A NARRATIVE OF SOME OF THE LORD'S DEALINGS WITH GEORGE MUeLLER
WRITTEN BY HIMSELF
J. NISBET & CO., BERNERS STREET, LONDON.
FIRST EDITION OF THE THIRD PART.
THE reasons which induced me to publish this third part of the Lord's dealings with me are the same which led me to the publication of the second part, and which are stated in the preface to the first edition of the second part. In addition to those reasons it appeared to me desirable to give some account of my recent labours in Germany, and also to write on a few other points, which I considered of great importance to be made known.
21, Paul Street, Kingsdown,
Bristol, June 18, 1845.
IN the deep consciousness of my entire natural inability for going through the work, which is before me, to the profit of the reader and to the glory of God, I am nevertheless of good cheer in beginning this service; for the Lord has enabled me often to bow my knees before Him, to seek His help respecting it; and I am now expecting His help. He delights in making His strength perfect in our weakness, and therefore will I also, though so weak, look for His strength. And if through this my feeble effort, to show forth the praises of the Lord, good be done (of which I have the fullest assurance, on account of the abundance of supplication which for many months past has been found in my spirit in reference to this service,) I do desire from my inmost soul to ascribe all the honour and glory to the Lord.
I purpose in writing this third part of my Narrative to adopt the same mode which I employed in the two former parts, namely that of giving extracts from my journal, and accompanying them with such remarks as it may be desirable to make for the profit of the reader. The second part carries on the Narrative up to the end of the year 1840, so far as it regards my own personal affairs; but only to Dec. 9, 1840, so far as it regards the Orphan-Houses, and other objects of the Scriptural Knowledge Institution, as on that day the accounts were closed. From this period, then, the Narrative is continued.
Dec. 10, 1840. When the accounts were closed last evening, the balance in hand was 15l. 0s. 6 1/4d., but as nearly 15l. of this sum had been put by for the rent of the Orphan-Houses, the sum really in hand for use was only 4s. 6 1/4d. With this little sum we commenced the sixth year of this part of the work, while there are daily, as usual, more than a hundred persons to be provided for.
—A little boy brought half-a-crown to the Boys'-Orphan-House, this morning, which is the first gift in this sixth year. Thus we had altogether 7s. 0 1/4d. for this day, which was enough to pay for the milk in the three houses, and to buy some bread in one of them. We have never before been so poor at the commencement of the year.
Dec. 11. Only 2s. 6d. more had come in since last evening. There was sufficient for dinner in the Girls' and Infant-Orphan-Houses, but scarcely enough in the Boys'-Orphan-House. This half-crown, therefore, supplied the remainder of the dinner in the Boys'-Orphan-House. But now there was no money to take in milk, in any of the houses, for tea, or to buy any bread. However the Lord helped us through this day also. About one o'clock some trinkets, which had been sent a few days since, were disposed of for 12s., by which the usual quantity of milk, and a little bread could be taken in. [I observe here that there is generally bread for two or three days in the houses, the children eating the bread on the third day after it is baked. When, therefore, we are unable to take in the usual quantity, for want of means, we procure stale bread afterwards.]
Dec. 12. Only 4s. had come in to meet this day's necessities. Thus we should not have had sufficient means to provide for the dinner in the Girls'-Orphan-House, had not 6s. come in this morning, just in time to help us through the difficulty. Still we had no means to buy bread, and a few other little things which were needed. In addition to all this it was Saturday, and therefore provisions for two days needed to be procured. About four o'clock this afternoon, one of the sisters in the Orphan-Houses, to whom I had some days since sent a little money for her own personal necessities, gave 1l. Thus we were able to purchase sufficient provisions to last till breakfast on Monday morning. These last days have been very trying. The poverty has been greater than ever; the Lord, however, has not confounded us, but has, strengthened our faith, and always given us necessaries.
The School-Funds are also now again very low. There was only so much money in hand, as that two of the teachers, really in need, could be paid today. Truly, my dear fellow-labourers in the schools need to trust the Lord for their temporal supplies! [I notice here, that though the brethren and sisters have a certain remuneration, yet it is understood that, if the Lord should not be pleased to send in the means at the time when their salary is due, I am not considered their debtor. Should the Lord be pleased to send in means afterwards, the remainder of the salary is paid up, and also additional assistance is given in time of sickness or more than usual need, as the Lord may be pleased to grant the means. A brother or sister, in connection with this work, not looking for themselves to the Lord, would be truly uncomfortable; for the position of all of us is of such a character, that it brings heavy trials of faith, in addition to the many precious seasons of joy on account of answers to prayer.]
Dec. 13. Lord's day. This morning I received 2l. 10s. Thus, before the last provisions are actually consumed in the Orphan-Houses, I have been able to give fresh supplies.
Dec. 14. Though 2l. 10s. had come in yesterday, there was still not sufficient this morning to buy coals in the Boys' and Girls'-Orphan-Houses. But the Lord kindly supplied us with means for that also; for there were given today six silver tea spoons, and a pair of silver sugar tongs. I received also 1l. 10s. which yesterday had been anonymously given for rent. Thus the Lord, in this particular also, again begins the year with blessings. [As during the two previous years 1l. 10s. a week was anonymously given to pay for the rent of the three Orphan-Houses, so during the whole of this year also, from Dec. 10, 1840, to Dec. 10, 1841, the donor continued the same contribution.] This evening was the first of our public meetings, at which I gave the account of the Lord's dealings with us in regard to this work, during the last year. It was a good season. I felt much assisted by the Lord, and was, through grace, very happy, so that none of those who were present can have read in my countenance that I have nothing at all in hand towards the supply of the necessities of tomorrow. After the meeting this evening 2 1/2d. was left anonymously at my house.
Dec. 15. The day commenced with 2 1/2d. in hand. My eyes were directed to the living God. I was looking out for help. The greatness of our need led me to expect it. About eleven o'clock I received from Barnstaple a 5l. note and half-a-sovereign. Thus the Lord in His faithful love delivered us. Half an hour afterwards I had the report from the Orphan-Houses about the state of things today, which will show how seasonably the money from Barnstaple came. Brother R. B., master at the Boys'-Orphan~ House, wrote that last evening a sister gave 5s. and a cloak, but that there never was less bread in the Orphan-Houses at any time than this morning, and that both in the Boys' and Infant-Orphan-Houses all bread had been, cut up for use.—We are now waiting on the Lord for means to enable us to have the Report printed. Till He provides, we will, by His help, do nothing in this matter. Though it seems to us important that the account of the Lord's dealings with us in the work should be made known to the saints generally; yea, though this is the primary object of the work; nevertheless it appears to us a small matter for our kind and loving Father, who withholds nothing from His children that is really good for them, to give us the sum which we need for this purpose whenever His time shall have come. We do desire grace even in this thing to acknowledge Him; for His time may not yet have come for us to have the sweet privilege of sending forth far and wide the account of His goodness to us during the past year.
Dec. 16. To-night I received with Ecclesiastes ix. 10, 1l. 10s., and 12s. from another individual; also a Spanish dollar was sent. Thus we have something for the necessities of tomorrow.
Dec. 17. Today came in 3s., and from Bath 4l. 6s. 8d.; also 2l., the produce of the sale of ladies' baskets.
Dec. 19. Only 11s. 2d. has come in since the day before yesterday. As I had to pay out today 6l. 10s., it being Saturday, we have now again only 5s. 9d. left, which is just enough to meet the expense of a parcel, the arrival of which has been announced. Thus we still have no means for printing the Report, The Lord's time seems not yet to have come.
This afternoon came in from Exmouth 1l. 10s. 5d. for the other objects, so that, with what there was in hand, the teachers of the Day-Schools who were in need could be supplied.
Dec. 20. The Lord has again sent in rich supplies. He remembered that there was nothing in hand for the Orphans, and that we, who care for them, desire, through grace, not to be anxiously concerned about the morrow. There came in today altogether 6l. 17s.
Dec. 25. This morning there was 5l. given to me by a brother, to be used as most needed. As there is a little left for the Orphans, but about 5l. needed, tomorrow, for the schools, and there are only a few shillings in hand, I took this money for these funds.
Jan. 1, 1841. Since Dec. 20 has come in not only as much as was needed, but more. Of the donations which were given, I only notice: A sister brought the produce of her silver spoons, which she had sold, having had it laid on her heart to do so through the last public meetings. During this week we have daily met for prayer, for the especial purpose of asking the Lord to give us the means of having the last year's Report printed. It is three weeks since it might have been sent to the press. We felt this now to be a matter of especial importance, as, if the Report were not soon printed, it would be known that it arose from want of means. By the donations which came in during these last days for the Orphans, and by 10l. which was given today for the other funds, we have the means of defraying the expenses of about two-thirds of the printing, and therefore a part of the manuscript was sent off, trusting that the Lord would be pleased to send in more means before two sheets are printed off; but if not, we should then stop till we have more.—Evening. There came in still further 5l.; and also 10s., and 3s.
