This great purpose The General aimed at in all his arrangements as to burials, and thus alleviated sadness, and turned death into victory to a very remarkable extent. No widow or orphan under his Flag will add to all the inevitable costs of nursing the dying those of fashionable “mourning,” clothing, flowers, or monuments. The cross and crown badge worn on the left arm by himself and his bereaved ones, sometimes for years, whilst providing a most touching token of abiding affection for lost friends, is, at the same time, a special declaration of faith and hope, and yet obviates entirely the need for any peculiar dress “for the occasion.”
Every funeral thus becomes a very valuable opportunity for comforting and strengthening the mourners, and for urging the unsaved to ensure an eternal triumph. It would not be easy to compute the total of crowds thus brought under the sound of the Gospel, in connexion with our losses, every year.
Thus all these occasions for sadness have been turned into fountains of joy, not merely to those most immediately concerned, but to the whole community. We have not yet had time or opportunity, thank God! sufficiently to redeem the grave and the cemetery from the scandal of men-praising expenditure, for any sort of tombstone has generally been too costly for our people. But the small, simple edge-stone which marks the resting-place of “Catherine Booth, Mother of The Salvation Army,” and which asks every passer-by, “Do you also follow Christ?” has set an example, consistent with all our past and our eternal future.
Surely, the day will come when our General’s teaching and practice in this matter will help to lighten the burden of every bereaved family, and make every cemetery the birthplace of crowds of souls. The music and song with which we surround every deathbed and funeral, still too much tinged sometimes with the follies of traditional show, have already been used by God’s Spirit to bring life and gladness to many a spiritually dead soul.
His Social Work
Most erroneously and unfairly it has been widely assumed that the great work of The General was the establishment in the world of some Social Institutions. Happily, we have got a verbatim report of an address to his Social Officers gathered around him a year before his death in which we have a complete statement as to the beginnings and principles of the work, so that we can see exactly how he wished it to be regarded.
1. By the Social Work, I mean those operations of The Salvation Army which have to do with the alleviation, or removal, of the moral and temporal evils which cause so much of the misery of the submerged classes, and which so greatly hinder their Salvation.
2. Our Social Operations, as thus defined, are the natural outcome of Salvationism, or, I might say, of Christianity, as instituted, described,