Transcribed from a spoken message given by invitation to a special meeting.
As one who for fifty years has known the Lord, and has labored in word and doctrine, I ought to be able in some little measure to lend a helping hand to these younger believers. And if God will only condescend to use the acknowledgment of my own failures to which I refer, and of my experience, as a help to others in walking on the road to heaven, I trust that your coming here will not be in vain. This was the very purpose of my leaving home—that I might help these dear young brethren.
Reading the Word
One of the most deeply important points is that of attending to the careful, prayerful reading of the Word of God, and meditation thereon. I would therefore ask your particular attention to one verse in the Epistle of Peter, where we are especially exhorted by the Holy Ghost through the apostle, regarding this subject. For the sake of the connection, let us read the first verse:
“Wherefore laying aside all malice, and all guile and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil-speakings, as new-born babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby; if so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious” (1Pe 2:2).
The particular point to which I refer is contained in the second verse, “as newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word.” As growth in the natural life is attained by proper food, so in the spiritual life; if we desire to grow, this growth is only to be attained through the instrumentality of the Word of God. It is not stated here, as some might be very willing to say, that “the reading of the Word may be of importance under some circumstances.” Nor is it stated that you may gain profit by reading the statement which is made here. It is of the Word and of the Word alone that the apostle speaks, and nothing else.
You say that the reading of this tract or of that book often does you good. I do not question it. Nevertheless, the instrumentality which God has been specially pleased to appoint and to use is that of the Word itself. Just in the measure in which the disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ attend to this, they will become strong in the Lord; and in so far as it is neglected, so far will they be weak.
There is such a thing as babes being neglected, and what is the consequence? They never become healthy men or women, because of that early neglect. Perhaps—and it is one of the most hurtful forms of this neglect—they obtain improper food, and therefore do not attain the full vigor of maturity. So with regard to the divine life. It is a most deeply important point that we obtain right spiritual food at the very beginning of that life. What is that food? It is “the sincere milk of the word” that is the proper nourishment for the strengthening of the new life. Listen, then, my dear brethren and sisters, to some advice with regard to the Word.
First of all, it is of the utmost moment that we read regularly through the Scripture. We ought not to turn over the Bible, and pick out chapters as we please here and there, but we should read it carefully and regularly through. I speak advisedly, and as one who has known the blessedness of thus reading the Word for the last forty-six years.
I say forty-six years, because for the first four years of my Christian life I did not carefully read the Word of God. I used to read a tract or an interesting book, but I knew nothing of the power of the Word. I read very little of it, and the result was that, although a preacher then, yet I made no progress in the divine life. And why?—just for this reason: I neglected the Word of God. But it pleased God, through the instrumentality of a beloved Christian brother, to rouse in me an earnestness about the Word, and ever since then I have been a lover of it.
Let me, then, press upon you my first point, that of attending regularly to reading through the Scriptures. I do not suppose that you all need the exhortation. Many, I believe, have already done so, but I speak for the benefit of those who have not. To those I say, My dear friends, begin at once. Begin with the Old Testament, and when you have read a chapter or two, and are about to leave off, put a mark that you may know where you have left off. I speak in all simplicity for the benefit of those who may be young in the divine life. The next time you read, begin the New Testament, and again put a mark where you leave off.
And thus go on, always reading alternately the Old and the New Testaments. Thus, by little and little, you will read through the whole Bible; and when you have finished, begin again at the beginning.
Why is this so deeply important?—simply that we may see the connection between one book and another of the Bible, and between one chapter and another. If we do not read in this consecutive way, we lose a great part of what God has given to instruct us. Moreover, if we are children of God, we should be well acquainted with the whole revealed will of God, the whole of the Word. “All scripture is given by inspiration, and is profitable” (2 Ti 3:16).
And much may be gained by thus carefully reading through the whole of the revealed will of God. Suppose a rich relative were to die and leave us, perhaps, some land, houses, or money; should we be content with reading only the clauses that affected us particularly? No, we would be careful to read the whole will right through. How much more then with regard to the revealed will of God ought we to be careful to read it through, and not merely one and another of the chapters or books.
