Chapter 32 - The Personal Side of Mr. Moody

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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.

He was a remarkable man in all ways, not the least of which was his appearance. He was not a striking figure so far as stature was concerned, for he was rather below the average in height, but he was a marked man in a crowd, and every one turned to look at him because the very atmosphere that surrounded him was commanding. He has been likened to Garfield, in his massive frame; they had the same smiling features, the same facility of anecdote, and the same effect of sincerity in everything they said or did. Their style of oratory was almost identical, and both possessed the rare gift of captivating people at. first sight.

Mr. Moody was very quick at repartee. An interesting incident is related of his meeting with Mr. Gladstone. Heartily grasping Mr. Moody's hand the old statesman said, "I wish I had your body." Mr. Moody replied, "I wish I had your head." Mr. Gladstone responded, "I mean I wish I had your lungs;" to which Mr. Moody again replied, "I wish I had your brains," and with hearty good wishes they parted.


Mr. Moody had a wonderful voice. He could easily hold the attention of thousands, and yet in conversation there was a pathos and tenderness in his inflections that was most fascinating. He had a most attractive face; it was kindly and helpful in its every expression.

He was fond of telling how his picture once did duty for that of Rutherford B. Hayes. During the Hayes campaign a big Republican rally was held in Fort Wayne, Ind. Everything was ready, when it was suggested that the meeting would be incomplete without a picture of General Hayes. This brought out the discovery that, although around the walls of the room were hung-the pictures of many celebrities of the clay, that of Hayes was not among them, nor could a picture of him be found. One of the members of the committee on arrangements, a sign painter, who had a natural gift of drawing, found a copy of Harper's Magazine on the table in which was a small cut of Mr. Moody. He decided it was enough like Hayes to make a copy from, and in half an hour he had a good sized sketch, and labeled the product "Rutherford B. Hayes". It was hung on the stage, and the speakers of the evening pointed to it as they referred to "that statesman," etc. Finally the joke leaked out in the crowd, and almost resulted in breaking up the meeting. Mr. Moody was informed of the affair, and told it to President Hayes.


It has been said that he was dictatorial, sometimes extremely so, and it must be confessed that he did insist on his own way; but then, he had studied his work; he knew men, and he knew what would tell with them, and it was a rare thing ever to find him mistaken in his judgment. But even though he was brusque, sometimes almost to the point of rudeness, it is a mighty tribute to the power of his influence over men that he instinctively drew them about him. One of his English friends said of him, "He may make doorkeepers of us, or even door-mats, if he likes, and we will love him." And another has said of him, "Dear old Moody! We all love him, but some of us don't like him." He was, however, the most tender-hearted man I have ever known. Dr. George F. Pentecost has well said of him, "Intentionally he never wounded any one; he simply lacked perception, and did not put himself in the other man's place."

His heart was big enough to take in the whole world, and his sympathy with mankind was genuine. An instance of this occurred in New York. While he was in the midst of a sermon a baby commenced to cry, much to the annoyance of some of the audience, who darted cruel looks at the innocent child and the embarrassed mother. The mother waited for a favorable opportunity to go out, but Mr. Moody told her to remain where she was; he guessed his lungs were stronger than the baby's, and if any didn't like it, they could go out.

At the close of the service he made the unique announcement that the next afternoon he would preach to mothers with babies in their arms, and no one unaccompanied by a baby would be admitted. Never before was there such a gathering. The scene touched the heart of the great preacher, and his words the hearts of the mothers. Mr. Moody said afterward that a good many of the women present must have borrowed babies for the occasion.


He was perfectly delightful socially; he was as genial a man as I have ever known. He would laugh till the tears rolled down his face at some story which he might have heard again and again. He found his recreation in helping others, for he was a tireless worker in one form or another, yet he was never so happy as when he was making others' burdens easier to bear.

From the very day that D. L. Moody came before the eyes of the Christian world, the same characteristics that made him great in later days, were exhibited. He was one of the most conscientious men I have ever known, and if he felt that anything was his duty, nothing in the world would make him so miserable as to feel that he must leave it undone, and nothing made him so happy as to feel that he could perform it quickly whatever the cost. If he ever wronged any one, he was the first to make that wrong right.

