What is this Army of Salvation?

Directives by the Army's founder ring true today.

William Booth

WHAT a strong name! What does it mean? Just what it says—a number of people joined together after the fashion of an army, and therefore it is an army, and an army for the purpose of carrying salvation through the land. It is neither more nor less than that. If it be wise and lawful and desirable for men to be banded together and organized after the best method possible to liberate an enslaved nation, establish it in liberty and overcome its foes, then surely it must be wise and lawful and desirable for the people of God to join themselves together after the fashion most effective and forcible to liberate a captive world, and to overcome the enemies of God and man.

When Jehovah finished the work of creation, He turned from the new earth to the new Adam, and gave him the commission to multiply, increase, subdue and govern it, so that it should “become a happy home for him and his posterity, and bring honor and glory to its Creator.” Adam failed in his mission, and instead of Adam subduing the earth, the earth subdued Adam, and he and all his family went off into diabolical rebellion. But God still claimed His own, and a second time appeared, this time to redeem by sacrifice the world He had before created; and when He had finished the work, He turned to His disciples and gave a commission to go and disciple all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost.

It is overcome, conquer, subdue, not merely teach but persuade, compel all nations, all people to become disciples of the Son of God.

So at least it is understood by The Salvation Army. This idea originated, developed and fashioned it in the past, and dominates and propels it today. This very world which never ceases boasting of its freedom is sold under sin, held in slavery by Satan, who has usurped the place and power and revenues of Jehovah. We are to deliver it and fulfill the Master’s command. An army of deliverance, redemption, emancipation is wanted. In the name of the great Three in One the standard has been raised. 

Recruits are flowing in. Drilling, skirmishing, fighting, advancing. Some territory has been won, some captives have been liberated, some shouts of victory have been raised, together with plenty of misfortunes, losses, disasters and mistakes—all which might naturally be expected in such a war; but with it all there has been growth and increase continually. Every day it is becoming more fierce, determined, courageous and confident, and every day more and more a Salvation Army.

Does all this sound strange— not sacred, not ecclesiastical and after the pattern of existing things and institutions? Is it something new? It may be so, and yet it may be nonetheless true and scriptural, nonetheless of divine origin, made after some heavenly pattern.

What is this work we have in hand? To subdue a rebellious world to God. And what is the question to which many anxiously desire an answer? How is it most likely to be accomplished? 

  • That if ever the world is subdued, it will be by the instrumentality of people.
  • By holy people—saved, spiritual, divine people.
  • By people using substantially the same means as were used by the first Apostles—preaching, praying and believing.
  • That all that is affected will be by the power of the Holy Ghost, given through the atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Now on these lines how could a number of the Lord’s disciples conduct themselves in order to most effectually succeed in discipling all nations, subduing the world to God?

Supposing 5,000 godly men and women of varying ages and conditions presented themselves at St. Paul’s Cathedral tomorrow, saying, “We are so deeply impressed with the awful spiritual condition and peril of the world that we cannot rest; the Word of the Lord is as a fire in our bones, the love of souls is such a constraining power in our hearts that it will not let us remain idle. We want to join in a holy battle for the redemption of humankind. Take us and all we have and use us in the way most likely to accomplish this end.” How could these 5,000 burning hearts be used with the greatest force and likelihood of success? Something like the following answer must be given:

Nothing demoralizes Salvation soldiers more than inactivity. Idleness is stark ruin, and the devil's opportunity. — Push forward.

I. The 5,000 Must Work in Complete and Perfect Combination. To separate and scatter them, leaving them to work out varying plans would be unwise. Two working in combination will accomplish more than two in separation. Let them be the same force though acting in various divisions and scattered to the ends of the earth. Mold, weld and keep them together. Let them be one army and make them feel that they are working one plan. Brethren, sisters, comrades, division is weakness. Unity is strength. Why?

A.   Combination gives the strength which flows from Sympathy. The knowledge that if one is sore pressed, wounded, a thousand hearts feel with him, that if he falls they will shout victory o’er his grave, follow him in imagination to “the river,” and anticipate meeting him again before the throne, will be stimulus unutterable, will make him willing to face enemies, loss, death and devils.
B.   Combination Gives Confidence.There is wonderful power in knowing that a multitude are shouldering the same weapons, engaged in the same conflict, marching to the same music, under the same standard, for the destruction of the common foe. Confidence makes men into heroes. Hold together, close together, and there will be giants again even in our own days.
C.    Combination gives the strength which comes from Mutual Help. With a system of combination which is a reality, the strong will bear the infirmities of the weak. In a real war, no matter how carefully the forces are distributed, there will be weak places that will need strengthening when the conflict rages along the line. There will be positions against which the enemy will hurl his most powerful battalions, which positions must be reinforced or all will be lost. How glorious for fresh troops pouring in. 
We must hold the 5,000 together. We know not how the battle will go, no wing or detachment must be without its supports, and all must be so arranged that the power and force of the whole can be directed to strengthen and sustain the weakest part.
D.   Combination gives the power which comes from ExampleMan imitates. The deeds of daring, self-denial and sacrifice done here, will be talked about and imitated there. In every company there will be spirits more courageous and daring than others. These will lead and the rest will follow.

