ABUNDANT SUPPLIES--RESTING ON THE WRITTEN WORD--"SEEKING AND FINDING"--ERRONEOUS IMPRESSIONS REMOVED--PERSEVERING AND PREVAILING PRAYER ANSWERED--"LENGTHENING THE CORDS AND STRENGTHENING THE STAKES"--A FOURTH ORPHAN HOUSE.
June 3, 1842. For several days past I had not been particularly led to pray for means for the orphans. Last evening, however, I did so, as we had now again no money in hand, there having come in only ten pounds two shillings twopence during the last five days; and in answer to my request two pounds nineteen shillings sixpence came in this morning.
For several months succeeding the last date, means continued to flow in, without interruption, as they were needed. There was no excess of means, nor was there any lack. On Dec. 1, 1842, Mr. Müller writes:--
Nothing had come in, except five shillings for needlework. The laborers had nothing to give, except one of them one shilling sixpence; yet this little supplied the absolute need, which was only milk. We were unable to take in the usual quantity of bread. Should it be said that the not taking in the usual quantity of bread would at once prove to the bakers that we are poor, my reply is, that that does not follow, because bread has often been sent as a present, as may be seen in the list of articles, given for the orphans, at the end of the printed Reports. But perhaps it may be asked, Why do you not take the bread on credit? What does it matter whether you pay immediately for it, or at the end of the month, or the quarter, or the half year? Seeing that the Orphan Houses are the work of the Lord, may you not trust in him that he will supply you with means to pay the bills which you contract with the butcher, baker, grocer, etc. as the things which you purchase are needful? My reply is this: 1. If the work in which we are engaged is indeed the work of God, then he whose work it is is surely able and willing to provide the means for it. 2. But not only so, he will also provide the means at the time when they are needed. I do not mean that he will provide them when we think that they are needed; but yet that when there is real need, such as the necessaries of life being required, he will give them; and on the same ground on which we suppose we do trust in God to help us to pay the debt which we now contract, we may and ought to trust in the Lord to supply us with what we require at present, so that there may be no need for going into debt. 3. It is true, I might have goods on credit, and to a very considerable amount; but, then, the result would be, that the next time we were again in straits, the mind would involuntarily be turned to further credit which I might have, instead of being turned to the Lord, and thus faith, which is kept up and strengthened only by being exercised, would become weaker and weaker, till at last, according to all human probability, I should find myself deeply in debt and have no prospect of getting out of it. 4. Faith has to do with the word of God,--rests upon the written word of God; but there is no promise that he will pay our debts. The word says rather, "Owe no man anything;" whilst there is the promise given to his children, "I will never leave thee nor forsake thee," and, "Whosoever believeth on him shall not be confounded." On this account we could not say, upon the ground of the Holy Scriptures, Why do you not trust in God that he will supply you with means to pay your debts which you contract in his service for the necessities of the orphans? 5. The last reason why we do not take goods on credit is this: The chief and primary object of the work was not the temporal welfare of the children, nor even their spiritual welfare, blessed and glorious as it is, and much as, through grace, we seek after it and pray for it; but the first and primary object of the work was, to show before the whole world and the whole church of Christ, that even in these last evil days the living God is ready to prove himself as the living God, by being ever willing to help, succor, comfort, and answer the prayers of those who trust in him: so that we need not go away from him to our fellow-men, or to the ways of the world, seeing that he is both able and willing to supply us with all we can need in his service.
