Chapter 34 - A Month With Mr. Moody in Chicago

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Mr. Moody as He Appeared to one of his Prominent Co-Workers during the World's Fair Campaign.

By Rex H.M. Wharton, D.D.

It was a magnificent opportunity. The year of 1893 would find Chicago, the great city of the West, crowded day by day with hundreds of thousands of people coming and going from all parts of our own country, and from every nation under the sun. Mr. Moody was no prophet, but he was quick to see an opening for usefulness, and ever ready to grasp an opportunity for doing good. He saw before him an occasion similar to the Pentecost at Jerusalem, but on a much larger scale. In fact, the wonderful event at Jerusalem, when the Spirit descended upon the assembled disciples, and they went forth to meet and preach to the crowds coming up to the Holy City was but a prophecy of that which came to pass in the city of Chicago. Mr. Moody laid his plans with unusual wisdom and foresight. When the World's Fair opened, and the people poured in from all quarters of the earth, he was there to meet them with a force adequate to the demands of that teeming multitude. A brief, outline of this plan will be of interest.


Wherever it was practicable, he grouped the churches, including as many as possible in the arrangement; the members were asked to come together in one of the largest of the group, and there met for worship and work. Services were held at night, and visitors who were staying in the neighborhood had ample notice that they might attend an interesting Gospel meeting. All available public places, halls, theatres, and other buildings, which could be used for public worship, were secured without regard to cost. When the theatres could not be had for the afternoons and evenings, they were secured for noonday services, and for Sunday meetings. The people of the great city seemed not only willing but anxious to do everything in their power to add to this wonderful movement for the Gospel of Christ, and for the salvation of souls. Perhaps one of the most interesting features was the tent work. This may be better understood by a simple description of a tent service.


After supper in the men's department of the Bible Institute, about 100 men are on their knees for a few minutes. Brief, burning, pointed prayers ascend. God is counted on to stand by them in their work. Then, rising, they scatter to mission and tent, going in some cases four, five, and even six miles, each with his Bible and little package of tracts, those containing plenty of Scripture being preferred. Meanwhile, in the Ladies' Home, fifty young women have been making similar preparations. One party is going to the big tent on Milwaukee Avenue, where Mr. Schiverea is holding meetings. On the street cars no time is lost. A young woman opposite speaks to the tired shop-girl at her side, opens her Bible, and points her to Him who said, "Come unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest;" but the girl must get off at the next block. She slips the tract "God's Word to You," into her hand with a kind pressure, and asks her to read it. A pleasant smile, and a Good Night, and the seed is sown. Meanwhile, the young men are not idle. A tract is handed to a fellow-passenger - a kind Word is spoken - and soon they, too, are talking of that wonderful Savior. A man on the platform has secured the attention of the conductor, who seemed under conviction. But we have reached our destination, and step from the cars.

Before us is the tent, brilliantly lighted. We enter, and overhead is a great arch of canvass, supported by three center-poles and smaller ones about the sides - an auditorium accommodating 1,300 people, and seated with canvas benches.

The little party kneel in prayer for the presence and power of the Holy Spirit. Then some take their places upon the platform, to sing the Gospel, some stand ready to welcome and seat the audience, and others go out upon the streets, with cards of invitation to bring in the passers-by.

From our seat on the platform we watch the audience come in. First, a hesitating group of ragged little ones, then some young "toughs," with mischief in their faces are passed from one usher to another, who will keep his eye upon them. Next a mother with a baby in her arms, a laboring man in gingham shirt and no collar, fathers and mothers with their little ones so they gather - largely an audience of respectable working people, for this is the character of the neighborhood; but the "tough" element is not wanting. The blue coat of a policeman seen at the door makes it easy to preserve order. The police of Chicago have proved good friends of this work, and some of their hearts have been found tender as well as brave.


A Gospel hymn opens the meeting, and how these people sing A solo from an Institute lady, full of the Gospel message, more hymns, a duet, prayer, and the evangelist begins to speak. Tenderly lovingly he deals with the people - unsparingly he deals with their sins. The trace of the actor still lingers in his graphic illustrations, largely drawn from his own experience; but so anxious is he that all be to the glory of God that he uses these with more and more care every year.

