D. L. Moody: Evangelist – Soul Winner (Part 4)
The anointing of the Holy Spirit that Moody received while walking along the streets of New York set his soul on fire in such a way that his work soon became worldwide. In 1872 he once again visited Great Britain. He did not intend to hold any meetings during this visit, but after a prayer meeting an invitation was extended to him to preach at the Sunday services of a church in the north of London.
In the evening service the power of the Spirit seemed to fall upon the congregation, and the inquiry room was crowded with persons seeking salvation. Next day he went to Ireland, but an urgent telegram called him back to continue his meetings at the London church as there had been even more inquirers on Monday than on Sunday. He continued in London for ten days and four hundred persons were added to the church. He was then invited to Dublin and Newcastle but decided not to go at that time, and returned to America.
Meetings in England – 1873
Next year, at the invitation of two English friends, he started for England, accompanied by Mr. Sankey. His English friends had promised funds for the visit, but the money did not come so Moody borrowed enough to enable him to make the trip. On arriving there he learned that both of his friends had died. No door seemed open for him. But before leaving America he had received a letter from the Secretary of the YMCA at York, inviting him to address the young men there if he ever came to England. He and Mr. Sankey went to York, and began a series of meetings which lasted for five weeks. Interest gradually increased until the meeting places were crowded half an hour before the time of service, and many souls decided for Christ.
The evangelists went from York to Sunderland, where they had still greater meetings than in York. The largest halls in the city had to be secured for the services. Their next series of meetings was in Newcastle. The gatherings were gigantic, with special trains bringing people from surrounding cities and towns. Here Moody and Sankey published their first hymn book, which soon became popular all over Britain. On their return to America, in 1875, they published a similar hymn book entitled “Gospel Hymns No. 1,” which was followed by five others in years to come. These books have been a means of blessing to multitudes throughout the world.
From the North of England the evangelists went to Edinburgh, Scotland. Here they had one of the greatest series of meetings ever known in the world’s history. No building was large enough to accommodate the immense throngs which flocked to their meetings. “Never,” said Professor Blaikie of New College, “was Scotland so stirred; never was there so much expectation.”
In Glasgow, the evangelists experienced similar meetings to those at Edinburgh. Dr. Horatius Bonar referred to the meetings not long after they began: “There have been not a few awakened of late, and the interest is deepening.... Men are coming from great distances to ask the way of life, awakened to this concern by the Holy Spirit who is breathing over the land. It is as such a time as we have never had in Scotland before. The same old Gospel as of aforetime is preached to all men: Christ who was made sin for us, Christ the substitute, Christ’s blood, Christ’s righteousness, Christ crucified; the power of God and the wisdom of God unto salvation; but now the Gospel is preached ‘with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven,’.... Surely it is the time to seek the Lord that He may rain righteousness upon us.”
At the closing service at the Crystal Palace, in the Botanic Gardens, the building was packed so tightly with people Moody could not enter, and there were still twenty or thirty thousand people on the outside. Moody spoke to the great throng standing on the coachman’s box of the carriage in which he was driven, and the choir led the singing from the roof of a nearby shed. After the sermon Moody asked all those who wished to attend the inquiry meeting to enter the palace. In a few minutes the building was filled, and when Moody asked for those who were unsaved and yet anxious to be saved, two thousand people rose to their feet.
Other great meetings were held in Liverpool and many other British cities, finishing in London. When the evangelists left Britain, in 1875, after a campaign of two years and one week, the whole country had been stirred religiously as it had not been stirred since the days of Wesley and Whitefield. Professor Henry Drummond said that Moody spoke to “an acre of people” every meeting during his campaign in the East End of London. Moody and Sankey would make several more visits to Great Britain in the years following which also resulted in many gigantic evangelistic campaigns.
Return to America
On their return to America in 1875, Moody and Sankey received many invitations to hold meetings: Philadelphia, Brooklyn, New York, Boston, Chicago, and many other cities of the United States. These invitations were readily accepted, for, as Moody expressed it, “Water runs downhill, and the highest hills in America are the great cities. If we can stir them we shall stir the whole country.”
In 1893 the World’s Fair was held in Chicago. Moody saw the carnival as an opportunity for a wide-spread evangelistic effort. He knew a multitude would be pouring in from every state and territory in the country as well as from every nation on earth. He was not able to carry on the work alone, but brought in many prominent Christian workers from all parts of America and Europe. Buildings and tents sufficient to hold large audiences were secured. Moody urged Christians everywhere to pray and labor with unremitting diligence, “We are going to launch out into the deep…Let us see whether we can’t wake up this whole city. There is now before us the grandest opportunity for extending the kingdom of God that this country has ever seen.” On several Sundays during those weeks Moody had going as many as one hundred and twenty-five different meetings around the city.
At the end of the campaign Moody remarked, “The principal result of our six months’ work is that millions have heard the simple Gospel preached…thousands have been genuinely converted to Christ and Christians all over this land have been brought to a deeper spiritual life and aroused to more active Christian effort for the salvation of others.”
Moody continued his evangelistic campaigns until his death in 1899. His last great series of meetings was in Kansas City in June of that year. While there he was seized with heart trouble and hastened home by train. On December 22nd, with loved ones around him, he said, “Earth recedes; heaven opens before me…It is beautiful…If this is death, it is sweet. There is no valley here. God is calling me, and I must go.”
Moody was a man on fire for God. Millions have been reached with the Gospel through his preaching and teaching. Thousands have been trained in kingdom work through the schools he established in Northfield and in Chicago. He was a man with a purpose – to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ. And God used him because he was “a willing instrument of the will of God.”
Adapted from Deeper Experiences of Famous Christians by James Gilchrist Lawson and supplemented with information from The Life of Dwight L. Moody by William R. Moody.