Chapter 11 - Evangelistic in the United States

Table of Contents

The Gospel Campaign in Brooklyn - The Campaign in Philadelphia The Great Meetings in New York - Glorious Enthusiasm for the Lord - In Baltimore, 1878.

On his return from Great Britain, Mr. Moody went to Northfield, there to spend some little time resting at his old home and enjoying the companionship of his relatives. It was be readily understood that although he had gone from the United States two years before known to very few, .the wonderful results of his labors in Great Britain had made his name a household word, and his fellow-countrymen awaited his active work in this country not only with curiosity (which it must be admitted was felt by a large body of unbelievers and indifferent ones) but also, many of them, with a deep conviction that the Lord had raised him up to lead the people in a great religious awakening.


The Gospel campaign in the United States began at Brooklyn, on Sunday, October 24, 1875. The skating rink on Clarmont Avenue, with its seating capacity of six thousand, was secured for the use of the services. Preliminary work had been conducted in Brooklyn according to the system which Mr. Moody invariably insisted upon, so that when he took up the work in person, almost everything was already in full swing. A chorus of two hundred and fifty voices had been organized to lead the music. Interest accumulated with the progress of the services, and the size of the audiences uniformly increased. Nothing in secular affairs seemed capable of drawing off the public attention, not even an exciting election, with its public meetings and torchlight processions. The very first meetings brought together enormous crowds.

These audiences, it was surmised, might hare been attracted by curiosity; but the novelty soon wore off, and yet the weekday meetings at 8 A.M. and 7.30 P.M., overflowed and had to be accommodated in neighboring churches. The "overflow" meetings continued as a feature of the work until the last. In the second week, a woman's prayer meeting followed the morning service, and a Bible reading was held in the afternoon, beside the regular evening meeting. These additional gatherings were almost as largely attended as the others. To all of these was added a young men's meeting held at night after the evening service to accommodate the clerks and other persons detained by business during the earlier hours, and inquiry meetings were also held in the adjoining churches. Still there was no falling off in the crowds who could not find even standing room.


It is difficult to estimate the numbers who attended during the meetings. Counting in the overflow meetings the audiences must have included, especially toward the last, from fifteen thousand to twenty thousand per day. Perhaps a higher estimate would be nearer the fact. As in Great Britain, different expedients were employed to change the class attendance, - expedients which would have been fatal to a less absorbing interest. To many of the meetings in the Rink church-goers were not invited; indeed they were asked to stay away, and admission was procurable only on the statement that a ticket was to be used by some unconverted person. The different appearance of the audiences on successive nights was fair evidence that they were not composed of the same people.

The effect of the Brooklyn meetings was an awakening rather than a great conversion of non-church-goers, and prepared the churches for greater activity. As in England, the first work of the evangelists fell somewhat short of that which was to follow. No attempt was made to record the number of conversions, although they were by no means few. A feature of the work was the hearty and undivided support of the churches; at one prayer meeting nearly one hundred ministers were present.

During these meetings Mr. Moody sounded the keynote of his theory, if such it may be called, of bringing about a great religious awakening. He said to Henry Ward Beecher, "There is no use attempting to make a deep and lasting effect on masses of people, but every effort should be put forth on the individual."

The meetings closed November 19th. At the final service the building was crowded almost beyond its limit, while the streets were filled with thousands of persons who were disappointed in their endeavor to get in.


From Brooklyn Mr. Moody and Mr. Sankey went to Philadelphia and began their meetings in the old Pennsylvania Railroad depot at Thirteenth and Market Streets, now occupied by Mr. John Wanamaker as a, great mercantile establishment.

The depot was situated in a dull and uninviting neighborhood, comparatively deserted by night, and not very well lighted, and when the suggestion was made that the property might be temporarily renovated for an auditorium until the railroad company should find a purchaser for it, there was considerable derision; but President Scott, of the Pennsylvania Railroad, had a hearty and large way of doing things, and he told the men who were giving their interest to the proposed meetings, that they could have the use of the property at the rate of one dollar per year, provided they were ready to get out at a month's notice when the company should effect a sale. It happened, however, that just about this time a Philadelphia merchant, Mr. Wanamaker, was laying plans to develop his business on a broader scale. He made the Pennsylvania Railroad Company an offer for the old depot, and became its purchaser; but, before proceeding to occupy it, he consented that the interior should be reconstructed temporarily for the revival services, of which he had been one of the chief projectors.


About forty thousand dollars was spent in reconstruction and equipment of the building. Chairs were provided for about ten thousand persons, which leaves out of count the space upon the platform occupied by a chorus of six hundred singers. The expenses were met by voluntary contributions. Three hundred Christians were chosen to act as ushers while a like number of workers were selected to serve in the three inquiry rooms. The original intention had been to engage the Academy of Music, but this was overruled in favor of the depot, largely because of the suggestion that the novelty of such an auditorium would alone draw thousands of people.

The first day it rained; moreover the burning of Market Street bridge, the night before, had stopped the streetcars running on the chief thoroughfare to the place of meeting. Still the great improvised tabernacle was filled by an audience of 10,000. In Philadelphia, as elsewhere, Mr. Moody began by seeking to arouse the Christians to a sense of their responsibility. On one occasion, he spoke of the "dumb people in the churches who had said nothing for Christ for ten or fifteen years ', and of the "dwarfs who had not grown since they were converted". On the second evening, a young men's meeting was conducted in Arch Street Methodist Church, by Mr. John Wanamaker. With a few exceptions the clergy of the city took hearty interest in all the services. Many of them, whose acquaintance with Mr. Moody's methods was based entirely upon vague report, had looked forward with dread of sensational methods, but the quiet yet thorough way in which Mr. Moody entered upon his work brought to these doubters a feeling of gratified disappointment. On November 26th, the morning prayer meeting had an attendance of 8,000. A Methodist minister said, "If we had a hundred Moodys and Sankeys in the country all the Protestant sects would unite within ten years."


The last evening service of the eighth week was attended by more than 13,000, while many thousands were turned away. The regular meetings ended January 16th. However, a convention for clergymen and Christian laymen was held January 19th and 20th these developed more especially into services of praise. At the first meeting of the convention about 1,000 ministers and lay delegates were present. Mr. Moody spoke first on "Evangelistic Services". This was followed by "How to Conduct Prayer meetings"; "Inquiry Meetings - Their Importance and Conduct", and "The Training of Young Converts and Lay Workers". On the following day the subjects discussed were, " How Should the Music be Conducted in the Lord's Work?" "How to Expound and Illustrate the Scriptures"; "How to Get Hold of Non-Church-Goers" and "Our Young Men--What More can We Do for Them?" In the evening, Mr. Moody spoke on "Daniel".

I mention these subjects to give an idea of the variety of thought which made the convention so helpful. Mr. Moody said that in all his experience thus far he had never seen such services as these in Philadelphia. For fifty miles around the city the country sent recruits, and the total attendance during the nine weeks was estimated at about 900,000. As a thank-offering a large sum was raised, amounting to about $127,000. The total expenses of the meetings were in the neighborhood of $30,000. After the evangelists had departed chairs and other articles which had been in use at the depot were sold at auction; the chair in which Mr. Moody had sat brough $55, as did also M. Sankey's chair. The principal employment of the great thank-offering collection was to help the Philadelphia Young Men's Christian Association complete its new building in time for the Centennial Exposition, which began the same year.

The meetings in Philadelphia established Mr. Moody's leadership of the Lord's active army in the United States. His clarion note had no uncertain sound.


After leaving Philadelphia Mr. Moody took his family to Florida and rested for a time before entering on the great campaign in New York. But preparations in the metropolis were busily going on. Gilmore's Concert Garden, which had formerly been known as Barnum's Hippodrome, was rented for the services, $1,300 being paid weekly for its use.

