HELD AT BOSTON, MARCH 14 AND 15, 1877.
While the morning was decidedly cold in temperature and cheerless in its aspect, the opening session of the New England Christian Convention, beginning at 10 o'clock, was very well attended, some 3500 persons in all being present at that hour. The delegates appeared to be, for the greater part, people who had reached or hail passed the noon of life.
HOW CAN THB NON-CHURCH-GOERS BE REACHED?
The Rev. G-. C. Lorimer was called upon by Mr. Moody to open the question before the meeting—" How can the non-church-goers be reached?" Dr. Lorimer spoke a few words of welcome to the delegates present, and entered at once upon the discussion. He said: It is claimed by some that a new and modified gospel is needed; but he contended that the old gospel, plainly preached, will be always the best thing. A modified gospel has already been tried, with a vengeance, here in New England; and it has done very little. Men hungering for spiritual bread do not need a new bread, any more than we in this region, winter-bound as we are, need a new spring. We want only that spring which comes to us, with its freshness, after every winter. The gospel that has been given to us is the instrument that can open the consciences of men; and when that is done, the way of reaching men is attained. In the domain of conscience, the minister is God's anointed messenger. The speaker alluded to the sermons of humanitarian preachers as giving ideas and inspiration for integrity in life; but when the soul is hungering after spiritual nourishment, their preaching does not satisfy. Again, it is said that we need a new architecture. Dr. Lorimer described, in a few words, the differing ideas in regard to the size, form and character of church buildings, but said that these things do not really affect the question of attendance upon public worship. What is needed is a warm weicome. We must make visitors to our churches feel at home with us. The speaker gave a very amusing description of how a dapper church usher is apt to receive an illlooking, ill-clad man, who happens to respond to some Christian's invitation to come to the place of worship. He concluded by telling a case which recently occurred in this city, where a lady worth a raillion and a half was unable to hire a pew of the sexton or treasurer because she was plainly dressed. His application of all his remarkt
was that it is the spirit of the church which draws people into it; and unless the people want everybody, it is useless for ministers or any one else to try to get them.
Rev. R. R. Meredith said the question was a very broad one to settle in five minutes. Throughout our cities there was a black band designating our population who never enter a church, and we don't know whether our sermons are dry or juicy, and the fact is potent; and that is, up to the present time, they are not reached. It was not because ministers tried to reach them. Every once in a while some one hires a hall, say music hall, and draws three or four thousand people, and then the shout goes out that the masses have been reached; but upon entering the hall, we find that the so-called masses are people drawn from other churches, and the same black band still remains. Christ gives us the key to unlock the problem. We must go out into the hedges and by-ways, and compel them to come in. Individual effort will do it.
J. Russell Bradford, Esq., President of the Congregational Club, aaid that we have in all our churches a pure gospel preached; and we have a faithful ministry. Addressing the laymen, he said that they have a responsibility laid upon them, which they must not look to the ministers to lift away. The laymen must go out into the world animated by an earnest Christian spirit, and urge all to come into the churches.
Rev. D. W. Waldron argued that when people's souls were burdened with love for Christ and fellowmen, then they could not find too much time to attend to the work. The city has been, divided into a hundred districts, and there are 75,000 families distributed up among a hundred churches. Workers were out in the city to-day; and next Friday, between two and three hundred drinking men, who had been gathered up this week by the workers, will be present, and many of them will hear the gospel spoken for the first time. Our opportunities and responsibilities are great. We can give a tract or a Bible, and thus forge a link in the chain which shall lead sinners to Christ.
Rev. J. M. Manning, D. D., declared that the masses are reached, reached every day, and influenced either for good or evil. Business men going to their labors down town, and women going among their domestics, are reaching the people; and the question is, Are we hiding our light under a bushel, or not? We are living epistles, known and read of all men. As we go about among men what do our lives say to them? Do they say that the gospel of Christ has made new men and new women of us? Let us not forget that we are all the time reaching the masses, either for their salvation or for sending them further away from Christ and his salvation.
Rev. L. B. Bates spoke of how political parties reached the masses, a few weeks before election. He described the electioneering machinery, and argued if Christians wanted to reach the masses consistently they should do so. He then told how a certain minister, who had never been accused of preaching a great sermon, but who always had a church full, and for that reason was sent to take charge of a church in Newport, at first failed to attract the masses in that fashionable city; but there he finally'filled his church by going down to the beach every noon, and inviting the rough fishermen to come. If we only adopt the plan of Jesus Christ, we shall reach the masses every time. He did not believe that the churches were not reaching the masses, as some speakers alleged; on the contrary he claimed that the masses were reached, and would continue to be reached as long as the church of God remained true.