The address is short, and a hymn of invitation to Christ is sung by the same soloist as before, and then the speaker begins to ask those who wish to turn from a life of sin to God, to rise. Here and there they rise to their feet, the Institute workers marking them carefully. Then the leader says that all may go who wish to do so but that a short after-meeting will be held for those, who choose to remain. A large part of the audience stay, and the workers thread their way among them, sitting down by those who have risen, and trying from the Word of God to show the way of salvation, often finding among those who linger, deep conviction of sin without the courage to rise and manifest the interest felt. At a late hour the party are once more on the cars, singing the Lord's songs as they take the long ride home.


From a very wide acquaintance all over the Christian world, Mr. Moody selected his helpers. He secured men of experience, who had been blessed in other work without regard to age, denomination or education. What he wanted was men who believed the Gospel with all their hearts, who worked under the power of the Spirit of God, and who could tell plainly and simply the story of redeeming love. Mr. Moody always attached fully as much importance to the singing as to the preaching of the gospel, and in arranging his plans, sought out the best Gospel singers he could find, whether men or women, and applying the same rules to them as to the preachers, his selections were along the same line. The great purpose of his heart was to put before the people the way of life, and in the inquiry meetings, never to give up a soul while it yet remained in darkness, but to labor on until the seeker had found his Savior. Without comment as to the wisdom of his plan, the results testified in unmistakable terms, that it was the one way to reach and save the many who came under the preaching of the Word, and there is no question that the results of the campaign during the World's Fair in Chicago were far more extended than at Pentecost in Jerusalem, for while hundreds and even thousands returned from the holy City to their homes with a blessing, tens of thousands went from Chicago to all parts of the earth, net to tell simply of the wonders of the World's Fair, but the glories and the joys of redeeming love. I might relate many incidents of this work if time and space would allow. Let it be said, however, that from the lowest dens of vice in the slums of the city, to the highest in culture and position, the burning words of the evangelist reached the hearts of the people, whether these words were said or sung, and the whole city throbbed with the blessed impulse of Divine power.


Many months before the beginning of the campaign, I met Mr. Moody and he engaged my services. During the spring of 1893, while holding meetings in the state of Texas, a telegram from him was received, announcing a number of appointments for me in Chicago on the following Sunday, according to our agreement made some time before. I had planned my arrangements to suit so that my meetings were closing at the time his message was received. Leaving immediately for Chicago, I arrived on Saturday night, and stopped at the Palmer House, and notified Mr. Moody that I was on hand and ready for duty.

Sunday morning early, I was informed that a gentleman wished to see me in the office of the hotel, and on coming, down I met a handsome, young, blue-eyed Irishman. who said he had come to take me to preach at Haymarket Theatre. It was my first meeting with one who became my genial and fast friend at that time, and such has been our relation ever since. He informed me that he was in this country a brief time, as he then thought, but soon changed his mind, for he succeeded in winning the heart of Miss Moody, and is now one of the leading workers in the great institutions which were established by her father. All of us know Mr. A. P. Fitt, who for years has been at the head of some of the most important branches of a great work.


On arrival at the Haymarket Theatre that Sunday morning the crowd seemed to be as great in the street as in the house, and it was with difficulty that I could get to the platform, where Mr. Moody greeted me most cordially, and in a few minutes introduced me, and requested me to speak. Immediately upon conclusion of my sermon, he again took the great audience in hand, and turning to me said, "Please go across to the Empire Theatre, and address an overflow meeting there. I will join you in a few minutes." It was quite as difficult to get out as in, but I soon found myself landed on my feet upon the stage in the Empire Theatre, where the people were already joyfully singing under the leadership of my good friend George C. Stebbins. In due time Mr. Moody came on the platform, having spoken in the Haymarket Theatre, and preached in the Empire Theatre with unabated power and zeal.

The meeting over, we went to a convenient hotel, where we had a hasty lunch, and from there up Michigan Avenue to Immanuel Church at three o'clock where another large audience was assembled, and we spoke again, I first, Mr. Moody following. The service here ended, and with but little rest we went for refreshment, then made our way along State Street to Central Music Hall, arriving before any of the audience. Soon after we walked upon the platform, Mr. Moody began to arrange for the service. The doors were opened, the people came pouring in, and a few of the singers had arrived and were on the stage. There was no organist, and no leader for the time, but our great evangelist, never waiting a moment for anything when there was work to do, turned to me, and said, "Wharton, can't you start a hymn?" Taking up some familiar hymn, we sang while the people crowded the building. In a few minutes the choir had assembled, the leader was present, and the great throng joined heartily in praising God. At this service, the order was reversed, Mr. Moody preaching first, and I am sure that, never in my life, have I listened to a more powerful sermon than was preached by him on that occasion to the great waiting throng.