The meetings in the Hippodrome began February 7, 1876, at 8 P.M. More than $15,000 had been expended on the building to make it completely serviceable. The crowds were handled by 500 ushers; a choir of 1,200 singers was placed under the order of Mr. Sankey; several hundred Christian workers gave their services to the inquiry rooms for inquiry work. There were, for work with the unconverted, each day two general directors and sixteen Christian leaders; each leader had twelve to fourteen helpers, so that in each of the seven inquiry rooms there were usually two leaders and twenty to thirty helpers. At the first meeting 7,000 persons were present in the main hall, and 4,000 others attending the overflow meeting, while several thousand were left in the streets. The service was fittingly opened with silent prayer. What that movement inaugurated for New York can never be estimated.

During the first week of services the aim was to arouse professed Christians to a higher sense of their responsibilities. The noon prayer meeting began on the second day, and at the prayer meeting after the evening service that same day almost all of the great audience who had listened to Mr. Moody's sermon on faith remained. More than two hundred Christians who wished their faith quickened arose in response to Mr. Moody's question, and fifty unconverted persons asked for prayer. On the fourth day there were five distinct meetings, the aggregate attendance being about 20,000. But Sunday was naturally marked by the greatest crowds. On the first Sunday more than 25,000 persons attended the meetings. There were on that day two exclusive services one for men and one for women. At the afternoon meeting for women, on Sunday, February 21st, 10,000 were present. At the evening meeting on that day such numbers arose for prayer that Mr. Moody said, "There are so many I can't count them; truly, God is in this house."


The last two days of the Hippodrome meetings, April 18th and 19th, were devoted to the Christian Convention with which Mr. Moody's meetings generally ended. As a thank-offering the sum of $135,000 was raised. The last meeting for converts was attended by between three and four thousand persons who were able to testify to their conversion.

Both in extent of time and in the results accomplished the campaign in the New York Hippodrome was perhaps the most important ever conducted by Mr. Moody. In moving New York God moved the country, and the voice of the evangelists was heard throughout the land. There was so little of the sensational about the meetings that a narrative concerning them may seem monotonous, for the reason that one service so much resembled the others. In each was manifested intense earnestness for souls, and glorious enthusiasm in the work of the Lord.

It is not necessary to tell of all the great series of meetings which Mr. Moody conducted. After leaving New York he went by way of Augusta, Ga., Nashville, Tenn., Louisville, Ky., St. Louis, Mo., and Kansas City, Mo., to Chicago, and in all these cities his labors were blessed with great results. His greatest meetings in Chicago, however, were not held until October, 1876, a date from which they continued for some time. The campaign in Boston began in the last of January, 1877. The Boston meetings, like those in other cities, were a wonderful demonstration of God's power. The assistance of the late Dr. A. J. Gordon and Miss Frances E. Willard was especially helpful. Interest was so great. that a daily paper, The Tabernacle, was published to further the work. Every home in Boston was visited by Christian workers.


From this time Mr. Moody's activity seldom ceased. One tour was followed by another, and hardly a city or town of any great importance in this country has failed to receive through his help a renewal of interest in spiritual affairs. The meetings in Baltimore in 1878 were marked by such notable results that I feel that possibly an account of them will most fittingly close this chapter concerning Mr. Moody's evangelistic work in the United States. After all there is space to do little more than indicate the general nature of his services to the Lord.

In the month of October, 1878 the services began in Baltimore. Mr. Moody had received a pressing invitation to visit Cleveland, but before he would give his answer he felt led to visit Baltimore. On his arrival he called into counsel some of the leading laymen of the city, and after talking the matter over with them, he was confident that God wanted him in that city. It was no half-hearted service, and, when he came to do his work, he brought to bear upon the city where he labored all his own personal influence, and the blessing also of the presence of his family. So, temporarily he removed from Northfleld and came to dwell in Baltimore. A committee of laymen was selected to have charge of this work. The committee was as follows Dr. James Carey Thomas, Dr. P. C. Williams, Gen. John S. Berry, Mr. G. S Griffith, Mr. Henry Taylor, Mr. George W. Corner, and Mr. A. M. Carter.


The following notice one day appeared in the daily papers: D.L. Moody will conduct meetings for Christians at the Mount Vernon Place M. E. Church, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday of this week, at 4 p. M. Subject: "The Holy Spirit." The meetings in this church were simply preparatory to the great work which was yet to follow. Every evangelical denomination in the city was represented.

