In June of 1904, General William Booth was in London addressing thousands of Salvationists at that year’s International Congress. Below is a reproduction of his written notes, with some language updated for ease of reading.
“What a valley of dry bones the world appears to the man whose eyes have been opened to see the truth of things…it is one great cemetery crowded with men, women, and children dead in trespasses and sin. Look for a moment at this graveyard, in which the men around you may be said to lie with their hearts all dead and cold to Christ, and all that concerns their Salvation. Look at it. The men and women and children in your town are buried there. The men and women in your city, in your street. Nay, the very people who come to your church on Sunday are there. There they lie. Let us read the inscriptions on some of their tombs:
HERE LIES TOM BOOZER
‘He had a beautiful nature, and a young, virtuous wife, and some beautiful children. All starved and wretched through their father’s selfish ways. He can’t help himself. He says so. He has proved it.
There he is, dead in drunkenness.’
HERE LIES HARRY SELF-INDULGENT
‘Crazy about sports, movies, concerts, clubs, and the like. Nothing else morning, noon, or night seems to interest him.
There he is, dead in pleasure.’
HERE LIES JAMES HAUGHTINESS
‘Full of high notions about his abilities, or his knowledge, or his family, or his house, or his fortune, or his business, or his dogs, or something.
There he is, dead in pride.’
HERE LIES JANE FEATHERHEAD
‘Absorbed in her jewelry, and clothes, and shoes, and companions, and attainments.
There she is, dead in vanity.’
HERE LIES MISER GRASP-ALL
‘Taken up with his money—soverigns, dollars, francs, kroner, much or little. “Let me have more and more” is his dream, and his cry, and his aim, by night and day.
There he is, dead in greed.’
HERE LIES SKEPTICAL DOUBT-ALL
‘Hunting through the world of nature, and evolution, and providence, and especially through the dirty world of his own dark little heart, for arguments against God and Christ and Heaven.
There he is, dead in infidelity.’
HERE LIES MARTHA MAKE-BELIEVE
‘With her Bible Class, and Singing Choir, and Sunday religion, and heartless indifference to the Salvation or damnation of the perishing crowds at her door.
There she is, dead in formality.’
HERE LIES SURLY BAD-BLOOD
‘Packed full of suspicions and utter disregards for the happiness and feelings of his wife, family, neighbors, or friends.
There he is, dead in bad tempers.’
HERE LIES BRIAN SPENDS-A-LOT
‘Look at his marble tomb, and golden coffin, and embroidered shroud, and ermine robes. This is a man whose every earthly want is supplied – cars, music, friends.
There he is, dead in luxury.’
HERE LIES DAVE NEVER-FEAR
‘His mouth is filled with laughter, and his heart with contempt when you speak to him about his soul. He has no anxiety, not he. He’ll come off all right, never fear. Is God not merciful? And did Christ not die? And did not his mother pray? Don’t be alarmed, God won’t hurt him.
There he is, dead in presumption.
HERE LIES CARLA RENEGADE
‘Her grave has a desolate look. The thorns and thistles grow over it. The occupant has money and worldly friends, and many other things, but altogether she gets no satisfaction out of them; she is uneasy all the time.
There she is, dead in estrangement.’
There are any number of other graves. It is interesting, although painful, to wander amongst them. All, or nearly all, their occupants are held down by a heavy weight of ignorance, a sense of utter helplessness. And all are bound hand and foot with chains of lust, or passion, or procrastination, of their own forging.
In the midst of these graves you live, and move, and have your being.
What is your duty here?…What are you going to do about this graveyard? God has sent you into this dark valley for nothing less than to raise these doom-struck creatures from the dead. That is your mission…
What do you say? It cannot be done? That is false. God would never have set you an impossible task. You cannot do it? That is also false. Go, and do it. Go, and look at them. Go, and represent Jesus Christ to them. Go, and prophesy to them. Go, and believe for them. And then shall bone come to bone, and there shall be a great noise, and a great Army shall stand up to live, and fight, and die for the Living God.”