The Scriptural Knowledge Institution
THE NAME of George Muller has predominately been connected with orphanage work. This phase of his life’s investment has so greatly overshadowed his other fields of Christian endeavor that they are often forgotten. His seventeen missionary tours were made famous because he was looked upon as the world’s leading friend of orphans, and while he spoke of faith and trust, his illustrations were mainly drawn from many years of daily experience in feeding thousands of children through prayer alone.
There was, however, another phase of his life’s work which depended solely upon his prayers as much as the caring for his orphan houses at Ashley Down. This was his promulgation of the Scriptural Knowledge Institution. When he was led to found the Institution on February 20, 1834, he entered in his Journal, “I trust this matter is of God.”
Surely God’s blessings were upon this element of the stewardship of Mr. Muller’s personality. It was unostentatiously started upon its mission without fanfare. Quietly a few people gathered to consider the merits of the idea of starting a work that at heart should be missionary, assist Sunday schools as well as day schools where the teachers were Christian, distribute Bibles and religious tracts, and care for orphans.
At first the orphanage work was least in the thought of the founder, but it grew to be practically all encompassing of his spiritual interest and prayer energy, so largely did it overshadow the other endeavors undertaken by the Institution.
The Institution was started solely with God as its Patron and never once did it veer from this original plan. Muller felt that God meant what he said when affirming “the silver and gold are mine.” If the work was centered in the divine will, there would be plenty of God’s silver and gold to promote its Christian interests.
“The Lord was the Banker of the Institution,” writes Frederick Warne in his biography of Mr. Muller. “He knew all would be well. Slowly but surely the little institution grew. Faith and its heavenly response went hand in hand, and being weighted and borne down by no anxiety as to debt, as many religious agencies are, the trustful founder was able to give himself wholly to prayer for the means and grace to carry the work on.
The first report of the Institution covered the initial fifteen months. It was not a flourishing report, but was the spring from which a mighty river of influence was to go forth to water the parched harvest fields of the earth.
“It is now fifteen months,” writes Mr. Muller in that report, “since, in dependence upon the Lord for the supply of means, we have been enabled to supply poor children with schooling, circulate the Holy Scriptures, and aid missionary labors. During this time, though the field of labor has been continually enlarged, and though we have...been brought low in funds, the Lord has never allowed us to be obliged to stop the work. We have been enabled during this time to establish three day schools, and to connect with the Institution two other charity day schools...
“In addition to this the expenses connected with a Sunday school and an Adult school have been likewise defrayed, making seven schools altogether.
“The number of children that have thus been provided with school, in the day schools alone amounts to 439. The number of copies of the Holy Scriptures which have been circulated is 795 Bibles and 753 New Testaments.
“We have also sent, in aid of Missionary labors in Canada, in the East Indies and on the Continent of Europe, £117 11s.”
Year by year the blessing of the Lord was upon the Institution and in response to Muller’s prayers every need was supplied. In the report of 1855, Mr. Muller said that more than £7,204 was given for the support of schools during the twenty-one years of its existence; another £16,115, for missions. There had been a total of 13,949 Bibles, 9,047 New Testaments distributed at a cost of £3,389 10s. 1d.
“Without anyone having been personally applied to for anything by me the sum of £74,132 6s. was given to me for the orphans as a result of prayer to God from the commencement of the work up to May 26, 1855,” Mr. Muller reports for that year.
Through the long years God richly supplied the needs. In the Fifty-fourth Report of the Institution for the year 1893, which was the fifty-ninth year of the work, he says, “The readers of the last report will remember under what particular trials we entered upon the last financial year of the Institution...but we trusted in God; and with unshaken confidence in Him, and we expected that we should somehow or the other be helped...
“While thus we went on my heart at peace habitually, being assured that all this was permitted by God, to prepare a blessing for thousands, who would afterward read the record of His dealings with us from May 26, 1892 to May 26, 1893.”
