My hope is in God; he will help me and teach me. Judging, however, from his former dealings with me, it would not be a strange thing to me, nor surprising, if he called me to labor yet still more largely in this way.
The thoughts about enlarging the orphan work have not arisen on account of an abundance of money having lately come in; for I have had of late to wait for about seven weeks upon God, whilst little, very little comparatively, came in, i. e. about four times as much was going out as came in; and, had not the Lord previously sent me large sums, we should have been distressed indeed.
Lord, how can thy servant know thy will in this matter? Wilt thou be pleased to teach him?
Dec. 11. During the last six days, since writing the above, I have been, day after day, waiting upon God concerning this matter. It has generally been more or less all the day on my heart. When I have been awaking at night, it has not been far from my thoughts. Yet all this without the least excitement. I am perfectly calm and quiet respecting it. My soul would be rejoiced to go forward in this service, could I be sure that the Lord would have me to do so; for then, notwithstanding the numberless difficulties, all would be well, and his name would be magnified.
On the other hand, were I assured that the Lord would have me to be satisfied with my present sphere of service, and that I should not pray about enlarging the work, by his grace I could, without an effort, cheerfully yield to it; for he has brought me into such a state of heart that I only desire to please him in this matter. Moreover, hitherto I have not spoken about this thing even to my beloved wife, the sharer of my joys and sorrows and labors for more than twenty years; nor is it likely that I shall do so for some time to come; for I prefer quietly waiting on the Lord, without conversing on this subject, in order that thus I may be kept the more easily, by his blessing, from being influenced by things from without. The burden of my prayer concerning this matter is, that the Lord would not allow me to make a mistake, and that he would teach me his will. As to outward things, I have had nothing to encourage me during these six days, but the very reverse; for the income for the various objects of the Scriptural Knowledge Institution for Home and Abroad has been unusually small, only six pounds fourteen shillings altogether, while the outgoings have been one hundred and thirty-three pounds eleven shillings sevenpence. But all this would not weigh the least with me, could I be quite sure that the Lord would have me to go forward.
The especial burden of my prayer, therefore, is, that God would be pleased to teach me his will. My mind has also been especially pondering how I could know his will satisfactorily concerning this particular. Sure I am that I shall be taught. I therefore desire to patiently wait for the Lord's time, when he shall be pleased to shine on my path concerning this point.
Dec. 26. Fifteen days have elapsed since I wrote the preceding paragraph. Every day since then I have continued to pray about this matter, and that with a goodly measure of earnestness, by the help of God. There has passed away scarcely an hour during these days in which, whilst awake, this matter has not been more or less before me; but all without even a shadow of excitement. I converse with no one about it. Hitherto have I not even done so with my dear wife. From this I refrain still, and deal with God alone about the matter, in order that no outward influence and no outward excitement may keep me from attaining unto a clear discovery of his will. I have the fullest and most peaceful assurance that he will clearly show me his will. This evening I have had again an especial solemn season for prayer, to seek to know the will of God. But whilst I continue to entreat and beseech the Lord that he would not allow me to be deluded in this business, I may say that I have scarcely any doubt remaining on my mind as to what will be the issue, even that I should go forward in this matter. As this, however, is one of the most momentous steps that I have ever taken, I judge that I cannot go about this matter with too much caution, prayerfulness, and deliberation. I am in no hurry about it. I could wait for years, by God's grace, were this his will, before even taking one single step towards this thing, or even speaking to any one about it; and, on the other hand, I would set to work to-morrow, were the Lord to bid me do so. This calmness of mind, this having no will of my own in the matter, this only wishing to please my heavenly Father in it, this only seeking his and not my honor in it; this state of heart, I say, is the fullest assurance to me that my heart is not under a fleshly excitement, and that if I am helped thus to go on I shall know the will of God to the full. But, while I write thus, I cannot but add, at the same time, that I do crave the honor and the glorious privilege to be more and more used by the Lord. I have served Satan much in my younger years, and I desire now with all my might to serve God during the remaining days of my earthly pilgrimage. I am forty-five years and three months old. Every day decreases the number of days that I have to stay on earth. I therefore desire with all my might to work. There are vast multitudes of orphans to be provided for. About five years ago a brother in the Lord told me that he had seen, in an official report, that there were at that time six thousand young orphans in the prisons of England. My heart longs to be instrumental in preventing such young orphans from having to go to prison. I desire to be used by the Lord as an instrument in providing all the necessary temporal supplies, not only for the three hundred now under my care, but for seven hundred more. I desire to alleviate yet further the sufferings of poor dying widows, when looking on their helpless orphans about to be left behind. I desire yet further to assist poor persons to whom destitute orphans are left, and who are unable to provide for them. I desire to be allowed to provide scriptural instruction for a thousand orphans, instead of doing so for three hundred. I desire to expound the Holy Scriptures regularly to a thousand orphans, instead of doing so to three hundred. I desire that thus it may be yet more abundantly manifest that God is still the hearer and answerer of prayer, and that he is the living God now, as he ever was and ever will be, when he shall, simply in answer to prayer, have condescended to provide me with a house for seven hundred orphans, and with means to support them. This last consideration is the most important point in my mind. The Lord's honor is the principal point with me in this whole matter; and just because that is the case, if he would be more glorified by my not going forward in this business, I should, by his grace, be perfectly content to give up all thoughts about another Orphan House. Surely, in such a state of mind, obtained by thy Holy Spirit, thou, O my heavenly Father, wilt not suffer thy child to be mistaken, much less to be deluded! By the help of God I shall continue further, day by day, to wait upon him in prayer concerning this thing till he shall bid me act.
January 2, 1851. A week ago I wrote the preceding paragraph. During this week I have still been helped, day by day, and more than once every day, to seek the guidance of the Lord about another Orphan House. The burden of my prayer has still been, that he in his great mercy would keep me from making a mistake. During the last week the Book of Proverbs has come in the course of my Scripture reading, and my heart has been refreshed, in reference to this subject, by the following passages: "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. By the grace of God I do acknowledge the Lord in my ways, and in this thing in particular; I have therefore the comfortable assurance that he will direct my paths concerning this part of my service, as to whether I shall be occupied in it or not. Further: "The integrity of the upright shall preserve them; but the perverseness of fools shall destroy them." Prov. xi. 3. By the grace of God I am upright in this business. My honest purpose is to get glory to God. Therefore I expect to be guided aright. Further: "Commit thy works unto the Lord, and thy thoughts shall be established." Prov. xvi. 3. I do commit my works unto the Lord; I therefore expect that my thoughts will be established. My heart is more and more coming to a calm, quiet, and settled assurance that the end will be that the Lord will condescend to use me yet further in the orphan work. Here, Lord, is thy servant!
Jan. 14. Twelve days have passed away since I wrote the last paragraph. I have still day by day been enabled to wait upon the Lord with reference to my enlarging the orphan work. I have been during the whole of this period also in perfect peace, which is the result of seeking in this thing only the Lord's honor and the temporal and spiritual benefit of my fellow-men. Without an effort could I, by his grace, put aside all thoughts about this whole affair, could I be only assured that it is the will of God that I should do so; and, on the other hand, at once would I go forward, if he would have it to be so. I have still kept this matter entirely to myself. Though it is now about seven weeks since day by day, more or less, my mind has been exercised about it, and since I have daily prayed concerning it, yet not one human being knows of it. As yet I have not mentioned it even to my dear wife, in order that thus, by quietly waiting upon the Lord, I might not be influenced by what might be said to me on the subject. This evening I have particularly set apart for prayer, beseeching the Lord once more not to allow me to be mistaken in this thing, and much less to be deluded by the devil. I have also sought to let all the reasons against building another Orphan House, and all the reasons for doing so, pass before my mind; and I now, for the sake of clearness and definiteness, write them down.
Reasons AGAINST establishing another Orphan House for Seven Hundred Orphans.—1. Would not this be going beyond my measure spiritually? according to that word: "For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God has dealt to every man the measure of faith." Rom. xii. 3. Answer: If the Lord were to leave me to myself, the tenth part of the difficulties and trials which befall me now in connection with the various objects of the Scriptural Knowledge Institution for Home and Abroad would be enough to overwhelm me; but, whilst he is pleased to sustain me, I am able day by day to pass on peacefully, and am carried through one difficulty after the other: and thus, by God's help, even with my present measure of faith, if continued to me, I should be enabled to bear up under other difficulties and trials; but I look for an increase of faith with every fresh difficulty through which the Lord is pleased to help me.
2. Would it not be going beyond my measure naturally, with reference to mental and bodily strength? Answer: Of all the objections against establishing another Orphan House, there is none that weighs more with me than this one; I might say, it is the only real difficulty. This, however, too, I am enabled to put aside and to overcome thus: By husbanding my strength, by great order, by regular habits, by lightening the work as much as possible, by using every help that I can, I have been enabled to get through a vast quantity of work. My immense correspondence of about three thousand letters a year I have been enabled to accomplish without a secretary. The whole management and direction and the whole vast correspondence of the Scriptural Knowledge Institution has devolved upon myself alone these sixteen years and ten months, and I have been thinking that, by seeking for an efficient secretary, and an efficient clerk, and an inspector of the schools, I might, with God's help, accomplish yet more, though much of what I have been doing hitherto would need to be done by others. There have been several other arrangements brought before my mind, since I have been exercised about this matter, whereby, with the blessing of God, the work might be lightened. I should certainly need efficient helpers to carry out the plans before me; but with such, I, as director, might be enabled, by God's help, to accomplish yet more.
