EXPECTING GREAT THINGS FROM GOD--MUNIFICENT DONATION--INCREASING USEFULNESS OF THE SCRIPTURAL KNOWLEDGE INSTITUTION--ACCESS TO GOD THROUGH FAITH IN CHRIST--A VOICE FROM MOUNT LEBANON--BENEFIT OF WAITING GOD'S TIME--CAREFUL STEWARDSHIP--FAITH, THE ONLY RELIANCE--"THIS POOR WIDOW HATH CAST IN MORE THAN THEY ALL"--GREATER ACHIEVEMENTS OF FAITH ANTICIPATED--COUNSEL TO TRACT DISTRIBUTORS--A NEW AND SEVERE TRIAL OF FAITH.
On May 26, 1852, there was in hand toward the erection of the second new Orphan House three thousand five hundred and thirty pounds nine shillings sixpence and one farthing. Donations varying in amount from three hundred pounds to fourpence continued to be received in answer to prayer. On the 4th of Jan. 1853, Mr. M. writes:--
From London two shillings sixpence. Day by day I have now been waiting upon God for means for the building fund for more than nineteen months, and almost daily I have received something in answer to prayer. These donations have been, for the most part, small, in comparison with the amount which will be required for the completion of this object; nevertheless, they have shown that the Lord, for the sake of his dear Son, listens to my supplications, and to those of my fellow-laborers and helpers in the work; and they have been precious encouragements to me to continue to wait upon God. I have been for many months assured that the Lord, in his own time, would give larger sums for this work; and for this I have been more and more earnestly entreating him during the last months. Now at last he has abundantly refreshed my spirit, and answered my request. I received to-day the promise that, as the joint donation of several Christians, there should be paid me a donation of eight thousand and one hundred pounds, for the work of the Lord in my hands.
It is impossible to describe the spiritual refreshment which my heart received through this donation. Day by day, for nineteen months, I had been looking out for more abundant help than I had had. I was fully assured that God would help me with larger sums; yet the delay was long. See how precious it is to wait upon God! See how those who do so are not confounded! Their faith and patience may long and sharply be tried; but in the end it will most assuredly be seen that those who honor God he will honor, and will not suffer them to be put to shame. The largeness of the donation, whilst it exceedingly refreshed my spirit, did not in the least surprise me; for I expect great things from God. Have I been boasting in God in vain? Is it not manifest that it is most precious in every way to depend upon God? Do I serve God for naught? Is it not obvious that the principles on which I labor are not only applicable to the work of God on a small scale, but also, as I have so many times affirmed during the past nineteen years, for the most extensive operations for God?
During the year ending May 26, 1853, nine thousand and one pounds three shillings was received toward the building fund, making the present amount of that fund twelve thousand five hundred and thirty-one pounds twelve shillings one farthing.
For the various objects of the Scriptural Knowledge Institution, viz. for school, missionary, Bible, and tract purposes, I had to expend during the year from May, 1852, to May, 1853, about six hundred pounds per month, or above seven thousand pounds in all; but I had sufficient to meet every demand; and over and above I was helped by the Lord to increase the building fund nine thousand pounds. The current expenses of the Institution were never so great during the previous nineteen years; but the extent of its operations, and the means which the Lord was pleased to send in, were also never so great.
You see, dear reader, that we are richly recompensed for our waiting upon God. You perceive the readiness of his heart to listen to the supplications of his children who put their trust in him. If you have never made trial of it, do so now. But in order to have your prayers answered, you need to make your requests unto God on the ground of the merits and worthiness of the Lord Jesus. You must not depend upon your own worthiness and merits, but solely on the Lord Jesus, as the ground of acceptance before God, for your person, for your prayers, for your labors, and for everything else. Do you really believe in Jesus? Do you verily depend upon him alone for the salvation of your soul? See to it well, that not the least degree of your own righteousness is presented unto God as a ground of acceptance. But then, if you believe in the Lord Jesus, it is further necessary, in order that your prayers may be answered, that the things which you ask God should be of such a kind that God can give them to you, because they are for his honor and your real good. If the obtaining of your requests were not for your real good, or were not tending to the honor of God, you might pray for a long time without obtaining what you desire. The glory of God should be always before the children of God, in what they desire at his hands; and their own spiritual profit, being so intimately connected with the honor of God, should never be lost sight of in their petitions. But now, suppose we are believers in the Lord Jesus, and suppose we make our requests unto God, depending alone on the Lord Jesus as the ground of having them granted; suppose also, that, so far as we are able honestly and uprightly to judge, the obtaining of our requests would be for our real spiritual good, and for the honor of God; we yet need, lastly, to continue in prayer until the blessing is granted unto us. It is not enough to begin to pray, nor to pray aright; nor is it enough to continue for a time to pray; but we must patiently, believingly continue in prayer until we obtain an answer; and, further, we have not only to continue in prayer unto the end, but we have also to believe that God does hear us, and will answer our prayers. Most frequently we fail in not continuing in prayer until the blessing is obtained, and in not expecting the blessing. As assuredly as in any individual these various points are found united together, so assuredly will answers be granted to his requests.
