A DOOR OPENED—TOKENS FOR GOOD—TRUST EXERCISED IN THE STUDY AND MINISTRY OF THE WORD—THE SWORD OF THE SPIRIT—TRUSTING IN GOD FOR DAILY BREAD—BLESSEDNESS OF WAITING UPON THE LORD—“OWE NO MAN”—“ACCORDING TO YOUR FAITH BE IT UNTO YOU”—THE GIFT OF FAITH, AND THE GRACE OF FAITH.
After I had preached about three weeks at Exmouth and its neighbourhood, I went to Teignmouth, with the intention of staying there ten days, to preach the word among the brethren with whom I had become acquainted during the previous summer, and to tell them of the Lord’s goodness to me. In the evening, Monday, I preached for Brother Craik, at Shaldon, in the presence of three ministers, none of whom liked the sermon; yet it pleased God, through it, to bring to the knowledge of his dear Son a young woman. How differently does the Lord judge from man! Here was a particular opportunity for the Lord to get glory to himself. A foreigner was the preacher, with great natural obstacles in the way, for he was not able to speak English with fluency; but he had a desire to serve God, and was by this time also brought into such a state of heart as to desire that God alone should have the glory, if any good were done through his instrumentality.
On Tuesday evening, I preached at Ebenezer Chapel, Teignmouth, the same chapel at the opening of which I became acquainted with the brother whom the Lord had afterwards used as an instrument of benefiting me so much.
During the week ensuing, Mr. M. preached almost daily at the same place, a blessing attending his labours.
By this time, the request that I might stay at Teignmouth, and be the minister of the above chapel, had been repeatedly expressed by an increasing number of the brethren; but others were decidedly against my remaining there. This opposition was instrumental in settling it in my mind that I should stay for a while, at least until I was formally rejected.
I preached again three times on the Lord’s day, none saying we wish you not to preach, though many of the hearers did not hear with enjoyment. Some of them left, and never returned; some left, but returned after a while. Others came to the chapel who had not been in the habit of attending there previous to my coming. There was a great stir, a spirit of inquiry, and a searching of the Scriptures, whether these things were so. And, what is more than all, God set his seal upon the work, in converting sinners. Twelve weeks I stood in this same position, whilst the Lord graciously supplied my temporal wants, through two brethren, unasked for. After this time, the whole little church, eighteen in number, unanimously gave me an invitation to become their pastor. They offered to supply my temporal wants by giving me fifty-five pounds a year, which sum was afterwards somewhat increased, on account of the increase of the church.
That which I now considered the best mode of preparation for the public ministry of the word, no longer adopted from necessity, on account of want of time, but from deep conviction, and from the experience of God’s blessing upon it, both as it regards my own enjoyment, the benefit of the saints, and the conversion of sinners, is as follows: First, I do not presume to know myself what is best for the hearers, and I therefore ask the Lord, in the first place, that he would graciously be pleased to teach me on what subject I shall speak, or what portion of his word I shall expound. Now, sometimes it happens that, previous to my asking him, a subject or passage has been in my mind, on which it has appeared well for me to speak. In that case, I ask the Lord whether I should speak on this subject or passage. If, after prayer, I feel persuaded that I should, I fix upon it, yet so that I would desire to leave myself open to the Lord to change it if he please. Frequently, however, it occurs that I have no text or subject in my mind, before I give myself to prayer for the sake of ascertaining the Lord’s will concerning it. In this case, I wait some time on my knees for an answer, trying to listen to the voice of the Spirit to direct me. If, then, a passage or subject, whilst I am on my knees, or after I have finished praying for a text, is brought to my mind, I again ask the Lord, and that sometimes repeatedly, especially if, humanly speaking, the subject or text should be a peculiar one, whether it be his will that I should speak on such a subject or passage. If, after prayer, my mind is peaceful about it, I take this to be the text, but still desire to leave myself open to the Lord for direction, should he please to alter it, or should I have been mistaken. Frequently, also, in the third place, it happens that I not only have no text nor subject on my mind previous to my praying for guidance in this matter, but also I do not obtain one after once, or twice, or more times praying about it. I used formerly at times to be much perplexed when this was the case, but, for more than twenty years, it has pleased the Lord, in general at least, to keep me in peace about it. What I do is, to go on with my regular reading of the Scriptures, where I left off the last time, praying (whilst I read) for a text, now and then also laying aside my Bible for prayer, till I get one. Thus it has happened that I have had to read five, ten, yea, twenty chapters, before it has pleased the Lord to give me a text; yea, many times I have even had to go to the place of meeting without one, and obtained it, perhaps, only a few minutes before I was going to speak; but I have never lacked the Lord’s assistance at the time of preaching, provided I had earnestly sought it in private. The preacher cannot know the particular state of the various individuals who compose the congregation, nor what they require, but the Lord knows it; and if the preacher renounces his own wisdom, he will be assisted by the Lord; but if he will choose in his own wisdom, then let him not be surprised if he should see little benefit result from his labours.
