PAST MERCIES AN ENCOURAGEMENT TO NEW UNDERTAKINGS--A HOUSE FOR SEVEN HUNDRED ORPHANS PROPOSED--WALKING BY FAITH--COUNSEL SOUGHT FROM GOD--THE PURPOSE FORMED--DELIGHT IN THE MAGNITUDE AND DIFFICULTY OF THE DESIGN.
December 5, 1850. It is now sixteen years and nine months this evening since I began the Scriptural Knowledge Institution for Home and Abroad. This Institution was in its beginning exceedingly small. Now it is so large that I have not only disbursed, since its commencement, about fifty thousand pounds sterling, but that also the current expenses, after the rate of the last months, amount to above six thousand pounds a year. I did "open my mouth wide," this very evening fifteen years ago, and the Lord has filled it. The new Orphan House is now inhabited by three hundred orphans; and there are altogether three hundred and thirty-five persons connected with it. My labor is abundant. The separation from my dear wife and child is great, on account of my being the greater part of the day at the new Orphan House; sometimes also by night. But notwithstanding all this, I have again and again thought about laboring more than ever in serving poor orphans. Within the last ten days this matter has much occupied my mind, and for the last five days I have had much prayer about it. It has passed through my mind to build another Orphan House, large enough for seven hundred orphans, so that I might be able to care for one thousand altogether. The points which have led me to this thought are: 1. The many distressing cases of children, bereaved of both parents, who have no helper. I have received two hundred and seven orphans within the last sixteen months, and have now seventy-eight waiting for admission, without having vacancies for any. I had about sixty children waiting for admission about sixteen months since, so about two hundred and thirty children have been applied for within these sixteen months. But, humanly speaking, for the next sixteen months the number of applications will be far greater, as the work is now so much more widely known; except it be that persons may hear that the new Orphan House is quite full, and on that account may consider it useless to apply. 2. The constitution of most other charitable institutions for orphans makes the admission of a really destitute orphan, i. e. a child bereaved of both parents, and without an influential friend, very difficult, if not hopeless; for the admission by means of the votes of the donors precludes really poor persons from having, in most instances, the benefit of these institutions, as they cannot give the time nor expend the money necessary for obtaining such votes. I have myself seen that certain candidates had several thousand votes. The necessity of this arrangement being continued may be much regretted by many who are connected with such institutions, but they have no power to alter it. In our case, nothing is needed but application to me; and the very poorest person, without influence, without friends, without any expense, no matter where he lives, or of whatever religious denomination, who applies for children born in lawful wedlock, bereaved of both parents, and in destitute circumstances, may procure their admission. Now, as the new poor-law is against giving relief to relatives for orphan children out of the poor-houses; and as there is such a difficulty for really poor people to get their orphan relatives admitted into ordinary orphan establishments; I feel myself particularly called upon to be the friend of the orphan, by making an easy way for admission, provided it is really a destitute case. 3. The confidence which God has caused thousands of his children to repose in me calls upon me to make use of it to the utmost of my power, and to seek yet more largely to be their almoner. 4. The experience which I have had in this service now for fifteen years, during which time I have gone from the smallest commencement of the work to the having at present three hundred orphans under my care, calls upon me to make use of this my experience to the utmost of my power. No member of a committee, no president of a society, could possibly have the same experience, except he himself had practically been engaged in such a work for a number of years, as I have been. 5. This very experience makes things light to me, under God's help, which were difficult to me formerly, and which would be very difficult now to many: might I not therefore proceed still further? 6. If seven hundred more young souls could be brought under regular godly training (and their number would be renewed from time to time), what blessed service for the kingdom of Christ, and what profitable expenditure of labor, too, with the blessing of God, even for this realm, in a civil and moral point of view! 7. But that which outweighs every one of these six reasons is, lastly, this: I began this orphan work fifteen years ago for the very purpose of illustrating to the world and to the church that there is verily a God in heaven who hears prayer; that God is the living God. Now, this last object is more and more fully accomplished the larger the work is, provided I am helped in obtaining the means simply through prayer and faith.
But whilst such like thoughts have passed through my mind, there are others of another character. For instance: 1. I have already an abundance of work. 2. My dear wife has already an abundance of work. Her whole time, with little intermission (except for prayer and reading of the Word of God), is occupied, directly or indirectly, about the orphans. 3. Am I not undertaking too much for my bodily strength and my mental powers, by thinking about another Orphan House? 4. Am I not going beyond the measure of my faith in thinking about enlarging the work so as to double or treble it? 5. Is not this a delusion of Satan, an attempt to cast me down altogether from my sphere of usefulness, by making me to go beyond my measure? 6. Is it not also, perhaps, a snare to puff me up, in attempting to build a very large Orphan House?