From the beginning, when God put this service into my heart, I had anticipated trials and straits; but knowing, as I did, the heart of God, through the experience of several years previously, I also knew that he would listen to the prayers of his child who trusts in him, and that he would not leave him in the hour of need, but listen to his prayers, and deliver him out of the difficulty, and that then, this being made known in print for the benefit of both believers and unbelievers, others would be led to trust in the Lord. We discern, therefore, more and more clearly that it is for the church's benefit that we are put into these straits, and if therefore in the hour of need we were to take goods on credit, the first and primary object of the work would be completely frustrated, and no heart would be further strengthened to trust in God; nor would there be any longer that manifestation of the special and particular providence of God which has hitherto been so abundantly shown through this work, even in the eyes of unbelievers, whereby they have been led to see that there is after all reality in the things of God, and many, through these printed accounts, have been truly converted. For these reasons, then, we consider it our precious privilege, as heretofore, to continue to wait upon the Lord only, instead of taking goods on credit, or borrowing money from some kind friends, when we are in need. Nay, we purpose, as God shall give us grace, to look to him only, though morning after morning we should have nothing in hand for the work, yea, though from meal to meal we should have to look to him; being fully assured that he who is now (1845) in the tenth year feeding these many orphans, and who has never suffered them to want, and that he who is now (1845) in the twelfth year carrying on the other parts of the work, without any branch of it being stopped for want of means, will do so for the future also. And here I do desire, in the deep consciousness of my natural helplessness and dependence upon the Lord, to confess that through the grace of God my soul has been in peace, though day after day we have had to wait for our daily provisions upon the Lord; yea, though even from meal to meal we have been required to do this.
Dec. 16. Nothing has come in. Three shillings fivepence, which one of the laborers was able to give, was all we had. At six o'clock this evening, our need being now very great, not only with reference to the Orphan Houses, but also the day schools, etc., I gave myself, with two of the laborers, to prayer. There needed some money to come in before eight o'clock to-morrow morning, as there was none to take in milk for breakfast (the children have oatmeal porridge with milk for breakfast), to say nothing about the many other demands of to-morrow, being Saturday. Our hearts were at peace, while asking the Lord, and assured that our Father would supply our need. We had scarcely risen from our knees when I received a letter, containing a sovereign for the orphans, half of which was from a young East India officer, and the other half the produce of the sale of a piece of work which the sister who sent the money had made for the benefit of the orphans. She wrote, "I love to send these little gifts. They so often come in season." Truly, thus it was at this time. About five minutes later I received from a brother the promise of fifty pounds for the orphans, to be given during the next week; and a quarter of an hour after that, about seven o'clock, a brother gave me a sovereign, which an Irish sister in the Lord had left this day, on her departure for Dublin, for the benefit of the orphans. How sweet and precious to see thus so manifestly the willingness of the Lord to answer the prayers of his needy children!
Dec. 19. Our need with reference to the school fund had been great during the last three weeks, though we had received as much as the teachers absolutely required. Now, however, it was very great, as one brother especially needed to have several pounds within a day or two, and three other teachers also required supplies. It had in addition to this been much in my heart to send some money to several brethren who labor in foreign lands, in dependence upon the Lord only for their pecuniary supplies; but I had been kept from doing so for want of means. On these accounts, therefore, I gave myself again especially to prayer this morning, when, within a quarter of an hour after I had risen from my knees, I received the order for one hundred pounds, which I was at liberty to use as need required.
REVIEW OF THE YEAR, 1842.
1. As to the church. There are 601 at present in communion; 73 have been added during the past year, of whom 27 have been brought to the knowledge of the Lord among us.
2. As to the supply of my temporal necessities, the Lord has been pleased to send me £329, 16s.
Feb. 11, 1843. We had one pound fourteen shillings towards the expenses of this day. But as this was not enough, I asked the Lord still further for help, and, behold, this morning's post brought me a post-office order for two pounds from Stafford, of which one pound seven shillings sixpence is for the orphans. Thus we have three pounds one shilling sixpence, which is quite enough for this day.
Admire with me, my dear reader, if you know the Lord, his seasonable help. Why does this post-office order not come a few days sooner or later? Because the Lord would help us by means of it, and therefore influences the donor just then, and not sooner nor later, to send it. Surely, all who know the Lord, and who have no interest in disowning it, cannot but see his hand in a remarkable manner in this work. Nor will the godly and simple-minded reader say, "There is no difference between this way of proceeding, on the one hand, and going from individual to individual, asking them for means, on the other hand; for the writing of the Reports is just the same thing." My dear reader, there is a great difference. Suppose that we are in need. Suppose that our poverty lasts for some weeks, or even some months, together. Is there not, in that case, a difference between asking the Lord only from day to day, without speaking to any human being not connected directly with the work about our poverty, on the one hand, and writing letters or making personal application to benevolent individuals for assistance, on the other hand? Truly, there is a great difference between these two modes. I do not mean to say that it would be acting against the precepts of the Lord to seek for help in his work by personal and individual application to believers (though it would be in direct opposition to his will to apply to unbelievers, 2 Cor. vi. 14-18); but I act in the way in which I do for the benefit of the church at large, cheerfully bearing the trials, and sometimes the deep trials, connected with this life of faith (which however brings along with it also its precious joys), if by any means a part at least of my fellow-believers might be led to see the reality of dealing with God only, and that there is such a thing as the child of God having power with God by prayer and faith. That the Lord should use for so glorious a service one so vile, so unfaithful, so altogether unworthy of the least notice as I am, I can only ascribe to the riches of his condescending grace, in which he takes up the most unlikely instruments, that the honor may be manifestly his.