During that year of trial on August 30, while reading Psalm 81:10, “Open thy mouth wide, and I will fill it,” Mr. Muller said, “Remembering the work of the Holy Spirit in my heart when reading this verse on December 5, 1835, and the effect which this had in leading me to found the greatest Orphan Institution in the world...putting the Bible aside I fell on my knees and asked God that He would graciously be pleased to repeat His former kindness, and to supply me again more abundantly with means. Accordingly in less than half an hour, I received £50 from a Bristol donor...By the last delivery, at 9 p. m.,...I had...£152 in all, this day, as the result of prayer.”
In the last Report of the Institution which Mr. Muller ever gave, (for the year 1896-97) he goes into a detailed summary of the blessings of God upon the work since its founding. “This is the last record,” writes Fred Warne in his biography, “which Mr. Muller penned of his stewardship, and he was fully assured that the fruit which he had been enabled to see was but little in comparison with what he should behold in the day of Christ’s appearing.”
We give this report in full that the reader might realize how greatly God had filled Mr. Muller’s mouth since December 5, 1835, when God first gave him this wonderful promise in Psalms.
“In our various schools we have had from the beginning 121,683 pupils. In all these schools was more or less blessing; but in some very great blessing, so that the Christian teachers sometimes had to record the conversion of 50 or 60 pupils in one school during one half-year. Never have been other than truly converted teachers engaged, and constantly the blessing of God has been sought in their labors. Mr. Wright and I seek habitually the blessing of God on the schools, as well as on the other branches of the Institution.
“Also, when we meet with our fellow laborers for prayer, the schools of the Institution are habitually remembered in prayer. On the ground of the information which we received from the school inspectors of the Institution, and from the Christian masters and mistresses of the many schools founded and supported during the past 63 years, and also from the letters received from the pupils, after they have left the schools, we have reason to believe that, when the harvest of this world will be reaped at the last in full, we shall, out of these 121,683 pupils, meet tens of thousands in glory.
“During the past 63 years there have been circulated by means of this Institution, in almost all parts of the world, and in many different languages, 281,652 Bibles, 1,448,662 New Testaments, 21,343 copies of the Book of Psalms, and 222,196 other portions of the Holy Scriptures. On this branch of the Institution the Lord’s blessing has been asked day by day for sixty-three years; and the Lord has blessed this work most abundantly. In connection with very many Bible Carriages in England, Ireland, Scotland, Spain, Australia and other countries, where the cheap Testaments are sold to the workers of these carriages at half-price, and Bibles at three-fourths of the price, God has granted most abundant blessing.
“In this way to the obscure villages has the Word of God been carried and made a blessing to multitudes. This has been especially the case among the Papists in Ireland. When it pleased God to open Spain, in the year 1868, I sought at once with thousands, yea, many thousands of copies, of the Holy Scriptures to enter into Spain; and it pleased God most abundantly to bless the simple reading of the Holy Scriptures in Spanish (which they had never seen in their whole life) to multitudes. And this has been going on in Spain ever since, more or less, viz., the Holy Scriptures have been circulated, and the Lord has caused His blessing to rest upon it.
“When Italy was opened for the preaching of the Truth and the circulation of the Holy Scriptures, it pleased the Lord to grant to me the great privilege to enter immediately into Italy with the Italian Bible and New Testament, in thousands of copies, and they were spread in all directions; and, in answer to our prayers, most abundantly were they blessed. It was not long after this that the Papal State, yea, even Rome itself, was opened for the circulation of the Holy Scriptures; yea, Rome, into which the Pope and the Popish Priests had not allowed a trunk, or portmanteau, or bag to be introduced without searching every package, to see whether there might be a Bible.
“Often even the pockets of visitors were searched, so that God’s Holy Word might not enter the seat of the Papacy. These Bibles, New Testaments and portions of the Holy Scriptures were most abundantly blessed, and God allowed us abundantly to reap, and showed by the answers to prayer that we did not wait on Him in vain. Even recently we sent 2,600 New Testaments in Italian to Rome, and 550 Bibles.
“But the circulation of the Holy Scriptures has not been confined by us to the countries referred to, but in China, in the Straits of Malacca, particularly in Demerara and Essequibo, in Nova Scotia, and in France, we have sought to labor in this way; and in all these various countries it has pleased God most abundantly to answer our prayers and to allow us to see most abundant fruit as the result of our prayers.
