"No man can go down into the dungeon of his life and hold the torch of God's Word to all its dark chambers, and hidden cavities and slimy recesses, and not come up with a shudder and a chill, and an earnest cry to God for divine mercy and cleansing." Henry Ward Beecher
"A great cloud of witnesses and a great legacy of tears urges us on from heaven." Stephen Hill
"Now concerning the salvation of these people, O Lord, You know that I am not accustomed to being denied. So do it again, dear God! Bring us another plentiful harvest." Charles G. Finney
"We ought to weep because we have no tears for the lost. We ought to blush that we are unashamed. We ought to get down before God and repent that we have no broken heart. A wet-eyed preacher can never preach a dry-eyed sermon." Leonard Ravenhill
It was often said of D. L. Moody that he never referred to hell without tears in his voice. It was those tears that compelled many to repentance. The amazing results of his sermons would never have taken place if they were not inspired by the Holy Spirit and soaked in his tears. Men of God truly concerned for souls, according to Moody, were a rare commodity. He was often shocked and appalled at the self-seeking spirits of many in the ministry and the hypocrisy of many Christian workers. Moody would have given a hearty "AMEN" to the words written by Jonathan Edwards more than a century before:
"Some make a great show of love to God and Christ, but they have not a love and benevolence towards men, but are disposed to contention, envy and revenge. Many will suffer an old grudge to rest in their bosoms for years, living in bitterness of Spirit towards their neighbor. On the other hand, there are others that appear as if they had a great deal of benevolence to men, but have no love to God."
So when Moody was introduced to, his future evangelistic partner, Mr. Ira D. Sankey he knew that here was a "Man in whom is no guile"(deceit).
The great evangelistic duo of "Moody and Sankey" was about to confront the world. Moody was the preacher and Sankey was the hymnist. On the value of singing in services and meetings Moody explained:
"I feel sure the great majority of people do like singing, and I purpose to make it a prominent feature in all my services. It helps to build up your audience, even if you do preach a dry sermon. If you have singing that reaches the heart, it will fill the church every time...there is more said in the Bible about praise than about prayer...music and song not only accompanied all Scriptural revivals, but were essential in deepening spiritual life. We owe some of our best hymns to seasons like those, when in the family and church, in the factory and street, the great truths of the gospel are heard in song. Singing does at least as much as preaching to impress the Word of God upon people's minds. During the forty years since God first called me, the importance of praise expressed in song has grown upon me."
According to the "Sword of the Lord Publishers", "Moody and Sankey traveled across the American continent and throughout England, Scotland and Ireland in some of the greatest and most successful evangelistic meetings communities have ever known. Moody's tour of the world with Sankey was considered the greatest evangelistic enterprise of the century."
Wherever they went, it was always printed, "Moody will preach; Sankey will sing."
Moody had to be kick-started on his world-wide tours. For quite a while the Holy Spirit had been quickening him to a call of world-wide evangelism. Although he saw the need, the timing was not quite right. There were too many ministry projects locally that needed his constant attention. They had just moved into the big "Farwell Hall" holding meetings nightly and of course there was the congregation at Moody's church, the Illinois Street Church. While Moody was struggling with this spiritual tug-o-war a catastrophe was about to unfold.
It was evening on October 8, 1871, and Moody was just finishing his sermon when the sound of the courthouse bell clanged out an alarm. No one, at first, paid much attention to it. They were all accustomed to hearing the fire-bell often in that large city; just as today a police siren has little effect on what we are doing. After Mr. Sankey sang a hymn they all went outside, that's when everyone saw the glare of the flames. It was the start of the "Great Chicago Fire."
Moody's son-in-Law elaborates on what happened:
"Chicago was laid in ashes. The great fire swept out of existence both Farwell Hall and the Illinois Street Church. On Sunday night after the meeting, Mr. Moody went homeward, he saw the glare of the flames, and knew it meant ruin to Chicago. About one o'clock in the morning Farwell Hall was burned; and soon his church went down. Everything was scattered."
When Moody arrived at his home neighbors were removing, out of his house, what they could carry in their hands. Mostly everything was lost. Mrs. Moody's heart was set on saving one thing, an oil painting of her husband that hung on the wall in the parlor. It was a special gift given to them by an artist and it was especially dear to her heart. Mr. Moody refused to take it down so a stranger, who had entered the house to help, assisted her in taking it down from the wall. The heat and fire in the house was intense but they prevailed by knocking the picture out of the heavy gold frame, rolling it up and quickly exiting the house. When everyone was safe, Moody explained why he was so adamant about not saving the picture:
"Would it not have been amusing for me to take my own picture! Suppose I was met by friends in the same plight as ourselves, and they said, ‘Hello, Moody, glad you have escaped; what is that you have saved and cling to so affectionately?' Would it not have sounded fine to reply, ‘Oh, I have got my own picture.'"
