By George Mueller
THE MINISTRY OF SICKNESS--PEACE OF MIND--JESUS A PRESENT HELP--DEEP POVERTY--PLEADING WITH GOD--UNITED PRAYER.
January 6, 1838. I feel little better in my head, though my general health seems improved; but my kind physician says I am much better, and advises me now change of air. This evening a sister, who resides about fifty miles from hence, and who is quite unacquainted with the medical advice given to me this morning, sent me fifteen pounds for the express purpose of change of air; and wrote that she felt assured, from having been similarly afflicted, that nothing would do me so much good, humanly speaking, as quiet and change of air.
January 7. This is the ninth Lord's day that I have been kept from ministering in the word. My affliction is connected with a great tendency to irritability of temper; yea, with some satanic feeling, foreign to me even naturally.
January 10. To-day I went with my family to Trowbridge. Jan. 14. Lord's day. I have spent several hours in prayer to-day, and read on my knees, and prayed for two hours over Psalm lxiii. God has blessed my soul much to-day. My soul is now brought into that state that I delight myself in the will of God, as it regards my health. Yea, I can now say, from my heart, I would not have this disease removed till God, by its means, has bestowed the blessing for which it was sent.
January 15. I have had, since yesterday afternoon, less suffering in my head than for the last eight days; though it is even now far from being well. I have still an inward assurance, on account of the spiritual blessings which the Lord has granted to me, that through this affliction he is only purifying me for his blessed service, and that I shall be soon restored to the work. To-day, also, God has continued to me fervency of spirit, which I have now enjoyed for three days following. He has to-day, also, drawn out my soul into much real communion with himself, and into holy desires to be more conformed to his dear Son. When God gives a spirit of prayer, how easy then to pray! Nevertheless, it was given to me in the use of the means, as I fell on my knees last Saturday, to read his word with meditation, and to turn it into prayer. To-day I spent about three hours in prayer over Psalms lxiv. and lxv. In reference to that precious word, "O thou that hearest prayer," (Ps. lxv. 2,) I asked the Lord the following petitions, and entreated him to record them in heaven, and to answer them.
1. That he would give me grace to glorify him by a submissive and patient spirit under my affliction.
2. That as I was enabled now, and only now from my heart, to praise God for this affliction, he would not remove his hand from me until he had qualified me for his work more than I have been hitherto.
3. That he would be pleased to grant that the work of conversion, through the instrumentality of brother Craik and myself, might not cease, but go on as much now as when we first came to Bristol, yea, more abundantly than even then.
4. That he would be pleased to give more real spiritual prosperity to the church under our care than ever we have as yet enjoyed.
5. Having praised him for the sale of so many copies of my Narrative in so short a time, I entreated him to cause every copy to be disposed of.
6. I asked him to continue to let his rich blessing rest upon this little work, and more abundantly, so that many may be converted through it, and many of the children of God truly benefited by it, and that thus I might now be speaking through it, though laid aside from active service.
7. I asked him for his blessing, in the way of conversion, to rest upon the orphans, and upon the Sunday and day-school children under our care.
8. I asked him for means to carry on these Institutions, and to enlarge them.
These are some of the petitions which I have asked of my God this evening, in connection with this his own word. I believe he has heard me. I believe he will make it manifest in his own good time that he has heard me, and I have recorded these my petitions, this 15th day of January, 1838, that when God has answered them he may get, through this, glory to his name. [Whilst writing this second part, I add to the praise of the Lord, and for the encouragement of the children of God, that petitions 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8, have been fully answered, and the other petitions, likewise, in part.]
January 16. Tuesday. A blessed day. How very good is the Lord! Fervency of spirit, through his grace, is continued to me; though this morning, but for the help of God, I should have lost it again. The weather has been very cold for several days; but to-day I suffered much, either because it was colder than before, or because I felt it more, owing to the weakness of my body, and having taken so much medicine. I arose from my knees and stirred the fire, but I still remained very cold. I was a little irritated by this. I moved to another part of the room, but felt the cold still more. At last, having prayed for some time, I was obliged to rise up and take a walk to promote circulation. I now entreated the Lord on my walk that this circumstance might not be permitted to rob me of the precious communion which I have had with him the last three days; for this was the object at which Satan aimed. I confessed also my sin of irritability on account of the cold, and sought to have my conscience cleansed through the blood of Jesus. He had mercy upon me, my peace was restored, and when I returned I sought the Lord again in prayer, and had uninterrupted communion with him.
