Dwight Lyman Moody was born fifth of February 1837. His ancestor arrived in Massachusetts in 1633 from Suffolk. Moody’s father died in 1834, he was a brick mason and was not at all careful with his money, dying when Dwight was only four at the age of 41, he left his family of ten in debt.
Moody‘s family lived in the community a long way from anywhere, almost a Pioneer community, they were all poor but the Moody’s were poorer. The family walked the 1 1/2 miles to church every Sunday and the family learned discipline and obedience. Although each day was full of household chores, including weaving cloth and making clothes, Mrs Moody made sure that there was plenty of playtime and through her love there was a strong bond between brothers and sisters.
The children’s regular attendance at church was due to the attentiveness of the young pastor after their father‘s death. He would visit and bring spiritual comfort and material help and he baptised all of the children. However, Congregationalism was the denomination of the State and in the countryside around Moody it was mainly a very liberal version of congregationalism. However, the amount of Biblical teaching that he received was very little. The same was true for his education in general, only attending some form of school between the ages of five and 13.
From a very early age, in order to earn some money, Moody hired himself out to do jobs on different farms. However, at 17 he decided that he wanted to go to Boston so that his life may go in a different direction. At this time he had nothing to distinguish him from thousands of others, except he had a lively sense of humour, great energy and resourcefulness and he showed signs of leadership. He talked over this ambition of his with his mother and oldest brother, George, but both of them were against the idea. Nevertheless, Moody was determined to go even though he did not have a penny to his name, he would walk if necessary. He was very touched when his brother met him to say goodbye he gave him $5 to start his new life.
Moody’s time in Boston started badly as he could not find a job and he felt despair and loneliness. As a last measure he contacted his uncles who ran a cobblers business and he was taken on as a salesman on the understanding that he obeyed the rules and didn’t try and do things his way.
One of his uncle's conditions of service was that he went to church every Sunday and attended Sunday school. As a result of this promise he attended the Mount Vernon church and was enrolled in a Bible class. Moody’s lack of Bible knowledge soon became apparent in the Bible class but the teacher saw something in him and visited his place of work one day and in a discussion lead him to the Lord. Apparently, there was no deep conviction of sin, he just received the words spoken to him. This was during his first year in Boston in 1854 when he was 17 years old.
Moody describes how he felt around this time. “I thought the old sun shone brighter than it ever had before. I thought it was just smiling upon me. As I walked upon Boston Common and heard the birds singing in the trees I thought they were all singing a song to me. Do you know how I fell in love with the birds? I had never cared for them before. It seemed to me that I was in love with all creation – I had not a bit of feeling it gets any man and I was ready to take all men to my heart.”
After two years in Boston Moody went to Chicago because he found the work with his uncles to be “not very pleasant.“ He got a job with one of the biggest stores in Chicago as a salesman. He went to Chicago in order to make more money. And after three months he wrote to his mother saying that he was doing well and he was earning $30 a week which was a lot for a lad of 19. He was quite lonely and homesick but his ambition kept him there.
Although he was saved, Moody still had a long way to go in his faith. He wrote about all the opportunities there were for business in Chicago and said that on one occasion he lent $100 at 17% interest a day. Clearly, he had not realised yet that Christian principles needed to be applied to business as well as one's private life.
In 1856 there was a revival in Chicago in which moody immediately got involved. He went to meetings every night which clearly helped his growth as a Christian.
Early in 1858 Moody accepted a position as a salesman with a large wholesale boot and shoe firm and travelled most of the time. Much of his travelling was by train but a lot of the country was still wild and on settled and he would cross the prairies by horse sometimes. He was working for a big company and saw great potential for him to succeed there, However, he was very aware of the dangers of temptation and realised that one can spend years working successfully in an honourable way, but then do one thing wrong and everything can come crashing down.
Sadly, in January 1859 he came back one day to find that his employer had died. However, Moody must have worked really well for this man because his family asked him, even though he was very young, to administer the estate which was worth a lot of money. This was a very responsible position.