Jan. 2. Today 18s. came in, and the following articles were sent anonymously to the Girls'-Orphan-House: A smelling bottle, a metal chain and cross, a silver pencil case, a mother-of-pearl ring, a pebble, a necklace clasp, 2 pairs of studs, and 6 chimney ornaments. There were also sent anonymously, this evening, 2 pairs of skates.—There was needed today 1l. 1s. 6d. more than there was in hand, to pay the salaries of the teachers in the Day-Schools. About noon a sister brought three small donations, amounting to 9s.; and a sovereign came by post. Thus our need has been supplied.
Jan. 3. This morning a brooch was given to me, set with a brilliant and 10 small emeralds. The stones are to be sold for the benefit of the Orphans, and the gold is to be returned. I received also the following sums: From a sister in Bristol, 5l.; from the East Indies 2l.; from Devonshire 2l. 10s. and a silver vinaigrette; anonymously put into the boxes at Bethesda 2s., ditto by I. L. 3s. 6d., ditto for rent 1l. 10s.; and by sale of articles 1s. 6d. Thus the Lord has sent in today 11l. 7s., in answer to our united prayer during the last week.
Jan. 4. Today the following trinkets were given, to be disposed of for the benefit of the Orphans, or on behalf of the other objects. [They were taken for the latter, there being only about 7s. in hand.] Two chains and crosses of soap beads, an amber necklace, a bead necklace, a gold Maltese cross and chain, a Brazilian gold chain, a pearl hair brooch, a pearl cross, a mother-of-pearl buckle, 2 rings, a necklace snap, a moonstone brooch, a brooch of Ceylon stones, a pair of bracelet snaps, a gold brooch, a gilt vinaigrette, a pair of buckles, and a box. [The money which was obtained for the greater part of these trinkets, supplied our need on Saturday, January 9th.]
Jan. 11. Monday. During the last week the Lord not only supplied us richly with all we needed for the Orphans, but enabled us to put by several pounds towards printing the Report. On Saturday evening there was only 3s. 6d. left. On this account I was looking out for answers to my prayers for means, and the Lord did not disappoint me. There came in altogether yesterday 9l. 16s. 4d. We have now enough even for the last part of the Report. Thus the Lord has been pleased to answer our prayers in this respect also. This afternoon when there was again only 2s. 6d. in hand, came in by sale of articles 3l. 9s. 6d., and by a donation 5l.
Jan. 12. Today I have received a letter from a brother, in which he empowers me to draw upon his bankers, during this year to the amount of 1000l., for any brethren who have it in their hearts to give themselves to missionary Service in the East Indies, and whom I shall consider called for this service, as far as I am able to judge. [This power lasted only for that year; but no brethren who seemed to be suitable offered themselves for this service]
Jan. 13. This evening I was called to the house of a brother and sister who are in the deepest distress. The brother had become surety for the debts of his son, not in the least expecting that he ever should be called upon for the payment of them; but as his son has not discharged his debts, the father has been called upon to do so; and except the money is paid within a few days, he will be imprisoned.
How precious it is, even for this life, to act according to the word of God! This perfect revelation of His mind gives us directions for every thing, even the most minute affairs of this life. It commands us, "Be thou not one of them that strike hands, or of them that are sureties for debts." Prov. xxii. 26. The way in which Satan ensnares persons, to bring them into the net, and to bring trouble upon them by becoming sureties, is, that he seeks to represent the matter as if there were no danger connected with that particular case, and that one might be sure one should never be called upon to pay the money; but the Lord, the faithful Friend, tells us in His own word that the only way in such a matter "to be sure" is "to hate suretiship." Prov. xi. 15. The following points seem to me of solemn moment for consideration, if I were called upon to become surety for another: 1. What obliges the person who wishes me to become surety for him, to need a surety? Is it really a good cause in which I am called upon to become surety? I do not remember ever to have met with a case in which in a plain, and godly, and in all respects Scriptural matter such a thing occurred. There was generally some sin or other connected with it. 2. If I become surety, notwithstanding what the Lord has said to me in His word, am I in such a position that no one will be injured by my being called upon to fulfill the engagements of the person for whom I am going to be surety? In most instances this alone ought to keep one from it. 3. If still I become surety, the amount of money, for which I become responsible, must be so in my power, that I am able to produce it whenever it is called for, in order that the name of the Lord may not be dishonoured. 4. But if there be the possibility of having to fulfill the engagements of the person in whose stead I have to stand, is it the will of the Lord, that I should spend my means in that way? Is it not rather His will that my means should be spent in another way? 5. How can I get over the plain word of the Lord, which is to the contrary, even if the first four points could be satisfactorily settled?
This morning (Jan. 13) I had again not one penny in hand for the Orphans, though there was enough for today at the Orphan-Houses, as I had sent yesterday sufficient for two days. The little stock being exhausted, I had been led to the Lord in prayer for fresh supplies, when soon afterwards a brother called on me, who stated, that, in considering the necessities of the poor, on account of the cold season, the Orphans had likewise been brought to his mind, and that he had brought me 15l. for them. This afternoon came in still further 1l. from two sisters, as a thank-offering for many mercies during the past year. Likewise 10l. "From a friend in Christ for the Orphans'-House." Further: by sale of articles 2l. 4s. 6d., by knitting 1l. 4s., by Reports 9d., and by four donations 13s. Thus the Lord has been pleased to send in this day altogether 30l. 2s. 3d., whilst, when the day commenced, I had nothing at all in hand.
Jan. 23. This day commenced without any thing in hand. In addition to this it was Saturday. About nine o'clock Q. Q. called to see me, but, as I was in prayer with my family, she did not stay. About half an hour afterwards she called a second time, gave 5l. for the Orphans, and said, "I bring this because it is Saturday, and it may be needed." This sister was not deterred by not seeing me the first time, because our Father knew we had need of this money. There was likewise 5s. given me this afternoon, and when the sister gave it she said, "I bring this today, because it is Saturday."
Jan. 25. 2l. 19s. 10d. came in yesterday and this morning. When the necessities of the day had been supplied, and there was only 12s. l0d. left, I received a parcel from an unknown donor. It contained 1 lb. and 6 oz. of worsted and 4 sovereigns, with the following note:—"'Your Father knoweth that ye have need of these things.' 'All things whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.' An Orphan sends 3l. for the Orphans, and 1l. for Mr. G. Mueller's own necessities, Jan. 23, 1841."
Feb. 1. Today we had not sufficient money for our own personal necessities, when we were helped in the following way. Some months ago several articles were sent to my dear wife from a distance of about 200 miles, which she did not at all need, and which therefore had been placed in the hands of a sister to be disposed of. This was only now done, and today, in this our need, the money was brought for them, being 1l.. 10s. 6d.
Feb. 4. Since Jan. 25, there has come in 10l. 14s. 11d. for the Orphans. This morning a brother from Gloucestershire brought me a doubloon, (18 1/2 pennyweights of fine gold,) a Spanish dollar, 2 small Spanish coins, 4 old English crown pieces, 2 old English half-crown pieces, 3 old shillings, 2 old sixpences, and an old twopenny piece. He told me that he had purposed to come a day sooner, but that, though he was quite prepared for his journey, his business did not allow him to leave home, but that immediately, when these coins were given to him for the Orphans, he was able to leave. On his arrival in Bristol, this brother was asked by a gentleman, a fellow passenger, to go with him; but he replied he must go at once to me. On mentioning my name, the Gloucestershire brother was asked whether he did not believe that it was all chance work about the Orphan-Houses. He replied no, and showed him the handful of gold and silver coins, which he had received for the Orphan-Houses, and which he felt himself constrained at once to deliver.—There was also given this day a valuable gold lever watch.—Though these donations of today were not needed to supply the necessities of the children, yet they came very seasonably, and as the answer to many prayers which I had lately offered up to the Lord, to enable me to give 26l. to the labourers in the Orphan-Houses, for their own personal necessities.
Feb. 6. At the close of this week there is nothing at all in hand, either in the Orphan-Fund or in the other funds; but the Lord has enabled me to meet all the expences of the week, which only yesterday and today were above 30l.
Feb. 7. In answer to prayer, when we were without any money for the Orphans, came in today altogether 2l. 18s.
Feb. 10. There came in yesterday and the day before several small donations; also by post, anonymously, a sovereign and a diamond ring from Leamington; but we are now again without means. May the Lord help us!
—Evening. There came in by sale of articles 10s., by sale of Reports 10s., and by a donation 1s. 6d. I also opened the box in my house, in which I found 1l. 0s. 6d. A sovereign had been put in by a brother from Stafford, who had already left my house, but felt himself constrained to return, in order to put in this money.
Feb. 12. Last evening there was left at my house, anonymously, a letter containing two sovereigns, in which was written, "For the Orphan-House 2l." This 2l. is exactly what is needed for today.
Feb. 13. Saturday morning. The Lord sent in yesterday 1l. 15s. which, though not enough for this day, was a little to commence with. Evening. Scarcely had I sent off this morning the 1l. 15s. to the Orphan-Houses, when I received from Clapham 9l. 6s. 6d. and 6 yds. of calico, for the Orphans, so that 1l. more, which was needed to meet this day's demands, could be supplied. There came in also 14s. 6d.