3. There must be a limit to my work and service. Answer: That is true, and if I were quite sure that the present state of the Scriptural Knowledge Institution were to be the limit, I would at once lay aside this thing; but I am not sure that I am come as yet to God's limit. All these sixteen years and ten months the work has been constantly progressing, and the Lord has helped me continually; and now my mind is just in the same way exercised as when, fifteen years ago, I began the orphan work, and as when, thirteen years ago, I enlarged the orphan work, and as when, seven years and nine months since, I still further enlarged the orphan work, and as when, five years and two months since, I was led to decide on building the new Orphan House. Under these circumstances, having been helped through all these difficulties, and seeing such a vast field of usefulness before me, and as I have so many applications for the admission of very destitute orphans, I long to be used still further, and cannot say that as yet the Lord has brought me to his limit.
4. Is it not like "tempting God," to think of building another Orphan House for seven hundred more orphans? Answer: "Tempting God" means, according to the Holy Scriptures, to limit him in any of his attributes; I, by his grace, do not wish to limit his power or his willingness to give to me, his poor servant, simply in answer to prayer, all the means and every other help and blessing which I shall need to build another large Orphan House.
5. You will not get the means for building and fitting up so large an Orphan House; and, even if you did, how will you, at the same time, get the means for carrying on the work which already exists? Answer: Looking at the matter naturally, this is indeed a weighty objection.
The new Orphan House, with its three hundred orphans only, cost about fifteen thousand pounds to build and to fit up and furnish, and still the expenses are not all met even now. It will, in all probability, cost several hundred pounds yet. And this large sum was needed, though the style of the building is most simple, and though the field in which it was built was comparatively cheap. After this rate, a building to accommodate seven hundred orphans, with the necessary ground attached to it for the cultivation of the vegetables used in the Institution, could not be less than thirty-five thousand pounds. Now, looking at it naturally, where is this great sum to come from? Though I looked at all my friends who have given hitherto, and several have done so very liberally, yet I should have no natural prospect whatever that I should receive this amount; especially if it be kept in mind that I should need six or seven thousand pounds besides, every year, for carrying on that which is already in existence. I might, therefore, well tremble, looking at the matter naturally, and say, I shall never have the money for this intended Orphan House for seven hundred children; for where is this large sum of thirty-five thousand pounds to come from? And even if I were to get the money, will not persons, in giving means for such a building fund, take it away from what they might have given me for carrying on the work which exists already? But whilst thus, naturally, I have no hope of succeeding, I am not in the least discouraged spiritually; for by faith in the living God I say this: He has the power to give me this thirty-five thousand pounds, and much more were it needed; and he has the power, in the mean time, to give me also all the large sums required, week after week, for meeting the current expenses for the present state of the work. Moreover, I delight in the greatness of the difficulty as it respects the large sum needed for building and fitting up such an establishment; for I desire to be most fully assured, from the very outset, that I go forward in this matter according to the Lord's bidding. If so, he will give me the means; if not, I shall not have them. Nor do I mean to apply to any one personally for pecuniary help, but purpose to give myself to prayer for means, as heretofore.
6. Suppose, now, you were even to succeed in getting this large Orphan House built, how will you be able to provide for seven hundred other orphans? Answer: There is much weight in this objection, looking at it naturally. I am too much a man of business, and too much a person of calm, quiet, cool calculation, not to feel its force. And indeed, were I only to look at the thing naturally, I should at once be ready to own that I am going too far; for the increase of expenditure for the support of these seven hundred other orphans could not be less than eight thousand pounds a year more, so that the current expenses of the Scriptural Knowledge Institution, reckoning its present state, and including those eight thousand pounds, would be about fifteen thousand pounds a year. Now I am free to own that I have no human prospect of obtaining such a sum year by year. But while matters stand thus, looking at them naturally, I see no difficulty at all in them spiritually. If according to the will of God I am enabled to go about this intended second Orphan House; and if, under his help, I shall be enabled to finish it; he will surely provide for those who are gathered together in it as long as he shall be pleased to enable me to trust in him for supplies. And here I look back upon the way in which the Lord has led me and dealt with me. When, about seventeen years ago, I took up, in dependence upon the living God for means, two charity schools, with which the Scriptural Knowledge Institution commenced (and this involved an expense of less than one hundred pounds a year), I had no certain prospect of being able to meet even that small sum; but God so helped me that I had shortly six charity schools. He helped me then, also, and enabled me to meet all their expenses. When, fifteen years ago, I began the orphan work, which was connected with far heavier expenses, I had still less prospect, according to natural reason, of being able to meet them; but I trusted in God, and he helped me, and he not only enabled me to meet the current expenses of thirty orphans in the first house rented for them, but enabled me also soon to open another for thirty-six more, and I was also enabled to meet all those expenses; for as I had begun in faith in the living God, and not in putting my trust in my brethren in Christ, so I was not confounded. After I had gone on some time with these orphans in the two rented houses, about thirteen years ago the Lord was pleased greatly to encourage me and to increase my faith by a donation of five hundred pounds for the orphans; for up to that period I had never received more than one hundred pounds at once. But this kind donor, a stranger to me up to that time, suggested to me the propriety of investing this sum and using only the interest of it, as I could not expect to have the orphans supported for a continuance in the way they had been till then; for that such institutions must depend upon regular subscriptions or funded property, otherwise they could not go on. As, however, this was only a friendly hint, and no condition under which the money was given, I took this five hundred pounds towards fitting up a third house, for the reception of thirty more orphans. From that time the work has been increasing more and more, till it has come to what it is at present. Now, suppose I had said, seventeen years ago, looking at matters according to natural reason, "The two charity schools are enough, I must not go any further;" then the work would have stopped there. Or, if I had had a little more trust in my exertions or my friends, I might have taken at the utmost one or two steps further. Instead of this, however, I looked in no degree whatever at things according to my natural fallen reason, and I trusted not in the circle of my Christian friends, but in the living God; and the result has been that there have been since 1834 ten thousand souls under our instruction in the various day schools, Sunday schools, and adult schools; several hundred orphans have been brought up, and many of them from their very tenderest infancy; several hundred thousand tracts and many thousand copies of the Word of God have been circulated; about forty preachers of the gospel at home and abroad have been, for several years, assisted in connection with the Scriptural Knowledge Institution; and a house has been built and fitted up for the accommodation of three hundred destitute orphans, each of whom has neither father nor mother. How blessed therefore is it to trust in God, and in him alone, and not in circumstances nor friends! There is, however, one thing which I must record here, because it has taken place since I last wrote in my journal on this subject, on January 2. It is this. During these twelve days I have received for the various objects of the Scriptural Knowledge Institution, in smaller donations, sixty-four pounds fifteen shillings sixpence two farthings, also a donation of one hundred and fifty pounds, and one of three thousand pounds. Is not this a plain proof that God is both able and willing to help simply in answer to prayer? Is not human reason confounded by such instances? When I first began to write these exercises of my mind about another Orphan House, I knew not that on January 4, I should receive a donation of three thousand pounds; yet I was fully assured that God was able to support one thousand orphans as easily as he did the thirty whom I first received in a rented house. Does he not, however, tell me by all this, Go forward, my servant, and I will help thee?
7. But, it might be said, suppose you were able by prayer to obtain this large sum for building a house for seven hundred other orphans; and suppose you were able to provide for them during your lifetime,—what would become of this Institution after your death? Answer: I am quite familiar with this objection. I have heard it many times as a reason against the way of obtaining the means for the Scriptural Knowledge Institution, simply by trusting in God, without any funded property, and without looking to regular subscribers; but my reply is this. My business is, with all my might to serve my own generation; in doing so I shall best serve the next generation, should the Lord Jesus tarry. Soon he may come again; but, if he tarry, and I have to fall asleep before his return, I shall not have been altogether without profit to the generation to come, were the Lord only to enable me to serve my own generation. Suppose this objection were a sound one, I ought never to have commenced the orphan work at all, for fear of what might become of it after my death, and thus all the hundreds of destitute children without father and mother, whom the Lord has allowed me to care for during the last fifteen years, would not have been taken up by me. The same argument was again and again used to Franke, my esteemed countryman, who at Halle, in Prussia, commenced, about A. D. 1696, the largest charitable establishment for poor children that, as far as I know, exists in the world. He trusted in God alone. He went on trusting in God alone. And God helped him throughout abundantly. Simply by trust in the living God, the Institutions, resembling a large street rather than a house, were erected, and about two thousand children instructed in them. For about thirty years all was going on under his own eye, until 1727, when it pleased God to take his servant to himself. At his death these Institutions were directed by his truly pious son-in-law. It is true that, at the latter part of the last century, and during the first part of the present, there was little real vital godliness in these Institutions; still, they were a temporal blessing to many tens of thousands of young persons even then. So then for several tens of years they were carried on in a truly godly way, after Franke's death, and when afterwards there was but little real, vital godliness found in these schools, yet tens of thousands of children were benefited at least for this life. Now these Institutions have existed already one hundred and fifty years, and are in existence still; and, if the Lord Jesus tarry, are likely, humanly speaking, to exist hereafter, as they have existed hitherto. Suppose, then, that dear man of God, A. H. Franke, had listened to the suggestions of unbelief, and said, I must not undertake this work, for what will become of it after my death?—then all the blessing which spiritually resulted from it to thousands, and all the temporal benefits which have resulted from it to hundreds of thousands, would have been lost. I add, however, this. The new Orphan House has been placed in the hands of eleven trustees, and has been properly enrolled in chancery, and so also, should God condescend to honor me further in building for him this intended house for seven hundred orphans, it would likewise be placed in the hands of trustees and enrolled in chancery. I say one word in conclusion on this subject: let every one take heed lest, in caring about what will become of the next generation, he forget to serve his own generation. The latter, each one should seek to do with his might, and thus it should be with each succeeding generation; then, though we be dead, yet should we be speaking. A. H. Franke is long since gone to his rest, but he spoke to my soul in 1826, and he is speaking to my soul now; and to his example I am greatly indebted in having been stirred up to care about poor children in general, and about poor orphans in particular.
