I do not know whether I dare say what I am now about to speak to you. I asked a brother minister this afternoon, and he would not take the responsibility, but after thinking it over I will say it. I believe if Christ had actually lived in the body of our dear brother and had been subject to the same limitations that met him, he would have filled up his life much as D. L. Moody filled up his, and for that reason I say, after the most careful thought, I had rather be D.L. Moody lying dead in his coffin than to be the greatest man alive in the world to-day.” This remarkable tribute was paid by Dr. H.G. Weston, of the Crozier Theological Seminary, Chester, Pa., and when he had finished it, there was a wave of sympathetic expression and approval, which swept over the entire audience, and his remarkable utterance was greeted with quiet Amens and suppressed sobs.
I question if this generation has known a man who was more Christ-like than D. L. Moody. That he sometimes made mistakes his best friends will allow, but that he was ready to undo these mistakes when they were made, and to make acknowledgment when that was necessary, all who knew him well will testify.
EARLY ACQUAINTANCE WITH MR. MOODY
Have heard his name since infancy. First of all from my mother’s lips when I was a child. For it was at that time his name was being spoken with approval by ministers and Christian workers, and also at that time that the newspapers were making frequent reference to his increasing usefulness and power.
I am naturally a hero worshipper. There are certain names that have always stirred me and certain personalities that have ever been my inspiration. No name, however, has ever been more sacred among the names of men than that of Moody, and no character has ever so taken hold of my very being, as his.
When first I felt called to preach the Gospel, I determined there were certain men whom I must hear. In my list of names I had Henry Ward Beecher, and I shall ever recall with grateful appreciation the opportunity of hearing him in the Plymouth Church when his text was: “Except your righteousness exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees ye shall in no wise enter into the kingdom.” And when his prayer reminded me of nothing so much as the running of a mountain stream over the rocks as it hurried on its way to the sea, I came away feeling that I had had a great privilege, not only in hearing Mr. Beecher preach, but in being lifted up to Heaven by his prayer.
A MOST PROFOUND INFLUENCE
The second name in importance on my list was that of Dr. John Hall, and possibly the deepest impression of my life was made, when he was preaching from the text in I Timothy iv: 6: “Thou shalt be a good minister of Jesus Christ.” He closed his sermon by leaning over the pulpit and saying, “I have only one supreme ambition, and that is that I might close my ministry here and have you say concerning me, “he was a good minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ,” and I came away saying that I had had such an uplift as rarely comes to a young minister.
Written in large letters on my list was the name of Charles H. Spurgeon, and it has ever been the regret of my ministry that before it was given to me to cross the sea, God had called him to cross over into the better land.
But of all the names written, none stood out so plainly as that of D. L. Moody. I had somehow made up my mind from what I had heard of him, and from what the newspapers had printed of his work, that he was to move me more mightily than any other man in the world, and I bear glad testimony to the fact that the after-years proved my expectation to be true. He exercised the most profound influence over me from the very first moment I met him, an influence which only increased with the passing years, and still abides, although he is in the presence of his God.
AT THE WORLD’S FAIR MEETING IN CHICAGO
In the providence of God I was frequently with him in services; notably, at the World’s Fair Meetings in Chicago, when he was not only the genial host of the workers with whom he was surrounded, but was the leader of a great force of Christian ministers and laymen, commanding the city for God with as great genius as ever an officer commanded and led his soldiers against the enemy on the field of battle.
He invited me to be with him in Pittsburg in 1898, and one of the tenderest memories of my life is that which I have of him in connection with the meetings held in the Exposition Building.
I saw him in frequent conferences when I was pastor in Philadelphia, when his great heart yearned over the cities in the East, much as did the heart of the Master when looking down upon the City of his love, he said, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem!”
I was with him in the special campaign in New York, when from early morning till late at night in the Grand Central Palace, he not only preached himself, but also had called to his assistance workers and friends from many other cities.
It was my great privilege to be frequently at Northfleld where Mr. Moody showed not only his great heart, but his great power as a leader as in no other place in the country, and intimately as I knew him, and devotedly as I loved him, I never came in contact with him that my heart did not beat a little faster and my pulses throb a little more quickly.
MOODY CONDUCTING MEETINGS
I used to love to watch him in the meetings he conducted. His eyes were always open to take in the most minute detail of the services, and things to which other men would be blind he was ever seeing. I frequently almost lost the message he was giving in my admiration for the messenger. While he was sitting in the first part of the service, he would make a dive into his pocket, take out a little piece of paper and write a message to some of his workers, put down an illustration or record something which was to be the seed thought for a future sermon. Sometimes you would scarcely think he was noticing what was going on, and suddenly he would be on his feet announcing a hymn, and while he could not sing himself, yet he was superb in his power to make other people sing, “Isn’t that magnificent” he would say, as voice after voice took up the great chorus. “Now the galleries sing, that is my choir up in the gallery, now show the people what you can do; now the men, now the women, now altogether,” until it would seem as if greater singing one had never heard in all his life.
He was ever on the alert in every service. I have heard him many times relate, however, one instance to the contrary, when George O. Barnes was being greatly used in evangelistic effort. Mr. Moody had taken him around to several appointments, and the evening service came so quickly upon them that they did not have time to eat anything except a hasty lunch which they took somewhere together, the principal article of which Mr. Moody said was bologna. When Mr. Barnes arose to speak in the evening, the room was very hot, and Mr. Moody said that that, together with the lunch he had taken, made him very drowsy; he pinched himself to keep awake, but at last he fell asleep. Mr. Barnes did every-thing he could to arouse him, and when he had failed he stopped preaching, and Mr. Moody said, turned to his audience to say, “This is the first time I have ever seen D.L. Moody defeated, but the devil and bologna sausage seem to have gotten the best of him.” I have heard him tell it over and over. No one enjoyed a joke better than himself, even though he might be the subject of it.
He seemed to know what the people wanted and what they would take, and the things that other men would turn away from he would present with great power. I remember a meeting in Albany, New York, years ago, when short conferences were being held through the country by Mr. Moody and his co-workers, when he turned to Dr. Darling, then of Schenectady, now of Auburn Seminary, and said, “Doctor, tell them the story you told me this morning;” and then the distinguished preacher gave an illustration which he might have thought too simple to use in a crowded assemblage, but which swayed the great audience.
A MASTER IN MOVING MEN
He was a master in moving men. I can shut my eyes now and see him, with tears rolling down his face, as he plead with men to turn to Christ; sobs breaking his utterance as he told of the love of God to men and of God’s special love to himself. He was as sincere a man as ever stood on the platform to preach, and it was for this reason that people of all classes and grades believed in him. When the New York Dailies came out with great headlines saying, “Moody is dead,” a Jew in one of the courts turned to a friend of mine to say, “He was a good man,” and when his death was being discussed in one of the great clubs in the City of New York, a man who was an infidel said, “I think he was the best man this generation has known, and if I should ever be a Christian I should want to be one just like Moody, if I could.”
There were times when he was more than eloquent, when every gesture was a sermon. Who can ever forget his description of Elijah going up by a whirlwind into heaven. When carried away by the power of his own emotions, he lifted his hands while his audience seemed to be lifted with him, and raising them higher and higher, I can hear him say the words, “Up, up, up’ I can see Elijah going, and I see heaven open to receive him as he rises.” The impression on his audience was profound.
A BLESSING TO HAVE KNOWN HIM
To have known him at all was a blessing, but to have known him with any degree of intimacy was one of the rarest privileges of a minister’s life. I would not say that I knew him better than other men, for hundreds knew him far more intimately and for a far longer time than I; but if love, since I have known him, can make up for the years in which I was not acquainted with him, then these recent years with their increasing admiration and love will give me the right to speak and write. Dr. Pierson says concerning George Muller, “A human life filled with the presence and power of God, is one of God’s choicest gifts to His church and to the world.”
“Things which are unseen and eternal seem, to the carnal man, distant and indistinct, while what is seen and temporal is vivid and real. Practically, any object in nature that can be seen or felt is thus more real and actual to most men than the living God. Every man who walks with God, and finds Him a present help in every time of need; who puts His promises to the practical proof and verifies them in actual experience; every believer who with the key of faith unlocks God’s mysteries, and with the key of prayer unlocks God’s treasuries, thus furnishes to the race a demonstration and an illustration of the fact that ‘He is a Rewarder of them that diligently seek Him.’
“DEATH HAS NO TERROR TO ME”
“George Muller was such an argument and example incarnated in human flesh. Flesh was a man of like passions as we are, and tempted in all points like as we are, but who believed God and was established by believing; who prayed earnestly that he might live a life and do a work which should be a convincing proof that God hears prayer and that it is safe to trust Him at all times; and who has furnished just such a witness as he desired Like Enoch, he truly walked with God, and had abundant testimony borne to him that he pleased God. And when, on the tenth day of March, 1898, it was told us of George Muller that ‘he was not,’ we knew God had taken him;’ it seemed more like a translation than death,” the same thing can be said of Mr. Moody. He used to say, “Sometime you will pick up a paper and will read of D.L. Moody’s death; don’t believe a word of it; I may be asleep, but I shall not be dead; death has no terror to me, and his words were a prophecy of his triumphant passing into the presence of God. The telegram written by Mr. A. P. Fitt, his son-in-law, to Mr. Louis Klopsch, of the Christian Herald, is a confirmation of this:
“EAST NORTHFIELD, MASS. Dec. 22.
“Mr. Moody had a triumphant entry into Heaven at noon.
“As early as 8 o’clock, A.M. he said: ‘Earth is receding and Heaven is opening. God is calling me.’
“He was perfectly conscious to the last, and showed the same courage and faith, unselfishness and thought for his wife and children and his schools as always.
“His doctor says it was ‘a pure case of heart failure, due to absolute loss of bodily strength.’
