"PERPLEXED BUT NOT IN DESPAIR"--FAITH JUSTIFIED--A LESSON OF OBEDIENCE--BOUNTIFUL SUPPLIES--SPIRITUAL INGATHERING--A DAY OF MERCIES--TIMELY AID--A SEASON OF PLENTY--OBEDIENCE REWARDED.
Sept. 16, 1838. Lord's day afternoon. We met again for prayer respecting supplies for the orphans. We are in peace, and our hope is in God, that he graciously will appear, though but one shilling has come in since last evening.
Sept. 17. The trial still continues. It is now more and more trying, even to faith, as each day comes. But I am sure God will send help, if we can but wait. One of the laborers had had a little money come in, of which he gave twelve shillings sixpence; another laborer gave eleven shillings eightpence, being all the money she had left: this, with seventeen shillings sixpence, which partly had come in, and partly was in hand, enabled us to pay what needed to be paid, and to purchase provisions, so that nothing yet, in any way, has been lacking. This evening I was rather tried respecting the long delay of larger sums coming; but being led to go to the Scriptures for comfort, my soul was greatly refreshed, and my faith again strengthened, by Psalm xxxiv., so that I went very cheerfully to meet with my dear fellow-laborers for prayer. I read to them the Psalm, and sought to cheer their hearts through the precious promises contained in it.
Sept. 18. Brother T. had twenty-five shillings in hand, and I had three shillings. This one pound eight shillings enabled us to buy the meat and bread which was needed, a little tea for one of the houses, and milk for all: no more than this is needed. Thus the Lord has provided not only for this day, but there is bread for two days in hand. Now, however, we are come to an extremity. The funds are exhausted. The laborers who had a little money have given as long as they had any left. Now observe how the Lord helped us! A lady from the neighborhood of London, who brought a parcel with money from her daughter, arrived four or five days since in Bristol, and took lodgings next door to the Boys' Orphan House. This afternoon she herself kindly brought me the money, amounting to three pounds two shillings and sixpence. We had been reduced so low as to be on the point of selling those things which could be spared; but this morning I had asked the Lord, if it might be, to prevent the necessity of our doing so. That the money had been so near the Orphan Houses for several days without being given, is a plain proof that it was from the beginning in the heart of God to help us; but, because he delights in the prayers of his children, he had allowed us to pray so long; also to try our faith, and to make the answer much the sweeter. It is indeed a precious deliverance. I burst out into loud praises and thanks the first moment I was alone after I had received the money. I met with my fellow-laborers again this evening for prayer and praise; their hearts were not a little cheered. This money was this evening divided, and will comfortably provide for all that will be needed to-morrow.
Sept. 20. Morning. The Lord has again kindly sent in a little. Last evening was given to me one shilling and sixpence, and this morning one pound three shillings. Evening. This evening the Lord sent still further supplies; eight pounds eleven shillings and twopence halfpenny came in, as a further proof that the Lord is not unmindful of us. There was in the box of the Girls' Orphan House one pound one shilling, and in that of the Boys' Orphan House one pound seven shillings and twopence halfpenny. One of the laborers, in accordance with her promise this day week, gave six pounds three shillings. About eighteen months ago she saw it right no longer to have money for herself in the Savings Bank, and she therefore, in her heart, gave the money which she had there to the Orphan Houses, intending to draw it in a time of need. Some time since (she told me this evening) she drew a part of it to buy several useful articles for the Orphan Houses; now the sum was reduced to six pounds. When she found out the present need, she went this day week to the Savings Bank, and gave notice that she wished to draw her money to-day.
