THE LORD WILL PROVIDE
Oliver Heywood was one of the persecuted servants of Christ who lived in the seventeenth century. It is said that, at one time, he was reduced to great straits. His little stock of money was quite exhausted, the family provisions were quite consumed, and Martha, a maid-servant who had been in his family for several years, and who had often assisted them, could now lend no more assistance. Mr. Heywood still trusted that God would provide for them. He saidÂ—
“When cruse and barrel both are dry,
We still will trust in God Most High.”
When the children began to be impatient for food, Mr. Heywood called his servant, and said, “Martha, take a basket, and go to Halifax, call on Mr. NÂ—Â—, the shopkeeper, and tell him I desire him to lend me five shillings. If he will be kind enough to do it, bring some cheese, some bread, and such other little things as you know we most want. Be as expeditious as you can, and the Lord give you good speed. In the meantime, we will offer up our requests to Him who feedeth the young ravens when they cry, and who knows what we have need of before we ask Him.” Martha observed her master’s directions; but, when she came near the house where she was ordered to solicit the loan of five shillings, through timidity and bashfulness, her heart failed her, and she passed by the door again and again, without having courage to tell her errand.
At length, Mr. NÂ—Â—, standing at his shop door, and seeing Martha in the street, called her to him, and said, “Are you not Mr. Heywood’s servant?” She answered, “Yes.” He added, “I am glad
of having this opportunity of seeing you. Some friends at MÂ—Â—
have remitted to me five guineas for your master, and I was just thinking how I could send it.”
Martha burst into tears, and for some time could not utter a syllable. The necessities of the family, their trust in Providence, and the seasonable supply, entering upon her mind at once, quite overpowered her. At length she told Mr. NÂ—Â—upon what errand she had come. The gentleman could not but be affected with the story, and told Martha to come to him when the like necessity should press upon them at any future time. She made haste to procure the necessary provisions, and, with a heart lightened of its burden, ran home to tell the success of her journey.
Though she had not been long absent, the hungry family had often looked wistfully for her arrival. When she knocked at her master’s door, which now must be kept locked for fear of constables and bailiffs, it was presently opened, and the joy to see her was as great as when a fleet of ships arrives laden with provisions for the relief of a starving town closely besieged by an enemy. The children danced round the maid, eager to look into the basket of eatables, whilst she recited all the circumstances of her journey. Martha wiped her eyes. The father smiled and said, “The Lord hath not forgotten to be gracious. Did not I tell you that God would surely provide for us?”
How applicable the advice of the Psalmist, “Trust in the
Lord, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed” (Psalm xxxvii. 4).