“In leaving us he gave unflinching testimony to the truths he taught.
A. P. Fitt”
A WONDERFUL LIFE
His was a wonderful life. In one of Tissot’s pictures there is seen a great multitude of people lame and halt and blind in the way along which Jesus of Nazareth is to come, and then there is a view representing him passing, and as he moves along, only those before Him are sick, while all behind him are well. This was Mr. Moody’s life. All that was behind him felt the touch of his power. The Chicago Bible Institute has become an object lesson to Christian workers everywhere. Northfield is a centre of influence forth from which streams of blessing flow to the very ends of the earth. England, Ireland and Scotland have felt the touch of his consecrated life, and millions of lives the world over thank God that he ever lived, those who were lame, halt and blind spiritually now leap and praise God that D.L. Moody ever lived.
His home life, in the testimony of those who knew it best, was most beautiful. On that memorable day when his body was lying in the casket in the Congregational Church in Northfield, when other speakers had paid their tribute to his distinguished father, Mr. William R. Moody, his eldest son, rose to say: “As a son I want to say a few words of him as a father. We have heard from his pastor, his associates and friends, and he was just as true a father. I don’t think he showed up in any way better than when, on one or two occasions, in dealing with us as children, with his impulsive nature, he spoke rather sharply. We have known him to come to us and say: ‘my children, my son, my daughter, I spoke quickly; I did wrong; I want you to forgive me. That was D.L. Moody as a father.
“He was not yearning to go; he loved his work. Life was very attractive; it seems as though on that early morning as he had one foot upon the threshold it was given him for our sake to give us a word of comfort. He said: ‘this is bliss; it is like a trance. If this is death it is beautiful.’ And his face lighted up as he mentioned those whom he saw.
“We could not call him back; we tried to for a moment, but we could not. We thank God for his home life, for his true life, and we thank God that he was our father, and that he led each one of his children to know Jesus Christ.”
A BEAUTIFUL HOME
There was ever a holy atmosphere about this home to me in the few times I was permitted to pass its portals. Mr. Moody used to tell a story of a sick child whose father one day came into his room and to whom the child said, “lift me up,” and the father lifted him gently, and he said “lift me higher,” and he lifted him yet a little higher; “higher,” said the child, faintly, and he lifted him just as high as his arms could reach, and when he took him down he was dead. “I believe,” said Mr. Moody, “that he lifted him into the arms of Christ,” and then his great kindly face glowed, and as the tears rolled down his cheeks he said, “I would rather have my children say that about me than to have a monument of gold that would pierce the clouds,” and his home life clearly bore out the fact that he not only said this in words, but he put it into every action in his home. His personality was charming; he was the centre of every group everywhere. It was a most ordinary thing to see representative men from many parts of the world in his home, but none were ever so prominent as to dim the brightness of his greatness, and yet he was as modest as a woman and as humble as a little child. Who that ever sat about his table can forget his laugh. It was as hearty a laugh as one has ever heard. He knew just how to put every man at his best. His questions always brought forth that which would make a man appear to the best advantage before his hearers. “Morgan,” he would say, speaking to the Rev. G. Campbell Morgan, “tell that story about Joseph Parker ;” and then although he might have heard it before he was the most interested listener; his eyes would gleam and his face light up as the inimitable story teller painted the picture of London’s greatest preacher.
THOUGHTFUL OF OTHERS
He was so very thoughtful of other people. The last time I rode with him to Mt. Hermon, he stopped to talk a few minutes with the men at the old ferry, asked them about their homes and spoke a cheering word concerning their work, and said as he drove on, “I want them to know that I am interested in them.”
Driving up from the station at the last students’ conference at Northfield, he stopped every student trudging along with his baggage and took the bag into his buggy until it was piled up with luggage, and the greater the number of men whose burdens he lifted, the happier he became.
Walking across his lawn one day when his conversation was, as ever, the evangelising of the great cities, he turned quickly and said, “Chapman, how many children have you?” and when I told him two, as I had then, he turned quickly about and said “come with me,” and he pointed out to me some white turkeys and some ducks of a very rare breed and said, “I will send a pair of these to the children,” and when only a few days had elapsed, sure enough the turkeys and the ducks came safely to my country home, and my children took particular delight in feeding and caring for the ducks and turkeys that came from Mr. Moody’s house.
Driving along the country road with Dr. Wilton Merle Smith, of New York, when the conversation had been general, he stopped his horse under the shade of a great tree, and, said Dr. Smith, “he poured out his soul in such prayer as I have rarely heard.”
“I JUST WANTED TO BE WITH YOU”
I shall ever remember one of his illustrations. He had told one of his children that he was not to be disturbed in his study, and after a little while the door of the study opened and the child came in. “What do you want,” said the father, and the little fellow looking Up into his father’s face said, “I just wanted to be with you,” and the tears started into the great evangelist’s eyes as he said, “it ought to be like that between us and our God.” I can well understand how his little child would want to be with him every minute of his time, for there are many of us who counted it our special privilege to be in fellowship with this godly man.
The first time I saw him is a memorable day in my life. I was a student at Lake Forest University, and he was to speak in Chicago, I think it was in 1878. Four times he preached the Gospel that day and I was in every service; but the service of all services was that of the afternoon in old Farwell Hall; it was for men only. The place was filled to overflowing with men; the singing was superb, so said my friends, but I lost the power of the music in the sight of this man of God of whom I had heard so much. His text was, “Be not deceived, God is not mocked; whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.” The sermon is remembered because, under God, it has been used to lead so many to Christ. Under the power of it I saw my own heart, and then I saw the Saviour who was waiting to make it clean. I halted around with others if only I might have the chance to touch his hand. Just in front of me went a man who held Mr. Moody’s attention for a little time, and who said to him, as he afterwards told me, “I am a defaulter, I have taken money which is not my own, I am a fugitive from justice, what must I do?” And Mr. Moody told him he must take the money back, even though it meant punishment, and he did it; was sent to the penitentiary, was pardoned out just before he died of quick consumption.
“HE HAS FORGIVEN ME!”
Before the pardon Mr. Moody made his way across the country that he might stand in his cell, and as he entered, the young man sprang to his feet and putting his arms out to Mr. Moody said He has forgiven me, He has forgiven me.” His evangelistic life was filled with just such incidents. In the evening of that great first day I saw him once again and followed him into the after meeting where I had the privilege of a moment’s conversation. I had been in doubt for a long time on the subject of assurance. I did not know certainly whether I was a Christian or not, and Mr. Moody said, when I asked him to help me, “do you believe this verse?” and he quoted the Fifth Chapter of John and the 24th verse, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on Him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.” I said, “Certainly I believe it.” “Are you saved,” he said, and I said, sometimes I think I am, other times I feel I am not.” He put. his hand on my shoulder and said but one sentence, and then he left me; “ young man,” said he, “whom are you doubting?” and then he left me, and it flashed across my mind in an instant that, in my lack of assurance, I was doubting Christ; from that moment to this I have never doubted.
THE POWER OF GOD ON HIS WORK
The next impression was in connection with the brief conferences held throughout the country when five days were spent in Albany and Troy, and the meetings were held in the First Reformed Church of which I afterwards became pastor. I came down from my country church with many other ministers from different parts of the State. The great church was crowded; I was obliged to stand in the aisle, but I forgot all discomfort in the impression that was made upon me by this mighty man of God. I followed him from one city to another and then went back to my own church to preach to my people on the story of the Moody meetings. The power of God was not only on his work, but was on the very mention of it, so that my church officers came together and said that this work must go on, and more than a hundred people came to Christ because of it. In the day when rewards are given for service, I am very sure that my dear friend will share in the glory of these who came to Christ indirectly through his ministry.
When I became an evangelist his word was always the cheeriest; I never met him that he did not have some word to say concerning the work at large. If ever there was a perplexity in my mind, or any doubt as to what my course of action should be, in settling any problem, Mr. Moody was the first to give advice and always the wisest of all advisers. The last time I saw him was in Boston, in the days when Admiral Dewey was to be welcomed, to the New England Metropolis. He was there that the people might have the privilege of hearing Campbell Morgan. I heard him say, “Some people think we ought to give the meetings up because of the excitement outside, but I believe,” he said “that Christ is more attractive to the people than anything in all this world.” The very morning of the parade when Mr. Morgan was obliged to be away and other speakers could not delay, some of his friends suggested that he at least give up this meeting. But he was never easily discouraged and he positively refused to yield in the least, and he preached himself with his old time vigour to a great company of people in Tremont Temple.
THE LAST PICTURE OF THE EVANGELIST
The last picture of him is drawn by the Hon. John Wanamaker. He was on his way to Kansas City, and, as Mr. Wanamaker said, he had turned away from his comfortable home and was going away into the far West, when he might have had all the rest of his home and help of his family, only for the joy of preaching the Gospel. Mr. Wanamaker met him at one of the railroad stations. It just so happened at this time that he was alone he purchased his own ticket, checked his baggage, then said, “we will have a little time now together,” and they sat down in another railway station when Mr. Moody poured out his heart to his old friend concerning some of the interests that were dear to him, and then as they parted he said, with his face flushed and his eyes filled with tears, “if I could only get hold of one more Eastern city I should be grateful to God.” These two friends said good-bye, the one to go into all the comforts of the presence of his loved ones, and the other to hurry away across the country that he might hold his last service, preach his last sermon, and then go from the very thick of the fight into the presence of his God.
D. L. Moody is dead. Men say it with sobs, and the old world seems lonely without him, but D.L. Moody is in heaven, we say it with thanksgiving, and we can just imagine the joy which rang through all the arches of the heavenly land when he entered in through the gates into the city. So is it strange that many can say the words of Dr. Weston with which this Chapter began, “I would rather be D. L. Moody lying dead in his coffin than to be the greatest man alive in the world to-day.”