During the year 1852-53, the expense of the support of the orphans was fully met by unsolicited donations. Two or three particulars only will be given.
June 29, 1852. To-day I received one of the most remarkable donations which I ever had. I give the whole account, without the name of the donor.
Lyons, June 24, 1852,
Dear Brother in Christ:
It is now several years that I read with great interest, and I hope with some benefit to my soul, the account of your labors and experiences. Ever since then your work was the object of many thoughts and prayers, and I gave many copies of your book to Christian friends. One of them has read it in Syria, on Mount Lebanon, where he is for commercial business; and, whilst praying for you and your dear orphans, the Lord put it in his heart to send you two pounds, to which my husband added two others; and we beg you to accept that small offering in the name of the Lord. If you have published anything of the Lord's dealings with you since the year 1844, we shall be very happy to receive it. You could forward it to Messrs. * * * *, London, for * * * * of Lyons. And now, dear brother, may the grace and peace of the Lord rest on you and your dear home's inhabitants.
Affectionately yours in the Lord
* * * *
I have had donations from Australia, the East Indies, the West Indies, the United States, Canada, from the Cape of Good Hope, from France, Switzerland, Germany, Italy, etc.; and now comes also this donation from Mount Lebanon, with the prayer of a Christian brother whose name I never heard nor know even now. See, dear reader, this is the way in which the Lord has helped me in this precious service for twenty-two years. With my fellow-laborers, or without them, and they without me, our prayers are offered up unto the Lord for help, and he is pleased, for Jesus' sake, to listen to our supplications, and to influence the hearts of some of his children, known to us or not, to send us help. The donors may be rich or poor; they may live near, or at a distance of more than ten thousand miles; they may give much or little; they may have often given before, or never; they may be well known to us, or not at all: in these and many other things there may be constant variations; but God continually helps us; we are never confounded. And why not? Simply because we are enabled by the grace of God to put our trust in him for what we need.
Oct. 9. This morning Luke vii. came in the course of my reading before breakfast. While reading the account about the centurion and the raising from death of the widow's son at Nain, I lifted up my heart to the Lord Jesus thus: "Lord Jesus, thou hast the same power now. Thou canst provide me with means for thy work in my hands. Be pleased to do so." About half an hour afterwards I received two hundred and thirty pounds fifteen shillings; also one shilling. This two hundred and thirty pounds fifteen shillings was left at my disposal, as most needed. I took one half of it for the current expenses for the orphans, and the other half for the other objects. I am now amply provided for meeting the demands of this day.
The joy which such answers to prayer afford cannot be described. I was determined to wait upon God only, and not to work an unscriptural deliverance for myself. I have thousands of pounds for the building fund; but I would not take of it, because it was once set apart for that object. There is also a legacy of one hundred pounds for the orphans two months overdue, in the prospect of the payment of which the heart might be naturally inclined to use some money from the building fund, to be replaced by the legacy money, when it comes in; but I would not thus step out of God's way of obtaining help. At the very time when this donation arrived, I had packed up one hundred pounds which I happened to have in hand, received for the building fund, in order to take it to the bank, as I was determined not to touch it, but to wait upon God. My soul does magnify the Lord for his goodness!
This last paragraph is copied out of my journal, written down at the time. I add a few words more to the last sentences.
