On Tuesday evening this immense building, seated for 15,000 people, and affording standing room for some thousands more, was full to overflowing, while thousands were turned away from the doors.
After the opening services of song and prayer, Mr Moody stated that he had received despatches from many of the cities in Great Britain that the Christians were praying for London. He then prayed with great fervour and with evident emotion that a blessing might come upon London. He thanked God for the spirit of unity amongst the ministers and prayed that there might be no strife amongst the herdsmen.
Mr Sankey's first solo was "Jesus of Nazareth passeth by," the singing of which he prefaced with some remarks on the object he desired to attain in singing them. It was not for praise so much as for admonishing each other in song. Mr Sankey's strong, clear voice and distinct articulation told well in the most distant parts of the hall, and we doubt not many hearts will be reached by Mr Sankey's gospel songs which may be proof against the truth conveyed in Mr Moody's more rapid utterances.
Mr Moody's address was well suited to the occasion. Having read part of 1 Cor. i., he said: One thing he had feared in coming to London was, that many would be led to trust in the arm of flesh and in great meetings, to the risk of having their eyes turned away from God. Those who had come to the meeting expecting to hear a new gospel would be disappointed, for he had the same old story to tell which the numerous ministers he saw before him had preached to them in their churches and chapels. One thing which the passage he had read taught them was, that God would do His own work in His own way; and another was, that He would choose his own instruments wherewith to do it. The passage showed that the weak, the foolish, the base, the despised, and things that are not, were used by God in order "that no flesh should glory in His presence." God's way of dealing with the children of Israel was not man's way would have been, neither was the building of his ark as man would have set about it. In the eyes of the world, those who would work for Christ, and who would be used by God for the accomplishment of his purposes, must be content to be the laughingstocks of their day. They must be willing to be fools for Christ's sake. All through the Bible did not they who were used as God's instruments seem absurd and foolish in the eyes of the world? There were the taking of Jericho through the blowing of the rams' horns, the prodigies wrought by Samson with the jawbone of an ass, the feeding of Elijah by the ravens - these were all contemptible in the eyes of men, nevertheless, they were God's way of bringing about the fulfilment of his designs. In more modern times there was John Bunyan, the despised tinker, in whom the devil found his match, who was chosen by God to write the immortal "Pilgrim's Progress" Similarly God could use the weak things of London to do his work. It was not good preachers that were wanted, for probably at no time had London possessed so many great preachers as now. The belief of every individual Christian should be, not that "God can use me," but "He will use me." What was wanted was that they should be out and out on the Lord's side, with heart and brain on fire for the Lord, and ready to use every power and every member for His service. He often wondered why God did not take his work on earth away from men and give it to the angels, who would be glad to do it. But God was the same God, and as ready and willing to give the power from on high now, as in the days of Elisha and St. Paul. He was always more willing to bless than we to receive the blessing, and he exhorted his hearers to keep close to Christ, to be faithful, and preach Him in season and out of season, for what London and the whole world wanted was more
of Christ and Him crucified.
At the conclusion of his address, Mr Moody spoke of the necessity for union in carrying on the work of God, and hoped that ministers, Sabbath-school Superintendents and teachers and fathers and mothers, would all be found working and praying together for the success of the movement, for he believed that when the church, the pulpit, and the pew were thus united, no power of earth or hell could withstand their efforts. As a watchword, before he sat down, he would give them the text, "Here am I, send me."
At Mr Sankey's request, the hymn, "Hold the Fort," was sung by the whole congregation, and the first meeting was concluded by the benediction. Taken as a preliminary meeting, the object was to bind together the hearts of the Christians at the commencement of the great campaign, it was an unquestionable success.
The rest of the evening meetings during the week have been more strictly evangelistic, and, as far as man can judge they have been powerful for good. On Wednesday evening the attendance fell considerably short of that of the night before, but the audience was nevertheless immense. As on the previous evening, many of the leading evangelical ministers and laymen of London were on the platform. The Lord Chancellor was also one of the audience. Mr Sankey sang the "Ninety and Nine," and said he hoped many a wondering one would be brought back. Mr Moody vividly depicted the lost condition of sinners and told of a love of a seeking Saviour, and his fervent appeals to sinners not to hide away from God any longer, was aptly followed up by Mr Sankey, who at the close softly, and in tones of loving entreaty, sang the hymn, "Come home, come home."
Mr. Moody invited those who were anxious to meet him in the inquiry room, and a goodly number responded. Mr Blackwood took the conduct of the public meeting. He announced that there were pick-pockets in the hall, and took excellent advantage of the occasion to address a few very weighty words to the audience about the losses of their money or watches compared with the loss of their souls. He besought them not to be more careful about these trifles of earth than their immortal souls, and said that it was just as easy to lay hold on Christ for salvation, as it was to put the hand to the pocket to see that one's watch was safe. Prayer was offered that many whom Christ was "seeking" might be " saved" that night. In the inquiry. room Mr Moody and others were busy telling the anxious how to get rid of their burden of sin and sorrow and had the joy of seeing gathered in the first few sheaves of what, we believe, will be a glorious harvest.
On Thursday Mr. Moody continued his subject and went on to enumerate many and varied ways in which Jesus seeks the lost. He had met a man in the inquiry room the night before who was anxious to be saved, but who was waiting for Christ to seek him. He showed how groundless was such an idea, and said he believed there was not a man or woman in London whom Christ had not sought at some time or other. The truth was powerfully yet simply presented to every heart and the numbers that found their way to the enquiry room at the close of the first services, showed that many hearts had been touched. A second service was held in the large hall, presided over by Lord Radstock, to which thousands remained.