Before I leave this part of the subject, I would just observe one temptation concerning the choice of a text. We may see a subject to be so very full that it may strike us it would do for some other occasion. For instance, sometimes a text brought to one’s mind for a week-evening meeting may appear more suitable for the Lord’s day, because then there would be a greater number of hearers present. Now, in the first place, we do not know whether the Lord ever will allow us to preach on another Lord’s day; and, in the second place, we know not whether that very subject may not be especially suitable for some or many individuals present just that week-evening. Thus I was once tempted, after I had been a short time at Teignmouth, to reserve a subject which had been just opened to me for the next Lord’s day. But being able, by the grace of God, to overcome the temptation by the above reasons, and preaching about it at once, it pleased the Lord to bless it to the conversion of a sinner, and that, too, an individual who meant to come but that once more to the chapel, and to whose case the subject was most remarkably suited.
2. Now, when the text has been obtained in the above way, whether it be one, or two, or more verses, or a whole chapter or more, I ask the Lord that he would graciously be pleased to teach me by his Holy Spirit whilst meditating over it. Within the last twenty-five years, I have found it the most profitable plan to meditate with my pen in my hand, writing down the outlines as the word is opened to me. This I do, not for the sake of committing them to memory, nor as if I meant to say nothing else, but for the sake of clearness, as being a help to see how far I understand the passage. I also find it useful afterwards to refer to what I have thus written. I very seldom use any other help besides the little I understand of the original of the Scriptures, and some good translations in other languages. My chief help is prayer. I have never in my life begun to study one single part of divine truth without gaining some light about it when I have been able really to give myself to prayer and meditation over it. But that I have often found a difficult matter, partly on account of the weakness of the flesh, and partly, also, on account of bodily infirmities and multiplicity of engagements. This I most firmly believe, that no one ought to expect to see much good resulting from his labours in word and doctrine, if he is not much given to prayer and meditation.
3. Having prayed and meditated on the subject or text, I desire to leave myself entirely in the hands of the Lord. I ask him to bring to my mind what I have seen in my closet concerning the subject I am going to speak on, which he generally most kindly does, and often teaches me much additionally whilst I am preaching.
In connection with the above, I must, however, state that it appears to me there is a preparation for the public ministry of the word which is even more excellent than the one spoken of. It is this; to live in such constant and real communion with the Lord, and to be so habitually and frequently in meditation over the truth, that without the above effort, so to speak, we have obtained food for others, and know the mind of the Lord as to the subject or the portion of the word on which we should speak.
