Part 2 out of 2
'I believe,' she writes, when quite a young woman, 'honesty to be the
best policy, and I shall act upon it. Let me have truth, if it shakes the
foundation of the earth.'
She was sincere and faithful in every part of her nature: faithful with
her own soul and in dealing with the souls of others. Great or small,
rich or poor, she made no difference, and never held back from reproving
sin when it was needful.
'I see more than ever,' she said, 'the need of making righteous people
true in their _inward parts_. Let us be more thorough than ever with
souls under conviction. Let us not be afraid to wound too deeply.
Thousands of professors have never been truly convinced of sin, much less
truly converted. Sin to them is _being found out_!'
Though all through her life our Army Mother hungered and thirsted to
know God better, and to serve Him more perfectly, yet it was not till
some time after her marriage that she received the blessing of a clean
Of the struggle and conflict which she went through, before the blessing
of Holiness became hers, she shall tell you in her own words:--
'I had been earnestly seeking all the week to know Jesus as an all-
sufficient Saviour dwelling in my heart, and thus cleansing it every
moment of all sin; but on Thursday and Friday I laid aside almost
everything else, and spent the chief part of the day in reading and
prayer, and trying to believe for it. On Thursday afternoon at tea-time I
was well-nigh discouraged, and felt my old visitant, irritability, and
the Devil told me I should never get it, and so I might as well give it
up at once. However, I know him of old as a liar and the father of lies,
and pressed on, cast down, yet not destroyed.
'On Friday morning God gave me two precious passages. First, "Come unto
Me all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." Oh,
how sweet it sounded to my poor, weary, sin-stricken soul! I almost dared
to believe that He did give me rest from inbred sin--the rest of perfect
Holiness. But I staggered at the promise through unbelief, and therefore
failed to enter in. The second passage consisted of those thrice-blessed
words, "Of Him are ye in Christ Jesus, who is made unto us wisdom,
righteousness, sanctification, and redemption." But again unbelief
hindered me, although I felt as if getting gradually nearer.
'I struggled through the day until a little after six in the evening,
when William joined me in prayer. We had a blessed season. While he was
saying, "Lord, we open our hearts to receive Thee," that word was spoken
to my soul, "Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If any man hear My
voice, and open unto Me, I will come in, and sup with him." I felt sure
He had long been knocking, and Oh, how I yearned to receive Him as a
perfect Saviour! But Oh, the inveterate habit of unbelief! How wonderful
that God should have borne so long with me! When we got up from our
knees, I lay on the sofa, exhausted with the excitement and effort of the
day. William said, "Don't you lay all on the altar?" I replied, "I am
sure I do!" Then he said, "And isn't the altar holy?" I replied in the
language of the Holy Ghost, "The altar is most holy, and whatsoever
toucheth it is holy." Then, said he, "Are you not holy?" I replied with
my heart full of emotion and with some faith, "Oh, I think I am!"
Immediately the word was given me to confirm my faith. "Now are ye clean
through the word which I have spoken unto you." And I took hold--true,
with a trembling hand, and not unmolested by the tempter, but I held fast
the beginning of my confidence, and it grew stronger, and from that
moment I have dared to reckon myself dead indeed unto sin, and alive unto
God through Jesus Christ my Lord.
'I did not feel much rapturous joy, but perfect peace, the sweet rest
which Jesus promised to the heavy laden. I have understood the Apostle's
meaning when he says, "We who believe do enter into rest." This is just
descriptive of my state at present. Not that I am not tempted, but I am
allowed to know the Devil when he approaches me, and I look to my
Deliverer Jesus, and He still gives me rest. Two or three very trying
things occurred on Saturday, which at another time would have excited
impatience, but I was kept by the power of God through faith unto full
'And now what shall I say? "Unto Him who has washed me in His own Blood
be glory and dominion for ever and ever," and all within me says "Amen!"
Oh! I cannot describe, I have no words to set forth the sense I have of
my own utter unworthiness. Satan has met me frequently with my peculiarly
aggravated sins, and I have admitted it all. But then I have said, the
Lord has not made my sanctification to depend in any measure on my own
worthiness or unworthiness, but on the worthiness of my Saviour. He came
to seek and to save "that which was lost." "Where sin hath abounded,
grace doth much more abound"'
How wonderfully in after years Mrs. Booth explained and led others into
this same blessing, we know. Was not, then, the long struggle and agony
on her own behalf worth it? Yes, indeed, and it will be so with you when
you get this glorious blessing in your soul.
You will have noticed how in struggling for Holiness Mrs. Booth had to
fight unbelief. This determination to trust God fully marked her out as
strong in faith.
She had this marvellous faith because she obeyed and struggled to throw
herself on the Lord; but faith was not _natural_ to her any more
than it is to you or me.
Often money was short, and she hardly knew how she would be able to feed
and clothe her family: this was a sore trial of her faith. On one such
occasion she wrote to her mother:--
'We have not at present received as much as our travelling expenses and
house rent. I feel a good deal perplexed, and am sometimes tempted to
mistrust the Lord. But I will not allow it. Our Father knows!'