Before the fire died out in the early morning of Tuesday, October 10, it had cut a path through Chicago approximately three and a third square miles in size. Property valued at $192,000,000 was destroyed, 100,000 people were left homeless, and 300 people lost their lives. Moody immediately left to go east and raise money for those who were homeless and to rebuild his church. On December 24, 1871, just two months and fifteen days after the fire, the North Side Tabernacle was dedicated. Funds would continue to come in and soon a new structure was completed and became known as the Chicago Avenue Church or "Moody's Church."
When Moody returned from the east after a successful relief trip he jumped full force into the work of the kingdom. Revival fires were ignited again and continued to blaze throughout the city. The first thing Moody did was call a conference of ministers from not only Chicago but also from around the country. Dr. R. A. Torrey gives us an insight of the power that fell on the last day of the conference:
"Early that morning in the churches prayer room, where several hundred people had been assembled a number of hours for prayer, the Holy Spirit fell so manifestly that no one could speak or pray. The whole place was so filled with his presence that sobs of joy filled the place. Men left the room and went to different parts of the country, taking trains that very morning, and the effects of the outpouring of God's Holy Spirit in answer to prayer were soon reported. Others went out into the city with the blessing of God upon them."
The Chicago fire had opened Moody's mind to how fragile mans existence is in this world. Acting upon this lesson and the unction of the Holy Spirit along with the fact that he could be spared in Chicago, he and Sankey made plans for an evangelistic trip to England. On arriving in London in the summer of 1872 a pastor of a church in North London, Rev. Mr. Lessey, asked him to preach the next Sabbath. Mr. Moody agreed and this proved to be a turning point in his ministry.
The morning he entered that pulpit he felt an oppression come over him. He said afterwards that he had never had such a hard time preaching in his life. The spiritual atmosphere in the church was lacking, the place seemed very dead and cold. Moody relates that everything in that church was dead and he tried to preach but in vain. The most horrible thought of all preyed on his mind that whole afternoon, which was that he had committed to also preach the evening service. There were two sisters who belonged to that church, one was at that Sunday service while the other was home bedridden. This woman had a malady that kept her in the house. She used her time praying to God, day and night to revive the church but the church still remained cold and dead. She read in a newspaper about some of the meetings that Moody had held in America so she began to pray that God send him to her church. When her sister came home that Sunday after he preached she said to the other, "Do you know who our surprise preacher was this morning? It was Mr. Moody from America!" The invalid sister turned pale. God had answered the second part of her prayer so therefore, He had already commanded the first part, revival, to come forth. She said:
"If I had known he was going to preach this morning, I would have eaten no breakfast. I would have spent the whole time in prayer. Now, sister, go out of the room, lock the door, send me no dinner; no matter who comes, do not let them in to see me. I am going to spend the whole afternoon and evening in prayer."
She spent that afternoon and evening in fasting and prayer and in that evening service the answer came in fire from heaven.
When Moody, reluctantly, entered the pulpit that night and faced the crowded congregation he noticed a new atmosphere pervaded the place. He said, "The powers of an unseen world seemed to have fallen upon the audience."
As he drew near the close of his sermon he could feel a tingling in the place. The air was full with the Spirit of God. He knew God was searching their hearts. Then, with trembling legs, he said, "If there is a man or woman here who will tonight accept Jesus Christ, please stand up." At once, five hundred people rose to their feet. Moody thought to himself that these people did not fully understand what he said when he asked them to rise. He had never seen that many rise at once in America, and he did not know what to make of it, so he put them to the test again. He then asked them to all be seated and then, according to E. M. Bounds:
"In order that there might be no possible misunderstanding, he repeated the invitation, couching it in even more definite and difficult terms. Again the same number rose. Still thinking that something must be wrong, Mr. Moody, for the second time asked the standing men and women to be seated, and then he invited all who really meant to accept Christ to pass into the vestry. Fully five hundred people did as requested, and that was the beginning of a revival in that church and neighborhood...so while Mr. Moody stood in the pulpit that had been like an ice chamber in the morning, a bed-ridden saint was holding him up before God; and God, who ever delights to answer prayer, poured out His Spirit in mighty power."