8. The last objection which has occurred to my own mind is, that, by building another Orphan House, I should be in danger of being lifted up. Answer: I should be in danger of it indeed; and so I am in great danger, even were I not in the least degree to go forward. Yea, the tenth part of the honor which the Lord has condescended to bestow upon me, and the tenth part of service with which he has been pleased to intrust me, would be enough, if I were left to myself, exceedingly to puff me up. I cannot say that hitherto the Lord has kept me humble; but I can say that hitherto he has given me a hearty desire to give to him all the glory, and to consider it a great condescension on his part that he has been pleased to use me as an instrument in his service. I do not see, therefore, that fear of being lifted up ought to keep me from going forward in this work; but that I have rather to beseech the Lord that he would be pleased to give me a lowly mind, and never suffer me to rob him of the glory which is due to him alone.
Reasons FOR establishing another Orphan House for Seven Hundred Orphans.—1. The many applications for the admission of destitute orphans which continue to be made, I consider as a call from God upon me to do all that is in my power to provide a home and scriptural education for a still greater number of orphans. Nothing but positive inability to go forward ought to keep me standing still, whilst I have almost daily fresh entreaties to receive orphans. Since I began writing on this subject in my journal, thirty more orphans have been applied for, from two years old and upward. I cannot refuse to help, as long as I see a door open, and opened by God, as I consider, to help them.
2. The moral state of the poor-houses greatly influences me to go forward. I have heard it again and again, from good authority, that children, placed at the Unions, are corrupted, on account of the children of vagrants, and other very bad young people, who are in such places; so that many poor relatives of orphans, though unable to provide for them, cannot bear the idea of their going there, lest they should be corrupted. I therefore judge that, even for the sake of keeping orphans of poor yet respectable people from being obliged to mix with the children of vagabonds, I ought to do, to my utmost power, all I can to help them. For this reason, then, I purpose, in dependence upon the living God, to go forward and to establish another Orphan House for seven hundred destitute children, who are bereaved of both parents. When I write thus about the poor-houses, I do not wish to be understood in the way of reproof: for I know not how these matters could be altered; but I simply state the fact that thus it is.
3. In this my purpose I am the more confirmed, since I know it to be a fact that the Orphan Houses already in existence in the kingdom are by no means sufficient to admit even the most deserving and distressing cases, and far less all that it would be well to provide for. Moreover, there is great difficulty connected with the admission of an orphan into most of the ordinary orphan establishments, on account of the votes which must be obtained, so that really needy persons have neither time nor money to obtain them. Does not the fact that there were six thousand young orphans in the prisons of England about five years ago call aloud for an extension of orphan institutions? By God's help I will try to do what I can to keep poor orphans from prison.
4. In this purpose I am still further encouraged by the great help which the Lord has hitherto given me in this blessed service. When I look at the small beginning, and consider how the Lord has helped me now for more than fifteen years in the orphan work; and when I consider how he has been pleased to help me through one great difficulty after another; and when I consider, especially, how, as with an unseen hand, I might say almost against my will and former desires and thoughts, he has led me on from one step to another, and has enlarged the work more and more,—I say, when I review all this, and compare with it my present exercise of mind, I find the great help, the uninterrupted help which the Lord has given me for more than fifteen years, a great reason for going forward in this work. And this, trusting in him, I am resolved to do.
5. A further reason for going forward in this service I see in the experience which I have had in it. From the smallest commencement up to the present state of the establishment, with its three hundred orphans, all has gone through my own hands. In the work itself I obtained the experience. It has grown with the work. I have been the sole director of the work, under God, from its smallest commencement. Now this is not an every-day case. No committee member of a society, no president or vice-president of an institution, except they had been situated as myself, could have this experience. Coupled with this is the measure of gift which the Lord has been pleased to give me for such work, and for the exercise of which I am responsible to him. These things, in connection with the former reasons, it appears to me, are a call from God to go forward in a greater degree than ever in this work.
6. The spiritual benefit of still more orphans is another especial reason with me why I feel called to go forward. The orphans who have been under my care hitherto were almost all the children of parents who were naturally weak in body, if not consumptive. The very fact of a child being deprived of both parents when four, five, six, or seven years old, shows that, except the parents lost their lives by casualty, they were constitutionally weak. On this account young orphans, generally speaking, require particular care as to their health. In this respect I desire to care for them; but there is more than that to be attended to. I further heartily desire to keep them from the corrupting and demoralizing effect of the lowest sort of children in the streets and courts and Unions. But I desire more for them than mere decency and morality; I desire that they should be useful members of society, and that the prisons of the United Kingdom should not be filled with poor, destitute, and homeless orphans; and we bring them up therefore in habits of industry, and seek to instruct them in those things which are useful for the life that now is. But I desire more than this for the orphans. I cannot be satisfied with anything concerning them short of this, that their souls be won for the Lord. For this reason I long to have them from their early days, yea, the younger the better, under my care, that thus, under the care of godly nurses and teachers, they may be brought up from their earliest days in the fear of the Lord. Now, as this is the chief and primary aim concerning the dear orphans, even the salvation of their souls through faith in the Lord Jesus, I long to be more extensively used than hitherto, even that I may have a thousand of them instead of three hundred under my care.
7. But there is one point which weighs more strongly with me than even the last mentioned one. It is this: When I began the orphan work more than fifteen years ago, it was for the definite and especial purpose that, by means of it, the unconverted might see, through the answers of prayer that I received in connection with it, that there is verily reality in the things of God; and that the children of God might have their faith strengthened by means of it, and might be encouraged, in all simplicity, to deal with God under every circumstance, and trust in him at all times. But if this would be answered in a measure by the state in which the orphan work has been in former times, and more so by what it has been since the erection of the new Orphan House, it would be still more so, by the blessing of God, by my going forward in it to a far greater degree than before. This point, even the glory of God in the manifestation of his readiness to hear prayer, has weighed especially and supremely with me in purposing to enlarge the orphan work.
8. Lastly, I am peaceful and happy, spiritually, in the prospect of enlarging the work, as on former occasions when I had to do so. This weighs particularly with me as a reason for going forward. After all the calm, quiet, prayerful consideration of the subject for about eight weeks, I am peaceful and happy, spiritually, in the purpose of enlarging the field. This, after all the heart-searching which I have had, and the daily prayer to be kept from delusion and mistake in this thing, and the betaking myself to the word of God, would not be the case, I judge, had not the Lord purposed to condescend to use me more than ever in this service.
I therefore, on the ground of the objections answered, and these eight reasons FOR enlarging the work, come to the conclusion that it is the will of the blessed God that his poor and most unworthy servant should yet more extensively serve him in this work, which he is quite willing to do.
Up to this day, Jan. 25, 1851, I have not spoken to one human being about it. As yet even my dear wife knows not about it. I purpose to keep the matter still for some time entirely to myself, dealing with God alone about it, in order that no outward excitement may be in the least degree a stimulus to me. I still pray to be kept from mistake and delusion in this thing; not that I think I am mistaken or deluded, quite the reverse, but yet I would distrust myself and cling to God, to be kept from mistakes and delusions.
Jan. 31. For several weeks past I have now had no doubt that the Lord would have me to serve him in the erection and fitting up of another Orphan House for seven hundred orphans, and I am quite decided on doing so, under his help; and I am now quiet about it, not because I have the least misgiving in my own mind, but because I know that it is most suitable that I should still for some time continue to deal quietly with God alone about it.
March 5. Nearly five weeks have passed away since I wrote the last paragraph, and my mind has not been once during this time, even for a moment, in uncertainty as to what I ought to do. It is now about fifteen weeks since I have been especially praying about this subject, and three months since I began first to write on the subject in my journal, and about ten weeks since I have had any doubt as to what is the will of the Lord concerning this service. I believe that, altogether unworthy though I am of this great honor, he will condescend to use me further and more extensively than before in caring for destitute children who are bereaved of both parents. And this I purpose to do.
