“I will make mention of the lovingkindness of Jehovah, and the praises of Jehovah, according to all that Jehovah hath bestowed upon us”—Isa. 68:7.
For He, as yesterday, today, for ever,
The same abides, no change our God can know;
Nor powers of death, nor hell prevail to sever
The tie that binds to Him His church below.
John Withy, 1865
Concluding Details— Income For All Departments Of The Work
During the ten years since Mr. Müller’s death, the Lord in His lovingkindness sent us, three hundred and seven thousand, two hundred and eighty-one pounds, two shillings, and five pence three farthings. Thus making the income from the beginning of the work in 1834 and 1836, to reach the total of, one million, six hundred and seventy-eight thousand, one hundred and two pounds, ten shillings, and eight pence halfpenny.
In order to grasp the full value of these facts, the reader must bear in mind that all this money has been obtained without any kind of appeal whatsoever, public or private, to human ears, without bazaars, or any unscriptural ways, simply and only by believing prayer to our God. This condition of working the Institution in all its branches has
been maintained uniformly, and continuously all through Mr. Müller’s long life of service here for sixty-two years, and during the ten years that have passed since then, by Mr. Wright, and myself up to now.
Sanitary And Structural Alterations
In the Report for 1907 I mentioned the need of effecting structural and sanitary alterations. Various sums were sent in for this purpose, but not sufficient in amount to enable me to proceed. We waited on the Lord month after month until, through His bounty in January last, I felt free to begin, and have completed very important alterations at New Orphan House No. 1, which will tend in many ways, with the blessing of God, to the better health of our children.
Our need is still great for the further carrying on of similar improvements in the four other Houses. In addition to this there is great need for more Class-room accommodation. Also our Infirmaries need enlargement, to enable us to cope effectually with epidemics, and to provide more open-air accommodation for children suffering from consumption. For this, suitable, airy rooms could easily be added to our present Infirmaries. These, with the Sanitary alterations, would require thousands of pounds. For all this additional expense we “wait only upon God,” and our “expectation is from Him.”
Number Of Orphans Received, And Sent Out
During this same period we were allowed of God the special favor from Himself of welcoming to this Home two thousand, six hundred, and eighty-six children. When we remember the destitution some were in, the sad circumstances others were rescued from, and the happy results that have followed their reception, we can but gratefully praise the Lord for His mercy to them, and to us.
Throughout this same period two thousand, four hundred, and twenty-two children, left us, a large proportion having completed their time with us; some were returned to their relatives or friends, and some died.
Much could be written of “widows’ hearts caused to sing for joy,” as we sheltered their children, who in many cases were all but starving, but the record of it all is written by Him who is “a Father of the fatherless, and a Judge of the widows.”
Of the number who left us we had evidence that one thousand, six hundred and sixty-eight had been the subjects of a gracious work of the Holy Spirit, and we believe had passed from death to life. Concerning the reality of this spiritual change many have since given us abundant evidence. Some departed “to be with Christ” while with us; others after they had left us; concerning one I relate the following.
Happy Death Of An Orphan Girl.
Georgina Snell, aged 17, who had been with us 14 years, fell asleep after several months’ illness, on November 5th, 1907. During the early part of her illness she manifested a very hardened spirit, taking no interest in spiritual things, but grace wrought mightily in her; she was convicted of sin, and led to put her trust in the Lord Jesus Christ for the salvation of her soul. A marked change at once took place—her conduct, words, and even her face showing the depth and reality of her new-found joy. To those to whom she had done any wrong, she gladly acknowledged her faults.
She delighted in getting her companions up into her room, to tell them what God had done for her, and to exhort them to put their trust in Christ, and her testimony was made a blessing to some, (see one instance mentioned on page 319). It was always a spiritual help to any of the workers to go in and have a chat with her, and to see how full she was of the Lord, and His love. Over and over again, she said: “My last days are my best days.”
She bore most patiently her much suffering and weakness. Often at night she used to say: “I wonder if Jesus is coming tonight, I am quite ready to go.” Again and again when her doctor came to see her she would look up and say: “Not gone yet, Doctor, still waiting for Him.” On her last morning on earth she had a little service round her bed, asking that “Safe in the arms of Jesus” might be sung. Almost her last words were: “I am so comfortable; I am sure Jesus is coming soon, I feel Him so near.”
