A NARRATIVE OF SOME OF THE LORD'S DEALINGS WITH GEORGE MUeLLER
WRITTEN BY HIMSELF
PREFACE TO THE
FIRST EDITION OF THE SECOND PART.
THROUGH grace I am, in some measure, conscious of my many weaknesses and deficiencies; but, with all this, I know that I am a member of the body of Christ, and that, as such, I have a place of service in the body. The realization of this has laid upon me the responsibility of serving the church in the particular way for which the Lord has fitted me, and this has led me to write this second little volume, if by any means those of my fellow-saints, who have not yet learned the importance and preciousness of dealing with God Himself under all circumstances, may be helped in learning this lesson. Nor did I think that the first part of this Narrative rendered the second part needless, because that contains more especially the Lord's dealings with me as an individual, whilst this gives, more particularly, an account of the remarkable way in which the Lord has helped me in reference to His work in my hands. For this second part carries on the account of the Orphan-Houses, etc., which are under my care, and contains the substance of the Reports previously published, so that any one who wishes to have the account from the beginning up to the end of last year, may be able to obtain it. This latter point alone made it needful for me to think about publishing this second part, as of the Reports for 1838 and 1839, which still almost daily are inquired after, there are only a few copies left, though 2,500 of the one and 3,000 of the other were published and of the Report for 1840 there are also only about 500, out of 4,000, remaining. The being thus able to put the whole account of the work into the hands of an inquiring individual, affords such a one a fairer opportunity of seeing the working of those scriptural principles on which the Institution is established. And, lastly, the Lord's continued blessing upon the first part of the Narrative and the Reports, both to believers and unbelievers, has induced me to publish this second volume, which I now affectionately commend to the prayers of the saints, requesting at the same time their prayers for myself.
Bristol, June 14, 1841.
In publishing the continuation of the Narrative of some of the Lord's dealings with me, I have thought it well to give it in the same form in which the larger portion of the former part is written. I therefore proceed to give extracts from my journal making here and there such remarks as occasion may seem to require. The first, part of the Narrative was carried on to the beginning of July 1837, from which period the Continuation commences.
July 18, 1837. Four trials came upon me this morning, without my having previously had opportunity for secret prayer. I had been prevented from rising early, on account of having to spend part of the night in a sick chamber; but this circumstance shows, how important it is to rise early, when we are able, in order that we may be prepared, by communion with the Lord, to meet the trials of the day.
Aug. 15. Today the first 500 copies of my Narrative arrived, and I had, once more, some conflict of mind whether, after all, I had not been mistaken in this matter. A sort of trembling came over me, and a wish to be able to retrace the step. Judging, however, from the most searching self-examination, through which I had caused my heart to pass again and again, as to my motives, before I began writing, and whilst I was writing; and judging, moreover, from the earnestness in prayer with which I had sought to ascertain the mind of God in the matter, and from the subsequent full assurance which I had had of its being according to His will, that in this way I should serve the Church;—I was almost immediately led to consider this uncomfortable and trying feeling as a temptation, and I therefore went to the box, opened it, brought out some copies, and soon after gave away one, so that the step could not be retraced. [This was the last temptation or struggle I have had of that kind; for, though, very many times since, I have had abundant reason for praising the Lord that He put such an honour upon me, in allowing me to speak well of His name in so public a manner, I have never since, even for one minute, been allowed to regret publishing the Narrative; and almost daily have I been more and more confirmed in the conviction, that the giving such like publications to the church, making known the Lord's dealings with me, is one part of my service towards the saints.]
Aug. 17. Today two more children were received into the Infant Orphan-House, which makes up our full number, 66 in the Girls' and infant-Orphan-Houses.
Aug. 28. When brother Craik and I began to labour in Bristol, and consequently some believers united with us in fellowship, assembling together at Bethesda, we began meeting together on the basis of the written Word only, without having any church rules whatever. From the commencement it was understood, that, as the Lord should help us, we would try everything by the word of God, and introduce and hold fast that only which could be proved by Scripture. When we came to this determination on Aug. 13, 1832, it was indeed in weakness, but it was in uprightness of heart.—On account of this it was, that, as we ourselves were not fully settled as to whether those only who had been baptized after they had believed, or whether all who believed in the Lord Jesus, irrespective of baptism, should be received into fellowship nothing was determined about this point. We felt free to break bread and be in communion with those who were not baptized, and therefore could with a good conscience labour at Gideon, where the greater part of the saints, at least at first, were unbaptized; but, at the same time, we had a secret wish that none but believers who were baptized might be united with us at Bethesda. Our reason for this was, that we had witnessed in Devonshire much painful disunion, resulting, as we thought, from baptized and unbaptized believers being in fellowship. Without, then, making it a rule, that Bethesda Church was to be one of close communion, we nevertheless took care that those who applied for fellowship should be instructed about baptism. For many months there occurred no difficulty, as none applied for communion but such as had either been already baptized, or wished to be, or who became convinced of the Scriptural character of believers' baptism, after we had conversed with them; afterwards, however, three sisters applied for fellowship, none of whom had been baptized; nor were their views altered, after we had conversed with them. As, nevertheless, brother Craik and I considered them true believers, and we ourselves were not fully convinced what was the mind of the Lord in such a case, we thought it right that these sisters should be received; yet so that it might be unanimously, as all our church acts then were done; but we knew by that time, that there were several in fellowship with us, who could not conscientiously receive unbaptized believers. We mentioned, therefore, the names of these three sisters to the church, stating that they did not see believers' baptism to be scriptural, and that, if any brother saw, on that account, a reason why they should not be received, he should let us know. The result was, that several objected, and two or three meetings were held, at which we heard the objections of the brethren, and sought for ourselves to obtain acquaintance with the mind of God on the point. Whilst several days thus passed away before the matter was decided, one of those three sisters came and thanked us, that we had not received her, before being baptized, for she now saw that it was only shame and the fear of man which had kept her back, and that the Lord had now made her willing to be baptized. By this circumstance those brethren, who considered it scriptural that all ought to be baptized before being received into fellowship, were confirmed in their views; and as to brother Craik and me, it made us, at least, still more question, whether, those brethren might not be right; and we felt therefore, that in such a state of mind we could not oppose them. The one sister, therefore, who wished to be baptized, was received into fellowship, but the two others not. Our consciences were the less affected by this, because all, though not baptized, might take the Lord's supper with us, at Bethesda, though not be received into full fellowship; and because at Gideon, where there were baptized and unbaptized believers, they might even be received into full fellowship; for we had not then clearly seen that there is no scriptural distinction between being in fellowship with individuals and breaking bread with them. Thus matters stood for many months, i.e. believers were received to the breaking of bread even at Bethesda, though not baptized, but they were not received to all the privileges of fellowship.—In August of 1836 I had a conversation with brother H. C. on the subject of receiving the unbaptized into communion, a subject about which, for years, my mind had been more or less exercised. This brother put the matter thus before me: either unbaptized believers come under the class of persons who walk disorderly, and, in that case, we ought to withdraw from them (2 Thess. iii. 6); or they do not walk disorderly. If a believer be walking disorderly, we are not merely to withdraw from him at the Lord's table, but our behaviour towards him ought to be decidedly different from what it would be were he not walking disorderly, on all occasions when we may have intercourse with him, or come in any way into contact with him, Now this is evidently not the case in the conduct of baptized believers towards their unbaptized fellow-believers. The Spirit does not suffer it to be so, but He witnesses that their not having been baptized does not necessarily imply that they are walking disorderly; and hence there may be the most precious communion between baptized and unbaptized believers. The Spirit does not suffer us to refuse fellowship with them in prayer, in reading and searching the Scriptures, in social and intimate intercourse, and in the Lord's work; and yet this ought to be the case, were they walking disorderly.—This passage, 2 Thess. iii. 6, to which brother R. C. referred, was the means of showing me the mind of the Lord on the subject, which is, that we ought to receive all whom Christ has received (Rom. xv. 7), irrespective of the measure of grace or knowledge which they have attained unto.—Some time after this conversation, in May 1837, an opportunity occurred, when we (for brother Craik had seen the same truth) were called upon to put into practice the light which the Lord had been pleased to give us. A sister, who neither had been baptized, nor considered herself under any obligation to be baptized, applied for fellowship. We conversed with her on this as on other subjects, and proposed her for fellowship, though our conversation had not convinced her that she ought to be baptized. This led the church again to the consideration of the point. We gave our reasons, from Scripture, for considering it right to receive this unbaptized sister to all the privileges of the children of God; but a considerable number, one-third perhaps, expressed conscientious difficulty in receiving her. The example of the Apostles in baptizing the first believers upon a profession of faith, was especially urged, which indeed would be an insurmountable difficulty, had not the truth been mingled with error for so long a time, so that it does not prove willful disobedience, if any one in our day should refuse to be baptized after believing. The Lord, however, gave us much help in pointing out the truth to the brethren, so that the number of those, who considered that only baptized believers should be in communion, decreased almost daily. At last, only fourteen brethren and sisters out of above 180, thought it right, this Aug. 28, 1837, to separate from us, after we had had much intercourse with them. [I am glad to be able to add, that, even of these 14, the greater part afterwards saw their error, and came back again to us, and that the receiving of all who love our Lord Jesus into full communion, irrespective of baptism, has never been the source of disunion among us, though more than forty-four years have passed away since.]