May 24. From the time that I began to write down the exercises of my mind on Dec. 5, 1850, till this day, ninety-two more orphans have been applied for, and seventy-eight were already waiting for admission before. But this number increases rapidly as the work becomes more and more known.
On the ground of what has been recorded above, I purpose to go forward in this service, and to seek to build, to the praise and honor of the living God, another Orphan House, large enough to accommodate seven hundred orphans.
When I published these exercises of my mind, and made known my purpose respecting the intended Orphan House for seven hundred orphans, in the Twelfth Report of the Scriptural Knowledge Institution, the following particulars were added to what has been stated:—
1. All this time, though now six months have elapsed since I first began to be exercised about this matter, I have never once been led to ask the Lord for means for this work, but have only continued day by day to seek guidance from him as to whether I should undertake it or not.
2. The means requisite to accomplish the building and fitting up of a house which shall be really suitable for my intended purposes, though the building be quite simple, cannot be less than thirty-five thousand pounds, including fifteen or twenty acres of land round the building for cultivation by the spade, in order to obtain out of our own grounds all the vegetables which are so important to the health of the children.
3. I do not mean to begin the building until I have the means requisite in hand, just as was the case with regard to the new Orphan House. If God will condescend to use me in building for him another Orphan House (as I judge he will), he will give me the means for it. Now, though I have not on my own mind any doubt left that it is his will that I should do so, which has been stated again and again in the preceding pages; yet there is one point still wanting for confirmation, and that is, that he will also furnish me, without personal application to any one, with all the means requisite for this new part of my service. I am the more needing also to my own soul this last of all the proofs that I have not been mistaken (as I firmly believe I have not been), in order to have unquestionable assurance that, whatever trials hereafter might be allowed to befall me in connection with this work, I did not at my own bidding and according to my own natural desire undertake it, but that it was under the guidance of God. The greatness of the sum required affords me a kind of secret joy; for the greater the difficulty to be overcome, the more will it be seen, to the glory of God, how much can be done by prayer and faith; and also because, when God himself overcomes our difficulties for us, we have, in this very fact, the assurance that we are engaged in his work, and not in our own.
DESIRES FOR MORE ENLARGED USEFULNESS GRATIFIED—A LARGE DONATION ANTICIPATED AND RECEIVED—REVIEW OF 1851—PERSONAL EXPERIENCE—BUILDING FUND FOR THE SECOND NEW ORPHAN HOUSE—DOUBT RESISTED—WAITING ON GOD NOT IN VAIN—REVIEW OF 1852.
At the commencement of the year beginning with May, 1850, it was my purpose to seek help from the Lord that I might be able, in a still greater degree than before, to assist brethren who labor in the gospel at home and abroad, in dependence upon God for their temporal supplies, and to labor more than ever in the circulation of the Holy Scriptures, and of simple gospel tracts.
June 11. By the sums which came in within the first fifteen days of this period I was able to begin to carry out the purpose I had formed; and as the Lord enabled me, without anxious reckoning, to go on giving out as he was pleased to intrust me with means, so again he sent further supplies before all was gone. It is a point of great importance in the divine life not to be anxiously reckoning about the morrow, nor dealing out sparingly on account of possible future wants which never may come; but to consider that the present moment to serve the Lord only is ours, and that the morrow may never come to us.
April 20, 1851. During the whole of the current year, up to this date, the Lord has so abundantly supplied me with means that there came not one single case before me in which it would have been desirable to help, according to the measure of light given to me, or to extend the work, without my having at the same time ample means for doing so. In the midst of the great depression of the times, which was so generally felt, and on account of which, humanly speaking, I also might have been exceedingly tried for want of means, I, on the contrary, at no period of the work for the seventeen years previous had a greater abundance of means. I do on purpose lay stress upon this because I desire that it may become increasingly known that there is no easier, no better, and no happier way in the end than God's way, and this in particular also with regard to the obtaining of means simply in answer to prayer, without personal application to any one.
At the beginning of the year I had more in hand for the orphans than for many years before, under similar circumstances, the balance for current expenses on May 26, 1850, being one hundred and fifty pounds seven shillings tenpence. Yet, much as this was in comparison with what the balance had generally been before, how small was the amount in reality! About three hundred persons were connected with the new Orphan House, who day by day were to be provided with all they needed, besides several apprentices who also were still to be supported. On this account the one hundred and fifty pounds in hand would only furnish that which was needed for about fifteen days, as the average expenses of the orphan work alone were about ten pounds daily. Place yourself, therefore, dear reader, in my position. Three hundred persons daily at table, and one hundred and fifty pounds in hand! Looking at it naturally, it is enough to make one tremble; but trusting in the living God, as by his grace I was enabled to do, I had not the least trial of mind, and was assured that God would as certainly help me as he had done fourteen years before, when the number of the orphans was only the tenth part as large.
Nov. 27. For seven weeks the income has been very small, in comparison with what has been expended, both for the orphans and for the various other objects of the Scriptural Knowledge Institution. There has come in for the orphans L187, 16s. 23/4d., and for the other objects L62, 11s. 1d.; and the expenditure has been for the orphans during these seven weeks L477, 2s. 11d., and for the various other objects L394, 9s. 8d. Therefore altogether L871, 12s. 7d. has been expended, whilst the income altogether has been only L250, 7s. 33/4d. We have, of course, not gone into debt, as we never order anything except we have the means in hand for it. Nor has there been even the least difficulty experienced with regard to means, as the Lord in his kindness had sent in considerable sums just before this season commenced. About three hundred and thirty persons now sit down to their meals in the new Orphan House, day by day, and the expenses for the orphans alone are about ten pounds daily, and those for the other parts of the work are also about ten pounds daily, so that I need to receive after the rate of twenty pounds a day, in order to go on with the work; but during these forty-nine days there has been only one single day that I have received about twenty pounds, and for the greater part of the time only a few pounds daily, and sometimes even only a few shillings. But what was to be done under these circumstances? I gave myself to prayer. God, whom I have now been enabled to make my refuge, and my only refuge, for more than twenty years, I have besought day by day. And when now day by day I still have received only small sums, and sometimes nothing or scarcely anything at all, the only effect that it has had upon me has been to pray the more earnestly. My confidence in God is not at all shaken. I have never had a thought that he would not help me: nor have I even once been allowed to look upon these seven weeks in any other way than that the Lord, for the trial of my faith, has ordered it thus that only so little should come in. I am sure that, when he has tried me sufficiently, there will come in again larger sums. In the mean time, how good has the Lord been, not only to have given all I have needed, but I have even now money in hand! And as to our stores in the new Orphan House, they are as full as usual. We have at least one hundred and fifty sacks of potatoes in the house, twenty sacks of flour, thirty-three barrels of oatmeal, each containing about two hundred pounds, about three hundred pairs of new shoes (besides about nine hundred pairs in use), about ten tons of coals, a large quantity of soap and rice; and so all other parts of the stores in proportion. Indeed, while there has been little coming in, I have just ordered articles in the wholesale way as formerly, when our income was perhaps four or five times as much during the same period. My judgment is, that it will now soon please the Lord again to send in larger sums, as he has been pleased to exercise my faith for some time in this way. Let me see the result!
Jan. 4, 1851. This very day the Lord has given me a most precious proof that he delights in our having large expectations from him. I have received this evening the sum of three thousand pounds, being the largest donation which I have had as yet. I now write again that I expect far larger sums still, in order that it may be yet more and more manifest that there is no happier, no easier, and no better way of obtaining pecuniary means for the work of the Lord than the one in which I have been led. How great my joy in God is, on account of this donation, cannot be described; but it is not in the least coupled with excitement. I take this donation out of the hands of the living God; I continually look for his help, and am perfectly assured that I shall have it, and therefore is my soul calm and peaceful, without any excitement, though the donation is so large. This donation is, however, like a voice from heaven speaking to me concerning a most deeply important matter respecting which I am seeking guidance from the Lord, the building of another Orphan House.
May 26. I am brought to the close of this period. The work is more and more enlarging. During the last month I have paid out for the orphans more than four hundred and fifty pounds, and for the other objects more than five hundred pounds, being nearly one thousand pounds during one month; and yet I have a greater balance left in hand, through the Lord's kindness, than at the close of any of the previous periods.
From May 26, 1850, to May 26, 1851, there were four day schools in Bristol, with 286 children in them, entirely supported by the funds of the Institution; and three others in Devonshire, Gloucestershire, and Norfolk, with 180 children in them, were assisted. Further, one Sunday school in Bristol, with 184 children, was entirely supported, and two others in Devonshire and Gloucestershire, with 213 children, were assisted. Lastly, an adult school in Bristol, with 90 persons in it, was entirely supported. The expenses connected with all these various schools were, during this period, L379, 17s. From the formation of the Institution, on March 5, 1834, up to May 26, 1851, there were 5,343 children in the various day schools in Bristol alone, 2,379 in the Sunday school, and 1,896 persons in the adult school, besides the thousands in the schools out of Bristol which were assisted.
