Ten Years After: A Sequel To The Autobiography Of George Müller
Being An Account Of The Work At The Ashley Down Orphanage, Bristol, For The Ten Years Following The Death Of Mr. Müller
J. Nisbet & Co., Ltd.
“He counteth the number of the stars.”—Psalm 147: 4.
“The very hairs of your head are all numbered.”—Matt. 10:30.
My dear Almighty Lord,
My Conqueror and my King
Thy sceptre and Thy sword,
Thy reigning grace I sing;
Thine is the power;
Behold I sit
In willing bonds
Beneath Thy feet.
In the early thirties of last century the Lord implanted a strong desire in the heart of His servant George Müller, who was then under thirty years of age, to present to the Church and the world a visible, tangible proof that He delights to hear and answer the prayers put up to Him in the worthy name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
The lack of faith which Mr. Müller saw around in the children of God, and the growing materialism in the world, moved him in the year 1836 to begin this testimony.
The Lord granted such a measure of success to this effort, that far beyond anything Mr. Müller ever conceived, he was allowed, all through the remaining years of the century, up to his death in 1898, to bear a clear, full, unmistakable testimony to the fact that God is, that He is the living God, and “that He is a rewarder of them that seek after Him.”
In His infinite grace, the Lord called me very shortly after Mr. Müller’s death, to this work; and after six years and nine months of most blessed association with beloved Mr. Wright, He took him unto Himself. Thus upon me devolved since then the holy and blessed work of seeking to maintain, in this twentieth century—which needs it even more than the nineteenth did—this unique testimony for God. Verily has the Lord fulfilled to me the words of the Psalmist, “Thou hast given a banner to them that fear Thee, that it may be displayed because of the truth” (Psalm 60:4), and my heart’s desire is, by His enabling, to display this banner with unwavering hand.
After experiencing during these ten years, partly with Mr. Wright and partly without him, the responsibility of this work, I do most gladly say, what Mr. Müller and Mr. Wright often said, I am not tired of this way of carrying on the work of God. Yea, I bear my feeble testimony that it is the best way, the happiest way, the way most conducive to the spiritual profit of the workers, and the way that brings most glory to our God and Father.
The marvellous blessing which the Lord has been pleased to grant to readers of Mr. Müller’s own Narrative of the Lord’s Dealings with George Müller, and Dr. Pierson’s George Müller of Bristol, besides smaller works, and finally to the readers of the Centenary Memorial volume, The Autobiography of George Müller, published Sept. 27th, 1905, has wrought in me the conviction that it is desirable, now that ten years have elapsed since Mr. Müller was taken home, to compile, from the yearly Reports of the work done at Ashley Down during this period, such records of facts as would be of permanent interest, and thus perpetuate the testimony so long borne to the faithfulness of God.
The increasing materialism of our times, when an awful fulfillment is going on before our eyes of the solemn words of our God, “Now the Spirit speaketh expressly that in later times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of demons,’” constrained me to reproduce in book form some of the remarkable answers to prayer found therein. I have added little besides.
Three purposes are before me in so doing: (1) That God may be glorified in the setting forth plainly that this work is His, and that He can carry it on by whatever instruments He chooses. (2) That His own loved children may be blessed, and their faith in Him strengthened, by making manifest that He delights to care for all their needs, and to hear and answer their prayers. (3) That those who know not the joy of having God as their Father, may hereby be convinced that He is the living God, and be thus led to trust in our Lord Jesus Christ for their salvation.
Will the reader kindly help by prayer, asking the Lord to graciously use this feeble effort, so that the triple object may be fulfilled.
This book is a sequel to the Autobiography of George Müller, published in 1905, which contains a record of the work from its commencement in 1834 up to 1898. As in a chain, where each link is complete in itself, yet of necessity each link overlaps the other, so this sequel will be found to overlap its predecessor, consequently there are some few instances of repetition of facts already recorded.
Those who have read Mr. Müller’s life, and now read this book, will see that the work is now conducted on exactly the same lines of faith in God only that have characterized it from the beginning.
In the compilation of this book I have had valuable assistance from my son, Dr. George F. Bergin, and in this I see another instance of our Heavenly Father’s loving-kindness in making a gracious provision for my help, by granting to him such a measure of restored health. Just ten years ago he returned from China, so ill that he fully expected “ to depart and be with Christ” but now for the past two years and ten months he has been daily at my side, rendering me, in all parts of this work, most efficient help. Many who see him now will remember how Mr. Wright laid hold on God for his restoration, and will observe in this an answer to his prayers.
The illustrations are reproduced by permission of Mr. J. W. Garratt, Ashley Down, and Mr. F. Holmes, Clifton.
