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Schuermans
Schuermans

2017.103


Schuerman Village

Faith's Work Perfected

Chapter 6 Contents Chapter 8

Chapter VII

Special Providences Continued.

It has often happened that when friends have been present, and have heard of the wonderful manner in which God had succoured us, they have been disposed to do something for us, some instances of which I will mention.

There was present once a Christian stranger who gave me four poundsα for the poor, and while he was still with me at dinner, there came a lad who brought me four pounds, and a written promise that the same amount should follow every year, if the Lord should give health and strength; the lad would not say, however, who sent him, but asked for a receipt and went away. My guest was so affected by this circumstance that he immediately added ten poundsβ to his gift. The promise to give me the four pounds yearly, I might add, was literally fulfilled.

Of course, the work on which I was engaged was largely spoken about, and it was often the case that when people heard about how wonderfully God had blessed my labours, or read about the Orphan House, they felt constrained to assist me. A nobleman, for instance, after reading about the work devoted four pounds yearly to it, and always made his remittance promptly. Once when I took some ducats to a broker to be changed into North German currency, when he learned that it was for the poor and orphans, he added four pounds as his own gift.

It happened once that I was in great need of twenty pounds,γ but I did not know which way to turn to get one, let alone twenty. The steward came to me and told me how destitute the house was. I had nothing for him, and told him to come after dinner. Meanwhile, I betookδ myself to prayer. In the afternoon he came, but I had nothing for him, and bade him come again in the evening. A friend visited me in the after part of the day, and he and I joined in prayer, yet in spite of the necessities of my position and our urgent needs, I did not feel constrained to ask importunately, but on the other hand, was moved to thanksgiving to God for all his past mercies, not only to me, but to all the saints of old. When this good friend took his leave and I opened the front door, there stood on the one side of the entrance the steward who had come again to know if I had anything for him, and on the other side a gentleman who handed me a purse containing thirty poundsε contributed in behalf of the Orphan House. What could be clearer to me than that the cause I loved and laboured for was under the direct care of God, the eternal and living God, who not for a moment sleeps, and who still testifies that as he was to our fathers, so He is still to us?

At one time I was in need of six poundsζ to pay the workmen with. There were then visiting me some strangers, one of whom had formerly promised me two pounds, and the other, sixteen shillings,η but had appeared to have forgotten their promise. Meanwhile, I needed the money sorely, yet I had to send my master-workman empty-handed away, telling him that there stands the Orphan House, and up there in the heavens dwells God, and doubtless He will provide for us. He went back and found the workmen standing together, and waiting for their pay. Unexpectedly a friend came up, and the master-workman told him of the difficulty he was in. He at once lent him three pounds,θ but before he had fairly counted it out, and made it over, I received a gift of six pounds, which met all present needs.

At the end of the very next week, I was in want again, and it so happened that Friday was the day for me to settle my household accounts, and Saturday those of the building, yet there was no money on hand for either. But I felt sure it would all come right, I was confident that God would show me a clear token of his care. I quoted the divine promise to the steward, “Hitherto hath the Lord helped us;” ι and had no doubting about the end. The next day brought ten pounds.β

Another time our necessities were so urgent that the steward was compelled to sell a silver spoon which had been given to us, and yet not even that met our wants. But just then came in most opportunely, when the steward was almost giving up to despair, twenty pounds,γ twelveκ of which were needed at once. Two or three hours after this I received a letter stating that a friend had ten tons and a half of garden produce on the way for me. When the steward saw this double manifestation of God’s care, he felt deeply pained at the wicked faithlessness of his heart, and resolved that he never again would distrust the Lord’s readiness to provide.

Oftentimes when we felt ourselves destitute, and no large gift came in, we would find in the box nailed up at the door a thalerλ or a ducat, or a double-ducat piece, enough for present needs, and to show the watchful care of God.

