Boundless Salvation

The Shorter Writings of William Booth

by Andrew M Eason (Volume editor) Roger J. Green (Volume editor)
©2012 Monographs X, 207 Pages


William Booth (1829–1912) is remembered for the major role he played in founding the Salvation Army, an evangelical organization now operating in more than 120 countries. Few people, however, are aware of the fact that Booth was also a prolific author. During his long lifetime he wrote countless articles and speeches on a variety of topics, ranging from Christian doctrine to female ministry and missionary work. The most important of these shorter writings are presented in one volume for the first time here, along with perceptive commentary by two leading scholars of the Salvation Army. Boundless Salvation: The Shorter Writings of William Booth convincingly demonstrates that Booth’s enormous accomplishments arose from deeply held religious convictions. It argues persuasively that his life and ministry must be understood in relation to the Methodist theology and transatlantic revivalism that inspired and guided him. By showcasing and analyzing these religious contexts, this edited collection sheds considerable light on a towering figure of the Victorian period. In the process, it offers valuable insight into the origins and development of the Salvation Army, one of the most remarkable organizations to arise during the nineteenth century. Boundless Salvation: The Shorter Writings of William Booth will appeal to a broad readership, especially to those with an interest in religion and history.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author(s)/editor(s)
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Contents
  • Acknowledgments
  • Foreword
  • Introduction
  • Chapter 1. Origins and Early Days
  • “East of London Revival Effort”
  • What We Propose
  • “Our New Name”
  • “How We Began”
  • Chapter 2. Salvation
  • “The Conversion of the World”
  • “The Model Salvation Soldier”
  • “Salvation for Both Worlds”
  • “The Millennium; or, the Ultimate Triumph of Salvation Army Principles”
  • 1. The Reign of God: The Accepted Kingship of Jehovah
  • 2. The Second Characteristic of the Good Time Coming Will Be the Reign of Righteousness
  • 3. The Third Characteristic of the Millennium, Whenever It Comes, Will Be the Prevalence of Love
  • 4. As the Result of the Reign of God and the Triumph of These Principles, Happiness Will Overflow the Earth
  • London Become the New Jerusalem
  • Chapter 3. Holiness
  • “Holiness: An Address at the Conference”
  • 1. It is a Condition of Happiness
  • 2. Further Holiness is Indispensable to Your Completest Usefulness
  • 3. The Condition of the Perpetual Indwelling of God
  • “Holiness”
  • Sanctification—What It Is
  • Sanctification—Can It Be Attained? [Part 1]
  • Sanctification—Can It Be Attained? [Part 2]
  • Sanctification—the Conditions
  • Consecration
  • Faith
  • Sanctification—Objections
  • A Ladder to Holiness
  • First Step: I am a Child of God
  • Second Step: I Know, with Sorrow, That Sin Still Exists in My Heart and Life
  • Third Step: I Believe That Jesus Christ Can Save Me from All Sin
  • Fourth Step: I Now Choose, with All My Heart, to Be Holy
  • Fifth Step: I Renounce All Known Sin and All Doubtful Things
  • Sixth Step: I Consecrate Myself Fully to the Service of God
  • Seventh Step: I Believe That God for Jesus Christ’s Sake Cleanses Me Now
  • Chapter 4. Female Ministry
  • “Mrs. Booth as a Woman and a Wife”
  • “On Salvation Women”
  • Female Officers
  • “More about Women’s Rights”
  • “Woman”
  • Woman II
  • Woman III
  • I.—We Want a Higher Estimate of Her Value as a Daughter.
  • II.—We Want a Higher Estimate and a More Generous Treatment of Woman as a Wife.
  • III.—We Want a Higher Estimate of the Value of Woman as a Mother.
  • IV.—To Perform This Task Successfully—
  • Chapter 5. Missions and Missionaries
  • “To the Officers and Soldiers of the Indian Salvation Army”
  • “The Future of Missions and the Mission of the Future”
  • Interest in the Topic
  • Christianity Losing Ground
  • Why Not Appoint a Commission?
  • Lines for Future Work
  • The Past of Missions a Failure
  • Divide the Nations
  • A Parsee’s Opinion
  • Only Two Classes
  • The Missionary Society of the Future
  • A Lump of Agony
  • God is the Remedy
  • The Heathen in the Dark
  • Mission Work a Pastime
  • A Duty
  • A Profession
  • A Passion
  • Chapter 6. Relationship to the Church
  • “Wesleyan Methodist Conference”
  • “What is the Salvation Army?”
  • “The General’s New Year Address to Officers”
  • How to Get a Happy New Year
  • The Freedom you have as Officers in this Army
  • Our Relation to the Churches Round about Us
  • Employ Your Soldiers
  • Open Air Fighting
  • Indoor Services
  • Plenty of Bills
  • Conclusion
  • Resources for Further Study
  • Index