Sept. 22. Both yesterday and to-day we have again assembled for prayer and praise. We are in no immediate want, but on the 29th, nineteen pounds ten shillings will be due for the rent of the three Orphan Houses. To-day there was only four shillings and sevenpence in hand for the other objects of the institution, though it was the payday for some of the teachers. My comfort was the living God. During this week he had helped me so repeatedly and in such a remarkable way, as it regards the Orphan Houses, that it would have been doubly sinful not to have trusted in him for help under this fresh difficulty. No money came in this morning. About two, the usual time when the teachers are paid, a sovereign was given, with which I went immediately to brother T., who attends to this part of the work, to pay, at least in part, the weekly salaries. I found that he had received a sovereign in the morning. By means of this sovereign, together with the one which I had received just at the moment when it was needed, we were helped through this day.
Sept. 25. Yesterday and the previous days we have continued to assemble for prayer. In four days the rent for the Orphan Houses will be due, and we have nothing towards it; also the housekeeping money in the three houses is now again gone. May the Lord have compassion on us, and continue to send us help! This morning there was found nine shillings and sixpence in the box in my house. We met yesterday again for prayer. To-day I was not able to go, on account of indisposition; I sent, therefore, to brother T. to request him to divide the eighteen shillings and sixpence (ten shillings of which had come in last evening, and eight shillings and sixpence of which we had in hand) between the three matrons.
Sept. 29. Saturday evening. Prayer has been made for several days past respecting the rent, which is due this day. I have been looking out for it, though I knew not whence a shilling was to come. This morning brother T. called on me, and, as no money had come in, we prayed together, and continued in supplication from ten till a quarter to twelve. Twelve o'clock struck, the time when the rent ought to have been paid, but no money had been sent. For some days past I have repeatedly had a misgiving, whether the Lord might not disappoint us, in order that we might be led to provide by the week, or the day, for the rent. This is the second, and only the second, complete failure as to answers of prayer in the work, during the past four years and six months. The first was about the half-yearly rent of Castle-Green school-rooms, due July 1, 1837, which had come in only in part by that time. I am now fully convinced that the rent ought to be put by daily or weekly, as God may prosper us, in order that the work, even as to this point, may be a testimony. May the Lord, then, help us to act accordingly, and may he now mercifully send in the means to pay the rent!
Oct. 2. Tuesday evening. The Lord's holy name be praised! He hath dealt most bountifully with us during the last three days! The day before yesterday five pounds came in for the orphans. O, how kind is the Lord! Always before there has been actual want he has sent help. Yesterday came in one pound ten shillings more. Thus the expenses of yesterday for housekeeping were defrayed. The Lord helped me also to pay yesterday the nineteen pounds ten shillings for the rent. The means for it were thus obtained: One of the laborers had received through his family ten pounds, and five pounds besides from a sister in the Lord; also some other money. Of this he gave sixteen pounds, which, with the three pounds ten shillings that was left of the above-mentioned five pounds, made up nineteen pounds ten shillings, the sum which was needed. This day we were again greatly reduced. There was no money in hand to take in bread, as usual, for the Boys' and Infant Orphan Houses. But again the Lord helped. A sister who had arrived this afternoon from Swansea brought one pound seven shillings, and one of the laborers sold an article, by means of which he was able to give one pound thirteen shillings. Thus we had three pounds,--one pound for each house,--and could buy bread before the day was over. Hitherto we have lacked nothing!
Oct. 9. To-day we were brought lower than ever. The provisions would have lasted out only to-day, and the money for milk in one of the houses could only be made up by one of the laborers selling one of his books. The matron in the Boys' Orphan House had this morning two shillings left. When in doubt whether to buy bread with it, or more meat, to make up the dinner with the meat which she had in the house, the baker called, and left three quarterns of bread as a present. In this great need, some money having been given to one of the laborers, he gave two pounds of it, by which we were able to buy meat, bread, and other provisions.
Oct. 10. The coals in the Infant Orphan House are out, and nearly so in the other two houses. Also the treacle casks in all the three houses are nearly empty. On this account we have asked the Lord for fresh supplies.