That which I have found most beneficial in my experience for the last twenty-six years in the public ministry of the word, is expounding the Scriptures, and especially the going now and then through a whole gospel or epistle. This may be done in a twofold way, either by entering minutely into the bearing of every point occurring in the portion, or by giving the general outlines, and thus leading the hearers to see the meaning and connection of the whole. The benefits which I have seen resulting from expounding the Scriptures, are these: 1. The hearers are thus, with God’s blessing, led to the Scriptures. They find, as it were, a practical use of them in the public meetings. This induces them to bring their Bibles, and I have observed that those who at first did not bring them, have afterwards been induced to do so; so that, in a short time, few (of the believers at least) were in the habit of coming without them. This is no small matter; for everything which in our day will lead believers to value the Scriptures is of importance. 2. The expounding of the Scriptures is in general more beneficial to the hearers than if, on a single verse, or half a verse, or two or three words of a verse, some remarks are made, so that the portion of Scripture is scarcely anything but a motto for the subject; for few have grace to meditate much over the word, and thus exposition may not merely be the means of opening to them the Scriptures, but may also create in them a desire to meditate for themselves. 3. The expounding of the Scriptures leaves to the hearers a connecting link, so that the reading over again the portion of the word which has been expounded brings to their remembrance what has been said, and thus, with God’s blessing, leaves a more lasting impression on their minds. This is particularly of importance as it regards the illiterate, who sometimes have neither much strength of memory nor capacity of comprehension. 4. The expounding of large portions of the word as the whole of a gospel or an epistle, besides leading the hearer to see the connection of the whole, has also this particular benefit for the teacher, that it leads him, with God’s blessing, to the consideration of portions of the word which otherwise he might not have considered, and keeps him from speaking too much on favourite subjects, and leaning too much to particular parts of truth, which tendency must surely sooner or later injure both himself and his hearers. Expounding the word of God brings little honour to the preacher from the unenlightened or careless hearer, but it tends much to the benefit of the hearers in general.
Simplicity in expression, whilst the truth is set forth, is, in connection with what has been said, of the utmost importance. It should be the aim of the teacher to speak so that children, servants, and people who cannot read may be able to understand him, so far as the natural mind can comprehend the things of God. It ought also to be remembered that there is, perhaps, not a single congregation in which there are not persons of the above classes present, and that if they can understand, the well-educated or literary persons will understand likewise; but the reverse does not hold good. It ought further to be remembered that the expounder of the truth of God speaks for God, for eternity, and that it is not in the least likely that he will benefit the hearers, except he use plainness of speech, which nevertheless needs not to be vulgar or rude. It should also be considered that if the preacher strive to speak according to the rules of this world, he may please many, particularly those who have a literary taste; but, in the same proportion, he is less likely to become an instrument in the hands of God for the conversion of sinners, or for the building-up of the saints. For neither eloquence nor depth of thought makes the truly great preacher, but such a life of prayer and meditation and spirituality as may render him a vessel meet for the Master’s use, and fit to be employed both in the conversion of sinners and in the edification of the saints.
Becoming convinced, after a prayerful examination of the Scriptures, that baptism should be administered only by immersion, Mr. Müller was then baptized in the spring of 1830.
It was so usual for me to preach with particular assistance, especially during the first months of this year, that once, when it was otherwise, it was much noticed by myself and others. The circumstance was this. One day, before preaching at Teignmouth, I had more time than usual, and therefore prayed and meditated about six hours in preparation for the evening meeting, and I thought I saw many precious truths in the passage on which I had meditated. It was the first part of the first chapter of the epistle to the Ephesians. After I had spoken a little time, I felt that I spoke in my own strength, and I, being a foreigner, felt particularly the want of words, which had not been the case before. I told the brethren that I felt I was left to myself, and asked their prayers. But after having continued a little longer, and feeling the same as before, I closed, and proposed that we should have a meeting for prayer, that the Lord still might be pleased to help me. We did so, and I was particularly assisted the next time.
On October 7, 1830, I was united by marriage to Miss Mary Groves, sister of the brother whose name has already been mentioned. This step was taken after prayer and deliberation, from a full conviction that it was better for me to be married; and I have never regretted since either the step itself or the choice, but desire to be truly grateful to God for having given me such a wife.