Under these circumstances I can only pray that the Lord in his tender mercy would not allow Satan to gain an advantage over me. By the grace of God my heart says,--Lord, if I could be sure that it is thy will that I should go forward in this matter, I would do so cheerfully; and, on the other hand, if I could be sure that these are vain, foolish, proud thoughts, that they are not from thee, I would, by thy grace, hate them, and entirely put them aside.
My hope is in God; he will help me and teach me. Judging, however, from his former dealings with me, it would not be a strange thing to me, nor surprising, if he called me to labor yet still more largely in this way.
The thoughts about enlarging the orphan work have not arisen on account of an abundance of money having lately come in; for I have had of late to wait for about seven weeks upon God, whilst little, very little comparatively, came in, i. e. about four times as much was going out as came in; and, had not the Lord previously sent me large sums, we should have been distressed indeed.
Lord, how can thy servant know thy will in this matter? Wilt thou be pleased to teach him?
Dec. 11. During the last six days, since writing the above, I have been, day after day, waiting upon God concerning this matter. It has generally been more or less all the day on my heart. When I have been awaking at night, it has not been far from my thoughts. Yet all this without the least excitement. I am perfectly calm and quiet respecting it. My soul would be rejoiced to go forward in this service, could I be sure that the Lord would have me to do so; for then, notwithstanding the numberless difficulties, all would be well, and his name would be magnified.
On the other hand, were I assured that the Lord would have me to be satisfied with my present sphere of service, and that I should not pray about enlarging the work, by his grace I could, without an effort, cheerfully yield to it; for he has brought me into such a state of heart that I only desire to please him in this matter. Moreover, hitherto I have not spoken about this thing even to my beloved wife, the sharer of my joys and sorrows and labors for more than twenty years; nor is it likely that I shall do so for some time to come; for I prefer quietly waiting on the Lord, without conversing on this subject, in order that thus I may be kept the more easily, by his blessing, from being influenced by things from without. The burden of my prayer concerning this matter is, that the Lord would not allow me to make a mistake, and that he would teach me his will. As to outward things, I have had nothing to encourage me during these six days, but the very reverse; for the income for the various objects of the Scriptural Knowledge Institution for Home and Abroad has been unusually small, only six pounds fourteen shillings altogether, while the outgoings have been one hundred and thirty-three pounds eleven shillings sevenpence. But all this would not weigh the least with me, could I be quite sure that the Lord would have me to go forward.
The especial burden of my prayer, therefore, is, that God would be pleased to teach me his will. My mind has also been especially pondering how I could know his will satisfactorily concerning this particular. Sure I am that I shall be taught. I therefore desire to patiently wait for the Lord's time, when he shall be pleased to shine on my path concerning this point.
Dec. 26. Fifteen days have elapsed since I wrote the preceding paragraph. Every day since then I have continued to pray about this matter, and that with a goodly measure of earnestness, by the help of God. There has passed away scarcely an hour during these days in which, whilst awake, this matter has not been more or less before me; but all without even a shadow of excitement. I converse with no one about it. Hitherto have I not even done so with my dear wife. From this I refrain still, and deal with God alone about the matter, in order that no outward influence and no outward excitement may keep me from attaining unto a clear discovery of his will. I have the fullest and most peaceful assurance that he will clearly show me his will. This evening I have had again an especial solemn season for prayer, to seek to know the will of God. But whilst I continue to entreat and beseech the Lord that he would not allow me to be deluded in this business, I may say that I have scarcely any doubt remaining on my mind as to what will be the issue, even that I should go forward in this matter. As this, however, is one of the most momentous steps that I have ever taken, I judge that I cannot go about this matter with too much caution, prayerfulness, and deliberation. I am in no hurry about it. I could wait for years, by God's grace, were this his will, before even taking one single step towards this thing, or even speaking to any one about it; and, on the other hand, I would set to work to-morrow, were the Lord to bid me do so. This calmness of mind, this having no will of my own in the matter, this only wishing to please my heavenly Father in it, this only seeking his and not my honor in it; this state of heart, I say, is the fullest assurance to me that my heart is not under a fleshly excitement, and that if I am helped thus to go on I shall