“Win, and woo, and fill completely,
Till the cup o’erflow the brim;
What have we to do with idols
Who have companied with Him?”
GEORGE MÜLLER, born in 1805, died in 1898, yet he is one of the deathless names fragrant with the love of Christ, and diffusing influence far and wide. His saintless, sanity, and wonderful work for orphans are a witness still, and a real evidence of the love of the living God. Never will this witness be out-of-date; it is as forceful in its appeal for trust to-day as it was in 1834. Especially was he eminent for his life of prayer, and by this he remembered by some who have but a vague idea of his other labours. George Müller stood to his generation as he does to us, for prayer and faith as essentials of the holy life and triumphant happiness. To all time the five great stone buildings on Ashley Down bear testimony that God hears true prayer and desires and deserves to be fully trusted. George Müller prayed about everything, and tells us that one day in early manhood he watched a friend mending one of the quill pens then in use. “Do you pray to God when you mend your pen?” he asked. “It would be as well to do so, but I cannot say that I do,” was the response. “I always do,” remarked Mr. Müller; “I mend my pen so much better.”
Later on, he was seeing some missionaries to the ship, and watched their luggage being packed into the cab. He himself counted seventeen articles, but when the cab was departing from the quay, but for his vigilance, the driver would have gone off with most of the luggage. He reflects, “Such a circumstance should teach one to make the very smallest affair a subject of prayer, as, for instance, that all the luggage might be got out of a fly.”
Taken from George Müller - The Man who Trusted God by J.J. Ellis
WHEN MR. MULLER died his work was not at an end, but slowly with the passing years the shadow of his life lengthened. The setting sun struck his spiritual stature and cast the broad outlines of his noble existence upon the coming decades. Today, Mr. Muller, though dead, still lives through the monumental work he left behind.
That question, What of the future? held no terrors for Mr. Muller’s successors so long as they remained true to the foundation principles. James Wright declared in his funeral oration, It is going on! And today, these many years since its founder’s death, it still triumphs through faith. God buried His workers, several of them since that time, but His work carries on.
“I am no prophet,” Mr. Wright said in that funeral oration, “but when I remember the prayers which my beloved mother-in-law and father-in-law offered for years for the future of this work...that He in His way would raise up some help or helpers to share the responsibility of the work, and when I remember that that has been the theme of our united supplications, I cannot believe that the blessed God, Who has so illustrated His faithfulness in this work for sixty-four years, is going to leave those prayers unanswered.
“But, as I say, what He does will be worthy of Himself. I would only ask the prayers of all believers on behalf of the little group of workers up at the Orphan Houses...for prayer is the appointed means to get the blessing.”
God did raise up that first worker in the form of Mr. Wright, who entered upon the responsibilities with no fear of the future. For two or more years before Mr. Muller’s death there was a great trial of faith. Some of those months were seasons of dire need. It is recorded that on two mornings the mailman did not bring a single donation...the only experience of its kind in fifty years. Nine days before Mr. Muller’s home-going the flood gates of blessings were opened and a sum of £1,427 was received. “How gracious,” Mr. Wright said, “it was of the Lord to order that these hundreds of petitions should be answered nine days before his home-call.”
While Mr. Muller’s death brought no financial legacy, it did leave a more valuable gift in the form of unanswered prayers, which petitions were soon to be heartily answered by the Lord. For within the next few months thousands of pounds came in as donations, which Mr. Wright felt his deceased father-in-law had prayed in before his death.
Mr. Wright was burdened about a fellow workman, with whom he could share the responsibilities of the Houses, so he gave himself to much prayer. God seemed to indicate that George Frederick Bergin, with whom he had been intimately acquainted for twenty-five years should take this position.
When he presented the matter to Mr. Bergin, he found that this person was on his way to offer his services in such a capacity. The Spirit had put it on his heart that here was to be his sphere of labor.
In 1899 a letter came from a total stranger who wanted to know how the finances of the Institution stood, but Mr. Wright answered that it was against the principles of the work to divulge the financial status to any one. These matters were in the hands of God. By return mail a check for $5,250 arrived from the same person.
The year after Mr. Muller’s death the total income was £29,670, and the following year it mounted to £43,985, showing thus that the blessings of God were still upon the work and those who bore its burdens. During the years from 1900-1904 there was always a substantial balance on hand for the work, and at one time this balance ran to more than $57,000.
On January 29, 1905, after a long illness, Mr. Wright died in his seventy-ninth year and was buried near the spot where his father-in-law rested. During his life it was often supposed that he had a private source of income, so great were his gifts. But Mr. Bergin found the secret of his liberality.
“On examining his cash books,” Mr. Bergin wrote, “I discovered it was his regular habit to lay aside, of every gift he received...not a tenth, not a fifth, not a quarter, but a half. This large proportion did not satisfy him, for I found that out of what I may call his own half, he gave liberally, in addition to giving all the Lord’s portion.”
His total estate, counting personal effects and cash, amounted to $230. And his doctrine, “Owe no man anything,” was fulfilled, for all he owed were his doctor, the undertaker and the lawyer’s fee for proving his will.
Thus seven years after Mr. Muller’s death the active control of the Orphan Houses along with all the other labors of the Institution fell upon the shoulders of one who had not been connected with its founder. The public often wondered how the work would progress, and whether or not God would abundantly supply the needs as he had done heretofore.
It required $3,500 a week to operate the home alone, and during those first weeks often only half that amount came in, but when the 1905 books were balanced, they showed a surplus of $175, with a total income of £25,980.
Mr. Bergin knew but one way to proceed and that was the Muller-way of clinging to the Lord. “Put yourself if you can...in our position — over 1,900 orphan children to feed, clothe, and educate...and see how truly we had to look to, yea, cling to, our God, as the ivy clings to the oak tree, and is by it supported in the storm.”
Many were the miraculous answers to his prayers, as they had been to the prayers of the founder. On September 27, 1905, the Centenary of Mr. Muller’s birth was celebrated, and Mr. Bergin asked the Lord to supply 2,000 bananas for the children’s cakes. He sent to town to find out the price, and while the messenger was gone 4,000 bananas arrived. “So through God’s bounty, our children had two bananas each on the 27th, whereas I had only thought of one each — ‘exceeding abundantly above all we ask or think!’ ”
At the beginning of 1907 Mr. Bergin and his son, a physician, were riding in a Bristol street car when they saw a request for $12,500 for local medical charity. “I pointed it out to my son remarking that this was about what we needed and that the Lord could give us that sum without any public appeal.”
So in private and public prayer they asked God to send in these funds, and “It is worthy to note that during the fortnight ending yesterday (9th), while these appeals were facing us, He gave us £2,570 7s. 5 1/2d.” (or $350 more than they had asked for).
Large balances were at hand at the close of 1908 and 1909. The first year this balance was practically $24,000 and the second year it was $13,580. Since the institution was founded in 1834, until May, 1910, £1,820,675 were contributed for the various objects which Mr. Muller wrote into the first statement of the purpose of the work. In the twelve years since Mr. Muller’s death £363,522 came in as donations.
Some said that when George Muller passed to his heavenly reward the work would dwindle and finally die. But as long as faith remains the work will continue. Shortly again God was to bury a worker, but faith and the work were to carry on, proving as Mr. Muller often affirmed that the living God is living still.
Mr. Frederick Bergin had two sons, both of them doctors. His older son, Dr. G. F. Bergin, was associated with his father for several years, and in 1910 he passed to his reward. The blow was heavy to the father, so on June 1, 1910 he sent to London for his second son, Dr. William M. Bergin, to assist him.
This proved to be a happy partnership, which lasted, however only two years. For in 1912 the elder Bergin died, and left the work to his son. “The blow that fell upon the Institution on October 8, 1912,” writes Dr. Bergin, “was the heaviest it had ever sustained. When Mr. Muller was called Home, Mr. Wright had been his helper for over thirty-eight years. When Mr. Wright passed away to be with the Lord, Mr. Bergin had been seven years his colleague. But when my beloved father fell asleep, I had only been two years and four months assisting him...And I saw that if it should please God still to continue the work, it would evidently be a greater proof than ever that ‘God is still the living God, and today, as thousands of years ago, he answers the prayers of His believing children.’”
Dr. Bergin had assumed the active leadership only a few months when he took seriously ill, and felt that it would please the Lord to select someone to assist him in carrying the burdens of the Home. He sought God’s guidance in the matter, and the decision came that God’s choice was Alfred E. Green, a missionary for twenty years in the Straits Settlements, who then was waiting upon the Lord for guidance to return to his former labors.
When Dr. Bergin presented the thought to Mr. Green, he asked for time in which to seek the mind of the Spirit. Duly he came to the decision that this was to be God’s work henceforth for him. The association proved to be a happy one, for many years, until Dr. Bergin’s death on March 31, 1930. It was greatly crowned with God’s benedictions, for through those years every need was supplied.
“As ever, our appeals are made to God alone,” writes Mr. Green. “Very grave have been the circumstances of this country and of the world during these past years; but the resources of God are boundless, and he had maintained these Homes to witness...to his power and his willingness to answer believing prayer in every time of need.”
During the first World War when everything seemed darkest, God always arrived in time with a bounteous supply of the needs. While the banks closed, God sent in sufficient funds to purchase what might be necessary to feed the children.
On August 14, 1914, this entry is found in the Report: “These are the things which faced us this morning on one side, and on the other was our responsibility in caring for the 1,677 children today in these Homes, with also the 200 workers employed...But seeing that for three days (when the banks were closed) we shall not be able to draw any money from the bank, how shall we do? This is soon answered by the Lord, for one of the first letters to be opened contained a £100 Bank of England note, with the simple wording, ‘£100 for the Orphanage, from Bath.’...Altogether today we have nearly fifty gifts...and the total amounted to £172 13s. 7d. So indeed we thanked God and took courage.”
In the Report for 1916-15 Dr. Bergin made this statement, “So graciously has the Lord supplied our needs during the year that we conclude it with a balance of £12,016 7s. 6 1/2d.” During the year following the Lord graciously supplied all current needs so that this surplus was not touched, and Dr. Bergin states, “It seems to us as if He has been saying, ‘You see, my children, that though I did leave you a large balance, it was just as easy for Me to continue to supply all your needs as to allow you to draw upon your balance.’”
In January, 1917, it became necessary for the Home to buy their annual supply of oatmeal, which amounted to ten tons. They discovered the price was four times the pre-war price, and there was little money on hand for this purchase. After praying about the matter Dr. Bergin and Mr. Green decided it was God’s will for them to contract for the oatmeal.
“Almost the first letter opened at Ashley Down,” states Mr. Green, in recalling the incident, “contained a banker’s draft for £156 from Australia...Thus the Lord confirmed our faith by showing His ability to send us help in this time of need from the other end of the world.”
These wonderful provisions continued from God’s hand and even in the smallest details the Home was not overlooked however dark the conditions might have been. Once the government commandeered a $1,750 consignment of oatmeal from America, just at the time when the Home greatly needed the supply. The group of workers went to their knees in prayer, and soon God answered by the ringing of the telephone and a word from a government agent saying that shortly another supply would arrive, which they were to receive free of charge.
