|Chapter 5||Contents||Chapter 7|
I have already given a number of examples to show how graciously and manifestly God anticipated every want, and always made my way ready for me whlie I knew it not; yet those instances were in reality so striking as well as numerous, that I will speak more at length of them, and recount them.
I do not need, however, to dwell on the general principle of faith in a living God, which was my starting-point of action. Beginning without any other capital than this, and continuing without any other than this, strengthened every step of my way in this belief, I went on not only receiving orphans and poor students under my charge, but venturing on the building of my Orphan House. It must be seen at a glance that a proceeding so unusual must be interesting to trace step by step; that the usual receipts and expenditure would not come and go in the usual fashion; that the novelty of the undertaking would bring much doubt and, perhaps, despondency, or, if entirely successful, much quickening of faith.
The following instances will make all this clear:—
Before the Easter of 1696 came, I was reduced to unusual straits, hardly knowing what we should do the next week. I had not yet become accustomed to be so tightly pressed; but God opened a way at just the right hour, for precisely at the moment of my sorest need, some one (I know not to this day whom, whether man or woman, old or young) was moved to send me one hundred and fifty pounds.α The Lord repay that opportune giver!
At another time we were reduced almost to destitution, and the steward came to me with the tidings that he was out of meat, and grain, and wool, and clothing; I made it at once the subject of special prayer. A person, not of wealth, but of influence, providentially present, became aware of our need, and letting our trying circumstances be known to others, we were at once relieved, and our wants supplied. God asserted the truth of his Word, that He hears the young raven's cry.β Directly after my prayer for help in our distress, while I was taking my dinner, some one knocked at my door. I opened it, and found an old friend, who offered me seven pounds.γ Three more followed thereafter; and so all my wants were supplied, and God showed Himself true to us.
In 1698, a Christian lady sent me a ducat,δ with this word, that once a ducat had come to her most opportunely for her wants, and that she sent me one with the hope and prayer that God would bless my poor orphans by putting into my hands a great pile of ducats.ε
Very soon after, another friend brought me twenty-five ducatsζ more. The same day a person in Sweden sent me two ducats;η and not long after, I received though the post twenty-five more, without the donor’s name. Not many days elapsed before an old friend of the institution, who had given me money before, sent twenty ducats;θ and not long after all this, Prince Louis of Wuertemburg died, and in his last hours drew from his drawer a satin purse containing five hundred ducats,ι and said, “This is for the Orphan House at Halle.” This last gift was of inestimable service in enabling me to go on with the building.
When this heap of ducats lay before me on the table, I remembered the prayer of the pious lady who sent the single ducat, and wrote that she hoped that God would send me great pile of ducats for my orphans.
In February, 1699, I experienced again the most trying want. It was the severe proving of my faith. The larder was destitute, and I knew not which way to turn. I kept revolving over in my mind continually this verse, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all other things shall be added unto you;” κ yet the care of the temporal was constantly wrestling in my soul with my care for the eternal. I had a great effort to cherish my faith in God undisturbed by the want of the present time. As I paid out the last piece of money, I uttered in my heart this prayer, “Domine, respice ad indigentiam meam!” that is, “ Lord, look in compassion on my need.”
I went forth from my chamber at once, on my way to the University, to deliver my usual lecture to my class, and unexpectedly found a student below, who handed me a package containing fourteen pounds,λ which a friend more than two hundred miles away had sent me for the use of the Orphan House.
And so it always was, that although no half week went by without bringing heavy demands on me, yet God always anticipated me, and raised up means at the most opportune moment to meet my necessities, and at the same time to strengthen my faith. Gradually I grew strong and untroubled in the conviction that each hour would bring the help to bear its burden, and my faith could not be shaken that God would carry me through, and grant me to see the fulfilment of all my plans and hopes.
On the 10th of march I was wholly out of funds. To my surprise a public hangman came in to see me, and brought me sixteen shillings,μ which, coming from such a quarter, gave me new assurance of the favour of God.
Soon after this we were out of everything. The steward came in with his accounts, and showed me how sore was our need. I had no money for him, and he had nothing for the household. It was another of our dark hours. I bade him hope on, and have faith, and then continued my own labour (I was dictating), till I had finished what I was on, and then retired to pray. But just as I was closing the door to my room, a merchant appeared, and placed in my hand a roll containing two hundred and fifty pounds,ν to be appropriated to the needs of the Orphan House. I thought of the words of Holy Writ,
Before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear.ξGoing into my chamber, I offered a prayer of thanksgiving instead of supplication, for my wish and expectation had been changed into perfect fulfilment.
