the greatest difficulties with young believers is to know how they can find out
whether what they desire is according to God's will. I count it one of the
most precious lessons God wants to teach through the experience of George
Muller, that He is willing to make know, of things of which His word says
nothing directly, that they are His will for us, and that we may ask them.
The teaching of the Spirit, not without or against the word, but as
something above and beyond it, in addition to it, without which we cannot see
God's will, is the heritage of every believer. It is through THE WORD, AND
THE WORD ALONE, that the Spirit teaches, applying the general principles or
promises to our special need. And it is THE SPIRIT, AND THE SPIRIT ALONE,
who can really make the word a light on our path, whether the path of duty in
our daily walk, or the path of faith in our approach to God. Let us try
and notice in what childlike simplicity and teachableness it was that the
discovery of God's will was so surely and so clearly made known to His
With regard to the building of the first Home and the
assurance he had of its being God's will, he writes in May 1850, just after it
had been opened, speaking of the great difficulties there were, and how little
likely it appeared to nature that they would be removed: `But while the
prospect before me would have been overwhelming had I looked at it naturally, I
was never even for once permitted to question how it would end. For as
from the beginning I was sure it was the will of God that I should go to
the work of building for Him this large Orphan Home, so also from the beginning
I was as certain that the whole would be finished as if the Home had been
The way in which he found out what was God's will,
comes out with special clearness in his account of the building of the second
Home; and I ask the reader to study with care the lesson the narrative
`Dec. 5, 1850.-Under these circumstances I can
only pray that the Lord in His tender mercy would not allow Satan to gain an
advantage over me. By the grace of God my heart says: Lord, if I
could be sure that it is Thy will that I should go forward in this matter, I
would do so cheerfully; and, on the other hand, if I could be sure that these
are vain, foolish, proud thoughts, that they are not from Thee, I would, by Thy
grace, hate them, and entirely put them aside.
is in God: He will help and teach me. Judging, however, from His
former dealings with me, it would not be a strange thing to me, nor surprising,
if He called me to labour yet still more largely in this way.
thoughts about enlarging the Orphan work have not yet arisen on account of an
abundance of money having lately come in; for I have had of late to wait for
about seven weeks upon God, whilst little, very little comparatively, came in,
i.e. about four times as much was going out as came in; and, had not the
Lord previously sent me large sums, we should have been distressed
`Lord! how can Thy servant know Thy will in this
matter? Wilt Thou be pleased to teach him!
December 11.-During the last six days, since
writing the above, I have been, day after day, waiting upon God concerning this
matter. It has generally been more or less all the day on my heart.
When I have been awake at night, it has not been far from my thoughts.
Yet all this without the least excitement. I am perfectly calm and
quiet respecting it. My soul would be rejoiced to go forward in this
service, could I be sure that the Lord would have me to do so; for then,
notwithstanding the numberless difficulties, all would be well; and His Name
would be magnified.
`On the other hand, were I assured that
the Lord would have me to be satisfied with my present sphere of service, and
that I should not pray about enlarging the work, by His grace I could,
without an effort, cheerfully yield to it; for He has brought me into
such a state of heart, that I only desire to please Him in this matter.
Moreover, hitherto I have not spoken about this thing even to my beloved
wife, the sharer of my joys, sorrows, and labours for more than twenty years;
nor is it likely that I shall do so for some time to come: for I prefer
quietly to wait on the Lord, without conversing on this subject, in order that
thus I may be kept the more easily, by His blessing, from being influenced by
things from without. The burden of my prayer concerning this matter is,
that the Lord would not allow me to make a mistake, and that He would teach me
to do His will.
`December 26.-Fifteen days have elapsed since I
wrote the preceding paragraph. Every day since then I have continued to
pray about this matter, and that with a goodly measure of earnestness, by the
help of God. There has passed scarcely an hour during these days, in
which, whilst awake, this matter has not been more or less before me. But
all without even a shadow of excitement. I converse with no one about it.
Hitherto have I not even done so with my dear wife. For this I
refrain still, and deal with God alone about the matter, in order that no
outward influence and no outward excitement may keep me from attaining unto a
clear discovery of His will. I have the fullest and most peaceful
assurance that He will clearly show me His will. This evening I have
had again an especial solemn season for prayer, to seek to know the will of God.
But whilst I continue to entreat and beseech the Lord, that He would not
allow me to be deluded in this business, I may say I have scarcely any doubt
remaining on my mind as to what will be the issue, even that I should go forward
in this matter. As this, however, is one of the most momentous steps that
I have ever taken, I judge that I cannot go about this matter with too much
caution, prayerfulness, and deliberation. I am in no hurry about it.
