upon business often without any capital at all, or with too little. If a believer has no capital at all, or only a very small capital, in comparison with what his business requires, then ought he not to say this to himself: "If it were my heavenly Father's will that I should enter upon business on my own account, then would he not somehow or other have intrusted me with the needful means? And since he has not, is it not a plain indication that for the present I should remain a journeyman (or shopman, or clerk, as the case may be)?" In a variety of ways the means might come. For instance, a legacy might be left to him, or money might be given to him by a brother in the Lord for that very purpose, or a brother or sister might propose to the individual to lend him money, yet so that if he were unable to pay it again they would not consider him their debtor. But if in some such way the Lord did not remove the hindrance, and the brother would still go into business, he would, through the bill system and other things connected with the want of capital, not only bring great distress into his mind, and subject himself to the possibility of at last being unable to pay his creditors, whereby dishonor would be brought upon the name of the Lord, but he likewise could not be surprised (as he went into business contrary to the will of God, since he pointed out to him that he was not to do so for want of means) if he should find that he cannot get on, and that the blessing of God manifestly is wanting. In such a case as this, if it can be done, the retracing our steps is the best thing we can do; but often this cannot be done, as others are involved in the matter, and then we have to make acknowledgment of our sin, and seek God's merciful help to bring us into a right position.
10. But suppose all these nine previous points were attended to, and we neglected to seek God's blessing upon our calling, we need still not be surprised if we met with difficulty upon difficulty, and could not get on at all. It is not enough that we seek God's help for that which manifestly is of a spiritual character; but we should seek his help and blessing by prayer and supplication for all our ordinary concerns in life, and if we neglect doing so we shall surely suffer for the neglect. "Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths." Prov. iii. 5, 6.
Though these few remarks are written by one who never was in business himself, yet the truths therein set forth have been learned by him in the school of God, and he has had them abundantly confirmed through his pastoral labors during the last fifteen years and a half. [This was written in 1845.]
AN UNEXPECTED REQUEST—DELIBERATION—A GREAT UNDERTAKING—RELIANCE ON THE RESOURCES OF THE LIVING GOD—AN ANSWER EXPECTED AND RECEIVED—PRAYER FOR FAITH AND PATIENCE—FURTHER PROOFS OF DIVINE FAVOR—THE BLESSEDNESS OF DEVISING LIBERAL THINGS.
I began the service of caring for children who are bereaved of both parents, by death, born in wedlock, and are in destitute circumstances, on Dec. 9, 1835. For nearly ten years I had never had any desire to build an Orphan House. On the contrary, I decidedly preferred spending the means which might come in for present necessities, and desired rather to enlarge the work according to the means which the Lord might be pleased to give. Thus it was till the end of October, 1845, when I was led to consider this matter in a way in which I had never done before. The occasion of my doing so was this: On Oct. 30, 1845, I received from a gentleman, who lived in the street where the four Orphan Houses were, a polite and friendly letter, in which he courteously stated to me that the inhabitants in the adjoining houses were in various ways inconvenienced by the Orphan Houses being in Wilson Street. He left to myself the judgment of the case.
[Footnote 18: The reader will not fail to remark the striking illustration afforded in the present chapter, of the truth stated in Chapter XVI., that God rewards the right use of means of benevolence by affording the means of enlarged usefulness.—ED.]
This letter I received on Thursday morning, Oct. 30, 1845. Being very much occupied that week, I had scarcely any time to consider the matter. On Monday morning, however, Nov. 3, I set apart some hours for the prayerful consideration of the subject, and after I had besought the Lord to guide me to a right decision, I wrote down the reasons which appeared to me to make it desirable that the Orphan Houses should be removed from Wilson Street, and also the reasons against removing. As far as they are suitable for being stated in print they were these:—
I. REASONS FOR REMOVING FROM WILSON STREET.
1. The neighbors feel themselves inconvenienced by the noise of the children in the play-hours. This complaint is neither without foundation, nor unjust; for many persons are very much inconvenienced by the noise of children, and those living close by the Orphan Houses must be so during the play-hours, even though the noise be only of that kind that one could not at all find fault with the dear children on account of it. I should myself feel it trying to my head to live next door to the Orphan Houses on that account. I therefore ought to do to others as I should wish to be done by. This point had never before appeared to me in so serious a light.
2. The greatness of the number of the inmates in the houses had several times prevented the drains from acting properly, and thus has a few times affected the water in one or two of the neighbors' houses. With reference to these two reasons as it regards those living near the Orphan Houses, these words, "Let not your good be evil spoken of," Rom. xiv. 16, and "Let your moderation (i. e. yieldingness) be known unto all men," Philip. iv. 5, seemed to me two important portions of the word of God to be acted out in this matter.
