JAC Online

One Hundred Years Hence
by Captain W.W. Winchell


We reckon that very few if any readers have heard of, let alone read One Hundred Years Hence, a fascinating prophectic study by Winchell in 1884 in which he imagines the world a century later (1994).  Tyler Boenecke, USA National Archives of The Salvation Army, along with Jessica Bryant, graduate of the Vancouver War College transcribed the original (low quality) pdf file.  It is provocative, disturbing, challenging, and thrilling, in turn.  Read it, share it, study it, apply it.  We'll likely be blogging on its contents for awhile...


To  the Morning Edition of the “War Cry”  -  Chicago, Dec 23, 1994 A.D.


Dear Editor: Last evening I took from my library an old musty book. It treated upon the history of reformation. I looked at the title page, and found the date of it’s publication to be in 1885 A.D. From some thoughts suggested in the perusal of this book, I hardly think I could select a more appropriate subject for a New Year’s article to our great daily (with it’s morning circulation of 12,500,000 in Chicago alone) than this:


“A Retrospect of the past century”


I find it was just 100 years ago our dear old Army Father, General William Booth, celebrated his year of Jubilee in the service of his Master. As my mind reflected back to those days of yore, how I longed that I might have been there to receive inspiration from his tongue of fire and had the privilege to shaking heads with that grandeur of old men! I sometimes wish I could have lived in those days to fight under his leadership and helped to win those victories that give us those happy days of God’s universal grace.


His trip to America and those six months made up of days and nights of toil and travel, would have broken down many strong men in the prime of life, especially (in that) he was compelled to travel in those cumbersome old steamships across the Atlantic, and then to travel between meetings by the old Pullman’s sleeper, with all its inconveniences. Then too, there were attached to that trip on the old fashioned steam railroads all the dangers caused by an awkward system and perilous times. But he braved this journey for his Master’s sake, even at the age of sixty-six.


It meant a great stroke for the salvation of the race and the ushering in of this golden age in which we now live when that aged veteran, whose bent and worn frame, toward about by … many hard-ships, did this. That little Salvation Army, with it’s field officers, numbering then only 11,000, assisted by only 2,000,000 soldiers scattered about the earth, would seem to us as only a mere dot on the face of the earth, but in spite of them, the so-called men of that day were just opening their eyes to the fact that that little, dispersed Army had in it the nucleus of a great social and spiritual reformation. Little did they dream that the reformation meant revolution, that it was destined to turn the world upside down and right side up; let it figuratively speaking stand on its feet, instead of its head, where the devil had put it. As one write describes: “Society was a pyramid poised on its apex. All the gravitations of human nature were constantly tending to topple it over, and it could hardly be maintained upright – or rather, upwrong- by an elaborate system of constantly renewing props, buttresses and guys in the form of laws. Thank God society now rests upon its base and is in as little need of artificial support as the everlasting hills!


It was these principles derived from the word of God, guarded by the Holy Spirit and taught and exercised and fought out, by our early revolutionary Salvation sires that put the world properly on the Rock of Ages in its right attitude to God. At the time the General made his trip to America, The Salvation Army was menaced by the subtle powers that have overthrown or weakened great spiritual movements, as those of the first century, of Luther, of Fox, of Wesley, General Booth saw those dangers. As Christ fought the devil to the wilderness, no the mountain and pinnacle, so, unchangingly, fought them.


Moreover, he fashioned his religious military organization after such a form that it would ever be progressive and aggressive. That wise and executive administration which was at that time the marvel of the age, has been preserved, amended and improved, until it is considered a second declaration of independence, and a new constitution, by Salvation America. Truly Father Booth is the Abraham of modern times! The seed of his faith in Mile End Waste, in 1865, has made his posterity as the sands of the seashore for multitude, for today “the earth is filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the seas.” Had these provisions not been made, the organization would have drifted into the formalism, pride and rationalism that stripped the churches in that day of their strength. The poor world would have gone to ruin.


We cannot, in these happy days, conceive how depraved were the majority of those nineteenth century people. There were diverse powers then existing in society that would of themselves formed the whirlwind of their own destruction. Can I describe that age of midnight horrors? How could they boast of civilization and prosperity, when there was such brutalism, poverty and misery existing, brought about by the sin of the time? Greed and selfishness were among the rich; hatred and revenge among the poor.