Special meetings for men were held in the Associate Reformed Church, and noonday meetings were held in the Maryland Institute. There were some notable experiences in these meetings. Several gamblers were seated in one of their accustomed haunts one evening when it was suggested as a joke that they go to hear Moody. The proposition was agreed to. The meetings were being held at that time in St. Paul's M. F. Church, South. At the close of the meeting Mr. Moody started towards the gamblers; they immediately arose to leave the building. He called out to them, "Don't go, men; I want to see you," but they kept on going. Following after them he called out, "Come back, young men, come back:" but they refused and left.

A few days after this, one of them, who belonged to a prominent family in the city, was taken very sick, and as he lay upon his bed entirely helpless, was asked by one of Mr. Moody's workers, if he would not come to Christ. He made this promise: "If God will only allow me to leave this room I will become a Christian." He finally recovered, and one of the first things he did was to go to the meetings which were being held in the Associate Reformed Church. At the close of the preaching when the inquiry meeting was announced, Mr. Moody started clown the east side aisle where this man was sitting. As he approached him he said, "I am glad to see you, I have been looking for you several weeks." "Why, you don't know me, Mr. Moody," said the man. "Yes I do," he answered, "you are one of those gamblers I saw out at Dr. Cox' s church." The man fulfilled his promise to God by accepting Christ for his Saviour; gave a wonderful testimony of His saving power, and was instrumental in the conversion of many others who had been gamblers like himself.


One great feature of Mr. Moody's work had always been the singing, the wisdom of which may be seen in the following: While he was holding services in the Monument Street M. E. Church, a man addicted to drink and with no thought of God attended one of the meetings. He was much impressed with the singing. particularly with one hymn, "Come, O, Come to Me." He heard the announcement for the day meetings, and he determined to attend. As he entered the church Mr. Bliss was singing the hymn above mentioned. The man bought a hymn book that he might read the hymn for himself, and testified that he had no peace. Finally he burned the book, but he could not burn the impression that had been made by the Spirit. He then drank the harder, but could not drown the impression. Time passed on; one night he wandered into the Methodist Church, and as he did so he heard them singing again, "Come, O, Come to Me," and there that night he obeyed the call and accepted Christ. The hymn was number eighty-eight (88) in Gospel Hymns, No. 3. Mr. Moody always spoke of him after that as No. 88.

During the meetings at Broadway M. E. Church, a pickpocket entered the meeting for the purpose of relieving some one of his gold watch, which he was not long in doing; after procuring his prize, he started to leave the church but was unable to do so, for those who were in had to remain, and those who were out could not get in; he was therefore led to listen, was much impressed with the sermon, and stayed for the inquiry meeting, where he accepted Christ as his personal Saviour. The next day the door bell of the parsonage was rung, and when the servant answered, she found no one, but tied to the knob of the door was a package. This when opened was found to contain a gold watch and chain, and with it a note stating the facts, and asking that it be returned to the owner, which was done. The repentant thief gave his name and address, but asked that he might be forgiven, as God had forgiven him.


Dr. Leyburn's church (Associate Reformed), where the meetings, for men only, were held at 4 P. M. was the scene of many new births. One day a man who had lost all through drink and who had brought his family to the verge of starvation, was asked by an unsaved man to go to hear Mr. Moody. At first he ridiculed the idea, but finally said, "Can a fellow get warm there?" (his feet being out of his shoes). On being assured that he could, he went. He was ushered to the third seat from the front Mr. Moody took for his text Matt. 1: 21, "Thou shalt call his name Jesus for he shall save his people from their sins." The man said to himself, "That is what I need, some one to save me from my sins; I have been trying to save myself, and have made a miserable failure." When Mr. Moody had finished his talk, he looked straight at the man, and said, "Do you want this Saviour?" He answered, "I do." Turning to one of the workers, Mr. Moody said, "Go talk to that man." In a little while the worker said, "Would you like me to pray with you?" The man replied, "That is just what I have been wanting you to do ever since you have been here." The worker prayed, and a familiar expression with that man afterward was, "I left my sins in the third pew of Dr. Leyburn's church." He became a great worker for Christ, and is now a preacher of the Gospel.