“Our hearts are filled with gratitude when we remember the thousands of precious souls in Spain, Italy, France, Ireland, the Colonies of Australia, China, and in many hundreds of the spiritually dark villages of Great Britain that thus have been benefited. We have also been allowed, within the past sixty-three years, to gladden the hearts of thousands of aged poor persons in supplying them with a copy of the Holy Scriptures printed in large type, as the Bible they possessed was too small for their sight.
“During the past sixty-three years the Lord has also allowed us to seek to aid missionary operations in China, India, the Straits of Malacca, Palestine, Egypt, North Africa, South Africa, Central Africa, Demerara, Essequibo, Berbice, South America, the United States of America, Nova Scotia, Canada, Spain, Italy, France, Germany, Austria, Belgium, Armenia, Ireland, Scotland, Wales and in all the various spiritually-dark places of England. Several hundred missionaries have been, to a greater or less degree, aided with pecuniary supplies or otherwise. (On this subject and on the Mission schools, £259,776 17s. 10d. had been expanded up to May, 1897.)
“God has been besought on behalf of these, His servants, day by day, these sixty-three years, and it has pleased Him to allow us to reap and have most abundant answers to our prayers. When we received letters from these beloved servants of Christ, of which we have very many thousands, we again and again found not only that scores of persons had been converted, but even hundreds.
“This glorious work of winning these souls for our precious Lord Jesus, in connection with this Institution, has been more or less going on during the past sixty-three years, through the labor of these several hundred servants of Christ, and we do not hesitate to state that we have the fullest reason to believe that tens of thousands of souls have been brought to the knowledge of our Lord Jesus.
“I state also that from our own midst, as a church, sixty-three brethren and sisters have gone forth to foreign fields of labor, some of whom have finished their labor on earth; but there are forty-two yet engaged in this precious service. In China, in the East Indies, in the Straits, in British Guiana, in South Africa, in Central Africa, in North Africa, in Nova Scotia, Canada, the United States, in Egypt, in Spain, in Italy, in France, in Germany, in Ireland and England, the labors of these missionary brethren have been abundantly blessed.
“There have likewise been circulated in connection with this Institution more than 111 millions (minutely 111,489,067) of Scriptural books, pamphlets, and tracts. Notice, esteemed reader, not tens of thousands, not hundreds of thousands, merely, but above a hundred and eleven millions.
“We adore and praise God for the honor and privilege bestowed on us, thus to scatter the truth in many countries and in many different languages; but the most precious part is that in this way also thousands of precious souls have been blessed. Many hundred godly brethren and sisters in Christ have helped us in this precious service, to spread the truth everywhere; and, in many thousands of letters received, when fresh supplies of tracts or books were asked to be sent, the statements also were made how greatly those tracts and books, which had been sent to them gratuitously, had been owned of God.
SPIRITUAL BLESSING ON THE ORPHAN WORK
“I come now, lastly, to the Orphan work, which likewise, during the sixty-one years of its existence, has been abundantly blessed. In all, during the thirty-one years, 2,813 orphans left the Institution as believers. In addition to this, we had information by letter or personal intercourse that many hundreds were brought to the knowledge of the Lord after they had left the Institution; and there are 609 orphans in the five houses, regarding whom the matrons, masters, and female teachers are united in judgment that they are regenerated. The reader will see by this how abundantly it has pleased the Lord to bless our labors to the orphans. One or other of the readers may be inclined to say, will these orphans who now profess to be believers continue in the ways of God? My reply is, 50 or 60 years ago a number of young orphans professed faith in the Lord Jesus, and, with a few exceptions, they walked in the fear of God, 20, 30, 40 years, till the Lord took them to Himself. There is still one of those living who has now walked in the ways of God as a constant believer 58 years.
“The total amount of money received, by prayer and faith, for the various objects of the Institution since March 5th, 1834, is one million four hundred and twenty-four thousand six hundred and forty-six pounds, six shillings and ninepence halfpenny (£1,424,646 6s. 9 l/2d.)!’’