About this time, I began to have conscientious objections against any longer receiving a stated salary. My reasons against it were these:
1. The salary was made up by pew-rents; but pew-rents are, according to James ii. 1-6, against the mind of the Lord, as, in general, the poor brother cannot have so good a seat as the rich. 2. A brother may gladly do something towards my support if left to his own time; but, when the quarter is up, he has perhaps other expenses, and I do not know whether he pays his money grudgingly, and of necessity, or cheerfully; but God loveth a cheerful giver. Nay, I knew it to be a fact that sometimes it had not been convenient to individuals to pay the money when it had been asked for by the brethren who collected it. 3. Though the Lord had been pleased to give me grace to be faithful, so that I had been enabled not to keep back the truth when he had shown it to me; still, I felt that the pew-rents were a snare to the servant of Christ. It was a temptation to me, at least for a few minutes, at the time when the Lord had stirred me up to pray and search the word respecting the ordinance of baptism, because thirty pounds of my salary was at stake if I should be baptized.
For these reasons, I stated to the brethren, at the end of October, 1830, that I should for the future give up having any regular salary. After I had given my reasons for doing so, I read Philippians iv., and told the saints that if they still had a desire to do something towards my support, by voluntary gifts, I had no objection to receive them, though ever so small, either in money or provisions. A few days after, it appeared to me that there was a better way still; for, if I received personally every single gift offered in money, both my own time and that of the donors would be much taken up; and in this way, also, the poor might, through temptation, be kept from offering their pence, a privilege of which they ought not to be deprived; and some also might in this way give more than if it were not known who was the giver, so that it would still be doubtful whether the gift were given grudgingly or cheerfully. For these reasons especially, there was a box put up in the chapel, over which was written that whoever had a desire to do something towards my support might put his offering into the box.
At the same time, it appeared to me right that henceforth I should ask no man, not even my beloved brethren and sisters, to help me, as I had done a few times, according to their own request, as my expenses, on account of travelling much in the Lord’s service, were too great to be met by my usual income. For, unconsciously, I had thus again been led, in some measure, to trust in an arm of flesh, going to man instead of going to the Lord at once. To come to this conclusion before God required more grace than to give up my salary.
About the same time, also, my wife and I had grace given to us to take the Lord’s commandment, “Sell that ye have, and give alms,” Luke xii. 33, literally, and to carry it out. Our staff and support in this matter were Matthew vi. 19-34, John xiv. 13, 14. We leaned on the arm of the Lord Jesus. It is now twenty-five years since we set out in this way, and we do not in the least regret the step we then took. As I have written down how the Lord has been pleased to deal with us since, I shall be able to relate some facts concerning this matter, as far as they may tend to edification.
Nov. 18, 1830. Our money was reduced to about eight shillings. When I was praying with my wife in the morning, the Lord brought to my mind the state of our purse, and I was led to ask him for some money. About four hours after, a sister said to me, “Do you want any money?” “I told the brethren,” said I, “dear sister, when I gave up my salary, that I would for the future tell the Lord only about my wants.” She replied, “But he has told me to give you some money. About a fortnight ago, I asked him what I should do for him, and he told me to give you some money; and last Saturday it came again powerfully to my mind, and has not left me since, and I felt it so forcibly last night that I could not help speaking of it to brother P.” My heart rejoiced, seeing the Lord’s faithfulness, but I thought it better not to tell her about our circumstances, lest she should be influenced to give accordingly; and I also was assured that, if it were of the Lord, she could not but give. I therefore turned the conversation to other subjects, but when I left she gave me two guineas. We were full of joy on account of the goodness of the Lord. I would call upon the reader to admire the gentleness of the Lord, that he did not try our faith much at the commencement, but allowed us to see his willingness to help us, before he was pleased to try it more fully.
