Page images
[ocr errors]

you?" Stilling says he now felt like Habakkuk when the Angel took him by the hair of the head to carry him to Babylon. He answered, "No, I have no money." Mr. R looked at him with surprise, and at length said, "I see how it is, God has sent me to help you." He immediately left the room, and soon returned with forty dollars in gold.

Stilling says he then felt like Daniel in the lion's den, when Habakkuk brought him his food. He threw himself on the floor and thanked God with tears. He then went to the College and paid his fee as well as the best. His whole College life was one series of just such circumstances. He was often in want of money, but he never asked man for it; for he had no man to ask; he asked God for it, and it always came when he needed it. Was he authorised to enter on a course of study with such prospects, and such expectations? The leadings of providence were such, that he had not a shadow of doubt that it was his duty to enter on this course. of study; he prayed fervently for divine guidance, and felt that he had it; he availed himself of all the lawful means in his power for the supply of his own wants-and when he had no means of his own, he asked help of God-and never failed to receive what he asked for. He became one of the most useful physicians, and one of the greatest benefactors to the poor that the world has ever seen. He restored sight during his life, to nearly five thousand blind people, most of whom were very poor, and unable to render him any pecuniary reward.

What stronger proof can we have that God was his guide? Let us take a series of events of the same kind from the life of another person who lived a century previous, and was of a calling and character quite different from that of Stilling. Augustus Herman Franke was a parish minister in the city of Halle, with a small salary, barely sufficient for his own support, and no property except his books. He was a man of cool, deliberate judgment and extensive learning, and was benevolent on principle rather than impulse. His heart was affected with a view of the wretched condition of the children of the uneducated poor, in Halle, and was determined to

* See History of Bel and the Dragon in the Apocrypha, verses 33-39.

do something for their relief. In process of time he had a large orphan establishment, containing between three and four hundred children, entirely dependent on his exertions for their education, their clothing, and their daily food. His means of course were continually running short, and he had no other resource than prayer to God.

This was a resource which never failed. Hear his own testimony, as it has been confirmed by thousands of witnesses: "In the month of April, 1696, our funds were exhausted, and I knew not where to look for the necessary supplies for the next week. This caused me great distress; when some person, who is yet unknown to me, put into my hands a thousand dollars for the orphans. At another time when our stores were exhausted, we laid our case before the Lord, and had scarcely finished our prayer, when there was a knock at my door and a letter was handed in with $50 in gold: $20 soon after came, which completely supplied our wants, and we were taught that God will often hear prayer almost before it is offered. In the month of October, 1698, I sent a ducat to a poor and afflicted woman, who wrote me that it came to hand at a time when she greatly needed it, and she prayed God to give my poor orphans a heap of ducats for it. Soon after, I received from one friend two ducats; from another twenty-five; from two others forty-three; and from Prince. Paul of Wertemburg five hundred. When I saw all this money on the table before me, I could not but think of the prayer of the poor woman, and how literally it had been fulfilled. In February, 1699, I was almost entirely without funds, though much was needed for the daily wants of the children and other poor. In this state of difficulty, I comforted myself with the promise of the Lord Jesus: Seek ye first the kingdom,' &c. When I had given out the last of our money, I prayed to the Lord. As I left my room to go into the college, I found a student waiting for me, who put $70 into my hands. Soon afterwards, we were in the greatest want, but I trusted in the Lord and determined to go to my closet and spread my wants before him. I arose to go to my closet, and while on my way, a letter was put into my hands from a merchant, informing me that he had received a cheque for a thousand dollars, to be paid me for the orphan house. How forcibly did I feel the truth of the promise, 'Before they call I will answer, and while they are yet speaking I