Friday evening brought another vast gathering to the Agricultural Hall, it was perhaps the best and most practical of any of the meetings of the week. A strange feeling of solemnity and prayerfulness pervaded the meeting, and an awe seemed to rest on the entire assembly. Mr Sankey then sang to the hushed assembly, "Jesus of Nazareth passeth by." Mr Moody's text was, "Seek ye the Lord, while He may be found, call ye upon Him while He is near." It was a most urgent and affectionate appeal to sinners not to delay the great question of salvation. He contrasted strongly the eagerness with which men seek for wealth and worldly honour, and the careless indifference that prevails respecting the salvation of the soul. He drew a vivid picture of the danger of delay and entreated those who felt their need of a Saviour to seek Him now. In contrast to the indifference shown by many respecting their own and their friends' salvation. Mr Moody told of a mother, living in London, and who was then sitting before him with her son by her side, who was so anxious about the conversion of her two boys, that she went all the way to Dundee in the north of Scotland, to the meetings being held there in the hope that they might be brought to the Saviour. Her hopes were realised, and she came to Mr Moody the other day, when he was in London, to thank him for the solicitude he had shown toward her second boy, and to tell him that he had lately been taken home. What a striking rebuke to parents, many of whom, in these days, seem careful to secure for their children almost anything before the most important thing of all - salvation.
At the termination of the address. Mr Sankey sang "Almost persuaded" in a very touching and effective manner. The first meeting being closed, Mr Moody invited all the Christians who wished to see the work go on, and all those who were anxious to be saved, to gather in the body of the Hall. The galleries were cleared after some delay and those that remained almost filled the immense area of the building. Then came the sifting time. Mr Moody asked those who were anxious and desired special prayer to kneel while the Christians continued in prayer in a sitting posture. A good many knelt, though we believe in consequence of the arrangement of the seats, this was in most cases a great difficulty. Subsequently, the inquiry room (St Mary's Hall) was used for those who wished to be spoken with, while a great proportion of the meeting continued for some time in prayer and praise. It was felt to be a very solemn hour, and fraught with blessing to many souls. We have heard of some interesting cases of apparent conversion, especially among young men. The number of young men in Islington is exceedingly large as it is situated at a convenient distance from the city, and it has been noticed that this class has greatly preponderated in the attendance at meetings during the week.
It will be interesting to note the arrangements for the accommodation of the vast multitude thus meeting daily in the hall. In the body of the Hall 12,000 new chairs have been placed, to reinforce 2,000 already belonging to the establishment, in addition to room for 2,000 on forms. The platform at the west end is arranged in steps, that will seat 1,200 persons. In the centre of the north side is the platform for the choir and Messrs Moody and Sankey. The accommodation here is for 220. The eastern platform is fitted with 900 seats and in the south gallery are 3,000 chairs. The addition gives a total of 21,320, not including the west and east end galleries, each capable of containing 600 more. The lighting of the hall is effected by means of large gas chandeliers hanging from the roof, aided by lines of gas jets along the sides, straight, save at the centres, where they rise in three semicircular arches. The acoustic properties of the hall are greatly aided by an immense sounding board over the speaker's platform.
It seems almost like trifling with the occasion to occupy our columns with a description of the outward characteristics of the scene that presented itself in the Agricultural Hall on Sunday afternoon and evening. And yet there is something very impressive even in the sight of such a vast collection of human souls, each of them having such possibilities for good or evil.
The immense building was nearly filled with women in the afternoon. The power of God was manifestly present to carry home the truth...
The comments of the secular press have been very fair and respectful, and there has been no disposition shown to be censorious or even hypercritical. The orderly conduct of the services, though attended by such vast crowds, has disarmed hostile criticism and the press has contented itself with giving sketches of the crowds, the speaker, and the singer.
WORKERS' MEETING ON SUNDAY MORNING.
In the north and north-east, as early as 6.30 a.m. the streets were sprinkled with a large number of Christians, all wending to one point. There was additional proof that these were indeed hungering and thirsting after righteousness, inasmuch as at that hour no trains, trams, or omnibuses were available; and many accustomed to an hour or two of extra rest on Sunday morning, forgot their need of it and were seated by seven o'clock in the large and rather cold hall, waiting, and singing and praising God. So novel was the scene, that the residents in the locality gazed out of the windows to see what was the meaning of this eager, anxious throng, at a time when London is, if ever, silent. The Hall itself was full and the platform also, ministers who were during the day to feed their own flocks, drinking in the tender stirring words, based on the passage, "They that be wise shall shine as the firmament. The privilege of service and the power of sympathy were two of the points enforced by Mr Moody and riveted on the minds of his hearers by illustrations of the most touching kind, and the whole heart of the large congregation found relief and expression in Mr Sankey's solo, "Here am I, send me, send me." The preaching and Sunday school teaching of those present yesterday must, we are convinced, have been a more hopeful, holy, powerful service than heretofore.
"The Christian," March 18th, 1875.
