I wish to make it clear, however, that I hold no particular brief for the Army, its theology, and its methods. I recognize fully, as I know it does, the splendid work that is being done in the religious and social fields by other Organizations of the same class, especially by Dr. Barnardo’s Homes, by the Waifs and Strays Society, by the Church Army, and, above all, perhaps, by another Society, with which I have had the honour to be connected in a humble capacity for many years, that for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children. Still it remains true that the Salvation Army is unique, if only on account of the colossal scale of its operations. Its fertilizing stream flows on steadily from land to land, till it bids fair to irrigate the whole earth. What I have written about is but one little segment of a work which flourishes everywhere, and even lifts its head in Roman Catholic countries, although in these, as yet, it makes no very great progress.
How potent then, and how generally suited to the needs of stained and suffering mankind, must be that religion which appeals both to the West and to the East, which is as much at home in Java and Korea as it is in Copenhagen or Glasgow. For it should be borne in mind that the basis of the Salvation Army is religious, that it aims, above everything, at the conversion of men to an active and lively faith in the plain, uncomplicated tenets of Christianity to the benefit of their souls in some future state of existence and, incidentally, to the Reformation of their characters while on earth.
The social work of which I have been treating is a mere by-product or consequence of its main idea. Experience has shown, that it is of little use to talk about his soul to a man with an empty stomach. First, he must be fed and cleansed and given some other habitation than the street. Also the Army has learned that Christ still walks the earth in the shape of Charity; and that religion, after all, is best preached by putting its maxims into practice; that the poor are always with us; and that the first duty of the Christian is to bind their wounds and soothe their sorrows. Afterwards, he may hope to cure them of their sins, for he knows that unless such a cure is effected, temporal assistance avails but little. Except in cases of pure misfortune which stand upon another, and, so far as the Army work is concerned, upon an outside footing, the causes of the fall must be removed, or that fall will be repeated. The man or woman must be born again, must be regenerated. Such, as I understand it, is at once the belief of the Salvation Army and the object of all its efforts. Therefore, I give to this book its title of ‘Regeneration.’
THE NEED IS GREAT!
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The principal items of the Salvation Army’s expenditure for Social Work during the financial year ending September 30, 1911, are as follows, and help is earnestly asked to meet these, the work being entirely dependent upon Voluntary Gifts.