Out of survival probably came his passion to start a ministry of his own. He recognised that the children in the slums of Chicago needed spiritual help so in 1858 he started a Sunday school without the support of any Church or society. He rented a hall over one of the large city markets and enlisted the help of a group of friends. Little did he know what he was starting.
It was a large dilapidated hall and the inside was grimy and with blackened walls and ceiling, but it was soon crowded with classes of boys and girls. “They are bold, restless, inquisitive youngsters, whose wardrobe was often limited to trousers, shirt and suspenders and even these were in a very advanced state of decay. The scholars are bubbling over with mischief and exuberance of vitality and sorely tried the patience of the teachers, but the singing was heaven for their spirits. There must’ve been five or 600 scholars and it was no easy task to govern such a boisterous crowd, but the teachers seemed to interest the classes and the exercises passed off with great enthusiasm.”
At the end of the day Moody stood at the door shaking hands, smiling and giving a cheery word to each student – he seemed to know every one of them. He was the reason that these children would be drawn to this place week after week. There were meetings almost every evening, with occasional picnics and parties. There were also prayer meetings and services in the homes of members of the Sunday school. Several of these children grew up to help Moody in future years.
In order to weed out ineffective teachers, children were allowed to easily transfer between classes so that bad teachers will be left with no students. There was one textbook for all, the Bible. It was a rule that no student should be removed from the school, so when there was one particular bully, who made life miserable for many, and refused to obey the directions of the teachers; Moody one day pulled him out of class, took him to another room, closed the door and thrashed him. Soon after that the boy was converted.
Moody had a spirit of genuine humility and a ready wit both of which helped him considerably in dealing with troublemakers and opposition. He came to realise that he needed to focus on adults as well as children. “I learned that it was not enough to get the child. At first I thought it was. But you can get the child but one hour one day a week. You work against great odds unless you can get someone in the home to help the child.”
Moody hired a saloon and began to arrange evangelistic meetings Sunday evenings. He had been told by the elders of his Boston church that he could not preach, so to begin with he invited others to do the preaching. However, his friends believed that he would be more suitable to speak this class of person and so he was persuaded to try preaching himself.
He learns an important lesson at this time, which was to stand him in good stead in the future - make sure that one looks after one’s health. He would be travelling all week, would arrive back Saturday night and then go to clean the hall on Sunday morning which took quite a time, then supervise the meetings in the afternoon, followed by visiting the houses of people who hadn’t appeared for the services and of the sick. It was then time for the evening service which was followed by an after-meeting and he then returned home thoroughly exhausted.
Something happened around this time that made Moody give up his ambitions of making a great deal of money in business and taking on missionary work instead. In his Sunday school there was a class of girls whose one object of being there seemed to be to disrupt whichever teacher was put in front of them. Moody finally found a teacher that could keep them under control. One Sunday the teacher didn’t turn up and then he didn’t turn up the following Sunday, but then he came to see Moody to explain that he’d been sick and that his doctors had advised him to return to his home in the east and he said that he probably did not have long to live. He expressed his distress that during his time teaching these girls he had been a failure because he had not led one of them to Christ. Moody was really struck by this admission because his only desire was to give some Bible instruction to these young people and he never considered it a goal to lead them to Christ.
Moody told him that they would go and see each one of the girls in turn and he describes this later as the best journey he ever made. The teacher explained to each girl the reason for his leaving and he urged each one to surrender their life to the Lord. He would pray for the girl then Moody with pray. Moody wrote, “I had never done such a thing in my life, as to pray for God
to convert a young girl then and there, but we prayed God and He answered our prayers.“
During the ensuing week, they continued the task until every girl was interviewed and then the teacher came to Moody one day with his face literally shining, to say that the last of his class had given herself to Christ. That night he had to leave for his home and moody called The class together for a prayer meeting and each of the girls prayed as the teacher paid his farewell. Something happened in that prayer meeting, a fire started to burn in Moody and his ambition to be a successful businessman started to leave him.
