Chapter 31 - Editorial Estimates of his Character

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Important Tributes from the Secular and Religious Press - All Men Eager to Admit Mr. Moody's Greatness - What He Accomplished for the Betterment of Mankind.

Few men who have labored in the field of evangelism have won their deserved recognition so completely as Mr. Moody. Association with Mr. Moody very quickly convinced one that he stood pre-eminent among millions for his earnestness, his singleness of purpose, his unaffected piety, - for all that combination of principles and faculties which went to make up his marvelous personality. But it was not necessary to be associated with him to understand in some measure his greatness. His work stands as a monument to abilities which were far above the ordinary. Tens of thousands of men cry out, "He helped me!" Great buildings in various parts of the country attest his foresight in educational matters, and the practical bent of his mind.


These visible signs, this great mass of cumulative evidence of his greatness it is impossible to ignore. Even persons who were so unfortunate as not to come into sympathy with his efforts cannot refuse to recognize that he accomplished, with God's help, great thing's for the betterment of mankind.

Here, then, I quote a few extracts from editorials in various journals, published immediately after Mr. Moody's death. The unanimity of opinion is remarkable. I doubt very much if any other great man who has died within the past few years has received after his death such a shower of glad tributes. Those who have followed Mr. Moody's career know how well deserved the tributes are, and yet, how much they fall short of recognizing the full measure of his greatness.

"Mr. Moody undoubtedly exerted a powerful and stimulating influence, not only on the masses but on many of those who were his superiors in birth, breeding or intellect." - The London Spectator.

"Wherever Moody spoke, whether in his own country or in other English-speaking lands, he invariably commanded attention and aroused interest. He retained to the very last of his public career the qualities which marked him from the outset as a potent preacher." - The Boston Globe.

"Mr. Moody's claim to greatness did not rest on his intellectual strength, but on his goodness. The standard of his character was his unqualified and immovable faith in God and in the Bible. With this faith he combined simplicity, honesty, sincerity, humility, zeal, an abhorrence of egotism, and a broad charity." - The Chicago Inter-Ocean.

"His going leaves a great void behind, and the world will seem lonely without him to many in every land. His death will send a wave of sincere sorrow over millions of humanity without distinction 'of race, creed or church. Here was a man whose soul was pure goodness, who was ruled by loftier motives than commonly govern men, whose crown was Christlike character, and men, even irreligious men, instinctively yield his memory the homage of their respect and reverence." - The Presbyterian Banner.

"Mr. Moody's life teaches us that, while the Church needs scholars, what she needs most of all is the impulse of Christian devotion, that force which compelled St. Paul, and has compelled a thousand others in all branches of the Church on whom was laid the burden of a lost world, and who have said, 'Woe is me if I preach not the Gospel.' Mr. Moody's life was well filled out with work nobly accomplished, and his death was the fit end of a life of faith and service. His memory is one of the treasures of the Christian Church." - The Independent.

"He combined, as only his countrymen can, a remarkably keen business intelligence with unflagging enthusiasm. To the last he was very much what he had been at first; he attempted to be no more or better; he had no precise "views or "opinions about abtruse matters; and probably he did not himself know very well whether he was a Calvinist or not, or what were his exact theological bearings. But some gift within him, some influence which he gave out, had more efficacy with certain minds in certain moods than learning or eloquence or wit or pathos. The note of sincerity, the unflinchingly literal way in which he took things which others understood symbolically or spiritually, had a prodigious effect on people who wanted to see and hear and touch with their hands; people by no means necessarily unintelligent." The London Times.

"According to common agreement, Mr. Moody was not a great preacher, so far as greatness depends upon and is manifested in extensive learning or lofty flights of eloquence. There was in his appeals to sinners that mysterious something which is expressed neither in fine phrases nor in deep philosophic reflections. His magnetism and convincing force seem to have lain in an earnestness which left no doubt, and which affected the emotions like a whirlwind. By his death the evangelization movement has sustained a tremendous, perhaps irreparable, loss." - The Baltimore Herald.

