Free Trade Hall, Manchester - D L Moody (1874)

Our dear brethren have come among us in dark, wintry weather, but there has been no gloom or coldness in any of their meetings, nor have rain and fog diminished the crowds that have come to hear them. They have evidently come "in the fulness of the blessing of the gospel of Christ," and they have found awaiting them, to all appearance, "a people prepared for the Lord." 

The accounts of the work elsewhere given by THE CHRISTIAN, which has been largely circulated, have contributed in no small measure to this.

Many thousands of Christian people have been praying for Manchester and hundreds of thousands of prayers have risen to God from Manchester herself for a blessing on the labours of his servants. The preparatory work, indeed, has been going on all the year, especially since the month of April, when united evangelistic services were held in almost all the Nonconformist places of worship throughout the district. These preparatory meetings were brought to a close last Saturday, with a Communion Service, in which upwards of 2,000 Christians of various denominations joined.

Mr Murray has told the readers of THE CHRISTIAN something of the meeting for workers on Sunday morning. To those who know the ordinary habits of Manchester, the attendance was astonishing, numbering daily, if not quite, 2,500 persons. Most of these had walked distances varying from one to three miles, some far more, though the rain fell in torrents through a thick, cold fog.

Perhaps the first feeling with many, after curiosity was satisfied, was something like disappointment. But soon the meeting was filled with an influence quite distinct from any of the usual effects of oratory. It seemed as if, as in the olden time, "the Holy Ghost fell on them that heard the word." Mr Moody's theme was "Christian Courage," and in dwelling, upon it he evidently sought to strike the keynote for all the services to follow. When, at the close of the address, the hymn was sung, "Hold the fort," few eyes were dry. Many, very many, earnest Christian workers, who have been toiling long in discouragement, felt as they joined in the stirring strain that the much-longed-for, sorely-needed help had indeed come.

The work has been going on since, much as it did during the first week or fortnight in Dublin, and in other places. There is no doubt that Messrs Moody and Sankey have already made a most favourable impression upon a large portion of the Christian public of our city. The charm of Mr Sankey's affectionate nature has been felt by many, as well as the power of his gift of song. The gifts which fit Mr Moody to be the leader of a religious movement like the present are recognised by everyone. Men accustomed to authority willingly put themselves under his orders. He inspires confidence. All feel at once his practical good sense and singleness of purpose. Among his natural endowments is a power of pathos which must tell everywhere, but will tell especially upon a Lancashire audience. It seems to lay hold of the men even more than of the women. In his energetic, vigorous nature there is a great depth of tenderness, which now and then breaks forth in his addresses with extraordinary power. Above all, he feels and speaks as though he felt that the excellency of the power is of God, and not of us.

The crowds which flock to hear our friends, if they do not increase, continue undiminished. Already not a few have found peace in Jesus through their word. Mr Moody has more than once said in public that nowhere, during the first week of his labours, have such meetings been held as in Manchester. Still, it would be folly to suppose that the work is more than just beginning. The masses, the general public, are still almost untouched. Manchester is tenacious of the right of independent judgement and will make up her mind for herself. And more than this, the process with the Lancashire public is somewhat slow. Beneath an apparent mobility, which may easily deceive a stranger, there is a cast of thought and feeling strongly conservative. When one thinks of the enormous population gathered in our city and the circumjacent towns, one cannot forbear the wish that the visit of our friends could be prolonged, at least, a few weeks beyond the too brief month which they have promised us.


The first week of the meetings in Manchester has been full of good omen. The work of God for which we have so long prayed and waited has opened with power. God is bending in blessing over the city. An awakening and reviving breath from heaven has for some time been felt on the face of the churches. For months past strong supplication has gone up to the throne from the noon and other prayer meetings in various parts of the city, and the churches have been gradually drawing closer together under the influence of the hope of revival.

This spirit of union found delightful expression in the Communion services held in two central chapels last Saturday week. Over 2,000 members from many churches gathered around the Lord's table to enjoy a hallowed season of fellowship with each other and with the Head of the Church. The heartfelt greetings between brethren of different denominations told how truly the bond of union in Jesus was felt, and how really the Church of Christ was one, though varied in its outward aspect to the world. Christ indicated as a result of the manifested union of his people, the world's belief in his divine mission. We are seeing now an exemplification of that truth. Following close upon these demonstrations of the oneness of the Church, there exists in the city a remarkable eagerness to hear the gospel.

On Sunday week, notwithstanding the drenching rain, the Oxford Hall was filled with Christian workers at eight o'clock in the morning, and hundreds were unable to gain admission. Mr Moody delivered an inspiring address on "Courage, Perseverance, and Love," the three requisites of all workers for God. "All the men whom God used in Scripture times were courageous men. God could not use a man destitute of courage. When Elijah fell into despondency under the juniper tree God had to find another man; Noah worked for 120 years without seeing results, and yet never got discouraged. We were to be sure God called us to the work. When Moses went out to deliver his brethren before God sent him, 'he looked this way and that way;' but a man whom God has sent never needs to look over his shoulder; straight forward is the word for him." Sharp, graphic, clinging utterances like these sparkled out all over this animating address, which was followed up by Mr Sankey singing, "Here am I; send me."

The afternoon meetings were still more remarkable. The incessant rain had not abated, yet the overflow, after the filling of the Oxford Hall, crowded the Free Trade Hall, where the service was carried on by various ministers till the American brethren arrived from the other gathering. Mr Moody's bright and practical exposition of "the gospel" was listened to with lively attention. A mighty interest was gathering, which broke forth with wonderful power on the following evening. That Monday evening meeting in the Free Trade Fail will live long in the memories of those who witnessed it. None could withstand the conviction that the Spirit of God was operating in the solemnised assembly as they beheld, under the influence that swayed the meeting during Mr Moody's appeals, businessmen, one after another, rising to be prayed for. The address had been growing in earnestness; the speaker seemed to come into contact with the souls of the people before him. He requested any who wished to be prayed for to rise. He quietly repeated the invitation...

"The Christian," December 10th, 1874.

Manchester, I am pleased to say, is now on fire. The most difficult of all English cities, perhaps to be set on fire by anything but politics, it is now fairly ablaze and the flames are breaking out in all directions.

Yesterday (Dec. 6) the Free Trade Hall, within whose walls scenes of no common interest and excitement have often been witnessed, presented a spectacle such as those who beheld it will not easily forget. The Rev. Dr McKerrow, my venerable predecessor in the ministry, assured me that he had seen no such sight, even in the most excited political times, during the forty-seven years of his life in Manchester, as that which he saw there on Sunday afternoon.

The building was densely crowded. Not an inch of standing room was unoccupied. Long before the appointed hour, hundreds found it impossible to gain admission. And Mr Moody, in what terms shall I describe his address?  Theological critics might have said there was nothing in it, but only eternity will reveal how much there came out of it. I should not be surprised if hundreds of conversions should result from that single mighty appeal. Taking for his text the first question addressed to them, "Where art thou?" he brought it home to the bosom of every hearer with a power and pathos that were simply irresistible. Having referred to the case of a young man who had cried out in the inquiry room on Friday night, "Oh, mother, I am coming!" the young man himself sprang to his feet, and exclaimed in tones of impassioned earnestness, "That was Me!" The effect was electrical. Not an eye but was suffused with tears. The whole vast assembly was impressed with a profound sense of the presence and power of the Holy Ghost.

The meeting for young men in the evening was equally wonderful, no fewer than seventy-one having remained behind as anxious inquirers, not a few of whom went home rejoicing in the peace of God that passeth understanding.

There is only one sentiment, I feel convinced, in the hearts of all God's children in this vast community in regard to this great work, and that is a sentiment of devout thankfulness to our heavenly Father that He has sent among us two such men, full of faith and power, and yet eminent for humility and lowliness of mind. "The Lord hath done great things for us, whereof we are glad."

Dec. 11. -The meetings of that memorable Lord's-day gave a tone of solemnity and a character of power to all the meetings of the week. The tide rose steadily, day by day, until it became full, overflowing the bank in all directions--a very spring tide of blessing; and only eternity will reveal how many immortals are now launching out upon its waters in the bark of a simple trust in the Son of God. Oh, that in the end an "entrance may be ministered unto them abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ!" May every soul whose hope of salvation is now being fixed upon Jesus, when the storms of temptation and sin are all past, be found " safe within the veil!"

"The Christian," December 17th, 1874.

As our American friends have almost entirely left us, we are now engaged in gathering results, and making such arrangements as will give permanence to the movement. We confidently hope that the Sunday afternoon services will be continued with undiminished interest and power.