Sept. 2. I have been looking about for a house for the Orphan Boys, these last three days. Every thing else has been provided. The Lord has given suitable individuals to take care of the children, money, &c. In His own time He will give a house also.
Sept. 6. This morning I accompanied a sister, who had been staying a night with us, to the steamer. In answer to prayer I awoke at the right time, the fly came at half-past five, her trunk was got from the vessel in which she came yesterday, and we arrived before the steamer had left. In all these four points I felt my dependence upon the Lord, and He, having put prayer into my heart, answered it in each of these four particulars.
Sept. 15. This evening we had a meeting for inquirers and applicants for fellowship. There were more than we could see within three hours; and when all strength was gone, we had to send away four. Among those whom we saw was E. W., who had been kept for some time from applying for fellowship, on account of not seeing believers' baptism to be scriptural. She wished to be taught, but could not see it. She felt grieved that on that account she could not attend to the breaking of bread, which she did see to be scriptural. As soon as open communion was brought about at Bethesda, she wished to offer herself for fellowship, but was twice prevented by circumstances from doing so. Last Wednesday evening she came to the baptizing, when once more, after the lapse of more than two years, I preached on baptism, which fully convinced her of its being scriptural, and she desires now to be baptized. Her difficulty was, that she thought she had been baptized with the Spirit, and therefore needed no water baptism, which now, from Acts x. 44-47, she sees to be an unscriptural objection.—Though it is only one month this day since my Narrative was published, I have already heard of many instances in which the Lord has been pleased to bless it.
This morning we received a parcel with clothes and some money for the Orphans, from a sister at a distance. Among the donations in money was a little legacy, amounting to 6s. 6 1/2d. from a dear boy, the nephew of the sister who sent the things, who died in the faith. This dear child had had given to him, in his last illness, some new shillings, sixpences, and other smaller silver coins, amounting to the above-mentioned little sum. Shortly before he fell asleep, he requested that this his little treasure might be sent to the Orphans. This precious little legacy is the first we have had.
Sept. 19. Two things were today particularly impressed upon my heart, and may the Lord deepen the impression. 1. That I ought to seek for more retirement, though the work should apparently suffer ever so much. 2. That arrangements should be made, whereby I may be able to visit the brethren more, as an unvisited church will sooner or later become an unhealthy church. Pastors, as fellow-labourers, are greatly needed among us.
Sept. 28, I have for a long time been too much outwardly engaged. Yesterday morning I spent about three hours in the vestry of Gideon, to be able to have more time for retirement. I meant to do the same in the afternoon, but before I could leave the house I was called on, and thus one person after the other came, till I had to go out. Thus it has been again today.
Oct. 16. For a long time past brother Craik and I have felt the importance of more pastoral visiting, and it has been one of our greatest trials, that we have been unable to give more time to it. This evening we had purposely a meeting of the two Churches, at which brother Craik and I spoke on; I. The importance of pastoral visiting. II. The particular obstacles which hindered us in attending to it. III. The question whether there was any way of removing some of the obstacles.
I. As to the importance of pastoral visiting, the following points were mentioned: 1. Watching over the saints, by means of visiting them, to prevent coldness, or to recover them from backsliding. 2. To counsel and advise them in family affairs, in their business, and in spiritual matters. 3. To keep up that loving familiar intercourse, which is so desirable between the saints and those who have the oversight of them.—These visits should be, if possible, frequent; but in our case there have been several obstacles in the way.
II. The particular obstacles in our case are: 1. The largeness of the number who are in communion with us. One hundred would be quite as many as we have strength to visit regularly, and as often as would be desirable; but there are nearly 400 in fellowship with us. 2. The distance of the houses of the saints from our own dwellings, as many live more than two miles of. 3. The Lord's blessing upon our labours. Not one year has passed away, since we have been in Bristol, without more than fifty having been added to our number, each of whom, in general, needed several times to be conversed with before being admitted into fellowship. 4. That brother Craik and I have each of us the care of two churches. At the first sight it appears as if the work is thus divided, but the double number of meetings, &c., nearly double the work. 5. The mere ruling, and taking care, in general, of a large body of believers, irrespective of the other work, takes much more time, and requires much more strength, than the taking care of a small body of believers, as we, by grace, desire not to allow known sin among us. 6. The position which we have in the church at large brings many brethren to us who travel through Bristol, who call on us, or lodge with us, and to whom, according to the Lord's will, we have to give some time. 7. In my own case an extensive needful correspondence. 8. The weakness of body on the part of both of us. When the preaching is done,—when the strangers who lodge with us are gone,—when the calls at our house are over,—when the needful letters, however briefly, are written,—when the necessary church business is settled;—our minds are often so worn out, that we are glad to be quiet. 9. But suppose we have bodily strength remaining after the above things have been attended to, yet the frame of mind is not always so, as that one could visit. After having been particularly tried by church matters, which in so large a body does not rarely occur, or being cast down in one's own soul, one may be fit for the closet, but not for visiting the saints. 10. Lastly, in my own case, no small part of my time is taken up by attending to the affairs of the Orphan-Houses, Schools, the circulation of the Scriptures, the aiding Missionary efforts, and other work connected with the Scriptural Knowledge Institution.
III. What is to be done under these circumstances? 1. In the days of the Apostles there would have been more brethren to take the oversight of so large a body as we are. The Lord has not laid upon us a burden which is too heavy for us; He is not a hard master. It is evident that He does not mean us even to attempt to visit all the saints as much as is absolutely needful, and much less as frequently as it would be desirable. We mention this, to prevent uncomfortable feelings on the part of the dear saints under our pastoral care, who find themselves not as much visited as they used to be when we came to Bristol, when the number of them was not 70, and now it is about 400, and when in many other respects the work in our hands was not half so much, as it is now, and when we had much more bodily strength. 2. it is therefore evident that there are other pastors needed; not nominal pastors, but such as the Lord has called, to whom He has given a pastor's heart, and pastoral gifts. 3. Such may be raised up by the Lord from our own number, or the Lord may send them from elsewhere. 4. But in the meantime we should at least see whether there are not helpers among us. 5. As to the work itself, in order that time may be saved, it appears desirable that the two churches, Bethesda and Gideon, should be united into one, that the breaking of bread should be alternately, and that the number of weekly meetings should be reduced.
Oct. 21. A few weeks since I had rented a very large and a very cheap house for the Boys' Orphan-House; but as the persons who lived in that neighbourhood threatened the landlord with an action, on account of letting his house for a charitable institution, I, at once, gave up all claim. That which led me to do so, was the word of the Lord; "As much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men." I was quite sure when I gave up the agreement, that the Lord would provide other premises. On the same morning when this took place, Oct. 5, the Lord, to show His continued approbation of the work, sent 50l. by a sister, who is far from being rich, for the furnishing of the Boys' Orphan-House. Now, today, the Lord has given me another house for the Orphan-Boys, in the same street, in which the other two Orphan-Houses are. Thus, in His own time, He has sent help in this particular also. Indeed in everything, in which I have had to deal with Him alone in this work, I have never been disappointed.
Oct. 23. Today two young sisters were received into fellowship who have been in our Sunday-School. Thus we begin now to reap fruit in respect of our schools.
Nov. 1. Our Bible-School and Missionary funds having been for some time very low, I had been led repeatedly to ask the Lord for a rich supply, and mentioned several times, though with submission to His will, the sum of 100l. before Him. However, He seemed not to regard the prayer respecting the 100l., but gave to us by little and little what was needed. Yesterday I received a donation of 80l., and today one of 20l., and thus He has kindly given the 100l. By this means we are able to increase our stock of Bibles, which has been much reduced of late.
Nov. 5. Last night I awoke with a great weakness in my head, which kept me a good while awake. I at last got to sleep by tying a handkerchief round my head, and by thus pressing it. Today, however, though weak, I was able to preach, and that with much enjoyment, especially in the evening at Bethesda.
Nov. 6. I feel very weak in my head. This evening it was settled at a meeting of the two churches, assembling at Bethesda and Gideon Chapels, that, for the reasons before given, the two churches should be henceforth united as one.
Nov. 7. My head is so weak, that I see it absolutely needful to give up the work for some time. After I had come this morning to the conclusion to leave Bristol for a while for the purpose of quietness, I received an anonymous letter from Ireland with 5l. for my own personal expenses, and thus the Lord has kindly supplied me with the means for doing so.—I can work no longer, my head being in such a weak stated from continual exertion, so that I feel now comfortable in going, though scarcely any time could have been, humanly speaking, more unsuitable. The Orphan-House for the Boys is on the point of being opened, the labourers therefore are to be introduced into the work;—-most important church matters have been entered upon and are yet unsettled;—-but the Lord knows better, and cares for His work more than I do or can. Therefore I desire to leave the matter with Him, and He graciously helps me to do so, and thus, in the quiet submission to His will, and the willingness to leave the work in His own hands, I have the testimony that I have not been engaged in my own work but in His.
