January 1, 2, and 3, 1839. We have had three special prayer meetings these three days. The year began with blessings. In the first hour of the year, two pounds seven shillings came in for the orphans. The money was given after our usual prayer meeting on December 31, which lasted from seven in the evening until after midnight.
January 20. "Ye have the poor with you always, and whensoever ye will ye may do them good" (Mark 14:7). The Lord spoke these words to His disciples, who were themselves very poor, implying that the children of God have power with God to bring temporal blessings upon poor saints or poor unbelievers through prayer. Accordingly, I have been led to ask the Lord for means to assist poor saints, and He has stirred His children to trust me with money for that purpose.
Therefore, I had been praying again for means to more extensively assist the poor saints in communion with us. Many of them are not merely tried by the usual temporal difficulties arising from winter, but especially from the high price of bread. This evening the Lord has given me the answer to my prayer. When I came home from the meeting, found a brother at my house who offered to give me ten pounds a week for twelve weeks to provide the poor saints with coal, clothing, and bread.
February 7. This day has been one of the most remarkable days concerning the funds. There was no money on hand, and I was waiting on God. I asked Him repeatedly, but no supplies came. The headmaster called to tell me that one pound two shilling was needed to buy bread for the three houses and to meet the other expenses. He then left for Clifton to make arrangements to receive the three orphans of a sister who passed away on the 4th. Although we have no funds on hand, the work goes on, and our confidence is not diminished. I requested him to call, on his way back from Clifton, to see whether the Lord had sent any money in the meantime. When he returned, I had received nothing, but one of the laborers gave five shillings of his own.
At four o'clock I wondered how the sisters had gotten through the day. I went to the Girls' Orphan House to meet for prayer and found that a box had come for me from Barnstable. The delivery fee was paid, otherwise there would have been no money to pay for it. See how the Lord's hand is in the smallest matters! The box was opened, and it contained more than fourteen pounds for the orphans and for the Bible Fund. Besides this, there were four yards of cloth, three pairs of new shoes, two pairs of new socks, six books for sale, a gold pencil-case, two gold rings, two gold earrings, a necklace, and a silver pencil-case.
March 5. Several pounds were needed again. Besides the daily provisions, the coal was low, the medical supplies in two houses were exhausted, and there were only five shillings in hand. While I was in prayer this morning, I received a check for seven pounds ten shillings.
March 23. By means of several donations I am able both to meet the remaining expenses of this week and also to pay fifteen pounds which still remain due for the salaries. My fellow-laborers never ask me for anything and are willing to part with money or anything else in the hour of need. Nevertheless, I asked the Lord about this frequently, and He has now granted my request.
April 13. I conversed with another of the orphans who has walked consistently with the Lord for many months. Tomorrow she will be united with the saints in communion.
April 14. A poor brother with a large family and small wages saved the money given to him by his boss for beer. This brother, who was converted about five years ago, used to be a notorious drunkard. When the money accumulated to one pound, he donated it to the orphans.
July 15. Two pounds seven shillings was needed for the orphans, but we had nothing. I had no idea how to obtain the means for dinner and for our other needs. My heart was perfectly at peace and sure of help. That afternoon I received a letter from India, written in May, with fifty pounds for the orphans. I had said last Saturday that we could use fifty pounds because the salaries of all my fellow-laborers are due, medical supplies are gone, provisions are exhausted, articles of clothing are needed, and wool yarn is needed for the boys to go on with their knitting.
August 22. In my morning walk, when I was reminding the Lord of our need, I felt assured that He would send help this day. My assurance sprang from our need, for there seemed no way to get through the day without help being sent. After breakfast I considered what might be sold for money for the dear children. But all seemed not nearly enough to meet the requirements of the day.
In our deep poverty, after I had gathered together a few things for sale, a sister who earns her living by the labor of her hands brought eighty-two pounds. This sister was convinced that believers in our Lord Jesus should act out His commandments: "Sell that ye have, and give alms" (Luke 12:33); "Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth" (Matt. 6:19). Accordingly, she drew her money out of the bank and stocks, two hundred and fifty pounds, and brought it to me at three different times for the benefit of the orphans, the Bible, missionary, and school funds, and the poor saints.
About two months ago she brought me one hundred pounds more after she had sold some other possessions. The eighty-two pounds she brought today is from the sale of her last earthly possession. She never expressed the least regret for the step she took, but went on quietly laboring with her hands to earn her daily living.
September 4. I have been led to pray whether it is the Lord's will that I leave Bristol for a season. For the last two weeks I have suffered from severe indigestion, and my whole system is weakened. Two hindrances stand in the way-lack of money for the orphans and for my own personal expenses. Today I received a check for seven pounds ten shillings for the orphans, which came at an excellent time. Also four pounds have come in since the day before yesterday.
September 5. Today a sister sent me five pounds for myself, to be used for the benefit of my health which she had heard is again failing. I do not put aside money for such purposes; but whenever I really need means, whether for myself or others, the Lord sends it in answer to prayer.
September 7. I arrived in Trowbridge. This has been a very good day. I had much communion with the Lord. How kind He is to take me from the work in Bristol for a season and give me more communion with Himself. I remembered the Lord's special blessing on me in this place at the beginning of last year. How kind He has been since! I prayed much for myself, for the Church at large, for the saints here and in Bristol, for my unconverted relatives, for my dear wife, and that the Lord would supply my own temporal necessities and those of the orphans. I know that He has heard me.