I could wait for years, by God's grace, were this His will, before even
taking one single step toward this thing, or even speaking to anyone about it;
and, on the other hand, I would set to work tomorrow, were the Lord to bid me do
so. This calmness of mind, this having no will of my own in the matter,
this only wishing to please my Heavenly Father in it, this only seeking His and
not my honour in it; this state of heart, I say, is the fullest assurance to me
that my heart is not under a fleshly excitement, and that, if I am helped thus
to go on, I shall know the will of God to the full. But, while I
write this, I cannot but add at the same time, that I do crave the honour and
the glorious privilege to be more and more used by the Lord.
to be allowed to provide scriptural instruction for a thousand orphans, instead
of doing so for 300. I desire to expound the Holy Scriptures regularly to
a thousand orphans, instead of doing so to 300. I desire that it may be
yet more abundantly manifest that God is still the Hearer and Answerer of
prayer, and that He is the living God now as He ever was and ever will be, when
He shall simply, in answer to prayer, have condescended to provide me with a
house for 700 orphans and with means to support them. This last
consideration is the most important point in my mind. The Lord's honour is
the principal point with me in this whole matter; and just because this is the
case, if He would be more glorified by not going forward in this business, I
should by His grace be perfectly content to give up all thoughts about another
Orphan House. Surely in such a state of mind, obtained by the Holy Spirit,
Thou, O my Heavenly Father, wilt not suffer Thy child to be mistaken, much
less deluded. By the help of God I shall continue further day by day
to wait upon Him in prayer, concerning this thing, till He shall bid me
`Jan. 2, 1851.-A week ago I wrote the preceding
paragraph. During this week I have still been helped day by day, and more
than once every day, to seek the guidance of the Lord about another Orphan
House. The burden of my prayer has still been, that He in His great mercy
would keep me from making a mistake. During the last week the book of
Proverbs has come in the course of my Scripture reading, and my heart has been
refreshed in reference to this subject by the following passages: "Trust
in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.
In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths"
(Prov. iii. 5, 6). By the grace of God I do acknowledge the Lord in
all my ways, and in this thing in particular; I have therefore the comfortable
assurance that He will direct my paths concerning this part of my service, as to
whether I shall be occupied in it our not. Further: "The integrity
of the upright shall preserve them" (Prov. xi. 3). By the grace of
God I am upright in this business. My honest purpose is to get glory to
God. Therefore I expect to be guided aright. Further: "Commit
thy works unto the Lord, and thy thoughts shall be established" (Prov.
xvi. 3). I do commit my works unto the Lord, and therefore expect
that my thoughts will be established. My heart is more and more coming to
a calm, quiet, and settled assurance, that the Lord will condescend to use me
still further in the orphan work. Here Lord is Thy
When later he decided to build two additional houses,
Nos. 4 and 5, he writes thus again:--
days have passed away since I wrote the last paragraph. I have still day
by day been enabled to wait upon the Lord with reference to enlarging the Orphan
work, and have been during the whole of this period also in perfect peace, which
is the result of seeking in this thing only the Lord's honour and the temporal
and spiritual benefit of my fellow-men. Without an effort could I by His
grace put aside all thoughts about this whole affair, if only assured that it is
the will of God that I should do so; and, on the other hand, would at once go
forward, if He would have it be so. I have still kept this matter entirely
to myself. Though it be now about seven weeks, since day by day, more or
less, my mind has been exercised about it, and since I have been daily praying
about it, yet not one human being knows of it. As yet I have not even
mentioned it to my dear wife in order that thus, by quietly waiting upon God, I
might not be influenced by what might be said to me on the subject. This
evening has been particularly set apart for prayer, beseeching the Lord once
more not to allow me to be mistaken in this thing, and much less to be deluded
by the devil. I have also sought to let all the reasons against
building another Orphan House, and all the reasons for doing so pass
before my mind: and now for the clearness and definiteness, write them
down. . . .
`Much, however, as the nine previous reasons weigh with
me, yet they would not decide me were there not one more. It is this.
After having for months pondered the matter, and having looked at it in
all its bearings and with all its difficulties, and then having been finally
led, after much prayer, to decide on this enlargement, my mind is at peace.
The child who has again and again besought His Heavenly Father not to
allow him to be deluded, nor even to make a mistake, is at peace, perfectly at
peace concerning this decision; and has thus the assurance that the decision
come to, after much prayer during weeks and months, is the leading of the Holy
Spirit; and therefore purposes to go forward, assuredly believing that he will
not be confounded, for he trusts in God. Many and great may be his
difficulties; thousands and ten thousands of prayers may have ascended to God,
before the full answer may be obtained; much exercise of faith and patience may
be required; but in the end it will again be seen, that His servant, who trusts
in Him, has not been confounded.'