The natural mind is ever prone to reason, when we ought to believe; to be at work, when we ought to be quiet; to go our own way, when we ought steadily to walk on in God's ways, however trying to nature. When I was first converted, I should have said, What harm can there be to take some of the money which has been put by for the building fund? God will help me again after some time with means for the orphans, and then I can replace it. Or, there is this money due for the legacy of one hundred pounds. This money is quite sure; may I not, therefore, on the strength of it, take some of the money from the building fund, and, when the legacy is paid, replace the money which I have taken? From what I have seen of believers, I know that many would act thus. But how does it work, when we thus anticipate God, by going our own way? We bring, in many instances, guilt on our conscience; but if not, we certainly weaken faith instead of increasing it; and each time we work thus a deliverance of our own we find it more and more difficult to trust in God, till at last we give way entirely to our natural fallen reason, and unbelief prevails. How different, if one is enabled to wait God's own time, and to look alone to him for help and deliverance! When at last help comes, after many seasons of prayer it may be, and after much exercise of faith and patience it may be, how sweet it is, and what a present recompense does the soul at once receive for trusting in God, and waiting patiently for his deliverance! Dear Christian reader, if you have never walked in this path of obedience before, do so now, and you will then know experimentally the sweetness of the joy which results from it.
Oct. 12. By sale of rags and bones twelve shillings sixpence. I copy literally from the receipt book. We seek to make the best of everything. As a steward of public money, I feel it right that even these articles should be turned into money; nor could we expect answers to our prayers if knowingly there were any waste allowed in connection with this work. For just because the money is received from God, simply in answer to prayer only, therefore it becomes us the more to be careful in the use of it.
From Dec. 20, 1852, to Jan. 4, 1853, we had nothing in advance of our wants. Means came in only as they were required for pressing needs. But on the 4th January, we received, as stated under another head, the largest donation I ever had, of which I took six hundred pounds for the support of the orphans. These facts I state, in order to give a practical illustration that those are entirely mistaken who suppose that the work is now no longer a work of faith, as it used to be in former years. It is true, we have now a larger income than we used to have in the years 1838, 1839, and 1840; but it is also true that our expenses are three times as great. We have no regular income now, even as we had not then. We ask no human being now for help; even as we did not then. We depend alone upon God, by his grace; even as we did then. Who is there in the whole world who will state that I ever asked him for help in this orphan work, from its commencement, on Dec. 9, 1835, up till now? Now, as we have no funds to live upon; as we have no regular subscribers or donors upon whom we could depend; as we never ask help from man, but God alone; and as, finally, we never did go into debt for this work, nor do we now: why is it not now a work of faith, as formerly? Will those who say it is not, place themselves in the position in which I was, when, at the close of the year 1852, I had not two pounds left, and about three hundred and thirty persons were day by day to be provided for, with all they need, and prove whether it is now anything else than a work of faith? But perhaps I have said too much about this. For every one, except those who are determined not to see, will have no difficulty in perceiving that now, as formerly, one could only be kept from being overwhelmed in such a position by looking day by day to the Lord, and that not merely for pecuniary supplies, but for help under the numberless difficulties which continually are met with in such a work.
How can I sufficiently praise, and adore, and magnify the Lord for his love and faithfulness in carrying me thus from year to year through this his service, supplying me with all I need in the way of means, fellow-laborers, mental strength, and, above all, spiritual support! But for his help and support I should be completely overpowered in a very short time; yet, by his help I go on, and am very happy, spiritually, in my service; nor am I now generally worse in health than I was twenty years ago, but rather better.
During the year 1852-53, there were four day schools, with 235 children in them, entirely supported by the funds of the Institution. Further, one Sunday school in Bristol, with 150 children, was entirely supported, and three others in Devonshire, Somersetshire, and Gloucestershire, with 280 children, were assisted. Lastly, one adult school, with 103 adult scholars, was entirely supported by the funds of the Institution. There were under our care, from March 5, 1834, to May 26, 1853, in the various day schools 5,686 children, in the Sunday schools 2,673 children, and in the adult school 2,132 persons. There was expended of the funds of the Institution during this year, for the various schools, £349, 12s. 11d.