The next Wednesday I went to Exmouth, our money having then again been reduced to about nine shillings. I asked the Lord on Thursday, when at Exmouth, to be pleased to give me some money. On Friday morning, about eight o’clock, whilst in prayer, I was particularly led to ask again for money; and before I rose from my knees I had the fullest assurance that we should have the answer that very day. About nine o’clock I left the brother with whom I was staying, and he gave me half a sovereign, saying, “Take this for the expenses connected with your coming to us.” I did not expect to have my expenses paid, but I saw the Lord’s fatherly hand in sending me this money within one hour after my asking him for some. But even then I was so fully assured that the Lord would send more that very day, or had done so already, that, when I came home about twelve o’clock, I asked my wife whether she had received any letters. She told me she had received one the day before from a brother in Exeter, with three sovereigns. Thus even my prayer on the preceding day had been answered. The next day one of the brethren came and brought me four pounds, which was due to me of my former salary, but which I could never have expected, as I did not even know that this sum was due to me. Thus I received, within thirty hours, in answer to prayer, seven pounds ten shillings.
About Christmas, when our money was reduced to a few shillings, I asked the Lord for more; when, a few hours after, there was given to us a sovereign by a brother from Axminster. This brother had heard much against me, and was at last determined to hear for himself, and thus came to Teignmouth, a distance of forty miles; and having heard about our manner of living, gave us this money.
With this closes the year 1830. Throughout it the Lord richly supplied all my temporal wants, though at the commencement of it I had no certain human prospect for one single shilling: so that, even as it regards temporal things, I had not been in the smallest degree a loser in acting according to the dictates of my conscience; and as it regards spiritual things, the Lord had dealt bountifully with me, and had condescended to use me as an instrument in doing his work.
On the 6th, 7th, and 8th of Jan. 1831, I had repeatedly asked the Lord for money, but received none. On the evening of January 8, I left my room for a few minutes, and was then tempted to distrust the Lord, though he had been so gracious to us in that he not only, up to that day, had supplied all our wants, but had given us also those answers of prayer which have been in part just mentioned. I was so sinful, for about five minutes, as to think it would be of no use to trust in the Lord in this way. I also began to say to myself, that I had perhaps gone too far in living in this way. But, thanks to the Lord! this trial lasted but a few minutes. He enabled me again to trust in him, and Satan was immediately confounded; for when I returned to my room, out of which I had not been absent ten minutes, the Lord had sent deliverance. A sister in the Lord had brought us two pounds four shillings: so the Lord triumphed, and our faith was strengthened.
Jan. 10. To-day, when we had again but a few shillings, five pounds were given to us, which had been taken out of the box. I had, once for all, told the brethren, who had the care of these temporal things, to have the kindness to let me have the money every week; but as these beloved brethren either forgot to take it out weekly, or were ashamed to bring it in such small sums, it was generally taken out every three, four, or five weeks. As I had stated to them, however, from the commencement, that I desired to look neither to man nor the box, but to the living God, I thought it not right on my part to remind them of my request to have the money weekly, lest it should hinder the testimony which I wished to give, of trusting in the living God alone. It was on this account that on January 28, when we had again but little money, though I had seen the brethren, on January 24, open the box and take out the money, I would not ask the brother, in whose hands it was, to let me have it; but standing in need of it, as our coals were almost gone, I asked the Lord to incline his heart to bring it; and but a little time afterwards it was given to us; even one pound eight shillings and sixpence.
I would here mention, that, since the time I began living in this way, I have been kept from speaking, either directly or indirectly, about my wants, at the time I was in need. The only exception is, that in a few instances, twenty years or more since, I have, at such times, spoken to very poor brethren, in the way of encouraging them to trust in the Lord, telling them that I had to do the same, being myself in similar straits; or, in a few instances, where it was needful to speak about my own want, lest I should appear unfeeling, in that I did not help at all, in cases of distress, or not as much as might have been expected.
