In presenting the narrative of some of the doings of the Salvation Army during the world's great conflict for liberty, I am but answering the insistent call of a most generous and appreciative public.
When moved to activity by the apparent need, there was never a thought that our humble services would awaken the widespread admiration that has developed. In fact, we did not expect anything further than appreciative recognition from those immediately benefited, and the knowledge that our people have proved so useful is an abundant compensation for all toil and sacrifice, for service is our watchword, and there is no reward equal to that of doing the most good to the most people in the most need. When our National Armies were being gathered for overseas work, the likelihood of a great need was self-evident, and the most logical and most natural thing for the Salvation Army to do was to hold itself in readiness for action. That we were straitened in our circumstances is well understood, more so by us than by anybody else. The story as told in these pages is necessarily incomplete, for the obvious reason that the work is yet in progress. We entered France ahead of our Expeditionary Forces, and it is my purpose to continue my people's ministries until the last of our troops return. At the present moment the number of our workers overseas equals that of any day yet experienced.
Because of the pressure that this service brings, together with the unmentioned executive cares incident to the vast work of the Salvation Army in these United States, I felt compelled to requisition some competent person to aid me in the literary work associated with the production of a concrete story. In this I was most fortunate, for a writer of established worth and national fame in the person of Mrs. Grace Livingston Hill came to my assistance; and having for many days had the privilege of working with her in the sifting process, gathering from the mass of matter that had accumulated and which was being daily added to, with every confidence I am able to commend her patience and toil. How well she has done her work the book will bear its own testimony.
This foreword would be incomplete were I to fail in acknowledging in a very definite way the lavish expressions of gratitude that have abounded on the part of "The Boys" themselves. This is our reward, and is a very great encouragement to us to continue a growing and more permanent effort for their welfare, which is comprehended in our plans for the future. The official support given has been of the highest and most generous character. Marshal Foch himself most kindly cabled me, and General Pershing has upon several occasions inspired us with commendatory words of the greatest worth.
Our beloved President has been pleased to reflect the people's pleasure and his own personal gratification upon what the Salvation Army has accomplished with the troops, which good-will we shall ever regard as one of our greatest honors.
The lavish eulogy and sincere affection bestowed by the nation upon the organization I can only account for by the simple fact that our ministering members have been in spirit and reality with the men.
True to our first light, first teaching, and first practices, we have always put ourselves close beside the man irrespective of whether his condition is fair or foul; whether his surroundings are peaceful or perilous; whether his prospects are promising or threatening. As a people we have felt that to be of true service to others we must be close enough to them to lift part of their load and thus carry out that grand injunction of the Apostle Paul, "Bear ye one another's burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ."
The Salvation Army upon the battlefields of France has but worked along the same lines as in the great cities of the nations. We are, with our every gift to serve, close up to those in need; and so, as Lieut.-Colonel Roosevelt put it, "Whatever the lot of the men, the Salvation Army is found with them."
We never permit any superiority of position, or breeding, or even grace to make a gap between us and any who may be less fortunate. To help another, you must be near enough to catch the heart-beat. And so a large measure of our success in the war is accounted for by the fact that we have been with them. With a hundred thousand Salvationists on all fronts, and tens and tens of thousands of Salvationists at their ministering posts in the homelands as well as overseas, from the time that each of the Allied countries entered the war the Salvation Army has been with the fighting- men.
With them in the thatched cottage on the hillside, and in the humble dwelling in the great towns of the homelands, when they faced the great ordeal of wishing good-bye to mothers and fathers and wives and children.
With them in the blood-soaked furrows of old fields; with them in the desolation of No Man's Land; and with them amid the indescribable miseries and gory horrors of the battlefield. With them with the sweetest ministry, trained in the art of service, white-souled, brave, tender-hearted men and women could render.
National Headquarters Salvation Army, New York City.
The war is over. The world's greatest tragedy is arrested. The awful pull at men's heart-strings relaxed. The inhuman monster that leapt out of the darkness and laid blood-hands upon every home of a peace-blest earth has been overthrown. Autocracy and diabolical tyranny lie defeated and crushed behind the long rows of white crosses that stand like sign-posts pointing heavenward, all the way from the English Channel to the Adriatic, linking the two by an inseverable chain.