During this year there was laid out of the funds of the Institution, on the circulation of the Holy Scriptures, £431, 5s, 1½d., and there were circulated 1,666 Bibles and 1,210 New Testaments. There were circulated from March 5, 1834, up to May 26, 1853, 10,476 Bibles, and 6,061 New Testaments.
For several years past this part of the work has appeared more and more important to me on account of the fearful attempts which have been made by the powers of darkness to rob the church of Christ of the Holy Scriptures. I have on this account sought to embrace every opportunity to circulate the Holy Scriptures in England, Ireland, Canada, British Guiana, the East Indies, China, Australia, etc. Every open door which the Lord was pleased to set before me in these or other parts of the world, I have joyfully entered; yea, I have counted it a privilege, indeed, to be permitted of God to send forth his Holy Word. Many servants of Christ, in various parts of the world, have assisted me in this service, through whose instrumentality copies of the Holy Scriptures have been circulated.
During this year there was spent of the funds of the Institution for missionary objects £2,234, 2s. 6d. By this sum fifty-four 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, 1852, to May 26, 1853, the sum of £555, 16s. 7½d.; and there were circulated within this year 733,674 tracts.
The total number of tracts which were circulated up to May 26, 1853, was 1,820,040. From Nov. 19, 1840, to May 10, 1842, the first period that the circulation of tracts was in operation in connection with the Scriptural Knowledge Institution for Home and Abroad, there were circulated 19,609; from May 26, 1851, to May 26, 1852, 489,136; and during this period 733,674.
At the beginning of this period there were 300 orphans in the new Orphan House on Ashley Down, Bristol. During the year there were admitted into it 13 orphans, making 313 in all. The total number of orphans who were under our care from April, 1836, to May 26, 1853, was 528.
Without any one having been personally applied to for anything by me, the sum of £55,408, 17s. 5¾d. was given to me for the orphans, as the result of prayer to God, from the commencement of the work up to May 26, 1853. It may be also interesting to the reader to know that the total amount which was given for the other objects, from the commencement of the work up to May 26, 1853, amounted to £19,163, 14s. 1½d.; 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 £3,490, 7s. 1¼d. Besides this, also, a great variety and number of articles of clothing, furniture, provisions, etc., were given for the use of the orphans.
The expenses in connection with the support of the 300 orphans and the apprentices during this year were £3,453, 15s. 1½d.
Dec. 31, 1852. During this year there have been received into fellowship 35 believers. The Lord has been pleased to give unto me £445, 8s. 8½d.
My brother-in-law, Mr. A. N. Groves, of whom mention has been made in the first part of this Narrative, as having been helpful to me by his example when I began my labors in England in 1829, in that he, without any visible support, and without being connected with any missionary society, went with his wife and children to Bagdad, as a missionary, after having given up a lucrative practice of about one thousand five hundred pounds per year, returned in autumn 1852, from the East Indies, a third time, being exceedingly ill. He lived, however, till May 20, 1853, when, after a most blessed testimony for the Lord, he fell asleep in Jesus in my house.
I have already stated that on May 26, 1853, I had on hand toward building premises large enough for the accommodation of 700 children, the sum of £12,531, 12s. 0¼d.
A single circumstance will illustrate the widely diverse sources from which donations are received, as well as the great disparity in amount.
Jan. 17, 1854. From S. R. and E. R., two poor factory girls, near Stroud, 1s. 7d. This day I also received the promise that there should be paid to me, for the work of the Lord in my hands, £5,207, to be disposed of as I might consider best.
The whole amount received for the new Orphan House, during the year closing May 26, 1854, was £5,285, 17s. 5d., which made the total of £17,816, 19s. 5¼d. in hand on May 26, 1854.
During this year the current expenses for the various objects of the Scriptural Knowledge Institution for Home and Abroad amounted to £7,507, 0s. 11½d., being £471, 8s. 11d. more than during any previous year; yet the Lord not only enabled me to meet them all, but to add the sum of £5,285, 7s. 5d. to the building fund.
There is yet a large sum required before I shall be enabled to build another house for 700 orphans; nor have I now, any more than at the first, any natural prospect of obtaining what is yet needed; but my hope is in the living God. When I came to the conclusion that it was the will of God that I should build another Orphan House, I had not only no natural prospect of obtaining the £35,000 which would be needed for this object, but also I had no natural prospect of being able to provide for the necessities of the three hundred orphans already under my care. Three years have elapsed since then, and I have had all I needed for them, amounting to about £10,500; and £17,816, 19s. 5¼d. I have received for the building fund. May I not well trust in the Lord for what is yet needed for the building fund? By his grace I will do so, and delight in doing so; for I know that at last all my prayers will be turned into praises concerning this part of the service.