FROM REV FRANCIS TUCKER, CAMDEN TOWN
To answer your request, I sent this line. I have been present at four of the services at the Agricultural Hall, a thankful hearer, a deeply moved spectator. From the platform, day after day, I have looked down on a broad lake of humanity, it’s waves rippling under a mighty breath and often breaking into a countless smile. Oh, that mass of beating hearts and living souls! It was worth going far to see. And there, on the bank, stood a man – no scholar, except in the highest of all schools; no orator, except with the deepest of all pervasiveness – longing, striving, agonising, to bring all these hearts to beat for Christ, and all those souls to live to Him. He proclaims himself, a fool for Christ's sake, yet seeks to make men wise. He therefore looks right up to heaven, up to the fountain of wisdom, and lifts the eyes of the people there. He points man to God, the sinner to a Saviour, the wanderer of a home. The fastidious may notice what they think defective; in utterance, in illustration, in logical coherence; but no one can deny the impassioned earnestness of the speaker, or the profound importance of the truth he speaks. For myself, I look for a large blessing on Mr Moody‘s teaching, added, as it is by the sweet singing of Mr Sankey – an invaluable help, especially in a hall, so vast and so unfavourable for public speaking.
FROM DR CULROSS, HIGHBURY
On the whole, the newspapers convey a faithful impression of the meetings. One exception, I ought to make – no description in words can possibly enable one to conceive the “weight“ that comes upon one's spirit from the presence of these masses of human beings in the great Hall. To look out from the platform upon full 20,000 people, hushed and still, waiting to hear the word of God on the most solemn of all subjects, is inexpressibly and overwhelmingly awesome.
It is the spiritual aspects of the case, however, rather than of the merely external, that I would write. Up to this date, the spiritual results have not been sufficiently manifested, or at least I have not come sufficiently within range of observation to justify me in saying much; and while I have my own expectations, I shall not venture in such a matter to hazard guesses.
Among the Christian friends whom I have happened to meet with since the meeting has commenced, there is, I think a general freshening of spirit – a reviving – a kind of glad interest – and renewing of youth – as if a gracious influence has descended from above, and good people seem drawn more closely and cordially together, without thought of denomination. There is a difference in the atmosphere – as if March had given way to early summer. I can speak only of what I have myself come across, but supposing it to be general, there is something to remind one of the old days when the disciples were of one heart and of one mind. This is not only a good thing, but also a good sign. It is the Lord's doing.
In the first of the Agricultural Hall meetings, the right key-note was distinctly struck – to “cease from man,“ and to trust for the success of the movement in the living God. Very earnest was Mr Moody's exhortation to this effect and his appeal to Christian people to cry, with one heart that God would make bare his arm and bring salvation to the millions of London. The friends who stand closest to the two evangelists, I believe, sympathise with them in this respect. Mr Moody’s pleading brought up to me what Peter and John said, “Why marvel ye at this? Or, why look ye so earnestly on us as though by our own power or holiness we have done this thing?“ The spirit will enable them to encounter any opposition that may arise without being greatly discomposed. As yet the press has not committed itself to anything distinctly hostile…
In those addresses, to which I have listened, Mr Moody has assumed the existence of a certain preparatory groundwork of knowledge in the vast majority of his hearers. He has stated the gospel, clearly, simply, fully, and pathetically, to use his own language, he has “stood fair and square on the Bible truth of the atonement;“ but the fact has been present to his mind, and has influenced his speech, even unconsciously, giving force and pungency to many of his appeals, that the great majority of his hearers are acquainted with the gospel as to terms and statement, and that the thing specially required is, that it should become a real thing to them and that they should be brought to decision. We know how men mistake an indolent assent or a little present sentimentalism for the heart's submission to the righteousness of God and how necessary it is to come to a distinct Yea or Nay. In conversing with different persons, it is not uncommon to be met in some such way as this: "I know it already, but it makes no impression and is quite inoperative.“ To this state of mind, which I fear is much more common than people think, the addresses to which I have listened are peculiarly adapted by making it first of all the question of believing God. Running through them all is this note, “Let God be true;“ understand that what He says, He means; and let feeling come in its own order. The illustrations are homely and apt, sometimes provoking a smile; but I have noted once and again that the smile is instantly followed with an unexpected home thrust by some earnest appeal or text of Scripture.
The most important part of the work is that which is done in the inquiry room. I am not able to say anything as to the quality of the help which Mr Moody receives there, but we trust that care and discrimination have been used in the distribution of tickets admitting friends to deal with inquirers and that it will be help and not counteraction. From all that I have observed and heard, there seems to be already a considerable measure of encouragement in this part of the work, not merely as to the numbers who enter the rooms, but as to their spirit. There is a fringe of the curious and the scoffing. From whatever subordinate cause, whether the moving tenderness of the singing, or the sympathy called forth by the addresses, those who find their way into the inquiry room, seem in many instances to be brought by the power of the Spirit out of the argumentative into a susceptible, receptive condition; and instances are occurring of the way of life becoming suddenly clear to the perplexed and doubting, and of persons entering through faith into the “feeling“ which they had been vainly trying and struggling to attain otherwise. Some also, who have been real Christians for years, but have been haunted with doubts, have seen the simplicity of the gospel as with a new revelation.
A very happy and hopeful feature of the work is the large number of young people who have been drawn in to listen. Looking round in the gallery at the close of the meeting, there were not more than a half a dozen in the immediate neighbourhood who look like 30 years of age; the great majority under 20. I have seen young men in Exeter Hall, but never such a spectacle as at these gatherings. Doubtless not a few of them are already followers of Jesus, but many also undecided and some of them sadly and sorrowfully led astray through being their own masters in London. It is difficult to understand how any of them could remain unmoved by the earnest and tender appeals again and again addressed to them. Pray that they may be won.
