THE LIFE &
|Chapter 1 - Introductory Chapter|
Early Acquaintance with Mr. Moody - A Most Profound - Influence - Master in Moving Men - The Power of God on His Work - The Last Picture of the Evangelist - Professor Drummond on Moody.
"I do not know whether I dare
say what I am now about to speak to you. I asked a brother minister this afternoon,
and he would not take the responsibility, but after thinking it over I will
say it. I believe if Christ had actually lived in the body of our dear brother
and had been subject to the same limitations that met him, he would have filled
up his life much as D. L. Moody filled up his, and for that reason I say, after
the most careful thought, I had rather be D.L. Moody lying dead in his coffin
than to be the greatest man alive in the world to-day." This remarkable
tribute was paid by Dr. H.G. Weston, of the Crozier Theological Seminary, Chester,
Pa., and when he had finished it, there was a wave of sympathetic expression
and approval which swept over the entire audience, and his remarkable utterance
was greeted with quiet Amens and suppressed sobs.
I question if this generation has known a man who was more Christlike than D. L. Moody. That he sometimes made mistakes his best friends will allow, but that he was ready to undo these mistakes when they were made, and to make acknowledgment when that was necessary, all who knew him well will testify.
EARLY ACQUAINTANCE WITH MR. MOODY
I have heard his name since infancy.
First of all from my mother's lips when I was a child. For it was at that time
his name was being spoken with approval by ministers and Christian workers,
and also at that time that the newspapers were making frequent reference to
his increasing usefulness and power.
I am naturally a hero worshipper. There are certain names that have always stirred me and certain personalities that have ever been my inspiration. No name, however, has ever been more sacred among the names of men than that of Moody, and no character has ever so taken hold of my very being, as his.
When first I felt called to preach the Gospel, I determined there were certain men whom I must hear. In my list of names I had Henry Ward Beecher, and I shall ever recall with grateful appreciation the opportunity of hearing him in the Plymouth Church when his text was: "Except your righteousness exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees ye shall in no wise enter into the kingdom." And when his prayer reminded me of nothing so much as the running of a mountain stream over the rocks as it hurried on its way to the sea, I came away feeling that I had had a great privilege, not only in hearing Mr. Beecher preach, but in being lifted up to Heaven by his prayer.
A MOST PROFOUND INFLUENCE
The second name in importance on my list was that of Dr. John Hall, and possibly the deepest impression of my life was made, when he was preaching from the text in I Timothy iv:6: "Thou shalt be a good minister of Jesus Christ." He closed his sermon by leaning over the pulpit and saying, "I have only one supreme ambition, and that is that I might close my ministry here and have you say concerning me, "he was a good minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ," and I came away saying that I had had such an uplift as rarely comes to a young minister.
Written in large letters on my list was the name of Charles H. Spurgeon, and it has ever been the regret of my ministry that before it was given to me to cross the sea, God had called him to cross over into the better land.
But of all the names written, none stood out so plainly as that of D. L. Moody. I had somehow made up my mind from what I had heard of him, and from what the newspapers had printed of his work, that he was to move me more mightily than any other man in the world, and I bear glad testimony to the fact that the after-years proved my expectation to be true. He exercised the most profound influence over me from the very first moment I met him, an influence which only increased with the passing years, and still abides, although he is in the presence of his God.
AT THE WORLD'S FAIR MEETING IN CHICAGO
In the providence of God I was frequently with him in services; notably, at the World's Fair Meetings in Chicago, when he was not only the genial host of the workers with whom he was surrounded, but was the leader of a great force of Christian ministers and laymen, commanding the city for God with as great genius as ever an officer commanded and led his soldiers against the enemy on the field of battle.
He invited me to be with him in Pittsburg in 1898, and one of the most tender memories of my life is that which I have of him in connection with the meetings held in the Exposition Building.
I saw him in frequent conferences when I was pastor in Philadelphia, when his great heart yearned over the cities in the East, much as did the heart of the Master when looking down upon the City of his love, he said, "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem!"
I was with him in the special campaign in New York, when from early morning till late at night in the Grand Central Palace, he not only preached himself, but had called to his assistance workers and friends from many other cities.
