The GOSPEL TRUTH
LETTERS TO SALVATIONISTS
RELIGION FOR EVERY DAY
Letters to Salvationists all over the World, and to all whom they may concern.
THESE Letters were, with one or two exceptions, originally published in The Social Gazette and The War Cry, two of the weekly publications of The Salvation Army in the United Kingdom.
As will be seen, from a very superficial glance, they were intended to interest and instruct those to whom The Army especially strives to adapt itself, and to whom it seeks before all else to be useful. Many of these, perhaps the majority, have but a very imperfect knowledge of the obligations of family and social life, much less of its refinements.
The aim of The Army is to benefit this class, not only by leading them to submit to God, to seek His favour, and to spend their lives in fighting for the Eternal Salvation of their fellows, but to help them to discharge the duties they owe to one another, to their families, and to society in general. We seek to make both good Saints and good citizens -- that is, to cultivate the kind of Saintship that includes the realisation and fulfilment of every duty a man owes to God and to his fellow-man.
The topics dealt with are such as are woven and interwoven with the lives of "the common people." The style of treatment is such as they can understand. Written in great haste, under conditions not very favourable to literary effort, I was, at "first, indisposed to their reproduction in a permanent form. But they have been asked for, and asked for by the very people for whom their message was intended.
'In looking the Letters over, I see in them imperfections and limitations, without number, but I have no time to re-write or, indeed, to satisfactorily revise them. If they are published at all, they must, therefore, be taken as they are. In the future it may perhaps be possible to supplement them with some further and more I carefully edited counsels on some other matters closely connected with the subjects treated of here.
Meantime, I send forth these Messages from. their General's heart to his dear people, with the assurance of my love, and of my confidence in God for them. Let them remember that the best way to test my advice is to practise it.
LONDON, January, 1902
IV. THE CHOICE OF WORK (continued)
My DEAR COMRADES AND FRIENDS,
I propose to write you a few Letters on the subject of your Every Day life. By your Every Day life, I mean the duties you have to discharge to yourselves, your masters, your servants, the members of your own families, and the world in general.
I am always, talking to you about what we call religions duties, such as praying and, singing, making efforts to save your own soul and the souls of the people about yon. In these Letters I propose speaking of the things that men call secular, and which many people reckon have nothing to do with Religion. But I want to show you, if I can, that the Salvationist's conduct ought, in, every particular, to be religious; every meal he partakes of should be a sacrament; and every thought and deed a service done to God. In doing this, you will see, that 1 shall have to deal with many quite common-place subjects; and, in talking about them, I shall try to be as simple and as practical as I possibly can.
The first topic to which I shall call your attention is your daily employment; and by that, I mean the method by which you earn your livelihood. Or, supposing that having some independent means of support; you are not compelled to labour for your daily bread; then 1 shall point out that special form of work, the doing of which Providence has plainly made to be your duty. Because it is difficult to conceive of any Salvationist who has not some regular employment, for which he holds himself responsible to God.
Work is a good thing, my Comrades. To be unemployed is generally counted an evil -- anyway, it is so in the case of a poor man; but, it seems to me, that the obligation to be engaged in some honourable and useful kind of labour, is as truly devolved upon the rich as upon the poor, perhaps more so. Work is necessary to the well-being of men and women of every class, everywhere. To be voluntarily idle, in any rank or condition of life, is to be a curse to others and to be accursed yourself.
Everything in God's creation works. The stars travel round and round in space, the ocean rises, falls and dashes itself about in storms and tempests, the winds career to and fro in the heavens, the clouds are ever receiving and pouring forth their life-giving waters. All the forces of nature are ever active, in order to fulfill the bountiful purposes of their Maker.
Everything that can be said to have life works.
The plants, and the trees struggle into being, pushing their way upwards through all sorts of opposition, and then fighting the very elements, in order to maintain their existence and bring forth their fruits.
All the living creatures on the earth, or in the waters work. They have to hunt for their food; in many instances to construct their homes, and, in every case, to defend themselves against their enemies; and very hard work at times they find it, I can tell you.
God works. He is the greatest Worker in the universe. No being toils with the ceaseless activity, with the unerring wisdom, the gigantic energy, the beneficent purpose of Jehovah.
The inhabitants of Heaven work. To spend eternity in the monotony of an enforced idleness would be, neither more nor less, than a miserable existence. Indeed, we could not conceive of Angels or Saints or any other intelligent creatures being happy and contented without some form of employment.
All the best, greatest, and most useful men and women who have ever lived, in this world, have been untiring workers. They would not have been eminent in character, position, or achievement without unceasing toil. They have risen early, sat up late, redeemed the moments, begrudged the time necessary for sleep and food and the ordinary demands of life.
Work is a good thing, my Comrades. I have ever found it to be so in my own experience. And specially has it proved itself to be a blessing in these, the latter days of my life. It has been a means of grace to my soul, an unfailing recreation to my mind, and a perennial source of satisfaction and comfort to my heart. The more I do, the more I want to do; and the more I am able to do, the more I see needs to be done.
Now, I want every Salvationist to join with me in regarding some kind of honest Work as his bounden duty -- a duty from which no circumstances of wealth, position or ability can relieve him. Nay, I want him to see that it is a privilege which he cannot forego without entailing loss and damage upon himself and those about him. If he would have health of body and mind and soul for himself, he must be an industrious worker. For I verily believe that idleness is the fruitful parent of disease, insanity, and sin. And the divinely-ordained plan by which he can benefit his family, his friends, and his neighbours is to work for them.
Whosoever, therefore, would prosper in every respect for this world and the next, must give themselves up to the doing of some kind of profitable work, and that with their might.
I should also like to say that, in my judgment, every Salvationist should not only accept his secular employment as of Divine appointment, and strive to do that heartily and well, but that in the condition life in which he finds himself placed, he is called upon to be a worker together with God for the Salvation of his fellow-men.
My DEAR COMRADES,
In my last Letter, I urged upon you the importance of being industriously engaged in some particular form of labour. In doing so, I dwelt upon the fact, that God had made Work to be the rule of life for every creature that His hands have created.
I now want to show you that it is not only important that you should work, but equally important that you should do good Work, -- that is, Work that is right and useful, Work that is pleasing to your Lord, and profitable to your fellow-men. Your Heavenly Father has made it necessary for you to work in order to live. That is an important condition which cannot be overlooked, but He has gone beyond that. He has also designed that your Work should promote your highest interests, and be such as He can look down upon with satisfaction.
Now, I do not see that any arguments of mine can be necessary to justify this simple assertion. It will he plain to you all, A man who works ten hours a day, six days a week, for forty years, spends upwards of one hundred and twenty-four thousand hours of his life at his daily toil. It surely cannot be unimportant to him as to what kind of Work it is that occupies so large a portion of his life. Only think of the energies of body and mind put forth by him; during that long round of toil; and think also of the influence of the Work of all those years, for good or for evil, upon himself and upon those around him. That influence, you will see, I am sure, ought to be made to tell, as far as possible, in favour of the honour of God, the goodness and happiness of himself, and the well-being of his fellow-men; but that can only be the case when good and useful Work is done.
Now in urging that you, my Comrades, should be engaged in doing good Work, I find myself somewhat in a difficulty. It is very probable, that many who read this Letter will be already employed in some kind of labour that does not answer to this description. For instance, your Work may be far from being agreeable, either to your taste or your judgment. It is not what you like. It does not seem calculated, so far as you can judge, to bring either glory to God or benefit to man.
But then you say, What am I to do? I had no choice in the matter of my trade or my calling. It was fixed up for me by my parents, or I selected it when my head was full of foolish notions, or I came into it by accident, and now, however much I may desire to do so, I cannot get away from it.
That is very much where, I found myself, my Comrades, when as a youth, I came to see life and its responsibilities in the right light. I was chained fast to an employment, from which I would gladly have given the world, had it been mine, to get away.
Do you ask me how I acted under the circumstances? Well, I acted then just as I recommend everyone similarly fixed to act now. I put myself and my destiny into God's hands. I told Him that I was just willing to be and do with my daily Work what He desired, and I waited to know His will. Meanwhile, I strove to do the Work in the station in which I found myself as well as ever I could, and seized upon, and made the very most I could of such opportunities for saving sinners as came within my reach. In due course God delivered me, and my way was opened to a sphere of usefulness beyond anything I had dreamed of before.
He has done even so with me since that time again and again. He is acting with me after the same fashion to-day.
This is very much the method He adopts with all His children. The Prophet says, "It is not in man that walketh to direct his steps." That is, it is not the Divine plan to make us the architects of our own fortune by leaving us to cut out a pathway for ourselves, regardless of God's controlling hand. But we can keep our eyes open, watch for opportunities, and courageously seize them when they arise. You must act after this fashion, and He will guide you into that work which shall be most for His glory and your good.
Still, it will be useful, I think, for me to give some counsels to help my Comrades to choose such Work as will give them satisfaction. Many of my readers will be young people with life before them, and a change will be possible to them, if seen to be desirable. They can afford to risk something in order to reach a form of labour in which they can engage with pleasure and profit, and realise all their days that they are doing good Work. Perhaps I can help them.
Then there are the children. Perhaps I may be able to say something which, when the important question of settling their Life Work comes up, will help you to decide upon an employment that will prove a pleasure in their future lives, a profit to the world, and a satisfaction to your own soul when you meet them again in the world to come.
The Choice of Work
My DEAR COMRADES,
In my last, I promised to furnish you with a. few counsels, which would be likely to assist those who may be seeking "good Work," either for themselves or for those dependent on them. The subject is so serious in its bearings, and has so many important interests connected with it, that I find a great difficulty in dealing with it, to any good purpose, in the limited range of a short Letter. However, I will try.
I have already explained my meaning; but to be fairly understood, I must say again that by good Work, I mean Work that commands the approval of God, and is calculated to be of some service to man.
Now, in seeking such Work as that for his children, or in trying to discover how God wants him to employ himself while he is on the earth, there are certain things the Salvationist will not be likely to do, and certain things that I think he will be likely to do. I will begin by mentioning some of the things he will not be likely to do.
1. In making a choice as to the various methods of labour possible to him, I do not think he will be influenced solely by the question of wages. I am sure he will not, if he understands his principles and is true to them. He would most strongly object to a master standing him up on a block in the market-place and selling him for the sake of his labour to the highest bidder. And to embark in any trade or profession regardless of its character, merely because it will produce the most money, amounts to very much the same thing. Yet, I am afraid, nothing loftier in the way of motive influences many people in the selection of their daily toil.
Instead of asking "How can I spend my time and energies to the best advantage for my Lord, and to the most profit for my fellows?" The question is simply, "In what way can I earn the most money?" We admire Paul when he says, "I determined not to know anything among you save Jesus Christ and Him crucified." If he had said, "I determined not to know anything among you but how to make money, and the soonest get a big balance to my credit at the Savings Bank," we should have despised him. Do not do anything that looks in this direction, my Comrades; but you certainly will if you go about hiring yourself, influenced by no higher motive than how you can get the most wages.
2. In choosing a Life Work, the Salvationist will not be guided merely by what appears agreeable. He does not live to please himself; and, while it may not only be allowable, but wise and desirable, to follow the natural tendency of the children's minds, or of his own, in the choice of an employment, still the higher motive of usefulness, so often referred to in these Letters, must be supreme. Jesus Christ said, "If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his Cross daily, and follow Me."
That injunction must be binding upon every Soldier of the Cross in so important a matter as the employment of his time, and his powers. What a farce must any other following of Him be!
3. In choosing a Life Work, no good Salvationist will be drawn to forms of useless labour. There are a multitude of employments in the world that cannot be exactly said to be injurious, but which, beyond question, answer no good and useful purpose. They could be dispensed with without anyone being particularly inconvenienced. They neither help man in body, mind, or soul. As you would not like to spend your days in blowing bubbles or beating the air, so, as far as possible, avoid those idle performances that bring little or no advantage to your fellow-men.
4. In choosing a form of employment, the Salvationist will avoid what is injurious to the real interests of mankind, and opposed to the spread of the Kingdom of Heaven. Alas! Alas! the world is full of the works of the Devil -- that is, works that have their origin in the heart of the Devil, that are based on devilish principles, sustained by devilish powers, and which ultimately carry those who practise them to the place which the Saviour tells us was prepared for the Devil and his angels.
Now, surely, no Salvationist would like to spend his life in helping, in any form, to support and extend such a dark and misery-making business. To that end he must open his eyes and look about him, and keep clear, of any employment, whatever, which may present, attractions that his conscience tells him belong to any section of this Satanic School. You had far better go to Heaven with Lazarus from a Poorhouse, than ride in a coach-and-six with the rich man to Hell.
Then, there is another aspect of the trades and callings around us to-day, against which a Salvationist should be on his guard. Many trades are dangerous to health, if not absolutely destructive of life. Now, there are plenty of methods by which you can make a livelihood, without doing so at the price of your health, and therefore, these disease-breeding businesses should, be avoided.
But there is another danger, more serious still, concerning which I must warn you. There are many occupations, in which it will be very difficult, if not impossible, to keep a good, conscience. I need not counsel you to leave these severely alone. Your own conscience will tell you what you ought to do.
But I will suppose that some of my readers find themselves already embarked in one or other of these objectionable methods of labour. What, are they, to do? I think I have already answered that question. If any man or woman is not certain, in their own minds, whether their present occupation is wrong, in the sight of God, or not, let them ask Him to show them; and if it is contrary to His will, to deliver them from it.
But what is a Salvationist to do, who is employed in the homes or about the persons of people whom he knows to be ungodly? As, for instance, what is a carpenter to do who finds himself building a house, or a compositor printing a book, or a housemaid waiting at the table, for individuals openly opposed to the Word and Work of God?
They must remain at their posts and do their duty and thereby seek to win those whom they serve to Christ, unless plainly called by God elsewhere. To get away entirely from the service of wicked people, or from having any connection with their doings, is utterly impossible, circumstanced as we are at present. To do so, we should have to go out of this world altogether.
I remember once hearing a celebrated Doctor say, that a certain wealthy brewer had written him asking his advice concerning a particular malady from which he was suffering, and which was likely to prove fatal. My friend, who was an ardent Temperance man, said to me that he had no doubt he could help him, and perhaps save his life, but the question with which he was occupied was whether it was his duty to assist in keeping a man alive whose business was so palpably opposed to the best interests of mankind.
Now many servants might reason after this fashion with regard to their masters and mistresses, and even with the members of their own families, but it does not appear to me possible or desirable to act upon such a rule. God does not do so Himself. He allows the wicked to live and to prosper. He sends His rain, and makes His sun to shine with almost equal benefit on the evil and on the good, seeking, no doubt, by the bestowment of these mercies to lead the transgressors to repentance.
A rather remarkable story, I heard a good many years ago may serve as an illustration here.
A gentleman, well-to-do in the world, having a large circle of gay companions, and spending his life in all manner of revelry and vice, had a very pious wife. She was so patient and forbearing with him in his evil-doing that he was in the habit of boasting of it. One night, when engaged in a midnight revel, he offered to wager a dozen bottles of wine that if he went home, late as it was, or rather early in the morning, and rung his wife up, and ordered a supper, that she would rise, call the servants from their beds, and have the meal prepared, the whole being done, not only without reproaches, but with kindness and good humour.
The bet was accepted by one of the gentlemen, and they all repaired to the house. The man did as he had proposed. The lady rose, the supper was prepared, and, with a meek but pleasant countenance, she sat at the head of the table. This so surprised the gentleman who had accepted the wager, that he addressed her somewhat as follows:--
"Madam, you surprise me. Your husband has behaved in a most unnatural manner, and we have been ungenerous parties to it. He has roused you at this unreasonable hour, and compelled you to go through what must have been a most unpleasant task, and, although the whole business must have been most repulsive to your feelings, you have not uttered one word of complaint. Can you explain to us the reason for your forbearance?"
To this appeal the lady replied:
"My husband is pursuing a course which can only have one termination. I have prayed for him, wept over him, and besought him to abandon his evil ways, but all in vain. He appears fully set on finishing his journey, which can only lead him to the world of woe. There, I know, he will have no more gladness. I love him, and have therefore resolved to do what I can to promote his comfort, and furnish him with innocent pleasures, while he is here, seeing that there will be nothing but regrets and misery for him in the next world"
As she said this, she burst into tears, and the gentleman to whom she spoke, was so impressed that he went away, resolved from that hour to forsake his sins and serve the living God.
It certainly is not our duty to punish every evildoer we meet, even if we had the power. But it is our duty to discharge such earthly obligations as are laid upon us with respect to them. The consequences of their conduct must rest with themselves.
But what I am specially insisting upon in this Letter is, that every Salvationist must be responsible for employing himself, as far as he finds it possible to do so, on such Work as he can do with a good conscience -- such Work as is worth doing well, and such Work as will be really useful to man and honourable to God.
The Choice of Work (continued)
My DEAR COMRADES,
I said something in my last Letter about it being the Duty of parents to find good Work for their children. I am sure you will see the bearing of the question upon their happiness and usefulness in the future. You know, and sometimes say, that there has been much in the shaping of your own life that you could wish had been different. But that evil is beyond remedy now. You cannot go back to your childhood and change the things that happened then. But, to a marvellous extent, you can do for your children what you wish had been done for you, and so make it easier for them to live the sort of life that you wish you had lived yourself.
Few questions of greater importance can arise in the hearts of parents than that which asks, "What shall we do with the children? How are they to earn their livelihood? What employment shall we choose for them?
What I said in my lest Letter was, in some part, an answer to this question, but perhaps a word or two further may be useful:
1. Do not choose for them any Work which will make it difficult for them to live a truly Godly life. When any form of industry is proposed, your first inquiry respecting it should be--"Is this business, to which I am about to consign my child, such an one as can be followed by him with honour and truth and righteousness? Is it an employment that is favourable to his keeping a clear conscience and exhibiting the character of Jesus Christ? Is it one upon which he will look back with satisfaction in the world to come? Is it one, that will permit him to put forth a fair share of effort for the Salvation of souls and the glory of his Saviour?"
Now, if it is not, I beseech you to let not prospect of wages, or position, the pleasing of friends, the wishes of the child himself, or anything else, lead you to consign him to it. No earthly allurement must be strong enough to induce you to give your child to an employment that must be, more or less, one of conflict with his conscience, all through his life, and which may involve the ultimate loss of his soul.
2. Do not consign your children to those kinds of employment, where the surroundings will be likely to lead them from God. There is a great difference in the class of temptations that have to be averted, and the companions that have to be resisted, in the various trades around you. Some are, indeed, and of a truth, a broad way leading straight down to destruction. Any other destiny for those whose feet are placed thereon seems all but impossible. By all and every honest means keep your children away from these downhill roads to Hell.
You would count a father cruel, who sent his boys to skate or slide on ice, which a little enquiry might show him was not equal to bearing their weight. Do not send your children into circumstances which, a little foresight will show you, are dangerous -- where the ice will give way and let them in.
3. Do not fix your children up in any employment which their health will not be likely to stand. Look into the thing beforehand, and if it seems that the hours may be too many, or the physical strain too great, or the standing too taxing, or the anxieties too much for the nerves, let it pass. Perhaps the trade may unavoidably render some noxious vapours, or there may be some other tendencies that will sap the springs of vigour in your boy. Never mind what it is, if it is injurious. Think what a precious treasure good health is! If the child has a healthy body, take care of it, -- and if not, so much the more need for you to watch over the measure of health that he does enjoy.
I do not want you to shrink from committing your children to lives of hard work. But I do think you should be careful in this respect, especially with the delicate members of your flock. Some will stand more hardship than others. Discriminate.
4. Strive to select Work that will match the capacities of your children. I suppose that every child is specially gifted in some particular direction. One boy will have extra ability for one kind of work, and his brother for another. As a rule, children, indeed everybody, prefer to do those things for which they have the most aptitude. Therefore, if you can set them going in the direction for which they not only have the most liking, but the most ability, you will serve them well.
But here I am faced with a difficulty. I know that many of my people will lack both means and opportunity, for settling their boys and girls in that Work which will best match their tastes and capacities. Circumstances render it indispensable that Dick should go to the mine, or Harry should follow the plough, or Mary should go to domestic service, however much they would prefer, or seem fitted for, something else. Well, if that be so, as I have said before, you must conclude that, at present, that is God's plan, and you must wait on Him to learn whether He has any other.
5. In making a choice of employment for your children, let me warn you against allowing yourselves to regard any class of labour as menial or degrading, if that Work be good and honest Work, honourable in the sight of God, and serviceable to your fellowmen.
The prevalent rage for what are considered to be more "respectable" methods of earning a livelihood, is working very injuriously amongst the labouring part of the community. Everywhere parents who have themselves brought up families by hard, manual toil, are carried away with the desire to put their children into positions by which they shall be able to earn their bread by what they have the vain conceit to imagine is an easier and more reputable way than that which served them so well
They think that if they can make them clerks or teachers, get them behind counters, or train them for some profession which will not soil their hands, it will be preferable to domestic service, or to the mining or mechanical or other laborious trades followed by themselves.
Hence, all round the world, those branches of industry which are regarded as being genteel are overcrowded; the wages paid in them being often insufficient to purchase the necessities of life for the workers and their families. So that when they get the opportunity of Marriage, a respectable semi-starvation is frequently the result of what they had thought would be a change for the better.
Now I want you to realise that the Work of the servant in the kitchen, or the artisan in the workshop, or the labourer in the field, is as respectable, before God, as that of the master in the counting-house, or the mistress in the drawing-room.
The employment of the stoker in the fire-hole of the steamer is just as honourable as that of the engineer, who superintends the machinery; of the Doctor who prescribes for the sicknesses of the passengers; or the Captain who directs the course of the vessel.
Other considerations, no doubt, enter into this question, some of which I may refer to another time. But what I now beg of you is, not to be led off by any stupid notions as to hard, manual, common Work being in itself degrading, or anything of the kind. No true honourable labour on the face of the earth, which works no ill to one's neighbour, is to be despised.
6. But here I may be asked the question, Ought not a Soldier's children to be trained for Officership? To this I reply, Most certainly they ought, if they make it manifest that they possess, or are likely to possess gifts that will qualify them for such an important position.