There is a younger class in the audience still-mere children, boys and girls just entering their teens; and one hopes that many of them may be gathered in, as the fruit of the present work. I think we have far too few children in our churches; and I feel satisfied that if elder people are truly quickened, we shall have many of the children also as the indirect but no less real result. And the Church of Christ will be all the happier, all the holier, all the richer, and all the stronger for it.
FROM ARCHIBALD G. BROWN.
"London has not had such a shaking as this for a long time" was the remark made to me on the platform of the Agricultural Hall the other evening, by a well. known minister in one of the northern counties. I believe he was right, for view the work from whatever standpoint you may, it must be allowed to be extraordinary. However diverse the opinions about the matters of detail and manner, there can be no question about the reality of the movement. It is a gigantic fact. London is now presenting, in many respects, the same wonders as Jerusalem did in the days of Pentecost. Then the streets were filled with eager crowds, all pouring along to hear the preaching of Christ crucified, risen and exalted. Then the conversation of the multitude was all about the strange things which were coming to pass. Then the congregations were composed of the most striking contrasts possible, men of Judea, mingling with strangers from Rome, and Cretes and Arabians joining in the stream with Parthians and Medes. So is it now. Let anyone walk along the Strand about midday and he must be blind indeed if he does not see there is a steady tide of people flowing in one direction. He has but to follow the hurrying groups, and he will find himself in Exeter Hall and at a prayer meeting. Let him make his way to Pentonville Road at half-past two the same afternoon, and he will find the human stream setting persistently in one direction. He needs no other guide to lead him to a preaching service! Suppose at about half-past six the same evening he walks along Moorgate Street. He will find a crowd waiting where the 'trams" start, and see that quickly as they arrive they are filled inside and out. Let him mount one and he will find the placard pasted on its side accounts for the rush to secure a place – “Moody and Sankey Services at Agricultural Hall.” He will find, along the road, lads doing a brisker trade in hymn books than in evening papers, and inside the hall a sight will greet his eyes sufficient to overawe those most accustomed to look on multitudes. From the platform he will look down on a sea of faces, and on either hand will behold, what appeared to the writer as sloping hills of people. There are people everywhere, the dim distance is a crowd.
The congregations could hardly be more heterogeneous if composed, as those at Jerusalem, of strangers Lords, honourables, captains, merchants, lawyers, artisans, and ministers of every section of Christ's church, not to speak of the thousands of women of all classes. What brings this multitude together? I believe the same that brought the multitude at Pentecost, our brethren utter weighty sayings given them by the Holy Ghost, which were nonetheless weighty because given with a Galilean brogue.
I have used the plural and said "brethren," because i look upon Mr Sanke as a co-preacher. His themes and aims are identical with those of Mr Moody and his "sermons sung" should be as earnestly prayed for as are the sermons preached. While Mr Moody attempts no oratorical display, there is a wonderful power and force in his style. Those who, from the good desire of showing the work to be all of God, seem to take a delight in saying that he is nothing particular as a speaker, make a great mistake according to my judgement. His powers of description are remarkable and it is wonderful how complete a picture you can draw with a few touches. There is no waste of language, no useless “padding” and all he says is enlivened with flashes of mother wit.
All this, however, is only the human side of the question. The true answer to “What meaneth this?“ Is, God is with the men. It means that a crucified Christ is still alive and is looking after His own work. It means that the Holy Ghost is yet on earth glorifying Jesus. It means that millions of prayers are receiving their answers. It means that God is passing through Great Britain in a way of Grace. It means that a fresh and immense responsibility rests on every saint and sinner in the country. Let the one keep in prayer and the other fly for refuge while mercy is on the march.
“THE TIMES” ON MESSRS MOODY AND SANKEY
Revivals are not a novelty, and have not always proved in the end satisfactory, and a great part of the public are not a little anxious to know what is the kind of influence which has been collecting congregations of many thousands, and, as I said, influencing for good, a great proportion of them in the Northern towns. On the latter point, indeed, the balance of favourable testimony is very considerable, and if only it be true that Messrs Moody and Sankey have raised numbers of people to a more moral, and more elevated life, mere criticism of their methods is somewhat ungenerous and out of place. But the world is suspicious of religious enthusiasm, reasonably, perhaps, with respect to some modern instances of it, but certainly unreasonably on the whole. It is mainly by great fermentations of faith and zeal that the world itself has been lifted to its present level – a level, low as it may be, far higher than that of the past. Still, there are such things as spurious kinds of excitement, and when the London clergy were invited a little time ago to meet Mr Moody, they were, not unnaturally, rather unresponsive. Mr Moody surprised them on that occasion by taking for granted their sympathy with the purpose of his mission and discussing his plan of operations. He is at all events, a man who takes his own line and leaves you to follow or not, just as you please.