We are very poor in reference to the funds for the other objects, and have now determined to meet daily for prayer, till the Lord may be pleased to send help.
There are now four sisters in the Lord staying at our house. This morning we had only 2s. left of our own money, when there was sent to us for ourselves from Clapham a sovereign and 2 lbs. of tea; and from Manchester 5 shillings' worth of postages. Thus the Lord has kindly helped us for the present.
Feb. 14. The Lord has had pity, and helped us in some measure. A brother gave me 5l. for the first four objects of the Scriptural Knowledge Institution.
Feb. 22. Since the 14th there has come in still further for the first four objects 6s. 1d., 13s. 4d., 2s. 6d., 1l., and 5l., besides what has come in by the sale of Bibles, etc. Thus we have been able to meet all the expenses of this week.
March 4. From February 22 up to this day our necessities in the Day Schools were supplied by thirteen small donations, and by a donation of 8l. from Q. Q. Today I received the following letter
I yesterday happened to meet with one of your Reports of the Orphan Institution for the last year, which I have read with much interest. I was not before at all aware how entirely you subsisted day by day on the good providence of the Lord, and it is very wonderful to see His constant care of such of His children as walk uprightly, and put their trust in Him. It must be very blessed thus to know and feel His care from day to day, in making bread and water sure. I am concerned to find that there was so much need at the time I saw you in ...... and that I did not assist you; but I will delay no longer, for there may be equal need now; and as I find many sums given with the text Ecclesiastes ix. 10, it reminds me, not to put off till tomorrow that which should be done today. Just before I fell in with your Report, I got a little portable money out of the bank, thinking it might be needed in some such way, so without delay I enclose it; the amount is 15l., and I hope that the Lord will direct my mind and incline my heart to help you again at the time of need. I perceive you have a list with the sums received, and the names of the donors open for inspection (though not published, which is well). Please to insert my donation, and any future ones I may give, under the initials A. B."
When this letter arrived, there was not one penny in hand for the Day Schools, whilst two days after about 7l. was needed. As the money was not given for any particular part of the work, it was put to this fund. There was also only 2l. in the Orphan fund. This money came from a considerable distance, and from a brother who never had assisted in this work before, whereby the Lord afresh shows how easily He can raise up new helpers.
March 11. From Feb. 13 to this day we have had comparative abundance for the Orphans, as 70 donations of 10l. and under have come in, also many pounds by sale of articles and Reports; but now, when we had again only 13s. 6d. in hand, not half of what is needed to meet the necessities of tomorrow, a sister at Plymouth sent 6l.
March 12. There came in still further today 5l. from "Friends to the Orphan," besides 2s. 6d., 1s. 6d., 10s., and 8s. 6d.
March 18. Today I heard of the conversion of a gentleman, whose believing wife had prayed many years on behalf of her husband. He was a Roman Catholic and a great drunkard. But though he had been a Roman Catholic, he was truly made to rest upon the Lord Jesus alone for salvation; though he had been a great drunkard, the power of the Gospel was seen in his case, for he forsook his evil ways; and though his wife had had to continue to pray for him many years, yet at last the Lord answered the cries of his afflicted handmaid, and gave her the desire of her heart.
As I know it to be a fact, that many children of God are greatly tried by having unconverted relatives, I relate here, for the encouragement of believers who are thus exercised, two precious facts, the truth of which I know, and by which the Lord manifested His power in converting, two of the most unlikely individuals, so far as natural appearance is concerned. Between forty and fifty years ago it pleased the Lord to convert the wife of a farmer at Ashburton in Devonshire, whose husband in consequence became her bitter opposer. This opposition was greatly increased when he had reason to believe that she was going to be baptized. The wife, however, thought that, on account of his great enmity, she would choose a time for being baptized when he was from home. A time was therefore chosen when he was to be absent at a fair in Exeter. The farmer went to the fair; but having learned on Thursday that his wife was to be baptized at eleven o'clock the next morning, in haste to return he rose early on Friday morning, to put a stop to the proceeding. After he had rode several miles, he said to himself, "No, I will not go; let her do what she pleases, I will not care about her at all:" and he therefore rode back again towards Exeter. But after awhile he altered his mind again and said to himself, "Nay, I will go, she shall not have her way;" and he rode again towards Ashburton. He pursued his way, and then changed his mind a third time, and turned towards Exeter; but not long after this, a fourth time he had different thoughts, and determined to ride borne. Now, however, he remembered, that, on account of his having thus gone backwards and forwards, and that for several miles, he had wasted so much time, that he could not possibly be at Ashburton by eleven o'clock, a distance of more than twenty miles from Exeter. Enraged by this thought, he dismounted from his horse on Haldon Common, between Exeter and Teignmouth, cut a large stick out of the hedge and determined to beat his wife with that stick, as long as a part of it remained. At last he reached his home, late in the afternoon, and found his wife had been baptized. In a great rage he now began to beat her, and continued to do so, till the stick in his hand was actually broken to pieces. Having thus most cruelly treated her, her body being full of bruises, he ordered her to bed. She meekly began to undress herself, and intended to go to bed, without saying a word. But when he saw her about to go, he said, "You shall not sleep in my bed any more. Go to the children's bed." She obeyed. When now on the point of lying down on the children's bed, he ran into the kitchen, fetched a piece of wood, threw her down on the bed, and was about to begin again to beat her, when suddenly he let the piece of wood fall, and went away without saying a word. The poor suffering wife saw no more of him that evening or night. On the next morning, Saturday, before she had risen, her husband left the house, and was absent all day till the evening. In the evening the wife gave him to understand when retiring for the night, that, according to his wish, she was again going to sleep in the children's bed, when he meekly said to her, "Will you not sleep in your own bed?" She thought he meant to mock her, and would beat her again, if she did go into her own bed. As, however, he continued in a meek and kind way to desire her to lie down in her usual bed, she did so. All night from Saturday to the Lord's day he lay groaning by her side, turning about in the bed, but having no sleep. On the Lord's day morning he rose early. After awhile he came to her and said, "My dear, it is time to get up: if you will get up and make the breakfast, I will go with you to the meeting." Still the wife thought, he only meant to mock her, and that perhaps he would beat her again, when she was on the point of going to the meeting. Nevertheless she rose, prepared the breakfast, and at last, as he continued meek and kind as before, she made herself ready to go to the meeting. How great was the astonishment and surprise of the people in the small town, where the thing had become known almost to every one, when arm in arm he walked with his wife to the meeting and entered it himself, which he had never done before! After the meeting was over, he related before all persons present, what had passed in his mind between Exeter and Ashburton, how he had most cruelly beaten his wife, how he had ordered her to go to the children's bed, how he had run into the kitchen to fetch a piece of wood to beat his wife a second time, how he had thrown her on the bed for that purpose, and how he had already lifted up his hand with the piece of wood in it, when there was like an audible voice saying to him: "Why persecutest thou me!" The piece of wood had then fallen out of his hand, and he had felt instantly that he was persecuting the Lord Jesus. From that moment his soul had become most distressed. He had been sleepless and miserable during the night from Friday to Saturday. On Saturday morning he had left the house early in the greatest agonies of soul, and had been roving about in the fields and neighbouring villages all the day. He had come home, and spent another sleepless night from Saturday to the Lord's day. And then passed what has been related.
From this time this persecutor became a disciple of the Lord Jesus. He found peace through the blood of the Lord Jesus, by faith in His name, and walked about thirty years in peace and love with his wife, and adorned the gospel of the grace of God.
His wife outlived him. The husband died more than thirteen years ago. The aged sister told all the particulars of the case to a brother in the Lord, out of whose mouth I heard them; and I have related them faithfully to the best of my knowledge.
Surely the arm of the Lord is not shortened in our days! In a moment He may turn the heart of the greatest persecutor. Think on Paul, think on Manasseh!