When the Armistice was signed, Dr. Bergin records that during those stressful years of war God did not suffer them to want. They finished the war years with a surplus of more than $17,500 in their treasury. “Well may we rejoice to ‘talk of all his wondrous works,’ and show how practical a thing it is to trust in the ‘Living God,’ ” says Dr. Bergin.
On March 18, 1922, God sent the largest single gift ever to be received in the long history of the work in the form of a donation from the United States of $45,000. A simple statement accompanied the money, saying, “Please accept this slight token in the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Yours by grace only.”
On the 29th of the same month another check for $6,135.67 arrived. About this Dr. Bergin writes, “Surely we are proving that our God is able to open the windows of heaven for us.” During the four days of April 24-27, God sent in a total of more than $50,000, or £12,296.
The happy relation of Mr. Green and Dr. Bergin was broken by the doctor’s death on March 31, 1930. His last days had been times of severe suffering, but through the pain his faith triumphed. In this distressful time Mr. Green selected his brother-in-law, Thomas Tilsley, to be his colleague in carrying on the work.
The latest Report of the Institution was issued in 1939, giving the income for the year 1938-39. This showed a total income for the Orphanage fund of £34,322 8s. 9d. There was also a balance on hand of £7 124s. 9 1/2d. Thus God, the Living God, has been able to supply all the needs of the Home. The Report concludes:
“Without anyone having been personally applied to by us for a donation, £2,369,747 12s. 8 3/4d. has been received for the Orphans, as a result of prayer to God, since the commencement of the work, which sum includes the amount received for the Building Fund for the five Houses. Besides this, articles of clothing, furniture, etc., and of food have been given in great variety for the use of the Orphans.”
To this must be added another £507,499 which has been donated for other phases of the work. From the sale of Bibles came £35,341, and of tracts and books an additional £68,963, and by payment of children in the day schools the sum of £25,377. For the free distribution of the Autobiography of Mr. Muller there has been received £539 7s.
“Thus it will be seen that up to the present time the Report continues, “the Living God has sent in answer to prayer £3,007,469 12s. 3d.”
The present director of the Houses, Mr. Alfred Green, comments on this figure, “Think quietly over that large figure. And consider whether Mr. Muller has not been fully justified in his setting out, in a path of utter dependence upon God alone, to give a visible proof that God would show Himself to be still the Living God.”
Humanly speaking it is utterly impossible to think of this amount of money being received without asking anyone for a contribution. The total money thus received during 105 years since Mr. Muller founded the Scriptural Knowledge Institution is the staggering sum of $15,037,348.
Looking into the future Mr. Green and Mr. Tilsley asked the Lord to raise up another assistant to help in carrying the heavy load of the Institution and the Lord made clear his choice in the person of John McCready. A lengthy career in banking combined with the necessary spiritual qualifications of a love for the Bible as well as sincere faith mark him as God’s man for this hour of stress.
The selection of workers to carry on the Institution is most important, for as one falls by the wayside a younger one must assume the responsibility for the Houses and other objects of the Institution. Since the chain of prayer must remain unbroken, it would be a calamity to appoint one not evidently called of God and set apart for the work of being a successor to Mr. Muller, the man of trust.
These war days, once again upon England, will prove hard for the Orphanage. But the living God is living still as He was during the fateful period of 1914-18, at which time each Report showed God had not only sent the necessary funds for the work, but had also provided a yearly surplus.
The shadow of Mr. Muller lengthens into the future. The work he founded continues to carry Gospel truth to the ends of the earth. Though present with the Lord his influence increases with the passing days. This man of trust stands as an example of what God will do with one who is fully consecrated to Him.
Taken from "George Muller - The Man of Faith" by Basil Miller
AFTER THE missionary tours closed in May, 1892, Mr. Muller devoted himself mainly to caring for the Scriptural Knowledge Institution. He assumed as large a burden for the work as ever, though the heavy end rested mainly upon Mr. Wright’s shoulders. As an old man, he was an active servant in his Master’s vineyard.
There was his congregation at Bethesda to be looked after. This congregation had grown from the original seven Christians, who met on a memorable evening in 1832 to form a church, to ten churches now with a membership of more than 1,200. Out of the original church had sprung ten others, six of which were independent of the mother church, and four being affiliated with it.
Mr. Muller took turns with others in preaching on Sunday mornings to the several congregations, but Sunday evenings he preached mainly at Bethesda, where he usually addressed large audiences. He was also faithful in attending the various prayer meetings as time afforded. Occasionally he was invited to speak outside of Bristol, though he did not make these into extended preaching tours as formerly.
He was an active, happy old man, whose pleasure was found in caring for the work of the Lord. More and more he gave himself to his chief delight, that of reading the Bible and while meditating upon it, bringing his petitions to the Lord. During the latter years of his life he read the Bible through four times yearly.
In his sermons he spoke with the vigor of a younger man. A. T. Pierson heard him speak on Sunday morning March 22, 1896, in the Bethesda Chapel. This was in his ninety-first year, “but there was a freshness, vigor and terseness in his preaching that gave no indication of failing powers; in fact, he had never seemed more fitted to express and impress the thoughts of God,” writes Mr. Pierson.
In his younger years he was often ill, but these spells seemed to leave him as he advanced in age. In 1837 he feared he should go insane, so great was the pressure in his head, and often his stomach gave him severe trouble. In his ninety-second year he wrote in his Report, “I have been able every day, and all the day, to work, and that with ease as seventy years since.”
When called upon to speak to the largest audiences during his missionary tours and on returning home to the Bethesda congregation he had no difficulty whatsoever.
On his ninetieth birthday, when he spoke to the Bethesda congregation, he remarked that his voice and chest were stronger than when he commenced preaching sixty-nine years earlier.
“His mental powers too were as clear as when he passed his examinations,” writes Fred Warne. “For sixty-nine years and ten months he had been a happy man. That he attributed to two things. Firstly, he had maintained a good conscience, not willfully going on a course he knew to be contrary to the mind of God...Secondly, to his love of the Holy Scriptures.”
He was a greater lover of the Bible at ninety than at thirty. It grew upon him with age. In it he found his supreme pleasure and daily he waited upon the Lord as the Word spoke to him.
During these last years, as he had been throughout his long life, he was a hard worker. He always arose at an early hour, spending several hours with the Bible, and at eight he went through his correspondence. After this he received his assistants and laid out much of their work.
In 1892 a reporter from the Christian Commonwealth, who had called upon Mr. Muller, wrote, “I was prepared to see a venerable-looking gentleman, bent beneath the weight of years, and physically feeble. To my surprise I found Mr. Muller in appearance a man of considerable bodily vigor. His tall, stately form was, as far as I observed, not in the least bowed by age, and when he afterwards accompanied me along the corridor his step was firm and his stride lengthy and rapid. His face wears an expression of austerity, and his strongly-marked features show that he is...a man of iron. Yet he knows how to smile, and when he does this, you see quite another aspect of his nature...His manners are those of a prince. He speaks with great deliberation, with a noticeable German accent.
“Here is a man 87 years of age still carrying on with his own hand certainly one of the most remarkable organizations in the history of the world. An idea of the extent of his work may be gathered from the fact that he has, so he told me, seven assistants for correspondence alone.”
Nor were those last years easy. There were heavy burdens to be borne. The trials of faith were as great as ever. On March 1, 1893, as an example of his difficulties, he entered in his Journal, “The income during this week was £92 8s. 8d., for the Orphans, and £9 11s. 2d. for the other objects; being about the sixth part of our weekly expenses; but now the great trial of our faith was nearly brought to a close, as will presently be seen.”
Three days later, he wrote, “This very day God begins to answer our prayers, as we have received a very good offer for the land we have to sell, even £1,000 an acre. The beginning of the day was darker as to outward appearances than ever: but we trusted in God for help.”
Mr. Muller received a heavy blow when his wife died on January 13, 1895. While he was to miss her, there was no evidence of loneliness to be displayed; for he found comfort in his daily communing with God for the needs of the Institution. The heavenly Father stood by his side through this great trial.
He preached the funeral of his second wife, as he had of his first. Seldom does a man of ninety conduct such a service. The faith that sustained him in other trials upheld him in this one also.
“I had an opportunity on last Friday,” writes one who attended the funeral, “of attending the funeral services of Mrs. Muller...and witnessing a simple ceremony, which, perhaps was unique in the history of the world. Here the venerable and venerated patriarch conducted the whole service, and at the age of ninety seemed full of grand faith which has enabled him to accomplish so much and support him in all vicissitudes, trials and labors of a long life...
“His faith seemed unmoved by trial, undimmed by age, and proof against the keenest bereavement...He seemed independent of all the outside means which so many now deem essential to worship. Here we have an object lesson on faith by a man who has erected on Ashley Down such splendid monuments of his belief.”
The following year when Mr. A. T. Pierson was holding meetings in Bristol, he asked Father Muller, as he called him, to speak at the closing meeting of the series, “and he did so, delivering a powerful address of forty-five minutes on Prayer in connection with Missions, and giving his own life-story in part, with a vigor of voice and manner that seemed a denial of his advanced age.”
Toward the close of his life, doctors advised Mr. Muller to preach only once on Sunday, so accordingly he spoke usually in the morning services at Bethesda Chapel. Mr. Pierson, who heard him preach on March 22, 1896, at the Chapel, said, “He spoke on the 77th Psalm; of course he found here his favorite theme — prayer; and, taking that as a fair specimen of his average preaching, he was certainly a remarkable expositor of the Scripture even at ninety-one years of age.”
In the autumn of 1897 he was invited to attend the Birmingham meeting of the British and Foreign Bible Society. Due to an indisposition, he asked to be excused from attending, saying, “Will you have the kindness to read to the meeting that I have been for 68 years and 3 months, viz., since July, 1829, a lover of the Word of God, and that uninterruptedly. During that time I have read considerably more than 100 times through the whole of the Old and New Testaments, with prayer and meditation, four times every year.”
It is estimated that he read the Bible through more than two hundred times, one hundred of these times being, as he here suggests, on his knees.
“My great love for the Word of God,” the letter continues, “and my deep conviction of the need of its being spread far and wide, have led me to pray to God to use me as an instrument to do this, and to supply me with means for it; and He has condescended to enable me to circulate the Scriptures in all parts of the earth, and in various languages; and has been pleased thus, simply through reading of the Holy Scriptures, to bring thousands of persons to the knowledge of the Lord Jesus.”
But to all lives there must come an end, and this grand old man of faith was nearing that time. For him it was literally light at eventide. His days were to end simply and graciously. Like Enoch he walked with God, and “he was not, for God took him.”
In the summer of 1897, the heat was trying, and he was set aside from labors through a short illness. His condition, thought to be critical, soon improved and he was able to be about his usual duties, preaching once a Sunday, attending a few prayer meetings, and overseeing with Mr. Wright the needs of the Home.
On Sunday morning prior to his death, he preached at the Alma Road Chapel. Then at evening he preached again at his beloved home church, the Bethesda Chapel, at which he had ministered for 66 years. His text was from 2 Corinthians 5:1, “For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.”
