Plymouth - Salvation Army (1878)

This is the first monthly report from the Salvation Army station here.

WE commenced operations in this naval and military town against the three-fold enemy, on Sunday, August 25th, 1878. St. James's Hall will comfortably seat 1,500 people. This is for our Sunday services and has been crammed from the first Sunday. And in it, already, scores of sinners have sought salvation, and in it we expect to see hundreds·more saved. Our weeknight hall is the old Central Hall, Central Manor Street, kindly cleansed and fitted up with platform, table and chairs, and seated throughout for us by Mr Spooner, the proprietor. It will hold 500 people. Just suited for our work both for situation and size. It was consecrated to the service of God, with the salvation of souls, the first meeting, and many have been saved since. Some of the greatest sinners have been brought in. One man described himself as being the vilest villain out of hell without being in it. I shall be able to give some interesting cases next month. Our congregation has averaged 500 people every evening from the commencement. In the open-air meetings, we have good order, and large crowds are eager to listen to every word spoken. We have had no interference from anyone. There are large numbers here which the ordinary means cannot touch, specially the soldiers and sailors; but God has helped us already to catch some, and we hope to reach many more, as they can convey the Gospel into foreign lands.

From, 'The Christian Mission Magazine', October 1878, pages 254-5.

We are advancing and planting the flag of King Jesus in the very midst of the enemy's camp. But Satan was determined we should not have it all our own way here. His followers have been mustering all their forces against us by overcrowding the meetings and trying to disturb the congregation by laughing and talking and otherwise trying to attract their attention. But Satan has been defeated in this, for some of his leaders have fallen into our hands and many others are under deep conviction.

We had a glorious Christmas Watch-night. Hall packed; hundreds outside, and to get in they pulled down the door. But God was powerfully present, and numbers fell at the feet of Jesus and obtained salvation, and we had a blessed victory. First Sunday in the New Year open air. Good all day. 7 a.m. prayer-meeting; Spirit of God was present. 10.30 a hundred consecrated themselves and took the Sacrament. It was a time of great blessing. 2.30, experience meeting. One hundred spoke in thirty minutes, lt was grand. 6.30 I preached; had liberty. Sinners fell in all directions and many got saved. This was the greatest day Plymouth ever saw. All is well.

From, 'The Salvationist', February 1879, page 53.

Plymouth is all on fire, we are pushing forward, conquering to conquer.

From, 'The Salvationist,' March 1879, page 82.

THE Lord of Hosts is with us. Through the past month it has been victory, victory, victory. We have had the Almighty arm made bare in the salvation of sinners, and some of them the very stoutest-hearted ones, who came to have a lark by mocking us and ridiculing our meetings; but God has broken in upon them. They have grounded their arms of rebellion, made a full surrender to King Jesus, got saved, and are now happy in His love. Hallelujah!

Good Friday was one of the best days I have lived to see. We had a regular field day. Rallied our army at 6 am. at Central Hall, when the Lord gloriously baptised us, and well fitted us for the day. We felt well equipped and commenced to bombard the enemy's strongholds on the Old Parade at 10.30, new ground to us. The Lord was with us, the fire burning in our hearts; not a dissenting voice or murmur was heard. An immense crowd of people soon gathered just the sort we are after -English and foreign sailors, fishermen, fish hawkers, fish fags, roughs of all sorts, and the poor bloated-faced drunkard with his bloodshot eye- all stood and listened attentively. It seemed as if the Devil had taken the black host of hell out on an excursion, as we had it all our own way. Many bronze-faced seamen were in tears and stout hearts were melted into tenderness.

We mustered all our forces again at 2.30 on the Parade, where again a great concourse gathered to hear us. Our meeting was described by an eye-witness who had heard talk of us, but had not seen us nor heard us for himself; he said, "I had no idea of the Salvation Army having such a force in Plymouth." The meeting altogether was awful and grand. God's presence seemed upon us all. The singing, as it sounded amongst the old buildings and rigging of the vessels in the dock, was like heaven began below. But Satan sent a poor dirty-looking man to oppose us -an infidel, they said- but his appearance did not recommend his cause; however, the crowd soon pushed him out of the way, as they wanted to hear the speaking, and he might as well have tried to stop the tide flowing in as to stop us, for we were determined to have victory or death. God was with us. I never remember seeing more people weep in an open-air meeting. The word was with power. Tea at 4.30, provided close at hand. Having refreshed ourselves, we went again on the quay until 6.30, then processioned through the town to the Central Hall for a Love feast; and it was a love-feast indeed. Hall packed; 120 stood up and told the people what God had done for their souls. Many said they had never seen such a Good Friday before. We have since been reaping through that day's work. Praise God forever! Amen.

From, 'The Salvationist,' May 1879, page 129-30.

...I was not surprised, therefore, to see their devotion a few evenings later at the Central Hall, where five to six hundred people still come night after night after more than twelve months' services.

One very often hears the prayer, "Lord, save sinners all over the place," but rarely does anyone seem to take means to attain this result. The men and women of Plymouth went in for it that night might and main. Wherever they found a sinner under conviction but holding back, a gang would surround him or her, and within the ning of fiery prayer there was in almost every case a complete downfall of the powers of darkness, and a real heart-broken surrender to our King. Our soldiers fought, infact, just as people ought to do who are intended to "overcome," and "they overcame." If equally desperate fighting be earned on outside and in, many a stout sinner in Plymouth and Devonport will soon have to yield to Jesus, and so to form corps of great physical as well as spiritual strength.

From, 'The Salvationist', November 1879, page 296.

For more reports see the 'War Cry', which began January 1880.

Additional Information

The theatre was demolished in 1920.

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