On February 14 we had again very little money, and, whilst praying, I was led to ask the Lord graciously to supply our wants; and the instant that I got up from my knees a brother gave me one pound, which had been taken out of the box.
On March 7, 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. It was but one hour after, when the Lord gave me another proof of his faithful love. A Christian lady brought five sovereigns for us, with these words written in the paper: “I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat; I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink,” etc.
April 16. This morning I found that our money was reduced to three shillings; and I said to myself, I must now go and ask the Lord earnestly for fresh supplies. But before I had prayed, there was sent from Exeter two pounds, as a proof that the Lord hears before we call.
I would observe here, by the way, that if any of the children of God should think that such a mode of living leads away from the Lord, and from caring about spiritual things, and has the effect of causing the mind to be taken up with the question, What shall I eat?—What shall I drink?—and Wherewithal shall I be clothed?—I would request him prayerfully to consider the following remarks: 1. I have had experience of both ways, and know that my present mode of living, as to temporal things, is connected with less care. 2. Confidence in the Lord, to whom alone I look for the supply of my temporal wants, keeps me, when a case of distress comes before me, or when the Lord’s work calls for my pecuniary aid, from anxious reckoning like this: Will my salary last out? Shall I have enough myself the next month? etc. In this my freedom, I am, by the grace of God, generally, at least, able to say to myself something like this: My Lord is not limited; he can again supply; he knows that this present case has been sent to me: and thus, this way of living, so far from leading to anxiety, is rather the means of keeping from it. And truly it was once said to me by an individual,—You can do such and such things, and need not to lay by, for the church in the whole of Devonshire cares about your wants. My reply was: The Lord can use not merely any of the saints throughout Devonshire, but those throughout the world, as instruments to supply my temporal wants. 3. This way of living has often been the means of reviving the work of grace in my heart, when I have been getting cold; and it also has been the means of bringing me back again to the Lord, after I have been backsliding. For it will not do,—it is not possible to live in sin, and at the same time, by communion with God, to draw down from heaven everything one needs for the life that now is. 4. Frequently, too, a fresh answer to prayer, obtained in this way, has been the means of quickening my soul, and filling me with much joy.
May 12. A sister has been staying for some time at Teignmouth on account of her health; and when she was about to return home to-day, we saw it the Lord’s will to invite her to stay with us for some time; as we knew that she would stay longer if her means allowed it. We were persuaded that, as we saw it to be the Lord’s will to invite her, he himself would pay the expenses connected with her stay. About the time when she came to our house, a parcel with money was sent from Chumleigh. A few weeks before, I had preached at Chumleigh and in the neighbourhood. The brethren, knowing about my manner of living, after my departure collected some money for me, and thus, in small offerings (one hundred and seven altogether, as I have been told), two pounds and one penny halfpenny were given. Thus the Lord paid for the expenses connected with our sister’s staying with us.
June 12. Lord’s day. On Thursday last I went with brother Craik to Torquay, to preach there. I had only about three shillings with me, and left my wife with about six shillings at home. I asked the Lord repeatedly for money; but when I came home my wife had only about three shillings left, having received nothing. We waited still upon the Lord. Yesterday passed away, and no money came. We had ninepence left. This morning we were still waiting upon the Lord, and looking for deliverance. We had only a little butter left for breakfast, sufficient for brother E. and a relative living with us, to whom we did not mention our circumstances, that they might not be made uncomfortable. After the morning meeting, brother Y. most unexpectedly opened the box, and, in giving me quite as unexpectedly the money at such a time, he told me that he and his wife could not sleep last night, on account of thinking that we might want money. The most striking point is, that after I had repeatedly asked the Lord, but received nothing, I then prayed yesterday that the Lord would be pleased to impress it on brother Y. that we wanted money, so that he might open the box. There was in it one pound eight shillings and ten-pence halfpenny.