Sabbath Services in Free Trade Hall.

Arrangements have been made for securing the services of our most talented ministers, to preach in the Free Trade Hall on Sunday afternoons at three o'clock. The first service of the series was conducted by the Rev. Alex. M'Laren, who gave an address on the well-worn text. "What must I do to be saved?" The power of sanctified genius to throw fresh light and interest on an old subject was never more apparent. We have never heard the scene in the jail pictured with anything like the clearness and truth with which Mr M'Laren brought it before us in a few master strokes. Man's need and the remedy were
shown so clearly, that even the dullest could not fail to perceive the truth. The stillness of the congregation, as the preacher drew to a close an address as judicious as it was powerful, was something which told most eloquently what a deep impression was being made. Mr M'Laren showed to all, that the highest scholarship and the most refined taste can lend added power to even a popular address for the masses.

If the services are such as we had on the 10th, we shall have reason to bless God. It will be pleasing for all to know that the hall was filled, even although the weather was unfavourable.

Boxes were held at the door for hall expenses. The result showed a pleasing readiness to help. If Mr M'Laren's address could be published in tract form, and circulated by thousands, it would be a valuable contribution to the literature of salvation. 

The Noon Prayer Meeting, 

We also continue the noon prayer meeting, but the attendance has fallen off. The requests for prayer also are ceasing. Since Mr Moody left, we have scarcely had as many hundreds attending as formerly we had thousands. We earnestly urge upon all our readers to consider that now is the time to attend with even greater frequency. Our God is the same; and if we allow united prayer to cease, we shall lay ourselves open to the remark that we came to the meetings from curiosity and excitement. The Museum is now available for religious meetings, and the noon meeting may there become what the Fulton Street meeting is in New York. It will be impossible for ministers to attend as often, but businessmen and Christian women can surely make occasion.

Young Men

The movement among young men still continues and meetings are held which do much good. In addition to our usual efforts, we have had two visits from Mr Moody, at which his addresses on "Excuses" and the "Blood" have been delivered with great power. 

The interest has not at all abated in these addresses. The demand for tickets was enormous, and the crowding something terrible. Those in charge have had a trying time with the unreasonableness ot sinners, whose Christianity is of the muscular sort. We say to the crowd, Be gentle in your strictures against those in charge.

What about Results?

This will be the question asked all over the kingdom. We answer, that while the stream of blessing has no doubt been coloured by its human channels, we have yet much reason to bless God and take courage. For-
1. There have been many, very many undoubted cases of true conversion. In the words of our esteemed chairman
they have obtained solid peace. They have come to us from the east and west. from the north and south, and have gone home, as we believe, saved. All classes have been touched. We know many instances where numerous additions have been made to churches. The converts' meeting, which we hope to have soon, will show a vast number who profess to have been
born again; and what is better, we hear of altered lives. One gentleman, whose servants found Christ, says his
house is not like the same. The religion which, in popular phrase, "sweeps under the carpet," is religion in earnest.
2. Believers have been quickened. We needed shaking, and we have got It. The remedy may have been drastic, but it was salutary. The thousands of workers who met on Sunday mornings were kindled into enthusiasm. The city has unquestionably been stirred. No class received more blessing than the ministers: sermons have changed from formalism into freedom, and from frost into fervour. Prayer meetings, formerly dull as ditch water have been quickened and made alive with more interest and power. Long prayers have been shortened; special services are becoming common; evangelistic effort is on every hand.
Many run to and fro, and knowledge is increased. Those who never before served are seeking to save the lost. Business men are carrying their grand energy into laying up treasure in heaven. These are facts, and tell that the Breath has breathed in the valley of dry bones.
3. Believers in Christ have been united. We do not make much account of their sitting on the one platform while Mr Moody spoke, nor even of their being in the enlarged committee; but we do rejoice at the manifest union. Ministers of different denominations, who never knew of one another's existence, have made lasting friendships. The old barriers may yet remain,
but the pastors lean over and speak joyfully together, and meet on terms of perfect equality. The love of Christ has melted souls into union. What true hearts have been craving after is now come to pass, and we never can go back to the old isolation. Some of our most cherished friendships have been made during these services. An illustration which we once heard Mr Arnott of Edinburgh use comes to our mind. The dewdrops rest apart on the one flower: but when the flower is shaken a little, they run together and unite, and carry down life to the roots. The revival has shaken the plants of the Lord, and unity has refreshed and blessed us.