Every Salvationist father ought to foster in the hearts and minds of his children -- boys and girls alike -- the idea that to be Officers in The Salvation Army is the highest and most useful position to which they can hope to aspire in this world, and so create the ambition in their hearts to reach it. And every Salvationist mother ought to do the same, only more so.
That ambition took possession of my own soul soon after I was converted. There was no Salvation Army in those days, so that I could not aspire to be an Officer in it; and to be a Minister in any Church appeared so high, so lofty, and so far away, that I scarcely dared to think I could ever attain unto that. Still, I yearned after it with an increasing yearning, for six long years, never turning aside from it, hoping in the face of every kind of discouragement that the position would ultimately be mine. In due course God, in His loving-kindness rewarded my perseverance, and brought me into it.
In after days my precious Wife joined with me in creating in the hearts of our dear children a similar ambition. They were made to feel that there was only one walk in life that would be right and proper for them. This feeling grew and grew; until it became an inward conviction, that they had been redeemed, and converted, and sent into the world, in order that they might engage in this great Work.
It will be so with the children of my dear Soldiers, if they will only lead them on to it, by home example and teaching, and when they do develop some desire and show some ability for Officership, that desire should he strengthened and that capacity should be cultivated. Let them be enrolled as Corps Cadets, and have every opportunity possible given them for acquiring the necessary Training. Above all, their religion should be carefully watched over, and the flame of love to God and souls kept burning in their hearts.
But where Officership has been decided upon, supposing the necessary gifts and piety are forthcoming, a thorough training in some form of industry will prove advantageous to them in after life, no matter what rank they may hold, or what position they may fill.
The advantage of such a course, with respect to the boys, will be self-evident. I believe there is a custom in the German Royal Family which binds every member to acquire a knowledge of some form of skilled labour. I think the present Emperor is a compositor; that is, a printer. If to have a practical knowledge of a trade at his finger ends is considered a desirable acquisition in an Emperor, how much more will it be found so in a Salvation Officer! Then, should some difficulty intervene to prevent the child reaching the position of Officership, the knowledge he has acquired will serve the important purpose of enabling him to earn a livelihood. Or should health, or some other unforeseen trouble make it necessary for him to retire from active command after he has gained the position, the trade learned in his youth will be very useful.
But if it is deemed desirable that the boys should be taught some useful form of Work, it is absolutely essential that the girls should, at least, learn those things that lie within a woman's sphere which they ought to know, and which have to do with the comfort, economy, and well-being of the household.
There was nothing about a home that my dear Wife did not understand, and was not able to do. She could whitewash the ceilings, paper the walls, paint the doors, plan the carpets, make the children's clothes; and, what was of no little importance in a large family, so bake the bread and cook the simple food as to make it, at the same time, pleasant to the taste and easy for the, digestion.
None of this kind of knowledge will be a burden to any of our dear girls when they have grown to womanhood, or acquired the position of Officership. On the contrary, it will greatly increase their worth and usefulness in a thousand different ways.
Why to Work Well
My DEAR COMRADES,
I have been urging you; in my previous Letters, to arrange that the Work by which you earn your livelihood should be good Work; that is, Work that is pleasing to God, profitable to the worker, and useful to your fellow-men. I have also advised that if you find yourselves engaged in any kind of labour or trade that is other than this, you should abandon it as soon as possible. I have urged, further, that in selecting the kind of Work by which your children shall support themselves in after life, the same rule should be followed. Do not embark the youngsters on a sea of inconsistency and difficulty, on which it will be all but impossible for them to serve God, keep a good conscience, and voyage with truth, honour, and safety, to the Heavenly Shore.
I now approach another equally important aspect of your Duty. Having good Work to do, I want you to make it a rule to do it as well as you possibly can, so that you shall come to be known by those around you as a good Workman; or as the Apostle puts it-- "A Workman that needeth not to be ashamed."
My first argument for this recommendation is :
1. Do good Work for its own sake. Do not allow yourself to be influenced to any contrary course, by any considerations of personal ease or worldly gain; by the example of your fellow-workmen, or indeed by anything else. Make up your mind to turn out good Work whether you are sufficiently paid for it or not, and that, on the principle that whatever is worth doing at al1 is worth doing well. Whether it be the building of a wall, the cooking of a meal, the writing of a letter, the offering of a prayer, the singing of a song, or any other duty that falls to your daily lot, put forth such strength of muscle, or mind, or heart, or of all together, as the task deserves, and make a good job of it.
I have myself made this principle a rule of action for many years; but my dear Wife was the most notable example of it I was ever privileged to meet. Whatever she undertook, from the preaching of a sermon to the darning of a stocking, or the fastening on of a button, she did it as well as it could be done -- anyway, as well as she could do it. Many a time, I have besought her to be content, with half the number stitches, when doing the last-named little service for me, and I have been in haste to get away. But she would answer my entreaty by saying "You want it to stay on, do you not?" steadily proceeding with her task till the button was properly secured.
Now, I want you, to adopt this principle as the rule your lives. However unimportant or insignificant your Work may appear to yourself, or to those around you at the time, if it is your Work, do it well.
2. Do good Work for the sake of those for whom it is done. One of the rules to which your life has to be conformed, reads, "Whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them"; so that if you would like your neighbour to do good Work for you, you must do good Work for your neighbour. You would not like him to do deceptive, scamping Work for you, and therefore you must not do deceptive, scamping work for him.
In the doing of your Work you have to keep in mind both the pleasure and the profit of those for whom you do it. If you make a pair of boots for a man, whether he be a friend or a stranger, they should, as far as possible, be such as will give the wearer pleasure in looking at them, and, what is more important still, pleasure in wearing them. If, as the poet says,
"A thing of beauty is a joy forever,"
why should not you, in making boots, be a manufacturer of joy as well? A pair of boots may be pleasant to the eye for a time, if not for ever, and profitable into the bargain.
This is the Divine plan. In His wonderful labour in making this world and all that is in it, God must have been actuated by a desire to give both pleasure and benefit to those who would either look upon it or use it. Some pleasure He, doubtless, anticipated for Himself in beholding, from time to time, all the precious and beautiful things His hands had made; but still, His main delight in their creation, must have been the pleasure and profit He foresaw they would yield to others. Imitate your Maker.
3. Do good Work because it will be to your own advantage. To begin with, good Work will give you personal gratification. It will be a pleasure to you whatever it may be to others. You will be glad that you have been able to produce a good piece of Work.
It may be that in the past you have got into scamping habits, or even acquired a scamping conscience. If so, you must get both conscience and habits rectified, and that to such a degree, that to turn out other than good Work will become absolutely painful-- indeed, when it is preventable, it will be impossible. Altogether, apart from the pleasure or profit it may yield to others, or the personal gain it may bring to yourself, you ought to find real pleasure in the doing of good, substantial Work.
Again, good York is Educational. Practice -- that is, doing a thing over and over again -- makes perfect. But the doing of a thing over and over again yields no benefit, unless there is the constant striving after improvement on the part of the doer. It is only by trying to do a thing well that improvement can be assured. If every time you paint a wall, or plane a board, or plough a field, or write a letter, or do anything else, you are trying to do that Work as well as you possibly can, you are thereby acquiring the ability to perform the same task better the next time. On the other hand, the more Work you scamp the worse Workman you will become, and the more you will be avoided by those who want Work done well.
Again, good Work is financially profitable to the doer of it. Everyone knows that a good Workman is more sought after, and better paid, than an inferior one, and is, or ought to be, more highly esteemed, into the bargain. I know that some people think that all Workmen ought to be brought down to the same level, as regards remuneration and other advantages, without reference to the difference existing in the, value of their Work. But no regulations can prevent the best Workman coming to the top, having the earliest promotion, being the most liberally paid, and the last to be discharged when hard times come along.
4. But, as a Salvationist, you have higher motives and nobler reasons for doing good work. You must acquit yourself in your vocation, whatever it may be, so as to please your Heavenly Master; I am sure you cannot do that except your Work be worthy of His esteem. He observes the manner in which every one of your duties is discharged, and you cannot possibly deserve, or reasonably expect, His approval unless the Work is done up to the level of your fullest ability.
Our Work Must Please God
My DEAR COMRADES,
In my last Letter, you will remember that I dwelt upon the importance of doing good Work. Having secured useful employment, I urged that you should strive to do it to the best of your ability. This applies to every class of Workers whose labour is of any real service to the community, however exalted or however humble that service may appear. Whether it be breaking stones, driving a horse, cleaning a house, commending a Corps, or any other kind of employment, if it is honourable and useful, strive to do it well.
Now I want to resume my theme. I was, when I closed my last Letter, trying to show that every man should, in addition to other motives, endeavour to do his daily work to please God. My, argument is very simple, but I think it is sound. When a man ploughs a field, or makes a watch, or a door, or a coat, he ought to feel that there are four pairs of eyes upon him as he proceeds with his task, all of which he must strive to please. To begin with, --
1. There are his own eyes, and he ought to aim at pleasing them; and if they are right eyes, nothing but good, sound Work will do that. That alone will give him true pleasure at the moment, and afford him real satisfaction afterwards.
2. There are the eyes of the man who will use the watch, open the door, wear the coat, or reap the produce of the field. Now, the Workman ought to resolve that when his Work is done, it shall, as far as is possible, give those eyes satisfaction when they look upon it. For instance, if he has made a door, he should be able to say to himself: "This door shall be a pleasure to the man or the woman who has to open and shut it. I have made it well, so that it shall not fall to pieces, and I have made it to fit, so that it will keep out the draught, and open and shut with ease and quietness."
3. Then there are the eyes of his earthly master, if he has one, and most of us have at least one. I have a good many! But, whether one or many, we can strive to do our Work so as to give satisfaction, if not real pleasure.
4. Then there are the eyes of his Master in Heaven.
He must before all else try to gratify them- -- and I have only just been saying that nothing short of good Work will do this. For this no scamping or hypocrisy in Every Day labour, any more than in Spiritual Work, will suffice. Making things to look fairly well on the outside, while hollow, or inferior, or rotten within, will not gain His approval. You will want Him to say "Well done," when He judges your Work at the Great White Throne, but you can have no just ground for entertaining any such expectation unless you are doing it well to-day.
You would utterly condemn me, if you thought that I engaged in my Work, in The Army, merely to make a good show, or for some personal profit, and did not care about what God thought of the matter. My Comrades, there are not two different standards of work -- one for you and one for me. You must, therefore, be under the same obligation to do your Work in the house, or in the mine, or in the warehouse, or wherever the Providence of God has placed you, to please your Heavenly Master, as I am on the Platform, in the Council Chamber, or wherever my duty may call me.
But here another question arises. Do you accept Jesus Christ as your Master in the affairs of your daily life? If not, of course, this part of my argument will be thrown away; but if you do, then it will be the most powerful of all.
At the commencement of His Ministry, Jesus Christ announced that He was about to establish the Kingdom of Heaven on the earth. By the Kingdom of Heaven He meant the Kingdom consisting of heavenly government, heavenly laws, heavenly obedience, heavenly power, heavenly love, heavenly joy. These, taken together, constitute the chief characteristics of this Kingdom, and instead of being confined, as it had been hitherto, to a handful of people in Jerusalem and Judea, it was to cover the whole earth.
Now the subjects of that Kingdom must accept Jesus Christ as their Master and Lord. No one can either come into that Kingdom or remain in it without compliance with this law. You cannot be a Son without being a Servant.
But you have written yourselves down as His Servants, and said you will "no longer live unto yourselves," nor to please the world, but to do the will of Him who bas redeemed you; that is, to please Him. Now, the Master's province, everybody knows, is, not only to choose the Work of His Servants, but to get it done, if possible, to His satisfaction.
He has appointed me my Work. He has arranged that I should direct the movements of this great Army, preach Salvation, write Letters for you to read, save as many sinners as I can, and strive to get my Soldiers safely landed on the Celestial Shore. Before all else, I must do this Work, as nearly as I can, to satisfy my Lord -- and nothing short of the best Work I can produce will accomplish that.
And as with me so with you. He has chosen your Work, if you have put your life, into His hands, just as truly as He has chosen mine, although it may be of a different kind. I am writing this Letter in the train. I am a poor writer at the best. When I was a child my schoolmaster neglected to teach me to hold my pen properly. In this respect he did not do good Work, and I have had to suffer for it ever since. Still, I am doing my Work as well as I can, in order that it may profit you and please my Lord.
Work and Religion
My DEAR COMRADES,
In my last Letter, you will remember that I was trying to show that it was the duty of all good men, and women to do their Work, not only with the view of giving satisfaction to themselves and to their earthly employers, but, also, to their Master in heaven. Is not this the distinct command of our Lord, given through the Apostle Paul to the Salvationists at Ephesus, the most of whom would probably be slaves? They were to do their Work, "Not with eye-service, as men-pleasers, but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart; with good will doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men: knowing that whatsoever good thing any man doeth, the same shall he receive of the Lord, whether he be bond or free."
Now, that passage contains the Divine Orders and Regulations for these Ephesian Soldiers, with regard to their daily Work; and if it means anything at all, it signifies that, whether bond or free, treated well, or treated badly, we are to do our Work to please God; and that if we do so, He will sooner or later declare His approbation of it, and see that we are properly remunerated.
Now, in pursuing this theme, allow me to remind you again, that I am talking of the labour of Every Day life, and that I am bringing all honest, honourable Work on to the same platform. If our Work is of God's appointment, then it is all equally religions, all equally a part of God's life for us.
I do not say that all Work is equally important to the world; that planting potatoes, weaving calico, or chopping wood is likely to have the same bearing on the well-being of mankind, as the guiding of an Empire, or the conducting of a Salvation Army Campaign. But I do say, if you have found your own proper Work, whether it appears in the eyes of men to be great or small, it is of equal importance that you should do it in the best possible manner.
Suppose that two of your Comrades -- a brother and a sister -- were removed to Heaven, and that on arriving there they found the place, to their no little surprise, strongly resembling the world they had just left. Suppose, further, that the Saviour were to come to the brother, and say to him: "I want you to build a cottage for one of My servants to live in; you must make it strong and sound in every particular, and do it as quickly as you reasonably can."
Then, suppose that He turned to the sister, and said: "I have just taken this child out of its mother's arms on earth. I want you to rear it for Me. You must nurse it, and clothe it, and train it, so that it may be capable of serving Me, as I may require."
And then, addressing them both, suppose He were to add: "I shall look in upon you every day to see how you are getting along, and shall reward you according to your diligence and devotion."
Now, would not that brother and sister be likely to feel highly honoured by the task imposed upon them by their Lord? and would they not, at once, set themselves to its discharge with all the earnestness they could command? And though they might not consider their Work to be as important as much of the Work going on around them in the Celestial Country, I am sure that they would regard it as being quite as important that they should build that house and rear that child to the best of their ability, as it was for the Archangels to exert all their power in doing the Work they had to do for the Master right up before His Throne.
Now, God has no less appointed you your Work in this world than He has in the next; and I contend that you ought to be just as anxious to do that Work to please Him here as you will be to do the Work appointed you there. You pray, day by day, "Thy will be done on earth, as it is in Heaven," and it is a blessed desire. Why not strive with all your might to fulfill it? God will help you.
The Quantity of our Work
My DEAR COMRADES,
Having dealt with the question of the quality of our Work, let me now proceed to consider the question of the quantity. Is the amount of Work a man does a matter of choice with him? Or if he can manage to get along without any Work at all, is he at liberty to do so P
To this question I reply that, in my judgment, a man ought not only to earnestly strive to do good Work, but to definitely seek to do as much of it as he possibly can. A notion very generally prevails that, instead of doing all the Work of which you are capable, you should do as little as possible, and certainly no more than you are paid for. This, I admit, will be the wisest course to take, if you have Work to do which is injurious to your fellow-creatures. In that case, as I have said before, 1 say again -- that, whether you get paid for it or not, you had better not do it at all. But, if you can do anything that will be of any service to the people round about you, I recommend that you get at it, by all means, and do as much of it as possible, irrespective of the benefits you may reap from it, or indeed, whether you reap any benefit or not.
For instance, take the crowd of able-bodied men that you can see every day hanging about the public-houses, or at the corners of the streets, for hours together, with their hands in their pockets, waiting for a gossip, or a drink, or a job, which the Devil, as is his custom with idle hands, will not be slow to furnish. Would it not be better for them to be helping their wives with the washing, or lending a hand at cleaning up the house, or digging in somebody's garden, or mending the roads, or doing anything else from the bare love of doing Work, that would be beneficial to their fellow-men? I think it would -- nay, I am sure of it.
At a Railway Junction where I had to wait the other day, for a train, I saw about twenty navvies sitting or standing alongside the line, some of them smoking, but otherwise doing nothing. It was a very cold, raw morning, with an East wind blowing up the gully in which the station stood, that seemed to pierce your very bones. For a time I could not understand why these men should be shivering alongside their work, without striking a stroke, while I could, see, with half an eye, that if they had been picking and shovelling, they would have been warm, and comfortable, while the Work would have gone forward, into the bargain. A little reflection, however, showed me that it was the breakfast hour, and that, having concluded their meal, they were simply waiting for the allotted time to elapse before they started afresh.
This method of doing things appeared to me to be wrong, both in principle and practice -- anyway, wrong for a Salvationist, who looks at his life from the standpoint of the Bible, which teaches him the duty of doing as much good Work for his fellow-men as possible. Instead of standing there, shivering, waiting for the clock to strike, it would, I imagine, have been better for these navvies to have resumed their task, as soon after the meal was concluded as they reasonably could, and I see several advantages that would have resulted from their doing so.
As these men and their Work are only typical of other men and their Work, I will mention some of these advantages.
1. They would have been more comfortable at Work than they were standing idle.
2. The improvement they were effecting on the Railway, whatever that might be, would have been forwarded.
3. Their employers would have been pleased with the disinterested manner in which they pushed their business forward, and would have been likely to have given them some extra payment.
4. They would have shown a good example of industry to all about them.
5. They would have done this, had they been working for themselves. For instance, if they had been cleaning or mending their own houses, or digging in their own gardens, they would have wanted to do all the Work they possibly could. But as the benefit of their labour was for other people, they did as little as they could do. This looked very much like selfishness.
6. They would have allowed no reasonable thing to prevent them going on with their task if they had been doing it for their Heavenly Master, and had been influenced by the desire to please Him.
In describing the illness of her husband the other day, and her own part in nursing him, a woman informed me that she had not had her clothes off, for her ordinary rest, for seventeen days and nights. She did not complain of this hardship; on the contrary, she was pleased at having been favoured with an opportunity of proving her love for her partner. Her affection was the mainspring of her sacrifice. Now, love for his earthly master and his Heavenly Lord should be the ruling principle with every Salvationist in his daily toil; and when this is the case, his strength and the claims of other duties will alone limit the amount of work he will do.
Responsibilities of the Workman.
MY DEAR COMRADES,
In these Letters, I have been insisting, that it is the duty of every Salvationist to do as much good Work as is reasonably possible. The illustration I used in my last, of the men working on the Railway, during a part of the breakfast hour, instead of standing about unemployed, is open to several objections which I want to answer. To do this, I will mention a few things that must be considered, in conjunction with what I have said about the Railway men.
1. In settling how much Work he will do, a man must have due regard to the claims of his own health. If he rushes at his work without due discretion, and does more than his strength will reasonably allow, he will probably break down, and so prevent his working altogether, or for a season, at least. Whereas, if he exhausts no more energy than he can recover by sleep and food and rest, at the time, he can go steadily forward, and by doing so, accomplish a great deal more, in the long run, than he would by temporary extravagant exertion. When speaking on this subject, I say that I use my body as I should use a horse, if I had one -- that is, I should not seek to get the most labour out of him for a week, regardless of the future, but I should feed and manage him with a view to getting the most I could get out of him all the rear round. That is, doubtless, the way a man should use his body, and to do this he should take as much time for his food and daily rest as is necessary to replace the energies he has used up by his Work.
In the leisure taken for this purpose, it will be necessary to have specified hours, as otherwise, those who are without principle will take advantage of the weak, and anything like system will be impossible.
2. Then, again, when the proper performance of a particular task depends upon the united labour of a number of individuals, who have agreed to work in co-operation, it will be necessary, in the interests of the whole, that each should conform to the regulations laid down, always supposing that such rules are in harmony with truth and righteousness.
3. The wishes and interests of employers have also to be taken into consideration. But, in every case, the principle is equally obligatory upon all.
4. These duties will demand, and must have devoted to them, a measure of the time at our control. What that amount of time shall be, most be determined by the relative importance of those duties. For instance:
(i) There is the Work a man can do for his earthly employers, over and above the amount that is considered to be a strict and just return for his wages. Here again, he must be guided by Jesus Christ's rule, and to do unto his master as he would that his master should do unto him.
(ii) There is the Work that he ought to do for his family, apart and beyond the bare earnings of their daily bread. This is Work which no one else can do so well, and which, if it be neglected by him, will probably not be done at all.
(iii) There is the effort that every Workman should put forth for his own personal improvement. For instance, a youth of seventeen works, we will say, ten hours a day for his employer, who would very much like him to put in another hour at the same task, and would be willing to pay him extra for doing so. This, we will suppose, the youth could do without any injurious effect, to his health. But then, by reading his Bible or cultivating his mind, he might qualify himself to become an Officer, or to fill some other important position, in either case fitting himself for a field of greater usefulness, in the future, than the one he already occupies. Under such circumstances, it must be the duty of that youth to take that hour for his own improvement, rather than to use it to enrich his master or increase his earnings.
(iv) Then, every Soldier of Jesus Christ must duly consider and obey the claims of the Salvation War. That is, he must strive to take his fair share in that conflict. Whether he is his own master, having the direct control of his time, or whether he works for an employer, who only allows him so many hours for leisure, he must conscientiously devote as much of that time as he can to saving his fellow-men. In settling this question, he must use his common-sense, and claim the promised direction of the Holy Spirit. God will guide him.
What I protest against here, is the notion, born of indolence and selfishness, which affirms that we should do as little, rather than as much, Work as is consistent with the maintenance of health, and with the claims arising out of the relations in which we stand to those about us.