Chicago at one time claimed this mighty preacher. But when he died the whole world claimed him, so wide was the range of his evangelizing activities. He stirred the hearts of the two great English-speaking nations with his militant enthusiasm. He was the field marshal of the hosts that cling to the belief that the Gospel itself suffices for all the spiritual needs of humanity. The moral effect of his life-work upon humanity was greater than that of any other man of the nineteenth century." - The Chicago Times-Herald.

"Mr. Moody's strength lay in his simplicity and his earnestness. He has been described as magnetic, but simple earnestness always is magnetic. He had the faculty of impressing his hearers with his absolute and undeviating belief in the truth of all he said. He went straight to the point. There was no concession to oratorical effect or to literary polish. He said nothing simply because it sounded well, confining himself to straightforward, fearless statements of what he believed and what he wanted others to believe, and such apparent absolute faith necessarily carried conviction with it." The Chicago Evening Post.

He preached the Bible only and he lived in accordance with his preaching. For dogma, he cared little and in theology he was a tyro. He never preached over the heads of his audience. The wayfarer, though a fool, could not fail to understand him, and his earnestness was so great and his personal appeal so forcible that every one felt Moody was talking to him alone. Such honesty, sincerity and strength of purpose could not but have their reward, and few expounders of divine truth have looked upon a harvest so rich in sheaves as his." - The Chicago Tribune.

"He seemed to care little for any business but his Master's. It was this unflagging energy, this faith in his vocation, that brought him the confidence of men to whom like energy and faith had brought like success in the pursuit of wealth. He combined strangely the old and the new. He was perhaps the last great revivalist on the old theological lines, and he was the first to use wholly modern methods of publicity and appeal. In his earnestness, his unselfishness and his sanctified common sense he was one of the most remarkable men of our generation, for whose life the world has been better." The Churchman.

"What was the secret of his power? First and foremost, it was his intense religious earnestness. He knew God. The vision of the Eternal had risen in his soul. This deep and definite experience was an offset to his lack of literary culture. It made him profoundly anxious to do something for the souls of his fellow-men Nature had endowed him also with a sturdy and sober common sense. He cut no fantastic tricks, adopted no sensational methods, avoided even the appearance of smartness, and relied solely on the truth of God as spoken in plain and simple words and as vivified by the Holy Spirit." - The Nashville Christian Advocate.

"The story of the outward life of such a man as Mr. Moody can be condensed after a fashion into a paragraph, and this has frequently been done; but the ramifications of its influence no pen can describe, no imagination can conceive. Its effect upon theology have been its least effects; but they have been incalculable. For though Mr. Moody has done little directly to change the theological thought of his time, he has done a great deal to inspire its religious life and those who believe that theology must always be the outgrowth of religion will believe that his theological influence is far greater and far more wholesome, because more vital, than either he or his contemporaries have imagined." - The Outlook.

"In nearly all the great cities of this country and in many of the towns of Great Britain. the footsteps of Dwight L. Moody have been marked by the upspringing of schools, of helpful agencies, of aids to raise the fallen, to lighten the dark places, to help human beings in all that makes for righteousness. Although a lay evangelist, he was a great preacher, eloquent, soul-stirring, convincing and ministering to others the faith that made him whole, but great as he was as a preacher, he was greater as a worker, and his works live after him, vitalized and given enduring substance by the spirit which created them" - The Philadelphia Telegraph.

"Farewell, Brother Moody! Thousands upon thousands will mourn thy departure; thousands upon thousands will look back to the time when they were first warned to return to the fold by the words of entreaty, while future generations will be blest by the influence of thy searching teaching of the truth as it is in Jesus. The Church will learn all too soon of the greatness of the prophet who has left them. But all work for the Master is done under human conditions; the man passes, his work abides. So it will be now; Moody has ceased to live in the flesh, but he lives in his work, and the results of his wonderful teaching will be felt by succeeding generations." Christian Work.

