HUMBLE BEGINNINGS--DEVISING LIBERAL THINGS--THE ORPHANS PROVIDED FOR--A MEMORABLE DAY--MONEY "AT INTEREST"--MEANS FROM AN UNEXPECTED SOURCE--THE PROGRESS OF THE NEW ORPHAN HOUSE--MEANS PROVIDED FOR ITS COMPLETION--INEXPRESSIBLE DELIGHT IN GOD--REVIEW OF THE TWO YEARS PAST.
On the 26th of May, 1848, I had on hand for the Bible, tract, missionary, and school funds of the Scriptural Knowledge Institution, five pounds nineteen shillings sevenpence one farthing; a sum so small, that, without the help of God, I could not have gone on even for a few days; for during this period our average expenditure for one single day, merely for this part of the work, was as much as the whole balance left in hand. Now see how God carried me through, in meeting the expenditure of the thousands of pounds which were laid out for these objects, irrespective of the orphan work, from May 26, 1848, to May 26, 1850.
On the very next day, after the accounts were closed, May 27, 1848, I received from Westmoreland five pounds, being the first donation during this period towards this part of the work, of which sum one half was intended by the donor for the current expenses of the orphans, and the other half for these objects. On the following day, May 28, was anonymously put into the chapel boxes for missions one shilling sixpence, and twopence. Now it happened so that all the expenses, connected with these objects, during the first two days amounted only to about three pounds, which I was able to meet by what had come in and the balance left in hand; and on May 29 I received one hundred pounds. As the application of this sum was left to me, I took one half of it for the orphans, and the other half for these objects. Thus I was supplied with means to meet the expenses which came on me the following day, May 30, when I had to pay the weekly salaries of the teachers in the day schools.
June 9. Great has been my desire, and many have been my prayers to God, that he would be pleased to condescend to use me still further, in allowing me the privilege of helping brethren who labor in the word and doctrine, at home and abroad, without any salary, as I have been able to do but very little for them comparatively during the last four months. Now at last, in answer to my prayers, I have received this morning one hundred and sixty pounds for home and foreign laborers. The Lord may see it needful, for the trial of our faith, to seem for a season not to regard our supplications; yet, if we patiently and believingly continue to wait upon him, it will be manifest, in his own time and way, that we did not call upon him in vain.
July 12. My soul has been longing for further supplies for home and foreign laborers, to whom I have sent of late all I could. Almost all the letters which I have received from the brethren, to whom I have sent money, have shown to me their great need. Some were in the greatest necessity when my remittances were received by them. Under these circumstances a donation of one hundred and seventeen pounds two shillings sevenpence came in this morning, of which I took fifty pounds for these objects, and sixty-seven pounds two shillings sevenpence for the orphans.
Nov. 9. Only a few shillings were left in my hands on Tuesday evening, the 7th instant, towards the weekly salaries of the teachers, for the coming week. Also, almost all the tracts are again gone, and it is nearly four weeks since I paid out the last money I had in hand for missionary objects. As to this latter point, my heart had been especially longing to be able to send again help to home and foreign laborers, knowing how very great the need of many is. Thus I was situated with regard to means, when I received to-day one thousand pounds.
Since March 5, 1834, I have received above forty-four thousand pounds altogether [up to May 26, 1850, only]; and so has the Lord enlarged the work and helped me that during the last three years I have had the privilege of paying away in his service, in connection with this work, about twenty-five thousand pounds; nor have I had during this period, in any one instance, to meet a payment without being previously provided by the Lord with means for it. If it pleased the Lord to condescend to use me further in this way, he could so order it that even a still larger field of labor were intrusted to me, which would require still greater sums. Truly, it must be manifest to all simple-hearted children of God, who will carefully read the accounts respecting this Institution, that he is most willing to attend to the supplications of his children who in their need cry to him; and to make this manifest is the great object I aim at, through the means of this Institution.
Jan. 2, 1850. The new year commences, even as to this part of the work, with new mercies. There was given to me one hundred and sixty pounds, to be used as might be most needed.