There was expended during this period, out of the funds of the Institution, on the circulation of the Holy Scriptures, L150, 16s. 5d. There were 345 Bibles sold, and 899 given away; and 30 New Testaments sold, and 413 given away, during this period. From March 5, 1834, to May 26, 1851, there were circulated 7,709 Bibles and 4,442 New Testaments.
During this year was spent of the funds of the Institution, for missionary objects, the sum of L2,000, 11s. 1d. By this sum forty-five laborers in the word and doctrine in various parts of the world were to a greater or less degree assisted. The total amount of L2,000 was sent to these forty-five servants of the Lord Jesus in 264 different sums.
During this period L358, 7s. 3d. was expended on the circulation of tracts, and 303,098 tracts and little books were circulated. I was permitted to send out more tracts than during the whole of the previous ten years taken together. Nor must it be withheld from the reader, as matter for thankfulness, that the Lord was pleased to allow me to hear again and again of instances of conversion, by means of the distribution of these tracts during this period.
On May 26, 1850, there were 275 orphans in the new Orphan House on Ashley Down, Bristol. On May 26, 1851, there were 300 orphans in the new Orphan House. The total number of orphans who were under our care from April, 1836, to May 26, 1851, is 488. There came in altogether during this year L4,102, 14s. 91/4d. for the support of the orphans, and L3,640, 9s. 13/4d. for the other objects; and, after having met to the full every demand with reference to the orphans, the balance of L970, 13s. 113/4d. remained in hand. Also, after having entered into every door which the Lord was please to set before me respecting the other objects, and to do far more than during any one year previously, the balance of L809, 10s. 6d. remained in hand on May 26, 1851. Verily we do not trust in the Lord in vain!
Without any one having been personally applied to for anything by me, the sum of L38,018, 4s. 61/2d. was given to me for the orphans as the result of prayer to God from the commencement of the work to May 26, 1851. It may be also 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 to May 26, 1851, amounted to L13,988, 11s. 91/4d.; and that which came in by the sale of Bibles and tracts, and by the payments of the children in the day schools, amounted to L2,890, 9s. 113/4d.
It pleased the Lord greatly to gladden our hearts by the working of his Holy Spirit among the orphans during this period.
Dec. 31, 1850. During this year there have been received into fellowship 57, and altogether, from the time that brother Craik and I began to labor in Bristol, 1,313. The Lord has been pleased to give me, for my personal expenses, L402, 4s. 5d.
May 26, 1851. The reader will remember that I stated in a previous chapter that I purposed, not in dependence upon my Christian friends, nor in dependence upon former donors, but alone in dependence upon the living God, to enlarge the orphan work. Before I brought before the public what I purposed to do, I gave the record of the exercises of my mind on this subject to a valued Christian friend to read, the only one who, besides my family, knew anything of this my intention before it came before the public. I did this particularly in order that, after I had been waiting for several months in secret upon God for guidance and direction concerning it, I might also have the counsel of a prayerful, judicious, and cautious man of God. When this brother returned the manuscript, he spoke to me words of encouragement concerning this purpose, and gave me a half sovereign towards the building fund for this house for seven hundred destitute orphans. This was the first donation, which I received on May 13, 1851, and which, I confess, was a great refreshment and encouragement to me, the more so as it came from so cautious a brother, and after I had been for several months, through secret prayer, assured that I should go forward.
On May 28, 1851, my intention became publicly known, and in the evening of May 29 I received from a Christian lady a sovereign towards the building fund.
June 1. A brother in the Lord, who gives his donations with the letter "P.," gave me ten shillings. I also received a sovereign. This evening I received still further four half crowns, with very encouraging words and expressions of joy that I have been led to this purpose of building another Orphan House for seven hundred more orphans. There came to hand, also anonymously, three shillings. Ditto an old shilling, a small American coin, and two shillings. Also from a Christian servant in Clifton two shillings sixpence.
June 21. Twenty-four days have now passed away since I have been enabled, day by day, to wait with a goodly measure of earnestness and in faith upon the Lord for means; but as yet only a little above twenty-eight pounds has come in. But I am not discouraged. The less there comes in, the more earnestly I pray, the more I look out for answers, and the more assured I am that the Lord, in his own time, after he has tried my faith, will send me larger sums, and, at last, all I need.
Aug. 12. Day by day I am waiting upon the Lord for means for this object, and generally more than once a day am I bowing my knees before God with reference to it. Moreover, of late I have been enabled, with increasing earnestness, to beseech the Lord that he would be pleased to send in means for the building fund. My soul has been all along at peace, though only so little, as yet, comparatively, has come in (in all, one hundred and twenty-seven pounds nineteen shillings ninepence); and though Satan has in the most subtle way sought to shake my confidence, and to lead me to question whether, after all, I had not been mistaken concerning this whole matter. Yet, though he has aimed after this, to the praise of God I have to confess that he has not been allowed to triumph. I have especially besought the Lord of late that he would be pleased to refresh my spirit by sending in some large donation for this part of the work. Under these circumstances I received this morning five hundred pounds for the new building. I was not in the least excited. I look out for means. Even that very moment, when I received this donation, I was looking out for means, for large donations; and I should not have been surprised if five thousand pounds had come in, or more. The Lord be praised for this precious encouragement, which has still further quickened me for prayer!
Sept. 13. Patience and faith are still called for, and, by God's grace, my desire is to "let patience have her perfect work." Not one penny has come in to-day for the building fund, but five more orphans have been applied for, so that now forty in less than one single month have been brought before me, all bereaved of both parents, and all very destitute. Under these circumstances, how can I but fervently labor in prayer that the Lord would be pleased to intrust me with means for the building another Orphan House for seven hundred orphans. The more I look at things according to natural appearances and prospects, the less likely is it that I should have the sum which is needed; but I have faith in God, and my expectation is from him alone. From the beginning I depended upon him only concerning this proposed enlargement of the work, and therefore have I not been disappointed, though as yet only the fortieth part of what is needed has come in (eight hundred and eighty-two pounds eighteen shillings sevenpence halfpenny). But how soon, how very soon can the Lord alter the aspect of things. Even this very evening, while I am writing, he could give me many thousand pounds. I continue, therefore, to wait upon God, and seek to encourage my heart by his holy word, and, while he delays giving me answers, to be occupied in his blessed service. Of this, however, my soul has not the least doubt, that, when the Lord shall have been pleased to exercise my soul by the trial of faith and patience, he will make bare his arm, and send help. The fact that the applications for the admission of destitute orphans are so many, does both quicken me to prayer, and is also a great encouragement to me that the Lord will give me the desire of my heart, to provide another home for these destitute, fatherless and motherless children.
March 17, 1852. Day by day I am waiting upon God for means. With full confidence, both as to the power of the Lord to give me the means, and likewise his willingness, I am enabled to continue to wait. But he is pleased to exercise my faith and patience, and especially has this been the case of late. Not more than twenty-seven pounds eleven shillings has come in during the last four weeks for the building fund. Yet, amidst it all, by the help of God, my heart has been kept looking to the Lord, and expecting help from him. Now to-day my heart has been greatly refreshed by a donation of nine hundred and ninety-nine pounds thirteen shillings fivepence. I cannot describe to any one how refreshing this donation is to my spirit. After having been for weeks, day by day, waiting upon the Lord, and receiving so little comparatively, either for current expenses or for the building fund, this answer to many prayers is exceedingly sweet to my spirit.
May 20. There remained in hand from the former building fund the balance of L776, 14s. 43/4d., which I added to the present building fund, so that on the evening of May 26, 1852, I had altogether L3,530, 9s. 01/4d.
Supplies for the School, Bible, Missionary, and Tract Fund, sent in answer to prayer from May 26, 1851, to May 26, 1852.—At no time during the past eighteen years did I begin a new period with so much money in hand as was the case at the commencement of this. There was a balance of L809, 10s. 6d. left for these objects. Long before this balance was expended, however, the Lord was pleased to send in further supplies; so that during all the year there did not come before me one single instance in which, according to my judgment, it would have been desirable to help forward schools or missionary objects, or the circulation of the Holy Scriptures and tracts, but I had always the means in hand for doing so.
Supplies for the Support of the Orphans sent in answer to prayer from May 26, 1851, to May 26, 1852.—When this period commenced, I had in hand for the current expenses for the orphans L970, 13s. 113/4d. We had never had so large a balance for the other objects at the commencement of any new period as was the case at the commencement of this, and so it was also with regard to the orphan work. But though there was this large balance to begin with, dependence upon God was still required day by day, as the pecuniary help is only a very small part of that which is needed; and even as to means, this sum would not have lasted long, had the Lord not sent in further supplies. This, however, he did; and thus it was that while there were other trials, varied and many, yet, as to means, we experienced scarcely any difficulty at all.