Should Satan seek to whisper into your ears, Perhaps the matter is made known, after all, when there is need (as it has been once said about me at a public meeting in a large town, that when we were in want I prayed publicly that the Lord would send help for the orphans, which is entirely false); I say, should it be said that I took care that our wants were made known, I reply: Whom did I ask for anything these many years since the work has been going on? To whom did I make known our wants, except to those who are closely connected with the work? Nay, so far from wishing to make known our need, for the purpose of influencing benevolent persons to contribute to the necessities of the Institution under my care, I have even refused to let our circumstances be known, after having been asked about them, when, on simply saying that we were in need, I might have had considerable sums. Some instances of this have been given in the former part of this Narrative. In such cases I refused in order that the hand of God only might be manifest; for that, and not the money, nor even the ability of continuing to carry on the work, is my especial aim. And such self-possession has the Lord given me, that in the times of the deepest poverty, whilst there was nothing at all in hand, and whilst we had even from meal to meal to wait upon the Lord for the necessities of more than one hundred persons, when a donation of five pounds or ten pounds, or more, has been given to me, the donors could not have read in my countenance whether we had much or nothing at all in hand. But enough of this. I have made these few remarks, beloved reader, lest by any means you should lose the blessing which might come to your soul through reading the account of the Lord's faithfulness and readiness to hear the prayers of his children.
March 8. On Oct. 25, 1842, I had a long conversation with a sister in the Lord, who opened her heart to me. On leaving me I told her that my house and my purse were hers, and that I should be glad if she would have one purse with me. This I said because I judged that at some future time it might prove a comfort to her in an hour of trial, having at the same time, to judge from a circumstance which had occurred two days before, every reason to believe that she had not five pounds of her own. This sister, after I had said so, readily took me at my word, and said, I shall be glad of it, adding presently that she had five hundred pounds. The moment I heard that, I drew back, and said that had I known that she had any money I should not have made her this offer, and then gave her my reason why I had supposed she had no property at all. She then assured me that she possessed five hundred pounds, and that she had never seen it right to give up this money, else she would have done so; but that, as God had put this sum into her hands without her seeking, she thought it was a provision which the Lord had made for her. I replied scarcely anything to this; but she asked me to pray for her with reference to this matter. This whole conversation about the money occupied but very few minutes, and it all took place after the sister had risen and was on the point of leaving me. After she was gone, I asked the Lord if he would be pleased to make this dear sister so happy in himself; and enable her so to realize her true riches and inheritance in the Lord Jesus, and the reality of her heavenly calling, that she might be constrained by the love of Christ cheerfully to lay down this five hundred pounds at his feet. From that time I repeated this my request before the Lord daily, and often two, three, or four times a day; but not a single word or line passed between me and this sister on the subject, nor did I even see her; for I judged that it would be far better that she retained this money, than that by persuasion she should give it up, and afterwards perhaps regret the step she had taken, and thereby more dishonor than honor be brought on the name of the Lord. After I had thus for twenty-four days daily besought the Lord on behalf of this sister, I found her one day, on returning home, at my house; when she told me that she wished to see me alone. She then said to me that from the time she had last conversed with me she had sought to ascertain the Lord's will with reference to the five hundred pounds, and had examined the Scriptures and prayed about it, and that she was now assured that it was the will of the Lord she should give up this money. After she had told me this, I exhorted her to count well the cost, and to do nothing rashly, lest she should regret the step she had taken, and to wait at least a fortnight longer before she carried out her intention. Thus we separated. On the eighteenth day after this conversation I received the following letter:--
I believe the Lord has not permitted you to grow weary of remembering me, but that he has still enabled you to bear me upon your heart in his presence. All is well with me, dear brother. Your petitions have been heard and answered; I am happy and at peace. The Lord has indeed manifested his tender care of and his great love towards me in Jesus, in inclining my heart cheerfully to lay all I have hitherto called my own at his feet. It is a high privilege.