Later on, Moody said that giving up business was the most difficult struggle he had ever had. He was earning more than $5000 a year which was a great salary for a 24-year-old and he had savings already of $7000. He had become engaged and the idea of having very little money as a missionary did not appeal to him. However, he realised he had a duty to God and he resigned from business to become an independent city missionary.
An example of how Moody was thought of comes from a letter about him. “Soon afterwards I called upon Mr Moody in Chicago and was conducted through his parish. We went to walk where it would now be called the slums. Soon a crowd of street gamins, boys and girls of all ages, were following us with the large shouts of “oh, here’s Moody! Come, here’s Moody!“ Evidently they all knew him as their best friend. He had candy in both side pockets and gave it freely. We visited house after house of the poor, sick and unfortunate. He was everywhere greeted with affection and carrot real sunshine into these are birds of squalor. He enquired for the absent ones by name.”
In 1867 Moody and his wife went to England. The purpose of the journey was to experience some of the spirituality false the United Kingdom and Europe and to meet various leaders such as the founder of the YMCA. At first they did not like being in this foreign country but after a while they received invitations from all over and were welcomed enthusiastically. People loved his informality and they embraced a new form of prayer meeting that met daily at noon, which seems to have been much simpler than those usually held in the United Kingdom. One of the rules of these meetings was that there should be no prayer or remarks that exceeded three minutes and also there should not be more than two prayers or addresses consecutively.
The Revival newspaper wrote, “Few men who have visited a foreign shore have endeared themselves to so many hearts in so short a time or with an unknown name and without letters of commendation, won their way so deeply into the affections of a multitude of Christian brethren who had never heard of them before, but who, having talked with him or heard him speak of Jesus asked for no other warrant to yield him a large measure of their love.”
He returned to the USA after a three-month visit. It had been very successful, with a daily prayer meeting started in London that was still going 60 years later and also establishing similar meetings elsewhere in the UK and in Paris.
There seems to have been a move of God around his area shortly after his return. Many people were getting saved. However Moody was susceptible to feeling low when the results of his ministry were slow to appear, but on being encouraged to read about Noah, he discovered that Noah had only his immediate family to minister to for dozens of years and yet he did not get discouraged, so from then on Moody put discouragement aside.
A friend later wrote, “he had the greatest power to set others to work and thus multiply himself, of any man I ever knew.
Someone wrote of Moody’s ministry in the early days. “He had been twice invited to come and hold meetings in a certain county in the state, but the pressure of duty compelled him to decline. Having in the summer a leisure week, he sent word to one of the pastors that he was coming and took the next train. On his arrival he called upon the pastor, who said to him, “I’m sorry that you have come. When we wrote you all seemed fair for our revival, but now all promise has gone.“ We went immediately to see another pastor, who told him, “You might better have stayed at home; winter is the time; in summer people here are too busy.“ Mr Moody was left to his meditation, but it did not take long to decide what he would do. He persuaded a few people to go with him to the corner of a public Square. Discovering a dry goods box on the opposite side of the street, he tumbled it over, and mounting upon it began to speak. At first a few stopped to listen; others came until a crowd of eager listeners had gathered around him. Many seemed deeply moved while some wept. At the close, he invited all to attend another meeting to be held in a church nearby. Such a multitude flocked to the church that it would not hold them. Other meetings followed, increasing in interest. God poured out his Spirit and a blessed revival followed.“
Something very important happened to Moody whilst he was in England although he did not recognise it at the time. He met Harry Moorehouse who was known as the “Boy Preacher”. For several reasons the meeting was more of an irritant to Moody than a God-arranged encounter. Moorehouse followed Moody back to America. He wrote to Moody saying he was in America and saying he would come to Chicago if he would like him to preach. Moody did not want him to preach and wrote a cold letter back just saying if you’re in the area please come and see me. Moorehouse wrote three times, eventually saying that he was coming and would preach for him. Moody was going to be away and was not very keen on the idea of this young man preaching, but he told his people to give him a chance. On returning he found that the church had been packed and that Moorehouse had preached two sermons, both on John 3:16. He asked his wife what she thought and was told that she liked him. She said that he preached that God loved the worst sinners. Moody exclaimed that he was wrong, but his wife said that if he listened to him he would change his mind because he backed it up by going through many Scriptures. On the next three days, Moody listened to Moorehouse preach again on John 3:16, again going back through the Scriptures to show the truth of that verse. Up until then, Moody had preached that God was behind the sinner with a double edge sword ready to strike him down. However, after hearing Moorehouse preach more and more powerful sermons each day, he never preached that again and always preached that God was behind the sinner with love.