When we consider our times, and appreciate the fact that we are in the very beginning of the glorious millennium, we have cause to rejoice.


It has not been material progress that has brought about these results. True, all men are now equal- no extremely rich or poor – and that every family in the world now has a home superior to the aristocrats for comfort and convenience. The great majority of the population was quartered in tenements, graduating to the filthy diseased slums. There again, it has not been the reconstruction of society and government  - the paternal – modelled after the bible times, and practiced by General Booth, in his early Army – I say it has not been these improvements, although they have helped. The great power, as we are all aware, is the fact that the people are saved and cleansed from all sin by the blood of Jesus. This is the power that has brought this reign of unselfishness and love among all the people of the earth. This is the reason why the entire world speaks the same language, and the word “foreigner” is about obsolete.


Right here, I might remark, that one of the great drawbacks to that age was the large number of false preachers and reformers, some might have been sincere, but were ignorant and unsaved. These reformers tried to cure society by outward application of their salve to the inward disease of sin in the heart. They were too wise in their own conceits.  They were to themselves more intelligent than God, or the teachings of the Bible. Anyway, this is the way they acted. They said: “God was too slow, and that by the enacting of new laws or regulations they would put the world where it belonged.” But God says of these: “They healed the hurt of the daughter of my people slightly, saying peace, peace, when there was no peace.” Some of them vehemently denounced General Booth for introducing the “religious”, while other opposed him for pushing the Social operations, but he was conscious that God led him.


The year previous to our Army Father’s Jubilee, history, I believe, mentions an Exposition held in this city in honour of the 400th birthday of the discoverer of the New World. Truly, the buildings erected on the occasion were to them grand and stupendous! There was once significant fact about the White City of the World’s Fair of 1893. It was prophetic of the age – went up in a day – passed away in a day. So with their fictitious civilization and so-called science. It was erected without prayer, or faith in God. Like the tower of Babel, it could not endure. Less than a year after the winding up of that Exposition, the White City was nothing but twisted iron and charred ruins. So with their moral fabric, built on pride and conceit, not erected on the Book, it fell, and great was its fall. This proves that nothing can prosper without God.


Within a few months after this universal display of the nineteenth century genius, followed a reign of universal poverty and distress. A spirit of distress prevailed everywhere. Armies of paupers marched through the land begging for work at the seat of government. A great strike paralyzed that business world. Starvation began at the very shadow of the Columbian Exposition grounds at palatial Pullman, and stalked through the world, bring want and destitution everywhere. The hearts of the rich hardened and waxed fat. Crime held high carnival. Representatives in Congress and high society filled the air with scandal. Theologians were given over to the discussion of profitless questions. Cruel competition aroused selfishness and hatred and dishonesty among all the business world. “Let me live if all others die” seemed to be the spirit of those times. How different now when every man lives to help and bless everybody else: Then every morning the newspapers were filled with harrowing details of dark, diabolical crimes, or of Godless sporting and amusement notes. The mark of Cain was branded upon most of America’s thousands, and “verily all were dwelling in the land of Ishmael, where every man’s hand was lifted against his neighbours.”


If we could go back to that day, and visit their wretched neighbourhoods we could find tenements reeking with filth; haggard mothers and starving children; while bloated-face fathers blasted the air with their drunken oaths; girls, once innocent, selling their souls and bodies in shame for bread. Truly this was a world under a curse! Humanity was bleeding on a real cross. Did they say: “No man cared for my soul!” Nay, brave women left homes of luxury, and went among them doing good, and lifting up in their very midst the spotless Lamb, who bled for their redemption. Yes, we adore this bleeding Lamb, who has brought redemption to the whole race in the latter part of the twentieth century in which we live.


It was upon the debris of that social ruin that The Salvation Army built up a grander civilization- one which honoured and served God. It had been just twenty-nine years since the Rev. Will. Booth stood alone on Mile End Waste. Those were years of abuse and slander and misunderstanding. In the throes of those early days there was developed a people that could face any opposition the devil could bring against them.


A new foe was facing the Army, more subtle and artful than ever before. The good work of The Army was being recognized by the great and rich of the world. Popularity has destroyed more than one good work. The General recognized this, and as he marshalled his troops in council he warned them, and laid down the provisions to forever thwart this evil. He urged them to see popularity for construction rather than destruction to the organization. He more than ever promised the principles of self-denial and hard, aggressive, systematic work in saving souls. It was from the impetus given The Army during the year of Jubilee that it went forward as never before to conquer the entire world for God.


