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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 65

The Salvation Army. — A. Sermon

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The Salvation Army.

A. Sermon

The Rev. Mr Waddell prefaced his sermon on the above subject at St. Andrew's Church on Sunday last by reading the following portions of Scriptures:—Matthew ix., 14-17, and 32 to end; Matthew xi. The address was based on 1 Cor. ix., 19-23; Jude 22 and 23, Philippians i, 15-18; and the rev. gentleman said:—

We live in critical times. With the progress of science the world is fast being brought together. There will soon be no such thing as space, so swiftly can the ends of the earth be united. But nearness in space is not nearness in spirit. Fowls and foxes housed together is not the perfection of unity; and progress in mere material things is not necessarily the progress of man. Knives, gunpowder, and nitroglycerine are all excellent, and may be used to subserve the noblest ends; but they are fearfully dangerous in the hands of lunatics. Therefore when you dilate to me on the discoveries of science—on the steam-engine, electricity, and all the rest—I want to know what kind of mind is going to direct these things, nay, above all, before I can be content of heart, I want to know what kind of moral nature—what kind of soul—there in the men and women who are going to use these things. If it is the soul of a Howard or a Clarkson—well; if it be the soul of a Nero or a Robespierre I shudder. There is thus the clear probability that science may just be elaborating and perfecting the very weapons that can be used for its own destruction—for the destruction of the race. Therefore it is not the development of machinery, but it is the development that works the true advance of a nation; and in man it is not the development either of his senses or his intellect, but of his spirit—his higher and diviner side—that determines the real riches of a country—the real progress of mankind. How stands this development, then? Has the moral state kept pace with the material—with the mental? It has not done so; it is not doing so. I am not by any means a pessimist, but I only affirm what most people who are not wilfully blind can see: that the moral condition of modern society is one of extreme gravity, and of extreme peril. Light hearts and lighter heads may dance away their frivolous existence, unconscious of the abysses beside which they sport; and selfish souls may continue remorselessly to weave up their wealth out of the waste of other lives. But the earnest thinker, of whatever creed, confesses that, above all the rush and roar—

Throughout the hum of torrent lone,
And brooding mountain bee,
There sounds, we know not what, ground tone,
Of human agony.

And that is true. Take the throne of the older civilisations, and at this hour they rock, most of them, on barrels of dynamite. Take the cities of Christain England and America, and you are face to face with a lean and hungry mass, that grow is threateningly at the Respectability that lives above it and upon it. There are millions to-day in these cities that have reached a stage not much above the savage of Central Africa. After eighteen centuries there are crimes and customs in modern London that would put to the blush the immoralities of Pagan Rome. Civilised society, when it chances to think of these men and women with dead and dying souls, does not know what to do With them all, it can feebly attempt is, as the author of "Joshua Davidson" puts it, "to try to forget them—to hand them over to the policeman, or hide them behind the prison bars." The Church, too, is at its wits' end. It attracts still a certain class, but the vast mass of the population in the Home cities is purely indifferent—is becoming actively hostile The politician, the social reformer, and the religious thinker are all at one in regarding this state of matters as wholly desperate and dangerous. Churches, perhaps, are not all that could be desired—they may be lax in their methods or wrong in their methods; but no one who knows anything of human nature and the conditions of true civilisation can regard these teeming multitudes, in whom the spiritual is dying or dead, with other than feelings of the utmost pity and the utmost dread; for history tells us in clear, firm tones that

There comes a time
When the insatiate brute within the man,
Weary with wallowing in the mire, leaps forth
Devouring, and the cloven satyr hoof
Turns to the rending claw, and the lewd leer
To the horrible fanged snarl, and the soul sinks
And leaves the man a devil.

And when that time comes, then the Deluge. Some eighteen years ago a Methodist minister, as he says, through no plan or idea of his own, was led in the providence of God to the East end of London. He found that the enormous bulk of the population there not only did not belong to any Church, but was totally ignorant of all religious truth. Face to face with the appalling misery, he then and there resolved to devote his life to making these millions at least hear of, and, if possible, know God. That minister was William Booth; and out of that resolve grew what we now call the Salvation Army.