Oct. 11. The "Father of the fatherless" has again shown his care over us. An orphan from Devonshire arrived last evening. With her was sent two pounds five shillings and sixpence. The sister who brought her gave also a silver tea-pot, sugar-basin, and cream-jug, of the weight of forty-eight ounces, having found true riches in Christ. There was also in the boxes nine shillings. One of the laborers paid for a ton of coals. We obtained sixteen pounds sixteen shillings for the silver articles. Thus we were helped through the heavy expenses of the following days.
Oct. 12. To-day seven brethren and sisters were added to us in fellowship, and eight were proposed. May the Lord send helpers for the work!
Oct. 15. I knew that there would be money needed this morning for many things in the Orphan Houses, and my heart was therefore lifted up to the Lord. Just when I was going to meet my fellow-laborers for prayer, I received from Trowbridge four pounds. There had come in also at the Orphan Houses seven shillings and threepence. To this one of the laborers added one pound. Thus I was enabled abundantly to supply all that was wanted, and to pay for a cask of treacle and a ton of coals. We are now, however, cast again on the love of our Lord for further supplies, as there is neither anything in hand, nor have the laborers any more of their own to give.
Oct. 16. I was looking up to the Lord for help early this morning, when, almost immediately afterwards, brother T. came, and brought two silver tablespoons and six teaspoons, which had been left anonymously, yesterday afternoon, at the Girls' Orphan House. This afternoon I received twelve pounds from Staffordshire.
Oct. 22. To-day our funds were again quite low. In the Infant Orphan House only twopence was left, and very little in the other two houses. But the Lord most manifestly again answered prayer, by sending four pounds three shillings and one penny.
Oct. 27. Thanks to our adorable Lord! this day also we have not been confounded; for there was six shillings in the box at the Infant Orphan House, and six shillings came in for things which had been given to be sold. To this one of the laborers added eighteen shillings. By means of this one pound ten shillings we have been able to meet all pressing demands, and to procure provisions for to-day and to-morrow.
Oct. 29. Monday. The Lord has again given us this day our daily bread, though in the morning there was not the least natural prospect of obtaining supplies.
Oct. 30. This has been again a day of peculiar mercies in reference to the funds. Whilst I was in prayer respecting them a brother brought two and a quarter yards of cloth. He had bought it for himself; but afterwards, considering that he had sufficient clothes, he gave it to be sold for the orphans. This evening a sister gave me twenty pounds, ten of which were for the Orphans, and ten for the other objects.
Nov. 7. The funds are now again completely exhausted.
Nov. 10. Saturday. All seemed to be dark, so far as regards natural appearances, at the commencement of this day. But the Lord has helped us, and enabled us to meet all demands. We were brought to the close of one more week, having been able to supply the necessities of ninety-seven persons in the Orphan Houses, without owing anything.
Nov. 13. This morning our want was again great. I have twenty pounds in hand which has been put by for rent, but, for the Lord's honor, I would not take of it. Nothing had come in, and the laborers had scarcely anything to give. I went, however, to the Orphan Houses, to pray with my fellow-laborers, and, if it might be, to comfort them, and see what could be done. When I came there I found that nineteen shillings and sixpence had come in this morning. On inquiry I heard that only two shillings and sixpence more was needed to carry us through the day. This one of the laborers was able to add of his own. Thus the Lord has again helped us out of our difficulty. One of the laborers gave some things which he could do without, and another gave a workbox to be sold for the orphans. Before this day has come to an end, the Lord has sent in one pound two shillings and fourpence more, so that we have also a little for to-morrow.
Nov. 20. To-day our need was exceedingly great, but the Lord's help was great also. I went to meet with the brethren and sisters as usual. I found that one pound would be needed to supply the necessities of to-day, but three shillings only had come in. Just when we were going to pray, one of the laborers came in, who, after prayer, gave ten shillings. Whilst we were praying, another laborer came in, who had received one pound. Thus we had one pound thirteen shillings,--even more, therefore, than was absolutely needed.