While the nations were in the throes of the conflict, I was constrained to speak and write of the Salvation Army's activities in the frightful struggle. Now that all is over and I reflect upon the price the nations have paid I realize much hesitancy in so doing.
When I think of England-where almost every man you meet is but a piece of a man! France--one great graveyard! Its towns and cities a wilderness of waste! The allied countries--Italy, and deathless little Belgium, and Serbia--well-nigh exterminated in the desperate, gory struggle! When I think upon it--the price America has paid! The price her heroic sons have paid! They that come down the gangways of the returning boats on crutches! They that are carried down on stretchers! They that sail into New York Harbor, young and fair, but never again to see the Statue of Liberty! The price that dear mothers and fathers have paid! The price that the tens of thousands of little children have paid! The price they that sleep in the lands they made free have paid! When I think upon all this, it is with no little reluctance that I now write of the small part taken by the Salvation Army in the world's titanic sacrifice for liberty, but which part we shall ever regard as our life's crowning honor.
Expressions of surprise from officers of all ranks as well as the private soldier have vied with those of gratitude concerning the efficiency of this service, but no thought of having accomplished any achievement higher than their simplest duty is entertained by the Salvationists themselves; for uniformly they feel that they have but striven to measure up to the high standards of service maintained by the Salvation Army, which standards ask of its officers all over the world that no effort shall be left unprosecuted, no sacrifice unrendered, which will help to meet the need at their door.
And it is such high standards of devoted service to our fellow, linked with the practical nature of the movement's operations, the deeply religious character of its members, its intelligent system of government, uniting, and thus augmenting, all its activities; with the immense advantage of the military training provided by the organization, that give to its officers a potency and adaptability that have for the greater period of our brief lifetime made us an influential factor in seasons of civic and national disaster.
When that beautiful city of the Golden Gate, San Francisco, was laid low by earthquake and fire, the Salvationists were the first upon the ground with blankets, and clothes, and food, gathering frightened little children, looking after old age, and rescuing many from the burning and falling buildings.
At the time of the wild rush to the Klondike, the Salvation Army was, with its sweet, pure women--the only women amidst tens of thousands of men-- upon the mountain-side of the Chilcoot Pass saving the lives of the gold- seekers, and telling those shattered by disappointment of treasure that "doth not perish."
At the time of the Jamestown, the Galveston, and the Dayton floods the Salvation Army officer, with his boat laden with sandwiches and warm wraps, was the first upon the rising waters, ministering to marooned and starving families gathered upon the housetops.
In the direful disaster that swept over the beautiful city of Halifax, the Mayor of that city stated: "I do not know what I should have done the first two or three days following the explosion, when everyone was panic- stricken without the ready, intelligent, and unbroken day-and-night efforts of the Salvation Army."
On numerous other similar occasions we have relieved distress and sorrow by our almost instantaneous service. Hence when our honored President decided that our National Emblem, heralder of the inalienable rights of man, should cross the seas and wave for the freedom of the peoples of the earth, automatically the Salvation Army moved with it, and our officers passed to the varying posts of helpfulness which the emergency demanded.
Now on all sides I am confronted with the question: What is the secret of the Salvation Army's success in the war?
Permit me to suggests three reasons which, in my judgment, account for it:
First, when the war-bolt fell, when the clarion call sounded, it found the Salvation Army ready!
Ready not only with our material machinery, but with that precious piece of human mechanism which is indispensable to all great and high achievement--the right calibre of man, and the right calibre of woman. Men and women equipped by a careful training for the work they would have to do.
We were not many in number, I admit. In France our numbers have been regrettably few. But this is because I have felt it was better to fall short in quantity than to run the risk in falling short in quality. Quality is its own multiplication table. Quality without quantity will spread, whereas quantity without quality will shrink. Therefore, I would not send any officers to France except such as had been fully equipped in our training schools.
Few have even a remote idea of the extensive training given to all Salvation Army officers by our military system of education, covering all the tactics of that particular warfare to which they have consecrated their lives--the service of humanity.
We have in the Salvation Army thirty-nine Training Schools in which our own men and women, both for our missionary and home fields, receive an intelligent tuition and practical training in the minutest details of their service. They are trained in the finest and most intricate of all the arts, the art of dealing ably with human life.
It is a wonderful art which transfigures a sheet of cold grey canvas into a throbbing vitality, and on its inanimate spread visualizes a living picture from which one feels they can never turn their eyes away.