His health remaining feeble, Mr. M. left England on April 6, for Germany, and returned to Bristol May 7. He continues his narrative:--
May 8. This evening I went to the prayer meeting at Gideon. I read Psalm ciii., and was able to thank the Lord publicly for my late affliction. This is the first time that I have taken any part in the public meetings of the brethren since November 6, 1837.
July 12. The funds, which were this day twelvemonth about seven hundred and eighty pounds, are now reduced to about twenty pounds; but, thanks be to the Lord, my faith is as strong, or stronger, than it was when we had the larger sum in hand; nor has he at any time, from the commencement of the work, allowed me to distrust him. Nevertheless, as our Lord will be inquired of, and as real faith is manifested as such by leading to prayer, I gave myself to prayer with brother T----, of the Boys' Orphan House, who had called on me, and who, besides my wife and brother Craik, is the only individual to whom I speak about the state of the funds. While we were praying, an orphan child from Frome was brought, and some believers at Frome, having collected among them five pounds, sent this money with the child. Thus we received the first answer at a time of need. We have given notice for seven children to come in, and purpose to give notice for five more, though our funds are so low, hoping that God will look on our necessities.
July 17 and 18. These two days we have had two especial prayer meetings, from six to nine in the evening, to commend publicly to the Lord the Boys' Orphan House. Our funds are how very low. There are about twenty pounds in hand, and in a few days thirty pounds, at least, will be needed; but I purposely avoided saying anything about our present necessities, and spoke only to the praise of God, about the abundance with which our gracious Father, "the Father of the fatherless," has hitherto supplied us. This was done in order that the hand of God, in sending help, may be so much the more clearly seen.
July 22. This evening I was walking in our little garden, meditating on Heb. xiii. 8, "Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to-day, and forever." Whilst meditating on his unchangeable love, power, wisdom, etc., and turning all, as I went on, into prayer respecting myself; and whilst applying likewise his unchangeable love, and power, and wisdom, etc., both to my present spiritual and temporal circumstances,--all at once the present need of the Orphan Houses was brought to my mind. Immediately I was led to say to myself, Jesus in his love and power has hitherto supplied me with what I have needed for the orphans, and in the same unchangeable love and power he will provide me with what I may need for the future. A flow of joy came into my soul whilst realizing thus the unchangeableness of our adorable Lord. About one minute after, a letter was brought me, enclosing a bill for twenty pounds.
August 18. I have not one penny in hand for the orphans. In a day or two again many pounds will be needed. My eyes are up to the Lord. Evening. Before this day is over, I have received from a sister five pounds. She had some time since put away her trinkets, to be sold for the benefit of the orphans. This morning, whilst in prayer, it came to her mind, "I have this five pounds, and owe no man anything, therefore it would be better to give this money at once, as it may be some time before I can dispose of the trinkets." She therefore brought it, little knowing that there was not a penny in hand.
August 29. To-day sixteen believers were baptized. Among those who were baptized was an aged brother of above eighty-four years, and one above seventy. For the latter, his believing wife had prayed thirty-eight years, and at last the Lord answered her prayers in his conversion.
August 31. I have been waiting on the Lord for means, as the matron's books from the Girls' Orphan House have been brought, and there is no money in hand to advance for housekeeping. But, as yet, the Lord has not been pleased to send help. As the matron called to-day for money, one of the laborers gave two pounds of his own, for the present necessities.
September 1. The Lord in his wisdom and love has not yet sent help. Whence it is to come, need not be my care. But I believe God will, in due time, send help. His hour is not yet come. As there was money needed in the Boys' Orphan House also, the same brother just alluded to gave two pounds for that also. Thus we were delivered at this time likewise. But now his means are gone. This is the most trying hour that as yet I have had in the work, as it regards means; but I know that I shall yet praise the Lord for his help.