will hear.'-Isa. 65: 24. I had now no reason to ask for assistance, but I went to my closet and praised the Lord for his goodness. At another time the superintendent of the building came to me and asked me if I had received any money for the payment of the laborers; No,' said I, but I have faith in God.' Scarcely had I uttered these words, when some one was announced at the door. On going to him, I found he had brought me thirty dollars. I returned to the study and asked the superintendent how much money he needed. He replied, thirty dollars.' There they are,' said I. At another time of great need, I prayed particularly, 'Give us this day our daily bread.' I dwelt upon the words this day, for we needed immediate aid. While I was yet praying, a friend came to my door and brought me $400. At one time I was recounting to a Christian friend some of our remarkable deliverances from want, by which he was so much affected, that he even wept. While I was speaking, as if to confirm my statements, I received a letter containing a cheque for $500. At another time I was in need of a large sum, but did not know where to obtain even ten dollars. The steward came; but having no money for him, I asked him to come again after dinner, and in the mean time gave myself to prayer. When he came in the afternoon, all that I could do was to ask him to come again in the evening. In the afternoon I was visited by a friend, with whom I united in prayer to God. As I accompanied my friend to the door, on his departure, I found the steward standing on one side, and on the other a person who put into my hands $150. On another occasion, the superintendent began to pay the laborers with only fourteen dollars, but before he got through, he received enough to complete the payments. One of my orphan children who was about to go on a visit to his friends, came and asked me for two dollars to bear his expenses. I told him I should be glad to give them to him, but that I had not more than a half dollar in the world. This he could scarcely believe, as he had never discovered the least signs of poverty at the orphan house. I told him to return to me again after a short time. I thought of going to borrow the money, but being engaged in a piece of business which could not be postponed, and knowing that the Lord could easily send me the sum, if it was his will, I kept my seat. In less than a quarter of an hour, a person came in bringing me

twenty dollars. I was now able to give the boy his two dollars, which I did most cheerfully."

So uniformly did this assistance come, just when it was most needed, and through so long a series of years was it continued, that the old steward, instead of desponding, got into the habit of saying, when any great difficulty occurred, "Now we shall have reason again to admire the manner in which God will come to our aid."

This institution has become one of the largest and most useful in Europe. It frequently has from 2700 to 3000 pupils, and when I visited it in 1836, it was, in all respects, one of the most delightful schools I saw in the whole progress of my tour. Franke also instituted a bible press to furnish bibles cheap for the poor. This press has issued over two millions of copies of the whole Bible, and more than a million of the New Testament. He also established a large apothecary's shop, for furnishing medicines to the poor, which is still in active operation; and a benevolent bookstore, which is now the largest in Germany. So much for the faith and the prayers of one man!

If any one can believe that such a long series of answers to prayer can be accounted for on the ground of accidental coincidences, such a man would scarcely be persuaded, though one should rise from the dead.

May every Christian expect such answers to prayer, as those which we find in the lives of Stilling and Franke?— Yes, every Christian who lives and feels as Stilling and Franke lived and felt, may expect such answers to prayer as Stilling and Franke had. God is no respecter of persons, and he regards every individual exactly according to the state of his heart. In every case, whenever the conditions are complied with, the promises are always fulfilled. These conditions are a right state of heart, entire devotedness to God, disinterested love to man, and unwavering confidence in the Lord Jesus Christ. These feelings must not be transient and fitful, but they must constitute the very habit of the mind. Without a full compliance with these conditions, confidence in prayer is presumption, it is not faith. A Universalist once said of a very benevolent evangelical neighbor of his, who was greatly prospered in his worldly affairs, "I do believe the Lord sometimes prospers those who give away money; for there is Col. M., the more he

gives away the richer he grows; but it would not work with ine at all." The Universalist was right; it would not work with him as it did with Col. M. And why not? Because he had not Col. M.'s single-hearted piety, and entire devotedness to God. It is not a state of mind which can be called up for a particular exigency, and continued only while that exigency lasts; if it is not the habit of the mind it does not exist at all.

But are not the promises absolute to believing prayer? And may we not of a sudden lay claim to the promises, though destitute of a devotional habit? The first dawnings of a right state of heart may lay claim to the promises; but we can have no evidence in respect to ourselves that we have a right state of heart, except as the result of habitual devotion. The promises are indeed absolute, but the Bible is written for beings who are supposed to have common sense, and who are bound to use that common sense in its interpretation. Our Saviour says, All things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them. But the drunkard who is destitute of money, would that others should give him rum; is it therefore his duty, when he has money, to give rum to others? This would be doing precisely as he would be done by, but would it be obeying the Saviour's precept? Let common sense answer. Jesus says, Give to him that asketh of thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away. Is it therefore your duty to give your money to any profligate who may ask you for it? Again I say, let common sense answer. Our Saviour says, When thou prayest enter into thy closet and shut thy door. But if a man has no closet, or if his closet has no door, can he not pray? And must he never pray in public?

In none of the above cases is there any limitation expressed, but such limitations as common sense demands, are always to be understood; and so are they to be understood. in the promises relating to prayer. No promises that are given to prayer will subject God's omniscience to man's shortsightedness, or take the control of the world out of God's hand and place it in the hands of the poor mortal who prays.

It is always to be understood that the thing asked for, is a proper thing to be asked for, that it is asked for in a right spirit, and for the purpose of being applied to a right object, and always in entire submission to the will of God.

Ye ask

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »