Missionaries wrote that money sent to them arrived in moments of desperate need. Although at times we have been brought low in funds, the Lord has never allowed us to stop the work. The number of children that have been provided with schooling in the day schools amounts to The number of copies of the Holy Scriptures which have been circulated is Bibles and New Testaments. We have also sent aid to missionary labors in Canada, the East Indies, and on the continent of Europe. Money given for one purpose was never diverted to another.
Soon they tackled an even bigger task. Convinced God was in it, he announced his plan publicly, taking care not to play on emotions. One of the first gifts was a single shilling. The Lord sent other small monetary gifts, supplies, furniture, a house, and helpers. Soon the first orphanage was open. In addition to this, today was Monday when generally the income is little. But in walking to the Orphan House this morning, and praying as I went, I particularly told the Lord in prayer. I walked up and down in my room for a long time, tears of joy and gratitude to the Lord raining plentifully over my cheeks, praising and magnifying the Lord for his goodness, and surrendering myself afresh, with all my heart, to him for his blessed service.
He did not think so, and therefore often lacked confidence. Consequently he ransacked the Bible for promises and prayed them back to God. His usefulness came, he knew, from communion with the Lord. For instance, during an outbreak of measles in , he prayed that the number of children sick at a given time would not overwhelm the infirmary, that none of the children would die, and that none would suffer permanent aftereffects. Instead of taking time to pray before one trip—despite knowing he should—he chatted with believers until it was time to leave.
Consequently he found himself unable to speak to anyone in the coach about Christ or even to pass out tracts, as was his custom. In December a boiler in one orphanage began to leak. It had to be repaired, but during the work there would be no heat and the small children would suffer. A day was set for repairs.
Then a bleak north wind set in. For example in November , the orphanage was in serious need. About twenty yards from my house, I met a brother who walked back with me, and after a little conversation gave me. Had I now been one half minute later, I should have missed him.
But the Lord knew our need. She donated her jewelry for the orphanage to sell. I seek at the beginning to get my heart into such a state that it has no will of its own in regard to a given matter. Nine-tenths of the trouble with people generally is just here. Having done this, I do not leave the result to feeling or simple impression. If so, I make myself liable to great delusions. The Spirit and the Word must be combined. If I look to the Spirit alone without the Word, I lay myself open to great delusions also.
The Autobiography of George Muller by George Müller
If the Holy Ghost guides us at all, He will do it according to the Scriptures and never contrary to them. Next I take into account providential circumstances. I ask God in prayer to reveal His Will to me aright. Thus, through prayer to God, the study of the Word, and reflection, I come to a deliberate judgment according to the best of my ability and knowledge, and if my mind is thus at peace, and continues so after two or three more petitions, I proceed accordingly. In trivial matters, and in transactions involving most important issues, I have found this method always effective.
Thus we received the first answer at a time of need. In a day or two again many pounds will be needed. My eyes are up to the Lord. She had some. Today I was again penniless. Adorable Lord, grant that this may be a fresh encouragement to me. The Lord mercifully has given enough to supply our daily necessities; but He gives by the day now, and almost by the hour, as we need it. Nothing came in yesterday. I have besought the Lord again and again, both yesterday and today. I believe that He surely will send help, though I know not whence it is to come.
Many pounds are needed within a few days, and there is not a penny in hand. Wigram begins to hold prophecy conferences in Plymouth, England. Benjamin Wills Newton and others begin meeting to break bread without denominational allegiance in Plymouth. He becomes ill and goes to Teignmouth, Devon, for rest and meets Henry Craik. Invited to become minister of Ebenezer Chapel, he moves to Devon. Later another home is acquired for boys and girls under the age of seven. By now there are 64 children.
There are now about Brethren assemblies in Britain and Ireland operating as an informal network. He renounces his regular salary and eliminates the renting of church pews at Ebenezer. He does not allow building to begin until he has all of the money to complete the project. The architect commissioned to draw up the plans asks if he might do so free of charge. Each house has its own dining room and its own infirmary.
Taylor arrives in China for the first time. Francke's orphanage — A further orphans are accommodated in Orphan House Number 4, bringing the total number of orphans cared for at Ashley Down to 1, He will travel over , miles, address over 3 million people, and preach in 42 countries.
The Exclusive group refuses to receive into fellowship in any of their assemblies anyone who has been disfellowshiped from another assembly. He acquires more land for the building of two more houses. She will briefly go to Japan with the Church Missionary Society. Capacity is now 1, children. Through his mentor, Margaret Barber, he is introduced to many Brethren authors. John, daughter of Harold, publishes her best-known work, Treasures of the Snow.
Chinese Communists arrrest Watchman Nee who will remain in prison until his death 20 years later. In search of simplicity and unity, they sought a fellowship broad enough to embrace all believers in Christ and yet pure enough to exclude churchgoers lacking a living faith. Small groups of seceders from established groups with this aim popped up in Dublin and the north of Ireland. The first centered on Edward Cronin — , a Catholic who had become Independent Congregational after an evangelical conversion.
In two well-off young men, a dentist and a lawyer, walked along Lower Pembroke Street in the heart of Dublin, speaking earnestly about a group of Christians from various churches who had begun meeting privately. The dentist, Anthony Norris Groves — , suggested to the lawyer, John Gifford Bellett — , that God wanted the little company to come together in all simplicity as disciples, not waiting on any pulpit or minister, but trusting that the Lord would edify us together, by ministering as He pleased and saw good from the midst of ourselves.
With the financial support of John Vesey Parnell, later Lord Congleton — , they began meeting. A third group centered on Anglican Evangelicals modern historians tend to capitalize the word when it refers to this specific faction. Among them were Bellett and Groves. But in a burglar stole the money he had set aside for his next trip, and Groves took this as divine guidance to withdraw from his course. How these three groups came together is not clear, but by they were meeting as one in a rented auction room in Dublin.
His parish included Protestant gentry, many influenced by Anglican Evangelicals, but also poor Catholic agricultural laborers. In October the Anglican archbishop of Dublin, William Magee, issued a charge to his clergy that portrayed them as servants of the state as well as the church. Catholics protested; Anglican clergy sought state protection; and early in Magee imposed oaths of supremacy and allegiance on prospective converts, which upset Darby greatly.
These oaths acknowledged the British monarch as head of state and supreme governor of the Church of England and Ireland, and abjured allegiance to other rulers, including the pope. Darby saw this as the church seeking the support of worldly government. He published a pamphlet stating his objections and asserting that the church as a heavenly entity should be independent of the state.
Significantly he did not secede: the Church of Ireland might be in captivity to the state, but Darby still saw it as the church. While convalescing from a riding accident in October , however, he came to a new assurance of faith. Gradually he moved out of the established church and took his place among the Dublin seceders. She had a strong interest in scriptural prophecy and opened her home to conferences on the subject. These brought together many emerging Brethren leaders, along with evangelicals who preferred to remain in existing churches.
In time the latter withdrew from the conferences, and those who remained developed a common mind. Their interpretation of Scripture developed into dispensationalism, marked. Here at last was a strong common thread and a powerful driver for secession from the established church. By Groves had followed his missional calling to Baghdad and taken others with him. John Henry would famously convert to Catholicism in and become a cardinal in Ireland proved largely barren soil for Brethren outreach until a revival almost 30 years later that lasted from to Evangelicalism shaped the new movement, but followers felt it did not go far enough and sought a more radical obedience to Scripture, free of the weight of denominational traditions, and wanted to recover a living sense of the Holy Spirit at work.
Paradoxically they were both seceders open to accusations of sectarianism and ecumenists seeking a fellowship broad enough to embrace all believers. Sometimes one was emphasized, sometimes the other. Early Brethren were like an unstable chemical compound; as the movement spread to England, that instability would cause a chain reaction. MoVing to oXford During the late s, the university city of Oxford had witnessed the rise of a strident Evangelicalism, critical of the established church. Among those affected were.