This proved to be a gracious service, attended with the usual quiet of the Lord’s leadership, and the text was rightly selected and fittingly so to close a long life of Christian labors.
On the following Monday evening, March 7, 1898, he attended the weekly prayer meeting at Bethesda Chapel, and greeted all of his friends with his customary geniality. On Wednesday he received at Orphan House No. 3 two friends from the National Free Church Conference then in session at Bristol.
Mr. Muller would never allow anyone personally to attend him during the night. Only when a doctor was needed would he permit such medical care. But on this Wednesday morning in speaking with Mr. Wright, he told him that he felt a weakness, saying when he arose that morning he had to rest several times while dressing.
Mr. Wright suggested that he ought to have someone in constant attendance on him and God’s grand old man replied that possibly this would be a good suggestion.
An hour or so later, when Mr. Wright saw him again, Muller said, “The weakness has passed away; I feel quite myself again.”
“You ought to take a longer rest in the morning,” suggested Mr. Wright. But Mr. Muller pointed out how heavy the correspondence was, and thought that this would be impossible, for he always looked after the correspondence himself.
Mr. Wright proposed that he himself arrive at the Orphan Homes earlier to meet any emergencies that might arise. He added, “Suppose I begin tomorrow morning.”
“We will say nothing about tomorrow,” Mr. Muller replied with a deprecatory gesture.
That evening he conducted prayer meeting at the Institution as his custom was. He gave out the hymn, beginning:
The countless multitude on High
Who tune their Songs to Jesus’ name, All merit of their own deny,
And Jesus, worth alone proclaim.
The last hymn he ever sang, as far as any one knows, was this, sung as a benediction to the service,
We’ll sing of the Shepherd that died, That died for the sake of the flock;
His Love to the utmost was tried, And immovable stood as a rock.
When he bade his son-in-law good-night there was no sign of declining strength. He seemed to the last the vigorous old man he had always been and retired to rest as usual. Mr. Wright suggested that he have a night-attendant and Mr. Muller consented to such an arrangement “after tonight.” He was never more to need human attention.
The following morning, March 10, a servant went to his room with a cup of tea, as was the custom. On knocking at the door there was no response, so she opened the door and found Mr. Muller lying on the floor. For some time as body strength began to wane, Mr. Muller asked for a glass of milk and a biscuit to be placed on his dressing table. “Whilst eating the biscuit, he was, it is surmised, seized with a fainting fit, from which he never recovered, and in falling he must have clutched at the table, for the cloth was disarranged and various articles were found scattered upon the floor,” says Fred Warne in his biography.
His doctor was summoned, who thought possibly that Mr. Muller had been dead an hour or so.
“Dear old Mr. Muller,” exclaimed a friend when the news reached him. “He just slipped quietly off Home as the gentle Master opened the door and whispered, ‘Come.’ ”
His death even at such an old age produced a worldwide sensation. The spiritual forces created by his godly life of trust had reached the earth’s ends. From across the waters toward the sunrise and the sunset came a responsive heartbeat of sympathy. People were stirred when the news went forth by telegraph and cable from land to land that George Muller was dead. He was measured by no denominational bonds for he belonged to the whole Church and the entire world. The race sustained a loss in his death.
The golden chain of prayer that Mr. Muller’s life of trust had woven finally was snapped. God, he estimated, had answered over fifty thousand of his prayers, many thousands of which were answered on the day he made them and often before he arose from his knees. Some of his petitions, however, lingered across the decades. Here is a sample of such asking...
“In November, 1844, I began to pray for the conversion of five individuals. I prayed every day without a single intermission, whether sick or in health, on the land or on the sea, and whatever the pressure of my engagements might be. Eighteen months elapsed before the first of the five was converted. I thanked God and prayed on for the others. Five years elapsed, and then the second was converted. I thanked God for the second, and prayed on for the other three. Day by day I continued to pray for them, and six years passed before the third was converted. I thanked God for the three, and went on praying for the other two. These two remained unconverted.
“The man to whom God in the riches of his grace has given tens of thousands of answers to prayer in the self-same hour or day in which they were offered has been praying day by day for nearly thirty-six years for the conversion of these individuals, and yet they remain unconverted. But I hope in God, I pray on, and look yet for the answer. They are not converted yet, but they will be.”
This was the faith that carried him through every straitened place. He met emergencies by asking and in due time God supplied whatever the need might be.
Those prayers? you ask. In 1897, those two men, sons of a friend of Mr. Muller’s youth, were not converted, after he had entreated God in their behalf for fifty-two years daily. But after his death God brought them into the fold! Such was this man’s triumphant faith, whatever the difficulty. If God answered his prayer immediately, he thanked him. If not, he kept on importuning the Lord until the response came. That voice of prayer was now stilled.
The funeral took place on Monday, March 14, and was a popular tribute of affection. A brief service was held at Orphan House No. 3, where over a thousand children met, for the last time to look into the face of the father they had lost. The casket of plain elm, without drapery of flowers, stood before a desk in the spacious dining room, and Mr. Wright conducted the service, speaking on Mr. Muller’s life and labors.
Among those attending was an old lady who called to see the man who in her youth had befriended her. She was one of the first orphans to be received in the Girls’ Home on Wilson Street, sixty years before. There were four present who walked from Wilson Street to the new Ashley Down house on moving day in June, 1849 with the other inmates of the Institution.
Slowly the procession formed in front of Ashley Down and thousands entered it to walk or drive in carriages to the Bethesda Chapel. His staff of workers, the elders and deacons in his churches, deputations from forty or fifty religious bodies, and thousands of friends marched in stately file to perform the last rights to this man to whom they owed a valuable lesson in faith.
At the chapel every available space was taken and scores were forced to remain outside. The hymns were sung which Mr. Muller had given out in his last prayer meeting and Mr. Wright spoke on the text, “Jesus Christ, the same yesterday and today and forever.”
“He was wont to say to the young believers,” Mr. Wright declared, “ ‘Put your finger on the passage on which your faith rests’ and he himself had read the Bible from end to end nearly two hundred times. He fed on the Word and was therefore strong...
“I have been asked again and again lately as to whether the orphan work would go on. It is going on! Since the commencement of the year we have received between forty and fifty fresh orphans...The other four objects of the Institution, according to the ability God gives, are still being carried on...I cannot think, however, that the God Who has so blessed the work for so long will leave our prayers as to the future unanswered.”
After the service, the procession re-formed and went to the Arno Vale Cemetery, where another crowd had collected. The grave where Mr. Muller’s body was buried was an ordinary one on the slope of a hill, under the shade of a yew tree, and was by the side of his first and second wives. Mr. G. F. Bergin spoke from the words, “By the grace of God, I am what I am” (1 Corinthians 15:10).
The crowd gathered around to view for the last time the coffin on which was inscribed, “George Muller, fell asleep 10th March, 1898, in his 93rd year.”
In every pulpit in Bristol and in thousands across the world on the Sunday before the burial, memorial services were conducted and loving tributes were offered in memory of this man of trust. Friends wanted to erect an expensive monument over his grave but this Mr. Wright would not permit. Later gifts from many orphans flowed in and a simple marker was erected therefore, on which was a tribute of love to this man who through faith had cared for about ten thousand orphans.
His monument was not to be in marble, but in the hearts of loving followers, many of whom had preceded him to Heaven — the thousands of orphans he had fed and clothed — the multitudes who had been taught in Sunday schools due to his prayer diligence — those brought to the Master on mission fields through workers who had been supported by his prayer generosity — and the millions who had read the Scriptures and tracts which his faith provided.
This is a monument more lasting than granite, a monument eternal in the heavens.
THE SUM total of Mr. Muller’s life was giving. He gave himself in prayer that in return God might give the necessary supplies, not only for his own family, but also for the large family of orphans. Basing his life upon receiving from God, in return he practiced the art of liberality. Since God gave to him through faith he must also be among those who were faithful givers.
Even the texts that influenced him most were those on giving and receiving. Throughout his “Narrative” you will find these passages boldly across the pages. Early he and his wife were led to that scripture, “Sell that ye have and give alms” (Luke 12:33). This was to be the course of their lives. They were to be sellers and givers.
The Lord, speaking through His Word, said, “Whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do...” (John 14:13). And Mr. Muller based his work upon this promise, asking largely that the Father might be glorified.
Since God had told him to open his mouth Mr. Muller never feared to ask for whatever his work must have. To him this promise was the foundation of all spiritual and temporal success. Like a bird, he opened his mouth and the Lord filled it with the supply of all financial needs.
In Genesis he loved the name Jehovah Jirah, for it meant the Lord will provide (Genesis 22:14). Grandly did God give the provisions for the Institution and his Orphan Houses.
From the first records of Mr. Muller’s donations, we find him giving on a large scale. During the first year of his life of trust (1831) he received £151 in answer to prayer; but he gave away £50 of that sum. During the second year he gave £70 out of an income of £195. His income for 1833 was £267 brought in through faith, and his gifts amounted to £110.
This giving and receiving kept pace with each other during the long years of his career. For the ten years from 1836 to 1845 his income from all sources was approximately £3,400 and through faith he placed back into the Lord’s work about £1,280. During the following decade his yearly income was about £500 and for the same time he gave over half of this sum away. His gifts for that decade amounted to £2,660.
From 1856 to 1865 his income amounted to £10,670, over $50,000 total, and out of this he devoted £8,250, or a total sum of $41,250, to God’s work. Out of £20,500, received from 1866 to 1875, he turned back to Christian endeavors, nearly an average of £1,800 a year. During the next ten years, the last of which a direct record is available, he gave away £22,330 from an income of £26,000, which left him the sum of £3,670 to live on for a period of ten years, or a little over $1,800 a year. And it must be remembered that this decade — 1876 to 1885 — was devoted to extensive missionary travels, which constituted a heavy drain on his personal finances.
These donations came to him through faith alone, and he recognized that he must be the channel through which God’s gifts should flow out to others in need. He looked upon himself as the Lord’s steward. What money he received he believed should be given rather than hoarded.
A crippled woman, who through the years was a constant though a small giver to the orphanage work, expressed Mr. Muller’s philosophy of living and giving. She began giving a penny a week out of her earnings toward the care of the orphans, and the Lord blessed her so much that she was able to raise her weekly gift to six shillings, or a dollar and a half. One gift she wrapped in a piece of paper, on which she had written: “Give; give; give — be ever giving. If you are living, you will be giving. Those who are not giving are not living.”
The total amount Mr. Muller gave away out of his private funds amounted to approximately $180,000 from the year 1831 to November,
1877. This it must be recalled came out of a poor trustful man’s penury. He had only what he prayed in from day to day.
The Fifty-ninth Report of the Institution, issued May 26, 1898, immediately after Mr. Muller’s death, reveals a very interesting item concerning this servant’s method of giving. Year by year in the annual Reports there were frequent entries of gifts “from a servant of the Lord Jesus, who, constrained by the love of Christ, seeks to lay up treasure in heaven.”
Mr. Wright, who succeeded Mr. Muller as head of the Institution, checked those entries, and found that this servant had given up to March 1, 1898, the aggregate sum of eighty-one thousand four hundred and ninety pounds, eighteen shillings and eight pence.