Later on we get a sight of her own experience in one of her letters, when
'I am much tried just now by perplexities of every kind; uncertainty,
from a human standpoint, hedges me in on every side. Satan says it is
useless trying to steer straight through such a labyrinth; but I am
determined to hold on to the promises, come what will. My God is the
living God. He sees me, knows me, loves me, cares for me, wants to have
me with Him in Glory, as much as He did Abraham, or Paul, or John. If
this be true, what have I to fear?'
'"Said I not unto thee, that, if thou wouldst believe, thou shouldst see
the Salvation of God?" This is a precious word. It has kept my soul alive
many a time when Satan has almost overthrown me. "If thou canst believe,
all things are possible to thee. Never mind whether anybody else can or
cannot. If others are too strong to let Me carry them, if thou art weak
enough to throw up all self-effort, and trust Me with thy whole weight, I
will carry thee, and thou shalt glorify Me." I know this is the way.
Hence the babes go in with the simple and the great sinners, while the
reasoners, and the strong, and the proud, and the fearful are shut out.'
Again, to one who was cast down, and tempted to be discouraged because of
his failings, she writes:--
'It is well to see them, for how can we take hold of Jesus to mend what
we don't see? It is best to know ourselves, but we Salvationists are in
danger of erring on the other side. We look too much at ourselves apart
from Him who is or would be our righteousness, sanctification, and
redemption. Faith in Him as your keeper will do more in five minutes than
years of conflict without it.'
Once, in another letter, she gives us a beautiful bit of her own soul's
experience on this subject:--
'I had such a view of His love and faithfulness on the journey from
Wellingborough, that I thought I would never doubt again about anything.
I had the carriage to myself, and such a precious season with the Lord,
that the time seemed to fly. As the lightning gleamed around I felt ready
to shout, "The chariot of Israel, and the horsemen thereof." Oh, how
precious it is when we see as well as believe, but yet more blessed to
believe and not see! Lord, work this determined, obstinate, blind,
unquestioning, unanswering faith in me and my beloved friend, and let us
two dare to trust Thee in the midst of our peculiar trials. As I looked
at the waving fields, and grazing sheep, the flashing sky, a Voice said
in my soul, "Of what oughtest thou to be afraid? Am I not God? Cannot I
supply thy little, tiny needs?" My heart replied, "It is enough, Lord; I
will trust Thee, forgive my unbelief."'
The truest love must ever seek the highest good of its object; sometimes
even with forgetfulness of important smaller advantages.'--MRS. BOOTH.
The second great quality in Mrs. Booth's character, as given by the first
General, was her love.
'She was _love_,' he says. 'Her whole soul was full of tender, deep
compassion. Oh, how she loved, how she pitied the suffering poor! How she
longed to put her arms round the sorrowful, and help them!'
'How,' asked Mrs. Booth once, 'are we to put heart into people? Even
grace seems to fail to do so in many instances. I think it needs mothers
to do this from infancy upwards.'
You will recollect that Mrs. Mumford fostered this 'heart' and love in
her little girl; and you will remember how keenly Katie felt, blazing up
into wrath at any story of wrong or injury, and ready to sacrifice her
life for those she loved. This spirit grew with her. She could not help
caring and struggling to help all who needed her. The General often told
her in later years that she was killing herself by carrying every one's
burdens. Then she would try to leave off for a little, but her heart was
too strong, and she could not hold it back.
When but a child, running down the road with her hoop and stick, she saw
a drunkard being dragged off to prison by a policeman. All the people
were jeering and mocking at the poor friendless wretch. Instantly Katie's
pity and love fired up. She dashed across the street, and marched along
close by the man's side, so that he might feel that at least one little
heart cared for him, and wanted to help him.
To the end of her life she carried this deep, tender pity wherever she
went. She loved the poor. 'With all their faults,' she said, 'they have
larger hearts than the rich'; and she loved them for it.
Where any one had a warm heart, she could forgive and overlook many
mistakes; but with cold, narrow, 'fishy' souls, she had neither sympathy
Our Army Mother's help was practical. She did not only give money or
pity, but she--so to speak--rolled up her sleeves and helped the
Every sort of suffering and need appealed to her. If an animal was
wounded or in pain, she stopped, and herself relieved it as best she
could; and to the last, if she saw a horse or any creature being ill-
treated, she would not hesitate to rush out and stop the driver, or in
some way force him to leave off his cruelty.
She was not only kind and helpful to those she liked, but every living
thing that suffered had a claim upon her, and the greater the need the
more tender and ready was her help.
Mrs. Booth was a people's woman, and she was never weary of scheming and
planning how to help the poor in the most practical way.
'When I see people going wrong,' she said, when but a girl of twelve, 'I
must tell the poor things how to manage.'
Dirt and sin, and drink and misery, could not quench this love; it was a
part of her very nature. Long, long before Slum Sisters were ever thought
of, Mrs. Booth did their work herself, just because she so loved the
poor, and longed to help them. You shall read the story in her own
'I remember in one case finding a poor woman lying on a heap of rags. She
had just given birth to twins, and there was nobody of any sort to wait
upon her. I can never forget the desolation of that room. By her side was
a crust of bread and a small lump of lard. "I fancied a bit o' bootter
(butter)," the woman remarked apologetically, noticing my eye fall upon
the scanty meal, "and my mon, he'd do owt for me he could, bless'm--he
couldna git me iny bootter, so he fitcht me this bit o' lard. Have
_you_ iver tried lard isted o' bootter? It's _rare good_!" said
the poor creature, making me wish I had taken lard for "bootter" all my
life, that I might have been the better able to minister to her needs.