And this careful reading of the Word of God has this advantage: that it keeps us from making a system of doctrine of our own, and from having our own particular favorite views, which is very pernicious. We often are apt to lay too much stress on certain views of the truth which affect us particularly. The will of the Lord is that we should know His whole revealed mind. Again, variety in the things of God is of great moment; and God has been pleased to give us this variety in the highest degree. The child of God, who follows out this plan, will be able to take an interest in every part of the Word.
Suppose one says, “Let us read in Leviticus.” Very well, my brother. Suppose another says, “Let us read in the prophecy of Isaiah.” Very well, my brother. And another will say, “Let us read in the Gospel according to Matthew.” Very well, my brother, I can enjoy them all; and whether it be in the Old Testament or the New Testament, whether in the Prophets, the Gospels, the Acts, or the Epistles, I should welcome it, and be delighted to welcome the reading and study of any part of the divine Word.
And this will be of particular advantage to us, in case we should become laborers in Christ’s vineyard, because in expounding the Word we shall be able to refer to every part of it. We shall equally enjoy the reading of the Word whether of the Old or the New Testament, and shall never get tired of it. I have, as before stated, known the blessedness of this plan for forty-six years, and though I am now nearly seventy years of age and though I have been converted for nearly fifty years, I can say by the grace of God that I more than ever love the Word of God, and have greater delight than ever in reading it.
And though I have read the Word nearly a hundred times right through, I have never got tired of reading it, and this is more especially through reading it regularly, consecutively, day by day—and not merely reading a chapter here and there, as my own thoughts might have led me to do.
Reading the Word Prayerfully
Again, we should read the Scripture prayerfully, never supposing that we are clever enough or wise enough to understand God’s Word by our own wisdom. In all our reading of the Scriptures let us seek carefully to have the help of the Holy Spirit; let us ask, for Jesus’ sake, that He will enlighten us. He is willing to do it.
I will tell you how it fared with me at the very first; it may be for your encouragement. It was in the year 1829 when I was living in Hackney. My attention had been called to the teaching of the Spirit by a dear brother of experience. “Well,” I said, “I will try this plan, and will give myself, after prayer, to the careful reading of the Word of God and to meditation, and I will see how much the Spirit is willing to teach me in this way.”
I went accordingly to my room and locked my door, and putting the Bible on a chair, I went down on my knees at the chair. There I remained for several hours in prayer and meditation over the Word of God; and I can tell you that I learned more in those three hours which I spent in this way, than I had learned for many months previously. I thus obtained the teaching of the divine Spirit, and I cannot tell you the blessedness which it was to my own soul. I was praying in the Spirit, and putting my trust in the power of the Spirit, as I had never done before.
You cannot, therefore, be surprised at my earnestness in pressing this upon you, when you have heard how precious to my heart it was, and how much it helped me.
Meditate on the Word
But again, it is not enough to have prayerful reading only, but we must also meditate on the Word. As in the instance I have just referred to, kneeling before the chair, I meditated on the Word. It was not simply reading it, not simply praying over it. It was all that, but in addition it was pondering over what I had read. This is deeply important. If you merely read the Bible and no more, it is just like water running in at one side and out at the other. In order to be really benefited by it, we must meditate on it. We cannot all of us, of course, spend many hours, or even one or two hours, each day in this manner. Our business demands our attention. Yet, however short the time you can afford, give it regularly to reading, prayer, and meditation over the Word, and you will find it will well repay you.
In connection with this, we should always read and meditate over the Word of God with reference to ourselves and our own heart. This is deeply important, and I cannot press it too earnestly upon you. We are apt often to read the Word with reference to others. Parents read it in reference to their children, children for their parents; evangelists read it for their congregations, Sunday school teachers for their classes. Oh! This is a poor way of reading the Word; if read in this way, it will not profit. I say it deliberately and advisedly: the sooner it is given up, the better for your own souls. Read the Word of God always with reference to your own heart, and when you have received the blessing in your own heart, you will be able to communicate it to others.
