Other formats

    Adobe Portable Document Format file (facsimile images)   TEI XML file   ePub eBook file  


    mail icontwitter iconBlogspot iconrss icon

The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 83

The Salvation Army

page break

The Salvation Army.

If the Salvation Army is to go up like the rocket, and come down like the stick, it has certainly not yet reached its apex, zenith, and apogee. Col. Ballington Booth's visit to Australia reveals the miraculous progress made by the Army at this end of the planet. There was a meeting, a few months ago, in connection with the Bishop of Melbourne's fund, for Episcopalian evangelisation. Sir George Verdon made a scathing attack on the rich members of the Church of England, for the way in which the fund was starved, and their shamefully penurious manner of supporting anything of this description. Bishop Moorhouse makes no secret of his pecuniary embarrassments in regard to Church Extension. His hands are tied, and doubtless the invincible economy of Churchmen led him to the resolution he arrived at about a year ago, to sever his connection with the diocese. But, on the other hand, look at the great sums which the Church of England has been able to realise, for luxurious local church building, by such masquerading devices as the Old English Fair, at the Melbourne Town Ha 1, and that sickening parade of folly, at the same place, the Christmas Snow Cavern, a Carnival, or a week's Fancy Ball, only minus the dancing. At South Melbourne, St. Luke's Church has lately been chopped in half, and part of the site sold lor shops, facing Clarendon-street, indicating a decided decline of business.

Contrast this stagnation and rottenness with the Salvation. Array. General Booth determined towards the end of 1882 to open the campaign in Melbourne. He selected a young captain, James Barker, had him married to a young lady captain, and packed the couple off, the very next day, to conquer Victoria. Barker and his wife go to a spot known as Collingwood Flat, in the vicinity of Melbourne, kneel down on a Sunday, and trust to luck and the Lord. They flung themselves on the working classes. "Hallelujah!" "Come in Crowds!" was the invitation. The people crowded, and jingled up their cash profusely. Barker began to appoint captains, and build barracks, in an apparently reckless style. As for the financial difficulty, why, that appeared to be the smallest part of it. He now has splendid barracks all over the country, and his weekly newspaper, the War Cry, circulates 30,000, yielding a profit which pays all the officers. The Army has a complete printing plant, and an imposing Head Office in Melbourne.

The secret of all this is proceeding on the same basis as Jesus, of whom it was written that "the common people heard him gladly," and "the poor have the gospel preached to them." If the common people do not hear the Church gladly, there must be page 27 something rotten in the State of Denmark. "The poor ye have always with you." Our modern clergy add, "Yes, and they are a confounded nuisance." The very essence of Christianity is democratic and communistic. On these lines, Major Pollard, in New Zealand, has done a similar work to Major Barker. In Sydney and Adelaide, pauper Salvation Army officers have succeeded in a like manner. "Silver and gold have we none." Audacious collections are made, and the working people rush to fill the coffers. The captain's stipend is £2 a week, and the lieutenant's £1 10s.

This Army has fearfully deepened the rift between the working class and the churches. It exposes, with a calcium glare, the reliance of the ecclesiastical organisations only on the monied part of the community, who yet squeeze out clerical support with the utmost reluctance, and in ridiculous proportion to their means.

Religion is of no value if it is only to be available for the educated, and if a man must receive an expensive education for obtaining the ability to expound it. The black-coated and white-chokered man is like a red rag to a bull in the eyes of the working people at large. He looks like an embodiment of idleness and imposition. We heard a Salvation Army captain, at a great meeting in Hotham, set his congregation in a roar with his rebuke to a soldier who had been delivering something like a sermon. "Oh," ejaculated the reverend captain, "we are going to get him a nice long-tail coat and a white choker!"

Imagine the consternation in a church if the minister called on the audience to testify. Yet what more natural than that the possession of religion in the soul should force people to tell others of its benefit. The clergyman works up excitement with a representation of the broad way to destruction upon which almost everyone outside the church is travelling. The congregation swarm out, and remark that it is a nice day, and the sermon was very good indeed.

Of course, all this has been urged before, times out of mind. So has the anecdote been told of the preacher and the actor. "How is it," said the preacher, "that people listened unmoved to us when we treat of realities, and you lash them into such excitement with mere fiction?" "Why," replied the player, "we treat fictions as if they were realities, and you treat realities as if they were fictions."

The clergyman must take his tone from his congregation. "As thy day is, so shall thy strength be," is a good saying, but it will not hold good when, with one hand, a clergyman hurls undiluted truth at his hearers, and with the other he tries to raise his household in the social scale. Genteel instincts and