PROFESSOR DRUMMOND ON MOODY
In his day no one was closer to Mr. Moody, than Prof. Drummond, and a few years ago he said this of his friend: “Whether estimated by the moral qualities which go to the making up of a personal character, or the extent to which he has impressed these upon communities of men on both sides of the Atlantic, there is, perhaps, no more truly great man living than D.L. Moody. By moral influences in this connection, I mean the influence which, with whatever doctrinal accompaniment, leads men to better lives and higher ideals. I have never heard Mr. Moody defend any particular church. I have never heard him quoted as a theologian.
But I know of large numbers of men and women of all churches and creeds, of many countries and ranks, from the poorest to the richest, and from the most Ignorant to the most wise, upon whom he has placed an ineffaceable moral mark.”
How pleasant to think that the privilege should have been given to Mr. Moody of absorbing his earlier training and of associating his later work with so charming a place naturally as Northfield. God’s children are not denied the fair, the beautiful things of Nature. It is just like our Heavenly Father to give the best to one who walked so close to Him as did this dear friend.
Those of us who knew Mr. Moody well remember how he loved beautiful things. The song of the brook was music to his soul; the coming of the leaves and flowers of spring was a parable; and his own dear Northfield was beloved by him to the end. He was perfectly happy when driving about through the beauties of the surrounding country.
In view of his love for Nature, and the unusual beauty of his early environment, it is, perhaps, not surprising that the first doubts to assail the faith of the boy Moody, after his conversion, were pantheistic. He himself has related how a pantheist approached him and told him of God as Nature, and how it troubled him. But his doubts resolved themselves into a firmer belief in Nature, not as God, but as God’s handiwork.
NORTHFIELD IS NOT A MODERN TOWN
Its elms whisper a long story of days when men who sought to worship God in freedom of conscience martyred themselves by denial of the comforts of their homes in the old world and faced the terrors of bitter want and of crafty savage foes in the wildernesses of New England.
Long before this particular spot in the valley of the Connecticut was occupied by the white man, large tribes of Indians dwelt there, living upon the fruits of a generous lowland soil and the trophies of the chase.
The streams abounded in shad and salmon. The plenty of fish gave the place its Indian name, Squakheag, which signifies, in the Indian tongue, a place for spearing salmon. Wigwams clustered on nearly every knoll and bluff, and along the banks of the river ran the narrow trail of the aborigines.
A little way back from either side the river, and following its windings, extends a range of hills. Brush Mountain, one of these hills, was regarded by the Indians with a superstitious veneration, as the abode of their Great Spirit. Did not his breath come forth every spring, from a cleft in the rock, and melt the snow? To day the traveller who climbs Brush Mountain will be shown an opening whence comes a blast of air, warm enough in the winter to keep the snow from accumulating in the immediate vicinity.
THE FIRST SETTLERS
In 1669 ‘a small party of whites, following the trail along the Connecticut northward from Northampton, came upon the lands of the Squakheags. The natives had suffered severely a few years before from the raid of a large party of Mohawks, who had come from the West, laying waste their fields and destroying their villages. To the eyes of the white men the land seemed very fair. About Northampton the tillable soil had been quite completely taken up, and the Squakheag region seemed to offer a good situation for a new settlement. As the Indians were not unwilling to part with their lands, a petition was made to the General Court of Massachusetts by thirty-three settlers, for permission to purchase the land from the Indians. The permission was granted on the condition that not less than twenty families should settle there within eighteen months after the first move.
The settlers took up the land in 1673, and for two years lived in amicable relations with their Indian neighbours. Then, when King Philip’s war broke out, the Squakheags were moved by the rude eloquence of the chief’s emissaries to take part in the uprising. One morning they attacked the whites in the fields, killing many, and driving those who remained to seek refuge within the stockade. The position of the sixteen families in the fort was perilous. A relief expedition from Deerfield was ambushed while on the way, and fled home with great loss. Another company succeeded in reaching Northfield and rescuing the beleaguered ones, who left the settlement and returned to their former homes.
THE SECOND SETTLEMENT
Not for seven years did the proprietors of the land take steps towards its re-occupation. Then about twenty families returned. Houses were built along a main street, and were protected by two forts, in 1688 eleven Indians, sent on the warpath by the French in Canada, six persons in Northfield, and so alarmed the rest that more than one half left the settlement. ‘This so weakened the town that it was abandoned by those who remained.
The final settlement was made in 1713, and Northfield now prospered, although in 1723 it was again exposed to attacks from savages, who had been incited to make depredations upon the New England villages by the French Governor of Canada. It is said that men were then able to harvest their crops only in armed parties of forty or more. A fort was built a few miles up the river, and a cannon was placed there, that its voice might give warning of the approaching enemy. Peace came after the death of the Governor of Canada.
The existence of the hamlet continued for a long time precarious, for it was an outpost among the settlements, and therefore especially exposed to danger from the savages. During the French and Indian War Northfield was in constant terror. Thereafter such dangers gradually disappeared, and time was given to develop the natural resources of the place. Northfield sent her quota to take part in the War of the Revolution, nor did she hesitate to assert the principles of liberty, even to the extent of forcing her parson, against his first desire, to omit from his prayer the usual petition for blessing on “his majesty,” the King of Great Britain.
AFTER THE REVOLUTION
After the war the town rapidly acquired a certain culture. A hotel building, erected in 1798, was purchased by a company of citizens in 1829, and made into an academy, which did honourable service for education during many years. About this same time the town was deeply affected by the wave of Unitarianism, which was then spreading throughout New England. Schisms arose in the village church, and a new parish was formed.
Northfield lies where three States meet Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont. Just south of the Massachusetts State line is the village, scattered for the most part along the main street, two miles long and 160 feet wide, on the east side of the river. On either side of the street is a double row of elms and maples, which have grown old with the village until they bend their lofty heads over the quiet roadway like the nodding guardians of some useless post. Savage neighbours arc no longer near to enforce in alert sentinel-ship.
Several roads cross this avenue, and all lead to scenes purely pastoral. Flanking the main street are dwellings, for the most part set well back among their lawns and fragrant gardens. These homes were built to last. They seem as substantial to day as when they were built, although many of them are very old. The house occupied by Mr. William Alexander, for instance, has been in the hands of his family for one hundred and fifteen years. The present day tendency to flock to the large cities has somewhat affected the younger generation of Northfield’s old families, but the elms and the old houses are still there to perpetuate the atmosphere of old New England days, and better than all this the town has been so sanctified by the labours of her own best-known son that she will be remembered as the home of good works long after pompous cities have crumbled.
Mr. Moody’s birthplace is a plain, small farmhouse, which still stands on the hillside. It looks upon one of the country roads, which winds up from the main street in an easterly direction. The building is two stories high, with green blinds, and is protected from the sun by stately trees. There is one tree, of especial majesty, under which Mr. Moody is said to have planned some of his greatest sermons.
The home in which Mr. Moody and his family were domiciled after his work had so broadened as to make necessary a larger house than the homestead, stands near the north end of the town, and is not far from his mother’s house. It was purchased for about $3,000. A plain, roomy building it is. From time to time, as the requirements came up, Mr. Moody had additions built to the house, until it spread out its arms with a suggestion of hospitality most inviting to the visitor, the building fronts upon the main street. Mr. Moody’s study is on the first floor, only a few steps within from the entrance. The atmosphere of the house, with its simple but substantial furniture, suggests the home of a man who desires to shape his environment to make it suit his work.
THE CONCEPTION OF NORTHFIELD SEMINARY
When Mr. Moody returned to Northfield after his evangelistic tour of Great Britain, he went home to Northfield to rest. With his eyes sharpened by travel, and with his usual alert observance of the needs of those about him, he conceived a plan of making possible education for girls who were born to the un-stimulating routine of farm life. The germ of Northfield Seminary lay in this conception. In 1878 Mr. Moody purchased the first sixteen acres of land toward the two hundred and seventy acres, which are now owned by the Seminary. Mr. H.N.F. Marshall, of Boston, was a guest of Mr. Moody at that time, and the decision to purchase the land was arrived at with the advantage of his advice. As he and Mr. Moody came to a decision, the owner of the land walked up the street. They invited him in, asked his price for the sixteen acres, paid the money, and had the papers made out before the owner had time to recover from his surprise.
Work was begun on the building the following year. It was intended to establish this school as a high-class seminary for girls. When it was opened in 1879, twenty-five pupils entered. At first they studied and recited at Mr. Moody’s home, the first dormitory not being opened until 1880. Bonar Hall, the second dormitory, was burned a few years later, but Marquand Hall was opened in 1885. Other buildings have followed. At present the school possesses seven dormitories, a library, a gymnasium, a recitation hall and an auditorium.
The buildings have been erected with a view to artistic effect as well as adequate accommodations, and add much to the beauty of the situation. From the slopes of the school grounds, one looks up the river valley to the distant green hills of Vermont and New Hampshire, while the placid river meanders through fertile fields, which show rich with the fruits of the farm. Well-built roads wind through the grounds; shade trees and groups of shrubbery have been set out. Moreover, the land yields practical returns as a farm under the supervision of Mr. Moody’s brother. Six horses and fifty head of cattle belong to this school farm, and from ten to fourteen men are constantly employed. The school now numbers about four hundred pupils, its graduates being admitted to Wellesley, Smith and other high - grade institutions.
