DESIRES FOR MORE ENLARGED USEFULNESS GRATIFIED--A LARGE DONATION ANTICIPATED AND RECEIVED--REVIEW OF 1851--PERSONAL EXPERIENCE--BUILDING FUND FOR THE SECOND NEW ORPHAN HOUSE--DOUBT RESISTED--WAITING ON GOD NOT IN VAIN--REVIEW OF 1852.
At the commencement of the year beginning with May, 1850, it was my purpose to seek help from the Lord that I might be able, in a still greater degree than before, to assist brethren who labor in the gospel at home and abroad, in dependence upon God for their temporal supplies, and to labor more than ever in the circulation of the Holy Scriptures, and of simple gospel tracts.
June 11. By the sums which came in within the first fifteen days of this period I was able to begin to carry out the purpose I had formed; and as the Lord enabled me, without anxious reckoning, to go on giving out as he was pleased to intrust me with means, so again he sent further supplies before all was gone. It is a point of great importance in the divine life not to be anxiously reckoning about the morrow, nor dealing out sparingly on account of possible future wants which never may come; but to consider that the present moment to serve the Lord only is ours, and that the morrow may never come to us.
April 20, 1851. During the whole of the current year, up to this date, the Lord has so abundantly supplied me with means that there came not one single case before me in which it would have been desirable to help, according to the measure of light given to me, or to extend the work, without my having at the same time ample means for doing so. In the midst of the great depression of the times, which was so generally felt, and on account of which, humanly speaking, I also might have been exceedingly tried for want of means, I, on the contrary, at no period of the work for the seventeen years previous had a greater abundance of means. I do on purpose lay stress upon this because I desire that it may become increasingly known that there is no easier, no better, and no happier way in the end than God's way, and this in particular also with regard to the obtaining of means simply in answer to prayer, without personal application to any one.
At the beginning of the year I had more in hand for the orphans than for many years before, under similar circumstances, the balance for current expenses on May 26, 1850, being one hundred and fifty pounds seven shillings tenpence. Yet, much as this was in comparison with what the balance had generally been before, how small was the amount in reality! About three hundred persons were connected with the new Orphan House, who day by day were to be provided with all they needed, besides several apprentices who also were still to be supported. On this account the one hundred and fifty pounds in hand would only furnish that which was needed for about fifteen days, as the average expenses of the orphan work alone were about ten pounds daily. Place yourself, therefore, dear reader, in my position. Three hundred persons daily at table, and one hundred and fifty pounds in hand! Looking at it naturally, it is enough to make one tremble; but trusting in the living God, as by his grace I was enabled to do, I had not the least trial of mind, and was assured that God would as certainly help me as he had done fourteen years before, when the number of the orphans was only the tenth part as large.
Nov. 27. For seven weeks the income has been very small, in comparison with what has been expended, both for the orphans and for the various other objects of the Scriptural Knowledge Institution. There has come in for the orphans £187, 16s. 2¾d., and for the other objects £62, 11s. 1d.; and the expenditure has been for the orphans during these seven weeks £477, 2s. 11d., and for the various other objects £394, 9s. 8d. Therefore altogether £871, 12s. 7d. has been expended, whilst the income altogether has been only £250, 7s. 3¾d. We have, of course, not gone into debt, as we never order anything except we have the means in hand for it. Nor has there been even the least difficulty experienced with regard to means, as the Lord in his kindness had sent in considerable sums just before this season commenced. About three hundred and thirty persons now sit down to their meals in the new Orphan House, day by day, and the expenses for the orphans alone are about ten pounds daily, and those for the other parts of the work are also about ten pounds daily, so that I need to receive after the rate of twenty pounds a day, in order to go on with the work; but during these forty-nine days there has been only one single day that I have received about twenty pounds, and for the greater part of the time only a few pounds daily, and sometimes even only a few shillings. But what was to be done under these circumstances? I gave myself to prayer. God, whom I have now been enabled to make my refuge, and my only refuge, for more than twenty years, I have besought day by day. And when now day by day I still have received only small sums, and sometimes nothing or scarcely anything at all, the only effect that it has had upon me has been to pray the more earnestly. My confidence in God is not at all shaken. I have never had a thought that he would not help me: nor have I even once been allowed to look upon these seven weeks in any other way than that the Lord, for the trial of my faith, has ordered it thus that only so little should come in. I am sure that, when he has tried me sufficiently, there will come in again larger sums. In the mean time, how good has the Lord been, not only to have given all I have needed, but I have even now money in hand! And as to our stores in the new Orphan House, they are as full as usual. We have at least one hundred and fifty sacks of potatoes in the house, twenty sacks of flour, thirty-three barrels of oatmeal, each containing about two hundred pounds, about three hundred pairs of new shoes (besides about nine hundred pairs in use), about ten tons of coals, a large quantity of soap and rice; and so all other parts of the stores in proportion. Indeed, while there has been little coming in, I have just ordered articles in the wholesale way as formerly, when our income was perhaps four or five times as much during the same period. My judgment is, that it will now soon please the Lord again to send in larger sums, as he has been pleased to exercise my faith for some time in this way. Let me see the result!
