Chapter 3 - The Naked Trust of Faith
by Addresses from the Leominster Conference
Mr. Muller read Gen. 1. 24-26, and spoke on Faith-its naked trust, and its triumph in darkest hours:
In these verses we have a most precious illustration of what we are to understand by faith. The God of heaven had made promise to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob that He would give them the land of Canaan; and it was added that the descendants of Abraham were to sojourn long in a strange land. Now this man of God, Joseph, believed that God would be as good as His word. Although there was not the shadow of a natural appearance that that word would be fulfilled, yet he stayed his mind upon God-he took God at His word, and made the elders of Israel swear that they would take his bones with them to Canaan. "God will surely visit you, and ye shall carry up my bones from hence."
Now just in the proportion in which we are enabled to believe that God will do just what He has said is our faith strong or weak. Faith has nothing to do with feelings or with impressions; it has nothing whatever to do with probabilities or with outward appearances. If we desire to couple them with faith, then we no longer are resting on the word of God, because faith needs nothing of the kind.
"Oh, if I could only feel so-and-so!" "If I only had the impression that God would do so-and-so;" "If I saw the least probability of it," are words often used. But, I repeat, faith needs no feelings, no impressions, no probabilities, but rests on the naked word of God, and has to do only with the revelation which we have in our hands. As in these days of darkness in which we live men will become more and more daring in their departure from the revealed will of God, let us see to it that we are satisfied with "It is written." As the disciples of Christ, the word of God is enough for us; and if we want more, we practically say that His revealed will is not enough, and thereby we dishonour Him.
We have also particularly to keep before us, that faith has not to do with this part of truth or that part merely, with this or that promise, but with all the revelation that God has been pleased to make of Himself, as much in the Old Testament as in the New. Whether it be prophetical books or historical books, the gospels or epistles, we take God at His word in every part. We only know God by the revelation that He has made of Himself, and faith has to do with revelation. When we take Him at His word the heart is at peace.
Now, beloved brethren, I will give you a few hints with regard to the increase of our faith. I have sought to explain what we are to understand by faith. Now let us see how it can be increased. God will do His part to increase our faith, but the means which He uses we oftentimes do not like. Trials, difficulties, disappointments, losses, bereavements, sickness-all these things are employed by our heavenly Father for the exercise and the increase of our faith. If an infant never used his limbs, they would always remain weak; but they are strengthened and invigorated by exercise. So it is with faith, and God delights to exercise our faith-first for blessing in. our own souls, then for blessing in the Church at large, and also for those without.
But this exercise we shrink from instead of welcoming. When trials come we should say, My heavenly Father puts this cup of trial into my hands, that I may have something sweet afterwards. Trial is the very food of faith. Oh, let us leave ourselves in the hands of our heavenly Father! It is the joy of His heart to do good to all His children. He is an infinitely wise Father who knows what suits His children, and He orders all for blessing to us, as well as glory to His own name. And it is for this very reason that trials and afflictions come, and thus He shows how true is that word, "that all things work together for good to them that love God." Through our trials there is not only the exercise of patience, but the development and strengthening of faith in the degree in which all the other graces grow. You remember when Peter asked the question, "Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Till seven times?" The Lord's answer is, "I say not unto thee until seven times, but until seventy times seven." And what was the result of such an answer? We should have thought and said, "Lord, increase our love, our patience, our readiness to forgive the offending brother." But no, the answer is, "Lord, increase our faith;" Because if faith be in exercise, and we lay hold on the truth that we are ourselves forgiven, we shall always be ready to forgive one another.
But trials and difficulties are not the only means by which faith is exercised, and thereby increased. There is the reading of the Holy Scriptures, that we by them may acquaint ourselves with God as He has revealed Himself in His word. And what shall we find? That He not only is God Almighty, and a righteous God, but we shall find how gracious He is, how gentle, how kind, how bountiful He is; in a word, what a lovely Being God is.
