Towards the end of November 1857, I was most unexpectedly informed that the boiler of our heating apparatus at the new Orphan House, No. 1, leaked very considerably, so that it was impossible to go through the winter with such a leak. Our heating apparatus consists of a large cylinder boiler, inside of which the ﬁre is kept, and with which boiler the water pipes, which warm the rooms, are connected. Hot air is also connected with this apparatus. This now was my position. The boiler had been considered unsuited for the work of the winter; the having had ground to suspect its being worn out, and not to have done anything towards its being replaced by a new one, and to have said I will trust in God regarding it, would be careless presumption, but not faith in God. It would be the counterfeit of faith.
The boiler is entirely surrounded by brickwork; its state, therefore, could not be known without taking down the brickwork; this, if needless, would be rather injurious to the boiler than otherwise; and as, year after year, for eight winters, we had had no difficulty in this way, we had not anticipated it now. But suddenly and most unexpectedly, at the commencement of the winter, this difficulty occurred. What then was to be done? For the children, especially the younger infants, I felt deeply concerned that they might not suffer through want of warmth. But how were we to obtain warmth? The introduction of a new boiler would, in all probability, take many weeks. The repairing of the boiler was a questionable matter, on account of the greatness of the leak; but, if not, nothing could be said of it, till the brick-chamber in which the boiler, with Hazard’s patent heating apparatus, is enclosed, was, at least in part, removed; but that would, at least as far as we could judge, take days, and what was to be done in the mean time to find warm rooms for three hundred children? It naturally occurred to me to introduce temporary gas stoves, but, on further weighing the matter, it was found that we should be unable to heat our very large rooms with gas except we had very many stoves, which we could not introduce, as we had not a sufficient quantity of gas to spare from our lighting apparatus. Moreover, for each of these stoves we needed a small chimney, to carry off the impure air. This mode of heating, therefore, though applicable to a hall, a staircase, or a shop, would not suit our purposes. I also thought of the temporary introduction of Arnott’s stoves; but they would be unsuitable, as we needed chimneys, long chimneys, for them, as they would have been of a temporary kind, and therefore must go out of the windows. On this account, the uncertainty of its answering in our case, the disﬁgurement of the rooms almost permanently, led me to see it needful to give up this plan also. But what was to be done? Gladly would I have paid one hundred pounds if thereby the difﬁculty could have been overcome, and the children not be exposed to suffer for many days from being in cold rooms. At last I determined on falling entirely into the hands of God, who is very merciful and of tender compassion, and I decided on having, at all events, the brick chamber opened, to see the extent of the damage, and to see whether the boiler might be repaired, so as to carry us through the winter. The day was ﬁxed when the workmen were to come, and all the necessary arrangements were made. The ﬁre, of course, had to be let out while the repairs were going on. But now see. After the day was ﬁxed for the repairs, a bleak north wind set in. It began to blow either on Thursday or Friday before the Wednesday afternoon when the ﬁre was to be let out. Now came the ﬁrst really cold weather which we had in the beginning of last winter, during the ﬁrst days of December. What was to be done? The repairs could not be put off. I now asked the Lord for two things, viz. that he would be pleased to change the north wind into a south wind, and that he would give to the workmen “a mind to work;” for I remembered how much Nehemiah accomplished in ﬁfty-two days, whilst building the walls of Jerusalem, because “the people had a mind to work.” Well, the memorable day came. The evening before, the bleak north wind blew still; but on the Wednesday the south wind blew: exactly as I had prayed. The weather was so mild that no ﬁre was needed. The brickwork is removed, the leak is found out very soon, the boilermakers begin to repair in good earnest. About half-past eight in the evening, when I was going to leave the new Orphan House for my home, I was informed at the lodge that the acting principal of the ﬁrm whence the boiler-makers came was arrived, to see how the work was going on, and whether he could in any way speed the matter. I went immediately into the cellar, therefore, to see him with the men, to seek to expedite the business. In speaking to the principal of this, he said in their hearing, “the men will work late this evening, and come very early again to-morrow.” “”We would rather, sir,” said the leader, “work all night.” Then remembered I the second part of my prayer that God would give the men “a mind to work.” Thus it was: by the morning the repair of the boiler was accomplished, the leak was stopped, though with great difficulty, and within about thirty hours the brickwork was up again and the ﬁre in the boiler; and all the time the south wind blew so mildly that there was not the least need of a ﬁre.
Here, then, is one of our difficulties which was overcome by prayer and faith.
For nearly three months all went on well; but at the end of February another leak appeared, which was worse than the previous one. But over this also we were helped through prayer, so that without any real inconvenience the repairs were accomplished within about thirty hours. From that time the Lord has not tried us any further in this way. While I am writing this it is fine warm weather, and I have ordered in both houses the ﬁres to be discontinued in the heating apparatuses, and, the Lord willing, a new boiler will of course be substituted.