However, I was soon busy trying to make her a little more comfortable.
The babies I washed in a broken pie-dish, the nearest approach to a tub
that I could find. And the gratitude of those large eyes, that gazed upon
me from out of that wan and shrunken face, can never fade from my
Before public Meetings took up so much of her time, she delighted in this
house-to-house visiting, and went especially for the drunkards, over whom
God gave her a wonderful power.
'I used to visit in the evenings,' she says, 'because it was the only
part of the day in which I could get away; and, besides, I should not
have found the men at home at any other time. I used to ask one
drunkard's wife where another lived. They always knew. After getting hold
of eight or ten in this way, and getting them to sign the pledge, I used
to arrange Cottage Meetings for them, and try to get them saved. They
used to let me talk to them in homes where there was not a stick of
furniture, and nothing to sit down upon.'
In this way our Army Mother sought and cared for the drunkards long
before Drunkards' Brigades were dreamt of.
When, at a later time in her life, she first heard of the wicked and
cruel way in which young girls are trapped and drawn into sin, Mrs.
Booth's soul was filled with a whirlwind of holy indignation.
'I feel as though I could not rest, but as though I must go and ferret
out these monsters myself,' she wrote. 'Almost everybody, notwithstanding
the indignation, seems so content with talking. Nobody appears willing to
take the responsibility of doing or risking anything. Oh, what a state
the world has got into!'
But, deep and practical as was her love in earthly things, her passion
for lifting and leading souls into Salvation and Holiness was a thousand
times more intense. 'If we only realized, as we ought, the value of
souls, we should not live long under it,' she said; and she herself
realized it fully enough to make her fight on ceaselessly in spite of
intense weakness. 'If it were not for eternity,' she often sighed, 'I
should soon give up this life.'
It was love for souls which made her go from town to town, care-worn,
weary, often quite unfit to meet the immense congregations which came to
It was love for souls which kept her sitting for hours at her writing-
table, when she should have been resting, trying to help those who turned
to her for counsel and direction from every part of the globe.
It was love for souls which gave her many a sleepless night, and chained
her to her knees, weeping and pleading, agonizing with God on behalf of
the people she was to face the next day.
And this love for souls grew even stronger as death came near. 'Eva,' she
exclaimed to one of her daughters, as she lay racked with agonizing pain,
'don't you forget that man with the handcuffs on. Find him. Go to
Lancaster Jail; let somebody go with you, and find that man. Tell him
that your mother, when she was dying, prayed for him, and that she had a
feeling in her heart that God would save him; and tell him, hard as the
ten years of imprisonment may be, it will be easier with Christ than it
would be without Him.'
She was lying between earth and Heaven, thinking of the joy and peace
awaiting her, when it seemed as if she saw the dark face of a heathen
woman, and heard the cry, 'Won't you help us?' The old love for perishing
souls woke again directly, and she cried, 'Oh, yes, Lord, I will go
anywhere to help poor struggling people. I would go on an errand to Hell,
if the Lord would promise me that the Devil should not keep me there.'
In one of these last days she sent a dying message to the Officers. 'Tell
them,' she said, 'that the only consolation for a Salvationist on his
death-bed is to have been a soul-winner. After all my labours I feel I
have come far short of the prize of my high calling. Beseech them to
redeem their time, for we can do but little at the best.'
A little maid who was a Candidate came into Mrs. Booth's sick-room once
as she was speaking, and she called her to her bedside, giving her
warning and counsel which every Corps Cadet can take as though spoken to
'You will be finished with the dishes soon,' she said, 'and you are going
to be a Cadet. I have been very pleased with you while you have been
here, because you have worked out of sight with a good will, and I think
you will make a brave Officer. You will promise me, will you?' she said,
as she laid her trembling hand on the girl's head. 'Yes,' was the reply,
'I will,' amid stifled sobs.
'Give me a kiss, then,' said Mrs. Booth. 'Promise me that you will never
get spoiled by any unfaithful Officer. If you ever get mixed up with
such, do not hide it from Headquarters, but let them know about it, and
they will soon move the false away from you. I shan't be here; but, Oh!
may God help them to get rid of the wrong. Discernment of spirits! Oh,
why should we not have that gift back? It is very necessary.'
Mrs. Booth's whole heart was wrapped up in the spread of The Army, and
she was never more of a warrior than when fighting its battles. And The
Army needed some one to stand up for it in those days. We who live to-day
can hardly fancy the fierce, bitter persecution the early-day
Salvationists had to fight through.
Now, even those who dislike and despise us are forced to admit that 'The
Army does a great deal of good'; but then it was different, and again and
again, both by speech and writing, Mrs. Booth had to defend and stand up
for our methods.
'I would not,' she says, after she had spoken too plainly for some rich
people who were offended at her words, 'sit down and listen to their
abuse of The Salvation Army for all their money. But I did not say a word
that I would object to have published upon the housetops. Such, however,
is often the spirit of the rich. They think that one must sit and hear
whatever they may choose to say, and hold one's breath, because of their
money! But, no, I will never be dumb before a golden idol!'