We might mention a few dangers that threatened them then, but which they overcame, viz:

            1. Compromise – Being applauded by the world to listen to its advice; to please men at the sacrifice of Jesus.

            2.  Relaxation– To be satisfied with past victories, and become less aggressive. The General taught them that the future could not be improved without disturbing the present.

            3. The pecuniary – Depending upon money guaranteed, and forgetting to exercise the faith and trust in God that helped in days of hardship.

            4. The numerical – Anxiety for quantity and ignoring quality; counting more on numbers of soldiers than the value of the blessing of clean hearts.

            5. Settling down – Although with all the advantage that their young organization offered to avoid this, some of those officers (thank God the number was few) rested contented in just living to fill up reports and satisfied with little or no success, consoling themselves they were suffering hardship for Jesus, when all the time it was God’s will for then to get up and do something that would show real results.

            6. Nationalism or localism – Some of the officers of that day did not get a look at the whole world; their interests were too much centered on the nation or locality in which they lived and were somewhat unwilling to go to distant pr heathen lands. This, of course, was diametrically opposed to the Salvation principles.


These were a few evils that the General overthrew in those days. Had he not, it would have been a defeated Army, and the world would have been lost. General Booth set the example himself by making that phenomenal trip of hardship and toil beside carrying the burden of the Army of the entire world. History tells that he spoke on an average of four or five hours a day, often holding three or four meetings per day.


The field officers that lived in the days of General Booth were very slow in taking advantage of many opportunities offered them of saving the world. Many of them if they could not see immediate profit on a new departure were unwilling to spend their time or strength in undertaking it. But one great burden was upon the heart of the General, and one which he was determined, in spite of all discouragements, to thoroughly organize and make a success in his life – it was the juniors’ salvation. If the children of the nineteenth century were saved, then the salvation of the entire world could be easily accompanied in the twentieth century. The greatest fight of The Army leaders of that day was against the indifference and lack of faith and love for the work on the part of many officers. Why it should have so we cannot understand. At that time in the world’s history it is true that millions of children were brought up in the Sabbath schools of the churches, and although taught a thorough understanding of the Bible and of Christian principles, yet the work was not deep enough – too many were allowed to pass with morality, and not obtain the great salvation through the Blood of Jesus.


Then again, history tell us that in many of the large cities regardless had gained such ascendency that more children were sent to saloons for beer and other intoxicating drinks on the Sabbath morning than the number that attended any place of worship: hence there was a mighty need for the same desperate action for salvation and organization of the juniors as had been put forth to save their Godless fathers and mothers. When the Junior War was thoroughly started (about 1896) it went like wildfire. Young men and women from every direction were fired with a great love for this branch of the Army operations. Local officers were organized and junior schools started in every neighbourhood. Some places the work was trying to the extreme, but the results were grand. Thirty thousand field officers of the right quality were raised up to help in the conquest of the world by the year 1910.  This resulted mainly through the Junior War. What was required to be taught cadets in Training Garrisons in 1894 had already (and much more) been taught in the junior schools. Cadets in 1910 understood as much of Army spirit, method and teaching as the staff officers did in 1894. The great principles of self-sacrifice and love for souls were the spirits that increased as the years rolled on. Had General Booth not undertaken the Junior War that world might have been lost forever!


From this wonderful year began the greatest struggle which lasted for fifty years in the conquest of the world. Thy dying love of Jesus was the great power that won, but great care was taken in the selection and training of officers. Greater desperation was made for the salvation of souls. Advances were made into countries hitherto unreached buy Christian effort. Spain, China, Russia, Austria, Turkey – the land of Mohammed – and Northern Africa were taken by the Spirit’s irresistible force. Many of these consecrated officers endured untold suffering and even death. They had unquenchable faith. Defeat was impossible. There were a few unfaithful, but it is overcome by the loyalty of the majority. Of course saved, consecrated men and women of all churches helped to bring these victories.


Great tracts of land were taken for the Social Work. The denizens of the great cities (and from many smaller cities) of Darkest Europe and America emigrated and settled under The Army’s jurisdiction. They sought salvation and were happy. Slums were entirely vacated. Salvation ships were crowded in their voyages to “over the sea” colonies.