But in addition to the reasons for removing the Orphan Houses from Wilson Street on account of the unavoidable occasional inconvenience that comes upon the neighbors, there appeared now to me, when once I was led to consider seriously the reasons for removing the Institution from Wilson Street, other reasons for doing so, in connection with the work itself, which had occurred to me before, but never in so strong a light as now, when the subject was brought more immediately before me by the letter in which I was politely requested to remove the Orphan Houses from Wilson Street. These reasons are:—
1. We have no proper play-grounds in Wilson Street. There is one play-ground, which, however, is only large enough for the children of one house at a time; but as there are children in four houses who ought to have the benefit of it, we cannot arrange so that all the children have the full benefit of that play-ground, as the meals, the school-hours, the weather, and other hindrances interfere. The dear orphans ought, I know, to be trained in habits of industry, but children are children, and need to be treated as such; and they should, on account of their health, have the full benefit of a play-ground. But this they cannot have in Wilson Street: and to take them out into the fields for the benefit of bodily exercise, as we have been in the habit of doing, is often very inconvenient.
2. We have no ground for cultivation near the Orphan Houses, and hence there must be more walking for the children, on account of using proper means for keeping them, with the blessing of God, in health, than is in other respects good for them; because frequent walks easily beget in children habits of idleness, which would be especially felt when boys are apprenticed. But this difficulty cannot be obviated by remaining in Wilson Street, and renting a piece of land somewhere else for cultivation; for to get the children ready and conduct them to the piece of ground not only takes a good deal of time, but is connected with other great inconveniences, yea, with insurmountable difficulties, so that we found it needful to give up a small piece of ground which we once rented for about two years for the orphan boys, at a distance of about half a mile from Wilson Street. Thus, by removing from Wilson Street, and obtaining premises surrounded by land for cultivation, we should be able to procure a most important moral benefit for the children, by having the opportunity more fully than we now have of training them in habits of industry, besides giving to the boys occupation which is more suitable for them than knitting, which is now the only employment they have, besides making their beds, cleaning the house, and attending to the cooking of their meals. Moreover, this would be occupation in the open air, which not only would bring into exercise the use of their limbs, but also make walking for the sake of health almost entirely needless.
3. If we were to remove from Wilson Street, and obtain premises in the country, we might have all the washing done at home, which now, for want of room, can be only done in part. Thus the girls also would have more laborious work at home, a point of great importance for them, so that they would not feel so much the hardships connected with going out to service.
4. The situation of Wilson Street is perhaps scarcely bracing enough for strengthening the constitution of the orphans, most of whom, being the offspring of very diseased parents, require a very invigorating place of abode.
5. The present situation is certainly not desirable for the teachers, especially as, when their hours of work are over, they have no garden or fields close to the house immediately to go into for a little refreshment of their body; and for some of them it is too far to go to fields, where they might have a bracing air.
6. In times of sickness we are too confined in the houses in Wilson Street. If there were less than thirty children in each house, the average expenses for each child would be too great, it being desirable, as the arrangements are now, that there should not be less than three laborers in each house; and yet, if there are thirty children in each house, we are too full in time of sickness, as we have not a single spare room in any of the houses. Now, though the Lord has during all these years most mercifully helped us through such seasons, yet it has not been without inconvenience, and without also, perhaps, having more of the children in one room, at such times, than on account of health it is desirable.
7. Even ordinarily, when there is no sickness, it would be desirable to have more room.
There are no premises to be had in Bristol, or in the immediate neighborhood, where we could have these advantages; for I have been looking about in all directions for this purpose during the last ten years. But suppose there were a large house to be had in one part of the city, and a second a mile off, and a third and a fourth in other directions, such houses, on account of our peculiar position in the work, would not do. For in seasons of need the distance of the several houses would render it very inconvenient for the laborers to meet together for prayer, to divide the means that may be in hand, etc. Besides, when in seasons of other peculiar difficulties, connected with the work, I wished to meet all my fellow-laborers, there would arise great difficulty by their being divided in different parts of the city. It would also thus be very inconvenient to persons who wish to see the work, to go from place to place, in order to have a view of all the Orphan Houses. But this is not all. The more I have considered the matter, the more am I now persuaded that no ordinary large houses, built for private families, and therefore only calculated to accommodate, ten or fifteen persons at most for any length of time in them, will do for charitable institutions of any considerable size, as no ordinary house, except built on purpose, furnishes the proper advantages of ventilation, a point so needful for the health of the inmates in a charitable institution. There seemed to me, therefore, to remain nothing but to build premises for the purpose.