know the will of God to the full. But, while I write thus, I cannot but add, at the same time, that I do crave the honor and the glorious privilege to be more and more used by the Lord. I have served Satan much in my younger years, and I desire now with all my might to serve God during the remaining days of my earthly pilgrimage. I am forty-five years and three months old. Every day decreases the number of days that I have to stay on earth. I therefore desire with all my might to work. There are vast multitudes of orphans to be provided for. About five years ago a brother in the Lord told me that he had seen, in an official report, that there were at that time six thousand young orphans in the prisons of England. My heart longs to be instrumental in preventing such young orphans from having to go to prison. I desire to be used by the Lord as an instrument in providing all the necessary temporal supplies, not only for the three hundred now under my care, but for seven hundred more. I desire to alleviate yet further the sufferings of poor dying widows, when looking on their helpless orphans about to be left behind. I desire yet further to assist poor persons to whom destitute orphans are left, and who are unable to provide for them. I desire to be allowed to provide scriptural instruction for a thousand orphans, instead of doing so for three hundred. I desire to expound the Holy Scriptures regularly to a thousand orphans, instead of doing so to three hundred. I desire that thus it may be yet more abundantly manifest that God is still the hearer and answerer of prayer, and that he is the living God now, as he ever was and ever will be, when he shall, simply in answer to prayer, have condescended to provide me with a house for seven hundred orphans, and with means to support them. This last consideration is the most important point in my mind. The Lord's honor is the principal point with me in this whole matter; and just because that is the case, if he would be more glorified by my not going forward in this business, I should, by his grace, be perfectly content to give up all thoughts about another Orphan House. Surely, in such a state of mind, obtained by thy Holy Spirit, thou, O my heavenly Father, wilt not suffer thy child to be mistaken, much less to be deluded! By the help of God I shall continue further, day by day, to wait upon him in prayer concerning this thing till he shall bid me act.
January 2, 1851. A week ago I wrote the preceding paragraph. During this week I have still been helped, day by day, and more than once every day, to seek the guidance of the Lord about another Orphan House. The burden of my prayer has still been, that he in his great mercy would keep me from making a mistake. During the last week the Book of Proverbs has come in the course of my Scripture reading, and my heart has been refreshed, in reference to this subject, by the following passages: "Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths." Prov. iii. 5, 6. By the grace of God I do acknowledge the Lord in my ways, and in this thing in particular; I have therefore the comfortable assurance that he will direct my paths concerning this part of my service, as to whether I shall be occupied in it or not. Further: "The integrity of the upright shall preserve them; but the perverseness of fools shall destroy them." Prov. xi. 3. By the grace of God I am upright in this business. My honest purpose is to get glory to God. Therefore I expect to be guided aright. Further: "Commit thy works unto the Lord, and thy thoughts shall be established." Prov. xvi. 3. I do commit my works unto the Lord; I therefore expect that my thoughts will be established. My heart is more and more coming to a calm, quiet, and settled assurance that the end will be that the Lord will condescend to use me yet further in the orphan work. Here, Lord, is thy servant!
Jan. 14. Twelve days have passed away since I wrote the last paragraph. I have still day by day been enabled to wait upon the Lord with reference to my enlarging the orphan work. I have been during the whole of this period also in perfect peace, which is the result of seeking in this thing only the Lord's honor and the temporal and spiritual benefit of my fellow-men. Without an effort could I, by his grace, put aside all thoughts about this whole affair, could I be only assured that it is the will of God that I should do so; and, on the other hand, at once would I go forward, if he would have it to be so. I have still kept this matter entirely to myself. Though it is now about seven weeks since day by day, more or less, my mind has been exercised about it, and since I have daily prayed concerning it, yet not one human being knows of it. As yet I have not mentioned it even to my dear wife, in order that thus, by quietly waiting upon the Lord, I might not be influenced by what might be said to me on the subject. This evening I have particularly set apart for prayer, beseeching the Lord once more not to allow me to be mistaken in this thing, and much less to be deluded by the devil. I have also sought to let all the reasons against building another Orphan House, and all the reasons for doing so, pass before my mind; and I now, for the sake of clearness and definiteness, write them down.