Prisons and slumhouses were becoming desolate and falling into ruins as the years rolled on. Saloons and dives closed as there was no patronage. The rich of the world were joining the Auxiliary League. Many were sworn in as soldiers and wore the uniform. Kings and rulers of different nations made investigations and forced their governments after the “paternal idea” of The Army. Some kings got converted and wore red-banded caps instead of a crown, while queens and duchesses wore poke bonnets. Many of the aristocrats saw the blessing of self-denial forsook all and have their wealth for the social and spiritual benefit of The Army. Governments granted large tracts of land for colonization. War became a thing of the past. The thorn-platted, reed-sceptred King of the Jews was gradually becoming the monarch of the whole earth. In 1940 a Jubilee was held by The Army celebrating the fact that the lost brethren temple in China was captured and turned into a barracks, and above which floated the blood-and-fire flag. Spiritual wickedness in high places, religious pride, formalism and bigotry were the last foes to give way. The blessing of holiness of heart and life was the great object of the human race. Theatre-going and horse-racing were amusements practiced by the ungodly with great tenacity until the great tide of humanity was turned to that salvation that afforded a greater joy and pleasure. We now look at their opera as they at that time looked back upon the cruel exhibitions in the Coliseum in ancient Rome, where Christians were torn by wild beasts in the arena. Theatres became more and more unpopular during the decade of 1930 and 1940, and passed entirely out of practice, for they had no patronage – the people were enjoying the glory of God – but the great buildings erected for theatres were used afternoons for holiness meetings and evenings for great salvation meetings which were thronged with immense crowds seeking Christ.


The Lord was with His Army; as He promised (Joel 2:11). In the year 1900 A.D. The Salvation Army numbered 20,000 field officers, in 1925 A.D., 2000,000, when every city, village, and hamlet had corps in the entire world. Whole cities had been converted. By this time every other subject discussed by newspapers had sunk into insignificance. In 1950 the world was about conquered, and the devil so discouraged that he gave up the fight. When the great multitudes were flocking to the mercy seat, the question of the old prophet seemed to be answered: “Who are these that fly as a cloud, and as doves to their windows?”


Everybody now lives to make everybody else happy. The grandest exposition the world ever knew will begin in 1996 A.D., to continue until 2000A.D. in Jerusalem and the Holy Land. The advantages of our rapid electro serial transit, that has just been improved, will greatly facilitate the transportation of two billion Salvationists. Would it not be grand for those officers and soldiers who suffered such untold hardships, and self-denial, and death, to be present on this occasion and see as, their children and children’s children, gathered in sects as immeasurable company for worshiping their Saviour just two thousand years after His advent to the earth and the Babe of Bethlehem! Hundreds of thousands of Chinese, Russians, Turks, Syrians, Africans, Eskimos, Irishmen, Germans, Italians all speaking the same language, will join one great family of God, giving Him praise and honour.


I think we are living in those days that the prophets speak of. Their language of description is grand, but it fails to describe our joy and prosperity, for verily the Spirit of God is upon all people. Micah, speaking of the past century, says; “and he shall judge among man’s people, and rebuke strong nations afar off; and they shall beat their swords into ploughshares and their spears into pruning hooks: nation shall not live up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore… for we will walk in the name of the Lord our God forever”


Isaiah speaks of our times in many places in the 11th chapter he says: “They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain; for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord”

            I am yours in faith, hope and love,

            Captain Thankfulness

            In command of Corps No. 21,700, of

            the city of Chicago


NOTE – In writing this letter from an imaginary future date, I wish to state that I have simply tried to show:

            1. The importance to future generations of our holding to the principles taught by the General on his trip this year to America.

            2. What may be possible to see, even in our own times, if we claim the Holy Ghost, do our duty and rise up to the opportunity. The revival of Apostolic time is truly upon us, and by faith the salvation of the world can be accomplished in fifty or seventy five years.

            3. It will be more credit to God’s people to see the salvation of the world than its destruction, which some people are always talking about. Even though God has threatened to bring it to and end by fire, will He not shoe His mercy and save it if it repents! Will He not listen to us or reason with us as He did with Abraham concerning Sodom, or turn away His anger as He did with the repenting Ninevehites!

            The devil must be downed! And all the people say “Amen!”

            Very faithfully yours,

            Staff Captain W.W. Winchell










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