I write in haste to ask you, as we have now one purse, to receive the money at a bank in Bristol. I will direct it to be sent in my name, to be delivered into your hands, etc.
As this whole circumstance is related only for the profit of the reader, and as I knew that the sister still had my letters on the subject in her possession, I wrote to her, requesting her to send them to me, at the time when I published the last account about the Orphan Houses, etc., and extracts of them were given in the last Report, in so far as they might refer to the subject or tend to edification. These extracts are here reprinted. My reply to the above was this:--
Bristol, Dec. 6, 1842.
My dear Sister:
Your letter found me in peace, and did not in the least surprise me. Dealing with God is a reality. Saints have power with him through Jesus. It is now forty-two days since you first mentioned this matter to me. I cannot but admire the wisdom of God and his love to you in allowing me to speak to you as I did [i. e. offering her to have one purse with me, when I thought she had no earthly possessions at all], that thus this great privilege might be bestowed on you to give up this little sum for him. Since that hour I have daily prayed for you, and often thrice or more in the course of the day, that the Lord would make you so happy in himself, and help you with such faith to lay hold on all which he has given you in Jesus, that you might be constrained by love cheerfully to lay down this little sum at his feet. Thus I prayed again at six o'clock this morning for you. Nor have I had the least doubt from the commencement that the Lord did hear my prayer; yea, so fully have I been assured that I had the petition, that again and again I have thanked him that he had answered my prayer, before I saw you eighteen days since, and before your letter came this morning. Moreover, I have been fully assured, since you were last here, that he was carrying on his work in your soul with reference to this matter, and that no subtle suggestions of Satan, nor educational prejudices, nor misinterpretations of the Scriptures, were able to prevail; for I had asked the Lord by his Spirit to overcome them in you, and that, if a brother's word should be needed, he would be pleased to incline your heart to write to me; and as no letter came, I felt fully confident you were going forward in this matter in peace. When I had seen you this day six weeks, and learned about this little sum, I determined never to say or write to you another word on the subject, but to leave you in the hands of the Lord. Thus I purposed again during the last eighteen days; for it was not the money given up, that I cared for in you, but the money given up unto the Lord, and from right motives. On this very account I advised you to wait one fortnight longer, though you had come to the conclusion; but now, having done so, and seeing that you are fully purposed in the Lord to be poor in this world indeed, that the more abundantly you may enjoy his riches, his inexhaustible riches, I change my advice. My word now, beloved sister, is this: "Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might," and "If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them." Delay then no longer, even as also you have no desire to delay; and the Lord will bless you abundantly in doing so, inasmuch as you do it unto him. As you desire to intrust me with this money, I do not refuse it, knowing many ways to lay it out for him, etc. [Then only follows the direction how the money is to be paid into my banker's hands.]
On Dec. 18, 1842, I received a reply to my letter, which answer was begun to be written on Dec. 8th, but finished on the 16th. I give a few extracts of the letter:--
Since I last saw you, dear brother, I have not had the slightest doubt as to what I ought to do. The word of God has been so clear to me on this head, that I have been kept resting on it, and, in answer to your prayers, no temptation has been allowed to prevail, indeed, I think I may add to arise. But I feel that temptations may come, and that I may in seasons of trial not always have faith to be able to rejoice in this privilege. My heart is so deceitful, and my faith so weak, that I shall greatly need your prayers still. Will you, then, if the Lord enables you, pray that I may never offend my Father by regretting in the least measure this act of obedience, which he has by his grace inclined me to carry out? Before I ever saw you I had asked the Lord to make me willing to give this little sum into your hands, if it were his will I should; but his time to make me willing had not then come; even then I had in a measure given it to you, having written a paper, desiring in case I should fall asleep in Jesus, that you might get possession of it. I had it signed by two witnesses, and I always carried it about with me when I travelled, sealed, and directed to you. When I wrote this, I little thought what grace the Lord had in store for me. You will forgive my being thus tedious, but I am sure you will praise the Lord with me for his gracious dealings with me, etc.
