Joseph Bates Needs Funds

Joseph Bates sidled down the street in a chipper mood. God had just provided for his needs in a miraculous way and he had a lot to be grateful for. Just this morning he had only had a single york shilling in his pocket, which amounted to about 12.5 cents.

He had no other cash.

Not one cent more.

His wife Prudy had come into his office asking him to buy some groceries. She needed flour to finish the day’s baking. Gingerly he had asked her how much flour she needed. The york shilling in his pocket felt heavy.

To his great relief, she needed only four pounds of flour and a few other extras. The York shilling would stretch far enough to cover all of it. He had been to the shop, bought what was needed and returned home only to be interrogated by his amazed wife.

Had he just been out to the shop and bought only four pounds of flour?

Setting down his pen he looked gravely and somewhat sheepishly at his wife. Yes, he admitted, he had been to the shop and bought only four pounds of flour.

Why?  Prudence had asked mystified.

Because we had only a single york shilling and I used all of it to buy the provisions we needed.

Prudence went from mystified to devastated in a matter of seconds. What were they going to do? How were they going to live?

Joseph took a deep breath and shrugged. He told Prudence that he was going to finish writing his tract on the Sabbath, a piece of work that he was currently knee deep in. As for how they would live he was sure that God would supply their needs.

With that, he went back to his writing and his wife ran out of the room sobbing.

It had not been a happy situation.

Soon after he had felt impressed to walk down to the post office and to pick up a letter that was waiting for him there. When he got to the post office he found a letter with a $10 bill enclosed.

He was jubilant. God had provided.

He went straight down to the store and bought a cart load of groceries and requested that it be immediately dispatched to his home. Then he decided to walk down to the printer and arrange for his tracts to be printed.

He had no money to pay for the printing of the tracts. It didn’t matter. He knew God would send him the money.

Heman Gurney’s $100

Heman Gurney was walking down the street in 1846 when he was stopped by a familiar looking gentleman who was walking past him.

Gurney was surprised that the man had stopped him because the last time they had seen each other they hadn’t parted amicably.

The man was his former employer. Two years prior Gurney had decided to make an Evangelistic trip down south to preach to the slaves and slaveholders about the second coming. He had made the choice to quit his job in order to go.

Gurney was a blacksmith.

As he prepared to resign he approached his boss and asked him for the $100 in wages that were owed to him. The man refused to cough up the money. He claimed that Gurney’s abrupt departure would cost his Smithy $100 worth of damages.

They were even. Gurney could go. Without the money.

Gurney had acquiesced and resigned himself to the fact that he would never see the $100 again. He had also resigned himself to the fact that he would probably never see his employer again.

Now standing on the street facing the somewhat agitated man Gurney was surprised, but his surprise was about to climb up a few notches.

“Look here Gurney,” his old boss said gruffly, unable to meet his gaze “I know I should have paid you that $100 two years ago. You earned it and I was wrong to keep it from you” his gaze flicked up to meet Gurney’s for a quick moment “I’m ashamed of the way I treated you”

Gurney opened his mouth to respond but the man hurried on.

“I’m fixing to pay you right here and right now,” he said in a rush whipping out his wallet and handing Gurney $100 in cash. He then hurried off down the road before Gurney could get out a single word.

Gurney stood staring at the cash in his hand for a long moment. He had never expected to collect the debt and he regarded it as money that had been found.

He was wondering what he could do with it when he remembered Joseph Bates’ Sabbath tract. He walked down to the printer’s and paid off the final balance due on the pamphlets and asked the printer not to reveal his identity.

 Bates arrived a few days later to pick up the tracts and to inform the printer that he didn’t have the money to pay for the balance. When he got there the pamphlets were packed and ready for him to take.

When he tried to explain to the printer that he didn’t have the cash the man waved him away dismissively and told him that the bill had been taken care of. The pamphlets were his to take home with him.

To the day of his death, Bates never found out who his mysterious benefactor had been. All he knew was that the Lord had once again provided for his needs.

Further Reading and Citations

  • Collins, N.J. (2005) – Heartwarming Stories of Adventist Pioneers (Book 1)