Rev. W. O. Holman, of Charlestown, divided the great mass of people who have not been reached into two classes—the neglectful and the neglected. There are hundreds born in poverty and reared in ignorance, who feel that there is no person in the world who cares for them. There are others who, having early religious training, coming down from the hill-towns perhaps, have yielded to the temptations of city life, have drifted away from the Church. Then there are those who have been in better circumstances, who have grown indifferent to religion. All these are apparently neglected. The ministers do what they can; but they have constant calls upon their time and attention. Christian men and women do something; but they do not do enough. Mr. Holman told of Uncle John Vassar, the Missionary, who was at one time foreman in a brewery at Poughkeepsie.' He went one day to his employer and said he was going to leave. The proprietor was astonished, and wanted to know his reason. He stated it as being that he could not see heaven through the two ends of a beer barrel. The work begun by this man on the Fifth avenue of Chicago was then graphically described. It began by his forcing himself into a fashionable residence, with his collection of books. He had been discouraged from attempting anything in that region: but his efforts resulted in the conversion of the lady of the house, and a revival followed.
Rev. E. B. Webb said: Dear friends: I think we ought to be profoundly thankful for what has been accomplished in the direction that has been indicated. But I think, at the same time, we shall all agree that there are vast multitudes yet to be brought to the house of God and to be brought to Christ; and the questian may take another form perhaps, namely, in this way, Who are the persons who are to go to these people and bring them in? Does any portion of that responsibility rest upon me, as an individual? Does any portion rest upon any brother? How is this work to be done? Who is to do this work? Now I think, if we go right back to the Book we get a starting point. The Savior himself said, "As thou has sent me into the world, even so send I thee." Who does that mean? It means yon and me, don't it? It means his disciples; and we take our start from the Master. Now what was the motive that influenced the Master in coming into the world; and what did the Master come into the world to do? I take it, it is true, as a general proposition, that every man or woman of ordinary ability can accomplish in this world about what they undertake to accomplish. If it is your intention to become a lady of fashion in the city or in the town where you live, with ordinary ability you will succeed. If it is your intention to make money and become rich, and you live for that, with ordinary ability you will succeed; and this is true also, that if it is my intention, or your intention, to live for the Lord Jesus Christ, and to carry out that injunction, "As thou hast sent me, so I send thee," we can reach anybody that we go for and bring them to Christ. Is not that true? And if it true, then what are we living for? What am I living for in my sphere? What are you living for, brother? You are living to make money; you have half a million and want a million; you have got $100,000 and want $200,000. I believe we should work man by man, each after an individual; and whenever the church of Christ, we altogether, come to possess that spirit and go forth as the Master has sent us, there will be no question to ask about this work. How did those men go? If you go anywhere where there is a living church to-day, you find that it is individual work. When we realize that we are here to redeem the world, this question will be taken out of the way. of John Stirling by Carlyle—by the. way, the only good thing-1 found in his book. There was a fire, and Stirling stood in the water up to his middle filling the buckets. On some one telling him that he would get his death if he stayed there, he simply remarked that "Somebody has to do it." That is the way we ought to feel; but we ought not to feel that the somebody is some person other than ourselves. The way to resume, as Horace Greeley says, is to resume; and the way to reach the masses is to reach the masses.
Rev. A. T. Gordon said that the best way to reach the masses is to try to reach individuals. When each man reaches his neighbor, he does effectual work. The speaker alluded to Uncle John Vassar's incisive method of working with individuals, telling of an interview he had with a gentleman, who afterwards boasted that he had shut him up. "Oh no," said a friend, "you can't shut him up." "Well, I sent him about his business." "Why he was about his business," replied the friend. That business should interest us all, was the sum of Mr. Gordon's concluding remarks.
Rev. Dr. Taylor, of New York, said that a good many people think that if they are themselves filled and edified and comforted, that is all they need to expect from going to church. We should desire to be refreshed in the church for work outside of it. Some of the finest sermons the Savior preached were preached to individuals. The way Paul preached to the Roman soldier was by talking to him while chained to him. They thought they had him secure; but he had them. Dr. Taylor told of having four oranges once, which he gave to his four children. He then asked which of them would give the baby a piece. As if by one consent, the three oldest turned to the fourth, and said, ""Willie will do it." That, said the doctor, is human nature. He then continued his remarks by telling a story told
Rev. E. Frank Howe, of Newtonville, spoke earnestly of the necessity of making the churches headquarters for reaching all men, and said that it is not only the miserably poor that are to be reached, but the miserably rich.
Mr. Moody followed, and told of his early experience in Christian work in Chicago, when the congregations were discouragingly small. The way to success was found by putting the converts to work, trying to bring others into the fold. One man, who was converted through an interpreter, was unable to speak English, but wanted to work. He was given at last the task of distributing religious handbills, and did it very faithfully. Some people thanked him, and some cursed him. He didn't understand English, so it was all the same to him. He was made the means of converting many.
As remedies for the non-attendance of people at church, Mr. Moody urged putting the converts to work, and dwelt also upon the good that may be done by congregational singing. The church has made a woeful mistake in not using the young converts. Mr. Moody said he had been able to do much good by going to billiard halls and saloons to sing, reaching the men at first by singing some patriotio song, and following it up by singing hymns. Soon the men take their hats off; the memory of their childhood brings tears to their eyes; soon they do not object to hearing the Scriptures read, or a prayer offered; and there is a prayer-meeting going before they know it. He had taken sixteen men out of one saloon, and nine of them went to the inquiry-room. Mr. Moody concluded by an earnest appeal to laymen to give themselves earnestly, and as much as possible, to Christian work.