The other case of a remarkable conversion, which I am about to relate for the encouragement of the believing reader, occurred in my native country, the kingdom of Prussia, about the year 1820. I relate it as circumstantially as it was brought before me by a brother in the Lord. Baron von K. had been for many years a disciple of the Lord Jesus. Even about the commencement of this century, when there was almost universal darkness or even open infidelity spread over the whole continent of Europe, he knew the Lord Jesus; and when about the year 1806, there was the greatest distress in Silesia among many thousands of weavers, this blessed man of God took the following gracious step for his Lord and Master. As the weavers had no employment, the whole Continent almost being in an unsettled state on account of Napoleon's career, it seemed to him the will of the Lord, that he should use his very considerable property to furnish these poor weavers with work, in order to save them from the greatest state of destitution, though in doing this there was not only no prospect of gain, but the certain prospect of immense loss. He therefore found employment for about six thousand weavers. But he was not content with this. Whilst he gave the bread which perishes, he also sought to minister to the souls of these weavers. To that end he sought to set believers as overseers over this immense weaving concern, and not only saw to it that the weavers were instructed in spiritual things, but he himself also set the truth before them. Thus it went on for a good while, till at last, on account of the loss of the chief part of his property, he was obliged to think about giving it up. But by this time this precious act of mercy had so commended itself to the government, that it was taken up by them, and carried on till the times altered. Baron von K. was, however, appointed director of the whole concern as long as it existed.—This dear man of God was not content with this. He travelled through many countries to visit the prisons, for the sake of improving the temporal and spiritual condition of the prisoners, and among all the other things which he sought to do for the Lord, was this also in particular: He assisted poor students whilst at the University of Berlin, (especially those who studied theology, as it is called,) in order to get access to them, and to win them for the Lord. One day a most talented young man, whose father lived at Breslau, where there is likewise a university, heard of the aged baron's kindness to students, and he therefore wrote to him, requesting him to assist him, as his own father could not well afford to support him any longer, having other children to provide for. A short time afterwards young T. received a most kind reply from the baron, inviting him to come to Berlin; but, before this letter arrived, the young student had heard that Baron von K. was a pietist or mystic (as true believers are contemptuously called in Germany;) and as young was of a highly philosophical turn of mind, reasoning about every thing, questioning the truth of revelation, yea questioning most sceptically the existence of God, he much disliked the prospect of going to the old baron. Still, he thought he could but try, and if he did not like it, he was not bound to remain in connexion with him. He arrived in Berlin on a day when there was a great review of the troops; and being full of this he began to speak about it to the steward of the baron. The steward, however, being a believer, turned the conversation, before the young student was aware of it, to spiritual things; and yet he could not say that it had been forced. He began another subject, and a third, but still it always came presently again to spiritual things. At last the baron came, who received young T. in the most affectionate and familiar manner, as if he had been his equal, and as if young T. bestowed a favour on him, rather than that he was favoured by the baron. The baron offered him a room in his own house, and a place at his own table, while he should be studying in Berlin, which young T. accepted. He now sought in every way to treat the young student in the most kind and affectionate way, and as much as possible to serve him, and to show him the power of the Gospel in his own life, without arguing with him, yea without speaking to him directly about his soul. For, discovering in young T. a most reasoning and sceptical mind, he avoided in every possible way getting into any argument with him, while the young student again and again said to himself: "I wish I could get into an argument with this old fool, I would show him his folly." But the baron avoided it. When the young student used to come home in the evening, and the baron heard him come, he would himself go to meet him on entering the house, would light his candle, would assist and serve him in any way he could, even to the fetching the bootjack for him, and helping him to take off his boots. Thus this lowly aged disciple went on for some time, whilst the young student still sought an opportunity for arguing with him, but wondered nevertheless how the baron could thus serve him. One evening, on the return of young T. to the baron's house, when the baron was making himself his servant as usual, he could refrain himself no longer, but burst out thus: "Baron, how can you do all this! You see I do not care about you, and how are you able to continue to be so kind to me, and thus to serve me!" The baron replied: "My dear young friend, I have learned it from the Lord Jesus. I wish you would read through the Gospel of John. Good night." The student now for the first time in his life sat down and read the word of God in a disposition of mind to be willing to learn, whilst up to that time he had never read the Holy Scriptures but with the view of wishing to find out arguments against them. It pleased God to bless him. From that time he became himself a follower of the Lord Jesus, and has been so ever since.
I continue now the extracts from my journal.
March 19, 1841. It is twelve years this day since I arrived in England. How exceedingly kind and gracious has the Lord been to me day by day ever since! And the Lord has crowned this day also with mercies. I have been for some time again very weak in body, on account of which it appeared to me desirable to change my sphere of labour for awhile, to which I was the more inclined as I purpose to write the second part of my Narrative, for which I need more time than I can well find in Bristol, along with my other engagements. Today I had fully determined to leave, as I am now exceedingly weak; but we had no means for it. This morning, after the exposition of the Scriptures to the Orphan and Day School children, there was given to me a check for 15l., of which 5l. is for brother Craik, 5l. for myself, and 5l. for the Orphans, Thus my way, even as to means, is made quite plain.
March 20. Nailsworth. I had purposed to take lodgings in the neighbourhood of Tetbury, passing only a night or so at Nailsworth. When I came here today, and heard about the state of the saints here and in the neighbourhood, I could not but think that the Lord had sent me to this place to labour for a season.
March 21. I ministered twice today among the brethren at Nailsworth, with much assistance from the Lord, and feel already much better from the change of air.
March 22. Truly God has sent me here! Certain matters which have been brought to light through my being here, prove it. May the Lord make it still more abundantly plain that He has sent me here!—There is a small house, which a brother left a few weeks since, but has to pay rent for at least three months longer. He will let me have it rent free, and he and brother—mean to put into it the needful furniture.—Thus the Lord has provided a lodging, not only for me, but also for all my family, who can now join me here.
A sister in the Lord in Ireland, who did not see her acceptance before God, and who was habitually without the assurance that she is a child of God, that she is born again, that her sins are forgiven, and that she shall be saved, in her distress of mind wrote to me about this time. As her case is by no means a solitary one, but as there are so many children of God who do not know that they are children of God; as there are so many whose sins are forgiven who do not know that they are forgiven; and as there are so many who will be saved, who do not know that they will be saved, and who are continually afraid of what would become of them, were they to be taken out of the world:—I have thought it well to say something here on this most important subject.
I. Question. How may I obtain the knowledge that I am a child of God, or that I am born again, or that my sins are forgiven, or that I shall not perish but have everlasting life?
Answer. Not by my feelings, not by a dream, not by my experience being like this or that one's, or unlike this or that one's; but this matter is to be settled, as all other spiritual matters, entirely by the revealed will of God, the written word of God, which is the only rule, the only standard for believers.
II. Question. By what passages, then, for instance, may I make out that I am a child of God, or born again?
Answer. 1. In 1 John v. 1, it is written: "Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God." The meaning of these words is evidently this, that every one (whether young or old, male or female, one who has lived an outwardly moral or immoral life,) who believes that the poor, despised Jesus of Nazareth, of whom we read in the New Testament, was the promised Christ or Messiah, such a one is no longer in his natural state, but is born again, is born of God, is a child of God. The question therefore is, Do you believe that Jesus, who was born at Bethlehem, and crucified under Pontius Pilate, is the promised Saviour, the Messiah, the one for whom the Jews were to look? If so, you are a child of God, else you would not believe it. It is given unto you to believe it. Millions may SAY that Jesus is the Saviour, the Messiah, but none BELIEVE it except the children of God. It proves me to be a child of God that I believe it; to none besides is it given to believe it, though millions might say so.
Perhaps you say, I do not feel that I am born again, born of God, and I have therefore no enjoyment.
Answer. In order that you may have the enjoyment, which is the result of the knowledge that you are a child of God, that you are born of God, or born again, you must receive God's testimony. He is a faithful witness, He speaks nothing but the truth, and His declaration is, That every one who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God. If you receive this testimony of God, you, to whom by grace it is given to believe that Jesus is the Christ, cannot but be happy, from the fact that God Himself says, that you are His child. But if you will wait till you feel that you are a child of God, you may have to wait long; and even if you felt it, yet your feelings would be worth nothing; for either it might be a false feeling, or, though it were real, it might be lost the next hour. Feelings change; but the word of God remains unalterably the same. You have, then, without having had a dream about it, without having had a portion of the word in a more than usual way impressed upon your mind concerning the subject, without having heard something like a voice from heaven about it, to say to yourself: If I believe that Jesus is the promised Messiah, I am a child of God. And then, from a belief of what God declares in this passage concerning you who believe that Jesus is the Christ, even that you are His child, spring peace and joy in the Holy Ghost.
Answer 2. In Galatians iii. 26, it is written: "Ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus." The question here again is: Do I believe in the Lord Jesus? Do I depend upon Him alone for the salvation of my soul? If so, I am a child of God, whether I feel it or not.
Answer 3. In John i. 11—13, it is written of the Lord Jesus: "He came unto His own, and His own received Him not. But as many as received Him, to them gave He power (or the right or the privilege) to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name: which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God." The question here again is simply this, Have I received the Lord Jesus, i.e., Do I believe in His name? If so, I am born of God, I am a child of God, else I should never have believed in the Lord Jesus; for none but the children of God do believe in Him.
III. Question. How may I know that my sins are forgiven? Have I to wait till I feel that they are forgiven, before I may take comfort concerning this matter? Or, must I wait till I have in some powerful way a portion of the word of God applied to my mind, to assure me of it?
