Chapter 21 - His Co-workers

Table of Contents

Ira David Sankey - Paul P. Bliss - Major Whittle - Henry Varley - John McNeill - George C. Stebbins - Ferdinand Schiverea - H. M. Wharton - R. A. Torrey - A. C. Dixon - Henry Drummond - G. Campbell Morgan - George H. Macgregor - F. B. Meyer.

Mr. Moody was a great general not only in faculties of organization, but also in his shrewd choice of the right men for the right work. Thus, from the beginning of his labors, he associated with himself the most competent assistants, and it is by no means depreciatory of his own efforts to say that his success was in no small measure dependent upon those who helped him. It is not depreciatory, I say; for one of the greatest gifts is this ability to choose worthy helpers. Napoleon could not conduct in person all his campaigns, but he surrounded himself with a staff of generals so brilliant in their abilities that they were able to help him maintain his prestige for fifteen years.


In speaking of Mr. Moody's co-workers, I realize that space is obliging me to leave out the names of many who are worthy of mention, so I have endeavored to confine my choice to those whose names are most prominently associated with his work in the ears of the public. One name is indissolubly connected with Mr. Moody's, and of its bearer I would speak first.

Ira David Sankey was born August 28, 1840, in the village of Edinburgh, in western Pennsylvania. His parents were Methodists. His father was well-off in worldly circumstances, and in such good repute among his neighbors that they repeatedly elected him member of the State Legislature; he was, moreover, a licensed exhorter in his own church.

From childhood Ira was known for a joyous spirit and trustful disposition. The gift of singing developed in him at a very early age: Reared in a genial, religious atmosphere, liked and respected by all who knew him, he lived on, till past his fifteenth year, before he was converted. His conviction occurred during a series of special services, and after a week's hard struggle he found peace in accepting Jesus as his Saviour. Soon afterward he joined the church, and, about the same time, his father having removed to Newcastle, he entered the Academy at that place. The young man had developed from his gift of song a rich talent of expression, through his wonderful voice, of the hymns of the church. After his conversion it became his delight to devote this precious gift to the service of the Lord, and it was his continual prayer that the Holy Spirit would make use of the words sung to the conversion of those who flocked to the services. Before he attained his majority, he was appointed superintendent of the Sunday school, which contained more than 300 pupils. His singing of Gospel invitations, in solos dates from this time. The faith of the singer was rewarded with repeated blessings. A class of seventy Christians was committed to his charge, a responsibility which made him a more earnest student of the Bible The choir of the congregation also came under his leadership.

Elsewhere in this book is described the meeting between Mr. Moody and Mr. Sankey and their subsequent labors together. It is sufficient to add concerning Mr. Sankey that his gift is still used in the service of his Master.


There are many who still remember the shock to Christian workers throughout the country when on the night of December 29, 1876, Mr. Paul P. Bliss and his wife perished in the terrible railroad accident at Ashtabula, Ohio. They had been spending the Christmas holidays in Pennsylvania, and, leaving their little ones at the house of a relative in Avon, N. Y., set out for Chicago to help Major Whittle in the revival work which was following the great meetings of Mr. Moody in that city. After they started on their journey, Mr. Bliss telegraphed to Major Whittle, "We are going home to-morrow." They did go home--to their home above.

P. P. Bliss, like his associate in Gospel songs, Mr. Sankey, was a native of Pennsylvania. In early life he had few opportunities for culture, but, through a noble nature, God helped him to a place of great usefulness. He was married young, and through the influence of his wife, who was possessed of deep religious principles, was converted and led to consecrate his gifts to the service of his Master. Moving to Chicago, he united with the First Congregational Church, where, for many years, he was leader of the choir and superintendent of the Sunday school, also becoming widely known by his work in musical conventions. His voice was a rich baritone. As a composer he will long be remembered; he was the author of many of the best known Gospel songs, such as, "Hold the Fort," "What Shall the Harvest Be," "More to Follow," "Only an Armor Bearer," "Let the Lower Lights be Burning" "Pull for the Shore," etc.


