Two newspapers in the two languages of the country were issued and sold in all the public-houses. Congregations were gathered in all the cities, and even small towns, and everywhere the authorities could see that no spirit of discontent with anything but sin and evil habits was being created, but that the police would find their tasks lightened, and the life of the poorest of the people brightened and bettered, if they let the work go on.
Children Conquerors in Holland and Elsewhere
The General’s own personal experience, as well as numberless instances that came under his observation in his own and other families, gave him the same assurance as to the need and possibility of the Salvation of children as he had with regard to adults.
If human beings cannot hope to please God until they are born again of His Spirit, what folly it would be to give up the best years of life to mere outside instruction, instead of aiming first of all at this first and greatest need. This law he always laid down as the guiding line with regard to all work amongst children, instead of the ordinary Sunday School idea “first teach, and then try to lead the children to Christ.”
In his first publication, How to Reach the Masses with the Gospel, he wrote in 1871:—
“Great pains are taken, we know, to make the children acquainted with the history and theory of Christianity; but their conversion, which is the main thing, seems to us to be sadly and sorely overlooked. That the immediate gathering of the children to Christ is the teacher’s work, is recognised, we fear, in very few schools. It is not the aim of the present moment; and, consequently, little effort is made to bring it about. Feeling all this, we resolved that, if ever opportunity offered, we would try services as much adapted for the conversion and instruction of children as our other services are for adults.
“On the first
Sunday afternoon in April, 1869, we held our first
‘Children’s Salvation Service,’ in our late Hall in the old Bethnal
Green Road, and five children professed to find the Saviour.”
But of all The General’s revolutionary tasks this has, perhaps, proved to be the toughest. His eldest son—now General Bramwell Booth—made the children’s work his earliest care, and in later years held annually Councils for all Officers engaged in it in England.
But, although God has wrought wonders amongst the children in every land, so that we have now thousands of Officers who have been won in their early years by that Junior work, the spectre of the Sunday School ever and anon rises to threaten with a peaceful death, this Divine undertaking. Only the most persistent watchfulness can prevent the narrow idea of instruction, and unbelief as to children’s Salvation which is its foundation, from gaining the upper hand. It is so easy to get a thousand children drilled into pretty attention, pretty performances, pretty recitations and singing, and even into some degree of knowledge of the killing letter, but so hard to get any one child really to submit to the one great Teacher of mankind, and be saved!