Nov. 8. This morning I left Bristol. When I left my house, I knew not what place to go to. All I knew was, that I must leave Bristol. A Bath coach was the first one I could get, and I took it. My intention was, not to go to brethren, as I needed perfect quietness; but I felt so uncomfortable at the hotel, on account of the worldliness of the place, that I went to see a brother, who with his aunts kindly pressed me to stay with them.—This evening has been a very trying season to me. My head has been very weak; I have greatly feared lest I should become insane; but amidst it all, through grace, my soul is quietly resting upon the Lord.
Nov. 12. Lord's day. I am still staying in Bath. The weakness of my head allowed me to attend but one meeting, and even that distressed my head much.
Nov. 13. I was greatly distressed this evening on account of my head. I prayed earnestly to be kept from insanity.
Nov. 14. I am rather better in my head today.
Nov. 15. I left Bath, and went back to Bristol, as I felt I needed more quietness than I can have in the house of any friends, being continually drawn into conversation, which my head cannot bear.
Nov. 16. Today I went to Weston Super Mare, to take lodgings for myself and family. A sister sent me this morning 5l., by which the Lord has provided me with the means for removing my family.
Nov. 17. Weston Super Mare. This evening my wife and child, and our servant arrived here. Yesterday a sister secretly put two sovereigns in my wife's pocket book. How kind is the Lord in thus providing us with means according to our need! How kind also in having just now sent brother T. to take the work arising from the Schools, Orphan-Houses, &c., just as brother C—r was sent two years ago, shortly before I was completely laid aside!—-Today a brother sent me information, that he had ordered one hundred pairs of blankets to be sent to me, for distribution among the poor.
Nov. 23. My general health is pretty good; my head, however, is no better, but rather worse. This evening I was led, through the affliction in my head, to great irritability of temper. Of late I have had afresh painfully to experience in myself two things: 1. that affliction in itself does not lead nearer to God. 2. That we may have a good deal of leisure time and yet fail in profitably improving it. Often had I wished within the last months that I might have more time. Now the Lord has given it to me, but alas! how little of it is improved for prayer. I find it a difficult thing, whilst caring for the body, not to neglect the soul. It seems to me much easier to go on altogether regardless of the body, in the service of the Lord, than to take care of the body, in the time of sickness, and not to neglect the soul, especially in an affliction like my present one, when the head allows but little reading or thinking.—-What a blessed prospect to be delivered from this wretched evil nature! I can say nothing respecting this day, and this evening in particular, but that I am a wretched man.
Nov. 24. I am now quite sure that I want more than mere quiet and change of air, even medical advice. My general health seems improved through my stay at Weston, but the disease in my head is increased. I have had many distressing moments since I have been at Weston, on account of fearing that my disease may be the forerunner of insanity; yet God has in mercy sustained me, and enabled me, in some small measure, notwithstanding my great sinfulness, to realize the blessing of being in Christ, and therefore secure for ever.
Nov. 25. We returned to Bristol. I was at peace, being able to cast myself upon the Lord respecting the calamity which I feared. This evening I saw a kind physician and surgeon, who told me that the disease is either a tendency of blood to the head, or that the nerves of the head are in a disordered state. They also told me that I had not the least reason to fear insanity. How little grateful is my soul for this!
Nov. 29. I am no better. A sister sent me today 5l. also a pickled tongue, fowls, cakes, and beautiful grapes were sent to me. My cup, as to temporal mercies, runs over.—-One of the Orphan children died while I was at Weston Super Mare. There is reason to believe that she died in the faith.
Nov. 30. I am not any better. I have written to my father, perhaps, for the last time. All is well, all will be well, all cannot but be well; because I am in Christ. How precious that now, in this my sickness, I have not to seek after the Lord, but have already found Him.
Dec. 1. By the mercy of God my head is somewhat relieved. My liver is in a most inactive state, which, as my kind medical attendants tell me, has created the pressure on the top of the head, and through the inactivity of the liver, the whole system having been weakened, and my mental exertions having been continued, the nerves of the head have greatly suffered in consequence.—-This evening was sent to me, anonymously, from a distance, 5l. for my own present necessities. The letter was only signed F. W.—-A sister, a stranger, gave to my wife 1l. Thus the Lord remembers our increased expenditure in consequence of my affliction, and sends to us accordingly.
Dec. 4. Yesterday I met with the brethren for the breaking of bread. Today I am not so well. Every time that I meet with them, the nerves of my head are excited, and I am worse afterwards. A sister from Barnstaple sent us 1l. l5s.
Dec. 8. My head is not so well as at the end of last week. I find it difficult to be in Bristol and not to exert my mind. Prayer and the reading of the Word I can bear better than any thing. May the Lord give me grace to pray more! I see as yet scarcely a single reason, so far as I myself am concerned, why the Lord should remove this affliction from me. I do not find myself more conformed to the mind of Jesus by it.
Dec. 9. Two years ago this day, I stated my intention of establishing an Orphan-House, if God should permit. What has God wrought since! 75 orphans are now under our care, and 21 more we can receive. Several more are daily expected. During the last twelvemonth the expenses have been about 740l., and the income about 840l. In addition to this, about 400l. has been expended upon the Schools, the circulation of the Scriptures, and in aiding Missionary purposes. More than 1100l. therefore we have needed during the past year, and our good Lord has supplied all, without one single person having been asked for any thing.
Dec. 12. Today the hundred pairs of blankets arrived. How kind of the Lord to give us the privilege of being instrumental in providing, in this respect, for some of the poor, both among the saints and in the world! This donation came in most seasonably, as, on inquiring into the circumstances of some of the poor, most affecting cases of distress were discovered, on account of the want of blankets. May the Lord give me grace to deny myself, in order to provide for the necessities of the poor! How much may be done even by a little self-denial! Lord, help me!—-The blankets were of a very good quality. It is a Christlike spirit in supplying the necessities of the poor, not to ask how little will do for them, but how richly may I possibly supply their need.
Dec. 14. A sister, who a short time since had given me 5l. for my own personal expenses, gave me another 5l. today. How very kind is the Lord in providing so abundantly for us, and giving us far more than we need!
Dec. 16. My head is not at all better, but rather worse. My medical attendants have today changed the medicine. But however kind and skillful they are, however nourishing the food which I take, however much I seek to refrain from over-exertion, and however much I take exercise in the air:—-till Thou, my great Physician, Thou, Creator of the Universe, Lord Jesus, dost restore me, I shall be laid aside!—-I have been working a little during the last fortnight, but only a little.
Dec. 17.—-Lord's day. This morning I saw the 32 orphan girls, who are above seven years old, pass under my window, to go to the chapel. When I saw these dear children in their clean dresses, and their comfortable warm cloaks; and when I saw them walking orderly under the care of a sister to the chapel; I felt grateful to God that I had been made the instrument of providing for them, seeing that they are all better off, both as it regards temporal and spiritual things, than if they were at the places from whence they were taken. I felt, that, to bring about such a sight, was worth the labour not only of many days, but of many months, or years. I felt that it answered all the arguments of some of my friends who say "you do too much."
Dec. 24. This is the seventh Lord's day that I have been laid aside.—-This day I determine, by the help of God, no more to send letters in parcels, because I now clearly see that it is against the laws of the country, and it becomes me, as a disciple of Jesus, in every respect to submit myself to the Government, in so far as I am not called upon to do any thing contrary to the word of God.
Dec. 26. Today the same brother who sent me the hundred pairs of blankets, sent me 100l. to purchase as many more blankets as I can satisfactorily distribute.
Dec. 29. Applications for the admission of orphans become more and more numerous. Almost daily fresh cases are brought before us. There are already as many applications for Orphan-Girls above seven years as would fill another house. There are also many more Infant-Orphans applied for than we can take in. Truly this is a large field of labour!
Dec. 31. This is the eighth Lord's day since I have been kept from ministering in the Word, nor did I think it well, on account of my head, to go to any of the meetings today. Whether I am really getting better I know not, yet I hope I am. My head is yet much affected, though my liver seems somewhat more active.—-This morning I greatly dishonoured the Lord by irritability, manifested towards my dear wife, and that almost immediately after I had been on my knees before God, praising Him for having given me such a wife.
REVIEW OF THE YEAR 1837.
I. There are now 81 children in the three Orphan-Houses, and nine brethren and sisters who have the care of them. Ninety, therefore, daily sit down to table. Lord look on the necessities of Thy servant!