It was my great privilege to be frequently at Northfleld where Mr. Moody showed not only his great heart, but his great power as a leader as in no other place in the country, and intimately as I knew him, and devotedly as I loved him, I never came in contact with him that my heart did not beat a little faster and my pulses throb a little more quickly.
MOODY CONDUCTING MEETINGS
I used to love to watch him in the meetings he conducted. His eyes were always open to take in the most minute detail of the services, and things to which other men would be blind he was ever seeing. I frequently almost lost the message he was giving in my admiration for the messenger. While he was sitting in the first part of the service, he would make a dive into his pocket, take out a little piece of paper and write a message to some of his workers, put down an illustration or record something which was to be the seed thought for a future sermon. Sometimes you would scarcely think he was noticing what was going on, and suddenly he would be on his feet announcing a hymn, and while he could not sing himself, yet he was superb in his power to make other people sing, "Isn't that magnificent" he would say, as voice after voice took up the great chorus. "Now the galleries sing, that is my choir up in the gallery, now show the people what you can do; now the men, now the women, now altogether," until it would seem as if greater singing one had never heard in all his life.
He was ever on the alert in every service. I have heard him many times relate, however, one instance to the contrary, when George O. Barnes was being greatly used in evangelistic effort. Mr. Moody had taken him around to several appointments, and the evening service came so quickly upon them that they did not have time to eat anything except a hasty lunch which they took somewhere together, the principal article of which Mr. Moody said was bologna. When Mr. Barnes arose to speak in the evening, the room was very hot, and Mr. Moody said that that, together with the lunch he had taken, made him very drowsy; he pinched himself to keep awake, but at last he fell asleep. Mr. Barnes did every-thing he could to arouse him, and when he had failed he stopped preaching, and Mr. Moody said, turned to his audience to say, "This is the first time I have ever seen D.L. Moody defeated, but the devil and bologna sausage seem to have gotten the best of him." I have heard him tell it over and over. No one enjoyed a joke better than himself, even though he might be the subject of it.
He seemed to know what the people wanted and what they would take, and the things that other men would turn away from he would present with great power. I remember a meeting in Albany, New York, years ago, when short conferences were being held through the country by Mr. Moody and his co-workers, when he turned to Dr. Darling, then of Schenectady, now of Auburn Seminary, and said, "Doctor, tell them the story you told me this morning;" and then the distinguished preacher gave an illustration which he might have thought too simple to use in a crowded assemblage, but which swayed the great audience.
A MASTER IN MOVING MEN
He was a master in moving men. I can shut my eyes now and see him, with tears rolling down his face, as he plead with men to turn to Christ; sobs breaking his utterance as he told of the love of God to men and of God's special love to himself. He was as sincere a man as ever stood on the platform to preach, and it was for this reason that people of all classes and grades believed in him. When the New York Dailies came out with great headlines saying, "Moody is dead," a Jew in one of the courts turned to a friend of mine to say, "He was a good man," and when his death was being discussed in one of the great clubs in the City of New York, a man who was an infidel said, "I think he was the best man this generation has known, and if I should ever be a Christian I should want to be one just like Moody, if I could."
There were times when he was more than eloquent, when every gesture was a sermon. Who can ever forget his description of Elijah going up by a whirlwind into heaven. When carried away by the power of his own emotions, he lifted his hands while his audience seemed to be lifted with him, and raising them higher and higher, I can hear him say the words, "Up, up, up' I can see Elijah going, and I see heaven open to receive him as he rises." The impression on his audience was profound.
A BLESSING TO HAVE KNOWN HIM
To have known him at all was a blessing, but to have known him with any degree of intimacy was one of the rarest privileges of a minister's life. I would not say that I knew him better than other men, for hundreds knew him far more intimately and for a far longer time than I; but if love, since I have known him, can make up for the years in which I was not acquainted with him, then these recent years with their increasing admiration and love will give me the right to speak and write. Dr. Pierson says concerning George Muller, "A human life filled with the presence and power of God, is one of God's choicest gifts to His church and to the world."