| vii →


A project of this magnitude would not have been possible without the generous support of many people over the last two years. First and foremost, we wish to thank Dr. Donald E. Burke, the President of Booth University College, who provided encouragement and institutional funding for the completion of this book. Dr. Burke’s passion for the mission, history and theology of the Salvation Army is rivalled by few. Not surprisingly, therefore, Don was instrumental in the establishment of the Centre for Salvation Army Studies at Booth University College in 2009. It was his vision to create a clearing house for research and publications on the Salvation Army so that Salvationists and the broader community could better understand the denomination’s history, theology and multi-faceted ministries. We sincerely hope that Boundless Salvation: The Shorter Writings of William Booth will help to further the worthy mandate of the Centre for Salvation Army Studies.

We would also like to thank the various individuals and publishers who graciously allowed us to reproduce the selections contained in this volume. Given that the majority of these shorter writings originally appeared in Salvationist publications, we are especially grateful to General Shaw Clifton (Rtd) for kindly and quickly consenting to their reprinting. Appreciation is extended as well to The Contemporary Review and The Methodist Recorder for granting us the privilege to reprint the following: “What is the Salvation Army?” The Contemporary Review 42 (August 1882): 175–182; and “Wesleyan Methodist Conference,” The Methodist Recorder (August 10, 1880): 611–612.

Along the way we were fortunate to receive the assistance of the Salvation Army’s splendid archival facilities. The staff of the Salvation Army’s International Heritage Centre in London, England were exceedingly helpful with their time and resources, especially Gordon Taylor (Historian and Associate Director of Historical Services) and Alex von der Becke (Photographic Archivist and Web Editor). Alex supplied the photographs of William Booth found throughout this book. Mention must also be made of Colonel John Carew, Director of the Salvation Army’s Archives in Toronto, Canada. John never tired of responding warmly and promptly to our requests for material. To each of these Salvationist archivists and historians we owe a tremendous word of thanks.

Finally, we want to express our heartfelt gratitude to all those who have been involved in the production of this book. In Winnipeg, we were blessed to ← vii | viii → have the competent assistance of Peggy Whitbread, Executive Assistant to the President of Booth University College, who kept a well-organized file on the selections found in this volume. Aiding her in this task was Walter Ritchie, Booth University College’s Library Technician, who photocopied various items from endless reels of microfilm. The unenviable task of transcribing these articles from the originals was carried out exceptionally well by Sherryl Wilner. Last, but not least, we are grateful for the patience and professionalism of Dr. Heidi Burns (Executive Editor, Peter Lang Publishing USA) and Jackie Pavlovic (Production Supervisor, Peter Lang Publishing USA).

Andrew M. Eason, Ph.D.
Booth University College, Winnipeg, Manitoba

Roger J. Green, Ph.D.
Gordon College, Wenham, Massachusetts

| ix →


The idea for this volume emerged more than thirty years ago when I first met Roger Green at an event in Toronto. During the course of one of his lectures on that occasion, Dr. Green made reference to what he considered the “ten most important shorter writings of William Booth.” In the intervening years, we have talked on a number of occasions about the possibility of making these writings available to a wider audience. However, no serious attempt was made to bring this idea to fruition until the appointment of Dr. Andrew Eason to the faculty of Booth University College in 2009 and the subsequent establishment of the Centre for Salvation Army Studies.

The partnership of Roger Green and Andrew Eason in the collection of these writings and the provision of concise introductions to them is fortunate. Roger Green has established himself as the leading biographer of the founders of the Salvation Army, having written major biographies of both William and Catherine Booth. His knowledge of the early history of the Salvation Army, and especially of its founders, is acknowledged widely. Andrew Eason is emerging as a prolific scholar of the history of the Salvation Army. His research interests are wide-ranging and reflect the global impact of the Army. Together, Professors Green and Eason have produced a volume that provides not only a selection of the shorter writings of William Booth, but also informative introductions that will contextualize these selections.

