||ries > "A Vision of the Lost" by William Booth (Founder of The Salvation Army)
"A Vision of the Lost"
by William Booth
n one of my recent journeys, as
I gazed from the coach window, I was led into a train of thought concerning the condition
of the multitudes around me. They were living carelessly in the most open and shameless
rebellion against God, without a thought for their eternal welfare. As I looked out
of the window, I seemed to see them all... millions of people all around me given
up to their drink and their pleasure, their dancing and their music, their business
and their anxieties, their politics and their troubles. Ignorant- willfully ignorant
in many cases- and in other instances knowing all about the truth and not caring
at all. But all of them, the whole mass of them, sweeping on and up in their blasphemies
and devilries to the Throne of God. While my mind was thus engaged, I had a vision.
(1829 - 1912)
Founder of the Salvation Army
I saw a dark and stormy ocean. Over it the black clouds hung heavily; through them
every now and then vivid lightening flashed and loud thunder rolled, while the winds
moaned, and the waves rose and foamed, towered and broke, only to rise and foam,
tower and break again.
In that ocean I thought I saw myriads of poor human beings plunging and floating,
shouting and shrieking, cursing and struggling and drowning; and as they cursed and
screamed they rose and shrieked again, and then some sank to rise no more.
And I saw out of this dark angry ocean, a mighty rock that rose up with itís summit
towering high above the black clouds that overhung the stormy sea. And all around
the base of this great rock I saw a vast platform. Onto this platform, I saw with
delight a number of the poor struggling, drowning wretches continually climbing out
of the angry ocean. And I saw that a few of those who were already safe on the platform
were helping the poor creatures still in the angry waters to reach the place of safety.
On looking more closely I found a number of those who had been rescued, industriously
working and scheming by ladders, ropes, boats and other means more effective, to
deliver the poor strugglers out of the sea. Here and there were some who actually
jumped into the water, regardless of the consequences in their passion to "rescue
the perishing." And I hardly know which gladdened me the most- the sight of
the poor drowning people climbing onto the rocks reaching a place of safety, or the
devotion and self-sacrifice of those whose whole being was wrapped up in the effort
for their deliverance.
As I looked on, I saw that the occupants of that platform were quite a mixed company.
That is, they were divided into different "sets" or classes, and they occupied
themselves with different pleasures and employments. But only a very few of them
seemed to make it their business to get the people out of the sea.
But what puzzled me most was the fact that though all of them had been rescued at
one time or another from the ocean, nearly everyone seemed to have forgotten all
about it. Anyway, it seemed the memory of its darkness and danger no longer troubled
them at all. And what seemed equally strange and perplexing to me was that these
people did not even seem to have any care- that is any agonizing care- about the
poor perishing ones who were struggling and drowning right before their very eyes...
many of whom were their own husbands and wives, brothers and sisters and even their
Now this astonishing unconcern could not have been the result of ignorance or lack
of knowledge, because they lived right there in full sight of it all and even talked
about it sometimes. Many even went regularly to hear lectures and sermons in which
the awful state of these poor drowning creatures was described.
I have always said that the occupants of this platform were engaged in different
pursuits and pastimes. Some of them were absorbed day and night in trading and business
in order to make gain, storing up their savings in boxes, safes and the like.
Many spent their time in amusing themselves with growing flowers on the side of the
rock, others in painting pieces of cloth or in playing music, or in dressing themselves
up in different styles and walking about to be admired. Some occupied themselves
chiefly in eating and drinking, others were taken up with arguing about the poor
drowning creatures that had already been rescued.
But the thing to me that seemed the most amazing was that those on the platform to
whom He called, who heard His voice and felt that they ought to obey it- at least
they said they did- those who confessed to love Him much were in full sympathy with
Him in the task He had undertaken- who worshipped Him or who professed to do so-
were so taken up with their trades and professions, their money saving and pleasures,
their families and circles, their religions and arguments about it, and their preparation
for going to the mainland, that they did not listen to the cry that came to them
from this Wonderful Being who had Himself gone down into the sea. Anyway, if they
heard it they did not heed it. They did not care. And so the multitude went on right
before them struggling and shrieking and drowning in the darkness.