I am surrounded with kind friends, and I feel quite at home. My room is far better than I need, but an easy chair to kneel before in prayer would add to my comfort since my body is so weak. In the afternoon, without me making a hint about it, I found that someone- had placed an easy chair into my room. I was amazed by the special kindness of my heavenly Father. He is mindful of the smallest wants and comforts of His child.
September 9. I returned to Bristol and to my old habit of rising early in the morning to commune with God. I was led to it by the example of the brother in whose house I was staying. He remarked when speaking on the sacrifices in Leviticus that, just as only the best animals were to be offered up, the best part of our time should be given to communion with the Lord.
I had been an early riser in the past. But since my nerves became so weak, I thought it best for me to have more rest. For this reason I rose between six and seven, and sometimes after seven. I purposely got into the habit of sleeping a quarter of an hour or half an hour after dinner.
I thought I found benefit from the much-needed relaxation. In this way, however, my soul had suffered considerably. Unavoidable work often came upon me before I had sufficient time for prayer and reading the Word.
I finally decided that, whatever my body might suffer, I would no longer let the most precious part of the day pass away while I was in bed. By the grace of God I was able to begin the very next day to rise earlier and have continued to rise early since that time. I allow myself now-about seven hours of sleep. Although I am far from being strong and have much to tire me mentally, I find this is quite sufficient to refresh me. In addition, I gave up sleeping after dinner. The result has been that I can have long and precious times for prayer and meditation before breakfast.
Concerning my body and the state of my nerves, I have been much better since. The worst thing I could have done for my weak nerves was to have lain an hour or more in bed than I used to before my illness because it actually weakened my body.
I want to encourage all believers to get into the habit of rising early to meet with God. How much time should be allowed for rest? No rule of universal application can be given because all persons do not require the same amount of sleep. Also the same persons, at different times, according to the strength or weakness of their body, may require more or less. Most doctors agree that healthy men do not require more than between six or seven hours of sleep, and females need no more than seven or eight hours.
Children of God should be careful not to allow themselves too little sleep since few men can do with less than six hours of sleep and still be well in body and mind. As a young man, before I went to the university, I went to bed regularly at ten and rose at four, studied hard, and was in good health. Since I have allowed myself only about seven hours, I have been much better in body and in nerves than when I spent eight or eight and a half hours in bed.
Someone may ask, "But why should I rise early?" To remain too long in bed is a waste of time. Wasting-time is unbecoming a saint who is bought by the precious blood of Jesus. His time and all he has is to be used for the Lord. If we sleep more than is necessary for the refreshment of the body, it is wasting the time the Lord has entrusted us to be used for His glory, for our own benefit, and for the benefit of the aims and unbelievers around us.
Just as too much food injures the body, the same is true regarding sleep. Medical persons would readily agree that lying longer in bed than is necessary to strengthen the body actually weakens it.
It also injures the soul. Lying too long in bed not merely keeps us from giving the most precious part of the day to prayer and meditation, but this sloth leads also to many other evils. Anyone who spends one, two, or three hours in prayer and meditation before breakfast will soon discover the beneficial effect early rising has on the outward and inward man.
It may be said, "But how shall I set about rising early?" My advice is: Do not delay. Begin tomorrow. But do not depend on your own strength. You may have begun to rise early in the past but have given it up. If you depend on your own strength in this matter, it will come to nothing. In every good work, we must depend on the Lord. If anyone rises so that he may give the time which he takes from sleep to prayer and meditation, let him be sure that Satan will try to put obstacles in the way.
Trust in the Lord for help. You will honor Him if you expect help from Him in this matter. Pray for help, expect help, and you will have it. In addition to this, go to bed early. If you stay up late, you cannot rise early. Let no pressure of engagements keep you from going habitually early to bed. If you fail in this, you neither can nor should get up early because your body requires rest.
Rise at once when you are awake. Remain not a minute longer in bed or else you are likely to fall asleep again. Do not be discouraged by feeling drowsy and tired from rising early. This will soon wear off. After a few days you will feel stronger and fresher than when you used to lie an hour or two longer than you needed. Always allow yourself the same hours for sleep. Make no change except on account of sickness.
On December 10, 11, and 12 we had public meetings at which the account of the Lord's dealings with us in the Orphan Houses and the Scriptural Knowledge Institution was given. It is now five years and nine months since the Scriptural Knowledge Institution has been in operation. We have been able to continue to provide for all the necessary expenses connected with the six day schools. The number of children in them is 286. The number of all the children that have had schooling in the day schools amounts to 1,795.
There are 226 children in the Sunday school. Fourteen are being taught to read in the adult school, and there have been about 130 adults instructed in that school since the formation of the Institution.
We have circulated, during the last year, 514 copies of the Scriptures and 5,592 since March 5, 1834. Missionary work has also been supported.
There are now 96 orphans in the three houses. The number of all the orphans who have been under our care from April 11, 1836, to December 9, 1839, amounts to 126. Everything has been given to us entirely as the result of prayer to God.