Whether you labor as evangelists, as pastors, or as visitors, superintendents of Sunday schools, teachers, tract distributors, or in whatever other capacity you may seek to labor for the Lord, be careful to let the reading of the Word be with distinct reference to your own heart. Ask yourselves, “How does this suit me, either for instruction, for correction, for exhortation, or for rebuke (2Ti 3:16)? How does this affect me?” If you thus read and get the blessing in your own soul, how soon it will flow out to others!
Read in Faith
Another point. It is of the utmost moment in reading the Word of God that the reading should be accompanied with faith. “The word preached did not profit them; not being mixed with faith in them that heard it” (Heb 4:2). As with the preaching, so with the reading; it must be mixed with faith.
Not simply reading it as you would read a story, which you may receive or not; not simply as a statement, which you may credit or not; or as an exhortation, to which you may listen or not—but as the revealed will of the Lord, that is, receiving it with faith. Received thus it will nourish us, and we shall reap benefit. Only in this way will it benefit us; we shall gain from it health and strength in proportion as we receive it with real faith.
Be Doers of the Word
Lastly, if God does bless us in reading His Word, He expects that we should be obedient children and that we should accept the Word as His will, and carry it into practice. If this be neglected, you will find that the reading of the Word, even if accompanied by prayer, meditation, and faith, will do you little good. God does expect us to be obedient children, and will have us practice what He has taught us. The Lord Jesus Christ says: “If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them” (Joh 13:17). In the measure in which we carry out what our Lord Jesus taught, so much in measure are we happy children. In such measure only can we honestly look for help from our Father, even as we seek to carry out His will.
If there is one single point I would wish to have spread all over this country and over the whole world, it is just this: that we should seek, beloved Christian friends, not to be hearers of the Word only, but “doers of the Word” (Jam 1:22). I doubt not that many of you have sought to do this already, but I speak particularly to those younger brethren and sisters who have not yet learned the full force of this. Oh! seek to attend earnestly to this; it is of vast importance.
Satan will seek with much earnestness to put aside the Word of God; but let us seek to carry it out and to act upon it. The Word must be received as a legacy from God, which has been communicated to us by the Holy Ghost,
The Fullness of the Revelation Given in the Word
And remember that, to the faithful reader of this blessed Word, it reveals all that we need to know about the Father, all that we need to know about the Lord Jesus Christ, all about the power of the Spirit, all about the world that lieth in the wicked one, all about the road to heaven and the blessedness of the world to come. In this blessed book we have the whole gospel and all rules necessary for our Christian life and warfare. Let us see then that we study it with our whole heart and with prayer, meditation, faith, and obedience.
The next point on which I will speak for a few moments has been more or less referred to already; it is that of prayer. You might read the Word and seem to understand it very fully, yet if you are not in the habit of waiting continually upon God, you will make little progress in the divine life. We have not naturally in us any good thing, and cannot expect, save by the help of God, to please Him. Therefore it is the will of the Lord that we should always own our dependence upon Him in prayer.
The blessed Lord Jesus Christ gave us an example in this particular. He gave whole nights to prayer. We find Him on the lonely mountain engaged by night in prayer. And as in every way He is to be an example to us, so in particular on this point. He is an example to us. The old evil corrupt nature is still in us though we are born again; therefore we have to come in prayer to God for help. We have to cling to the power of the Mighty One. Concerning everything, we have to pray. Not simply when great troubles come, when the house is on fire, or a beloved wife is on the point of death, or dear children are laid down in sickness—not simply at such times, but also in little things. From the very early morning, let us make everything a matter of prayer, and let it be so throughout the day and throughout our whole life. A Christian lady said lately that thirty-five years ago she heard me speak on this subject in Devonshire, and that then I referred to praying about little things. I had said that suppose a parcel came to us, and it should prove difficult to untie the knot, and you cannot cut it; then you should ask God to help you, even to untie the knot.