Moody returned to England in 1870 for a brief trip in order to familiarise himself further with the Christian work that was going on over there. He attended a conference in Dublin and spent his time learning, but a vicar from London asked if he would preach in his church on Sunday and he accepted. At the morning service not a lot happened but in the evening the Holy Spirit was clearly doing something. At the end of the service Moody asked for those who wanted to become Christian to stand and so many people rose all over the church that he thought that they had not understood him properly. Therefore, he repeated the invitation, asking them to go to the vestry. So many people came that they had to get extra chairs. The next day Moody returned to Dublin, but he received a telegram from the pastor urging him to return immediately as there were greater numbers at the after-service on Monday night than there had been on Sunday. Moody returned and conducted meetings for ten days and 400 we are taken into church fellowship.
Interestingly, there were two sisters who were part of the church, one of whom was an invalid Who had been praying for a spiritual awakening. One day she read of Moody's work in Chicago and prayed that he might be sent to their community. The invalid’s sister was at the Sunday morning service and on returning home told her sister that Moody had been preaching. The invalid's response was, “I know what that means. God has heard my prayers.“
Moody was often criticised forgetting people just to decide for Christ there and then. The reason for this went back to 1871. In Chicago that summer he did a series on Biblical characters that culminated in six nights on Jesus. On the penultimate Sunday Moody told the largest congregation he had ever addressed in Chicago to go away and consider during the week what had been said and come back the next Sunday and make their decision as to whether to follow Christ or not. The problem was that that night the great fire of Chicago happened and he never saw that congregation again.
The Chicago fire destroyed the YMCA headquarters, Moody’s church and his home.
At this time Moody noticed two women who often came to his meetings and said they were praying for him because he needed the power of the Spirit. Moody was confused because he had the largest congregation in Chicago and was seeing many salvations so he figured he had power enough. However, he called the sisters to have a meeting to explain what they meant; he wrote, “ they poured out their hearts in prayer that I might receive the filling of the Holy Spirit. There came a great hunger into my soul. I did not know what it was. I began to cry out as I never did before. I really felt that I did not want to live if I could not have this power for service.“
After this, during his time when he was raising funds for the rebuilding of Chicago, he had an encounter with God. He wrote, “I can only say that God revealed Himself to me and I had such an experience of His love that I had to ask Him to stay His hand. I went to preaching again. The sermons were not different; I did not present any new truths and yet hundreds were converted. He had been baptised with the Holy Spirit and Fire. He was being commissioned for the work ahead.
In 1873 Moody was content that he had done all he could in Chicago to help rebuild and that it was time for a new project, so on June 7th he sailed for England with his family and was met there by Moorehouse. His expenses had been guaranteed by a gentleman he had met in Dublin, Reverend William Pennefather and Cuthbert Bainbridge from Newcastle. They also guaranteed a salary and expenses of any helper that he might require. Moody thought he needed help with music so he approached two gentlemen, neither of whom was available, so he ended up inviting a young man who had recently become chorister in his church, Ira Sankey.
However, the promised funds to pay for his passage to England did not arrive so he had to use his savings. On arriving in England he discovered that all three men had recently died. So he found himself without any funds and without any arrangements for meetings which these three men were tasked with. Just before leaving America, he received a letter from the YMCA secretary in York hoping that he would come there and speak to the Association. He therefore wrote to this man and said he would come immediately, but he received word that it would take a month to make the necessary arrangements, however, Moody answered by saying he would be in York later that night.