And then I saw something that seemed to me even more strange than anything that had
gone on before in this strange vision. I saw that some of these people on the platform
whom this Wonderful Being had called to, wanting them to come and help Him in His
difficult task of saving these perishing creatures, were always praying and crying
out to Him to come to them!
Some wanted Him to come and stay with them, and spend His time and strength in making
them happier. Others wanted Him to come and take away various doubts and misgivings
they had concerning the truth of some letters He had written them. Some wanted Him
to come and make them feel more secure on the rock- so secure that they would be
quite sure that they should never slip off again into the ocean. Numbers of others
wanted Him to make them feel quite certain that they would really get off the rock
and onto the mainland someday: because as a matter of fact, it was well known that
some had walked so carelessly as to loose their footing, and had fallen back again
into the stormy waters.
So these people used to meet and get up as high on the rock as they could, and looking
towards the mainland (where they thought the Great Being was) they would cry out,
"Come to us! Come and help us!" And all the while He was down (by His Spirit)
among the poor struggling, drowning creatures in the angry deep, with His arms around
them trying to drag them out, and looking up- oh! so longingly but all in vain- to
those on the rock, crying to them with His voice all hoarse from calling, "Come
to Me! Come, and help Me!
And then I understood it all. It was plain enough. The sea was the ocean of life-
the sea of real, actual human existence. That lightening was the gleaming of piercing
truth coming from Jehovahís Throne. That thunder was the distant echoing of the wrath
of God. Those multitudes of people shrieking, struggling and agonizing in the stormy
sea, was the thousands and thousands of poor harlots and harlot-makers, of drunkards
and drunkard makers, of thieves, liars, blasphemers and ungodly people of every kindred,
tongue and nation.
Oh what a black sea it was! And oh, what multitudes of rich and poor, ignorant and
educated were there. They were all so unalike in their outward circumstances and
conditions, yet all alike in one thing- all sinners before God- all held by, and
holding onto, some iniquity, fascinated by some idol, the slaves of some devilish
lust, and ruled by the foul fiend from the bottomless pit!
"All alike in one thing?" No, all alike in two things- not only the same
in their wickedness but, unless rescued, the same in their sinking, sinking... down,
down, down... to the same terrible doom. That great sheltering rock represented Calvary,
the place where Jesus had died for them. And the people on it were those who had
been rescued. The way they used their energies, gifts and time represented the occupations
and amusements of those who professed to be saved from sin and hell- followers of
the Lord Jesus Christ. The handful of fierce, determined ones, who were risking their
own lives in saving the perishing were true soldiers of the cross of Jesus. That
Mighty Being who was calling to them from the midst of the angry waters was the Son
of God, "the same yesterday, today and forever" who is still struggling
and interceding to save the dying multitudes about us from this terrible doom of
damnation, and whose voice can be heard above the music, machinery, and noise of
life, calling on the rescued to come and help Him save the world.
My friends in Christ, you are rescued from the waters, you are on the rock, He is
in the dark sea calling on you to come to Him and help Him. Will you go? Look for
yourselves. The surging sea of life, crowded with perishing multitudes rolls up to
the very spot on which you stand. Leaving the vision, I now come to speak of the
fact- a fact that is as real as the Bible, as real as the Christ who hung upon the
cross, as real as the judgment day will be, and as real as the heaven and hell that
will follow it.
Look! Donít be deceived by appearances- men and things are not what they seem. All
who are not on the rock are in the sea! Look at them from the standpoint of the great
White Throne, and what a sight you have! Jesus Christ, the Son of God is, through
His Spirit, in the midst of this dying multitude, struggling to save them. And He
is calling on you to jump into the sea- to go right away to His side and help Him
in the holy strife. Will you jump? That is, will you go to His feet and place yourself
absolutely at His disposal?