Are you able to say from the acquaintance you have made with God that He is a lovely Being? If you are not able to say so, let me affectionately entreat you to ask God to bring you to this, that you may admire His gentleness and His kindness, that you may be able to say how good He is, and what a delight it is to the heart of God to do good to His children. Now the nearer we come to this in our inmost soul the more ready are we to leave ourselves in His hands, satisfied with all His dealings with us. And when trial comes we shall say, "I will wait to see what good God will do me by it, assured that He will do it." Thus shall we bear an honourable testimony before the world, and thus shall we strengthen the hands of others. But if we faint under the trial we shall weaken their hands.
In order to trust in God we must acquaint ourselves with Him, as He has in the Scriptures revealed Himself. You know Psalm ix. 10, "And they that know thy name will put their trust in thee." It is not said that those who preach about God, or those who write about God, will put their trust in Him; but those who know His name-those who have learned from His word what He is.
Now, by way of illustration, I will refer to myself. The promises we have in Matt. vi. as to food and raiment, and all the affairs of this life, are given that we may have no anxious care for the morrow, knowing that sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof. All this I have for fifty-four years found to be literally true in my own happy experience. I have found during all these years that God has always acted according to His word. Therefore if any are tried let them remember the word of promise, and let them stay themselves upon it; and they shall find that God most assuredly will act according to His word. This I have found in my own experience; so I stay my heart upon God, trusting Him to help me through every difficulty; and I have never been allowed to sink, because I rested myself on the Word. He hath said, "I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee;" "As thy days, so shall thy strength be;" so that I am able to say, "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me." Difficulties have vanished away, or if they did not vanish away, God did so help and strengthen me that they did not trouble me. These precious promises are given to every child of God; and we have to take them and to say, They belong to me, poor, wicked, hell-deserving though I am. And so I say, these promises belong to George Muller, this poor sinner who never deserved anything but hell; and I have found that God is as good as His word. This I have found for the last fifty years, during which time I have required hundreds of helpers in my work, and these God has given me. For you are unable to make helpers, and there is no society that can provide them for you; but God by His Spirit can fit and qualify them for the work; therefore I have given myself to prayer, and have not sought to obtain them by advertisements, and God has shown me how He delights to answer, and has provided me with suitable helpers.
Then in all the little things connected with this life I have found what a blessed thing it is to have the heart stayed on God. I do not carry the little trials myself; and you know that life is made up of little things. If we do not take them to God we are not happy, the mind is ruffled, and we are in danger of becoming irritable. But if the little things are taken back to God we shall find how ready He is to help us with them. And all this has to do with the revealed will of God.
One point more. Simply in answer to prayer I have received more than a million pounds sterling, simply by looking to the Lord; but far more than this: in like manner I have trusted Him for spiritual blessings, and in answer to prayer I have received tens of thousands. Many thousands of souls have been given me from the Orphan-houses and various schools, who are now walking in the ways of the Lord, and thousands have gone before. All this also was obtained by trusting in God; for He gives souls also, not only money. We have to trust God for everything. Let me say to you then, Learn more and more, more and more to trust in God.
Now it may be said, "But you have the gift of faith, and we have not." The reply is, "I have no gift of faith; my faith is precisely the same as yours; only while it is the same it may have been more exercised, and therefore having been more exercised is a little stronger; but it is the self-same faith which we all have who trust in the Lord Jesus Christ."
Oh, seek, beloved in Christ, to have your faith developed arid strengthened! Be satisfied with all God's dealings with you, and be sure that He intends them for blessings to your souls.
Chapter 2 - Hints on Prayer
by Addresses from the Leominster Conference
Mr. Muller prayed, and then spoke on Prayer from Matt. vii. 7, 8:-
I have it laid on my heart to throw out some hints with reference to prayer. The first thing that I would observe is this: our heavenly Father knows how we are situated. All the trials, difficulties, perplexing circumstances, and temptations to which we are exposed, He is intimately acquainted with; and for that very reason His word is full of promises, so that we should be encouraged to roll our burdens on Him. For it is not His will that we should carry them in our own strength; but that we should speak to Him about everything, walk with Him continually, and so roll all our burdens on Him that we may find ease and comfort in our trials and difficulties. And it is because we do not make a good use of the help of our God that we find things so trying in this world. Were we habitually to roll our burdens on the Lord, our position would be a hundred times better than it is.