Mr. Muller’s faith was thus grandly rewarded, for God furnished in response to his prayers approximately seven and a half million dollars. From a most insignificant beginning the work grew until it became a leading supporter of missions, distributor of Bibles and religious literature, as well as the outstanding “father of the orphans.” Had Mr. Muller done nothing but promote the Scriptural Knowledge Institution it would have been a work worthy of any life.
Orphans were so largely his passion that these other things were relegated to the background...a background of magnificent proportions. His was a life of dual service...sire of the Institution and of the orphanage.
Taken from "George Muller - The Man of Faith" by Basil Miller
MR. MULLER’S heart always rang true to the missionary vision. Five times within the first eight years of his conversion he offered himself as a missionary. Each time God blocked the way. Now at the evening of his life God was to send him forth a missionary in a broader sense, with an appeal that would reach many millions of people.
God had seasoned him in the school of prayer for decades. In his seventieth year he was to go forth to the nations with a message of trust and faith. For seventeen years, most of his time and energy were to be engaged in this new type of work. He had already been a missionary through the Institution which assisted many Christian workers in foreign fields and distributed thousands of Bibles and millions of tracts.
In 1874 Mrs. Muller’s health compelled him to seek a change of climate, and he took her to the Isle of Wight, where he preached for a friend, himself an experienced minister. The preacher said to Mr. Muller, “This is the happiest day of my life.”
Thinking upon this remark, how his message had stirred the preacher, Mr. Muller decided that no longer, as for the past forty-three years, would he confine his ministry to Bristol, but felt that God would have him go from city to city, country to country, to benefit both the Church and the world by his experience of trust and life of faith.
After many days in prayer, he laid down seven motives which led him to undertake this worldwide mission. These were: to preach the gospel in its simplicity; to lead believers to know their converted state and realize their privileges in God; to bring believers back to the Bible; to promote among Christians a spirit of brotherly love; to strengthen, through example of how God had answered his prayers, true Christians in their life of trust; to promote separateness from the world, as was displayed in his founding the Institution; and to fix in the minds of Christians the hope of Christ’s coming.
On March 26, 1875, he began a series of seventeen missionary tours that would take him to forty-two nations, covering two hundred thousand miles by land and water. He preached many thousands of times, and from his own estimate during these tours, he spoke to three million people. “The whole of the heavy expenses of these tours was supplied, as in the case of all his other wants, simply and solely in answer to believing prayers,” writes Fred Warne, Mr. Muller’s first biographer.
He had previously made two tours to Germany in the interest of Christian work while the orphanage was small, but his important life career of missions had its commencement on March 26, in his seventieth year. It was not a long trip, though he terms it “the beginning of my missionary tours.”
He went from Bristol to Brighton, and Sunderland. While on his way to Sunderland he spoke at the Metropolitan Tabernacle, where Charles Spurgeon was pastor. He preached at other leading places such as the Mildmay Park Conference and the Edinburgh Castle. The tour closed after ten weeks on June 5, during which time he delivered seventy addresses.
The second of his tours, in conjunction with his wife, commenced less than six weeks later, on August 14, in which case he felt a desire to follow up the revival work of Moody and Sankey. Mr. Muller felt that the evangelists’ short visits to the various cities did not give the converts time to be led to the higher attainments of grace, and he wanted to build his messages toward this end.
Accordingly he addressed many large audiences in London, Glasgow, Dublin and Liverpool, and in other smaller places. In some cities, especially at Dundee, Glasgow, Liverpool and Dublin, his audiences numbered from two to six thousand. The tour lasted nearly eleven months, and when it closed in July of 1876, he had preached three hundred and six times, an average of one sermon a day. So great was the success of these meetings that he received a hundred invitations which he could not accept.
When asked about the results of these missionary labors, he replied, “The day of the Lord alone will reveal it. Here on earth, but little can be known, comparatively, of the fruit of our labors; yet, as far as I have been permitted to see, even here, there is good reason to believe that I have not been directed to one single place regarding which there was not manifest proof that the Lord sent me there.”
The third tour took him to the Continent, and commenced in August, 1876, and closed in June of the following year. This embraced Paris, various places in Switzerland, Prussia, Holland, Alaska, Wurtemburg, etc. Everywhere his preaching created a considerable stir among the Christian people.