Answer. This point is again only to be settled by the word of God. We have not to wait till we feel that our sins are forgiven.—I myself have now been a believer for more than nineteen years (i.e. in the year 1845). How long it is, since I have had no doubt whatever about the forgiveness of my sins, I cannot tell with certainty; but this I am quite sure of, that ever since I have been in England, which is now about sixteen years (in 1845), I have never once had a single moment's doubt that my sins are all forgiven; and yet I do not remember that I even once have felt that they were forgiven. To know that they are forgiven, and to feel that they are forgiven, are two different things.—The way to settle, whether our sins are forgiven, is, to refer to the word of God alone with reference to it. In Acts x. 43, it is written concerning the Lord Jesus, "To him give all the prophets witness, that through His name whosoever believeth in Him shall receive remission of sins." All the prophets speaking under the immediate power of the Holy Spirit, bore testimony, that through the obedience and sufferings of the Lord Jesus, whereby He becomes our Saviour or is our Jesus, all who believe in Him for salvation, who depend upon Him and not upon themselves, who receive Him to be the one whom God declares Him to be, should receive the forgiveness of their sins. The questions therefore to be put to ourselves are simply these: Do I walk in utter carelessness? Do I trust in my own exertions for salvation? Do I expect forgiveness for my sins on account of living a better life in future? Or, do I depend only upon this, that Jesus died upon the cross to save sinners—and that Jesus fulfilled the law of God to make sinners righteous? If the latter is the case, my sins are forgiven, whether I feel it or not. I have already forgiveness. I shall not have it merely when I die, or when the Lord Jesus comes again; but I have it now, and that for all my sins. I must not wait to feel that my sins are forgiven, in order to be at peace, and in order to be happy; but I must take God at His word, I must believe that what He says in true, and He says, "That whosoever believeth in the Lord Jesus should receive remission of sins;" and when I believe what God says, peace and joy will be the result.
Again, in Acts xv. 8, 9, it is written with reference to us Gentile sinners: "And God which knoweth the hearts, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost, even as He did unto us; and put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith." Here we see how the guilt is to be removed from the heart, how we can get a clean heart, obtain the forgiveness of our sins,—even by faith in the Lord Jesus. Depending upon the sufferings of the Lord Jesus in the room of sinners, and depending upon His obedience in fulfilling the law of God, His sufferings are considered as endured by us, His obedience as if found in ourselves: in Him (if we believe on Him) we are considered to have hung on the cross, and therefore were punished in Him, on account of which God, though perfectly holy and just, can forgive us our sins for Jesus' sake, as well as reckon us righteous, through faith in the Lord Jesus, who in the room of those who believe on Him fulfilled the law of God.
I would here by the way especially warn against one error, which is, that persons say, I can believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Saviour, that through Him alone the forgiveness of sins is to be obtained, and I do depend on Him alone for forgiveness, but I desire to know that He is my Christ, my Saviour, and because I am not sure about that, I can have no peace. Now, the Gospel which is preached in the New Testament is not, you must believe that Jesus of Nazareth is your Christ, your Saviour, but that He is the Christ, the Saviour; and if you believe that, you have a right to look upon Him as your Saviour.
IV. Question. How may I know that I shall be saved?
Answer. "If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thy heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved." Rom. x. 9. The point is simply this: Do I confess with my mouth the Lord Jesus? Do I own Him by the confession of my mouth before men, and do I believe in my heart that Jesus of Nazareth who was crucified was not left in the grave, but was raised again by God on the third day? If so, I shall be saved. For while there may be the confession of the Lord Jesus with the month, without the person being finally saved, there does not go along with this the believing in the heart that God has raised Him from the dead, without the person, in whom both are found, being finally saved; for in none but the children of God are these two points found united together. We have here particularly to observe, that it is not written: If thou shalt say that God has raised Him from the dead; but if thou shalt believe in thine heart that God has raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. I have, then, to take God at His word. If I do confess the Lord Jesus with my mouth, and do believe in my heart that God has raised Him from the dead, I shall be saved, though I do not feel it, though I am utterly unworthy of salvation, yea, though I am altogether deserving condemnation. I must not wait till I feel that I shall be saved before I take comfort; but I must believe what God says in this verse, and, out of that, peace and comfort will flow into my soul. Should, however, one or the other of the children of God, believe in his heart the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, if at the same time he has never made confession of the Lord Jesus with his mouth, he cannot be surprised that the assurance about his salvation is wanting to him; yet if both be found in you, my dear reader, God has been gracious to you, you are His child, you shall be saved.
Further, in John iii. 16, it is written: "God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life." Notice here in particular: 1. It matters not how great a sinner I am. 2. The promise is positive concerning my salvation, if I believe in the Lord Jesus. 3. I have only to believe in the Lord Jesus. No matter how it may have been with me hitherto; if only now I trust in and depend upon the Lord Jesus for salvation, I shall have everlasting life.
Further, in Acts xvi. 30, 31, it is written: "Sirs, what must I do to be saved? And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved."
Further, in John iii. 36, it is written: "He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life; and He that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him." As assuredly as I depend upon and trust in the Lord Jesus for the salvation of my soul, I shall be saved, I have already everlasting life; for He died, to deliver those who believe on Him from the wrath of God, under which all men are in their natural state; but if I do not believe in the Lord Jesus, the wrath of God, which rests upon all men in their natural state, will finally destroy me, if I remain without faith in the Lord Jesus; for then I reject the one only remedy, in refusing to take Jesus as my substitute, who bore the punishment that He might deliver the sinner from it, and who fulfilled the law of God that He might make the sinner who believes on Him a just one before God.
V. Question. How may I know that I am one of the elect? I often read in the Scriptures about election, and I often hear about election, how may I know that I am a chosen one, that I am predestinated to be conformed to the image of the Son of God?
Answer. It is written: "As many as were ordained, (i.e. appointed) to eternal life believed." Acts xiii. 48. The question therefore simply is this: Do I believe in the Lord Jesus? Do I take Him to be the one whom God declares Him to be, i. e. His beloved Son in whom He is well pleased? If so, I am a believer, and I should never have believed, except I had been appointed by God to eternal life—except I had been made by God to be a vessel of mercy. Therefore the matter is a very simple one: if I believe in the Lord Jesus, I am a chosen one,—I have been appointed to eternal life.
Again, in Rom. viii. 29, 30, it is written: "For whom He did foreknow, He also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the first-born among many brethren. Moreover, whom He did predestinate, them He also called: and whom he called, them He also justified; and whom He justified, them He also glorified." How are we justified, or constituted just ones, before God? By faith in the Lord Jesus. Rom. iii. 20—26. Therefore if I believe in the Lord Jesus, it follows (on account of the inseparable connection of all the precious things spoken of in these two verses), that I have been foreknown by God, that I have been predestinated by Him to be conformed to the image of His Son, that I have been called, that I have been justified, and that, in the sight of God, I am already as good as glorified, though I am not as yet in the actual possession and enjoyment of the glory.
The reason why persons who renounce confidence in their own goodness for salvation, and who only trust in the merits and sufferings of the Lord Jesus, do not know that they are the children of God, that their sins are forgiven, and that they shall be saved, generally arises from one of these things: 1. They do not know the simplicity of the Gospel; or, 2. They seek to settle it by their feeling; or, 3. They wait for some powerful impulse, or a dream, or something like a voice from Heaven to assure them of it, or for some passage being in a powerful way applied to their mind to assure them of it; or, 4. Because they are living in sin. Should the last be the case, then, however correctly we may understand the Gospel; however much we may desire by the Holy Scriptures alone to settle these questions; yea, however much in former times we may have enjoyed the assurance of the forgiveness of our sins, or of our being the children of God, or that we shall be saved: in such a state of heart all peace would be gone, and would not return as long as we live in sin. There may be found much weakness and many infirmities even in the believer who has assurance about these points; but the Holy Ghost does not comfort us, and will not comfort us, if we habitually indulge in those things which we know to be contrary to the mind of God. An upright, honest heart, is of the utmost importance in all divine things; and especially with reference to the assurance about our standing before God.
April 15. From March 12th up to this day we had always a little money in hand for the Orphans, so that there was comparatively no trial of faith. Of the many donations which came in during this period I only mention two, as rather deserving to be noticed, to show what various ways the Lord uses to send us supplies. On March 16th I received from the neighbourhood of London 5l., respecting which the brother who sent it writes, that he was in the habit of giving this sum to his wife, a sister, on her birth days, to lay it out in buying any little thing she liked, and that she this time preferred giving it to the Orphans. On April 3rd a sister gave 5l., which came in most seasonably. She had lost a sum of money, which was afterwards found again, and she felt constrained to give 5l. of it to the Orphans. Now today, April 15, when all was again spent, 3l. came in from Wales.
On Friday, April 30, while I was at Nailsworth, in Gloucestershire, I received the following letter from brother R. B., Master at the Boys'-Orphan-House:
"My dear Brother,
"When I wrote last, on Tuesday evening, there was not one penny in hand. But since then the Lord has most graciously dealt with us. Only 1s. 6d. came in on Wednesday morning; but as there were enough provisions in the house for the day, the sisters experienced no difficulty: it was only necessary to refuse to take in what there was not money to pay for. About six I went out for a walk with the boys, and returned after eight, when I found a letter in which was enclosed 5l., with these words; "From the Lord, for the present necessities of the Orphans." It was indeed for the present necessities. Etc.
