THE MISSIONARY SPIRIT
Early in the history of the Washington Society, indeed in its very inception, was developed that feature, which has since given it such a commanding position, and so salutary an influence in the country. We refer to its missionary spirit. This is exhibited not merely in the exertions of those who have gone abroad on missions to various parts of the country; but, in one sense, every member of the society is, or ought to be a missionary. One of the many excellent mottoes of President Mitchell, was expressed and acted on from the beginning: “Let every man be present, and every man bring a man.” Immediately after the foundation of the society, the “original six” went privately to their friends, especially their former drinking associates, and endeavoured to persuade them to sign the pledge with them. At all events they used their influence to bring them to the society’s meetings. By this personal effort the drinking acquaintances of most of the reformed men in the society have been reclaimed. Men have gone into bar-rooms and led their friends away from the bottle by the arm, and persuaded them to accompany them to their meetings. Even the tavern-keeper himself has thus been taken from his bar by his former customer, conducted to the society, and induced to sign the pledge. Very few that have attended our meetings have ever gone away drunkards. The very atmosphere they breathed in these meetings, was that of reformation; and it inspired them with new hopes of again regaining their position in the community. Very few men, if any, are beyond the reach of reformation from intemperance, if the proper judicious means are used for their recovery.
One great secret of the success of the Washington Society has been, that it is emphatically a society of working men, – that is: the society constitutes a grand “committee of the whole;” and the business of each member is constantly to seek out all cases of intemperance within their reach, and to do what can be done to bring such to the society. Heretofore most Temperance societies were confined in their operations to annual, semi-annual, or quarterly meetings; on which occasions the societies met, heard a report and a speech or two, and then adjourned, too often to remain inactive until the next regular meeting. To this there were some honorable exceptions. But after all, the toil and labor rested mainly on the shoulders of one or two men in each society.
The Washington Society meets every Monday night, at which time the pledge is read as often as called for, and the different members, as there may be occasion, or as they may be called on, relate their experience. Thus a constant interest is kept up, being renewed each week, and carried out into the daily intercourse of life.
Of the Delegations or Missions of this society, the manner in which they came to be instituted, and the glorious results of all these missionary labours, we have spoken before. These are but the developments of the aggressive principles, which at the very foundation of the society. All these great and glorious results were actually foreseen and predicted by the author of these pages, several months before any of our missionaries had left his city. Our true motto should be: action, constant untiring action on the part of every member. What has the Temperance cause not done for us! Let us extend its blessings to every member of the human family; and if the drunkard will not come to us, let us seek him out in his wretchedness, and strive to bring him to reformation by every means in our power.