In this same church a physician who was an infidel, attended the services, simply through curiosity. Mr. Moody's text was, What think ye of Christ?" The next day he attended again, and Mr. Moody spoke on "Walking with God". He began an investigation to find if such a person did really live. This must be done outside the Word of God as he did not claim to believe in the Bible. The result of his investigation was the acceptance of the Christ of God and Bible. Since that time he has been an active Christian worker.

Perhaps no meetings were more interesting than those held in the Maryland Institute at noon. At the door taking tickets was a man who, but a few months before, was running a beer saloon in East Baltimore. On entering, one who knew him said, "Why, Tom, what are you doing here?" His reply was, "O, I have given up that business and accepted Jesus Christ as my Saviour, and now I am a doorkeeper in the house of my God."

On the 26th of March, 1879, Detective Tod B. Hall, of the Baltimore City Detective Force, entered the Institute looking for a man with whom he had business, who, he was told, was in the meeting. He was persuaded to remain and was ushered to a front seat. He was much impressed with Mr. Moody's earnestness and simplicity. The text was John iii: 14, 15. "As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, etc." When he had finished his sermon, Mr. Moody asked that all Christians rise, and many arose. Then he said, "All those who believe that by putting into practice what I have said they will receive the benefits of a saved life, please rise.


He then and there believed on the Lord Jesus Christ, and received Him as his personal Saviour. Passing out from the seats into the aisle he was met by many who knew him, and to all he said, "It is settled I am determined to live a different life the balance of my days. He entered the Institute to find a man, and found The Man Christ Jesus. His first act was to go to the City Hall, and into the office where the detectives were at that hour of the day. He told them what he had done, and how he proposed by God's help to live, and then said, "Now, boys, all I ask is, don't ridicule me, but give me your sympathy." He then and there started for his home, and when he arrived he found a strange lady in the house, and the devil suggested, "Don't say anything until this strange lady is gone." In his own language, "I saw it was a trick of the devil," and walking to the center of the room he said. "Annie, I left you this morning not worthy the name of a husband, not worthy the name of father to our children, but a little while ago, at the Maryland Institute, I determined to live a different life; let us kneel down and ask God to help me be a better man." They did so, that being the first prayer ever offered by him in his home; when he arose his wife said, "Tod, if you have made up your mind to be a Christian I will be one too;" and they both took their stand for Christ the same day. And no one who visited that home after that day, would doubt that Christ had an abiding place there. In July, 1896, his wife took her departure to be with Christ as she bade him good-bye she said, "Tod, I'll wait and watch for you, and give you a royal welcome when you come."


I know of very few men who have been more wonderfully blessed in their Christian experience than Tod B. Hall. I have seen him in my own church, and in other places, literally lead scores of men to Christ.

In the same place one day, as Mr. Moody was working in the after-meeting, he came to a man in the centre aisle and said, "Are you a Christian?" To this question the man replied, "Yes sir. I am glad to say, Mr. Moody, I am." Passing on, he came to one who was not a Christian. He suddenly turned to one of the ushers and said, "Tell that man to come here" (referring to the one who was glad he was a Christian). As he approached, Mr. Moody said, Sit down there and talk to this man." Whereupon the man replied, "You will have to excuse me, Mr. Moody; that is something I never do." Mr. Moody turned to him quickly and said, " Either sit down and talk to that man, or else sit down and let some one talk to you.

On Friday evening, May 16th, Mr. Moody preached his last public sermon in the Mount Vernon Church, where nearly eight months before he had begun the meetings. On the evening of May 26th, after the usual meeting of the converts in the Y. M. C. A. rooms, conducted by E. W. Bliss it was proposed that the entire company go in a body to Mr. Moody's house on Lanvale street. He was to leave the next day, and all wanted to show their love in this simply way. On reaching his house they sang, "He will hide us". Mr. Moody appeared and spoke loving words in saying good-bye. One of the company then sang, "There's a land that is fairer than day". Mr. Moody then offered a fervent prayer and said good-bye. The next day he left for his home in Northfield.

Back to Table of Contents