This letter came after a previous one, in which brother R. B. informed me about the need in the Orphan-Houses, which led me to prayer. When this letter came from brother B., I received at the same time another from Birmingham, in which was enclosed 10l., from a brother, who had sold some of his books. It was from a most unexpected quarter, as that brother is himself, as a servant of the Lord, depending upon Him for temporal supplies. The same post brought me also information of 1l. 4s, 6d., having been sent from Dublin. The sister in Ireland writes that she sends the money now, as we may be in want of even so small a sum. With regard to the above-mentioned 5l., I mention still further that I know from the handwriting who the donor is; and it is remarkable that he had not given or sent the money to me, as he not only knew I was not in Bristol at the time, but that I was in the neighbourhood where he lives. But this was not only of the Lord's ordering, but it was a direct answer to prayer; for knowing the need at the Orphan-Houses, I had been especially led to ask the Lord not to allow the money to be first sent to me in letters or parcels, but to cause it to be directly sent to brother B. How truly precious it is that every one, who rests alone upon the Lord Jesus for salvation, has in the living God a father, to whom he may fully unbosom himself concerning the most minute affairs of his life, and concerning every thing that lies upon his heart! Dear reader, do you know the living God? Is He, in Jesus, your Father? Be assured that Christianity is something more than forms and creeds, and ceremonies: there is life, and power, and reality, in our holy faith. If you never yet have known this, then come and taste for yourself. I beseech you affectionately to meditate and pray over the following verses: John iii. 16, Rom. x. 9, 10, Acts x. 43, I John v. 1.
May 2. A sister who lives near Lutterworth sent me yesterday 5l., which was given for the Orphans by a friend of hers. This 5l. supplies our need today, it being Saturday, for there was only 1l. in hand when this money came.
From March 20th, to May 7th, I spent at Nailsworth, where I prepared the second part of my Narrative for the press, and laboured in the Word. These seven weeks were on the whole, by the help of God, profitably spent in the service of the Lord, and to the benefit of my own soul. There was much love shown to me and my family by the dear saints among whom I was labouring, and I know that my service among them has not been in vain.
Today, May 7, I returned with my family to Bristol.
While I was staying at Nailsworth, it pleased the Lord to teach me a truth, irrespective of human instrumentality, as far as I know, the benefit of which I have not lost, though now, while preparing the eighth edition for the press, more than forty years have since passed away. The point is this; I saw more clearly than ever, that the first great and primary business to which I ought to attend every day was, to have my soul happy in the Lord. The first thing to be concerned about was not, how much I might serve the Lord, how I might glorify the Lord; but how I might get my soul into a happy state, and how my inner man might be nourished. For I might seek to set the truth before the unconverted, I might seek to benefit believers, I might seek to relieve the distressed, I might in other ways seek to behave myself as it becomes a child of God in this world; and yet, not being happy in the Lord, and not being nourished and strengthened in my inner man day by day, all this might not be attended to in a right spirit. Before this time my practice had been, at least for ten years previously, as an habitual thing, to give myself to prayer, after having dressed myself in the morning. Now I saw, that the most important thing I had to do was, to give myself to the reading of the word of God and to meditation on it, that thus my heart might be comforted, encouraged, warned, reproved, instructed; and that thus, by means of the word of God, whilst meditating on it, my heart might be brought into experimental communion with the Lord. I began therefore to meditate on the New Testament from the beginning early in the morning. The first thing I did, after having asked in a few words the Lord's blessing upon His precious word, was, to begin to meditate on the word of God, searching, as it were, into every verse, to get blessing out of it; not for the sake of the public ministry of the Word; not for the sake of preaching on what I had meditated upon; but for the sake of obtaining food for my own soul. The result I have found to be almost invariably this, that after a very few minutes my soul has been led to confession, or to thanksgiving, or to intercession, or to supplication; so that, though I did not, as it were, give myself to prayer, but to meditation, yet it turned almost immediately more or less into prayer. When thus I have been for awhile making confession, or intercession, or supplication, or have given thanks, I go on to the next words or verse, turning all, as I go on, into prayer for myself or others, as the Word may lead to it; but still continually keeping before me, that food for my own soul is the object of my meditation. The result of this is, that there is always a good deal of confession, thanksgiving, supplication, or intercession mingled with my meditation, and that my inner man almost invariably is even sensibly nourished and strengthened, and that by breakfast time, with rare exceptions, I am in a peaceful if not happy state of heart. Thus also the Lord is pleased to communicate unto me that, which either very soon after, or at a later time, I have found to become food for other believers, though it was not for the sake of the public ministry of the Word that I gave myself to meditation, but for the profit of my own inner man. With this mode I have likewise combined the being out in the open air for an hour, an hour and a half, or two hours before breakfast, walking about in the fields, and in the summer sitting for a little on the stiles, if I find it too much to walk all the time.7 I find it very beneficial to my health to walk thus for meditation before breakfast, and am now so in the habit of using the time for that purpose, that when I get into the open air, I generally take out a new Testament of good sized type, which I carry with me for that purpose, besides my Bible: and I find that I can profitably spend my time in the open air; which formerly was not the case, for want of habit I used to consider the time spent in walking a loss, but now I find it very profitable, not only to my body, but also to my soul. The walking out before breakfast is of course not necessarily connected with this matter, and every one has to judge according to his strength and other circumstances.—The difference then between my former practice and my present one is this. Formerly, when I rose, I began to pray as soon as possible, and generally spent all my time till breakfast in prayer, or almost all the time. At all events I almost invariably began with prayer, except when I felt my soul to be more than usually barren, in which case I read the word of God for food, or for refreshment, or for a revival and renewal of my inner man, before I gave myself to prayer. But what was the result? I often spent a quarter of an hour, or half an hour, or even an hour on my knees, before being conscious to myself of having derived comfort, encouragement, humbling of soul, &c.; and often, after having suffered much from wandering of mind for the first ten minutes, or a quarter of an hour, or even half an hour, I only then began realty to pray. I scarcely ever suffer now in this way. For my heart being nourished by the truth, being brought into experimental fellowship with God, I speak to my Father, and to my Friend (vile though I am, and unworthy of it!) about the things that He has brought before me in His precious word. It often now astonishes me that I did not sooner see this point. In no book did I ever read about it. No public ministry ever brought the matter before me. No private intercourse with a brother stirred me up to this matter. And yet now, since God has taught me this point, it is as plain to me as any thing, that the first thing the child of God has to do morning by morning is, to obtain food for his inner man. As the outward man is not fit for work for any length of time, except we take food; and as this is one of the first things we do in the morning; so it should be with the inner man. We should take food for that, as every one must allow. Now what is the food for the inner man? Not prayer, but the word of God; and here again not the simple reading of the word of God, so that it only passes through our minds, just as water runs through a pipe, but considering what we read, pondering over it, and applying it to our hearts. When we pray, we speak to God. Now, prayer, in order to be continued for any length of time in any other than a formal manner, requires, generally speaking, a measure of strength or godly desire, and the season, therefore, when this exercise of the soul can be most effectually performed, is, after the inner man has been nourished by meditation on the word of God, where we find our Father speaking to us, to encourage us, to comfort us, to instruct us, to humble us, to reprove us. We may therefore profitably meditate, with God's blessing, though we are ever so weak spiritually; nay, the weaker we are, the more we need meditation for the strengthening of our inner man. There is thus far less to be feared from wandering of mind, than if we give ourselves to prayer without having had previously time for meditation.—I dwell so particularly on this point because of the immense spiritual profit and refreshment I am conscious of having derived from it myself, and I affectionately and solemnly beseech all my fellow-believers to ponder this matter. By the blessing of God I ascribe to this mode the help and strength which I have had from God to pass in peace through deeper trials in various ways, than I had ever had before; and after having now above forty years tried this way, I can most fully, in the fear of God, commend it. In addition to this, I generally read after family prayer larger portions of the word of God, when I still pursue my practice of reading regularly onward in the Holy Scriptures, sometimes in the New Testament and sometimes in the Old, and for more than fifty-two years I have proved the blessedness of it. I take also either then or at other parts of the day, time more especially for prayer.
How different, when the soul is refreshed and made happy early in the morning, from what it is when, without spiritual preparation, the service, the trials, arid the temptations of the day come upon one!
May 29. Today I received from the East Indies 100l.—Notice here, that without any solicitation, simply in answer to prayer, the Lord is pleased to send us from time to time even large sums, and that from such a distance as the East Indies.
June 4. Two or three weeks since, a brother at a distance requested me to let him know the names of my bankers, and the names of their agents in London, in order that he might by means of his bankers send me some money. One day after another passed away, and I heard no more about it. Today I received the following letter
"My dear Brother,
"I have delayed writing to you under the expectation of seeing you at Bristol; but I am not yet suffered to leave ****. I have, by this post, written to ***** of London, desiring them to pay over to Messrs. Robarts, Curtis & Co., in favour of Messrs. Stuckey & Co. of Bristol, to the credit of George Mueller, the sum of fifty pounds. This apply, dear brother, as the Lord gives you wisdom. I am not concerned at my having been prevented for so many days from sending this money: I am confident it has not been needed."