II. REASONS FOR REMAINING IN WILSON STREET.
1. God hitherto has pointed out the spot most plainly. At the commencement of the work, in 1835, no other house was to be had but No. 6 Wilson Street. Afterwards, when in 1836 the Infant Orphan House was on the point of being opened, again I was looking about in all directions, and saw many houses, but found none that was suitable, till all at once, most unlooked for, the occupiers of No. 1 Wilson Street were desirous of immediately leaving that house, and I was able thus to rent it. When in 1837 I was on the point of opening the Boys' Orphan House, I looked about again for a house in all directions; for I knew not at that time, what I have since learned by experience, that it was so important that all the houses should be near together. After seeking long in vain, I at last found a very large house, not far from Wilson Street, which I rented; but when the occupiers of the houses in the neighborhood heard that that house had been let for a charitable institution, they threatened the owner with an action, which led him to request me to give up the agreement, which, of course, I did immediately. At last, most unexpectedly, after having looked about in vain in all directions, the occupiers of No. 3 Wilson Street offered it to me, and I rented it for the orphan boys. Lastly, in the year 1843, when I was led to see it to be the will of God to go forward in this work, and to establish the Girls' Orphan House, No. 2, for older girls, one particular feature in the matter was, that the house No. 4 in Wilson Street had been offered to me, without being sought after, when there had not been for about six years one single large house to be let in that street.
[But though hitherto God has pointed out Wilson Street as being the spot where this work should be carried on, may not now the time have come for removing?]
2. Perhaps we might also rent Nos. 2, 5, and 7, in Wilson Street, and use two out of those three houses for Orphan Houses, and one of them for an infirmary in the case of sickness.
[But then, I said to myself, would not the objection, which the neighbors on the opposite side of the street might make, on account of the noise of the children in their play-hours, etc., remain? Also the drains would be still more unsuitable, not being constructed for so many inmates; and to alter them would be a heavy expense. The play-ground would be still less sufficient, if two new houses were added. Lastly, there was no reason to think that we could rent Nos. 2, 5, and 7.]
3. There are these three great objections against building: The considerable sum which is required, and which could be spent for present use upon the orphans. The pilgrim character of the Christian seems lost in building. The time that it will necessarily take in making arrangements for it.
[Do not all these objections only hold good, I said to myself, if I were needlessly to set about building? If I could rent premises, which are really in every way suitable for the work, and I preferred building, then those objections would apply to the case; but when one is forced to it, it is no more than erecting a large building because there may be eight hundred children of God in fellowship who have been hitherto renting a meeting-place, but for certain reasons are obliged to leave it, and cannot rent another. Such could not be accused of needlessly spending money in building instead of renting; nor could it be justly said that they have on that account given up the pilgrim character; nor would it be time wasted if some individuals were to make arrangements about the building of that meeting-place. Therefore these three objections just mentioned, which had been for ten years strongly in my own mind, were removed when once I saw plainly that nothing remained but to build.]
After I had spent a few hours in prayer and consideration over the subject, I began already to see that the Lord would lead me to build, and that his intentions were not only the benefit of the orphans and the better ordering of the whole work, but also the bearing still further testimony that he could and would provide large sums for those who need them and trust in him for them; and besides, that he would enlarge the work, so that, if I once did build a house, it might be large enough to accommodate three hundred orphans, with their teachers and other overseers and servants needful for the work. Concerning this latter point, I think it important to remark, that during no period had the number of the applications for the admission of orphans been greater than just before I was led to think about building, so that it was quite painful to me not to be able to comply with the wishes of all the many persons who applied for the admission of orphans. There were many waiting for admission, particularly orphan boys.
In the afternoon of November 3, 1845, I laid the matter before my fellow-laborers in the church (eight in number), to get their judgment, whether I ought not to leave Wilson Street, and to build. All judged that I ought to leave Wilson Street, and none saw reasons against building.
On Nov. 4, my dear wife and I began to meet for prayer about this matter, and purposed to do so morning by morning. We asked God for clearer light concerning the particular points connected with the subject; and being assured that it was his will that I should build, I began asking the Lord for means.
On Nov. 7, I judged, having considered the matter more fully, that sufficiently large premises to furnish all needful accommodation for three hundred children (from their earliest days up to fifteen or sixteen years old), together with a sufficiently large piece of ground in the neighborhood of Bristol, for building the premises upon, and the remainder for cultivation by the spade, would cost at least ten thousand pounds. I was not discouraged by this, but trusted in the living God.
We continued meeting for prayer morning by morning for fifteen days, but not a single donation came in; yet my heart was not discouraged. The more I prayed, the more assured I was that the Lord would give the means. Yea, as fully assured was I that the Lord would do so, as if I had already seen the new premises actually before me. This assurance arose not from some vague, enthusiastical feeling, the mere excitement of the moment, but, 1. From the reasons already related, and especially from the commandment contained in Philip. iv. 5. For I saw that I should not act according to the mind of our Lord Jesus if I did not, as soon as I could, remove the orphans from Wilson Street, as it had been stated to me, in the letter above referred to, that their living there was an annoyance to some of the inhabitants in that street. 2. This assurance that I should build an Orphan House arose further from the whole way in which the Lord had been pleased to lead me in connection with the Scriptural Knowledge Institution for Home and Abroad since its beginning on March 5, 1834, i. e. he has been leading me forward as by an unseen hand, and enlarging the work more and more from its commencement, and, generally, without my seeking after it, and bringing things so clearly before me that I could not but see that I ought to go forward. 3. Lastly and chiefly, this, my assurance that I should build unto the Lord this house of mercy, arose also particularly from this, that having strictly examined my heart as to the motives for doing so, I found that, as before God, I could say that my only motives were his honor and glory, and the welfare of the church of Christ at large, the real temporal and spiritual welfare of destitute orphans, and the welfare of all those who might take care of them, in the building to be erected. And finding that, after praying again and again about the matter, I still remained in perfect peace, I judged it assuredly to be the will of God that I should go forward.
