The GOSPEL TRUTH
LIFE & DEATH
WHAT IS THE SALVATION ARMY?
NOTHING short of a thorough-going belief in the truths set forth in the foregoing Addresses could explain the history of this remarkable Organization, the great successes it has attained, or the bitter animosity with which it is regarded by so many. In July, 1865, William Booth, deeply impressed with the AWFUL INDIFFERENCE prevailing amongst the masses in the East of London, determined to devote himself to some special effort for their Salvation. He believed that there had been an ATONEMENT made, sufficient for every sinner, and that by true repentance and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, the very worst might enter upon a new life.
He did not think that there was the slightest hope of permanently improving the condition of any of the PRODIGALS, whom he saw abounding around him, other than by leading them to see the cause of all their misery in their neglect of God, and so persuading them to turn to Him with full purpose of heart. Trusting in the same Holy Ghost, who had for many years been blessing his labours as a minister, he went out into the streets, and was very soon able to rejoice over many rescued from their evil ways, and ready to serve God with all their might.
Having laid a good foundation by requiring, not merely an assent of the mind to a statement of certain truths, but a thorough submission of heart to abandon and separate from all evil, and to serve the New Master with all diligence, he soon had around him a number of earnest labourers willing to devote their leisure hours, their strength, and any money they could spare from their scanty earnings, to the service of the truth.
These were plain men and women, and they spoke out plainly and fearlessly to all with whom they came in contact, not only in the Open-Air and indoor Meetings, but in their workshops, at home, and wherever they could meet with their fellows. And the consequence was that the little band steadily grew and spread from point to point, until it had, at the end of 1883, 528 Corps or Stations, and 245 Field Outposts, with 103 Corps abroad.
Amongst the tens of thousands now marching in the ranks of The Salvation Army, are multitudes of the most wonderful trophies of saving grace--men and women who, having run into sin with all possible greediness, and having forgotten God altogether, were attracted by some of the peculiar outward appearances of The Army to its Meetings, and there aroused to deep concern about their souls, and led to cry for deliverance to the only Saviour.
The extreme diligence shown in impressing the truth on the attention of the people at all the meetings of The Army, has often led to an accusation of attempting to substitute excitement for a deep heart work; but surely our SOWING is best judged by our REAPING, and something more than excitement is necessary to produce a force of men and women who deny themselves all personal comfort and case, and, separating themselves from all their old friends, come out in all weathers, night after night, to do their utmost for the rescue of others, whom they see to be perishing around them.
It is, indeed, an intense and constant realization of the great spiritual truths to which these addresses refer, that causes such earnest action on the part of almost all those who are engaged in the work of The Army. Brought, time after time, face to face with thousands who are, they believe, HALTING within sight of the open gate of mercy, and also within a step of the WRATH to come, our Officers and Soldiers press the people at every Meeting to yield themselves without further delay to the Saviour; so that it is no fiction to use the phraseology of the battle-field with regard to our services. Each Meeting is a real fight with the powers of darkness; and, thank God, the fight generally becomes a victory!
It is quite true that the vast majority of the men and women who have daily opportunity to speak at our Meetings are ignorant of the language of Scripture, and, indeed, of all religious phraseology to a very great extent; but they are thoroughly pervaded with those great truths which, as we have shown, are so all-important; and speaking, not in the set phraseology of any school, but as the Spirit gives them utterance in the natural language of every-day life, they so warn and touch the common people, that thousands of them are, week after week, led to the Saviour's feet.
The reality of the work thus done has been super-abundantly tested in seasons of trial. It must be a TRUE and not a FALSE faith which can enable rough men, who have been accustomed to drink and swear and fight, and delicate women to go through storms of abuse and even to endure all sorts of violence without retaliation. Amongst the more than 1,500 Officers who have given up their lives to the work, there are very few who have not, at one time or another, known what it is to enjoy TRUE PEACE amidst the most stormy scenes of opposition out of doors, There is no doubt that a great deal of animosity aroused against The Army has been caused by its constant plain speaking as to JUDGMENT as well as MERCY; but we prefer any sort of war of this kind--no matter what it may cost us--before the FALSE PEACE, which is to be got by compromise with the world, or by allowing the guilty to perish unwarned.
The use by The Army of brass bands, flags, uniforms, startling announcements, and a number of other peculiar means of attracting the people, are all attributable to the knowledge that the multitudes are perishing, and that all ordinary means have utterly failed to arouse them to a sense of their danger. It is notorious, thank God, that in every part of the world to which it has gone, The Army has succeeded in assembling together crowds of the most ignorant and ruffianly kind, thus proving that the means made use of have been admirably fitted for the accomplishment of the purpose in view.
Do you wish to know more of The Army? See it for yourself, read its publications; and, if you desire special information, it will always be cheerfully given if you will apply to Headquarters.
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