William Booth
     By Minnie Linsay Carpenter
William Booth
By Minnie Linsay Carpenter.

William (Booth, future founder of the Salvation Army) had a cousin - a cobbler - who lived so kindly and winning a Christian life that the boy associated religion with this man, and was drawn to it for his sake. A year after William began his apprenticeship his father became seriously ill. The spiritual help of the Methodist shoemaker was sought. Samuel Booth realized in his last days the miserable folly and waste of his life; he sought the forgiveness of his sins and died trusting in Jesus. William was much awed by this first intimate contact with death. Something within him awakened. He realized that he was an immortal spirit, that he had but one life to live. How should he live it? How should he meet death? These thought drew him to the Methodist Church where his good cousin worshiped; he joined a class for spiritual instruction.

Definitely, three ambitions formed in the soul of this tall, pale lad. The last concern, to be right with God for time and eternity, occupied much of his thought. The sound, forthright sermons he heard in the Methodist Church and the instruction he received in 'Class' caused him to form high standards concerning religion. Rightness with God did not mean an easy acquiescence in certain beliefs. It embraced the confession and renunciation of all known sins and, where possible, restitution for wrong committed. For weeks he hovered on the brink of surrender to Christ, but something held him back. William Booth told of his hindrance in the way of salvation and of how this was overcome. "The entrance to the heavenly Kingdom was closed against me by an evil act of the past which required restitution. In a boyish trading affair I had managed to make a profit out of my companions, whilst giving them to suppose that what I did was all in the way of generous friendship. As a testimonial of their gratitude they had given me a silver pencil-case. Merely to have returned their gift would have been comparatively easy, but to confess the deception I had practiced was a humiliation to which for some days I could not bring myself. I remember the spot in the corner of the room under the chapel, the hour, the resolution to end the matter, the rising up and rushing forth, the finding of the young fellow I had chiefly wronged, the acknowledgment of my sin, the return of the pencil-case; the instant rolling away from my heart of the guilty burden, the peace that came in its place, and the going forth to serve my God and my generation from that hour."

How much poorer this world would be today but for that restitution. 'Rather than yearning for the world's pleasures,' wrote William Booth, 'I found my new nature leading me away from it all. It had lost all charm for me.' The new life had begun. One of the greatest blessings in William's life at this time was the friendship of a godly lad of about his own age. Will Sansom and Will Booth were as David and Jonathan; both had chosen to follow Christ forever, and each helped the other in every holy endeavor.

Soon after Booth's conversion, Nottingham was visited by a Wesleyan evangelist, James Caughey, a great lover of God and His mighty servant in the pulpit. In Nottingham seven hundred members were added to the Methodist Church. William Booth caught a glow from the ministry of James Caughey that influenced his whole life. He was convinced that to seek the salvation of souls was the greatest calling to which a man could devote his life.

Soon after, a severe attach of fever threatened to finish William's career. He lay in the little room above his mother's shop, so weary and weak that he wished to die. Then a message from Will Sansom, so frail from tuberculosis that it seems he was not permitted to visit his friend. "Get better as soon as you can. I have started open-air meetings and need your help."                            (continued in next column)

This call was an incentive to fight for life, and at last Booth was at his friend's side in the streets. To begin with Sansom did the speaking, Booth being too timid to do more than give the support of his presence and say Amen to Sansom's efforts. An evangelist who had observed young Booth told him that it was his duty to witness for Christ, that his timidity was a form of selfishness which should be overcome. William Booth took the words to heart, made the plunge and soon found himself the leader of a little evangelizing group.

Their method was to take a chair to a poor street; William Booth would mount it and give out a hymn, the group would sing, then Booth would pour out his heart to the crowd of poor people who would gather. Later, he would invite them to a cottage meeting. The women were asked to bring their own chairs, which they did filling the front room of a friendly cottager, while the men crowded round the door listening. Very gently but with the wisdom of Heaven did this boy of seventeen speak to the poor mothers, making the love of Jesus real and lovely to them.


Receive every day as a resurrection from death, as a new enjoyment of life; meet every rising sun with such sentiments of God's goodness, as if you had seen it, and all things, new-created upon your account: and under the sense of so great a blessing, let your joyful heart praise and magnify so good and glorious a Creator. -- William Law (1686-1761) from A Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life [1728]

May our Lord's sweet hand square us and hammer us, and strike off all kinds of pride, self-love, world-worship, and infidelity, so that He can make us stones and pillars in His Father's house. -- Samuel Rutherford (1600-1661)

The editor, while agreeing with the content presented in this newsletter, does not necessarily endorse all of a writer's works, doctrines, etc. The editor is solely responsible for all mistakes.