It is a wonderful art which takes a rugged, knotted block of marble, standing upon a coarse wooden bench, and cuts out of its uncomely crudeness--as I saw it done--the face of my father, with its every feature illumined with prophetic light, so true to life that I felt that to my touch it surely must respond.
But even such arts as these crumble; they are as dust under our feet compared with that much greater art, the art of dealing ably with human life in all its varying conditions and phases.
It is in this art that we seek by a most careful culture and training to perfect our officers.
They are trained in those expert measures which enable them to handle satisfactorily those that cannot handle themselves, those that have lost their grip on things, and that if unaided go down under the high, rough tides. Trained to meet emergencies of every character--to leap into the breach, to span the gulf, and to do it without waiting to be told how.
Trained to press at every cost for the desired and decided-upon end.
Trained to obey orders willingly, and gladly, and wholly--not in part.
Trained to give no quarter to the enemy, no matter what the character, nor in what form he may present himself, and to never consider what personal advantage may be derived.
Trained in the art of the winsome, attractive coquetries of the round, brown doughnut and all its kindred.
Trained, if needs be, to seal their services with their life's blood.
One of our women officers, on being told by the colonel of the regiment she would be killed if she persisted in serving her doughnuts and cocoa to the men while under heavy fire, and that she must get back to safety, replied: "Colonel, we can die with the men, but we cannot leave them."
When, therefore, I gathered the little companies together for their last charge before they sailed for France, I would tell them that while I was unable to arm them with many of the advantages of the more wealthy denominations; that while I could give them only a very few assistants owing to the great demand upon our forces; and that while I could promise them nothing beyond their bare expenses, yet I knew that without fear I could rely upon them for an unsurpassed devotion to the God-inspired standards of the emblem of this, the world's greatest Republic, the Stars and Stripes, now in the van for the freedom of the peoples of the earth. That I could rely upon them for unsurpassed devotion to the brave men who laid their lives upon the altar of their country's protection, and that I could rely upon them for an unsurpassed devotion to that other banner, the Banner of Calvary, the significance of which has not changed in nineteen centuries, and by the standards of which, alone, all the world's wrongs can be redressed, and by the standards of which alone men can be liberated from all their bondage. And they have not failed.
A further reason for the success of the Salvation Army in the war is, it found us accustomed to hardship.
We are a people who have thrived on adversity. Opposition, persecution, privation, abuse, hunger, cold and want were with us at the starting-post, and have journeyed with us all along the course.
We went to the battlefields no strangers to suffering. The biting cold winds that swept the fields of Flanders were not the first to lash our faces. The sunless cellars, with their mouldy walls and water-seeped floors, where our women sought refuge from shell-fire through the hours of the night, contributed no new or untried experience. In such cellars as these, in their home cities, under the flicker of a tallow candle, they have ministered to the sick and comforted the dying.
Wet feet, lack of deep, being often without food, finding things different from what we had planned, hoped and expected, were frequent experiences with us. All such things we Salvationists encounter in our daily toils for others amid the indescribable miseries and inestimable sorrows, the sins and the tragedies of the underworlds of our great cities--the underneath of those great cities which upon the surface thunder with enterprise and glitter with brilliance.
We are not easily affrighted by frowns of fortune. We do not change our course because of contrary currents, nor put into harbor because of head- winds. Almost all our progress has been made in the teeth of the storm. We have always had to "tack," but as it is "the set of the sails, and not the gales" that decides the ports we reach, the competency of our seamanship is determined by the fact that we "get there."
Our service in France was not, therefore, an experiment, but an organized, tested, and proved system. We were enacting no new rôle. We were all through the Boer War. Our officers were with the besieged troops in Mafeking and Ladysmith. They were with Lord Kitchener in his victorious march through Africa. It was this grand soldier who afterwards wrote to my father, General William Booth, the Founder of our movement, saying: "Your men have given us an example both of how to live as good soldiers and how to die as heroes." And so it was quite natural that our men and women, with that fearlessness which characterizes our members, should take up positions under fire in France.
In fact, our officers would have considered themselves unfaithful to Salvation Army traditions and history, and untrue to those who had gone before, if they had deserted any post, or shirked any duty, because cloaked with the shadows of death.
This explains why their dear forms loomed up in the fog and the rain, in the hours of the night, on the roads, under shell fire, serving coffee and doughnuts.