Reasons against establishing another Orphan House for Seven Hundred Orphans.--1. Would not this be going beyond my measure spiritually? according to that word: "For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God has dealt to every man the measure of faith." Rom. xii. 3. Answer: If the Lord were to leave me to myself, the tenth part of the difficulties and trials which befall me now in connection with the various objects of the Scriptural Knowledge Institution for Home and Abroad would be enough to overwhelm me; but, whilst he is pleased to sustain me, I am able day by day to pass on peacefully, and am carried through one difficulty after the other: and thus, by God's help, even with my present measure of faith, if continued to me, I should be enabled to bear up under other difficulties and trials; but I look for an increase of faith with every fresh difficulty through which the Lord is pleased to help me.
2. Would it not be going beyond my measure naturally, with reference to mental and bodily strength? Answer: Of all the objections against establishing another Orphan House, there is none that weighs more with me than this one; I might say, it is the only real difficulty. This, however, too, I am enabled to put aside and to overcome thus: By husbanding my strength, by great order, by regular habits, by lightening the work as much as possible, by using every help that I can, I have been enabled to get through a vast quantity of work. My immense correspondence of about three thousand letters a year I have been enabled to accomplish without a secretary. The whole management and direction and the whole vast correspondence of the Scriptural Knowledge Institution has devolved upon myself alone these sixteen years and ten months, and I have been thinking that, by seeking for an efficient secretary, and an efficient clerk, and an inspector of the schools, I might, with God's help, accomplish yet more, though much of what I have been doing hitherto would need to be done by others. There have been several other arrangements brought before my mind, since I have been exercised about this matter, whereby, with the blessing of God, the work might be lightened. I should certainly need efficient helpers to carry out the plans before me; but with such, I, as director, might be enabled, by God's help, to accomplish yet more.
3. There must be a limit to my work and service. Answer: That is true, and if I were quite sure that the present state of the Scriptural Knowledge Institution were to be the limit, I would at once lay aside this thing; but I am not sure that I am come as yet to God's limit. All these sixteen years and ten months the work has been constantly progressing, and the Lord has helped me continually; and now my mind is just in the same way exercised as when, fifteen years ago, I began the orphan work, and as when, thirteen years ago, I enlarged the orphan work, and as when, seven years and nine months since, I still further enlarged the orphan work, and as when, five years and two months since, I was led to decide on building the new Orphan House. Under these circumstances, having been helped through all these difficulties, and seeing such a vast field of usefulness before me, and as I have so many applications for the admission of very destitute orphans, I long to be used still further, and cannot say that as yet the Lord has brought me to his limit.
4. Is it not like "tempting God," to think of building another Orphan House for seven hundred more orphans? Answer: "Tempting God" means, according to the Holy Scriptures, to limit him in any of his attributes; I, by his grace, do not wish to limit his power or his willingness to give to me, his poor servant, simply in answer to prayer, all the means and every other help and blessing which I shall need to build another large Orphan House.
5. You will not get the means for building and fitting up so large an Orphan House; and, even if you did, how will you, at the same time, get the means for carrying on the work which already exists? Answer: Looking at the matter naturally, this is indeed a weighty objection.
The new Orphan House, with its three hundred orphans only, cost about fifteen thousand pounds to build and to fit up and furnish, and still the expenses are not all met even now. It will, in all probability, cost several hundred pounds yet. And this large sum was needed, though the style of the building is most simple, and though the field in which it was built was comparatively cheap. After this rate, a building to accommodate seven hundred orphans, with the necessary ground attached to it for the cultivation of the vegetables used in the Institution, could not be less than thirty-five thousand pounds. Now, looking at it naturally, where is this great sum to come from? Though I looked at all my friends who have given hitherto, and several have done so very liberally, yet I should have no natural prospect whatever that I should receive this amount; especially if it be kept in mind that I should need six or seven thousand pounds besides, every year, for carrying on that which is already in existence. I might, therefore, well tremble, looking at the matter naturally, and say, I shall never have the money for this intended Orphan House for seven hundred children; for where is this large sum of thirty-five thousand pounds to come from? And even if I were to get the money, will not persons, in giving means for such a building fund, take it away from what they might have given me for carrying on the work which exists already? But whilst thus, naturally, I have no hope of succeeding, I am not in the least discouraged spiritually; for by faith in the living God I say this: He has the power to give me this thirty-five thousand pounds, and much more were it needed; and he has the power, in the mean time, to give me also all the large sums required, week after week, for meeting the current expenses for the present state of the work. Moreover, I delight in the greatness of the difficulty as it respects the large sum needed for building and fitting up such an establishment; for I desire to be most fully assured, from the very outset, that I go forward in this matter according to the Lord's bidding. If so, he will give me the means; if not, I shall not have them. Nor do I mean to apply to any one personally for pecuniary help, but purpose to give myself to prayer for means, as heretofore.
6. Suppose, now, you were even to succeed in getting this large Orphan House built, how will you be able to provide for seven hundred other orphans? Answer: There is much weight in this objection, looking at it naturally. I am too much a man of business, and too much a person of calm, quiet, cool calculation, not to feel its force. And indeed, were I only to look at the thing naturally, I should at once be ready to own that I am going too far; for the increase of expenditure for the support of these seven hundred other orphans could not be less than eight thousand pounds a year more, so that the current expenses of the Scriptural Knowledge Institution, reckoning its present state, and including those eight thousand pounds, would be about fifteen thousand pounds a year. Now I am free to own that I have no human prospect of obtaining such a sum year by year. But while matters stand thus, looking at them naturally, I see no difficulty at all in them spiritually. If according to the will of God I am enabled to go about this intended second Orphan House; and if, under his help, I shall be enabled to finish it; he will surely provide for those who are gathered together in it as long as he shall be pleased to enable me to trust in him for supplies. And here I look back upon the way in which the Lord has led me and dealt with me. When, about seventeen years ago, I took up, in dependence upon the living God for means, two charity schools, with which the Scriptural Knowledge Institution commenced (and this involved an expense of less than one hundred pounds a year), I had no certain prospect of being able to meet even that small sum; but God so helped me that I had shortly six charity schools. He helped me then, also, and enabled me to meet all their expenses. When, fifteen years ago, I began the orphan work, which was connected with far heavier expenses, I had still less prospect, according to natural reason, of being able to meet them; but I trusted in God, and he helped me, and he not only enabled me to meet the current expenses of thirty orphans in the first house rented for them, but enabled me also soon to open another for thirty-six more, and I was also enabled to meet all those expenses; for as I had begun in faith in the living God, and not in putting my trust in my brethren in Christ, so I was not confounded. After I had gone on some time with these orphans in the two rented houses, about thirteen years ago the Lord was pleased greatly to encourage me and to increase my faith by a donation of five hundred pounds for the orphans; for up to that period I had never received more than one hundred pounds at once. But this kind donor, a stranger to me up to that time, suggested to me the propriety of investing this sum and using only the interest of it, as I could not expect to have the orphans supported for a continuance in the way they had been till then; for that such institutions must depend upon regular subscriptions or funded property, otherwise they could not go on. As, however, this was only a friendly hint, and no condition under which the money was given, I took this five hundred pounds towards fitting up a third house, for the reception of thirty more orphans. From that time the work has been increasing more and more, till it has come to what it is at present. Now, suppose I had said, seventeen years ago, looking at matters according to natural reason, "The two charity schools are enough, I must not go any further;" then the work would have stopped there. Or, if I had had a little more trust in my exertions or my friends, I might have taken at the utmost one or two steps further. Instead of this, however, I looked in no degree whatever at things according to my natural fallen reason, and I trusted not in the circle of my Christian friends, but in the living God; and the result has been that there have been since 1834 ten thousand souls under our instruction in the various day schools, Sunday schools, and adult schools; several hundred orphans have been brought up, and many of them from their very tenderest infancy; several hundred thousand tracts and many thousand copies of the Word of God have been circulated; about forty preachers of the gospel at home and abroad have been, for several years, assisted in connection with the Scriptural Knowledge Institution; and a house has been built and fitted up for the accommodation of three hundred destitute orphans, each of whom has neither father nor mother. How blessed therefore is it to trust in God, and in him alone, and not in circumstances nor friends! There is, however, one thing which I must record here, because it has taken place since I last wrote in my journal on this subject, on January 2. It is this. During these twelve days I have received for the various objects of the Scriptural Knowledge Institution, in smaller donations, sixty-four pounds fifteen shillings sixpence two farthings, also a donation of one hundred and fifty pounds, and one of three thousand pounds. Is not this a plain proof that God is both able and willing to help simply in answer to prayer? Is not human reason confounded by such instances? When I first began to write these exercises of my mind about another Orphan House, I knew not that on January 4, I should receive a donation of three thousand pounds; yet I was fully assured that God was able to support one thousand orphans as easily as he did the thirty whom I first received in a rented house. Does he not, however, tell me by all this, Go forward, my servant, and I will help thee?
7. But, it might be said, suppose you were able by prayer to obtain this large sum for building a house for seven hundred other orphans; and suppose you were able to provide for them during your lifetime,--what would become of this Institution after your death? Answer: I am quite familiar with this objection. I have heard it many times as a reason against the way of obtaining the means for the Scriptural Knowledge Institution, simply by trusting in God, without any funded property, and without looking to regular subscribers; but my reply is this. My business is, with all my might to serve my own generation; in doing so I shall best serve the next generation, should the Lord Jesus tarry. Soon he may come again; but, if he tarry, and I have to fall asleep before his return, I shall not have been altogether without profit to the generation to come, were the Lord only to enable me to serve my own generation. Suppose this objection were a sound one, I ought never to have commenced the orphan work at all, for fear of what might become of it after my death, and thus all the hundreds of destitute children without father and mother, whom the Lord has allowed me to care for during the last fifteen years, would not have been taken up by me. The same argument was again and again used to Franké, my esteemed countryman, who at Hallé, in Prussia, com 1696, the largest charitable establishment for poor children that, as far as I know, exists in the world. He trusted in God alone. He went on trusting in God alone. And God helped him throughout abundantly. Simply by trust in the living God, the Institutions, resembling a large street rather than a house, were erected, and about two thousand children instructed in them. For about thirty years all was going on under his own eye, until 1727, when it pleased God to take his servant to himself. At his death these Institutions were directed by his truly pious son-in-law. It is true that, at the latter part of the last century, and during the first part of the present, there was little real vital godliness in these Institutions; still, they were a temporal blessing to many tens of thousands of young persons even then. So then for several tens of years they were carried on in a truly godly way, after Franké's death, and when afterwards there was but little real, vital godliness found in these schools, yet tens of thousands of children were benefited at least for this life. Now these Institutions have existed already one hundred and fifty years, and are in existence still; and, if the Lord Jesus tarry, are likely, humanly speaking, to exist hereafter, as they have existed hitherto. Suppose, then, that dear man of God, A. H. Franké, had listened to the suggestions of unbelief, and said, I must not undertake this work, for what will become of it after my death?--then all the blessing which spiritually resulted from it to thousands, and all the temporal benefits which have resulted from it to hundreds of thousands, would have been lost. I add, however, this. The new Orphan House has been placed in the hands of eleven trustees, and has been properly enrolled in chancery, and so also, should God condescend to honor me further in building for him this intended house for seven hundred orphans, it would likewise be placed in the hands of trustees and enrolled in chancery. I say one word in conclusion on this subject: let every one take heed lest, in caring about what will become of the next generation, he forget to serve his own generation. The latter, each one should seek to do with his might, and thus it should be with each succeeding generation; then, though we be dead, yet should we be speaking. A. H. Franké is long since gone to his rest, but he spoke to my soul in 1826, and he is speaking to my soul now; and to his example I am greatly indebted in having been stirred up to care about poor children in general, and about poor orphans in particular.
8. The last objection which has occurred to my own mind is, that, by building another Orphan House, I should be in danger of being lifted up. Answer: I should be in danger of it indeed; and so I am in great danger, even were I not in the least degree to go forward. Yea, the tenth part of the honor which the Lord has condescended to bestow upon me, and the tenth part of service with which he has been pleased to intrust me, would be enough, if I were left to myself, exceedingly to puff me up. I cannot say that hitherto the Lord has kept me humble; but I can say that hitherto he has given me a hearty desire to give to him all the glory, and to consider it a great condescension on his part that he has been pleased to use me as an instrument in his service. I do not see, therefore, that fear of being lifted up ought to keep me from going forward in this work; but that I have rather to beseech the Lord that he would be pleased to give me a lowly mind, and never suffer me to rob him of the glory which is due to him alone.
Reasons for establishing another Orphan House for Seven Hundred Orphans.--1. The many applications for the admission of destitute orphans which continue to be made, I consider as a call from God upon me to do all that is in my power to provide a home and scriptural education for a still greater number of orphans. Nothing but positive inability to go forward ought to keep me standing still, whilst I have almost daily fresh entreaties to receive orphans. Since I began writing on this subject in my journal, thirty more orphans have been applied for, from two years old and upward. I cannot refuse to help, as long as I see a door open, and opened by God, as I consider, to help them.
