HELP FOR THE POOR SAINTS--THE UNFAILING BANK--MEANS EXHAUSTED--LIBERALITY OF A LABORING SISTER--"HE KNOWETH OUR FRAME"--REDEEMING THE TIME--GODLINESS PROFITABLE UNTO ALL THINGS.
January 1, 2, and 3, 1839. We have had three especial church prayer meetings these three days. The year commenced with mercies. In the first hour of the year there came in for the orphans two pounds seven shillings, which was given after our usual prayer meeting on December 31, which this time lasted from seven in the evening till after midnight.
Jan. 5. To-day I received another new hat, the eleventh which in succession has been given to me since I have been in England.
Jan. 20. For some time past it has appeared to me that the words, "Ye have the poor with you always, and whensoever ye will ye may do them good," which the Lord spoke to his disciples, who were themselves very poor, imply that the children of God, as such, have power with God to bring temporal blessings upon poor saints or poor unbelievers through the instrumentality of prayer. Accordingly, I have been led to ask the Lord for means to assist poor saints; and at different times he has stirred up his children to intrust me with sums, both large and small, for that especial object; or has, by some means or other, put money at my disposal, which I might so use. In like manner I had been asking again for means, a few days since, to be able more extensively to assist the poor saints in communion with us, as just now many of them are not merely tried by the usual temporal difficulties arising from its being winter, but especially from the high price of bread. And now this evening the Lord has given me the answer to my prayer. When I came home from the meeting I found a brother at my house who offered to give me ten pounds a week, for twelve weeks, towards providing the poor saints with coals and needful articles of clothing, but chiefly with bread. [Accordingly, this brother sent me, two days afterwards, one hundred and twenty pounds, whereby very many, especially poor widows, were greatly assisted, chiefly with flour and bread. This money just lasted till the price of bread was reduced from ninepence halfpenny to sevenpence halfpenny.]
Feb. 7. This day has been one of the most remarkable days as it regards the funds. There was no money in hand. I was waiting upon God. I had asked him repeatedly, but no supplies came. Brother T. called, between eleven and twelve o'clock, to tell me that about one pound two shillings would be needed, to take in bread for the three houses and to meet the other expenses; but we had only two shillings ninepence, which yesterday had been taken out of the boxes in the Orphan Houses. He went to Clifton to make arrangements for the reception of the three orphans of our sister Loader, who fell asleep on the 4th; for, though we have no funds in hand, the work goes on, and our confidence is not diminished. I therefore requested him to call, on his way back from Clifton, to see whether the Lord might have sent any money in the mean time. When he came I had received nothing, but one of the laborers, having five shillings of his own, gave it. It was now four o'clock. I knew not how the sisters had got through the day. Toward the close of the day I went to the Girls' Orphan House, to meet with the brethren for prayer. When I arrived there I found that a box had come for me from Barnstable. The carriage was paid, else there would have been no money to pay for it. (See how the Lord's hand is in the smallest matters!) The box was opened, and it contained, in a letter from a sister, ten pounds, of which eight pounds was for the orphans, and two pounds for the Bible Fund; from brethren at Barnstable, two pounds eleven shillings twopence; and from another brother, five shillings. Besides this, there were in the box four yards of merino, three pairs of new shoes, two pairs of new socks; also six books for sale; likewise a gold pencil-case, two gold rings, two gold drops of earrings, a necklace, and a silver pencil-case. On inquiry how the sisters had been carried through the day, I found it thus: Everything was in the houses which was needed for dinner. After dinner a lady from Thornbury came and bought one of my Narratives and one of the Reports, and gave three shillings besides. About five minutes afterwards the baker came to the Boys' Orphan House. The matron of the Girls' Orphan House seeing him, went immediately with the six shillings sixpence which she had just received (to prevent his being sent away, as there was no money in hand at the Boys' Orphan House), and bought bread to the amount of four shillings sixpence. The two remaining shillings, with the little which was in hand, served to buy bread for the Girls' Orphan House. By the donations sent in the box I was enabled to give a rich supply to the matrons before the close of the day.