Benjamin Wills Newton — , newly converted from a Quaker background; G. Wigram — ; and Francis Newman. Newman met Darby while in Dublin during — as a private tutor and returned to Oxford with a newfound zeal for studying prophecy with others. In turn the Brethren rejected him. From Oxford the movement traveled further south and west to the county of Devon, which proved fertile soil for the Brethren message. He invited his old Oxford friend Wigram to the city, and in Wigram began to hold meetings for prophetic study.
As in Dublin, meetings were initially timed to avoid clashing with church services, and local clergy attended. The group began to break bread together, initially on Monday evenings, but later on Sunday mornings. One colorful early leader, Percy Hall — , like most early Brethren, adopted pacifist views; he published a pamphlet explaining why he had resigned as a naval officer.
He too sold most of his possessions and began to live simply. Hall may have been the first of the Brethren to preach the idea that Christ would rapture believers before the tribulation of the end times, which became a hallmark of Brethren teaching. Htm william maGee Bust—wikimedia. In north Devon a Baptist church at Barnstaple metamorphosed into a Brethren assembly as a result of the ministry of its pastor, Robert C.
Chapman — Concern for the poor motivated his commitment to a simple lifestyle, and he chose to live in a humble part of town. Sometimes entire existing congregations and groups of congregations aligned with the Brethren. The Quakers, who had split from the established churches around see CH , were now reeling from turmoil following a controversy over evangelical ideas.
Several hundred Quakers seceded, and some founded Brethren gatherings. Quakers helped to strengthen Brethren commitment to open, unstructured worship—although few assemblies followed Quakers in allowing the public ministry of women. In addition Quakers and Brethren began to intermarry, which further spread Brethren ideas into Quaker families. When the portion fixed upon has been. Other assemblies had their roots in the ministry of Scottish preacher John Bowes — , previously a Methodist.
He traveled widely, engaged in public debates, and founded gatherings in Scotland and England, a few of which developed into Brethren assemblies. He illustrates the fluidity of Brethrenism as people and congregations moved in and out of Brethren circles. Magazines and conferences for prophetic study provided some cohesion. By Groves estimated the Brethren had assemblies in Britain and Ireland. Brethren also attempted to start work elsewhere. Initially he worked within existing churches, but he formed separate gatherings once Swiss Calvinists condemned his teaching in Persia proved hostile to Groves and his colleagues, and in they moved to India.
In what is now British Guyana, an ex-clergyman, Leonard Strong, adopted Brethren beliefs in and formed a large assembly, possibly motivated by a desire to minister to slaves working the plantations. Many Brethren opposed forming para-church agencies. Only later would they acquire a reputation for being mission-minded.
The Brethren rejected ordination, but many of the early leaders were former clergy. The movement was. Spreading tHrougH engLand Left: As the third center of the movement, Plymouth gave the Brethren the enduring them name many outsiders called them. Its strong leadership proved to be its undoing. Between and , a catastrophic division occurred centering on a clash between strong-minded leaders.
His warning proved prophetic. Groves also expressed concern over sectarianism. He saw a tendency to make light rather than life the basis of fellowship—to fellowship with those who agreed doctrinally rather than those who shared the experience of life in Christ. To make things worse, Darby and Newton were diverging in their understanding of prophecy.
- Crazy Like Fox.
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Darby also felt marginalized and unwelcome at Plymouth. Darby approved but urged Bethesda to withdraw earlier statements. Bethesda refused, and the movement split. An individual disfellowshiped by one meeting was out of communion with all; any meeting accepting such a person was regarded as infected with spiritual evil. Assemblies divided; friends were alienated; suspicion replaced hospitality. The movement to bring Christians out of dividing denominations into one fellowship was irreversibly damaged. Division between Open and Exclusive Brethren remains today. It was a simple idea but one that would have far-reaching consequences.
Norris Groves as he was usually called started his adult life as a dentist and then trained to be a missionary with the Church of England before adopting a radically different approach. Ignoring 1, years of Christian history with its accumulated institutions and traditions, Groves proposed to do exactly as the earliest Christians did. In the New Testament itself, he sought to discover the mind of the Lord on matters relating to church and mission.
In he introduced this idea in a small booklet called Christian Devotedness, and he later declared: My great desire has been to cast myself on the word of God, that every judgment of my soul concerning all things may be right, by being, in all, the mind of God. In Groves gave up his lucrative profession, vacated his large house, and took his wife, Mary, and his three young children to the heart of the Muslim world— Baghdad. There they looked to their Lord alone to guide and to provide. Determined to live by faith, they sought to follow the instructions they found in Scripture.
I gave myself fully to the Lord. Honour, pleasure, money, my physical powers, my mental powers, all was laid down at the feet of Jesus, and I became a great lover of the word of God. As the Groves family set out for Baghdad in , they left behind a young tutor who had lived with them for two years and greatly admired their faith. His name was Henry. Years later Jukes published The Names of God in Scripture , where he claimed: I purpose therefore, if God permit, to call attention to the names under which God has revealed Himself to man in Holy Scripture.
The first four we find in the earlier chapters of Genesis. As a young man, he lived in voluntary poverty, subsisting on brown bread and oatmeal, to serve in Drainside a poverty-stricken section of Hull , while simultaneously learning the medical arts from Dr. Robert Hardey. All three prepared Taylor to leave his permanent mark on the worldwide mission movement, but the Brethren had an unmistakable influence on how he would live through faith.
They preached and practiced a call to ministry shaped by the Spirit rather than confirmed by ordination or academic study, a simplicity in worship marked by elements of Acts 2 and 4, a drive toward unity across denominations, and an overarching devotion to the apostolic church as the primary foundational example of a church on the move. They eschewed what they deemed the apostasy of staid denominations and errant separatist efforts. Rather they believed that. He had adopted Chinese dress with the China Inland Mission. Now I am able to meet all of the expenses.
In all probability I will even have several hundred pounds more than I need. The Lord not only gives as much as is absolutely necessary for his work, but he gives abundantly. This blessing filled me with inexplicable delight. He had given me the full answer to my thousands of prayers during the [past] 1, days. Let but devoted labourers be found, who will prove faithful to God, and there is no reason to fear that God will not prove faithful to them. He will set before them an open door; and will esteem them of more value than the sparrows and the lilies. They may cast their bread upon the waters, but His word shall not return unto Him void, but shall accomplish that which He pleases, and shall prosper in the thing whereto He sends it.
In spite of his past history of relying on generosity while living in Drainside and practicing medicine, he now found it difficult to raise support as required. While there he married fellow missionary Maria Dyer in There he finished translating the Bible into the Ningbo dialect of Chinese and completed his medical diploma. He hoped to reach 11 unreached provinces beyond the coastlands of China toward the interior.
Because of the uncertainty of the scope, traditional mission organizations were unwilling to offer resources in support of his venture. So Taylor went on his own, sailing with his family back to China on May 26, This marked the beginning of the China Inland Mission. He set forth without a traditional denomination, without financial support, and without the credential of ordination, but guided by the promise of Scripture for those unreached beyond the coastline in China. Perhaps this was another expression of the Brethren value of unity. For Taylor nonordained and ordained missionaries carried the same authority; men and women including single women were welcomed as missionaries in the field; all denominations were invited as accepted partners; and each missionary was directly responsible to God, rather than an institutional body, as his or her authority.
David Livingstone — to set out as a medical missionary to Africa. That faith allowed Taylor to withstand the difficulties of the initial language barriers, the challenges of the opium trade, and the occasions when relationships between the missionaries and the local people became tense or even hostile. Even more his depth of faith allowed Taylor to withstand grueling grief over the lost lives of several of his children, and eventually Maria too in He married missionary Jennie Faulding in , and their first two children died as well. When Taylor prayed and petitioned God for a hundred new missionaries, more than that signed on.