Nov. 21. Never were we so reduced in funds as to-day. There was not a single halfpenny in hand between the matrons of the three houses. Nevertheless, there was a good dinner, and by managing so as to help one another with bread, etc., there was a prospect of getting over this day also; but for none of the houses had we the prospect of being able to take in bread. When I left the brethren and sisters at one o'clock, after prayer, I told them that we must wait for help, and see how the Lord would deliver us at this time. I was sure of help, but we were indeed straitened. When I came to Kingsdown, I felt that I needed more exercise, being very cold, wherefore I went not the nearest way home, but round by Clarence-place. About twenty yards from my house I met a brother, who walked back with me, and after a little conversation gave me ten pounds to be handed over to the brethren, the deacons, towards providing the poor saints with coals, blankets, and warm clothing; also five pounds for the orphans, and five pounds for the other objects of the Scriptural Knowledge Institution. The brother had called twice while I was gone to the Orphan Houses, and had I now been one half minute later I should have missed him. But the Lord knew our need, and therefore allowed me to meet him.
Nov. 24. This again has been a very remarkable day. We had as little in hand this morning as at any time, and yet several pounds were needed. But God, who is rich in mercy, and whose word so positively declares that none who trust in him shall be confounded, has helped us through this day also. While I was in prayer, about ten in the morning, respecting the funds, I was informed that a gentleman had called to see me. He came to inform me that a lady had ordered three sacks of potatoes to be sent to the Orphan Houses. Never could they have come more seasonably. This was an encouragement to me to continue to expect help. When I came to the prayer meeting, about twelve o'clock, I heard that two shillings had come in, also one pound for a guitar, which had been given for sale. The payment for this guitar had been expected for many weeks. It had been mentioned among us repeatedly that it might come just at a time when we most needed it; and O, how true! But with all this we could not have put by the rents for this week, amounting to thirty shillings. One of the laborers therefore gave his watch to the orphan fund, under this condition, that should the Lord not enable us before December 21 to make up this deficiency, it should be sold, but not otherwise, as he needs it in the Lord's service. [A few days after the Lord gave the means to put by the thirty shillings, and thirty shillings besides for the next week's rent.] Thus the Lord helped us through this day, and with it brought us to the close of one more week.
Nov. 28. This is perhaps of all days the most remarkable as yet, so far as it regards the funds. When I was in prayer this morning respecting them, I was enabled firmly to believe that the Lord would send help, though all seemed dark as to natural appearances. At twelve o'clock I met as usual with the brethren and sisters for prayer. There had come in only one shilling, which was left last evening anonymously at the Infant Orphan House, and which, except twopence, had already been spent, on account of the great need. I heard also that an individual had gratuitously cleaned the timepiece in the Infant Orphan House, and had offered to keep the timepieces in the three houses in repair. Thus the Lord gave even in this a little encouragement, and a proof that he is still mindful of us. On inquiry, I found that there was everything needful for the dinner in all the three houses; but neither in the Infant nor Boys' Orphan Houses was there bread enough for tea, nor money to buy milk. Lower we had never been, and perhaps never so low. We gave ourselves now unitedly to prayer, laying the case in simplicity before the Lord. Whilst in prayer there was a knock at the door, and one of the sisters went out. After the two brethren who labor in the Orphan Houses and I had prayed aloud, we continued for a while silently in prayer. As to myself, I was lifting up my heart to the Lord to make a way for our escape, and in order to know if there were any other thing which I could do with a good conscience, besides waiting on him, so that we might have food for the children. At last we rose from our knees. I said, "God will surely send help." The words had not quite passed over my lips, when I perceived a letter lying on the table, which had been brought whilst we were in prayer. It was from my wife, containing another letter from a brother with ten pounds for the orphans. The evening before last I was asked by a brother whether the balance in hand for the orphans would be as great this time, when the accounts would be made up, as the last time. My answer was that it would be as great as the Lord pleased. The next morning this brother was moved to remember the orphans, and to send to-day ten pounds, which arrived after I had left my house, and which, on account of our need, was forwarded immediately to me. The brother who sent the ten pounds for the orphans sent likewise ten pounds to be divided between brother Craik and me, with the object of purchasing new clothes for ourselves.