Moody prayed the prayer for salvation as all accepted Christ and told them to meet with the pastor the following night for prayer and instruction on Christian living. Next day he and Sankey left for Dublin, Ireland. On Tuesday he got a frantic dispatch from the pastor, saying, that there were more inquiries on Monday then there were on Sunday. Moody immediately returned and held meetings for ten days. It was this continuing revival that brought him back to England the following year. The moving and stirring of the Holy Spirit was so profound that invitations for Moody to come and preach were received from many of the top ministers throughout England. Moody was not prepared for a long stay, so after three months he returned to America to gather his family and return to this "mission field" the next year.
Moody's influence, during those few months, in England was impressive. Small revival fires continued to burn during his absence. Ministers were using the Moody technique of "seats of decision" for those who came forward during their services and continued with follow-up counseling for those who were new believers. The fallow ground had been made fertile and was ready for the planting, while four thousand miles away Moody and Sankey were preparing their families for a tour of England, Scotland and Ireland that would last two years and add tens of thousands of new names to the Lamb's Book of Life.
"The Dynamic Duo" and their families landed in Liverpool on June 17, 1873 and three days later they commenced their evangelistic crusades with a meeting at the Y.M.C.A. in York, England. The meetings began to draw immediate interest. Both the preaching and the singing soon became the subject of newspaper articles and public conversation throughout the community. The Spiritual impression of those first meetings influenced that part of the country for decades to come. The Rev. F. B. Meyer, of Christ Church, London, wrote years later about the fruitfulness of the crusades.
"Yes, thank God, I know Mr. Moody. I have known him ever since a memorable Monday morning in 1873. I can see him standing up to lead the first noon prayer-meeting in a small ill-lit room in Coney Street, York, little realizing that it was the seed-germ of a mighty harvest, and that a movement was beginning that would culminate in a few months in Free Assembly Hall, Edinburgh, and ultimately in the Agricultural Hall and the Royal Opera-House, London. It was the birth time of new conceptions of ministry, new methods of work, new inspirations and hopes."
The meetings in York lasted five weeks. During this time the meeting places were overcrowded a half hour to an hour before the time of service, resulting in thousands professing true conversion. They then headed for Sunderland, England, an area that is rich with history of God-sent revivals. On arriving in that city the largest halls that could be found had to be secured for the services because the people turned out in even greater numbers than at York. One of the largest buildings to be secured for their first meeting soon proved too small for the audience. The services were soon moved the one of the largest in the entire north of England. Thousands upon thousands filled the front of the meetings in repentance at the call of Moody. While Sankey sang his hymns and played the organ a fresh breath of the Holy Spirit would flow through the crowd and weeping and sobs could be heard above the musical notes. Moody affectionately remembers one particular soul, out of all the thousands, that he prayed for during those meetings:
When Mr. Sankey and I were in the north of England, I was preaching one evening, and before me sat a lady who was a skeptic. When I had finished, I asked all who were anxious to remain. Nearly all remained; she was among the number. I asked her if she were a Christian; and she said she was not, nor did she care to be. I prayed for her there. On inquiry, I learned that she was a lady of good social position, but very worldly. She continued to attend the meetings, and a week later I saw her in tears. After the sermon I went to her, and asked her if she was of the same mind as before, she replied that Christ had come to her, and she was happy. Last Autumn I had a note from her husband, saying she was dead, that her love for her Master had continually increased. When I read the note, I felt paid for crossing the Atlantic. She worked sweetly after her conversion, and was the means of winning many of her fashionable friends to Christ. Oh, may you seek the Lord while He may be found, and will you call upon Him while you may? Do not put it off until it is too late. Do not neglect salvation."
One night in the meetings, there was an extremely large number of the affluent of the city present. Many of the very rich and "makers and breakers" of the town had what you would call today "front row seats." Moody realizing that this could be his one and only chance at their salvation, dove into them in typical Moody style:
"There is hardly an unconverted man anywhere, no matter how high up or how rich he may be, but will tell you, if you get his confidence, that he is not happy. There is something he wants that he cannot get, and there is something he has that he wants to get rid of. It is very doubtful if the ruler of Russia is a happy man, and yet he has about all he can get. Although the English Queen has palaces and millions at her command, and has besides what most sovereigns lack, the love of her subjects, it is a question whether she gets great pleasure out of her position. If kings and queens love Jesus Christ and are saved, then they may be happy. If they know they will reach heaven...then they may rest secure. Paul, the humble tent-maker, will have a higher seat in heaven than the best and greatest sovereign that ever ruled the earth. If a ruler should meet John Bunyan, the poor tinker, up in heaven, he no doubt would find him the greater man...'Happy is that people, whose God is the Lord'" (Psalm 144:15).