Mr. Moody seldom preached a sermon without emphasizing the fact that true happiness and the richest blessings will never be realized by a professed Christian, if at any time he has wronged a fellow-man and has not made an honest attempt to clear up the wrong, or if he does not perform, willingly and promptly, known duties. That the great evangelist made this teaching one of the cardinal principles of his own life is clearly demonstrated by the following incident, related by him in an address to a body of students at Northfield.


"You can never accomplish much in your Christian life until you get right with your fellow-men as well as with God, and until you perform your duty as it comes to you. Let me give you an experience that I had a few mornings ago. I always get up early, and devote the first hour of the day to my Bible. This morning I sat down at my desk to study as usual. In a few minutes I chanced to look out of the window, and I saw a young fellow with a heavy valise on his back, walking toward the railroad station three miles away. If I thought about it at all, I thought he was one of the students going for an early train. I turned my eyes to my Bible, but, try as hard as I might, I could not fix my mind on what I read with my eyes.

"I looked out of the window again. Something said, 'You ought to take that boy to the station.' I tried to persuade myself that it was not my duty. I made another effort to study, but it was of no use. I jumped up and hurried to the stables, hitched up a horse, and drove rapidly until I came up to the boy. I took him and his baggage in and drove to the station. After giving the boy Godspeed and receiving hearty thanks for my kindness, I drove home, and went to my study. I took up my Bible, and I didn't have the slightest trouble in fixing my mind on my work."

I drove with him one morning while he was making some final preparation for the coming of the students to their annual conference, when we stopped at a little patch of corn, and he said, "I hoed two rows of corn here this morning before you were up. I have never been able to get out of my mind the imaginary picture of D. L. Moody, with coat and vest off, hoeing corn at Northfield.


With all his greatness he was one of the most modest men that you could possibly find. Other men might have been turned with the flattery of the people, but extreme modesty was a striking characteristic of the evangelist's personality. His phenomenal successes in many lines left him a man devoid of all desire for notoriety and fame.

Although thousands of persons would travel long distances to hear him preach, still he invariably maintained that there were any number of ministers who could excel him as a preacher, and he was always willing and eager to give place to others. During the Northfield Conferences, at which, in the minds of the people in attendance, he was the central figure, Mr. Moody seldom preached, unless to take the place of some speaker who was unable to meet his appointment, or unless urgent requests from the audience were repeatedly sent to him. Asked once why he did not speak more often at the conferences, the evangelist replied:

"Oh, you can hear me any time. I want you to hear these noted men that I have brought from over the sea."

Again, when urged to preach, he made this announcement from the rostrum one morning:

"I don't want to take the time of these dear brothers who have come so far to speak to us. I have received a good many requests to preach. If you really want to hear me you will be willing to get up early for the privilege. Meet me here in the auditorium at 7 o'clock to-morrow morning, and we will have a Bible talk together."

Despite the numerous other sessions during the day, these sunrise services were continued during the rest of the conference, and each session was largely attended by those eager to catch every syllable that fell from Mr. Moody's lips.


He was absolutely unselfish. During the first visit of Messrs. Moody and Sankey to Great Britain they were in need of a book of songs to use at the meetings. No publisher would bring out the book, although Mr. Moody offered to give it to any one who would print it and give him what copies he wanted to use. Finally he was compelled to have the book printed at his own expense. It has since attained a larger circulation than any other publication except the Bible, and is one of the best paying literary properties in the world. Every dollar of the profits of the book has gone to charity in one form or another. Mr. Fleming H. Revell has said: "Some years ago, some of the papers began to say that Mr. Moody was making a good thing financially of his reputation. As a rule Mr. Moody never paid no attention to criticism. He was wont to say that no two people thought alike of everything or received always the same impression. He was friendly toward the public press, claiming that it was a great educator and a great power in spreading of both secular and religious knowledge. But he was deeply grieved at this. He referred to the criticisms one day in the pulpit here in Chicago. There were tears in his eyes, and his voice quivered as he spoke. 'As I know my heart before God,' he said, 'I have never let the desire for money determine my conduct in any way. I know I am weak and sinful in many ways, but the devil has not that hold upon me. I have never profited personally by a single dollar that has been raised through my work. It hurts me, above all other things, to be charged with this. May God forgive those who say this of me.'"

Mr. Revell added, that though Moody received over $125,000 from royalties on his work, he had never used a penny of it for personal purposes, reserving it all to further his work. "Mr. Moody was a good financier," he said. "He took great care of his money, but not to save it and build a fortune. Rather he desired it to use in his work. I fully believe he died a poor man.