“That servant was none other than Mr. Muller himself, who gave out of his own money more than sixty-four thousand five hundred pounds to the Scriptural Knowledge Institution alone, and to other individuals and organizations seventeen thousand more. It seems inconceivable that a poor man should thus give more than $407,450 to the work of God.
There is no other case on record of such magnificent gifts coming from a humbled servant of the Lord. It is estimated that John Wesley gave away nearly $150,000 to spread the cause of Christianity. When Wesley died he left behind him a well-worn frock coat, two silver teaspoons — and the Methodist Church.
When Mr. Muller died his entire personal estate amounted to £169 9s. 4d., approximately $850, of which his household effects, books, furniture, etc., amounted to well over $500. The only money in his possession was actually about $350. He died a poor man, though the Lord had entrusted to his hands well over a half-million dollars.
George Muller looked upon himself as God’s steward. One of the texts which influenced him was, “Give and it shall be given unto you. Good measure pressed down, shaken together and running over shall men give unto your bosom.”
He believed and saw this promise bountifully verified. “I had given,” he testified, “and God caused to be given to me again and bountifully.”
He affirms that he believed what he read in the Bible, and acted accordingly. Though acting on God’s promises, and rejecting the offer of a stated salary of £55 a year, God literally gave him a fortune...a fortune which he shared with those in need.
Out of this overflow of experience in giving, Mr. Muller had very definite thoughts on giving. Giving to him was the heart of the Christian life...give self in full surrender to God, and out of what God gives return to Him liberal gifts. This was his giving philosophy. Let us read and heed some of his advice on this subject.
“Many of the children of God,” he affirms, “lose in a great measure the privilege, and also the blessing to their own souls, of communicating to the Lord s work to the necessities of the poor, for want of a regular habit of giving.”
When asked, “How shall I give?” Mr. Muller responded:
On the score of the method of giving, Mr. Muller was often asked, “How shall I put aside my gifts? Must I actually separate this money from my other money?”
“That is the simplest,” he answered, “and in many respects the best way...A memorandum book may be kept, in which on one side is entered what is put aside for the Lord, to be expended on the poor, or for other benevolent and religious purposes, and on the other side may be put down what has been expended, and from time to time a balance may be struck. The amount thus put aside for the Lord is of course faithfully to be used for Him, else it would be mocking God; and therefore, instead of obtaining a blessing, it would rather be a curse.”
“Am I to give with the idea of being repaid by the Lord?” a friend asked this man of prayer.
“Though we should never give,” he responded, “for the sake of being repaid by the Lord, still, this will be the case, if we give from right motives. It is God’s own declaration that it will be so. This is plainly to be gathered from the following passages...‘Give, and it shall be given unto you.’...‘He that hath pity on the poor, lendeth unto the Lord, and that which he hath given will He pay him again.’“
This giving, Mr. Muller was careful to explain, must be to the Lord and not unto man. Man may be the recipient, but with a humble heart gifts must be scattered abroad, not for the praise of man, but for the blessings of God upon the giver’s body and soul.
From his own experience and through the many letters he received he was well able to give testimony as to the blessing which comes from systematic giving.
“I enclose a Post Office Order for £5,” writes an Irish manufacturer, “which by the blessing of Almighty God, I am enabled to send you this year. You will no doubt remember that the first sum I sent to you was 5s., I think now four years ago; and, indeed at that time it was a large sum for me to send...
“For some years previous to the time I sent you the first amount I was at times much perplexed over the subject of giving; and the end of my reasoning was always that a person so straitened in circumstances as I was then, was not called upon to give. I kept this opinion until one of your Reports fell into my hands, and from the accounts contained therein, was encouraged to send you the first amount of 5s. Soon after I thought my circumstances got somewhat easier...I have proved that just as I give the Lord gives in return...I sometimes withheld when I ought not, and just as I withheld, the Lord in His infinite mercy withheld also...But above all, I have to thank God that my spiritual condition is much improved since I began to give.”
“Since I began to devote a regular proportion of my earnings to the cause of God,” wrote a donor from Orkney, whose gift amounted to $15, “He has, I rejoice to say, greatly increased both my ability and desire to do so.”
One man sent Mr. Muller a Paisley shawl, worth about $25, and with the gift enclosed a note, saying, “It is now about ten years since I first adopted the principle of proportionate giving...Prior to that I used to wonder, with every sovereign I gave, whether I was not doing more than was prudent, and the result was I had little pleasure in giving. Now, however, having been greatly prospered in business, I find myself able to give fourfold what I did, and can understand better what is meant by the blessedness of giving...The adoption of the principle of proportionate giving has enabled me on the one hand to guide my affairs with discretion, and on the other to refrain from ‘robbing God.’ ”
“Mr. Muller was a stickler for obtaining gifts in God’s way. “It is not enough,’ he says, “to obtain means for the work of God, but that these means should be obtained in God’s way. To ask unbelievers for means is not God’s way, to press even believers to give is not God’s way; but the duty and the privilege of being allowed to contribute to the work of God should be pointed out, and this should be followed up with earnest prayer, believing prayer, and will result in the desired end.”
This is a plan which he practiced throughout his life. Not once, even when asked to do so, did he ever tell anyone how pressing or how great were the needs. He always told this to the Lord, and expected God to move upon someone to supply those needs.
He often thought that giving in adversity would prove a greater blessing than giving in prosperity. Giving in adversity, when needs were pressing, shows that one truly trusts in God for supplying his daily needs, while giving in prosperity places upon the giver no particular hardship.
He never hoarded, for when one hoards, he affirms, God would send him to his laid-up treasures rather than to his knees in the time of need. “I have every reason to believe,” he testifies, “that, had I begun to lay up, the Lord would have stopped the supplies...Let no one profess to trust in God, and yet lay up for the future wants, otherwise the Lord will first send him to the hoard he has amassed, before he can answer the prayer for more.”
Even to the smallest items, Mr. Muller believed that he was God’s steward. He did not think that he owned, or possessed anything only as they came as gifts from the Lord to be used for God’s service.
“It is the Lord’s order,” he observes, “that, in whatever way He is pleased to make us His stewards, whether as to temporal or spiritual things, if we are indeed acting as stewards and not as owners, he will make us stewards over more...
“Even in this life, as to temporal things, the Lord is pleased to repay those who act for Him as stewards...But how much greater is the spiritual blessing we receive, both in this life and in the life to come, if constrained by the love of Christ, we act as God’s stewards, respecting that with which He is pleased to intrust us.”
God richly supplied Mr. Muller with donations of all kinds and descriptions. Money was sent in from practically every possible source and of all types. Some gifts were large, running into the thousands of dollars, and others were for a penny. Some sent bread, others shoes. Some felt constrained of the Lord to sell articles of furniture and give the money to Mr. Muller for his orphans. Jewelry by the thousands of dollars worth was sent to be sold for the work.
Autographs were given to be sold, as that of William IV, and Sir Robert Peel. One man sent a silver medal which he had won in helping take Java in battle. Another delivered a horsecar to be disposed of, and a lady sent some of her original hymns to be published for the benefit of the orphans.
When needs were pressing, Mr. Muller would call the staff together for prayer, and often on getting off their knees, dray wagons would be seen backing up to the kitchen door, loaded with buns, bread, apples, cakes, potatoes, boxes of soap, sacks of peas, haunches of venison, rabbits and pheasants, and every other conceivable edible article.
“During the last year of Mr. Muller’s life among the gifts recorded were 7,203 quarterns of bread; 5,222 buns, 306 cakes; 44,669 pounds of apples; 40 sacks of potatoes; 20 boxes of soap; 9 tons of coal; 26 haunches of venison; 112 rabbits; 312 pheasants; 5 bags of oatmeal; 26 cases of oranges; 5 boxes of dates; and 4,013 pounds of meat, along with hundreds of other items.
From the time when Mr. Muller received the first gift of a shilling from a poor missionary to start the orphanage until he made one of his last entries in his Journal on March 1, 1898, God sent from all types of persons gifts small and great to carry on the work.
On March 1, 1898, he wrote, “For about 21 months with scarcely the least intermission the trial of our faith and patience has continued. Now, today, the Lord has refreshed our heart. This afternoon came in, for the Lord’s work, £1,427 1s. 7d., as part payment of a legacy of the late Mrs. E. C. S. For 3 years and 10 months this money had been in the Irish Chancery Court. Hundreds of petitions had been brought before the Lord regarding it, and now at last, this portion of the total legacy has been received.”
His first legacy, from a sick lad who died shortly afterwards, was for the sum of six shillings, sixpence, halfpenny, received on September 15, 1837. In between these two legacies were thousands of gifts.
In May, 1842, a gold watch was sent to the orphanage, with a note, saying, “A pilgrim does not want such a watch as this to make him happy; one of an inferior kind will do to show how swiftly time flies, and how fast he is hastening on to that Canaan where time will be no more.”
A hotel proprietor sent 15s. 10d., representing a penny a night per bed for each visitor during the quarter. One person sent £2 16s., as a tenth of the rent received “as promised to God.” A commercial traveler wrote Mr. Muller enclosing £4 16s. which he had saved by traveling third class. One man about to be married sent $10 in thanks to God for His mercies while being single.
A man lost half of his property, and was led to send Mr. Muller $500 as a thank offering because God had spared the other half of his property. A friend sold pickles and made $3 which immediately he sent to Mr. Muller as a gift for the care of the orphans.
One person, after cutting down a tree and selling it, sent the Home £5 17s., from the sale of the wood. A little boy found a ring and on delivering it to its rightful owner, he received a shilling, which he took to Mr. Muller as his gift. A miner lay dying one day, and all he had left was a little gold dust which he at once caused to be dispatched to the orphanage.
A lady, being condemned for wearing earrings, sold them and gave the Institution the proceeds, amounting to $5. A poor widow died, and when her possessions were carefully gone through, a shilling was found in an envelope addressed to Mr. Muller as her last gift. A friend of the Home gave up smoking one year, and at the end of that time sent Mr. Muller $100, “a gift representing what I have saved by not smoking during this year.”
God gave a fisherman a good herring catch one night and immediately he sent Mr. Muller $15 to be used for the Home, as a token of heaven’s blessings. A hunter one season decided to forego his usual hunting trip, the license for which amounted to $15, and instead he sent the money to the Home. “This way of spending it is more pleasing to the Master,” he wrote.
A commercial traveler decided not to insure against railway accidents and sent the same premium money amounting to £2 to the Institution.
One day Muller received a letter enclosing $15 saying, “I have never lost an article, although my premises are so situated that they might be easily entered at night, thus showing how the Lord watches over those who trust in Him.” The gift represented the money which a watch dog would have cost. Another person sent $25 “instead of keeping a dog, in the hope that some poor heathen may be brought to the knowledge of the Savior.”
Many gifts came as thank offerings for calamities which were averted. A veterinary surgeon, while attending a sick horse, had given it up for dead, but after he had prayed the animal recovered, so he sent Mr. Muller a gift. Another person, who broke his left arm, sent a small gift in thanks to God that he had not broken his right arm, or some more vital part such as his neck.
