George Müller (1805-1898) was a Prussian-born English evangelist and philanthropist. A man of faith and prayer, he established orphanages in Bristol and founded the Scriptural Knowledge Institution for Home and Abroad.


It was in December of this same year, 1841, that, in order to show how solely dependence was placed on a heavenly Provider, it was determined to delay for a while both the holding of any public meeting and the printing of the Annual Report. Mr. Müller was confident that, though no word should be either spoken or printed about the work and its needs, the means would still be supplied. As a matter of fact the report of 1841-2 was thus postponed for five months; and so, in the midst of deep poverty and partly because of the very pressure of such need, another bold step was taken, which, like the cutting away of the ropes that held the life-boat, in that Mediterranean shipwreck, threw Mr. Müller, and all that were with him in the work, more completely on the promise and the providence of God.

It might be inferred that, where such a decision was made, the Lord would make haste to reward at once such courageous confidence. And yet, so mysterious are His ways, that never, up to that time, had Mr. Müller's faith been tried so sharply as between December 12, 1841, and April 12, 1842. During these four months, again, it was as though God were saying

"I will now see whether indeed you truly lean on Me and look to Me."

At any time during this trial, Mr. Müller might have changed his course, holding the public meeting and publishing the report, for outside the few who were in his councils, no one knew of the determination, and in fact many children of God looking for the usual year's journal of "The Lord's Dealings," were surprised at the delay. But the conclusion conscientiously reached was, for the glory of the Lord, as steadfastly pursued, and again Jehovah Jireh revealed His faithfulness.

During this four months, on March 9, 1842, the need was so extreme that, had no help come, the work could not have gone on. But, on that day, from a brother living near Dublin, ten pounds came: and the hand of the Lord clearly appeared in this gift, for when the post had already come and no letter had come with it, there was a strong confidence suggested to Mr. Müller's mind that deliverance was at hand; and so it proved, for presently the letter was brought to him, having been delivered at one of the other houses. During this same month, it was necessary once to delay dinner for about a half-hour, because of a lack of supplies. Such a postponement had scarcely ever been known before, and very rarely was it repeated in the entire after-history of the work, though thousands of mouths had to be daily fed.




At the end of May, 1843, a crisis was reached, which was a new example of the experiences to which faith is liable in the walk with God; and a new illustration of the duty and delight of depending upon Him in everything and for everything, habitually waiting upon Him, and trusting in Him to remove all hindrances in the way of service.

Some eighteen months previously, a German lady from Würtemberg had called to consult him as to her own plans, and, finding her a comparative stranger to God, he spoke to her about her spiritual state, and gave her the first two parts of his Narrative. The perusal of these pages was so blest to her that she was converted to God, and felt moved to translate the Narrative into her own tongue as a channel of similar blessing to other hearts.

This work of translation she partially accomplished, though somewhat imperfectly; and the whole occurrence impressed Mr. Müller as an indication that God was once more leading him in the direction of Germany, for another season of labour in his native land. Much prayer deepened his persuasion that he had not misread God's signal, and that His time had now fully come. He records some of the motives which led to this conclusion.


1. First, he yearned to encourage believing brethren who for conscience' sake had felt constrained to separate themselves from the state churches, and meet for worship in such conditions as would more accord with New Testament principles, and secure greater edification.


2. Being a German himself, and therefore familiar with their language, customs, and habits of thought, he saw that he was fitted to wield a larger influence among his fellow countrymen than otherwise.


3. He was minded to publish his Narrative in his own tongue wherein he was born, not so much in the form of a mere translation, as of an independent record of his life's experiences such as would be specially suited to its new mission.


4. An effectual door was opened before him, and more widely than ever, especially at Stuttgart; and although there were many adversaries, they only made his help the more needful to those whose spiritual welfare was in peril.


5. A distinct burden was laid on his heart, as from the Lord, which prayer, instead of relieving, increased-- a burden which he felt without being able to explain-- so that the determination to visit his native land gave him a certain peace which he did not have when he thought of remaining at home.

To avoid mistake, with equal care he records the counter-arguments.


1. The new orphan house, No. 4, was about to be opened, and his presence was desirable if not needful.


2. A few hundred pounds were needed, to be left with his helpers, for current expenses in his absence.


3. Money was also required for travelling expenses of himself and his wife, whose health called for a change.


4. Funds would be needful to publish four thousand copies of his Narrative and avoid too high a market-price.


5. A matron for the new orphan house was not yet found, suitable for the position.


In this careful weighing of matters many sincere disciples fail, prone to be impatient of delay in making decisions. Impulse too often sways, and self-willed plans betray into false and even disastrous mistakes. Life is too precious to risk one such failure. There is given us a promise of deep meaning:


"The meek will He guide in judgment;

And the meek will He teach His way."