When the Boxer Rebellion shook the very foundations of local trust in , Taylor and his team of missionaries remained faithful. When Taylor arrived Christians in China could be counted like ink drops on a page; today estimates place the number of Christians in China as high as million.
They that know Thy name, will put their trust in Thee. The experience of these nineteen years abundantly shows how safe it has been to base our expectations on the promises of the living God. If so, you can thank Darby. All was not ideal—he had a distant father and an absent mother—but he showed resourcefulness and talent, graduating in from Trinity College, Dublin, as its top-ranked classics student.
A promising career in law awaited him, but by then his religious turn was already underway. This was not entirely surprising—Trinity College was a stronghold of Anglican Evangelicalism. Though called to the bar as a lawyer in , Darby forsook that profession to enter the Anglican ministry. After his ordination in the Church of Ireland, he took charge of a destitute parish in rural County Wicklow, about 15 miles south of Dublin. His parishioners knew him as a tireless, compassionate, and intensely earnest priest.
He was a priest troubled in spirit, though, as his developing views of true Christianity increasingly clashed with the Anglican establishment. A turning. Up to that point, most American evangelicals imagined that the church was the New Israel, heir to the promises of the Old and New Testaments. It would persevere through tribulation to triumph and enter the blessed millennium of Revelation Only then would Christ return to bring about the consummation of all things. That view, known as postmillennialism, formed a near consensus. Beginning in the s, a new paradigm, in which Christ would rapture believers before a great tribulation that would precede the millennium, began to displace the old.
By the early twentieth century, this view, known as premillennialism, had come to predominate. Its chief architect: John Nelson Darby. He spent months of recuperation pondering his vexed questions. Soon a set of core convictions emerged. One was radical biblicism— truth found in Scripture alone, interpreted literally in its plain meaning. Another touched on ecclesiology: he saw the church as a spiritual priesthood of believers. Over the next few years, the young minister grew further estranged from Anglicanism. Meanwhile he began to affiliate with likeminded people dismayed by Christian division and unbiblical traditions.
By turns personable and persuasive, disheveled and difficult, Darby was a force of nature; he soon dominated the young movement through will and strength of intellect. Europe in the early nineteenth century—wracked by political, economic, and social revolution— formed a cauldron of prophetic speculation. Darby interacted with millenarian views of Edward Irving — , a Presbyterian who ended up founding his own movement, as well as Jesuits and Jansenists the last was a Catholic movement emphasizing human depravity and divine sovereignty.
Israel is an earthly entity, the recipient of temporal promises literally fulfilled on earth. The church is a heavenly entity, the recipient of spiritual promises fulfilled in the heavenlies. The second stretched from Noah to Abraham. The Abrahamic dispensation continued until the giving of the law to Moses. The fourth dispensation—the dispensation of Israel—was the most complex and crucial. Not only did it contain three subdispensations law, priesthood, and kingship , it also featured an innovation that, for Darby, unlocked the secrets of the last days. Here Darby introduced another.
Like other primitivists he sought to follow the apostolic church. Yet he also adamantly opposed any attempt to restore apostolic glory. Every dispensation was destined to end in failure; the present was no exception. The visible church lay in ruins, an apostate Christendom.
The true church, spiritual and invisible, without creed or clergy, persisted only as a faithful remnant. Darby remained an influential figure, but controversy dogged his later decades. In the s a series of disputes escalated into a full-scale schism that split the movement, with Darby at the head of the smaller.
Exclusive Brethren wing. Yet he persevered, itinerating into his eighties. His health failed him in , first through a fall and then a stroke. He rapidly declined and breathed his last on April 29, Though indefatigable and overpowering, Darby was ill-equipped to popularize his own system. Spreading dispensational premillennialism to the masses depended on more pragmatic spirits. By the late s, it had begun to prevail in prophecy conferences and camp meetings across North America, with dynamic champions like Dwight L.
Moody — , A. Gordon — , and A. Simpson — It swept the holiness movement and was carried forward into Pentecostalism. In the mid-twentieth century, it was broadcast by radio evangelists like Charles Fuller — and propagated by fundamentalist institutions. Along the way it was adapted, systematized, and refined into a seven-dispensation system by scholars like Cyrus Scofield — —whose Scofield Bible was its greatest single aid—and Charles C. Ryrie — , who also produced a popular study Bible.
We are approaching years since Darby first began to formulate his ideas, but his influence has not abated. Whenever American evangelicals today ponder the state of the Late, Great Planet Earth, or shudder in fear of being Left Behind, they reveal the extent to which they are living in the world Darby fashioned. And what a week: the great tribulation, the rise of the Antichrist, Armageddon, and the triumphant return of Christ in the long-awaited Second Coming. Raptured Christians, meanwhile, would enjoy eternal bliss in heaven.
Finally, at the end of the millennium, all believers would be united in the new heaven and the new earth of Revelation As a young woman, she felt called to missionary work after hearing Hudson Taylor speak at the Keswick Convention an annual conference influenced in part by leaders of the Brethren. Carmichael set foot in India in and stayed there the remainder of her life. From the difficult Tamil language to the caste system, Carmichael found service in India frustrating.
But she persisted in her efforts to convert Indians to the Christian faith as she traveled to pray with and read the Bible aloud to village women. She was so dedicated that she rejected a suggestion to let women knit with pink wool while discussing the Bible. A local Christian woman met a seven-year-old runaway named Preena and brought her to Carmichael. Preena was a temple prostitute, and Carmichael was. She created the Dohnavur Fellowship, a home where young orphans could escape the evils of temple prostitution. India outlawed temple prostitution in the s, but today, Dohnavur continues as a thriving and safe home under the supervision of the Church of South India.
It ministers to Indian children in need through an orphan home, hospital, farm, dairy, and two schools. Carmichael taught the orphans that true faith is about belief in Jesus and not adherence to a particular denomination. In revival preaching convinced Ironside that he was not born again, and he suspended his ministry for six months until he came to a point of accepting Christ in early He died while on a preaching tour of Brethren assemblies in New Zealand.
Ironside was known as a true Bible man. He wrote more than 60 books discussing the whole New Testament and all the Old Testament prophetic books, and his commentaries are still used. He was also instrumental in spreading dispensationalism see pp. Not only did Ironside lack seminary or denominational education, he had only completed the eighth grade. He was simply a passionate student of the Scriptures and a man with an extraordinary gift for preaching the Word of God.
He soon felt called to Christian work and was mentored by British missionary Margaret Barber — Upon her death in , Nee received her entire book collection, which included countless titles by well-known Brethren, including Darby and William Kelly — After taking Communion with his mentor Theodore AustinSparks and other non-Brethren in the United Kingdom in , Nee received a letter excommunicating him. To know Christ is only half of what the believers need.
The believers also must know the Body of Christ. Christ is the head, and He is also the Body. After taking a terrible fall in , Carmichael was mostly bedridden for the remainder of her life. She had already written several books—such as Things as They Are , a description of Indian mission work—but now she turned to a full-time writing ministry until her death in India at the age of Is it helpful? Is it kind?
Is it necessary? Ironside served as pastor at Moody Church in Chicago from to while continuing to preach throughout the country and eventually the world. As head of Moody Church, Ironside held the office of pastor. Nevertheless he remained in fellowship with the group. Nee knew that he and other Christians needed more than Christ; they needed each other. From to his death in , Nee was imprisoned under the Chinese Communist regime.
This is the greatest truth in the universe.
I die because of my belief in Christ. Watchman Nee. Although he espoused close ties with the Open Brethren throughout his life, he held some views that differed from theirs, including never adhering to a particular dispensationalist theology and encouraging women to take a place in public ministry. In Christianity Today called this one of the 50 books that had most shaped evangelicalism. Bruce is best known today for the book that launched his career right.
Bruce authored over 40 books, both academic and popular, including a number of New Testament commentaries. His teaching career spanned three decades at the University of Edinburgh, the University of Leeds, the University of Sheffield, and the University of Manchester. John was born to Brethren parents, Harold and Ella, shortly after they returned to England from serving as missionaries in Brazil. He was intimately known and highly esteemed in England and America, and was an ardent member of the Evangelical Alliance.
Tholuck restored Halle University to the position which it had attained, immediately upon its organisation — in , by the Elector Frederick III. To turn for a moment to Francke himself. His spirit and life were early manifested in his preaching. Philip Jacob Spener and he may be described as the two chief figures in the so-called Pietistic Movement in Germany, which, when the Lutheran Church had backslidden into cold intellectualism, reafiSrmed the great truths of saving faith and the New Birth and the priesthood of believers.
The designation "Pietists" arose as a term of reproach ; actually, it signified a new protest against spiritless orthodoxy and a return to apostolic principles and methods. So large were the crowds, including many Roman Catholics, who thronged to hear Francke at Erfurt, that a fierce opposition arose, as an outcome of which he was expelled from the town.
Francke afterwards became Professor of Theology ; but also laboured, all the time, as pastor of a church in the neighbourhood. Scarcely, however, had he settled to his duties at Halle, when, stirred by witnessing the lamentable condition of outcast children, he began to gather them into a meeting-room, feeding, clothing and teaching them. Next, it became necessary to take a house, and gradually this remarkable philanthropy, commenced as a sort of Ragged-school, greatly developed, so that Francke established an Orphanage, with Day-schools as an auxiliary, where hundreds of poor children received Scriptural instruction and physical benefit.
To return to Mliller. On the advice of friends, he decided to take no immediate steps towards becoming a missionary, but the call to give himself fully to the work of God sounded in his soul : he distributed missionary papers and, above all, sought to win souls for Christ amid the darkened people around him. That is to say, he first secured a printed sermon, fashioned it afresh in manuscript, and committed it to memory. He afterwards confessed : " I had not light enough to see that I was a deceiver in the pulpit, since everybody supposes that the sermon a man preaches is his own.
George need not have taken part, for his friend the schoolmaster might have read a printed sermon, but there was bubbling up in the heart of poor, re- pentant, earnest George Mliller a love for the Lord that inspired him to preach again. True, he has no other printed sermon, no other manuscript, no other address learned by heart ; but he breaks out in a suitable word upon Matt.
It is a delightful study to trace, in his personal ex- periences at this time, how wonderfully he was being taught by the Spirit the supreme lessons that were necessary in the shaping of his life according to the Divine plan. For example, in his poverty he was glad to take advantage, for a time, of certain free lodgings for poor students of the University. The lodgings, a foundation of Francke's, were specially for Divinity students, Francke, as we have seen, ha vino; been Divinity professor. Thus, Miiller's hour of need took him to the very place where he would come into immediate and intimate relationship with the work of sheltering and educating orphans, a work essentially Christian in its aims, and depending for its support solely on the daily provision of Him who sent the ravens to Elijah.
Another profound lesson regarding the finance of faith was received in connection with the asking of a small loan which he wanted for helping a poor relative and for defraying a debt remaining from his days of extravagance. Miiller had not yet learned that, to use one of his own expressive phrases, " There is no ground to go from the door of the Lord to that of a believer.
In the course of his letter he told the story of his conversion, and, in case she should be a stranger to the Lord, he endeavoured to lay before her the way of salvation. His good opinions of the lady were erroneous ; she was neither godly nor charitable ; nevertheless, the exact sum for which he asked was sent him as a gift, in silver coin, by an anonymous correspondent, who wrote : " A peculiar providence has made me acquainted with the letter you have written.
It was winter, but, behind a hedge, although the snow lay a foot deep, he fell upon his knees and, with a blessed realisation of his Heavenly Father's goodness and mercy, poured out his soul in prayer and praise, dedicating himself afresh to the service of God. During these days of preparation, one other founda- tion principle came into being, of exalting and study- ing the Bible. His long neglect of Holy Scripture meant that he understood it comparatively little and found it easier to read biographies and sermons.
Thus, for the four years following his conversion, he " preferred the works of uninspired men to the Oracles of the Living God. These meetings for students were for some months held in Miiller's own room — up till the time he left Halle ; and they were meetings around the open Bible. Miiller, nearly twenty-two years of age, was now considering the great question of his life-work.
He had acquired a sound education, and was endowed with a remarkable faculty for teaching. The Word of God was in his heart ; the service of Christ was his chief joy ; he was determined to follow the light. Just previous to this, the Sunday evening meeting in Miiller's room was attended by his friend, the young missionary to Polish Jews, who expressed a fear that, owing to ill-health, he would be obliged to give up that particular branch of service.
This led Miiller to study Hebrew, in which language he delighted, and Dr. An opening might possibly occur in connection with the London Society for Promoting Christianity amongst the Jews, of which Society Tholuck was himself a representative. To this Miiller naturally replied that it would scarcely be proper to think of that, all arrangements being made for going to Bucharest. Tholuck assented, but, on the war breaking out, he recurred to the subject, whereupon Miiller, after con- sulting with more experienced brethren, resolved to offer himself.
Upon this, Tholuck communicated with the Society's headquarters and eventually a con- ditional acceptance was received : Miiller would be regarded as a missionary student, for six months, on probation, providing he would make his way to London. There was somewhat of gall in the cup. Miiller had passed through the University and was not without fine opportunities of utilising his scholar- ship in the educational world ; yet he was asked to become a student once again.
But, since this seemed clearly to be the will of God, he agreed. Yet there was one apparently insuperable barrier to his departure for England : it was the Prussian law demanding universal military service. Some prominent officers who were also men of God became interested in him on learning his object, and sought to help him. A second military physician gave a confirmatory verdict, and the com- manding officer issued him a "dismissal" for life from military service ; adding, as a Christian intensely interested in the conversion of the Jews, a few hints as to the most suitable Scriptures, particularly Kom.
On March 19, , Muller arrived in London His mind was set on the evangelisation of Jewry, although, all unconsciously to himself, God had equipped him for a difi'erent field ; however, he was determined to be obedient to the heavenly vision — and in his heart he carried the sweet memory of the Halle Orphan House.
Spiritu- ally and socially it was, taking a wide view, a "dead" time. The example of the Court made for profligacy. The Napoleonic wars had left the nation a heritage of military and naval glory ; but social con- ditions were developing which, unless speedily remedied, were bound to generate intense misery and degradation and a spirit of revolution, the end of which no man might foresee. The Evangelical party of the Church of England, however, was making a splendid struggle, cherishing glorious hopes of the evangelisation not alone of Britain itself but of the world's untouched heathen in other lands.
As Balleine says see A History of the Evangelical Party : " The clergy, whose churches were falling to pieces through dirt and dampness, the fashionable, card-playing clergy of the towns, the port-loving fox-hunting squarsons of the villages, were all Low Churchmen. How much the upraising of a flag of righteousness was needed in those days is sufficiently demonstrated by the bitter hostility which was displayed, equally among Churchmen and Nonconformists, against the attempt of zealous men and women to carry the message of Redeeming love to the " regions beyond.
Here was the opportunity, not merely for the Pugins, but chiefly for the industrious " Puseyite " priest, whose activity thus presented a contrast with the habits of dashing vicars whose chief ambition was to shout " Tally ho 1 " and " be in at the death. These witnesses were the early Brethren. Not that Brethrenism was a swiftly formed force. At first it grew slowly, but the rivulets of earnest thought and holy aspiration to return to the simplicity of the early days of Christianity, trickled together and formed a river deep and powerful.
The Tractarians, in their journey back through the ages in the quest of truth, stumbled in the mor- asses of mediaevalism, and chased will-o'-the-wisps instead of following the true light ; the Brethren went back all the way to the little company that gathered in the Upper Room, or that stood upon Olivet, watch- ing the disappearance of Christ in the clouds, and hearing the sacred assurance of the heavenly visitant, that in like manner He should return.