A young Christian once came to me, and told me that for some time she had been giving
the Lord her profession and prayers and money, but now she wanted to give Him her
life. She wanted to go right into the fight. In other words, she wanted to go to
His assistance in the sea. As when a man from the shore, seeing another struggling
in the water, takes off those outer garments that would hinder his efforts and leaps
to the rescue, so will you who still linger on the bank, thinking and singing and
praying about the poor perishing souls, lay aside your shame, your pride, your cares
about other peopleís opinions, your love of ease and all the selfish loves that have
kept you back for so long, and rush to the rescue of this multitude of dying men
Does the surging sea look dark and dangerous? Unquestionably it is so. There is no
doubt that the leap for you, as for everyone who takes it, means difficulty and scorn
and suffering. For you it may mean more than this. It may mean death. He who beckons
you from the sea however, knows what it will mean - and knowing, He still calls to
you and bids to you to come.
You must do it! You cannot hold back. You have enjoyed yourself in Christianity long
enough. You have had pleasant feelings, pleasant songs, pleasant meetings, pleasant
prospects. There has been much of human happiness, much clapping of hands and shouting
of praises- very much of heaven on earth.
Now then, go to God and tell Him you are prepared as much as necessary to turn your
back upon it all, and that you are willing to spend the rest of your days struggling
in the midst of these perishing multitudes, whatever it may cost you.
You must do it. With the light that is now broken in upon your mind and the call
that is now sounding in your ears, and the beckoning hands that are now before your
eyes, you have no alternative. To go down among the perishing crowds is your duty.
Your happiness from now on will consist in sharing their misery, your ease in sharing
their pain, your crown in helping them to bear their cross, and your heaven in going
into the very jaws of hell to rescue them.
Now what will you do?
Promises: Casting The Net ---New Window
Or, Help in Becoming Fishers of Men
by Katie Stewart
"And Jesus said unto them, Come ye after Me,
and I will make you to become fishers of men" (Mark 1:17).
His Promises are the Threads in His Net. Since faith is the only thing
that we can do to please God, for "without faith
it is impossible to please Him: for he that cometh to God must believe that He is,
and that He is a Rewarder of them that diligently seek Him" (Hebrews 11:6), and since our King Jesus honours His Word above all of His
wonderful Name, "for Thou hast magnified Thy WORD
above all Thy Name" (Psalm 138:2), then there is no more
pleasing thing we can do for Him than to believe in the Absolute Strength of His
Promise. And the Absolute Strength of His Promise equals the Absolute Strength
that our Net will have as we cast His WORD over the souls of men and He draws them
in to Himself. This Omnipotent Net will never break. He will not lose that which
is His. If the Promise is Sure, then the Net is Strong, and your confidence Secure.
"And this is the confidence that we have in
Him, that, if we ask any thing according to His will, He heareth us" (1John 5:14).
Thus equipped with an Eternally Strong Net, we now ask, "How do we cast this
Wonderfully Strong Net?" The souls of men are the reward of His increase. For
if Jesus Christ is the Net with which we use to catch men, then they will be truly
and eternally caught!
to Intercession" ---New Window
by Andrew Murray
Who is Sufficient for These Things? -
"The more we study and try to practice this grace of intercession, the more
we become overwhelmed by its greatness and our feebleness. Let every such impression
lead us to listen: My grace is sufficient for thee, and to answer truthfully: Our
sufficiency is of God. Take courage; it is in the intercession of Christ you are
called to take part. The burden and the agony, the triumph and the victory are all
His. Learn from Him, yield to His Spirit in you, to know how to pray. He gave Himself
a sacrifice to God for men,that He might have the right and power of intercession.
'He bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.' Let your
faith rest boldly on His finished work. Let your heart wholly identify itself with
Him in His death and His life. Like Him, give yourself to God a sacrifice for men;
it is your highest nobility; it is your true and full union with Him; it will be
to you, as to Him, your power of intercession. Beloved Christian! come and give your
whole heart and life to intercession, and you will know its blessedness and its power.
God asks nothing less; the world needs nothing less; Christ asks nothing less; let
us offer to God nothing less."
Section Index for Stories
Readers are permitted and encouraged to copy and freely share this article with others.