The next morning local pastors were told that he was available to speak and immediately he was invited to speak on the coming Sunday at a Baptist church, a Congregational church and two Wesleyan churches.
The first 10 days of meetings were quite slow, however, FB Meyer wrote, “Gladly accepted my invitation to come to the chapel where I ministered and there we had a fortnight of most blessed and memorable meetings. The little vestry there – how vividly I remember it – was the scene of our long and earnest prayers as we knelt down around the leather-covered table in the middle of the room. Mr Moody referred to that little room as the Fountain from which the river of blessing for the whole country had sprung… the fire of God burned hot in all our hearts.”
From York Moody went to Sunderland, Bishop Auckland, Carlisle and Newcastle, the interest and attendance increasing in each succeeding place. I am in Darlington 200 were converted in a day.
Moody believed that a successful meeting resulted in the number added to a church, individual activity in Christian service and higher ethical standards of living. His meetings were free of manifestations, but they were novel for all that. The singing of popular songs and Ira Sankey's singing solos were unheard of in England. The “enquiry meeting“ was another comparative novelty, where people interested in following Christ could meet with an experienced Christian, who could show them the way to Jesus.
Like all such meetings, there were a number of people who were not happy with the novelties that were on display. (The Scottish minister, John Kennedy, was not too keen on Moody’s methods and wrote a paper called hyper–evangelism criticising them. One of his main criticisms was that Moody demanded a decision for Christ there and then, which often meant that there was no repentance which is obviously vital in the conversion experience. Another was that unscriptural practices were resorted to in order to advance the movement. Kennedy believed that if something wasn’t directly written in the Bible then it was wrong, so he was against the singing of the songs because they did not praise God, amongst other things. It can be read here https://www.pristinegrace.org/article.php?id=357)
(I am really interested in looking at the parallel ministries of Moody and William Booth and the Salvation Army. They were at very similar times, William Booth started his ministry in London in 1865 and it became the Salvation Army in 1878. Booth also asked for a decision for Christ there and then and he was doing this a few years earlier than Moody. Booth had a penitent rail for people to come up to whereas Moody had the enquiry room. They both set up ministries in the slum areas of the cities. Both of them had extreme success in bringing people to salvation, I presume the success was partly due to the sovereignty of God being over the UK and America at the time during a period which some people call the fifth great awakening.)
Through the force of his personality, Moody won friends everywhere, even amongst those who disagreed with his methods. One person wrote, “He is genuine to the backbone. He is not eloquent but very fluent, not poetical or rhetorical but he never talked trouble and seldom utters a sentence that is not well worth hearing – he is American to the core, in speech, intonation and vigour. His anecdotes are, for the most part, the acquisition of his own experience; they are apt, often most pathetic and sometimes appalling. His earnestness is intense, his energy untiring, his courage leonine, his tact uncommon and his love for souls most tender.“
Another novelty was an all-day meeting at the close of each mission. This would bring together people of all dominations who had been impacted during the days of the mission and was extremely valuable in bringing unity to the Body of Christ. One of the roads, “Denominational lines have been, in a great measure, obliterated. Ministers of various sects have assembled in crowds under the banner of one God, one faith, one baptism and one sublime destiny.”
Having heard about Moody’s meetings in the north of England, a committee of pastors from Edinburgh invited him to come up to minister there. Moody was very concerned about ministering in Scotland because he thought the Scottish as being very dour and not probably receptive to his methods, however, he accepted the invitation. In fact, Scotland was in a perfect position to receive this type of ministry.
After the Disruption in 1843, when many of the top ministers left the Church of Scotland to form the Free Church of Scotland, for a while there was great vibrancy in spiritual matters in Scotland but over time people began to idolise the Disruption and formalism settled on many of the churches, stifling genuine life. The rapid advancement of science challenged old established convictions; even the Westminster Confession of Faith was no longer regarded by some as infallible. Religiosity became paramount in many church circles. One newspaper editor believed that a crisis was sure to come and it might have broken the church into pieces. And he said that the fact that this did not happen was largely due to Moody. Moody knew nothing of the Disruption or Scottish church politics, all he was interested in was “Christ and Him crucified” and this was the message that people were yearning to hear and many found new life as a result.