This is how it was they were with them on the long dreary marches, with a smile and a song and a word of cheer.
This is how it is the Salvation Army has no "closing hours." "Taps" sound for us when the need is relieved.
Three of our women officers in the Toul Sector had slept for three weeks in a hay-stack, in an open field, to be near the men of an ammunition train taking supplies to the front under cover of darkness. The boys had watched their continued, devoted service for them--the many nights without sleep--and noticing the shabby uniform of the little officer in charge, collected among themselves 1600 francs, and offered it to her for a new one, and some other comforts, the spokesman saying: "This is just to show you how grateful we are to you." The officer was deeply touched, but told them she could not think of accepting it for herself. "I am quite accustomed to hard toils," she said. "I have only done what all my comrades are doing--my duty," and offered to compromise by putting the money into a general fund for the benefit of all--to buy more doughnuts and more coffee for the boys.
Salvation Army teaching and practice is: Choose your purpose, then set your face as flint toward that purpose, permitting no enemy that can oppose, and no sacrifice that can be asked, to turn you from it.
Again, a reason for our success in the war is, our practical religion.
That is, our religion is practicable. Or, I would rather say, our Christianity is practicable. Few realize this as the secret of our success, and some who do realize it will not admit it, but this is what it really is.
We do worship; both in spirit and form, in public and in private. We rely upon prayer as the only line of communication between the creature and his Creator, the only wing upon which the soul's requirements and hungerings can be wafted to the Fount of all spiritual supply. Through our street, as well as our indoor meetings, perhaps oftener than any other people, we come to the masses with the divine benediction of prayer; and it would be difficult to find the Salvationist's home that does not regard the family altar as its most precious and priceless treasure.
We do preach. We preach God the Creator of earth and heaven, unerring in His wisdom, infinite in His love and omnipotent in His power. We preach Jesus Christ, God's only begotten Son, dying on Calvary for a world's transgressions, able to save to the uttermost "all those who come unto God by Him." We preach God the Holy Ghost, sanctifier and comforter of the souls of men, making white the life, and kindling lights in every dark landing-place. We preach the Bible, authentic in its statements, immaculate in its teaching, and glorious in its promises. We preach grace, limitless grace, grace enough for all men, and grace enough for each. We preach Hell, the irrevocable doom of the soul that rejects the Saviour. We preach Heaven, the home of the righteous, the reward of the good, the crowning of them that endure to the end.
Even as we preach, so we practice Christianity. We reduce theory to action. We apply faith to deeds. We confess and present Jesus Christ in things that can be done. It is this that has carried our flag into sixty- three countries and colonies, and despite the bitterest opposition has given us the financial support of twenty-one national governments. It is this that has brought us up from a little handful of humble workers to an organization with 21,000 officers and workers, preaching the gospel in thirty-nine tongues. It is this that has multiplied the one bandsman and a despised big drum to an army of 27,000 musicians, and it is this-our practice of religion-that has placed Christ in deeds.
Arthur E. Copping gives as the reason for the movement's success-"the simple, thorough-going, uncompromising, seven-days-a-week character of its Christianity." It is this every-day-use religion which has made us of infinite service in the places of toil, breakage, and suffering; this every-day-use religion which has made us the only resource for thousands in misery and vice; this every-day-use religion which has insured our success to an extent that has induced civic authorities, Judges, Mayors, Governors, and even National Governments-such as India with its Criminal Tribes-to turn to us with the problems of the poor and the wicked.
While the Salvationist is not of the generally understood ascetic or monastic type, yet his spirit and deeds are of the very essence of saintliness.
As man has arrested the lazy cloud sleeping on the brow of the hill, and has brought it down to enlighten our darkness, to carry our mail-bags, to haul our luggage, and to flash our messages, so, I would say with all reverence, that the Salvation Army in a very particular way has again brought down Jesus Christ from the high, high thrones, golden pathways, and wing-spread angels of Glory, to the common mud walks of earth, and has presented Him again in the flesh to a storm-torn world, touching and healing the wounds, the bruises, and the bleeding sores of humanity.
That was a wonderful sermon Christ preached on the Mount, but was it more wonderful than the ministry of the wounded man fallen by the roadside, or the drying of the tears from the pale, worn face of the widow of Nain? Or more wonderful than when He said, Let them come--let them come--mothers and the little children--and blessed them?