Jan. 30. During this month I had been especially led to send much assistance to home and foreign laborers. Also in other respects the expenses for these objects had been considerable. On this account the funds for them had been reduced to about eighty pounds when I received this evening four hundred and fifty pounds, of which the donor kindly wished me to take fifty pounds for my own personal expenses, to give to brother Craik fifty pounds, and to use the other as might be most needed.
May 3. The work is now large, the outgoings great. During the month were again expended about five hundred pounds for the various objects of the Institution, nor have I any prospect that the expenses will decrease; yea, I have no desire that they should. I have as great satisfaction, as much joy, in writing checks for large amounts upon my bankers, as I have joy in paying over to them checks, or bank orders, or large notes, which I receive from the living God, by means of donors, for this work. For the money is of no more value to me than as I can use it for God; and the more I can pay out for the work of God, the more prospect I have of being again supplied by him; and the larger the sum is which I can obtain from him, in answer to prayer only, the greater the proof of the blessedness and the reality of this mode of dealing directly with the living God for what I need; therefore, I say, I have as much joy in giving out as in receiving. I have been devoting myself, for instance, with all my might, and expending much exertion both of body and mind, but especially by laboring in spirit to have the Orphan House filled with children, not only that thus three hundred destitute orphans, none of whom have either father or mother, might be lodged, boarded, clothed, instructed, and in every way cared for, bodily, mentally, and spiritually; but also in order that thus large sums might be needed and expended, and I might have a greater call than ever to draw largely upon the inexhaustible treasures of God. That I do not mean, in thus speaking, to say that money so obtained by prayer may be wasted, will scarcely need to be noticed; for if any one would obtain means from God by prayer only, and then waste them, he would soon find that he was not able to pray in faith for further supplies.
When the accounts were closed, on May 26, 1848, I had on hand for the orphans a balance of one pound ten shillings three and three-fourths pence. With this amount then we began, whilst day by day above one hundred and thirty persons were to be provided for in the four Orphan Houses in Wilson Street.
On the very next day, after the accounts were closed, May 27, 1848, I received from Westmoreland five pounds, half of which sum was intended by the donor for the orphans, and half for the other objects. This donation I took as an earnest out of the hands of the living God, that during the whole of this period also he would provide for these many orphans, as he had done in former years.
Nov. 9. Up to date the wants of the orphans have been supplied as heretofore. Yesterday, only five shillings sixpence came in. To-morrow more money will be needed for housekeeping. In this our poverty I received this morning one thousand pounds. The money being left to my disposal as it might be most needed, I took of it six hundred pounds for the building fund, three hundred pounds for missionary purposes and the circulation of Bibles and tracts, and one hundred pounds for present use for the orphans. I have thus the means which are yet needed for this week's housekeeping expenses, besides being able to meet other heavy expenses which are before me next week.
Feb. 20, 1849. For three months and ten days, since Nov. 9, 1848, the donations had always come in so that we abounded during the whole period, there having been always fresh donations received before all the money in hand was disbursed. The total amount that came in during this period was four hundred and sixty-nine pounds fourteen shillings tenpence. Now to-day there was no money in hand for advancing the amount needed for the next week's housekeeping. All the money in hand was due for rent, and therefore unavailable, as I never go into debt for anything. In this our need there was given to me this afternoon the sum of two hundred pounds, which was left to my disposal for fitting up the new Orphan House, or for any of the objects in connection with the Scriptural Knowledge Institution that might be in need. As, however, I have all the means for fitting up and furnishing the new Orphan House, as far as I know, and as there is no money in hand for the present use of the orphans, I took one hundred pounds for that object.