On Nov. 15, brother R. C. arrived, to labor for a little while in Bristol. I communicated to him my position with reference to having to remove the orphans from Wilson Street, and I had his judgment also as to its being of God that I should build. This dear brother's judgment greatly encouraged me. His visit was to me of great help in this particular, especially in stirring me up yet more to bring everything in connection with this matter before God. He also laid it on my heart to seek direction from God with reference to the plan of the building. He said, "You must ask help from God to show you the plan, so that all may be according to the mind of God."
Up to Dec. 9, thirty-five days had passed away, whilst I was day by day waiting upon God for means for this work, and not a single penny had been given to me. Nevertheless, this did not in the least discourage me, but my assurance that God, in his own time and in his own way, would give the means, increased more and more. The portion which came in course of my meditation on the New Testament, was the beginning of the epistle of James. More than at any period in my life was I struck with these verses: "My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations (i. e. trials); knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing." James i. 2-4. It was especially the last verse, "But let patience have her perfect work," etc., which I found of exceeding great importance with reference to the building of the Orphan House. It led out my soul in prayer day after day, to ask the Lord to increase my faith, and to sustain my patience. I had these verses so impressed upon my heart that I could not but think that God meant particularly to bless me by them, with regard to the work before me, and that I should especially need patience as well as faith.
On the thirty-sixth day after having begun to pray, Dec. 10, 1845, I received one thousand pounds towards the building of the Orphan House. This is the largest donation that I had received up to that time for the Scriptural Knowledge Institution; but when I received it I was as calm, as quiet, as if I had only received one shilling. For my heart was looking out for answers. Day by day I was expecting to receive answers to my prayers. Therefore, having faith concerning the matter, this donation did not in the least surprise me. Yea, if five thousand pounds or ten thousand pounds had been given to me, instead of one thousand pounds, it would not have surprised me.
Dec. 13. On the thirty-ninth day my sister-in-law, who had been for some weeks absent in London, and who had now returned to Bristol, told me that she had met a gentleman in London, who, having quite recently read with deep interest the Narrative of the Lord's dealings with me, wished to know as many particulars about the work in my hands as he could. Being told by my sister-in-law that I purposed to build an Orphan Mouse, he, an architect, offered to make the plan, and superintend the building gratuitously. Unsolicited, he pressed this matter upon her with deep and lively interest. I hear also that he is a Christian. The fact that this offer comes unsolicited, and from a Christian architect, shows especially the hand of God. This is the second proof that God will help me in this matter.
Dec. 23. This is now the fiftieth day since I have come to the conclusion to build, and the forty-ninth day since we have been daily waiting upon God for help. Nothing more has come in since Dec. 10, not even one penny. This morning I have been particularly encouraged by the consideration that the Lord has sent me the one thousand pounds, and the promise from that pious architect, whom I have never seen, and of whose name I am as yet in ignorance, not to mock me, but as an earnest that he will give all that is needed.
It seems desirable that we should have a large piece of ground, at least six or seven acres. This piece of ground must be in the vicinity of Bristol: 1. In order that the Orphan House may be accessible to me, as my place at present is fixed by my other work in Bristol. 2. That the laborers in the Institution, and the orphans may be able to attend our meetings, at least on the Lord's day. For if meetings were held on purpose in the Orphan House, either the laborers or the children would not be benefited by them in that measure in which it is desirable. 3. That the inhabitants of Bristol may have the benefit of seeing with their own eyes this work of God, which is so manifestly his and not mine. 4. That strangers who pass through Bristol may have easy access to it, for the same reason. But then, such a piece of ground near Bristol, where there is just now such an inordinate desire for building, in the way of speculation, would cost, in all human probability, between two and three thousand pounds. Then the building itself, however plain, would not cost less than from six to eight thousand pounds, being for three hundred orphans, besides all their overseers, teachers, and assistants. In addition to this, the fitting up and furnishing the house for all these between three and four hundred inmates would not cost less than fifteen hundred pounds more. This is indeed a large sum of money which I need; but my hope is in God. I have not sought after this thing. It has not begun with me. God has altogether unexpectedly, by means of the letter before mentioned, led me to it. Only the day before I received the letter, I had no more thought about building premises for the accommodation of the orphans than I had had during the ten previous years. My especial prayer is that God would continue to me faith and patience. If he shall be pleased to help me in faith and patience to continue to wait on him, help will surely come.