Most of the writings included in this volume have been inaccessible to all but the most diligent of researchers. Their publication at this time has been spurred by a desire to mark the centenary of William Booth’s “promotion to glory” (the Salvation Army’s euphemism for “death”) on August 20, 1912. Booth was a man of remarkable vision and energy. The Salvation Army, the most obvious legacy of Booth, grew out of his passionate Christian faith, his compelling vision of a “world for God,” and his ability to communicate powerfully both orally and in writing. As the Salvation Army grew beyond East London and the United Kingdom to become a worldwide movement, Booth traveled extensively to inspire and instruct his soldiers and officers. Inevitably, his vision, passion and instruction led him to communicate in writing. The result was an extensive body of writings that spanned the early history of the movement. While William Booth did write several books—most notably In Darkest England and the Way Out—the majority of his writings were short pieces appearing in periodicals. They cover a range of topics, communicating Booth’s ← ix | x → vision, his priorities, his expectations of Salvationists and his theology. In this volume, the selected writings are organized under several important thematic headings. Together, they demonstrate that Booth and his mission were shaped profoundly by Methodist theology and revivalist principles.

This volume has been produced with support from the Centre for Salvation Army Studies at Booth University College. Specifically, funding for this project was provided by a bequest to Booth University College by the late Commissioners John D. and Helen Waldron. The use of these funds for this purpose is fitting for two reasons. First, Booth University College was established in 1982 as a result of the visionary leadership of the Canada and Bermuda Territory of the Salvation Army by Commissioner John Waldron. Second, Commissioner Waldron himself was a skilled and prolific anthologist and editor of Salvation Army writings on a variety of topics.

Commemorating the centenary of William Booth’s promotion to glory with this publication is a reminder that, while it is nearly 150 years since William and Catherine Booth first undertook their mission in East London, the words of Booth still have the ability to inspire and instruct.

Donald E. Burke, Ph.D.
President, Booth University College

| 1 →


William Booth, the founding father of the Salvation Army, was a tireless organizer, much like John Wesley, the leading force behind Methodism.1 Booth’s organizational prowess came to the fore in the summer of 1865, when he established a mission in London’s East End, an area known for its poverty and degradation. Enlivened by a desire to save souls, his original intent was to funnel converts into existing churches and chapels. But as Booth came to realize, the poor saved under his ministry were not welcome in respectable ecclesiastical settings. Consequently, his mission took on a permanent character, gradually evolving into the Salvation Army in 1878. For all intents and purposes, Booth now had a denomination on his hands, soon controlled by a sizeable international headquarters in London. From this central location General Booth supervised the work of Salvationists in various countries, ensuring that the Army remained “one body with the same head, the same government, the same laws, and substantially the same usages and methods.”2 By the end of his life, Booth had raised roughly 16,000 officers directing the work of countless soldiers (lay Salvationists) in 58 countries and colonies around the globe.3

Is it any wonder that the Christian community and, indeed, much of the world, came to admire William Booth? He was a towering figure of his age, ← 1 | 2 → known not only for building an impressive organization but for aiding the poor spiritually and socially. However, what is rarely known about Booth, even among those in the church, is that he wrote voluminously. Although most people are familiar with In Darkest England and the Way Out, Booth’s grand scheme to alleviate urban poverty, few outside the Salvation Army are aware of his other writings, especially those of a religious nature published in various internal and external journals.4 Such an oversight is unfortunate, chiefly because it has left the impression that William Booth had little interest and proficiency in theological matters. One may concede that Booth “was by nature a soldier, not an intellectual,”5 but it does not follow that he was an unthinking combatant. In his war against the devil’s kingdom Booth frequently displayed theological acumen, applying and adapting the ideas of others in profitable and novel ways. The skill with which this was done can be gleaned from the material contained in this volume, which brings together some of the most important articles, booklets and speeches authored by William Booth before his death in 1912. Marking the one hundredth anniversary of his “promotion to glory”—to use the parlance of Salvationists—Boundless Salvation enables the reader to appreciate the breadth and depth of William Booth’s theological vision. After tracing his seminal role in the establishment of the Salvation Army, the book explores Booth’s views on the following doctrines and subjects: salvation, holiness, female ministry, missions and the church. In the process, it highlights the Methodist and revivalist principles that ultimately led him to wage a “salvation war on two fronts: the personal and the social.”6