During the period from May 26, 1851, to May 26, 1852, there were entirely supported by the funds of the Institution four day schools in Bristol, with 248 poor children in them, and three others in Devonshire, Monmouthshire, and Norfolk, were assisted. Further, one Sunday school in Bristol, with 243 children, was entirely supported, and two others in Devonshire and Gloucestershire, with 230 children, were assisted. Lastly, one adult school in Bristol, with 120 adult scholars, was entirely supported during this period. From March 5, 1834, up to May 26, 1852, there were 5,525 children in the day schools in Bristol, 2,600 in the Sunday school, and 2,033 grown-up persons in the adult school. There was expended of the funds of the Institution, for these various schools, during this period, L360, 1s. 9d.
During this period there was expended of the funds of the Institution L207, 3s. 1d. for the purpose of circulating the Holy Scriptures, especially among the very poorest of the poor. There were issued during this period 1,101 Bibles and 409 New Testaments. There were altogether circulated from March 5, 1834, up to May 26, 1852, 8,810 Bibles, and 4,851 New Testaments.
During this year there was spent of the funds of the Institution, for missionary objects, the sum of L2,005, 7s. 5d. By this sum fifty-one laborers in the word and doctrine, in various parts of the world, were to a greater or less degree assisted.
There was laid out for the circulation of tracts, from May 26, 1851, to May 26, 1852, the sum of L356, 11s. 31/2d. There were circulated during the year 489,136 tracts.
The total number of tracts which were circulated from the beginning up to May 26, 1852, was 1,086,366.
On May 26, 1851, there were 300 orphans in the new Orphan House on Ashley Down, Bristol. From that day up to May 26, 1852, there were admitted into it 27 orphans. The total of the expenses connected with the support of the orphans, from May 26, 1851, to May 26, 1852, was L3,035, 3s. 4d. The total number of orphans who were under our care from April, 1836, to May 26, 1852, was 515.
Without any one having been personally applied to for anything by me, the sum of L42,970, 17s. 6d. was given to me for the orphans as the result of prayer to God from the commencement of the work up to May 26, 1852. It may be also 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, 1852, amounted to L15,976, 10s. 61/4d.; and that which came in by the sale of Bibles and tracts, and by the payments of the children in the day schools, amounted to L3,073, 1s. 93/4d. Besides this, also, a great variety and number of articles of clothing, furniture, provisions, etc., were given for the use of the orphans.
Several of the orphans who left the establishment during this year went away as believers, having been converted some time before they left; one also who died gave very decided evidence of a true change of heart by faith in our Lord Jesus; several who in former years were under our care, as we heard during this year, took their stand openly on the Lord's side, and dated their first impressions to the instructions received whilst under our care; and, lastly, of those under our care, there were not a few whose spiritual state gave us joy and comfort. Thus, amidst many difficulties and trials and some discouragements, we had abundant cause to praise God for his goodness, and to go forward in the strength of the Lord.
Dec. 31, 1851. During this year the Lord was pleased to give me, for my personal expenses, L465, 13s. 13/4d.
REAPING IN JOY.
EXPECTING GREAT THINGS FROM GOD—MUNIFICENT DONATION—INCREASING USEFULNESS OF THE SCRIPTURAL KNOWLEDGE INSTITUTION—ACCESS TO GOD THROUGH FAITH IN CHRIST—A VOICE FROM MOUNT LEBANON—BENEFIT OF WAITING GOD'S TIME—CAREFUL STEWARDSHIP—FAITH, THE ONLY RELIANCE—"THIS POOR WIDOW HATH CAST IN MORE THAN THEY ALL"—GREATER ACHIEVEMENTS OF FAITH ANTICIPATED—COUNSEL TO TRACT DISTRIBUTORS—A NEW AND SEVERE TRIAL OF FAITH.
On May 26, 1852, there was in hand toward the erection of the second new Orphan House three thousand five hundred and thirty pounds nine shillings sixpence and one farthing. Donations varying in amount from three hundred pounds to fourpence continued to be received in answer to prayer. On the 4th of Jan. 1853, Mr. M. writes:—
From London two shillings sixpence. Day by day I have now been waiting upon God for means for the building fund for more than nineteen months, and almost daily I have received something in answer to prayer. These donations have been, for the most part, small, in comparison with the amount which will be required for the completion of this object; nevertheless, they have shown that the Lord, for the sake of his dear Son, listens to my supplications, and to those of my fellow-laborers and helpers in the work; and they have been precious encouragements to me to continue to wait upon God. I have been for many months assured that the Lord, in his own time, would give larger sums for this work; and for this I have been more and more earnestly entreating him during the last months. Now at last he has abundantly refreshed my spirit, and answered my request. I received to-day the promise that, as the joint donation of several Christians, there should be paid me a donation of eight thousand and one hundred pounds, for the work of the Lord in my hands.
It is impossible to describe the spiritual refreshment which my heart received through this donation. Day by day, for nineteen months, I had been looking out for more abundant help than I had had. I was fully assured that God would help me with larger sums; yet the delay was long. See how precious it is to wait upon God! See how those who do so are not confounded! Their faith and patience may long and sharply be tried; but in the end it will most assuredly be seen that those who honor God he will honor, and will not suffer them to be put to shame. The largeness of the donation, whilst it exceedingly refreshed my spirit, did not in the least surprise me; for I expect GREAT things from God. Have I been boasting in God in vain? Is it not manifest that it is most precious in every way to depend upon God? Do I serve God for naught? Is it not obvious that the principles on which I labor are not only applicable to the work of God on a small scale, but also, as I have so many times affirmed during the past nineteen years, for the most extensive operations for God?
During the year ending May 26, 1853, nine thousand and one pounds three shillings was received toward the building fund, making the present amount of that fund twelve thousand five hundred and thirty-one pounds twelve shillings one farthing.
For the various objects of the Scriptural Knowledge Institution, viz. for school, missionary, Bible, and tract purposes, I had to expend during the year from May, 1852, to May, 1853, about six hundred pounds per month, or above seven thousand pounds in all; but I had sufficient to meet every demand; and over and above I was helped by the Lord to increase the building fund nine thousand pounds. The current expenses of the Institution were never so great during the previous nineteen years; but the extent of its operations, and the means which the Lord was pleased to send in, were also never so great.
You see, dear reader, that we are richly recompensed for our waiting upon God. You perceive the readiness of his heart to listen to the supplications of his children who put their trust in him. If you have never made trial of it, do so now. But in order to have your prayers answered, you need to make your requests unto God on the ground of the merits and worthiness of the Lord Jesus. You must not depend upon your own worthiness and merits, but solely on the Lord Jesus, as the ground of acceptance before God, for your person, for your prayers, for your labors, and for everything else. Do you really believe in Jesus? Do you verily depend upon him alone for the salvation of your soul? See to it well, that not the least degree of your own righteousness is presented unto God as a ground of acceptance. But then, if you believe in the Lord Jesus, it is further necessary, in order that your prayers may be answered, that the things which you ask God should be of such a kind that God can give them to you, because they are for his honor and your real good. If the obtaining of your requests were not for your real good, or were not tending to the honor of God, you might pray for a long time without obtaining what you desire. The glory of God should be always before the children of God, in what they desire at his hands; and their own spiritual profit, being so intimately connected with the honor of God, should never be lost sight of in their petitions. But now, suppose we are believers in the Lord Jesus, and suppose we make our requests unto God, depending alone on the Lord Jesus as the ground of having them granted; suppose also, that, so far as we are able honestly and uprightly to judge, the obtaining of our requests would be for our real spiritual good, and for the honor of God; we yet need, lastly, to continue in prayer until the blessing is granted unto us. It is not enough to begin to pray, nor to pray aright; nor is it enough to continue for a time to pray; but we must patiently, believingly continue in prayer until we obtain an answer; and, further, we have not only to continue in prayer unto the end, but we have also to believe that God does hear us, and will answer our prayers. Most frequently we fail in not continuing in prayer until the blessing is obtained, and in not expecting the blessing. As assuredly as in any individual these various points are found united together, so assuredly will answers be granted to his requests.
During the year 1852-53, the expense of the support of the orphans was fully met by unsolicited donations. Two or three particulars only will be given.
June 29, 1852. To-day I received one of the most remarkable donations which I ever had. I give the whole account, without the name of the donor.
LYONS, JUNE 24, 1852,
DEAR BROTHER IN CHRIST:
It is now several years that I read with great interest, and I hope with some benefit to my soul, the account of your labors and experiences. Ever since then your work was the object of many thoughts and prayers, and I gave many copies of your book to Christian friends. One of them has read it in Syria, on Mount Lebanon, where he is for commercial business; and, whilst praying for you and your dear orphans, the Lord put it in his heart to send you two pounds, to which my husband added two others; and we beg you to accept that small offering in the name of the Lord. If you have published anything of the Lord's dealings with you since the year 1844, we shall be very happy to receive it. You could forward it to Messrs. * * * *, London, for * * * * of Lyons. And now, dear brother, may the grace and peace of the Lord rest on you and your dear home's inhabitants.