Dec. 24. No further donation yet. But my hope in God is unshaken. He most assuredly will help. I have on purpose not issued any circular in connection with this matter, in order that the hand of God may be the more manifest. To some persons residing in or out of Bristol I have spoken about my intention of building, when conversation led to it. Through this, if the Lord please, he can make it known to others, and thus send means for the building fund. Or he can send in such an abundance of means for the work which is already in existence, that from that abundance there might be a rich surplus towards the building fund. But howsoever God may help, I do desire to see his hand made most manifest. There will be, no doubt, many trials connected with this enlargement of the field of labor (for if with the one hundred and thirty orphans there has been so much trial of faith, what is to be expected when the number is three hundred); and therefore I desire to see as clearly as daylight that God himself is leading me onward.
Dec. 29. This is the fifty-sixth day since I came to the conclusion to build, and the fifty-fifth since I have been day by day waiting upon God concerning it. Only that one donation had come in till this evening, when I received fifty pounds. This donation is exceedingly precious to me, not only because I am sure it is most cheerfully given, nor even because of its largeness, but because it is another precious proof that God will bring about the matter, else he would not give me these earnests. All my business therefore is, to continue in faith and patience to wait upon God. My assurance has been more and more increasing that God will build for himself a large Orphan House in this city, to show to the inhabitants, and to all who may read and hear about it, what a blessed thing it is to trust in him. Of late I have seen, by God's grace, more and more how entirely unworthy I am of being used by God for this glorious and honorable service, and I can only say: "Lord, here is thy servant, if thou art pleased to use such a one as I am."
Dec. 30, 1845. This morning I came, in course of my reading, to the commencement of the book of Ezra. I was particularly refreshed by the two following points contained in the first chapter, in applying them to the building of the Orphan House: 1. Cyrus, an idolatrous king, was used by God to provide the means for building the temple at Jerusalem: how easy therefore for God to provide ten thousand pounds for the Orphan House, or even twenty or thirty thousand pounds, if needed. 2. The people were stirred up by God to help those who went up to Jerusalem. Thus it is a small matter for him to put it into the hearts of his children to help me, in desiring to build this house of mercy unto his name. This meditation I had before breakfast. After family prayer in the morning, I had again my usual season for prayer about the building, and at this time it was particularly coupled with thanksgiving for the fifty pounds received last evening, and with entreating blessings on the donor. I was now looking out for more, as I am doing day by day, when this afternoon I received from a person at Clevedon two shillings sixpence, from her grandson sixpence, and from the sister in the Lord who brought the money the change which she did not wish back, being another sixpence. These donations, though small, are nevertheless very precious to me, as I take them as further proofs out of the hands of God that he will most assuredly bring this thing to pass. This evening I received one thousand pounds towards the building fund. When I received this donation I was as calm, yea as perfectly calm, as if I had received a single penny, because, by God's grace, I have faith in him, and therefore I am looking for answers to my prayers, and am sure that God will give every shilling that is needed.
January 2, 1846. This evening I received from Bideford eleven shillings towards the building fund.
Jan. 3. One of the orphans gave sixpence.
Jam 6. Received a little bag made of foreign seed, and a shell flower, to be sold for the building fund. The sister who sent these articles wrote to me, that the moment she heard of my intention of building an Orphan House, this text was before her mind: "Who art thou, O great mountain? Before Zerubbabel thou shalt become a plain." Zech. iv. 7. Also one of the orphans sent fourpence.
Having asked the Lord to go before me, I went out to-day to look for a piece of ground. The armory which is to be sold had been several times mentioned to me as a suitable place. I did not think so, yet I thought I ought at least to look at it. Having seen it and been confirmed in my judgment about its unsuitableness, I asked the Lord whether I should turn towards the city or towards Stapleton. I felt led to go towards the city, and saw immediately after some fields near the armory. After having made inquiry to whom they belonged, I have been led to write this evening to the owner of them, asking him whether he is disposed to sell them, etc. I am now quietly waiting the Lord's pleasure. If his time is come to answer our requests as to a suitable piece of land, I shall be glad; if it is not yet come, I desire that "patience may have her perfect work, being perfect and entire, wanting nothing."
Jan. 8. This evening I received a reply to my letter. The owner of those fields writes, that, if he did sell them, it would be only for building land, and therefore they will be too dear.
Jan. 9. Went this morning once more to see those fields, which seem very suitable. Met there Mr. L., a land agent, who told me that they would be nearly a thousand pounds per acre, and therefore too dear. I asked Mr. L. to inform me if he should hear of any suitable land for sale.
Jan. 31. It is now eighty-nine days since I have been daily waiting upon God about the building of an Orphan House. The time seems to me now near when the Lord will give us a piece of ground, and I told the brethren and sisters so this evening, after our usual Saturday evening prayer meeting at the Orphan House.
