Truly, our future chroniclers will have to record the fact that our Social Operations added a celestial lustre and imparted a Divine dignity to the struggles of the early years of The Salvation Army’s history.
To our own eyes in The Army, however, that which has been done in connexion with the Institutions is only a very insignificant part of the whole effect produced. Until the present movement all over the world in favour of the betterment of the social condition of the masses of the people has had time to accomplish definite results, our Institutions may yet have a good work to do.
But the great work The General did in this connexion was the restoration to men’s minds of the Saviour’s own view, that we owed to every man every care that a truly brotherly heart must needs bestow. That principle, as The General pointed out, had always been acted upon, as best it could be, from the beginning, and is daily acted upon to-day, wherever The Army exists.
During one of his Motor Tours The General remarked:—
“It was here (Banbury) that the idea of a Motor Campaign was conceived. Seven or eight years ago (1900) I held an afternoon Meeting in this place. On that occasion a crowd of my own people and friends came to the station to give me a send-off. Such was the affection shown, and so manifest was the pleasure derived from my visit, that I said to myself:—
I not impart this satisfaction to those comrades and
friends throughout the country who have never had the satisfaction
of seeing my face, or hearing my voice?’
“And then the idea occurred to my mind that the automobile would not only be the readiest means of transit, but the only plan by which I could reach the small towns and outlying hamlets. Moreover, it would perhaps prove the only method by which we could get through the crowds who would be likely to assemble on such a Campaign.”
By most men, in their prime, it would be thought an ample filling up of any week to address three large Meetings on the Sunday, and one each week night; but The General, at seventy-four, saw that, travelling by motor, and visiting in the daytime such smaller towns and villages as had never seen him before, or not for many years, he could not only reckon upon three large indoor Meetings every day, but speak, perhaps, to millions of people he had never before addressed. And so in six Motor Tours he passed from end to end and from side to side of Great Britain, gathering crowds from day to day for six weeks at a time.
We have met with people frivolous enough to write of all that as if The General’s Motor Tours were luxuries! In one glorious sense they were really so, for, to him, there could never be a greater luxury than to proclaim the Gospel to a crowd. But, as a matter of fact, he found it less expensive to travel in this way than to go as he ordinarily did for a long journey to and from London by train to reach each town separately.