It has only been this same Christ, this Christ in deeds, when our women have washed the blood from the faces of the wounded, and taken the caked mud from their feet; when under fire, through the hours of the night, they have made the doughnuts; when instead of sleeping they have written the letters home to soldiers' loved ones, when they have lifted the heavy pails of water and struggled with them over the shell-wrecked roads that the dying soldiers might drink; when they have sewn the torn uniforms; when they have strewn with the first spring flowers the graves of those who died for liberty. Only Christ in deeds when our men went unarmed into the horrors of the Argonne Forest to gather the dying boys in their arms and to comfort them with love, humam and divine.
That valiant champion of justice and truth; that faithful, able and brilliant defender of American standards, the late Honorable Theodore Roosevelt, told me personally a few days before he went into the hospital that his son wrote him of how our officer, fifty-three years of age, despite his orders, went unarmed over the top, in the whirl-wind of the charge, amidst the shriek of shell and tear of shrapnel, and picked up the American boy left for dead in No Man's Land, carrying him on hie back over the shell-torn fields to safety.
It is this Christ in deeds that has made the doughnut to take the place of the "cup of cold water" given in His name. It is this Christ in deeds that has brought from our humble ranks the modern Florence Nightingales and taken to the gory horrors of the battlefields the white, uplifting influences of pure womanhood. It is this Christ in deeds that made Sir Arthur Stanley say, when thanking our General for $10,000 donated for more ambulances: "I thank you for the money, but much more for the men; they are quite the best in our service."
It is this Christ who has given to our humblest service a sheen-something of a glory-which the troops have caught, and which will make these simple deeds to hold tenaciously to history, and to outlive the effacing fingers of time-even to defy the very dissolution of death.
As Premier Clemenceau said: "We must love. We must believe. This is the secret of life. If we fail to learn this lesson, we exist without living: we die in ignorance of the reality of life."
A senator, after several months spent in France, stated: "It is my opinion that the secret of the success of this organization is their complete abandonment to their cause, the service of the man."
Of the many beautiful tributes paid to us by a most gracious public, and by the noblest-hearted and most kindly and gallant army that ever stood up in uniform, perhaps the most correct is this: Complete abandonment to the service of the man.
This, in large measure, is the cause of our success all over the world.
When you come to think of it, the Salvation Army is a remarkable arrangement. It is remarkable in its construction. It is a great empire. An empire geographically unlike any other. It is an empire without a frontier. It is an empire made up of geographical fragments, parted from each other by vast stretches of railroad and immense sweeps of sea. It is an empire composed of a tangle of races, tongues, and colors, of types of civilization and enlightened barbarism such as never before in all human history gathered together under one flag.
It is an army, with its titles rambling into all languages, a soldiery spreading over all lands, a banner upon which the sun never goes down-with its head in the heart of a cluster of islands set in the grey, wind-blown Northern seas, while its territories are scattered over every sea and under every sky.
The world has wondered what has been the controlling force holding this strange empire together. What is the electro-magnetism governing its furthest atom as though it were at your elbow? What is the magic sceptre that compels this diversity of peoples to act as one man? What is the master passion uniting these multifarious pulsations into one heart-beat?
Has it been a sworn-to signature attached to bond or paper? No; these can all too readily be designated "scraps" and be rent in twain. Has it been self-interest and worldly fame? No, for all selfish gain has had to be sacrificed upon the threshold of the contract. Has it been the bond of kinship, or blood, or speech? No, for under this banner the British master has become the servant of the Hindoo, and the American has gone to lay down his life upon the veldts of Africa. Has it been the bond of that almost supernatural force, glorious patriotism? No, not even this, for while we "know no man after the flesh," we recognize our brother in all the families of the earth, and our General infused into the breasts of his followers the sacred conviction that the Salvationist's country is the world.
What was it? What is it? Those ties created by a spiritual ideal. Our love for God demonstrated by our sacrifice for man.
My father, in a private audience with the late King Edward, said: "Your Majesty, some men's passion is gold; some men's passion is art; some men's passion is fame; my passion is man!"
This was in our Founder's breast the white flame which ignited like sparks in the hearts of all his followers.
It is for man we have laid our lives upon the altar. It is for man we have entered into a contract with our God which signs away our claim to any and all selfish ends. It is for man we have sworn to our own hurt, and--my God thou knowest-when the hurt came, hard and hot and fast, it was for man we held tenaciously to the bargain.