Our Care For Orphans Who Have Left Us
The girls whom we send out to service, at seventeen years of age, are under our care for twelve months after they leave. This calls for much prayer, and involves at times much correspondence, and occasional journeys to London, and other places on the part of our Matrons, to enquire into the cause of troubles that arise, and to seek to adjust difficulties, which are often happily settled; while at other times a further journey to deliver the girl up to her relatives becomes necessary.
The boys, whom we apprentice at fourteen years of age, are under our care during the period of their apprenticeship, which in most cases is five years; in other instances four years. Much prayer ascends on their behalf, and many journeys of shorter or longer distances are taken by one of our helpers, and much correspondence goes on with the boys, their masters and relatives. Seeing that we send out as apprentices, on an average, sixty boys each year, this part of our work involves a fatherly oversight of between two and three hundred lads in their early teens, the most critical part of their life.
Training Pupil Teachers.
In 1873 Mr. Müller began to train as Pupil Teachers, boys and girls who showed signs of a work of grace in their hearts, and gave evidence of fitness to be School Teachers. All our School Masters in the Senior Boys’ Schools, eight in number, were trained in this way; and of our Girls’ School Teachers, fourteen were trained by us. All these are doing good work for the Institution. Not all those who begin this training complete it, but we have abundant cause to praise our God for the rich measure of blessing that has rested on this branch of the work.
Training Girls To Be Nurses.
In 1904 a new departure was made. When Mr. Wright secured the services of my daughter to superintend the five Infirmaries, she started training girls, who seemed suitable, and who desired to be trained, as Nurses. This movement is only in its infancy. Yet we are hopeful of good results; already eight girls have entered on this training, two of them, after having been in our Infirmaries over two years, went for further training to a Hospital.
Reception Of Orphans Into This Home
In order to be eligible for reception, children must fulfill the following conditions,
1. Born in wedlock.
2. Bereft of one parent.
Children bereft of both parents have always the prior claim, and we never refuse such if destitute, and otherwise suitable.
3. Boys up to seven, and girls up to thirteen years of age are eligible.
4. They must be in needy circumstances. If friends could pay for their maintenance they are not eligible, not being destitute. Here I repeat what Mr. Müller delighted to emphasize. The Orphan Houses on Ashley Down, Bristol, are not our Orphan Houses, nor the Orphan Houses of any party or sect; they are God’s Orphan Houses, and the Orphan Houses for any and every destitute Orphan, provided, of course, there be room in them.
5. There is no voting for candidates: no nomination; no interest of any kind is necessary for admission. The more destitute they are, and the more devoid of any friends whatsoever, the more we are delighted to welcome them.
6. Without favor, or partiality, or sectarian bias, applications for the admission of Orphans are dealt with in the order in which they are received.
During these ten years we were granted by our God the joyful privilege of aiding nearly two hundred Missionaries, laboring in direct Gospel work at home and abroad. These are not the Missionaries of the Scriptural Knowledge Institution, but rather servants of God who labor for Him, and look alone to Him for the supply of their needs. Their fields of labor are in the British Isles, Europe, Asia, Africa, North and South America, West India Islands, and Australia.
From letters I received from some of these beloved laborers, it is evident that, notwithstanding all the modern assaults made on the truth of God, or the new gospels now proclaimed, we may gladly join the Apostle Paul in his grand utterance to the Church at Rome: “I am not ashamed of the gospel: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek” The lines of Dr. Isaac Watts, written two hundred years ago, beautifully describe my convictions today on this subject;—
“Questions and doubts, be heard no more;
Let Christ and joy be all our theme;
His Spirit seals His gospel sure
To every soul that trusts in Him.
“The guilty wretch that trusts Thy blood,
Finds peace and pardon at the cross;
The sinful soul averse to God,
Believes and loves his Maker’s laws.
“Learning and wit may cease their strife,
When miracles with glory shine;
The voice that calls the dead to life
Must be almighty, and divine.”