Mr. Sankey alluded to the broadness of the question; and he would not, therefore, try to say what is the best singing for every church, for that would vary. He would simply consider how the service of music can be used best to the praise and glory of God. There are many ohurches, perhaps, in which different kinds of musio are needed, and in some, a stated form may be necessary. It is impossible to please everybody. If a certain kind of music is the only kind that will suit a church, it is best to let them go on in their own way. As rules of guidance, Mr. Sankey said he would encourage congregational singing; and he would have the ohoir composed of Christian men and women, and led by a Christian. He did not believe in having people to praise God for others, when the singers hired have no sympathy with the church and its work. Then he would have the choir near the pulpit, and in full view of the congregation. It happens, too frequently, that paid choirs, or those not composed of Christians, when set away in the corner of a church, often act as no person should act in a church. He did not object to a quartette composed of Christians, but he did not believe in having people who sing in a theatre one night and in a church the next. This remark was applauded, and Mr. Sankey oontinued by saying that he preferred a small organ to a large one, because the usual manner of playing the organ tends to drown the voices of singers in the congregation. He would have the organ played softly, and would have more praying for the singing and less of criticism upon it. Ministers should pray repeatedly for their singers.
Mr. Sankey said he wanted better preaching, which remark created considerable amusement. Good, earnest, warm singing he also regarded as a necessity. He then asked any who had any questions to ask to put them, promising to answer them as well as he could. He wanted the questions to be practical, and put so they might be heard. The following are the questions and answers:
Question—" Don't you think it would be a good thing to have the ministers good singers?"
Mr. Sankey—"Well, friend, it would be a good thing; but we haven't the arrangement of that." (Laughter.)
Question—" What are you going to do when you have no Christian men that can sing?"
Mr. Sankey—" I would take Christian women. (Laughter.) And then I would have an old-fashioned evangelical service there, and convert some male singers."
Question—"How can we have the singers speak plain?"
Mr. Sankey—" By speaking to them gently, and asking them to do so. Don't laugh at them, or criticise or abuse them, but speak to them properly; and they will be glad to correct their faults.
Question—"What do you think of organ preludes and interludes?"
Mr. Sankey—"Instead of a long prelude, I would have the singing of Gospel hymns before the minister comes in."
Question—" What do you think of music that is good music, but which the people do not understand?"
Mr. Sankey—"If it is good music, or operatic, I would nol^condemn it; but I think it should be left to the opera-house i thing else put in its place that the people can appreciat
music has its place; but I don't think the church is the place for it." (Applause.)
Question—" Do you think that the Sabbath school can be used for church singing?"
Mr. Sankey—"Yes; that is a good idea. I would graduate the children from the Sabbath school choir to the church choir."
Question—" Don't you think that the instruction in music in the public schools is good for the church?"
Mr. Sankey—" Yes; it is a grand thing for the Church."
Question—" If you get all your singers into one corner, what are the rest of the church going to do?"
Mr. Sankey—" Sing!" (Laughter and applause.)
Franklin W. Smith spoke of a remark he once heard from a German musician visiting this country. This gentleman thought that much spiritual life is lost in America because of the lack of associated singing. After speaking very eloquently of the service of Eraise as being divinely instituted, Mr. Smith " brought down the ouse " by his interpretation of a performance he once heard from a church quartette. The soprano, a lady with a beautiful voice, sang first, and the musio, as it came to Mr. Smith, seemed to say, "Hear me sing! Hear me sing!" Then the basso, in grand full tones, began, and what his music meant was, "Now hear me."
WHAT CAN BE DONE FOB YOUNQ MEN?
Rev. Mr. Northrup, of Hartford, Conn., said: "It must be remembered, at the outset that young men are not, as a class, harder to reach than any other class. A well-known college professor asserts that, with proper instrumentalities employed, none respond so readily to Christian effort as young men. In Connecticut, recently, several religious movements nave begun with voung men. This class of society must be sought by those belonging to it." In support of his declaration, that young men should seek young men, Mr. Northrup related several instances of conversions effected by such among those of their own age. Another agency to be employed is the work of Christian employers. When men make more of a business of religion, there will be more religion in business. Another means of reaching young men is, to make pleasant ways for them to pass their leisure time. Set up counter attractions to the billiard hall and the saloon. In all ways, approach the young men in a frank and manly way.
Russell Sturgis, Jr., devoted his remarks to explaining the objects and methods of the Young Men's Christian Association, for which he asked sympathy and the support of Christian prayers.
Rev. J. A. H. Behrends, D. D., of Providence, R. I., said he wished to pass from a consideration of methods to a consideration of that which underlies all methods. Rather than multiply machinery, we must intensify the spirit which is in those engaged in Christian work. Dr. Behrends concluded his brief and eloquent remarks by urging Christian workers to reach the young by being young in spirit.