After the torpedoing of the Aboukir two sailors found themselves clinging to a spar which was not sufficiently buoyant to keep them both afloat. Harry, a Salvationist, grasped the situation and said to his mate: "Tom, for me to die will mean to go home to mother. I don't think it's quite the same for you, so you hold to the spar and I will go down; but promise me if you are picked up you will make my God your God and my people your people." Tom was rescued and told to a weeping audience in a Salvation Army hall the act of self-sacrifice which had saved his life, and testified to keeping his promise to the boy who had died for him.
When the Empress of Ireland went down with a hundred and thirty Salvation Army officers on board, one hundred and nine officers were drowned, and not one body that was picked up had on a life-belt. The few survivors told how the Salvationists, finding there were not enough life- preservers for all, took off their own belts and strapped them upon even strong men, saying, "I can die better than you can;" and from the deck of that sinking boat they flung their battle-cry around the world-- Others!
Man! Sometimes I think God has given us special eyesight with which to look upon him, We look through the exterior, look through the shell, look through the coat, and find the man. We look through the ofttimes repulsive wrappings, through the dark, objectionable coating collected upon the downward travel of misspent years, through the artificial veneer of empty seeming-through to the man.
He that was made after God's image.
He that is greater than firmaments, greater than suns, greater than worlds.
Man, for whom worlds were created, for whom Heavens were canopied, for whom suns were set ablaze. He in whose being there gleams that immortal spark we call the soul. And when this war came, it was natural for us to look to the man-the man under the shabby clothes, enlisting in the great armies of freedom; the man going down the street under the spick and span uniform; the man behind the gun, standing in the jaws of death hurling back world autocracy; the man, the son of liberty, discharging his obligations to them that are bound; the man, each one of them, although so young, who when the fates of the world swung in the balances proved to be the man of the hour; the man, each one of them, fighting not only for today but for tomorrow, and deciding the world's future; the man who gladly died that freedom might not be dead; the man dear to a hundred million throbbing hearts; the man God loved so much that to save him He gave His only Son to the unparalleled sacrifice of Calvary, with its measureless ocean of torment heaving up against His Heart in one foaming, wrathful, omnipotent surge.
Wherein is price? What constitutes cost, when the question is The Man?
I wish I could give you a picture of Commander Evangeline Booth as I saw her first, who has been the Source, the Inspiration, the Guide of this story.
I went to the first conference about this book in curiosity and some doubt, not knowing whether it was my work; not altogether sure whether I cared to attempt it. She took my hand and spoke to me. I looked in her face and saw the shining glory of her great spirit through those wonderful, beautiful, wise, keen eyes, and all doubts vanished. I studied the sincerity and beauty of her vivid face as we talked together, and heard the thrilling tale she was giving me to tell because she could not take the time from living it to write it, and I trembled lest she would not find me worthy for so great a task. I knew that I was being honored beyond women to have been selected as an instrument through whom the great story of the Salvation Army in the War might go forth to the world. That I wanted to do it more than any work that had ever come to my hand, I was certain at once; and that my whole soul was enmeshed in the wonder of it. It gripped me from the start. I was over-joyed to find that we were in absolute sympathy from the first.
One sentence from that earliest talk we had together stands clear in my memory, and it has perhaps unconsciously shaped the theme which I hope will be found running through all the book:
"Our people," said she, flinging out her hands in a lovely embracing movement, as if she saw before her at that moment those devoted workers of hers who follow where she leads unquestioningly, and stay not for fire or foe, or weariness, or peril of any sort:
"Our people know that Christ is a living presence, that they can reach out and feel He is near: that is why they can live so splendidly and die so heroically!"
As she spoke a light shone in her face that reminded me of the light that we read was on Moses' face after he had spent those days in the mountain with God; and somewhere back in my soul something was repeating the words: "And they took knowledge of them that they had been with Jesus."
That seems to me to be the whole secret of the wonderful lives and wonderful work of the Salvation Army. They have become acquainted with Jesus Christ, whom to know is life eternal; they feel His presence constantly with them and they live their lives "as seeing Him who is invisible." They are a living miracle for the confounding of all who doubt that there is a God whom mortals may know face to face while they are yet upon the earth.