I myself had forgotten the words but she has remembered them, and the remembrance of them, she said, had been a great help to her again and again. So I would say to you, my beloved friends, there is nothing too little to pray about. In the simplest things connected with our daily life and walk, we should give ourselves to prayer; and we shall have the living, loving Lord Jesus to help us. Even in the most trifling matters I give myself to prayer; and often in the morning, even ere I leave my room, I have two or three answers to prayer in this way. Young believers, in the very outset of the divine life in your souls, learn in childlike simplicity to wait upon God for everything! Treat the Lord Jesus Christ as your personal Friend, able and willing to help you in everything. How blessed it is to be carried in His loving arms all the day long! I would say that the divine life of the believer is made up of a vast number of little circumstances and little things. Every day there comes before us a variety of little trials; and if we seek to put them aside in our own strength and wisdom, we shall quickly find that we are confounded. But if, on the contrary, we take everything to God, we shall be helped and our way shall be made plain. Thus our life will be a happy life!
A Word to the Unconverted
I am here tonight addressing believers, those who have felt the burden of their sins and have accepted Christ as their Savior, and who now through Him have peace with God and seek to glorify Him. But if there be any here who are still in their sins, in a state of alienation from God, let me say: if they die in this state, the terrible punishment of sin must fall upon them. Unless their sins are pardoned and they are made fit for the divine presence, they can never enter heaven. But, dear friends, Christ came to save the lost, and as sinners, you are lost; you have no power of your own to save yourselves. The world talks of turning over a new leaf, but that will not satisfy divine justice. Sin must be punished, or God’s righteousness would be set aside. Jesus came into the world to bear that punishment. He has borne it in our room and stead. He has suffered for us. Now, what God looks for from us is that we accept Jesus as our Savior and put our trust in Him for the salvation of our souls. Whosoever looks really and entirely to Him shall assuredly be saved. Let his sins be ever so many, he shall have the forgiveness of them all. Nay, more, he will be accepted by God as His child. He will become an heir of God and a joint-heir with Christ. Oh, what a great and glorious salvation so freely given! May it be as thankfully accepted!
And may we who rejoice in Him stand boldly out and confess Christ—and work for Him. May we not be half-hearted, but be valiant soldiers of Christ. Let us be decided for Christ. Let us walk as in God’s sight, in holy, peaceful, happy fellowship with Him, in the enjoyment of that nearness into which we are brought in Christ. Oh, the blessedness of this privilege of living near to God in this life! May we then seek His guidance in everything, so that we may be a blessing to others, and thus we shall be greatly blessed in our own souls.
For the encouragement of believers who are tried by having unconverted relatives and friends, I will relate the following circumstance which I know is true. Baron von Kamp, who lived in Prussia, had been a disciple of the Lord Jesus for many years. In the year 1806, great financial distress came upon many thousands of weavers in the area. They had no employment because the whole continent was in an unsettled state from the war. The baron believed that it was the will of the Lord to use his wealth to furnish these poor weavers with work in order to save them from complete ruin. There was not only no prospect of personal gain, but rather the certain prospect of immense loss. Nevertheless, he found employment for about six-thousand weavers.
But the baron was not content with this. He also wanted to minister to the souls of these weavers. He set believers as overseers over his immense weaving concern. The weavers were instructed in spiritual things, and he personally shared the truth of the gospel with them. The work went on for a good while until at last, on account of the loss of most of his property, he was obliged to think about giving it up. But by this time, his precious act of mercy had proven its worth to the government. It was taken up by them and carried on until the times changed. Baron von Kamp was appointed director of the whole concern as long as it existed.
This dear man of God was not content with this. He traveled through many countries to visit the prisons for the sake of improving the physical and spiritual condition of the prisoners. He also assisted poor students at the University of Berlin, especially those who studied theology, in order to win them for the Lord. One day a talented young man heard of the aged baron’s kindness to students. He wrote to the baron requesting his assistance, because his own father could not afford to support him any longer. A short time afterward, young Thomas received a kind reply from the baron inviting him to come to Berlin. But before this letter arrived, the young student had heard that Baron von Kamp was a “Pietist” or “mystic,” as true believers were contemptuously called in Germany. Young Thomas was deeply involved in philosophy, reasoning about everything, questioning the truth of revelation, questioning even the existence of God. He disliked the prospect of going to the old baron for help. Still, he thought he could try, and if he did not like it he was not obligated to remain in connection with him. Thomas arrived in Berlin on a day when the baron was out of town on business. He began to speak about his philosophies to the steward of the baron. The steward, however, was a believer, and he turned the conversation to spiritual things. At last the baron arrived. He received Thomas in the most affectionate and familiar manner.