After six weeks in Sunderland the duo then moved over to Newcastle-on-Tyne. The news of the revival was already spreading and Moody and Sankey now had the acceptance of all the ministers of all denominations in Newcastle except those of the "Established Church", the Church of England, who, learning that they were both unordained men, refused to accept them in any way. It made no difference. The meetings in Newcastle were even more, as one person said, "gigantic" then all the meetings in the other cities. Special trains brought people from the surrounding cities and towns. After a few weeks of overflowing meetings even the secular world had to take notice. A. P. Fitt writes:
"The editor of the Newcastle Chronicle, a Mr. Cowen, then a member of Parliament for that district, wrote about the meetings in his paper, speaking of them as a ‘wonderful religious phenomenon.' It was a very unusual thing then for a prominent secular paper to discuss religious matters, and Mr. Cowen's article created a profound impression throughout England. Invitations to hold services began to pour in from all sides."
The news of the Newcastle revival reached Edinburgh, Scotland, and ministers and laymen went to investigate this move of God. The result was an invitation to preach in Edinburgh and throughout Scotland. God's plan for what would be some of the greatest revival meetings of all time, in all the world's history, was about to unfold. The Holy Spirit was quickening the hearts of his people to make sure everything was done to insure success. Scotland, at that time, had a cold and hard religious spirit over it. Groups of people, therefore, started having special preparatory prayer-meetings throughout Edinburgh when it was heard that Moody and Sankey were on their way. There were many obstacles to overcome. Prejudice and criticism was rampant. The Scottish had their way of doing things and it would not be changed, according to many. Mr. Sankey's singing, for instance, was contrary to Scottish worship practices. The leaders of the churches called his organ a "kist fu' o' whistles, and regarded it as an abomination. And for Mr. Moody's fiery speech and actions, they had no place in a church and stood out in contrast with the staid demeanor and solemn spirit of the ordinary Scottish minister. All this didn't matter because the road was already prepared with "Holy Ghost Influence" and the hunger was intense from the first, and the crowds enormous. There wasn't a building in Edinburgh that could hold the crowds so three and four overflow meetings were held at the same time with Moody and Sankey taking turns hour by hour ministering in each one. Newspapers soon picked up the banner "The Scottish Revival" and the news was soon telegraphed all over the country. Dr. Horatius Bonar declared:
"All classes of society were influenced...there was scarcely a Christian household in the whole city in which one or more persons had not been converted. People came in from miles around to attend the meetings...thus spreading the fires throughout the land."
Another minister wrote, "Never, probably in all time, was Scotland so stirred; never was there such expectation." Another writes, "The career of these men has been like the rolling of a snowball. It gathers as it goes; at first a handful, then a hill."
Three months were spent in Edinburgh and then the evangelists traveled to Dundee, where Robert Murray McCheyne brought revival nearly a century before. After four months they then went to Glasgow. At the closing service in that city over fifty thousand persons were present. The meeting was held at the Crystal Palace, which holds twenty thousand people. It was full and there were still thirty thousand outside, unable to be seated. Moody could not enter, so while Sankey sang and preached inside Moody jumped on the top of a carriage and preached to the open-air crowd. Even a choir led the singing from the roof of a nearby shed. These same scenes were repeated in every town that Moody and Sankey preached. Scotland was stirred and shaken to its depths in a degree never before known. Moody was only thirty-eight at this time but was gaining the respect of clergy who served God longer than he was alive. Moody's son-in-law relates a story to us:
"Dr. R. W. Dale, one of the leading Nonconformists of England, sat and watched him (Moody) for three or four days while he preached in Birmingham, England...trying to discover the secret of his power. Then he told him that the work was most plainly of God, for he could see no relation between Moody personally and the work he was doing. Mr. Moody laughed cheerily, and said he would be sorry if it were otherwise. Dr. Dale had a profound respect for Mr. Moody and considered that he had the right to preach the gospel, ‘Because', he said, ‘he could never speak of a lost soul without tears of Christly compassion in his eyes.'"
Belfast, Ireland was the next stop and in September, 1874, they held their first meeting. Four times as many people came to that first meeting as could get into the building. It was like that wherever they traveled in Ireland. Some say more people gathered in a meeting in Dublin then there was in the last meeting in Glasgow.