Details About The Schools At Home And Abroad
During these ten years we have been allowed of God to maintain entirely, and in some cases to help, Day Schools, and Sunday Schools conducted on scriptural principles—that is, where only believers are employed to teach, and the Word of God alone is the text book on religious matters.
The English Schools which we maintain are at Exeter, and at Galmpton in Devonshire, and Purton in Gloucestershire. The last is an important work for God; for in addition to School work, and Gospel meetings held on Sunday, it is the training place for our pupil teachers from the Orphan Houses, and from there they enter for the Government examinations.
Re-Building Of Purton Schoolroom
In connection with these Schools the following facts afford a beautiful instance of the Lord working for those who wait for Him. In 1870 Mr. Müller finished all building operations, and since then no prayer had gone up for money for building in connection with this work. Twenty-seven years later a new need arose, and the same method, which Mr. Wright terms below, “our unfailing resource in every difficulty,” was resorted to, with the following blessed result.
Under date of March 23rd, 1898, Mr. Wright wrote: “One of the Day Schools supported by the Scriptural Knowledge Institution has been carried on in the village of Purton for many years; H.M. School Inspector, while making from year to year very favorable reports of the condition, working, and results of the School, felt it necessary to inform the Education Department that the building did not conform to the requirements of the Government Cod^. In consequence, we received, rather more than a year ago, official intimation that, unless the building was reconstructed, the School could no longer be certified as an ‘Efficient Elementary School.’
“The closing of our School would necessitate the erection of new school premises by the local ratepayers, and would deprive the children of the spiritual advantage of a distinctly Evangelical education. Moreover, as Gospel preaching has been regularly carried on in the schoolroom every Lord’s-day for years, we felt that to allow this centre of Gospel light to be removed, involved a very grave responsibility. On the other hand, the building of Schoolrooms is not an object contemplated in connection with the School Fund of this Institution, so we had no means in hand applicable for the purpose.
“Under these circumstances we resorted to what the Lord has taught us is our unfailing resource in every difficulty, viz., faith in and prayer to the living God. We asked that He would show us His will in the matter; and, if this was that we should undertake the rebuilding of Purton Schoolroom, He would be pleased to cause monies to come in for this special object. At first very little came in. From May 31st, 1897, up to the end of January, 1898, only £4 in all had been received! Still, this small amount was a token for good, and we continued to call upon God. At last, upon the 4th of February, we received a donation of £50 for this object; and, the same day, £2 10s. more; the very next day, Feb. 5th, £25 more
came in. The sum in hand on March 8th amounted to £90 5s. Up to this time we did not consider the will of the Lord was sufficiently manifested to make any move. We, however, had not much longer to wait, for on March 23rd there came £450 from Bristol, which led us to the conclusion that we should go forward; so architect’s plans and specifications were prepared, and submitted to the Education Department, and were duly approved.”
Under date of Oct. 14th, 1898, he wrote: “Through the good hand of our God upon us, temporary premises were found in which the School could be carried on while the old building was being taken down, and the new one constructed. The beautiful weather which was granted during August and September favored the rapid execution of the work, and on October 10th the School re-opened in the new premises, which fully satisfy the Education authorities, and conduce greatly to the comfort of teachers and children, and facilitate very much the work of instruction.
“With joy I record, to the praise of our ever-faithful prayer-hearing God, that the whole expense, amounting to nearly £800, has been fully met; not only the cost of the new building for the mixed school, and new furniture for the same throughout, but also the sum required for extensive repairs and improvements to the Infant Schoolroom.”
It is a delight to me to record this fresh proof of the truth that God is to be trusted under all circumstances.
The picture opposite gives this schoolroom and its present occupants.
Schools In Italy
The Schools in the north of Italy are being much owned of God, and are greatly valued by the inhabitants of the places in which they are carried on.
I am glad to be able to insert a picture of Italian boys (opposite page 271), and one of Italian girls (opposite page 322), of the Schools at Rivalta Bormida, North Italy.
Besides this school work, we have been allowed of God to bear the entire cost of the training of a number of young Christians as pupil teachers, so as to enable them to qualify themselves under the Italian Government as School Teachers.
Upon these two branches of the work—Missions and Schools—we have been enabled to expend £33,298 4s. 6d.