Are you in the habit of rolling all your burdens on the Lord? As trials come, do you bring them back to your heavenly Father? This is the reason why He lays them on you. And if you make the attempt to carry them in your own strength you will oblige your heavenly Father to increase the trial and burden, so that by the very weight you may be at last forced to come to Him, and leave all with Him.
Then again, our precious Lord Jesus Christ has passed through this vale of tears, and "was tempted in all points like as we are, yet without sin." All His temptations were from without, none from within, because He was the spotless One. Nevertheless Christ was abundantly tried, difficulties befalling Him without number or measure. And He knew how it would fare with us who would be left in this world, and thus His love led Him to make this provision for us, that by prayer we should bring the burden back to Him.
Now let me affectionately ask you, my beloved brethren and sisters, Do you take the advice of our precious Lord Jesus Christ? And do you believe what He says when He speaks, as in these verses, "Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you." He means us to understand literally what these words convey. "For everyone that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened."
But wide, and broad, and deep though these promises be, they must be taken in connection with other portions of Scripture. We must compare Scripture with Scripture, because again and again we find that one part supplies what is wanting in another.
(1) Let us commence with 1 John v. 13-15. Here is the first condition to be attended to. If we desire our petitions to be answered, we have to ask God for the things which are according to His will. And should we be little acquainted with the will of God about any matter, we must first ask Him to teach and instruct us. We may also ask the help of our brethren. But this point must be attended to, that we ask for things according to the will of God; for He loves us with an infinitely wise love, and not like foolish parents who give their children all they ask for. He desires true happiness and blessing for His children, and therefore only gives what would be for their blessing and profit to receive.
(2) But while this is one condition, it is not the only one. The Lord Jesus said we should ask in His name if we wish our petitions granted. (John xiv. 13, 14.)
Beloved elder brethren here all know what it means to ask in the name of the Lord Jesus, but, for the sake of young believers present, I will say that it means this-we have to ask in union with Christ, as members of the body of which He is the Head. We stand before God in His righteousness; we are justified by faith in His name, and therefore we come before God as those who are one with Christ. We - so to speak - put Christ forward, and ourselves we put in the background. We are in ourselves entirely unworthy of receiving one blessing from the hand of God. Ask God to show you that all you deserve is hell and eternal torment. Nothing else do we deserve; and therefore all we receive (out of hell) must come in the name of Christ. And this is very precious, that we are not only permitted, but commanded, to come in the name of Christ. I have been made clean by the power of the blood of Christ. I myself deserve nothing but punishment; but the Lord Jesus Christ is worthy to receive the choicest blessings which God has to give. Therefore, if I put myself in the background, and put Christ forward, and in His name ask the choicest of God's blessings, they are granted to me. Do we habitually plead the worthiness of Christ when we come before God with our petitions?
(3) But these are not the only conditions that we need to remember in order that our petitions may be granted. There is another point, and that is, that we exercise faith in the power of God and in His willingness to hear us. (Mark xi. 24.) We must be looking out for the answer. There are few children of God who doubt His ability to give, but many doubt His willingness, forgetting that large word of the apostle "He that spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?" It was in the way of grace that He gave His Son for me; so is He, in the way of grace, willing to give me with Him, everything that will be for my good. What more can we have than this?
(4) Now suppose those three things are found in us with regard to prayer, there is another in Ps. lxvi. 18, which is an important one, "If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me."
(5) Then, if we habitually walk in the fear of God, and we do not allow anything in us contrary to His holy will, there remains one thing more-that we continue to wait on God till the answer comes. Here we frequently break down. We begin well, but we do not go on. If month after month, and year after year, we have been praying, and if our petitions have not been granted, the thought comes, Will God answer? Many break down because the petition is not granted so quickly as they expected. Parents pray for their children. They begin to do so; but we should never forget that we have to continue, day after day, week after week, month after month, and year after year, until the answer comes. For God knows the best time for us, and He will in His own time give us our requests. It may be for the trial of our faith, or of our patience, or to see if we are in earnest, that He waits. For these and other reasons the petitions may not be answered so quickly as we desire.