(Psalm xxv.9.)


Here is a double emphasis upon meekness as a condition of such guidance and teaching. Meekness is a real preference for God's will. Where this holy habit of mind exists, the whole being becomes so open to impression that, without any outward sign or token, there is an inward recognition and choice of the will of God. God guides, not by a visible sign, but by swaying the judgment. To wait before Him, weighing candidly in the scales every consideration for or against a proposed course, and in readiness to see which way the preponderance lies, is a frame of mind and heart in which one is fitted to be guided; and God touches the scales and makes the balance to sway as He will. But our hands must be off the scales, otherwise we need expect no interposition of His in our favour. To return to the figure with which this chapter starts, the meek soul simply and humbly waits, and watches the moving of the Pillar.

One sure sign of this spirit of meekness is the entire restfulness with which apparent obstacles to any proposed plan or course are regarded. Then waiting and wishing only to know and do God's will, hindrances will give no anxiety, but a sort of pleasure, as affording a new opportunity for divine interposition. If it is the Pillar of God we are following, the Red Sea will not dismay us, for it will furnish but another scene for the display of the power of Him who can make the waters to stand up as an heap, and to become a wall about us as we go through the sea on dry ground.

Mr. Müller had learned this rare lesson, and in this case he says:

"I had a secret satisfaction in the greatness of the difficulties which were in the way. So far from being cast down on account of them, they delighted my soul; for I only desired to do the will of the Lord in this matter."

Here is revealed another secret of holy serving. To him who sets the Lord always before him, and to whom the will of God is his delight, there pertains a habit of soul which, in advance settles a thousand difficult and perplexing questions.

The case in hand is an illustration of the blessing found in such meek preference for God's pleasure. If it were the will of the Lord that this Continental tour should be undertaken at that time, difficulties need not cast him down; for the difficulties could not be of God; and, if not of God, they should give him no unrest, for, in answer to prayer, they would all be removed. If, on the other hand, this proposed visit to the Continent were not God's plan at all, but only the fruit of self-will; if some secret, selfish, and perhaps subtle motive were controlling, then indeed hindrances might well be interferences of God, designed to stay his steps. In the latter case, Mr. Müller rightly judged that difficulties in the way would naturally vex and annoy him; that he would not like to look at them, and would seek to remove them by his own efforts. Instead of giving him an inward satisfaction as affording God an opportunity to intervene in his behalf, they would arouse impatience and vexation, preventing self-will from carrying out its own purposes.

Such discriminations have only to be stated to any spiritual mind, to have their wisdom at once apparent. Any believing child of God may safely gauge the measure of his surrender to the will of God, in any matter, by the measure of impatience he feels at the obstacles in the way; for, in proportion as self-will sways him, whatever seems to oppose or hinder his plans will disturb or annoy; and, instead of quietly leaving all such hindrances and obstacles to the Lord, to deal with them as He pleases, in His own way and time, the wilful disciple will, impatiently and in the energy of the flesh, set himself to remove them by his own scheming and struggling, and he will brook no delay.

Whenever Satan acts as a hinderer (1 Thess. ii.18) the obstacles which he puts in our way need not dismay us; God permits them to delay or deter us for the time, only as a test of patience and faith, and the satanic hinderer will be met by a divine Helper who will sweep away all his obstacles, as with the breath of His mouth.

Mr. Müller felt this, and he waited on God for light and help. But, after forty days' writing, the hindrances, instead of decreasing, seemed rather to increase. Much more money spent than was sent in; instead of finding another suitable matron, a sister, already at work, was probably about to withdraw, so that two vacancies would need to be filled instead of one. Yet his rest and peace of mind were unbroken. Being persuaded that he was yielded up to the will of God, faith not only held him to his purpose, but saw the obstacles already surmounted, so that he gave thanks in advance. Because Caleb "followed the Lord fully," even the giant sons of Anak with their walled cities and chariots of iron had for him no terrors. Their defence was departed from them, but the Lord was with His believing follower, and made him strong to drive them out and take possession of their very stronghold as his own inheritance.

During this period of patient waiting, Mr. Müller remarked to a believing sister:

"Well, my soul is at peace. The Lord's time is not yet come; but, when it is come, He will blow away all these obstacles, as chaff is blown away before the wind."

A quarter of an hour later, a gift of seven hundred pounds became available for the ends in view, so that three of the five hindrances to this Continental tour were at once removed. All travelling expenses for himself and wife, all necessary funds for the home work for two months in advance, and all costs of publishing the Narrative in German, were now provided. This was on July 12th; and so soon afterward were the remaining impediments out of the way that, by August 9th, Mr. and Mrs. Müller were off for Germany.