What the majority of the audience are conscious of is that they are being told some very home truths by a very simple, and earnest man and that he is perfectly confident by his showing them the means of becoming better men and women, and of having a better hope in this world and the next. As the preacher last night, who was not Mr Moody, put it very well, if you wake a man out of sleep and make him aware there is a fire in his house, it is a time for using the first fire escape you may bring him, not for discussing which kind of fire escape is the best. Mr Moody tells his hearers that most of them need to be “saved,” and that all of them can be saved if they will believe in a Saviour whom he proclaims. A vast number among them know that the first part of this statement is perfectly true, whatever, maybe its precise theological interpretation. They are very ill-satisfied with themselves at heart, and would be thankful to be assured of a means of becoming better. What wonder if they listen eagerly to a man who tells them that he has found this, "Salvation,” and who impresses upon them the conviction, he knows what he means and is speaking out of a real experience? In the dim twilight through which an immense number of men and women are groping their way through life, not without many falls and much self-distrust, it is inevitable that a strong clear voice, however strange it’s tones, should attract confidence and win a following. Mr Moody calls unhesitatingly to this struggling, confused mass to follow him, and to follow him in the direction which, on the whole, is guaranteed by ancient and sacred experience, and he is obeyed.
If there are those who are rather inclined to exhort Mr Moody’s hearers to caution than to give him encouragement, let them ask themselves one or two broad and simple questions. By all means, let them be cautious in controlling and directing the results of such a movement and do their utmost to obviate the worst of illusions that all the work of a new life is done when a man is “converted.” But, in the first place, is any Christian Church in this metropolis in a position to say that we can afford to dispense with any vigorous effort to rouse the mass of our people to more Christian life? The congregations who are to be seen in our churches and chapels are but a fraction of the hundreds of thousands around them, of whom multitudes are living a little better than mere animal existence. If any considerable portion of them can be roused to the mere desire of something higher, an immense step is gained, and if the churches are really a higher influence still, Mr Moody will at least have prepared them a better material to work upon.MONDAY'S NOON MEETING.
The key-note of the meeting and the subject of Mr Moody's brief address was "Praise" fitly following the subject of last week. - "Prayer." The nearer a man gets to God, the more he sings. The bird does not sing on its nest, but on the wing. The Church has been on her nest, and therefore praise has been silent; she must mount up, and, like the rising lark, she will sing praise to God. What cause we have to praise God for all He hath done for us.
The audience, having responded to Mr Moody's request to "rise and sing right out of the heart," the hymn "Rejoice and be glad, the Redeemer has come, he called for reports.
Mr Garthorne, who some time since relinquished the wine trade as a matter of conscience, gave strong testimony as to the desire of many of his recent business friends to follow his example. He also dwelt on the encouragement he had lately received in speaking to businessmen about the things of God.
Rev. Frank H. White had heard from his friend Mr Archibald G. Brown, of the East-end Tabernacle, that 2,000 of his congregation remained the previous night to the after-meeting, and he believed a hundred left rejoicing in Christ.
Rev. J. Morgan, of Islington, as one of the ministers near the Agricultural Hall, testified that, so far from emptying the churches and chapels, this movement was filling them. On Sunday night he had intended to go to the Hall after the conclusion of his own meeting but had been occupied with anxious souls, of whom fourteen professed to find salvation before he left.
Captain Moreton spoke of the great success attending the house-to-house visitation in the northern district. The testimony of those engaged in it was, that they would be sorry when it was done. He gave some striking cases, which we reserve till next week.
Mr R. Radcliffe told of the want of 500 superintendents for this part of the work.
A gentleman from Yorkshire said, for the encouragement of those whose localities could not be visited by their American brethren, that a great work had been begun in several of the small towns of Yorkshire, resulting from their ministers having gone to Liverpool, and on their return related what they had heard to their own congregations.
A friend from Liverpool said that the young men's meetings there on Friday night was the best they had had. He urged as a motto a verse of twelve words, forty-eight letters: "The blood of Jesus Christ, his Son, cleanseth us from all sin." It might be more reasonably doubted whether the Mississippi could wash the mud from a pebble over which it flowed, than that the
blood of Jesus can cleanse a believing soul from sin.
Mr R. Paton said the two inquirers'-meetings on Sunday afternoon and evening were of the deepest interest. It was quite a spectacle to see the hundreds of young men, who came anxious and went away rejoicing. Mr. Paton also stated that a reply had been received to the message sent to the Rev. Dr Talmage, of Brooklyn, saying, "I dare not leave my own church. An awakening has broken out, such as to require my attention where I am. Deeply interesting accounts had also been received from Sheffield, showing that the work was permanent there.
Next week, Mr Moody hoped, meetings would be started in all the divisions of London.
EVENING MEETINGS, AGRICULTURAL HALL
Again and again one is obliged to ask the question, "What mean the eager, anxious throngs" that nightly crowd to this leviathan structure for an hour and a half or two hours before the time of service, and who linger, many of them, in the great hall and in the vicinity of the inquiry-room, as late as they are permitted? There is nothing in the manner or matter of the services to stimulate idle curiosity, there is nothing to afford amusement. Surely the Spirit of God is mightily moving on the hearts of men and women, filling them with a great unrest and desire to have it removed and replaced by the peace which the world cannot give or take away.