This last sentence is remarkable. It is now nearly three years since our funds were for the first time exhausted, and only at this period, since then, could it have been said in truth, as far as I remember, that a donation of 50l. was not needed. From the beginning of July, 1838, till now, there never had been a period when we so abounded as when this donation of 50l. came; for there was then in the Orphan-Fund and the other funds between two and three hundred pounds. The words of this brother are so much the more remarkable, as, on four former occasions, when he likewise gave considerable donations, we were always in need, yea, great need, which he afterwards knew from the printed accounts.
On the same day came in still further from Hackney 10l., besides several small donations.
July 7, 1841. For some time past brother Craik and I have questioned whether, under our present circumstances, the mode of receiving the free-will offerings of the saints among whom we labour, by means of boxes over which our names were fixed, together with the explanation of the object of the boxes, was any longer the more excellent way. We have at last been quite decided about it, and put today the following short statement into the press.
To the Saints in Christ Jesus assembling at Bethesda Chapel, Bristol.
"It has seemed well to us to remove, from the chapel, the boxes appropriated for the reception of the free-will offerings towards our temporal support. In order to prevent misapprehension or misrepresentation, we desire affectionately to lay before you the following statement of our reasons for taking this step.
Upon our first coming to Bristol we declined accepting anything in the shape of regular salary, or by means of seat-rents, from the brethren among whom we were labouring. We did not act thus because we thought it wrong that those who were ministered unto in spiritual things should minister unto us in temporal things; but 1. because we would not have the liberality of the brethren to be a matter of constraint, but willingly; 2. because on the ground of James ii. 1-6, we objected to seat-rents. Boxes were put up for the sake of those into whose hearts God might put it to desire to act according to that word, "Let him that is taught in the Word communicate unto him that teacheth in all good things." Gal. vi. 6.
When the boxes were first put up, we were the only brethren that seemed called to labour in the Word and doctrine. Since then, however, circumstances have considerably altered; and, partly from the change in circumstances, and, partly from increased light in reference to the position of those who minister the Word, we have for some time past felt that it might be well, for certain reasons, that the present mode of receiving the offerings of the saints should be discontinued. At the same time we are very desirous of having it clearly understood, that, in the great principles which led to the adoption of the boxes, in the first instance, we are unchanged: or rather we are more strengthened, by the experience of more than ten years, in the propriety of rejecting seat-rents and fixed salaries.
1. As long as the boxes are there, it ought to be understood for what purpose the money, which is put into them, is applied. This necessity requires that our names should be given, as those who labour in the Word and doctrine. This again has the appearance of elevating ourselves above all the other brethren, and of assuming office to ourselves, instead of just seeking to fill the place which the Holy Ghost may have given us in the body.
2. It may please the Lord increasingly to call and qualify other brethren for the work of ruling and teaching in the church; but still, as long as we are looked upon as we have been hitherto, in consequence of our names being affixed to the boxes, unnecessary difficulties may probably be put in the way of any others being fully recognised by the saints generally as occupying, equally with ourselves, the place in which the Lord may set them.
3. The question may be asked even now, "Are these the only labourers?" and the reply would be that there are others who also labour, but who are not supported in the same way. This fact is fitted to give the impression to those who do not know us, that we were seeking to keep our place in the church by some outward title, rather than just filling it up in obedience to the Lord, and quietly leaving it with His Spirit to produce subjection unto us on the part of the saints.
4. Lastly, from the manner in which our names appear in public, we have reason to believe that some of the saints look upon us as exclusively the "ministers," and thus that some may have felt themselves neglected because not visited personally by us. The notion that two individuals should be able to exercise pastoral inspection over about five hundred and fifty believers, we consider to be very unsound; but for ourselves we feel that it is a responsibility which we dare not take. According to our gift and strength we desire to rule, teach, and feed the sheep of Christ; but we dare not undertake the personal inspection of all who are already gathered, or may be gathered, simply as believers in the Lord Jesus, in this city.
Thus we have endeavoured very briefly to state our reasons for declining any longer to receive your offerings through boxes publicly put up, and having our names appended to them. We desire grace to serve you more faithfully than ever, and cast ourselves, as we have done hitherto, upon Him who hath said, "If any man serve me him will my Father honour."
HENRY CRAIK, GEORGE MUeLLERMueller
Bristol, July 7, 1841. .
When this alteration was made, I had another proof of the many blessings which are connected with the life of faith. Under other circumstances the question would have naturally arisen in my mind, And what will you do for support, if the boxes are removed? How will the offerings come in? Will any come in? But none of these things troubled me even for a moment. I said to myself, somehow or other the Lord will provide for me. If not through the instrumentality of the saints in Bristol, He will send help by means of those who live elsewhere. All I have to do in this matter is, to serve the Lord and to trust in Him, and He will surely take care of my temporal necessities. And thus it has been since July 1841 also, even as before. The reader may desire to know, how the Lord has since that time provided for my temporal necessities, seeing that the boxes, which were put up in the two chapels for the reception of the free-will offerings, were removed. I therefore state it. 1, I have received, as at former times, some presents in provisions, clothes, etc., from the saints among whom I labour and from other saints. 2, Some of the brethren and sisters among whom I labour have either habitually or from time to time put up some money in paper, and directed it to brother Craik or to me, or to both of us, and have put these little money parcels into one of the boxes for the reception of the offerings of the poor saints, or into the boxes into which the free-will contributions for the rent and expenses of the chapels are put. These little packets have been handed over to us by the deacons, and as they were directed so they have been appropriated, Those which are directed to brother Craik only, are handed over to brother Craik; those which are directed to me only, I appropriate for myself; and those which are directed to both of us, the contents are divided between us. 3, In a few cases, brethren and sisters in communion with us have also given me presents in money. 4, The Lord has also continued to incline the hearts of some of His children, not living in Bristol, to send me presents in money, and again and again even those whom I have never seen, and whose names, sometimes, I do not even know.
The only thing that was a real difficulty in my mind in making this alteration was, not that I should be a loser, and much less that the Lord would not care for my temporal necessities; but lest some of the children of God should find, in the removal of the boxes for the reception of the offerings for brother Craik and me, an excuse for doing nothing at all for our temporal necessities; and lest especially the poor, because they might have only pence or halfpence to give, should be deterred from doing so, and thereby both classes should rob themselves of blessing. It was not, because I feared to lose the gifts of some; for, I can, by the grace of God, say in some measure at least with the apostle Paul, "Not because I desire a gift: but I desire fruit that may abound to your account." Philip iv. 17. My aim also is, by the help of God, to be brought into that state of heart in which the apostle Paul was when he said, "I will very gladly spend and be spent for you; though the more abundantly I love you the less I be loved." 2 Cor. xii. 15. But yet with this desire on my part, I knew that the dear children of God among whom I labour would rob themselves and not me of a blessing, if they did not contribute towards my temporal necessities and I feared, lest this alteration should be used by Satan as an instrument to their injury.
But the mind of God seemed to us, after all, on account of the reasons before stated, that the alteration ought to be made, notwithstanding any possible evils which might result from it.
We are thus in such a position, that there is free room for the Holy Ghost to commend all the various labourers among us, according to the measure of grace and gift given to them, to the consciences of the brethren, not only with reference to their spiritual position in the body, butt also with reference to their temporal need.
Aug. 7. Today we had one sixpence left for our own personal necessities. We needed some money to buy eggs and cocoa for a brother who is come to stay with us, when this brother gave me four shillings, which he had brought for me from the place whence he comes. Thus we are helped for the present.
Aug. 26. After a season of comparative poverty with reference to myself, though always having what was really needful in the way of nourishing food, etc., a brother sent me today 17l. 18s. from a considerable distance, of which half is for the Orphans, and half for my own temporal necessities.
Sept. 2. During the last four months we have had more in hand for the Orphans than we needed. Since July 1838, when for the first time the funds were exhausted, we have had at no period so much money in hand. There was as it were, during these four months, one continual even running of the river of God's bounty, both by presents in money and articles. Of the donations which were received during this period, I mention only the following:—On May 12th I received from Florence, in Italy, the following donations:—3 silver pins and 4 dollars; 3 dollars and a sixpence; 2 Pauls (Italian coins); 5l.; 3 pincushions, 6 penwipers, and a little shawl How abundantly do these donations from Florence prove how easily the Lord is able to provide us with means for His work, even from the most unexpected quarters!—As we had now for several months abounded in a greater degree than at any previous time of the same length during the past three years and three months, so it pleased the Lord after this period to try our faith more severely than during any time since the work first commenced. Indeed, so sharp were the trials of our faith for more than six months after this;—so long the seasons when, day after day, only daily supplies were granted to us, and when even from meal to meal we had to look to the Lord;—so long had we to continue in prayer, and yet help seemed to fail;—that it can be only ascribed to the especial mercy of God, that the faith of those who were engaged in this work did not altogether fail, and that they did not entirely grow weary of this way of carrying on the Lord's work, and go, in despair of help from God, back again to the habits and maxims of this evil world. How my fellow-labourers have felt during all this time, I am, of course, unable to state; but, if I may speak of myself, I joyfully state, to the praise of the Lord, that during all the following months my faith was sustained without wavering, but still so greatly was it tried, that often I had no other petition, but that the Lord would be pleased to continue it, and that He would pity me as a father pitieth his children. In the midst of the trial I was fully assured that the Lord would lighten His hand in His own good time, and that, whilst it lasted, it was only in order that in a small measure, for the benefit of the church of Christ generally, that word might be fulfilled in us—"Whether we be afflicted it is for your consolation." I now give an account of the commencement and progress of our trial of faith during the months which succeeded the time of abundance.