Nov. 29. The Lord has greatly blessed our meetings for prayer. They have been instrumental in leading us to much prayer for the children in the Orphan Houses, in the day schools, and in the Sunday school. They have led us to prayer for ourselves, for the day-school teachers, and for the Sunday-school teachers, that grace may be given to us so to walk before the children, and so to deal with them, as that the Lord may be glorified by us. We have also often been led to intercede for the believers with whom we are in fellowship, and for the church at large. We have especially prayed that our work may lead the church generally to a more simple confidence and trust in the Lord. That these meetings have not been in vain, as regards the procuring of funds, has been already sufficiently seen by the many instances which have been recorded in the foregoing pages. To-day, however, we have had another particular proof of this. When we met I found that ten shillings had come in yesterday afternoon. When I returned home I found one pound had come in, and shortly after I received another pound. In the evening I received fifty pounds, which was sent from Suffolk by a sister who had often expressed how gladly she would contribute more largely to the work which is in our hands had she the means, and who just now, in this our time of need, has obtained the means to carry out the desire of her heart. I rejoice in the last donation particularly, not because of the largeness of the sum, but because it enables me to pay to my brethren and sisters in the Orphan Houses the salary which is due to them.
Dec. 6. This afternoon I received one hundred pounds from a sister,--fifty for the orphans, and fifty for the school, Bible, and missionary fund. This same sister, who earns her bread with her own hands, had given, on October 5, 1837, fifty pounds towards the Boys' Orphan House, and gave for the necessities of the poor saints, in August, 1838, one hundred pounds more; for she had been made willing to act out those precious exhortations: "Having food and raiment, let us be therewith content." "Sell that ye have, and give alms; provide yourselves bags which wax not old, a treasure in the heavens that faileth not, where no thief approacheth, neither moth corrupteth." "Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal." Respecting the fifty pounds which has been given of this sum for the school, Bible, and missionary fund, it is worthy of remark, that we would not order reference Bibles till we had the means. We had repeatedly prayed respecting this want of Bibles, and particularly again this morning. It had been also much laid on our hearts to-day to request that the Lord would enable us to have the Report printed, which we could not do unless he first sent the means. Lastly, we had also repeatedly asked him to supply us so largely, if it were his will, as that at the time of the public meetings we might be able to speak again of abundance. For though for some months past the time has been fixed for the public meetings, without any reference to the state of the funds, nevertheless, it might have had the appearance that we had convened the brethren for the sake of telling them about our poverty, and thus to induce them to give.
Dec. 11, 12, and 13. On the evenings of these three days there were public meetings, at which I gave an account of the Lord's dealing with us in reference to the Orphan Houses and the other objects of the Scriptural Knowledge Institution. As the work, and particularly that of the Orphan Houses, was begun for the benefit of the church at large, it appeared well to us that from time to time it should be publicly stated how the Lord had dealt with us in reference to it; and as, on Dec. 9, the third year had been completed since the commencement of the orphan work, this seemed to be a suitable time for having these meetings.
I notice briefly the following particulars respecting the first three objects of the Scriptural Knowledge Institution. 1. There is at present--December, 1838--a Sunday school supported by it, which contains four hundred and sixty-three children. This part of the work calls for particular thanksgiving; for during these last eighteen months the number of the children has been nearly three times as great as it used to be. Five of the scholars have been converted within the last two years, and are now in fellowship with the church, and three of them are teachers in the school. 2. There is in connection with the Institution an adult school, in which, since the commencement of the work, above one hundred and twenty adults have been instructed, and in which at present twelve are taught to read. 3. The Institution has entirely supported, since its commencement, several day schools for poor children, and within the last two years six of such,--three for boys and three for girls. The number of all the children that have had schooling in the day schools through the medium of the Institution, since its formation, amounts to 1,534; the number of those at present in the six day schools is 342. 4. During the last two years there have been circulated 1,884 copies of the Scriptures in connection with the Institution, and since the beginning of the work, March 5, 1834, 5,078 copies. 5. For missionary purposes have been laid out £74, 18s. 4d. 6. The total of the income for the first three objects, during the last two years, was £1,129, 13s. 1d.; the total of the expense, £1,111, 13s. 7½d.