The baron offered him a room in his house and a place at his table while Thomas studied in Berlin. Thomas accepted the offer. The baron now sought in every way to treat the young student in the most kind and affectionate way, to serve him as much as possible, and to show him the power of the gospel in his own life. He did all this without arguing with him or even speaking to him directly about his soul. Thomas obviously had a skeptical mind, and the baron avoided getting into any argument with him. The student often said to himself, “I wish I could get into an argument with this old fool. I would show him how irrational his beliefs are.” But the baron avoided it. When the baron heard the young student come home in the evening, he would go to meet him and serve him in any way he could, even helping him to take off his boots. Thus this lowly, aged disciple went on for some time.
While Thomas still sought an opportunity for arguing with him, he wondered how the baron could continue to serve him. One evening when Thomas returned to the baron’s house, the baron was making himself his servant as usual. The student could restrain himself no longer and burst out, “Baron, how can you do all this? You see I do not care about you. How are you able to continue to be so kind to me and serve me like this?” 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 with an open heart and a willingness to learn. Up to that time, he had never read the Holy Scriptures unless he wanted to find out arguments against them. God blessed him; from that time he became a follower of the Lord Jesus and has continued in the faith ever since.
The time was now come when God would have mercy upon me. His love had been set upon such a wretch as I was before the world was made. His love had sent His Son to bear the punishment due to me on account of my sins, and to fulfill the law which I had broken times without number. And now at a time when I was as careless about Him as ever, He sent His Spirit into my heart. I had no Bible, and had not read in it for years. I went to church but seldom; but, from custom, I took the Lord's supper twice a year. I had never heard the gospel preached, up to the beginning of November 1825. I had never met with a person who told me that he meant, by the help of God, to live according to the Holy Scriptures. In short, I had not the least idea, that there were any persons really different from myself, except in degree.
One Saturday afternoon, about the middle of November 1825, I had taken a walk with my friend Beta. On our return he said to me, that he was in the habit of going on Saturday evenings to the house of a Christian, where there was a meeting. On further enquiry he told me that they read the Bible, sang, prayed, and read a printed sermon. No sooner had I heard this, than it was to me as if I had found something after which I had been seeking all my life long. I immediately wished to go with my friend, who was not at once willing to take me; for knowing me as a gay young man, he thought I should not like this meeting. At last, however, he said he would call for me.-I would here mention, that Beta seems to have had conviction of sin, and probably also a degree of acquaintance with the Lord, when about fifteen years old. Afterwards, being in a cold and worldly state, he joined me in this sinful Journey to Switzerland. On his return, however, being extremely miserable, and convinced of his guilt, he made a full confession of his sin to his father; and whilst with him, sought the acquaintance of a Christian brother, named Richter. This Dr. Richter, who himself had studied a few years before at Halle, gave him, on his return to the university, a letter of introduction to a believing tradesman, of the name of Wagner. It was this brother, concerning whom Beta spoke to me, and in whose house the meeting was held.
We went together in the evening. As I did not know the manners of believers, and the joy they have in seeing poor sinners, even in any measure caring about the things of God, I made an apology for coming. The kind answer of this dear brother I shall never forget. He said: "Come as often as you please; house and heart are open to you." We sat down and sang a hymn. Then brother Kayser, now a missionary in Africa, in connection with the London Missionary Society, who was then living at Halle, fell on his knees, and asked a blessing on our meeting. This kneeling down made a deep impression upon me; for I had never either seen any one on his knees, nor had I ever myself prayed on my knees. He then read a chapter and a printed sermon; for no regular meetings for expounding the Scriptures were allowed in Prussia, except an ordained clergyman was present. At the close we sang another hymn, and then the master of the house prayed. Whilst he prayed, my feeling was something like this: "I could not pray as well, though I am much more learned than this illiterate man." The whole made a deep impression on me. I was happy; though, if I had been asked, why I was happy, I could not have clearly explained it.