She loved the Uniform: she herself planned that worn by Army women, and
always wore her own, rejoicing to be able to give to our people a way of
escape from the fashions and extravagances of the world.
She loved the Flag, and was true to its beautiful meaning. She loved to
present Colours to the newly-opened Corps, or to parties of Officers
going abroad; and when, shortly before she passed away, she changed her
room, she begged that the dear Army Flag might be brought in and hung
above her bed.
'There,' said The General, 'the Colours are over you now, my darling.'
And she clasped them fondly with her left hand, and traced the motto--
'Blood and Fire.'
'Yes,' she said, 'Blood and Fire; that is just what my life has been--a
constant and severe fight.'
'It ought to be "Blood and Fire and Victory,"' said The General.
'I'll fight on till I get it,' she answered. 'I won't give in. Next time
I see them I shall be above the pain and sorrow for ever.'
But, though at the last she longed to be at rest, it was not easy for her
great mother's heart to unloose itself from those she loved, and from the
thousands in all lands who looked to her as to a mother.
If you have learnt to love very deeply you will also have to suffer, and
her very love made the parting so difficult.
'Oh,' she exclaimed, when speaking of leaving The General and her
children, 'mine is such a heart! it seems as if it had got roots all
round the world clutching on to one and another, and that it will not let
them go! And yet You can take care of them, Lord, better than I could. I
do, I do believe! O Eternal Father, Shepherd of the sheep, do Thou look
after my little flock!'
'Amen,' we who read these lines may say; adding to her prayer, 'And give
us that same heart and love which made her life of such mighty power.'
'Fighting is hard work, whatever sort of fighting it is. You cannot fight
without wounds of body, heart, or soul.'--MRS. BOOTH.
'Lastly,' said The General in that same beautiful tribute to our Army
Mother that I have already quoted from,' she was a _warrior_. She
liked the fight. She was not one who said to others, "Go," but "Here, let
_me_ go"; and when there was the necessity she said, "I _will_
go!" I never knew her flinch until her poor body compelled her to lie on
Our Army Mother was, indeed, before all things a warrior; she fought
bravely and unceasingly her whole life through.
In thought and purpose she was independent, and dared to stand out for
what she felt right. Cowardice, in her opinion, was one of the commonest
and most subtle sins of the day, and she had no patience with those who
dared not say 'No,' and feared to stand alone.
She thought for herself, and though always eager to hear and learn as
much as possible from others, yet she was not carried away by their
opinions, but carefully weighed and considered their arguments, and then
formed her own judgments.
Mrs. Booth strove earnestly for doctrine.
'Let us take care,' she said, in The Army's early days, 'what Gospel we
preach. Let us mind our doctrine.'
'We must stick to the form of sound words, for there is more in it than
appears on the surface. "Glory be to the Father, to the Son, and the Holy
Ghost," was the theology of our forefathers, and I am suspicious of all
attempts to mend it.'
And once more:--
'Let us beware of wrong doctrine, come through whomsoever it may. Holy
men make sad mistakes. "Well, but," say some, "is not a person who holds
wrong views with a right heart better than a person with right views and
a wrong heart?" Yes, so far as his personal state before God is
concerned, but not in his influence on man. My charity must extend to
those likely to be deceived or ruined by his doctrines as well as to
Mrs. Booth's whole life was a continual fight against sin--sin of all
kinds. Whether her Meeting was held for the very lowest and roughest, or
whether rows of clergy and lawyers, and lords and ladies sat to listen,
it made no difference to her. She attacked sin, and went straight at the
very heart-sins of the people in front of her.
'We need great grace,' she says in the midst of her wonderful West-End
campaign, where even princes and princesses came to hear her. 'I think
the Lord never enabled me to be more plain and faithful. As a lady in
high circles said to me, "We never heard this sort of Gospel before." No,
poor things, they are sadly deceived.'
Drink, too, was another evil which Mrs. Booth fought against during the
whole of her life. She began, as you remember, when a girl by being
secretary of the 'Band of Love' of those days.
In the early days of their engagement The General was strongly advised to
take a little wine for the sake of his health. Our Army Mother wrote him
a long letter, showing him how false and foolish such advice was, and
'I have had it recommended to me scores of times, but I am fully and for
ever settled on the physical side of the question. [Footnote: That means
taking it for the sake of health.--ED.]
'It is a subject on which I am most anxious you should be thorough. I
have far more hope for your health _because_ you abstain, than I
should if you took wine. Flee the detestable thing as you would a
serpent; be a teetotaller in principle and practice.'
Though, as we have seen, full of boundless faith and pity for the
drunkard, Mrs. Booth attacked the makers and sellers of drink
unmercifully. She says, on one occasion:--
'By your peace of conscience on a dying bed; by the eternal destinies of
your children, by your care for never-dying souls; by the love you owe
your Saviour, I beseech you _banish the drink_.
'Tell me no more of charity towards brewers, distillers, and publicans.
Your false charity to these has already consigned millions to an untimely
Hell!... Arise, Christians, arise, and fight this foe! You and you alone
are able, for your God will fight for you!'
Another thing for which our Army Mother fought, and which to-day we owe
in great measure to her efforts, is the position to which women have been
lifted as speakers and teachers in God's work. She first, as we have
seen, opened the way herself; and then she left it open, encouraging and
helping tens of thousands of simple, holy women all round the world to
follow in her steps.