March 9. The new Orphan House is now nearly ready. On this account we have to get in large supplies for the children's clothes. Within the last few days I have ordered thousands of yards of material for this purpose, and thousands more will need to be ordered, besides providing a stock of many other things. For this large sums are needed. Under these circumstances I received to-day a donation of three hundred pounds, to be used for the building fund, or the current expenses of the various objects, just as it might be most required. As I judge that we have all that is needed for the fitting up and furnishing of the house, and as there is more in hand than usual for the missionary objects, the circulation of Bibles and tracts, and for the various schools, and as we have only about sixty pounds for present use for the orphans, towards meeting all the heavy expenses before us, I took the whole of this donation for the orphans, as the donor has kindly left the disposal of the money entirely to me. This donation coming in just now has been an exceedingly great refreshment to my spirit; for it is at the commencement of the great increase of our expenses, in connection with the three hundred orphans, instead of one hundred and twenty, like an earnest from God that he will supply us also with means when the demands for the three hundred will be more than twice as great as they are now. Through this donation I have means to meet all the expense which will be incurred in getting in for the new establishment the stores of provisions, soap, material for clothes, haberdashery, and of the many other articles of which it would be desirable to buy our supplies on wholesale terms. The Lord be praised for his kindness!
June 18. To-day, as the fruit of the prayers of three years and seven months, the children began to be moved from the four Orphan Houses in Wilson Street, Bristol, into the new Orphan House.
June 23. Saturday Evening. This has been indeed a week of great and many and peculiar mercies. All the orphans with their teachers and overseers have been moved into the new Orphan House during Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday; so that there are now about one hundred and forty persons under one roof. The Lord has most signally helped. As I had for more than three years sought the help of God concerning all matters connected with the new Orphan House, I did expect his help in this particular also; but he has done beyond my expectations. Though only the day before yesterday the last children were moved in, there is already such a measure of order established in the house, by the help of God, as that things can be done by the minute hands of the timepieces. His name is to be praised for this, and my soul does magnify him for his goodness! Also with regard to temporal supplies for the dear orphans, the Lord has been exceedingly kind. On the second day of receiving the children, there was sent twenty pounds. On the third day, an individual who walked with me through part of the house said, "These children must consume a great deal of provisions," and, whilst saying it, took out of his pocket a roll of Bank of England notes to the amount of one hundred pounds, and gave them to me for the orphans. On the same evening I had also sent for the orphans a very large cask of treacle, and for their teachers and overseers six loaves of sugar. Also a cooper made gratuitously two large new casks for treacle. On the next day I received information that about one thousand pounds of rice had been purchased for the orphans, which should be sent. Besides this, several small donations have come in. So bountifully has the Lord been pleased to help of late, that I have not only been able to meet all the extraordinary heavy expenses connected with moving the orphans from Wilson Street into the new Orphan House, filling the stores of the new Orphan House, etc.; but I have more than five hundred pounds in hand to begin housekeeping in the new Orphan House. How true that word that those that trust in the Lord shall not be confounded! After all the many and long-continued seasons of great trial of faith within these thirteen years and two months, during which the orphans were in Wilson Street, the Lord dismisses us from thence in comparative abundance. His holy name be praised for it!
Aug. 30. Received a fifty-pound note with these words: "I send you herewith a fifty-pound note, half for the missions, half for the orphans, unless you are in any personal need; if so, take five pounds for yourself. This will be the last large sum I shall be able to transmit to you. Almost all the rest is already out at interest." I took half of this fifty pounds for the orphans, and half for missionaries. The writer sold some time since his only earthly possession, and sent me at different times sums of one hundred and twenty pounds, of one hundred pounds, of fifty-five pounds, of fifty pounds, and of twenty pounds for the work of the Lord in my hands. When he says, therefore, "the rest is already out at interest," he means that he has given it away for the Lord, which indeed both for time and eternity is the very best way of using the means with which the Lord may be pleased to intrust us, in so far as, considering in the fear of God all our various claims and duties and relationships, we may do so. As this is written for the spiritual profit of the reader, I cannot but add to this extract from my journal under Aug. 30, 1849, that since that time I have received other donations from the same donor, and much larger still. He used for God the means with which he was pleased to intrust him, and, contrary to this brother's expectation, the above fifty pounds was not the last large donation; for it pleased God soon after to intrust him with another considerable sum, which he again used for the Lord. This did not at all surprise me; for it is the Lord's order that, in whatever way he is pleased to make us his stewards, whether as to temporal or spiritual things, if we are indeed acting as stewards, and not as owners, he will make us stewards over more.