THE MOUNT HERMON SCHOOL FOR BOYS
When Mr. Moody was conducting his earliest mission work in Chicago, he laid close to his heart a plan to provide some day a school where boys could secure training in the elementary branches and the Bible. With this still in mind he purchased, in 1880, two farms of 115 acres each, with two farmhouses and barns. They were situated on what was known as Grass Hill, four miles from Northfield Seminary, and in the town of Gill. This school was incorporated as the Mt. Hermon School for Boys. The present buildings include five brick cottages, a large recitation hall, a dining hall and kitchen, Crossley Hall and Silliman Science Hall. This school now numbers about 400 students, and here as at the Seminary the industrial system is a prominent feature, but at Mt. Hermon nearly all of the work of the farm and house is done by the boys.
The auditorium of the Northfield Seminary was built in 1894 and was planned by Mr. Moody for the use of the summer conferences. It seats nearly 3,000 persons. A grove of white birches on a hillside back of the Seminary becomes, during the summer meetings “Camp Northfield”, where young men spend their summer outing periods.
Henry Drummond describes somewhere his first astonishment at finding this little New England hamlet with a dozen of the finest educational buildings in America, and of his surprise when he stopped to think that all these buildings owed their existence to a man whose name is perhaps associated in the minds of three-fourths of his countrymen, not with education, but with the want of it.
THE CHARACTER OF THE TOWN
The eastern part of the town has of late years become known as East Northfield, and has its separate Post Office and stores. New streets have been laid out and new houses have been built. Northfield, in fact, is coming to be known as a summer resort, but not of the usual type. Frivolous recreation gives way there to sane occupation and wholesome exercise. Intemperance, the use of tobacco, card playing and dancing have no place there; but the heart of nature is opened to those, who, with minds bent upon the best things, seek her reverently.
Northfield then is both a typical New England town and the result of the individual impression of one man’s life. All that is best in American culture is there epitomised, and the elms and the hazy hills and the homes of by-gone generations are witnesses of the regenerating influences which can be brought into play through the devotion and singleness of purpose of one man.
Dwight Lyman Moody was born in the town of Northfield, Mass., February 5. 1837. He was the sixth of seven sons who, with two daughters, made up the family of Edwin and Betsy Holton Moody. The father had acquired a little farmhouse and a few acres of stony ground on a hillside just without the limits of the town, but the whole was encumbered by mortgage. Mr. Moody worked as a stonemason when the opportunity was afforded, using his leisure time to till his farm. The burden of his responsibilities proved too heavy; reverses crushed his spirit; and, after an illness of only a few hours, he died suddenly at the age of forty-one years, when Dwight was only four years old, leaving a large family un-provided for.
A SUDDEN UPHEAVAL OF THE FAMILY
Young as he was, the picture impressed on the boy’s mind by this sudden upheaval of the household, consequent upon his father’s death, remained vivid. He did not forget the desperate feeling which must have seized the family in that crisis; nor did he ever forget the wonderful fortitude with which his mother met the situation. Only a month after the death of the father two posthumous children were born - a boy and a girl. Neighbours advised Mrs. Moody not to face harsh conditions now confronting her. Keep your twin babies, but bind out your children, they urged. “It will be so long before they can be of any real service to you that their maintenance just now will be a greater burden than you should assume.”
But Mrs. Moody was not the woman to be daunted by circumstances. The idea of separating from her children was not entertained. She took upon herself the task of snatching some tribute money from an unwilling soil, and of bringing up her children to wholesome manhood and womanhood - how well she succeeded is shown by the results.
ONE CALAMITY AFTER ANOTHER
One incident of this early period proved a severe blow to the bereaved family. The oldest son, upon whom the mother was planning to place considerable dependence, ran away from home. Mr. Moody in later years related this incident and its sequel in the following words:
“I can give you a little experience of my own family. Before I was four years old the first thing I remember was the death of my father. He had been unfortunate in business and failed. Soon after his death the creditors came in and took everything. My mother was left with a large family of children. One calamity after another swept over the entire household. Twins were added to the family, and my mother was taken sick. The eldest boy was fifteen years of age, and to him my mother looked as a stay in her calamity, but all at once that boy became a wanderer. He had been reading some of the trashy novels and the belief had seized him that he had only to go away to make a fortune. Away he went. I can remember how eagerly she used to look for tidings of that boy; how she used to send us to the post office to see if there was a letter from him, and recollect how we used to come back with the sad news, ‘No letter.’ I remember how in the evenings we used to sit beside her in that New England home, and we would talk about our father; but the moment the name of that boy was mentioned she would hush us into silence. Some nights when the wind was very high, and the house, which was upon a hill, would tremble at every gust, the voice of my mother was raised in prayer for that wanderer who had treated her so unkindly. I used to think she loved him more than all of us put together, and I believed she did. On a Thanksgiving Day – you know that is a family day in New England – she used to set a chair for him, thinking he would return home.
HIS BROTHER HOME AGAIN
“Her family grew up and her boys left home. When I got so that I could write, I sent letters all over the country, but could find no trace of him. One day, while in Boston, the news reached me that he had returned. While in that city, I remember how I used to look for him in every store – he had a mark on his face – but I never got any trace. One day while my mother was sitting at the door, a stranger was seen coming towards the house, and when he came to the door he stopped. My mother didn’t know her boy. He stood there with folded arms and a great beard flowing down his breast, his tears trickling down his face. When my mother saw those tears she cried, ‘Oh, it is my lost son,’ and entreated him to come in. But he stood still. ‘No, mother,’ he said, ‘I will not come in until I hear first that you have forgiven me.’ Do you believe she was not willing to forgive him? Do you think she was likely to keep him standing there. She rushed to the threshold, threw her arms around him and breathed forgiveness.”
The Moody family were Unitarians. Dwight had early advantages of Christian training, attending, as soon as he was old enough, the church in the village, where the Rev. Mr. Everett was pastor. In his interest in the efforts of Mrs. Moody to earn a livelihood for her family, Mr. Everett once took Dwight into his family for a time, in order that he might attend school, making return for this privilege by running errands and doing chores. It may seem strange that a Unitarian training should have fostered a temperament, which afterward became, in its expression, so purely evangelical. By way of explanation, it is said, that Mr. Everett was not one of those who questioned the divinity of our Saviour. Unorthodoxy had not as yet affected this church. The Bible as the Word of God, Jesus as the Son of God, the Church and its Sacraments - these were accepted beliefs of this country pastor.
Dwight also had the benefits of religious training in the home. Mrs. Moody early taught her children to learn passages of Scripture and verses of hymns. These she would recite at her frugal table, and the children would repeat them after her.
INCIDENTS FROM MOODY’S DAYS
When Dwight was about six years old, an old rail fence one day fell upon him. He could not lift the heavy rails. Exhausted by his efforts, he had almost given up. “Then,” as he afterward told the story, “I happened to think that maybe God would help me, and so I asked Him; and after that I could lift the rails,”
Another incident, which Mr. Moody has related, seems to have made so profound an impression upon his youthful mind that its influence in preparing his heart for the Gospel message cannot have been slight. He himself has related the story in these words:
“When I was a young boy - before I was a Christian - I was in a field one day with a man who was hoeing. He was weeping, and he told me a strange story, which I have never forgotten. When he left home his mother gave him this text ‘Seek first the kingdom of God.’ But he paid no heed to it. He said when he got settled in life, and his ambition to get money was gratified, it would be time enough then to seek the kingdom of God. He went from one village to another and got nothing to do. When Sunday came he went into a village church, and what was his great surprise to hear the minister give out the text, ‘Seek first the kingdom of God’ He said the text went down to the bottom of his heart. He thought it was but his mother’s prayer following him, and that some one must have written to that minister about him. He felt very uncomfortable, and when the meeting was over he could not get that sermon out of his mind.AGAIN ‘SEEK FIRST THE KINGDOM OF GOD’
“He went away from that town, and at the end of a week went into another church, and he heard the minister give out the same text, ‘Seek first the kingdom of God.’ He felt sure this time that it was the prayers of his mother, but he said calmly and deliberately, ‘No, I will first get wealthy.’ He said he went on and did not go into a church for a few months, but the first place of worship he went into he heard a minister preaching a sermon from the same text. He tried to drown - to stifle his feelings; tried to get the sermon out of his mind, and resolved that he would keep away from ‘church altogether, and for a few years he did keep out of God’s house. ‘My mother died,’ he said, and the text kept coming up in my mind, and I said I will try and become a Christian.’ ‘The tears rolled down his cheeks, as he said, ‘I could not; no sermon ever touched me; my heart is as hard as that stone,’ pointing to one in the field. I couldn’t understand what it was all about - it was fresh to me then. I went to Boston and got converted, and the first thought that came to me was about this man. When I got back I asked mother, Is Mr. L ----- living in such a place?’ ‘Didn’t I write to you about him?’ she asked. They have taken him to an insane asylum, and to every one who goes there he points with his finger up there and tells them to seek first the kingdom of God.’ There was that man with his eyes dull with the loss of reason, but the text had sunk into his soul - it had burned down deep. O, may the Spirit of God burn the text into your hearts to-night, When I got home again my mother told me he was in his house, and I went to see him. I found him in a rocking chair, with that vacant, idiotic look upon him. As soon as he saw me, he pointed at me and said ‘Young man, seek first the kingdom of God.’ Reason was gone but the text was there. Last month, when I was laying my brother down in his grave, I could not help thinking of that poor man who was lying so near him, and wishing that the prayer of his mother had been heard, and that he had found the kingdom of God.”