"Mr. Moody was a wonderful leader of men. Everywhere he went he set others to work for Christ. No one was so bad as to be repulsive to him, and no one was so wise or good that he did not venture to approach and use him to further his service for Christ. Thousands of waifs rescued from rags and wretchedness are useful men and women because Mr. Moody put his arms of love around them and lifted them up. He has built many structures in many cities, where young men and women gather to work for and worship God. But his noblest monument is made of living stones built together for an habitation of God through the Spirit. His life can best be summed up in one sentence: He was a wise winner of souls." - The Congregationalist.

"Mr. Moody was not only sincere; he was intensely in earnest. He not only implicitly believed in the truth of the doctrines which he expounded, but he was firmly convinced that the acceptance of those doctrines by the men and women whom he addressed was the most important thing in the world; that every other interest was in comparison trivial and without consequence. He believed, moreover, and he believed it in all humility, that he had been commissioned from above to go about the world delivering the message of the Gospel. He felt himself to be a Heaven-appointed minister to convince humanity of sin and point out the way of salvation." The Philadelphia Inquirer.

"He commanded the respect and confidence of men of other religious faiths and beliefs, and even of the non-religious classes, by his sturdy common sense, his geniality and whole-heartedness, and by his freedom from all cant and affectation. He lived the religion he professed, and practiced what he preached. In speech and manner he was simple, clear, and direct; he understood the common people because he was always one of them in thought and feeling, and among them his greatest and most enduring work was done. The world is a far better and happier world to-day because of the life of Dwight L. Moody. He will live long in the grateful and tender memory of mankind." - Leslie's Weekly.

"He never made any serious mistakes. There was no flaw in his character. He commanded an absolutely universal respect. Rich and poor, high and low, learned and illiterate, cherished almost exactly the same feelings toward him. The kind of influences which he began to put forth in Chicago forty years ago went on growing and extending to the day of his death - and to-day, as tidings of his death are borne to every part of the English-speaking world, his influence will seem to be greater than ever. It is not an exaggeration to say that the coming century will be in certain pervasive and vital respects appreciably different from what it would have been were it not for the distinctive spiritual and moral forces which Moody imparted and put forth." - The Chicago Record.

"A rugged simplicity and absolute sincerity were the chief elements in his character. No one ever detected in him a suspicion of cant. It might have been said of him, as Mirabeau said of Robespierre, 'That is a dangerous man; he believes every word he says. For the 'drill and pipe clay' of the clerical profession, as Robertson phrased it, Mr. Moody had nothing but contempt, and his own unconventional ways, in the pulpit and out of it, did a great deal to break down the stilted ministerial tradition. Nor were the changes in his own style of work, as the years passed by, without great significance. From being a mere evangelist, going from city to city to address vast and emotional audiences, he became, by chief intention and main use of time and strength, a Christian educator. His educational institutions at Northfield, so remarkably planned and endowed, he regarded as the crowning work of his life." - The New York Nation.

By their fruits shall ye know them.' Judged thus, Mr. Moody's career takes saintly rank. Possessed of a marvelous personal magnetism, an earnestness that was irresistible, and an enthusiasm that defied the flight of time, he took his faith in Divine guidance in one hand and his faith in mankind in the other, and, so armed, hurled the full force of his splendid powers against the cohorts of evil. He could not fail. The measure of his revealed success will challenge the admiration of posterity.

"'The measure of his revealed success.' But what of the unrevealed? Its measure was never known, even to himself. It remains a mystery lodged beyond the stars He drew the scoffer. He startled the dormant conscience of carelessness, and stirred the soul of the evil-doer. He wrought blessings innumerable in garret and in mansion. He labored apart from the church, yet impelled toward the Church hundreds of thousands whom the Church had pot reached." - The New York Mail and Express.