Next was Edinburgh. Edinburgh was considered a centre of learning and yet Moody had no college degree, yet they embraced both he and Sankey. The fact that there was no emotion shown during the meetings helped the acceptance of them. Thousands of people were saved in this campaign.
Moody suggested that a fund be raised so that reports of the meetings as published in the “Christian“ could be sent to all ministers in the UK and by the end of 1874 this had been achieved with 30,000 copies being sent out in a three-month period. (This was a very important way to stir people up to get involved in the revival and it was used very successfully during the 1859 revival).
Someone wrote of a meeting at the end of 1873, “where for three nights the church was crowded by 2,000 people. Many ministers of all denominations throughout the country attended… Cooperation among ministers of different communions was then sadly unusual, but in presence of that fear of the Lord which was upon them all, denominational differences were forgotten. Brotherhood in Christ was remembered.“
Another wrote, "But the numbers that attend are not the remarkable feature. It is the presence and power of the Holy Ghost, the solemn awe, the prayerful, believing, expectant spirit, the anxious enquiry of unsaved souls and the longing of believers to grow more like Christ - their hungering and thirsting after holiness."
Twelve years later Dr Charteris said, “Of all ministers who preach, there is not one in our day to whom so many souls owe their new life as to Mr Moody; and did you ever hear of one his power was so guided by a purpose, strong as a passion, to win souls to his Saviour?” Dr Horatius Boehner wrote at the time of this campaign, “These men are self-denying, hard-working men, who are spending and being spent in the service which that they believed to be not human but divine.… They look for no fame and no reward save the Master’s approval… Besides all this, it is vain to try to stop them. They will work and they will speak whoever shall say nay. Let us work along with them.“
40 years after this campaign an Edinburgh newspaper wrote, “Moody set a torch to Scotland. Not only was Christian life revived, but all kinds of religious enterprises benefited by his work. Philanthropy took a new lease of life.… Moody showed a new line of evangelism by pointing the way to a new Christianity in works as well as faith.“
The evangelism which Moody believed in worked from within outwards. He maintained that a man who comes into right relationship with God will soon find that, “old things pass away and all things become new.“ (William Booth believed the same) The answer to drunkenness, Immorality, corruption et cetera was salvation and not persuasive words. He believed that the best means of social Reformation was through the individual. He wrote, “It is a wonderful fact that men and women saved by the blood of Jesus rarely remain subjects of charity, but rise at once to comfort and respectability.” (William Booth started ministry in London’s East End with exactly that in mind)
Wherever Moody held missions he assisted local charities which aim to alleviate misery and suffering. During his time in Great Britain Moody put his name behind several charitable projects; including, creating a shelter for thousands of Liverpool dockworkers, The temperance movement, a home for street children etc. Many philanthropists were stirred to action by this movement.
One of the fruits of this campaign was the Gaiety Club. A group of men who had worked in the enquiry room or who had conducted meetings among students were drawn together. Henry Drummond lead the group and the Gaiety Music Hall was hired for Sunday nights in 1875–76. The audiences were largely university students and young businessmen.
In January 1874 moody ministered in Berwick, Melrose and Dundee and then in early February he began his major mission in Glasgow. Preparation for the campaign was efficiently handled. The first meeting was at the City Hall which was attended by about 3000 Sunday school teachers but there so many people at the evening service that the three nearest churches were filled with the overflow. Meetings went on in the city for three months with unremitting interest. Contemporary reports give the impression of a general awakening throughout the city and surrounding towns as well.