September 5. Our hour of trial continues still. The Lord mercifully has given enough to supply our daily necessities; but he gives by the day now, and almost by the hour, as we need it. Nothing came in yesterday. I have besought the Lord again and again, both yesterday and to-day. It is as if the Lord said: "Mine hour is not yet come." But I have faith in God. I believe that he surely will send help, though I know not whence it is to come. Many pounds are needed within a few days, and there is not a penny in hand. This morning two pounds was given for the present necessities, by one of the laborers in the work. Evening. This very day the Lord sent again some help to encourage me to continue to wait on him, and to trust in him. As I was praying this afternoon respecting the matter, I felt fully assured that the Lord would send help, and praised him beforehand for his help, and asked him to encourage our hearts through it. I have been also led, yesterday and to-day, to ask the Lord especially that he would not allow my faith to fail. A few minutes after I had prayed, brother T---- came and brought four pounds one shilling and fivepence, which had come in in several small donations. He told me, at the same time, that to-morrow the books will be brought from the Infant Orphan House, when money must be advanced for housekeeping. I thought for a moment it might be well to keep three pounds of this money for that purpose. But it occurred to me immediately, "Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof." The Lord can provide by to-morrow much more than I need; and I therefore sent three pounds to one of the sisters whose quarterly salary was due, and the remaining one pound one shilling and fivepence to the Boys' Orphan House for housekeeping. Thus I am still penniless. My hope is in God; he will provide.
September 6. This morning the books were brought from the Infant Orphan House, and the matron sent to ask when she should fetch them, implying when they would have been looked over, and when money would be advanced for housekeeping. I said, "to-morrow," though I had not a single penny in hand. About an hour after, brother T---- sent me a note, to say that he had received one pound this morning, and that last evening a brother had sent twenty-nine pounds of salt, forty-four dozen of onions, and twenty-six pounds of groats.
September 7. The time had come that I had to send money to the Infant Orphan House, but the Lord had not sent any more. I gave, therefore, the pound which had come in yesterday, and two shillings and twopence which had been put into the box in my house, trusting to the good Lord to send in more.
September 8. It has not pleased my gracious Lord to send me help as yet. Yesterday and to-day I have been pleading with God eleven arguments why he would be graciously pleased to send help. The arguments which I plead with God are:--
1. That I set about the work for the glory of God, i. e. that there might be a visible proof, by God supplying, in answer to prayer only, the necessities of the orphans, that he is the living God, and most willing, even in our day, to answer prayer; and that, therefore, he would be pleased to send supplies.
2. That God is the "Father of the fatherless," and that he, therefore, as their father, would be pleased to provide. Psalm lxviii. 5.
3. That I have received the children in the name of Jesus, and that therefore he, in these children, has been received, and is fed, and is clothed; and that therefore he would be pleased to consider this. Mark ix. 36, 37.
4. That the faith of many of the children of God has been strengthened by this work hitherto, and that, if God were to withhold the means for the future, those who are weak in faith would be staggered; whilst, by a continuance of means, their faith might still further be strengthened.
5. That many enemies would laugh, were the Lord to withhold supplies, and say, Did we not foretell that this enthusiasm would come to nothing?
6. That many of the children of God, who are uninstructed, or in a carnal state, would feel themselves justified to continue their alliance with the world in the work of God, and to go on as heretofore in their unscriptural proceedings respecting similar institutions, so far as the obtaining of means is concerned, if he were not to help me.
7. That the Lord would remember that I am his child, and that he would graciously pity me, and remember that I cannot provide for these children, and that therefore he would not allow this burden to lie upon me long without sending help.
8. That he would remember likewise my fellow-laborers in the work, who trust in him, but who would be tried were he to withhold supplies.
9. That he would remember that I should have to dismiss the children from under our scriptural instruction to their former companions.
10. That he would show that those were mistaken who said, that, at the first, supplies might be expected, while the thing was new, but not afterwards.
11. That I should not know, were he to withhold means, what construction I should put upon all the many most remarkable answers to prayer which he had given me heretofore in connection with this work, and which most fully have shown to me that it is of God.
In some small measure I now understand, experimentally, the meaning of that word, "how long," which so frequently occurs in the prayers of the Psalms. But even now, by the grace of God, my eyes are up unto him only, and I believe that he will send help.