Mr. Arnot’s Connection With The Work
When Mr. Wright was taken home, I waited much on God as to whom He had chosen and fitted to be associated with me in the Directorate of the work; and many friends joined me in this prayer.
After seven weeks’ prayer and deep exercise of heart, I wrote to Mr. F. S. Arnot, who was then in Central Africa, inviting him to join me. His wife and children were then in Bristol. When he got my letter he conferred with his fellow-workers in Africa, and together they were of one mind that the matter was of such grave importance, he ought to return to Bristol, and face the question on the spot, free from the bias the claims of Africa might involve. This he did, and joined me here in August. We wrought together most happily till April the following year, when he wrote me the following letter:—
“50, Clarendon Road,
“25th April, 1906.
“Dear Mr. Bergin,
“After over eight happy months’ service with you at Ashley Down, I have frankly to acknowledge that my lack of business training unfits me for the grave responsibilities of Director of the New Orphan Houses. You will forgive me thus withdrawing at the point mentioned in your letter of March 25th, 1905, in which you say:—
“‘After a time sufficient, if we both are so minded, we would confer with the Trustees as to your being publicly associated with me in the Directorate, and succeeding me should you outlive me.’
“Your recent illness compelled me to face the matter more seriously, and hastened me to this conclusion. The fact, too, that when your son came up at that time to help, he showed himself so conversant with each branch of the work, and so capable; and knowing that he is willing to stand by you is a great relief to my mind, as I would have felt leaving you alone.
“I can only add that for all spiritual work, and missionary matters within my reach, I am entirely at your service, and I hope you will still look upon me as your colleague, and helper by prayer in a work that draws out my deepest affection, and admiration for all the love and wisdom shown in the care of the Orphans in each department, and in every way.
“Believe me, dear Mr. Bergin,
“Ever yours sincerely and affectionately,
(Signed) “F. S. Arnot.”
This decision of his was an unexpected, and deep sorrow to me. I am thankful for the eight months’ happy service we had together; very thankful to him for his loving response to my invitation, and journey home to test the matter. We together bless and praise our God that not a cloud was allowed to arise between us, and that our love for one another increased.
In November of that year he returned to Africa, and spent fourteen months in visiting the Stations that are dotted over that continent, from Bihe to Lake Mweru. Then he had a serious illness, which nearly cost him his life. He returned with the deeper longing to spend his life there, but with the settled conviction that he could not reside in tropical Africa during the rainy season. He published an interesting account of this tour, profusely illustrated with photographs taken during his travels, which may be had at 78, Park Street, Bristol.
On the 30th July, 1908, he left England with his wife and family for Johannesburg, where he is now residing. In that very needy place he and his wife are doing a blessed work among the natives, and he hopes to pay extended visits into Central Africa.
Distribution Of The Word Of God
It has been our great joy to circulate 133,119 Bibles, and Testaments, and 29,545 portions of Holy Writ, and further to supply Bibles, and Testaments at half-price to a number of Schools, Sunday Schools, Bible Classes, and Mission Halls, also to aid colporteurs and conductors of Bible carriages by supplying them with Bibles, Testaments, etc., at greatly reduced prices. This branch of the work is a rich source of joy to us, as we believe “the sword of the Spirit” is its own best defense against the assaults of our great adversary the Devil, and all whom he employs to disparage it.
Well does David M. McIntyre write: “The Scriptures are alive because the Spirit of God lives in them. The Holy Spirit, who is the Divine Author of Scripture, is God; the Bible, therefore, is the utterance of a changeless mind.”
Both from our Bible Depot in Park Street, and from Ashley Down, large numbers of books and tracts have gone forth, calculated, with the blessing of God upon the reading of them, to help believers onward in their walk with God, and to warn the unsaved, and lead them to Christ.
In the distribution of these tracts, many servants of Christ in British Isles, and on the Continent of Europe, and in several other countries, have labored. Not a few testimonies have reached me of the Lord having graciously used these silent messengers as His means of leading souls “out of darkness into His marvelous light.”
There has been expended on these two branches of the work, £14,426 1s. 7d.
“To God the Father, God the Son,
And God the Spirit, three in one,
Be honor, praise, and glory given,
By all on earth, and all in heaven.”