One famous meeting became known as the “One Hundred and One night“. Someone wrote, “It took place in Ewing Place Congregational church which was filled with young men. Mr Moody had sent to Edinburgh for a deputation of students and Stewart, Miller, Gordon, Brown, Henry Drummond and I went. Mr Moody did not speak at all himself; but Dr Cairns of Berwick, delivered a powerful address on immortality; then the students spoke one after another. As the meeting proceeded, the spiritual power was such as I have never experienced on any other occasion, and when Mr Moody at the close ordered the front seats to be cleared and invited those who wished to be prayed for to occupy the vacant pews, 101 came forward. As the evangelist pleaded and that solemn stream began to gather from every corner of the church, the sense of divine power became overwhelming.”
Shortly after Moody left Glasgow, these young men formed the Young Men’s Christian Union and in the summer pitched a large tent on Glasgow Green, conducting meetings nightly. They provided sandwiches and hot tea as a breakfast for the people from the slums and on the first Sunday 2,000 people gathered to hear an address. That “free breakfast“ continued for over 50 years, with hundreds of the worst characters in the city giving their lives to Jesus. These young men were prominent in many works in the city and many became powerful Christians, serving in different parts of the world, even Australia.
The Glasgow mission concluded with nine gatherings held over six days in the Crystal Palace. Every class of society and every Protestant church was represented. The expression of unity was wonderful.
The summer of 1874 was spent doing meetings all over Scotland and nearly everywhere there were crowded churches, outdoor services and filled enquiring rooms. Moody worked incredibly hard but seemed to cope very well. In September he went to Belfast and Dublin. In Dublin the Exhibition building held about 20,000 people and he was successful there as anywhere else. The Catholics were happy with his ministry because he did not care about sectarianism, it was one message for all. Someone wrote about the success of his meetings there. “His plain blunt speech, his intensity, his fervour, his homely wit, his melting pathos, his shrewdness which amounted to genius, his superb and kingly leadership had won universal admiration, but it was the subtle, sacred thing which they called “unction“ that gave saving power to his ministry.”
December and January were spent in carrying out missions in Manchester, Sheffield, Birmingham and Liverpool. The meetings were as full and successful as they had been elsewhere in the Kingdom. A politician who was in Birmingham wrote, “I have seen occasional instances before of instant transition from religious anxiety to the clear and triumphant consciousness of restoration to God, but what struck me in the gallery of Bingley Hall was the fact that this instant transition took place with nearly every person with whom I had talked. They had come up into the gallery anxious, restless, feeling after God in the darkness and when, after a conversation of a quarter of an hour or 20 minutes, they went away, their faces were filled with light and they left me not only at peace with God but filled with joy.”
(Everywhere people were trying to explain the incredible success of Moody’s meetings. As mentioned, I believe that much of that success was due to the sovereignty of God over the United Kingdom at that time. Clearly, Moody’s personality was an important factor together with his gift of speaking, and also his being baptised with Holy Spirit and fire, but the atmosphere of heaven over the nation was the real source of his amazing success.)
Moody believe that the songs he used before preaching were an invaluable medium by which the gospel message might be conveyed to those on whom the spoken word had no effect. (He also received criticism for that very reason, where people wanted the words to praise God rather than to teach biblical truths to the singers)
The songs were very popular so Moody decided to have a book published called “Sacred Songs and Solos”, but no publisher wanted to take the risk so Moody guaranteed the publication costs which amounted to all his savings. At the close of the mission the royalties due to Moody were £5,000, but Moody refused to receive payment of this sum because he did not want anybody to accuse him of having the meetings to make money, which some people were already doing. The money was put towards the rebuilding of the Chicago church that Moody had established a few years before. On returning to America he published a new book called “Gospel Hymns”. This time both Moody and Sankey gave up their rights to the royalties; this time putting the money in a trust which was run by three Christian businessmen. By 1885 the royalties amounted to $357,000. (nearly $12 million in today’s money)
One day it was decided to close the trust and give the money to schools that Moody was connected with. In order to do this a trustee approached a very well-known lawyer for advice. This lawyer did not like Moody and Sankey at all, which was why he was chosen, But after reviewing everything and giving his advice, he refused to accept any money for his work, because he was so impacted by Moody giving away all his rights to the royalties.