I wish this morning to say a word or two regarding this extraordinary movement. In view of the aspect of modern society, it invites the candid and careful attention of every thoughtful person. What I shall say will be in no sense complete or comprehensive—touching only, in truth, the outer fringe of a subject as massive as it is marvellous. I need not say that regarding it good men are divided in their opinions—some looking upon the thing as Heaven-sent, others as from a very different quarter. We shall enter into no elaborate discussion of the question. The most manly, and withal, perhaps, the clearest-headed of England's preachers, puts the thing in a nutshell. Dr Dale, of Birmingham, said not long since, that for these reasons the movement should command Christian sympathy:—(1) Because it page 2 is reaching a class that the Church is practically powerless to reach; (2) It is reaching them with the right thing; and (3) it is reaching them successfully. That's precise and to the point. Nothing could be briefer; nothing could be better. The Salvation Army is reaching a class that the Church has not—somehow cannot reach. We need not stay upon the reasons for this; the fact is unquestionable. There are thousands in the Home cities who have never been inside a church—never even heard of the Gospel of Christ. It is against this compact and growing mass that the Army advances, and it is only the soberest fact to say that it is making its power felt here as no other church organisation has ever yet done. There has been nothing like it since the days of Wesley and Whitfield—nothing equal to it, perhaps, since the Apostolic age. Over 5,000,000, and most of these of the lowest grades of life, are compelled to listen to the preachers of this Army every week. Moreover, it is not only reaching these masses, but it is reaching them with the right thing. Some may doubt this; some, judging from the strong and startling utterances of some of its officers, may think very differently. But it is not fair to judge an army by the irregular shots of an outpost any more than by the idle gossip of a camp follower. If we really wish to know its plans and principles, we must examine its colors, question its chiefs, read its marching orders. What, then, says General Booth? He writes in the 'Contemporary Review' for 1882: "The old-fashioned Gospel that tells a man that he is thoroughly bad; that drags out the hidden things of iniquity to the light of the great judgment throne; that denounces sin without mercy, and warns men of eternal wrath to come unless they repent and believe on the only Saviour; the Gospel of a Crucified One, who shed real blood to save men from a real guilt, and who lives to give a real pardon to the really penitent, and a real deliverance from the guilt and power of sin to all who really give up a whole heart and trust Him with a perfect trust." Such, says he, is the gospel of the Salvation Army. Is that the right thing wherewith to reach the teeming multitudes of your city slums? I, who tried to prove to you the other day that the Gospel of Christ, and nothing but the Gospel of Christ, is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believes—I, at least, will not deny it. Furthermore, it proves it is the right thing by its effects. Not only are they reached, and reached with the right thing, but, as is to be expected, they are reached successfully. They are ready—robbers, wife-beaters, drunkards, harlots, sensual, depraved, godless, careless—they are ready by the hundred and the thousand to testify to this: "A tree is known by its fruits "; and the fruits of this movement in lives lifted up out of sin, and made beauteous with somewhat of the beauty of Christ, you can gather to-day from nearly every quarter of the universe. True it is that some fruits of this movement do not seem good—seem, indeed, to not a few of us as sour and bitter, and very dangerous. And here I make the transition to some of the objections commonly raised against the Salvation Army. They will all come in, I think, under those passages of Scripture wherewith I prefaced this sermon. I can only refer to some of the more prominent. e.g., it is objected that the methods of worship are irreverent; the terms used, the gestures, the music, all that assumption of military title, all that nauseous cant as to their services—"grand charge against the Devil," "knee parades," "heavy firing," hallelujah gallop," and such like. All this it is often said is unworthy a religious service: is, as Canon Farrar, puts it "A dragging of the [unclear: garments] of Christian faith through the mire of hopeless vulgarity." Now, I sympathise [unclear: with] good deal with this. I could wish myself [unclear: these] were less of such things. But then it must be remembered that these services are for a [unclear: cla] totally different to those who are in the habit of attending Church. To us staid and steak church-goers much of this may seem irreverent to most of the audience for whom it is [unclear: intended] it is not in the least irreverent. We are not all made alike. Everyone of us is cast in a [unclear: different] mould. Worship that one may think us becoming, another would think the [unclear: revere] The music that might suit the gorgeous cathedral worshipper would be mostly meaningless [unclear: with] the "great unwashed" from the city [unclear: slums] Quite true it is that were these methods [unclear: of] worship set up as the type of what all [unclear: worship] ought to be—what all churches ought to be—that were ridiculous—that were repulsive, and would oppose it to the death. But it is [unclear: an] audience poles apart from us to whom the [unclear: Arm] addresses itself. It must be spoken to the language which it can understand—in ways this will come home closest to the heart. Nor [unclear: it] there anything unscriptural in such accommodation What says St. Paul?—"For though I have free from all men, yet have I made myself [unclear: servant] unto all that I might gain some To the [unclear: Jew] became I as a Jew; to them that are under the law, as under the law; to them that are without the law. As without the law; to the weak became I as weak," etc. There is the principal which justifies the use of means—not that [unclear: once] might care to use, but that he must needs [unclear: us] that he might "by all means save some Again it is objected: The Army is going to be [unclear: a] rival to the Church; that it is itself going to be a new sect. And why not ? If men can find a comfortable home there, can find them self helped up nearer to God, and the Eternal [unclear: Iight] why should anyone object? Is there to be [unclear: no] room for development in church as in other things? Are there to be no new ways of speaking, and of worship? Have we reached final in these things? And do we object to [unclear: people] being saved and sanctified unless it Is done in [unclear: the] Presbyterian, or Methodist, or Anglican fashion. For Protestants the thing is absurd. Again, it [unclear: is] said: Those who speak are illiterate and uneducated: they may have a zeal, but it is [unclear: not] according to knowledge. Well, there is something in that, but not much. There is [unclear: great] need, I believe, at this hour, for just such [unclear: as] ministry as this—a ministry of men and [unclear: women] born out of the ranks of the poor, and who [unclear: can] speak to the poor, in thoughts and words [unclear: not] necessarily vulgar, but adapted to their circumstances and culture. Here lies the failing of our Churches. Their services are not perhaps [unclear: to] elaborate or too cultured-in a sense they [unclear: cord] scarcely be that,—but there is no room in there for the poor, no warm home for the uncultured. They cannot feel at ease in them, and so they are not found there. Again, it is said, the [unclear: Arm] makes strong efforts to catch Church members and so swell their ranks. That is not true; [unclear: but] if it were, why object? If a man feels he [unclear: gets] more good there, let him go, with all my heart But the operations of the Army are directed in the main not against Churches as such [unclear: but] against that huge daily-growing mass who belong to no Church, who live wrong, Christless [unclear: lives,] and who, as Mrs Browning puts it,