One father made it a practice of giving to the Home the exact amount it would require to care for an orphan each time a child was born in his family. This continued until the man was supporting seven children at home and seven children at Ashley Down.
A farmer sent a note to Mr. Muller with a gift of $5 saying, “Our heavenly Father has given us 34 chickens, and not one of them has been taken by the fox, although our neighbors have lost many.”
The gifts were too many to enumerate them all, but they were prompted by every possible circumstance. Many restored thefts committed years earlier. Some thanked God for His blessings upon their married life. Not a few manufacturers gave a small gift for each article sold during a specified period. Others gave thank offerings for stolen or lost property recovered.
In 1851 Mr. Muller received a gift of $1.25, with the text, “Open thy mouth wide, and I will fill it.” That evening he entered in his Journal, “My mouth has been filled, according to that portion of the Holy Scriptures sent me this morning. I have received this evening the sum of £3,000, being the largest donation I have had as yet.”
Thus from year to year did God supply the needs out of thousands of bountiful storehouses which were consecrated to his work. Then a need existed Mr. Muller would pray diligently for it, and shortly nearby or thousands of miles distant, God would put it in the heart of some person to supply it. For more than sixty-three years God matched every petition of Mr. Muller with its appropriate gift.
THE BUILDING of Mr. Muller’s spiritual life was a constant conflict. While outwardly he displayed a calm attitude toward circumstances, inwardly he battled to obtain this seeming peace. During the earlier years of his faith pilgrimage his battles were more severe and came more often upon him to block that upward climb toward spiritual serenity. He laid the foundation for his prayer life by facing the obstacles in the way of communion with God.
A lack of prayer is more evident during the first years following his conversion than later, since the habit had to be built by diligence. It was by no means an immediate acquisition with him. For instance, while yet a student at Halle, following his spiritual awakening, he decided to leave for the University of Berlin. At once the Spirit checked him for making up his mind with such a burst of speed and not seasoning it with prayer. He says, “When the morning came on which I had to apply to the university for testimonials, the Lord graciously stirred me up prayerfully to consider the matter.”
After prayer he discovered that it was not God’s will for him to make the change. While this was an insignificant incident, still it taught him that his decisions must not be made without carefully considering them in the light of partnership with God. Later in his work there were to be many incidents where he was to be checked by the Lord in setting out on a certain course without first laying it before God.
His assurance that a course was right was founded upon this necessity, which he learned at Halle, of not undertaking an action without seasons of waiting upon God for His sanction.
At about this time, early in 1826, he learned another lesson which was to be used in toughening the fiber of his soul. That concerned itself with Bible reading. Being converted, he did not read his Bible, though he read about the Bible extensively. He was to master this lesson in faith’s curriculum before God trusted him with many answers to his prayers.
“My difficulty in understanding it (the Bible), and the little enjoyment I had in reading it, made me careless in reading it...”
This was in 1826, but when sixteen years of his spiritual warfare had passed, he discovered that a radical change in the method of conducting the spiritual ministrations with his own soul brought added victories. His conflicts within and without were great. He writes, “Before this time my practice had been, at least for ten years previously, as an habitual thing to give myself to prayer after having dressed myself in the morning. Now I saw that the most important thing I had to do was to give myself to the reading of the Word of God, and to meditation on it, that my heart might be comforted, encouraged, warned, reproved.”
Those prayer sessions, when he bared his soul to God, were times of confession. “The result is,” he states, “that there is always a good deal of confession...”
When the London Society accepted him as a missionary, one of the conditions was that he would study with them for six months. This brought him great disappointment. In 1828, he assures us, “For a few moments, therefore, I was greatly disappointed and tried.” These trials and discouragements, which circumstances and conditions brought him, were to be a constant companion of his entire Christian endeavor.
So great were his victories of faith that we are prone to believe that Mr. Muller was ever tried, and so many his answers to prayer that he was ever disappointed when the reply did not come shortly from God. Such is far from the truth.
On March 7, 1831, he says, “I was again tempted to disbelieve the faithfulness of the Lord, and though I was not miserable, still, I was not so fully resting upon the Lord that I could triumph with joy.” He was in dire need and it seemed that God had forgotten him. Shortly however he assures us that joy returned with the answer to his cry in the form of a gift of five sovereigns.
Seven years later this same trial overwhelmed him. On September 17, 1838, he writes, “This evening I was rather tried respecting the long delay of larger sums coming...” When he closed the following year he refers to “the trials of faith during the year,” but adds, “Should it be supposed...by anyone in reading the details of our trials of faith during the year...that we have been disappointed in our expectations or discouraged in the work, my answer is...such days were expected from the commencement...Our desire is not that we may be without trials of faith, but that the Lord graciously be pleased to support us in the trial.”
He also refers to “the deeper trials of his faith,” those things that really disturbed him and kept his mind wandering during seasons of meditation. This was a constant battle with him.
From these occasions of conflict he found release in going to his knees in prayer. “When other trials, still greater,” he states, “but which I cannot mention, have befallen me...I poured out my soul before God, and arose from my knees in peace.” This was his method of breaking Satan’s hold upon his life in the hours of battle.
There were occasions when everything was dark in outlook. Not all was light, nor were all of his days free from those harassing conditions which Christians face. “When sometimes all has been dark, exceedingly dark...judging from natural appearances; yea, when I should have been overwhelmed indeed in grief and despair had I looked at things after the outward appearances...I have sought to encourage myself by laying hold in faith on God’s almighty power, His unchangeable love, and His infinite wisdom.”
A few years later he received a great disappointment when a letter arrived from a sister saying she was unable to send the large sums she had promised. Muller realized shortly that he had placed his trust in the promise of the lady and not in the promise of God. God spoke to him softly, he says, through the passage, “We know that all things work together for good to them that love God.” Immediately peace was restored to his troubled soul.
Mr. Muller was anxious that none who read his “Narrative” or came into contact with God’s dealings with him would think that he were not in spiritual need all the time. He refers to this being in constant need more than twenty years after he first began to trust God for his daily supplies. And these needs were not merely of a financial nature — in fact, he had more immediate freedom from financial worries, or present victory over his heavy financial burdens than over his other more personal “needs.”
He was subject to constant temptation along lines of appearing insincere, or of being proud over what God had done through him.
He writes, under the stress of such spiritual problems often arising in his soul, “I am in continual need...If left to myself I should fall a prey to Satan. Pride, unbelief or other sins would be my ruin. I cannot stand for a moment if left to myself. Oh, that none of my readers might think that I could not be puffed up by pride, and think of me as being beyond unbelief...No, I am as weak as ever.” In 1848 he added, “I need as much as ever to be upheld as to faith and every other grace. I am therefore in ‘need,’ in great ‘need,’ and therefore, dear Christian readers, help me with your prayers.”
To assure us that he was not beyond trial, he said, “Straits and difficulties I expected from the beginning...Therefore the longer I go on in this service, the greater the trials of one kind or another become.”
He faced his weak moments as everyone does. Though strong in faith still he felt the constant urge to keep in instant touch with God, for otherwise, his inner weaknesses would overcome him.
On May 13, 1837, he affirmed, “Today I have had again much reason to mourn over my corrupt nature, particularly on account of want of gratitude for the many temporal mercies by which I am surrounded. I was so sinful as to be dissatisfied on account of the dinner, because I thought it would not agree with me, instead of thanking God for rich provisions and asking heartily the Lord’s rich blessing upon it...I rejoice in the prospect of that day, when, seeing Jesus as He is, I shall be like Him.”
He was often troubled by the many spiritual voids that marked his work. On October 7, 1833, he checked the results of his personal ministry by that of Mr. Craik. He said, “Many more were convinced of sin through brother Craik’s preaching than my own.
This led Mr. Muller to an instant study of his lack of concern for the sinner’s welfare, and once he found the cause, he remedied it through special seasons of prayer in which he asked God for a deepened sense of the tragedy that dogs his path.
When he felt led to build Ashley Down as was his custom he weighed the arguments for and against such a course. Among the arguments against the action was the thought that his constant battle against pride might overwhelm him in the new undertaking. “I should be in danger of being lifted up,” he wrote. “I should be in danger of it indeed...I cannot say that hitherto the Lord has kept me humble. But I can say that hitherto He has given me a hearty desire to give Him all the glory...I have to beseech the Lord that He be pleased to give me a lowly mind.”
This prayer which moved him in 1851 was the result of constantly facing the many praises, which came from friends, because of the daily miracles his faith seemed to bring to pass.
Through the years he worried not a little about a tendency to become irritable because of his physical condition. During the first decade after his conversion he fought to overcome any slight indication that he was not pleased with how he felt, or how the weather might be, or whatever the soul-upheaving circumstances he was going through. An instance of this is found in his Journal under the entry of January 16, 1838.
“The weather has been cold,” he says, ‘for several days, but today I suffered much, either because it was colder than before or because I felt it more owing to the weakness of my body..I arose from my knees and stirred the fire; but I still remained very cold...I was a little irritated by this. At last, having prayed for some time, I was obliged to rise and take a walk...I now entreated the Lord that this circumstance might not be permitted to rob me of the precious communion which I had with Him the last three days, for this was the object at which Satan aimed. I confessed also my sin of irritability on account of the cold and sought to have my conscience cleansed through the blood of Jesus. He had mercy upon me, my peace was restored...and I had uninterrupted communion with Him.”
In 1844 he wrote,”I desired more power over my besetting sins.” When one reads the few times in which Mr. Muller tells the story of his battle over irritability, he is led to wonder if this was not one of those troublesome sins which constantly nagged at his soul.
His entire life was checkered with afflictions, irritations, trials and the victory of peace and spiritual repose. When his daughter took typhus fever in 1854, this checkering appears in his Journal, where he writes:
“Now was the trial of faith. But faith triumphed...While I was in this affliction, this great affliction, besides being at peace as far as the Lord’s dispensation was concerned, I also felt perfectly at peace with regard to the cause of the affliction...It was the Father’s rod, applied in infinite wisdom and love for the restoration of my soul from a state of lukewarmness.
“Conscious as I was of my manifold weaknesses, failings and shortcomings, so that I too would be ready to say with the Apostle Paul, ‘O wretched man that I am!’ yet I was assured that this affliction was...for the trial of my faith.”
He found this route of peace through affliction early in his Christian life. As far back as in 1829 he writes, “The weaker I became in body, the happier I was in my spirit.” This was during a severe illness on May 15 when he despaired of living.
“Never in my whole life,” he continues, “had I seen myself so vile, so guilty, so altogether what I ought not to have been as at this time. It was as if every sin of which I had been guilty was brought to my remembrance; but at the same time I could realize that all my sins have been completely forgiven...The result of this was great peace.”
One of the last entries he made in his Journal shows this same checking of the divine will in his life. On March 1, 1898, shortly before his death, he wrote, “For about 21 months with scarcely the least intermission the trial of our faith and patience has continued. Now, today, the Lord has refreshed my heart.” The occasion of this blessing was receiving a legacy for approximately $7,500.
Mr. Muller had learned the simple lesson that however great the affliction, God in His kind providence would not forsake him — provided he remained steadfast in faith and relied greatly upon secret prayer.