Feb. 1. A poor widow sent to-day ten shillings.
Feb. 2. To-day I heard of suitable and cheap land on Ashley Down.
Feb. 3. Saw the land. It is the most desirable of all I have seen. There was anonymously put into an orphan box at my house a sovereign, in a piece of paper, on which was written, "The New Orphan House."
Feb. 4. This evening I called on the owner of the land on Ashley Down, about which I had heard on the 2d, but he was not at home. As I, however, had been informed that I should find him at his house of business, I went there, but did not find him there either, as he had just before left. I might have called again at his residence at a later hour, having been informed by one of the servants that he would be sure to be at home about eight o'clock; but I did not do so, judging that there was the hand of God in my not finding him at either place: and I judged it best therefore not to force the matter, but to "let patience have her perfect work."
Feb. 5. Saw this morning the owner of the land. He told me that he awoke at three o'clock this morning and could not sleep again till five. While he was thus lying awake his mind was all the time occupied about the piece of land respecting which inquiry had been made of him for the building of an Orphan House, at my request; and he determined with himself that, if I should apply for it, he would not only let me have it, but for one hundred and twenty pounds per acre, instead of two hundred pounds, the price which he had previously asked for it. How good is the Lord! The agreement was made this morning, and I purchased a field of nearly seven acres, at one hundred and twenty pounds per acre.
Observe the hand of God in my not finding the owner at home last evening! The Lord meant to speak to his servant first about this matter, during a sleepless night, and to lead him fully to decide before I had seen him.
Feb. 8. I wrote the day before yesterday to the architect, who has offered his help gratuitously.
Feb. 11. Received from a sister in the Lord five pounds. Received also from the architect the following reply to my letter:—
MY DEAR SIR:
It will afford me a gratification, beyond what I can communicate by letter, to lend you the helping hand in the labor of love you are engaged in, and I shall esteem it a very great privilege being allowed to exercise my abilities as an architect and surveyor in the erection of the building you propose to erect for the orphans. I really do mean what I say, and, if all is well, by the blessing of God, I will gratuitously furnish you with plans, elevations, and sections, with specification of the work, so that the cost may be accurately estimated. I will also make you an estimate and superintend the works for you gratuitously, etc.
The total amount which has been given for the building fund, up to June 4, 1846, is two thousand seven hundred and ten pounds three shillings five and a half pence. This is only a small part of what will be needed; but, by the grace of God, I am in perfect peace, being fully assured that God in his own time will send the whole sum which is required. Many and great have already been the exercises of faith and patience since I first began to give myself to prayer about this work, and still greater they may be, before it is accomplished; but God, in the riches of his grace, will help me through them all. It is now (June 4, 1846) two hundred and twelve days since I first began to pray about this work, and day after day, since then, have I been enabled to continue to wait upon God, and I am more than ever assured that, not withstanding all my exceeding great unworthiness, God will condescend to use me, to build this house. Had it been the excitement of the moment, the difficulties which have already come upon me in connection with this work (and which are not stated here, on account of their occupying too much room) would have overwhelmed me; but as God himself, I trust, led me to this work, so he has helped me, and does help me, and I doubt not will help me to the end.
The house is intended to be built so as to accommodate one hundred and forty orphan girls above seven years of age, eighty orphan boys above seven, and eighty male and female orphans from their earliest days, till they are seven years old, together with all the overseers and teachers, etc., that may be needed. The infants, after having passed the age of seven, will be removed into the different departments for older boys and girls.
Before leaving this period, it may be proper to recur to the following miscellaneous points, respecting the Scriptural Knowledge Institution for Home and Abroad, with reference to the period from July 14, 1844, to May 26, 1846.
1. During the whole of this period four day schools, with 278 children in them, were entirely supported by the funds of the Institution. Three day schools besides were assisted. The number of the children that were taught in the day schools, entirely supported by the funds of the Institution, from March 5, 1834, to May 26, 1846, amounts to 3,983. During the period from July 14, 1844, to May 26, 1846, L628, 19s. 43/4d. was spent on all the schools, which were either entirely or in part supported by the funds of the Scriptural Knowledge Institution. Further: during this period there were also entirely supported a Sunday school with 80 children, and an adult school with 60 persons attending it. The total number of the adult scholars who received instruction, from the formation of this Institution to May 26, 1846, is 1,146.
2. During this period were circulated 269 Bibles and 171 Testaments; and 5,079 Bibles and 3,528 Testaments were circulated from the commencement of the work up to May 26, 1846. From July 14, 1844, to May 26, 1846, L40, 7s. 10d. was expended of the funds of the Institution on this object.