Tuesday evening's gathering was most wonderful and the prayers and expectations of God's people were more than exceeded. Long, long before 8 o’clock there was scarce an inch of standing room to be had in the hall, vast though it is. Numbers, we believe, remained in the hall from the conclusion of the afternoon service. How many went away from the evening meeting disappointed at being shut out it would be hazardous to say. Reports put it at 10,000, but we should imagine that to be an overstatement. Inside the spectacle was one that might arouse feelings of gratitude and wonder. The Rev F Tucker, that venerable service in Christ, the very tone of his voice and the beaming of his radiant countenance, have a strangely attractive power, expressed the feeling of every Christian heart in the assembly, as he prayed that “that vast mass of beating human hearts might beat for Christ and live for him.“ In touching words he invoked the divine blessing on the aged men, now on the borders of eternity; on the men of business, who are bearing the burden and heat of the day; on the husbands and wives, that they might be fellow heirs of the grace of God and fellow helpers towards eternal glory; on the young men and maidens, that God would take them to be his own friends and servants, and rejoicing subjects before evil companionship were formed and evil habits fixed. “And now,“ prayed the good old man, “bless our dear brother Moody. All our hearts rise up to Thee in thankfulness and in prayer and may this might be a night long to be remembered. One prayer in his presence we must offer – Lord bless Chicago; bless the Christian people there, those who are so dear to his heart, and the multitude of Sunday’s scholars that gather around him, as around a loving father. The fire that has burnt his sanctuary; dear Saviour, thy providence knew it, and thou art overruling it. May his ministry here, while his new sanctuary is rising, kindle a fire of divine love in the hearts of multitudes, melting down all selfishness and all sin.“ This prayer found an echo in many a heart, and we believe his petition, that that night, would be one long to be remembered, was answered to a very marked degree.
Mr Moody took for his subject “Regeneration“ – the A B C he said of God's alphabet. Using for an illustration the fog that partly obscured the interior of the hall, he declared that both the Church and the world were in a greater fog on this important subject. As the truth fell from his lips in language almost severely simple, every word seemed to tell on the hushed and listening multitude and salvation was brought very near. As Rev, A G Brown put it in a subsequent prayer – if he had not been converted before, he felt as if he might have been brought into the kingdom that night. It was truly a time of great searching of heart, and we are compelled to believe that the record on high contains many an entry – This man or that woman was born again in the Agricultural Hall on the evening of Tuesday, March 16, 1875. Saint Mary‘s Hall was filled with inquiring Nicodemusesl at the close, who were addressed by Mr Moody, while others were busy in the corridors of the hall speaking a word for the Master as they had opportunity, which was abundant.
The great gatherings of Wednesday, Thursday and Friday may almost be reported in the same language. Night after night this great building has been filled with from 18 to 20,000 immortal beings, ostensibly drawn together to hear “the old, old story“ of human sin and divine redemption.
What motley congregations! As has often been said within the past two weeks, such varied collections of all ranks and conditions of men, women and children I’ve never before seen or known in the metropolis. Is it not an overwhelming proof that the time-honoured gospel of the cross is as potent to cure sin-sick souls, and bring peace to troubled spirits as ever? As one mingles with the crowd in some distant corner of the gallery, it is impossible not to be struck with the almost unnatural quietude that reigns throughout the service. This is all the more wonderful when we think of the heterogeneous nature of the throng. Casting the eye around you see here and there those whose heads are white with the snow of age; the majority however, are just entering on manhood and womanhood, or in the prime of life, while many groups of quite little ones complete the interesting and absorbing picture. Presumably, there are hundreds and hundreds who do not regularly, or even occasionally listen, on the Lord’s day, to the preaching of the gospel; but they have somehow been drawn into this informal gathering, and as Mr Moody tells out in bold, but simple words, the universal ruin wrought by sin, and the unfailing remedy to be found in a crucified, raised and ascended Christ, there is a perfect stillness on every side, and every head is bent to catch the rapid and thrilling words of the speaker. The rapt attention is more manifest when Mr Sankey sings. His vocal sermons are short, but they tell everyone, and it is a matter of doubt whether the speaker or the singer is the more effective preacher. Thank God for such a combination. It takes so many keys to unlock the human heart, but all are needed; this much is shown by the result.
As a rule, opposition has not shown itself at the meetings, if it exists to any extent. I have heard of a few exceptions, and once, or twice we have seen the look of scorn and the smile of contempt at Mr Moody’s impassioned appeals. But much more to be dreaded than all latent or aroused opposition is that hard crust of indifference, which is, alas, so prevalent in society. 9/10 of the unconverted portion of the multitudes that crowd the Agricultural Hall would be shocked at the idea of openly deriding the offer of salvation; they listen respectfully, and it may be for the moment with trembling, but they are not prepared to give up all for Christ and they go away, moved for the time, but no nearer, perhaps further off the kingdom of heaven than before. One can only hope and believe in the light of God's sure word, that some truth has been planted in the heart that, like an arrow, will rankle there till conviction leads them to the cross and conversion sees their burden lost there.
As Mr Moody has often asserted, “the cream of the work is in the inquiry room.“ An earnest and judicious worker there will find plenty of scope for his zeal, and more for his wisdom and tact in fishing for the Master. He will see too what a strong barrier to the cause of Christ, the towering pride of the human heart is; he will find out what resources the devil has in putting difficulties in the way of a present, unconditional acceptance of the offer of salvation. But amidst these discouragements, he will find much to cheer and strengthen in the work and much cause to magnify the grace of God, which aboundeth to the chief of sinners. In the body of the large meetings, as the audience is dispersing, many opportunities can be found by those who have a passionate love of the Saviour to speak a word in His name, and we think this is a part of the work which is somewhat neglected. During the past week there have been as a rule, more workers ready to go into the inquiry room than were needed. Let them disperse into the outskirts of the large meeting and there they will find the fields white unto harvest, and the labourers very often few.