November 16. This morning I proposed united prayer respecting our temporal wants. Just as we were about to pray, a parcel came from Exmouth. In prayer we asked the Lord for meat for dinner, having no money to buy any. After prayer, on opening the parcel, we found, among other things, a ham, sent by a brother at Exmouth, which served us for dinner.
November 19. We had not enough to pay our weekly rent; but the Lord graciously sent us again to-day fourteen shillings and sixpence. I would just observe, that we never contract debts, which we believe to be unscriptural (according to Romans xiii. 8); and therefore we have no bills with our tailor, shoemaker, grocer, butcher, baker, etc.; but all we buy we pay for in ready money. The Lord helping us, we would rather suffer privation than contract debts. Thus we always know how much we have, and how much we have a right to give away. I am well aware that many trials come upon the children of God, on account of not acting according to Romans 13 v 8.
November 27. Lord’s day. Our money had been reduced to two pence halfpenny; our bread was hardly enough for this day. I had several times brought our need before the Lord. After dinner, when I returned thanks, I asked him to give us our daily bread, meaning literally that he would send us bread for the evening. Whilst I was praying, there was a knock at the door of the room. After I had concluded, a poor sister came in, and brought us some of her dinner, and from another poor sister five shillings. In the afternoon she also brought us a large loaf. Thus the Lord not only literally gave us bread but also money.
After we had, on December 31, 1831, looked over the Lord’s gracious dealings with us during the past year, in providing for all our temporal wants, we had about ten shillings left. A little while after, the providence of God called for that, so that not a single farthing remained. Thus we closed the old year, in which the Lord had been so gracious in giving to us, without our asking any one,—1. Through the instrumentality of the box, thirty-one pounds fourteen shillings. 2. From brethren of the church at Teignmouth, in presents of money, six pounds eighteen shillings and sixpence. 3. From brethren living at Teignmouth and elsewhere, not connected with the church at Teignmouth, ninety-three pounds six shillings and twopence. Altogether, one hundred and thirty-one pounds eighteen shillings and eightpence. There had been likewise many articles of provision, and some articles of clothing given to us, worth at least twenty pounds. I am so particular in mentioning these things, to show that we are never losers from acting according to the mind of the Lord. For had I had my regular salary, humanly speaking, I should not have had nearly as much; but whether this would have been the case or not, this is plain, that I have not served a hard master, and that is what I delight to show.
January 7, 1832. We had been again repeatedly asking the Lord to-day and yesterday to supply our temporal wants, having no means to pay our weekly rent, and this evening, as late as eleven o’clock, a brother gave us nineteen shillings and sixpence,—a proof that the Lord is not limited to time.
January 14. This morning we had nothing but dry bread with our tea; only the second time since we have been living by simple faith upon Jesus for temporal supplies. We have more than forty pounds of ready money in the house for two bills, which will not be payable for several weeks; but we do not consider this money to be our own, and would rather suffer great privation, God helping us, than take of it. We were looking to our Father, and he has not suffered us to be disappointed. For when now we had but threepence left, and only a small piece of bread, we received two shillings and five shillings.
February 18. This afternoon I broke a blood-vessel in my stomach, and lost a considerable quantity of blood. I was very happy immediately afterwards. February 19. This morning, Lord’s day, two brethren called on me, to ask me what arrangement there should be made to-day, as it regarded the four villages, where some of the brethren were in the habit of preaching, as, on account of my not being able to preach, one of the brethren would need to stay at home to take my place. I asked them, kindly, to come again in about an hour, when I would give them an answer. After they were gone, the Lord gave me faith to rise. I dressed myself; and determined to go to the chapel. I was enabled to do so, though so weak when I went, that walking the short distance to the chapel was an exertion to me. I was enabled to preach this morning with as loud and strong a voice as usual, and for the usual length of time. After the morning meeting, a medical friend called on me, and entreated me not to preach again in the afternoon, as it might greatly injure me. I told him that I should indeed consider it great presumption to do so had the Lord not given me faith. I preached again in the afternoon, and this medical friend called again, and said the same concerning the evening meeting. Nevertheless, having faith, I preached again in the evening. After each meeting I became stronger, which was a plain proof that the hand of God was in the matter.