Ashley Down Orphanage, Bristol
March 4th, 1909
“O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are His judgments, and His ways past tracing out!”—Rom. 11:33
Almighty God, to Thee
Be endless honors done,
The undivided Three,
And the mysterious One!
Where reason fails with all her powers,
There faith prevails, and love adores.
Dr. Watts, 1709
Of all the dealings of the Lord with Mr. Müller, perhaps none are more remarkable than the trials He caused him to pass through in his advanced years, even to old age.
The following words, taken from his latest writings, will bear out fully this statement, and will form a background on which to portray this record of the Lord’s dealings with those who succeeded him during the ten years following his home-call.
Mr. Müller’s Words About The Trials In The Work
Concerning the year ending 26th May, 1892, Mr. Müller wrote: “The Lord’s dealings with us during the last year indicate that it is His will we should contract our operations, and we are waiting on Him for directions as to how, and to what extent this should be done; for we have but one single object in connection with this Institution, viz., the glory of God.
“When I founded it, one of the principles stated was, ‘That there would be no enlargement of it by going into debt’: and in like manner we cannot go on with that which already exists, if we have not sufficient means to meet the current expenses. I have further to state that, by the grace of God, our trust in Him is unshaken, and we doubt not in the least, either His power, or His willingness to help us in His own time; and we believe also that only for blessing has He been pleased thus greatly to try our faith and patience, and not that He has in the way of chastisement forsaken us.”
The guidance thus sought was obtained, and later Mr. Müller wrote:
“We had no alternative but, on Oct. 31st, 1891, to close all the Foreign Schools, and the Home Schools, in all 33 schools, excepting those at Purton (Glos.), which we desire to carry on, if we can do so without going into debt, as the premises belong to the Institution.”
To the praise of God’s grace, I here tell that the Schools in Spain were not closed, the Lord enabled other servants of His to carry them on, and they still exist.
Regarding these deep waters of trial, he further writes: “Reference has been repeatedly made to the want of funds for the support of the Orphans. I have now to state that £1,951 7s. 1¼d. more was expended for them than had been received: and there were due to the helpers in the work, salaries for the last three-quarters of a year, amounting to £1,712. This is, within the past fifty-eight years, the second time only that the income was not equal to the expenses. In the year 1881-2, the expenses for the Orphans exceeded the income by £488 6s. 9½d., which amount was carried to the next year’s account; but at that time, in less than a month after the commencement of the new financial year of the Institution, by the payment of legacies received, we had about six times as much as the deficiency; and all this took place before an account was published in the Report, that the expenses had been greater than the income. We had drawn on the bank then, in consequence of many legacies, which had long been left, and of which some large ones were overdue, but had not been paid; and in like manner, on the 26th of May, 1892, sixteen legacies which had been left were due, and might any day be paid to us, amounting to £3,435 altogether. There have been besides also forty-five other legacies left to the Institution, amounting altogether to £25,983, which legacies however depend, as to payment, on the death of relatives of the testators, and in most instances on the decease of widows. I simply refer to this to show that we did not draw on the bank at the end of this last financial year of the Institution whilst we had no prospect of being able to meet the account. Besides this, there are the five large Orphan Houses, erected and furnished at a cost of £115,000; and these Houses are entirely unencumbered. Further, we have about nineteen acres of Building Land, which might be sold for many thousands of pounds.”
These trials of faith continued during the next year.
On Feb. 17th, 1893, he wrote: “The first two deliveries of letters brought only £4. There is, therefore, again special exercise of faith, but, by the grace of God, we look with unshaken confidence to Him for help.”
On March 1st: “The income during the week ending today, was £92 8s. 3¾d. for the Orphans, and £9 11s. 2d. for the other objects, being about the sixth part of our weekly expenses; but now the great trial of our faith was nearly brought to a close, as will presently be seen.”
Sale Of Land
On March 4th, he writes: “This very day God begins to answer our prayers, as we have received a very good offer for the land we have to sell. The beginning of the day was darker, as to outward appearances, than ever: but we trusted in God for help. The first three deliveries of letters brought us only £4. But God has now helped us. We have been able this evening to sell ten acres and two-fifths of an acre of land at £1,000 per acre. The contract was signed at 8 o’clock this evening.”
He again wrote: “There was paid on March 28th £5,811 on account of the land which was sold. Now the Lord has helped to the full for the present, as He did assist me in former days, when many times I received £5,000 at once, also £8,100 at one time, £9,000 at once, and even £11,100 at one time. Thus after much trial of faith and patience, the answer has come at last, and by the grace of God our faith and patience were sustained without wavering to the end.”