"Things which are unseen and eternal seem, to the carnal man, distant and indistinct, while what is seen and temporal is vivid and real. Practically, any object in nature that can be seen or felt is thus more real and actual to most men than the living God. Every man who walks with God, and finds Him a present help in every time of need; who puts His promises to the practical proof and verifies them in actual experience; every believer who with the key of faith unlocks God's mysteries, and with the key of prayer unlocks God's treasuries, thus furnishes to the race a demonstration and an illustration of the fact that 'He is a Rewarder of them that diligently seek Him.'
"DEATH HAS NO TERROR TO ME"
"George Muller was such an argument and example incarnated in human flesh. FIesh was a man of like passions as we are, and tempted in all points like as we are, but who believed God and was established by believing; who prayed earnestly that he might live a life and do a work which should be a convincing proof that God hears prayer and that it is safe to trust Him at all times; and who has furnished just such a witness as he desired Like Enoch, he truly walked with God, and had abundant testimony borne to him that he pleased God. And when, on the tenth day of March, 1898, it was told us of George Muller that 'he was not,' we knew God had taken him;' it seemed more like a translation than death," the same thing can be said of Mr. Moody. He used to say, "Sometime you will pick up a paper and will read of D.L. Moody's death; don't believe a word of it; I may be asleep, but I shall not be dead; death has no terror to me, and his words were a prophecy of his triumphant passing into the presence of God. The telegram written by Mr. A. P. Fitt, his son-in-law, to Mr. Louis Klopsch, of the Christian Herald, is a confirmation of this:
"EAST NORTHFIELD, MASS., Dec. 22.
"Mr. Moody had a triumphant entry into Heaven at noon.
"As early as 8 o'clock, A.M. he said: 'Earth is receding and Heaven is opening. God is calling me.'
"He was perfectly conscious to the last, and showed the same courage and faith, unselfishness and thought for his wife and children and his schools as always.
"His doctor says it was 'a pure case of heart failure, due to absolute loss of bodily strength.'
"In leaving us he gave unflinching testimony to the truths he taught.
A. P. Fitt"
A WONDERFUL LIFE
His was a wonderful life. In one of Tissot's pictures there is seen a great multitude of people lame and halt and blind in the way along which Jesus of Nazareth is to come, and then there is a view representing him passing, and as he moves along, only those before Him are sick, while all behind him are well. This was Mr. Moody's life. All that was behind him felt the touch of his power. The Chicago Bible Institute has become an object lesson to Christian workers everywhere. Northfield is a centre of influence forth from which streams of blessing flow to the very ends of the earth. England, Ireland and Scotland have felt the touch of his consecrated life, and millions of lives the world over thank God that he ever lived, those who were lame, halt and blind spiritually now leap and praise God that D.L. Moody ever lived.
His home life, in the testimony of those who knew it best, was most beautiful. On that memorable day when his body was lying in the casket in the Congregational Church in Northfield, when other speakers had paid their tribute to his distinguished father, Mr. William R. Moody, his eldest son, rose to say: "As a son I want to say a few words of him as a father. We have heard from his pastor, his associates and friends, and he was just as true a father. I don't think he showed up in any way better than when, on one or two occasions, in dealing with us as children, with his impulsive nature, he spoke rather sharply. We have known him to come to us and say: 'My children, my son, my daughter, I spoke quickly; I did wrong; I want you to forgive me. That was D.L. Moody as a father.
"He was not yearning to go; he loved his work. Life was very attractive; it seems as though on that early morning as he had one foot upon the threshold it was given him for our sake to give us a word of comfort. He said: 'This is bliss; it is like a trance. If this is death it is beautiful.' And his face lighted up as he mentioned those whom he saw.
"We could not call him back; we tried to for a moment, but we could not. We thank God for his home life, for his true life, and we thank God that he was our father, and that he led each one of his children to know Jesus Christ."