There is one point which is particularly an encouragement to me to go on waiting upon the Lord for the remainder of the means which are required, viz: applications for the admission of orphans continue to be made. On May 26, 1853, there were 480 orphans waiting for admission. Since then 181 more have been applied for, making in all 661. These children are from three months old and upwards, and all bereaved of both parents by death.
During the year now under review I received the following donation for the missionary laborers, under circumstances of peculiar interest.
On Aug. 9, 1853, I received a letter from a Christian brother, accompanied with an order for eighty-eight pounds two shillings sixpence on his bankers, of which three pounds two shillings sixpence were the proceeds of an orphan box in a meeting-place of believers, and eighty-five pounds from a poor widow who had sold her little house, being all her property, and who had put ninety pounds, the total amount of what she had received, into that orphan box two months before, on June 9, 1853. In this box the money had been for some time, without its being known, till the orphan box was opened, and the ninety pounds with a few lines without name were found in it. As, however, the fact of her intending to sell the little house, and her intention of sending me the money for the Lord's work, had been known to the brother who sent me the money, he did not feel free to send it to me without remonstrating with her through two brethren, whom he sent with the money, offering it again to her; for he knew her to be very poor, and feared that this might be an act of excitement, and therefore be regretted afterwards. These brethren could not prevail on her to receive back the money, but they did persuade her to receive back five pounds of the amount, and then the brother referred to felt no longer free to keep the money from me, and hence sent me the eighty-five pounds.
On the receipt of this, I wrote at once to the poor godly widow, offering her the travelling expenses for coming to Bristol, that I might have personal intercourse with her; for I feared lest this should be an act of excitement, and the more so, as she had received back five pounds of the sum. This sister in the Lord, a widow of about sixty years of age, came to Bristol, and told me in all simplicity how that ten years before, in the year 1843, she had purposed that if ever she should come into the possession of the little house in which she lived with her husband, she would sell it, and give the proceeds of it to the Lord. About five years afterwards her husband died, and she, having no children, nor any one having particular claim upon her, then sought to dispose of her little property, as had been her mind all those years before. However, one difficulty after another prevented her being able to effect a sale. At last she felt in particular difficulty on account of her inability to pay the yearly ground-rent of the little house and garden, and she asked the Lord to enable her to sell the property, in order that she might be able to carry out her desire which she had had for ten years, to give to him the proceeds of this her possession. He now helped her. The house was sold, the money paid, and she put the whole ninety pounds into the orphan box for me, being assured that the Lord would direct me how best the money might be used for him. I still questioned her again and again, to find out whether it was not excitement which had led her to act as she had done; but I not only saw that her mind had been fully decided about this act for ten years before, but that she also was able to answer from the word of God all the objections which I purposely made, in order to probe her, whether she had intelligently and from right motives acted in what she had done. At last I was fully satisfied that it was not from impulse, nor under excitement, that she had given the money. I next stated to her something like this: "You are poor, and you are about sixty years old, therefore decreasing in strength, and may you not therefore keep this money for yourself?" Her reply was, as nearly as I remember, something like this: "God has always provided for me, and I have no doubt he will do so in future also. I am able to work and to earn my bread as well as others, and am willing to work as a nurse, or in any other way." What could I say against this? This is just what a child of God would say, and should say. But the greatest of all the difficulties to the accepting of the eighty-five pounds remained in my mind, and I state it, as I relate the whole for the profit of the reader. It was this. The house had been sold for ninety pounds. The whole amount had been put into the box, but, on the persuasion of those two brethren who were requested to remonstrate with this widow, she had been induced to take back five pounds out of the ninety pounds. I therefore said to myself, might she not be willing, after a time, to take back the whole ninety pounds; how, therefore, can I feel happy in accepting this money? On this account I particularly laid stress upon this point, and told her that I feared she might regret her act altogether after some time, as she had taken back this five pounds. I now learned the circumstances under which she had been induced to take back this five pounds.