3. From July 14, 1844, to May 26, 1846, was laid out for foreign and home missions the sum of L595, 7s. 9d. During no period previously was so much of the funds of this Institution spent on missionary work, which arose from the fact that the more I corresponded with brethren who labored in the word and doctrine in foreign lands, the more I saw how much they stood in need of assistance, and thus, my heart having been led out in prayer to God on their behalf, that he would be pleased to send me means, whereby I might be able to assist them, he was pleased to do so. This led me to the purpose, as God should give me grace, to be still more mindful of them in future, and to seek to be able still more to assist them. The same was the case with regard to those brethren who labor in England, but who have no salary or stipend, but trust in the living God for the supply of their daily necessities; I did long to help such brethren, and had no doubt that God would enable me to do so.
4. There was laid out for the circulation of tracts from July 14, 1844, to May 26, 1846, the sum of L56, 6s. 91/2d., for which 52,003 such little publications were bought, which, with 5,315 in hand on July 14, 1844, makes 57,318, of which number 40,565 were circulated. The total number circulated from Nov. 19, 1840, to May 26, 1846, amounts to 99,647.
5. There were received into the four Orphan Houses, from July 14, 1844, to May 26, 1846, 30 orphans, who, together with those who were in the four houses on July 14, 1844, make up 151 in all.
On May 26, 1846, there were 121 orphans in the four houses. Besides this, six apprentices were still supported by the funds of the Institution, so that the total number was 127. The number of the orphans who were under our care from April, 1836, to May 26, 1846, amounts to 213.
I notice further the following points in connection with the Orphan Houses.
1. Without any one having been personally applied to for anything by me, the sum of L13,275, 6s. 93/4d. was given to me as the result of prayer to God, from the commencement of the work up to May 26, 1846. This sum includes the L2,710, 3s. 51/2d. which, up to June 4, 1846, was given towards the building fund. (It may be interesting to the reader to know that the total amount which was given as free contributions, for the other objects, from the commencement of the work up to May 26, 1846, amounts to L4,833, 18s. 103/4d.; and that which came in by the sale of Bibles and tracts, and by the payments of the children in the day schools, amounts to L2,097, 18s. 21/2d.) 2. Besides this, also a great variety and number of articles of clothing, furniture, provisions, etc., were given for the orphans, as has been stated in the printed Reports. The total expenditure for the orphans from July 14, 1844, to May 26, 1846, was L2,732, 14s. 11/2d., and for the other objects, L1,325, 7s. 71/4d.
In conclusion, I cannot but mention to the praise of the Lord concerning this period, that four of the Sunday-school children were admitted to communion. Likewise three more of the orphans were received into church fellowship; so that up to that time, altogether, thirty-two of the orphans had been admitted. I also mention with peculiar joy, and as a matter for thankfulness, that of those who were apprenticed or sent out to service, from July 14, 1844, to May 26, 1846, ten were believers, most of whom had been for several years in fellowship before they were sent out to service. But whilst we desire to receive these instances as precious encouragements from the Lord to continue our service, we cannot but believe, judging from the many prayers the Lord gives us for the children and adults under our care and instruction, that that which we see is but an earnest of a far larger harvest in the day of Christ's appearing.
Dec. 31, 1844. Since brother Craik and I came to Bristol, 982 believers have been received into communion. During this year 73 have been received.
The Lord has been pleased to give me during this year L267, 6s. 9d. To this is to be added that for the first two months and six days of this year, my expenses, and those of my dear wife, during our stay in Germany, were met, as also our travelling expenses back, as stated in another part of my Narrative. Also during the whole of this year a Christian lady gave to our dear child board and schooling without any remuneration, a present worth to us not less than fifty pounds. On this point I cannot help making a few remarks: I had clearly seen it to be the will of God that my daughter should be brought up at school, and not at home. My reasons for it were these: 1. My dear wife, though well qualified to instruct our daughter, so far as knowledge goes, was unable, on account of being engaged as my wife in a variety of things connected with the Lord's service, to give herself uninterruptedly to this work; and to do it partially we judged to be injurious to our daughter. 2. I had seen instances in which a home education for an only child had turned out very badly. 3. I judged that the mixing with other children would be beneficial to our daughter, provided that intercourse was under proper oversight; as thus a child is in early life introduced into a little world, and things do not all at once come upon a young person, when at last obliged to leave the parental roof. 4. But that which most of all led me to this decision was, that as in the church of Christ the Lord has qualified the members of the body for the performance of certain work, and all have not the same gift and service, so, in the same way, certain believers are called and qualified above others for instructing children, and give themselves to this particular service, and that, therefore, I ought to make use of the qualifications of such, and of their having given their whole time to this particular service. These reasons led us to place our daughter at school, instead of educating her at home, and we have never had cause to regret the step we took, but, on the contrary, have had abundant reason to praise God for it. I have purposely made these remarks, as I am fully aware that some believers have different views on this subject, and I desire to serve them with the measure of light and experience I have obtained.