The key to his spiritual victories, whatever the nature of the soul depression, is found in an entry on June 25, 1835. He says, “These last three days I have had very little real communion with God, and have therefore been very weak spiritually, and have several times felt irritability of temper.” The following day he wrote, “I was enabled, by the grace of God, to rise early, and I had nearly two hours in prayer before breakfast. I now feel this morning more comfortable.”
It was prayer that swept his soul free of doubt, distemper and the aftereffects of a trial by the incoming tide of peace. For this reason he could make such remarks as this entry on March 9, 1847, “The greater the difficulties, the easier for faith.” And a later one, “The greater the trial, the sweeter the victory.”
Mr. Muller decried any evidence of having the gift of faith. He had faith, as any Christian may have it, but not that peculiar gift of which Paul speaks in 1 Corinthians 12:9.
“Think not, dear reader,” he writes, “that I have the gift of faith...which is mentioned along with ‘the gifts of healing,’ ‘the working of miracles’...and that on that account I am able to trust in God...If I were only one moment left by myself my faith would utterly fail...It is not true that my faith is that gift of faith...It is the self-same faith which is found in every believer...for little by little it has been increasing for the last six and twenty years.”
In charting the results of this marvelous life of trust, the speed with which he obtained multiplied thousands of answers to his prayers, we must be careful not to remove Mr. Muller from the realm of the thoroughly human. He is anxious to have his readers think of him in the same light as they do of themselves. He possessed no character traits nor divine possessions, not within the reach of every believer.
The trials which blocked his spiritual advancement were those common to every Christian. The human tempers, the frailties of his body, mind and spirit were those which mark true members of God’s kingdom. His victories came through prayer, trust in the Lord’s unfailing promises and faith that God’s truth could not fail; and if he thus achieved, he would have us also see that similar faith victories are within our reach.
There is only one route to soul repose...and that is the highway that leads to God’s throne, prayer.
“It is not enough to begin to pray,” he advises us, “nor to pray aright; nor is it enough to continue for a time to pray; but we must patiently, believingly continue in prayer, until we obtain an answer; and further, we have not only to continue in prayer unto the end, but we have also to believe that God does hear us and will answer our prayers. Most frequently we fail in not continuing in prayer until the blessing is obtained, and in not expecting the blessing.”
Taken from "George Muller - The Man of Faith" by Basil Miller
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
MR. MULLER desired to witness further for Christ. When he had housed 1,150 orphans, he wanted the world to know that God was able to supply the necessary funds to care for 2,000. This became his prayer goal, and no sooner had the children moved into House No. 3 than he dreamed of two more plants — dreams gradually to come to pass.
For four years between moving into the more recently constructed houses and the commencement of House No. 4, Mr. Muller prayed constantly that God would supply the money for the new building. During those times it was necessary to beseech God for daily food. But the God of Elijah was also the God of Muller, Who heard His child cry for sustenance.
In little matters as well as large he took his petitions to the Lord. When workers were hard to find, or proved unsuitable, Mr. Muller asked God to furnish the right ones. We find him saying, “Instead of praying once a day about this matter, as we had been doing day by day for years, we met daily three times, to bring this before God.”
There was no detail too insignificant to take to the Lord in prayer. He lived literally according to the passage, “In all things by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God.” He looked to the heavenly Father for food, shelter, for suited teachers and assistants, which were matters of great import. But when details called for attention, they were also subjects of prayer. For example, it became hard to find suited places for the older boys to work during the summer of 1862, so Muller carried this petition to the Father’s throne.
“We had several boys ready to be apprenticed, but there were no applications made by masters for apprentices...If all other difficulties were out of the way, the master must also be willing to receive the apprentice into his own family. Under these circumstances, we again gave ourselves to prayer, as we had done for more than twenty years before, concerning this thing...We remembered how good the Lord has been to us in having helped us hundreds of times before in this matter...The difficulty was entirely overcome by prayer, as everyone of the boys, whom it was desirable to send out, has been sent out.”
In spite of the daily care for the homes, with their various problems, Mr. Muller never let up in his prayers that God would make it possible for the work to be enlarged. Each week new applications for entrance were coming in. He could not easily say, “There is no more room,” when he remembered that during the many years since he first rented the House on Wilson Street, God had enabled him to build larger quarters as the need arose.
The longed-for enlargement of the work would cost at least £50,000, and would increase the current expense fund from $100,000 to $175,000 a year. “But my hope,” Mr. Muller said, “is in God, and in Him alone. I am not a fanatic or enthusiast, but, as all who know me are well aware, a calm, cool, quiet, calculating business man; and therefore I should be utterly overwhelmed, looking at it naturally. But as the whole of this work was commenced, and ever has been gone on with, in faith...so it is also regarding this enlargement. I look to the Lord alone for helpers, land, means and everything else needed. I have pondered the difficulties for months and have looked steadily at every one of them, but faith in God has put them aside.”
Children cried for admission and Muller believed that “the Father of the fatherless” would not turn a deaf ear to his prayer to shelter them. He was again moved with the idea of proving more fully to the world that “the living God is still, as found a thousand years ago, the Living God.”
Hundreds of thousands of people throughout the world had heard of his work, and many of them had their faith strengthened to undertake greater things in the name of the Living God, because Mr. Muller had shown them that God was able. He desired supremely that God might be honored and souls brought into the kingdom. When his faith became certain that the new step was willed of God, he decided to go forward at once.
“Many and great may be the difficulties,” says Mr. Muller. “Thousands and tens of thousands of prayers may have to ascend to God before the full answer is obtained; much exercise of faith and patience may be required; but in the end it will again be seen that His servant, who trusted in Him, has not been confounded.”
The first donations for House No. 5 arrived before they had moved into House No. 4, and consisted of 5 rupees, 6 annas, 3 senams, 3 Spanish coins, and 3 other silver coins. This was on June 6, 1861, and a month later he found a check for £2,000 at his house from a friend, who was “thankful to God for the privilege of being a fellow helper in the work of caring for the orphans.”
In the following January two other large donations of approximately $20,000 arrived, which, as with even the smallest gift, Mr. Muller received as coming in answer to his prayers. “Every donation,” he observes, “brings me nearer the contemplated enlargement.”
Slowly did the gifts come in during the first year or so, but his faith was unwavering in the fact that God, in His own good time, would supply all the necessary funds. “I continue in believing prayer,” he states at a time when gifts had been small. “I have not been allowed to have a shadow of doubt as to whether God can and will give me the means; but day by day, in the full assurance of faith, I renew my requests before God; and generally day by day the amount of the building fund is...increased. I then give thanks and ask for more.”
On October 3, when a seasonal gift of £5,000 arrived from a friend who did not wish his name to be made known, the fund amounted to £27,000, and Mr. Muller’s faith led him to look for a suited plot of ground for the new building enterprise.
Across the road from the present buildings were 18 acres of land, for which he had been praying. “My eyes,” he states, “had been for years
directed to a beautiful piece of land...Hundreds of times had I prayed, within recent years, that God would count me worthy to be allowed to erect on this ground two more Orphan Houses...I might have bought it years ago, but that would have been going before the Lord. I had money enough in hand to have paid for it, but I desired patiently, submissively, to wait God’s own time, and for Him to mark it clearly and distinctly that His time was come.”
The price was staggeringly high throughout the years, but when God was ready for Mr. Muller to take this new leap of faith the owner sold the land for $7,500 less than he originally asked.
In March, 1866, with a building fund of £34,002, 2s. on hand, Mr. Muller found that construction prices had risen, and it would take approximately £7,000 more to finish the work than he had estimated. This handicap he found to be of the Lord, for on deeper study and prayer, he decided it would be better to build two houses than one. So he let the contract for House No. 4.
Concerning this change in plans he wrote, “I will not sign contracts, which I had not money in hand to meet. Should it be said...‘God has not money enough to pay for His own work’...If it shall please the Lord, by January 1, 1867, to give me about £7,000 more than I now have on hand, the contract for No. 5 will be signed.”
It is gratifying to know that God supplied the money by the above-stated time, and the contract was duly let. This was an hour of thanksgiving to God, for “thousands of times,’ he affirms, “I have asked the Lord for the means for building these two houses, and now I have to the full received the answer.”
The contract price for the two buildings was £41,147, or $205,735, which Mr. Muller had prayed in, plus an additional $100,000 to care for the current expenses yearly during the five years since the first gift for the new buildings arrived. This made a total of approximately three-quarters of a million dollars in five years which this man’s prayers brought into the coffers of God’s kingdom for the sole purpose of caring for orphans.
As on previous occasions the window glass was donated for the new houses. It required ten thousand pounds to furnish the buildings, which also came as the result of Muller’s prayers. In February, 1868, he announced that all necessary funds were in hand. After waiting on God daily, and often several times a day, for nearly seven years the end of his prayer came at last, and Mr. Muller gave himself to thanksgiving and praise to the Lord for once again “filling his mouth” after he had opened it wider than ever before. The total sum required for the two buildings reached the staggering amount of fifty-eight thousand pounds.
House No. 4 was opened on November 5, 1868, and two years later on January 6, 1870, the long-prayed-for day arrived when the last house, No. 5, was thrown open to occupancy.
It required an immense amount of labor to transfer children from one house to another, to fill in vacancies, and to select from the hundreds of applications the children whom Mr. Muller decided to be the most suited and the most in need to fill the houses to overflowing.
Mr. Muller declared, “In the mighty monument of prayer raised there was afforded not merely a Christian home for 2,050 destitute orphan children — great indeed as that was — but a supreme and striking object lesson in simple, child-like faith, a signal evidence of Christ’s power and love, sufficient to make men pause, and wonder, and inquire, and — God grant it more and more — believe.”
“Thus have been gathered,” writes A. T. Pierson, “the facts about the erection of this great monument to a prayer-hearing God on Ashley Down, though the work of building covered so many years. Between the first decision to build, in 1845, and the opening of the third house, in 1862, nearly seventeen years had elapsed, and before No. 5 was opened, in 1870, twenty-five. The work was one in its plan and purpose. At each new stage it supplies only a wider application and illustration of the same laws of life and conduct, as, from the outset of the work in Bristol, had with growing power controlled George Muller.
“His supreme aim was the glory of God; his sole resort, believing prayer; his one trusted oracle, the inspired Word; his one divine Teacher, the Holy Spirit. One step taken in faith and prayer had prepared for another; one act of trust had made him bolder to venture upon another, implying a greater apparent risk and therefore demanding more implicit trust.”
Answered prayer was rewarded faith. New risks undertaken only proved there was no risk at all in confidently leaning upon the strong arm of the Almighty.
The buildings impressed one with their spaciousness, seventeen hundred windows in all, and accommodations for more than two thousand people. They were substantial, made of stone and built for permanency. While scrupulously plain, they were still excellent examples of construction whose end is utility rather than beauty. In building them Muller’s rule was economy. This went to the smallest items, even the furniture being unpretentious. There is little or no embellishment.