It is doubtful, however, if young Moody had experienced any real religious feeling up to the time of his conversion in Boston. He was a boy like other boys - unlike the majority, too, in his imperious will, his indifference to obstacles, his boundless energy. He was as fond of mischief as the average boy. The influences of a farm-boy’s life, tempered though they were by the forceful direction of a devoted mother, were not calculated to cultivate in him a taste for the finer things of life. His passionate outbursts of temper are still remembered by those who early came into contact with him. His profanity is a matter of his own record. Still, he was doubtless in this regard merely a type of his environment. The notable thing about the boy was his force; he bore in his endowment great possibilities for good or ill.HIS EARLY EDUCATION
Perhaps only twelve terms at the district school constituted Dwight’s early education. A smattering of the three R’s” a little geography, and the practice of declamation made up the sum of his learning. The truth of the matter seems to be that he did not study faithfully. It was only during his last term that he began to apply himself with diligence, too late to make tip for what he had lost. His reading is described as outlandish beyond description. With his characteristic tendency to jump directly to the heart of a question, he never stopped to spell out an unfamiliar word, but mouthed his sense of it without full dependence upon his training or made up a new word, which sounded, to his ear as suitable as the original.
Of his experiences as a schoolboy Mr. Moody has given the following in his sermon on “Law versus Grace”:
“THE LAW PARTY AND GRACE PARTY”
“At the school I used to go to when I was a boy, we had a teacher who believed in governing by law. He used to keep a rattan in his desk, and my back tingles now [shrugging his shoulders] as I think of it. But after a while the notion got abroad among the people that a school might be governed by love, and the district was divided into what I might call the law party, and the grace party; the law party standing by the old schoolmaster, with his rattan, and the grace party wanting a teacher who could get along without punishing so much.
“After a while the grace party got the upper hand, turned out the old master, and hired a young lady to take his place. We all understood that there was to be no rattan that winter, and we looked forward to having the jolliest kind of a time. On the first morning the new teacher, whom I will call Miss Grace, opened the school with reading out of the Bible and prayer. That was a new thing and we didn’t quite know what to make of it. She told us she didn’t mean to keep Order by punishment, but she hoped we would all be good children, for her sake as well as our own. This made us a little ashamed of the mischief we had meant to do, and everything went on pretty well for a few days; but pretty soon I broke one of the rules, and Miss Grace said I was to stop that night after school. Now for the Old rattan, said I to myself; it’s coming now after all. But when the scholars were all gone she came and sat down by me, and told me how sorry she was that I, who was one of the biggest boys, and might help her so much, was setting such a bad example to others, and making it so hard for her to get along with them. She said she loved us, and wanted to help us, and if we loved her we would obey her, and then everything would go on well. There were tears in her eyes as she said this, and I didn’t know what to make of it, for no teacher had ever talked that way to me before. I began to feel ashamed of myself for being so mean to any one who was so kind; and after that she didn’t have any more trouble with me, nor with any of the other scholars either. She just took us out from under the Law and put us under Grace.”
DEPARTURE FROM HOME
The circumstances, which led up to the departure of young Moody from home, have been variously stated. He had come to the age of seventeen. In those days a boy of seventeen was supposed to be ready to enter upon the serious business of life. New ambitions were arising in Dwight’s heart. Mr. Edward Kimball, who afterwards led the boy to the Lord, is perhaps as well informed of the circumstances of his life in Boston as any man now living. He gave the facts, as he was familiar with them at the time of Mr. Moody’s death.
“To tell the story correctly,” said Mr. Kimball, “I must go back to Thanksgiving day forty-five years ago. A Thanksgiving family dinner party was assembled at the Moody home, which was on a farm a mile and a half from Northfield, Mass. At the table, among others, were Samuel and Lemuel Holton, of Boston, two uncles of the Moody children. Without any preliminary warning young Dwight, a boy of about seventeen, spoke up and said to his uncle Samuel: “Uncle, I want to come to Boston and have a place in your shoe store. Will you take me?” Despite the directness of the question, the uncle returned to Boston without giving his nephew an answer. When Mr. Holton asked advice in the matter from an older brother of Dwight, the brother told his uncle that perhaps he had better not take the boy, for in a short time Dwight would want to run his store.
YOUNG MOODY LOOKING FOR A JOB
“Dwight was a headstrong young fellow who would not study at school, and who was much fonder of a practical joke than he was of his books. His expressed desire to go to Boston and get work was not a jest that the boy forgot the day after Thanksgiving. The two uncles were surprised when one day in the following spring Dwight turned up in Boston looking for a job. His uncle Samuel did not offer him a place. Dwight, when asked how he thought he could get a start, said he wanted work and he guessed he could find a position. After days of efforts, and meeting nothing but failures the boy grew discouraged with Boston, and told his uncle Lemuel he was going to New York. The uncle strongly advised Dwight not to go, but to speak to his uncle Samuel again about the matter. The boy demurred; saying his uncle Samuel knew perfectly well what he wanted. But the uncle insisted so that a second time the boy asked his uncle Samuel for a place in his store.
“Dwight, I am afraid if you come in here you will want to run the store yourself,” said Mr. Holton. “Now, my men here want to do their work as I want it done. If you want to come in here and do the best you can, and do it right, and if you’ll ask me when you don’t know how to do anything, or if I am not here, ask the bookkeeper, and if he’s not here one of the salesmen or one of the boys, and if you are willing to go to church and Sunday school when you are able to go anywhere on Sundays, and if you are willing not to go anywhere at night or any other time which you would not want me or your mother to know about, why, then, if you’ll promise all these things, you may come and take hold, and we’ll see how we can get along. You can have till Monday to think it over.’
I don’t want till Monday,’ said Dwight; I’ll promise now. And young Moody began to work in his uncle’s shoe store.
A remark the boy’s uncle made to me afterward will give an idea of the young man’s lack of education at this time. The uncle said that when Dwight read his Bible out loud he couldn’t make anything more out of it than he could out of the chattering of a lot of blackbirds. Many of the words were so far beyond the boy that he left them out entirely when he read and the majority of the others he mangled fearfully.”
Devotion to his mother was a duty and a privilege second only to devotion to his God, in the mind of Mr. Moody. When at home in Northfield, he never failed to look in upon his mother in her cottage early every morning, to give her a hearty greeting, and to see that she was provided with every comfort and many luxuries.
When away, no matter how many times a day he preached, nor how many informal meetings he personally conducted, a letter was posted to his mother at frequent intervals in which she was told at length of the success of the meetings.
A PICTURE NEVER TO BE FORGOTTEN
During the last years of her life, when failing health prevented her from attending public worship, the devoted son never forgot tile aged mother, and he often arranged for her to hear the noted speakers and singers of the conferences.
There is one picture associated with Northfield I can never forget it had to do with one of the summer conferences. Some one had been asking about Mr. Moody’s mother, and he had spoken to a few of those who gathered about him and said, “We might have a little service just at her house on the lawn, for she is not able to be out; “and so a number of distinguished Christian workers gathered just outside her window, sang the hymn she loved, prayed Gods special blessing upon her and her distinguished son, and then one after the other spoke some word of appreciation of their visit to Northfield. I was standing just by Mr. Moody’s side, and I heard him say to one of his friends, “I always thought she had such a beautiful face,” and as he looked at her the tears started in his own eyes, rolled down his cheeks, and he said with much emotion to a distinguished English Christian standing by his side, “ I think she has been the best mother in the world.”
HIS MOTHERS BLESSING
Once again when many young men were gathered from all over the eastern part of our country in the World’s Students’ Conference, Mr. Moody said:
“You know my mother is an old lady. She is too feeble to attend these meetings. She is deeply interested in this work, and she has prayed earnestly for its success. I want her to hear some of you speak and sing. We are going up the mountain this afternoon to pray for the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Meet me at my house at three o’clock. We will have a little service there and then I want you to go on to my mother’s home, and I want some of you to speak, and we will all sing.
“I want you to receive my mother’s blessing before we go to the mountains to pray, for next to the blessing of God I place that of my mother.”
The three hundred anxious pilgrims who gathered on Mr. Moody’s spacious lawn that afternoon, and who, after a brief service of song and prayer, journeyed on to the mother’s cottage and later to the mountaintop, presented a picture never to be forgotten by the members of that company.
Much that is here written is his own words concerning her. I have an Old mother away down in the Connecticut Mountains,” Mr. Moody used to say, “and I have been in the habit of going to see her ever year for twenty years. Suppose I go there and say, ‘ Mother, you were very kind to me when I was young— you were very good to me; when father died you worked hard for us all to keep us together, and so I have come to see you, because it is my duty. Then she would say to me, ‘Well, my son, if you only come to see me, because it is your duty, you need not come again. And that is the way with a great many servants of God. They work for Him, because it is their duty - not for love. Let us abolish this word duty, and feel that it is only a privilege to work for God, and let us try to remember that what is done merely from a sense of duty is not acceptable to God.”
And so it was. Year after year, in the very heat of those spiritual campaigns which brought him prominently before the people of the two continents, Mr. Moody would slip away regularly to the spot where, amid the serene surroundings of the Northfield hills, his mother sat with her thoughts upon him and his work, praising God who had permitted her boy to become the instrument of so much blessing.
HER PURITAN ANCESTRY
Betsey Holton, the mother of Dwight L. Moody, was a descendant in the fifth generation of William Holton, one of the first settlers of Northfield. In fact, this ancestor was one of that committee of the General Council of Massachusetts, which laid out the plantation of Northfield, after it had been purchased from the Indians in 1673. The marriage of Betsey Holton to Edwin Moody united two strains of old Puritan blood. Doubtless this lineage accounts in no slight degree for the restless energy and dogged earnestness of the son, Dwight.
“I always thought that Dwight would be one thing or the other,” the dear old woman once remarked. Where others had failed to see, she had early recognised the hardiness of the boy’s character, - hardiness which she must have seen through its very kinship with her own. For her schooling had not been easy. Left a widow with nine children, a small house, and an acre or so of heavily mortgaged land, she had taken upon her womanly shoulders the full responsibility of bringing up her family. Tilling the ground, and doing odd jobs for the neighbours, she continued to scrape together enough to keep her children fed and clothed, although the margin between plenty and want was frequently so slim as to bar out comfort. There were times when no food seemed forthcoming; but a Providence whose care extends even to the sparrows did not permit the burden to become too heavy for this widowed mother, although her resources were often taxed to the utmost.