February 13. This evening five pounds was given me, which had come in under the following circumstances: A gentleman and lady visited the Orphan Houses, and met at the Boys' Orphan House two ladies who were likewise visiting. One of the ladies said to the matron of the Boys' Orphan House, "Of course you cannot carry on these Institutions without a good stock of funds." The gentleman, turning to the matron, said, "Have you a good stock?" She replied, "Our funds are deposited in a bank which cannot break." The tears came into the eyes of the inquiring lady. The gentleman, on leaving, gave to the master of the boys five pounds, which came in when I had not a penny in hand.
March 5. To-day, however, I knew that there would be again several pounds required, as, besides the daily provisions, there were coals needed, the treacle casks in two houses were empty, and there was but five shillings in hand. I gave myself therefore to prayer this morning. Whilst I was in prayer Q. Q. sent a check for seven pounds ten shillings.
March 23. To-day I received a letter from brother T., who is, on account of his health, in Devonshire, to inform me that a heavy gold chain, a ring set with ten brilliants, a pair of gold bracelets, and two pounds, have been given to him. He gave a Report to a brother, who, having read it, was thereby stirred up to prayer, and knowing that his believing sister possessed these trinkets, he asked the Lord to incline her heart to give them up for the benefit of our orphans, which she soon after did. By means of these donations I am able both to meet the remaining expenses of this week, and also to pay fifteen pounds, which still remains due on account of the salaries. My fellow-laborers not only never ask me for anything, but are willing to part with money, or anything else, in the hour of need; nevertheless, I asked the Lord about this point frequently, and he has now given me my request, whereof I am glad.
April 13. I conversed with another of the orphans, who seems to have been truly converted, and who has walked consistently for many months. To-morrow she will be united with the saints in communion.
April 14. To-day five pounds eightpence came in for the orphans, one pound of which is one of the most remarkable gifts that we have ever had. A poor brother, with a large family and small wages,--there are eight in the family, and he had fifteen shillings wages till lately, when they were raised to eighteen shillings--put by this money by little and little of what was given him by his master for beer. This brother, who was converted about five years ago, was before that time a notorious drunkard.
July 2. To-day was given to me, when there was not one shilling in hand, fifty pounds, for the school, Bible, and missionary fund.
July 15. Monday. To-day two pounds seven shillings threepence was needed for the orphans, but we had nothing. How to obtain the means for a dinner, and for what else was needed, I knew not. My heart was perfectly at peace, and unusually sure of help, though I knew not in the least whence it was to come. Before brother T. came, I received a letter from India, written in May, with an order for fifty pounds for the orphans. I had said last Saturday to brother T. that it would be desirable to have fifty pounds, as the salaries of all my fellow-laborers are due, the three treacle casks empty, all the provision stores exhausted, several articles of clothing needed, and worsted for the boys to go on with their knitting.
August 19. Monday. This has been again a day in which our faith has been particularly tried; but even this day we have not been confounded. Not one penny was in hand when the day began. We had, therefore, now, for more than one hundred persons, again to look to the Lord. But this I must say, to the praise of the Lord, my soul was perfectly at peace. I meant to have gone very early to the Orphan Houses to meet with my fellow-laborers for prayer; but as one person after the other called upon me, I was kept from it the whole morning. When brother T. called upon me, between twelve and one o'clock, for money, I had none to give. In the afternoon at four I was able to meet with the brethren and sisters. When I came to the Girls' Orphan House, I found that one of those children, for the reception of whom we had given notice, had been brought from Bath, and with him was sent one pound five shillings. After the meeting was over one of the laborers gave ten shillings. By means of this one pound fifteen shillings we were able for this day also to provide everything needful.