His theme was "Daniel," and he carried us by the wonderful power of his imagination through all the scenes of that remarkable life, culminating with the miraculous delivery from the den of lions. Who can have forgotten his impersonation of the king, as looking down into the den of lions, he calls to Daniel, "O Daniel, servant of the living God, is thy God, whom thou servest continually, able to deliver thee from the lions?" And then the reply of Daniel that comes up from the lions' den, "O king, live for ever.

"My God hath sent His angel, and hath shut the lions' mouths that they have not hurt me, forasmuch as before Him innocency was found in me; and also before thee, O king, have I done no hurt." The whole audience was subdued under the mighty power of the Holy Ghost, and their hearts were melted in sweet fellowship and love. We went away feeling that we had been close to the throne, and had heard and seen strange things that blessed Sabbath day.

It will be for others to tell of his great achievements, and to account, if they can, for the secret of his power and his wonderful success. To me the great personality was the incarnation of love, and although he might at times impress one with a brusqueness which was almost abrupt, back of it all was still beating a great loving heart.


Our headquarters during this campaign were at the Bible Institute, one of the well-known schools already referred to for teaching and training in the Scriptures and evangelistic work. This Institute was the outgrowth of many years' thought on Mr. Moody's part upon the needs of the working people and the poor outcast. He saw that men and women were needed to go among these people and do heart to heart work, so that by the Word of God and the power of the Spirit, they might, by their sympathy and love, bring them to Christ and to nobler lives. These must be searched out and trained, and material was abundant, but it required a vast deal of wisdom in one to select the proper material, and to secure workmen to prepare this material for successful service. There are also many who have been called of God into the Christian work at a period of life too late to take a regular college course, but who could, by the help of the Bible Institute, be qualified for great usefulness; and then there are persons who wish to devote their time to Gospel work while pursuing some other calling.


It was to meet all these demands that the Institute was established. It has sought to send out men and women who have a thorough consecration, intense love for souls, a good knowledge of God's Word, and especially how to use it in leading them to Christ, untiring energy, and the baptism of the Holy Spirit. The method of training is by the study of the Bible and music, and actual work in leading men to Christ. The Institution is located in the heart of Chicago, and has from its beginning been under the management of Rev. R. A. Torrey, a man in every way qualified for this important work. When I reached the Institute the Monday following the day I have been describing, they sent me to a room which was to be my home for the next month. As I entered this pleasant little "Prophet's Chamber," I looked around for pictures, but discovered only one little motto on the wall, neatly framed, and these were the simple words, "GET RIGHT WITH GOD." My first impulse was to kneel down and ask God's blessing that I might be right with Him, and that He would use me in the work upon which it had been my privilege to enter. The very atmosphere of this place is one of worship and work. You can hear the songs of praise at almost any hour of the day. Little meetings are held in the rooms, or a special sermon or lecture in the chapel, and sweet social seasons when they are gathered around the tables in the dining-rooms, or in Mr. Moody's great reception room. It was al. ways sweet and restful during the hours between the times of actual service.


The Institute is a hive, where the workers are coming and going, the difference being the bees go out, gather their honey and bring it home, while here the honey is gathered and carried abroad, where it is dispensed to those who will receive. The workers went forth every day and gave what they had gotten, to return in the evening all full of the sweet consolation that "It is more blessed to give than to receive.

I count it one of the greatest blessings of my life to have participated in the great battle among the multitude that filled Chicago luring the most successful Exposition the world' has ever known; and when the glorious end shall come, I believe it will be found that during this period of six months' work thousands were saved by the preaching of Christ in these meetings, and not only this, but that Christians from all parts of the earth went back to their homes strengthened and blessed, clothed anew with powers of the unseen world, to work for the Kingdom of God more earnestly and faithfully than ever before. And besides all this, the evil influences that were counteracted, and the good influences that went forth, will bless the world to the end of time. God be praised for this true believer and consecrated Christian man, who, like his Master, loved the world, and gave himself for it, and now, having finished His work, has passed through the gates of glory, and wears a crown of righteousness and victory forever.

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