I cannot and need not go further into detail. Other gifts, some of them scores of pounds at a time, I received, and as a general rule just when they were most needed. I have entered fully enough into these to show how wonderfully God anticipated all our wants, and met us just at the hour of need. I ought to say, however, that these gifts were by no means from the rich alone. That verse of Paul μ was eminently true of some of my benefactors,

The abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality.
Those who could not give money gave what they could— tin plates and cups, flax and yarn, linen, caps, hats, and stockings, sometimes complete suits of clothing, corn, peas, meat, fish, books, beer, salt, feather-beds and bedding, webs of cloth and remnants, silver forks and spoons, gold rings, costly stones and jewellry of all sorts; in one word, gifts of all kinds and degrees of value, all useful in their way, or capable of being converted into money, and all testifying that a watchful untiring God and a loving Father had the Orphan House in his faithful keeping; that its interests were always dear to him; and that He never despised my prayers, nor disregarded my faith in his constant providence.

It would be delightful, of course, for me to enter into a detailed summary of all the gifts to us, and the touching and cheering words which have often accompanied them. Since the time of our sore money trials were over, hardly a day has passed without bringing in a donation, either large or small. Ministers struggling to live on narrow incomes have sent us a few shillings, or a pound, or ten, or twenty, or fifty; pious students in the University, out of their meagre [sic] funds, have straitened themselves to help us. Widows, not a few, have sent their gifts, and with them their prayers; children have sacrificed the pennies which they had laid by for playthings and sweetmeats, that the orphan children might have a home. I have even had one little gift of a penny where I knew that poverty in its most trying form made even that a sacrifice, and it was more to my heart than many pounds would have been from the rich. Nor have these donations been from Germany alone, but from Poland, Sweden, Denmark, Russia, France, England, and, in fact, from almost all the countries of Christendom I have received them. Indeed, from England I have had some of my largest gifts. The entire record (and I have kept it entire) of all the moneys, the articles of jewellry [sic], silver plate, precious stones, clothing, food, and presents, either to be used or to be sold for the benefit of the institution, would fill a volume of much larger size than this. I am amazed as I look back and read page upon page of such records as these:— ν

From a poor student, twelve shillings.

From an Austrian merchant, ten pounds.

From a farmer a little way out of Halle, three tons of vegetables.

From a Christian mother, a diamond ring, which I sold for thirty pounds.

From a widow, two pounds, with a reminder of the promise attending the widow’s mite.ξ

From another widow, tenpence.

From a Bavarian nobleman, four pounds, with a promise to pay the same amount yearly during his life.

From a merchant, the bequest of two hundred pounds.

From a little child, with its love and its prayers, fourpence halfpenny.

From an Englishman, four pounds.

From a pastor, three shillings.

From a schoolmaster, two shillings.

Page after page of such entries I could transcribe, the sums ranging all the way from a few pence up to a thousand pounds. They are repetitions, it is true, one of another, with a slight change of names and amounts, but the effect on the mind, on seeing the stupendous columns, and the immense aggregates, makes one cry out, “What hath God wrought!” In the letters accompanying these gifts, all the sweet Bible words about faith in God, all the gracious promises of God were revealed, and used to fill my heart with joy. But it would defeat my purpose to reproduce them all here. Enough has been given already to show how graciously God led us, how hard He tried us at first, how widely He opened his hand afterwards, when we had “proved Him,” ο and showed us that indeed He had a blessing for us too large to receive.π

Footnotes

α Per Intro., note β, £7700/$9600/€9200.
β 2 Ibid., £1900/$2400/€2300.
γ 2 Ibid., £38 thousands/$48 thousands/€46 thousands.
δ Past tense of “betake:” go to, gone to
ε Per note α, £58 thousands/$73 thousands/€70 thousands.
ζ Ibid., £12 thousands/$14 thousands/€14 thousands.
η Ibid., £2 (1867) = £3800/$4800/€4600,
16s (1867) = £1500/$1900/€1800 (2015).
θ Ibid., £5800/$7200/€7000.
ι I Samuel vii.12
κ Ibid., £23 thousands/$29 thousands/€28 thousands.
λ Per Intro., note γ, a thaler was worth about £140/$180/€170.
μ II Corinthians viii.2.
ν Table of amounts:
4 1/2p£36$45€43
10p£80$100€96
2s£190$240€230
3s£290$360€350
12s£1200$1400€1400
£2£3800$4800€4600
£4£7700$9600€9200
£10£19 thousands$24 thousands€23 thousands
£30£58 thousands$72 thousands€70 thousands
£200£3.8 millions$4.8 millions€4.6 millions
ξ Mark xii.41-44; Luke xxi.1-4.
ο Malachi iii.10.
π Luke vi.38.


Chapter 6 Contents Chapter 8