The latter tei'm, in par- ticular, sounds a little offensive, yet both designations are tersely descrip- tive, and have long been used in ordinary conversation ; they become recognised titles whether we will or no. After all, " Quaker " and "Methodist" came as popular nicknames. The Brethren, however, were not people of negations. They stood for simplicity of life and for missionary zeal at home and abroad, for devotion to Christ, for loyalty to the Scriptures of Truth : and this, not for the furtherance of a theory, but because, following the Lord, they realised that the promise made in the Temple was theirs, that out of their innermost being should flow rivers of living water.
The brethren who became prominent in the Assemblies were not only zealous and self-sacrificing ; they were gifted and able members of Christian churches. Groves had purposed to go to the foreign field, in con- nection with the Church Missionary Society. However loosely they held together at first, the Brethren, par- ticularly when Darby's influence became prominent, at Plymouth, speedily made a deep mark upon Christian life and thought throughout the world.
Money, however, was dross to him. He lived to do the will of God, and forsaking all, went to Bagdad as what the world elects, not without a touch of satirical amusement if not of superior scorn, to style a "free-lance" missionary — which is to say, he looked only to God for his support. The circle of Brethren also came to include : Dr. Samuel Prideaux Tregelles, the distinguished Biblical scholar ; J. John Vesey Parnell, afterwards succeed- ing his father Lord Congleton, The influence of Brethrenism upon the religious life of the United Kingdom and indeed of the world, proved powerful at a specially momentous period.
The Oxford Movement was essentially one from the Bible to ecclesiasticism : the Brethren Movement was essen- tially one from ecclesiasticism to the Bible. Trac- tarianism found its emblems in the Mass and the Priest : Brethrenism stood for the common gathering around the Lord's Table, and the priesthood of believers.
A common criticism of the Brethren among the Churches of the Nineteenth Century was that they were " disturbers of the peace " ; but the Brethren, eager for holy endeavour and for fresh proofs of loyalty to the Saviour's commands, might well retort upon many that the "peace" which was "disturbed" was simply that of selfish apathy. It must inevitably happen when a new spiritual movement — not a mere fantastic craze — arises, that zealous men and women in the churches, whose righteous souls are vexed by the melancholy spectacle of nominal Christians being absorbed in worldly pleasure and indulgence, break away, and throw in their lot with the new movement ; whereupon the fashionable religionists, instead of repenting in sackcloth and ashes, retort upon holy zeal with cries of " sheep-stealers " and "fanatics.
Christians, and could not admit the impeach- ment of being a sect : indeed the idea was of necessity obnoxious ; " sect " they were not : not to be a sect, not to form a new " system," but to follow, by God's grace, the apostolic order, as Christians, only: this was the aim. Mackintosh — the Movement rendered enormous service to the Christian cause. It created a body of men and women against whose faith and zeal the devastating winds of destructive criticism and the sapping waves of sacramentarianism beat vainly as against a house built upon the Rock. So unostentatiously do Brethren work that the world takes little account of them, except when one of them flashes back into Europe after long years of incessant toil in the heart of Africa, or the interior of China, or the swamps of Guiana.
In order to an intelligent understanding of George Miiller's life-work, it is necessary first of all to grasp the main facts and characteristics of the Brethren Movement, remembering always that in the early days it consisted of believers who were members of this or that denomination, and who had no settled idea of separation, and were far from contemplating any new organisation, but yet, here and there, realised the desirability of gathering together in the Name of the Lord. Miiller, on coming to London, was, by his connec- tion with the London Jews' Society, linked with the Evangelical section of the Church of England.
He pursued the study of Hebrew, committing to memory portions of the Old Testament in that tongue ; and he also made a commencement with Chaldee. While following his studies, he learned how Anthony Norris Groves, giving up all for Christ, had gone forth to Bagdad, looking only to God for his support. Another providential incident in Miiller's life was his going to Teignmouth for a change of air, following an illness.
At the little Devonshire resort he attended Ebenezer Chapel and there came into contact with Henry Craik, thus beginning one of the most remark- able of spiritual alliances in religious annals. A profound scholar and an able teacher, Craik had been private tutor in the family of Anthony Norris Groves.
Andrew's University intimated to Craik that it was proposed to confer on him the degree either of Doctor of Divinity or Doctor of Civil Law. Craik courteously declined on his own account, but suggested the name of a friend " to whom, being an author, a degree would be welcome, appropriate, and serviceable. The party lived in a house near Teignmouth, and, the Greek Testament occupying a considerable part of the studies, Craik's mind was largely occupied with the primitive truths of Chris- tianity and the teaching of the apostles.
He was also engaged, in addition to occasional preaching, in the preparation of a Hebrew Lexicon. A little later, on taking the oversight of the church at Shaldon, he drew up a few rules for the " better conduct of the future," which afford insight into his character, and show how natural it was that George Mliller and he should be drawn together. After so strenuous a time of study, Craik regarded the quiet mornings of study as opportunities to " prayer and meditation and the reading of the precious Word "; and in the rules of life he wrote : " Let me be more and more impressed with the necessity of ' redeeming the time'; and, for this purpose, avoid all food, etc.
Let me be kept daily waiting for my Lord's Eeturn, and steadily examine my readiness to meet Him. Let me keep my heart with all diligence. Let me remember that I am nothing, have nothing, can bear nothing, and that my — a new era, to whom even the distinctions of St. Andrew's were of small account. Miiller's testimony regarding him was : " Whilst endowed by God with such great mental powers, he did not use them to get a name among men, nor to be admired, but to throw light on the Holy Scriptures and to set forth the truth " see Muller's Introduction to Passages from the Diary and Letters of Henry Craik, of Bristol.
Miiller, already prepared for the Brethren view, by his own independent thinking, and by the simple and direct methods of action which, in his zeal for the work of God, he had adopted in his native land, was also impressed by Craik's powers of mind, but more particularly by his guilelessness and humility, as, trusting in Christ for all, he sought to return to apostolic methods and rule.
After returning to London, Miiller realised that the ideas and plans which had governed him on leaving Germany could no longer exercise a dominating influence upon his life. For example, he could not accept from any Society whatsoever an appointment to preach the Gospel, his call being of God, and not of men. Accordingly, he began to distribute tracts, which bore his name and address, and invited recipients to call upon him, for conversation.
He preached in places of public resort, and also read the Scriptures with Jewish boys. Yet he was in a dilemma : while con- scientiously unable to accept the rule or the money of the Society, he could not fail to recognise that, the Society having brought him to England, he was under considerable obligation to the Committee — earnest and godly men, anxious for the evangelisation of Israel.
There could, of course, be but one answer. The Society, with its plain rules to be observed by all, could not possibly retain in the ranks of its evangelists one who in essential principle could recognise no rule. In kindly terms, the Committee intimated that, while Miiller held the opinions which his letter expressed or implied, they could not consider him as one of their students. The matter was bound to end thus. Probably the leaders of the Society felt somewhat relieved when the Gordian knot was cut ; certainly Miiller felt delighted at gaining freedom while yet retaining the respect of the Committee.
Meantime, he had gone west again — on December 30, , first to Exmouth, and then to Teignmouth, and was once more in close association with Craik. He concluded, too, that the Scripture gives no warrant for expecting the conversion of the world before the Return of Christ ; and he saw that in that glorious Keturn there lay the "Blessed Hope" of the Christian, since His appearing alone would end the chaos of human existence and bring in the glory of the true Church — the Body of Christ.
Let it be clear, however, that Miiller rested in no theory, however splendid, however sound. To rejoice in the grandeur of salvation's plan, to look for his Lord's Coming in clouds of glory, to anticipate in faith the triumph of the adorable Redeemer — these things were indeed enough to thrill his rapt soul in blessed seasons of holy contempla- tion ; but this was not all.