At Stuttgart, Mr. Muller held an interview with the Queen of Wurtemburg, who at the Palace asked him many questions about the Orphanage in Bristol. At Darmstadt by request he spoke in the drawing room of the Court Preacher, at which the mother of Prince Louis of Hesse, and other princes and princesses were present. While in Berlin the cousin of Prince Bismarck traveled 125 miles to hear him, whose “Narrative” had been a blessing to his spiritual life.
While at Halle he delivered two messages in Franke’s Orphan Institution, which had been the seed idea leading Mr. Muller to found his Bristol Houses. Near Nimenguen, Holland, he also visited an orphanage for 450 children, which had been established by an evangelist in total dependence upon God, as the result of reading about Muller’s success at the Ashley Down orphanage.
“Similarly,” Mr. Muller observes, “very many Orphan Institutions have been begun in various parts of the world, the founders being encouraged through what God has done for us in Bristol. His Name be magnified.”
When this Continental tour closed there were sixty written invitations which he could not accept. Through his writings Mr. Muller had become as well known on the Continent as in England.
His fourth tour led him to the United States and Canada, for he had been receiving many invitations to speak in these nations during the past months. Hence he took it as God’s will that he should carry his faith messages across the ocean. From August, 1877, to July of the following year he traveled throughout the New World.
Landing at Quebec, where he spoke, he swept down the Atlantic seaboard, speaking in the principal cities. Then he crossed the nation to the Pacific Coast, and returned by way of Salt Lake City — the stronghold of Mormonism — and back again to New York City. For ten months he covered this vast area with his spiritual life messages, and crowded the largest auditoriums to capacity.
He spoke to congregations of Germans, and in the South to many colored people. Many preachers’ meet meetings were conducted where his message was directed to the ministers of the people. These activities afforded him greater pleasure than any others. Theological seminary and university meetings were also greatly beloved by this apostle of faith. He realized that he was sowing the seeds of his doctrine of trust in fertile minds that would later spread the truth to their growing congregations. Various denominations opened their doors to him to speak to their ministers, Sunday school conventions and similar groups.
Dr. Talmage’s Tabernacle in Brooklyn held a warm spot in his heart, for here he was welcomed and spoke to many leading people of the nation. By appointment at the White House, he was received by President and Mrs. Hayes, who inquired about the success of his orphanage work.
In many places Mr. Muller met orphans who had once been at his home in Bristol. Often he would meet, as he did coming out of Yosemite, someone who would rush up and ask to shake hands with him, saying, “I have read your ‘Life of Trust,’ and it has been a blessing to my soul.”
The tour ended in July, 1878, during which he had spoken three hundred and eight times and traveled 19,274 miles.
“It is important that I state,” Mr. Muller remarked on returning to Bristol, “that my preaching tour in the United States was not set about for the purpose of collecting money for the Institution...but only that by my experience and knowledge of Divine things, I might benefit Christians...and that I might preach the Gospel to those who knew not the Lord...The donations handed me for the Institution would not meet one half of its average expenses for one single day.”
Before undertaking his fifth missionary journey, he stayed eight weeks at Bristol, overseeing the work of the orphanage and giving his wife an opportunity to rest. On September 5, 1878, they started off for a second visit to the Continent, where he preached in English, German and French. In Spain and Italy, which languages he could not use, he spoke through an interpreter. Many doors were opened to him among the poor, but in some places, such as in the Riviera, he had access to the aristocracy and nobility who had gathered there for their health.
At Barcelona, Spain, he visited ten of the day schools which were entirely supported by the Scriptural Knowledge Institution, and at Madrid he spoke to five schools dependent upon the same agency. In Rome he had the pleasure of speaking and at Naples he visited Vesuvius. On looking down into the crater he exclaimed, “What cannot God do.” He visited the Vaudois valleys, where so many martyrs had laid down their lives for Christ’s sake, and he was deeply moved to accomplish more for his Master than before.
When he arrived in Bristol on June 18, 1879, he had been absent nine months and twelve days, and had preached 286 times in 46 towns and cities of several nations.