Young evangelists ask God for the conversion of many souls. They go on praying and preaching, but do not get the answers. It may be that they are not prepared for the blessing. If their petitions were granted, it might be an injury to their souls. Therefore He waits till they are prepared to receive the blessing. So with Sunday-school teachers. They ask God for good things for their children, yet do not receive the answer. Now let us go on, and patiently, quietly wait on the Lord. The blessing most assuredly will come.
Now are we all in the habit of thus going on patiently, perseveringly, month after month, and year after year, waiting on God? Then let us set out afresh with renewed earnestness and faith. To all our petitions, if they have been according to the will of God, and in the name of the Lord Jesus, and with faith in the willingness of God to give what we have asked, the answers must come. I have myself had to wait for a long time to get certain blessings. In many instances the answer has come instantaneously, or in the same hour, or the same day; yet in other things I have had to wait years-ten years, fifteen years, twenty years, and upwards-yet invariably at the last the answer has come. And I say it to encourage my brethren and sisters in Christ, Go on waiting, waiting, waiting. Begin afresh to bring your petitions before God. He will hear you. For one thing I have been praying for thirty-nine years and nine months, and the answer has not yet come. Last evening I prayed for it, and the evening before last I prayed again. When travelling in India and in America, year after year I have been praying, and I am sure that in the end the answer will come. I have received tens of thousands of answers to prayer; but in this particular I have to wait. Many of you remember our departed brother R--. For his parents I prayed that they might be converted. At last the answer came, when the father was between eighty and ninety years old. This very individual had cast off his son entirely; for years he did not allow him to come into his presence. At last he sent for him, and then would scarcely allow him to go out of his sight; yet for twenty years I had to pray for his conversion. So with the mother. She had lived a very moral life outwardly, very pharisaically; but at last she saw that nothing but Christ would do for her, and she was saved.
Therefore, beloved younger brethren and sisters, begin afresh with greater earnestness than ever, and you will receive the answers at the last. The Lord delights to bless His children, to give them everything that is for their blessing and comfort; and especially does He delight to bless parents in praying for their children. But if we have set them a bad example, and have let them go on in a self-willed course, then the first thing is to make honest confession of our sin and to own that we deserve all that may have come upon us; and let us humble ourselves in the dust before God, yet pleading the merits of Jesus, and we shall find that God is ever ready in His pity and compassion to forgive us. Then with renewed earnestness let us begin to pray.
My universal remedy for every difficulty, for every trial, is prayer and faith. And in this way for fifty-five years I have been going on. For three and a half years after my conversion I did not do so, but for fifty-five years I have been walking in this way, and I desire on this very ground to encourage my beloved brethren and sisters in Christ who have not tried this universal remedy, and they will find, as I have, that it suits every difficulty and trial.
Chapter 1 - The Joy of the Lord is Your Strength
Addresses from the Leominster Conference by Muller, George
Mr. Muller then spoke on Neh. viii. 10.-"The joy of the Lord is your strength" is the divine testimony here given; and the measure of our joy is the measure of our strength. How important then is it that we should seek to enter into what God has given us in and through our Lord Jesus Christ! By nature we were the slaves of Satan, of the world, and sin. Through faith in Jesus Christ we have obtained spiritual liberty; we have gained the victory. Do we enter into this, beloved in Christ, and rejoice in it? It is something infinitely more precious than civil or religious liberty. It is victory over sin, Satan, and self! Let us seek to enter into it, in order that our joy in the Lord may yet more and more increase. For this the precious blood of Christ was shed. Nothing, nothing but that precious blood could have obtained such a victory for us; and as once more we have been permitted to adore our Lord Jesus Christ at His table, let us seek to enter into the joy of this spiritual liberty.
Then again, naturally we are dead in trespasses and sins. Although we can be occupied with the affairs of this life, yet spiritual life by nature we have none. But now we are no longer the children of wrath, but the children of God; not in name, but in reality. God Almighty, the infinitely wise One, the infinitely rich One, the infinitely gracious One, is our Father for time and for eternity.
