Biography of Famous Preacher D.L. Moody Part 2

About the famous American preacher D.L. Moody, biography and history of the church revivalist.

D.L. MOODY (1837-1899)

After 12 years in Chicago Moody had his own church and a thriving Sunday school and had become the driving force behind the city's Young Men's Christian Association. He had tamed his country tongue to become a commanding preacher whose plain but forceful speaking style captivated large audiences. Other ministers heard of his drawing power and invited the lay minister to speak at churches all over Chicago. D. L. Moody had become an evangelist.

In 1870, at a YMCA convention in Indianapolis, Moody 1st heard Ira D. Sankey, a sweet-voiced psalm-singer who, from Monday to Friday, was a Federal tax collector. Moody approached him, brushing aside conventional introduction: "Where do you live?" he asked. "Are you married? What is your business?" Sankey barely had a chance to answer when the big, bearded evangelist said abruptly, "You'll have to give that up. I have been looking for you for 8 years. I want you to come to Chicago and help me in my work."

The collaboration between the 2 men was to breathe new life into the traditional revival. Moody's sermons were perfectly suited to his audience. His people were late-19th-century Americans, born to the farm but struggling for survival in an industrial world unforseen by their small-town moral teachers. In his rich homey style he would tell the aged Bible tales with a familiarity and simplicity that was irresistible to his flock. The prodigal son, receiving Moody's treatment, became nothing more than a farm boy lured to the wicked city now returning with head bowed. Moody would conclude and Sankey would sing meltingly, "Come home, O prodigal child." The worshipers were helpless before an appeal so tailored to their extravagantly sentimental era.

His preaching was barren of literary allusion because he believed literature was "useless." He shunned poetry in his sermons because he couldn't memorize the lines. He could never recite the Lord's Prayer without a text.

But Moody's impact was enormous. He introduced into evangelism the techniques of post-Civil War capitalism, using advertising, public relations, and business organization to promote the Word of God. By turning his parishioners away from the social strife of the day to the disposition of their souls, he froze in time a large segment of American Protestantism.

In 1873 Moody and Sankey swept Victorian Britain with an evangelistic crusade witnessed by millions. Returning to the U.S., they held a triumphal 4-month revival in the New York Hippodrome, where the evangelist and the hymn singer attracted an estimated 11,000 nightly.

For the next 8 years they swelled crowds from Boston to San Francisco. At one meeting in Philadelphia the audience included president Grant, a Supreme Court justice, the governor of Pennsylvania, and several congressmen and senators.

Moody founded the Bible Institute of Chicago (now the Moody Bible Institute), which earned a reputation as "the West Point of Christian work." Returning to the scene of his poor and undistinguished youth, he founded the Northfield Seminary for girls in 1879 and the Mount Hermon School for boys 2 years later.

D.L. spent his last years away from the evangelistic trail, with the exception of a huge revival under a circus tent at the Chicago World's Fair. He died peacefully in his bed, at Northfield, 9 days before the birth of the 20th century.

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