December 5, 1850. It is now sixteen years and nine months since I began the Scriptural Knowledge Institution for Home and Abroad. This institution was very small in the beginning. Now it is so large that the current expenses are over six thousand pounds a year. The new Orphan House is inhabited by three hundred orphans, and a total of three hundred and thirty-five persons are connected with it. My work is abundant.
Despite this, I am thinking about laboring more than ever in serving poor orphans. This matter has been on my mind for the last ten days, and I have begun to pray about it. I am considering the construction of another Orphan House, large enough for seven hundred orphans, so that I might be able to care for a total of one thousand orphans. I have received two hundred and seven orphans within the last sixteen months and now have seventy-eight waiting for admission.
Most other charitable institutions for orphans make the admission of a destitute orphan very difficult, if not impossible, if they do not have an influential person to sponsor them. In our case, nothing is needed but application to me. The poorest person, without influence, without friends, without any expense, no matter where he lives or which denomination he is affiliated with, may be admitted. Since it is difficult for poor people to get their orphan relatives admitted into ordinary establishments, I feel called to be the friend of the orphan.
The experience I have had in this service for fifteen years calls me to make use of my knowledge to the utmost of my power. No member of a committee or president of a society could possibly have the same experience unless he personally had been engaged in such a work for a number of years, as I have been.
If seven hundred more young souls could be brought under regular godly training, what blessed service that would be for the Kingdom of Christ! I began this work to show the world and the Church that God in heaven hears and answers prayer. This is better accomplished the larger the work is, provided I obtain the means simply through prayer and faith.
But thoughts of another character have occurred to me. I already have an abundance of work. My dear wife is also very busy. Nearly all of her time is occupied, directly or indirectly, with the orphans. Am I taking on too much for my bodily strength and my mental powers by thinking about another Orphan House? Am I going beyond the measure of my faith in thinking about enlarging the work? Is this a delusion of Satan, an attempt to cast me down from my place of usefulness by making me go beyond y capabilities? Is it a snare to puff me up in pride by attempting to build a large Orphan House?
I can only pray that the Lord would not allow Satan to gain an advantage over me. By the grace of God, my heart says, "Lord, if I could be sure that it is Your will that I go forward in this matter, I would do so cheerfully. On the other hand, if I could be sure that these are vain, foolish, proud thoughts and are not from You, I would forget the whole idea."
My hope is in God. He will help me and teach me. Based on His former dealings with me, however, it would not be surprising if He called me to enlarge work in this way. Lord, please teach me Your will in this matter.
December H. This matter has constantly been on my heart. My soul would rejoice to go forward in this service if I was sure that the Lord would have me to do so. On the other hand, if I felt assured that the Lord wanted me to be satisfied with my present service and not pray about enlarging the work, I would be happy to do so. I only want to please Him.
As to outward circumstances, I have had nothing to encourage me. The income of the Scriptural Knowledge Institution has been unusually small while the expenses have been great. This would mean nothing to me if I was sure that the Lord wanted me to go forward. The burden of my prayer, therefore, is that God would teach me His will. I desire to patiently wait for the Lord's time when He will shine His light on my path.
December 26. I had another special time for prayer to seek the will of God. But while I continue to ask the Lord to not allow me to be misled, I have no doubt that I should go forward. This is one of the biggest steps I have ever taken, and I cannot go about it with too much caution, prayerfulness, and deliberation. I am in no hurry. I could wait for years before taking one step toward this thing or speaking to anyone about it. On the other hand, I would set to work tomorrow if the Lord wanted me to. I seek the honor and glorious privilege to be used more by the Lord. I served Satan in my younger years, and I. desire now to serve God with all my might during the remaining days of my earthly pilgrimage.
Vast multitudes of orphans need the basic necessities of life. I desire to be used by the Lord as an instrument in providing all the necessary temporal supplies not only for the three hundred now under my care but for seven hundred more. I want to provide scriptural instruction for a thousand orphans. When God provides me with a house for seven hundred orphans and with everything needed to support them, it will be obvious to all that God still hears and answers prayer. I will continue, day by day, to wait on Him in prayer concerning this thing until He commands me to act.
January 2, 1851. Last week I began reading from the book of Proverbs. My heart has been refreshed by the following passage: "Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths" (Prov. 3:5- 6). By the grace of God, I do acknowledge the Lord in my ways. I have the comfortable assurance that He will direct my paths concerning this new Orphan House.
"The integrity of the upright shall guide them: but the perverseness of transgressors shall destroy them" (Prov. 11:3). My honest purpose is to give glory to God, and therefore, I expect to be guided by Him.
"Commit thy works unto the Lord, and thy thoughts shall be established" (Prov. 16:3). I do commit my works to the Lord, and therefore, I expect that my thoughts will be established. My heart is calm, quiet, and assured that the Lord will use me further in the orphan work.
January 14. I have set apart this evening for prayer, asking the Lord once more not to allow me to be mistaken in this thing. I have considered all the reasons against building another Orphan House. For the sake of clarity, I wrote them down.
Reasons against establishing another Orphan House for seven hundred Orphans: Would I be going beyond my spiritual capabilities? "For I say, through the grace giving unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God bath dealt to every man the measure of faith" (Rom. 12:3).
If the Lord left me to myself, one tenth of the difficulties and trials I face would be enough to overwhelm me. But as long as He sustains me, I am carried through one difficulty after another. By God's help I would be able to bear other difficulties and trials. I expect an increase of faith with every fresh difficulty the Lord helps me through.