YOUNG MOODY AT THE VILLAGE SCHOOL
Every day she taught the children a little Bible lesson, and on Sundays accompanied them to the Unitarian Sunday school. They were sent, too, to the village school. Dwight was as loath as the average young boy to endure the discipline of the schoolroom. It is not hard to picture him “with shining morning face, creeping like snail unwillingly to school.” But the wise mother knew. Seeds were being scattered in the fertile heart and mind of the boy: and if they did not seem to sprout at once, perhaps it was for the very reason that they had not been sown in a shallow soil.
The Rev. Dr. Theodore Cuyler, when he first met Mrs. Moody, turned to her son, and said, “I see now where you got your vim and your hard sense!” Others remarked the same resemblance of the son to his mother. I speak of this merely to make it evident how much he owed her.
However completely she came into sympathy with her son’s work in later years, at the outset of his labours his mother did not give him her sanction. She herself was a member of a non-evangelical church. For a long time she did not even hear her son preach. How he finally not only convinced her of his fitness for his work, but also became the means of leading her into the higher life has been related by a close friend of the family in the following words
HIS MOTHERS CONVERSION
In 1875 he returned to his home in Northfield to preach, shortly after coining back to America from one or his great London successes. The family still lived on the Old farm, and still drove to town to Sunday meeting in the Old farm wagon, just as they used to in the days gone by. Most of the members of the family were going to drive to town that morning to hear Dwight preach. The mother startled a daughter by saying to her:
“I don’t suppose there would be room in the wagon for me this Morning, would there? “
No one had ever thought of the mother unbending and going to hear her son.
“Of course there will be room, mother,” said the daughter.
And the mother was taken down to the church with the rest. Mr. Moody preached from the fifty - first Psalm, and preached with a fervour that was probably inspired by the presence of his mother. When those who wished prayer were asked to arise, old Mrs. Moody stood up.
The son was completely overcome, and, turning to B. F. Jacobs, now of Chicago, said with emotion, “You pray, Jacobs, I can’t. “
When he returned to Northfield after some evangelical tour, Mr. Moody would invariably drive directly to see his mother, to receive her welcome, even before joining his immediate family. Sitting in her sunny room the kindly, keen, old lady would give to her son kernels of sound wisdom with the blessing of her approval.
She was permitted to remain in this world until her ninety-first year. When at the last she began to sink, it was not thought by those about her that there was any immediate danger, and Mr. Moody, who was at the time conducting services in a distant city, was not informed as to the state of her health. But toward the close of a week of meetings the evangelist grew restless. He felt a strange intuition that his presence was needed at home, and, for no other reason, he cancelled his engagement and started for Northfield. He arrived in time to receive her blessing.
At his mother’s funeral, acting upon an impulse, Mr. Moody delivered a touching tribute to her memory. Mrs. William R. Moody had concluded her song “Crossing the Bar,” when the evangelist rose from his place with the family, and, bearing in his hands the old family Bible, and a worn book of devotions, came forward. Standing by the body of his mother, he said:
HIS TRIBUTE TO HIS MOTHER
“It is not the custom, perhaps, for a son to take part in such an occasion. If I can control myself I would like to say a few words. It is a great honour to be the son of such a mother. I do not know where to begin; I could not praise her enough. In the first place my mother was a very wise woman. In one sense she was wiser than Solomon’ she knew how to bring up her children. She had nine children and they all loved their home. She won their hearts, their affections; she could do anything with them.
“Whenever I wanted real sound counsel I used to go to my mother. I have travelled a good deal and seen a good many mothers, but I never saw one who had such tact as she had. She so bound her children to her that it was a great calamity to have to leave home. I had two brothers that lived in Kansas and died there. Their great longing was to get back to their mother. My brother who died in Kansas a short time ago had been looking over the Greenfield papers for some time to see if he could not buy a farm in this locality. He had a good farm there, but he was never satisfied; he wanted to get back to mother. That is the way she won them to herself. I have heard something within the last forty-eight hours that nearly broke my heart. I merely mention it to show what a character she was. My eldest sister, her oldest daughter, told me that the first year after my father died she wept herself to sleep every night. Yet, she was always bright and cheerful in the presence of her children, and they never knew anything about it. Her sorrows drove her to Him, and in her own room, after we were asleep, I would wake up and hear her praying, and sometimes I would hear her weeping. She would be sure her children were all asleep before she would pour out her tears.
IT IS A GREAT THING TO HAVE SUCH A GREAT MOTHER
“And there was another thing remarkable about my mother. If she loved one child more than another, no one ever found it out. Isaiah, he was her first boy; she could not get along without Isaiah. And Cornelia, she was her first girl; she could not get along without Cornelia, for she had to take care of the twins. And George, she couldn’t live without George. What could she ever have done without George? He staid right by her through thick and thin. She couldn’t live without George. And Edwin, he bore the name of her husband. And Dwight, I don’t know what she thought of him. And Luther, he was the dearest of all, because he had to go away to live. He was always homesick to get back to mother. And Warren, he was the youngest when father died; it seemed as if he was dearer than all the rest. And Sam and Lizzie, the twins, they were the light of her great sorrow.
She never complained of her children. It is a great thing to have such a mother, and I feel like standing up here to day to praise her. And just here I want to say before I forget it, you don’t know how she appreciated the kindness, which was shown her in those days of early struggle. Sometimes I would come home and say, such a man did so and so, and she would say, “Don’t say that, Dwight; he was kind to me”
“THE BIGGEST LOAD OF WOOD I EVER SAW”
My father died a bankrupt, and the creditors came and swept everything we had. They took everything, even the kindling wood; and there came on a snowstorm, and the next morning mother said we would have to stay in bed until school-time, because there was no wood to make a fire. Then, all at once, I heard some one chopping wood, and it was my Uncle Sam. I tell you I have always had a warm heart for that uncle for that act. And that night there came the biggest load of wood I ever saw in my life. It took two yoke of oxen to draw it. It was that uncle that brought it. That act followed me all through life, and a good many acts, in fact. Mr. Everett, the pastor of the Unitarian Church, I remember how kind he was in those days. I want to testify to day how my mother appreciated that.
“I remember the first thing I did to earn money was to turn the neighbour’s cows up on Strowbridge Mountain. I got a cent a week for it. I never thought of spending it on myself. It was to go to mother. It went into the common treasury. And I remember when George got work we asked who was going to mill the cows. Mother said she would milk. She also made our clothes and wove the cloth, and spun the yarn, and darned our stockings and there was never any complaining.
I thought so much of my mother I cannot say half enough. That dear face! There was no sweeter face on earth. Fifty years I have been coming back and was always glad to get back. When I got within fifty miles of home I always grew restless and walked up and down the car. It seemed to me as if the train would never get to Northfield. For sixty-eight years she has lived on that hill, and when I came back after dark, I always looked to see the light in mother’s window.
IN TIME TO RECEIVE HER BLESSING
When I got home last Sunday night I was going to take the four o’clock train from New York and get here at twelve I had some business to do; but I suppose it was the good Lord that sent me; I took the twelve o’clock train and got here at five - I went in to my mother. I was so glad I got back in time to be recognised. I said, ‘ Mother, do you know me? She said, ‘I guess I do.’ I like that word, that Yankee word ‘guess. ‘The children were all with her when she was taking her departure. At last I called, Mother, mother. No answer. She had fallen asleep; but I shall call her again by-and-by. Friends, it is not a time of morning. I want you to understand we do not mourn. We are proud that we had such a mother. We have a wonderful legacy left us.
One-day mother sent for me. I went to see what she wanted, and she said she wanted to divide her things. I said, ‘Well, mother, we don’t want anything you’ve got; we want you. We have got you, and that’s all we want.’ ‘Yes, but I want to do something.’ I said to her, ‘ Then write out what you want, and I will carry it out.’ That didn’t satisfy her. Finally she said, Dwight, I want them all to have something.’ That was my mother, and that was the way she bound us to her.
“ Now, I have brought the old Bible, the family Bible, for it all came from that book. That is about the only book we had in the house when father died, and out of the book she taught us. And if my mother has been a blessing to this world, it is because she drank at this fountain. I have read twice at family worship, and will read here a few verses, which she has marked.
VERSES SHE MARKED
“‘Who can find a virtuous woman? For her price is far above rubies. The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her.’
“She has been a widow for fifty-four years, and yet she loved her husband the day she died as much as she ever did. I never heard one word, and she never taught her children to do anything but just reverence our father. She loved him right up to the last.
“‘She seeketh wool and flax, and worketh willingly with her hands.’
“That is my mother.
“She considereth a field and buyeth it; with the fruit of her hands she planteth a vineyard. She girdeth her loins with strength and strengtheneth her arms. She perceiveth that her merchandise is good, her candle goeth not out by night.’
Widow Moody’s light had burned on that hill for fifty-four years, in that one room. We built a room for her, where she could be more comfortable, but she was not often there. There was just one room where she wanted to be. Her children were born there, her first sorrow came there, and that was where God had met her. That is the place she liked to stay, where her children liked to meet her, where she worked and toiled and wept.
“‘She stretcheth out her hands to the poor; yea, she reacheth forth her hands to the needy.’
“Now, there is one thing about my mother, she never turned away any poor from her home. There was one time we got down to less than a loaf of bread. Some one came along hungry, and she says, ‘ Now, children, shall I cut your slices a little thinner and give some to this person?’ And we all voted for her to do it. That is the way she taught us.
“‘She is not afraid of the snow for her household; for all her household are clothed with scarlet.’