At the end of this letter, which was finished on Dec. 16, the sister tells me that unexpectedly a hindrance had arisen to her having possession of the money, so that it was not likely it could be paid over to me till about the end of January, 1843.
When this letter came, it would have been naturally a great disappointment to me, as the sister had told me in a previous letter that the money should be paid into my hands, and as just at that time in a variety of ways it was desirable that I should have considerable sums. The Lord, however, enabled me to immediately lay hold on that word, "We know that all things work together for good to them that love God," Rom. viii. 28, and my soul was in peace, though we had only enough money in hand to provide for one or at the most for two days the necessary provisions in the Orphan Houses. It was but the next day, Dec. 19, 1842, when I received one hundred pounds from A. B., and on Dec. 22, I received fifty pounds from a brother in Bristol, besides other donations; so that within one week after I had had grace to delight myself in the will of God, he gave me about two hundred pounds, whereby I was able to meet all the heavy expenses of replenishing the stores, etc., on account of which I should naturally have been tried in the payment of the money being delayed.
In reply to the letter which I received from this sister on Dec. 18, I wrote another on Dec. 31, 1842, of which I give an extract on this subject:--
I have continued to pray for you, or rather the Lord has enabled me every day once, twice, thrice, or even more, to remember you. The burden of my prayer still has been, that he would be pleased to make you very happy in himself, and enable you to enter into the inheritance which awaits you; further, that you may not be permitted in the least to regret the step which you have taken, but rather consider it a privilege to be permitted to give this little sum back to him who gave it to you, and who gave himself for you. With reference to the delay, I cannot but rejoice. This gives you abundant opportunity to ponder the matter, and afterwards to state to any (who, judging as those who know not how rich the saints are, might blame you) that you did not do the thing in haste. I consider this delay to be for the furtherance of the honor of the Lord. You know my advice to you, to wait at least a fortnight. That you have seen much of your unfaithfulness, etc., I consider to be an especial blessing which the Lord has bestowed upon you, lest this step you have taken should become a snare to you. Humblings last our whole life. Jesus came not to save painted but real sinners; but he has saved us, and will surely make it manifest. I have a passage laid on my heart for you; read the whole of it carefully: 2 Cor. viii. 1-9, especially verse 9.
Day after day now passed away and the money did not come. The month of January was come to an end, and February also, and the money had not come. Thus more than one hundred and twenty days were gone by, whilst day by day I brought my petition before the Lord that he would bless this sister, keep her steadfast in her purpose, and intrust me with this money for his work in my hands. Amidst it all my heart was assured, judging from the earnestness which he had given me in prayer, and that I had only desired this matter to the praise of his name, that in his own time he would bring it about. But I never wrote one single line to this sister on the subject all this time. At last, on the one hundred and thirty-fourth day since I had daily besought the Lord about this matter, on March 8, 1843, I received a letter from the sister, informing me that the five hundred pounds had been paid into the hands of my bankers.
And now I only give a few lines of a letter which I received on July 3, 1844, from the sister who gave this donation, together with my letters for which I had asked her, in order that I may show her state of mind on the subject, after she had had it more than twenty months before her, and after she had for sixteen months actually given up the money. She writes thus: "I am thankful to say that I have never for one moment had the slightest feeling of regret, but it is wholly of the Lord's abounding grace. I speak it to his praise."