When Major Whittle entered upon revival work Mr. Bliss decided to give up business and accompany him. During the years 1874--6, they traveled together through the West and South. Mr. Bliss devoted his share of the royalty from the Gospel Songs, a sum amounting to more than $60,000, to charity; this in spite of the fact that he had no private fortune. During the last three months of his life, in connection with Major Whittle, he held revival services at Kalamazoo, Mich., and afterward at Peoria, Ill. The voice of this sweet singer still lives in his songs, for those who heard him will never forget the pleading, tender, sympathetic quality of his voice. No singer in the history of evangelistic work has made a deeper impression on the Christian world.

Major D. NV. Whittle was for many years a well-known business man of Chicago. His prospects were large, and he had won a wide reputation for integrity and ability, when he gave up everything that might be counted of worldly advantage to enter upon evangelistic work. He was known, in earlier years, in his connection with Mr. Bliss. His career during the past few years is well known to the public; for a long time he has been one of Mr. Moody's valued helpers, and the tie between the two men was cemented the more closely by the marriage of Major Whittle's daughter, Mary, to Mr. Moody's son, Mr. Will R. Moody.

Major Whittle is especially at home in the inquiry room. The exercise of marvelous tact, and the use of excellent judgment, make his personal instruction clear as well as convincing, and his sympathy and love for those whom he tries to serve are unmistakable. Of special value were his services during the recent war with Spain. He toiled when he was too weary to preach, but always with that zeal which has so commended him to churches everywhere. I do not think I have ever known a more godly man. I never think of him without blessing.


Mr. Varley was born in Lincolnshire, England, in 1835. In boyhood his health was poor, and he came especially under the influence of his mother, who, although she died when he was only ten, gave him from her own strong nature and training the foundations of good character.

It was not long after that he began to live in London, barren of worldly possessions and condemned to very many trying experiences. At fifteen he was converted, and scarcely a year later made his own first public address in the large Sunday school of the John Street Church, with which he had united. From this time various services yielded occasion for the development the gifts which the Lord had placed with His young servant.

He was only nineteen when he secured a business partnership, but in 1854 he went to Australia to the gold fields. There he would preach on Sundays, and about the glowing fires in the evenings would lead his rough comrades to approach their Father's throne in prayer. He did not succeed as a miner, and soon returned to Melbourne. In spite of flattering business offers he went back to London, where, in 1857, he married a daughter of his friend and former employer. Mr. Varley then purchased a large business at the West End of London, where for many years he resided. His position as preacher to a regular congregation began in 1859, and the spirit of revival soon appeared in his meetings.


In 1862 was opened the Free Tabernacle, Notting Hill, to the erection of which Mr. Varley had consecrated the first 1,000 he ever made in business. In a short time 600 or 700 believers were gathered into the fellowship of this church. For twenty years Mr. Varley was the pastor of this people. The building was enlarged later to make room for hundreds who had been clamoring unsuccessfully for admission. It is now known as the West London Tabernacle. In 1868 Mr. Varley disposed of his large business and gave himself up entirely to religious work. From that time his revival efforts throughout the world are common knowledge. His work in Melbourne, Australia, in 1877, will never be forgotten, and his services in New York filled the great Hippodrome in Madison Square. In I883 he resigned his pastorate in order to devote his whole strength to evangelistic work.

It was Mr. Varley, who suggested to Mr. Moody, that God was waiting to find a man through whom He might speak to the world. On the day when Mr. Moody receives his reward, Henry Varley will have no small share in it.