August 22. In my morning walk, when I was reminding the Lord of our need, I felt assured that he would send help this day. My assurance sprang from our need; for there seemed no way to get through the day without help being sent. After breakfast I considered whether there was anything which might be turned into money for the dear children. Among other things there came under my hands a number of religious pamphlets which had been given for the benefit of the orphans; but all seemed not nearly enough to meet the necessities of the day. In this our deep poverty, after I had gathered together the few things for sale, a sister, who earns her bread by the labor of her hands, brought eighty-two pounds. This sister had seen it to be binding upon believers in our Lord Jesus to act out his commandments: "Sell that ye have (sell your possessions) and give alms," Luke xii. 33; and "Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth," Matt. vi. 19. Accordingly, she had drawn her money out of the bank and stocks, being two hundred and fifty pounds, and had brought it to me at three different times, for the benefit of the orphans, the Bible, missionary, and school fund, and the poor saints. About two months ago she brought me one hundred pounds more, being the produce of some other possession which she had sold, the half of which was to be used for the school Bible, and missionary fund, and the other half for the poor saints. This eighty-two pounds which she has brought to-day is the produce of the sale of her last earthly possession. [At the time I am preparing this fifth edition for the press, more than sixteen years have passed away, and this sister has never expressed the least regret as to the step she took, but goes on quietly laboring with her hands to earn her bread.]
September 4. I have been led to pray whether it is the Lord's will that I should leave Bristol for a season, as I have for the last fortnight been suffering from indigestion, by which my whole system is weakened, and thus the nerves of my head are more than usually affected. There are, however, two hindrances in the way--want of means for the orphans, and want of means for my own personal expenses. To-day I have received a check from Q. Q. for seven pounds ten shillings for the orphans, which came, therefore, very seasonably. Also four pounds besides have come in since the day before yesterday.
September 5. To-day a sister sent me five pounds for myself, to be used for the benefit of my health. She had heard that my health is again failing. I do not lay by money for such purposes; but whenever I really need means, whether for myself or others, the Lord sends them, in answer to prayer; for he had in this case again given me prayer respecting means for myself, and for the orphans, that my way might be made plain as to leaving Bristol for a season.
September 7. Trowbridge. This has been a very good day. I have had much communion with the Lord. How kind to take me from the work in Bristol for a season, to give me more communion with himself. I remembered the Lord's especial goodness to me in this place at the commencement of last year. How kind has he also been since! I prayed much for myself, for the church at large, for the saints here and in Bristol, for my unconverted relatives, for my dear wife, and that the Lord would supply my own temporal necessities, and those of the orphans; and I know that he has heard me. I am surrounded with kind friends in the dear saints, under whose roof I am, and feel quite at home. My room is far better than I need: yet an easy chair, in this my weak state of body, to kneel before in prayer, would have added to my comfort. In the afternoon, without having a hint about it, I found an easy chair put into my room. I was struck with the kindness, the especial kindness of my heavenly Father, in being mindful of the smallest wants and comforts of his child. Having had more prayer than usual, I found that my intercourse with the saints at tea was with unction, and more than usually profitable.
September 9. I returned to Bristol, to go from hence to-morrow to Exeter, if the Lord permit, on account of my health. I had been earnestly asking the Lord while I was staying at Trowbridge that he would be pleased to send in supplies for the orphans before I go into Devonshire, and I had the fullest assurance that means would come in before I left Bristol. I therefore asked my wife, on my return, how much had come in, and found that it was only eight pounds nine shillings seven and three-fourths pence. This was not nearly as much as I had expected, and would not answer the end for which I had particularly asked means, i. e. that I might be able to leave enough for several days. My reply, therefore, was according to the faith given to me, and judging from the earnestness and confidence of my prayer that the Lord would send more before I left. About an hour after, brother Craik brought me ten pounds, and also a letter, in which the arrival of a large box full of articles, to be sold for the benefit of the orphans, is announced.
