Thursday, 24 January 2013
Opening Fire at Brampton, Chesterfield, Derbyshire
The following is a report carried in the Derbyshire Times of the first Salvation Army meeting held at Brampton near Chesterfield. The report is dated April 2nd 1881.
THE SALVATION ARMY AT BRAMPTON
(Specially written for “The Derbyshire Times”)
Amongst the various forms of religion practised at the present day, and amongst the manifold methods adopted with a professed view of saving souls, perhaps none are the more frequently condemned, none deemed more unsuccessful, than the efforts put forth by that section or body of persons called and known as “The Salvation Army” or “Gospel Army Mission.” It may be that the manner in which the members of the so called ‘army’ – the religious crusaders of the present day – parade the streets and endeavour to attract persons of all ages, of both sexes, to their services is repugnant to the minds of professing Christians. It may be also that the services are not conducted in an altogether orthodox manner, or in a way which would be approved of if resorted to by the clergy and ministry of the present day.
At times too members of the ‘army’ or ‘mission’ are to be seen in the dock or defendant’s box at our police courts charged with offences which tend to lessen rather than to heighten one’s opinion in regard to the respectability of the band with which these erring brethren are connected. But there are black sheep in every flock, and it is not fair argument, nor is it to be supposed for one moment that, because members of the “Salvation Army” do occasionally occupy an unenviable position in the judicial courts throughout the length and breadth of the land; the remaining and vast majority of the ‘army’ have similar tendencies and commit similar faults as their unfortunate brethren.
We believe that in their own way and in their own time those who compose the “Salvation Army” or “Gospel Army Mission” have done and are doing a great deal of good amongst the classes which they make it their aim to reach, viz., the lower classes of the populace. Inspired with that belief we visited, on Sunday Afternoon last, one of the meetings held in connection with the “Gospel Army Mission” at Brampton. A bill had been issued by the “Army” which is certainly one of the most curious that was ever printed in connection with a religious movement. It ran as follows:-
WAR IS DECLARED BETWEEN THE PRINCE OF LIGHT AND THE PRINCE OF DARKNESS!!
THE GOSPEL ARMY MISSION WILL OPEN FIRE ON BRAMPTON ON SUNDAY MARCH 27th 1881!!
First volley will be fired in the Hallelujah Malt House, Brewery Yard, at 10.45 a.m., when Beelzebub will be attacked by the following:- the converted Boozer, the Hallelujah Drayman, Smiling Jack, the Famous Woman Preacher, the Converted Handicap Man, Teetotal Tom, Happy Tom, the Boy Preacher, four Hallelujah lassies, the Singing Pilgrim, Happy Sally, the left handed fiddler and a host of redeemed slaves.
VICTORY IS EXPECTED THROUGH THE BLOOD OF CHRIST.
RED HOT SHOT WILL BE FIRED BY ALL THE SOLDIERS OF THE CROSS.
SINNERS WILL TREMBLE AND GOD’S NAME WILL BE GLORIFIED.
COME AND SEE THIS GREAT BATTLE.
The Gospel Army Mission will open in the Old Malt House, Brewery Yard, Brampton, as a mission station on Sunday next, March 27th when services will (D.V.) be held. First volley fired: morning, 10.45: afternoon, 2.30: evening, 6.30 and also every evening during the week at 7.30.
These services are for the working men and women of Brampton who do not go to any place of worship. The prayers of Christians, of all denominations, for the success of this mission are earnestly requested.
COME TO JESUS – SALVATION IS FREE TO ALL.
SINNERS COME AND GIVE YOURSELVES TO CHRIST.
With such a startling announcement we may perhaps be pardoned if we give a brief sketch of the proceedings at the afternoon meeting to which we have referred. The place of the meeting was a moderately large though somewhat low roofed room, and on our arrival, just before the proceedings commenced, it contained upwards of 100 persons – men and women, youths and maidens, together with several children – the number of those present, however, increasing considerably as the afternoon wore on.
The services commenced by the ‘captain’ of the ‘army’ (who was clad in a uniform resembling that worn by a commissionaire in our large towns) giving out a hymn from the British Revival Hymn Book. The hymn was heartily sung, but during its progress certain youths at the back of the room, having come to the meeting probably in the expectation of ‘having a bit of fun’, created a disturbance. No sooner therefore was the hymn finished than the ‘captain’, in a somewhat demonstrative manner, exhorted these youthful rowdies, as they hoped to obtain peace hereafter, not to further interrupt the service. And his exhortation had the desired effect, no interruption of any moment arising during the remainder of the service.
Then the well known parable of the Prodigal Son was read to those present by a respectable middle aged man, and he was followed by an intelligent looking youth who, likening himself to the Prodigal Son, engaged the attention of his audience for a short space of time. Another hymn having been sung a young man rejoicing in the name of “Smiling Jack” addressed the meeting, and he was followed by the person who had previously read the parable.
During the singing of the next hymn a collection was made, and we noted that (small though their donation might be) there were but few persons in the room who allowed the hat – for the ‘army’ does not boast an alms box, a velvet bag or a silver plate for collecting purposes – to pass them without adding their quota.
Addresses, full of earnestness if not of an eloquent nature followed successively from “The Boy Preacher”, “The converted Handicap man”, “The Colour Sergeant” – a pleasant looking female – “The Hallelujah Draymen” (who was even more demonstrative than his ‘captain’) and others, and the service terminated with the singing of a well known hymn, in which all present heartily joined, whilst before they departed the ‘captain’ invited and entreated those present to attend in the evening when the meeting would be addressed by “The Famous Woman Preacher” and “Teetotal Tom”.
Such is a rough though Faithful sketch of one of the services of the “Salvation Army”, and throughout its entire course we failed to notice anything that could be considered obnoxious or improper. The “Salvation Army” organisation has its faults, perhaps they may be numerous. But considering the class of persons from whence its speakers and – if we may use the word – officers are drawn it is deserving of praise for the work which it endeavours to accomplish. Its leading members, uncultivated and somewhat uncouth though some of them may be, are sincere in their efforts to do good amongst the class to which they belong, and sincerity in this present age is a great and noble thing.
Posted by David Miller at Thursday, January 24, 2013