Rev. Reuben Thomas, of Brookline, spoke of the time in every young man's life when he is in a skeptical frame of mind. He had had such a time in his own life; and, looking over his experience, he felt that the ministers must know the young men's doubts, and sympathize with them. Else they will not listen. He indorsed the idea expressed by Dr. Behrends, that those who wished to reach the young must themselves be young in spirit. Religion makes a man young. A humorous allusion to Mr. Moody's continued brightness was pleasantly received; and then Mr. Thomas said that a whole batch of young men had come into his church on the last communion Sunday. He thought that they were very bright and fresh looking —a Stephen, every one of them. Mr. Thomas concluded by exhorting all to youthfulness of spirit in dealing with the young.
"HOW CAN THE CHURCHES OF NEW ENGLAND BE REVIVED?"
Rev. R. R. Meredith said: the question is, How can the churches of New England be revived? It is not so much a question as to how sinners are to be revived; but how the churches are to be awakened. The framer of the question probably thought that, the churches being revived, the salvation of sinners would follow as a matter of course. The churches of New England are wonderfully alive; but the one thing that they need to-day is an earnest, deep revival of the religion of the Lord Jesus Christ. We are all united in this belief, and equally so in the desire for the coming of that revival. In answer to the question, the speaker said that there is only one way to revive a church, and that is to revive its individual members. When you get all the members of a church awakened, then your church is revived; for if every man cleans the snow from his own sidewalk, the whole sidewalk is clean. In order to get a revival, we must not try to get it up, but to bring it down—bring it down from God. We must, therefore, pray for it, wrestling with the angel of the Lord till we get the blessing. The prayer must be earnest; it must be specific in regard to this matter. All we get from God, we et by definite prayer. Our prayer must also be contrite; we must iumble ourselves before God, confessing our shortcomings. It must also be humble, our wills being deferred to the will of God. God sends rain in his own way; and if we want a revival, we must take it just as God sends it. Then, in all and through all, our prayer must be believing prayer.
A revival of true religion is not
of Divine origin through human co-operation. It is wonderful that God should make us co-workers with him in saving souls; but the fact lays upon us a great responsibility. "Go work in my vineyard," is the command of the Lord to every convert. The necessary things are a sense of personal responsibility, an earnest spirit of consecration, an incessant activity in the work. How are we to get these things? The only way in which a revival of religion in the churches is to be obtained is, by those present giving their hearts entirely to God. The speaker concluded by uVging the delegates not to leave Boston until they are on fire for God. Then they will take away a spark which will create a revival in the churches of New England. Rev. W. B. Wright said that there are three laws which must be conformed to before the ohurches can be revived. Each of these was presented in connection with a glance at the history of the apostles after the Savior's death. These laws, as Mr. Wright presented them briefly, toward the close of his remarks, are confession of sin, earnest prayer to God, and thorough activity in work.
Rev. G. F. Pentecost thought that a great responsibility rests upon the ministers. The pastorate in New England and elsewhere has become too much a commercial engagement; and ministers have come to have more regard for their churches than for their Master, The authority given to the minister to preach is derived directly from the Lord Jesus Christ; and if that fact is forgotten, the ministry will become a failure. Men's sins must be rebuked; but if the minister stops to question whether his pastorate will be made insecure by plain preaching, he loses sight of his mission. It is not necessary that the minister should continually scourge his people; but he should preach always as in the sight of the Master. Paul's devotion to his work was eloquently spoken of. There must be a revival in preaching; ministers preaching less as theological professors, and more as bearers of a message from God. The speaker urged that ministers be more familiar with the Bible, indulging more in practical Scripture exposition than in merely forensic effort.
Rev. Mr. Newell, of Newburyport, said that we know that Jesus came into the world to save sinners; and the mission of Christians is to save souls. If we keep that fact in mind, we will be alive. There are souls all around us perishing under the shadow of the churches. When these churches are awake to the need of these souls, there will be a revival.
MR. MOODY AND THE QUESTION DRAWER.
Mr. Moody then announced the first question which had been sent to him as relating to the matter of praying for the Spirit: Does not the continued seeking after the Holy Spirit blunt the sense of what we have? If a man is full, he can hold no more. Praying for power differs from praying for the indwelling of the Spirit. There is little danger that Christians will become so full of the Spirit that they need no power.