She had a tough battle to wage. All classes wrote and spoke against women
being allowed to stand and speak for God in the open air or in public
halls; but, strong in faith and courage, convinced that she had Divine
authority for what she did, our Army Mother fought on, arguing, writing,
preaching on the matter. Now to-day there is scarcely a land where The
Army bonnet is not known and loved, nor where Army women cannot gain a
crowd of respectful listeners.
Now I am going to show you some of the hindrances in spite of which our
Army Mother fought on.
The first of these hindrances was the burden which God allowed Mrs. Booth
to carry all through her life--a weak and suffering body. She said, when
her life was drawing to its close, that suffering seemed to have been her
special lot, and that she could scarcely remember a day in her life when
she had been wholly free from pain.
'I don't care about my body,' she exclaimed when lying in her last
illness. 'It has been a poor old troublesome affair. I shall be glad for
it to be sealed up. It is time it was. Oh, I have dragged it wearily
Most women suffering as she did, with a weak spine, heart disease, and
over-strained nerves, would have lived the life of an invalid. But the
warrior spirit within forced her body along. Scores of times she has gone
from her bed to the Meeting, and then, exhausted and fainting with the
effort, has had to be almost carried home. But she had done her work, and
sent the arrow of conviction into hundreds of hearts.
Writing after one special strain of work and anxiety, she says:--
'The excitement made me worse than I have been for two years. My heart
was really alarming, and for two days I could hardly bear any clothes to
touch me. This has disheartened me again as to my condition. But God
reigns, and He will keep me alive as long as He needs me.'
Another of her hindrances, and one which was almost more difficult to
overcome than weakness of body, was depression.
I wonder if you know what that is? If so, it will help you to realize
that Mrs. Booth had to fight it also.
The Devil seemed allowed to try and test her faith to the uttermost, and
at times to blot out all peace and glory from her soul. During one such
time of darkness she writes:--
'I know I ought not, of all saints, or sinners either, to be depressed. I
know it dishonours my Lord, grieves His Spirit, and injures me greatly;
and I would fain hide from everybody to prevent their seeing it. But I
cannot help it. I have struggled hard, more than any one knows, for a
long time against it. Sometimes I have literally held myself, head and
heart and hand, and waited for the floods to pass over me.'
But our Army Mother did not give up working for God, and sit down in
despair, because she was thus tried. One day, just before leaving for a
great West-End Meeting, in which God made her words as a sharp two-edged
sword, she wrote this to one of her children:--
'I have been very much depressed since you left--more so than usual. It
is of no use reasoning with myself when these fits of despondency are on
me. I must hold on and fight my passage through; and when I get to Heaven
the light and joy will be all the greater. If I dared give up working I
should do so a hundred times over; but I _dare_ not.'
Another and constant hindrance which our Army Mother had to fight for the
greater part of her life was poverty. It was so difficult, many times, to
make two ends meet. She had, during many years of her life, no regular
money coming in on which to depend, and during that time it was a
constant struggle to have her children properly cared for and give them
the needed education.
But most of all did our Army Mother show herself a warrior in her own
Salvation campaigns. In those early days there were no praying Soldiers
and Sergeants to be had to deal with the penitents--no one, either, to
lead her singing, scarcely even to keep the doors or take up the
collection. She would arrive in a town absolutely alone. A hall had been
taken in which she was to speak, and she would hire a tiny lodging, or
stay in whatever home would receive her, and set to work. We can scarcely
understand the loneliness of her position. Here was a proof of her mighty
faith in God.
She began these solitary campaigns when her sixth child was but a few
weeks old, and God most wonderfully owned her labours. At one place she
saw one hundred grown-up people and two hundred children come to her
penitent-form in six days. But it was a fearful battle.
'I have a comfortable little cot to stay in,' she writes to her mother
from one such battle-field, 'very small and humble; but it is clean and
quiet; and when I feel nervous no one knows the value of quietness. I
have felt it hard work lately. Many a time have I longed to be where the
weary are at rest.'
At Margate, some years later, she commenced her Meetings without knowing
a single person in the place. For some weeks she had not even a helper in
the Prayer Meetings, nor one who would give out a song for her. Mrs.
Booth could not sing herself, and there was often an awkward pause before
any one would be willing to pitch her tune. 'If only,' she said when The
Army was fairly on its feet, 'I had been able to command a dozen reliable
people such as I could have anywhere now, I think I could have done
Even more wonderful was her experience at Brighton.
The Dome, a great building holding three thousand people, had been taken
for her Meetings.
'I can never forget my feelings,' says this Soldier-saint, 'as I stood
upon the platform and looked upon the people, realizing that among them
all there was no one to help me. When I commenced the Prayer Meeting, for
which I should think quite nine hundred remained, Satan said to me, as I
came down from the platform according to my custom, "You will never ask
such people as these to come and kneel down here? You will only make a
fool of yourself if you do." I felt stunned for a moment; but I answered,
"Yes, I shall. I shall not make it any easier for them than for the
others. If they do not realize their sins enough to be willing to come
and kneel here, they will not be of much use to the kingdom."'