Upon his return from his journey, Mr. M. writes:--
During my stay at Plymouth, I was stirred up afresh to early rising, a blessing, the results of which I have not lost since. That which led me to it was the example of the brother in whose house I was staying, and a remark which he made in speaking on the sacrifices in Leviticus, "that as not the refuse of the animals was to be offered up, so the best part of our time should be especially given to communion with the Lord." I had been, on the whole, rather an early riser during former years. But since the nerves of my head had been so weak, I thought that, as the day was long enough for my strength, it would be best for me not to rise early, in order that thus the nerves of my head might have the longer quiet. On this account I rose only between six and seven, and sometimes after seven. For the same reason also I brought myself purposely into the habit of sleeping a quarter of an hour, or half an hour, after dinner: as I thought I found benefit from it, in quieting the nerves of my head. In this way, however, my soul had suffered more or less every day, and sometimes considerably, as now and then unavoidable work came upon me before I had had sufficient time for prayer and reading the word. After I had heard the remark to which I have alluded, I determined that, whatever my body might suffer, I would no longer let the most precious part of the day pass away while I was in bed. By the grace of God I was enabled to begin the very next day to rise earlier; and have continued to rise early since that time. I allow myself now about seven hours' sleep, which, though I am far from being strong, and have much to tire me mentally, I find is quite sufficient to refresh me. In addition to this I gave up the sleeping after dinner. The result has been that I have thus been able to procure long and precious seasons for prayer and meditation before breakfast; and as to my body, and the state of the nervous system in particular, I have been much better since. Indeed, I believe that the very worst thing I could have done for my weak nerves was to have lain an hour or more longer in bed than I used to do before my illness; for it was the very way to keep them weak. As this may fall into the hands of some children of God who are not in the habit of rising early, I make a few more remarks on the subject.
I. It might be asked, How much time shall I allow myself for rest? The answer is, that no rule of universal application can be given, as all persons do not require the same measure of sleep, and also the same persons, at different times, according to the strength or weakness of their body, may require more or less. Females also, being generally weaker in body, require more sleep than males. Yet, from what I can learn, it is the opinion of medical persons that men in health do not require more than between six and seven hours' sleep, and females no more than between seven and eight hours; so that it would be rather an exception for a man to require more than seven and a woman more than eight hours. But my decided advice, at the same time, is, that children of God would be careful not to allow themselves too little sleep, as there are few men who can do with less than six hours' sleep, and yet be well in body and mind, and few females who can do with less than seven hours. Certain it is that for a long time, as a young man, before I went to the university, I went to bed regularly at ten and rose at four, studied hard, and was in good health; and certain also, that since I have allowed myself only about seven hours, from the time of my visit at Plymouth in Oct. 1839, I have been much better in body, and in my nerves in particular, than when I was eight or eight hours and a half in bed.
II. If it be asked, But why should I rise early? The reply is, "To remain too long in bed" is, 1. Waste of time, which is unbecoming a saint, who is bought by the precious blood of Jesus, with his time and all he has, to be used for the Lord. If we sleep more than is needful for the refreshment of the body, it is wasting the time with which the Lord has intrusted us as a talent, to be used for his glory, for our own benefit, and the benefit of the saints and the unbelievers around us. 2. To remain too long in bed injures the body. Just as when we take too much food, we are injured thereby, so as it regards sleep. Medical persons would readily allow that the lying longer in bed than is needful for the strengthening of the body does weaken it. 3. It injures the soul. The lying too long in bed not merely keeps us from giving the most precious part of the day to prayer and meditation, but this sloth leads also to many other evils. Any one need but make the experiment of spending one, two, or three hours in prayer and meditation before breakfast, either in his room, or with his Bible in his hand in the fields, and he will soon find out the beneficial effect which early rising has upon the outward and inward man. I beseech all my brethren and sisters into whose hands this may fall, and who are not in the habit of rising early, to make the trial, and they will praise the Lord for having done so.