"No one could visit North America within recent years without feeling that Mr. Moody was one of the great personalities of the continent - and that not only as an evangelist or the representative of evangelical religion, nor even as an organizer of education, but for his own self's sake as a man who lived his faith, and who lived it with extraordinary force of character and wisdom. What I feel to be our sorest loss in the death of this great and good man is that we shall no more have his large heart and large mind in the reconciliation of those divisions of opinion among Christian men which are so strong and in some quarters so bitter at the present day. No one could have assisted reconciliation so much as D. L. Moody. Yet it seems wrong to be envious even to this extent, when we have so very much to thank God for in the influence and results of His servant's life." - Prof George Adam Smith in the British Weekly.

"The death of ID. L. Moody is an almost irreparable loss to evangelical Christianity. He was probably the greatest religious revivalist of the present century. Yet that fact hardly gives a true indication of the widespread influence he exerted over the lives of multitudes of men and women in the Old World as well as the New. Even as a revivalist he differed widely from the old-time revivalists of the last generation, who terrified the sinner into repentance by holding him over the precipice where he could see the lurid fires of the pit seemingly eager to envelop him. Mr. Moody doubtless held exactly the same beliefs as to the character and duration of future punishment as his predecessors did. But, without, perhaps, being exactly conscious of the fact, the seeming harness of this dogma was softened by his profound belief in the goodness and love of God. It was upon that thought he most often dwelt, never failing to bring it in even when he referred to the certainty of future punishment. This characteristic of his exhortations separated him widely from the revivalists of the past, and gave his teachings a much more general acceptance than was accorded to previous evangelists." The New York Tribune.

"He was very simple, absolutely earnest, without self-conceit or pretence or cant. He had power; he used it with all his might according to his knowledge and his lights. Nearly all of us came in time to see that the work was good and the results very valuable; that Moody, however he did it, took hold of the people that needed attention, stirred them up to good purpose, and brought them something that made them better. The English-speaking world long ago recognized him as a great force, and one that made for righteousness and the essentials of true religion. Not all of us are desirous to be good ourselves, but most of us are at least in favor of other persons being good. So, nearly all of us have been in favor of Mr. Moody, and respected him and his work, and honor his memory now that he has gone. He was one of the preeminently successful men of the century, and what he accomplished he did without much help from education, and without favor or aid save what his manifest deserts won for his work. He simply forgot himself, and took hold. He never let go, and he never remembered himself enough to distract his attention from the work his heart was in." Harpers Weekly.

"Mr. Moody was not a man to whom theological subtleties had any charm. But his convictions never halted. What he believed, he believed with heart and soul. He might have been wrong in premise and education, he might have been old-fashioned in theory, but in spirit he was always right and strong, and he had almost a prophet's gift in the potency of his messages. No one could long be in contact with his honesty of purpose, his unqualified self-consecration, his boundless zeal and prophetic spirit without being moved by these qualities. His influence was not only national, but international. He was as notable a force in Great Britain as in the United States. He possessed great personal magnetism, which, combined with his religious enthusiasm, whose sincerity no one questioned, gave him a power of persuasiveness which was well-nigh irresistible.

"While not reckoned among the clergy, or caring to be, he was 'yet a powerful inspiration to the profession. He will be missed and mourned by the churches as profoundly as by the common people, who regarded him almost as their Moses. His educational work in his native town might well stand as a monument of noble achievement. But that was among the least of the things that he did in his Master's name and for His cause. He was a living Gospel, arid his death, with its peace and joy, seemed to partake of the beauty and splendor and awe of a transfiguration."--The Boston Transcript.

"Mr. Moody was a great evangelist, and he did a great work. An unordained and essentially popular preacher, who felt that his commission to win souls was in his love for Christ and his desire to serve Him - he reached thousands who were not likely to come under the influence of others whose belief in Christianity he quickened from a dull acceptance of doctrine into a living power. Earnest in his own convictions, and gifted with a remarkable talent for enlisting the interest and sympathy of his hearers, he was a speaker of unusual effectiveness. Direct and simple in his utterances; not always grammatical; fond of anecdote and homely illustration; emotional, sometimes to an extreme - such was Dwight L. Moody as the leader of countless public meetings. He filled churches and audience-rooms because the people believed he had a message to deliver; as for himself, he believed that that message was of tremendous consequence. His methods have been criticized, but, certainly, he was not open to the charge of being insincere. His whole life was given to doing what he felt to be his highest duty. To this task he brought native ability, and a constantly increasing knowledge of the ways to make that ability count for the most." The Hartford Courant.