But someone will say, "If so, where are all your big meetings now?" We answer "Gone for the most part; but gone as goes the rain, which cometh and fills the pools - gone to make the souls unseen bring forth and bud." Great meetings like great pools are but for a season. We best show a revival by carrying new life into our own spheres of labour; and if all the meetings disappeared, we should yet believe that a rich blessing had been received.

Besides, true workers in the same fields have but little time for meeting in numbers; and however much they may have learned to love their fellow workers, yet the harvest is so plenteous and the labourers so few that they have little time to say more than a "good night and God bless you." Another good result has been, that -
4. The Bible has become more read. Cottage meetings and parlour meetings have increased. Private individuals, instead of meeting to gossip and dance, now meet to read and pray. New interest has been given to old narratives. One pleasing instance of the feeling which underlies this came under our own notice. Going into the shop of a well-known bookseller, We
asked for the "Imitation of Christ, by Thomas a Kempis, and were told that there had been quite a demand for it in the last few days. We advise our readers to make the demand greater. The Bible is also more and more used in preaching and in the pews. We hear of private Christians whose hours have been revolutionised in this matter. No city in the world needed this more than Manchester. The Bible was largely a sealed book; and too many gave ear while godless critics, spoke of it as old, and ready to perish. But men are now finding in it the will of Christ, and are reading it as expectant heirs read a will. But yet again, we have made inquiries of businessmen as to the result on Change and the result has been -                                          5 People are beginning to see that there is some reality in religion. The principle of our firms, their managers and employees have come to the meetings and have spoken frequently about them. This feeling of reality is most precious. We account this perhaps the most blessed part of Mr Moody's influence. We have forgotten most of his addresses, and have often questioned his interpretations and inferences; but we never can forget his terrible earnestness, the hunger after souls. When the other day, he kept numbers of ministers waiting for him, and we expostulated, he answered quite characteristically, "The salvation of a soul is of more importance than a ministers' meeting." When, long ago, he spoke to a man in Chicago and asked him if his soul was saved, and the man replied, "Mind your own business," - "This is my business," was the answer; and Mr Moody does make the saving of souls his business, pushing it with a most praiseworthy earnestness of purpose. He means it.

Our city has felt his reality, and now men believe there is something in religion after all. 

Formalism on the one hand, and doubt on the other, had crushed the life out of too many; but the loving voices of earnest men have aroused the sleepers. Christ has arisen. The bodies of the saints walking in ancient Jerusalem after Christ's resurrection had no doubt much to do with the revival of Pentecost. So now Christians have arisen, and have walked our city
with a new life Are you saved? Men everywhere hear the question, It is put to them on 'Change; they meet it in the street; children sing it to them at home. Their souls feel the power. In addition to this -

6 Great numbers have made open profession of Christ in various congregations. We have asked the ministers, "Have you found many join the church through the meetings?" The answer has in most cases has been highly encouraging. There were many objections raised against the request that those who had found Christ should stand up. But no one can surely object to believers in Christ professing Him publicly in separate congregations, and we rejoice that many churches will receive numerous accessions. This was to be expected. Ministers and members have been aroused, and have made their influence tell, in addition to those sacred influences which radiated from the meetings.

So far as we have seen the converts. there has been a modest boldness, if we may use the term; and the result has been that the name of Christ has been taken by them with a readiness which cheers the heart. These are some of the main infuences. But who can tell the holy power which, all unseen, has pervaded the city?

Some of the characteristics have amused as well as pleased us. Theological rancour and hair-splitting have disappeared. Religion has become practical.

Again, professing Christians have listened to denunciations of their practices, such that, if uttered from their own pulpits, would have a moving effect in a physical sense. Theatre-going, dram-drinking, smoking, dancing, card-playing, and such like, have been anathematised with a heartiness quite refreshing. "People say to me, "Moody, do you smoke and drink?" "Certainly not." "When did you give them up?" " When I was converted, of course." So also about dancing. Could you think of Noah having a dancing party in the Ark?" These quotations are quite in harmony with what Mr Moody has done in other places.

We hope sincerely that Liverpool and London may be richly blessed. To receive the blessing, we say to them, Prepare! Prepare! Prepare!

"Times of Blessing," Jan 28th 1875.


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