II. The schools require as much help as before; nay, more, particularly the Sunday School, in which there are at present about 320 children, and in the Day Schools about 350.—-Lord, Thy servant is a poor man; but he has trusted in Thee, and made his boast in Thee, before the sons of men; therefore let him not be confounded! Let it not be said, all this is enthusiasm, and therefore it is come to nought.
III. My temporal supplies have been:—-
1. By the Freewill Offerings through the boxes L149 18s. 6 1/2d.
2. By Presents in money, from believers in and out of Bristol L77 4s. 0d.
3. By Presents in clothes, provisions, &c., which were worth to us at least L25 0s. 0d.
4. By Money through family connexion L45 0s. 0d.
5. We have been living half free of rent, whereby we have saved at least L10 0s. 0d.
Altogether L307 2s. 6 1/2d.
I have purposely given here again, as at the close of the former years, a statement of the supplies which the Lord has been pleased to send me during this year, because I delight in showing, both to the world and to the church, how kind a Master I have served even as to temporal blessings, and how so plainly in my ease the Lord has displayed the truth of that word "Whosoever believeth on Him shall not be confounded," not merely by providing the means for His work in my hands, but also by providing for the necessities of myself and family.
January 1, 1838. Through the good hand of our God upon me, I have been brought to the beginning of an other year. May He in mercy grant that it may be spent more in His service than any previous year! May I, through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, be more conformed to the image of His Son, than has been the case hitherto!—-Last night the brethren had a prayer meeting at Gideon, after the preaching was over, and continued till half-past twelve in prayer; but I was unable to be present.
Jan. 2. During the last night thieves broke into our house, and into the school-room of Gideon Chapel. Being stopped by a second strong door, in my house, or rather being prevented from going any further by our loving Father, who did not allow the hedge which He has set round about us, at this time, to be broken through, nothing was missing, except some cold meat, which they took out of the house.—-They broke open several boxes in Gideon school-room, but took nothing. They left some of the bones, the meat being cut off, in one of the boxes in Gideon school-room, and hung up another in a tree in our garden. So depraved is man naturally when left to himself, that he not only steals his fellowman's property, but also makes sport of the sin! How merciful that God has protected us! My mind was peaceful when I heard the news this morning, thanking God from my heart for preservation, and considering it as an answer to prayer, which had been many times put up to Him, during these last years, respecting thieves.
Jan. 6. I feel very little better in my head, though my general health seems improved; but my kind physician says I am much better, and advises me now change of air. I am most reluctant to go, though on two former occasions when I used change of air, in August 1829 at Exmouth, and in 1835 at Niton in the Isle of Wight, the Lord abundantly blessed me in doing so, both bodily and spiritually. This evening a sister who resides about fifty miles from hence, and who is therefore quite unacquainted with the medical advice given to me this morning, sent me 15l. for the express purpose of change of air, and wrote that she felt assured, from having been similarly afflicted, that nothing would do me so much good, humanly speaking, as quiet and change of air. How wonderfully does God work! I have thus the means of carrying into effect my physician's advice.—-Today I heard of a most remarkable case of conversion through the instrumentality of my Narrative.
Jan. 7. This is the ninth Lord's day that I have been kept from ministering in the Word. My head is in a distressing state, and, as far as I can judge, as bad as ever. It seems to me more and more clear that the nerves are affected. My affliction is connected with a great tendency to irritability of temper; yea, with some satanic feeling, foreign to me even naturally. O Lord, mercifully keep Thy servant from openly dishonouring Thy name! Rather take me soon home to Thyself!
Jan. 10. Today I went with my family to Trowbridge.
Jan. 12. Trowbridge. This evening I commenced reading Whitfield's life, written by Mr. Philip.
Jan. 13. I have already received blessings through Whitfield's life. His great success in preaching the Gospel is evidently to be ascribed, instrumentally, to his great prayerfulness, and his reading the Bible on his knees. I have known the importance of this for years; I have practiced it a little, but far too little. I have had more communion with God today than I have had, at least generally, for some time past.
Jan. 14. Lord's day. I have, continued reading Whitfield's life. God has again blessed it to my soul. I have spent several hours in prayer today, and read on my knees, and prayed for two hours over Psalm lxiii. God has blessed my soul much today. I have been fighting together with the armies of Jesus, though this is the tenth Lord's day since I have been kept from preaching, and though I have not assembled with the brethren here, on account of my head. My soul is now brought into that state, that I delight myself in the will of God, as it regards my health. Yea, I can now say, from my heart, I would not have this disease removed till God, through it, has bestowed the blessing for which it was sent. He has drawn out my soul much yesterday and today. Lord, continue Thy goodness, and fill me with love! I long, more fully to glorify God; not so much by outward activity, as by inward conformity to the image of Jesus. What hinders God, to make of one, so vile as I am, another Whitfield? Surely, God could bestow as much grace upon me, as He did upon him. O, my Lord, draw me closer and closer to Thyself, that I may run after Thee!—-I desire, if God should restore me again for the ministry of the Word (and this I believe He will do soon, judging from the state in which He has now brought my soul, though I have been worse in health the last eight days, than for several weeks previously), that my preaching may be more than ever the result of earnest prayer and much meditation, and that I may so walk with God, that "out of my belly may flow rivers of living water." But alas! if the grace of God prevent not, one day more, and the rich blessings, which He has bestowed upon my soul yesterday and today, will all vanish; but again, if He favours me (and oh! may He do it), I shall go from strength to strength, and I and the saints in Bristol shall have abundant reason to praise God for this my illness.
Jan. 15. I have had since yesterday afternoon less suffering in my head than for the last eight days! though it is even now far from being well. I have still an inward assurance, on account of the spiritual blessings which the Lord has granted to me, that through this affliction He is only purifying me for His blessed service, and that I shall be soon restored to the work.—-Today, also, God has continued to me fervency of spirit, which I have now enjoyed for three days following. He has today, also, drawn out my soul into much real communion with Himself, and into holy desires to be more conformed to His dear Son. When God gives a spirit of prayer, how easy then to pray! Nevertheless it was given to me in the use of the means, as I fell on my knees last Saturday, to read His Word with meditation, and to turn it into prayer. Today I spent about three hours in prayer over Ps. lxiv. and lxv. In reference to that precious word! "O thou that hearest prayer," (Ps. lxv. 2.) I asked the Lord the following petitions, and entreated Him to record them in heaven and to answer them.
1. That He would give me grace to glorify Him by a submissive and patient spirit under my affliction.
2. That, as I was enabled now, and only now from my heart, to praise God for this affliction, He would not remove His hand from me, until He had qualified me for His work more than I have been hitherto.
3. That He would be pleased to grant, that the work of conversion, through the instrumentality of brother Craik and myself, might not cease, but go on as much now as when we first came to Bristol, yea, more abundantly than even then.
4. That He would be pleased to give more real spiritual prosperity to the church under our care, than ever we have as yet enjoyed.
5. Having praised Him for the sale of so many copies of my Narrative in so short a time, I entreated Him to cause every copy to be disposed of.
6. I asked Him to continue to let His rich blessing rest upon this little work, and more abundantly, so that many may be converted through it, and many of the children of God truly benefited by it; and that thus I might now be speaking through it, though laid aside from active service.
7. I asked Him for His blessing, in the way of conversion, to rest upon the Orphans, and upon the Sunday and Day-School children under our care.
8. I asked Him for means to carry on these Institutions, and to enlarge them.
These are some of the petitions which I have asked of my God this evening in connexion with this His own word. I believe He has heard me. I believe He will make it manifest, in His own good time, that He has heard me; and I have recorded these my petitions this 14th day of January, 1838, that, when God has answered them, He may get, through this, glory to His name.—-[Whilst writing this second part, I add to the praise of the Lord, and for the encouragement of the children of God, that petitions 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8, have been fully answered, and the other petitions, likewise, in part.]
Jan. 16, Tuesday. A blessed day. How very good is the Lord! Fervency of spirit, through His grace, is continued to me, though this morning, but for the help of God, I should have lost it again. The weather has been very cold for several days; but today I suffered much, either because it was colder than before, or because I felt it more, owing to the weakness of my body, and having taken so much medicine. I arose from my knees, and stirred the fire; but I still remained very cold. I was a little irritated by this. I moved to another part of the room, but felt the cold still more. At last, having prayed for some time, I was obliged to rise up, and take a walk to promote circulation. I now entreated the Lord on my walk, that this circumstance might not be permitted to rob me of the precious communion which I have had with Him the last three days; for this was the object at which Satan aimed. I confessed also my sin of irritability on account of the cold, and sought to have my conscience cleansed through the blood of Jesus. He had mercy upon me, my peace was restored; and when I returned I sought the Lord again in prayer, and had uninterrupted communion with Him. [I have purposely mentioned the above circumstance, in detail, in order to show, how the most trivial causes may operate in suddenly robbing one of the enjoyment of most blessed communion with God.] I have been enabled to pray for several hours this day. The subject of my meditation has been Psalm lxvi.—Verses 10, 11, and 12, are particularly applicable to my present circumstances. God has already, through the instrumentality of this my affliction, brought me into a "wealthy place," and I believe He will bless my soul yet more and more.—-I do not remember any time, when I have had more fervency of spirit in connexion with such a desire to overcome every thing that is hateful in the sight of God, and with such an earnestness to be fully conformed to the image of Jesus. Truly, I have reason to apply to myself verse 16, and "tell what God has done for my soul."—Verse 18 also I can take to myself. I do not regard iniquity in my heart, but it is upright before Him, through His grace, and therefore God does hear my prayers.—What has God done for me, in comparing this 16th of January 1838 with the 16th of January 1820, the day on which my dear mother died.—I have also resolved this day, if the Lord should restore me again, to have an especial meeting at the chapel once a week, or once a fortnight, with the Orphan and Day-School children, for the purpose of reading the Scriptures with them.—-My heart has been drawn out in prayer for many things, especially that the Lord would create in me a holy earnestness to win souls, and a greater compassion for ruined sinners. For this I have been quickened through reading onward in Whitfield's life.