Coming down from his 1 Letter to "his friend, Mr. Caldecott," Dec. Groves added, moreover : " For the mystical Body of Christ my prayer is that I may gladly spend and be spent, even though the more abundantly I love, the less I am loved. After preaching at Ebenezer Chapel, he was invited by some of the brethren to stay on, as pastor ; but, while his preaching delighted some, it was an ofi"ence to others, who became bitterly opposed. With en- gaging candour — which is really to say, however, with the disregard of men's opinions, which follows on clearly apprehending the will of God — he says of his first service: "My preaching was disliked by many of the hearers"; but he can also add: "The Lord opened the hearts of not a few to receive the truth.
Unbelief would have said that, so far as mundane matters were concerned, the prospect was not so much of "living by the Gospel," as of starving by it. But Miiller was no church-splitting crank. The notion of " Aut Csesar, aut nullus," was not merely repulsive to him but utterly alien to his principles. He wished for no Caesars — nor to be one himself. He stood for apostolic truth — for the Book of God ; and was entirely fearless ; wherefore he held on his way and preached faithfully ; a spirit of inquiry arose, and souls turned to Christ.
For close upon three months he preached, prayed, and hoped, two of the brethren deeming it a privilege to supply his temporal needs ; finally, the tiny church — of only eighteen members — gave him a hearty invitation to the pastorate. In the circumstances which led up to the engagement, the two recognised the ordering of the Lord, and regarded the marriage as being truly "made in heaven.
Attaching no great importance to the matter, Miiller did not call on the lady for some weeks ; then, making her acquaintance, he received an invitation from her to preach in a small Assembly-room at Poltimore, near Exeter. Chapman were yoke-fellows in the work of the Lord at Barnstaple, where they had charge of two houses one of them the property of Miss Paget, who lived there, and who, dying there, bequeathed it to the work , as places of rest for Christian workers and of resort for young Christians desiring spiritual help and instruc- tion. The "two patriarchs," as Chapman and Hake came to be called, continued in this joint ministry until On November 4 of that year, wrote Chapman : "At our tea-table we had a goodly company of young disciples of Christ, to whom Brother Hake spoke joyfully on the words : ' Peace I leave with you, My peace I give unto you.
Hake was an invalid, and Miss Groves was giving assistance in household affairs. Miiller, realising that it was well for him, as a young pastor, to be married, and being strongly drawn to Miss Groves, wrote her a proposal. A few days after, he made a call, to receive her answer. She accepted, and, says Miiller : " The first thing we did was to fall on our knees and to ask the blessing of God on our intended union. There was no orange-blossom wreath, no carriage and pair, no " drinking the health of the young couple," no showers of old boots.
The young people walked quietly to church. Wedding breakfast there was none. Hake's house, and commemorated the Lord's death ; and then I drove off in the stage-coach, with my beloved bride, to Teignmouth, and the next day we went to work for the Lord. The the brightness of the assembly, his speech failed. A young brother, in faithful love, sat up with him. I joined them about four in the morning. Brother Hake grasped my hand and held it till he could hold it no longer, and breathed out his spirit to the Lord. And this happy company lived in that atmosphere to the end; of whom was George Miiller.
We may think of them as a delightful group of godly souls, entirely free from a desire to impose any human yoke, but quietly and humbly seeking to glorify God. Miiller's life was entirely in keeping with the idea of primitive simplicity and self-denial. It was no Spartan infliction, but a joy in the Lord. Surveying the Movement as a whole, we are bound to recognise, despite all weaknesses, that it marked a renaissance of holy energy and godly living, of zeal and fervour and brotherliness.
Upon that deal table of Lord Congleton's afterwards stained, in order to lessen the scouring labours of the housemaid lay the open Bible, the fit emblem of the rule of life which prevailed beneath that roof. The homes of the Brethren, indeed, were in many instances Bethanys ; peer and tradesman, scholars and the unlettered, would meet in humility in some quiet parlour, around the Bible, to hear what God had to teach them, by His Spirit, regarding the Work and the Kingdom of His Son.
He was a young pastor — only twenty-five years old. He gave himself ardently to prayer and the study of the Bible — hard, close study, winning treasure from the mine ; treasure that was all the dearer because, through the Spirit, it was gotten by himself — and studying to know the will of God, that he might do it and declare it.
During these days of pastoral activity there came to Miiller much concern regarding certain points of belief and doctrine. For instance, he had repeatedly spoken against Believers' Baptism, but, urged by a Christian lady who took exception to his views, he determined to study the Scriptures and prayerfully weigh the respective doctrines of Infant Baptism and Believers' Baptism. His conclusion was that believers are the only subjects for baptism, and immersion the only true Scriptural mode : accordingly, he was baptized — by Craik.
A second conclusion was from Acts 20 : 7 "that it is Scriptural to 'break bread' every Lord's Day, although no absolute command is given. Conviction was immediately followed by action. Only about three weeks after his marriage he cut himself off from a regular income. The decision to ask no man for help, but to look to God alone, applied even to the matter of expenses incurred when travelling on the Lord's service. Miiller was highly regarded, as indeed he might well be, for his expository preaching, nor did his foreign accent prove any drawback ; he received numerous invita- tions, and was delighted to be of service to the saints.
Silence might easily be construed as meaning that he re- quired nothing ; for, if he did not ask, even when kindly invited to do so, he would scarcely appear to be in need. Others might urge that such a proceeding was contrary to common-sense, since there could be nothing objectionable in making known the expense incurred in accepting an invitation to preach, Miiller evidently felt all this keenly.
The money itself was a small matter as compared with being mis- understood by his brethren. Nevertheless, he was re- solved, and he acted upon his resolution, finding, in a sense of entire and direct trust in the provision of God, the joy of spiritual freedom. But the question of income was by no means all ; that of expenditure was equally important in his view ; if he was to do the will of God in what he received, so was he to do with what came to him. Thus, there came to his soul a new, tender, and lovely realisation of the fact that he possessed nothing : he was a steward, and he resolved by the grace of God so to give as to demonstrate, in the light of God, the force of the apostolic reminder that "it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful.
Miiller, however, was by no means free from the temptations common to man. The whisper comes to him, as to others : " Hath God said? Only for a brief space, however, is the cloud upon him : " For about five minutes, I was so sinful as to think it would be no use to trust. An hour after- wards, " the Lord gave me another proof of His faithful love. Lord, when saw we Thee an hungered and fed Thee?
The King shall answer and say unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these My brethren, ye have done it unto Me. Hence, Miiller took as a literal command for the governing of his life, our Lord's command : " Sell that ye have, and give alms. Who shall say how many poor souls, how many struggling ones of the household of faith, George Miiller cheered by gifts from his little store? Little " store," do we say? Nay, no " store " in the sense of hoarding or keeping, for he immediately distributed of that of which God made him steward ; not " little," either, when we total what this man of God gave away during his long life.
Not only did he give to the great institutions which he founded, not only gave he quietly to the work and personal needs of missionaries in all parts of the world, but he ministered to the poor and needy around, in ways of which we only occasionally gain a glimpse, but of which the aggregate amount was undoubtedly very large.
Wherefore the name of George Miiller is still potent to inspire the children of faith to deeds of mercy and sweetest charity. The two were in terms of warm friendship with Eobert C. Chapman, and it was through this association that Miiller took his next important step in life, by leaving Teignmouth for Bristol. Chapman, a member of the Established Church, — a convert of Romaine, whose faithful preaching was a feature of the Eighteenth-Century Revival, — visited Teignmouth in quest of health. Disappointed with the preaching in the Anglican churches, he made a round of Nonconformist places of worship, and thereby came upon Craik, at Shaldon, and urged him to remove to Bristol.
In due course Craik did so, and pressed Miiller to join him. On preaching, on April 22, , in Gideon and Pithay chapels, Bristol, he was convinced that a new opportunity opened before him, in the will of God, and accordingly he went back to his old sphere of labour only to bid the flock farewell. He preached at Bishop's Teignton and Exmouth, visited all the brethren at Teignmouth, and concluded by taking leave of the friends at Shaldon. They would not hold him back, feeling that God was calling him ; but he could scarcely tear himself away.
