For several months, I have been feeling that my work at Teignmouth would soon be completed. This feeling has continued to grow, and I am now convinced that Teignmouth is no longer my place of ministry. Perhaps my gift is going from place to place, seeking to bring believers back to the Scriptures, rather than staying in one place and laboring as a pastor. Wherever I go, I preach with much more enjoyment and power than at Teignmouth. Moreover, almost everywhere I have many more hearers than at Teignmouth and find the people hungering after spiritual food which is no longer the case at Teignmouth.
April 13. I received a letter from brother Craik from Bristol inviting me to come and help him. It appears to me that a place like Bristol would suit my gifts better. Lord, teach me! I feel more than ever that I will soon leave Teignmouth. But I fear that much connected with this decision is of the flesh. It seems to me that I will soon go to Bristol, if the Lord permits. I wrote a letter to brother Craik and promised to come, if I clearly see it is the Lord's will.
April 15. This evening I preached on the Lord's second coming. I told the brethren what effect this doctrine had upon me, and how it encouraged me to leave London and to preach throughout the land. The Lord had kept me at Teignmouth for these two years and three months, and it seemed that the time was near when I should leave. I reminded them of what I told them when they requested me to become their pastor-that I could stay only as long as I saw it was the Lord's will to do so. There was much weeping afterward, but I am now again in peace.
April 16. I am glad I have spoken to the brethren so that they may be prepared in case the Lord leads me to leave. I left today for Dartmouth and preached there in the evening. I had five answers to prayer today. 1. I awoke at five, a request I made of the Lord last evening. 2. The Lord removed an illness from my dear wife. It would have been difficult for me to leave her in that condition. 3. The Lord sent us money. 4. There was room for me on the Dartmouth coach. 5. This evening I was assisted in preaching, and my soul was refreshed.
I must offer a word of warning to believers. Often the work of the Lord itself may tempt us away from communion with Him. A full schedule of preaching, counseling, and travel can erode the strength of the mightiest servant of the Lord. Public prayer will never make up for closet communion.
After this evening's meeting, I should have withdrawn from the company of the brothers and sisters, explaining that I needed secret communion with the Lord. Instead, I spent the time until the coach came in conversation with them. Although I enjoyed their fellowship, my soul needed food. Without it, I was lean and felt the effects of it the whole day. I was even silent on the coach and did not speak a word for Christ or give away a single tract.
April 22. This morning I preached at Gideon Chapel in Bristol. In the afternoon I preached at the Pithay Chapel where a young man was converted. He was a notorious drunkard on his way to a tavern when an acquaintance met him and asked him to go to hear a foreigner preach. He did, and from that moment he was completely changed and never went to another tavern. His wife later told me that he was so happy in the Lord that he often neglected his supper to read the Scriptures instead.
Brother Craik's evening sermon spoke to my heart. I am now fully persuaded that Bristol is the place where the Lord will have me labor. But we are going home next week in order that in quietness, without being influenced by what we see here, we may seek the Lord's will concerning us.
April 29. As we sought the Lord, He helped us to see that He is sending us to Bristol!
April 30. Leaving the dear children of God in Teignmouth was difficult for me. Dozens begged us to return soon, many with tears in their eyes. The Lord has given a great blessing to our ministry. It was the Lord's will for us to come here for a time.
May 5. One other striking proof that leaving Teignmouth is of God is that some truly spiritual brothers, although they want me to stay, sincerely believe that I am called to go to Bristol.
May 15. While I was in prayer concerning Bristol, brother Craik sent for me. The congregation at Gideon Chapel have accepted our offer to come under the conditions we made. For the present, we wanted them to consider us only as ministering among them, but not in any fixed pastoral relationship. Thus we may preach the Word as the Spirit leads us. Regular salaries should be done away with, and we will go on trusting God to supply our needs. We intend, the Lord willing, to leave in about a week, although there is nothing settled about Bethesda Chapel.
May 21. Today I began to say goodbye to the brethren at Teignmouth, calling on each of them. It has been a trying day, filled with much weeping. If I was not fully persuaded that God wants us to go to Bristol, I would have hardly been able to bear it.
May 22. Some of the brethren at Teignmouth say that they expect us back again. As far as I understand the way God deals with His children, this seems unlikely. The Lord, after repeated prayer, gave me Col. 1:21-23 as a text for my last word of exhortation to them. It seemed best to me to speak as little as possible about myself and as much as possible about Christ. I scarcely alluded to our separation and only commended myself and the brethren, in the concluding prayer, to the Lord. Parting scenes are very trying, but I am convinced that the separation is of the Lord.
May 23. My wife, my father-in-law, and I left this morning for Exeter. Dear brother Craik intends to follow us tomorrow. Just before we left Teignmouth, we unexpectedly received enough money to defray all the moving expenses. The Lord has confirmed His will concerning us going to Bristol many times.
May 27. We arrived at Bristol two days ago. This morning we received a sovereign from a sister in Teignmouth. The Lord will provide for us here also.
May 28. We spoke to the brethren who manage the finances at Gideon Chapel about receiving the free-will offerings through a box-a matter which was not quite settled with them. The Lord had graciously ordered this matter for us, and they did not object.
June 4. For several days we have been looking for lodging but found none plain and cheap enough. We began to make this a matter of earnest prayer. Immediately afterward, the Lord gave us a suitable place. It was particularly difficult to find an inexpensive, furnished place with five rooms which we need since brother Craik and we live together. How good the Lord is to have answered our prayer, and what an encouragement to commit everything to Him in prayers June 25 Today it was finally settled that we may take Bethesda Chapel for a year. A brother paid our rent with the understanding that, if the Lord blesses our labors in that place, the other believers will help him with the expenses. But if not, he will pay it all. This was the only way we could agree to take the chapel. If we would have had to go into debt, we could not think it was of God to minister in this place.
July 6. Today we began preaching at Bethesda Chapel. It was a good day.
July 16. This evening from six to nine o'clock, we made appointments to talk with individuals about salvation. These meetings are beneficial in many ways. Many people prefer coming at an appointed time to the church office to converse with us. Appointing a time for counseling with them in private concerning the things of eternity has brought some who never would have called upon us under other circumstances.
These appointments have also been a great encouragement to us in the work. Often when we thought that our teaching of the Word had done no good at all, we found the opposite was true as we counseled with people. We have been encouraged to go forward in the work of the Lord after seeing the many ways the Lord has used us as His instruments. Individuals have told us about the help they derived from our ministry even as long as four years ago.
Other servants of Christ, especially those who live in large towns, should consider setting apart time for seeing inquirers into the faith. These appointments, however, require much prayer for wisdom to speak with sensitivity to all those who come. We are not sufficient in our own ability for these things, but our sufficiency is from God. The appointments have been by far the most exhausting part of all our work, although at the same time the most rewarding.
July 18. I spent the whole morning in my office to have a quiet time with the Lord. This is the only way, on account of my numerous engagements, to make sure that I have time for prayer, reading the Word, and meditation.
September 17. This morning the Lord, in addition to all His other mercies, has given us our first child-a little girl. She and my wife are both doing well.
October 1. Many more people have been convicted of sin through brother Craik's 'preaching than my own. This is probably because brother Craik is more spiritually minded than I am, and he prays more earnestly for the conversion of sinners than I do. He addresses sinners in his public ministry frequently. This led me to more earnest prayer for the conversion of sinners. Since then, the Lord has used me as an instrument of conversion much more often.
May 28, 1833. Most of the Lord's people whom we know in Bristol are poor. This morning, while sitting in my room, the distress of several of the brethren was brought to my mind. I said to myself, "If only the Lord would give me the means to help them!" About an hour later, I received sixty pounds which I used to buy bread for the poor.
May 29. During the last twelve months of our labors in Bristol, one hundred and nine people have been added to our fellowship. Sixty-five have been converted, many backsliders have returned, and many of the children of God have been encouraged and strengthened in the way of truth.
June 12. This morning I felt that we should do something for the poor. We have given bread to them daily for some time now. I longed to establish a school for the boys and girls, read the Scriptures to them, and speak to them about the Lord. The chief obstacle was the pressure of work coming upon brother Criik and me at that time.
The number of the poor who came for bread had increased to between sixty and eighty a day. Our neighbors were annoyed because the beggars were loitering in the street. We had to tell them to no longer come for bread, but our desire to help these people has not diminished.
December 17. This evening brother Craik and I had tea with a family of five who had been brought to the Lord through our ministry. As an encouragement to anyone who may desire to preach the gospel in a foreign language, I must mention that, the first member of this family who was converted came merely out of curiosity to hear my foreign accent.
December 31. At least 260 people have met with us about the concerns of their souls. Out of these, 153 have been added to us in fellowship these last eighteen months, sixty of whom have been brought to the knowledge of the Lord through our preaching and prayers.
Four years have passed since I began to trust in the Lord alone for the supply of my temporal needs. All I had then at most was worth one hundred pounds a year. I gave it up for the Lord and had nothing' left but about five pounds. The Lord greatly honored this little sacrifice and gave me considerably more in return.
During the last three years and three months, I never have asked anyone for anything. The Lord has graciously supplied all my needs as I bring them to Him. At the close of each of these four years, although my income has been comparatively great, I have had only a few shillings left. My needs are met each day by the help of God.