On March 31, 1843, I called at the Orphan Houses to make certain arrangements, and one of the sisters told me by the way that she had been asked by Miss G., who with her father occupied the house No. 4 Wilson Street, to let me know that they wished to give up their house, if I would like to take it; but she had replied that it was of no use to tell me about it, for she was sure that I had no thought of opening another Orphan House. When I came home, this matter greatly occupied my mind. I could not but ask the Lord again and again whether he would have me to open another Orphan House, and whether the time was now come that I should serve him still more extensively in this way. The more I pondered the matter, the more it appeared to me that this was the hand of God moving me onwards in this service. The following remarkable combination of circumstances struck me in particular: 1. There are more applications made for the admission of orphans, especially of late, than we are at all able to meet, though we fill the houses as much as the health of the children and of the laborers will possibly admit. 2. If I did take another house for orphans, it would be most desirable it should be in the same street where the other three are, as thus the labor is less, and in times of great need we are near together for prayer, the distribution of the money, etc. But since the third Orphan House was opened, in Nov. 1837, there never has been one of the larger houses in the street to be let. 3. There are about fifteen children in the Infant Orphan House, whom it would have been well some time ago to have removed to the house for the older girls, had there been room; but when a vacancy happened to occur in that house, there were generally several waiting to fill it up, so that unintentionally the female children in the Infant Orphan House remained where they were; but this is not well, nor is it according to my original intention; for the infants were intended only to be left till they are seven years old, and then to be removed to the houses for older boys and girls. This my original plan could be executed better for the future, and at once for the present, were I to open another Orphan House. 4. I know two sisters who seem suitable laborers for this fourth Orphan House, and who have a desire thus to be engaged. 5. There are three hundred pounds remaining of the five hundred pounds which I so lately received. This money may be used for the furnishing and fitting up of a new Orphan House. So much money I have never had in hand at any one time during the last five years. This seemed to me a remarkable thing, in connection with the four other reasons. 6. The establishing of a fourth Orphan House, which would increase our expenses several hundred pounds a year, would be, after we have gone for five years almost uninterruptedly through trials of faith, a plain proof that I have not regretted this service, and that I am not tired of this precious way of depending upon the Lord from day to day; and thus the faith of other children of God might be strengthened.
But most important, yea, decidedly conclusive as these points were, yet they did not convince me that I ought to go forward in this service, if the Spirit's leadings were not in connection with them. I therefore gave myself to prayer. I prayed day after day, without saying anything to any human being. I prayed two and twenty days without even mentioning it to my dear wife. On that very day, when I did mention it to her, and on which I had come to the conclusion, after three weeks' prayer and consideration in the fear of God, to establish another Orphan House, I received from A. B. fifty pounds. What a striking confirmation that the Lord will help, though the necessities should increase more and more. At last, on the twenty-fourth day, having been now for several days fully assured that God would have me go forward in this service, I went to inquire whether Mr. and Miss G. still wished to give up the house. But here I found an apparent hindrance. Having heard no wish expressed on my part to take the house, and the sister in the Orphan Houses, with whom Miss G. had communicated, not having given her the least reason to think that I should do so, Mr. and Miss G. had altered their plans, and now purposed to remain in the house. However, I was to call again in a week, when I should receive an answer. I was not in the least discomforted by this obstacle. "Lord, if thou hast no need of another Orphan House, I have none," was the burden of my prayer. I was willing to do God's will, yea, to delight myself in his will. And just on this very ground, because I knew I sought not my own honor, but the Lord's; because I knew I was not serving myself, but the Lord, in this thing; and because I knew that with so much calm, quiet, prayerful, self-questioning consideration I had gone about this business, and had only after many days, during which I had been thus waiting upon the Lord, come to the conclusion that it was the will of God I should go forward in this service. For these reasons I felt sure, notwithstanding what Mr. and Miss G. had told me, that I should have the house. I also especially judged that thus it would be, because I was quite in peace when I heard of the obstacle; a plain proof that I was not in self-will going on in this matter, but according to the leading of the Holy Ghost; for if according to my natural mind I had sought to enlarge the work, I should have been excited and uncomfortable when I met with this obstacle. After a week I called again on Mr. G. And now see how God had wrought! On the same day on which I had seen Mr. G., he went out and met with a suitable house, so that when I came the second time, he was willing to let me have the one which he then occupied in Wilson Street; and as the owner accepted me as a tenant, all the difficulties were removed, so that after the 1st of June we began fitting up the house, and in July the first orphans were received.
Mr. M. having been invited by several Christians in Germany to visit that, his native land, and to labor there for the promulgation of scriptural truth and the advancement of religion, as well as to publish a German translation of his Narrative, felt that it was his duty to accede to the request. In answer to prayer, he received ample means for his journey, for the support of the orphans during his absence, and for the publication of the Narrative. He left Bristol on the 9th of August, 1843, and returned on March 6, 1844. During the journey he was greatly aided by Providence in the purposes of his mission, and saw much fruit of his labors.