Q. Why don't you teach baptism? Ans. That is none of your business. Some men would have this work broken up in six weeks or six days, if they had their way. (Applause.) Suppose I should teach baptism by sprinkling, away would go Mr. Pentecost. (Mr. Pentecost: "No, I wouldn't.") If I taught baptism by immersion, away would go Dr. "Webb. Let us see what we can meet on. Let ministers indoctrinate these converts as they please. Evangelists are just to proclaim the gospel; they just want to keep out those controverted questions. When June comes it will be four years that Mr. Sankey and I have been together in meetings; and we have yet to hear the first word of discord. I can have my views of baptism, and if I had a church I could teach the people what I believe; but in these meetings, it would be unfair to do it. Q. How can the churches of New England be revived? A. If I were in a town of four or five churches, I would see the ministers and see if they would agree. If two of them agreed, I would say. "Why can t we work together?" Then we would meet and pray. Suppose there were no more than twelve persons come together for prayer, if they hold on faithfully there will be a revival. If you can get three churches to join, all the better. Our work is always in proportion to the number of churches interested in the movement. If the •whole church is not aroused, it is no sign that we should not be quickened and aroused personally. If there is one man aroused, there will be anxious souls around that man. We have to act in this world as if there were not another man or woman in it. If we are cold ourselves, we are apt to think every one else is cold. What we want is to get our own hearts on fire, and there will be a revival. I hope every delegate will go back with his heart burdened for the town or village in which he lives. There may be obstacles; but the Spirit of God can bring unity where there is faith. Let all our expectations be from God, and then we will not be disappointed. May God revive every church in New England. Let that be our prayer.
Q. Would you hurry people into the church as soon as tlioy are converted? A. No, I wouldn't . I used to think that, as soon as a man is converted, he should join the church; but I have grown more conservative. Mr. Moody here told of his experience when, a number of years ago, he was anxious to join Mount Vernon Church. The story ia well known. He thought that people should know what they are about . Some people get into the church very easy, and it's hard to get them out; sometimes they break it up.
Q. What is the best way to conduct evangelistic meetings? A. I would have them short, not more than an hour in length, with
plenty of singing. Then I'd have a second meeting for prayer and an inquiry meeting.
Q. Isn t it better to get all the inquirers together? A. I like to get the inquirers off alone, and talk with them from the Word of God, pray with them, try to remove their doubts and calm their fears. Then send them home, to think quietly over the matter in their minds. The duty of Christians to work among those around them at religious meetings was urged, and Mr. Moody said that Christians should always have their Bibles with them, and be ready to point sinners to the Savior.
Q. What would you do with infidels in the inquiry-room? A. I like to have them come, and would pray with them. There is no good in arguing with them.
Q. What would you do with inquirers who are not anxious. A. Tf they are in the inquiry-room that is a sign that they are anxious.
Q. Would you tell them that they are saved? A. No. That [ leave to God.
Q. Would you give them books or tracts? A. I would give them the Scriptures.
Q. Would you tell them to go home and pray? A. No; they might die on the way home. I would hold them to the little word, « Now."
Q. Would you have an inquiry meeting after every meeting? A. Well, if I preached the Gospel, I think I would pull on the net and see if I had got anything.
Q. Would you encourage little children to come to the church? A.. Certainly. The smaller the better; so early that they cannot tell when they began.
Q. How can we get more life into our prayer meetings? A. Get more into yourselves first. It is a good thing to get prayer meetings out of the ruts, sometimes. We must have variety—new nymns, etc., once in a while. Get people close together. I have seen many a meeting lost by the people being-scattered. Let the place of meeting be well ventilated, and warmed and cheerful. Let the prayers be short.
Q. Would you have new speakers every night in evangelistio meetings? A. I would not; it wouldn't succeed. We tried it in Chicago; and there was only one man converted. I wondered how it was that man was converted. Let each man preach two or three weeks.
Q. How would you get a church to work? A. Go to work yourself. A working Christian is a rejoicing one. Mr. Moody told of a man with a broken leg, who received a bunch of grapes. Ha told his wife he couldn't eat them, but would send them to a sick neighbor. The sick neighbor sent them to another, and he oaok to the first; and so they were all blessed.
Q. Would you have children sign the pledge or the Covenant? A. No. I thought I would once, but have got over that. The children would be apt to lean on the Covenant, and make no effort for themselves.
Q. Do you think it best to advertise religious services? A. Certainly. We should learn from the world. Advertising is wise in business, and does more good than harm to religion.
Mr. Moody said that a great many questions had been received in regard to the matter of fairs, theatricals and so forth in the church. Q. Can the young people be drawn thereby? A. You can-draw them; but you can't draw them to the cross. He had heard of wives going to the theatre, in order to have the husband go to church on Sunday. That is not a good policy. It is a letting down of the standard. He thought that ministers make a mistake in preaching tirades against worldly amusements. It is much better to preach the people so full of the Holy Spirit that they will not want anything else. Raising money by fairs to pay off a church debt is a miserable way of doing things.
Q. Is there any danger of preaching too much to the careless, and too little to the unconverted? A. I would go for the careless every time, and then I would attend to the unconverted. There is not much encouragement in going over a cold church to reach the world.
Q. How can we get more life in our prayer meetings? A. Get more into yourself, get the people close together, and have variety; make the meeting a sociable affair. Have good ventilation, and all the exercises brief.
Q. How would you cure a chronic fault-finding church member? A. Get him into the prayer meeting, and pr.iv with him till that devil is cast out. Fault-finding is a nuisance in the church. A man full of the Spirit is not full of fault-finding.