Great and small
Scurf and mildew of this city
Spot our streets, convicts in all,
Till we take them into pity.

Once more, it is said the teachings [unclear: and] doctrines of the Army are unscriptural and [unclear: ani] page 3 nicious. Reckless charges of this kind are often flung broadcast, founded usually on the random utterances of some enthusiastic speaker in the heat and hurry of excitement, or sometimes on the highly-colored reports of a hostile or a very fastidious religious Press. That is very unfair. When you want to know what the Presbyterian Church teaches, or what the Anglican Church teaches, what do you do? Do you go for your reliable information to the extravagant and abnormal types of their preachers? No! You take up their authorised statements, their Confessions, or their Articles. I am free to say that I do not find myself in accord with some of the Army's doctrines; but that does not blind me to the essential goodness of their cardinal theme—love to Christ as the power of God and the wisdom of God. That was the only theology He insisted upon. That was the only creed He asked men to accept from Him; and to this day there is no theology and no other creed to supersede it. Objection is taken to their mode, or perhaps motive, in preaching this great truth. Their appeals, it is said, are to men's baser feelings—to their sense of fear. Very well. There are men and women who have no other sense, who who can only be touched through their fears. You must begin where you find people. If you want to raise a thing it is of no use cyphering above it with your lever. You must go below it and catch it at the proper angle. Rose-water is excellent, but if your sense of smell is dead it has no excellence for you; and if people have reached the stage in which fear is the only motive that effectually moves them, you must work that motion. You may not like it, but you can't help it. The fault is in the pupil, not in the teacher. Making a difference, says the Apostle and others, save with fear, pulling them out of the fire. As I say, I may differ from some of the doctrines of the Army, but that does not prevent me from joining with them in their main work; nor does my so doing imply that I homologate the rest of their teaching or their ways. If I appear on a temperance platform with an Atheist, that does not imply that I accept his beliefs, nor am I responsible for them. There is one thing on which we are agreed, and that is temperance, and we work together for that end, and for the rest we agree to differ. Paul, lying in bond in a Roman prison (to vary somewhat a statement of Beecher's), sensitive to the last degree to his own reputation—to the good name of his Master—to the success of his cause, saw bad men taking his doctrine and preaching it crudely and rudely; and what did he do? He said "Silence, silence these men; put them down; give them no countenance; they are ruining his cause; they are bringing disgrace upon religion." It so happens, however, that that's exactly what St. Paul did not say He said: "No, let them go on; I rejoice in it. In spite of their bad motives, in spite of their bad handling, there is something of Christ preached by these men that would not otherwise have come out; and so bad as they are, imperfect as is their method, erroneous as is much of their teaching, still there is something of Christ's truth there; and so precious and powerful is it, so vital is it even in those broken fragments, that I rejoice in spite of all these things that they are preaching."—(Phillipians, i, 15-18.) True Apostle, most generous and great-hearted of men; and with St. Paul here I take my stand in regard to this movement. There is much in it, as I say, that I cannot accept. I see many dangers ahead; I see immense difficulties in its way. Nevertheless, in spite of all its defects, as long as it gives its effort and energy to reach and raise that class that lies outside the Church and outside religion, it will have my sympathy and support; and if there is need for such movement at Home we are not without need of it here. There is a growing class in these colonies of youths and men and women who have passed totally outside the principles and power of religion. On all sides you hear talk of the rampant larrikinism of our cities and our country. For myself I believe there is a good deal of exaggeration in this talk; but, making all deductions, there are elements at work in these new civilisations, as in the old, that are pregnant with danger in the immediate future. Within shadow of our very churches there are crowds of men and women as heathen at heart as those to whom we send our missionaries; and not many yards from where we sit at this moment I could take you to families who recognise no authority except the policeman, and to boys and girls who, so far as a true knowledge of God and religion is concerned, are as ignorant as the dog that lies at their feet. And what efforts are being made either by the State or the Church to remedy this state of things? The State permits men and women to herd together like beasts in dens dignified by the name of houses, that are destructive alike of their physical and moral natures; and it permits the erection at every street corner and every convenient place, of dramshops that are sowing the seeds of vice and wickedness of every kind and quality. And the Church is practically powerless. It is only within recent years that it has waked up out of its dream, and it stands aghast at the "sins and sorrows of the city." Mr Carlyle once said: "I should not have known whatever to have made of this world had it not been for the French Revolution." He meant that, looking at all the wrongs and wretchedness which the lower classes had to endure at the hands both of Christian and non-Christian society, he would have found it hard to believe in the righteous rule of the Universe unless it had been avenged by some such catastrophe. And as one of the most cultured of English preachers (Baldwin Brown) said recently: "Looking around us now at the hosts of our godless masses, at Christian Europe armed to the very teeth; at its cities teeming with paupers, profligates, harlots, and outcasts, we may say with certainty that we are approaching another such catastrophe. Depend upon it there is no way out of such kingdom as men's selfish passions have made into the kingdom of Heaven, which God has in store for the world save through darkness, tears, and blood."