These simple songs were extraordinarily popular. By the end of 1927 there were still 250,000 copies of “Sacred Songs and Solos” being sold a year and 70 million copies had been sold since the first edition.
Next was London in February 1875. Extensive preparations had been made for this campaign. As usual his first meeting was for ministers and Christian workers. In his opening remarks Moody dealt with some of the criticisms that had been raised against his ministry, like earning money from the hymnbooks and commissions on the sale of organs. He then answered any questions so that he could clear the way for the rest of the mission. Four centres were selected for preaching; the agricultural hall in North London, capable of seating up to 19,000; Bow Road Hall in the east of London which seated 10,000; the Royal Opera house in the west and the Victoria Theatre in the south.
At the first meeting in the Agricultural Hall, speaking to Christians, Moody said “the man who does the most good in the world is not the man who works himself, but the man who sets others to work.“ At another meeting, he said, “It’s time for Christians to stop coming here and crowding into the best seats. It’s time for them to go out among the sailors and drunkards and bring them in and give them the best seats.“
To begin with, there was a lot of criticism against these meetings, including a lot of mockery. Many newspapers spoke out against him. The Queen was only tepidly supportive, not really supporting anything that wasn’t pure Anglican. The Archbishop of Canterbury wrote a letter in which he said, “I confess that the objections I originally felt still remain in full force, now that we have had time to examine and to learn from various quarters the exact nature of the movement.“ However, he welcomed “that Christ was being preached and sleeping consciences were being aroused.”
Each evening the hall was filled by 7:30 and the preaching began at eight. In the meantime the choir sang the familiar hymns. The people were so crammed together that the men had to wear their hats. The address was less than an hour long after which was the invitation to become a Christian at which several hundred stood. Then there was the second meeting for those who had claimed that they were seeking Jesus, at which Christians would pray and talk to them.
There was a noon prayer meeting, a Bible lecture in the afternoon and Moody preached the same message twice every evening except Saturday, being driven rapidly from the Royal Opera House, where the fashionable people were, to the Bow Road Hall, where the slum dwellers were meeting. On Sunday he preach four times, sometimes walking 16 miles to deliver a sermon because he would not use public transport on a Sunday.
One day a group of keen sportsmen were meeting for lunch when the subject of Moody came up and most of them expressed much adverse criticism of him. However, one of their number, Edward Studd, a very wealthy retired East India merchant, thought that one should not criticise without experiencing one of the meetings. He therefore went to a meeting at the Haymarket Opera House where he was converted and later his son, the famous cricketer and Christian, C T Studd was also converted.
The London campaign finished on the 11th of July after four months. The 60 meetings in Camberwell were attended by 480k people; the 45 meetings in Victoria by 400k; the 60 meetings at the Royal Opera House were attended by 330k; 60 meetings in Bow were attended by 600k, meetings in the Agricultural Hall were attended by 720k. The expenses, including a great deal of advertising, were $140,000 (about £3.5 million), but no money went to Moody or Sankey. So, more than 2.5 million people went to the meetings.
Much of the success of these meetings was due to all the Christian helpers. One of these was a young Henry Drummond who took the young men’s meetings. He wrote, “We never have less than 1,000 each night and that is a full six weeks without a break. There is not a man in the world that would not envy such a congregation. One can do a year’s work in a month in times like these. I have no doubt that we shall turn out a number of missionaries from among the young men here.“
So in August 1875 Moody returned to America. He immediately did two weeks of services in his hometown of Northfield. One friend said that the only change he saw in Moody was that he had grown in power and spoke with more weight. He said, “he told me he spent but comparatively little time in secret prayer and had no experience in being weighed down and burden before God. He did not try to get into this state. His work kept him in the spirit of prayer and dependence on God and he just gave himself wholly to the work.“
Moody realise that in order to take America for Christ he must take the cities first. Therefore, he conducted his first large campaign in America in October 1875 in Brooklyn.