He does well, I think, to stick with the unwavering and uncompromising tenacity of a fanatic to that centre of the Christian religion from which was derived in the first two centuries of its great history almost all impetus which enabled it to escape from Judaism and conquer the world. It is still true, and I suppose it will remain true to the end of time, that man born of a woman must be born again of the spirit if he is to pass from darkness into light. This, after all, is the whole thesis of Salvationism, and if General Booth wavered here the Army would be scattered to the winds. As for his definitions of light and darkness, at this stage of the world’s journey we need not be too nice in our acceptance of them.
But there remains the important question of Salvation Army methods.
It seems to me that here a change is desirable, not a radical change, for many of those methods are admirable enough, particularly those of which the public too seldom hears, but a change all the same, and one deep enough to create fresh sympathy for this devoted movement of evangelical Christianity.
I think it is time to stop praying and preaching at street corners, to mitigate the more brazen sounds of the Army band, and to discountenance all colloquialisms in Salvationist propaganda. I do not wish, God forbid, to make the Army respectable; I wish it to remain exactly where it is—but with a greater quietness and a deeper, more personal sympathy in its appeal to the sad and the sorrowful.
General Booth is not the man to make these changes, but his wife is a woman who might. In any case they will be made. Time will bring them about. Then it will be seen, I think, that the Salvation Army is one of the most powerful agencies in the world for spreading the good news of personal religion among the depressed millions of the human race. For even at this present time the lasting work of the Salvationist, the work which makes him so noble and so useful a figure in the modern world, is not accomplished by pageantry and tub-thumping, but by the intimate, often most beautiful, and very little known work of its slum officers, particularly the women.
Finally, concerning the General, he is in himself a telling witness to one of the mysterious powers of the Christian religion. For he is surely by temperament one of the most unstable of minds, and yet by the power of religion he has become a coherent personality of almost rigid singleness of purpose. In conversation with him one cannot help feeling that he is jumpy and excitable; every movement of his extremely mobile face suggests a soul of gutta-percha stretched in all directions by the movements of his brain, and twitching with every thought that crosses his mind; but at the same time one is aware in him of a power which is never deflected by a hair’s breadth from the path of a single purpose, and which holds him together with a strength that may be weakened but that can never be broken.