II. But Such Combination or Oneness of Action Will Only Be Possible with Oneness of Direction. If all are to act together all must act on one plan, and act under one head. Twenty different heads will produce twenty different plans with twenty different methods, clashing and hindering each other. Then what next? Disagreement, confusion, separation, destruction. 

Bring in your earthly usages. How do people ordinarily act? Do you want to tunnel a mountain, bridge a river, manage a railway or conquer a nation? Is it not an axiom everywhere accepted in time of war that one bad general is preferable to two good ones? If you will keep the unity of your 5,000, one mind must direct and lead them. Is of one mind all that is needed? By no means. Subordinate leadership there must be in all manner of directions; all the talent in this direction possessed by the 5,000 must be called into play. But one controlling, directing will must be acknowledged, accepted, and followed, if you are to keep the unity of the 5,000 and make the most of it for God and man.

III. Then Of Course You Will Train The 5,000. An army without training would be a loose, helpless mob, a source of weakness and danger impossible to hold together. And this 5,000 will be little better, though everyone of them may now have hearts full of zeal for God and love; so we must train them to the uttermost. We must teach them how to fight together in the best way. Train them in the industrious, practical and self-sacrificing discharge of their duties. Develop what gifts they possess and help them to acquire others. They will improve. They are only babes now, they will grow up to be adults when trained, taught and developed, accustomed to hardship and war. Let everyone have a chance. God is no respecter of person nor sex. Neither must you be. Every gift you need is here, and only wants calling forth and cultivating, and you will be fully provided for the war.

But mind, you must train and teach and develop—and establish your army in actual service. No pipe-clay soldiers will be of any service here. In earthly armies, something may be done in making soldiers with marching, inspections and drilling far away from the din and smoke of actual war. But not so here. They must learn as they fight and fight while they learn. They will train most rapidly only in the field. With the flag of victory waving over them they can be made into veterans, inspired with conviction that they are soldiers of the Most High, and invincible, unconquerable and all conquering.

IV. When You Have Trained Your 5,000 You Will Sort Them. When you have trained, tried and developed your force, found out what they are, what they can do, then you will put the right one in the right place. For every place you will have someone. Gifts differ. You will want the head, the eye, the ear, the hand, the feet, and you will have heads, eyes, ears and hands in abundance. You want infantry, and cavalry, engineers, transports and every other arm needed to make up a mighty force and you must assign the place for which they are adapted and needed.

 V. Then Of Course There Must Be Obedience. If the 5,000 are to act together, to act on one plan, it can only be affected by obedience. If the officers of this Salvation force can only express their wishes for those to act in some particular manner which can be received or rejected as they may appear pleasant, then anything like action is impossible. But if it is assured that the 5,000 will act as directed, then the most important measures can be devised and executed with exact certainty. If a course of action is only taken on its recommending itself to the judgment, leadings, impulses, feelings of each, then you can be sure of nothing except confusion, defeat and destruction.

Try the latter plan on any human undertaking and where will you be? Will not any commercial enterprise speed to bankruptcy? Or war. Try it in the presence of the enemy. Let everyone fight as he is led, every regiment charge up the hill or do any other deeds as they are resolved upon after discussion, votes and majorities, and where will you be? What sort of news will you send home to an expectant country? What sort of a welcome back will those left receive? No! Obedience is the word. Somebody who knows what they are doing, to direct, and then simple obedience. Obedience for earthly business and earthly war, and obedience for God’s business and God’s army.

VI. And Lastly, Having An Organized, Developed and Disciplined Army, It Must Be Used, Employed to the Uttermost. Nothing demoralizes Salvation soldiers more than inactivity. Idleness is stark ruin, and the devil’s opportunity. Push forward. Never heed the number of your foes, or the impossibility of overcoming them. Your Salvation Army has been made to accomplish the impossibleand conquer that which to human calculations cannot be overcome. FORWARD!If you will only go forward, you will fulfill the commission of your Divine Captain, the discipling of all nations, the subjugation and conquest of the world. 

From Salvation Soldiery, Series of Addresses by William Booth, the Founder of The Salvation Army, ©2016, Revival Press. Available at www.amazon.com 


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