A. T. Pierson in his classic work, George Muller of Bristol, recounts the following points:
It will be well, even if it involves some repetition, to pass in review the more important steps in the process by which the divine Potter had shaped His vessel for His purpose, educating and preparing George Mueller for His work.
1. First of all, his conversion. In the most unforeseen manner and at the most unexpected
time God led him to turn from the error of his way, and brought him to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.
2. Next, his missionary spirit. That consuming flame was kindled within him
which, when it is fanned by the Spirit and fed by the fuel of facts, inclines to
unselfish service and makes one willing to go wherever, and to do whatever, the Lord will.
3. Next, his renunciation of self. In more than one instance he was enabled to
give up for Christ's sake an earthly attachment that was idolatrous, because it
was a hindrance to his full obedience and single-eyed loyalty to his heavenly
4. Then his taking counsel of God. Early in his Christian life he formed the habit, in things great and small, of ascertaining the will of the Lord before taking action, asking guidance in every matter, through the Word and the Spirit.
5. His humble and childlike temper. The Father drew His child to Himself,
imparting to him the simple mind that asks believingly and trusts confidently,
and the filial spirit that submits to fatherly counsel and guidance.
6. His method of preaching. Under this same divine tuition he early learned how to preach the Word, in simple dependence on the Spirit of God, studying the Scriptures in the original and expounding them without wisdom of words.
7. His cutting loose from man. Step by step, all dependence on man or appeals to man for pecuniary support were abandoned, together with all borrowing, running into debt, stated salary, etc. His eyes were turned to God alone as the Provider.
8. His satisfaction in the Word. As knowledge of the Scriptures grew, love for
the divine oracles increased, until all other books, even of a religious sort, lost
their charms in comparison with God's own text-book, as explained and
illumined by the divine Interpreter.
9. His thorough Bible study. Few young men have ever been led to such a
systematic search into the treasures of God's truth. He read the Book of God
through and through, fixing its teachings on his mind by meditation and
translating them into practice.
10. His freedom from human control. He felt the need of independence of man in order to complete dependence on God, and boldly broke all fetters that hindered his liberty in preaching, in teaching, or in following the heavenly Guide and serving the heavenly Master.
11. His use of opportunity. He felt the value of souls, and he formed habits of
approaching others as to matters of salvation, even in public conveyances. By a word and witness, a tract, a humble example, he sought constantly to lead some one to Christ.
12. His release front civil obligations. This was purely providential. In a strange way God set him free from all liability to military service, and left him free to pursue his heavenly calling as His soldier, without entanglement in the affairs of this life.
13. His companions in service. Two most efficient co-workers were divinely
provided: first his brother Craik as like-minded with himself, and secondly, his
wife, peculiarly God's gift, both of them proving great aids in working and in
bearing burdens of responsibility.
14. His view of the Lord's coming. He thanked God for unveiling to him that
great truth, considered by him as second to no other in its influence upon his
piety and usefulness; and in the light of it he saw clearly the purpose of this
gospel age, to be not to convert the world but to call out from it a believing
church as Christ's bride.
15. His waiting on God for a message. For every new occasion he asked of Him
a word in season; then a mode of treatment, and unction in delivery; and, in
godly simplicity and sincerity, with the demonstration of the Spirit, he aimed to
reach the hearers.
16. His submission to the authority of the Word. In the light of the holy oracles he reviewed all customs, however ancient, and all traditions of men, however popular, submitted all opinions and practices to the test of Scripture, and then, regardless of consequences, walked according to any new light God gave him.
17. His pattern of church life. From his first entrance upon pastoral work, he
sought to lead others only by himself following the Shepherd and Bishop of
Souls. He urged the assembly of believers to conform in all things to New
Testament models so far as they could be clearly found in the word, and thus
reform all existing abuses.
18. His stress upon voluntary offerings. While he courageously gave up all fixed salary for himself, he taught that all the work of God should be maintained by the free-will gifts of believers, and that pew-rents promote invidious distinctions among saints.
19. His surrender of all earthly possessions. Both himself and his wife literally
sold all they had and gave alms, henceforth to live by the day, hoarding no
money even against a time of future need, sickness, old age, or any other
possible crisis of want.
20. His habit of secret prayer. He learned so to prize closet communion with
God that he came to regard it as his highest duty and privilege. To him nothing
could compensate for the lack or loss of that fellowship with God and
meditation on His word which are the support of all spiritual life.
21. His jealousy of his testimony. In taking oversight of a congregation he took
care to guard himself from all possible interference with fulness and freedom of
utterance and of service. He could not brook any restraints upon his speech or
action that might compromise his allegiance to the Lord or his fidelity to man.
22. His organizing of work. God led him to project a plan embracing several
departments of holy activity, such as the spreading of the knowledge of the word of God everywhere, and the encouraging of world-wide evangelization and the Christian education of the young; and to guard the new Institution from all
dependence on worldly patronage, methods, or appeals.
23. His sympathy with orphans. His loving heart had been drawn out toward
poverty and misery everywhere, but especially in the case of destitute children
bereft of both parents; and familiarity with Francké's work at Halle suggested
similar work at Bristol.
24. Beside all these steps of preparation, he had been guided by the Lord from his birthplace in Prussia to London, Teignmouth, and Bristol in Britain, and thus the chosen vessel, shaped for its great use, had by the same divine Hand been borne to the very place where it was to be of such signal service in testimony to the Living God.