Journeying by way of Exeter, Midler and his wife reached Bristol on May Here, then, we mark another " parting of the ways. The profligate of other days is now a humble follower of the Nazarene ; his conscientiousness in detail is as thoroughgoing as his loyalty to the faith once for all delivered to the saints. It is with equal simplicity that he confesses his failures or records to the glory of God how sinners, under his preaching, turn to the Lord.
A famous preacher of the Victorian era once con- fessed grimly, in private, that he "found the life of faith very fatiguing. Literally, he has "cast all his care" upon the Lord, and therefore is just as content with an empty cupboard as a full one. God will provide — what more assurance can man need than this? Sometimes he and his wife are without a penny ; yet they lack nothing. On one occasion two friends are staying with them, at Teignmouth. The store of provisions in the house is so reduced, on a Saturday, that there is only just enough butter to last their visitors for the Sunday : consequently, butter will be required for Monday morning's break- fast.
What shall be done? Drop a gentle hint in a meeting? Ask of man while yet deprecating all asking of men? Miiller quietly prays that God will cause the brother, whose business it is to "open the box" at " Ebenezer," to do so. That night, the brother in question and his wife are so deeply impressed that the Miillers need money, that they can scarcely sleep. The visitors do not go butterless. Again, there is not enough bread in the house to provide for the necessities of the day, and the stock of money in hand amounts to 2jd, After the midday meal the resources are scanty indeed, and Miiller prays, with literal meaning: "Give us this day our daily bread.
Miiller does not speak or write in the style of one who claims patent rights in the power of prayer, superior to those of other mortals, or to be the particular favourite of Heaven. There is nothing of loftiness about this godly, earnest preacher of the Everlasting Gospel. He simply takes the position into which the holy oracles of the Word invite him — the position of belief that God delights to have His children come to Him for the supply of their needs, and that He blesses them in their attitude of obedience and their prayers of faith. This trustfulness is combined, in Miiller, with a rigid sense of duty.
Once, the assets of the household are reduced to three pence and a small piece of bread, but the Miiilers are quite content ; they are not thinking merely of " the bread that perisheth," theirs it is to work for God, and, in doing so, food and raiment will be provided ; presently a few shillings are sent in — plenty to go on with ; so, all is well. Once he is reduced to a single halfpenny, which is spent in milk.
A ha'p'orth of milk will scarcely make a meal for two ; is there aught in the cupboard? Yes, a little cold meat, left over from the previous day. If any miserable critic, of unbelieving heart, would fling a dart of sarcasm, let him first see Georsje Midler's serene devotion to the work, though there be only a few slices of cold meat in the cupboard. He is busy- — visiting the sick, com- forting the struggling believer, preaching Christ to the ungodly.
God will provide dinner. So, these gentle Christian women, giving of their scanty means, are, even with cakes of chocolate, building up George Miiller in a mighty faith, whereof the fruits shall one day surprise the world. To Miiller, however, the bread, the eighteen-pence, the cakes of chocolate, are more precious than golden ingots, being sent directly by God, albeit through some humble child of His, whom men slightingly call, peradventure, Jimmy the road-sweeper or Mrs. Higgins the washerwoman. Shall George Miiller hold the gift and the Giver in less honour because the messenger who carries it is clad in corduroy or wears a rusty bonnet?
The writing down of these grocer-and-oilman, butcher-and-baker facts of everyday domesticity illus- trates the development in Miiller of that principle and power of faith which, in the plan and purpose of God, was to be the great feature and lesson of his life ; but it is not to be regarded as occupying an undue part of his busy hours.
The young man is full of godly energy ; he arranges preaching services, visits the people from house to house, prays much, finds more and more treasure of truth revealed by the Spirit as he studies Holy Writ. The recording, moreover, of gifts received, is no introspective mania, created by nervous doubt as to whether after all God will prove faithful.
Hence is it that he takes pen and makes the simple entries regarding sugar and butter and beans — sent by the Lord. In all this, the Spirit is educating him and moving him forward to mighty accomplish- ments in the realm of faith, as we shall presently see. Deep interest was at once aroused, and Bethesda was crammed with people, Sunday after Sunday. There was indeed an element of peculiarity in this ministerial partnership, in that Craik had something of a Scottish accent, and Miiller was pro- nouncedly German, but, looking beyond personal traits, the spiritually-minded could perceive that these two ministering brethren were men of apostolic zeal and insight into Scripture.
Bethesda is taken for a year — a brother paying the rent in advance — so that the prospect of a useful ministry is enlarged. Craik and Miiller are beauti- fully united in spirit and aim. Many people prefer Craik's preaching ; but there is no trace of jealousy in Miiller. Speedily does the blessing of God rest on the labours of His two zealous servants.
Ten days after they have commenced their ministry of the Word, they devote an evening to conversing with the anxious, when there are so many seeking guidance that four hours are gone before the last inquirer is satisfied. A church fellowship is formed, in the simplest fashion, of a little group of believers who, without any set rules, " desire to act as the Lord shall be pleased to give us light through His Word.
Muller — " the first member of the church assembling at Bethesda. O o These are solemn days. Cholera, in the first of its great Nineteenth-Century invasions of England — whither it has swept, from Persia and the Caspian, through Russia — ravages most of the cities and large towns. Bristol is so smitten that great numbers die.
The maintenance of good sanitary conditions and an alert sanitary administration shall in future times check the disease, but- in these dark " Thirties," the word " cholera " recalls something of the story of the Great 63 THE LIFE OF GEORGE MULLER Plague, when the legend, " Christ have mercy on us," was scrawled in red chalk on the doors of the aflflicted, and the sole sound of wheels heard in the street was that of the cart which rumbled to the accompaniment of the cry : " Bring out your dead. The funeral bell is heard almost continually.
Craik and Miiller are visiting the sick by day and by night ; and, as he faces the terrors of the plague-smitten city, Mliller's words are : " Into Thine hands, Lord, I commend myself. Here is Thy poor, worthless child. If this night I should be taken in the cholera, my only hope and trust is in the blood of Jesus Christ, shed for the remission of all my many sins. On September 17, 1 The position was paralleled in the United States, where, also, the disease made its appearance about this time.
Charles G. Finney, who was then preaching in New York, counted, from his own residence, five hearses drawn up at the same time at doors within sight. Finney was himself smitten, but recovered, and upon his resuming his campaign, in the following spring, a revival broke out, the remembrance of the epidemic and of the many deaths adding point to the preaching.
When a meeting is held for those who seek to enter the Way of Life, Midler is impressed by the fact that " many more are convinced of sin under brother Craik's preaching than my own " ; and, studying to find the reason, he concludes : " Brother Craik is more spiritually minded, prays more for conversions, and more frequently addresses sinners as such, when speaking in public.
The two prayer- fully consider the matter, but the way does not seem clear. True, the circumstances of the little company at Bagdad are pathetic indeed. Parnell, who married Miss Cronin, at Aleppo, on the way out, lost her by death within a few weeks. Groves, seized by plague, died within a few days. Three months after, Groves endured the further trial of losing their baby girl. The state of Bagdad itself was terrible. Thousands died from plague or through the inunda- tions. Nevertheless, neither of the two feels that God would have him quit the field at Bristol.
On the contrary, they have a sense of some larger work opening out before them. The fiery pillar moves not. Indeed, we note, a few days after, that Miiller writes in his diary : "I read a part of Francke's ' Life. Men's judgment might define the Bagdad Mission as a failure, but — who shall say what is failure or success in the eyes of the All-seeing? Groves' biography has bright gleams amid the darkness ; some were won for Christ, despite the seemingly impenetrable hedge of pride and scorn presented by Mohammedanism.