The Lord set His seal upon Mrs. Booth's faith and courage, for the first
to volunteer were two old gentlemen, both over seventy years of age; and
she had ten or twelve at the mercy-seat before the Meeting ended.
Writing from Portsmouth, she tells the same story of loneliness and
'You say, "How do you get on personally?" Oh, I never was so hampered for
help in every way in all my life! The most able man I have keeps a
milliner's shop, and the one that opens for me generally is an overseer;
so their attention is divided and the time limited. Pray for me. I never
needed your prayers so much. This is a dreadfully wicked place.'
Yet during the seventeen weeks of her stay some six hundred names were
taken, many of them wonderful trophies of God's mercy.
Having lived such a warrior's life, you think, very likely, that the
death-bed experience of our Army Mother would be all peace and glory. But
no. Right down into the Valley she needed to use the Sword of the Spirit
and the Shield of Faith, for to the last Satan was allowed to test and
But she fought on!
'One of my hardest lessons,' she said in her last hours, 'has been the
difference between faith and realization; and if I have had to conquer
all through life by naked faith, I can only expect it to be the same now.
All our enemies have to be conquered by _faith_, not realization;
and is it not so with the last enemy, death? Yes, if it please the Lord
that I should go down into the dark valley without any realization,
simply knowing that I am His, and He is mine, I am quite willing--I
This is the faith that made our Army Mother and all the Bible saints such
conquerors. It is the secret of their victory--the faith without which it
is impossible to please God, and for which we all need to pray, 'Lord,
increase our faith.'
'As I look back on life I do not remember the houses I have lived in, the
people that I have known, the things of passing interest at the moment.
They are all gone. There is nothing stands out before my mind as of any
consequence, but the work I have done for God and Eternity.'--MRS.
If The General and those who loved our Army Mother best had been able to
choose for her, they would most likely have said: 'Let her live and fight
and work on, up to within a few days of her promotion to Glory. Let the
call come quickly and painlessly, as it has come to others in our ranks.'
But the Lord, who loved her more than we did, saw fit to send to her two
and a half years of ever-increasing weariness and suffering. For long
months she lay on the very bank of the River, longing for the messenger
of Death to carry her across. Those who loved her could not tell why the
Lord sent her this last fiery trial; they could only bow with her, and
say, 'Thy will be done.'
It was in February, 1888, that Mrs. Booth, who was anxious about her
health, went to consult a great doctor and get his opinion. She was
alone, for no one had thought her illness was so serious. She asked him
to tell her the truth--all through her life, as you know, she wanted the
truth; and after a little hesitation he told her.
The truth was the saddest that she could hear. That dreadful illness--
cancer--through which she had so tenderly nursed her own dear mother,
had come to her, and in the doctor's opinion she had much suffering to
pass through, and only two or, at the most, three years longer to live.
Mrs. Booth listened calmly, thanked the doctor, and then, getting once
more into the cab, drove home all alone.
It was a dark journey. The War needed her. The General needed her. Her
children needed her. And yet the sentence of Death had been passed upon
her, and she must soon leave them all. What did she do? I think you can
She knelt down in the cab, and in prayer committed to God, in a new and
deeper way than ever before, her own body, and her dear ones and the work
He had given her to do.
At last the cab stopped before her own door, and The General came out to
'I shall never forget that meeting in this world, or the next,' he says.
'I had been watching for the cab, and had run out to meet her and help
her up the steps. She tried to smile on me through her tears; but,
drawing me into the room, soon told me, bit by bit, what the doctor had
said. I sat down speechless. She rose from her seat, and came and knelt
beside me, saying: "Do you know what was my first thought? That I should
not be there to nurse you in your last hour."
'I was stunned. I felt as if the whole world were coming to a standstill.
Opposite me, on the wall, was a picture of Christ on the cross. I thought
I could understand it then, as never before. She talked to me like an
angel; she talked as she had never talked before. I could say little or
nothing. I could only kneel with her and try to pray. That very same
night The General was to leave London for some great Meetings in Holland,
and Mrs. Booth would not hear of his changing his plans and remaining
'The War must go on' was her thought, even when all her family stood
stunned and heart-broken around her, unwilling to leave her even for a
Two years later, when but a few more days of suffering remained to her, a
last message from her lips reached us as Self-Denial Week began. 'The War
must go on' was one of its sentences.
'The War must go on' had been as her motto, lived out in all the long,
long months that lay between. Instead of immediately laying aside her
work, when the doctors gave their dreadful judgment, and beginning to
think only of herself, she went on with it as long as her increasing
But step by step the disease grew worse. First she was forced to give up
Meetings and public work. Then it became impossible for her to use her
right hand, and she was therefore obliged to give up her correspondence,
though she still continued to dictate her letters, and learnt also to
write with her left hand.
Soon her daily drives became too tiring, and by and by she went out of
the house into the little garden for the last time; and then for the
concluding twelve months of her life she was a prisoner in her room,
lying in constant suffering.
But during these long months the greatest joy and relief that could come
to her was to hear of some fresh victory or triumph for the Kingdom of
Jesus. Her interest in The Army and her love for the people were as keen
as ever, and War Councils were held and new developments planned in her
chamber, and much of The General's Darkest England Scheme for the poor
and outcast was thought out and decided upon beside her sick bed.