If it is true that theology is shaped by biography, then a brief overview of William Booth’s life may be helpful before turning to the specific topics covered in this volume. Booth was born in Nottingham, England on April 10, 1829 into a family nominally attached to the Church of England. While William’s parents, Samuel and Mary, had him baptized two days after birth at St. Stephen’s Anglican Church, they were not especially devout. As a builder of working-class dwellings, Samuel Booth’s chief interest in life was material profit, not spiritual gain. Yet, because Samuel’s fortunes ebbed and flowed, his family was frequently poor and struggling. Circumstances grew only worse ← 2 | 3 → after Samuel died in 1842, forcing William to become the primary means of support for his mother and three sisters. Apprenticed to a pawnbroker named Francis Eames, Booth now came into direct contact with those who were forced to sell their earthly possessions in order to survive. Such destitution was common during the “hungry forties,” a decade of economic turmoil sandwiched in the middle of the Industrial Revolution, but it left an indelible mark on young William, who was never very happy about having to separate people from their hard-earned goods.

Poverty of this kind helped to turn Nottingham into a hotbed of social and political protest during the early Victorian period. The most significant of those agitating for reform were the Chartists, laboring activists seeking to unite the masses in Britain’s growing industrial cities. Active in the 1830s and 1840s, their People’s Charter became a rallying cry for several million Britons, who signed petitions calling on Westminster to enact the six points of the Chartist platform, including universal male suffrage.7 Whether or not Booth was drawn to Chartism’s egalitarian message, he apparently attended several meetings led by its fiery leader, Feargus O’Connor. Acutely aware of the daily tragedies brought about by poverty in Nottingham, William likely expressed some sympathy for the Chartist cause. However, the journalist W. T. Stead, one of Booth’s earliest biographers, was probably exaggerating when he claimed that William became an enthusiastic disciple of the movement. Booth may have cheered the speeches of O’Connor and supported the Charter, but there is less than sufficient evidence to know the depth of his involvement.8

What is much more certain is that William Booth ultimately found solace in Methodism, which provided an answer to his spiritual and physical impoverishment. Although baptized in the Church of England, William became a nonconformist in his early teenage years by joining Nottingham’s Broad Street Wesleyan Chapel, an impressive colonnaded edifice capable of holding almost 2,000 worshippers. Booth, incidentally, was introduced to chapel life by a middle-aged neighborhood couple, who, for reasons not completely known, invited him to attend worship services with them. It was here, by his own witness, that a young William was saved by faith in Christ and converted to what he considered to be true Christianity. Impressed by the oratory of the resident and itinerant preachers, the robust singing of Charles ← 3 | 4 → Wesley’s hymns, and the opportunities for witness and service, he had fallen in love with Methodism. Encouraged by Will Sansom, the son of a well-to-do businessman, and other like-minded friends, William began to conduct religious services in the open air, preach in cottage prayer meetings, and help some of the local poor.9


X, 207
ISBN (Softcover)
ISBN (Hardcover)
Publication date
2012 (February)
Religion Salvation Army William Booth Theology History Twentieth Century Nineteenth Century Methodist theology transatlantic revivalism history
New York, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Frankfurt am Main, Oxford, Wien, 2012. X, 207 pp., num. ill.

Biographical notes

Andrew M Eason (Volume editor) Roger J. Green (Volume editor)

Andrew M. Eason is Assistant Professor of Religion and Director of the Centre for Salvation Army Studies at Booth University College in Winnipeg, Canada. Dr. Eason received his PhD from the University of Calgary. He is the author of Women in God’s Army: Gender and Equality in the Early Salvation Army and a number of scholarly articles on various aspects of the Salvation Army in Britain, India, and South Africa. He is presently writing a monograph on the Salvation Army in British India. Roger J. Green is Professor and Chair of Biblical Studies and Christian Ministries at Gordon College in Wenham, Massachusetts. He also holds the Terrelle B. Crum Chair of Humanities. Dr. Green received his PhD from Boston College and has written extensively on the Salvation Army. His publications include: War on Two Fronts: The Redemptive Theology of William Booth; Catherine Booth: A Biography of the Cofounder of The Salvation Army; and The Life and Ministry of William Booth: Founder of The Salvation Army. A lifelong Salvationist, Roger is co-editor of Word and Deed: A Journal of Salvation Army Theology and Ministry. He travels internationally for the Salvation Army on speaking engagements and was the first layperson appointed to the Army’s International Doctrine Council.


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