February 20. The Lord enabled me to rise early in the morning, and to go to our usual prayer meeting, where I read, spoke, and prayed. Afterwards I wrote four letters, expounded the Scriptures at home, and attended the meeting again in the evening. February 21. I attended the two meetings as usual, preached in the evening, and did my other work besides. February 22. To-day I attended the meeting in the morning, walked afterwards six miles with two brethren, and rode to Plymouth. February 23. I am now as well as I was before I broke the blood-vessel. In relating the particulars of this circumstance, I would earnestly warn every one who may read this not to imitate me in such a thing if he has no faith; but if he has, it will, as good coin, most assuredly be honoured by God. I could not say that if such a thing should happen again I would act in the same way; for when I have been not nearly so weak as when I had broken the blood-vessel, having no faith, I did not preach; yet, if it were to please the Lord to give me faith, I might be able to do the same, though even still weaker than at the time just spoken of.
About this time I repeatedly prayed with sick believers till they were restored. Unconditionally I asked the Lord for the blessing of bodily health (a thing which I could not do now), and almost always had the petition granted. In some instances, however, the prayer was not answered. In the same way, whilst in London, November, 1829, in answer to my prayers, I was immediately restored from a bodily infirmity under which I had been labouring for a long time, and which has never returned since. The way in which I now account for these facts is as follows. It pleased the Lord, I think, to give me in such cases something like the gift (not grace) of faith, so that unconditionally I could ask and look for an answer. The difference between the gift and the grace of faith seems to me this. According to the gift of faith, I am able to do a thing, or believe that a thing will come to pass, the not doing of which, or the not believing of which, would not be sin; according to the grace of faith, I am able to do a thing, or believe that a thing will come to pass, respecting which I have the word of God as the ground to rest upon, and, therefore, the not doing it, or the not believing it, would be sin. For instance, the gift of faith would be needed to believe that a sick person should be restored again, though there is no human probability, for there is no promise to that effect; the grace of faith is needed to believe that the Lord will give me the necessaries of life, if I first seek the kingdom of God and his righteousness, for there is a promise to that effect.
March 18. These two days we have not been able to purchase meat. The sister in whose house we lodge gave us to-day part of her dinner. We are still looking to Jesus for deliverance. We want money to pay the weekly rent and to buy provisions. March 19. Our landlady sent again of her meat for our dinner. We have but a halfpenny left. I feel myself very cold in asking for money: still, I hope for deliverance, though I do not see whence money is to come. We were not able to buy bread to-day as usual. March 20. This has been again a day of very great mercies. In the morning we met round our breakfast which the Lord had provided for us, though we had not a single penny left. The last halfpenny was spent for milk. We were then still looking to Jesus for fresh supplies. We both had no doubt that the Lord would interfere. I felt it a trial that I had but little earnestness in asking the Lord, and had this not been the case, perhaps we might have had our wants sooner supplied. We have about seven pounds in the house; but considering it no longer our own, the Lord kept us from taking of it, with the view of replacing what we had taken, as formerly I might have done. The meat which was sent yesterday for our dinner was enough also for to-day. Thus the Lord had provided another meal. Two sisters called upon us about noon, who gave us two pounds of sugar, one pound of coffee, and two cakes of chocolate. Whilst they were with us, a poor sister came and brought us one shilling from herself and two shillings and sixpence from another poor sister. Our landlady also sent us again of her dinner, and also a loaf. Our bread would scarcely have been enough for tea, had the Lord not thus graciously provided. In the afternoon, the same sister who brought the money brought us also, from another sister, one pound of butter and two shillings, and from another sister five shillings.
One bill I had to meet for a brother, the other was for money which, in the form of a bill, I had sent to the Continent; but in both cases the money was in my hands before the bills were given.