However, circumstances will transpire, during the earthly career of everyone of us, calling for self-sacrificing Work that must be performed, regardless of consequences to health or any other interest.
Supposing, by way of illustration, a ship has sprung a leak, through which the water is rushing rapidly in, endangering the lives of both the passengers and crew. Under such conditions, would not every man on board be justified in working night and day to prevent the threatened calamity? Nay, further, would not the laws of humanity call upon everyone concerned to do so, at the risk of crippling themselves, or even sacrificing life itself, in order to gain the greater good of saving the vessel from destruction, and rescuing a number of their fellows from a watery grave?
Labour and Love
My DEAR COMRADES,
I wonder how far you have gone with me through the course I have travelled in these Letters; and what your thoughts are respecting the whole question? As with the bulk of those who write for the benefit of others, I am continually haunted by the curiosity which seeks an answer to the questions: Does anyone rend what I write? And reading, do they understand what, I say? And understanding, do they agree with what, is said? But what is most important of all: Is anybody the better for what I have written?
However, without waiting for answers to these questions, I suppose I must practise what I preach, and go on writing my Letters, as well as I possibly can. And at the risk of being tedious, I propose again to mention some of the things for which I have contended, and to add one or two more arguments in their favour.
My contention then, is, that whether, in the shop or on the ship, in the parlour, or in the kitchen, in the factory or in the field, on the Salvation platform or in the coal mine, whether Officers or Soldiers, are all alike, as Servants of God, under the obligation to do all we possibly can in the service of men; and to do it with the holy motive of pleasing our Heavenly Master.
Here let me review my Warrant for requiring from you the kind of loving labour that I advocate.
1. The Bible enjoins it. We have already quoted Paul's words to the Ephesians, in which he says that our work is to be done, "Not with eye-service as men-pleasers, but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart; with good will doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men." That is all I ask for.
2. !t is enjoined by the doctrine of brotherly love.
I cannot understand how anyone can suppose, for a moment, that he is living a life acceptable to God unless he is striving, with all his might, to fulfill the Divine Command, "Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself." Your master, or whoever has a claim upon your service, must be included in the term "neighbour"; and to comply with the command of the Saviour, you must work for that master, or, mistress, as the case may be, from the voluntary principle of love rather than the earthly and selfish principle of gain.
3. Is not the disinterested method I am urging upon you in keeping with the loftiest ideals the world possesses with respect to Work? About whom does she write her Poetry? Whom does she laud to the Heavens in the Pulpit, on the Platform, and in the "Press? Whose names does she inscribe the highest in her Temples of Fame, or hand down to posterity as examples for rich and poor, old and young alike, to follow? Is it the man who makes his own ease and enrichment his only aim in life, and who toils and spins for nothing higher than his own gratification? Nothing of the kind. It is the generous, self-sacrificing, disinterested being who uses himself up for the benefit of his fellows.
Nay, at whom does that same world ceaselessly sneer, and whom does it most pitilessly despise? Is it not the mean and narrow spirit whose conduct is governed by selfish greed and sensual indulgences? Whatever may be her practice, in this respect, the sentiment of the world is in the right direction. She asks for benevolence evidenced by unselfish labour, and admires it when she finds it.
A paragraph went the round of the newspaper world, a little time back, describing how an American millionaire had decided to spend the rest of his days on a Leper Island in the Pacific Ocean, in order to labour for the amelioration of the miseries of its unfortunate inhabitants. Wonder and admiration everywhere greeted the announcement.
Shall we go back on all this spirit of self-sacrifice? Shall this kind of thing die out, or only have an existence in poetry books, platform quotations, or anecdote collections? Shall we change over to the "pound-of-flesh" principle, and hire out the Work of our hands, the thoughts of our minds, and the burning passions of our souls, for the largest amount of filthy lucre, and the greatest measure of earthly comfort, that we can obtain for them; so justifying the lying libel on humanity, long since spoken, and still often sneeringly quoted, that every man has his price? Or shall we say that love -- the love of God and man -- is the highest and divinest motive of labour -- a motive possible not only to the sons and daughters of genius, but accessible to the plainest, humblest man or woman who suffers and toils on the lowest round of the ladder of life.
4. I argue in favour of this doctrine on the ground of its profitableness to the Worker. My readers will probably have asked long before this, How far do these propositions harmonise with the interests of the servant? Ought he not to take his own well-being into account? Certainly. He must have just as true a regard for his own welfare and the welfare of those dependent upon him, as he has for that of others. The command, "Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself," can only be rightly interpreted by another, like unto it, which reads : "Whatsoever ye would that men should do to you do ye even so to them." Therefore, he must ask, that others should do unto him as he would do unto them, supposing they occupied changed positions. This must mean that, while righteously concerned for the interests of others, he must be reasonably concerned for his own.
But here a little difficulty comes into our argument, arising out of the play of the higher motive of affection. What does Love care for gain in its calculations of service? The husband who loves his wife as Christ loved the Church, does not stop to consider the claims of duty, or the advantages following its discharge in toiling for her welfare.
He will be willing to die for her, as Christ died for the Church.
He does not say, "I will toil for my delicate wife, and deny myself pleasant things, in order to obtain for her the necessaries and comforts she requires, because she would do the same for me, if I were in her place and she in mine." Nothing of the kind! The wife I spoke of, who told me the other day that she had not had her clothes off for seventeen days and nights in nursing her husband did not make it appear that she thought she was doing anything extraordinary, or that she rendered this service to her companion in life because she felt sure that had he been the wife and she the husband, he would have gladly done the same for her.
Had the newspapers thought that the American millionaire was going to the Leper Island, with his gold, to make something out of it for himself and family, or to make a name in the world, instead of his being greeted with a chorus of admiration, there would have been a universal chorus of execration at his selfishness. It was because they believed that he was going to make the sacrifice of his own gain, if not of his own self, for the benefit of the poor sufferers, that they praised him.
Supposing, however, that we come down to the low level of self-interest, we insist then, that those who work from the motive of love, rather than the motive of gain, will not necessarily be sufferers in consequence, so far as this world goes. But it may be asked, "Will not unprincipled masters or mistresses be likely to take advantage of this docile and unselfish spirit?" Perhaps, nay, doubtless, in many cases, they will. The Salvation Army has been taken advantage of all through its past history, and so have all the true Saints of God, because they have submitted to wrong, and have not fought the injustice and false representations and persecutions inflicted upon them from the beginning. It will possibly be so to the end, but that does not affect the principle for which I argue, which is, that we must do good Work, and as much of it as we can, regardless of what the world may give us in return.
But, I think, I have sufficiently shown, as I have, gone along, that this class of service, is not without its earthly rewards, and that every interest of human nature -- selfish and otherwise alike -- testify to the probability of its proving profitable to those who practise it.
If, however, the reward does not come in the form, of money, or houses, or lands, there will be gain in that which is far more valuable than money and houses and lands, and which money and houses and lands cannot buy. There will be the gain in peace, in satisfaction, and in joy in the Holy Ghost in this life, to say nothing of the gain in the world to come. But, on this, point, I shall have more to say another time.
I remember hearing a gentleman relate the following incident in a large meeting: --"Some time back," he said, "I was passing through the streets of Liverpool. It was a cold, raw, wintry day. The streets were ankle-deep in an unpleasant mixture of mud and ice, and battling through it all, there came along a little procession of ragged, haggard, hungry-looking boys. Splash, splash, on they went, through the freezing slush, at every step making the onlookers shudder as they stood by in their warm, comfortable coats and furs. In the front rank was a little fellow, who was scarcely more than a bag of bones, half-naked, barefooted, his whole frame shivering every time he put his foot down on the melting snow.
"All at once, a big boy came forward, and stooping down, bade the lad put his arms round his neck, and, lifting him up on his back, took his perished feet one in each hand and jogged along with his burden.
"I was moved," said the speaker, "at the sight; and going up to the boy, commended him for his kindness. In his Lancashire brogue the lad replied, 'Aye, aye, sir; two feet in the cold slush are not so bad as four.' After a while," said the speaker, "I offered to carry the little chap myself, but the honest fellow shook his head, and said, Nay, nay, Mister; I winna part with him. I can carry him: and he's a-warmin o' my back.' "
And so, if seeking the good of others may not bring as much worldly gain as a selfish course of action, it does ensure that joyful warmth of heart which all loving service brings, and which is among the most valuable of all the treasures of earth or Heaven. Everyman who acts on this principle is adding to the general sum of human happiness. What is the sum of celestial happiness, the happiness of God, the happiness of the Angels, the happiness of the Blood-washed spirits who are safely landed there? In what does this happiness chiefly consist?
I reply, Not in the golden streets, the unfading flowers, the marvellous music, nor all the other wonders of the Celestial Land put together, but in Love. Love is the essence of the bliss of Heaven, for "Love is Heaven, and Heaven is love." This happiness we can have below. It is not the love others bear to us that makes our felicity, but the love we bear to them; and, thank God, we can as truly love on earth as we can in Heaven.
5. And then, as I have been saying all along, acting on this principle constitutes true religion. As labour done from selfish, fleshly motives is of the earth, and as the results which follow it will perish with the earth, even so labour done to bless mankind and to please God is Divine, and the results flowing out of it must be everlasting honour and joy. Where this principle is carried into effect, every part of human conduct becomes religious -- nay, a positive act of Divine worship, and an acceptable song of praise.
The Duty of Masters to Servants
My DEAR COMRADES,
We have described something of the Duty a servant owes to his master, which is to labour to promote his interests, as far as he can do so consistently with a good conscience. We have shown also, that the servant is to do his Work, not only for the benefit of his master, but for the love of it, for the esteem of his fellow-man, and for the satisfaction of his Father in Heaven.
Now, I have no doubt that many masters and mistresses will agree with the wisdom and desirability of such conduct on the part of the servants. They will say, "That is just what we want our servants to do. That will be good for us, and it will be good for them. Let every servant do his Duty."
I come now to say, and that as plainly as I possibly can, that it is the Duty of the master to deal with his servants on the same principles, and from the same motives, that he expects his servants to deal with him -- that is, he must promote the welfare of his servants to the utmost of his ability.
The servants are placed under his charge, by God, for this very purpose, and he is under an obligation to make them, as far as he can, happy, holy, and useful. And that obligation is, to a certain extent, as binding upon him as if the servants were his own children. For if masters and mistresses are not the parents of their servants, they are at least their guardians, and will have to give an account to God of the way in which they discharge their stewardship.
The obligation of the master to seek the interests of the servant, is based upon the same authority as that which binds the servant to seek the interests of his master. He is to do unto others as he would that others should do unto him.
Let us suppose that we have here a master named Brown, who lives in the City of London. He has a son who is the servant of a men named Smith, a Salvationist, who resides in the country. Brown loves his son, and, as a father, naturally, desires his welfare. He is, therefore, anxious that Smith, while grinding a reasonable amount of Work out of his boy, should at the same time care for his happiness and welfare. He would like him also to have an eye on his companions, and the way he spends his money and his leisure, At the same time, he thinks it quite reasonable to expect that Smith, being a Salvationist, will also care for the welfare of his soul.
Now, if this is what Brown would desire and expect from Smith, has not Smith an equal right to claim from Brown an equivalent amount of consideration and attention? For instance, is it not quit reasonable that Mr. Smith should say, "Come now, Mr. Brown, I want you, to do for my son, who is in your employ, just precisely the same as I have done for your son, for one good turn, you are aware, deserves another.'' That is, therefore, an equivalent or an expectation -- I contend it is one which all fathers and mothers have a right to hold, respecting the treatment their sons and daughters should receive from their employers. It is an expectation which the servants themselves have a right to entertain: it is a Duty enjoined by the Master Himself.
Here I want to remark that there is nothing menial or degrading in the position of a servant. Neither is there anything in the relation in which a servant stands to a master that signifies the sacrifice, in any degree, of his natural rights. Men need to think and publish abroad, that a slave had no legal claim for anything beyond what his master thought proper to give him, and that seldom extended beyond the supply of the barest necessaries of life. To be allowed even to live and toil for the benefit of his master, was by many looked upon as a favour. To treat a slave as a servant, or having a just claim for wages or any worldly comforts, was, with few exceptions, unknown. It is true that slaves were, in some instances, allowed to hire themselves out as servants to other employers, but in such cases, the masters were always careful to appropriate their earnings.
A very similar, although perhaps not quite so selfish and degrading a view of the menial character of Work and of the serfdom of the Worker, appears to occupy the minds of many employers to-day. To get what you can out of your employees, whether men, women, or children, and give them as little as possible in return -- nothing, if you can manage it -- is not only the mastering idea, but, I am sorry to know, also the mean practice, of many in this generation.
This, I need not say, is as different from the teaching of the Bible -- and as opposed to the spirit of our blessed Salvationism -- as darkness is from light. My Comrades, you must beware of anything approaching it. "Am I not a man?" in earlier times, the slave might have said to his owner. "Give me my rights!" "Am I not a brother?" the servant can say to his master in our day. "Treat me as such!" And if that master is a Salvationist, I shall expect him to do so, and God will hold him responsible for fulfilling my expectation.
The least a master can do for his servants is to see that, as far as possible, they are supplied with those things which are absolutely necessary for a comfortable existence.
In pleading for this I do not, in reality, ask for much more than the humane master was accustomed to give his slaves, or, indeed, for much more than the intelligent farmer gives to his cattle. In the matter of his horses, or his cows, he says, "If I want these cattle to do well for me, I must do well for them. I must give them warm and dry houses to live in. They must have nourishing food, be looked after when they are sick, and not overworked when they are well." That is the way to treat cattle, if you want them to be profitable to you and do well by you.
Now, I suppose that these were the feelings with which the average planter, in the Southern States, regarded his slaves forty years ago; and he would have considered that no man knew how to manage his human chattels profitably then, who did not do for them, at least, all that the farmer feels he ought to do for his cows and hogs to-day. Surely, surely, those employers of labour who would resent the idea of treating their servants with less consideration than the slave-owner did his slaves, will see that they, at least, do as much for them as he did for his human property in the old times!
Perhaps, some employers may say, "We do not take the responsibility of providing sufficient food, lodging, clothes, and other necessaries, for our servants. They are not slaves -- they are free. We pay wages, and leave them to provide these things for themselves." But that explanation does not remove the responsibility from the master, for it may be asked, "Are the wages you pay sufficient to enable your employees to obtain these necessaries for themselves?"
If Brown stands, in the eyes of God, in the relation of guardian to Smith Junior, does the fact of his paying him wages, wherewith to provide himself with board and lodging in some other house which he hires for the purpose, instead of finding these things for him in his own, relieve Brown from the responsibility of supplying young Smith with sufficient money to obtain the necessaries that he requires? I do not think it does. It seems to me, that to do his duty by young Smith, Brown must, in return for his labour, supply him with substantial food, suitable clothes, and in a decent room to sit and sleep in, or he must give him sufficient money wherewith to purchase these things himself; and there should be a little over for helping his father if he needs it, or to make provision for a home when he gets married.
That is a very low estimate, indeed. If Brown does not do this, then so far as life and health and food are concerned, Smith Junior would have been better off if he had been born forty years ago on a cotton plantation in one of the Slave States in America; and if Brown has the ability to do this and refuses, he cannot claim to be treating his servant in accordance with the law of Christ.
I simply ask that a master, while seeking his own welfare and comfort, shall at the same time, take the welfare and comfort of his servants into consideration, and plan and scheme for their advantage as well as his own.
In conversing with a gentleman some time ago, I remember his saying to me, "When I came to this estate, I found a large portion of it under the cultivation of the plough, but I laid it all down for grazing, with the exception of a few acres. As such, it has given me, infinitely less trouble than it would have done under the old system, and while not requiring more than a third of the number of men to work it, it pays me just as well, if not better, than before." That is to say, with much less anxiety on the landlord's part, the estate yielded him as much profit. But what had become of the men, who for years had earned a livelihood on the land, as their fathers had done before them, he did not say. They had to move off, I suppose, to the city, drifting down probably to the slums, or even lower still. Now this gentleman was a downright, kind-hearted man, and a Christian of loud profession; but he did not see, as he should have done, I think, that when planning for the easier management of his farm, he ought, at the same time, to have considered the welfare of his workmen.
In pleading the servant's cause, and trying to show the Duty of the master or mistress, I do not think I have asked for anything impossible or unreasonable. Neither have I had money, or the supply of things that money will buy, exclusively in my mind. In addition to the supply of the bare necessities of existence, I have been thinking of the care and the sympathy, the counsel, and the thousand other things indispensable to the servant's well-being, for which the master ought to feel some reasonable concern. Everyone knows that James the coachman, Mary the housemaid, or Jones the shoemaker, cannot live by bread alone; and I have said, and say again, that every employer is responsible before God for supplying his servants, to the extent of his ability, with these things.
1. Not to consider and provide for the well-being of those in your employment, so far as you have ability, up to the level of this standard, is to place the servant on as low, or even a lower, level than the southern planter placed his slaves, or the farmer places his cattle. Those who act thus make it evident that they selfishly seek their own interests without any regard to the interests of those in their employ.
2. Those who treat their servants in this way ought to abandon all pretence of regarding men and women as being brothers and sisters. Their conduct plainly shows that, in their hearts, they consider that the accidents of power and money have given them the right to use their fellows simply for the promotion of their own selfish interests, without any proper concern for their well-being.
3. Those who act in this way, fly in the face of the Divine principle of doing unto others as you would that they should do unto you. If Smith will not treat Brown's son as Brown would like Smith to treat his son, were he in his employ, then there is an end, for ever, of that doctrine, in its bearing on the Duty which the master owes to the servant.
4. Everyone who acts thus contradicts the principle of fairness and reciprocity. If a mother would like a nurse to care for her children, which most mothers would, then the mother must care for the nurse.
If a husband would like a maid to care for his wife, wait upon her in health, and watch her in sickness, then he must show, in some suitable manner, his consideration for the maid.
If the master would like his employees to give their whole souls to the promotion of his business, making that their first concern, and working all hours, reasonable and unreasonable, for its prosperity, then he must minister to the welfare of those employee with the same practical anxiety.
5. Those who act in this way contradict the law of Love, under which every Christian master is laid, by his professed obedience to the law of Christ. Paul asserts, as clearly as possible, that no master has any rational claim to be living a life which is pleasing to his Saviour, if he does not care for the interests of his servants. Could he more plainly teach this than he does when he says: "Masters, give unto your servants that which is just and equal; knowing that ye also have a Master in Heaven"?
6. Further, those who act thus, must directly oppose their own interests, whether those interests lie in the house, on the ship, in the field, or elsewhere. Men and women, ordinarily, work from the motives of fear, or gain, or love. Of these forces, love will ever be found to be the most powerful. The great business, then, of a master who has his eye on securing the largest amount of work from his servants, is to create this feeling of affection towards him, and nothing will do this so effectively as fair, kind, and generous treatment. That will seldom fail.
But are there not difficulties in the way of the practical working of the doctrine here laid down? Of course there are. But no plan for the improvement of mankind can be proposed that is not open to some objection or other. Let us look at one or two of these objections.
1. Supposing the circumstances of a master will not allow him to give his servants such wages, or to bestow upon them such care, as they manifestly need what then? To this I reply, Let that master do as well for them as he can. Paul lays down the rule, "It is accepted according to that a man hath, and not according to that he hath not." The Apostle here plainly affirms that God does not hold us responsible for going beyond our ability in the discharge of any duty to which we are called. He will, therefore, be pleased with any master who does for his servant what lies within his power; and if the servant only knows that his master does so, he will be likely to be satisfied also. Anyway, let the master act after the fashion of the Captain whose ship is in difficulties. When provisions run short, a true-hearted Captain will share with the passengers and crew what food he has; and see to everyone's safety before his own, and if the ship goes down, he will be the last to leave her, or possibly even go down with her. God and man will approve and admire such conduct.
2. But is a master to pay his servants more wages than the value of their earnings? To this it may be replied, If a servant earns more at one time than he receives, which is not an uncommon occurrence, it is only fair that the master should pay him more at another time than he earns; that is, if he is able.
3. But, it may be asked, ought not servants to be treated as men and women well able to look after their own interests, and not as children? To that I reply, If they are intelligent men and women, able to judge and do well for themselves, all that I ask is that the master should give them the means to do so; that is, as far as he has the ability. But if they are children in intelligence, which is very often the case, then I demand for them the care which Ignorance and weakness require. We all know that many servants are sadly wanting in those qualities that have to do with the direction and management of their own affairs. Especially does this apply to domestic servants, whom we often see toiling, morning, noon, and night, without regard to proper food, or rest, or clothing, or recreation, or other things that have to do with the maintenance of their health and strength. What ought the mistress to do for such? Take advantage of their ignorance and good nature? No; she ought to help and care for them as she would if they were her own children.
The Master in Relation to the Servant
My DEAR COMRADES,
In view of what I have said, it may be asked whether I advocate that masters and mistresses should aim at placing their servants on a social level with themselves. No; I advocate nothing of the kind, and that for two reasons.
1. It would be impossible to accomplish it, even if attempted. The instincts of both servants and masters would he against such an arrangement. Perhaps, this instinct is nothing more than a prejudice. Well, if so, it is there, and its eradication would be impossible without filling up the social gulf that at present separates the two classes, and the distinction necessitates a difference in their treatment.
2. Servants themselves do not desire such equality. For instance, they would, as a rule, be like fish out of water if invited to take their meals in the dining-room with the family, or to pass their evenings in the drawing-room with the visitors.
I remember spending the best part of two days, some years ago, with a very amiable family in a certain Continental City. The gentleman was a professional man of high standing, though, I am sorry to say, a pronounced sceptic. The lady was as kind and gentle as any lady could be. They were both Socialists of the individualistic type, and, to a certain extent, accepted the doctrine of having all things in common. In order to act consistently with their creed, amongst other things, they set aside a nice little room, well warmed and lighted, where any poor persons who chose to do so might spend their evenings free of charge. When I looked in, however, which my curiosity prompted me to do every time I passed the door, I did not observe that anyone availed themselves of the privilege.