When we walked home, I said to Beta, "All we have seen on our journey to Switzerland, and all our former pleasures, are as nothing in comparison with this evening." Whether I fell on my knees when I returned home, I do not remember; but this I know, that I lay peaceful and happy in my bed. This shows that the Lord may begin His work in different ways. For I have not the least doubt, that on that evening, He began a work of grace in me, though I obtained joy without any deep sorrow of heart, and with scarcely any knowledge. That evening was the turning point in my life.-The next day, and Monday, and once or twice besides, I went again to the house of this brother, where I read the Scriptures with him and another brother; for it was too long for me to wait till Saturday came again.
Now my life became very different, though not so, that all sins were given up at once. My wicked companions were given up; the going to taverns was entirely discontinued; the habitual practice of telling falsehoods was no longer indulged in, but still a few times after this I spoke an untruth.-At the time when this change took place, I was engaged in translating a novel out of French into German, for the press, in order to obtain the means of gratifying my desire to see Paris, &c. This plan about the journey was now given up, though I had not light enough to give up the work in which I was engaged, but finished it. The Lord, however, most remarkably put various obstacles in the way and did not allow me to sell the manuscript. At last, seeing that the whole was wrong, I determined never to sell it, and was enabled to abide by this determination. The manuscript was burnt.
I now no longer lived habitually in sin, though I was still often overcome, and sometimes even by open sins, though far less frequently than before, and not without sorrow of heart. I read the Scriptures, prayed often, loved the brethren, went to church from right motives, and stood on the side of Christ; though laughed at by my fellow-students.
It had pleased God to teach me something of the meaning of that precious truth: "God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life." I understood something of the reason why the Lord Jesus died on the cross, and suffered such agonies in the Garden of Gethsemane: even that thus, bearing the punishment due to us, we might not have to bear it ourselves. And, therefore, apprehending in some measure the love of Jesus for my soul, I was constrained to love Him in return. What all the exhortations and precepts of my father and others could not effect; what all my own resolutions could not bring about, even to renounce a life of sin and profligacy: I was enabled to do, constrained by the love of Jesus. The individual who desires to have his sins forgiven, must seek for it through the blood of Jesus. The individual who desires to get power over sin, must likewise seek it through the blood of Jesus.
Reprinted from “George Müller - Man of Faith and Miracles,”
by Basil Miller, pp. 50-51
MANY asked Mr. Müller how he sought to know the will of God, in that nothing was undertaken, not even the smallest expenditure, without feeling certain he was in God’s will. In the following words he gave his answer.
“1. I seek at the beginning to get my heart into such a state that it has not will of its own in regard to a given matter. Nine-tenths of the difficulties are overcome when our hearts are ready to do the Lord’s will, whatever it may be. When one is truly in this state, it is usually but a little way to the knowledge of what His will is.
“2. Having done this, I do not leave the result to feeling or simple impressions. If so, I make myself liable to great delusions.
“3. I seek the will of the Spirit of God through or in connection with the Word of God. The Spirit and the Word must be combined. If I look to the Spirit alone without the Word, I lay myself open to great delusions also.
“4. Next I take into account providential circumstances. These plainly indicate God’s will in connection with His Word and Spirit.
“5. I ask God in prayer to reveal His will to me aright.
“6. Thus through prayer to God, the study of the Word, and reflection, I come to a deliberate judgment according to the best of my ability and knowledge, and if my mind is thus at peace,20 and continues so after two or three more petitions, I proceed accordingly. In trivial matters and in transactions involving most important issues, I have found this method always effective.”
And did this plan work? one asks. Let Mr. Müller’s testimony answer.