Affectionately yours in the Lord, * * * *
I have had donations from Australia, the East Indies, the West Indies, the United States, Canada, from the Cape of Good Hope, from France, Switzerland, Germany, Italy, etc.; and now comes also this donation from Mount Lebanon, with the prayer of a Christian brother whose name I never heard nor know even now. See, dear reader, this is the way in which the Lord has helped me in this precious service for twenty-two years. With my fellow-laborers, or without them, and they without me, our prayers are offered up unto the Lord for help, and he is pleased, for Jesus' sake, to listen to our supplications, and to influence the hearts of some of his children, known to us or not, to send us help. The donors may be rich or poor; they may live near, or at a distance of more than ten thousand miles; they may give much or little; they may have often given before, or never; they may be well known to us, or not at all: in these and many other things there may be constant variations; but God continually helps us; we are never confounded. And why not? Simply because we are enabled by the grace of God to put our trust in him for what we need.
Oct. 9. This morning Luke vii. came in the course of my reading before breakfast. While reading the account about the centurion and the raising from death of the widow's son at Nain, I lifted up my heart to the Lord Jesus thus: "Lord Jesus, thou hast the same power now. Thou canst provide me with means for thy work in my hands. Be pleased to do so." About half an hour afterwards I received two hundred and thirty pounds fifteen shillings; also one shilling. This two hundred and thirty pounds fifteen shillings was left at my disposal, as most needed. I took one half of it for the current expenses for the orphans, and the other half for the other objects. I am now amply provided for meeting the demands of this day.
The joy which such answers to prayer afford cannot be described. I was determined to wait upon God only, and not to work an unscriptural deliverance for myself. I have thousands of pounds for the building fund; but I would not take of it, because it was once set apart for that object. There is also a legacy of one hundred pounds for the orphans two months overdue, in the prospect of the payment of which the heart might be naturally inclined to use some money from the building fund, to be replaced by the legacy money, when it comes in; but I would not thus step out of God's way of obtaining help. At the very time when this donation arrived, I had packed up one hundred pounds which I happened to have in hand, received for the building fund, in order to take it to the bank, as I was determined not to touch it, but to wait upon God. My soul does magnify the Lord for his goodness!
This last paragraph is copied out of my journal, written down at the time. I add a few words more to the last sentences.
The natural mind is ever prone to reason, when we ought to believe; to be at work, when we ought to be quiet; to go our own way, when we ought steadily to walk on in God's ways, however trying to nature. When I was first converted, I should have said, What harm can there be to take some of the money which has been put by for the building fund? God will help me again after some time with means for the orphans, and then I can replace it. Or, there is this money due for the legacy of one hundred pounds. This money is quite sure; may I not, therefore, on the strength of it, take some of the money from the building fund, and, when the legacy is paid, replace the money which I have taken? From what I have seen of believers, I know that many would act thus. But how does it work, when we thus anticipate God, by going our own way? We bring, in many instances, guilt on our conscience; but if not, we certainly weaken faith instead of increasing it; and each time we work thus a deliverance of our own we find it more and more difficult to trust in God, till at last we give way entirely to our natural fallen reason, and unbelief prevails. How different, if one is enabled to wait God's own time, and to look alone to him for help and deliverance! When at last help comes, after many seasons of prayer it may be, and after much exercise of faith and patience it may be, how sweet it is, and what a present recompense does the soul at once receive for trusting in God, and waiting patiently for his deliverance! Dear Christian reader, if you have never walked in this path of obedience before, do so now, and you will then know experimentally the sweetness of the joy which results from it.
Oct. 12. By sale of rags and bones twelve shillings sixpence. I copy literally from the receipt book. We seek to make the best of everything. As a steward of public money, I feel it right that even these articles should be turned into money; nor could we expect answers to our prayers if knowingly there were any waste allowed in connection with this work. For just because the money is received from God, simply in answer to prayer only, therefore it becomes us the more to be careful in the use of it.
From Dec. 20, 1852, to Jan. 4, 1853, we had nothing in advance of our wants. Means came in only as they were required for pressing needs. But on the 4th January, we received, as stated under another head, the largest donation I ever had, of which I took six hundred pounds for the support of the orphans. These facts I state, in order to give a practical illustration that those are entirely mistaken who suppose that the work is now no longer a work of faith, as it used to be in former years. It is true, we have now a larger income than we used to have in the years 1838, 1839, and 1840; but it is also true that our expenses are three times as great. We have no regular income now, even as we had not then. We ask no human being now for help; even as we did not then. We depend alone upon God, by his grace; even as we did then. Who is there in the whole world who will state that I ever asked him for help in this orphan work, from its commencement, on Dec. 9, 1835, up till now? Now, as we have no funds to live upon; as we have no regular subscribers or donors upon whom we could depend; as we never ask help from man, but God alone; and as, finally, we never did go into debt for this work, nor do we now: why is it not now a work of faith, as formerly? Will those who say it is not, place themselves in the position in which I was, when, at the close of the year 1852, I had not two pounds left, and about three hundred and thirty persons were day by day to be provided for, with all they need, and prove whether it is now anything else than a work of faith? But perhaps I have said too much about this. For every one, except those who are determined not to see, will have no difficulty in perceiving that now, as formerly, one could only be kept from being overwhelmed in such a position by looking day by day to the Lord, and that not merely for pecuniary supplies, but for help under the numberless difficulties which continually are met with in such a work.
How can I sufficiently praise, and adore, and magnify the Lord for his love and faithfulness in carrying me thus from year to year through this his service, supplying me with all I need in the way of means, fellow-laborers, mental strength, and, above all, spiritual support! But for his help and support I should be completely overpowered in a very short time; yet, by his help I go on, and am very happy, spiritually, in my service; nor am I now generally worse in health than I was twenty years ago, but rather better.
During the year 1852-53, there were four day schools, with 235 children in them, entirely supported by the funds of the Institution. Further, one Sunday school in Bristol, with 150 children, was entirely supported, and three others in Devonshire, Somersetshire, and Gloucestershire, with 280 children, were assisted. Lastly, one adult school, with 103 adult scholars, was entirely supported by the funds of the Institution. There were under our care, from March 5, 1834, to May 26, 1853, in the various day schools 5,686 children, in the Sunday schools 2,673 children, and in the adult school 2,132 persons. There was expended of the funds of the Institution during this year, for the various schools, L349, 12s. 11d.
During this year there was laid out of the funds of the Institution, on the circulation of the Holy Scriptures, L431, 5s, 11/2d., and there were circulated 1,666 Bibles and 1,210 New Testaments. There were circulated from March 5, 1834, up to May 26, 1853, 10,476 Bibles, and 6,061 New Testaments.
For several years past this part of the work has appeared more and more important to me on account of the fearful attempts which have been made by the powers of darkness to rob the church of Christ of the Holy Scriptures. I have on this account sought to embrace every opportunity to circulate the Holy Scriptures in England, Ireland, Canada, British Guiana, the East Indies, China, Australia, etc. Every open door which the Lord was pleased to set before me in these or other parts of the world, I have joyfully entered; yea, I have counted it a privilege, indeed, to be permitted of God to send forth his Holy Word. Many servants of Christ, in various parts of the world, have assisted me in this service, through whose instrumentality copies of the Holy Scriptures have been circulated.
During this year there was spent of the funds of the Institution for missionary objects L2,234, 2s. 6d. By this sum fifty-four laborers in the word and doctrine, in various parts of the world, were to a greater or less degree assisted.
There was laid out for the circulation of tracts, from May 26, 1852, to May 26, 1853, the sum of L555, 16s. 71/2d.; and there were circulated within this year 733,674 tracts.
The total number of tracts which were circulated up to May 26, 1853, was 1,820,040. From Nov. 19, 1840, to May 10, 1842, the first period that the circulation of tracts was in operation in connection with the Scriptural Knowledge Institution for Home and Abroad, there were circulated 19,609; from May 26, 1851, to May 26, 1852, 489,136; and during this period 733,674.
At the beginning of this period there were 300 orphans in the new Orphan House on Ashley Down, Bristol. During the year there were admitted into it 13 orphans, making 313 in all. The total number of orphans who were under our care from April, 1836, to May 26, 1853, was 528.
Without any one having been personally applied to for anything by me, the sum of L55,408, 17s. 53/4d. was given to me for the orphans, as the result of prayer to God, from the commencement of the work up to May 26, 1853. It may be also interesting to the reader to know that the total amount which was given for the other objects, from the commencement of the work up to May 26, 1853, amounted to L19,163, 14s. 11/2d.; and that which came in by the sale of Bibles and tracts, and by the payments of the children in the day schools, amounted to L3,490, 7s. 11/4d. Besides this, also, a great variety and number of articles of clothing, furniture, provisions, etc., were given for the use of the orphans.
The expenses in connection with the support of the 300 orphans and the apprentices during this year were L3,453, 15s. 11/2d.
Dec. 31, 1852. During this year there have been received into fellowship 35 believers. The Lord has been pleased to give unto me L445, 8s. 81/2d.
My brother-in-law, Mr. A. N. Groves, of whom mention has been made in the first part of this Narrative, as having been helpful to me by his example when I began my labors in England in 1829, in that he, without any visible support, and without being connected with any missionary society, went with his wife and children to Bagdad, as a missionary, after having given up a lucrative practice of about one thousand five hundred pounds per year, returned in autumn 1852, from the East Indies, a third time, being exceedingly ill. He lived, however, till May 20, 1853, when, after a most blessed testimony for the Lord, he fell asleep in Jesus in my house.