Mr. Müller here records the facts that occurred at that date (1893), when he had been engaged for fifty-seven years in the Orphan work. He does not, however, tell us the pangs of sorrow it must have cost him to sell that land which he had bought in 1864. If the reader will turn to the “Autobiography,” and trace on pages 289 to 300 the deep exercises of soul through which he passed, the three years of unceasing daily prayer, the faith in God as to exceedingly great difficulties in the way of obtaining this land, and the joy at seeing these difficulties removed, he may be able to enter into my thought as to what it must have cost him, in the way of anguish of heart, to decide to sell the fair fields, which lay in front of No. 4 and No. 5 Orphan Houses.
Yet once he became assured it was the will of his Lord that he should sell it, he calmly narrates, “God has now helped us: we have been able this evening to sell ten acres and two-fifths of land.” Thus the beloved servant of God, who in 1870, when his devoted wife Mary was taken from him, tells us, “My inmost soul bowed under the trial, and I was not merely perfectly satisfied with this trying dispensation, but habitually kissed the hand of my loving Heavenly Father, who had given the stroke”; now in holy calmness simply records the fact he has been led to see was the will of God for him.
Renewed Trials Of Faith During Mr. Müller’s Last Two Years
Concerning the year ending May 26th, 1896, he writes: “Our faith has been tried exceedingly during the whole year in regard to pecuniary supplies, yet we have been continually sustained, so that, without the least wavering, we have been carried through the year.”
Supplies Do Not Come Through Reports Being Sent Out
He writes on July 30th: “The income by the first two deliveries was £1 10s. Many copies of the new Report have recently been sent out to donors, and people say that the Reports bring the money. See what would become of us if we trusted in the Reports! We are just now in great need of means, having before us very heavy expenses, and thus our faith is tried, but with unshaken confidence we look to the Lord, who has never failed us, and not in the least degree to the Reports.”
Also on September 30th: “Our need has been great, very, very, great, almost during the whole of the past year. We do nothing under these circumstances, but give ourselves to prayer, and to pray more frequently for help, and God speaks to His stewards for us.”
Nothing In Hand
Again, on October 27th he writes: “When the monthly balance was taken this morning, it was found that all the money for the Orphans was expended. We have 45 sacks of flour, 20 bags of rice, about 100 sacks of potatoes, and a large quantity of oatmeal in stock, but no money. In the course of the day came in £15. Thus the reader can see our position, and the exercise of our faith.”
The Number Of Prayer Meetings Increased
The continuance of the trial was so great that he writes on Feb. 12th, 1897: “The first two deliveries did not bring one single penny in all the many letters I had. During this week we have to expend more than £1,000, and our income is exceedingly small, and has been so for some time. I do not remember one single day, for more than forty years, when the first two deliveries brought nothing at all. We have now arranged to have, from this day, six united prayer meetings for the helpers, instead of three a week, as for years past; for we expect that more united prayer, more exercise of faith, and more patience, will bring more help. There have been many legacies left, and some are long overdue, but they remain unpaid.”
He writes on March 6th: “Today we have begun the 64th year of the Institution, and our trial of faith is as great or greater, than it was during the eleven years from 1838 to 1849. Five deliveries of letters have brought us today £9, viz., just the tenth part of the daily average expenses, which are £90. We continue, with unshaken confidence, to look to the Lord. His time to help us more abundantly is not yet come, but it will come. With every delivery of letters I look for an answer to prayer.”
Again, he writes on March 10th: “The income for this week is £211 6s. 4¾d., one-third of the average expenses. We meet six times a week for prayer. This evening 53 helpers were present, the others were engaged, and at work. The trial of faith becomes greater and greater, with every day.”
He writes on May 8th: “The trial of our faith continues, and becomes greater and greater. This morning the first two deliveries brought many letters, requesting grants of tracts, applications for servants or apprentices, requests from poor persons for help, receipts, bills, etc. but not one penny in the way of donations for the Institution.”1
Yet again, he writes on the 27th: “For two years now uninterruptedly, day by day, faith, prayer and patience have been called for. We have been however sustained, the Institution goes on, and is still used by the Lord.”
The trial continues, and he writes on Nov. 3rd: “In our deep poverty we received today altogether £103 17s. 1¾d. We also, today, received five more Orphans.”
Yet again he writes, on February 26th, 1898: “The income today, by the first two deliveries, was £7 15s. 11d. Day by day our great trial of faith and patience continues; yet, by Thy grace, we are sustained.”
Deliverance Comes Nine Days Before Mr. Müller’s Death
Still further, after over two years of trial, he writes, on March 1st: “With scarcely the least intermission the trial of our faith and patience has continued. Now, today, the Lord has refreshed our hearts. This afternoon came in £1,427 is. 7d. as part payment of a legacy of the late Mrs. E. C. S. For 3 years and 10 months this money has been in the Irish Chancery Court. Hundreds of petitions have been brought before the Lord regarding it, and now, at last, this portion of the legacy has been received.”