We may gain hope that this will be averted, but the only way by which it can be averted is to permeate these dark places with the light and spirit of Christ; and surely every Church and every man who wishes well to his fellow-man will be ready to welcome any movement having this object for its end. I know well, however, that there are those who deride the Salvation Army because it does not keep to what they call the "old paths" of doing things; but it is such blind conservatism that has imperilled and has wrecked, many of the best institutions that have ever appeared on the earth. Times are changing, and we cannot stand still. It is not true orthodoxy—it is stagnation, it is death—to lie becalmed on "old paths"

Day after day, day after day,
Without a breath or motion,
As idle as a painted ship
Upon a painted ocean.

page 4

We who have charge of the advance of Christ's kingdom must remember that the Church exists for the sake of the kingdom, and not the kingdom for the sake of the Church; and, as Christ commands, we must be like the wise householder, able to bring out of our treasures things new as well as things old. And I know, also, that there are others who will be able to see no good whatever in this movement—others, in this town, who, in spite of the unanswerable testimony of decreasing business in the police courts; in spite, even, of the manly and candid confession regarding the good that the Army is doing, on the part of a paper so little likely to be partial to the movement as the Dunedin 'Echo'—I say, in spite of all these, there are many who will find nothing but what is evil and pernicious in the whole thing. But this can't be helped. "What did I tell you about the sun?" said a teacher to one of his scholars. "Please, sir," replied the boy, "You told me It was a thing that had spot in it." Exactly, and there are crowds of people who can't see the light for the motes that float within it.

For myself, when I consider the amazing self-sacrifice of nearly all the men and women who compose this Army—when I talk with them and see their simple, whole-hearted consecration; when I go to their services and behold the earnestness, the devotion, the eager anxiety to help and bless their fellow-beings; when I think that to-morrow there are hundreds of these people ready at an hour's notice to take their lives in their hand and go to the ends of the earth to preach Christ to their fellow-men-I ask myself who am I that I should sit still on easy chairs and coldly criticise their faults! And I ask you—you who can discover no good in the Army—what are you doing for the hungry souls around you that you should withhold your sympathy—nay, perhaps, that you should even assail with ribald scorn those who in their own best way and at such immense risk and sacrifice are yet trying to bring to these needy ones the bread of Eternal Life?

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