Returning to England they went from city to city spreading revival with the gospel of Jesus Christ. On March 9, 1875 the "Great London Campaign" began. The enthusiasm was intense throughout the city. Nightly meetings drew crowds estimated at fifteen to twenty thousand people. At one meeting, the Royal Opera House, in the fashionable West end, with a seating capacity of five thousand, could have been filled three or four times over. The daily newspapers gave extended reports of the meetings and wire services printed the news worldwide. Moody in his humble way wrote his mother in America:
"I am glad you have the papers, it will be as good as a letter from me, in fact, better, for I would not like to have to write so much about myself."
Finally Moody and Sankey left England, after two years and one week, in 1875. The whole country had been stirred as it had not been stirred since the days of Wesley and Whitefield. Professor Henry Drummond summed up the visit, "Moody spoke to exactly an acre of people every meeting during his campaign in the East End of London."
A Swedish writer, D. M. Gustafson, tells of Moody's world- wide fame:
"His influence was felt among the Swedes even though he never visited Sweden or any other Scandinavian country...he became a hero revivalist among Swedish mission friends in Sweden and America. News of Moody's large revival campaigns in Great Britain from 1873-1875 traveled quickly to Sweden, making ‘Mr. Moody' a household name...and led to the spread of Sweden's "Moody fever" from 1875-1880."
America was ready and waiting for D.L. Moody. He wasted no time in making plans to evangelize the Big Cities. He believed, "cities are the center of influence. Water runs downhill, and the highest hills in America are the great cities. If we can stir them for God we shall stir the whole country." So off Moody and Sankey went carrying the flame of revival to New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, St. Louis, Cincinnati, Chicago, Boston and then to lesser cities. In New York, in order to accommodate the immense crowds, the building known as the Hippodrome was secured. From February 7 until April 19 more than sixty thousand found their way into the presence of God. One meeting was held after another from noon until late at night and audiences of eight to nine thousand assembled.
When Moody held his Chicago meetings he was firm in setting the services at 10 A.M. and 3 P.M. with no meetings held at night or on Sunday saying, "I do not want to interfere with the regular work of the churches." Instantly a clamor arose about how impossible it was for working people and business men to leave their jobs and businesses in the middle of the day. It was the death knell of the meetings, many said, to have them at those times of the day. Moody stood firm, a walk with God was not to be convenient but imperative. On the day of the first meeting, an hour before the doors opened, " people were standing four abreast extending from the Congress Street entrance to Wabash Avenue, then a block north on Wabash Avenue, then a break to let traffic through, and then another block, and so on."
One official wrote, "When the doors were opened at the appointed time, we had...twenty policemen to keep back the crowd, but the crowd was so great that it swept the policemen off their feet and packed eight thousand into the building before we could get the doors closed. And I think there were as many left on the outside as there were in the building."
And so, Moody continued preaching throughout the country. No one knows the number of conversions between 1876 and 1881. Moody was intolerant of that kind of record keeping. Once when he was asked how many souls were saved under his preaching, he answered dryly, ‘I do not know anything about that. Thank God, I do not have to. I do not keep the Lamb's Book of Life."
Throughout the rest of his life the crowds never diminished when Moody, under the power of the Holy Spirit, preached. He never wearied of his calling and countless meetings were blessed with a mighty harvest. In November 1899 he was conducting a weeks' worth of meetings in Kansas City, when he fell ill. Doctors today say it was probably congestive heart failure. He grew quite weak but continued the meeting since the auditorium was filled to capacity, 15,000 people, while thousands could not be admitted. By Thursday it became evident that he could not continue and traveled by train to his home in Northfield, Connecticut. He reached home and for a short time he seemed to be getting well. On Sunday November 19, he was at home and went upstairs to prepare for supper, but the effort of climbing the stairs affected his heart so that he was completely exhausted; he never came downstairs again. From that day until December 22, he was confined to his room. On December 22, 1899, the greatest evangelist the world had ever known died saying, "This is my coronation day! It is glorious!"
Let's close with Moody's own words:
"Someday you will read in the papers that D. L. Moody of East Northfield is dead. DON'T YOU BELIEVE A WORD OF IT!!! At that moment I shall be more alive than I am now; I shall have gone up higher, that is all, out of this old clay tenement into a house that is immortal, a body that death cannot touch, that sin cannot taint; a body fashioned like unto His glorious body. I was born of the flesh in 1837. I was born of the Spirit in 1856. That which is born of the flesh may die. That which is born of the Spirit will live forever."
1 Corinthians 3:13-14 "...each one's work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one's work, of what sort it is. If anyone's work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward."
J.J. (Dark) Di Pietro
Cane Creek Church