Then the servants were treated as equals with the family, so far as sitting down to meals and other familiarities were concerned. How far the gentleman acted up to his notions in his profession, I am not able to say. I have no doubt that he was very kind and generous to all with whom he had dealings, as it was his nature to be.
But I do not think the efforts made in the direction of lifting up the servants to a level with the heads of the household were either very successful or agreeable to those concerned.
I am sure that I, as a visitor, was much confused by the arrangement. I could not help feeling that I ought to treat the lady of the house with more deference and respect than I did the cook or the housemaid. Moreover, I got lost again arid again between the servants, the visitors, and the daughters.
Then, if these servants were of the ordinary type of domestics, which they appeared to be, I am sure they would have very much preferred taking their meals and spending their leisure time, in a free and easy manner, in their own dominions, without the restraints imposed upon them by the presence of those who, after all had been said and done, they could not help feeling were their superiors.
But if a master instructs his employees after this fashion, will they not he likely to take advantage of the increased skill they gain thereby, and leave him when they have the opportunity of securing a situation with higher wages, or more agreeable conditions, without his reaping any profit from all the trouble he has bestowed upon them? Yes, doubtless many will, and in this he must be content to suffer for their benefit. Well, if he promotes their interests by paying more wages, and affording greater facilities for improvement, he will have a firmer hold on their gratitude, and be likely to retain them in his employ. And whether or no, he will have the consciousness of having done his duty.
I say no more on this subject, however, where so much might be said, but pass on to have a word on a matter to which I have again and again, referred; namely, the responsibility of masters and mistresses for the religious well-being of their servants.
How few mistresses, even where a great profession of religion is made, feel any real concern for the spiritual needs of their servants! How few are at the trouble even to find out whether they are converted, or to put forth any proportionate effort to secure their Salvation! An odd, formal word, now and then, an enquiry whether they are Church members, a cold routine of family prayer; and, as a rule, the mistress thinks she has fully discharged her duty.
While, in the workshop, in the factory, on the wharf, or in the mill, the master only too seldom stops to enquire whether the people who weave and work out his fortune, are the friends or the enemies of God; or whether they are on the road to Heaven or Hell. Indeed, in too many instances they would be treated very much the same in this respect, if they had no souls at all.
And yet, what an influence for good, masters and mistresses might wield, if they chose, over the hearts and lives and destinies of their servants! In importance this influence stands next only to that of the father or mother -- nay, it is often felt to be vastly more potent for good or evil than the parental itself, for with the influence of the masters and mistresses, the servants feel that their earthly interests are intimately connected. Ought not, therefore, every possible effort to be put forth to use this influence on behalf of their eternal welfare?
Some of these things, you will say, do not apply to you. You are not ladies or gentlemen, or large employers of labour, and if you were you would not trample on the health, happiness, and the very life's blood of your servants in order to climb the ladder of fortune. Thank high Heaven for that. God forbid that you ever should.
But some Salvationists who will read these Letters will have servants, of one kind or another, at their command. Let me ask such, whether they are really considering their temporal and eternal interests with anything like a father's or a mother's heart? Are you, my Comrades, acting towards those whom God has placed under your care, in the spirit of your profession?
Especially do I want to know whether you are truly endeavouring to secure their Salvation?
You will march up the street and down the street, and stand in the market-place, seeking to deliver the soul of the stranger from the enemy, and so you ought. You will pray, and preach, and fish for the drunkard or the backslider who may come inside your Halls, that he may be rescued from sin and Hell; and so you ought. But what about the boy who works in your shop, or the girl who is busy nursing your children, or the woman who is preparing your food? Are they saved and sanctified? and if so, do you see to it that, though it be at some inconvenience to yourself, they have every reasonable opportunity for increasing their Holiness and exercising their gifts in the Salvation War. I hope so. If not, make haste and get yourself into line with your profession, and into harmony with the wishes of Jesus Christ, your Heavenly Master, and into agreement with the teachings of your General.
My DEAR COMRADES,
Some Salvationists who read this will, doubtless, be engaged in Trade, either as shop-keepers, masters, mechanics, farmers, or some other business which will devolve upon them the duty of buying or selling goods of various descriptions. I feel, therefore, that I cannot pass by a subject so intimately connected with their lives, The counsels I propose to give you shall, as we sometimes say with respect to our speeches, be "short and to the point."
My first advice to those whom it may concern, is:
1. Have nothing to do with any form of Trade on which you cannot ask the blessing of your Heavenly Father. That will shut you out from all business involving injustice, or falsehood, or which cannot be followed without trespassing upon the welfare of your fellow-men. God is just, true, and benevolent. You cannot, therefore, expect Him to give His approval on any Trade or profession that is unjust in its character, which violates truth in its maintenance, or which can only succeed by inflicting injury upon others. You might as well expect Him to bless and prosper the work of the Devil as anything of the kind.
When, therefore, you are considering a Business for yourself, or for your children, ask the question, "Can I buy or sell in this shop, or engage in this profession, or go about these fields, or manage this factory, as truly in the spirit of love and faith, as I can take my place in the Open-air, or stand up and give my testimony in the Salvation meeting? If not, I will have nothing to do with it,"
I know that such a resolution, or the acting upon it, will, as I have already said, close the door to many Trades and professions; some because they are wrong in themselves, and others because they are conducted on principles opposed to truth and righteousness.
In the course of a conversation on this subject, a gentleman said to me a little time back:
"I have had considerable experience of business in various parts of Europe, and exceptional opportunities for judging the character of the method's that prevail with those engaged in its direction, and I have come to the conclusion that there is no Trade or profession that is not, more or less, dependent for its prosperity on fraud and falsehood." That was a sweeping charge, but he was a well-informed and thoughtful person, and, I should think, a trustworthy authority.
Still, I think his opinion must have been an exaggeration. There are, no doubt, many businessmen who, while not claiming to be governed by religious principles, would scorn anything like willful injustice or falsehood. But then, there are other tradesmen who, though they do not acquire fortunes, like the makers and sellers of intoxicants, by destroying the bodies and souls of the people, yet live and thrive by ministering to their weaknesses and vices. Surely, no Salvationist would like to earn a livelihood in such a fashion? Resolve, therefore, I say, that your business shall be a part of your Salvationism, and that you will embark in no Trade, whatever gain it may promise, that will prevent you being as religions on Monday as on Sunday, and as prayerful and believing in your trading transactions as you are in your Salvation Halls.
2. Be upright in all your transactions. Be straight.
Be truthful; that is, be as good as your word. If people can rely upon your representations about the things you sell, they will be pleased to be your customers. If they find that you are upright, and do not cheat and deceive them in the work you do, they will be glad to employ you. If they find that you are honourable, and do not take advantage of their ignorance, they will be pleased to deal with you, and will recommend their neighbours and friends to do the same. Honesty, in both word and deed, has usually been found to be the best policy in the long run; and if it does not pay as well in this world, God will see that it pays far better in the next.
What I have said in a previous Letter about doing good Work, I recommend to the consideration of all who may be either engaged in business or contemplate entering upon it. The advice given there simply amounts to this: "Do the right thing in your business transactions, whether it is profitable or otherwise, and always do it. Do right if the heavens fall. If you do right, you shall prosper. If you refuse to do right, though all the inhabitants of earth and hell swear to the contrary, you will perish."
If people ask whether your dress-prints will keep their colour in washing, and you know they will not, tell them so. If they are buying eatables, or medicines, thinking they are pure, when you know they are not, tell them that the articles are adulterated. If you are selling a horse that has a blemish, point it out to your customer. You are not under any obligation to sell the animal, but you are under an obligation to do right and keep from sin, and John tells us that "All unrighteousness is sin." What does missing the sale of your horse matter, because you will not lie about it, compared with laying your head upon your pillow with that sin upon your conscience? What comfort would any bit of profit you made out of the transaction afford you, if, waking suddenly in the night, you found the bony fingers of death gathering up your heart strings, and starting with you on your journey to the Great White Throne?
3. Beware of Covetousness. By that I mean not only the desiring of other people's possessions for which you have no lawful claim, but the longing after wealth, or houses, or lands, or trade, or any other worldly thing, for its own sake. It cannot be wrong to desire what are known as the necessaries of life, either for ourselves, or for those depending on us. Neither can it be wrong to desire money or position, so that we may be the better able to help those whose miseries constitute their only claim upon our assistance. And we are equally sure that it is right and commendable to desire, with all our strength, the graces of God's Holy Spirit. For this we have the authority of the Apostle, who tells us to "covet earnestly the best gifts."
But to have food and raiment, and yet be everlastingly yearning after more of the world's treasures, great or, small, is evil, and only evil, and evil continually. The children exhibit this vice before they have learned to distinguish good from ill. Give the babe in its mother's arms one of the two apples that lie upon the table, which is as much as its little hand will carry, and it will want the other. It cares little that its sister desires and has a right to it. All it knows is, that the apple looks enticing, and therefore it wants it. That is Covetousness in the child, although the desire may not be sinful in itself, seeing the child has not, as yet, acquired the knowledge of good and evil; but when we come to its grown-up brothers and sisters, we find the same passion, in a much more hateful and injurious degree. Their knowledge of right and wrong, in fact, has now made it actually sinful. Although possessed of the one apple, they desire the other also, although they know, which the child does not, that their brothers and sisters, will suffer; nay, perhaps die, for the want of it.
Beware of Covetousness! God forbids it. He hates it. "Thou shalt not covet" is one of His ten commandments.
Beware of Covetousness! It is the fruitful source of heart-burnings, strife, starvations, seductions, adulteries, suicides, murders, and almost every other form of human wickedness. Among the causes of these miseries there stands out prominently the ruinous competitions, and abominable slaveries and sweatings, so common in our day. "More business and more business still," is the cry, even if to get it we must rob our brother Tradesman of his customers, and pay less wages in order to produce our goods at lower prices, and so be able to undersell him. Then the brother Tradesman, not willing to be beaten, and determined to keep his business, and even acquire more, reduces prices again. So the game of beggar-my-neighbour goes on; and especially the game of beggar the poor wretches who have to stitch, stitch, stitch, grind, grind, grind, from morning to night, hungry and starving in their beggarly homes. For this miserable business, Covetousness is largely responsible. Oh, my Comrades, keep clear of this evil. Having food and raiment, can you not learn therewith to be content?
Beware of Covetousness! It makes a hell in the human breast. Our Lord said: "Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled;" that is, satisfied. It might, with equal truth, be written, "Cursed are they which do with covetous eyes hunger and thirst after the gains, the praises, or the treasures, of this life; for the more of these things they acquire, the further shall they be from satisfaction."
Covetousness will harden the hearts of those who indulge in it, destroying all that is kind, generous, and Godlike in their natures, reducing them to mere machines, good for nothing but to cry, like the horse-leech, "Give! Give! Give!" feeling all the time worse rather than better, for what they get.
4. Deal in good and useful articles. Do not sell rubbish if you can help it. Carry out the principle you act upon in your Salvation business. If a man comes to your Barracks to buy the truth about God and Sin and Heaven and Hell and Calvary, you pride yourselves on supplying him with the unadulterated article. Do your business, my Comrades, whatever it may be, on the same principle.
The early Friends -- Quakers they were called -- made a great name and piles of money into the bargain, by selling only superior articles. At one time -- and that not so very long ago, either -- if you wanted clothes, or silks, or linens, or other things of first-class quality, you were sure of finding them at establishments kept by members of the Society of Friends. It is true you had to pay for the article, but you got the quality for your money -- and there are those who still maintain that good things are always the cheapest, even if a high price has to be paid for them. Anyway, the Quakers found the plan pay handsomely.
Acting on this advice will, 1 have no doubt, often be found a little difficult. To such extraordinary lengths has the practice of adulteration been carried, that not only are buyers very much in the dark as to what they buy, but sellers also as to what they sell. Anyway, so far as you can, be frank with your customers. If the articles are not likely to last for ever and a day, you can, at least, be sure that their value is in proportion to the prices charged for them -- that is, that the purchasers have their money's worth.
5. Look after your own business. If you want a thing done well, do it yourself. I think that is a proverb; if it is not, it ought to be. In my affairs, I am sure I have ever found it to be a safe rule of action. No matter what Trade a man may embark in, he should himself understand it, as far as possible, in all its various details. If not, he will be left to the judgment of other people, and they may not always guide him aright. Therefore, if you do not buy your own goods, serve your own customers, keep your own books, manage your own stocktaking, and do the whole round of your business yourself, see that you understand how it ought to be done, otherwise you will certainly be unable efficiently to direct those you employ to do it on your behalf.
Next to doing your work yourself, with that interest which you alone are likely to feel in it, is the importance of seeing that it is done by other people, and done properly. Some men are a law unto themselves. They require no overseer to be ever on their track to keep them to their duty. Rather are they like the willing horse, which, instead of needing whip or spur, has to be held back from going beyond its strength. And not only does this apply to the quantity of labour done, but to the doing of it in the most efficient and profitable manner.
But this class of servants is not too numerous. On the contrary, there are, I am sorry to say, any number of people who seem instinctively to waste their time, shirk their work, or to slur it over, with little or no interest, or who are, at least, careless whether it is done well or not. These, for their own sakes, no less than yours, require constant oversight. If you will look after them, point out their shortcomings, and encourage them to the doing of better things, you may not only save them from sinking down to pauperism and vice, but make them into good servants, or perhaps something higher still in the social scale.
On the other hand, if you do not carefully look after your own affairs, and see that your work is done promptly and well, you can be pretty sure that, sooner or later, your business will be likely to collapse.
My advice on this aspect of our subject, then, amounts to this: Select your business carefully; start with no impossible burden of debt, or rent, or interest on borrowed money, or heavy salaries, or anything of the kind. Plan your work with care. Do as much of it as possible yourself. Choose the best helpers you can lay your hands upon, and then, with undying patience, see that your plans are carried out.
6. Be careful to carry the correct knowledge of your financial position in your own mind. If you understand the proper method of keeping accounts, that will be good, very good -- in which, case you must have them under your own eye, if you do not actually attend to them yourself. If you do not understand book-keeping, get some reliable person to do the work for you, and in any event, you must know where you are financially. Do not live in a Fool's Paradise, thinking you are making a living -- or, perhaps, a fortune -- when all the time you are going to the bad; living on your capital, and moving down the hill which leads to the Bankruptcy Court! Get to know the facts, keep in touch with them, and face what is unfavourable before it is too late.
7. Do not be over-sanguine. In the present age, with its high rents, its Universal Supply Stores -- with all the advertisements and attractions, and competitions of the great combinations -- it is no easy matter for the individual Tradesman to make his business pay; and when you come to the Professions, very similar difficulties will be experienced. Therefore, if you want to prosper, go carefully, feel your way, and act with prudence. Do not make haste to be rich.
8, Keep your expenses down, It. is much easier to spend money than to make it. I have said already, that work done by yourself is the cheapest form of labour. Take an example from agriculture. A man, and his wife and family, who work their own place with their own hands, will get a living out of ten acres, when another man who has to pay for his labour, will find a difficulty in making ends meet with five hundred. There is a lesson in this for all sorts of Tradesmen.
9. Make up your mind to have no debt; at least, no debt that will either harass you or imperil your business. If possible do a cash business -- that is, pay cash for your goods, and only sell for ready money. I have a high notion of that sort of trading. Try it. You will find it answer.
10. Beware of purchasing goods you do not want, either because they are cheap, or to please those whose business it is to sell them. If you have not a ready market for articles that are offered you, do not take them, however far beneath their supposed value you may be able to secure them. If you have goods that are not saleable, get rid of them. Dead stock -- that is, stock that you cannot sell -- deteriorates rapidly in value. Tastes and fashions are ever changing; and even were that not so, the goods spoil as they lie upon your shelves. This applies to almost every kind of commodity in the market.
11. If you keep assistants, deal wisely and kindly with them. Do so even with the boy that sweeps the shop or takes down the shutters.
(a) Endeavour to attach your work people to you. If they care for you and your concern, your interest will be theirs, and they will work for you more earnestly and efficiently than they otherwise would, and that with greater self-denial and for longer hours. Nothing can very well exceed the folly exhibited by many masters in the domineering, slave-driving, niggardly manner with which they treat their servants. These employees either have hearts, or they have not. If they are destitute of that organ -- well, then, it will be quite consistent for their masters to treat them as machines; but if they have hearts, why not deal with them accordingly? They must do their work, and you must see that they do it, as we have already shown; but every direction given and inspection made should be done in a spirit that will be likely to increase the interest they feel in you, instead of the contrary.
The old-fashioned class of servant, who spent his energies and years, and even laid down his life for his master, or his master's family, seems to be fast dying out; but, greatly to your own interest and their benefit, you can create more members of the same fraternity.
(b) Attach them by helping them to improve themselves. Give them every opportunity within your power for learning the business, whatever it may be.
(c) Encourage them. Beware of finding fault until they lose heart and give up in despair.
(d) Devolve responsibility upon them as rapidly as they are able to bear it. There is nothing that develops ability, improves character, arouses ambition, and generally sets a man on to do the best he can for himself and those to whom he is accountable, like responsibility for the discharge of some particular duty, the doing of which creditably will bring him praise, while the opposite will bring him blame.
(e) Make your helpers sharers in your prosperity; that is, let them benefit by your business, in proportion to its profitableness. This will, naturally, make them more desirous than they otherwise would be, for profits to divide, and lead them out to more strenuous and self-denying effort for their increase.
12. Give to God the right and due proportion of your income. In all the arrangements you make about your business, in all your plans for disposing of the profits you may obtain, be careful not to leave God out of your calculations. Do not attempt the experiment of dispensing with Him, unless you desire either the prosperity or the adversity that may attend your effort to prove your ruin, If a man lose his soul as the result of his trading, it does not matter very much whether the ruin be brought about by either one or the other. Therefore I say, "Do not leave God out!"
You must not only ask for His blessing, and conduct your affairs in harmony with the principles He has laid down, but give Him His share of the gains. Pay Him His due, and pay Him not merely in empty thanks and praises and adorations, nor even by asking Him to save your soul from wickedness here, and from Hell hereafter -- all that is very good and beautiful and necessary for you -- but something more than that is required if you are, in only a very-limited degree, to discharge the obligation under which you are laid to Him for the services you expect Him to render you. No, you must, among other methods, pay your debts in that form which is the most acceptable and appropriate to the occasion -- that is, by giving Him a fair share of your profits.
If the principle is right; that each party should share the profits of a business, according to the amount of capital or labour they put into it, what about God? Why not deal with Him on that principle? How would you get on without Him?
I will suppose that you are a farmer, and that you plough and sow and harrow, and do all that agricultural skill can devise. Can you expect to reap unless God does His share? Unless He makes His sun to shine, and His rain to fall, and His dew to distil, and by His magical chemistry brings the needed nourishment out of land and air; all your efforts will utterly fail.
Suppose that you are a Tradesman, with a shop, or a factory, or something else of the same class, and that, early and late, you study and toil with all the ingenuity you can acquire. Where will you be in your profits unless He give health, and vigour, and brain power, and all the other sorts of power that you need?
I will tell you where you will be. Instead of making profits to put into the bank, you will more likely be in the Bankruptcy Court. But if God does these things for you, you will not only gain a livelihood, but there will be something on the right side of the balance-sheet. Therefore, on the bare ground of what is right and fair, make up your mind before you start your concern, or, if you have started it without such a resolution, decide now that God has a right to a share in your gains, and that He shall have His due.
But what shall that proportion be? That is a very interesting question; Oh, if we could only get it intelligently and satisfactorily settled by all Salvationists, and then carried out in actual practice, what a gain it would be to The Army, and what a blessing to the world!
Can we do anything towards effecting such it settlement? In the enquiry, we may learn something from God's instructions, given directly to the Jews upon this subject. Here was a young people, standing in a very similar relation to Him and to the world to that in which The Salvation Army stands to-day. God wanted to mould that people, according to His own notions, in the same way as, I believe, He wants to fashion us. His desire was, to make them a people after His own heart. It is, therefore, fair to assume that the laws He laid down for their guidance, on the duty of giving, in the early days of their history, express His wishes with respect to us in our days. We read in Leviticus that He commanded them to give Him a tenth of their income and possessions. Hear what He says to Moses: "And concerning the tithe of the herd, or of the flock, even of whatsoever passeth under the rod, the tenth shall be holy unto the Lord;" that is, they were to set aside, for the public service of God, at least a tenth, not only of their income, but of their possessions.
I know that this method of giving is sometimes styled cold and legal. It is said to belong to the Old Dispensation, and to have been very well for the Jews, but that it is not applicable to the followers of Jesus Christ. It is thought to be only adapted to the servants, and not to the sons and the daughters of God. The servant, it is said, may be content with giving a tenth, but the sons and daughters will be satisfied with giving nothing less than all. This view is a forcible one, and in support of it various passages of Scripture are quoted, such as "Present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service." "Ye are not your own. For ye are bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's."
These passages teach what every true lover of God feels to be gloriously true, that His Lord and Saviour is infinitely worthy of all that he possesses, and ought to have all. A just survey of His goodness to us in creation, in preservation, in government, and in redemption, must compel the conviction contained in the song we so often sing:"Were the whole realm of nature mine,
That were a present far too small;
Love so amazing, so divine,
Shall have my soul, my life, my all."
This is all true -- beautifully, eternally true -- but the plan of giving Him a settled, definite portion does not interfere with the duty of giving more. Indeed, it does not in any way hinder us from giving Him all.
Still, it may be answered, that it furnishes a stopping-place for benevolence. May not a man rest satisfied with contributing a tenth, and not feel the responsibility of going further? Yes, the plan may be abused in this respect, but it may also act just in the opposite direction, and may also educate him in a more generous application of the principle which every son and servant of God must accept, that all he has belongs to God, and ought to be used for His glory.
But are not those who favour the notion of giving fixed sum, also in danger of being led astray?
To begin with, is there not a danger of it resulting, too often, in nothing more than mere sentimentalism?
I once knew a gentleman -- and he is only an example of a large number of the same class of people who have come under my observation -- who was ever harping on the single string that "all he had was given to God," and yet he died leaving his family a fortune of nearly half-a-million of money.
