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- Catherine Booth - 3/16 -


seeking all these weeks--the assurance of Salvation! And then what do you think she did? She threw on a wrapper, and, without waiting to dress, hurried across to her mother's room, and tapped at the door.

'Come in,' said her mother's voice; and Katie, her face shining with joy, burst into the room. 'Mamma, mamma, I am a child of God! My sins are forgiven--Jesus is my Saviour!' she cried, flinging herself into her mother's arms. And this was the same Katie, who had been so shy and backward that she had never before dared to speak about her spiritual anxieties, even to her mother! Ah! what a change real conversion, or change of heart, had made.

For the next six months Katie was so happy that she felt as if she were walking on air. 'I used to tremble,' she tells us, 'and even long to die, lest I should back-slide or lose the sense of God's favour.'

But as time went on she learned, as we all have to do, to walk by faith, not by sight, and to serve and follow the Saviour whether she had happy feelings or not.

But you must not suppose, because Katie had the assurance of Salvation, that therefore she had no more fighting. No--indeed, her fighting days had only just begun.

One of her great difficulties, which many Corps Cadets will understand, was that she felt so nervous about doing anything in public. No one, of course, asked her to speak--such a thing was never dreamed of; but the lady who took the Bible Class which she attended regularly would now and then ask her to pray. 'Miss Mumford will pray,' the lady would say, when they were all kneeling together.

But Katie was too shy to begin, and sometimes they would wait for several minutes before she had courage to say a few words. 'Don't ask me to pray again,' she said one day to her leader; 'the excitement and agitation make me quite ill.'

'I can't help that,' was the very wise answer; 'you must break through your timidity; for otherwise you will be of no use to God.'

And did Katie persevere? Yes, indeed, she did. Here is an entry made some time later in the diary that she kept, which shows you how very much her experience was like yours:--

'I have not been blessed so much for weeks as I was to-night. I prayed aloud. The cross was great, but so was the reward.

My heart beat violently, but I felt some liberty.'

Though Catherine's spine difficulty was better, she was still very delicate, and at the age of eighteen every one felt sure she was going into a decline. But, sick or well, her soul grew stronger, and her desire to please and serve God better increased every day.

'I do love Thee,' she wrote in the same little diary, 'but I want to love Thee more.'

It was not till many years later that Catherine received the blessing of a clean heart; but even now she had begun to desire and long for it. She also writes at this time: 'I see that this Full Salvation is very necessary if I am to glorify God below, and find my way to Heaven. I want a _clean_ heart. Lord, take me and seal me.'

Some people, even after they are converted, are too proud to own themselves wrong, or to confess when they have sinned. Catherine was not of that sort. In one of her letters to her mother she ends with these words:--

'Pray for me, dear mother, and believe me, with all my faults and besetments, your loving child.'

Her hunger after a holy life was real and practical. She knew she must learn to live by method--that is, doing right, whether she liked it or not--and not by feelings, if she was to be of use in the world.

So at the end of the year she wrote some new resolutions; and as they may be of help to you, I will copy them for you just as she put them down:--

'I have been writing a few daily rules for the coming year, which I hope will prove a blessing to me, by the grace of God. I have got a paper of printed rules also, which I intend to read once a week. May the Lord help me to keep to them! But, above all, I am determined to search the Scriptures more attentively, for in them I have eternal life. I have read my Bible through twice during the past sixteen months, but I must read it with more prayer for light and understanding. Oh, may it be my meat and drink! May I meditate on it day and night! And then I shall bring forth fruit in season; my leaf also shall not wither, and whatsoever I do shall prosper.'

She had also her own private ways of denying herself, not for the sake of earning money or praise by it, but simply because she felt it was right. One of these rules was to do without dinner, and butter at breakfast, once in the week, because she felt it helped her in her soul.

I cannot end this chapter without telling you of the one great sorrow which darkened all her early years. Some of you, I know, will enter into her feelings so well.