A decided increase in numbers and in power marked the early meetings for workers. It was indeed good to be there and to assemble with some 16,000 of the followers of Christ was in itself no small privilege. To Mr Moody it was evidently a touching sight. He told us it was the most encouraging of all the meetings held as yet in London. From the subject of “The Talents," he drew thoughts that glowed and words that burned, till the gathering became as enthusiastic as the speaker. From such meetings, what may not result to the honour of God and the eternal welfare of souls?
As to the afternoon and evening meetings on Sunday for women and men, we have only space to say that the attendance was very large, especially in the evening, when the hall was “filled with men only and the power of God manifestly accompanied both the preaching and the singing. At the evening meeting when Mr Sankey sang with much power and feeling, “Knocking, knocking, who is there?“ the effect produced was most thrilling. It seemed as if the vast audience was holding its breath while each verse was being sung and at the close it found a great and universal sense of relief in a loud hum of satisfaction, which might almost have been mistaken for applause. We have scarcely ever before seen such a testimony to the marvellous power, possessed by these simple hymns, as sung by this sweet singer, to sway vast multitudes as one man.
Both to the woman and the men Mr Moody's message was the good news of the gospel preached to every creature. He spoke with great power, especially in the evening, when he varied his address somewhat to suit the different audience. His illustrations were many and much to the point; the way of salvation was made so plain that a wayfaring man, though a fool, could scarce err in his understanding of it. His closing words, when he pointed to the two texts in front of the gallery on either side, “The blood of Jesus Christ, His son, cleanseth from all sin,“ and “Behold the Lamb of God, that taketh away the sin of the world,“ were a fitting termination to an impressive address.
While the after meeting was going on in the great Hall, little groups of anxious inquiries were scattered all over the long gallery, some of them being prayed with, others being earnestly sought to believe the gospel of which they had heard. At the afternoon meeting for women, the inquirers were not so numerous; the women of London, for some reason, appear less open to impression than those in Liverpool, where they responded to Mr Moody's invitations with surprising and gratifying readiness.
THE YOUNG MEN’S MEETINGS
At the Sunday evening service, Mr Moody referred to the special meetings for young men, organised and successfully carried on in other towns, and expressed a wish that similar meetings should be commenced in London. Accordingly, at the close of the general service, Saint Mary’s Hall was well-nigh filled with mostly young men, for this purpose. George Williams presided, and addressed some words of affectionate encouragement to the young men, to engage in this work. Mr Moody entered the meeting shortly after it commenced, and having asked all those who wished to become Christians to rise, nearly a third part of those present did so and afterwards followed Mr Moody to the inquiry room upstairs, while those who remained in St Mary‘s Hall continued in prayer for a blessing on their anxious brothers. These young men’s meetings will be held every evening in St Mary’s Hall from 9 to 10, and it is expected that Mr Scott from Glasgow, as well as Mr Henry Drummond will assist in this part of the work.
"The Christian," March 25th, 1875.
EVENING MEETINGS, AGRICULTURAL HALL
On Monday the attendance was thinner than on any previous night since the arrival of the evangelists. "This was, it is believed, owing to a prevailing idea that Mr Moody would not be present, as was the case on the previous Monday. If, however, the numbers were smaller, it seemed to us that the message from the preacher's lips was more than usually luminous and powerful. It did, indeed, penetrate, and, we are bound to believe, let light through to many hearts. His illustrations of the truth, that the law reveals sin, but does not justify, were so intensely appropriate, that the believers' hearts rejoiced at the crystal clearness of the presentation of this important truth.
On Tuesday the hall was crowded, and the doors were closed twenty minutes before the appointed time for the commencement of the service. The platform was unusually full of clergymen and ministers, and amongst the former were prominent Dean Stanley and Canon Conway, who offered the opening prayer. In the course of a homely, but very powerful address on "Excuses," based on Luke xiv. Mr Moody appealed first to the platform and then to the congregation, whether God were a hard taskmaster or no; and very abundantly the responses came from hall and platform, "No," "No." This power of getting his audience into sympathy with himself is an element of untold power in Mr Moody's ministry, and may well point an exhortation to other ministers of the gospel.
The opening prayer was offered on Wednesday evening by the Rev C B. Sawday, Vernon Chapel, who has been a very active worker in connection with these meetings and also conducted for several nights with tokens of success, the meetings at Liverpool, two weeks since. Mr Sawday prayed in the simple, bold and earnest manner that characterises all Mr Spurgeon's disciples, that the net might be let down on the right side of the ship, and that the catch of fishes might be greater than on any night before. He felt that God had hardly begun to begin to give the blessing that was needed, and he implored God to “roll up His sleeve, to make bare his arm, and do mighty things."
Mr Sankey sang alone, "Home of the Soul," from Phillip Phillip's "Hallowed Songs."
Mr Moody's address was a continuation of the previous evening's "Excuses." It is almost needless to say that his burning words were as so many sharply-pointed and well-aimed arrows sent forth from God's quiver. He lifted the veil and showed the utterly hollow and specious nature of the pleas that are so freely urged by those who do not want to accept the invitation to the gospel feast. He left the sinner without a single rag of excuse wherewith to conceal his spiritual nakedness; and in the days to come we hope to hear of many a poor soul, who, finding himself or herself that night in the sorry plight of being “without excuse,“ ceased the vain endeavour to hide themselves behind nothing, and came, "just as they were," to the banquet provided for " whosoever will."