Will not all sorts of difficulties be experienced by a plain, simple man who wants to reduce it to practice? For instance, take a man who has a wife and five children, with an income of thirty shillings a week. If he, literally, acts upon this principle, he will put the whole thirty shillings into the collection, and have nothing left for the feeding, clothing, housing, and all the other needs of his family, although caring for these must be his first duty. This method he will soon feel to be a mistaken one, and that of a most serious character, and therefore will abandon it. Well, then, let it be assumed that he retains what he feels, in his judgment, to be necessary for their support. In the latter case the giving of his all to God will come to a sudden conclusion.
No; I say, fix your standard of giving at what you conscientiously feel to be a reasonable proportion of your income. Begin, we will say, where God instructed Moses and His followers to begin -- and they were poor enough in all conscience! Lay aside a tenth of what you ascertain your income to be, and give that to God. That rule will not prevent your going ahead of that amount. The Jew went far beyond it, for, in addition to the tenth he contributed, he had collections and donations without number.
You might work out this rule on a graduated scale, beginning at the bottom with the tenth, and going on increasing the proportion as God increases your income. From a tenth you can rise to an eighth, and then to a fifth, and a fourth, and even further. Make His glory your joy, your conscience, your guide, and the Salvation of men, for time and eternity, the supreme object for which you live and trade and do everything else, and you will not go astray on this subject.
My DEAR COMRADES,
Man has been described by some one as "a Clothes-wearing animal." It could not be intended, by that expression, that he is the only animal that wears clothes, for there are few creatures that walk the earth around him, or dwell in the sea beneath him, that are not as usefully and as becomingly clad as he is -- most of them much more so. Still, he is the only creature on this planet who has any choice in the character of his outer covering, or in the manner of putting it on and taking it off, which things I suppose, taken together, do constitute a Clothes-wearer in the sense that animals generally are not.
Clothes may, from their all but universal use, be considered as an absolute necessity to our race. There are few people, even of those nations counted most barbarous, that do not affect some kind of apparel, however simple and crude it may be. The purposes served by the Clothes-wearing habit are of a very varied character. To begin with:
1. Clothes may be regarded as a mark of civilisation. The fact that any tribe, of any race, found in any part of the globe, not wearing Clothes, is considered to be a proof of their savage state, pure and simple. One of the first things by which converts to civilisation express the change that has transpired, whether in the forests of Africa, the jungles of India, or elsewhere, is to get into some form or other of dress. Indeed, many of these Aborigines measure the height to which they have risen in the scale of civilisation, by the quantity and costliness, to say nothing of the ridiculous fashions, of the Clothes they are able to carry about with them. Something of the same kind often follows the Salvation of the lowest and most vicious outcasts. One of the immediate results of their coming to Christ is their appearance in decent clothing; and it is wonderful too, how the most degraded can and do fix themselves up within a few hours. Literally, they are soon found, like the man in the Gospel, "Sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed, and in their right mind."
2. Clothes safeguard and promote proper feelings of decency. They are essential to modesty and chastity, in the present condition of human life. Of course, Clothes can be so shaped, and so worn, and, alas! they often are, as to have the very opposite effect. The tendency of a good deal of dressing, in these days, is, beyond question, strongly in that direction. A great many of the fashions that prevail in what is known as "society," are, I think, more suggestive of indecent thoughts and feelings than is the semi-nudity of the native races that range the trackless forests of Darkest Africa, or of the lower castes who dwell in the cities and villages of India.
Whether or not Clothes were worn before the Fall, is a controverted question, upon which I will not enter; but if they were not instituted before that event, they became a necessity for the maintenance of right and pure feelings immediately afterwards.
3. Clothes serve as a protection from the consequences of those changes in the weather, which are so unfavourable to health and vigour. The animals, as a rule, are made for one climate only: hence, one kind of dress, with the little variation required by the succession of the seasons, serves their purpose. But, having to pass from country to country, man needs many changes of covering. If he is to live, in any reasonable comfort, under the burning suns of the tropics at one time; on the fringes of the North Pole at another; and midway between them both at another, he must be able to change and adapt his outer garments to each.
4. Clothes are useful for signifying social distinctions. There are differences in the positions, duties, and powers of mankind. Some object to these differences, and contend that all men ought to be on one level. But at present it is not so. Indeed, it is just the reverse, and society being constituted with these distinctions, it seems to be very desirable that we should, with the least possible trouble, be able to discover what the position and condition of those around us may be. Clothes are useful for this purpose. They serve:
(a), To mark out the caste or position of individuals.
You can form some opinion as to the position, occupation, and general circumstances of those you meet, but do not know, by the Clothes they wear. This is useful, and, while it is often abused, tends to maintain the proper order and distinctions which are necessary for the conduct of business and the relations between the sexes.
(b) Clothes serve to distinguish the servant from his master, the maid from her mistress, one trade from another, and mark out those placed in lawful authority over us. You do not want anyone to instruct you whether a man is a policeman, a soldier, a sailor, or a Salvation Army Officer; and when you go into a Court of Justice, neither friend nor usher is needed to tell you which is the Counsel, or which is the Judge. Their Clothes impart the information. Just so, Clothes mark out the rank of Officers in the Armies and Navies of the world, Officials engaged in State functions, and other persons of distinguished Condition.
Salvationists are Clothes-wearers.. We are great at Clothes -- indeed, we have a style of dress that we call Uniform, which, in style and appearance, is all our own. We reckon that this dress saves us from certain serious evils, and serves several very useful purposes.
1. Uniform is a public witness to our Lord, an avowal of our devotion to His cause, and of our willingness that all the world should know the fact.
2. It is an open declaration of the renunciation of evil, and of our determination to be out and out for God, and to live and die for the Salvation of men.
3. Uniform makes opportunities for usefulness.
By it men can recognise the Salvationist as the servant and messenger of God, and are often led to converse with him. If the Uniform does occasionally lead those who hate religion to indulge in ridicule, it will, at the same time, afford the wearer an opportunity of proclaiming to them the mercy of God through Jesus Christ.
But necessary and useful as the Clothes-wearing habit may be, like other things that are good in themselves, it can be so far abused as to be the means of doing much harm. This is just what has happened; and the material, shape, and general character of Clothes have become sources of temptation to a large part of the human race. Indeed, they can be counted on as among the most fruitful causes of evil with which poor human nature has to battle.
For instance, Clothes may easily become the means of fostering and feeding the pride and vanity of the human heart. Introduced in consequence of the sin of our first parents, and on that account to be regarded as being really marks of disgrace, it is curious to contemplate the extent to which they have come to be gloried in by their posterity.
It is not probable that Clothes were originally intended to disfigure or be out of harmony with the human form. On the contrary, it is perfectly natural to suppose the opposite. But that in the present day they should have come to foster the vanity, occupy the time, and involve the foolish expenditure of energy and money that we see around us, is one of the most convincing evidences the human race affords of the fact, that man is, indeed, a fallen creature. What scandalous waste and misery result, for instance, from the ambitions rage of one set of people to be as finely dressed, or, if possible, more finely dressed, than another! What a mockery and a farce, in the eyes of the Angels, the religion of many professing Christians must appear, when they are seen in their places of worship bedizened with every conceivable form of worldly fashion, ostensibly worshipping the God who has pronounced some of His most biting denunciations upon their adornments!
"In that day the Lord will take away the bravery of their tinkling ornaments about their feet, and their cauls, and their round tires like the moon,
"The chains, and the bracelets, and the mufflers,
"The bonnets, and the ornaments of the legs, and the headbands, and the tablets, and the earrings,
" The rings, and nose jewels,
"The changeable suits of apparel, and the mantles, and the wimples, and the crisping pins,
" The glasses, and the fine linen, and the hoods, and the veils.
"And it shall come to pass, that instead of sweet smell there shall be stink; and instead of a girdle a rent; and instead of well-set hair baldness; and instead of a stomacher a girding of sackcloth, and burning instead of beauty."
The Army Uniform saves those who adopt it from all this, while, at the same time, it enables them to make a good and modest appearance at an immeasurably less cost than the fashionable world around them.
As I said at the beginning of this Letter, the Uniform is a preacher. It makes people think about God and Godliness. If it is right for the Salvationist to proclaim Salvation from sin and separation from the world, with his tongue, it cannot be wrong for him to declare it by his dress.
My DEAR COMRADES,
Eating and drinking have so much to do with the comfort, health, and usefulness of most people, whether in youth, manhood, or old age, that I cannot pass the subject by without offering some suggestions with respect to it, however imperfect they may be.
If it is, suggested that Religion cannot be brought down to the doings of the table without affecting its dignity, I shall reply in the words of the Apostle Paul, "Whether, therefore, ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory Of God." That is, every meal of which we partake should be a Sacrament, and every action we perform a part of your Religion.
To help my readers to bring their Salvationism to bear upon such ordinary and yet necessary Occupations as eating their breakfasts, dinners, teas, and the like, is my purpose in this Letter. I am, I must confess, not a little doubtful as to the success that may attend my effort, but l will do my duty, and leave you, my Comrades, to judge of its value and utility.
1. Eating and drinking are closely associated with the ability to think. Every intelligent man knows that Food, unsuitable in quantity or quality, or taken at unsuitable times, has a bad effect upon his brain. It clips the wings of imagination, dulls the perception, darkens memory, depresses the spirits, and clothes the future with gloom. Many a bad speech, and bad bargain too, has come of what is often called a good dinner.
2. A man's Food has much to do with the exercise of his gifts. It affects his ability to sing, to pray, to reason, to talk, or to lead. A hearty meal of the plainest fare, or a very small quantity of richer food, will often clothe my soul with torpor, make my brain feel like a log of wood, and render speaking or writing a positive torture. I have no doubt that it is so, more or less, with numbers of other speakers, some of these being either ignorant of the fact, or too fond of the knife-and-fork business to curb their appetites for the sake of the profitable discharge of their duty.
3. Eating and drinking have much to do with the shortening of many people's lives. Drunkenness is charged with the destruction of an enormous number of victims, but I very much question whether more people do not die from over-eating than from overdrinking. I have made that remark again and again in the presence of physicians of eminence, but not one of them has ever called its accuracy in question. On the contrary, the majority have openly assented to it.
4. Eating and drinking have great influence on our spiritual experiences -- oftentimes a closer connection with them than some of our Bible Readings, Prayer Meetings, our Holiness Studies, and the like. I say this without any wish to depreciate the value of those useful exercises. Many a good soul goes into the darkness of unbelief and low spirits simply through eating more food than is necessary. Self-indulgence in this respect is the enemy of both faith and prayer, and no doubt this is the reason that the Bible, and especially Jesus Christ, so often couple prayer and fasting together. Every man who really desires to walk and talk with God must be moderate and abstemious in his diet.
What, then, can I advise you on the question of your Food? First of all, I say:
1. Make a conscience of the matter. What a number of individuals I have known, during my lifetime, who, though they would not on any account sin against their neighbour by injuring his person, will regularly sin against their own bodies by eating and drinking what they know will injure them!
But it is asked, "What must we eat and drink?"
This question might be preceded by another, of equal or still greater importance, and that is, "What shall we avoid?" I answer:
2. Do not take any intoxicants. I need not say this to Salvationists, for I am sure they could not drink the liquor in any shape or form that brings so much sin and misery to the world, even if there were no prohibitory rule on the question. Nor need I give any reasons for offering the same advice to anybody else; and yet I will call your attention to two or three.
(a) You will not be any healthier or stronger for using intoxicating drinks.
(b) You may be a great deal worse for taking them, seeing that, even though you take them in moderation, they may lead you on to excessive drinking.
(e) If you take your intoxicants in moderation yourselves, your children, or those about you may, through your example, or through partaking of them at your table, contract that appetite for the drunkard's drink which will carry them to the drunkard's grave, and the drunkard's Hell. I remember hearing of a young man, who died a drunkard's death in great agony, who said that he acquired the taste for brandy by draining the glasses that came from his grandfather's table.
3. There must be no Tobacco in any form; whether smoked, snuffed, or chewed.
4. There must be no Opiates, whether in drops, drafts, pills, or pipe.
5. There must be no Sweetmeats; that is, as a habit for adults. The little children and the boys and girls may have a few chocolates, and the like, now and then, but men and women should put such childish things away.
6. There must be no Pickles or other fancy Condiments; or, at any rate, as few as possible.
7. There should be nothing that will disagree with you, however palatable, or strongly recommended, or however common its use may be by those around you, which you have reason to believe will not agree with you afterwards.
Let me look for a moment at what may be taken.
1. Coffee, Tea, Cocoa, or other hot drinks, may be used in strict moderation. Tea is, in my opinion, the safest of the catalogue, and will be found adapted to the largest number of constitutions. But that, I say, only in moderation. Many well-meaning people have ruined their health by foolish and excessive tea-drinking. They are tea-drunkards.
2. Animal food should not be taken, at most, more than once a day. There are multitudes of men and women who would be wiser, healthier, happier, and holier without meat altogether. I recommend everybody who has not made the experiment of total abstinence from flesh meat in every form to do so at once. Give it a month's trial.
The quantity of food has almost as much to do with health as the quality. Instead of everlastingly finding fault with the food, it would be a good plan if the people who suffer from indigestion, headaches, and the like would only see how they got along with one half, or even a fourth, of the quantity usually taken.
There are few subjects on which greater delusions prevail than the amount of Food that is necessary to maintain life in health and vigour. "You must eat more," is the common counsel to the invalid. "The brain must be fed; the nervous energy must be fed; the whole system must be fed. You cannot get on without a liberal supply of good, nourishing food." And so people eat and eat, and still eat more and more, till poor overtaxed nature breaks down, and health is lost forever.
The question turns then, on what is good, nourishing Food, and what constitutes a sufficient supply of it. There is an illustration I often give which, I think, settles the matter. Anyway, it does to my satisfaction. When a house is building, an adequate supply of the various kinds of materials of which it is being constructed must be furnished. Quantities of bricks and timber, and stones and slates, and lime and lead, and I know not what else, must be brought along day by day. They will all be wanted for the foundations, the walls, the floors, the roofs, and the other parts of the building. But when the house is finished, painted, papered, and completed in every respect, all that will be needed will be the material necessary to meet the wear and tear of it from time to time.
Even so with the earthly tabernacle in which for a season we are called to dwell. From infancy up to maturity -- while the house is building -- considerably larger supplies of Food are required than are needed later on, although the feeding of children can be overdone, and gormandising habits created, that will curse the man or the woman of the future. If the Food is simple and substantial the children should have as much of it as their healthy appetites crave. Bone and sinew, and muscle and nerve, and brain, and all the other wonderful substances, which together constitute the human edifice, have to be made.
But when the man has reached his full growth, all that is required in this "house, as in the other, will be sufficient material to meet the wear and tear, that is the waste, which is constantly taking place.
It is said, however, that, unlike the habitations built of wood and stone, this house of flesh ought to entirely renew itself every seven years. Be that as it may, I hardly see that the argument affords a good excuse for extravagant eating, seeing that half an ounce of suitable Food extra over the amount required to feed the working force of the day, will furnish sufficient material to entirely remake a man of twenty stone weight during the seven years the process is in progress.
In eating remember, then, that Nature requires only a certain quantity of support, and that having extracted that amount from the Food supplied her, she rejects the remainder. It follows, therefore, that only that particular quantity of nourishment which is turned to good account is of any real benefit to the system. All over and beyond this, only necessitates so much extra work and fatigue for the organs that have to get rid of the surplus. That extra labour produces indigestion which invariably leads to lassitude, and then to almost every other disease to which the human system is subject.
"But what about a good appetite? Is not that an indication of the quantity of Food nature needs?" "Yes; perhaps it is in a perfectly healthy individual, but in an unhealthy individual it is frequently the opposite. The amount of Food a man takes is usually a mere question of habit. Because he takes more than he requires one day he fancies he requires the same amount the next. The day after he not only takes the little that was beyond the need of the day before, but a little extra still. And so he goes on taking a little more than is required, and a little more, the appetite increasing all the time until it becomes a positive disease.
The endless variety in Food, the different ways in which it is served up, together with the numberless appetizing things taken with it, such as pickles, relishes, seasonings, sauces, and the like, all lead people to eat more than is good for them.
I recommend you to throw the modern fanciful methods of cooking overboard, spread your table with Food prepared after a simple fashion, and your appetite will soon prove itself a safe end agreeable guide. In other words, bring your palate to your Food instead of your Food to your palate; but even then appetite will want watching, and the advice of the Apostle be found essential to health and well-being, "Let your moderation be known unto all men."
If the question is asked as to the best time for meals, I should say you must eat at regular intervals, and those times not too near together. The system of taking four substantial meals per day -- breakfast, dinner, tea, and supper -- with bits and bites between, that so commonly prevails with the Britisher, must be woefully injurious. The three square meals of the American, consisting of breakfast taken at eight O'clock, dinner at one, tea at six, and nothing after, is preferable to that. The French plan, of a piece of bread and butter and a cup of coffee on rising (which is usually early) a luncheon at twelve, and a dinner at six, is, I think, the most preferable of the three. Indeed, it is an open question whether we should not all of us be better for giving the stomach a complete rest during the early hour of the day. "Woe," said the wise man, "to thee, O land, when thy king is a child, and thy princes eat in the morning!"
If a man discovers how much Food he really requires, and rigidly confines himself to that quantity, I do not, however, think the hour of the day when it is taken is of the first importance. Nature will deal with it satisfactorily.
To assist the process of digestion, Food should be taken slowly. One reason for the long and vigorous life of Mr. Gladstone is said to have been the care with which he masticated his Food. It is reported -- whether correctly or not, I do not know -- that he gave thirty-two chews to every separate piece of Food he put into his mouth!
But, however that may be, there can be no question that a great many people do eat too rapidly. The food disappears off their plates like magic. Nervous people, full of energy and plans and work, or when occupied with an interesting conversation, are very apt to fall into this snare. Carried away by their thoughts and feelings, they forget for the moment, all their good notions about mastication; and so by their very energy in taking it, they effectually defeat the object for which their Food is taken.
Anatomists tell us that, to be of the greatest benefit to the system, Food must be pulled to pieces, and completely ground up by the teeth. It must be thoroughly chewed, and that for the following reasons: --
1. It lessens the labour of the digestive organs which have to reduce the Food to a pulp, during the first stage of the process of making it into blood and bone and muscle. When the duty of mastication is neglected, or only discharged imperfectly, the amount of work imposed on the stomach is doubled or trebled, and, consequently, the task is not so well done.
2. In chewing the Food, a certain fluid, essential to the work of digestion, is poured forth from what are called the salivary glands. Thorough mastication not only secures a sufficient amount of this fluid, but properly mixes it with the Food, thus assisting the process of digestion still further. To eat slowly and carefully is, therefore, necessary. It is better to take liquids after eating the solid food. They should not be mixed together in the mouth. If the liquid unites with the dry Food there is much less chance of the important fluid to which I have just referred being added in sufficient quantity.
My DEAR COMRADES,
It is said that every machine -- nay, that everything made by human hands, or born of human ingenuity -- must, if it is to do its work well, have rest for certain periods and at regular intervals. At any rate, it is so with the human machine, and God, in His wisdom, has arranged that this rest should be found in our daily Sleep. Without it strength quickly decays, reason leaves her throne, life languishes and presently expires. Sleep is a necessity.
Every man should endeavour to secure that amount of "Nature's sweet restorer," that very Sleep, which his system requires. Some people find it difficult to Sleep when the appointed hour comes round. Let me give them a little advice on the subject.
1. As you would not desire to take the spirit of nightmare with you to bed, do not indulge in a heavy supper. I have already said that some kind of refreshment, at the close of the day's work, may, now and then, be a necessity with Salvationists; but they should, if possible, avoid anything like a serious meal for an hour or two before the time to retire.
2. Keep a clear conscience. No man should go to his rest under condemnation. If any living soul has sinned against him, he should forgive; and if he has sinned against any living soul, he should, if it be possible, secure the forgiveness of that soul before be sleeps. Most important of all, he should have a clear witness that all his sins against God have been blotted out. Paul's experience is good for all times, and especially for your sleeping pillow; listen to him, "Herein do I exercise myself, to have always a conscience void of offence toward God and toward men."
3. Commit yourself to the care of God, and obtain the distinct assurance that He has you in His holy keeping, before settling yourself to slumber. Sleep is one of His gifts. Touch the hem of His garment before you close your eyes.
4. Refuse to allow your thoughts to be occupied with any unpleasant experiences through which you may be passing at the time. Exercise your will, and, so far as you can do so, banish them from your mind before you fall asleep, and refuse them admission during any of the wakeful hours that may follow. Happy the man or the woman who can close their bedroom door against the perplexing and painful difficulties with which they may have been contending during working hours! "Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof." Anyway, try to shut it out of your chamber during the night.
5. If engaged in close and confining forms of employment, such as sitting in an office, or in a workroom, take, if possible, some exercise that will more or lese tire the whole body. A reasonable amount of exertion in the open air is a valuable health preserver to tens of thousands of our people. I verily believe those of our Soldiers who are faithful to their Open-air duties, live longer, in consequence, than those who neglect them. Weariness is always the most friendly aid to Sleep.
6. Choose some agreeable and profitable subject on which to meditate as you lay yourself down. The run of your latest waking thoughts and feelings will be likely to colour your dreams and visions, if you have any; and, beyond question, Sleep will come more readily, and be more healthy and restful, if you enter upon it in a pleasant and peaceful state of mind.
7. While securing sufficient Sleep, beware of taking more than is required. Here, again, we must be careful not to err. Everyone is, I suppose, familiar with, the old rule," Seven hours for a man, eight for a woman, and nine for a fool." It is a good rule. For certain highly-strung nervous natures, who lavishly pour out their feelings and energies in their work, it will, no doubt, be difficult to take too much Sleep; but even here, the old adage applies, "Enough is as good as a feast." Too long a period spent in bed is calculated to weaken rather than to strengthen the system. But while Early Rising imparts life and energy to some natures, it weakens, if it does not actually incapacitate, others. Every man must deal conscientiously with himself on this question; and while Salvationists must beware of getting too much Sleep, they must be equally careful to get sufficient. This applies especially to the more anxious among them.