“She would let the neighbours’ boys in all over the house, and track in snow; and when there was going to be a party she would say, ‘who will stay with me? I will be all alone; why don’t you ask them to come here?’ In that way she kept them all at home, and knew where her children were. The door was never locked at night until she knew they were all in bed, safe and secure. Nothing was too hard for her if she could only spare her children.
I HONOR HER FOR THE PUNISHMENT I GOT
“The seven boys were like Hannibal, whose mother took him to the altar and made him swear vengeance on Rome. She took us to the altar and made us swear vengeance on whiskey, and everything that was an enemy to the human family; and we have been fighting it ever since and will to the end of our days.
“My mother used to punish me. I honour her for that. I do not object to punishment. She used to send me out to get a stick. It would take a long time to get it, and then I used to get a dead stick if I could. She would try it and, if it would break easily, then I had to go and get another. She was not in a hurry and did not tell me to hurry, because she knew all the time that I was being punished. I would go out and be gone a long time. When I came in, she would tell me to take off my coat, and then she would put the birch on; and I remember once I said, ‘That doesn’t hurt.’ She put it on all the harder, and I never said that the second time. And once in awhile she would take me and she would say, ‘You know I would rather put this on myself than to put it on you.’ I would look up and see tears in her eyes. That was enough for me.
“What more can I say? You have lived with her and you know her. I want to give you one verse, her creed. Her creed was very short. Do you know what it was? I will tell you what it was. When everything went against her, this was her stay, ‘my trust is in God. My trust is in God.’ And when the neighbours would come in and I tell her to bind out her children, she would say, Not as long as I have these two hands.’ ‘ Well,’ they would say, ‘you know one woman cannot bring up seven boys; they will turn up in jail, or with a rope around their necks.’ She toiled on, and none of us went to jail, and none of us has had a rope around his neck. And if every one had a mother like that mother, if the world was mothered by that kind of mothers, there would be no use for jails.
Here is a book (a little book of devotions); this and the Bible were about all the books she had in those days; and every morning she would stand us up and read out of this book. All through the book I find things marked.
“Every Saturday night - we used to begin to observe the Sabbath at sundown Saturday night, and at sundown Sunday night we would run out and throw up our caps and let off our jubilant spirits - this is what she would give us Saturday night, and it has gone with me through life. Not all of it, I could not remember it all:
‘How pleasant it is on Saturday night
When I’ve tried all the week to be good.’
“And on Sunday she always started us off to Sunday school. It was not a debatable question whether we should go or not. All the family attended.
“I do not know, of course, we do not know, whether the departed ones are conscious of what is going on earth. If I knew that she was I would send a message that we are coming after her. If I could, I believe I would send a message after her, not only for the family, and the town, but also for the Seminary. She was always so much interested in the young ladies of the Seminary. She seemed to be as young as any of them, and entered into the joys of the young people just as much as any one. I want to say to the young ladies of the Seminary, who acted, as maids of honour to escort my mother down to the church this morning that I want you to trust my mother’s Saviour.
“I want to say to the young men of Mt. Hermon, you are going to have a great honour to escort mother to her last resting-place. Her prayers for you ascended daily to the throne of grace. Now, I am going to give you the best I have; I am going to do the best I can; I am going to lay her away with her face toward Hermon
“SHE WAS TRUE AS SUNLIGHT”
I think she is one of the noblest characters this world has ever seen. She was true as sunlight; I never knew that woman to deceive me.
I want to thank Dr. Scofield for the comforting words he has brought us to day. It is a day of rejoicing, not of regret. She went without pain, without struggle, just like a person going to sleep. And now we are to lay her body away to await His coming in resurrection power. When I see her in the morning she is to have a glorious body. The body Moses had on the Mount of Transfiguration was a better body than God buried on Pisgah. When we see Elijah he will have a glorious body. ‘That dear mother, when I see her again, is going to have a glorified body (looking at her face) God bless you, mother; we love you still. Death has only increased our love for you. Good-bye for a little while. Mother. Let us pray.”
DWIGHT L. MOODY was not the boy to forget his compact with his uncle. He went to church every Sunday— because he had promised to go - attending the Mount Vernon Congregational Church, of which the Rev. Dr. E. N. Kirk was pastor. He always considered this to be a great church.
Dr. Kirk was an excellent preacher, but young Moody was at a stage where all sermons sounded alike to him. Frequently he would fall asleep during service, at least until an occasion when he was suddenly awakened from his complete repose by a stern-faced deacon, who, as he roused the lad from his slumbers, pointed to Dr. Kirk, who was preaching - as much as to say, “ Keep your eyes on him!” Thereafter Dwight remained awake. Moreover, for lack of something else to do, he began to listen to the sermons. For the first time in my life,” he said in later days, “I felt as if the preacher were preaching altogether at me.”
HIS FIRST ACQUAINTANCE WITH MR E. D. KIMBALL
One Sunday the young man appeared in the Sunday school of Mount Vernon Church. The superintendent, Mr. Palmer, to whom he gave his name, took him to the class taught by Mr. Edward D. Kimball, and he took his seat among the other boys. Says Mr. Kimball, “ I handed him a closed Bible and told him the lesson was in John. The boy took the book and began running over the leaves with his finger away at the first of the volume looking for John. Out of the corners of their eyes the boys saw what he was doing and, detecting his ignorance glanced slyly and knowingly at one another, but not rudely. I gave the boys just one hasty glance of reproof. That was enough - their equanimity was restored immediately. I quietly handed Moody my own book, open at the right place, and took his. I did not suppose the boy could possibly have noticed the glances exchanged between the other boys over his ignorance, but it seems from remarks in later years that he did, and he said in reference to my little act in exchanging books that he would stick by the fellow who had stood by him and had done him a turn like that.”
This Sunday school teacher was not one of the ordinary types. Mere literal instruction on Sunday did not satisfy his ideal of the teacher’s duty. He knew his boys, and, if he knew them, it was because be studied them, because he became acquainted with their occupations and aims, visiting them during the week. It was his custom, moreover, to find opportunity to give to his boys an opportunity to use his experience in seeking the better things of the Spirit. The day came when he resolved to speak to young Moody about Christ, and about his soul.
JUST READY FOR THE LIGHT
I started down town to Holton’s shoe store,” says Mr. Kimball. ‘When I was nearly there, I began to wonder whether I ought to go just then, during business hours. And I thought maybe my mission might embarrass the boy, that when I went away the other clerks might ask who I was, and when they learned might taunt Moody and ask if I was trying to make a good boy out of him. While I was pondering over it all, I passed the store without noticing it. Then when I found I had gone by the door, I determined to make a dash for it and have it over at once. I found Moody in the back part of the store wrapping up shoes in paper and putting them on shelves. I went up to him and put my hand on his shoulder, and as I leaned over I placed my foot upon a shoebox. Then I made my plea, and I feel that it was really a very weak one. I don’t know just what words I used, nor could Mr. Moody tell. I simply told him of Christ’s love for him and the love Christ wanted in return. That was all there was of it. I think Mr. Moody said afterward that there were tears in my eyes. It seemed that the young man was just ready for the light that then broke upon him, for there at once in the back of that shoe store in Boston the future great evangelist gave himself and his life to Christ.”
Many years afterward Mr. Moody himself told the story of that day. When I was in Boston,” he said, “I used to attend a Sunday school class, and one clay I recollect my teacher came around behind the counter of the shop I was at work in, and put his hand upon my shoulder, and talked to me about Christ and my soul. I had not felt that I had a soul till then. I said to myself this is a very strange thing. Here is a man who never saw me till lately, and he is weeping over my sins, and I never shed a tear about them.’ But I understand it now, and know what it is to have a passion for men’s souls and weep over their sins. I don’t remember what he said, but I can feel the power of that man’s hand on my shoulder to night it was not long after that I was brought into the Kingdom of God.’
APPLIES FOR ADMISSION INTO THE CHURCH.
One of his first steps after his conversion was to apply for admission into the Mount Vernon Church.
It is frequently stated that after his application for membership in the Mount Vernon Church, he was looked upon so unfavourably as a candidate that he was kept waiting for a year before he was granted admission. It has also been said, that even after his acceptance by the church his remarks in the church meetings were so far from edifying that his pastor was obliged to suggest to him, that he could serve the Lord much more acceptably by keeping silence.
While there is a foundation of truth in these statements, they must not be taken too literally. Mr. Moody was undoubtedly at that time ignorant of many of the most important reasons of his profession; but Dr. Kirk’s church was a revival church, and his spirit was not such as to deny the opportunities of grace to any one who deserved them. The Rev. Dr. James M. Buckley, editor of the Christian Advocate, has written quite exhaustively on this matter. He has said
“Those sympathising with his Dr. Kirk’s peculiar work, gathered about him. Among them were such men as Julius Palmer, the brother of Dr. Ray Palmer, the author of ‘My Faith Looks Up to Thee’; he was one of the deacons, and all the rest had the same sympathies. Mr. Kimball was not only Mr. Moody’s Sunday school teacher, and, as Mr. Moody expressly informed us, the means of his conversion, but was also one of the examining committee. But the Mount Vernon Church did not receive a person who could not furnish evidence that he was converted, even if he was perfectly orthodox in doctrine.
“About the time Mr. Moody was converted, a young man came from Scotland with a letter from a Presbyterian church. He could repeat the Shorter Catechism, answer all doctrinal questions glibly, but when he was asked of his position before God as a sinner and his conscious relation to Christ as a Saviour, he knew nothing of it and made no reply, except that ‘such questions were never asked him before’. He confessed that he had simply ‘joined’ because he was advised and expected to do so. This young man was advised to wait, and brethren were appointed to try to arouse in him a consciousness of his need of a Saviour and of a work of grace, and to point him to the Lamb of God. About the same time, a young woman applied who was wholly in the dark on ‘doctrines’; tender, tearful, hesitating, distrustful of herself, she could not tell why she thought herself a Christian, but could only say that she loved Christ and the prayer meeting. One of the committee said, ‘Do you love God’s people because they are His?’ Her face brightened, and she said, ‘O, sir, is that an evidence?’ Yes.’ Then I am sure I have that if I have no other, for I love to be with Christians anywhere.’ She was promptly received.