Ten weeks after completing his last journey, the call of America became strong upon his spirit, and he and Mrs. Muller set sail on the last week of August for the United States and Canada. This was his sixth journey, and lasted until June, 1880, when he felt constrained to return to Bristol, where he wanted to relieve Mr. Wright and his daughter of the orphanage responsibility for a while. He had visited 42 different places and had spoken 299 times. He found there were 154 written invitations which he had not been able to accept.
Praying over these invitations led Mr. Muller to decide he should make his seventh journey to take in the United States once more, that he might keep the embers of faith stirred up in this country. So on September 15, 1880, he and his wife returned to the States by way of Canada, and remained until the close of May of the following year. Three months of this time were spent in New York, where he conducted 93 meetings, 38 of which were in German. During this visit he spoke 250 times in all.
Considering the weather that winter, for a man seventy-five years old his labors were prodigious. “That winter,” Mrs. Muller writes, “was the coldest that has been known in New York for thirty years, and the many long drives my beloved husband took at night...when the weather was most severe, were very trying...Constrained by the love of Christ, however, he persevered in a service that would have been considered, by most persons of his age, an arduous undertaking.”
On returning to British soil again, he relieved Mr. Wright, upon whose shoulders the heavy burdens of the home rested, for a period of eight weeks, when a strong desire motivated him to visit the missionaries in the East. On August 23, 1881, he set out for the Continent, where he spoke in Switzerland and Germany, hoping to revive the low state of grace which existed in these countries.
The visit was extended to Alexandria, Cairo and Port Said, whence he traveled to the Holy Land. His soul reveled in the sacred scenes where the Master had lived. He visited through Palestine the many places of religious interest, such as Gethsemane and Golgotha, the Mount of Olives and Bethany, Bethlehem and Jerusalem. He went into Turkey and Greece, speaking at such places as Constantinople, Athens, Rome and Florence. He preached in English and German on this tour, and through an interpreter in Arabic, Armenian, Turkish and modern Greek.
After a very brief rest he undertook his ninth tour on August 8, 1882, which extended until June 1, 1883. He traveled in Germany, Austria, Hungary, Bohemia, Russia and Poland. It was his special privilege to speak at Kroppenstadt, his birthplace, after an absence of sixty-four years. Here he was asked to give his life story. The largest building was crowded to overflowing.
In Russia he spoke at St. Petersburg (now Leningrad), and was the guest of Princess Lieven. At Lodz, Poland, a letter of invitation, signed by most all of the population, asked him to remain with them longer.
Returning to Bristol, a new desire burned within him to see the Orient, and to visit the scenes amid which he had dreamed of working when a young minister. On September 26, 1883, his tenth tour began when he set his face toward the Orient. Nearly sixty years earlier he had planned to be a missionary to the East Indies, and now the Lord was permitting him to carry out this ambition in a new and strange way, for India was to be the twenty-third country visited in his tours.
He traveled more than 21,000 miles, and spoke two hundred times to missionaries, Christian workers, European residents, and the natives. He was greatly elated at seeing the orphanage at Colar. He felt that in this his seventy-ninth year, God had abundantly blessed him, for there was great evidence that this tour was used of the Lord to quicken the spiritual life of the missionaries, and to awaken the native workers to their need of a life of full dependence upon God.
On arriving in England he assumed the duties of the orphanage, but his active soul would not be content to remain long away from his evangelistic and missionary tours. During this period of his life, his consuming passion was to spread through his own preaching ministry the life of trust, as during the earlier years it had been to prove that the living God is living still and is able to feed orphans through one man’s faith in His power.
Consequently his eleventh tour began in August and extended to October of 1884, and mainly consisted of a journey to South Wales. The twelfth tour was likewise a short one in the home country, made so through a serious indisposition. This illness, however, was short-lived and soon overcome by a rest in the Isle of Wight, which years earlier had been the inspiration of his journeying throughout the world in interest of “the life of trust.”
His thirteenth preaching mission lasted only a month and was spent visiting the Lake District, Dundee and Liverpool, where the messages on faith quickened the consciences of many Christians to undertake more earnestly a life of trust.
