December 5, 1850. It is now sixteen years and nine months since I began the Scriptural Knowledge Institution for Home and Abroad. This institution was very small in the beginning. Now it is so large that the current expenses are over six thousand pounds a year. The new Orphan House is inhabited by three hundred orphans, and a total of three hundred and thirty-five persons are connected with it. My work is abundant.
Despite this, I am thinking about laboring more than ever in serving poor orphans. This matter has been on my mind for the last ten days, and I have begun to pray about it. I am considering the construction of another Orphan House, large enough for seven hundred orphans, so that I might be able to care for a total of one thousand orphans. I have received two hundred and seven orphans within the last sixteen months and now have seventy-eight waiting for admission.
Most other charitable institutions for orphans make the admission of a destitute orphan very difficult, if not impossible, if they do not have an influential person to sponsor them. In our case, nothing is needed but application to me. The poorest person, without influence, without friends, without any expense, no matter where he lives or which denomination he is affiliated with, may be admitted. Since it is difficult for poor people to get their orphan relatives admitted into ordinary establishments, I feel called to be the friend of the orphan.
The experience I have had in this service for fifteen years calls me to make use of my knowledge to the utmost of my power. No member of a committee or president of a society could possibly have the same experience unless he personally had been engaged in such a work for a number of years, as I have been.
If seven hundred more young souls could be brought under regular godly training, what blessed service that would be for the Kingdom of Christ! I began this work to show the world and the Church that God in heaven hears and answers prayer. This is better accomplished the larger the work is, provided I obtain the means simply through prayer and faith.
But thoughts of another character have occurred to me. I already have an abundance of work. My dear wife is also very busy. Nearly all of her time is occupied, directly or indirectly, with the orphans. Am I taking on too much for my bodily strength and my mental powers by thinking about another Orphan House? Am I going beyond the measure of my faith in thinking about enlarging the work? Is this a delusion of Satan, an attempt to cast me down from my place of usefulness by making me go beyond y capabilities? Is it a snare to puff me up in pride by attempting to build a large Orphan House?
I can only pray that the Lord would not allow Satan to gain an advantage over me. By the grace of God, my heart says, "Lord, if I could be sure that it is Your will that I go forward in this matter, I would do so cheerfully. On the other hand, if I could be sure that these are vain, foolish, proud thoughts and are not from You, I would forget the whole idea."
My hope is in God. He will help me and teach me. Based on His former dealings with me, however, it would not be surprising if He called me to enlarge work in this way. Lord, please teach me Your will in this matter.