Sept. 3. The money in hand had come to 3l. 5s. I therefore asked the Lord this morning for fresh supplies, and very soon after came a post-office order from Glasgow for 3l.
Sept. 7. 5l. 9s. more had come in since September 3rd, but this morning the last money had been given out. After the great abundance during the last months, now not a farthing was left. I gave myself therefore to prayer, and in the afternoon I received a post-office order from a brother at Plymouth for 3l. In the evening was left at my house a bonnet box from G. T. I., which contained 5s., 4 shirts and 4 handkerchiefs.
Sept. 8. Today came in 4s. from the neighbourhood of Wolverhampton, 2s. 6d. from Bath, and 1l. was given by a brother, who had just arrived from Ceylon.
Sept. 9. This morning 5l. was sent by a brother, a student in the University of Cambridge, who had read my Narrative; also 13s. 6d. came in besides.
Sept. 18. From the 9th to this day we were comfortably supplied with what we needed. Today, when 3l. was needed, and there was only 1l. 9s. 2d. in hand, 12l. came in from the neighbourhood of Wolverhampton, and 3s. by knitting.
Sept. 25. Saturday. Since the 18th was received, by donations and sale of articles, 5l. 19s. 8d., which enabled us, together with the 12l. 3s. which came in on the 18th, to meet all the expenses. But when I had sent off yesterday what was needed to meet the day's need, nothing at all was left in hand for this day, whilst I knew that above 3l. would be required. The Lord, therefore, in His faithful love sent in yesterday afternoon 11s. 0 1/2d.; this morning 5l. from Plymouth; and 1l. 1s. with several articles of clothing for the Orphans from Clapham. Thus we had about twice as much as was required for this day.
Sept. 26. 2l. 11s. came in today.
Sept. 28. As 2l. was needed for the supplies of this day, and only 1l. l3s. 0 1/2d. was in hand, the boxes in the Orphan-Houses were opened, in which was found 10s. 2d.
Sept. 29, When there was again only 3s. 2 1/2d. in hand towards the need of today, a brother, a commercial traveller, having returned last night to Bristol, brought me two sovereigns, which had been given him for the Orphans by a lady at Marlborough, who had read one of the Reports. There came in still further today 2l. 8s. 6d.
Oct. 1. When I had again not one penny in hand for the necessities of this day, there was brought to me this morning 10s. for the Orphans, which had been sent from Kensington. In the paper, which contained the money, was written: "Your Heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of these things." "Trust in the Lord." This word of our Lord is to me of more value than many bank notes. About five minutes later I received from an Irish sister 10l., through her banker in London. At the same time I received information from Tetbury that three boxes, containing articles to be disposed of for the benefit of the Orphans, were on the way, and two hours after, 14 small donations were given to me, amounting to 1l. 7s. 4d.—I mention here, as a point particularly to be noticed, that after the season of comparative abundance had come to an end in September, the Lord did not at once allow us to be so sharply tried as we were afterwards. He dealt in the same gentle way with us three years before, when the trials of faith in this part of the work first commenced.
Oct. 6. As only 4l. more had been received for the Orphans since Oct. 1; the last money had now again been given out to supply this day's necessities, when 2l. 15s. came in, being the produce of some of the articles which had been sent from Tetbury. This evening I also received from a brother a sovereign, which his believing wife, on her dying bed, had requested him to give after her decease. There came in likewise this evening by a donation 10s., and by sale of articles 2l. 10s. 5d.
During the last five months we have had comparatively an abundance of means for the other objects of the Scriptural Knowledge Institution also; but now we are again very poor. Just now, in this our great need, a brother, who has learned to esteem the Holy Scriptures above every other book, sent me a box of books, the produce of which supplies our present need for the Day Schools.
Oct. 9. No more than 1l. 2s. 11d, having been received for the Orphans since the 6th, there was only 2l. 3s. 9d. in hand, whilst 4l. was needed, it being Saturday. In the course of the morning 2l. came in for stockings, from a sister who resides five or six miles from Bristol; and in the afternoon another sister sent 1s., and a third brought 5l. The latter had it particularly laid on her heart not to delay till tomorrow the giving of this money, as it might be needed today. Thus the Lord has not only given us enough for today, but also a little to begin the next week with.
Oct. 10. Today we received still further 5l. 9s. 11d. for the Orphans.
Oct. 11. When today again money was needed for the Day Schools, there arrived from Marlborough a box of books, containing 110 volumes and several pamphlets. The produce of the books, together with 1l. 9s. 4d., which came in at the same time, supplied again our present necessities.
Oct. 16. More than 10l. had come in since the 10th for the Orphans; but today there was again only 10s. 11 1/2d. in hand, whilst about 3l. was required. The boxes at the Orphan-Houses were therefore opened, which contained 1l. 1s. In the course of the day also 5s. 5d. was paid for stockings. About seven o'clock this evening sister E. C. brought several small donations, amounting to 1l. 17s. 4d., for the Orphans, and 9s. 8d. for the other funds. Thus we had even for this day 3l. 14s. 4 1/4d.
Oct. 21. As only between 9l. and 10l. had come in since the 16th for the Orphans, we were this day again, as is often the case, without anything in hand, when 12s. 2d. was sent from Exmouth, and 8s. 8d. came in by sale of stockings. There arrived also a box and a basket from Ilfracombe, the contents of which are to be sold for the benefit of the Orphans. Moreover 15s. 6d. was taken out of the boxes in the Orphan-Houses.
Oct. 22. By the money which was yesterday taken out of the boxes, and by 1l. 3s. which came in by disposing of some of the articles sent from Ilfracombe, we were comfortably supplied today.
Oct. 23. We had only 5s. 6d., which I found in the box in my house, 8s. 9d. for stockings, and 9s. which came in morning, besides a few shillings in the hands of the matrons, to help us through the day.
Oct. 24. Today, when we had not enough to pay the salaries of the teachers in the Day Schools, I received 5l. from a sister at Topsham, which supplied our need.
Oct. 25. Yesterday and today was given 2l. 17s. for the Orphans.
Oct. 26. This afternoon I had only one penny left, when two Orphans arrived from Bath, with whom 5l. 15s. 6d. was brought. At the very moment, while I was receiving this money, I was called on for money from the Girls'-Orphan-House, which I was thus able to send. It has often been so ordered by the Lord, that, whilst we require nothing at all to be paid at the admission of the children, nevertheless that which has been brought with them has been the means of supplying the need, in which we were at the time when they were sent. There came in still further today 1l.
Oct. 29. Today we were again very poor; for not only had I nothing at all in hand, but the provision stores were much reduced. About twelve o'clock a sister gave me 3s. 2d., also from a distance was sent 9d. In the afternoon we were able to dispose of some articles for 3l., which had been sent a long time ago. Three shillings came in for needlework, and 2s. 6d. as a donation. Thus we had 3l. 9s. 5d.—The day before yesterday I had asked the Lord that He would be pleased to send us some potatoes, as we have no means to lay in a stock. This morning I was informed that the same brother who had sent 20 sacks last year, had again ordered 20 sacks to be sent, and 6 sacks have also been given by another individual.
Oct. 30. As this is Saturday, the money which came in yesterday was not quite enough for today. But this morning's post brought, in answer to prayer, from Clapham 10s. and anonymously from Plymouth 10s.
Nov. 1. Yesterday was received altogether 2l. 10s. 3d.
Nov. 2. At a time of the greatest poverty 1l. was sent by a lady from Birmingham. About half an hour afterwards I received 10l. from a brother who had saved up 150l. and put it into a savings' bank, but who now sees that, to devote this money to the promotion of the work of God tends more to the glory of the name of Jesus, than to retain it in a savings' bank upon interest for a time of sickness or old age; for he is assured that should such times come, the same Lord, who has hitherto cared for him whilst in health and strength, and able to work, will also care for him then. The same brother gave me 3l. a fortnight since. This 10l. came in very seasonably; for though we had been able to provide for the absolute necessities of today, yet there was want in many respects, especially as a boy is just going out as an apprentice, who needs tools and an outfit.
Nov. 3. This afternoon two little boys were received, with whom three little girls sent 13s. 6d.
Nov. 4 and 5. 2l. 5s. ld. more was given.
Nov. 7. When there was now again nothing at all in hand, there came in 2l., being the profit of the sale of ladies' baskets; and also 3l. 1s. 10d.
Nov. 8-11. 4l. 9s. 4d. was received during these four days.
Nov. 12. This morning after the exposition of the Scriptures to the children, 10s. was given to me, at a time when there was not only nothing at all in hand, but when without some help we should not have had every thing that was really needed for today.