The two brethren who had called on her for the purpose of pointing out to her the propriety of receiving back again the ninety pounds, or part of it, told her that Barnabas sold his land, but afterwards lived with others on that which he and others had thrown into the common stock, and that, therefore, she might receive at least part of the ninety pounds back again, if she would not take the whole. She then said to herself that, "as a child of God, she might take the children's portion," and, as she had given to God this ninety pounds, she might receive five pounds back again. She told me that she considered the brethren had shown her from the Holy Scriptures what she might do, and therefore she had taken this five pounds. I did not myself agree with the judgment of those brethren who had said this (as there is no evidence that Barnabas ever was supported out of the common stock, the proceeds of the sale of houses and lands, out of which the poor were supported); but I purposely said nothing to the widow, lest she should at once be induced to give me this five pounds also. She had, however, this five pounds untouched, and showed it to me; and before she left she would make me take one pound of it for the benefit of the orphans, which I did not refuse, as I had no intention of keeping the eighty-five pounds. She also gave me a sixpence for the orphans, which some one had given her for herself, a few days before.
I now asked her, as this matter concerning the retaining of the five pounds was satisfactorily explained, as far as it respected her own state of heart, what she wished me to do with the money, in case I saw it right to keep it. Her reply was that she would leave that with me, that God would direct me concerning it; but that, if she said anything at all about it, she should most like it to be used for the support of brethren who labor in the word without any salary, and who hazard their lives for the name of Christ. She wished me to have a part of the money; but this I flatly refused, lest I should be evil spoken of in this matter. I then offered to pay her travelling expenses, as she had come to me, which she would not accept, as she did not stand in need of it. In conclusion, I told her that I would now further pray respecting this matter, and consider what to do concerning it. I then prayed with this dear, godly woman, commended her to God, separated from her, and have not seen her since.
I waited from Aug. 9, 1853, to March 7, 1854, when I wrote to her, offering her back again the whole eighty-five pounds, or a part of it. On March 9, 1854, just seven months after I had received the money, and just nine months after she had actually given it, and ten years and nine months after she had made the resolution to give her house and garden to God, I heard from her, stating that she was of the same mind as she had been for years. I therefore disposed of the money, to aid such foreign missionary brethren as, according to the best of my knowledge, resembled most the class of men whom she wished to assist.
The reasons why I have so minutely dwelt upon this circumstance are: 1. If, as a steward of the bounties of the children of God, I should be blamed for receiving from a poor widow almost literally her all, it may be seen in what manner I did so. To have refused on March 9, 1854, also, would be going beyond what I should be warranted to do. 2. I desired, also, to give a practical illustration that I only desire donations in God's way. It is not the money only I desire; but the money received in answer to prayer, in God's order. 3. This circumstance illustrates how God helps me often in the most unexpected manner. 4. I have also related this instance that there may be a fresh proof that even in these last days the love of Christ is of constraining power, and may work mightily, as in the days of the apostles. I have witnessed many such instances as this, in the twenty years during which I have been occupied in this my service. Let us give thanks to God for such cases, and let us seek for grace rather to imitate such godly men and women, than think that they are going too far. I cannot, however, dismiss this subject, without commending this poor widow to the prayers of all who love our Lord Jesus, that she may be kept humble, lest, thinking highly of herself, on account of what she has been enabled to do, by the grace of God, she should not only lose blessing in her own soul, but this circumstance should become a snare to her. Pray also, believing reader, that she may never be allowed to regret what she has done for the Lord.
After giving in detail the sources and manner of supply for the maintenance of the orphans during twenty-four days, Mr. M. adds:--
The particular end why I have been so minute, is, to show that the work is now, as much as ever, a work carried on entirely in dependence upon the living God, who alone is our hope, and to whom alone we look for help, and who never has forsaken us in the hour of need. There is, however, one thing different with reference to this year, when compared with former years, and that is, that, while our trials of faith during this year were just as great as in previous years, the amount needed in former times was never so great as during this year, especially as the bread during the greater part of this year was about twice as dear as for several years before.
But then, it may be said, If you have had this trial of faith, with these three hundred orphans, why do you seek to build another Orphan House for seven hundred more, and thus have a thousand to care for? Will you not have still greater trials of faith?