Q. May not a minister be too personal in his preaching^ A. Well. I don't know. Personal preaching is very effective. It is well to wake a man up, if he is asleep. Mr. Moody saw a man asleep while Dr. Taylor was preaching on Wednesday night; ho asked Dr. Gordon to wake him Up. He thought it a religious duty to wake people up. (Laughter.) A hunch from the elbow may save a soul. Mr. Moody said he went to church to sleep once himself; but he was roused. There cannot be too much personal preachin p.
Q. Would you encourage young converts to become communicants? A. Tf they feel sure they are converted, I would.
Q. How can gambling in our churches be cured? A. Have no festivals. There is no gambling at prayer meetings.
Q. Would you encourage young converts to speak in meeting? A. Yes. Lot them use their talents.
Q. Is there danger of hardening the hearts of the unconverted by speaking to them? A. We must use tact; but still we must be faithful in preaching the Word.
Rev. J. B. Dunn said: In many instances, the prayer meeting is a very insipid affair. It is the especial property of a few hum-drum patriarchs, who meet once a week to go all around the universe in prayer. Any others who go, attend probably with the idea of doing a kind of penance; or under the impression that, in going, they justify that Scripture about going to a house of mourning. He proposed to tell how a prayer meeting which, a few years ago, drew only sixteen or seventeen persons, now draws between six and seven hundred. The secret is, a true perception, on the part of pastor and people, of the true relation of the prayer meeting to the churoh. It is the thermometer of the church's life. The prayer meeting is the heart of the church; and if the ohurch is to live, the prayer meeting must be sustained. The next thing essential is that there must be faith in prayer. Every member of the church should attend the prayer meeting, once in a week. There must be preparation for the meeting. It has often cost him more thought and more anxiety to prepare for the prayer meeting than to prepare his sermon. Then the pastor must get helpers around him, remembering that there are diversities of gifts. Inspire these helpers with the idea that, if there is but one place they can fill for Christ, that place should be the prayer meeting. Kindly impress upon their minds the beauty and utility of brief prayers and addresses. Good singing is a valuable auxiliary in the prayer meeting, and the hymns should be cheerful ones. The Bible should be taken into the meeting, and spoken on after due study. Then all this machinery must all have life in it. There must be hot hearts in the church. Mr. Dunn closed his pithy renfarks by telling that, when he was a boy, everybody attending church where he lived carried a burning coal for the fire. So he said each one should take to the prayer meeting a coal from off the altar.
"Camp Meeting John Allen" said that for fifteen years he had been greatly interested in the subject of prayer meetings. He had seen some meetings where there was a lack of fire, and some where there was too much fire. For a man to make a long prayer, which makes people not know when he's through, what he was talking about, or whether he was really acquainted with the one to whom ho was talking. When we are acquainted with Jesus, the fact bubbles out.
Rev. L. B. Bates remarked that all praying people, the old and the young, should take part in the prayer meeting, and that there should be in all the exercises a burning desire to win souls to God.
Mr. Moody said there might be present some ministers whose prayer meetings have got into ruts. He invited such to put questions, which he or some other person would try to answer. One gentleman suggosted as a difficulty " the awful pauses." Mr. Moody thought that the minister should offer prayer; the reading of a verse or so of Scripture is useful. In reply to a question as to whether children should be allowed to speak in meeting, Mr. Moody replied that there should be care in the matter. One danger is that, when a child speaks well, he is apt to be praised too much. He was in favor of meetings for ohildren, conducted by some grown person. In reply to an inquiry as to how women can be induced to talk in meeting, he said, in effect, that the meeting must be made as informal as possible.
Other questions brought out the following thoughts: Singing, or other such means, ought not to be relied on to get the people up to a spirit fit for a prayer meeting. Christians should always be in a praying mood. Mr. Moody thought it well to have the subjects for prayer meetings announced. He would encourage women, and every one, to pray and speak in social prayer meetings. In reply to a question as to how long prayers could be broken up, Mr. Moody said that several times since he had been in Boston, when people had been praying too long, he had just touched their heel. It never hurt the feelings of the parties; or, if it did, he never heard of it. A quiet hint is generally sufficient to make a man consider the duty of brevity. Good exhortations, he thought, are much better than prayerless prayer.
One of Mr. Moody's best answers was to the question, "Is it right to give exhortations in the form of prayer?" He thought it an awful thing to have to open his eyes in order to see whether the man offering prayer is talking to God or to the people around him. In reply to a query as to whether he would close a meeting on the hour if it was very interesting, he said he would. If a man in whom people had no confidence took part in a prayer meeting, he would ask him never to do so any more. We should be frank and honest with such men. He remembered a man in Boston who, a number of years ago, always took part in prayer meetings. He was not right in his life; and finally, an old gentleman told him that if he ever spoke again he would walk up to him and look him in the eye. The old gentleman kept his word, and the man's remarks were shortened very materially.
HELD AT THB HIPPODROME IN NEW YORK, MARCH 29 and 30, 1876'
At the opening of the convention at 10 o'clock, the great hall of the Hippodrome was full, a large audience being present in addition to the 3,350 pastoral and lay delegates, representing 19 states and 340 towns. The great majority of the delegates were laymen.