Jan. 17. The Lord is yet merciful to me. I enjoy fervency of spirit. My soul has been again repeatedly led out in prayer this day, and that for a considerable time.—I have read on my knees, with prayer and meditation, Psalm lxviii.—Verse 5 "A Father of the fatherless," one of the titles of Jehovah, has been an especial blessing to me, with reference to the Orphans. The truth, which is contained in this, I never realized so much as today. By the help of God, this shall be my argument before Him, respecting the Orphans, in the hour of need. He is their Father, and therefore has pledged Himself, as it were, to provide for them, and to care for them; and I have only to remind Him of the need of these poor children, in order to have it supplied. My soul is still more enlarged respecting Orphans. This word "a Father of the fatherless," contains enough encouragement to cast thousands of Orphans, with all their need, upon the loving heart of God.—My head has been again in a distressing state today; my soul, however, is in peace. May God in mercy continue to me fervency of spirit!
January 18 to February 2. During this time I continued still at Trowbridge. I was, on the whole, very happy, and habitually at peace, and had repeatedly much communion with God; but still I had not the same earnestness in prayer, nor did I, in other respects, enjoy the same degree of fervency of spirit, with which the Lord had favoured me for several days previous to this period.While the considerable degree of fervency of spirit, which I had had, was altogether the gift of God, still I have to ascribe to myself the loss of it. It is remarkable, that the same book, Whitfield's Life, which was instrumental in stirring me up to seek after such a frame of heart, was also instrumental in depriving me of it, in some measure, afterwards. I once or twice read that book when I ought to have read the Bible on my knees, and thus was robbed of a blessing. Nevertheless, on the whole, even this period was a good season.—My health being not at all improved, it seemed best that I should give up all medicine for a while, and take a tour; on which account I left Trowbridge today and went to Bath, with the object of going from thence to Oxford. I had grace today to confess the Lord Jesus on my way from Trowbridge to Bath, as also twice, lately, in going from Trowbridge to Bristol; but I was also twice silent. Oh that my heart may be filled with the love of Jesus, in order that it maybe filled with love for perishing sinners!
Feb. 3. I left Bath this morning, and arrived in the evening at Oxford, where I was very kindly received by brother and sister ——, and the sisters ——.
Feb. 7. Oxford. I had been praying repeatedly yesterday and the day before, that the Lord would be pleased to guide me, whether I should leave this place or not; but could not see it clearly to be His will that I should do so, and therefore determined to stay. Now, as I am able to have a quiet horse, I shall try horse exercise, if it may please the Lord to bless that to the benefit of my health.
Feb. 10. I have had horse exercise for the last three days, but the horse is now ill. "Mine hour is not yet come," is the Lord's voice to me in this little circumstance.
Feb. 11. This morning I was directed to read Proverbs iii. 5-12, having just a few minutes to fill up before breakfast. I was particularly struck with those words: "Neither be weary of His correction." I have not been allowed to despise the chastening of the Lord, but I begin, now and then, to feel somewhat weary of His correction. O Lord, have mercy upon Thy poor unworthy servant! Thou knowest, that, after the inner man, I desire patiently to bear this affliction, and not to have it removed till it has done its work in me, and yielded the peaceable fruits of righteousness. But Thou knowest also what a trial it is to me to continue the life I am now living. Help, Lord, according to my need!
On Feb. 8th I sent a letter to the church in Bristol, which, having been preserved, I give here in print, as it shows the way in which the Lord dealt with me during and through the instrumentality of the affliction, and which, with His blessing, may lead one or other of the children of God who are in trial, quietly to wait for the end, and to look out for blessings to be bestowed upon them through the instrumentality of the trial.
To the Saints, united together in Fellowship, and assembling at Bethesda and Gideon Chapels, Bristol.
Trowbridge, Feb. 1, 1838.
Twelve weeks have passed away, since I last ministered among you. I should have written to you repeatedly, during that period, had I not thought it better to put aside every mental occupation which could be deferred, as my head is unfit for mental exertion; but I would now rather write a few lines, than appear unmindful of you. You are dear to me; yea, so dear, that I desire to live and die with you, if our Lord permit; and why should I not tell you so by letter? I will write, then, as a token of brotherly remembrance and of love towards you; and may it be a means of quickening you to prayer on my behalf.
In looking back upon my past life, I know not where to begin, and where to end, in making mention of the Lord's mercies. His long-suffering towards me in the days of my unregeneracy cannot be described. You know a little of my sinful life, before I was brought to the Lord; still you know but very little. If, however, I have much reason to praise God for His mercies towards me in those days, I have more abundant reason to admire His gentleness, long-suffering, and faithfulness towards me since I have known Him. He has step by step led me on, and He has not broken the bruised reed. His gentleness towards me has been great indeed, very great. (Brethren, let us follow God, in dealing gently with each other!) He has borne with my coldness, half-heartedness, and backsliding. In the midst of it all, He has treated me as His child. How can I sufficiently praise Him for this long-suffering? (Brethren, let us imitate our Father, let us bear long, and suffer long with each other!) He has been always the same gracious, kind, loving Father, Friend, Supporter, Teacher, Comforter, and all in all to me, as He was at the beginning. No variableness has been found in Him towards me, though I have again and again provoked Him. I say this to my shame. (Brethren, let us seek to be faithful, in the Lord, towards each other! Let us seek to love each other in the truth, and for the truth's sake, without variableness! It is easy, comparatively, to begin to love; but it requires much watchfulness, not to grow weary in love, when little or no love is returned; yea, when we are unkindly treated, instead of being loved. But as our gracious, faithful God, notwithstanding all our variableness, loves us without change, so should we, His children, love each other. Lord, help us so to do!)
Besides this gentleness, long-suffering, and faithfulness, which the Lord has manifested towards me, and which I have experienced in common with you all, the Lord has bestowed upon me peculiar blessings and privileges. One of the chief is, that He has condescended to call me for the ministry of His word. How can I praise Him sufficiently for this! One who was such a sinner, such a servant of Satan, so fit for hell, so deserving of everlasting destruction, was not merely cleansed from sin and made a child of God through faith in the Lord Jesus, and thus fitted for heaven, and did not merely receive the sure promise that he should have eternal glory; but was also called unto, and, in a measure, qualified for the expounding of the word of God. I magnify Him for this honour!—-But more than this. More than eleven years, with very little interruption, have I been allowed, more or less, to preach the Word. My soul does magnify the Lord for this! More still. The Lord has condescended to use me as an instrument in converting many sinners, and, in a measure at least, in benefiting many of His children. For this honour I do now praise God, and shall praise Him not merely as long as I live, but as long as I have a being. But I do not stop here. I have many other reasons to speak well of the Lord, but I would only mention one. It is my present affliction. Yes, my present affliction is among the many things, for which I have very much reason to praise God; and I do praise Him for it. Before you, before the whole church of Christ, and before the world would I confess that God has dealt in very kindness towards me in this affliction. I own, I have not borne it without impatience and fretfulness; I own, I have been several times overcome by irritability of temper on account of it; but nevertheless, after the inner man, I praise God for the affliction, and I do desire from my heart, that it may truly benefit me, and that it may not be removed till the end has been answered, for which it has been sent. God has blessed me in this trial, and is still blessing me.—As I know you love me, (unworthy as I am of it), and feel interested about me, I mention a few of the many mercies with which God has favoured me during these twelve weeks. 1. At the commencement of my illness, when my head was affected in a manner quite new to me, and when thus it continued day after day, I feared lest I should lose my reason.—This created more real internal suffering than ever I had known before. But our gracious Lord supported me. His precious gospel was full of comfort to me. All, all will be well, was invariably the conclusion, the conclusion grounded upon Scripture, to which I came; yea, all will be well with me eternally, though the heaviest of all earthly trials should coins upon me, even that of dying in a state of insanity.—I was once near death, as I then thought, nearly nine years ago: I was full of comfort at that time; but to be comfortable,—to be able quietly to repose upon God, with the prospect of an affliction before one, such as I have now mentioned,—is more than to be comfortable in the prospect of death, at least for a believer.—Now, is it not well to be afflicted, in order to obtain such an experience? And have I not reason, therefore, to thank God for this affliction?