Visitors to the great World's Fair at Chicago will never forget the great midday meetings conducted in Central Music Hall by the Rev. John McNeill. He is a Scotchman of the true type, as one-writer says, with a converted soul, a granite mind, and a great big loving heart. Essentially, he is a man of the people and has no use for ecclesiastical formalism. In his introduction to one of the volumes of Mr. McNeill's sermons, the Rev. Dr. A. T. Pierson says; "Some men, like their Master, cannot be tied; John McNeill is one of them. He needs no introduction. On both sides of the sea he has won men as any man will win them who thinks and speaks in dead earnest. There is a great difference between having to say something and having something to say. He has shown that he has much that is worth saying, and therefore much that is worth hearing. Those who read his sermons will not need to be told that the man who followed Dr. Dikes at Regent Square, is a free, fresh, truthful, helpful preacher."

It was found in Chicago that some people were forgetting the World's Fair in their great desire to hear John McNeill speak at Central Music Hall. He is considered by many to be the greatest preacher that has ever come to our shores from abroad. He is a delightful man socially, and wins all to him, as they hear him talk in his own inimitable way.

Daniel B. Towner was born in Rome, Bradford County, Pennsylvania, March 5, 1850. As a boy he began the study of music with his father, who was a teacher of music, and at nineteen he began to teach singing classes. From 1873 to 1875 most of his time was devoted to conducting musical conventions and institutes. In this work he was eminently succesful. In Cincinnati, in 1885, Mr. Moody held a series of meetings. Mr. Towner was assisting in the music, and the evangelist saw in him a man whose services would be invaluable. From that time Mr. Towner was associated with the work of Mr. Moody. He has a baritone voice of wonderful power and compass, and his heart is in the work. As a composer of Gospel music he ranks among the best. Mr. Towner is a most accomplished musician, and his voice has a sweetness about it that is never lost, even under the stress of continuous and exacting service.


Another singer who is known wherever the Gospel message is carried by song is Mr. George C. Stebbins. He is a native of New York State, and was born February 26, 1846, of Christian parents, the hallowed influence of whose lives is in his work to-day. At twenty he took charge of a choir, and also taught singing school for several years. At twenty-three he was converted. In 1869 he moved to Chicago and was soon employed by the First Baptist Church to lead the choir. During this time he met Mr. Moody, and often sang with Mr. Sankey and Mr. Bliss, who were his personal friends. Going to Boston for the further culture of his voice, he was employed in Dr. Gordon's Church, the Clarendon Street Chapel, where he remained one year, when he went to Tremont Temple as director of music. Becoming more deeply interested in the evangelistic work, he joined the rank of singing evangelists, and on the death of Mr. Bliss was called upon to aid Major Whittle in Chicago. For a long time he was associated with Dr. George F. Pentecost. He accompanied Mr. Moody to California, and was with him in 1892 in closing his work in Great Britain. Mr. Stebbins wrote many of the best known songs in the Gospel Hymns, among others, "Savior, Breathe an Evening Blessing," "Must I Go and Empty Handed," "The Home-land," etc. But I doubt not he will be longest known as the author of "Saved .by Grace." Mr. and Mrs. Stebbins sing together beautifully, and of all my own assistants none have been more helpful than these sweet singers.


As a younger man Ferdinand Schiverea was an actor, but he was led providentially to attend a meeting which Mr. Moody was conducting in Brooklyn. There the Spirit of God took hold of him mightily. For days he had no rest, but finally the light came. He went at once to his mother with the news and she said, "I have asked God for this, dear child; I have given you to God, and He has just done what He said He would, if I only would believe." The first effort of Mr. Schiverea was to lead his brothers to Christ. He then reached out for the neighbors, and every night for months held services of prayer in a small rear room in his poor home. During all this time, and for four years, he worked in a large furniture house, packing goods for shipment. The first work that God especially blessed him in was in Brooklyn, where for twelve months he held meetings nearly every night. He has labored in the principal cities and towns of the United States, as well as in most of the important cities and towns in Canada. In Toronto alone he held twenty different series of meetings. Mr. Schiverea is particularly strong in his ability to reach the masses; he is now in the very midst of his useful life, and his "love abides in strength." There is a future of increasing usefulness before him.