III. It may lastly be said, But how shall I set about rising early? My advice is, 1. Commence at once, delay it not. To-morrow begin to rise. 2. But do not depend upon your own strength. This may be the reason why before this you may have begun to rise early, but have given it up. As surely as you depend upon your own strength in this matter, it will come to nothing. In every good work we depend upon the Lord, and in this thing we shall feel especially how weak we are. If any one rises that he may give the time which he takes from sleep to prayer and meditation, let him be sure that Satan will try to put obstacles into the way. 3. Do trust in the Lord for help. You will honor him if you expect help from him in this matter. Give yourself to prayer for help, expect help, and you will have it. 4. Use, however, in addition to this, the following means: a. Go early to bed. If you stay up late, you cannot rise early. Let no society and no pressure of engagements keep you from going habitually early to bed. If you fail in this, you neither can nor ought to get up early, as your body requires rest. Keep also particularly in mind, that neither for the body nor soul is it the same thing whether you go to bed late and rise late, or whether you go to bed early and rise early. Even medical persons will tell you how injurious it is to sit up late, and to spend the morning hours in bed; but how much more important still is it to retire early and to rise early, in order to make sure of time for prayer and meditation before the business of the day commences, and to devote to those exercises that part of our time when the mind and the body are most fresh, in order thus to obtain spiritual strength for the conflict, the trials, and the work of the day. b. Let some one call you, if possible, at the time which you have determined before God that you will rise; or procure, what is still better, an alarum, by which you may regulate almost to a minute the time when you wish to rise. For about twelve shillings a little German clock with an alarum may be bought almost in every town. Though I have very many times been awakened by the Lord, in answer to prayer, almost to the minute when I desired to rise; yet I thought it well to procure an alarum to assist me in my purpose of rising early: not indeed as if it could give the least help, without the Lord's blessing, for I should remain in bed notwithstanding the noise of the alarum, were he not to give me grace to rise; but simply looking upon it as a means. c. Rise at once when you are awake. Remain not a minute longer in bed, else you are likely to fall asleep again. d. Be not discouraged by feeling drowsy and tired in consequence of your rising early. This will soon wear off. You will after a few days feel yourself stronger and fresher than when you used to lie an hour or two longer than you needed. e. Allow yourself always the same hours for sleep. Make no change except sickness oblige you.
On December 10, 11, and 12 we had public meetings, at which the account of the Lord's dealings with us in reference to the Orphan Houses and the other objects of the Scriptural Knowledge Institution was given. It is now--December 10, 1839--five years and nine months since the Scriptural Knowledge Institution has been in operation.
During the last year also. 1. We have been enabled to continue to provide all the needful expenses connected with the six-day schools, three for boys and three for girls. The number of the children who are at present in them amounts to 286. The number of all the children that have had schooling in the day schools, through the medium of the Institution, since its formation, amounts to 1,795. 2. There are at present 226 children in the Sunday school. 3. There are 14 taught to read in the adult school, and there have been about 130 adults instructed in that school since the formation of the Institution. 4. There have been circulated, during the last year, 514 copies of the Scriptures, and 5,592 since March 5, 1834. 5. There has been laid out, during the last year, £91, 6s. for missionary purposes. 6. There have been received into the three Orphan Houses, from December 9, 1838, to December 9, 1839, 16 orphans. There are at present 96 orphans in the three houses. The number of all the orphans who have been under our care from April 11, 1836, to December 9, 1839, amounts to 126.
For the Orphan Houses, without any one having been asked for anything by us, the sum of £3,067, 8s. 9¼d. has been given, entirely as the result of prayer to God, from the commencement of the work up to December 9, 1839.
The total of the expenses connected with the objects of the Institution, exclusive of the Orphan Houses, from November 19, 1838, to November 19, 1839, is £542, 13s. The balance in hand on November 19, 1839, was 18s. 5d.
The total of the expenses connected with the three Orphan Houses, from December 9, 1838, to December 9, 1839, is £960, 9s. 2¾d. The balance in hand on December 9, 1839, was £46, 8s. 1d.
December 31. My health is much better than for years. My mental powers also are as good as they have been at any time during the last three years. I ascribe this to God's blessing, through the instrumentality of early rising, and plunging my head into cold water when I rise.
REVIEW OF THE YEAR 1839.
1. As to the church: During the last year have been added 115; of whom 34 have been brought to the knowledge of the Lord among us.
2. As to my temporal supplies, the Lord has been pleased to give me, during the past year, £313, 2s. 5d.