Oxford, Feb. 6, 1838.
When I began to write the foregoing lines, beloved brethren, I intended to write but very briefly; but as I love you, and as I have abundant reason to magnify the Lord, my pen ran on, till my head would follow no longer.—I go on now to mention some other mercies which the Lord has bestowed upon me, through my present affliction.
2. Through being deprived for so long a time of the privilege of preaching the Word to sinners and saints, the Lord has been pleased to create in me a longing for this blessed work, and to give me at the same time to feel the importance of it, in a degree in which I never had experienced it before. Thus the Lord has fitted me somewhat more for His work, by laying me aside from it. Good therefore is the Lord, and kind indeed, in disabling me from preaching. Great has been my trial, after the self-willed old nature, not to be able to preach; and long ere this, unfit as I was for it, I should have resumed the work, had I followed my own will; but hitherto have I considered it most for the glory of God, quietly to refrain from outward service, in order to glorify Him by patient submission, till my Lord shall be pleased to condescend to call His servant forth again for active engagements. And then, I know, He will give me grace, cheerfully to go back to the delightful service of pointing sinners to the Lamb of God, and of feeding the church.
3. Through this affliction I have known experimentally in a higher degree than I knew it before, how, if obliged to refrain from active service, one can nevertheless as really and truly help the armies of Jesus, through secret prayer, as if one were actively engaged in the proclamation of the truth.—This point brings to my mind a truth, of which we all need to be reminded frequently, even this, that at all times, and under all circumstances, we may really and truly serve the Lord, and fight for His kingdom, by seeking to manifest His mind, and by giving ourselves to prayer.
4. Through the instrumentality of this affliction the Lord has been pleased to show me, how I may lay out myself more fully for His service in the proclamation of His truth; and, by His grace, if ever restored for active service, I purpose to practice what He has shown me.
5. Through being deprived so much from meeting with the brethren as I have been these thirteen weeks, I have learned somewhat more to value this privilege than I did before. For as my head has been much affected, even through one meeting on the Lord's day, I have seen how highly I ought to have prized the days, when twice or thrice I could meet with the saints, without suffering from it.—Bear with me, brethren, when I beseech you, highly to esteem the opportunities of assembling yourselves together. Precede them with prayer; for only in as much as you do so, have you a right to expect a blessing from them. Seek to treasure up, not merely in your memory, but in your heart, the truths which you hear; for soon you may be deprived of these privileges, and soon you may be called upon to practice what you hear. Brethren, let us not learn the greatness of our privileges, by being deprived of them.—
I also delight in mentioning some of the particulars in which the Lord's kindness to me has appeared in this affliction, and whereby He has shown, that He does not lay more on us, than is absolutely needful.
1. You know, that since May, 1836, I was able to walk but little. This infirmity the Lord entirely removed, just before I became afflicted in my head. This was exceedingly kind; for air and exercise are the only means, which almost immediately relieve my head. How much greater would have been the affliction, had I not been able to walk about in the air!—-Truly, "He stayeth His rough wind, in the day of His east wind." I delight in pointing out the gentleness of the stroke.
Oxford, Feb. 7, 1838.
2. The Lord might have chosen to confine me to my bed, and kept me there in much pain these thirteen weeks, for the sake of teaching me the lessons which He purposes me to learn through this affliction; instead of this, the pain in my head has been so slight, that it would not be worth mentioning, were it not connected with a weakness of the mental faculties, which allows of but little exertion.
3. Further, it might have pleased the Lord to incapacitate me altogether for active service, but instead of this, He has still allowed me, in some small measure, to help by my judgment in some church matters, to write some letters in His service, to speak now and then a word to believers for the furtherance of their faith, and to confess His name repeatedly before unconverted persons, with whom I have met on my journeys. Besides all this, I have had strength for other work connected with the kingdom of Jesus Christ.
4. In one other point the Lord has been especially gracious to me, in that, while I have been unable to preach, unable to write or read much, or even to converse for any length of time with the brethren, He has allowed me always sufficient strength for as much secret prayer as I desired. Even praying with others has been often trying to my head; but prayer in secret has not only never tried my head, but has been habitually (I mean the act of prayer) a relief to my head. Oh! how can I sufficiently praise God for this. How comparatively slight are any trials to a child of God, as long as under them he is enabled to converse freely with his Father! And so sweet has been this communion with my Father, a few times, and so have I been enabled to pour out my heart before Him, that whilst those favoured seasons have lasted, I not only felt the affliction to be no affliction, and could call it, from my heart, sweet affliction; but I was almost unwilling soon to go back to the multiplicity of engagements in Bristol, lest I should not have leisure to continue so much in prayer, meditation, and the study of His word. Shall I not then praise my Father for such dealings with me? Do I not even now see this affliction working for my good? I say, therefore, after the inward man: Father, continue Thy hand upon me, as long as it shall seem good in Thy sight, only bless my soul!—-But, brethren, do not mistake me, as if I meant that I prayed habitually with much earnestness. O no! I pray a little habitually, I pray now and then much; but I pray by no means as much as my strength and present time allow me. Therefore ask God on my behalf, that grace may be given me, habitually to pray much; and you will surely be profited by it.—But I could not help alluding to this point, as the Lord's kindness is so particularly seen in this matter.
5. Lastly, I cannot omit mentioning the kindness of the Lord, in opening the houses of some of His children at Bath, Trowbridge, and Oxford for me, during this my affliction. These dear saints have shown me much kindness. But while I would be grateful to them for it, I discern the hand of God in influencing their hearts. Moreover, I have had kind medical attendants. And you, my dear brethren, though I have been unable to minister among you, have continued to supply my temporal wants, for which I thank you, and in all of which I see the gracious, loving hand of my Father, who through all this, as by a voice from heaven, tells me: "My child, even bodily health and strength would I give, were it good for thee." I therefore desire to wait for the good pleasure of my God concerning this point.
Your love will naturally ask, how I now am in body. My disease, as my kind medical friends tell me, is an inactive liver, which causes the pain in the head, and the inability of exerting my mind for any length of time. In addition to this, the nerves of the head seem to have suffered through over-exertion. As medicine had been tried for about ten weeks, and had not given relief, it appeared well, that I should give it up for a time, and simply travel about for the benefit of the air. My own experience teaches me, that this means is beneficial; for it gives almost immediate relief. In consequence of this, I left Trowbridge last Friday, and arrived on Saturday evening at Oxford, where I am staying with dear brother and sister B. I have here all that brotherly love can do for me, and am in every way comfortable. It is now a week since I have given up medicine, and I am at least not worse, if not better; but I think I am a little better. I wait on the Lord to show me His will, as to the place to which I should go next.
As to my inner man, I am in peace, generally in peace, and long for more conformity to the mind of Christ. My chief desire is, that if it shall ever please the Lord to restore me again, to be sent back to active service with increased humility, greater earnestness in the work, greater love for perishing sinners, and a heart habitually influenced by the truths which I preach.—Whether I shall ever be restored for the work, I cannot say with certainty; but, if I may judge from the Lord's dealings with me in former times, I have reason to believe, that I shall yet be allowed to labour again.
In conclusion, dear brethren, pray for my dear brother and fellow-labourer. Esteem him highly in the Lord; for He is worthy of all honour.—-I would write more, for I have much more to speak of; but as I purpose, if God allows me the pleasure, to write again soon, I leave it till then. Farewell.
Your affectionate brother and servant in the Lord,
Feb. 13. These ten days I have been staying in Oxford, though I came only for one or two; but I have stayed to see the Lord's hand leading me away from hence. I have now been led to decide on going to Lutterworth to see brother—-, to converse with him about accompanying him on a journey to the Continent, with reference to Missionary objects. When I had come to this decision, I took another ride, the horse being well again; but now this formerly quiet horse was self-willed and shy, which does not at all suit me in the weak state of my nervous system. As horse exercise had kept me here longer than I had intended to stay, and as I cannot now ride on this horse which before suited me so well, I see, even in this, in itself, trifling circumstance, a confirmation that I had been right in my decision to leave Oxford.
Feb. 16. Lutterworth. I arrived here on the evening of the 14th. I have been decidedly worse since I have been here, and was obliged again to have recourse to medicine. A brother having strongly recommended me, whilst in Oxford, to go to Leamington on account of my health, and having at the same time offered to pay my expenses during my stay there, and being now so very unwell again, and so near Leamington, I decided to-night upon accepting his kindness, provided that my kind physician in Bristol had no objection.