Sept. 10. Monday morning. Neither Saturday nor yesterday had any money come in. It appeared to me now needful to take some steps on account of our need, i. e. to go to the Orphan Houses, call the brethren and sisters together (who, except brother T----, had never been informed about the state of the funds), state the case to them, see how much money was needed for the present, tell them that amidst all this trial of faith I still believed that God would help, and to pray with them. Especially, also, I meant to go for the sake of telling them that no more articles must be purchased than we have the means to pay for, but to let there be nothing lacking in any way to the children, as it regards nourishing food and needful clothing; for I would rather at once send them away than that they should lack. I meant to go for the sake also of seeing whether there were still articles remaining which had been sent for the purpose of being sold, or whether there were any articles really needless, that we might turn them into money. I felt that the matter was now come to a solemn crisis. About half-past nine sixpence came in, which had been put anonymously into the box at Gideon Chapel. This money seemed to me like an earnest that God would have compassion and send more. About ten, after I had returned from brother Craik, to whom I had unbosomed my heart again, whilst once more in prayer for help, a sister called who gave two sovereigns to my wife for the orphans, stating that she had felt herself stirred up to come, and that she had delayed coming already too long. A few minutes after, when I went into the room where she was, she gave me two sovereigns more, and all this without knowing the least about our need. Thus the Lord most mercifully has sent us a little help, to the great encouragement of my faith. A few minutes after I was called on for money from the Infant Orphan House, to which I sent two pounds, and one pound sixpence to the Boys' Orphan House, and one pound to the Girls' Orphan House.
To-day I saw a young brother who, as well as one of his sisters, has been brought to the knowledge of the Lord through my Narrative.
Sept. 11. The good Lord, in his wisdom, still sees it needful to keep us very low. But this afternoon brother T---- called, and told me that one of our fellow-laborers had sold his metal watch, and two gold pins, for one pound one shilling, that nine shillings sixpence had come in, and that two of our fellow-laborers had sent two lots of books of their own, nineteen and twenty-one in number, to be sold for the orphans.
Sept. 12. Still the trial continues. Only nine shillings came in to-day, given by one of the laborers. In the midst of this great trial of faith the Lord still mercifully keeps me in great peace. He also allows me to see that our labor is not in vain; for yesterday died Leah Culliford, one of the orphans, about nine years old, truly converted, and brought to the faith some months before her departure.
Sept. 13. No help has come yet. This morning I found it was absolutely needful to tell the brethren and sisters about the state of the funds, and to give necessary directions as to going into debt, etc. We prayed together, and had a very happy meeting. They all seemed comfortable. Twelve shillings sixpence was taken out of the boxes in the three houses, twelve shillings one of the laborers gave, and one pound one shilling had come in for needlework done by the children. One of the sisters, who is engaged in the work, sent a message after me, not to trouble myself about her salary, for she should not want any for a twelvemonth.
Sept. 14. I met again this morning with the brethren and sisters for prayer, as the Lord has not yet sent help. After prayer one of the laborers gave me all the money he had, sixteen shillings, saying that it would not be upright to pray, if he were not to give what he had. One of the sisters told me that in six days she would give six pounds, which she had in the savings bank for such a time of need. Up to this day, the matrons of the three houses had been in the habit of paying the bakers and the milk-man weekly, because they had preferred to receive the payments in this way, and sometimes it had thus been also with the butcher and grocer. But now, as the Lord deals out to us by the day, we consider it would be wrong to go on any longer in this way, as the week's payment might become due, and we have no money to meet it; and thus those with whom we deal might be inconvenienced by us, and we be found acting against the commandment of the Lord, "Owe no man anything." Rom. xiii. 8. From this day, and henceforward, whilst the Lord gives to us our supplies by the day, we purpose, therefore, to pay at once for every article as it is purchased, and never to buy any thing except we can pay for it at once, however much it may seem to be needed, and however much those with whom we deal may wish to be paid only by the week. The little which was owed was paid off this day.
Sept. 15. Saturday. We met again this morning for prayer. God comforts our hearts. We are looking for help. I found that there were provisions enough for to-day and to-morrow, but there was no money in hand to take in bread as usual, in order that the children might not have newly baked bread. This afternoon one of the laborers, who had been absent for several days from Bristol, returned, and gave one pound. This evening we met again for prayer, when I found that ten shillings sixpence more had come in since the morning. With this one pound ten shillings sixpence we were able to buy, even this Saturday evening, the usual quantity of bread (as it might be difficult to get stale bread on Monday morning), and have some money left. God be praised, who gave us grace to come to the decision not to take any bread to-day, as usual, nor to buy anything for which we cannot pay at once. We were very comfortable, thankfully taking this money out of our Father's hands, as a proof that he still cares for us, and that, in his own time, he will send us larger sums.
 Groats. Oats or other grain, with the hulls removed.--Ed.