Again and again, too, Mrs. Booth would receive deputations of Officers of
different classes and from various countries in which The Army was at
work, who came to Clacton-on-Sea, where the last fifteen months of her
life were spent, to listen to her words of advice and inspiration.
There were no Corps Cadets in those days; but our Army Mother left some
specially beautiful words about the Juniors, to which I must refer.
When she was told by the Officer then in charge of our Junior Work in
England that the children loved and prayed continually for her, she
'The thought of the little ones,' says some one who was there, 'brought
our beloved Army Mother wholly out of herself and her pain and
'A very choice branch of the work,' she said. 'I have often told Emma
that I hoped when I was too old for public work God would let me end
where I began--with the children. But it seems that it is not to be so.'
'Give the children,' she went on, in reply to the messages they had sent,
'my dear love, and tell them that if there had been a Salvation Army when
I was ten I should have been a Soldier then, as I am to-day.
Never allow yourself to be discouraged in your work. I know you must meet
with many discouragements; but I am sure the Spirit of God works mightily
on little children long before grown people think they are able to
Again and again during that last year of awful suffering it seemed as if
Mrs. Booth were about to leave us; but then she would revive, and come
back to endure more weeks and months of agony.
But at last, on October 4, 1890, all could see that she was on the brink
of the River, and even those who loved her the most tenderly could not
wish to hold her back.
'O Emma, let me go, darling,' she whispered; and hearing the reply, 'Yes,
we will, we will,' she said, 'Now! Yes, Lord, come, Oh, come!'
The singing of The Army songs seemed to comfort her; and once she raised
her suffering arm, and pointed to the text, '_My grace is sufficient
for thee_,' which hung on the wall. It was lifted down and placed at
the foot of her bed, so that her eyes could often rest on it during those
'Soon after noon,' says the present General, 'I felt that the deepening
darkness of the Valley was closing around my dear mother, and a little
later I took my last farewell. Her lips moved, and she gave me one look
of unspeakable tenderness and trust which will live with me for ever.
Again we sang:--
My mistakes His free grace doth cover,
My sins He doth wash away;
These feet which shrink and falter
Shall enter the Gates of Day.
And, holding her hand, The General gave her up to God. It was a solemn
and wonderful scene.'
The Chief of the Staff and Mrs. Bramwell Booth, Mrs. Booth-Tucker, and
the Commander, and her three daughters, Marian, Eva, and Lucy, knelt
round the bed, upon which were placed photographs of the other members of
her family who were unavoidably absent. Near to her stood her faithful
nurse, Captain Carr, and others of the household, the dear General bowing
over his beloved wife and companion in life's long strife, and giving her
up to the keeping of the Father.
One by one the members of the family tenderly embraced her; then a gleam
of recognition passed over the brightening countenance as The General
bent over her. Their eyes met---the last kiss of love on earth, the last
word till the Morning, and without a movement the breathing gently
ceased, and a warrior laid down her sword to receive her crown.
* * * * *
You may have heard of those wonderful days from Tuesday morning till
Sunday night, when the coffin containing the precious remains of our Army
Mother lay at the Congress Hall, Clapton, and when more than fifty
thousand people came to have a last look at her dear face.
A piece of glass had been let into the plain oak coffin. It was just
large enough to show the head and shoulders, and she lay as if in a sweet
You wonder if many came merely from curiosity. Some did, of course, but
most of the people came because her life and example and words had been
so blessed to their souls; and they came as they would come to look at
the dead face of their own mother. It was the most wonderful tribute to a
woman's life and words that London had ever seen.
For all kinds of people came--rich and poor, good and bad, people of many
different religions, and many with no religion at all. Working men came
in their dinner-hour, with their tools on their backs and tears in their
eyes; mothers lifted up their little children to look at the one who had
taught them the way of life; and, best of all, by the side of her coffin
knelt many a wanderer and backslider to give themselves afresh to God.
More than one poor girl went direct from the Congress Hall to the Rescue
Homes, to begin to live 'as she would have wished'; and the Cadets on
guard were all the time dealing with drunkards and helping those who
desired to begin from thenceforth to live a new and different life.
Even to-day, twenty-four years later, we often meet those who date their
conversion, or their first step in the Narrow Way, from their look at
that face lying in its simple coffin.
One of Mrs. Booth's own grandchildren, Mary, the present General's second
daughter, looks back to that scene as the time when God in an
unmistakable manner sealed her as His. She was only five years old as she
knelt by the coffin, but nevertheless she decided there, in her childish
consecration, like Ruth of old, that 'Thy people shall be my people, and
thy God my God'; and in the spirit of this consecration she lives to-day.
* * * * *
In order that some of the crowds who wished to share in the funeral
service might be present, the largest hall in London, the Olympia, was
taken. Twenty-six thousand people filled it; and though it was, of
course, impossible for them all to hear, they followed the service given
on printed papers with reverent sympathy.
The coffin was carried down the immense hall by Officers; The General and
his family followed.
Those who arranged for this last mighty gathering remembered that Mrs.
Booth, when with us, was never happy to leave a Meeting unless it had
been brought to a point, and something definite had been done; and
therefore, when the songs and prayers and readings were over, the huge
crowd was asked to kneel and make a solemn covenant with God.