Feb. 17. Leamington. I left Lutterworth this morning, where I have received much kindness. There was no inside place, and I was very unwell; but the fear of being quite laid up at Lutterworth, and becoming burthensome to those dear saints who had received me into their house though a stranger to them; and having still no desirable medical advice; and the remembrance that the Lord had graciously enabled me, even lately, to travel outside in cold weather; induced me to get on the coach, and I rode off in a heavy fall of snow. But God had mercy. After eight miles ride, at Rugby, I obtained an inside place. The rest of the way was crowned with mercies. I had a room to myself at Southam, found a suitable dinner just ready, had an inside place to Leamington, and was preserved by the way, though the coachman was quite intoxicated, and drove furiously.—I had asked the Lord to let me find a suitable and cheap lodging at Leamington, and the first lodging I saw I took, for which I pay only ten shillings weekly. Thus, a few minutes after my arrival, I sat comfortably at my own fireside. How very kind of the Lord!
Feb. 26. Yesterday and today I have suffered again in my head, though I have been on the whole better since I have taken the Leamington waters. But far more trying has been the internal conflict which I have had. Grace fought against evil suggestions of one kind and another, and prevailed; but it was a very trying season. This was much increased by receiving neither yesterday nor today a letter from my dear wife. Grace sought out for reasons why she had not written; nevertheless it was a very trying season. Today I earnestly prayed to God to send my wife to me, as I feel that by being alone, and afflicted as I am in my bead, and thus fit for little mental employment, Satan gets an advantage over me.
Feb. 27. God has had mercy upon me. The sore and sharp trial, the very bitter conflict is over.—This morning also I received a letter, which ought to have come yesterday, and which showed me that my dear wife had not been remiss in writing. She announced her purpose of coming today, and God, in mercy to me, brought her safely.
March 3. My head has been on the whole better these two weeks, than it has been for several months; but still I am not well. I have walked every day, for the last thirteen days, between three and four hours a day, and by the mercy of God am able to do so, without much fatigue.
March 11. My health is much the same. I am pretty well, but have no mental energy.—I have read during the last weeks once more, with as much or more interest than ever, I. and II. of Samuel, and I. and II. of Kings.—-I have now, after repeated prayer, come to the conclusion, (if brother Craik, to whom I have written, sees no objection, and if my physician thinks it would be beneficial to my health,) to accompany brother—to Germany, that thus; 1, I might aid him by my advice in reference to the object of his journey; 2, that thus, if the Lord will, through the journey and the benefit of my native air, my health might be benefited; and 3, that I might once more have an opportunity of setting the truth before my father and brother.
March 12. I feel quite comfortable in the prospect of going to Germany. I trust it will prove to be as much of God, as it was shown to have been the last time.
March 13. I had a letter today from brother Craik, who thinks it desirable that I should go to Germany, but my physician says that I should not go for a month or two, for that my mind ought not to be burdened. I am in peace, and from this I see that the Lord has made me willing to do His and not my own will. I wrote to brother——the result of today, and have now left it with him, whether he will wait, or go on the 21st, as he purposes.
March 14—20. During these days, as before, I have continued to read the Scriptures with prayer, i. e. turning what I read into prayer, chiefly with a reference to myself. My days generally pass away in peace. It is a trial to me, to have to care so much about my body; but, on the whole, the Lord gives me grace to submit patiently, yet not always. Today I saw again my medical adviser, who wishes me to stay another week.
March 23, Today I received a letter from brother ——. He is not gone, and will wait for me. I have increased assurance that I shall go to Berlin, and have comfort in the thought.
March 24. A few days ago I had particular comfort in meditating on the Lord's prayer in Luke (which came in the course of my meditation), after having been tempted to pass it over, as it had been the subject of my meditation a short time before.—Within the last fortnight I have read with meditation and prayer from the 4th to the 12th chapter of the Gospel by Luke.
April 2. For some time I have been getting weary of my stay here. Yesterday I pleaded especially that word Psalm ciii. 13: "Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear Him." I begged God to pity me, and to release me from the necessity of staying any longer at Leamington, if it might be. Today I saw my physician, and he has allowed me to leave. Thus the Lord has granted my request.
April 3. My dear Mary left for Bristol, and I for London, on my way to Germany. I was led to read, this morning, Psalm cxxi. with my dear wife before we separated, which we both felt to be very appropriate to our circumstances.
April 6. This evening I went on board the steamer for Hamburg.
April 7. All the day ill from sea sickness.
April 8. Lord's day. I was able to get up this morning, and to take my meals.—Last night I was led to praise God for having made me His child, considering that I was most likely the only one on board that knew Him. This morning, however, I found a sister in the Lord among the passengers, with whom I had much conversation.—At dinner she manifested more grace, in testifying against evil, than I did. At tea time I had grace, in some measure, to speak of Jesus before the company, and to confess Him as my Lord.
April 9. We arrived at Hamburg about one in the morning, having had a most favourable passage of about 48 hours, and at seven I went on shore. It had been repeatedly my prayer, that I might soon find out brother ——, who had gone three days before me to Hamburg; and immediately after my arrival, in answer to prayer, without any difficulty, I found out where he lodged.
April 14. Berlin. We arrived here the evening before last. Having been yesterday and this morning seeking for lodgings, without being able to obtain any that were suitable, I at last became irritated. Surely there was lack of earnest prayer on my part in this matter, and want of patience in waiting the Lord's own time, and want of openness, in not telling brother —— that I was tired, and that, on account of my weakness, I was unable thus to go about from place to place. At last the Lord directed us to two suitable rooms, and I feel now again comfortable, in my quiet retirement, after having confessed my sin of irritability to the Lord and to brother ——.
April 15—21. We met several times during this week with certain brethren who desire to give themselves to Missionary service, and prayed and read the Scriptures with them, and made such remarks as seemed to be important in connexion with the work. In addition to this we saw the brethren privately at our lodgings, two, three, or four at a time. But I have still felt the great weakness of my mental powers, and have been only able to attend to this work about three hours a day.—Since my arrival here I have had two letters from my dear Mary. Harriet Culliford, one of the Orphans, and formerly one of the most unpromising children, has been removed. She died as a true believer, several of the brethren who saw her being quite satisfied about her state. Surely this pays for much trouble and for much expense! My wife also mentions some fresh instances of the Lord's blessing resting upon my Narrative.—I am now, after prayer, this day, April 21, quite sure that I should leave Berlin, and go to my father at once, as the work here is too much for my head.
April 22nd. Confirmation-day of the children in Berlin. The son of the person with whom we lodge was confirmed, and in the evening they had the violin and dancing. How awful!—-A few days since I heard that a brother in the Lord, an old friend of mine, and one of the two alluded to in the first part of this Narrative, page 15, was in prison on account of his religious views. This brought afresh before me the privileges which the children of God enjoy in England.—I saw a few days since another brother in prison, who, as an unconverted young man, in the university, was once at a political club, and had his name enrolled, in consequence of this, in the list of the political students. Shortly afterwards he was converted, and gave up all connexion with these political students. He finished his university course and afterwards became a tutor to the sons of a baron. In that family he had been for a considerable time, when one night he was fetched by the police out of his bed and taken to prison, on the ground of this his connexion with the political club three or four years before. [The result was that he was for many months in prison. Now he is a Missionary in the East Indies. I have related this circumstance to remind the reader afresh, that though the Lord freely and fully forgives us all our sins at once when we believe, yet He may allow us to suffer the consequences of them in a greater or less degree.]
April 24. Left Berlin last evening for Magdeburg, Had a long conversation with two deists in the mail. God helped me to make a full confession of His dear Son, in answer to prayer for grace to be enabled to do so. This afternoon I arrived at Heimersleben, the small town where my father lives. Once more then I have met with my dear aged parent, who is evidently fast hastening to the grave, and seems to me not likely to live through the next winter. I arrived just at the time when, the Fair was held in the town. How great, how exceedingly great, the difference in me, as to my feelings respecting such things now, from what they were formerly!
April 25—28. Stay at Heimersleben. The Lord has given me both an opportunity and grace to speak more fully, more simply, and more to the heart of my father about the things of God, and in particular about the plan of salvation, than I had ever done before. I trust that, in judgment at least, he is convinced that there is something lacking in him. All the time of my stay here he has been most affectionate. I spoke also fully again to my poor brother, who is now completely living in open sin. Oh to grace what a debtor am I!—-Brother Knabe, who was the only believer in Heimersleben, as far as I have been able to learn, died about eighteen months since.
April 28. Today I left for Magdeburg. My father accompanied me about eight miles. Both of us, I think, felt, when about to separate, that we were parting from each other, never again to meet on earth. How would it have cheered the separation on both sides, were my dear father a believer! But it made my heart indeed sad to see him, in all human probability, for the last time, without having Scriptural ground for hope respecting his soul.—I arrived in the afternoon at Magdeburg, and went to a brother, a musician in one of the regiments of that fortress, who is on the point of leaving the army to go to the East Indies as a Missionary. In his lodgings I saw another brother, a private soldier, who lives in the barracks, who told me, on my enquiring, that he goes into the sand cellar, which is perfectly dark, in order to obtain opportunity for secret prayer. How great the privileges of those who may freely have both time and place for retirement; but how great, at the same time, our obligation to improve these opportunities!—-This evening at eight I went on board an Elbe-steamer for Hamburg.