Mr. Moody, in announcing the subjects of the day, spoke as follows:
The two subjects that we have for this forenoon are as follows: Evangelistic Services—How to Conduct them; and How to Conduct Prayer-Meetings. I have not asked any one to speak on these questions. I thought we would just come together and spend an hour on each question. At Philadelphia, we found that it was profitable just to let any one in the audience ask any question on the subject before us, and we would try and answer it if we could; and in that way, 1 think, we will be enabled to help those that have difficulty. Let me say a few words about this question.
A person said to me: "What do you mean by Evangelistio services? Is not all service evangelistic? What do you mean by preaching the gospel? Are not all services in churches and all meetings preaching the gospel?" No. There is a good deal of difference. There are three services—at least there ought to be—in every church; and every one ought to keep them in their mind. There is worshiping God. That is not preaching the gospel at all. We oome to the house of God to worship at times, when we meet around the Lord's table; that is worship, or ought to be. Then there is teaching—building up God's people. That is not preaching the gospel. Then there is proclaiming the good news of the gospel to the world, to the unsaved. Now, the question we have before us is: How can these services be conducted to make them profitable? Well, I should say you have to conduct them to interest the people. If they go to sleep, they certainly want to be roused up; and if one method don't wake them up, try another. But I think we ought to use our common sense, if you will allow me the word. We talk a good deal about it; but I think it is about the least sense we have, especially in the Lord's work. If one method don't succeed, let us try another. This preaching to empty seats don't pay. If people won't come to hear us, let us go where they are. We want to preach. Go into some neighborhood and get some person to invite you into their house, and get them into the kitchen, and preach there. But make it a point to interest the people; and as soon as they get interested, they will follow you and fill the churches.
Now, I have come to this conclusion, that if we are going to have successful gospel meetings, we have got to have a little more life in them. Life is found in singing new hymns, for instance. I know some churches that have been singing about a dozen hymns for the last twenty years, such hymns as " Rock of Ages," "There is a fountain filled with blood," etc. These hymns are always good, but we want a variety. We want new hymns as well as the old ones. I find it wakes up a congregation very much to bring in, now and then, a new hymn. And if you cannot wake them up with preaching, let us sing it into them. I believe the time is coming when we will make a good deal more of just singing the gospel. Then when a man is converted, let us have him in these meetings giving his testimony. Some people are afraid of that. I believe the secret of John Wesley's success was, that he set every man to work, as soon as he was converted. Of course, you have to guard that point. Some say they become spiritually proud; no doubt of that. But if they don't go to work they become spiritually lazy; and I don't know what's the difference.
Now, the first impulse of the young convert is to go and publish what Christ has done for him. Sometimes a young convert will wake up a whole community and a whole town, just merely tolling what the Lord has done for him; and it is good to bring in these witnesses and let them speak. Then, another thing. In a good many towns where we have union meetings, we change ministers every night; and a good many special religious meetings have been organized, and proved perfect failures. I am getting letters all the time telling about special meetings, how the people turned out well, but there were no results; and on inquiry I found they had a Methodist minister one night, a Baptist minister another, an Episcopal minister another, a Congregational minister another, in order to keep all denominations in, and the result was they preached everybody out of doors. You could see, right on the face of it, that that would be the result. One man gets the people all interested; and just at the point where he needs to continue his own ministrations, another steps in and he goes out. And so there is no getting hold of the people. Now, I believe we have got to have one man.
I remember in Chicago, the last winter I was there, we had preaching every afternoon. We went out with invitations into saloons, billiard halls, etc., and we got a large audience there every afternoon; and we had a new minister every day. We wanted to bring in all denominations, to keep harmony; and I believe there was one solitary conversion, after preaching thirty days. If we had only stuck to one minister, I believe we would have done a great work then and there; and if we are going to have successful evangelistic services, we cannot be changing speakers every night. And that is why it is best to get a man out of town, and all will unite on that one man. I wish we could get rid of this jealousy. If we could unite on one man, and support him with our prayers and our money, if it need be, and just work with him, there would be results. I never knew it to fail yet. It is just this party feeling that comes in and prevents the good results we expect. We are afraid this denomination won't like it, and that denomination won't be properly represented.
Then these meetings ought to be made short. I find a great many are killed because they are too long. The minister speaks five minutes, and a minister's five minutes is always ten, and his ten minutes is always twenty (laughter); and the result is, you preach everybody into the spirit and out of it, before the meeting is over. When the people leave they are glad to go home, and ought to go home. Now, you send the people away hungry, and they will come back again. There was a man in London who preached in the open air until everybody left him, and somebody said, "Why did you preach so long?" "Oh," said he, "I thought it would be a pity to stop while there was anybody listening." (Laughter.) It is a good deal better to cut right off, then people will come back again to hear. But I only just wanted to open this question, and give a few hints of what my idea is. Now, if any of you have a few questions you would like to ask, in any part of the nail, on this one subject, we would like to answer them; and if we cannot, there may be some one else here who can.
