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- Catherine Booth - 2/16 -
watched the man beat them--she could not stop him; and at last she tore home, and flung herself down almost choking and speechless with indignation and distress.
Her mother did not check Katie for feeling so keenly. She encouraged her; for she knew that a hard, indifferent child, who can see suffering and not care or be distressed over it, would make a hard woman; and she wanted her Katie to be full of love and tenderness for all, and especially for those needing help.
When Catherine was twelve years old she became very interested in the drink question. She wrote letters about it, and sent them to different newspapers, for there was no 'War Cry' nor 'Young Soldier' in those days; and she also became the secretary of what was then called a Juvenile Temperance Society, and did all she could to get boys and girls to promise never to touch the drink.
Katie was also, like many of you, much interested in the heathen. She would go round to all her friends collecting money to pay for preachers to be sent to them; and in order to get more money she would deny herself sugar and other small luxuries. No one told Katie to do this; but you see our Army Mother herself taught us, by her example when only a child, to keep our great Self-Denial Week.
Of course, most of Katie's time was taken up with her lessons, and, as she loved to learn and study, they were no hardship to her. For two years she went to a boarding-school, and here her companions soon found out how straight and truthful she was. 'You'll never get _her_ to tell a lie,' the girls said, 'nor even to exaggerate, so it's no use trying.' Every one knew also that Katie felt for the backward girls and those who were slow and dull. She wanted them to succeed, and would help them between school hours. That was her joy, you see--to help and care for others; whether at school or at home she was the same.
But you must not think that Catherine was perfect. Oh, no, indeed! Sometimes her schoolmates would tease her because she was so quiet, and liked to read better than to play; and at such times, instead of being patient, she would flare up into a passion, and say harsh, angry words. When the storm was over she would be, however, Oh! so sorry, and would beg her schoolfellows to forgive her.
When Katie had been at school two years, God sent her a very great trial. Instead of being able to go on learning and keeping up with the other girls, she had to return home, and for three long years to lie nearly all the time on her back, often suffering very much. She had a serious spinal complaint, and her friends sometimes doubted whether she would ever walk again.
You wonder what she did in those three years? I will tell you. When the pain would permit it, she would knit and sew. She could not, of course, hold heavy needlework; but little things, like babies' socks and hoods, pin-cushions, and so forth, she would make most beautifully, and then they would be sold to help on the work of God.
Besides her sewing, Katie read a great deal. First, as I have already told you, she read her Bible, and learnt to know God's thoughts about the world and sin, and His wishes for His people. For seven months at one time Catherine had to lie on her face on a special sort of couch made on purpose for her; but she invented a contrivance by which, even then, she could read her Bible, though still remaining in the position that the doctors wished. Then, too, she would read good books--explanations of the Bible, about Holiness, soul-saving, lives of those who have lived and worked for God, and so on. When she had read a chapter she would shut the book, and write down as much as she could remember of it. This helped her to think clearly and to remember what she read, and also to put her thoughts into words.
But she never wasted her time reading stories and novels. Later on in her life she said she was so thankful for this, for she thought that novels and silly story books made people discontented with their own homes and duties, and put wrong, hurtful ideas into their minds. Let us recollect and follow our Army Mother's example here, and not waste time on stories which are not true.
We, if we had known Katie Mumford in those three years of pain and weariness, should have pitied her very much. We might have been tempted to feel that God was hard in not letting her be strong like other girls; but we now see that all the time He was fitting her for the wonderful future before her; and when she became Mrs. Booth, the great preacher, she herself understood this.
'Being so much alone in my youth,' she said, 'and so thrown on my own thoughts and on those expressed in books, has been very helpful to me. Had I been given to gossip, and had there been people for me to gossip with, I should certainly never have accomplished what I did.'
So, you see, God was all the time giving her the very best training He could, and teaching her, as she lay there alone on her bed, what she never could have learned in the ordinary way. And He will train you, too, in the very best way for your future, if you will but determine to trust and serve Him as did Catherine Mumford.