Would I be going beyond my physical and mental strength? Of all the objections against establishing another Orphan House, this is the only real difficulty. The whole management, direction, and vast correspondence of the Scriptural Knowledge Institution has depended on me alone these sixteen years and ten months. By hiring an efficient secretary, clerk, and an inspector of the schools, I might with God's help accomplish even more as the director.
If I felt sure that the present state of the Scriptural Knowledge Institution were to be the limit to my work, I would lay aside this thing at once. But I am not sure that I have reached God's limit. The Lord has helped me through all the difficulties in the past. Seeing this vast field of usefulness before me, and since I have many applications for the admission of orphans, I long to be used still further.
Is it like "tempting God" to think of building another Orphan House for seven hundred more orphans? "Tempting God" means, according to the Bible, to limit Him in any of His attributes. I do not wish to limit His power or His willingness to give me all the means I need to build another large Orphan House.
How will I get the money for building this large Orphan House? Even if I did, how will I, at the same time, get the money for carrying on the work that already exists? Looking at the matter naturally, this is indeed a weighty objection. But while I have no hope of succeeding on my own, I am not in the least discouraged spiritually. God has the power to give me the thirty-five thousand pounds I will need and much more. Moreover, I delight in the greatness of the difficulty. I want to be fully assured from the very outset that I go forward in this matter according to the Lord's will. If so, He will give me the means; if not, I will not have them. I do not intend to ask anyone personally for help, but I will give myself to prayer as I have in the past.
Suppose I succeed in getting this large Orphan House built. How will I be able to provide for seven hundred more orphans? I am too much a businessman not to realize the seriousness of this question. If I only looked at the thing naturally, I would admit that I am going too far. But spiritually, I see no difficulty at all. If I am able to build this second Orphan House, God will surely provide as He enables me to trust in Him for supplies.
Suppose I was able to obtain this large sum for building a house for seven hundred other orphans. Suppose I was able to provide for them during my lifetime. What would become of this institution after my death? My business is to serve my own generation with all my might. In this way I will best serve the next generation if the Lord Jesus tarries. He may come again soon. But if He tarries and I pass on before His return, my work will benefit the generation to come.
If this objection was a sound one, I should never have begun the orphan work at all for fear of what might become of it after my death. Thus all the hundreds of destitute children whom the Lord has allowed me to care for during the last fifteen years would not have been helped by me.
Would building another Orphan House cause me to be lifted up in pride? There is danger of this, even if I was not called to increase this ministry. One tenth of the honor the Lord has bestowed on me, and one tenth of service with which He has entrusted me, would be enough to puff me up with pride.
I cannot say that the Lord has kept me humble. But I can say that He has given me a hearty desire to give to Him all the glory and to consider it a great mercy on His part that He has used me in His service. I do not see, therefore, that fear of pride should keep me from going forward in this work. Rather, I ask the Lord to give me a humble attitude and never permit me to rob Him of the glory which is due to Him alone.
Reasons for establishing another Orphan House: Many applications for admission continue to come in. I consider it a call from God for me to do everything in my power to provide a home and scriptural education for a greater number of orphans. I cannot refuse to help as long as I see a door opened by God.
The moral state of the poorhouses greatly influences me to-go forward. I have heard from good authority that the children placed in these houses are corrupted by the immoral people who live there.
I am further encouraged by the great help which the Lord has given me in this blessed service. When I look at the small beginning and consider how the Lord has helped me for more than fifteen years in the orphan work, I am confident about going forward.
My experience and capabilities have grown with the wilt. As director of the work, under God, from Its smallest beginnings, I am responsible to Him to use the abilities He has given me. These things, in connection with the former reasons, seem to be a call from God to go forward in a greater degree than ever.
5. The spiritual benefit of more orphans is another reason why I feel called to go forward. I desire more for them than mere decency and morality. I want them to become useful members of society. We teach them to work and instruct them in useful skills for this life.
I cannot be satisfied with anything less than the orphans' souls being won for the Lord. Since this is the primary aim concerning the dear orphans, I long to be more extensively used than ever, even that I may have a thousand of them under my care.
My greatest desire is to show forth the glory of God and His readiness to hear prayer.
I am peaceful and happy in the prospect of enlarging the work. This perfect peace that I feel after all the heart-searching daily prayer and studying the Word of God would not be the case if the Lord had not intended to use me more.
Therefore, on the ground of the objections answered and these eight reasons for enlarging the work, I have come to the conclusion that it is the will of God that I should serve Him by enlarging this work.
January 4. The Lord has given me precious proof that He is delighted when we expect great things from Him. I have received three thousand pounds this evening-the largest donation I have ever had. Far larger sums are expected in order that it may be even more apparent that the best way to obtain financial means for the work of the Lord is simply to trust Him. My joy in God on account of this donation cannot be described take the money out of the hands of the living God. My soul is calm and peaceful, without any emotional excitement, although the donation is so large. Like a voice from heaven, it encourages me to build another Orphan House.
May 24. Ninety-two more orphans have applied for admission, and seventy-eight are already on the waiting list. This number increases rapidly as the work becomes more widely known. I will go forward in this service and build, to the praise and honor of the living God, another Orphan House large enough to- accommodate seven hundred orphans. The greatness of the sum required to accomplish this work gives me special joy. The greater the difficulty to be overcome, the more it will be seen how much can be accomplished. by prayer and faith. When God overcomes our difficulties for us, we have the assurance that we are engaged in His work and not our own.