My DEAR COMRADES,
In the Letter devoted to the consideration of Home, you will remember that I said something about the desirability of a clean house, clean furniture, and, as far as possible, of everything else within its walls being clean. But I only alluded very slightly to the most important item of all, the Cleanliness of the inmates! Perhaps this would be a convenient moment in our discussion of Religion for Every Day to make a remark or two on that subject.
Unhappily, some people do not attach very much importance to a clean body. They will paint their faces, cover themselves with showy garments and with falderals and jewellery, while all the time their bodies are unwashed and otherwise defiled from head to foot. Some Salvationists are not, I am sorry to say, altogether free from blame in this respect, Although they may not pay quite so much attention to the outside of the platter, they are sadly wanting in care for what is far more Important. This should not be. The Apostle Paul is very definite on the subject, not only commanding that the heart should be purified from evil, but distinctly requiring that the body should be "washed with pure water." (Heb. x.22.)
Now, a clean body includes and implies the frequent cleansing, from every kind of defilement, of the head and hands and feet and every part of the frame. This kind of purity has many advantages.
1. A clean body is promotive of health. Scientists -- that is, men of learning, who have studied the subject -- tell us that there are millions of little openings in the human body provided for the purpose of expelling the impurities of the blood, and drinking in the health-promoting properties of the light and air. It is of the highest importance to health, that these little pores, as they are called, should be kept as clean as possible, in order that they may efficiently serve their purpose. Now if all, or a portion, of these millions of little mouths are allowed to be closed by dirt, it can readily be seen that disease of one kind or another will probably be the consequence.
2. A clean body will be agreeable to the people with whom you associate. Dirty faces, fingers, teeth, or the like, will be very distasteful to those around you, especially, if they have any proper notions on the subject; and, as dirt has many ways of making its presence known, it will ordinarily produce sensations of unpleasantness, if not of disgust.
A clean body usually accompanies a pure mind. There will, no doubt, be any number of individuals who have the former without the latter; they will be Cleanliness itself, from top to toe, while at the same time they never knew a pure mind, nor do they care for the pearl of greatest price -- a Clean Heart. But although, as a quaint old preacher says, "God has some very dirty children," there will not be many of His people who have purity within, who will not instinctively seek to be clean without.
Cleanliness, in the sense in which I am using the term, is possible to all. I am aware that many who will read this Letter have to earn their daily bread by employments that necessarily begrime their clothes and soil their persons; among such are colliers, foundry men, stokers, some kinds of mill workers, and the like. But dirt which is thus accumulated, may be correctly styled "clean dirt"; and, with ordinary care, such workers can keep themselves as sweet and clean as their Comrades who labour under different conditions. Soap, nowadays, can he had in endless variety at a very low cost, and water is abundant, while the little labour involved in the cleansing is a healthy exercise.
Everybody should have a good wash over in clean water, from top to toe, at least once a week. There need be no difficulty about this with the great majority of our Soldiers. A tub, large enough to sit down in, can be had for a trifle; a kettle full of hot water -- rain water is preferable, but if not procurable, a very small piece of washing soda will go far to soften hard water -- a flat piece of soap and a good-sized towel are all that is required. It is not necessary uncover the whole body at once. The process should be commenced by washing the upper parts of the body. The cleansing of the lower parts can follow.
If anyone wants to know what can be done, in the way of Cleanliness, with a tub of warm water and the will to be clean, let them go into some of the coal districts, and learn what the colliers can do in this respect.
By the same method many of you can take a cold bath every morning. In winter it should not be quite cold.
A Lamp Bath, as described in the Appendix, is a very simple and useful bath, and may be taken once a week, at a trifling cost. It not only serves to open and cleanse the pores, thus promoting the Cleanliness I am advocating, but refreshes and invigorates the whole system.
A Turkish Bath now and then will be found useful to those who can afford it. This kind of bath has grown quite popular of late; and may be had in the evenings, in many of the principal towns, at a low price. But for the promotion of Cleanliness, a good Lamp Bath is almost as useful, is more economical, will occupy less time, and can be taken in your own room, and at the hour that may be found most convenient. The bath can be given as described in the Appendix.
My DEAR COMRADES,
In considering Religion for Every Day, I cannot pass by the subject of Conversation, seeing that it has, so much to do with the intelligence, comfort, and usefulness of Salvationists.
By Conversation, everyone will know that I mean that interchange of thought and feeling between individuals which is effected by means of Speech.
Conversation, in one form or another, is, we can readily imagine, a privilege common to all living creatures. We know that the great Father in Heaven holds some sort of high intercourse with the holy beings by whom He is surrounded; and we have reason to believe that He does this through the medium of some celestial, language. The Archangels and Angels, the Seraphim and, Cherubim, and other of the inhabitants of Heaven, we are expressly informed, bow before His face and cry, Holy, holy, holy, is, the Lord God Almighty." The Bible contains the record of many Conversations that have taken place between God and His people, on the earth, in the past. Indeed, the Sacred Book is full of messages from Jehovah to men, commencing with, "'Thus saith the Lord," and of prayers and thanksgivings addressed back to God. All such communication is of the nature of Conversation -- God speaking to man, and man speaking to God.
Then we can be quite sure that the Angels talk with each other. The sins and sorrows of our poor world, together with the unremitting and self-sacrificing efforts God is continually making for its Salvation, must be a theme of unceasing interest and a topic of untiring Conversation to all the inhabitants of the Celestial World.
And who can doubt that in Hell the Devils talk over their infernal schemes for the destruction of souls, and recount to each other the progress they make in giving them effect? Ah, my God! there is no lack of interesting matter both for reflection and Conversation there!
The various species of the brute creation also have, beyond question, some means of conveying the feelings they entertain towards each other, that answers to what we call Conversation. Many animals have the ability to think, if not reason. The habits of the ant, the bee, the dog, the horse, the eagle, and of many other creatures, furnish ample evidence of this. Animals are often capable of affection; they love their kindred and comrades, and sometimes show a remarkable devotion to man. Some animals seem even to possess an instinct which answers to conscience -- that is, the ability to discern the difference between a right and wrong course of action. If, then, animals have gifts of thought, of affection, and conscience, is it, unreasonable to assume that they also possess some means of communicating their ideas and feelings to each other, however inferior the method of doing so may be to that with which man is endowed?
The ability for Conversation is developed in man very early. The babe commences by communicating with its mother, with its eyes, and by the touches of its little fingers. It speaks to her by smiles of gratitude, or by wails of distress. Then, one by one, the words of speech are learned, until there follows the larger vocabulary of language by which almost every thought, desire, or feeling possible to man can be expressed.
Whether, then, Conversation is, or is not, possible to other beings, there can be no question that it is the common privilege of mankind. Of course, while the language of the tongue is the ordinary medium for this intercourse, still, when that organ fails, some other method of communication will be found to take its place. For instance, with what remarkable rapidity and correctness can the deaf and dumb communicate with each other through the movements of their fingers!
In the public meetings I hold in Stockholm, in our large Temple there, I invariably find in the gallery, quite a number of this bereaved class, to whom one or two Officers possessed of the gift of hearing, are repeating, by signs, the thoughts to which I may be giving utterance.
The gift of Conversation is, I am afraid, commonly much abused. It is abused by all kinds of people.
It is probable, that the tongue of the godless has been a greater curse to mankind than the sword. So evil, and so productive of evil, among our members is it, that the Apostle affirms that "it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature, and it is set on fire of hell. For every kind of beasts, and of birds, and of serpents, and of things in the sea, is tamed, and hath been tamed of mankind: but the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison."
Then, apart from the more dreadful consequences brought about by godless Conversation, alluded to by the Apostle, what a dreadful amount of time and ability do we see wasted in the useless clatter of ordinary talk! You have only to listen, for an hour, to the Conversation in a railway compartment, at the table of a restaurant, or in the saloon of a steamer, or in the gatherings of ordinary society, to be utterly disgusted with the weakness -- nay, the absolute inanity and silliness of the talk. Men and women who have, apparently, had a decent education, and who seem to be intelligent and thoughtful in matters of business, or the management of their own homes, will sit, for hours pouring forth an uninterrupted patter of words containing scarcely a grain of thought or sense, to say nothing about utility.
I am afraid that Salvationists are not faultless in this respect, There are Officers and Soldiers who self-sacrificingly labour in the Open-air, on the platform, In Visitation, and by every other conceivable means; to bless and save the souls of men, who will every day allow the chances of benefiting the people around them by their Conversation, to pass unimproved away. And worse, the same Officers and Soldiers will, at times, absolutely turn these opportunities to means of lowering the religious tone of those present, especially the young. They will grieve the Holy Spirit by lightness and frivolity, by speaking evil of the absent, and generally discouraging those who may have been praying and believing for better things.
These evils often proceed:
1. From want of thought. There may be no evil intention on the part of those concerned, but the evil is done, nevertheless. The example of one Comrade affects another, and the whole company are carried away.
2. The wish to be agreeable is another cause. This in itself is not wrong. But after a few pleasant things have been said bearing upon health, passing events, and other matters, an effort should always be made to turn the Conversation in the direction of what is advantageous to those present.
3. The foolish ambition to be thought witty accounts for much of this evil. I must confess to being unable to see any particular advantage flowing out of this clownish notoriety. But there are some Salvationists, I am sorry to say, that will treasure every piece of trivial nonsense they read, or hear, or imagine, in order to pour it out at the first gathering of their Comrades -- often, I am ashamed to say, regardless of the presence of the inexperienced, or even of the ungodly.
4. Some of those to whom I am referring, will be guilty of this trashy talk, in order to appear more than ordinarily clever. They cannot let a topic pass without saying something about it, whether or not they have anything to say that is likely to be intelligent, instructive, or useful -- in fact, whether they know anything upon the subject or not. Such people should remember the remark of the ancient sage who, when asked why he did not take part in some particular Conversation, replied, "What was to the point I could not say, and what was not to the point I would not say."
What advantages, then, may be gained by Conversation?
1. The profit and pleasure proceeding from useful Conversation can scarcely be overstated. To begin with, it provides valuable employment for time which would otherwise be wasted. Only count up the number of hours spent in a single year, in company with kindred, friends, or strangers, which afford us the chance of profitable talk, and you will be surprised at the total. Take them at only two hours per day and you have over seven hundred and thirty per year, which, divided by ten (about the number of working hours of an average Salvationist), gives you over seventy days, or ten weeks, in the year. Instead of wasting all this precious time in useless gossip, think how large a portion of it could be agreeably employed in doing good to the peoples around you by profitable talk.
2. It must be borne in mind, that in Conversation we have opportunities for usefulness that we cannot find elsewhere. It seems to me that multitudes of people take more notice, and have a clearer understanding of things that are said to them over the table, than they do of what is addressed to them from the platform, although accompanied by all sorts of denunciations and promises; one reason for this probably being, that the things spoken of in a quiet personal talk will often be discussed in a more natural and understandable manner. Moreover, the person to whom you are speaking, at such times, has the opportunity, which is not possessed by the individual in a public audience, for seeking information on aspects of a question that he does not exactly understand. Then again, in Conversation the people speak back to you, thus compelling them to think of what is being said. So, altogether, there is a remarkable facility in our lives for spreading information by this method, which does not exist in any other.
Further, there will frequently be children sitting about, who will usually listen to a Conversation, and very often gather from it instruction that they would not be likely to gain so effectively by any other means.
Moreover, Salvationists are constantly meeting with people whose minds are full of all sorts of strange, crooked, and false notions about God, The Army, and religion generally. I seldom read an article referring to our Work, in the Press, but I find it full of blunders and misrepresentations; and I rarely get into Conversation with a stranger, but I find him equally ignorant and misinformed concerning the principles upon which we carry it on, and the results that flow from it.
Now, what is to be done with these people?
They will not come to our meetings, and see and hear for themselves, neither will they read our publications. It appears to me, therefore, that our greatest, almost our only, chance with them lies in the direction of Conversation. I, therefore, advise my Comrades to talk to this class of individuals, and hear their difficulties about the Movement, about conversion, about faith, and about God, whenever they have the opportunity.
Tell them your own experience, and God will help you to pour light into their minds which may be of the utmost value, making them fast friends of The Army, or better still, leading them to Salvation.
3. Conversation with Comrades and friends of similar aim and spirit will ever be found to combine pleasure with usefulness. What privilege or duty is there on earth, apart from communion with God, that is more enjoyable than intelligent and sympathetic Conversation between kindred spirits? Even the meaningless gossip about the most trivial things has a momentary charm. How much more satisfying is a Conversation, by which you are conscious that you have talked about matters of higher worth and interest, in which you have imparted useful instruction, inspired holy feelings, or been edified and inspired in return! Such intercourse between the saints of earth is in harmony with the chiefest joys of Heaven.
Looking back over my own life, how well 1 remember many of the delightful experiences of this character, which it has been my privilege to realize! Precious have those hours of communion been! How thoughts and language flowed on such occasions! how our hearts burned! what resolves for heroic, Christ-like deeds were formed! How swiftly the hours passed; and when the time for parting came, how reluctant was the conclusion of the glorious feast! Such seasons and opportunities are not withheld from me, even among the crowded calls and claims of to-day, and such seasons and opportunities will be my portion, I trust, till 1 change the precious communion of the good and noble here for blissful fellowship with the redeemed before the Throne.
To make the most of the privilege of Conversation must, then, be an important duty, which every Salvationist ought, with all his heart, to endeavour to discharge. If every Officer and every Soldier will labour to make their Conversation profitable, what interesting and useful talks there will be when Comrades meet together; when they sit at the tables where they take their daily food; in their journeyings to and fro; at the family gatherings, whether of joy or sorrow -- nay, in every place to which the Providence of God may send them!
Let us enquire how this duty can be rightly discharged.
1. Watchfulness will be necessary. There should be a set purpose to guard and guide the exercises of the tongue. Holy Christians, of ancient times, said much about the grace of "Recollectedness. By this, they meant that state of mind, in which the soul is kept awake to the opportunity of the hour, and the best method of using it for the glory of God. Oh, how often, after the event, do we say to ourselves, "Why did I allow the Conversation to go off in that useless direction? Why did I not make an effort to turn it to better account?" Or "Why did I not offer that remark, which, I now can see, might have been so useful to A, B, or C?" Or "Why did I not propose a song, or offer to pray, or do something that I can now see might have proved a real blessing to those who were there?" !
But, alas! this "presence at mind" which is often spoken of as the grace of Recollectedness -- as to who we are and what is most likely to be useful at the moment -- is too frequently absent when most needed, and we lose the chance for ever.
Now, if we are to make our Conversations promote the honour of Christ, and the well-being of those around us, we must watch for opportunities, and steadily use them to that end. Why not? A Salvationist goes to the Open-air meeting and on to the platform, with such an object. He says to himself, "I am not going to let this meeting drift into a mere pastime, a thing just for the amusement of the hour. No, I will make it benefit someone for this world and the next." Why should there not be some such resolution, some similar purpose with respect to the innumerable opportunities of usefulness presented by Conversation?
I do not want it to be supposed that 1 am advocating anything like bondage, or sanctimonious or melancholy talk. Oh, dear, no! Anything of that kind would at once defeat the object for which I am contending.
The same rule applies to the casual meeting with Comrades, or indeed, with anyone, where there is time for a little talk.
The first condition of profitable Conversation, especially in the family, or in more intimate circles, is a sense of freedom. This necessitates a certain amount of what might be termed "small talk," which, more or less, embraces the matters that have to do with the family life of the hour. This will include a free-and-easy chat about the health of the invalid, the last letters from relatives and friends far away, the sayings and doings of the Children, their lessons, their toys and their play.
Or again, there are the happenings at the meeting of the Sunday, or the night before, the coming holidays, the weather, and a hundred other things which are of natural interest at the moment, and cannot be ignored. Indeed, if for no other reason, or advantage, they will serve the good purpose of training the junior members of the circle in the art of friendly and kindly Conversation, and do something towards correcting the loud, boorish style of talk which is now so common with many young people. When, however, all, or a portion, of these matters have been turned over, more important subjects can be mentioned, and dealt with as circumstances may dictate.
2. Again, in Conversation there should be nothing vulgar or impure. I leave the family out of consideration here -- for, surely, such a thing would be impossible there -- my reference being specially to Conversation where men only are present, although I am not sure that women do not occasionally err in this direction.
We ought not to forget the readiness of the human heart to take fire! A very small spark may kindle, in the most innocent breast, a flame of lust that will never be extinguished -- no, not in the fires of Hell. I could not allow myself to even imagine that a Salvationist would lend himself to the expressions and anecdotes that pass current so freely amongst many ungodly people. Nevertheless, Comrades may be betrayed into expressions that have double meanings, and that are not in keeping with the purity enjoined by our Lord, and in which The Salvation Army glories. Therefore, let them beware; and set a vigilant watch at "Ear-gate" as well a guard upon their lips!
3. Nothing should be allowed in Conversation that is contrary, to sound doctrine. If you have difficulties about the holy truths to which you stand pledged, seek for counsel from your Leaders, or leave them over until you come to know the will of God more perfectly, always bearing in mind how easy it is to sow doubt, or plant unbelief, in young or ignorant minds, which will go on growing, until rooted and grounded in their very nature, they produce poisonous fruits that fill the soul with error and ruin the whole life. You may be able to grapple with these infidel difficulties yourself, but the minds in which you sow the seed may not be strong enough to accomplish this mastery, and may, consequently, go down under them for ever. To show off your knowledge of falsehood and other evils may be an amusement to you, but it may result in death-eternal to those who hear you talk. Again, I say, Beware!
4. Let there be no disloyalty in your Conversation.
I sometimes think that every man has a Judas somewhere in his make up, and oftenest of all that traitor is in his mouth! The shortcomings, misdoings, and imperfections of those whom the Providence of God has placed over men, has ever been a tempting topic for discussion. Fickle and weakly and evil minds are only too frequently led away by it, and a host of miseries and misfortunes follow. In the history of all organisations, there have been men, and, alas! some women also, who, whether they have remained within its borders or gone over to its foes, have delighted in destroying the confidence of their Comrades in the beneficence and rectitude of those placed in authority over them. I know that they will sometimes tell you, that this destroying of the landmarks and undermining of faith, has been done without any evil intention. But, alas! the evil consequences have followed, whether intended or no. Do not be one or those sneaking whisperers! Better pull your tongue out by the roots, than let it cause one of God's little ones to stumble and be lost. Do not allow yourselves to make insinuations in the dark, which you would be ashamed to have repeated in the broad daylight. Scorn to make suggestions behind the backs of your Comrades calculated to destroy their influence and to cripple their Power for usefulness, which you would be afraid to speak out before their faces. Remember the words of Jesus: "Whatsoever ye have spoken in darkness shall be heard in the light; and that which ye have spoken in the ear" -- that is, whispered -- shall be proclaimed upon the housetops!"
I need not say, that this refers to all kinds of lawful authority, whether it be that of the master in the workshop, the mistress in the family, an Officer of The Army, or such an Officer's wife; indeed, from the Soldier to the citizen, right up to the top, both in The Army and in the State. Neither practise it, nor allow it, I say, in any company where you have a voice or in which you may be present. Nay, more, rebuke it in anyone else, no matter who it may be.
5. In your Conversation keep as far off the dictatorial as you can. Do not speak in tones or with manners that would seem to imply that you know better than everyone else; that you are infallible, and that "wisdom will die with you!" It is quite possible that you may have some reason for entertaining the idea that you are in every way superior in sense, intelligence, and religion to those around you, and that your notions are always and ever correct ones. But even if it is so, it is certainly unnecessary that you should inform every person with whom you are familiar of the fact. Remember that, after all, it is just possible that you may be mistaken. Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit, among other things, the kindly esteem of those with whom they associate; while the self-opinionated and self-righteous and masterful earn only their pity and hearty dislike, if not their absolute scorn.
What can be done, then, to accomplish all this -- that is, to make Conversation as pleasant and useful as possible? I will give you some advice.
1. Make a definite effort by starting topics in Conversation that you can see will be interesting and useful to the company in which you find yourself; and, having started them, try to keep them going. The latter part of the business is the difficulty. For myself, I have seldom failed, in any company, in the task of introducing a subject, but keeping it afloat has often been, not only difficult, but all but impossible. The excitement arising from the occasional meeting with friends, seems to generate a kind of wordy mood that, unless taken hold of with a strong hand, carries everybody away, so that before one knows where he is, the topic he has brought on to the board has vanished, and three or four others are being discussed in its place.
It is not a bad plan to have a little understanding -- a kind of conspiracy -- amongst one or two members of the company to keep a given topic to the front. This can easily be done, and what one says the other can second, or reply to, or raise a difficulty about, until all are interested, and then the ball will roll on of its own momentum.
2. Intelligent and interested listening has much to do with good talking. Who can speak, when the hearers make it evident that they are too impatient to listen, or that they want all the time to themselves? I have found the greatest difference in the ease with which I have conversed with some who pass for being the great people of the world. The manner of many seems to stop the flow of thought, and paralyse the power of utterance; while that of others has just the contrary effect, making it not only a delight to listen to what they say, but a pleasure to answer them, or to start off on a line of your own.
The late Mr. Gladstone was one of the most remarkable instances of this. He was a great man, full of stores of wisdom and experience of many kinds, having, perhaps, a greater knowledge of the world, of men and things, than anyone else in it, during the later years of his life. And yet, when we talked together, one afternoon, in his study at Harwerden, his manner made me feel so perfectly at home, he said all he had to say so gently, so enquiringly, that I found it a delight to talk to him, and a greater delight still to listen. What a contrast his manner afforded to some people's way of dealing with Salvation; yes, and what a contrast it afforded to the manner with which some Salvationists deal with each other!
Similar feelings will be experienced in Conversation with ordinary people. I frequently meet with those who make it evident that they care for nothing that I can say, however important it may be. In such cases, I usually close up, instinctively, and retire within myself, like the snail into his shell, concluding that either I have nothing to say that is thought worth listening to by my hearers, or that my manner of saying it lacks the power to interest. Others, however, even when they do not agree with all I say, will incline their ears and answer me by approving smiles, by questions of their own, by responses, and confirmatory expressions, so far as to make it difficult for me to stop speaking, or to tear myself away from their society. You will find it very much the same.