How gracious it was of the Lord to order that these “hundreds of petitions” should be answered nine days before his home-call.
Through the great financial strain of which Mr. Müller wrote frequently, the Lord fulfilled, in one respect, the oft-repeated prayer of His beloved servant: “Lord, make my last days to be my best days;” for by the grace of God abounding to him through all that long period of trial, “he endured as seeing Him who is invisible,” and departed to “receive the crown of life,” according to the Holy Spirit’s utterance through James, “Blessed is the man that endureth trial; for when he hath been approved, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord promised to them that love Him.”
Mr. Müller’s Reasons For Beginning This Work
The following words of Mr. Müller set forth the motives that impelled him to commence this work, and as they express the aim which I desire by the grace of God to keep ever before me, I give them here in extenso:
“It is quite true that my heart was affected by the deplorable physical condition in which I saw destitute Orphans before I began to care for them; but a higher motive by far actuated me than merely seeking to benefit their health. For more than sixty years [now seventy-two] we have constantly sought the physical well-being of the Orphans, and thousands of them have been benefited, even as regards their health. The lives of many hundreds have been saved, humanly speaking, through their having been received under our care; and their health has been established, by the blessing of God, through wholesome food, proper clothing, thorough cleanliness, regular habits, and a healthy dwelling-place. The low death-rate at the Orphan Houses, year after year, is in itself a proof how the children are cared for physically.
“It is further true, that I had a desire to benefit the Orphans by seeking to educate them; but I aimed at far more than this. For sixty-one years [now seventy-two] we have sought to develop, and to cultivate their mental powers, and to what extent we have succeeded will be seen by this, that, though the girls are more especially trained for domestic service, and the boys for trades, very many of the girls, by reason of their good education, have become housekeepers and book-keepers in establishments, and very many are filling places of great responsibility; many also are now teachers. As regards the boys, many of them have now a business of their own, or are managers of businesses; some are partners in large houses of business, others are clerks in offices, a considerable number have become teachers, and very many are engaged in preaching the gospel in this country, or are Missionaries, or labor otherwise in the Church of God, by seeking to spread the truth.
“Further, when I began the Orphan Work, I aimed at the salvation of the children. To make them see their lost and ruined condition by nature through instructing them in the Word of God, and to lead them to put their trust in the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation, was my aim; and God has given us the joy of seeing thousands of them brought to believe in Him, so that few Institutions, perhaps, have been more abundantly blessed in this respect than the Orphan Houses on Ashley Down have been.
“Yet even this was not the primary object I had in view; but in carrying on this work, simply through the instru- mentality of prayer and faith, without applying to any human being for help, my great desire was that it might be seen that now, in the nineteenth century, God is still the living God, and that now, as well as thousands of years ago, He listens to the prayers of His children, and helps those who trust in Him. In all the forty-two countries through which I travelled during the past twenty-one years of my missionary service, numberless instances came before me of the benefit which this Orphan Institution has been in this respect, not only in making men of the world see the reality of the things of God, and converting them, but especially by leading the children of God more abundantly to give themselves to prayer, and strengthening their faith. Far beyond what I first expected to accomplish, the Lord has been pleased to give me. But what I have seen, as the fruit of my labor in this way, may not be the thousandth part of what I shall see when the Lord Jesus comes again; as day by day, for sixty-one years, I have earnestly labored, in believing prayer, that God would be pleased, most abundantly, to bless this service in the way I have stated.
“Years before I was honored to found this Institution, I saw that what the Church of God especially needed, was an increase of faith, and that therefore it would be of great benefit to the believers in the Lord Jesus to see clearly, that the living God is still the living God, and therefore still as able, and as willing as nineteen hundred years since, to answer prayer. I therefore resolved: (1) Never to ask any human being for money for this work; nor (2) To state our need of pecuniary help, while in need, either directly or indirectly, even if asked so to do. Not, as if this were sinful, but that thus the Church of God might be led more to trust in the living God; and great spiritual blessing has thus come to many thousands of the children of God in many parts of the earth: yea, many unbelievers have seen thus the reality of the things of God.”
The income for the Orphans the last ten years of Mr. Müller’s life was, £231,909 9s. 1¾d., including the amount received for land sold.
“O taste and see that Jehovah is good:
Blessed is the man that trusteth in Him.
O fear Jehovah, ye His saints:
For there is no want to them that fear Him.
The young lions do lack, and suffer hunger:
But they that seek Jehovah shall not want any good thing.”
Ps. 34:8, 9, 10
1 A similar experience is recorded on Feb. 12th. These are the only two days in the last 50 years of which this is true. It shows how intensely severe was the trial the Lord in His wisdom, caused His aged servant to endure in his last days.