Jan. 4, 1851. This very day the Lord has given me a most precious proof that he delights in our having large expectations from him. I have received this evening the sum of three thousand pounds, being the largest donation which I have had as yet. I now write again that I expect far larger sums still, in order that it may be yet more and more manifest that there is no happier, no easier, and no better way of obtaining pecuniary means for the work of the Lord than the one in which I have been led. How great my joy in God is, on account of this donation, cannot be described; but it is not in the least coupled with excitement. I take this donation out of the hands of the living God; I continually look for his help, and am perfectly assured that I shall have it, and therefore is my soul calm and peaceful, without any excitement, though the donation is so large. This donation is, however, like a voice from heaven speaking to me concerning a most deeply important matter respecting which I am seeking guidance from the Lord, the building of another Orphan House.
May 26. I am brought to the close of this period. The work is more and more enlarging. During the last month I have paid out for the orphans more than four hundred and fifty pounds, and for the other objects more than five hundred pounds, being nearly one thousand pounds during one month; and yet I have a greater balance left in hand, through the Lord's kindness, than at the close of any of the previous periods.
From May 26, 1850, to May 26, 1851, there were four day schools in Bristol, with 286 children in them, entirely supported by the funds of the Institution; and three others in Devonshire, Gloucestershire, and Norfolk, with 180 children in them, were assisted. Further, one Sunday school in Bristol, with 184 children, was entirely supported, and two others in Devonshire and Gloucestershire, with 213 children, were assisted. Lastly, an adult school in Bristol, with 90 persons in it, was entirely supported. The expenses connected with all these various schools were, during this period, £379, 17s. From the formation of the Institution, on March 5, 1834, up to May 26, 1851, there were 5,343 children in the various day schools in Bristol alone, 2,379 in the Sunday school, and 1,896 persons in the adult school, besides the thousands in the schools out of Bristol which were assisted.
There was expended during this period, out of the funds of the Institution, on the circulation of the Holy Scriptures, £150, 16s. 5d. There were 345 Bibles sold, and 899 given away; and 30 New Testaments sold, and 413 given away, during this period. From March 5, 1834, to May 26, 1851, there were circulated 7,709 Bibles and 4,442 New Testaments.
During this year was spent of the funds of the Institution, for missionary objects, the sum of £2,000, 11s. 1d. By this sum forty-five laborers in the word and doctrine in various parts of the world were to a greater or less degree assisted. The total amount of £2,000 was sent to these forty-five servants of the Lord Jesus in 264 different sums.
During this period £358, 7s. 3d. was expended on the circulation of tracts, and 303,098 tracts and little books were circulated. I was permitted to send out more tracts than during the whole of the previous ten years taken together. Nor must it be withheld from the reader, as matter for thankfulness, that the Lord was pleased to allow me to hear again and again of instances of conversion, by means of the distribution of these tracts during this period.
On May 26, 1850, there were 275 orphans in the new Orphan House on Ashley Down, Bristol. On May 26, 1851, there were 300 orphans in the new Orphan House. The total number of orphans who were under our care from April, 1836, to May 26, 1851, is 488. There came in altogether during this year £4,102, 14s. 9¼d. for the support of the orphans, and £3,640, 9s. 1¾d. for the other objects; and, after having met to the full every demand with reference to the orphans, the balance of £970, 13s. 11¾d. remained in hand. Also, after having entered into every door which the Lord was please to set before me respecting the other objects, and to do far more than during any one year previously, the balance of £809, 10s. 6d. remained in hand on May 26, 1851. Verily we do not trust in the Lord in vain!
Without any one having been personally applied to for anything by me, the sum of £38,018, 4s. 6½d. was given to me for the orphans as the result of prayer to God from the commencement of the work to May 26, 1851. 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 to May 26, 1851, amounted to £13,988, 11s. 9¼d.; and that which came in by the sale of Bibles and tracts, and by the payments of the children in the day schools, amounted to £2,890, 9s. 11¾d.
It pleased the Lord greatly to gladden our hearts by the working of his Holy Spirit among the orphans during this period.
Dec. 31, 1850. During this year there have been received into fellowship 57, and altogether, from the time that brother Craik and I began to labor in Bristol, 1,313. The Lord has been pleased to give me, for my personal expenses, £402, 4s. 5d.