There are, at present, 86 orphans in the three houses, i. e. 31 in the Girls' Orphan House, 31 in the Infant Orphan House, and 24 in the Boys' Orphan House. The whole number of orphans who have been under our care from April 11, 1836, to Dec. 9, 1838, amounts to 110.
The total of the income for the orphans, from Dec. 9, 1836, to Dec. 9, 1838, has amounted to £1,341, 4s. 7d.; the total of the expenses to £1,664, 4s. 0¾d. There was two years ago a balance of £373, 4s. 8¼d. in hand, and now the balance is £50, 5s. 3d.
Dec. 16. There was a paper anonymously put into the box at Bethesda Chapel containing four pounds ten shillings. In the paper was written, "For the rent of the Orphan Houses, from Dec. 10 to Dec. 31, 1838. O, taste and see that the Lord is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him!'" In order that the reader may be able to enter into the value of this donation, I would request him to read over once more what I wrote under "Sept. 29" of this year. [The individual who gave this four pounds ten shillings for the rent of the Orphan Houses for the first three weeks after the public meetings, at which the matter about the rent, for the instruction of the brethren, was fully stated, continued for three years, up to Dec. 10, 1841, to give regularly, but anonymously, one pound ten shillings a week for the same purpose, which was exactly the sum required every week for the rent of those three houses. Thus the Lord rewarded our faithfulness in carrying out the light which he had given us. But the chief blessing resulting from this circumstance I consider to be this,--that several brethren, who earn their bread by the labor of their hands, have learned through this circumstance that it is the will of the Lord they should lay by their rent weekly. I beseech those brethren who are not pursuing this course to do so, and they will soon prove by experience the benefit of acting on scriptural principles even as it regards this life.]
Dec. 17. To-day eleven brethren and sisters were proposed for fellowship.
Dec. 20. As the expenses for the orphans have been above forty-seven pounds within the last six days, and as but little above thirteen pounds has come in, and as the money for printing the Report had to be kept back, in order that we might not be in debt, we were again to-day very low in funds, though it is but six days since the public meetings. As I knew that to-morrow several pounds would be needed to supply the matrons, I gave myself this morning to prayer. About a quarter of an hour afterwards I received three pounds, the payment of a legacy left by a sister, who fell asleep in Jesus several months since, in Ireland. Besides this I received from the brother through whom the legacy was paid, two pounds ten shillings for the orphan fund. With this five pounds ten shillings I hope to be able to meet the expenses of to-morrow.
Dec. 22. A solemn day. I received to-day the information that my brother died on October 7. "Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?" must be the stay of the believer at such a time, and, by grace, it is my stay now. I know that the Lord is glorified in my brother, whatever his end has been. May the Lord make this event a lasting blessing to me, especially in leading me to earnestness in prayer for my father!
REVIEW OF THE YEAR 1838.
1. As to the church. There are 405 at present in fellowship with us; 61 having been added last year, of whom 36 have been brought among us to the knowledge of the truth.
2. As to my temporal supplies. The Lord has been pleased to give me during the past year £350, 4s. 8d.
During no period of my life had I such need of means, on account of my own long illness and that of my dear wife, and on account of the many and particular calls for means, as during the past year; but also during no period of my life has the Lord so richly supplied me. Truly, it must be manifest to all that I have served a most kind Master, during this year also, and that, even for this life, it is by far the best thing to seek to act according to the mind of the Lord as to temporal things!