Mr. Muller subordinated everything to the one purpose of demonstrating the fact that God still hears prayer. He felt that he was a public steward of God’s property and he hesitated to spend even a penny needlessly. He made the buildings plain for he felt that the orphans would be put into service in similar surroundings. He studied to promote health and education and to school the orphans to be content with the necessities, and not the luxuries, of life.
Cleanness, neatness and method everywhere was in evidence about the buildings and the grounds. The tracts of land, adjoining the buildings, were set apart as gardens, where the boys found their work and exercise. Throughout the houses care was exhibited in arrangement. Each child had a square and numbered compartment for clothes. The boys had each three suits and the girls five dresses.
Mr. Muller, with so large a family to oversee, laid out the daily life with regularity, and demanded that everything be conducted with the punctuality of a clock. The children got up at six and at seven were ready for their pre-breakfast duties. Breakfast was at eight, followed with a half-hour for service before school opened at ten. Dinner at one led up to an afternoon of school work, followed by an hour and a half of outdoor exercise, and then the six o’clock meal. Mr. Muller asked God for simple food, yet nutritious, such as bread, oatmeal, milk, soups, rice, meat and vegetables.
When the Orphan Houses were finally filled, Mr. Muller sought one end. “We aim at this,” he observes, “that if any of them do not turn out well, temporally or spiritually, and do not become useful members of society, it shall not at least be our fault.”
There was a steady increase in expenses demanded by the larger family of orphans cared for, but Mr. Muller’s faith was sufficiently strong in the Lord to keep the supplies on hand.
On May 26, 1861, he writes, “At the close of the period I find that the total expenditure for all the various objects was £24,700 16s. 4d., or £67 13s. 5 3/4d. per day, all the year around. During the coming year I expect the expenses to be considerably greater. But God, Who has helped me these many years, will, I believe, help me in the future also. You see, esteemed reader, how the Lord, in His faithful love helped us year after year...He never failed us.”
Under date of October 21, 1868, he enters in his diary, “As the days come, we make known our requests to Him, for our outgoings have now been for several years at the rate of more than one hundred pounds each day; but though the expenses have been so great, He has never failed us.”
Year by year this increase of needs followed by God’s graciously supplying them is noted in his Journal. Writing on July 28, 1874, he says, “It had for months appeared to me, as if the Lord meant...to bring us back to the state of things in which we were for more than ten years, from August, 1838, until April, 1849, when we had day by day, almost without interruption, to look to Him for our daily supplies, and for a great part of the time, from meal to meal. The difficulties appeared to me indeed very great, as the Institution is now twenty times larger than it was then, and our purchases are to be made in a wholesale way; but I am comforted by the knowledge that God is aware of all this . . .
“The funds were thus expended; but God, our infinitely rich Treasurer, remains to us. It is this which gives me peace. Moreover, if it pleases him, with a work requiring about £44,000 a year, to make me do again at the evening of my life, what I did from August, 1838, to April, 1849, I am not only prepared for it, but gladly again I would pass through all these trials of faith...if He only might be glorified and His church and the world be benefited.
“Often and often this last point has of late passed through my mind and I have placed myself in the position of having no means at all left, and two thousand and one hundred persons not only daily at the table, but with everything else to be provided for, and all funds gone; 189 missionaries to be assisted, and nothing whatever left; about one hundred schools, with about nine thousand scholars in them, to be entirely supported, and no means for them in hand; about four millions of tracts and tens of thousands of copies of the Holy Scriptures yearly now to be sent out, and all the money expended.
“Invariably, however,...I have said to myself: ‘God Who raised up this work through me, God Who has led me generally year after year to enlarge it, God Who has supported this work now for more than forty years, will still help...and He will provide me with what I need in the future also . . !”
On the following day, to show how God honored Muller’s trust, he received £217 up until early afternoon. “We thanked God for it,” he says, triumphant in his faith, “and asked for more. When the meeting for prayer was over, there was handed me a letter from Scotland, containing £73 17s. 10d., and a paper with 13s. This was the immediate answer to prayer for more means.”
On August 12 of that year he states his income for the week to have been more than £897. On September 16, he writes, “Just after having again prayed for the payment of legacies...I had a legacy receipt sent for the payment of a legacy of £1,800.” A week later he enters this item in his
Journal. “Income today £5,365 13s. 6d.,” all of which except approximately £32 came in one donation — “The Lord be praised.”
During those faith-trying times Mr. Muller had a faithful wife who bore his burdens with him. Side by side they prayed for many years, faith together taking hold of God’s promises. But Mrs. Muller was not permitted to remain by her husband’s side till the end. She lived just a month after opening the Fifth Orphan House. Concerning this Mr. Muller writes:
“Feb. 6, 1870. On Oct. 7, 1830 (therefore 39 years and four months since) the Lord gave me my most valuable, lovely and holy wife. Her value to me and the blessing God made her to be to me is beyond description. This blessing was continued to me till this day, when, in the afternoon, about four o’clock, the Lord took her to himself.”
The funeral was on February 11, when many thousands of persons were in attendance. About 1,200 of the orphans who were able to walk followed the procession and hundreds of beloved fellow Christians walked with the group. ‘I myself,” he says, “sustained by the Lord to the utmost, performed the service in the chapel, in the cemetery, etc. Shortly after the funeral I was very unwell, but as soon as I was sufficiently recovered I preached my late dear wife’s funeral sermon.”
In this sermon, preached from the text, “Thou art good, and doest good” (Psalms 119:68), he drew a picture of a sweet and simple life, made dearer through holy service. He described his wife as “the mother of the orphans.”
“Every day,” he said in the funeral sermon, “I miss; her more and more. Every day I see more and more how great is her loss to the orphans. Yet, without an effort, my inmost soul habitually joys in the joy of the loved departed one...God alone has done it, we are satisfied with Him.”
In three divisions he dealt with the text: “The Lord was good and did good: first, in giving her to me; second, in so long leaving her with me; and third, in taking her from me.”
Sixteen months after Mrs. Muller’s death, on November 16, 1871, Mr. James Wright married Mr. Muller’s daughter, and was designated as his successor in case of the founder’s death. When Mr. Wright accepted this responsibility, Mr. Muller wrote:
“By the Lord’s kindness I am able to work as heretofore...yet, as I am sixty-six years of age, I cannot conceal from myself that it is of great importance for the work that I should obtain a measure of relief...On this account, I have therefore not only appointed Mr. Wright as my successor, in the event of my death, but have also associated him at present with me in the direction of the Institution.”
This man of faith through storm and stress still rejoiced in the Lord, for when he closed the year of his wife’s death, he affirms, “Though the current expenses of the Institution were far greater during the past year than during any of the previous thirty-five years, yet we abounded more than ever.”
Mr. Muller grew restless in contemplation of his daughter’s marriage, and felt his lonely condition keenly. He realized the need of someone to share his toils and prayers, and help in the Lord’s work. The persuasion grew upon him that he should remarry. After much prayer he determined to ask Miss Susannah Grace Sangar to become his wife, having known her for more than twenty-five years, and believing her to be well fitted to be his helper in the Lord.
They were married fourteen days after his daughter’s marriage to Mr. Wright. The second wife was of one mind concerning the stewardship of the Lord’s property. They were to live together for more than twenty-three years, and when God took his second wife home, Mr. Muller again preached the funeral sermon. For eight years after the death of his first wife Mr. Muller could not understand God’s purpose in her death, but time showed him that “All things work together for good to them that love the Lord.”
For Mr. Muller was about to commence the most strenuous years of his career. God wanted the story of faith to be carried to other lands, and in the person of Mr. Wright he furnished a man upon whose shoulders should rest the responsibility of caring for the home, while Mr. Muller traveled throughout the world with his message of trust.
“All at once, while in the midst of these fatiguing journeys and exposures to varying climates, it flashed upon Mr. Muller that his first wife, who had died in her seventy-third year, could never have undertaken these tours, and that the Lord had thus, in taking her, left him free to make these extensive journeys. She would have been over fourscore years old when these tours began...whereas, the second Mrs. Muller, who, at that time, was not yet fifty seven, was both by her age and strength fully equal to the strain thus put upon her,” writes A. T. Pierson, who was personally acquainted with the second Mrs. Muller.
GOD’S HOUR had finally arrived when Mr. Muller should step out on the divine promises and build. After weighing the complaint in the letter against the orphanage, on November 3, 1845, he laid the matter before the Lord.
This was a memorable occasion and concerning it he writes, “After I had spent a few hours in prayer...I began to see that the Lord would lead me to build, and that His intentions were not only to benefit the orphans...but also the bearing of further testimony that He could and would provide large sums...and that He would enlarge the work, so that if I once did build a house, it might be large enough to accommodate three hundred orphans.”
The following day he and his wife proposed to meet morning by morning and pray about the building. “We continued meeting for prayer,” he says, “morning by morning for fifteen days, but not a single donation came; yet my heart was not discouraged. The more I prayed, the more I was assured that the Lord would give the means.”
On December 9, thirty-five days had passed, “whilst I was day by day waiting upon God for means for this work, and not a single penny had been given to me. Nevertheless this did not in the least discourage me, but my assurance...increased more and more.”
This was the day that God gave him the text, “Let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.”
After having this text hung on the walls of his memory, he asked God to increase his faith and to sustain his patience. The following day came God’s answer in the form of the largest donation he had received up to that time. It was a thousand pounds from a friend.
“When I received it I was as calm, as quiet as if I had only received one shilling,” Mr. Muller tells us.
With this seal of God upon the work, his faith took a new grip upon the promises, and henceforth it was but a matter of waiting upon the Lord to send the funds. December 13 brought another gift more important than the first in the form of the free services of a Christian architect, who offered to draw the plans and superintend the building without payment. This was another proof that the Lord was directing Mr. Muller’s prayers and intentions toward building.
Slowly the funds began to come in, though Mr. Muller had made no public announcement of his plan to build. He did not overlook the fact that if it required faith to care for a hundred and thirty children, which were then in the home, it would take greater faith to feed and clothe 300.
After the sixty-fifth day of prayer God sent a gift of fifty pounds, which was soon followed by another thousand-pound donation.
On January 31, 1846, Muller went to see a piece of land that seemed available for the building. This was the eighty-ninth day since he had begun to call upon God for a building, and he thought God would soon furnish suited grounds. He wanted about seven acres close to Bristol. God had the land which in due time, after a testing of faith, would be provided.
“Feb. 3. Saw the land...” he entered in his diary. The following day he began negotiations for the property. He went to visit the owner, but found that he was not at home. On the next day when he made an appointment with him, the owner said that about three o’clock he was awakened and could not sleep for two hours.
“While he was thus lying awake,” Mr. Muller states, “his mind was all the time occupied about the piece of land...and he determined that if I should apply for it, he would not only let me have it, but for a hundred and twenty pounds an acre instead of two hundred, the price he had previously asked for it. How good is the Lord.”
Thus Mr. Muller secured the land for $2,800 less than he would have the night before.
After the land was bought, he continued his daily season of intercourse with God for funds. Step by step he waited upon the Lord to supply all that was needed in the construction of so large a building.