Jan. 9, 1850. To-day was sent to me from the Committee of the Cholera Fund in Bristol, twenty pounds, which the gentlemen constituting it had voted for the benefit of the twenty children who had lost their parents in the cholera, and whom I had received into the new Orphan House.
I had not applied either directly or indirectly for this money; indeed, I was reluctant even to give information as to the number of cholera orphans whom I had received, lest there should be even the appearance as if after all I asked for money, instead of solely trusting in the living God. But some of the gentlemen on the committee, I understand, knowing the fact that I had received many orphans, made such by means of the cholera, proposed that there should be paid to the Institution a sovereign on account of each such child whom I had received. This sum was especially remarkable to me as a fresh proof of the numberless ways which God has at his command for providing me with means.
I also cannot help noticing the remarkable coincidence that, at the time that God visited this land with the cholera, in 1849, I had so much room for the reception of orphans. The Lord was pleased to allow me the joy and sweet privilege of receiving altogether twenty-six children, from ten months old and upward, who lost their parents in the cholera at that time, and many besides, since then, who were bereaved of their parents through this fearful malady.
At the time when I last referred to the progress of the new Orphan House, it was being built. A part of it was already roofed in, and the remainder was to be roofed not many weeks afterwards. But how much did there yet remain to be done in other respects! A building so considerable as to contain about three hundred large windows would require, even after it was finished, an immense amount of labor to be fitted up and furnished for three hundred and thirty persons. Then, after this was done, the settling in of the orphans and their teachers, and other overseers, needed still more abundant help. Further, the obtaining of suitable helpers for this part of the work was indeed no small matter. Lastly, though the Lord had been pleased to give me already above eleven thousand pounds for the new Orphan House, yet I needed several thousand pounds more, in order to bring the whole into such a state as might render the building fit for the reception of the orphans. And now, in looking back, and finding that I not only was helped in all these matters, but also in every one of them far beyond my largest expectations, does it not become me to say to those who love the Lord Jesus, and into whose hands this account may fall: "O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together!" Each one of the foregoing difficulties which still existed on the 26th of May, 1848, was so great, that if only one of them had remained, and I had not been helped, what would have been the result? But while the prospect before me would have been overwhelming had I looked at it naturally, I was never, even for once, permitted to question what would be the end. For as, from the beginning, I was sure that it was the will of God that I should go to the work of building for him this large Orphan House, so also, from the beginning, I was as certain that the whole would be finished as if the building had been already before my natural eyes, and as if the house had been already filled with three hundred destitute orphans. I was therefore of good courage in the midst of an overwhelming pressure of work yet to be done, and very many difficulties yet to be overcome, and thousands of pounds yet needed; and I gave myself still further to prayer, and sought still further to exercise faith on the promises of God. And now the work is done, the difficulties are overcome, all the money that was needed has been obtained, and even more than I needed; and, as to helpers in the work, I have obtained even beyond my expectations and prayers. Nearly seven years have passed away (1856) since the new Orphan House was opened, and about three hundred and thirty persons sit down in it day by day to their meals.
Up to May 26, 1848, I had received altogether towards meeting the expenses connected with the building of the new Orphan House the sum of eleven thousand and sixty-two pounds four shillings elevenpence halfpenny.
Aug. 19. It is this day a twelvemonth since the foundation stone of the new Orphan House was laid, and now the building is up, and almost entirely roofed in. Also part of the inside plastering is already done. How can my soul sufficiently magnify the Lord for all the help which he has been pleased to give since this day twelvemonth! As we are now so far advanced, I have been increasingly entreating God that he would be pleased to give me the means which are yet requisite for fitting up and furnishing the house; for even now I am completely depending upon him for considerable sums to accomplish this. But while much is still needed, I have never had, by God's grace, the least misgiving as to his willingness to give me all I need; on the contrary, I have been assured that, when I actually required the money for the fittings and the furniture, it would come. And now this day the Lord has again proved to me how willing he is to act according to my faith; for there was given to me this morning eight hundred and eighty-seven pounds, under the kind condition that I should take of it twenty pounds for my own personal expenses, and the rest might be used for the building fund, or the present need of the various objects of the Institution, as it appeared best to me.