I have already stated that on May 26, 1853, I had on hand toward building premises large enough for the accommodation of 700 children, the sum of L12,531, 12s. 01/4d.
A single circumstance will illustrate the widely diverse sources from which donations are received, as well as the great disparity in amount.
Jan. 17, 1854. From S. R. and E. R., two poor factory girls, near Stroud, 1s. 7d. This day I also received the promise that there should be paid to me, for the work of the Lord in my hands, L5,207, to be disposed of as I might consider best.
The whole amount received for the new Orphan House, during the year closing May 26, 1854, was L5,285, 17s. 5d., which made the total of L17,816, 19s. 51/4d. in hand on May 26, 1854.
During this year the current expenses for the various objects of the Scriptural Knowledge Institution for Home and Abroad amounted to L7,507, 0s. 111/2d., being L471, 8s. 11d. more than during any previous year; yet the Lord not only enabled me to meet them all, but to add the sum of L5,285, 7s. 5d. to the building fund.
There is yet a large sum required before I shall be enabled to build another house for 700 orphans; nor have I now, any more than at the first, any natural prospect of obtaining what is yet needed; but my hope is in the living God. When I came to the conclusion that it was the will of God that I should build another Orphan House, I had not only no natural prospect of obtaining the L35,000 which would be needed for this object, but also I had no natural prospect of being able to provide for the necessities of the three hundred orphans already under my care. Three years have elapsed since then, and I have had all I needed for them, amounting to about L10,500; and L17,816, 19s. 51/4d. I have received for the building fund. May I not well trust in the Lord for what is yet needed for the building fund? By his grace I will do so, and delight in doing so; for I know that at last all my prayers will be turned into praises concerning this part of the service.
There is one point which is particularly an encouragement to me to go on waiting upon the Lord for the remainder of the means which are required, viz: applications for the admission of orphans continue to be made. On May 26, 1853, there were 480 orphans waiting for admission. Since then 181 more have been applied for, making in all 661. These children are from three months old and upwards, and all bereaved of both parents by death.
During the year now under review I received the following donation for the missionary laborers, under circumstances of peculiar interest.
On Aug. 9, 1853, I received a letter from a Christian brother, accompanied with an order for eighty-eight pounds two shillings sixpence on his bankers, of which three pounds two shillings sixpence were the proceeds of an orphan box in a meeting-place of believers, and eighty-five pounds from a poor widow who had sold her little house, being all her property, and who had put ninety pounds, the total amount of what she had received, into that orphan box two months before, on June 9, 1853. In this box the money had been for some time, without its being known, till the orphan box was opened, and the ninety pounds with a few lines without name were found in it. As, however, the fact of her intending to sell the little house, and her intention of sending me the money for the Lord's work, had been known to the brother who sent me the money, he did not feel free to send it to me without remonstrating with her through two brethren, whom he sent with the money, offering it again to her; for he knew her to be very poor, and feared that this might be an act of excitement, and therefore be regretted afterwards. These brethren could not prevail on her to receive back the money, but they did persuade her to receive back five pounds of the amount, and then the brother referred to felt no longer free to keep the money from me, and hence sent me the eighty-five pounds.
On the receipt of this, I wrote at once to the poor godly widow, offering her the travelling expenses for coming to Bristol, that I might have personal intercourse with her; for I feared lest this should be an act of excitement, and the more so, as she had received back five pounds of the sum. This sister in the Lord, a widow of about sixty years of age, came to Bristol, and told me in all simplicity how that ten years before, in the year 1843, she had purposed that if ever she should come into the possession of the little house in which she lived with her husband, she would sell it, and give the proceeds of it to the Lord. About five years afterwards her husband died, and she, having no children, nor any one having particular claim upon her, then sought to dispose of her little property, as had been her mind all those years before. However, one difficulty after another prevented her being able to effect a sale. At last she felt in particular difficulty on account of her inability to pay the yearly ground-rent of the little house and garden, and she asked the Lord to enable her to sell the property, in order that she might be able to carry out her desire which she had had for ten years, to give to him the proceeds of this her possession. He now helped her. The house was sold, the money paid, and she put the whole ninety pounds into the orphan box for me, being assured that the Lord would direct me how best the money might be used for him. I still questioned her again and again, to find out whether it was not excitement which had led her to act as she had done; but I not only saw that her mind had been fully decided about this act for ten years before, but that she also was able to answer from the word of God all the objections which I purposely made, in order to probe her, whether she had intelligently and from right motives acted in what she had done. At last I was fully satisfied that it was not from impulse, nor under excitement, that she had given the money. I next stated to her something like this: "You are poor, and you are about sixty years old, therefore decreasing in strength, and may you not therefore keep this money for yourself?" Her reply was, as nearly as I remember, something like this: "God has always provided for me, and I have no doubt he will do so in future also. I am able to work and to earn my bread as well as others, and am willing to work as a nurse, or in any other way." What could I say against this? This is just what a child of God would say, and should say. But the greatest of all the difficulties to the accepting of the eighty-five pounds remained in my mind, and I state it, as I relate the whole for the profit of the reader. It was this. The house had been sold for ninety pounds. The whole amount had been put into the box, but, on the persuasion of those two brethren who were requested to remonstrate with this widow, she had been induced to take back five pounds out of the ninety pounds. I therefore said to myself, might she not be willing, after a time, to take back the whole ninety pounds; how, therefore, can I feel happy in accepting this money? On this account I particularly laid stress upon this point, and told her that I feared she might regret her act altogether after some time, as she had taken back this five pounds. I now learned the circumstances under which she had been induced to take back this five pounds.
The two brethren who had called on her for the purpose of pointing out to her the propriety of receiving back again the ninety pounds, or part of it, told her that Barnabas sold his land, but afterwards lived with others on that which he and others had thrown into the common stock, and that, therefore, she might receive at least part of the ninety pounds back again, if she would not take the whole. She then said to herself that, "as a child of God, she might take the children's portion," and, as she had given to God this ninety pounds, she might receive five pounds back again. She told me that she considered the brethren had shown her from the Holy Scriptures what she might do, and therefore she had taken this five pounds. I did not myself agree with the judgment of those brethren who had said this (as there is no evidence that Barnabas ever was supported out of the common stock, the proceeds of the sale of houses and lands, out of which the poor were supported); but I purposely said nothing to the widow, lest she should at once be induced to give me this five pounds also. She had, however, this five pounds untouched, and showed it to me; and before she left she would make me take one pound of it for the benefit of the orphans, which I did not refuse, as I had no intention of keeping the eighty-five pounds. She also gave me a sixpence for the orphans, which some one had given her for herself, a few days before.
I now asked her, as this matter concerning the retaining of the five pounds was satisfactorily explained, as far as it respected her own state of heart, what she wished me to do with the money, in case I saw it right to keep it. Her reply was that she would leave that with me, that God would direct me concerning it; but that, if she said anything at all about it, she should most like it to be used for the support of brethren who labor in the word without any salary, and who hazard their lives for the name of Christ. She wished me to have a part of the money; but this I flatly refused, lest I should be evil spoken of in this matter. I then offered to pay her travelling expenses, as she had come to me, which she would not accept, as she did not stand in need of it. In conclusion, I told her that I would now further pray respecting this matter, and consider what to do concerning it. I then prayed with this dear, godly woman, commended her to God, separated from her, and have not seen her since.
I waited from Aug. 9, 1853, to March 7, 1854, when I wrote to her, offering her back again the whole eighty-five pounds, or a part of it. On March 9, 1854, just seven months after I had received the money, and just nine months after she had actually given it, and ten years and nine months after she had made the resolution to give her house and garden to God, I heard from her, stating that she was of the same mind as she had been for years. I therefore disposed of the money, to aid such foreign missionary brethren as, according to the best of my knowledge, resembled most the class of men whom she wished to assist.
The reasons why I have so minutely dwelt upon this circumstance are: 1. If, as a steward of the bounties of the children of God, I should be blamed for receiving from a poor widow almost literally her all, it may be seen in what manner I did so. To have refused on March 9, 1854, also, would be going beyond what I should be warranted to do. 2. I desired, also, to give a practical illustration that I only desire donations in God's way. It is not the money only I desire; but the money received in answer to prayer, in God's order. 3. This circumstance illustrates how God helps me often in the most unexpected manner. 4. I have also related this instance that there may be a fresh proof that even in these last days the love of Christ is of constraining power, and may work mightily, as in the days of the apostles. I have witnessed many such instances as this, in the twenty years during which I have been occupied in this my service. Let us give thanks to God for such cases, and let us seek for grace rather to imitate such godly men and women, than think that they are going too far. I cannot, however, dismiss this subject, without commending this poor widow to the prayers of all who love our Lord Jesus, that she may be kept humble, lest, thinking highly of herself, on account of what she has been enabled to do, by the grace of God, she should not only lose blessing in her own soul, but this circumstance should become a snare to her. Pray also, believing reader, that she may never be allowed to regret what she has done for the Lord.