May 26, 1851. The reader will remember that I stated in a previous chapter that I purposed, not in dependence upon my Christian friends, nor in dependence upon former donors, but alone in dependence upon the living God, to enlarge the orphan work. Before I brought before the public what I purposed to do, I gave the record of the exercises of my mind on this subject to a valued Christian friend to read, the only one who, besides my family, knew anything of this my intention before it came before the public. I did this particularly in order that, after I had been waiting for several months in secret upon God for guidance and direction concerning it, I might also have the counsel of a prayerful, judicious, and cautious man of God. When this brother returned the manuscript, he spoke to me words of encouragement concerning this purpose, and gave me a half sovereign towards the building fund for this house for seven hundred destitute orphans. This was the first donation, which I received on May 13, 1851, and which, I confess, was a great refreshment and encouragement to me, the more so as it came from so cautious a brother, and after I had been for several months, through secret prayer, assured that I should go forward.
On May 28, 1851, my intention became publicly known, and in the evening of May 29 I received from a Christian lady a sovereign towards the building fund.
June 1. A brother in the Lord, who gives his donations with the letter "P.," gave me ten shillings. I also received a sovereign. This evening I received still further four half crowns, with very encouraging words and expressions of joy that I have been led to this purpose of building another Orphan House for seven hundred more orphans. There came to hand, also anonymously, three shillings. Ditto an old shilling, a small American coin, and two shillings. Also from a Christian servant in Clifton two shillings sixpence.
June 21. Twenty-four days have now passed away since I have been enabled, day by day, to wait with a goodly measure of earnestness and in faith upon the Lord for means; but as yet only a little above twenty-eight pounds has come in. But I am not discouraged. The less there comes in, the more earnestly I pray, the more I look out for answers, and the more assured I am that the Lord, in his own time, after he has tried my faith, will send me larger sums, and, at last, all I need.
Aug. 12. Day by day I am waiting upon the Lord for means for this object, and generally more than once a day am I bowing my knees before God with reference to it. Moreover, of late I have been enabled, with increasing earnestness, to beseech the Lord that he would be pleased to send in means for the building fund. My soul has been all along at peace, though only so little, as yet, comparatively, has come in (in all, one hundred and twenty-seven pounds nineteen shillings ninepence); and though Satan has in the most subtle way sought to shake my confidence, and to lead me to question whether, after all, I had not been mistaken concerning this whole matter. Yet, though he has aimed after this, to the praise of God I have to confess that he has not been allowed to triumph. I have especially besought the Lord of late that he would be pleased to refresh my spirit by sending in some large donation for this part of the work. Under these circumstances I received this morning five hundred pounds for the new building. I was not in the least excited. I look out for means. Even that very moment, when I received this donation, I was looking out for means, for large donations; and I should not have been surprised if five thousand pounds had come in, or more. The Lord be praised for this precious encouragement, which has still further quickened me for prayer!
Sept. 13. Patience and faith are still called for, and, by God's grace, my desire is to "let patience have her perfect work." Not one penny has come in to-day for the building fund, but five more orphans have been applied for, so that now forty in less than one single month have been brought before me, all bereaved of both parents, and all very destitute. Under these circumstances, how can I but fervently labor in prayer that the Lord would be pleased to intrust me with means for the building another Orphan House for seven hundred orphans. The more I look at things according to natural appearances and prospects, the less likely is it that I should have the sum which is needed; but I have faith in God, and my expectation is from him alone. From the beginning I depended upon him only concerning this proposed enlargement of the work, and therefore have I not been disappointed, though as yet only the fortieth part of what is needed has come in (eight hundred and eighty-two pounds eighteen shillings sevenpence halfpenny). But how soon, how very soon can the Lord alter the aspect of things. Even this very evening, while I am writing, he could give me many thousand pounds. I continue, therefore, to wait upon God, and seek to encourage my heart by his holy word, and, while he delays giving me answers, to be occupied in his blessed service. Of this, however, my soul has not the least doubt, that, when the Lord shall have been pleased to exercise my soul by the trial of faith and patience, he will make bare his arm, and send help. The fact that the applications for the admission of destitute orphans are so many, does both quicken me to prayer, and is also a great encouragement to me that the Lord will give me the desire of my heart, to provide another home for these destitute, fatherless and motherless children.
March 17, 1852. Day by day I am waiting upon God for means. With full confidence, both as to the power of the Lord to give me the means, and likewise his willingness, I am enabled to continue to wait. But he is pleased to exercise my faith and patience, and especially has this been the case of late. Not more than twenty-seven pounds eleven shillings has come in during the last four weeks for the building fund. Yet, amidst it all, by the help of God, my heart has been kept looking to the Lord, and expecting help from him. Now to-day my heart has been greatly refreshed by a donation of nine hundred and ninety-nine pounds thirteen shillings fivepence. I cannot describe to any one how refreshing this donation is to my spirit. After having been for weeks, day by day, waiting upon the Lord, and receiving so little comparatively, either for current expenses or for the building fund, this answer to many prayers is exceedingly sweet to my spirit.