Nov. 9. To-day the Lord has helped still more abundantly. I have received a donation of one thousand pounds, to be used for the building fund and the present necessities of the work generally, as the various objects of the Institution might require it.
Jan. 17, 1849. The time is now near when further steps are to be taken to fit up and furnish the house, as more than two thirds of the rooms are all but ready. Under these circumstances I have prayed the more earnestly, day by day, that the Lord would be pleased to give me the means which are yet needed; and as my heart has been assured from the beginning, and all through these three years and two months, since I first began to pray about this subject, that God would in every way help me in this work, so I have also been particularly satisfied that he would be pleased to provide the means which may be required to meet all the heavy expenses which yet remain to be met. Now, to-day I have had again a precious answer to my daily supplications with reference to this work; for I received this evening six hundred pounds, concerning which it was desired that brother Craik and myself should each take of it fifty pounds for ourselves; the remaining five hundred pounds was left entirely to my disposal; yet an especial reference was made to the heavy expenses connected with fitting up and furnishing the new Orphan House, towards which I might, either in part or entirely, take this sum.
Feb. 12. The new Orphan House is now almost entirely finished. In six weeks, with the help of God, all will be completed. On this account I have been during the last fortnight much occupied in making the necessary arrangements for fitting it up and furnishing it; but the more I have been occupied about this, the more I have seen how large a sum the whole of the fittings and the furniture will require; and this consideration has led me still more earnestly of late to entreat the Lord that he would be pleased to give me the means which may yet be needed for the completion of the whole. Under these circumstances a brother in the Lord came to me this morning, and after a few minutes' conversation gave me two thousand pounds, concerning which sum he kindly gave me permission to use it for the fitting up and furnishing of the new Orphan House, or for anything else needed in connection with the orphans. I have placed the whole of this sum, at least for the present, to the building fund. Now, dear reader, place yourself in my position. Eleven hundred and ninety-five days it is since I began asking the Lord for means for the building and fitting up of an Orphan House. Day by day have I, by his grace, since that time, continued to bring this matter before him. Without one moment's doubt, or misgiving, or wavering, have I been enabled to trust in God for the means. From the beginning, after I had once ascertained the will of God concerning this work, have I been assured that he would bring it about; yea, as sure have I been from the beginning that he would do so, as if I had already had all the means in hand for it, or as if the house had been actually before me, occupied by the children. But though to faith even three years ago the whole work was accomplished, to sight there remained many and great difficulties to be overcome. And even at the commencement of this day there remained many difficulties in the way of means, as well as in other respects; and therefore I was on the point of giving myself again especially to prayer, at the very moment when I was informed that the donor of the above-mentioned two thousand pounds had called to see me. Now I have the means, as far as I can see, which will enable me to meet all the expenses; and in all probability I shall have even several hundred pounds more than are needed. Thus the Lord shows that he can and will not only give as much as is absolutely needed for his work, but also that he can and will give abundantly. It is impossible to describe the real joy I had in God when I received this sum. I was calm, not in the least excited, able to go on immediately with other work that came upon me at once after I had received the donation; but inexpressible was the delight which I had in God, who had thus given me the full answer to my thousands of prayers, during these eleven hundred and ninety-five days.
I have thus given a few out of the hundreds of donations, varying from one farthing to two thousand pounds, as specimens, to show how the Lord was pleased to furnish me with the means. The total amount which came in for the building fund was fifteen thousand seven hundred and eighty-four pounds eighteen shillings tenpence.
After all the expenses had been met for the purchase of the land, the conveyance of the same, the enrolment of the trust-deeds in chancery, the building, fitting up, and furnishing of the new Orphan House, there remained a balance of seven hundred and seventy-six pounds fourteen shillings threepence three farthings, affording a manifest proof that the Lord cannot only supply us with all we need in his service, simply in answer to prayer, but that he can also give us even more than we need.