Gifts varying in size from a farthing to five and six hundred pounds made Mr. Muller’s heart glad. On January 25, 1847, he entered in his diary, “Therefore with increased earnestness I have given myself unto prayer, importuning the Lord that He would...speedily send the remainder of the amount...and I have increasingly of late felt that the time is drawing near.” This was fourteen months and three weeks after he first began asking God for a new building, and it was to be a grand day in the work of God. Let his words tell the story.
“I arose from my knees this morning full of confidence...About an hour, after I had prayed thus, there was given me the sum of two thousand pounds for the Building Fund. Thus I have received altogether £9,285 3s. 91/2d. Four hundred and forty-seven days I have had day by day to wait upon God before the sum reached the above amount.”
When this princely gift came he was neither excited nor surprised, he “could only sit before God, and admire Him, like David in II Samuel, chapter 7.” Finally he threw himself flat on his face and burst forth in thanksgiving to God and “in surrendering my heart afresh to Him for His blessed service.”
Then came other gifts, among them two thousand pounds, followed by another of one thousand, and on July 5, 1847, when eleven thousand and sixty-two pounds had been donated, the building was finally begun.
This was after the help of the Lord had been daily sought for six hundred and seven days. As the building progressed funds increased until fifteen thousand, seven hundred and eighty-four pounds were received. The last
donation was for two thousand pounds from a man who brought the money in notes so that his bankers might not know of his liberality.
After the building was finished, all expenses met, trustees organized, there was a balance of £776, which afforded “a manifest proof that the Lord cannot only supply us with all we need in His service simply in answer to prayer, but that He can also give us even more than we need.”
All of these gifts, it must be remembered, were wrestled from the hand of God through Mr. Muller’s prayers. He prayed definitely and diligently. God answered just as specifically. In addition to praying in the building funds, Mr. Muller also bore the burden of caring for the houses on Wilson Street and their one hundred and thirty children. Never once did he despair of the Lord’s willingness and ability to give. He knew he was centered in God’s will, and asking and receiving were natural complements.
On July 21 he records asking God for four specific things: his own personal needs, for the building fund, for the orphanage on Wilson Street and for the Institution. A gentleman from Devonshire called upon him and made a donation of twenty pounds, specifying that it was for the four identical things about which he had been talking to God. “Thus I received, at the very moment that I had been asking God, four answers to my prayers.”
On June 18, 1849, more than twelve years after beginning the work, the orphans were transferred from the rented houses on Wilson Street to the new house on Ashley Down. Throughout the year other children arrived until by May 26 of the following year there were 275 children in the house, the whole number of those connected with the institution being 308, who daily depended upon the prayers of Mr. Muller for their sustenance.
On Saturday, June 23, after moving to Ashley Down, God marvelously began supplying the needs. A man while walking through the home with Mr. Muller exclaimed, “These children must consume a great deal of provisions,” and while speaking he drew from his pocketbook notes to the amount of a hundred. On the same day came six casks of treacle and six
loaves of sugar. Information arrived that a friend had just then purchased a thousand pounds of rice for the children.
“So bountifully has the Lord been pleased to help of late, that I have not only been able to meet all the extraordinary heavy expenses connected with moving...filling the stores...but I have more than five hundred pounds in hand to begin housekeeping in the new Orphan House...After all the many and long-continued seasons of great trial of faith for thirteen years and two months, during which the orphans were in Wilson Street, the Lord dismisses us from thence in comparative abundance. His name be praised.”
So gracious had the Lord dealt with Mr. Muller that no sooner had he housed his children in their new home and filled it to capacity than his faith began reaching forth for larger quarters, so that he might care for a thousand children. This was in spite of the fact that each day had to be supplied through constant and long seasons of prayers. No great abundance of money was coming in to meet these daily needs.
On December 5, 1850, he wrote, “It is now sixteen years and nine months this evening since I began the Scriptural Knowledge Institution for Home and Abroad...It is so large that I have not only disbursed since its commencement about fifty thousand pounds sterling, but that also the current expenses...amount to above six thousand pounds a year. I did ‘open my mouth wide’ this evening fifteen years ago, and the Lord has filled it. The new Orphan House is filled by three hundred orphans...My labor is abundant.”
Mr. Muller’s heart was literally consumed with passion for God and orphans. Just before Christmas of 1850, he declared, “I have served Satan much in my younger years, and I desire now with all my might to serve God during the remaining days of my earthly pilgrimage. I am forty-five years and three months old. Every day decreases the number of days that I have to stay on earth. I therefore desire with all my might to work. There are vast multitudes of orphans to be provided for.”
God burned upon his soul the idea of another and larger house each day, and he affirmed, “By the help of God I shall continue day by day to wait upon Him in prayer concerning this thing till He shall bid me act.”
On January 14, 1851, he went over the old grounds once again for and against a new house to care for seven hundred more children, and as previously, faith prevailed, and he declared that God would enable him to carry it through.
A couple weeks later he affirmed that he did not doubt that God would be honored by his asking largely for this purpose; since it was his duty to enlarge his quarters. Accordingly he set the sum of £35,000 as the goal to be sought before beginning the work. In May of that year he let his intentions be known. Realizing that the amount was large, his heart leaped with secret joy, “for the greater the difficulty to be overcome, the more it would be seen to the glory of God how much can be done by prayer and faith.”
At once gifts began to come in, the first being the sum of sixpence, the donation of an orphan. While reading Hebrews 6:15, “And so after he had patiently endured, he obtained the promise,” his heart was immediately uplifted. He had become somewhat discouraged with the slowness and the smallness of the gifts as they arrived.
The year 1851 was a test of his faith, but the following came as a triumph of his trust. In March of that year he was encouraged by a gift of £999, and when the accounts for the twelve months were closed the fund stood at £3,530, which included the seven hundred and seventy-six pounds left from the first building fund.
At this time 360 orphans were awaiting admission, and as applications arrived Mr. Muller’s faith increased. For where there was a need he felt God would surely supply. At the beginning of 1853 several Christians together promised approximately $40,500 to be distributed among the various funds, $30,000 of which was to go into the Building Fund.
Mr. Muller thus realized that there was no limit upon God’s willingness and ability to provide large donations.
As the money increased, Mr. Muller began looking for a suitable building site, but when none was found close by the first house, he decided to construct two buildings instead of one. The first was to house 400 girls, and the other 300 boys. He had sufficient funds at hand to construct the first building, so he decided to proceed with the first house. There were at this time 715 orphans seeking admission to the home.
Donations came from practically every civilized nation on earth. Muller’s “Narrative” had been translated into several languages and the story of his work had spread from country to country.
In spite of the large gifts that continued to flow in, he was a faithful servant in the smaller things. On October 12, 1852, he made this Journal entry: “By sale of rags and bones twelve shillings sixpence. I copy literally from the receipt book. We seek to make the best of everything. As a steward of public money, I feel it right that even these articles should be turned into money; nor could we expect answers to our prayers if knowingly there were any waste allowed in connection with the work.”
In these times of larger vision and work, God led him day by day to trust for supplies. Speaking of two weeks during the Christmas holidays of 1852-53, he said, “We had nothing in advance of our wants. Means came in only as they were required for pressing needs. We ask no human being for help...We depend alone upon God.”
While the work of building the new house was in progress, Mr. Muller continued to keep his requests before the Lord. Large gifts were sent in, one for $15,000 and another for $20,000. An offer was also received to fill the 300 large windows in the house with glass.
Of this incident Mr. Muller avows, “It is worthy of note that the glass was not contracted for this time, as in the case of the House already built. This, no doubt, was under the ordering of our Heavenly Father.”
About a year before the building’s completion approximately $150,000 was on hand for the expense. At one time he was examining the 150 gas burners when he felt constrained to return home suddenly. On arriving he found a check for £1,000 from a person who “concluded it would be good and profitable to invest a little in the Orphan Houses.”
Finally on November 12, 1857, just seven years after the idea had burned in Mr. Muller’s soul, the New Orphan House, No. 2, was opened. He wrote on this day, “The long-looked-for and long-prayed-for day has now arrived when the desire of my heart was granted to me, to be able to open the house for four hundred additional orphans...How precious this was to me...having day by day prayed for a blessing for seven years.”
When the house was opened there were left over in the fund for the third house a balance of approximately twenty-three hundred pounds. This sum was believed to be the earnest of the entire amount needed for the third building’s construction. Accordingly his faith took hold of God for another building which would house three hundred children.
He had planned to build this by the first house, but when the time arrived to begin construction this seemed unwise. So the old search for a suited site began once more. After much searching and no little vexation a plot of eleven and a half acres across the road from the present buildings was secured. The price was high, more than $16,000, but since it was so close to the other buildings it seemed wise to Mr. Muller to invest God’s money in it.
Since there were so many applications for entry, it was decided to make this large enough to care for 450 children instead of the original 300, and in confirmation of this a gift shortly arrived for £7,000, to be followed afterward by another £1,700. Glass was again promised for the 309 windows, and on July, 1859, the builders began their work.
Many large donations came in, so that in May, 1861, Mr. Muller was able to announce that the sum of £46,666 had been donated for Houses No. 2 and 3, which exceeded the original amount prayed for by £11,666.
God’s hand lavishly began to pour out funds to care for the children while the house was being constructed, for there was more than $45,000 to the credit of the current expense fund before House No. 3 was occupied.
On March 12, 1862, the house was opened. This brought Mr. Muller great joy. He wrote about this event, “It was in November, 1850 that my mind became exercised about enlarging the orphan work from 300 to 1,000 orphans, and subsequently to 1,150...From November, 1850, to this day, March 12, 1862, not one single day has been allowed to pass without this contemplated enlargement being brought before God in prayer, and generally more than once a day.
“Observe then...how long it may be before a full answer to our prayers, even to thousands and tens of thousands of prayers, is granted...I did without the least doubt and wavering look for more than eleven years for the full answer.”
Nor did God want the work to stop with the third house. After the House No. 1 was finished there was a balance of £776 in the building fund along with £500 for current expenses. When House No. 2 was completed the balance available for expenses was £2,292. When the last house was finished the balance on hand for current expenses was £10,309.
This does not include the amount of money necessary to carry on the work of the Scriptural Institution, whose expenses ran into the thousands of pounds each year. All of this was brought in through prayer alone.
“As in the case of No. 2,” Mr. Muller states, “so also in the case of the New Orphan House No. 3, I had daily prayed for the needed helpers and assistants for the various departments. Before a stone was laid, I began to pray for this, and as the building progressed, I continued day by day to bring the matter before God.”
Before the third house was completed such was the pressure for larger accommodations to make room for the hundreds of applications which came in, that Mr. Muller conceived of building two more houses to accommodate an additional 850 orphans, making the total 2,000.
He felt that God would have him improve his special talent of trust and faith for daily supplies and building funds by taking this new step in his spiritual pilgrimage. Once impressed that a course was the divine will, Mr. Muller was never long in putting it into operation.
He knew but one course of procedure...to trust daily for supplies and believe daily for building funds. And this hand to mouth existence from God’s hand to Muller’s and the orphans’ mouths — had been so gracious for the long years past that Mr. Muller did not hesitate to step forth again on a venture that would within a short span of years provide a home for almost twice as many children as he then housed.
From "George Muller - The Man of Faith" by Basil Miller