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It must be thought by my reader that pecuniary difficulties were the only ones that I had to contend with; there were others that were more trying to my feelings than even the narrow circumstances to which I was subjected. True, it was a daily trial of faith to rely implicitly on the care of Providence; those who have a full purse know that it is no slight thing to provide for the wants of some hundreds of persons; but with nothing in the larder, and with nothing in the purse, it needs no imagination to see that one must be hard pressed oftentimes to know which way to turn; and that I often was, for it did not always happen that God met my wants just at the hour of need; sometimes I was compelled to cry out with the Psalmist, “How long, O God, how long?” α— and I have known the time when, for want of money to buy a few candles, we have all spent a whole evening in darkness, and been brought to pretty sharp hunger.
But harder to bear than this were the misapprehensions of people who tried to work upon the public mind, and prejudiced it against me. All kinds of charges were made; and those opposed to religion were influenced to believe that I was an imposter or a fanatic. Those were provings of my spirit more subtle and powerful than any others I ever met. It was said that it was madness to build on so huge a scale. What could a vast system of houses be for? Why not confine myself to the accommodations with which I begun? I made brief answer to this—
That the Lord was rich enough to pay for it all; that I had not gone to work without counting the cost, for I knew that the Great Steward of the universe would think the paying the expenses of the Orphan House at Halle a very little thing.It was said I abused the children; that I gave them food which swine ought not to eat, and meagre at that. Such idle reports I could not meet in palpable shape, and disprove them; but they died at last as all lies will. Yet it was sore to bear this; for though we were at times pinched for food, yet it was very seldom. My pecuniary embarrassments were more generally in the way of my going on with the building than with the common wants of the body, and there was never any protracted suffering. There was such system in the whole direction that I knew just how everything was managed; and I knew that the table was always wholesome and abundant enough.
It was alleged that large sums of money came into my hands, which I appropriated to my private use; that I was laying up riches for my family to enjoy after my death; and as this stung as a poisoned arrow, it needed faith— a great deal of faith in God— to go on my way amid such charges as this; but God bade me look up and go on. The rumours of great amounts of money lying in my hands drew crowds of orphans and indigent persons to my door— far more than I had any accomodations for, spacious as were the new buildings. It was said that I had one room full of money— gifts of ten thousand dollarsβ were spoken of as of not unfrequent occurrence; and it was reported that my great trouble was to know what to do with it all. Meantime the public never saw into the real state of the case. During all the time, when hundreds were thronging in, I was never a day without being more or less straitened; large and frequent as were the donations, after the work was fairly under weigh, yet they never surpassed our urgent needs, and while crowds were standing in the outer hall, some living at a great distance from Halle, and demanding help, my steward would sometimes be in close consultation how we could give our own orphans a dinner. Thus wrongly was I misjudged, and evil spoken of. It was also said that I was becoming secular in my habits; that having become a business man I had lost all my pious habits; that I was engrossed in money affairs, and could not be expected to attend to religion at the same time. God forgive those my accusers, and give them more of what they missed in me!
They said also that I neglected my pastoral office, for it will not be forgotten that all this time I was a pastor, and had my own church to care for; and it is true that the great and growing interests of the Orphan House drew me away from the duties of my pastorate; but I saw that my place was made good by a man of great excellence and worth; and not till then did I feel that I could accept the new trusts that God had plainly assigned me. I remained the nominal pastor, and as far as I could I supervised the spiritual interests of my church; but the adjunct pastor assumed the most of the active labours of the position.
But it would be in vain for me to recount all the false and wicked charges which were brought against me. Happily God strengthened me, so that I went on despite them all. The openly irreligious people made light, of course, of an undertaking that rested on prayer and faith as its basis, and it grieved me to see their unconcealed opposition. But worse than theirs was the faithlessness of cold-hearted nominal believers— men who pretended to trust God, but who could not take Him at his promise. But the end justified all my confidence, and shamed their unbelief. I had not reckoned, the result proved, without my host. I became “more than conqueror through Him that loved us and died for us.” γ And the Orphan House at Halle, with its ample appointments and its flourishing dependencies, stands as the visible monument of the wonderful favour of God.
The favour of the Prussian Government has been displayed to me in a remarkable degree, and the favour of good men, not in my own country alone, but throughout all Christendom. The institution is at the time that I write put on such a foundation that, humanly speaking, and as far as can be seen now, it will be a perpetual blessing to Germany and the world. Its funds are ample, and its management has, I have every assurance, the public confidence. For all this I desire now, and while I live, to bless the Lord. He was my counsellor from the beginning, and my leader all through the work, and to Him and Him alone be all the glory.
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