Her father, at one time saved and earnest about the souls of others, had grown cold and backslidden, and now never even went near a Meeting. You can fancy what agony this was to both Mrs. Mumford and her daughter. They prayed and wept in vain--he only seemed to get more indifferent. Catherine would sometimes write her feelings and her sorrow in her diary, and there we read:--

'I sometimes get into an agony of feeling while praying for my dear father. Oh, my Lord, answer prayer, and bring him back to Thyself! Never let that tongue which once delighted in praising Thee, and in showing others Thy willingness to save, be engaged in uttering the lamentations of the lost! Oh, awful thought! Lord, have mercy! Save, Oh! save him in any way Thou seest best, though it be ever so painful. If by removing me Thou canst do this, cut short Thy work, and take me Home. Let me be bold to speak in Thy name. Oh, give me true courage and liberty, and when I write to him, bless what I say to the good of his soul!'

For many years this prayer of Catherine's was not answered; but she held on, as you must do for those you love, in faith and prayer; and at last she had the unspeakable joy of seeing her dear father come back to God through one of her own Meetings which he had attended. His last years were full of peace, and were spent in serving God and rejoicing in His Salvation.

III

A THREE-YEARS ENGAGEMENT

'What a need there is for effort and energy; or real religion and common sense!'--MRS. BOOTH.

One Sunday, when Catherine and her mother went to the Meeting as usual, they found a 'Special' there, taking the services. He was quite different from the other Specials, and Catherine could not help noticing him with extra interest. He spoke to the people's hearts, and was not so much occupied in preaching a good sermon as in getting some one converted. But he did preach a very good sermon for all that, and chose this verse as his text--'This is indeed the Christ, the Saviour of the world.'

A few days later Catherine and her mother were spending the evening with a friend, when the very same preacher came in, and was introduced to them as the Rev. William Booth.

Catherine knew they had one subject in common--love for souls; but before the evening ended she discovered that the young minister was quite as earnest as she was herself in fighting the Drink curse and all that was connected with it.

A few Sundays later Mr. Booth preached again in the same building, this time as the minister, or, as we should say, 'Officer in charge,' and no longer as a Special. And now you will guess that the two often met, and that, because they had so many interests in common, they soon learned to know each other well, till respect grew into friendship, and friendship into love.

Catherine was at this time twenty-two years old, and Mr. Booth was three months younger; but, though you would have said they were old enough to know their own minds, they did nothing hastily, and would enter into no engagement till they were quite sure of God's Will in the matter.

Had Catherine ever before thought of the day when she would get married? you, perhaps, ask. Oh, yes, indeed, and when but a girl of sixteen-- directly, in fact, after she was saved--she settled in her own heart what sort of a man her future husband must be. First, she decided, he must be truly converted, and a total abstainer, not to please her, but from his own choice. Then he must be a man of sense, or she could never respect him; and, if they were to be happy, they must feel and think alike on all important matters.

Ah, if our women-Soldiers and Cadets to-day would but follow our Army Mother's example, there would be fewer unhappy marriages and wrecked lives!

But in her secret heart Catherine had also, girl-like, some ideas about the sort of man she would like to marry, if she might choose. He should be a minister--that was the nearest she could get to an Officer in those days; William was a name she particularly liked, and--if only he might be tall and dark! If you had been there when Katie Mumford first listened to his preaching you would have seen that he was 'tall and dark' indeed.

But though William Booth loved Catherine with a deep and holy love, which increased each time they met, yet he was very poor, and he wondered if he ought, under the circumstances, to ask her to share his lot. He wrote a letter to her, telling her how perplexed and troubled he was, and her answer shows us that, right from the very earliest days, before they were even engaged, her one desire was that his soul should prosper.

'My dear friend,' she begins ... 'The thought that I should cause you any suffering or increase your perplexity is almost unbearable. I am tempted to wish that we had never seen each other. Do try to forget me, as far as the remembrance would injure your usefulness or spoil your peace. If I have no alternative but to oppose the Will of God, or trample on the desolations of my own heart, _my choice is made_. "Thy will be done" is my constant cry. I care not for myself; but Oh, if I cause you to err, I shall never be happy again.'

It was not the fear of poverty that frightened her, for a few days later she says:--


Catherine Booth - 3/16

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