The trip covered but seven months; and on March 6, 1844, they were once more in Bristol. During this sojourn abroad no journal was kept, but Mr. Müller's letters serve the purpose of a record. Rotterdam, Weinheim, Cologne, Mayence, Stuttgart, Heidelberg, etc., were visited, and Mr. Müller distributed tracts and conversed with individuals by the way; but his main work was to expound the Word in little assemblies of believers, who had separated themselves from the state church on account of what they deemed errors in teaching, practice, modes of worship, etc.


God's Building: The New Orphan Houses


How complex are the movements of God's providence? Some events are themselves eventful. Like the wheels in Ezekiel's vision-- a wheel in the middle of a wheel,-- they involve other issues within their mysterious mechanism, and constitute epochs of history. Such an epochal event was the building of the first of the New Orphan Houses on Ashley Down.

After October, 1845, it became clear to Mr. Müller that the Lord was leading in this direction. Residents on Wilson Street had raised objections to the noise made by the children, especially in play hours; the playgrounds were no longer large enough for so many orphans; the drainage was not adequate, nor was the situation of the rented houses favourable, for proper sanitary conditions; it was also desirable to secure ground for cultivation, and thus supply outdoor work for the boys, etc. Such were some of the reasons which seemed to demand the building of a new orphan house; and the conviction steadily gained ground that the highest well-being of all concerned would be largely promoted if a suitable site could be found on which to erect a building adapted to the purpose.

There were objections to building which were carefully weighed: money in large sums would be needed; planning and constructing would severely tax time and strength; wisdom and oversight would be in demand at every stage of the work; and the question arose whether such permanent structures befit God's pilgrim people, who have here no continuing city and believe that the end of all things is at hand.

Continuance in prayer, however, brought a sense of quiet and restful conviction that all objections were overbalanced by other and favourable considerations. One argument seemed particularly weighty:

Should God provide large amounts of money for this purpose, it would still further illustrate the power of prayer, offered in faith, to command help from on high. A lot of ground, spacious enough, would, at the outset, cost thousands of pounds; but why should this daunt a true child of God whose Father was infinitely rich?

Mr. Müller and his helpers sought day by day to be guided of God, and, as faith fed on this daily bread of contact with Him, the assurance grew strong that help would come. Shortly Mr. Müller was as sure of this as though the building already stood before his eyes, though for five weeks not one penny had been sent in for this purpose. Meanwhile there went on that searching scrutiny of his own heart by which he sought to know whether any hidden motive of a selfish sort was swaying his will; but as strict self-examination brought to light no conscious purpose but to glorify God, in promoting the good of the orphans, and provoking to larger trust in God all who witnessed the work, it was judged to be God's will that he should go forward.

In November of this year, he was much encouraged by a visit from a believing brother* who bade him go on in the work, but wisely impressed on him the need of asking for wisdom from above, at every step, seeking God's help in showing him the plan for the building, that all details might accord with the divine mind.

*Robert C. Chapman, of Barnstaple, yet living-- and whom Mr. Müller cherished as his "oldest friend."

On the thirty-sixth day after specific prayer had first been offered about this new house, on December 10, 1845, Mr. Müller received one thousand pounds for this purpose, the largest sum yet received in one donation since the work had begun, March 5, 1834. Yet he was as calm and composed as though the gift had been only a shilling; having full faith in God, as both guiding and providing, he records that he would not have been surprised had the amount been five or ten times greater.

Three days later, a Christian architect in London voluntarily offered not only to draught the plans, but gratuitously to superintend the building! This offer had been brought about in a manner so strange as to be naturally regarded as a new sign and proof of God's approval and a fresh pledge of His sure help. Mr. Müller's sister-in-law, visiting the metropolis, had met this architect; and, finding him much interested to know more of the work of which he had read in the narrative, she had told him of the purpose to build; whereupon, without either solicitation or expectation on her part, this cheerful offer was made. Not only was this architect not urged by her, but he pressed his proposal, himself, urged on by his deep interest in the orphan work. Thus, within forty days, the first thousand pounds had been given in answer to prayer, and a pious man, as yet unseen and unknown by Mr. Müller, had been led to offer his services in providing plans for the new building and superintending its erection. Surely God was moving before His servant.

For a man, personally penniless, to attempt to erect such a house, on such a scale, without appeal to man and in sole dependence on God was no small venture of faith. The full risk involved in such an undertaking, and the full force of the testimony which it has since afforded to a prayer-hearing God, can be felt only as the full weight of the responsibility is appreciated and all the circumstances are duly considered.

First of all, ground must be bought, and it must comprise six or seven acres, and the site must be in or near Bristol; for Mr. Müller's general sphere of work was in the city, the orphans and their helpers should be within reasonable reach of their customary meeting-place, and on many other accounts such nearness to the city was desirable. But such a site would cost from two thousand to three thousand pounds.