Dr. Edward Eggleston has told the following stories about Mr. Moody: "I have heard Mr. Moody tell how while in the Christian Commission service he was propounding his thorough question to a Tennessee planter, but, as the man was deaf, the repeated vociferation of 'Are you a Christian?' failed to bring a reply. Turning to the black man who stood by he asked, 'Is your master a Christian?' 'No, Massa, he is a Presbyterian.'

"It was not uncommon in those days for Mr. Moody to assail suddenly a strange young man with this blank query. Of course, he soon became noted for his zeal and eccentricity. A young man from the country who had held a situation in the city for just three weeks, was thus accosted by him in the street, 'Are you a Christian?' He replied, 'It is none of your business.' 'Yes it is.' 'Then you must be D. L. Moody,' said the stranger.

"'Madam,' said Moody to an Irishwoman, 'Won't you go to church to-night?' 'Whose is it? Is it Moody's Church?' 'No, it is God's Church, but Moody goes there.' 'Troth, thin I won't go.' With this she began to charge Moody with divers crimes, not knowing to whom she spoke. 'You better be careful,' said he presently, 'my name is Moody.' 'Tut, tut', said she with Irish dexterity and effrontery, 'I know'd Moody afore you was born.'"

A volume could be written of the things which the friends of this mighty man of God have said since his death. The words of two representative men may, however, with peculiar appropriateness be presented.


The Rev. George F. Pentecost his said: "Had he lived in the early days of Israel's trials, he should have judged Israel, and delivered them out of the hand of their enemies. He was like Gideon, and his latent powers were known only to God. He was the most reticent man I ever knew. One of his marked characteristics was his strong, practical common sense and fine knowledge of men. Once in the Boston Tabernacle, just before going on the platform, some one came to see him. 'There is a man outside wishes to see you. 'Well,' said the evangelist, 'I have no time to see him.' 'But,' replied the usher, 'He says he must see you.' 'What kind of a man is he?' 'He is tall and thin, with long hair.' 'That settles it," said Mr. Moody, 'I don't want to see any long-haired men nor short-haired women.' It was a rare thing for him to make a mistake in any of the men gathered about him.

"He had the simplest habits and tastes. He spent money lavishly on other people - almost none on himself. I consider him the world's greatest evangelist, and he has influenced more people for God than any other man in modern times."

The Rev. G. Campbell Morgan has said of him: "My personal acquaintance with Dwight Lyman Moody was not of long duration according to the measure of the calendar. If, however, 'we could count time by heart throbs,' then I might claim to have known him; for it has been one of the greatest privileges of my life to have come very near him in the ripest years of his life.

I first saw him in 1883 during his second visit to Birmingham. Bingley Hall was being crowded by day with eager crowds who had come by train from the whole surrounding district. The city was moved to its very center. The impression of those days, therefore, is that of the man in the midst of the rush of work. He was keen, alert, forceful. No detail of arrangement escaped his notice. A vacant seat, the opening and closing of doors, a tendency to drag the singing, all these he noted and uttered directions about. Yet he was by no means a man who cared for detail's sake. The greater was ever the reason for the less, and the less was important only as part of the greater. The supreme passion of his life was the winning of men for Christ, and no detail that would hinder or help was too small for consideration.


"In 1896 I visited the States for the first time. Among other work, I had promised Mr. Moody to speak at the Chicago Institute to his students. The Northfield Conference was in session, and I managed to get a few hours there. Arriving late at night, I found my quarters and retired. The next day was a field day for me, and a revelation. I attended meetings from morning till night. Everywhere Mr. Moody was the moving spirit. Bright, cheery, and yet in dead earnest, he seemed to make everything go before him. In the intervals of the meetings he gave me a drive round the campus in his buggy. Every point of interest was pointed out, and in a few brief words the story of how the different buildings were erected was told. Passing one house, he said, 'People sometimes ask me how I found Northfield? I tell them it found me. I was born there.' Suddenly he pulled up his horse to speak to a group of children. 'Have you had any apples to-day?' said he. 'No, Mr. Moody,' they replied. 'Then go down to my house, and tell them to give you all you want.' Away they went, and so did he, both happier. Down a narrow lane he drove next, and through a gate to where a man was at work in a field. 'Biglow,' said Mr. Moody, 'it's too hot for you to work much. Half a day's work for a days pay, you know, while this heat lasts.' I sat by his side and watched, and began to understand the greatness of the man whose life was so broad that it touched sympathetically all other phases of life.


After the evening meeting, at his invitation, I gathered with the speakers at his house. Then, for the first time, I saw him in a new role, that of the host. He sat in his chair at the head of the table and helped the ice-cream, directed the conversation, and listened with the patience and simplicity of a child to every word that others spoke. That night the talk turned on the most serious subjects, the inner life of the people of God and its bearing on the work of the churches among the people. As we broke up I went to bid him good-bye, as I was to depart by an early train on the morrow. 'O!' said he, 'I shall see you in the morning; you are to preach at ten o'clock.' That was my first notice. What did I do? I preached, as he told me, as others and better men have ever been glad to do. That was his way. He printed no programme of the Northfield Conferences. He gathered around him a band of teachers and speakers, and then as the days moved on he manipulated them according to the necessities of the case. After speaking next morning I hurried away, but in that brief stay Moody had become much to me. Strong, tender, considerate, from that day I more than reverenced him, I loved him."

In the summer of 1897 I was asked to go to Kinsman, Ohio, to fill an engagement which properly belonged to Mr. Moody, but he was so busily engaged with his own Northfield work, and was so fearful of taking a long journey in the heat of summer, that Professor James MeGranahan insisted that I should come to Kinsman to speak to thousands of people who gathered every summer on the Fair grounds. Mr. Moody had started this meeting two or three years before, and he insisted that it should not be given up.


When I reached the beautiful home of Mr. and Mrs. McGranahan I found that my helper in the meeting was to be that grand old hero of many a battle-field and devoted soldier of the cross, General O.O. Howard. Sitting together with the friends who had come in from the surrounding country to attend the meeting, the name of Mr. Moody was mentioned, and General Howard said, "I was with him on the steamship Spree, when, Mr. Moody says, 'God heard our prayer and saved the ship.' A good many people have criticised this statement," said General Howard, "and there was much controversy in the newspapers; but Moody always believed it. Over 700 people were with us on the ship. One morning, about daybreak, I was awakened by a sound like an explosion, and I heard the people rushing along the halls, and then some one said the main shaft had been snapped asunder, and falling down had made a break in the ship. The passengers were terror stricken. The bulkheads were quickly closed, and the bailing and the pumping began, but when they reached the third compartment of the ship, they found it almost impossible to clear it, and the aft part of the ship was sunk to the gunwale. Mr. Moody, with his son, I found on deck. He was lying back in a chair looking very ill, but after a moment he said, 'General Howard, won't you come with me?' And followed by his son we made our way to the stateroom, and there he fell upon his knees and prayed as only he knew how to pray. He told the Lord that He was the God of the sea, and asked Him that, like as He had stilled the Sea of Galilee, He might save these people in peril on the ship. He asked the Lord to send him a ship to take them safe home that they might finish their work; and when he had prayed, and his son had followed, he opened his Bible and read the ninety-first Psalm, and then said, 'This Psalm is just made for this occasion, isn't it?'


"After that he was always surrounded by a company of people, giving help wherever help could be given. When Sunday morning came he gathered the people in the dining saloon, and conducted the service in his own inimitable style, and after forty-eight hours of drifting, a ship came hurrying over to us to take us safe home. Mr. Moody led a service of thanksgiving and praise, and preached as I never had heard him preach before. That is the story of his sending the cable 'Prayer saved the ship.'"

There was a hush on the little assembly, and I know of one at least who offered up a prayer of thanksgiving that D. L. Moody had not only helped save the people on board the Spree, but had been used of God to save thousands of others just as truly drifting, and whose case was just as apparently hopeless.

The Rev. F. B. Meyer, of Christ Church, London, knew Mr. Moody most intimately, and loved him not only for his work's sake, but also because of the peculiar charm and fascination of his great personality. He has recently said in an English paper:

"To have known D. L. Moody, and come within the range of his strong personality, has been to many men one of the most influential factors in their character and life-work; and it is not easy for such to imagine a world from which the inspiration of his presence has been withdrawn. It is still less easy under the immediate sorrow of such a bereavement to characterize this natural prince and leader of men.


