We think that those who know the “slums” of London and large English towns the best, will be the heartiest in wishing God-speed to General Booth’s latest movement, which also includes every possible form of Christian benevolent activity.
When Christ reigns as Viceroy for Jehovah for a thousand years, as the Word of God so distinctly intimates, it may be that some such plan as this, far more perfect and world-wide in its aim, will form part of the inaugurative forces of that happy lot.
Speaking broadly, General Booth’s great scheme is in harmony with views that are accepted by all Christians. His design is to elevate the wretched to more favourable conditions of life, on the principle of the Temperance reformer who seeks to remove temptations to drunkenness; or of the opponent of the iniquitous opium traffic, who insists upon the prohibition of the drug which is the curse of millions; or of the antagonist of licensed impurity, who demands that the tendency of law shall be to make it easy to do right, and not afford facilities to do wrong. Some passages of “In Darkest England and the Way Out” are certainly capable of being misconstrued. But on looking at the book and its scheme as a whole, the Christian heart is drawn into lively sympathy with it, without being committed to every detail. If all that is anticipated be not realized by this gigantic scheme, the attempt to carry it out cannot do otherwise than prove a source of great and eternal good to multitudes, as the labourers carry on their work in dependance upon God.
The London “Speaker” testifies to the capacity of Gen. Booth for winning the masses.
Seeing from what the Salvation Army has grown, and to what it has grown, we are extremely reluctant to denounce any scheme seriously and carefully elaborated by its leader, as being “too big to be practicable.” We must remember who will be the “one head and centre” of the scheme. There are many weak points in General Booth: he is only human. But he is an earnest man; he has proved his talent for organisation; he has proved his capacity for winning the sympathies of the masses. We would say nothing against gentleness, and quiet, and culture. We hope to attain them in the end. It is a pretty work to prune the vine, a beautiful thing to let in the sunlight on the fruit, and to watch the perfection of bloom, and shape, and color; but first of all something has to be done at the roots, something at which we may hold our noses, but which is for all that requisite.
It remains to be seen, first, whether the people concerned would accept the scheme; secondly, whether discipline could be maintained; thirdly, whether money can be raised. As to the first two questions, experience in some degree answers. The people do come to the Salvation Army’s establishments, and they do behave well in the Shelters and the Workshops. Those who best know the poorer working classes of the