Note: Guest appearance from Timothy Young, by coercion. He is doing a series of book reports on books he is reading, also by coercion, but I think he's enjoying them too.
My Dear Reader,
This is a report on a book recently read titled George Müller of Bristol. It is a 462 pages long, counting everything from preface to the last appendix. It has 24 chapters of good length (good is around ten pages each my opinion). It has 13 appendixes labeled from "a" to "n". The author of this doorstopper is Arthur T. Pierson who met Mr. Müller in the latter's later life.
It was written very shortly after the subject's death in 1896 on March 10th. (coincidently this report is being written on the 119th anniversary of this date) The edition I got a hold of might very well be from the first patch printed in the USA, however in perfect discordance to the usual habit, it has no date of printing and thus this a guess.
In the first chapter the author covers briefly the childhood, teenage, and early twenties of George Müller. George Müller was born as any one who reads Wikipedia can ascertain on the 27th of September in 1805 in Prussia. His father was a tax collector and they were comparatively well to do.
His father showed favoritism towards him over his brother which was detrimental to the early family. He was undisciplined and quickly became a proficient liar. His father gave both boys amounts of money which they wasted, and when questioned simply lied about. When caught and punished they did not reform, but only evolved more elaborate methods of cheating or robbing their father. He not only stole his father's money, but even went after government money under his father's care.
Despite this, for some strange reason his father sent him to a cathedral school for training to enter university so that he could be a pastor in the Lutheran Church. Now this sheds considerable light on the state of the German church in the 1800s if a boy who was well known to be a thief, cheat, and able liar should be selected for a pastor.
His habits did not dissipate because of the this separation, but seemed to grow only the faster, so that when his mother lay dying it was discovered that their fourteen year old son was drunk in the streets. Her death did not even rouse his conscience which seems at this point to have been well near dead. He entered training for confirmation and was not changed at all by this. Indeed when his father gave him money that was customarily given for the confirmation he stole eleven twelfths of it. This is not usually counted to be a sign of true repentance. As to the rest of his school life, university, and pre-conversation life he carried on in the same general path.
He and a group of others similar to him by a dint of exceptional lying got a hold of a number of passports and visited Switzerland in attempts of indulging their sinful passions more fully. When this was done the group returned to Germany. One of their number felt guilty and determined to reform and invited George to the meeting. George was there saved.
He was there it seems, truly converted. In 1826 he began to think of mission work after reading missionary journals (a good way of starting) and was beginning to go that way when he was somewhat distracted by a girl. To say somewhat is actually a little of an understatement, for he almost seemed to shut down all his prayer and any other sign of being a Christian during this period. At the end of six weeks however this changed with his younger brother going to Poland to be a missionary amongst the Polish Jews. This shocked George into the right way, for his brother had been comparatively wealthy, and had all the more reason to stay in Germany then he.
After that he determined to go to England (After much prayer as was the course from this point of his whole life). He was there challenged on the subject of baptism, and after an private study of the Bible he determined that it was, "of all revealed truths, not one is more clearly revealed in the Scriptures-- not even the doctrine of justification by faith-- and that subject has only become obscured by men not having been willing to take the Scriptures alone to decide the point."
Shortly after this he also determined to cease taking a fixed salary from that point onward. On October 7th 1830 he married a Miss Mary Grover (Spoiler: the author does not spend much longer on the subject then I just did.)
In 1835 he opened an orphanage which is considered by many to be his main life work. His main difference fromn others of the time though was this, he asked of no man (or woman) anything, except orphans at first. He was extremely careful that he did not let himself or anyone that worked with him ask money of anyone. George Müller was one of the two men who gave much of the impetus to what is called faith missions. Hudson Taylor was inspired by him to go to China with the same mindset that he would not ask of any man for money, but solely rely on what God gave him in answer to prayer.
From 1875 he took less of the lead in the work in the orphan houses, and instead went on missionary journeys on every inhabited continent except South America, and for the next seventeen years of his life he continued speaking in them. Recall this, he started at the age of seventy, and continued into his late eighties. From his tours alone he would have been remembered as a great man, but this after a full life's work! For the last six years of his life he returned to his home in England, and continued preaching to the Sunday of that week and giving out the hymns on the Wednesday night prayer meeting of the week that he died.
If a man is to be judged by his funeral, George Müller did very well for a man who had not one hundred English pounds to his name. Tens of thousands of people lined the route of the procession. They then stopped at Orphan House number three (of five) and had a service. After this the procession made for Bethesda where there was a second service, where there was standing space only. Nearly eighty carriages followed the procession to the cemetery where he was laid to rest. This is very impressive when one considers that this was only four days after his death.
Though he died then at a goodly age, his works have continued to this day. His work amongst the orphans is what he is best remembered for, but this is not his only work. He served from 1836 roughly in connection with the church as the senior pastor/elder. His missionary efforts are at least as great as many others of that century, and much greater then many of this century. His yearly Reports are one of the strongest proofs of the effectiveness of prayer that has existed. His secret-- it does him injustice to call it that, for he proclaimed it broadly-- was his prayer. If the saying, "a man is only what he is when on his knees" is true he was a giant rarely matched throughout all church history.