"Men are also asking the secret of Mr. Moody's power. Four words sum it up: Common Sense and Consecration. He had many striking characteristics, but through them all shone his spirit of consecration. He was simple; a child could understand his sermons. He believed in the power of stories; if they caused laughter or weeping, he took advantage of the smiles or the tears to press home the Gospel message. He was a man of faith, faith in God and man. He looked for the best in men, and they responded by giving him their best. No one could hear him in private conversation or on the platform without recognizing his intense earnestness. Whatever he did, he did with all his heart, and he was able to inspire others to similar devotion. Some people called him narrow; they little knew that, if he had used his powers in other directions, he would have been as successful in conducting a great financial venture, or planning a military campaign, as he was in leading men to accept Christ as their Saviour.

"Mr. Moody believed the Bible from cover to cover, and he believed in the fundamental doctrines of Christ. 'People ask me,' he said one time, 'If I believe in the "higher criticism" How can I when I don't know what it is? They ask me if I think there were two Isaiahs. Before taking up that question seriously, I believe we should try to see what the prophecy itself contains. 'Why do you go to hear Moody?' said a scoffer contemptuously to a fellow club member. 'You don't believe what he preaches.' 'No, but he believes it with all his heart, and it is refreshing to meet such a man in these days of doubt and uncertainty.

"Mr. Moody was an optimist. Elijah on Carmel was his ideal; he had little patience with the prophet under the juniper tree. He was a sincere man. While looked upon as a leader, his daily prayer was that God would keep him humble. To know him was to love him; thousands of people in every part of this country and in Europe, and hundreds of missionaries in foreign lands, have lost a personal friend in his death. He was a good man and faithfully served his generation." - The New York Observer.

"Mr. Moody was not only reverential, but humble. He was not only humble, but tolerant. He improved very much under travel, under intercourse with able minds, and under the study of vast throngs, as so many units. The consequence was that from a lone exhorter he became a great leader, from a great leader he rose to be an organizer of much skill, and he topped both functions with that of an educator on distinct lines, at needed work, and upon a vast scale. Vie are regarding him entirely from the human point of view, for the purpose of this consideration, and we are noting in him exactly the qualities which would have made him successful in other undertakings. His qualities were not unusual. His use of them was extraordinary. The high purpose to which he applied them was ennobling and uplifting. The singular simplicity, candor and gentleness of his spirit were remarkable, considering the power he wielded, the influence which he commanded, the support which he received and the praise, whether interested or disinterested, of which he was the subject. His field was the world, and to do good his religion.

"He made haste slowly. He died on the heights, but he started on the plains and had a hard passage through valleys and up mountain steeps, before he walked with God. Without more than elementary education, utterly without training, destitute of experience, simply aflame with spiritual purpose, he had to vindicate himself, he had to create for himself a way, and he had to do so against a critical, cultivated and combined class, the reverend clergy. They did not relish an unlettered lay intruder. They were justified in their instinctive disrelish. Of most lay intruders the note is arrogance, the method burglarious, the self-confidence unabashable and the ignorance unteachable. Of this lay intruder nothing like that could be said. He was altruistic, he was modest, he was hungry to learn, he was deferential to knowledge, what he acquired he held, what he held he increased, and what he increased and made his own he made also the precious possession of others. The greatest of lay workers became the master of lay workers, their monitor and their model, and this at first uneducated man established institutions for Christian instruction which taught the use of the tools of spiritual knowledge as aptly and as thoroughly as the use of the tools of any other knowledge is anywhere taught." - The Brooklyn Eagle.

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