How indispensable this state of mind is to the individual Convert only those who have lived for Christ amongst the hostile surroundings of a great city can really know. That we have now so many resolute comrades, even amongst the young people, who meet with no encouragement, but rather with every sort of contempt and rebuff in their homes, their workshops, and the neighbourhoods in which they live, is alike a remarkable demonstration of the extent to which this great victory has been won, and, at the same time, of the far wider and grander conquests that are yet to come.
The gigantic enterprises that lie before us, if Christ is really to become the First and Last with the millions of Africa, India, Japan, and China, as with those of America and Europe, would be hopeless were we not prepared to raise up Soldiers to this great military height of contempt for civilian opinion.
But it may be that our very attitude in this respect has whetted the enemy’s resolution to do all that could be done to prejudice public opinion against us. The very large measure of popularity or, at any rate, respect, so far as The Army generally is concerned, in which we rejoice to-day, must be attributed to the impression created by the calm persistence of The General, and those who have truly followed him, in doing what they believed to be right, and turning from all they believed to be doubtful and wrong, in spite of the general condemnation and opposition of those around them.
The very people who to-day applaud our efforts to assist the poorest and worst to a self-supporting and honourable career, are often blind to the fact that we have only succeeded by doing the very things which they once said we ought not to do, and by turning away from all the old customs to which they would fain have chained us.
Reproducing The Army in America
So far we have traced the beginnings of The Army in the United Kingdom. But would The General desire or be able to extend it to other countries? With regard to the need for it there is now, at any rate, no dispute in any “Christian country,” for almost all intelligent persons, whatever may be their own creed, or want of creed, admit the presence in their great cities, if not elsewhere, of only too many of the sort of persons to whom The Army has proved useful.
But there has been no country in which the need for, or possible value of, The Army has not been at first hotly disputed. We have seen how desperately it was at first opposed in the country of its birth. And that could not have been possible had not so many really religious people looked upon it as an “un-English” sort of thing, “American” in its ideas and in its style of action. When it was beginning in Scotland, many said that it might be tolerated amidst the godless masses across the border, but that its free style of worship especially “on the Lord’s Day” could not but be “a scandal” in the land of Sabbath stillness; whilst as to Ireland, we were assured that our outdoor proceedings must needs lead to bloodshed.