April 30. This morning at seven I arrived at Hamburg. Nothing particular happened during the passage, except that we stuck fast, in a shallow part of the river, through the carelessness of one of the sailors; but the Lord heard prayer, and after a little while the steamer could ply again.
May 1. Yesterday and today I spent in an hotel at Hamburg in writing letters. I had also, though staying at an hotel, much real communion with God in reading the Scriptures and in prayer. This evening I embarked for London.
May 4. London. Left Hamburg on the 2nd. Had a fine passage. I have, by the mercy of God, been kept from light and trifling conversation; but I have not confessed the Lord Jesus as plainly as I ought to have done. This afternoon I arrived at the house of my dear friends in London, who received me with their usual kindness. After prayer I see it my duty to leave tomorrow for Leamington, to see my physician there once more, and then to go as soon as I can to Bristol.
May 5. Leamington. Through the mercy of the Lord the journey to Germany, concerning which I had prayed so often, is now over, and I am safely brought back again to this place.—It has been a wet and cold day, but God has in mercy preserved me from injury, though I got wet. I had some conversation with a clergyman on the coach; I confessed the Lord Christ a little, but not plainly enough.—I had asked the Lord to give me a quiet and cheap resting place in my former lodgings, if it might be, and accordingly they were unlet.
May 7. This morning I left Leamington for Bristol. I had grace to confess the Lord Jesus the last part of the way before several merry passengers, and had the honour of being ridiculed for His sake. There are few things in which I feel more entirely dependant upon the Lord, than in confessing Him on such occasions. Sometimes I have, by grace, had much real boldness; but often I have manifested the greatest weakness, doing no more than refraining entirely from unholy conversation, without, however, speaking a single word for Him who toiled beyond measure for me. No other remedy do I know for myself and any of my fellow-saints who are weak, like myself, in this particular, than to seek to have the heart so full of Jesus, and to live so in the realization of what He has done for us, that, without any effort, out of the full heart, we may speak for Him.—I found my dear family in peace.
May 8. This evening I went to the prayer meeting at Gideon. I read Psalm ciii, and was able to thank the Lord publicly for my late affliction. This is the first time that I have taken any part in the public meetings of the brethren, since November 6th, 1837.
May 13. Today I was much helped in expounding the Scriptures publicly. When I began I knew not how the Lord would deal with me, whether I should be able to speak or not, as my head is still very weak. But the Lord helped me. I did not feel any loss of mental power. How gracious of the Lord to allow me again to commence serving Him in the ministry of His word.—[For several months after this I preached, on the whole, with much more enjoyment, and with much more earnestness and prayerfulness, than I did before I was taken ill. I also felt more the solemnity of the work.]
June 11. A stranger called on me, and told me, that, many years ago, he had defrauded two gentlemen of a small sum, and that he wished to restore the same with interest. He also stated that he had read my Narrative, and, feeling confidence in me, he requested me to convey this money to those gentlemen, giving me, at the same time, their names and place of abode. He intrusted me with four sovereigns for each of them. At the same time he gave me one sovereign for myself, as a token of Christian love. I never saw the individual before, nor do I up to this moment know his name. I conveyed this money, however, not by post, as he wished but through two bank orders, in order that thus I might be able to show, should it be needful, that I actually did send the money; for in all such matters it becomes one to act with particular caution.—It may be that this fact will be read by some who have, like this stranger, before their conversion, defrauded certain individuals. If so, let them like him, or like Zaccheus of old, restore what they took, and, if they have the means, with interest, or compound interest.
June 13. Last evening my dear wife was taken ill. Often had I prayed respecting her hour, and now was the time to look out for the answer. She continued in most severe sufferings from a little after nine until midnight. Thus hour after hour passed away, until eleven this morning. Another medical attendant was then called in, at the desire of the one who attended her. At three in the afternoon she was delivered of a still-born child.—The whole of the night I was in prayer, as far as my strength allowed me. I cried at last for MERCY, and God heard.
June 14. My dearest wife is alive, but I am depending upon God for her life every moment. She is in much peace. A sister gave me this evening 5l. on account of dear Mary's illness.—[Again we had not thought it well to make pecuniary provision for this time, though at no period of my life had I more abundant means of doing so than during the last few months; but our gracious Father helped us abundantly in this and in other instances, as I shall mention below.]
June 22. Today there was sent to us anonymously, by post, 5l. for our own personal expenses, at this the time of our affliction, when our expenses are so great. The donor accompanied the 5l. note with an affectionate letter to my wife and myself.
July 6. My dear wife, who for more than a fortnight after her delivery was so ill, that the two medical attendants came twice or three times daily, seems now, humanly speaking, likely to recover, and to be given back to me as from the dead. Lord, help me so to receive her!
July 12. From the commencement of the establishment of the Orphan-houses, up to the end of June 1838, the hand of the Lord was seen in the abundance with which He was pleased to supply me with the means for maintaining nearly 100 persons. Now, however, the time is come when "the Father of the fatherless" will show His especial care over them in another way.—The funds, which were this day twelvemonth about 780l., are now reduced to about 20l.; but, thanks be to the Lord, my faith is as strong, or stronger, than it was when we had the larger sum in hand; nor has He at any time, from the commencement of the work, allowed me to distrust Him. Nevertheless, as our Lord will be inquired of, and as real faith is manifested as such by leading to prayer, I gave myself to prayer with brother T—— of the Boy's Orphan-House, who had called on me, and who, besides my wife, and brother Craik, is the only individual to whom I speak about the state of the funds. While we were praying, an orphan child from Frome was brought, and some believers at Frome, having collected among them 5l., sent this money with the child. Thus we received the first answer at a time of need. We have given notice for seven children to come in, and purpose to give notice for five more, though our funds are so low, hoping that God will look on our necessities. [Observe how gently the Lord dealt with us, in that, when want approached, He helped at once, in immediate answer to prayer, in order thus to increase our confidence in Him; but, at the same time, to prepare us for sharper trials of our faith.]
June 17 and 18. These two days we have had two especial prayer meetings, from 6 to 9 in the evening, to commend publicly to the Lord the Boys' Orphan-House. The meetings had been deferred until now, on account of my illness. In the morning of the 18th I expounded, with especial reference to children, 1 Samuel iii., before above 550 children, being our Orphan and Day-School children, and, as many as could come, of those belonging to the Sunday-School. What a great work! What an honour to be allowed to provide Scriptural instruction for so many little ones. Lord, help me to make use of my talents for the benefit of the rising generation, and let me serve my generation according to Thy will!—-Our funds for the Orphans are now very low. There are about 20l. in hand, and in a few days 30l. at least will be needed; but I purposely avoided saying any thing about our present necessities, and spoke only, to the praise of God, about the abundance with which our gracious Father, "The Father of the fatherless," has hitherto supplied us. This was done in order that the hand of God, in sending help, may be so much the more clearly seen.
July 22. This evening I was walking in our little garden, meditating on Heb. xiii. 8, "Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and for ever." Whilst meditating on His unchangeable love, power, wisdom, &c.—and turning all, as I went on, into prayer respecting myself; and whilst applying likewise His unchangeable love, and power, and wisdom, &c., both to my present spiritual and temporal circumstances:—-all at once the present need of the Orphan-Houses was brought to my mind. Immediately I was led to say to myself, Jesus in His love and power has hitherto supplied me with what I have needed for the Orphans, and in the same unchangeable love and power He will provide me with what I may need for the future. A flow of joy came into my soul whilst realizing thus the unchangeableness of our adorable Lord. About one minute after, a letter was brought me, enclosing a bill for 20l. In it was written: "Will you apply the amount of the enclosed bill to the furtherance of the objects of your Scriptural Knowledge Society, or of your Orphan Establishment, or in the work and cause of our Master in any way that He Himself, on your application to Him, may point out to you. It is not a great sum, but it is a sufficient provision for the exigency of today; and it is for today's exigencies, that, ordinarily, the Lord provides. Tomorrow, as it brings its demands, will find its supply, etc." [Of this 20l. I took 10l. for the Orphan fund, and 10l. for the other objects, and was thus enabled to meet the expenses of about 34l. which, in connection with the Orphan-Houses, came upon me within four days afterwards, and which I knew beforehand would come.]
On July 26 sailed from Liverpool for the East Indies, for Missionary service, twelve German brethren and three sisters, as the result of the journey of brother —— and myself to the Continent, in April last.
July 27. Yesterday the funds for the Orphans were reduced to 5l. Blessed be God, my confidence in Him was unshaken! I received yesterday 2l. 13s. Today I was going with my family for change of air to Durdham Down, and thought it well, therefore, to take out any money which there might be in the Orphan-Box in my house. When I opened it, I found a ten pound note and three half crowns. I had been waiting on God for means, both yesterday and today, and thus He has again shown how willing He is to help.