HIS FIRST EXAMINATION
“When Mr. Moody appeared for examination, he was eighteen years old. He had only been in the Sunday school class a few weeks; he had no idea and could not tell what it was to be a Christian; even when aided by his teacher, whom he loved, he could not state what Christ had done for him. The chief question put to him was this: ‘Mr. Moody, what has Christ done for us all - for you - which entitles Him to our love?’ The longest answer he gave in the examination was this: ‘ I do not know. I think Christ has done a great deal for us, but I do not think of anything particular as I know of.’
“Under these circumstances, as he was a stranger to all the members of the committee, and less than a month had elapsed since he began to give any serious thought to the salvation of his soul, they deferred recommending him for admission to the church. But two of the examining committee were specially designated to watch over him with kindness, and teach him ‘the way of God more perfectly.
“When he met the committee again no merely doctrinal questions were asked of him; but as his sincerity and earnestness were undoubted and he appeared to have more light, it was decided to propound him for admission. About eight years after this, and when Mr. Moody had become prominent as an evangelist, he expressed his gratitude to one of the officers of the church for the course pursued, and said his conviction was that its influence was favourable to his growth in grace. He also said he was afraid that pastors and church officers generally were falling into the error of hurrying new converts into a profession of religion. To a person of our acquaintance Dr. Kirk himself referred with the deepest grief to these imputations upon the Church, and declared them to be without foundation in truth; as well he might, for if there ever existed a man in New England who was free from the spirit of ‘staid and stiff New England orthodoxy ‘, it was Dr. Kirk.
“As for the suggestion to say but little in prayer meeting, we have little doubt that some one suggested that, for Mr. Moody has told us of his utter ignorance of the evangelical system. He was converted, he ‘wished to do his duty’, he said, ‘whatever came to his lips, knowing no thing about its consistency or inconsistency; but he acted on John Wesley’s rule, ‘Do every religious, duty as you can until you can do it as you would.’”
MR. MOODY’S LIFE IN BOSTON
One of those who knew Mr. Moody at the time of his conversion was Mr. Charles B. Botsford, of Boston. Shortly after the death of Mr. Moody, Mr. Botsford related what he knew of the life of Moody in Boston.
“I distinctly recall my first interview with Mr. Moody, early in 1856, said Mr. Botsford. “It was at the close of one of the Monday evening religious meetings of the Mt. Vernon Association of Young Men, formed several years before by Dr. Edward N. Kirk, for the benefit of young men of his church and congregation. Antedating the Y. M. C. A. by several years, it continued a vigorous life for several decades, and proved of great value.
“A literary meeting alternated with a devotional meeting. It was at this, his first attendance, at one of the latter, that in a broken and trembling way, he earnestly stated his purpose to turn over a new leaf and lead a Christian life. When the meeting was over I took him by the hand and conducted him for the first time to the rooms of the Y. M. C. A., in the old Tremont Temple, to attend, as was my custom, the 9 o’clock prayer and conference meeting. Moody spoke, but much more zealously than grammatically, and he continued to be an active participant in the meetings from week to week.
“LET THE LEAVEN WORK”
“After a time, one of the most cultured members complained to Mr. Moody’s uncle, a shoe dealer on Tremont Row, between Brattle and Hanover streets, that his nephew was altogether too zealous and conspicuous in the Y. M. C. A. meetings, saying that he wished in some way to have the zealot restrained. When consulted about the matter I said: ‘No, let the leaven work!’ The world knows what Mr. Moody has since done, in, by and for Y.M.C.A.’s, to say nothing of his other work.
“In the meantime I had taken Moody to a Sunday morning devotional meeting, that I was accustomed to attend, in the vestry of Dr. Neal’s Baptist church, where the Boston University now stands. At that meeting, also, with its strong sectarian atmosphere, Moody spoke, and so stumbled in absolute disregard of the Pilgrim’s English, that, in embarrassment, I bowed my head on the rail of the seat before me. He continued there, also. It was from this church, later, that a good sister, more zealous to steady and guard the ark of the Lord than to encourage unlearned young men to become leaders in Israel, went to Mr. Holton and said: ‘If you have any interest in or regard for your nephew, you had better admonish him not to talk so much, for he is making a fool of himself.’ But still the leaven worked.
May 4, 1856, Mr. Moody united with the Mt. Vernon Church, where he was a member of Mr. Kimball’s class in the Sunday school. He was not a constant attendant of the mid-week devotional meetings of the church, for, as he expressed it, he did not have liberty there in his utterances, and, naturally enough, perhaps, for the atmosphere of the meetings was strongly intellectual and positively spiritual, with such leaders as Deacons Palmer, Kimball, Pinkerton and Cushing, with Dr. Kirk, at the close, to deepen and seal the impression.”
A CHANGED LIFE
Concerning his relations to the Mount Vernon Church, Mr. Moody afterward said: “When I first became a Christian, I tried to join the church, but they wouldn’t have me, because they didn’t believe I was really converted.”
A number of years afterward, Dr. Kirk was attending the anniversary of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions, which was held that year in Chicago. He was entertained by Mr. Moody, the man who as a boy had come into the light, in some measure, under his influence, and he preached on Sunday in the pulpit of his former parishioner. When he returned to Boston Dr. Kirk called upon Mr. Moody’s uncle, Mr. Holton, and said: “ I told our people last evening that we had every reason to be ashamed of ourselves. That young Moody, whom we thought did not know enough to belong to our church and Sunday school, is to-day exerting a wider influence for the Master than any other man in the great northwest.”
Speaking of his experience in passing from the life of sin to the life of religion, Mr. Moody once said: “I used to have a terrible habit of swearing. Whenever I would get mad, out would come the oaths; but after I gave my heart to Christ, He took the oaths away, so that I did not have the least disposition to take God’s name in vain.”
At another time, when waited upon by a journalist, who asked him for a sketch of his life, Mr. Moody said “ I was born in the flesh in 1837; I was born in the Spirit in 1856. What is born of the flesh may die; that which is born of the Spirit will live forever”.
HOW MOODY REVENGED HIMSELF UPON THE DEACON
The Rev. Dr. Savage, of Chicago, used to tell of the way in which Mr. Moody revenged himself upon one of the deacons who had been instrumental in keeping him waiting for admission to the church. Mr. Moody’s action was, of course, good-natured, for he not only bore no malice, but, on the other hand, was thankful for the wisdom which had required of him some sane understanding of his own state before he was allowed full fellowship with God’s people. The earnest inquirer finds only a stimulus to further search when his own unfitness is made clear to him.
To return to the story. It was during the London campaign, and in the midst of one of the great meetings in Exeter Hall. Mr. Moody, whose sharp eyes never missed a detail in the great audiences, which he faced, saw, away back under a gallery, his old friend, and the deacon. The good man was travelling at the time, and had come to the meeting largely out of curiosity. Mr. Moody said nothing until toward the close of the service. Then he suddenly exclaimed: “I see in the house an eminent Christian gentleman from Boston. Deacon P., come right up to the platform; the people are anxious to hear you.”
‘The deacon was far from eager to accept this hearty invitation, but he found that there was no alternative. So, mounting the platform, he began to speak. He told of having been acquainted with Mr. Moody during the evangelist’s early life - of the fact that they had been members of the same church. Here Mr. Moody suddenly interrupted: “Yes, Deacon, and you kept me out of that church for six months, because you thought I did not know enough to join it.” The deacon, at last succeeding in making himself heard above the roar of laughter which greeted Mr. Moody’s sally, retorted that it was a privilege to any church to receive Mr. Moody at all, even though with considerable trepidation, and after long endeavour to know him thoroughly.
HOW HE REPAYS HIS OLD SUNDAY SCHOOL TEACHER
A number of years after his own conversion Mr. Moody found an opportunity to repay his old Sunday school teacher in kind for the help, which Mr. Kimball had given to him. After a service in Boston a young man came to Mr. Moody and introduced himself as a son of Mr. Kimball. “I’m glad to meet you,” said Mr. Moody. “Are you a Christian?” The young man admitted that he was not, and Mr. Moody inquired of him as to his age. “I am seventeen, was the reply. “That was just my age, when your father led me to the Lord,” said Mr. Moody, “and now I want to repay him by leading his son to Christ.”
The coincidence, in age made an impression on the young man. After a brief conversation, he promised to surrender his heart to the Saviour, and a short time afterward Mr. Moody received a letter from him, stating that he had found what he had sought. After his reception into the Mount Vernon Church, Mr. Moody remained in Boston for about five months. The restraint of his conservative surroundings lay heavy upon him. He yearned for freedom - freedom to think, freedom to speak, freedom to work. He must have had some consciousness of the great intuitions, the great feelings, which were struggling’ in him to burst forth into bloom, and he must have realised that the soil of staid Boston was not stimulating to such a growth. He had come into a new life his forceful nature was not the kind to wait for circumstances to develop it. He required broad opportunity.
HE SEEKS HIS FUTURE IN THE WEST
His unrest finally decided him definitely to seek a future in the West. His mother, it is said, did not approve of the move, dreading, as do all good mothers, the change which would take her son farther from her, and possibly fearing the dangers of a new environment, which might not prove wholesome. Any dread, which she may have felt, was afterward proved to have been ill founded.
Securing a letter from his uncle, Mr. Moody set out for Chicago in September 1856, and entered the Western Metropolis with small store of earthly goods, but with a large fund of buoyant hope and energy, and a devoted purpose to serve his Divine Master.