He was a particular favorite with Mr. Moody, who never lost an opportunity to say a kind word about his work.


Of the men who stood very close to Mr. Moody, none was more highly esteemed by him, than the subject of this sketch. They came together first in a southern city where good words concerning Dr. Wharton had been spoken to Mr. Moody by the people of the city, and he did with him what he frequently did with many others called him out of the audience and insisted that he should preach, and then announced that he would conduct subsequent services. I first saw these two men of God together in the days of the World's Fair, when Dr. Wharton always sat on Mr. Moody's right. He is an inimitable story-teller, and Mr. Moody's sides would shake and the tears run down his face as Dr. Wharton would tell some of his southern experiences, or recall some of the events of his boyhood days. As, for example, when he told one morning, which happened to be his birthday, of his great delight in the workmen that were digging some ditches near his boyhood's home. A large number of Irishmen were in the company, and young Wharton had been punished for staying too long in their presence. He had been designed by his family to preach, and after the punishment he declared that he would not be a minister, but surely intended to be an Irishman. I can see Mr. Moody laugh now, as the story was told. Dr. Wharton is a magnificent preacher, and one of the best evangelists in the country. He has made himself poor in taking care of orphan children both at Luray and in other places, and the blessing of God will surely ever abide upon him. Mr. Moody considered him one of the most skilful workers in the after-meetings he had ever come in contact with, and to his ability in this direction I bear hearty testimony.


Mr. Torrey was born January 28, 1856, in Hoboken, N. J. At fifteen he entered Yale College, and four years later the Yale Theological Seminary, whence he was graduated in 1878. During his last year in the Seminary he worked for six weeks in the inquiry room in Mr. Moody's meetings in New Haven. In 1882 he resigned his charge and went to Germany for a year of study. Returning in 1883, he accepted a pastorate in Minneapolis, becoming later the superintendent of the City Missionary Society in that city, and after a time founded an independent people's church. Several years later he accepted the invitation to become superintendent of Mr. Moody's Bible Institute, entering on the charge in 1889. Most of the phenomenal success of the Institute is due to his wise administration. He was very close to Mr. Moody during the later years. No man, really, had Mr. Moody's confidence more completely, and justly so, for no man could ever be more loyal to another than R. A. Torrey to D. L. Moody.


Dr. Dixon is a typical southerner, fiery, intense, dramatic, eloquent. His father was a frontier preacher, and, the son was converted and joined his father's. church when eleven years old. At fifteen he entered Wake Forest College, and after graduation decided to study law, but the need of some country churches in his neighborhood persuaded him to accept the ministry of different congregations. During nine months he baptized 100 converts. After an incumbency of three years in a small church he entered upon a new charge in Asheville, N. C., where, within three months of his aggressive ministry, 250 persons were converted. Three-and-a-half years later he was elected president of the Wake Forest College, but he declined the election, accepting instead the pastorate of a large Baptist church in Baltimore. His church began to expand, and soon a large tabernacle had to be erected to accommodate the crowds who pressed forward to enjoy his ministry. Later he was called to Brooklyn, where he has already won a high position as preacher and pastor of his church. Dr. Dixon is a man of deep convictions. The Bible is to him the book of life. He is a man of prayer, a believer in the Holy Spirit, tender and gentle in dealing with inquirers, ever beseeching sinners to become reconciled to God. Mr. Moody was devoted to him, and had the greatest confidence in his ability.