CONVERSION AND SOUL STRUGGLES
'No soul was ever yet saved who was too idle to seek.'--MRS. BOOTH.
Perhaps you, the Corps Cadet, for whom I am especially writing this little book, have been tempted to break your vows by becoming engaged to some one who does not want to be an Officer. And you think, perhaps, that no one understands your feelings.
You will be surprised, then, to know that our Army Mother had just such a battle to fight when she was a girl.
She had a cousin, a little older than herself, who was tall and very clever. He came with his parents to stay in her home, and Katie had not seen him since they were young children. He quickly grew very fond of his cousin, and Catherine found how nice it was to have some one to give her presents and to love her as he did. At last he begged her to promise that by and by she would be engaged to him. Now Katie was very perplexed. On the one hand she loved her cousin, and did not want to grieve him, and yet in her heart she knew he was not truly given up to God, and would not help her in her soul.
'Go to the Meeting with you, Katie?' he used to say. 'Of course, I'll go anywhere to please you.' But then, while she was trying to get a blessing, he would be scratching little pictures on the back of the seat to make her laugh. Perhaps you can guess the struggle it was for Katie to decide what her answer should be. 'If you will only say "yes," and be engaged to him, I am sure you will be able to help him, and very likely get him properly saved,' the Devil would whisper. 'Break it off now, Katie; do not go another step; you know God cannot smile on it.' That was how her conscience spoke.
At last, one day as she was truly praying and seeking for light, she read the verse in 2 Corinthians vi. 14: 'Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers.' It came to her as the voice of God.
'I will do it, Lord,' she said, after a long struggle; and she sat down, and wrote her cousin a letter, telling him just why she could never be engaged to him, and breaking it all off for ever. Then she turned back to her home duties, and did not re-open the question.
And did our Army Mother in after years regret that she had acted like this? No, indeed; she has told us that she saw plainly later on that, if just then she had chosen to follow her own feelings and wishes, instead of obeying God's command, all her life would have been altered, and she would never have done the glorious work He had planned for her. It was a hard battle at the time, and cost her many tears; but it was worth it, ten thousand times over, as we can all see to-day.
Very soon after this victory Catherine became really converted.
'What!' you say. 'Was she not converted before this?'
No. All her life she had, like many children trained to-day in Salvationist homes, felt God's Holy Spirit striving with her. Sometimes, when quite a little girl, her mother would find her crying because she felt how she had sinned against God.
But when she was about fifteen she longed to know that she was really saved.
'Don't be silly,' said the Devil in her heart. 'You have been as good as saved all your life. You have always wanted to do right. How can you expect such a sudden change as if you were a great big drunkard? It's absurd.'
'But my _heart_ is as bad as the heart of a big sinner,' cried poor Katie in an agony of fear. 'I have been as bad inside, if not in my outward actions and words.'
And then she took hold of God in faith. 'Lord, I must be converted. I cannot rest till Thou hast changed my whole nature; do for me what Thou dost do, for the thieves and drunkards.'
But for six weeks it seemed as if God did not hear her cry. She grew more and more unhappy. All her past sins rose before her: those bursts of temper when she was at school, those wrong thoughts and feelings. Yes, the Bible was true when it said: 'The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked.'
Katie argued, too, like this: 'I cannot recollect any time or place where I claimed Salvation and the forgiveness of my sins; if God _has_ saved me, He would surely have made me certain of it. Anyway, I must and will know it. I must have the assurance that I am God's child.'
Unable to rest, she would pace her room till two o'clock in the morning, and would lie down at last, with her Bible and hymn-book under her pillow, praying that God would Himself tell her that her sins were forgiven. At last, one morning, as she woke, she opened her hymn-book, and read these words:--
My God, I am Thine, What a comfort divine, What a blessing to know that my Jesus is mine.
Now she had read and sung these lines scores of times before, but they came this morning with a new power to her soul.
'I am Thine!' 'My Jesus is mine!' she exclaimed. 'Lord, it is true!--I do believe it! My sins are forgiven. I belong to Thee!' and her whole soul was filled with light and joy. She now possessed what she had been
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