After our daughter had been at school for half a year, I asked for the account, when it was stated to me by the Christian lady in whose establishment she was that she had a pleasure in educating her gratuitously. However, as I pressed the matter, I obtained the account. It was paid, but the exact sum was returned to me anonymously, which, of course, I found out at once to be from the Christian sister at whose school my daughter was. From that time I could never more obtain the account, though my dear child was about six years longer at school. I refer to this point for this especial reason: God had laid it on my heart to care about poor destitute orphans. To this service I had been led to give myself; he, in return, as a recompense, even for this life, took care that my own beloved child should have a very good education, free of expense to me. I was able and well able to pay for her education, and most willing to do so; but the Lord gave it gratuitously; thus also showing how ready he is abundantly to help me, and to supply my wants.
Having learned that the brethren in Germany were led away by false teachers, and having received, in answer to prayer, five hundred pounds, for the expenses of his journey thither, Mr. M. left Bristol July 19, 1845, and, after laboring in word and doctrine in Germany, he returned to Bristol Oct. 11, 1845.
Perhaps the reader may ask, What has been the result of this labor in Germany? My reply is, God only knows. The day of Christ will declare it. Judging from the constant labor in prayer during eight months before I went the second time, and day by day while I was on the Continent, and day by day for a long time after my return, I am warranted to expect fruit, and I do expect it. I expect abundant fruit in the day of Christ's appearing. In the mean time my comfort is that two hundred and twenty thousand tracts have been circulated, many of which, through the providence of God, found their way not only into the darkest places of the continent of Europe, but went also to America and Australia. Further: four thousand copies of my Narrative, in German, are almost all circulated. And, again, the publishing of my Narrative in German led me to do the same in French, which was accomplished about three years later. Further: these tracts were reprinted at Hamburg and at Cologne, and are circulated by other Christians; in addition to which, my having published them in Germany led me to get them stereotyped in England, and they continue to be circulated in many countries.
December 31, 1845. There have been received into communion 53 during this year, and 1,055 since the commencement of our coming to Bristol.
During this year the Lord has been pleased to give to me L433, 19s. 13/4d. To this is to be added that my dear child had again during the whole of this year her education free at a boarding-school, as stated at the close of the last year, whereby I saved about fifty pounds. Also my travelling expenses to and from Germany, and other expenses connected with my service in Germany, were paid out of the L500 pounds to which reference has been made. Adding these two items to L433, I had at least L500.
April 29, 1846. To-day my beloved wife and myself had the inexpressibly great joy of receiving a letter from our beloved daughter, while we are staying in the Lord's service at Chippenham, in which she writes that she has now found peace in the Lord Jesus. Thus our prayers are turned into praises. About eighteen months before this I began especially to pray for the conversion of my dear child, and the Lord soon after seems to have begun to work in her heart.
FAITH CONFIRMED BY PROSPERITY.
THE SPIRIT OF SUPPLICATION BESTOWED AND PRAYER ANSWERED—THE TIME OF MAN'S NEED AND OF GOD'S BOUNTY—FAITH NOT SHAKEN—DEALING ONLY WITH GOD—THE NEEDED AMOUNT FURNISHED—PERPETUAL "NEED"—NOT WEARY IN GOD'S WORK—JOY IN ANSWERED PRAYER—FOUR REQUESTS GRANTED—"CONTINUING INSTANT IN PRAYER"—THE BUILDING COMMENCED—PERSONAL HISTORY—A MARKED DELIVERANCE.
In the following chapter, Mr. Mueller has grouped together, under the appropriate heads, the leading events connected with each of the departments of the work of the Lord in his hands.
I. ASSISTANCE TO THE MISSIONARY LABORERS.
During no former period since undertaking to send aid to laborers at home and abroad was I intrusted by the Lord with such large sums as during the one to which this chapter refers. I had never had more need of pecuniary supplies than during those two years, on account of the many pressing calls; but, at the same time, I had the exceeding great joy and privilege of being able to respond to them in such a way as I had never before been allowed to do. These remarks apply to all the various objects of the Institution, but especially to the supplies for brethren who labor at home and abroad in word and doctrine, without being connected with any society, or without having any regular salary for preaching the word.
On May 26, 1846, after the accounts had been closed, a check for one hundred pounds was given to me, the application of which was left to my disposal. I put half of the amount to the fund for these objects, and half to the orphan fund. When the accounts were closed, there was ninety-one pounds four shillings elevenpence three farthings in hand for these objects, to which this fifty pounds was added; therefore I began this period with more means than I had had in hand at any time previously at the beginning of a fresh period; and as was its beginning, so was the continuance. It has often struck me that one especial reason why, on the whole, I was allowed to have so little trial with regard to means for the work during those two years, in comparison with former times, may have been, that thereby the Lord would say that he was willing to give what would be needed, when once the new Orphan House should be built, though the expenses would be about two thousand five hundred pounds a year more than they were before.