Oh, the blessedness of having a Father in heaven, and of feeling that we have not to stand alone, but that in our weakness and nothingness we can draw, through our Lord Jesus Christ, out of His inexhaustible fulness, for everything we can possibly need for mind and body, as well as for the inner man, for our service and its difficulties, whatever they may be. We have a Father in heaven to whom we can go; upon whom we can cast our burden. And not only has He advised us to do this, but He has commanded us to do it. Now, are we in the habit of doing this? or do we carry the burdens ourselves? Do we habitually speak to our heavenly Father about every matter that concerns us?
Are we walking through this world with Him, dealing with Him about everything? or do we go alone in our own strength, leaning on nature's experience?
Ah, day by day let us value the precious blood of Christ, which has brought us nigh unto God, which has given us now this precious privilege of bringing all our matters to Him, vile and wretched as we are. We can do this now, for He loves us now; and will love us throughout eternity. Does each one of us say, I am a dear child of my heavenly Father? Do we habitually say, God loves me, I am precious to Him? Is this the language of our hearts, or do we think this would be presumptuous? Verily it is not. The words of the Lord Jesus are, "The Father Himself Ioveth you." He loves us as He loves His Son. Well, if He loves me as He loves Christ-with an infinite love, with a love that cannot be stronger than it is-how precious I must be in His sight! How comes all this? It is because I belong to Christ; because I am clean every whit.
Now, can I enter into this without being happy? I may talk about it; I may read and write about it; but it is impossible for me to feast on it without being exceedingly happy. The heart must be filled with gratitude to God for the gift of Jesus; and it must be filled with love to that adorable Lord Jesus who gave Himself. To Him we are indebted for all this; therefore we cannot help loving God, we cannot but love the Lord Jesus. And the language of our hearts is, What can I do, my heavenly Father, to show my love to thee? What can I do for thee, my precious Lord Jesus, seeing thou hast done so much for me? Oh, let us seek to enter into this truth by these emblems of the bread and wine which we have before us. For the more we seek to enter into this, and understand what God has done for us, not only the happier shall we be, but the holier.
Then again all our numberless transgressions are all forgiven; so that not one sin, in word, thought, or deed, stands against us. All, all is forgiven; so that before God we are as clean as though we had never been guilty of one single sin in all our lives. It is impossible to enter into this without having the heart moved with love and gratitude to God for having given us His Son, and to Christ for having given Himself.
My brethren, do we all enjoy the knowledge of the forgiveness of sins? Should there be one here without the enjoyment of this knowledge, let me affectionately entreat you not to rest until you come to it. For fifty-eight years and nine months I have uninterruptedly enjoyed the knowledge of the forgiveness of my sins. And thus my beloved younger brethren should not think this is impossible to attain and enjoy. It may be enjoyed, one year after another, and one ten years after another ten years. But you must seek to walk in the ways of God, to act according to the light which God's word gives you, if you desire to be happy in the Lord; for there is the most intimate connection between holiness and happiness. "The joy of the Lord is your strength."
Again, there is an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that fadeth not away, which must be possessed by every one of the children of God; for we are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation, for the inheritance which is laid up for us in heaven, so that, as assuredly as we trust in Jesus Christ, so must the inheritance be ours.
And then further, we look on to obtain a glorified body at the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ on the morning of the resurrection, the resurrection of the just, when we shall see Him as He is, and be like Him in spirit, soul, and body.
We are in conflict now, for Satan is not yet bruised under our feet. We are not altogether like Christ yet, but this will be our blessed portion when we shall see Him as He is. Entering into all this blessed enjoyment, how can I but be happy? I cannot but be constrained to please God; I must be drawn to live for Him, to serve Him, to labour for Him.
Now while this joy of the Lord may not only be obtained and continued to us, it has been my sorrowful experience in my pastoral life to know many who set out well, but after a few years turned back to the poor and beggarly things of this world; in some cases after fifteen years, twenty years; in others after five and twenty years, and thirty years. But there should be found in the disciples of the Lord, one ten years after another, an increasingly devoted life of love to the Lord. There is nothing whatever to make this impossible; if there were the Lord would not have sent that message to the Church at Ephesus, "Nevertheless I have against thee, that thou hast left thy first love." And this after He had commended them for so many things. Brethren, have we left our first love? Allow me affectionately to ask you, How is it with you? Are you as much alive to the things of God, as much in earnest as when you were converted? Are you as much dead to the world, and is your heart as filled with the love of Jesus as at the first? If you cannot answer in the affirmative there is something wrong.