In November of the same year (1885) when Mr. Muller was eighty he undertook another long foreign missionary voyage to Australia, China, Japan and the Straits of Malacca. He also included the United States in this itinerary. He desired especially to establish and encourage the missionaries in China in their arduous work. In Japan he was able to hold large mass meetings. At one meeting 2,500 Japanese heard him speak through an interpreter.
After an absence of eighteen months, he reached Bristol in June, 1887, during which time he had traveled 37,280 miles and preached wherever opportunity afforded.
There seemed to be no limit to his strength on these missionary journeys. God had poured out upon him abundant-life energy which enabled him to go forth and tell the world that this blessing could be theirs also.
Less than two months later, on August 12, 1887, when Muller was eighty-two years old, he set forth again on travels that would take him to South Australia, Tasmania, New Zealand, Ceylon and India. This was a twelve months’ tour, used greatly of the Lord to strengthen the faith of believers wherever he spoke.
“Believers were edified,” he writes, “the unconverted persons brought through my ministry to a knowledge of the Lord.” He preached to large audiences of natives who listened intently to his words. The severe hot weather of Ceylon and India proved a trying experience, and he was repeatedly told that he was working too hard for a man of his age. At Calcutta the heat was so intense that upon medical advice he left, and on the way to Darjeeling he thought he was going to die. But a short rest proved a respite and soon he was able to undertake his journey once more.
While at Jubbulpore Mr. Wright cabled that his daughter, Mrs. Wright, had died. For thirty years of the fifty-eight of her life, she had worked gratuitously in the Orphan Houses. This news of her death caused Mr. Muller to cut short the tour in the East and to hasten to Bristol to relieve and comfort Mr. Wright in the time of added personal burdens and responsibilities at the Houses.
“My heart,” Mr. Muller says, “remained in perfect peace because I took this affliction, as I had taken former heavy trials, out of the hand of my heavenly Father, fully realizing that He had taken her to Himself and had done therefore the very best thing that could happen, and that to me this event would work for my good.”
After four months at Ashley Down he was led to go to the Continent for Mrs. Muller’s health. This unintentionally developed into his sixteenth missionary tour. He spoke to crowded assemblies wherever he appeared.
“My heart has been greatly refreshed at seeing almost everywhere in Germany and Switzerland such a desire to hear the truth, notwithstanding the departure of so many persons from it.”
Again he was led to return home, where he remained for a short while before the old burden for the Continent returned, and though advanced in years, now eighty-six, he set forth for Europe once more, preaching in Germany, Holland, Austria and Italy. When this twelve months’ journey ended in May, 1892, it was the last extended tour the veteran missionary of the Cross was to take.
Only an unusual spiritual and physical endowment enabled a man of seventy years of age to spend seventeen years of his life traveling hundreds of thousands of miles, and preaching between six and eight thousand times outside of his home city of Bristol to more than 3,000,000 people.
Even to the end he spoke with vigor. Mr. Pierson tells of one of his sermons in Berlin when Mr. Muller was eighty-six. He urged believers never to yield to discouragement, pointing out that it was their spiritual duty to seek the deep secret of rest for their souls. “Saved believers,” he declared, “can know their position in the Lord. You must become acquainted with the Scriptures the hope of your salvation.” He affirmed that God alone is the satisfying portion of the soul.
In these mission tours every need was miraculously supplied. The heavy outlay for steamer and train fares, as well as hotel accommodations, was always on hand as the Lord sent it.
Often it was asked why he did not stay at home and supervise the work of the Ashley Down Houses. In his answer he said that under Mr. Wright’s care the needs of the Houses were met, and to suppose that it was necessary for him to be at home in order that sufficient means should be supplied was a contradiction to the very principle upon which the work was started.
“Real trust in God is above circumstances and appearances,” he affirmed.
Mr. Muller was fully convinced of the rightness of his views on this point during the third year of his missionary journeys. For in that year the income for the Scriptural Knowledge Institution was larger than it had ever been during the previous forty-four years of its existence.
He looked upon these last seventeen years as the richest and ripest he had engaged in. “Very godly and advanced Christians have told me,” he remarked on this subject, “that they consider my present labors the most important of my whole life.”
Taken from "George Muller - The Man of Faith" by Basil Miller