Next the building must be constructed, fitted up, and furnished, with accommodations for three hundred orphans and their overseers, teachers, and various helpers. However plain the building and its furnishings, the total cost would reach from three to four times the price of the site.

Then, the annual cost of keeping such house open and of maintaining such a large body of inmates would be four or five thousand pounds more.

Here, then, was a prospective outlay of somewhere between ten thousand and fifteen thousand pounds, for site and building, with a further expense of one third as much more every year.

No man so poor as George Müller, if at the same time sane, would ever have thought of such a gigantic scheme, much less have undertaken to work it out, if his faith and hope were not fixed on God.

Mr. Müller himself confesses that here lay his whole secret. He was not driven onward by any self-seeking, but drawn onward by a conviction that he was doing the will of God. When Constantine was laying out on a vast scale the new capital on the Bosphorus, he met the misgivings of those about him who wondered at his audacity, by simply saying, "I am following One who is leading me." George Müller's scheme was not self-originated. He followed One who was leading him; and, because confident and conscious of such guidance, he had only to follow, trust, and wait.

In proportion as the undertaking was great, he desired God's hand to be very clearly seen. Hence he forbore even to seem prominent: he issued no circular, announcing his purpose, and spoke of it only to the few who were in his councils, and even then only as conversation led in that direction. He remembered the promise,

"I will guide thee with Mine eye,"

and looking up to God, he took no step unless the divine glance or beck made duty "clear as daylight." As he saw the matter, his whole business was to wait on God in prayer with faith and patience.

The assurance became doubly sure that God would build for Himself a large orphan house near Bristol, to show to all, near and far, what a blessed privilege it is to trust in Him. He desired God Himself so manifestly to act as that he should be seen by all men to be nothing but His instrument, passive in His hands. Meanwhile he went on with his daily search into the Word, where he found instruction so rich, and encouragement so timely, that the Scriptures seemed written for his special use-- to convey messages to him from above. For example, in the opening of the Book of Ezra, he saw how God, when His time had fully come for the return of His exiled people to their own land and for the rebuilding of His Temple used Cyrus, an idolatrous king, to issue an edict, and to provide means for carrying out His own unknown purpose. He saw also how God stirred up the people to help the returning exiles in their work; and he said to himself, this same God can and will, in His own way, supply the money and all the needed help of man, stirring up the hearts of His own children to aid as He may please.

The first donations toward the work themselves embody a suggestive lesson. On December 10th, one thousand pounds had been given in one sum; twenty days later, fifty pounds more; and the next day, three and sixpence, followed, the same evening, by a second gift of a thousand pounds. Shortly after, a little bag, made of foreign seeds, and a flower wrought of shells, were sent to be sold for the fund; and, in connection with these last gifts, of very little inherent value, a promise was quoted, which had been prominently before the giver's mind, and which brought more encouragement to Mr. Müller than any mere sum of money:

"Who art thou, O great mountain?

Before Zerubbabel, thou shalt become a plain!

(Zech. iv.7.)

Gifts, however large, were never estimated by intrinsic worth, but as tokens of God's working in the minds of is people, and of His gracious working with and through His servant; and, for this reason, a thousand pounds caused no more sincere praise to God and no more excitement of mind than the four pence given subsequently by a poor orphan.

Specially asking the Lord to go before him, Mr. Müller now began to seek a suitable site. About four weeks passed in seemingly fruitless search, when he was strongly impressed that very soon the Lord would give the ground, and he so told his helpers on the evening of Saturday, January 31, 1846. Within two days, his mind was drawn to Ashley Down, where he found lots singularly suited for his needs. Shortly after, he called twice on the owner, once at his house and again at his office; but on both occasions failing to find him, he only left a message. He judged that God's hand was to be seen even in his not finding the man he sought, and that, having twice failed the same day, he was not to push the matter as though self-willed, but patiently wait till the morrow.

When he did find the owner, his patience was unexpectedly rewarded. He [the owner] confessed that he had spent two wakeful hours in bed, thinking about his land, and about what reply he should make to Mr. Müller's inquiry as to its sale for an orphan house; and that he had determined, if it were applied for, to ask but one hundred and twenty pounds an acre, instead of two hundred, his previous price.

The bargain was promptly completed; and thus the Lord's servant, by not being in a hurry, saved, in the purchase of the site of seven acres, five hundred and sixty pounds! Mr. Müller had asked the Lord to go before him, and He had done so in a sense he had not thought of, first speaking about the matter to the owner, holding his eyes waking till He had made clear to him, as His servant and steward, what He would have him do in the sale of that property.






1899. Fleming H. Revell Company, Old Tappan, New Jersey