May 20. There remained in hand from the former building fund the balance of £776, 14s. 4¾d., which I added to the present building fund, so that on the evening of May 26, 1852, I had altogether £3,530, 9s. 0¼d.
Supplies for the School, Bible, Missionary, and Tract Fund, sent in answer to prayer from May 26, 1851, to May 26, 1852.--At no time during the past eighteen years did I begin a new period with so much money in hand as was the case at the commencement of this. There was a balance of £809, 10s. 6d. left for these objects. Long before this balance was expended, however, the Lord was pleased to send in further supplies; so that during all the year there did not come before me one single instance in which, according to my judgment, it would have been desirable to help forward schools or missionary objects, or the circulation of the Holy Scriptures and tracts, but I had always the means in hand for doing so.
Supplies for the Support of the Orphans sent in answer to prayer from May 26, 1851, to May 26, 1852.--When this period commenced, I had in hand for the current expenses for the orphans £970, 13s. 11¾d. We had never had so large a balance for the other objects at the commencement of any new period as was the case at the commencement of this, and so it was also with regard to the orphan work. But though there was this large balance to begin with, dependence upon God was still required day by day, as the pecuniary help is only a very small part of that which is needed; and even as to means, this sum would not have lasted long, had the Lord not sent in further supplies. This, however, he did; and thus it was that while there were other trials, varied and many, yet, as to means, we experienced scarcely any difficulty at all.
During the period from May 26, 1851, to May 26, 1852, there were entirely supported by the funds of the Institution four day schools in Bristol, with 248 poor children in them, and three others in Devonshire, Monmouthshire, and Norfolk, were assisted. Further, one Sunday school in Bristol, with 243 children, was entirely supported, and two others in Devonshire and Gloucestershire, with 230 children, were assisted. Lastly, one adult school in Bristol, with 120 adult scholars, was entirely supported during this period. From March 5, 1834, up to May 26, 1852, there were 5,525 children in the day schools in Bristol, 2,600 in the Sunday school, and 2,033 grown-up persons in the adult school. There was expended of the funds of the Institution, for these various schools, during this period, £360, 1s. 9d.
During this period there was expended of the funds of the Institution £207, 3s. 1d. for the purpose of circulating the Holy Scriptures, especially among the very poorest of the poor. There were issued during this period 1,101 Bibles and 409 New Testaments. There were altogether circulated from March 5, 1834, up to May 26, 1852, 8,810 Bibles, and 4,851 New Testaments.
During this year there was spent of the funds of the Institution, for missionary objects, the sum of £2,005, 7s. 5d. By this sum fifty-one laborers in the word and doctrine, in various parts of the world, were to a greater or less degree assisted.
There was laid out for the circulation of tracts, from May 26, 1851, to May 26, 1852, the sum of £356, 11s. 3½d. There were circulated during the year 489,136 tracts.
The total number of tracts which were circulated from the beginning up to May 26, 1852, was 1,086,366.
On May 26, 1851, there were 300 orphans in the new Orphan House on Ashley Down, Bristol. From that day up to May 26, 1852, there were admitted into it 27 orphans. The total of the expenses connected with the support of the orphans, from May 26, 1851, to May 26, 1852, was £3,035, 3s. 4d. The total number of orphans who were under our care from April, 1836, to May 26, 1852, was 515.
Without any one having been personally applied to for anything by me, the sum of £42,970, 17s. 6d. was given to me for the orphans as the result of prayer to God from the commencement of the work up to May 26, 1852. 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, 1852, amounted to £15,976, 10s. 6¼d.; and that which came in by the sale of Bibles and tracts, and by the payments of the children in the day schools, amounted to £3,073, 1s. 9¾d. Besides this, also, a great variety and number of articles of clothing, furniture, provisions, etc., were given for the use of the orphans.
Several of the orphans who left the establishment during this year went away as believers, having been converted some time before they left; one also who died gave very decided evidence of a true change of heart by faith in our Lord Jesus; several who in former years were under our care, as we heard during this year, took their stand openly on the Lord's side, and dated their first impressions to the instructions received whilst under our care; and, lastly, of those under our care, there were not a few whose spiritual state gave us joy and comfort. Thus, amidst many difficulties and trials and some discouragements, we had abundant cause to praise God for his goodness, and to go forward in the strength of the Lord.
Dec. 31, 1851. During this year the Lord was pleased to give me, for my personal expenses, £465, 13s. 1¾d.