The death of Henry Drummond a few years ago took from the world a gentle, ministering spirit whose influences had been turned to Christian work by the help of Mr. Moody's meetings in Glasgow, twenty-six years ago. What this one man, who was led to the Master by Mr. Moody, accomplished in his too brief period of service, it is impossible to estimate, but his forceful words, and the example of his shining life have been an inspiration to thousands. He was born in 1851, in Sterling, Scotland. He was well educated, and prepared himself for the ministry. His culture was wide Science unlocked her doors to him; advanced thought had no terrors for him, nor did these work any insidious undermining of his faith. When Mr. Moody and Mr. Sankey were conducting their great mission in Scotland, Henry Drummond felt the burden of their message and became an earnest assistant at the meetings. He was one of the band of helpers who followed in Mr. Moody's wake, and aided in continuing the work which the evangelists had begun. In later years he traveled widely, visiting the United States, and spending some time in East Central Africa. In 1877 he became lecturer on Natural Science in the Second Free Church College in Glasgow. He was the author of a number of important books, most of which tended to disabuse the public mind of any supposed conflict between science and religion. Acquaintance with him was a great stimulous to his friends. Several times he worked with Mr. Moody, and his opinion of the great evangelist was apparent in the words he uttered a few weeks before his death in 1897. He said, "Moody was the biggest human I ever met." And D. L. Moody was heard to say again and again that he loved Henry Drummond.


Mr. Morgan was born December 9, 1863, at Tetbury, Gloucestershire, England. He was of nonconformist ancestry, his father being a Baptist minister. The young man was educated at Cheltenham, and at twenty was appointed to a mastership in the Jewish Collegiate School in Birmingham. Three years later he abandoned his profession of teaching to become an evangelist. He went to Hull to hold services for two weeks, but they proved so successful that they, ran for many months, and he finally left, in 1887, on account of ill health. He continued his evangelistic work, however, and at last became pastor of the Congregational Church in Stone, in 1889, and in 1891 pastor of the Rugeley Congregational Church. In 1893 he went to 'Westminster Road Church at Birchfield, a suburb of Birmingham. It was in 1896, while pastor of this church, that he first went to the United States, and visited Northfield. In 1897 he became pastor of the New-court Congregational Church, Tollington Park, London. He visited Northfield in 1897, 1898 and 1899. Mr. Moody had the greatest delight in Mr. Morgan's ability. He had him travel through many of our cities in September and October of 1899. The last time I ever saw Mr. Moody was when he was sitting on the platform with Mr. Morgan.


Mr. Macgregor was born in Scotland thirty-six years ago. His father was a minister. The boy attended the University of Edinburgh and New College of Divinity in the same city, and even before he completed his theological studies he was called to a church in Aberdeen, in 1888, gaining experience which proved invaluable. In 1889 he visited Keswick, and under the influences of the dwellers on that consecrated ground came into a closer walk with God. In 1891 he was invited to the Keswick platform. Mr. Macgregor bears in his style all the evidences of his fine culture, a culture which, like that of Henry Drummond, is consecrated to the Work of God. His zeal is inspiring. As a winner of souls he is not excelled. I do not think any one has ever visited Northfield who was really more helpful to the people than Mr. Macgregor. He is a most charming man, and as thoroughly consecrated as any one I have ever met.


Mr. Meyer began his ministry twenty-seven years ago, in Richmond, Surrey, England, even before he had completed his studies, which he was then carrying on at Regent Park College; but after his graduation he went as assistant to the Rev. C. M. Birrell, of Pembroke Chapel, Liverpool, and later transferred his interests to York, where, during the meetings of Mr. Moody and Mr. Sankey, in 1873, the young minister was profoundly stirred by the message of the American Evangelists. Mr. Meyer is best known, aside from his spiritual literature, as pastor of Christ Church, West London. This great institutional house of God was completed twenty-two years ago to perpetuate the Surrey Chapel work of Rowland Hill. Mr. Meyer followed Dr. Newman Hall in this pastorate. Dr. Hall was the successor of James Sherman, who, in his turn, succeeded Mr. Hill. It is doubtful if any other church in the world employs so wide a range of activities as Christ Church, London.

Mr. Meyer's name is known wherever the English language is spoken, and Bible students everywhere are devoted to him, for his own as well as his work's sake.

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