A BEAUTIFUL HOME
There was ever a holy atmosphere about this home to me in the few times I was permitted to pass its portals. Mr. Moody used to tell a story of a sick child whose father one day came into his room and to whom the child said, "lift me up," and the father lifted him gently, and he said "lift me higher," and he lifted him yet a little higher; "higher," said the child, faintly, and he lifted him just as high as his arms could reach, and when he took him down he was dead. "I believe," said Mr. Moody, "that he lifted him into the arms of Christ," and then his great kindly face glowed, and as the tears rolled down his cheeks he said, "I would rather have my children say that about me than to have a monument of gold that would pierce the clouds," and his home life clearly bore out the fact that he not only said this in words, but he put it into every action in his home. His personality was charming; he was the centre of every group everywhere. It was a most ordinary thing to see representative men from many parts of the world in his home, but none were ever so prominent as to dim the brightness of his greatness, and yet he was as modest as a woman and as humble as a little child. Who that ever sat about his table can forget his laugh. It was as hearty a laugh as one has ever heard. He knew just how to put every man at his best. His questions always brought forth that which would make a man appear to the best advantage before his hearers. "Morgan," he would say, speaking to the Rev. G. Campbell Morgan, "tell that story about Joseph Parker; " and then although he might have heard it before he was the most interested listener; his eyes would gleam and his face light up as the inimitable story teller painted the picture of London's greatest preacher.
THOUGHTFUL OF OTHERS
He was so very thoughtful of other people. The last time I rode with him to Mt. Hermon, he stopped to talk a few minutes with the men at the old ferry, asked them about their homes and spoke a cheering word concerning their work, and said as he drove on, "I want them to know that I am interested in them."
Driving up from the station at the last students' conference at Northfield, he stopped every student trudging along with his baggage and took the bag into his buggy until it was piled up with luggage, and the greater the number of men whose burdens he lifted, the happier he became.
Walking across his lawn one day when his conversation was, as ever, the evangelising of the great cities, he turned quickly and said, "Chapman, how many children have you?" and when I told him two, as I had then, he turned quickly about and said "come with me," and he pointed out to me some white turkeys and some ducks of a very rare breed and said, "I will send a pair of these to the children," and when only a few days had elapsed, sure enough the turkeys and the ducks came safely to my country home, and my children took particular delight in feeding and caring for the ducks and turkeys that came from Mr. Moody's house.
Driving along the country road with Dr. Wilton Merle Smith, of New York, when the conversation had been general, he stopped his horse under the shade of a great tree, and, said Dr. Smith, "he poured out his soul in such prayer as I have rarely heard."
"I JUST WANTED TO BE WITH YOU"
I shall ever remember one of his illustrations. He had told one of his children that he was not to be disturbed in his study, and after a little while the door of the study opened and the child came in. "What do you want," said the father, and the little fellow looking Up into his father's face said, "I just wanted to be with you," and the tears started into the great evangelist's eyes as he said, "it ought to be like that between us and our God." I can well understand how his little child would want to be with him every minute of his time, for there are many of us who counted it our special privilege to be in fellowship with this godly man.
The first time I saw him is a memorable day in my life. I was a student at Lake Forest University, and he was to speak in Chicago, I think it was in 1878. Four times he preached the Gospel that day and I was in every service; but the service of all services was that of the afternoon in old Farwell Hall; it was for men only. The place was filled to overflowing with men; the singing was superb, so said my friends, but I lost the power of the music in the sight of this man of God of whom I had heard so much. His text was, "Be not deceived, God is not mocked; whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap." The sermon is remembered because, under God, it has been used to lead so many to Christ. Under the power of it I saw my own heart, and then I saw the Saviour who was waiting to make it clean. I halted around with others if only I might have the chance to touch his hand. Just in front of me went a man who held Mr. Moody's attention for a little time, and who said to him, as he afterwards told me, "I am a defaulter, I have taken money which is not my own, I am a fugitive from justice, what must I do?" And Mr. Moody told him he must take the money back, even though it meant punishment, and he did it; was sent to the penitentiary, was pardoned out just before he died of quick consumption.
"HE HAS FORGIVEN ME!"