During the whole of the two years ending May 26, 1850, five day schools, with 329 children in them, were entirely supported by the funds of this Institution; and some pecuniary assistance was rendered to four other day schools. Also a Sunday school, with 168 children, was entirely supported, and another was occasionally assisted. Lastly, an adult school, with 106 adult scholars, was supported during this period. There was expended on these various schools £851, 1s. 5½d., during these two years. The number of all the children that were taught in the day schools, through the medium of this Institution, from March 5, 1834, to May 26, 1850, amounted to 5,114; the number of those in the Sunday schools amounted to 2,200; and the number of the persons in the adult school to 1,737. In all, 9,051.
From May 26, 1848, to May 26, 1850, were circulated 719 Bibles, and 239 New Testaments. There was expended on this object, during this period, of the funds of the Institution, £104, 15s. 11d. There were circulated altogether from March 5, 1834, to May 26, 1850, 6,465 Bibles, and 3,999 New Testaments.
From May 26, 1848, to May 26, 1850, were spent £2,574, 16s. 6d. of the funds of the Institution for missionary objects, whereby forty preachers of the gospel in British Guiana, the East Indies, Switzerland, France, Germany, Canada, Scotland, Ireland, and England, were assisted.
The reader will notice how greatly this object of the Institution was increased during the last four years previous to May 26, 1850. This arose from the fact that, in the early part of 1846, the need of certain brethren who labored in the word and doctrine came before me, and God laid them on my heart to labor for them in prayer, in order that I might obtain means from him for such brethren to a greater extent than I had done before. Ever since then the Lord has been pleased increasingly to use me in this way. For from May 26, 1846, to May 26, 1848, there was spent for that object nearly three times as much as during any former period of the same length; and during the period from May 26, 1848, to May 26, 1850, I was not only allowed to do as much as before, but to expend even £1,016, 5s. more than during the former period, notwithstanding all the many heavy additional expenses for the various other objects of the Institution.
It is my sweet privilege to state that the labors of many of these forty servants of the Lord, whom I assisted, were especially owned of God during these two years. There took place very many conversions through their instrumentality.
From May 26, 1848, to May 26, 1850, the sum of £184, 9s. 4½d. was expended on the circulation of tracts. There were circulated during this period 130,464 tracts. The total number which was circulated from Nov. 19, 1840, up to May 26, 1850, amounted to 294,128.
From July 24, 1849, up to May 26, 1850, altogether 170 orphans were received, from ten months old and upwards. On May 26, 1850, there were, therefore, 275 orphans in the new Orphan House; and with the teachers, overseers, nurses, and in-door and out-door servants, etc., the whole number of persons connected with the establishment was 308. The total number of orphans who were under our care from April, 1836, up to May 26, 1850, was 443.
Without any one having been personally applied to for anything by me, the sum of £33,868, 11s. 1¼d. was given to me for the orphans, as the result of prayer to God, from the commencement of the work up to May 26, 1850. It may be also interesting to the reader to know that the total amount which was given as free contributions, for the other objects, from the commencement of the work up to May 26, 1850, amounted to £10,531, 3s. 3¾d.; and that which came in by the sale of Bibles and tracts, and by the payments of the children in the schools, up to May 26, 1850, amounted to £2,707, 9s. 3½d.
The total of the current expenses for the orphans from May 26, 1848, to May 26, 1849, was £1,559, 6s. 9d., and the total of the current expenses for them from May 26, 1849, to May 26, 1850, was only £2,665, 13s. 2¾d., i. e. only about £1,100 more than the previous year.
As to matters connected with my own personal affairs, from May 26, 1848, to May 26, 1850:--
Dec. 31, 1848. During this year the Lord was pleased to give me £474, 17s. 7d. To this is again to be added, for this year also, as before stated, the free education of my daughter at a boarding-school, worth at least £50.
Dec. 31, 1849. The Lord sent me, during the past year, £413, 2s. 4d.