3. Encourage others around you to talk. Often those who have something, to say, which is most worthy of being said, will be the last to join in the Conversation while those who are the least intelligent, will be the most pushful and make the most rattle. Ask for opinions from the silent ones. In fact, it will not be found to be a bad plan, occasionally, to get everyone to give their own view of the subject under discussion.
Do not overlook the women who may be present. How coolly, unjustly, and thoughtlessly -- I was going to say, how conceitedly -- the men will often ignore the women in a Conversation, concerning a matter about which they have just as correct and, perhaps, even a more practical judgment than themselves! They may not exactly prohibit the women joining in the Conversation; on the contrary, they may say that they have the same opportunity of expressing their opinions as themselves; but the arbitrary manner in which they will absorb the time, and address their Conversation to each other, scarcely noticing the women, makes it plain enough that they do not consider that they can have anything to say to which it is worth their while to listen.
In the family I need not point out that the wife, especially if she be a mother also, ought always to have the opportunity, whether she uses it or not, of a fair share in whatever Conversation goes on; and on many questions it will not only be safe, but useful and also very interesting, to bring the children in. It will make them listen to what their elders say; and having to deliver themselves of their opinion before father and mother; will assist them in forming habits of thought and expression which will be useful to them in the future.
My DEAR COMRADES,
Tribulation is the lot of all men. Suffering, in one form or another, is the inheritance of every son and daughter of Adam. It is a ceaseless source of wonder to me, as I travel up and down the world, to find, how invariably every individual I come in contact with seems to have a bitter of some kind or other in his cup: and it is further cause for wonder, to mark the variety of the trials, and sorrows, and cares that come alike to one and all.
I have noticed, also, that there is no exception to this rule, in the case of those who choose the present world as their portion. They will tell you, that they prefer the certainties they can see and feel and handle, to the uncertainties that are only apprehended by faith; or, as a secularist leader used to put it, they would rather have "the bird in the hand than the bird in the bush." But this preference for the things which are temporal, and which pass away, to the things which are eternal, does not, even when it is realised to the full, in the least degree deliver those who express it from the Tribulations, either present or future, which are inseparable from human life -- these are ever with them, and will be to the end.
Nor does the lot of God's own people ensure any departure from the same rule. "In the world," said Jesus to His chosen disciples, "ye shall have Tribulation." The choice of Christ, as their Lord and Sovereign, and the consecration of all they possess to His Service, will not save them from the sorrows that are common to all who live beneath the sun. On the contrary, it may bring them many additional trials.
That this should be the case, ought not to surprise you, my Comrades, cause you to question the overruling wisdom of Providence, or make you doubt the love of God for you. Tribulation has been the portion of God's choicest Saints from the beginning. Read the history of Abel and Noah, of Lot and Abraham, of Joseph and Moses, and the whole host of Prophets and heroes who followed them, as set forth in the Bible. Take the brief summary given of their history in the eleventh chapter of the Epistle to the Hebrews. Let me quote a few of its thrilling sentences:
"And what shall I more say? for the time would fail me to tell of Gideon, and of Barak, and of Samson, and of Jephthae; of David also, and Samuel, and of the prophets:
"Who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions.
"Quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens.
"Women received their dead raised to life again: and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection:
"And others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment:
"They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented;
"(Of whom the world was not worthy:) they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and Caves of the earth."
Then, what a record of similar conflicts and triumphs we have, in the early history of the people of Christ! What crucifixions, and burnings, and drownings; what tearings to pieces by wild beasts; what imprisonments and slaveries; what unheard-of tortures and starvations! What waves of sorrow and suffering have been endured for Christ's sake, for the truth's sake, for the sake of souls, and for the sake of a good conscience, by the followers of Jesus Christ all the way down the ages to the present day! You cannot, therefore, be surprised, or complain, if you also should be called to endure Tribulation for Him who, for our sakes, was the greatest sufferer of all.
Jesus Christ said to His disciples, and through them He says to you, "In the world ye shall have Tribulation," "If they have persecuted, Me, they will also persecute you;" while Paul assures us that "all Who will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution." When you are a sufferer, when your burden of care and trouble increases, think upon the following:
1. God has promised to support you in your trials while you walk In the light; that is, while you do His blessed will. Some of the most beautiful and precious passages to be found in the Bible, describe the consolations which He promises to His Soldiers, while they are battling with the difficulties, persecutions, and sufferings of life. Let me name one or two.
He promises you His support. "The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms."
He promises you the comfort of His Presence. "When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee."
He promises you victory. "God is faithful, Who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it." "Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us,"
2. Tribulations are intended for your profit. "All things work together for good to them that love God." Rightly accepted, they will promote your Holiness and usefulness, and help you to understand and struggle for the welfare, of those around you. Paul says, "For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory." What is more, they strengthen faith, and help the formation of that character which God desires His children to possess, And then, at the end, they add lustre to the glory of that bright inheritance, where it can truthfully be said of those who have fought their way through, "These are they which came out of great Tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in" the blood of the Lamb."
My DEAR COMRADES,
Many of God's people are poor. "Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the Kingdom which He hath promised to them that love Him?" For a long time in the early history of the Church, poverty was, with few exceptions, a necessity. The man who embraced Christ had to leave his houses and his lands. Every door of business was closed to him, no one would employ him, buy of him, or sell to him. His own family rose up against him and cast him out. Unless he was seized and made a slave, the wilderness became his dwelling-place and the caves of the earth his home. It is true, that there were exceptions to this state of things, but they were not very numerous.
Poverty is the lot of the majority of Christ's followers to-day. Few who are not poor will comply with the terms of Salvation. "Not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called." It is still true, "How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the Kingdom of God!" They are called, but they will not come, and even when those who might gain riches have entered the Kingdom, the opportunities for money-making are often closed to them, on account of their conscientious scruples and their high standard of right and wrong. However, they prefer poverty, with a good conscience, to wealth without it.
Now, while there is no doubt that extreme poverty is an evil, and is one of the results of "the thorns and thistles" that followed the first transgression of our first parents, it is also evident that to be poor, when there is not actual want of the necessities of life, is not an unmixed evil. On the contrary, it has many advantages, both for this life and the life that is to come. I am quite sure, from my own observation, that, as a whole, the poor, in the sense in which we usually use the word, are, as a rule, more content, are more usefully occupied, enjoy better health, are less burdened by anxiety, and, in fact, are happier than the well-to-do classes. And, when I come to consider the advantages enjoyed by the poor, in regard to things of God, it is manifest that poverty has some great compensations.
1. A poor man is more likely to be saved than a rich man. That is, he will be more ready to hearken to the call to repentance. Being more loosely bound to the world, it will be easier for him to break away from it and fall in with God's offers of mercy. On the other hand, the rich man will be much better satisfied with his present condition and disinclined to leave it. He will be so comfortable, that he will not care about a change; and heavier sacrifices being demanded, in his case, than in that of a poor man, he will be far more unwilling to make the surrender.
2. The pride of a rich man will make it more difficult for him to face the scorn that comes upon the followers of Jesus Christ. The Cross, which the poor have to carry in making an open confession of Salvation, is heavy enough; but, in the case of the proud and well-to-do person, that Cross will be heavier still.
3. Poverty is favourable to Holy Living. The same things which operate in the favour of a poor man commencing a truly religious life, operate in favour of his persevering and attaining eminence in it.
4. Poverty is conducive to a life of usefulness, The greatest of the world's benefactors have been poor. Moses came of a family of bondsmen, and when God called him to deliver Israel, he was working as a shepherd in the land of Midian. The great Prophets of God to His ancient people were nearly all poor. David began life as a keeper of sheep. Elijah and Elisha were in a position answering very nearly to that of our Captains, without any Divisional Officer to fall hack upon when driven into a corner! Nehemiah, Daniel, and the three Hebrew Children were slaves. Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Hosea, Amos, and the other Prophets were all poor men, and the children of poor men. Our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, grew up in a cottage home, at Nazareth, and was a working man. The Apostles and Disciples who established the first Communities of Christ's people, and who shook the world, mostly came from the ranks of the poor, as also did the great bulk of the Fathers of the Early Church.
The Salvationists, with very few exceptions, have been poor people, poor not only as to money and houses and lands, but destitute also of the learning of the schools, and ignorant of the worldly wisdom of the colleges. And yet, they have done more to revolutionise the religion of the Nineteenth Century than any other people who have operated in the world during that time, and have been the means, also, of rescuing and saving multitudes of the most hopeless classes of society.
5. Poverty demands and encourages energy.
Luxury and ease weaken and destroy these traits of character which make brave men and women. "Necessity is the mother of invention;" hardship is the friend-of activity, of push and go, in the affairs of men.
6. Poverty is favourable to that sympathy and compassion which helps to make successful soul-winners -- nay, without which, successful soul-winners cannot be made.
Now, let me give a few counsels to the children of God who are called to occupy a humble position in this life.
1. Those Salvationists who are poor, should praise God for that measure of the good things of this world they do possess. Look around you, my Comrades, and you will find large numbers of people who are, so far as this world goes, much less favourably circumstanced than yourselves.
2. Remember, there is nothing in your poverty to shut you out from "the peace that passeth all understanding," and "the joy that is unspeakable and full of glory." Some of the brightest and most triumphant Saints have been amongst the poorest of the poor.
3. If an opportunity of improving your circumstances presents itself, and, after prayer and reflection, you believe the position offered, will be in harmony with righteousness, the promotion of the glory of God in you and your family, and the good of The Army, you are at liberty to embrace it. There is no sin in the possession of wealth! It is the use which you make of it, which is the all-important matter.
4. If God prospers you, do not forget His goodness, grow proud, and cease to be the same humble, devoted, self-sacrificing Salvationist that you were in the days of your hardship and poverty. Let all you have be His.
5. Whatever your lot may be, do not worry. Have faith in God!
My DEAR COMRADES,
I have, I think, already said something in the course of these Letters, as to the value of health, and the importance of using all reasonable means for its maintenance. I do hope that my counsels, bearing on this subject, will receive your consideration, for we must all agree that "prevention is better than cure."
But after every effort has been made, that can be made, for the preservation of this inestimable boon, Sickness, unwelcome as it is, will break into the best regulated families; and when the family is a large one, it will seldom be absent for a very long time together. Perhaps, therefore, few topics have more to do with the peace, comfort, and well-being of a household than the best means of dealing with Sickness when it does appear. What can I say? Well, to begin:
1. Do not give way to unnecessary fear on the first approach of Sickness. Nothing will be likely, more effectually to hinder your purpose of helping the suffering, than panic or anything bordering upon it. Do not unduly magnify the matter, either to yourself or those around you; and especially would I say, "Do not alarm the sufferer with long faces or hasty words about the seriousness of the malady."
The symptoms by which different diseases manifest themselves very strongly resemble each other, When our vessel reached Freemantle, on my last visit to Australia, it was found that we had a Singhalese man servant on board, who showed symptoms of Chicken-pox, which symptoms are very much like those developed in the earlier, stages of, Small-pox. The ship's Doctor examined the man and said that he had Chicken-pox, but the Officer of Health, who came on board on our arrival, said, No, it was, he feared, something more serious than that -- it was Small-pox. And as the Harbour Authorities objected to the risk of anyone landing, infected with that disease, they sent fifty-two of the passengers, myself amongst the number, to afford themselves the opportunity of ascertaining whether we had the disease as well. After waiting two or three days, the sufferer's disease developed and the ship's Doctor turned out to be right, and the Officer of Health wrong. It was not Small-pox, but Chicken-pox, and after encountering more inconvenience than I can here describe, we were all set at liberty.
Now, try to avoid such alarms, not only to the sufferer but to yourselves. When symptoms can be interpreted in the direction of several maladies, you should hope for the least serious of the number. When a hot skin, and a painful head and back, combined with general exhaustion, indicate either a bad feverish cold, or the beginning of Influenza, or the first stage of some contagious Fever, do not jump at once to the conclusion that the patient is suffering from the most dangerous disease of the three; but, while taking proper care of the invalid, hope that it is nothing worse than the least serious. In following this somewhat sanguine method, you can always encourage yourself with the experience of the man who said that seven-eighths of the things from which he had suffered the most during his lifetime had never happened! If this is applicable to anything in human history, I am sure it is true of anticipations of disease in a family.
Loving hearts are ever ready to fear the worst in such circumstances. They cannot help it. Oh, how often, with my own dear children, have I, at such hours, been able to calm gloomy forebodings, and quiet anxious hearts, by hoping for the best; and, oh, how many, many times my sanguine predictions have proved correct! "If hopes are false, fears oftener lie."
But, is it not the safest always to fear the worst and to take precautions accordingly? No, I cannot say that it is. Hoping for the best does not prevent such precautions being taken. Indeed, they should be taken.
But is there not such a thing as losing time? Doubtless, there is; and therefore, everyone responsible for the health of others, should be familiar with those symptoms which usually indicate the approach of serious illness, such as high temperature, a very rapid or very slow pulse, continued vomiting, delirium, persistent sore throat, continued sleeplessness, pain that cannot be accounted for, and so on. In elderly people, sudden chills should always be treated seriously.
2. When such signs are present, there are grounds for apprehending that the Sickness is serious, and an intelligent and reliable opinion should at once be obtained as to the nature of the malady. In this respect, a Doctor can help yon; but having obtained his opinion, you should still use your own judgment and carefully watch the progress of the complaint.
3. Beware of physic, whether supplied by a regular practitioner, or from that numerous company of quacks who profess to cure almost everything with the same remedy. My own preferences, in Sickness and ill health, are for what is known as the system of Hydropathy, or the Water-cure. I have frequently seen in my own family, what might almost be styled miraculous cures wrought by this system, and strongly advise my readers to be at some trouble to make themselves acquainted with it. Some simple suggestions upon this subject will be found at the end of this volume.
4. I also recommend to the consideration of my Comrades everywhere, what I have said already in these Letters on eating, drinking, and the like. They have much to do with delicate health, and illness of all kinds. Let people exercise common sense on these questions, and test the counsels I have given them by personal application. When I get out of condition myself, my plan is usually to fall back upon a little extra fasting, sleeping, and bathing. I find the Lamp Bath, as I have recommended it to you, to be a useful remedy in cases of chill, over-fatigue, and sleeplessness.
But as my maladies will, no doubt, differ from those of others, the remedies must be different also. Judge for yourselves.
5. After all that has been said and done, however, most people will rely very much on the regular Doctor. They are at his mercy, whether he belongs to the old -- the Alopath -- the new -- the Homeopath -- or any other school. When I was ill in South Australia, I felt so confused with the conflicting theories of the Medical Faculty, and so uncertain as to the possibility of finding anyone whose opinions would be at all likely to accord with my own, that I simply said, "Find me, a capable, conscientious, and, if possible, a God-fearing man, and let us see what he can do." They found me a Doctor whom I believe answered to that description. As to the system he followed, I am glad that I have not to pronounce an opinion upon it! I got well -- that was what I wanted to do -- and that quicker than anyone expected. He paid me every possible attention by night and by day, and would not receive any fee either for his medicine or trouble. God bless him!
6. I need not impress upon Salvationists the duty of dealing faithfully with the souls of those by whose sick-bed they watch. If there is any uncertainty about the safety of the sufferers for Eternity, push them up to that repentance and faith in Christ which will secure them admission into the City of Light if they die; and will make them useful warriors of the Cross if they recover.
My DEAR COMRADES,
By Bereavements I mean the loss of dear ones, whether kindred or precious friends, through death. Many of my readers will have been called, already, to pass through this experience, and they will know it to be one of the most painful that can possibly come to man. Others have yet to feel that mysterious sense of helplessness, that inner agony and grief, which seize us as we watch our loved ones die. Money, reputation, health, and a great many other valuable things, when lost may often be recovered, but, the companions, of our hearts, and homes and lives, when summoned by the inevitable silent Visitor, can never be restored to us in this world. They cannot be brought out of the grave, or given back to our fond embrace, until the Resurrection morning. They "are as water spilt on the ground, which cannot be gathered up again."Death is a painful visitor. The poet sings:
"Why do we mourn departing friends,
Or shake at death's alarms?
'Tis but the voice that Jesus sends
To call them to His arms."
That is a beautiful sentiment, and as true as it is beautiful; nevertheless, after all has been said that can be said, to stand on the banks of the River, and watch your best-beloved struggle through its dark and stormy waters, even though you may catch some ray of brightness from the other shore, is a painful and agonising experience,
Still, God can, and does, wonderfully strengthen the hearts of His faithful children for those gloomy hours.
Many years ago, I spent six weeks in the house of a friend, who appeared to me to be one of the holiest men I had yet been privileged to meet. He has long since passed away to his reward. I hope to see him again in the Glory-land. This friend told me that his young wife died after they had lived together only a short time; that he loved her with all his heart, but he was so assured of the glorious, state of existence to which God, in, His love, had taken her, and was so comforted by the consolations of His Holy Spirit, that he was filled, as never before, with unspeakable triumph as he stood by her open grave. "O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy Victory?"
Wesley sings of death very much in. the same spirit. Here are three of the verses:"Rejoice for a brother deceased,
Our loss is his infinite gain;
A soul out of prison released,
And freed from its bodily chain;
With songs let us follow his flight,
And mount with his spirit above,
Escaped to the mansions of light,
And lodged in the Eden of love.
"Our brother the haven hath gained,
Out-flying the tempest and wind,
His rest he hath sooner obtained,
And left his companions behind,
Still tossed on a sea of distress,
Hard toiling to make the blest shore,
Where all is assurance and peace,
And sorrow and sin are no more.
"Ah, lovely appearance of death!
What sight upon earth is so fair?
Not all the gay pageants that breathe,
Can with a dead body compare.
With solemn delight I survey
The corpse when the spirit is fled,
In love with the beautiful clay,
And longing to lie in its stead."
These lines set forth an experience which, I am afraid, is not very common. Many of my readers will acknowledge it as being some distance beyond them. Although full of confidence as to the safety of their loved ones, their hearts were none the less sorrowful when they bade them a last farewell; and daily and hourly they mourn their absence. What can I say to these sufferers?
1. Accept your sorrow without murmuring. There is an important difference between being weighed down under the burden of a great affliction and fighting against it. To rebel against a Divine decree will not help you. One of my Officers tells of a men, who said to him, one day, in a railway train, that he believed in God till he lost his child; but when the baby died, he gave up that belief. Whereupon the Officer asked him, what has often seemed to me a wise and tender question, Had giving up his faith in God made him feel any better about his loss? With tears in his eyes, he admitted that such was not the case, To readers of this Letter, whose hearts may be breaking on account of some painful Bereavement, let me say that, while God will not condemn you for your sorrow, to rebel against His Providence, instead of making you feel better, will only make you feel worse.
2. Thank God for having favoured you with such precious companions. Better to have loved and been loved again, even though only for a little while, than never to have known such love at all."I hold it true, whate'er befall,
I feel it when I sorrow most;
T'is better to have loved and lost,
Than never to have loved at all."
3. Rejoice, amid your sorrow, that your dear ones are safely landed on the Eternal Shore. If you had a son journeying on the wide seas to some distant land, and you received tidings that the vessel had struck upon some sunken rock on some desolate coast, or had been destroyed by fire in mid-ocean, your first enquiry would be, "What about the passengers? What about my son?" If, for a time, you could get no information, the suspense would add to your distress; and, on the supposition that he had been drowned, you would probably feel, even if you did not say, that it would be a comfort to you if his poor body could be found and have a decent burial.
But supposing, that in the midst of your distress, the news reached you that, although the vessel was lost, the young man was saved, and that he had landed in a beautiful country among a friendly people, that his health was good, his surroundings agreeable, and that he had started an excellent business, with every promise of lasting prosperity. How great would be your joy!
Now, I feel that all comparisons between the earthly and the Heavenly are poor, indeed; but may not those who mourn the loss of departed friends, comfort themselves something after this fashion? Their loved ones have suffered a shipwreck, but they have not perished. No, they have been rescued and carried away to the Celestial shores. Their wants are abundantly supplied: their companions are the multitudes of the redeemed; their employments and felicities are beyond the power of our words to tell, or our minds to imagine: they are doing the will of our God, and will live in His presence for ever. They have entered into the infinite bliss of those of whom it is, written: "'Eye hath hot seen, nor ear heard, neither have, entered into the heart, of man, the things which God, hath prepared for them that love Him."
4. Encourage yourself with the prospect of meeting again, those who have passed away from you, and that before very long. This was David's consolation on the loss of his child. He seems to have loved it very tenderly indeed, and there were few things in his kingdom so precious, that he would not have given to have kept the babe. But when it was gone, after the first agony of his grief, he bowed to the Divine will, saying: "I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me."
If the father I have just referred to, on hearing that his boy was safe and sound, happy and prosperous, although unable to return to his native land, had been informed that arrangements had been made for the emigration of himself and all his comrades, kindred, and friends to the same country, to participate in all the luxuries of which the young man was already the possessor, I am sure the father would have been still further comforted in his loss. I think he would have been likely to say, "Praise God; it is well with my boy; although he cannot come to us, we can go to him." We may have to wait awhile, but it will not be very long before we see him again and share in the delights of this new land."
So, my Comrades, your wife or your husband, or some companion of your heart, a part of yourself as it were, or your darling, the flower of your flock, has suffered shipwreck on the ocean of time. The vessel in which that dear one sailed, went to pieces; perhaps it was worn out by old age, or it struck, perchance, upon some fever rock; or mayhap it was overtaken by some stormy epidemic, and after battling bravely for a time, went down to rise no more till the resurrection of the dead. But your loved one is safe. Your Master has sent forth the assurance, that you may meet again among the nations of them that are saved, and it is your business to get your work done thoroughly and well, and be ready for the meeting when your call shall come.
In my early days, I remember being very much impressed with the following simple song. It may, perhaps, carry a little comfort to some of my bereaved readers; and although not altogether unknown, I give it here for the sake of those who may not have met with it before. It is entitled:"THE FIRST SONG OF THE SAINT IN HEAVEN."
"I shine in the light of God;
His likeness stamps my brow;
Through the valley of death my feet I have trod,
And I reign in Glory now.