My reply is: 1. God has never failed me all the twenty years of this my service. 2. I am going on as easily now, with three hundred orphans, as with thirty, the number with which I commenced. Their number is ten times as large as it was at the first; but God has always helped me. 3. Trials of faith were anticipated, yea, were one chief end of the work, for the profit of the church of Christ at large. 4. I had courage given me to go forward, solely in dependence upon God, being assured that he would help me; yet I waited in secret upon him for six months before I made this my intention known, in order that I might not take a hasty step; and I have never regretted my having gone forward. 5. But it needs to be added that the very abundance which the Lord gave me at the time, when my mind was exercised about this matter, was a great confirmation to me that I had not mistaken his mind. And even during this year, how great has been his help; for the income for the work altogether has been twelve thousand seven hundred and eighty-five pounds fifteen shillings sevenpence halfpenny. I am, therefore, assured that the Lord will, in his own time, not only allow me to build another Orphan House, but that he will also, when he shall have been pleased to fill it, find the means to provide for these children.
During this year four day schools, with 202 children, were entirely supported by the funds of the Institution. Further, one Sunday school in Bristol, with 137 children, was entirely supported, and three others in Devonshire, Somersetshire, and Gloucestershire, with 300 children, were assisted. Lastly, one adult school, with 154 adult scholars, was entirely supported. The total amount which was spent during this year in connection with these schools was £359, 15s. 10½d. The number of all the children who were under our care merely in the schools which were entirely supported by this Institution, from March 5, 1834, to May 26, 1854, was 5,817 in the day schools, 2,748 in the Sunday schools, and 2,315 persons in the adult school.
During this year was expended on the circulation of the Holy Scriptures, of the funds of the Institution, £433, 2s. 9d. There were circulated during this year 1,890 Bibles and 1,288 New Testaments; and from the commencement of the work up to May 26, 1854, 12,366 Bibles and 7,349 Testaments.
During this year there was spent of the funds of the Institution, for missionary objects, the sum of £2,249, 10s. 8½d. By this sum fifty-six laborers in the word and doctrine, in various parts of the world, were to a greater or less degree assisted.
During this year, the Lord was pleased to bless again abundantly the labors of many of those servants of Christ who were assisted through the funds of this Institution, and this has been the case in foreign countries as well as at home.
There was laid out for the circulation of tracts, from May 26, 1853, to May 26, 1854, the sum of £563, 5s. 0½d.; and there were circulated 869,636 tracts.
The total number of all the tracts which were circulated from the beginning up to May 26, 1854, was 2,689,676.
We desire to be grateful to the Lord that during no period previously we were enabled to circulate more tracts, and more copies of the Holy Scriptures, and to aid to a greater degree missionary labors, than during this period; yet we would not rest in that. It is the blessing of the Lord upon our labors which we need, which we desire, and which by his grace we also seek.
If any of the Christian readers are in the habit of circulating tracts, and yet have never seen fruit, may I suggest to them the following hints for their prayerful consideration. 1. Seek for such a state of heart, through prayer and meditation on the Holy Scriptures, as that you are willing to let God have all the honor, if any good is accomplished by your service. If you desire for yourself the honor, yea, though it were in part only, you oblige the Lord, so to speak, to put you as yet aside as a vessel not meet for the Master's use. One of the greatest qualifications for usefulness in the service of the Lord is a heart truly desirous of getting honor for him. 2. Precede all your labors with earnest, diligent prayer; go to them in a prayerful spirit; and follow them by prayer. Do not rest on the number of tracts you have given. A million of tracts may not be the means of converting one single soul; and yet how great, beyond calculation, may be the blessing which results from one single tract. Thus it is also with regard to the circulation of the Holy Scriptures, and the ministry of the word itself. Expect, then, everything from the blessing of the Lord, and nothing at all from your own exertions. 3. And yet, at the same time, labor, press into every open door, be instant in season and out of season, as if everything depended upon your labors. This, as has been stated before, is one of the great secrets in connection with successful service for the Lord: to work, as if everything depended upon our diligence, and yet not to rest in the least upon our exertions, but upon the blessing of the Lord. 4. This blessing of the Lord, however, should not merely be sought in prayer, but it should also be expected, looked for, continually looked for; and the result will be that we shall surely have it. 5. But suppose that, for the trial of our faith, this blessing were for a long time withheld from our sight; or suppose, even, that we should have to fall asleep before we see much good resulting from our labors; yet will our labors, if carried on in such a way and spirit as has been stated, be at last abundantly owned, and we shall have a rich harvest in the day of Christ.