“I never remember,” he wrote three years before his death, “in all my Christian course, a period now of sixty-nine years and four months, that I ever sincerely and patiently sought to know the will of God by the teaching of the Holy Ghost, through the instrumentality of the Word of God, but I have been always directed rightly. But if honesty of heart and uprightness before God were lacking, or if I did not patiently wait upon God for instruction, or if I preferred the counsel of my fellow men to the declarations of the Word of the living God, I made great mistakes.”
But perhaps it may be asked, Why do you not take the bread on credit? What does it matter whether you pay immediately for it, or at the end of the month, or the quarter, or the half year? Seeing that the Orphan Houses are the work of the Lord, may you not trust in him that he will supply you with means to pay the bills which you contract with the butcher, baker, grocer, etc. as the things which you purchase are needful? My reply is this:
1. If the work in which we are engaged is indeed the work of God, then he whose work it is is surely able and willing to provide the means for it. 2. But not only so, he will also provide the means at the time when they are needed. I do not mean that he will provide them when we think that they are needed; but yet that when there is real need, such as the necessaries of life being required, he will give them; and on the same ground on which we suppose we do trust in God to help us to pay the debt which we now contract, we may and ought to trust in the Lord to supply us with what we require at present, so that there may be no need for going into debt. 3. It is true, I might have goods on credit, and to a very considerable amount; but, then, the result would be, that the next time we were again in straits, the mind would involuntarily be turned to further credit which I might have, instead of being turned to the Lord, and thus faith, which is kept up and strengthened only by being exercised, would become weaker and weaker, till at last, according to all human probability, I should find myself deeply in debt and have no prospect of getting out of it. 4. Faith has to do with the word of God,—rests upon the written word of God; but there is no promise that he will pay our debts. The word says rather, “Owe no man anything;” whilst there is the promise given to his children, “I will never leave thee nor forsake thee,” and, “Whosoever believeth on him shall not be confounded.” On this account we could not say, upon the ground of the Holy Scriptures, Why do you not trust in God that he will supply you with means to pay your debts which you contract in his service for the necessities of the orphans? 5. The last reason why we do not take goods on credit is this: The chief and primary object of the work was not the temporal welfare of the children, nor even their spiritual welfare, blessed and glorious as it is, and much as, through grace, we seek after it and pray for it; but the first and primary object of the work was, to show before the whole world and the whole church of Christ, that even in these last evil days the living God is ready to prove himself as the living God, by being ever willing to help, succor, comfort, and answer the prayers of those who trust in him: so that we need not go away from him to our fellow-men, or to the ways of the world, seeing that he is both able and willing to supply us with all we can need in his service.
From the beginning, when God put this service into my heart, I had anticipated trials and straits; but knowing, as I did, the heart of God, through the experience of several years previously, I also knew that he would listen to the prayers of his child who trusts in him, and that he would not leave him in the hour of need, but listen to his prayers, and deliver him out of the difficulty, and that then, this being made known in print for the benefit of both believers and unbelievers, others would be led to trust in the Lord. We discern, therefore, more and more clearly that it is for the church’s benefit that we are put into these straits, and if therefore in the hour of need we were to take goods on credit, the first and primary object of the work would be completely frustrated, and no heart would be further strengthened to trust in God; nor would there be any longer that manifestation of the special and particular providence of God which has hitherto been so abundantly shown through this work, even in the eyes of unbelievers, whereby they have been led to see that there is after all reality in the things of God, and many, through these printed accounts, have been truly converted. For these reasons, then, we consider it our precious privilege, as heretofore, to continue to wait upon the Lord only, instead of taking goods on credit, or borrowing money from some kind friends, when we are in need. Nay, we purpose, as God shall give us grace, to look to him only, though morning after morning we should have nothing in hand for the work, yea, though from meal to meal we should have to look to him; being fully assured that he who is now (1845) in the tenth year feeding these many orphans, and who has never suffered them to want, and that he who is now (1845) in the twelfth year carrying on the other parts of the work, without any branch of it being stopped for want of means, will do so for the future also. And here I do desire, in the deep consciousness of my natural helplessness and dependence upon the Lord, to confess that through the grace of God my soul has been in peace, though day after day we have had to wait for our daily provisions upon the Lord; yea, though even from meal to meal we have been required to do this.