On the 21st of March, I received a letter from the post, enclosing four ducats and this rude couplet:—
One raised from sickness by the Lord,I do not know whence it came, but it was most opportune, for we were entirely without funds.
Gives this God’s goodness to record.
About Michaelmasο we were again reduced to great need; but the weather was so fine and invigorating that it gladdened my heart, and I felt like even exclaiming, How good it is to have nothing, and to rest entirely on God and his constant providence! I was entirely confident that a way would be opened to us out from our place of need, and felt perfect repose in my spirit. The master-mason who had come once before to inquire whether I had any money to pay off the workmen with, came again and asked, “Is anything come yet?” I answered, “No, but I have faith in God.” Scarcely had I said the word when a student came to me with thirty dollarsπ in his hand, which he said came from a donor who wished his name to remain unknown. I went at once to the master-workman, and asked how much money he needed to pay off the men. He answered, “Thirty dollars.” “Have you no need of more?” I asked. “No.” I told him then how wonderfully God had remembered us, providing just the sum needed; and the incident served for the strengthening of his faith as well as mine.
Not long after, when I hardly knew which way to turn in order to go on with the building, I received through the post eighty pounds,ρ with a note from a student stating that that sum had been given him for the use of the Orphan House. I cannot tell how much this confirmed my belief in the kind Providence that was leading us through darkness to light.
One day we were in such want that I repeated with unwonted earnestness the petition, “Give us this day our daily bread.” σ Then I quietly and trustfully waited, being sure that help would presently come. And true enough, my prayer had not long been uttered when a well-known friend rapped at the door and put into my hand eighty ounds. My earnest prayer was answered.
In the year 1700 I was sick for eight weeks. At last I was able to walk out, and to thank God for permitting me to enjoy again the blessings of light, and air, and exercise, and society, and work; on my walk a paper was given me, and another on my return, each being a cheque for twenty pounds,τ and with the second one a letter of great kindness and encouragement, bidding me God-speed in my work. This letter and cheque were from a merchant residing more than five hundred miles away.
At another time a Christian nobleman was visiting me, and inspecting the institution; he saw with pain how narrow were our circumstances, but unfortunately he was himself poor, and unable to assist us. Yet the same day he met a wealthy friend, described our work, and received from him a gift of ten poundsυ for us, which he brought with tears, so rejoiced was he at being able to minister thus unexpectedly to our wants.
At another time of want a merchant who lived eight hundred miles from Halle sent me five pounds,φ in South Germany currency, asking me to take the trouble of expending it in behalf of the Orphan House. Two other donations of the same amount each, soon followed this.
Another time when we were hard pressed God moved the heart of a pious peasant to bring all the money he could hold in his hands. It was one poundχ in small change. At another time still, a nobleman brought me all that he could hold in both hands. It was four pounds and eight shillings.ψ
α Per Intro., note β, £290 thousands/$360 thousands/€350 thousands.
β Job xxxviii.41.
γ Per note α, £7 (1867) = £13 thousands/$18 thousands/€16 thousands (2015),
£3 (1867) = £5800/$7200/€6900 (2015).
δ Original text contains this bracketed text: [about nine English shillings], per note α, £860/$1100/€1000.
ε Emphasis original.
ζ Per note δ, £22 thousands/$27 thousands/€26 thousands
η Ibid., £1700/$2200/€2100
θ Ibid., £17 thousands/$22 thousands/€21 thousands.
ι Ibid., £430 thousands/$540 thousands/€520 thousands.
κ Matthew vi.33.
λ Per note α, £27 thousands/$34 thousands/€32 thousands.
μ Ibid., £1500/$1900/€1800.
ν Ibid., £480 thousands/$600 thousands/€550 thousands.
ξ Isaiah lxv.24.
ο The feast of St. Michael, 29 September.
π Per note α, £52 thousands/$64 thousands/€61 thousands.
ρ Per note α, £150 thousands/$190 thousands/€18 thousands.
σ Matthew vi.11, Luke xi.3.
τ Per note α, £39 thousands/$48 thousands/€46 thousands.
υ Ibid., £19 thousands/$24 thousands/€23 thousands.
φ Ibid., £9600/$12 thousands/€11 thousands.
χ Ibid., £1900/$2400/€2300.
ψ Ibid., £8400/$11 thousands/€10 thousands.
|Chapter 5||Contents||Chapter 7|