At the beginning of this period there were 300 orphans in the new Orphan House on Ashley Down, Bristol. During the year there were admitted into it 30 orphans, making 330 in all. The total number of orphans who were under our care from April, 1836, to May 26, 1854, was 558.
The expenses during this year for the support of the orphans were £3,897, 2s. 0½d.
Without any one having been personally applied to for anything by me, the sum of £64,591, 6s. 11¼d. was given to me for the orphans, as the result of prayer to God, from the commencement of the work up to May 26, 1854. It may be also interesting to the reader to know that the total amount which was given for the other objects, from the commencement of the work up to May 26, 1854, amounted to £22,268, 2s. 11¼d.; and that which came in by the sale of Bibles and tracts, and by the payments of the children in the day schools, from the commencement up to May 26, 1854, amounted to £3,989, 4s. 5¾d.
Our labors continued to be blessed among the orphans. We saw also again fruit of our labors, during this year, with regard to orphans who formerly were under our care.
In July, 1853, it pleased the Lord to try my faith in a way in which before it had not been tried. My beloved daughter, an only child, and a believer since the commencement of the year 1846, was taken ill on June 20. This illness, at first a low fever, turned to typhus. On July 3 there seemed no hope of her recovery. Now was the trial of faith. But faith triumphed. My beloved wife and I were enabled to give her up into the hands of the Lord. He sustained us both exceedingly. But I will only speak about myself. Though my only and beloved child was brought near the grave, yet was my soul in perfect peace, satisfied with the will of my heavenly Father, being assured that he would only do that for her and her parents which in the end would be the best. She continued very ill till about July 20, when restoration began. On Aug. 18 she was so far restored that she could be removed to Clevedon, for change of air, though exceedingly weak. It was then fifty-nine days since she was first taken ill.
While I was in this affliction, this great affliction, besides being at peace, as far as the Lord's dispensation was concerned, I also felt perfectly at peace with regard to the cause of the affliction. When in August, 1831, the hand of the Lord was heavily laid on me in my family, as related in the first part of this Narrative, I had not the least hesitation in knowing that it was the Father's rod, applied in infinite wisdom and love for the restoration of my soul from a state of lukewarmness. At this time, however, I had no such feeling. Conscious as I was of my manifold weaknesses, failings, and shortcomings, so that I too would be ready to say with the Apostle Paul, "O wretched man than I am!" yet I was assured that this affliction was not upon me in the way of the fatherly rod, but for the trial of my faith. Persons often have, no doubt, the idea respecting me, that all my trials of faith regard matters connected with money, though the reverse has been stated by me very frequently; now, however, the Lord would try my faith concerning one of my dearest earthly treasures, yea, next to my beloved wife, the dearest of all my earthly possessions. Parents know what an only child, a beloved child, is, and what to believing parents an only child, a believing child, must be. Well, the Father in heaven said, as it were, by this his dispensation, Art thou willing to give up this child to me? My heart responded, As it seems good to thee, my heavenly Father. Thy will be done. But as our hearts were made willing to give back our beloved child to him who had given her to us; so he was ready to leave her to us, and she lived. "Delight thyself also in the Lord; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart." Psalm xxxvii. 4. The desires of my heart were, to retain the beloved daughter, if it were the will of God; the means to return her were, to be satisfied with the will of the Lord.
Of all the trials of faith that as yet I have had to pass through, this was the greatest; and, by God's abundant mercy, I own it to his praise, I was enabled to delight myself in the will of God; for I felt perfectly sure that if the Lord took this beloved daughter, it would be best for her parents, best for herself, and more for the glory of God than if she lived: this better part I was satisfied with; and thus my heart had peace, perfect peace, and I had not a moment's anxiety. Thus would it be under all circumstances, however painful, were the believer exercising faith.
Dec. 31, 1853. During this year the Lord was pleased to give me £638, 11s. 8½d.