Like every great and wise general, Mr Moody is not insensible to the value of taking his audience by surprise. He knows the power of sanctified strategy and uses it now and then with great effect. On Thursday evening we suppose most of the immense congregation expected to hear a stirring gospel address as usual Mr Moody, however, addressed himself to Christians instead, in a fashion that gave some clue to the marvellous success that has attended his ministrations for the past twenty months. In another column we give the greater part of this appeal to the Christians of London, although as printed, and with most of the illustrations omitted, it is shorn of much of the effect it produced when delivered. His intensity of feeling and expression was so powerfully brought into action, that he carried his audience completely with him, and if the Impulse conveyed for the moment to the crisis to the Christian hearts in the hall, could be retained and properly directed, London, as Mr Moody said, would very soon be “woke up“ from its spiritual slumber or death.
As usual the hymns chosen were in harmony with the subject of Mr Moody‘s exhortation and Mr Sankey sang “Scatter seeds of kindness,“ and “Here am I, send me.“ In his prayer before the sermon, Mr Moody prayed with his customary fervour, that the Christians of London might be endued with the courage of Jeremiah, the boldness of Paul, and the perseverance of Joshua. He also invoked God's merciful visitation on every man in London engaged in any unlawful business. We trust Mr Moody will find time to give some special attention to the subject of Christianity in its hearing on trade morality. It is being agitated in our columns at present, and this seems a favourable time for something definite being devised and attempted by Christian men of influence in the world of commerce.
On Good Friday large meetings were held in the Agricultural Hall in the afternoon and evening, the latter being unusually crowded. Lord Shatesbury was present. Mr Sankey having sung “there were Ninety and Nine,” Mr Moody spoke on “What Christ is to us,” a subject which was particularly suited to the associations popularly connected with the day.
We have elsewhere reported Mr Moody's Sunday morning address and the appeal that followed.
The meetings on Sunday afternoon and evening were, as usual, of special interest. The women's meeting was the largest of the kind yet held in London and at the close of Mr Moody's remarkably clear and forcible address on "What must I do to be saved?" the audience rose literally in hundreds, manifesting their desire to be saved. At the close of the men's meeting there were also a goodly number of inquirers.
Rev. W. Taylor conducted a service in St. Mary's Hall both afternoon and evening.
AGRICULTURAL HALL, OUTSIDE THE INQUIRY ROOM
March 15 – a kind, loving mother, anxiously, longing for a blessing, but expecting it through patience – no idea of the attainment being necessary, but a general acceptance of truth, regarding the mercy of God. Why she hung about she could not tell, but into the inquiry room she would not go. Spoke to her of God’s way as much as possible by reference to her own home feelings. I asked her what she would think of her child, expecting safety through patience, if a lion were in the street, and still refusing to enter the house while the door was kept open. Spoke as tenderly and faithfully as possible to this tried, but loving mother.
An old disciple hanging about the door of the inquiry room, waiting for two young men who were inside. 45 years ago, he had joy and peace in believing, but through unwatchfulness lost his “roll,“ And has had years of bitter self-reproach and unfruitfulness. Told us he could not forget “the years of the right hand of the Most High,“ and could he only believe that there was forgiveness for him, he would rejoice indeed. The work in which he was then engaged, in seeking the good of the two young men, was we trust, the beginning of brighter days and fruitful work to our dear old friend.
Passed a group of three young women, and heard a young Scottish woman, pressing them into the inquiry room. They urged want of time and said to this pressing friend, “we believe in Jesus as you do, but we do not realise what you say you do .“ So many of this class are about; they seem unwilling to go away, and yet they hang off because the burden does not press. Workers need much wisdom and grace to deal with them.
March 16 – A wonderful night for picket work, so many inquiring, willing to be spoken to and earnestly dealt with, the subject of address being “the new birth.“ It is a matter for earnest thought to all workers, how on this night, when all were shut up to the work of God in them, as well as the work of God for them, so many were impressed and such power felt in the meeting. Is it to let us know that the work depends more on God being with us, though the gate be straight than our own earnest and pressing appeals to let men know that the way is free and open? How much there is to learn in this work.
Whilst seeking to calm down a little controversy arose from an injudicious remark, made by a young usher, a young lady pressed in to hear, and looking at her, I saw that the word spoken to Nicodemus had gone home. She would not go into the inquiry room but listened most attentively to what was said. “The kingdom of God“ seemed to her then most desirable, but only the Searcher and Melter of hearts could reach her thoughts – so reserved, yet so anxious.
Many this night professed to see the kingdom of God and seeing, to enter. Oh, blessed experience; oh, for more such nights!
March 17 – Found a young lady sitting in one of the galleries, waiting for a friend who was in the inquiry room. She was very sad. Asked her to read a few verses of the third of John. She said there was no use, as the idea of mercy for her was passed. The thought of one so young burdened with so despairing a feeling troubled us, and we said to her, “Is it not unkind to think so of Jesus?“ She always felt as if the unkindness was on his side, not on hers, but being thus brought face-to-face with the query, she burst into tears; poor dear child, may the blessed Spirit give her deliverance from so sad a burden!
A young man, waiting for his female friend, would not go in himself but was anxiously waiting for her. Could not see the wisdom of all the work going on, but felt uneasy about it. When pressed for his reason of refusing to accompany his friend, said he would not hinder her; he would not go home without her, but would rather be saved from such unpleasant trouble. He was urged to faith and repentance and the full acknowledgement of God’s claim on him as well as on his friend, and we parted from him with the sad thought, “One shall be taken and the other left.“
"The Christian," April 1st, 1875.
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