2. The moral state of the poor-houses greatly influences me to go forward. I have heard it again and again, from good authority, that children, placed at the Unions, are corrupted, on account of the children of vagrants, and other very bad young people, who are in such places; so that many poor relatives of orphans, though unable to provide for them, cannot bear the idea of their going there, lest they should be corrupted. I therefore judge that, even for the sake of keeping orphans of poor yet respectable people from being obliged to mix with the children of vagabonds, I ought to do, to my utmost power, all I can to help them. For this reason, then, I purpose, in dependence upon the living God, to go forward and to establish another Orphan House for seven hundred destitute children, who are bereaved of both parents. When I write thus about the poor-houses, I do not wish to be understood in the way of reproof: for I know not how these matters could be altered; but I simply state the fact that thus it is.
3. In this my purpose I am the more confirmed, since I know it to be a fact that the Orphan Houses already in existence in the kingdom are by no means sufficient to admit even the most deserving and distressing cases, and far less all that it would be well to provide for. Moreover, there is great difficulty connected with the admission of an orphan into most of the ordinary orphan establishments, on account of the votes which must be obtained, so that really needy persons have neither time nor money to obtain them. Does not the fact that there were six thousand young orphans in the prisons of England about five years ago call aloud for an extension of orphan institutions? By God's help I will try to do what I can to keep poor orphans from prison.
4. In this purpose I am still further encouraged by the great help which the Lord has hitherto given me in this blessed service. When I look at the small beginning, and consider how the Lord has helped me now for more than fifteen years in the orphan work; and when I consider how he has been pleased to help me through one great difficulty after another; and when I consider, especially, how, as with an unseen hand, I might say almost against my will and former desires and thoughts, he has led me on from one step to another, and has enlarged the work more and more,--I say, when I review all this, and compare with it my present exercise of mind, I find the great help, the uninterrupted help which the Lord has given me for more than fifteen years, a great reason for going forward in this work. And this, trusting in him, I am resolved to do.
5. A further reason for going forward in this service I see in the experience which I have had in it. From the smallest commencement up to the present state of the establishment, with its three hundred orphans, all has gone through my own hands. In the work itself I obtained the experience. It has grown with the work. I have been the sole director of the work, under God, from its smallest commencement. Now this is not an every-day case. No committee member of a society, no president or vice-president of an institution, except they had been situated as myself, could have this experience. Coupled with this is the measure of gift which the Lord has been pleased to give me for such work, and for the exercise of which I am responsible to him. These things, in connection with the former reasons, it appears to me, are a call from God to go forward in a greater degree than ever in this work.
6. The spiritual benefit of still more orphans is another especial reason with me why I feel called to go forward. The orphans who have been under my care hitherto were almost all the children of parents who were naturally weak in body, if not consumptive. The very fact of a child being deprived of both parents when four, five, six, or seven years old, shows that, except the parents lost their lives by casualty, they were constitutionally weak. On this account young orphans, generally speaking, require particular care as to their health. In this respect I desire to care for them; but there is more than that to be attended to. I further heartily desire to keep them from the corrupting and demoralizing effect of the lowest sort of children in the streets and courts and Unions. But I desire more for them than mere decency and morality; I desire that they should be useful members of society, and that the prisons of the United Kingdom should not be filled with poor, destitute, and homeless orphans; and we bring them up therefore in habits of industry, and seek to instruct them in those things which are useful for the life that now is. But I desire more than this for the orphans. I cannot be satisfied with anything concerning them short of this, that their souls be won for the Lord. For this reason I long to have them from their early days, yea, the younger the better, under my care, that thus, under the care of godly nurses and teachers, they may be brought up from their earliest days in the fear of the Lord. Now, as this is the chief and primary aim concerning the dear orphans, even the salvation of their souls through faith in the Lord Jesus, I long to be more extensively used than hitherto, even that I may have a thousand of them instead of three hundred under my care.
7. But there is one point which weighs more strongly with me than even the last mentioned one. It is this: When I began the orphan work more than fifteen years ago, it was for the definite and especial purpose that, by means of it, the unconverted might see, through the answers of prayer that I received in connection with it, that there is verily reality in the things of God; and that the children of God might have their faith strengthened by means of it, and might be encouraged, in all simplicity, to deal with God under every circumstance, and trust in him at all times. But if this would be answered in a measure by the state in which the orphan work has been in former times, and more so by what it has been since the erection of the new Orphan House, it would be still more so, by the blessing of God, by my going forward in it to a far greater degree than before. This point, even the glory of God in the manifestation of his readiness to hear prayer, has weighed especially and supremely with me in purposing to enlarge the orphan work.