“For of Him, and through Him, and unto Him, are all things. To Him be the glory for ever. Amen” (Rom. 11:36).
The New Birth And Everlasting Life
As this book is written with a view to the spiritual benefit of the reader, and as it is possible that there may be some who will read it who have not any personal experience of spiritual life, but who, on reading of the blessedness that others realize, desire that they might have the same joy, peace, and satisfaction, I add a few words indicating the scriptural plan of salvation.
First let me say, that it can be of no benefit to any reader to know what is Mr. Müller’s or my own opinion, or the opinion of any sect or party. Man’s opinion, whoever the man may be, counts for nothing; but it is of tremendous consequence that we should know God’s view of this matter, seeing He controls our whole destiny.
It may be asked, “Has God made clearly known His views? If so, where?” Yes, emphatically He has in His Word. The Bible claims to be the authoritative and final declaration of God’s mind on these matters. He “hath in these last days spoken unto us by His Son.” His revelation is styled “living oracles” (Acts 7:38); again, it is said, “the Word of the Lord abideth forever” (1 Peter 1:25). In Acts 17:11, we read that the Bereans were more noble than those of Thessalonica, “in that they received the Word with all readiness of mind, examining the Scriptures daily, whether these things were so.”
Now if the reader is ready to admit that God has declared His mind on the subject in the Bible, he will be desirous of ascertaining accurately what God lays down as the conditions upon which His salvation will be given. The one hindrance that keeps men from God is sin. God is a holy God, and cannot tolerate sin in His presence. “There shall in no wise enter into it anything unclean.” Now, if He is to forgive sin, it must be on righteous grounds. He could by a word bring the world into existence, but He could not forgive a sinner by the same exercise of power; so in His marvelous grace He sent from His bosom His beloved Son to become a man, in order that He might die for the purpose of bearing “our sins in His own body on the tree “ (1 Peter 2:24). Now, an adequate atonement having thus been made, He is able to offer through Him salvation to “whosoever will.”
But a student of the Bible is at once confronted with many texts that clearly show that a radical change of heart is necessary. In Luke 13:5 it says, “Except ye repent, ye shall all perish.” In John 3:7 it says, “Ye must be born again.” In Matt. 18:3 it says, “Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the Kingdom of Heaven.” So we see that a fundamental heart change is necessary. How, then, is this change brought about? We are told frequently in the Bible, that if a man repents, that is, abandons his former ground of confidence, and relies by a definite act of obedient trust on Christ and on His finished atonement, this wonderful change (the new birth) will be produced, giving him—(1) Forgiveness and justification from sin. (2) Eternal life. (3) The indwelling of the Holy Spirit, which will enable him to live a new life. “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life.”
To make it clearer, we might ask, “Who has everlasting life?” “He that believeth on (or trusteth in) the Son hath everlasting life,” and no one else. “But how does he get everlasting life?” By believing on the Son. “When does everlasting life become his?” When he believes; for the word “hath” shows that it is a present possession. You ask, “How do you know you have everlasting life?” The answer is, not by some peculiar emotion, or by a vision, or by an act of imagination, but simply by believing that what God says is really true. He says, “He that believeth hath everlasting life” and since I do believe, therefore I know, on the authority of the God that cannot lie, that I have everlasting life, and with it all the other blessings already mentioned, which Christ died to procure for us.
If my reader will now lay aside this book, and kneel down, and tell God that he abandons all his former ground of confidence, that he sincerely accepts Christ as his Saviour and Lord, and desires to trust only in Him, that moment will these eternal blessings be his. May God give grace to take this step.
“Amazing words!—He ‘gave Himself for me,’
For me—rebellious, sinful, guilty me.
For me the Saviour bore the cross and shame,
Rejoice, my soul, and bless His sacred name.
For me He left His glorious throne above,
For me revealed His Father’s wondrous love,
For me He tabernacled here below,
For me He drank the bitter cup of woe.
For me He was reviled, despised, betrayed,
For me was scourged, condemned and crucified,
For me He suffered on the accursed tree,
For me—lost, wretched, vile, unworthy me.
For me in agony He groaned and died,
For me God’s righteous law He satisfied,
For me complete atonement He has made,
For me He rose triumphant from the grave.”