The one thing that these people seem to feel is really worth while is bringing other people to know their Christ. All other things in life are merely subservient to this, or tributary to it. All their education, culture and refinement, their amazing organization, their rare business ability, are just so many tools that they use for the uplift of others. In fact, the word "others" appears here and there, printed on small white cards and tacked up over a desk, or in a hallway near the elevator, anywhere, everywhere all over the great building of the New York Headquarters, a quiet, unobtrusive, yet startling reminder of a world of real things in the midst of the busy rush of life.
Yet they do not obtrude their religion. Rather it is a secret joy that shines unaware through their eyes, and seems to flood their whole being with happiness so that others can but see. It is there, ready, when the time comes to give comfort, or advice, or to tell the message of the gospel in clear ringing sentences in one of their meetings; but it speaks as well through a smile, or a ripple of song, or a bright funny story, or something good to eat when one is hungry, as it does through actual preaching. It is the living Christ, as if He were on earth again living in them. And when one comes to know them well one knows that He is!
"Go straight for the salvation of souls: never rest satisfied unless this end is achieved!" is part of the commission that the Commander gives to her envoys. It is worth while stopping to think what would be the effect on the world if every one who has named the name of Christ should accept that commission and go forth to fulfill it.
And you who have been accustomed to drop your pennies in the tambourine of the Salvation Army lassies at the street corners, and look upon her as a representative of a lower class who are doing good "in their way," prepare to realize that you have made a mistake. The Salvation Army is not an organization composed of a lot of ignorant, illiterate, reformed criminals picked out of the slums. There may be among them many of that class who by the army's efforts have been saved from a life of sin and shame, and lifted up to be useful citizens; but great numbers of them, the leaders and officers, are refined, educated men and women who have put Christ and His Kingdom first in their hearts and lives. Their young people will compare in every way with the best of the young people of any of our religious denominations.
After the privilege of close association with them for some time I have come to feel that the most noticeable and lovely thing about the girls is the way they wear their womanhood, as if it were a flower, or a rare jewel. One of these girls, who, by the way, had been nine months in France, all of it under shell fire, said to me:
"I used to wish I had been born a boy, they are not hampered so much as women are; but after I went to France and saw what a good woman meant to those boys in the trenches I changed my mind, and I'm glad I was born a woman. It means a great deal to be a woman."
And so there is no coquetry about these girls, no little personal vanity such as girls who are thinking of themselves often have. They take great care to be neat and sweet and serviceable, but as they are not thinking of themselves, but only how they may serve, they are blest with that loveliest of all adorning, a meek and quiet spirit and a joy of living and content that only forgetfulness of self and communion with Jesus Christ can bring.
I feel as if I would like to thank every one of them, men and women and young girls, who have so kindly and generously and wholeheartedly given me of their time and experiences and put at my disposal their correspondence to enrich this story, and have helped me to go over the ground of the great American drives in the war and see what they saw, hear what they heard, and feel as they felt. It has been one of the greatest experiences of my life.
And she, their God-given leader, that wonderful woman whose wise hand guides every detail of this marvellous organization in America, and whose well furnished mind is ever thinking out new ways to serve her Master, Christ; what shall I say of her whom I have come to know and love so well?
Her exceptional ability as a public speaker is of the widest fame, while comparatively few, beyond those of her most trusted Officers, are brought into admiring touch with her brilliant executive powers. All these, however, unite in most unstinted praise and declare that functioning in this sphere, the Commander even excels her platform triumphs. But one must know her well and watch her every day to understand her depth of insight into character, her wideness of vision, her skill of making adverse circumstances serve her ends. Born with an innate genius for leadership, swallowed up in her work, wholly consecrated to God and His service, she looks upon men, as it were, with the eyes of the God she loves, and sees the best in everybody. She sees their faults also, but she sees the good, and is able to take that good and put it to account, while helping them out of their faults. Those whom she has so helped would kiss the hem of her garment as she passes. It is easy to see why she is a leader of men. It is easy to see who has made the Army here in America. It is easy to see who has inspired the brave men and wonderful women who went to France and labored.
She would not have me say these things of her, for she is humble, as such a great leader should be, knowing all her gifts and attainments to be but the glory of her Lord; and this is her book. Only in this chapter can I speak and say what I will, for it is not my book. But here, too, I waive my privilege and bow to my Commander.
[Grace Livingston Hill]