Before the pardon Mr. Moody made his way across the country that he might stand in his cell, and as he entered, the young man sprang to his feet and putting his arms out to Mr. Moody said He has forgiven me, He has forgiven me." His evangelistic life was filled with just such incidents. In the evening of that great first day I saw him once again and followed him into the after meeting where I had the privilege of a moment's conversation. I had been in doubt for a long time on the subject of assurance. I did not know certainly whether I was a Christian or not, and Mr. Moody said, when I asked him to help me, "do you believe this verse?" and he quoted the Fifth Chapter of John and the 24th verse, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on Him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life." I said, "certainly I believe it." "Are you saved," he said, and I said, sometimes I think I am, other times I feel I am not." He put. his hand on my shoulder and said but one sentence, and then he left me; " young man," said he, "whom are you doubting?" and then he left me, and it flashed across my mind in an instant that, in my lack of assurance, I was doubting Christ; from that moment to this I have never doubted.
THE POWER OF GOD ON HIS WORK
The next impression was in connection with the brief conferences held throughout the country when five days were spent in Albany and Troy, and the meetings were held in the First Reformed Church of which I afterwards became pastor. I came down from my country church with many other ministers from different parts of the State. The great church was crowded; I was obliged to stand in the aisle, but I forgot all discomfort in the impression that was made upon me by this mighty man of God. I followed him from one city to another and then went back to my own church to preach to my people on the story of the Moody meetings. The power of God was not only on his work, but was on the very mention of it, so that my church officers came together and said that this work must go on, and more than a hundred people came to Christ because of it. In the day when rewards are given for service, I am very sure that my dear friend will share in the glory of these who came to Christ indirectly through his ministry.
When I became an evangelist his word was always the cheeriest; I never met him that he did not have some word to say concerning the work at large. If ever there was a perplexity in my mind, or any doubt as to what my course of action should be, in settling any problem, Mr. Moody was the first to give advice and always the wisest of all advisers. The last time I saw him was in Boston, in the days when Admiral Dewey was to be welcomed, to the New England Metropolis. He was there that the people might have the privilege of hearing Campbell Morgan. I heard him say, "some people think we ought to give the meetings up because of the excitement outside, but I believe," he said "that Christ is more attractive to the people than anything in all this world." The very morning of the parade when Mr. Morgan was obliged to be away and other speakers could not delay, some of his friends suggested that he at least give up this meeting. But he was never easily discouraged and he positively refused to yield in the least, and he preached himself with his old time vigour to a great company of people in Tremont Temple.
THE LAST PICTURE OF THE EVANGELIST
The last picture of him is drawn by the Hon. John Wanamaker. He was on his way to Kansas City, and, as Mr. Wanamaker said, he had turned away from his comfortable home and was going away into the far West, when he might have had all the rest of his home and help of his family, only for the joy of preaching the Gospel. Mr. Wanamaker met him at one of the railroad stations. It just so happened at this time that he was alone he purchased his own ticket, checked his baggage, then said, "we will have a little time now together," and they sat down in another railway station when Mr. Moody poured out his heart to his old friend concerning some of the interests that were dear to him, and then as they parted he said, with his face flushed and his eyes filled with tears, "if I could only get hold of one more Eastern city I should be grateful to God." These two friends said good-bye, the one to go into all the comforts of the presence of his loved ones, and the other to hurry away across the country that he might hold his last service, preach his last sermon, and then go from the very thick of the fight into the presence of his God.
D. L. Moody is dead. Men say it with sobs, and the old world seems lonely without him, but D.L. Moody is in heaven, we say it with thanksgiving, and we can just imagine the joy which rang through all the arches of the heavenly land when he entered in through the gates into the city. So is it strange that many can say the words of Dr. Weston with which this chapter began, "I would rather be D. L. Moody lying dead in his coffin than to be the greatest man alive in the world to-day."
PROFESSOR DRUMMOND ON MOODY
In his day no one was closer to Mr. Moody, than Prof. Drummond, and a few years ago he said this of his friend: "Whether estimated by the moral qualities which go to the making up of a personal character, or the extent to which he has impressed these upon communities of men on both sides of the Atlantic, there is, perhaps, no more truly great man living than D.L. Moody. By moral influences in this connection, I mean the influence which, with whatever doctrinal accompaniment, leads men to better lives and higher ideals. I have never heard Mr. Moody defend any particular church. I have never heard him quoted as a theologian.
But I know of large numbers of men and women of all churches and creeds, of many countries and ranks, from the poorest to the richest, and from the most Ignorant to the most wise, upon whom he has placed an ineffaceable moral mark."
Back to Table of Contents