One other word : it seems impossible to leave the subject of the Bagdad Mission without recalling that, here, Francis William Newman drops out of the story of the Brethren.
An Hour With George Muller: The Man Of Faith To Whom God Gave Millions
He went home, in order, as Henry Groves believed, to obtain fresh workers ; but his biographer, I. Giberne Sieveking, suggests that a love interest was involved. In view of the common acceptation of the story that this brilliant but disappointing man died an unbeliever, it may be well to quote Dr. Martineau's admission, three or four years before Newman's death : " I had a letter from Frank Newman saying that, when he died, he wished it to be known that he died in the Cliris- tian Faith.
Lutkens, chaplain to the King of Den- mark, to commence, under Danish auspices, the pioneer Mission at Tranquebar. Doubtless the two aspects of Francke's life are considered and weighed by Miiller at this time ; and here, doubtless, he drew inspiration for missionary endeavours — opening the way for others while himself engaged in numerous activities at home.
It is impossible to estimate the influence of his teaching. Not a few of his students rallied to his side, in the schools, the Bible-printing works, and the Orphan Houses ; others, like the two young missionaries referred to, carried the Good News to other lands. One of the most notable of those who studied in one of the schools was Count Zinzendorf, upon whose estate, at Herrnhiit, the Protestant refugees from Bohemia found shelter; and so, under his leadership, the Moravian Church, or " Unitas Fratrum," was renewed.
Zinzendorf is also familiar to us as author of the glorious hymn, " Jesus, Thy blood and righteousness. Without overmuch "embroidery " of the subject, it is well to note the doctrines, and the men, and the spirit of Halle, as Miiller studied them, and to trace the influence upon his life of the Halle teaching and traditions.
The condition of the poor, more particularly of the rural districts of England, was lamentable indeed. In some parts, a penny loaf of ordinary white bread was a startling luxury to a labourer's child. Children were commonly fed on bran dumplings. A rustic, unit- ing a taste for variety with a chirrupy humour, would declare : " We had ' roast,' ' baked,' and ' boiled ' — roast turnip, baked turnip, and boiled turnip " ; but, " another way," as the cookery books say, was simply to have the turnip uncooked. A four-pound loaf cost eleven pence halfpenny or a shilling.
In place of tea, said an old labourer who recalled these grim days : " what we did was to toast a bit o' bread at the fire until it were as black as coal, an' put it in the taypot an' pour water on't. What did we do when there were no 'taturs? Well, we'd to do wi'out 'em. Yet, what Christian could look upon the misery around 1 The Hungry Forties. Miiller betakes himself to prayer. Many a utili- tarian, doubtless, scoffs at the idea of reforming earth by way of Heaven.
Diogenes Smith, Brown, or Robinson, hunting around for an honest man, will fall into an ecstasy of laughter at this Anglo-German's ideas of reforming England, in all its roaring, tumultuous excitement, with its flaming rick-yards. Chartism, and incipient rebellion, by — prayer. Well, an't please thee, good Master Diogenes, tarry a little to see how the method works. In the quiet of his own little room, pleading with God for some brethren in poverty, he cries : "Oh that it might please Thee to give me means to help them!
He means it. It is not : " Oh, that I had Lombard Street for mine own! See, the Divine messenger is even at hand — in postman's uni- form. Be of good cheer, poor Christian brethren, succour is at hand! His pencil is busy — so are Bristol bakers and grocers in the poorer parts of the city. The spirit of love and sympathy spreads ; the Brethren give daily bread to poor boys and girls, and Miiller asks him- self: "Why should not schools be established for such, that they may hear the Scriptures, and learn the way of righteousness? Teaching, preaching, visiting, Miiller sees the work of God prosper mightily.
Sinners, hearing the piercing word, are smitten with conviction and brought to taste the sweets of the Redeemer's love. This is to be pre- ferred to controversial victories. A certain lady — a butterfly votary of pleasure — goes to a meeting at Bethesda, having understood that " one of the preachers there speaks with a German accent, and mispronounces some of his words. To her discomfiture, however, it speedily becomes clear that God, "who hath made of one blood all nations of men," can thrust home the truth, even when preached with a Prussian accent to the British.
The lady slips away, but carries a dart in her heart. The follies of this present world have for ever lost their fascination for her. Many more, too, find their way to the Fountain of Grace, so that Craik and Miiller, full of praise, hold a public thanksgiving "for the great success which it has pleased God to grant to our labours, and for confession of our sinfulness and unworthiness, and to entreat Him to continue His goodness towards us. There are no engineered newspaper paragraphs, no patronising speeches by wealthy foes of God ; only the songs of grateful hearts : " He brought me up also out of an horrible pit.
For example ; a gay crowd of young men were met in a London cofifee-house. Wesley was to preach in the neighbourhood, so the festive company dispatched their chief wit, Martin Madan, to listen to the preacher and hasten back to entertain them with some delicious bit of mimicry. Madan went ; as he entered, Wesley announced the text : " Prepare to meet thy God. As a matter of courtesy he returned to the coffee-house. Oh that my soul did burn with love and zeal! I long for it. I am cold. But I am not — yea, I cannot be — satisfied with such a state of heart. Oh that once more I might be brought to fervency of spirit, and that thus it might continue with me for ever!
But will George Miiller go Home? Nay; these struggles of soul are but preparatory to the commencement of great things for God, in the witness of faith, which shall rivet man's attention on the building sites of Ashley Down. The Lord hath need of thee, beloved! Next day comes such relief as tears can give — "on account of the state of my heart. Then the flame of hope blazes high again: on February 21, , when he is "rather in a better state of heart than for some time past," he broods over the possibility of forming a " Scriptural Knowledge Institution. Apollyon might in- deed seek to discourao-e him at this wonderful moment, when a great thought of world-evangelisation — which, broadly, the Scriptural Knowledge Institution is designed to be — is by the grace of God taking shape.
Carefully studying the experiences of George Miiller in these stirring days, we note, in the thoughts which he expresses, the growth of this great idea, which is to be so fruitful of results. The chief obstacle in his way is the heavy pressure of pastoral duties. Never- theless, we trace the powerful workings of his mind : to help missionaries in other lands, even if he is not himself free to go ; to give instruction, particularly in the Gospel, both to children and adults ; and to further the circulation of the Bible.
But, in spite of these calls of pastoral duty, his mind is working actively regarding the Scriptural Knowledge Institution, and he prepares a preliminary statement of principles and methods. Thus, in the inspiration of this penniless Anglo- German preacher, there commences a Gospel work which shall afiect human society in all parts of the world. The plans are admirable, the anticipation glorious. This man is a Missionary Society in himself. However ; what "financial backing" — to use one of the world's phrases — has he?
None whatever. Not a farthing, gentlemen of finance! Not a farthing, experts of Capel Court! Then he is "doomed to failure," as newspapers say? Not necessarily. There were men of old who went forth so, quite moneyless.
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And they said. The sent ones shall lack no good thing ; and Miiller argues, in the common sense of the spiritual plane, which is the absurdity of the plane of human shrewdness : "Is not God rich? Any millionaires? The document wherein the principles of the Institu- tion are set forth is one of the most uncompromising that ever man drew up. In essence it is a direct challenge to the world and to worldly influences in the Kingdom of God. The basis is that every believer is bound to help — is bound to be delighted to make holy sacrifice — in the cause of Christ.
The scheme, Miiller admits, is open to the objection that there are Societies already existing " for the spread of the Gospel at home and abroad"; but "acknow- ledging, by the grace of God, the Word of God as the only rule of action for the disciples of the Lord Jesus," he sets forth some striking contentions in reply to such objection : — 1. The end which religious societies propose is, that the world will gradually become better and better, and that at last the whole world will be converted.
To this end, there is constant reference to Hab. A hearty desire for the conversion of sinners, and earnest prayer for it, are Scriptural, but it is unscriptural to expect the conversion of the whole world.