I met him first in York, in 1873, on his arrival with Mrs. Moody and his two eldest children. Accompanied by Mr. and Mrs. Sankey, they had come to our country, as it appeared, by a divine prompting, and had just landed at Liverpool. Some time before, the secretary of the Y. M. C. A. had impressed upon him the two words, "Bennett, York;" and not knowing where else to turn, two of his friends having suddenly died, Moody telegraphed to Mr. Bennett, saying, 'I will be in York to-night.'"

This was Saturday. On the following day he preached at the chapel built for the Rev. James Parsons, and then occupied by the Rev. John Hunter (now of Glasgow). During the following week he held evening services in the old Londal Chapel, and noon prayer meetings at the Y. M. C. A. After two or three days with the Wesleyans, he came to the Baptist Chapel, of which I was minister, and conducted meetings there for about a fortnight, with ever-increasing numbers and marvelous results. He and Mr. Sankey have often spoken of that little vestry, where we three spent much time in prayer, little weening that the earnestness of our desires and intercessions were the travail pangs of so great a spiritual movement as followed.

All who have heard him will recall the quiver in his voice when he told some pathetic story; but I never guessed the intensity of his tenderness till I saw him with his grandchildren. He used to drive them about in his carriage, or carry them in his arms.

"One of the most striking incidents in my memory was when he stood with them beside his mother's grave, in a summer sunset, and asked us to pray that they might be in the coming century what she had been in this. And when little Irene was dying, he used to be on the watch below her window to keep all quiet, would steal down from the meetings to hear the latest news, would be the nurse and playmate of her little cousin, that all might devote themselves to the chamber of sickness.


"He never wavered in his attachment to the great fundamentals of the Gospel. His sermons on the Blood, the Holy Spirit, the Love of God in Jesus Christ, were great testimonies to the mighty truths which have been the theme of every revival of evangelical religion. There was no uncertain sound in the Gospel as he preached it, and it was the power of God unto salvation to tens of thousands.

"What a welcome he must have received as he entered Heaven! Surely an abundant, a choral entrance must have been ministered unto him by myriads who are there, because of the message uttered in burning acccents by his lips."

I am delighted thus to quote Mr. Meyer. I know of few men better qualified to speak than he. While in conversation the other day with Mr. Fleming H. Revell (Mr. Moody's brother-in-law), he said to me. "If you would like to find in print a good description of Mr. Moody's last hours and his triumphant entrance into the presence of God, you have only to read the closing lines of Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress, for in the passing over of Mr. Stand-fast, there is the most striking description of the passing away of Mr. Moody." For the help of my readers I here quote it.

"When Mr. Stand-fast had thus set things in order, and the time being come for him to haste him away, he also went down to the river. Now, there was a great calm at that time in the river wherefore Mr. Stand-fast, when he was about half-way in, stood a while, and talked to his companions that had waited upon him thither. And he said, 'This river has been a terror to many; yea, the thoughts of it have also frighted me; but now methinks I stand easy; my foot is fixed upon that on which the feet of the priests that bare the ark of the covenant stood while Israel went over Jordan. The waters, indeed, are to the palate bitter, and to the stomach cold; yet the thought of what I am going to, and of the conduct that waits for me on the other side, doth lie as a glowing coal at my heart. I see myself now at the end of my journey; my toilsome days are ended; I am going to see that head which was crowned with thorns, and that face which was spit upon for me. I have formerly lived by hearsay and faith; but now I go where I shall live by sight, and shall be with Him in whose company I delight myself. I have loved to hear my Lord spoken of; and wherever I have seen the print of His shoe in the earth, there I have coveted to set my foot, too. His name has been to me as a civet-box; yea, sweeter than all perfumes. His voice to me has been most sweet, and His countenance I have more desired than they that have most desired the light of the sun. His Word I did use to gather for my food, and for antidotes against my faintings. He hath held me, and hath kept me from mine iniquities; yea, my steps hath He strengthened in His way.'

"Now, while he was thus in discourse, his countenance changed, his strong man bowed under him; and, after he had said, 'Take me, for I come unto Thee!' he ceased to be seen of them."

And so I bring my tribute to a close, thanking God, now, as I thanked Him at the beginning, that I have had the privilege of writing; and saying of Mr. Moody yet again - he was the best friend I ever had, and more helpful to me than any other man that ever lived in all my knowledge of the world. Other men have known him longer than I, but no one, I am sure, could ever have been more helped by him. I say of him as Paul said of the Philippians, "I thank my God upon every remembrance of you."

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