8. Lastly, I am peaceful and happy, spiritually, in the prospect of enlarging the work, as on former occasions when I had to do so. This weighs particularly with me as a reason for going forward. After all the calm, quiet, prayerful consideration of the subject for about eight weeks, I am peaceful and happy, spiritually, in the purpose of enlarging the field. This, after all the heart-searching which I have had, and the daily prayer to be kept from delusion and mistake in this thing, and the betaking myself to the word of God, would not be the case, I judge, had not the Lord purposed to condescend to use me more than ever in this service.
I therefore, on the ground of the objections answered, and these eight reasons for enlarging the work, come to the conclusion that it is the will of the blessed God that his poor and most unworthy servant should yet more extensively serve him in this work, which he is quite willing to do.
Up to this day, Jan. 25, 1851, I have not spoken to one human being about it. As yet even my dear wife knows not about it. I purpose to keep the matter still for some time entirely to myself, dealing with God alone about it, in order that no outward excitement may be in the least degree a stimulus to me. I still pray to be kept from mistake and delusion in this thing; not that I think I am mistaken or deluded, quite the reverse, but yet I would distrust myself and cling to God, to be kept from mistakes and delusions.
Jan. 31. For several weeks past I have now had no doubt that the Lord would have me to serve him in the erection and fitting up of another Orphan House for seven hundred orphans, and I am quite decided on doing so, under his help; and I am now quiet about it, not because I have the least misgiving in my own mind, but because I know that it is most suitable that I should still for some time continue to deal quietly with God alone about it.
March 5. Nearly five weeks have passed away since I wrote the last paragraph, and my mind has not been once during this time, even for a moment, in uncertainty as to what I ought to do. It is now about fifteen weeks since I have been especially praying about this subject, and three months since I began first to write on the subject in my journal, and about ten weeks since I have had any doubt as to what is the will of the Lord concerning this service. I believe that, altogether unworthy though I am of this great honor, he will condescend to use me further and more extensively than before in caring for destitute children who are bereaved of both parents. And this I purpose to do.
May 24. From the time that I began to write down the exercises of my mind on Dec. 5, 1850, till this day, ninety-two more orphans have been applied for, and seventy-eight were already waiting for admission before. But this number increases rapidly as the work becomes more and more known.
On the ground of what has been recorded above, I purpose to go forward in this service, and to seek to build, to the praise and honor of the living God, another Orphan House, large enough to accommodate seven hundred orphans.
When I published these exercises of my mind, and made known my purpose respecting the intended Orphan House for seven hundred orphans, in the Twelfth Report of the Scriptural Knowledge Institution, the following particulars were added to what has been stated:--
1. All this time, though now six months have elapsed since I first began to be exercised about this matter, I have never once been led to ask the Lord for means for this work, but have only continued day by day to seek guidance from him as to whether I should undertake it or not.
2. The means requisite to accomplish the building and fitting up of a house which shall be really suitable for my intended purposes, though the building be quite simple, cannot be less than thirty-five thousand pounds, including fifteen or twenty acres of land round the building for cultivation by the spade, in order to obtain out of our own grounds all the vegetables which are so important to the health of the children.
3. I do not mean to begin the building until I have the means requisite in hand, just as was the case with regard to the new Orphan House. If God will condescend to use me in building for him another Orphan House (as I judge he will), he will give me the means for it. Now, though I have not on my own mind any doubt left that it is his will that I should do so, which has been stated again and again in the preceding pages; yet there is one point still wanting for confirmation, and that is, that he will also furnish me, without personal application to any one, with all the means requisite for this new part of my service. I am the more needing also to my own soul this last of all the proofs that I have not been mistaken (as I firmly believe I have not been), in order to have unquestionable assurance that, whatever trials hereafter might be allowed to befall me in connection with this work, I did not at my own bidding and according to my own natural desire undertake it, but that it was under the guidance of God. The greatness of the sum required affords me a kind of secret joy; for the greater the difficulty to be overcome, the more will it be seen, to the glory of God, how much can be done by prayer and faith; and also because, when God himself overcomes our difficulties for us, we have, in this very fact, the assurance that we are engaged in his work, and not in our own.