Allow me also affectionately to put these questions to the heart of every beloved brother and sister present. How do you stand towards the Lord Jesus? How do you stand towards your Heavenly Father? How do you stand towards the world? How do you stand towards your brethren and sisters in Christ? How is it with you? Have you made progress in the ways of the Lord? Ah ! my brethren, progress, progress, progress must have been made, or certainly there has been a going back; for there is no such thing as standing still. In looking back, then, individually over the three, or five, or ten, or fifty years, how is it with us? How do we stand before God now? How deeply important it is that the joy of the Lord attained at the first be continued. Although growing older and older in years, we should still be fat and flourishing, mounting up heavenwards like the eagle, so that the latter part of our pilgrimage should be the brightest and the best.
We are not straitened in God. The Holy Ghost is the same; the Word is the same; the Lord Jesus Christ is the same; and our Heavenly Father has not turned His back upon us. So far as God is concerned, and so far as His truth is concerned, there is no reason why we should not make progress in the divine life.
Now allow an aged brother to throw out a few hints, whereby this progress may be attained. (1) The whole heart must be surrendered to the Lord. If this is not done, be assured you cannot make progress. Perhaps someone says, I wish it were so; but how can I attain it? If you have but one single object for which you live for yourself-I do not say five, nor four, nor three, nor two, but one-if you have but one object for your own self, your heart is not surrendered to the Lord. If your heart has been surrendered to God, you will live alone for Him. Have you attained to this one single object of living for God? I do not ask you if you are perfectly free from sin, if you are perfectly conformed to the mind of God. I have never seen one who could say that, nor do I expect to find such an one while in the body. We must aim at it. Paul had not attained it, though he sought more and more to apprehend that for which he was apprehended in Christ Jesus. I am not speaking of perfection in the flesh, but of the full surrender of the heart to the Lord; and this I judge to be necessary if we desire that the joy of the Lord be continued to us.
(2) But there is another thing. Being perfectly weak in ourselves we must not merely desire this godly purpose of having but one object in life, but we must seek help of God to carry out our purpose; and therefore we must acknowledge our weakness and helplessness in regard to it. And not only must we begin to do this, but we must go on day by day, and every day, to the end of our course, if we would live to His honour and praise.
Another means to this (3), and deeply important, is that we come to the word of God to obtain food for our inner man. Now how does it stand with you-first, as to prayer and owning your own: weakness day by day before the Lord; and then as to obtaining help from the Lord through the Scriptures? Everybody now seems to have the newspaper pressed upon them. I do not say it is a sin to read the newspaper; some men may need to read it on account of their business. But this let me say, Take heed that the time which you should give to the word of God be not given to the newspaper.
Then again, there are thousands of religious periodicals pressed upon us; and the danger is that we give our time to them instead of to the word of God. For let us remember that human writings can never take the place of the Holy Scriptures; it is the book of God that must be the food of the soul. Are we lovers then of the word of God? I ask this question because for three years and a half I was not a lover of the word of God. I read it now and again. But in July, 1829, I became a lover of the Scriptures; so that last July it was fifty-five years since I have been a lover of the Scriptures. Now without this I should not expect to be truly happy; therefore I again ask the question, Are we lovers of the word of God? If not, let me beseech and entreat you to aim at it, and not to be satisfied until you prefer the book of God to every other book. Let it be a delight to turn to the Scriptures; it is a necessity for our joy in the Lord.
(4) Then again, we must read the Scriptures that we may carry out the truths contained in them, to show forth the truth in our lives. And if at any time we fail, let us make honest confession of our failure before God and the Lord Jesus Christ. Let us come again to the precious blood that makes us clean, and seek to act no more in like manner. And again let us surrender ourselves to the Lord; and it is certain that this joy will not only continue, but will abound more and more. God grant that this may be the case with everyone of us, for Jesus' sake.