It was a beautiful covenant, and ended with these words:--
'And now, in this solemn hour, and in the presence of death, I come again
to Thy footstool, and make this covenant with Thee.'
Then all who had made the covenant from their hearts rose and sang
Just as I am Thou dost receive,
Dost welcome, pardon, cleanse, relieve,
Because Thy promise I believe,
O Lamb of God, I come!
It was just such an ending to the wonderful service as our Army Mother
would have chosen had she been still on earth with us.
* * * * *
The next morning was dry and bright. 'I shall ask God to give you a fine
day for my funeral, Emma, so that you mayn't take cold,' our Army Mother
had said, for she was ever thoughtful for others; and her prayer was
answered, for though the white mist crept up from the river to the
Embankment, where the procession was forming up, there was no rain nor
Tens of thousands of our dear Soldiers would gladly have sacrificed a
day's work in order to follow in the funeral procession of one they so
dearly loved; but, so as not to gather too large a crowd, only Officers
were allowed in the march, which passed through countless throngs of
people from International Headquarters to Abney Park Cemetery, a distance
of about five miles.
All along the route the crowds stood in dense masses, and roofs, windows,
and every nook and corner were packed with human beings. Nothing had been
seen like it, said the police, since the Duke of Wellington's funeral,
forty years before.
It was a wonderful march. I wish you could have seen it! Sometimes it
seemed as if every one was weeping; and when the open hearse, with its
plain oak coffin, crowned by The Army bonnet and well-worn Bible, passed,
all heads were bared, all voices hushed, and tears filled all eyes.
The General, standing alone in his open carriage all along the long, sad
way, must have felt that he had the people's sympathy and love with him
in his grief, for scores of heartfelt 'God bless you's!' came from lips
that are unused to such words.
And at last the yellow evening sun shone out as the great procession
reached the gates of Abney Park Cemetery and wound towards the open
Only a part of the mighty throng could hear The General's beautiful
words, so strong and yet so tender, from which I have already quoted, but
all joined in the song, 'Rock of Ages,' which seemed to roll up to the
Several leading Officers and members of The General's own family prayed
and spoke, wonderfully upheld in spite of their deep grief and the strain
of the last days. And then by the open grave the present General led all
hearts to make a fresh consecration, the whole assembly promising, with
God's help, that they would be
'Faithful to Thee, faithful to one another, and faithful to a dying
world, till we meet our beloved Mother in the Morning. Amen.'
* * * * *
If ever you are in Abney Park Cemetery you should visit her grave. It is
very simple. Around the little piece of earth runs a grey stone, with
these words carved on it:--
MOTHER OF THE SALVATION ARMY
More than Conqueror, through Him that loved us,
and gave Himself for all the world and for you.
Do you also follow Christ?
and above are two small beds of flowers.
Do many people go to see it? you wonder.
Oh, yes. All round it a path is worn in the grass, made by the tread of
many feet; for mothers bring their boys and girls to see it, and tell
them what a mother she was, and men and women of all creeds and races
pause beside it, and remember.
Many Officers, too--from distant lands, and speaking strange tongues you
could not understand--come to The Army Mother's grave when they visit our
shores. For she was their Mother as well as ours, they say.
They kneel beside the stone, and spell out the name, and then they
consecrate themselves afresh to God and the needs of the heathen lands,
and they claim His grace to follow in her steps.
For our Army Mother is not dead. True, her body lies in the quiet grave
at Abney Park, and her spirit is in Heaven; but her life and influence
still live among us, her words are treasured, and our greatest prayer and
desire for the girls and wives and mothers in our ranks is that they may
live to be worthy daughters of Catherine Booth.
DATES IN MRS. BOOTH'S LIFE
1829. January 17th. Catherine Mumford born at Ashbourne, Derby.
1829. April 10th. William Booth born at Nottingham.
1843. Catherine has to leave school owing to severe illness.
1844. Refuses to be engaged to her cousin.
1845. Is converted.
1846. Seems likely to go into consumption.
1850. Takes Sunday class of elder girls.
1851. June. Miss Mumford hears Mr. Booth preach; later meets him at a
1852. May 15th. They are engaged to be married.
1855. June 16th. The wedding.
1857. Mrs. Booth speaks to a children's meeting on Temperance.
1859. She starts work among drunkards. She writes her first pamphlet on
woman's right to preach.
1860. Mrs. Booth speaks for the first time in public.
1861. Mr. and Mrs. Booth break up their home in the north, and come to
London, choosing an evangelistic life.
1864. Mrs. Booth begins to hold Evangelistic campaigns apart from her
1864. July. East End Mission begun.
1868. First Headquarters established.
1869. Mrs. Booth's wonderful Brighton campaign.
1870. East London Mission becomes the 'Christian Mission.'
1871. Mrs. Booth publishes her first book.
1877. Christian Mission becomes 'The Salvation Army.'
1878. The uniform is chosen.
1886. First Self-Denial Week.
1888. February. Mrs. Booth learns that she is suffering from cancer.
1888. June 21st. Mrs. Booth speaks in public for the last time (at the
1889. August. She goes to Clacton-on-Sea.
1890. October 4th. Mrs. Booth is promoted to Glory.
1890. October 6th. Her body brought to Congress Hall, Clapton.
1890. October 11th. Funeral at Abney Park.