"I have reached the joys of Heaven,
1 am one of the sainted band;
For my head a crown of gold is given,
And a harp is in my hand.
"1 have learnt the song they sing
Whom Jesus hath set free,
And the glorious walls of Heaven still ring
With my new-born melody.
"Oh, friends of mortal years,
The trusted and the true!
Ye are watching still in the vale of tears,
But I wait to welcome you.
"Do I forget? Oh, no!
For memory's golden chain
Shall bind my heart to the hearts below,
Till they meet to touch again.
"Each link is strong and bright,
And love's electric flame
Flows freely down like a river of light
To the world from whence I came.
"Do you mourn when another star
Shines out from the glittering sky?
Do you weep when the raging voice of war
And the storms of conflict die?
"Then why should your tears run down,
And your hearts be sorely riven,
For another gem in the Saviour's crown,
And another soul in Heaven?"
But here, some of my readers may be saying to me: "What if you cannot cherish this precious hope with respect to your departed kindred?" We have been to the grave, with those whose belief and character have prevented us entertaining any such pleasant expectations, as those you have mentioned. To us their future is a dark uncertainty.
"How can we comfort ourselves?" To them I can only make one reply: Leave them with God. The Judge of all the earth will do right. Hope for the departed cannot do them harm. So exercise it, if you can. But let the uncertainty which you feel about the destiny of the dead, make you doubly diligent in doing all that in you lies to secure a sure and certain hope for the living.
My DEAR COMRADES,
I desire to offer you some counsel about the Bible. You will all know that the Bible is a very important Book, and I have no doubt you set great store by it; indeed, I am pleased to learn that, of late, more thought is being given to its pages than ever throughout The Army. But still, I am afraid that the precious Book does not receive the attention that it demands.
Let me try to say a word or two, that will be likely to better impress upon you its great value.
The Bible is a very Wonderful Book. Its very name signifies this, for the word Bible simply means The Book, so that when we say the Bible, we mean that it is The Book, the Book which, above every other, a man should know, treasure, and obey. If, to a wise man, the choice were offered of the Bible, on the one hand, or all the books in the world, on the other, he would choose the Bible.
It is so valuable because --
1. In the first place, God is its Author. He caused it to be written under His special direction. The Holy Ghost put the thoughts which it records into the hearts of Holy men. They wrote them down; that is the reason we speak of it as the Word of God. "Holy men," etc.
2. The Bible is an important Book, because it tells us of God. We might have expected that our Heavenly Father would not leave us in ignorance about Himself. If there is a God whom we ought to serve, we might be quite sure that He would want to tell us of His Power and Love, and to declare what His feelings are towards us. And that is just what He has done in the Bible. It is a precious Book because it is a revelation of God.
3. The Bible is a valuable Book, because from it we learn all that we know about the Birth and Life, the Sufferings, and Death, the Resurrection and Ascension of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Except for one or two passing remarks in one other very ancient book, we should all be in ignorance of the career of our Lord but for the Bible. Then we have the wonderful story of His Earthly Journeyings, His Marvellous Miracles, His Wonderful Addresses; His glorious Death and Resurrection; and oh, what a fascinating story it is!
4 The Bible tells us all we know with certainty about the Future State. We should be in utter ignorance of what happens after Death if it were not for the Bible. It is the Bible that tells us of the Resurrection of the Dead, the Great White Throne, the Heaven of Delight, and the Hell of Misery. But for the Bible we should be in complete darkness concerning these important things.
5. It is the Bible that tells us of the merits of the Precious Blood of our dear Saviour, the possibilities of the Forgiveness of Sins, the Purification of our Hearts, the Protection of God, and the Triumph of a dying hour. Of these blessed possibilities mankind would know nothing without the Bible.
6. The Bible has had a mighty influence for good on the World in the years that are past. It has won the hearts and enlightened the lives of millions. It has rescued multitudes from the Horrible Pit, led their feet to the Rock of Ages, filled their mouths with singing, kept them from falling into Hell, and guided them safely to the golden streets of the Celestial City.
7. The Bible has been more bitterly attacked and more cruelly slandered than any other Book in existence. Again and again men have exerted every power to effect its destruction. But it has survived all opposition, and to-day is more widely circulated, and is probably more generally read, than ever before. Not all the powers of Earth and Hell combined have been able to destroy the blessed Bible.
8. Bad men hate the Bible, denounce it, call it hard names, call in question its truths, and wish it were out of existence. Good men love it, read it, make it the guide of their lives, spread it abroad, and thank God for its precious pages.
9. The Truths written down and explained in the Bible have done wonders for salvationists. What would you have been without them? But for the free Salvation set forth in the Bible, many of you would have been in the grave, and your souls cast into outer darkness, while others would have been on their way there. Oh, precious Book! What a priceless blessing it has been to The Salvation Army!
Now, my Comrades, I want to ask the question, What ought you to do with the Bible? Ought you to Neglect it -- pass it over for the Newspaper, the Story Book, or other rubbish? By no means. That is how the godless world around you deals with the precious treasure. What, then, ought you to do? I will tell you.
1. The very least that you can do with the Bible is to Read it. If I, your General, sent you a letter, you could not do less than read it over, try to understand it, and strive to do what I requested in it.
The Bible is a Letter from your Heavenly Father; you cannot do less with His Letter than you would do with one from The General.
2. Read it alone. Read a few verses at a time; read them on your knees; read them as you walk the streets; while you take your midday meal, when you rise in the morning, when you retire at night; and read the blessed Book in your spare moments.
3. Read it in your Families. Impress its precious Truths on your children, if you are Parents. Explain them to the ignorant -- make them understand, Use the "Soldier's Guide." If you read a chapter of that Book every morning and one every night, you will go through the Bible in a year.
*The "Soldier's Guide" is a selection of readings from the Bible for morning and evening each day in the year. It is so arranged as to include nearly the whole of the Bible in the year's readings. May be obtained from 100, Clerkenwell Road, London, E.C. Price: red French morocco, gilt, 2s. 6d.; red leather, 1s. 6d.; red cloth, 1s.
4. See to it that you experience in your own hearts the blessings the Bible offers you. Remember, it will be little better than a curse to you if you only know the Word, and do not possess and live in the spirit of it. If you only believe it with your head, and do not enjoy the things that it describes, and accept the Mercy, wash in the Fountain, receive the Holy Ghost, and live and die in the light and joy of its good tidings, it will only add to your condemnation and guilt.
5. Fulfill the Duties it commands. It is the doers of the Word Who are blessed. Make it the guide of your life: at home, abroad, in your Corps, in sickness and health, in joy and sorrow, everywhere and all the time.
6. Publish the Salvation of the Bible wherever you go -- in the Streets -- in the Barracks -- in your Home -- at your Work -- everywhere tell the Glad Tidings.
Oh, my Comrades, do not let the Bible rise up in judgment against you, as it surely will if you either neglect it, or if, reading and knowing about the Salvation and Victory of which it tells, you do not enjoy that Salvation and experience that Victory.
My DEAR COMRADES,
I would like to say something to you about the duty of keeping the Sabbath.
That day was, as you all know, set apart by God to be a special day of rest, and concerning it He said, "Remember the Sabbath Day to keep it holy." That commandment has never been repealed, and is therefore binding on us to-day.
There is, however, I think, a good deal of ignorance and misunderstanding with many people as to the manner and spirit in which the Sabbath ought to be observed. Some seem to think we can keep it or not, just as we choose. Others imagine that the Jew alone is under the obligation to pay any attention to its observance, while in the opinion and practice of many Christians it is abolished altogether.
Now, in order that you may have a correct view of what is expected of Salvation Soldiers, in keeping the Sabbath, I ask your careful attention to what I have to say on the subject.
1. And first of all I remark that it is not my particular sacredness about that particular day which makes it The Lord's day, for all days according to Jesus and His Apostles are alike holy to those who serve Him.
But that it is the doing or the leaving undone of certain things which makes the day set apart for the Sabbath a holy day.
Let me try to illustrate my meaning. Some time ago I held a meeting of ministers and citizens in the city of Philadelphia, in the United States, for the purpose of affording information respecting The Army. After doing so, I threw the meeting open for anyone who wished for further explanations to ask me questions. Among others, a gentleman belonging to a small sect which observes the Sabbath on our Saturday, asked what were the views of The Army with respect to the observance of the Sabbath on the Seventh instead of the First day of the week. I answered that a good Salvationist had seven Sundays a week. The great bulk of my audience were both pleased and satisfied with my reply,
Now you, my Comrades, will understand that by a Salvationist having seven Sundays a week, I meant that every day of every week ought to be alike sacred to God, and sacredly employed in doing His will. One day, or a thousand years, are the same to God, and all our days and all our years belong to Him, and ought to be equally employed in doing His blessed will. That is what the Apostle Paul meant when he said, "Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God." Now if this command of the Holy Spirit, given by Paul is observed, you will see that every meal we partake of will become a sacrament, and every duty we perform will be an act of religion, and every day we live will be a sacred day, a Sabbath of peace and joy in the Holy Ghost.
Yes, every day alike belongs to God. In trying to show the importance of keeping the Sabbath, some people will say, "When God has given you six days for yourself, keeping only one back for Himself, how wicked it must be to rob Him of the one!" But this is a mistaken way of stating the truth, seeing that God commands you to be as truly religious on Monday as on Sunday, and to strive as earnestly to please Him when you are doing your daily work on the six days, as when you are resting in your home, or praying in your meetings, on the other. If you do not obey this rule, you will not be a true Salvationist.
2. While, however, every day belongs alike to God, there is a difference in the character and opportunities of the Sabbath day, and consequently there will be a difference in the character of the service expected from us by God on that particular day; and I would like to show you, as far as is possible, what God expects from us on the Sabbath; in other words, I would like to describe what I think should be a Salvationist's Sunday: --
1. It should be a day of rest from all unnecessary labour, both for ourselves and for others.
2. It should be a day for the special worship of God, both in public and private.
3. It should be a day of extra effort, by works of love and mercy, for the well-being of the bodies and souls of men,
Let me explain this a little more fully: --
The Salvationist should, as far as possible, keep the Sabbath as a day of rest. Such observance of the day has been proved over and over again to be a very beneficial arrangement. It is promotive of bodily health and vigour. Men and animals, and even machinery, will, it is said, last longer, and do more good work in the long run, with one day's rest in the seven, than they will if they work all the time without intermission.
One day's rest from our ordinary labour, per week, is highly promotive of the vigour of the mind, as well as favourable to the well-being of the soul. Out of obedience, therefore, to God, and from consideration of the advantages to be reaped by man, the purpose of God in the ordination of the Sabbath should be thoughtfully considered and carried out.
In the character of this rest, the Salvationist cannot follow the regulation laid down by Moses for the Jews in its strict letter. It was never intended that he should. For example, the climate of a large part of the world will not allow him to do so. In the directions given to the Israelites for the observance of the Sabbath, they were forbidden to light a fire. But without a fire, the Salvationist in many of the countries wherein he is called to live, would perish with cold.
While, however, he cannot keep the Sabbath after the Jewish pattern, let him keep it in the spirit, by avoiding all unnecessary work.
Let, him lay aside his week-day labour. Let the hammer and the plough, and the saw and the machine, and himself into the bargain, be unemployed, as far as possible, on the Sabbath.
Let there be rest in his Home as far as practicable.
Let there be as little cooking, with the work attendant on it, as possible. It grieves me often to know what an immense amount of Roasting, Boiling, Table-Spreading, Washing-up, and other similar work, is done on the Sabbath in many of the homes of my dear Soldiers. Much of it could, I am sure, be done without. Let the day, as far as possible, be a day of rest.
The Salvationist's Sunday
My DEAR COMRADES,
My message to you in my last Letter concerned the Sabbath, and as it was not completed when we broke off, I must return to the subject.
Perhaps I ought to have called upon you to praise God for our Sabbath. The day is indeed a blessing to those who know how to use it, and to us who love the souls of men, and desire to work for their salvation, the Sunday is a priceless opportunity, one which we cannot very easily value too highly. Is it not our great day of battle and victory, our time both for sowing the seed and gathering in the harvest? Yes, let every Salvationist thank God for the Sabbath Day.
Now I was telling you what I think should belong to a Salvationist's Sunday, and setting forth some of the things that seem to me to make it a holy day. I mentioned first resting from all unnecessary work. Let me have another word on that point.
1. A Salvationist's Sunday ought to be a day of rest from unnecessary traveling. The Jew was not allowed to travel more than about three miles. That distance was called "A Sabbath Day's journey." That command said in spirit to the Israelite, "Don't travel farther than is actually necessary to meet your immediate needs or to do good to your fellow-men."
2. The Salvationist's Sunday should be a Day of Rest from unnecessary labour in cleaning up and in dressing. Sunday clothes may become a great snare and burden. Many Soldiers make it a practice to prepare their meals, brush their clothes, and clean their boots on Saturday night, so as to enable them to be "Free for Service" next day. Strive as far as you possibly can, for your own sake, to make it a Day of Rest from such things. Let your body and your brain rest. Your life will be healthier, more vigorous, and happier, and it will last longer with the Sabbath Rest than without it.
Perhaps someone will say, "How will this fit in with my Sunday toil at my Corps, or away at the Outpost, in the Open-Air with the Juniors, or in some other form? With me Sunday is in some ways the hardest-worked day of the week." I have no doubt it is, my Comrades; it has always been so with me. But while it has been the hardest, it has also been the gladdest day, and in the change of work I have found rest. Moreover, works of Necessity, of Charity, and of Mercy are not only profitable to man, but are acceptable to God, and that is keeping the Sabbath Holy in the best and noblest sense of the word.
3. The Salvationist finds in the Sabbath an extra opportunity for the worship and service of God. His change of work and his extra meetings draw out his thoughts and feelings in thanksgiving to his Lord and Saviour. He looks into his own heart by self-examination. He prays, and sings, and worships his Father in Heaven, and reconsecrates himself to His blessed service. He thinks about the love of Christ, and so learns to love Him more, and drinks of His Spirit to help him in the toil and conflict of the week.
4. A good Salvationist keeps the Sabbath by availing himself of the extra opportunities it offers for spreading salvation. The people are more at leisure than on other days. The absorption and anxieties connected with their daily toil are off their minds. It is true that in some countries there is the excitement afforded by the extra facilities for pleasure and recreation; but in others, large masses of the people are wholly without occupation or amusement. They have literally nothing to do but lie in bed and read the newspaper or the novel, or hang about gossiping, or admiring each others' clothes. There they are, and there is our opportunity: --
To Visit them in their Homes. To Talk to them in the Streets. To Attract them to our Halls.
To get the Holy Ghost down upon them, and so convince them of sin, and bring them to God and save their souls.
This must be, nay, I am sure it is, a plan of keeping the Sabbath which is peculiarly pleasing end acceptable to God, and highly profitable both for this world and the next to those who faithfully adopt it.
5. Salvationists who are parents should make the Sunday at home, as happy and useful as they possibly can to every member of the house-hold. It will be found very useful to arrange for a little quiet time with the children; enquiring into what has been going on at school, asking about their time for prayer, and giving tender and loving advice. When the circumstances allow, parents may very usefully take the elder children with them to the Open-Air meeting, using the time in coming and going to speak of the work God wants them to do in the world, and making the young folks feel what a splendid thing it is to stand up for Him and play their part in His service.
And now, I must add a word of caution. I know of nothing so likely to spoil Sunday at home as useless talking -- such talk as is often associated with tea-parties and long country walks, and other ways of passing the time. I warn you against these. Whenever friends or Comrades drop in to see you, try to bless them in their souls, and try to help them to bless you. Let there be a little singing at the tea-table, and then some prayer -- real heart-crying to God. If any present are unsaved, try your best to help them to decision. Thousands of souls will appear in glory by-and-by who have been either first convicted or led to Christ at such little Sunday gatherings in the homes of Salvationists.
6. Salvationists should not only keep the Sabbath after the fashion I have described themselves, but they must see that all under their influence or authority are given proper opportunities of doing so. Be careful of the servant, if you have one; be especially careful of the wife, whose Sunday is often, I am afraid, a very hard day; just for want of a little thought and care on her husband's part. Be careful of your fellow-servants, if you are yourself a servant. Try to get them the chance you so much prize, of going to the meeting. God will notice your thought in helping them to keep His Sabbath and your care for their souls, and reward you in His own way.
My DEAR COMRADES,
Everyone knows that on going into the Battle of Trafalgar, Lord Nelson hoisted at his masthead the signal, "England expects every man to do his Duty." That sentence has been memorable ever since.
I suppose that this expectation is not confined to any one Nation, but that every Country cherishes the same expectation from its Subjects. I am quite certain that The General of The Salvation Army expects that every Soldier in its Ranks will do his Duty to his Saviour, to his Flag, to his Principles, to his Country, to his Saviour, and to a Dying World.
Duty is a good old English word. I like it very much. It is so expressive, and so well understood by young and old, rich and poor, saint and sinner alike. Who is there that does not know what is meant by doing his Duty?
Duty signifies neither more nor less than doing what you feel you ought to do, and leaving undone what you know you ought not to do.
It may apply to a man's deciding on a course he intends to follow for life, as for instance :--
A sinner giving up his Sins, a drunkard renouncing the drink, a swindler abandoning his cheating, a liar forswearing his falsehood; and that for ever and ever,
Have you, my Comrades, put away from you every evil habit? If not, that is what God requires from you at this very moment. Will you do your Duty?
It may apply to a Saint placing himself and all he possesses at the service of his Saviour. Have you done that? If not, you cannot truthfully say that you have done your Duty.
It may apply to a Soldier offering himself to be an Officer, or to fill any other post for which he may be thought best qualified in The Army, being ready and willing to fight at that post to his dying day. What are you called to? will you do your Duty?
The word Duty may apply to something which is more or less the act of the hour, such as the reading of your Bible, praying in your family, speaking to someone about his soul, going to the Open-Air, giving money to feed the poor, wearing Uniform, or the like. When the call comes to you for any of these things, you must do your Duty.
Now, the first thing a Soldier has to do with what appears to be his Duty is to give himself up to its performance, whatever the consequences.
When Duty presents itself Comrades: --
Do not stop to enquire about your ability or worthiness to perform the task. All you want to know about it is, "Is it my Duty?"
Do not stop to consult your feelings. They will possibly, nay, very likely, be in direct opposition both to your judgment and your conscience. Simply ask, "Is this my Duty?"
Do not stop to ask how far it will affect your worldly interests, risk your health, please your family, or anything else. Remember Daniel and the Three Hebrew Children, and ask, "Is it my Duty?"
Look at the precious things that will follow the doing of your Duty: --
(i) To begin with, doing your Duty is inseparably connected with your Peace of Mind. Peace is a great treasure, but you cannot have peace without a clear conscience, and you cannot have a clear conscience without doing your Duty. You can settle that once for all. If you are to have that precious treasure amid the storms and changes and disappointments of life, you must do your Duty.
(ii) Doing your Duty is a condition of the assurance of the Divine Favour. The assurance of God's favour means the witness of the Holy Spirit in the soul, not only to the fact of your being a child of God, but that God is pleased with the way in which you are conducting yourself in all the affairs of your every-day life. But if you are neglecting that Duty, how can He testify to the fact that you are doing it? You must do your Duty.
(iii) Keeping on doing your Duty is the only way by which you can build up a strong Character. To be able to resist the Devil trample on his Temptations, glory in the Cross, live above the World, to spend and to be spent for the Salvation of Souls, is a condition of heart and will that must be admired of the Angels. Do you want to be strong enough to always do the right? Then, whether pleasant or painful, keep on doing your Duty.
If you want to be a proper Example for those around you to imitate, keep on doing your Duty.
You are watched continually -- in your home, at your work, in the Corps. Someone's eyes are always on you. Someone is always reckoning you up, and judging whether you are what you profess to be or not; or, what is more important still, someone is always shaping their own doings and character by yours.
You have probably heard the story of the man who complained to his minister that he had four miles to walk to his Church. "Oh, my dear fellow," said the Parson, "you must not grumble at that. You have an opportunity every Sunday morning of preaching a sermon four miles long." He meant that all the people along the road he travelled had an example before their eyes which said, "Why don't you go to Church? Why don't you do your Duty?"
When you pray, when you sing, when you suffer without repining, when you carry one another's burdens, when you warn sinners, when you give your money; in short, whenever you do any good act, you say by your action to those around you, "Go, and do likewise. Do your Duty! Do your Duty!"
The Esteem of those around you, and in many cases your own earthly profit, will be promoted by your doing your Duty. Men who hate your Saviour and despise your religion will admire you, and employ you, and reward you, if they are confident that you do your Duty. They will say: "That man is not governed by what is pleasant, or easy, or profitable to himself at the moment, or even by what will gratify other people. He means to do his Duty."
If you want the Review of your Life to give you satisfaction when yon come to your death-bed, you must do your Duty. In that terrible battle of Trafalgar to which I have referred, Nelson was mortally wounded. They carried him below to die, and when the last moment came he said to a favourite Captain who was bending over him, "Kiss me, Hardy. Now I am satisfied. Thank God, I have done my Duty." Now, I say nothing here about the cruel business of war. But leaving that entirely out of the question, I do feel that there was something very pathetic about this incident, and I want to ask you one or two questions suggested by it.
If death overtook yon, my Comrades, to-night, would you be able to say,
"Husband, Wife, kiss me. I am leaving you, but I am satisfied. Thank God, I have done my Duty!
"Father, Mother, Children, kiss me. I have loved your souls, and toiled for your Salvation. Thank God, I have done my Duty!
"Brother, Sister, Master, Servant, kiss me. I have tried to bless yon. I am satisfied. Thank God, I have done my Duty!
"Comrades, Captain, Lieutenant, kiss me. I have fought with you, and been true to the dear old Flag. I am satisfied. Thank God, I have done my Duty!"
Would you be able to say this? And when, at the Judgment Seat, you meet these dear ones again, and the poor Sinners who now live around about you, speeding on their way to the land of Misery and Despair, will you be able to say to them, "I knew you on earth; I loved you; I prayed for you; and in trying to save you I did my Duty"?
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