Q. Would you start a meeting when there is no special interest in the churches?
Mr. Moody—Certainly I would. A good many are folding their arms and saying, "Wait until the good time comes to favor Zion." The point is, to make the good time come anyway. Go to work. They have got no calendar in heaven. God can work one month aa well as another; and he is always ready, when we are ready.
Q. Would you increase the number of meetings as the interest increases?
Mr. Moody—It depends upon how many meetings I have had. If I had as many as I could attend, I would not increase them; but I would if I could.
Q. Suppose the minister is interested and there is no special feeling among the people, would you call in outside help? Would you commence the effort by calling in at once outside help?
Mr. Moody—That is a very important question. If I were a minister in a community or a church, and could not get more than one or two to sympathize with me, I would just get them around to my study, and we would pray and go forth in the name of the Lord, and say, "We are agoing to have a meeting;" and there will be an interest break out. Three men can move any town. If you are going to wait until the whole church gets aroused, yon will have to wait a long time. Get as many as you can, and God will stand by you.
Q. Suppose the congregation is alive and the minister is dead?
Mr. Moody—Then let the congregation go on without the minister. [Laughter.]
Q. Suppose the minister won't permit them?
Mr. Moody—He can't prevent it. A man that wants to work for God can do so, and nobody can stop him.
Q. Suppose there is a difficulty in the church which cannot be removed?
Mr. Moody—I don't know of any difficulties that God cannot remove. The trouble is we are trying to remove these difficulties ourselves, instead of going to God in prayer.
Q. Why was it the Lord Jesus could not do anvthing at Nazareth?
Mr. Moody—On account of their unbelief; but that was the world, not the church. [Laughter.]
Q. Is it best to put a test question in a church, asking those that are anxious for their souls to rise, or rather to go to another room?
Mr. Moody—I think so. If any man is going to be saved, he is
foing to take up his cross; and if it is a cross, I would like to ask im to do it. What you want is to get them to do something they don't want to do, and it is a great cross generally for people to rise for prayer; but in the very act of doing it, they are very often blessed. It is letting their friends know that they are interested, and are on the Lord's side. I have found, in the last three years, that it has been a great help to us. In fact, I don't think I should attempt to have meetings withont the inquiry-room. People are sometimes impressed under the sermon; but what you want is, to deal with them personally. Here and there one is converted under the sermon; but for every one converted under the sermon, hundreds are converted in the inquiry-room.
Q. Suppose the pastor and a small portion of his congregation desire to nave a meeting, and the trustees refuse to open the doors?
Mr. Moody—Well, I should pray for the trustees. In the first place, the church has made a mistake in electing unconverted men as trustees. We want Christian men to hold office in the church. Men sometimes are put in as trustees that haven't got any character at all,and they regulate your choir, and very often your minister; and if a minister touches their consciences and preaches right at them, they get annoyed and send him away.
Q. In a community where there is an interesting revival, very many families have not been reached—do not attend church anywhere; what would you have laymen try to do?
Mr. Moody—I would have the whole town districted off, and every family visited. I think that could be done.
Q. Do you advocate "anxious seats?"
Mr. Moody—I would rather call it soats of decision; but in union meetings, you know, we have to lay aside a good many of the different denominational peculiarities. The "anxious seat " is known to the Methodists; but if we should call it that the Presbyterians would be afraid, and the Episcopalians would be so shocked that they would leave, and I find, in the union meetings, it is best to ask them to go right into the other room, and talk to them there.
Q. What would you say to a person who replies, "I can be a Christian without rising for prayer?"
Mr. Moody—I should say most certainly he could; but as a general thing, he won't. If a man makes up his mind that he won't do a thing, the Lord generally makes him do it before he gets into the kingdom.
Q. What method would you recommend to get people on their feet to testify for Christ?
Mr. Moody—In the first place, I would bury all stiffness. If a meeting has a formal manner, it throws a stiffness over it, so that it would take almost an earthquake to get a man up; but if it is free and social, just as you would go into a man's house and talk with him, you will find people will appreciate it and get up.
Q. When one or more leading members of the church have so borne themselves in the community as that the church has been scandalized, would you recommend a course of discipline before commencing special meetings?
Mr. Moody—I should say certainly. I should go to the 18th chapter of Matthew and see what we are taught to do there; and if these men would not repent, I would turn them out of the church and then commence to work. I would rather have ten members right with God, than to have a great church of five hundred members and the world laughing at them.
Q. If the world has got in and is stronger than the church, what?
Mr. Moody—Then I would organize another church. [Laughter.] The mistake in all this is, in taking unconverted people into the church. We have got to be more careful.
Q. Suppose there are excitements in the church that seem to draw the attention of the church away from higher things, politics, for instance?
Mr. Moody—I don't know much about politics. The political question might interest the world, and you could go right on without being interrupted; but the thing I dread more than I do politics is these miserable church fairs. [Laughter.] That is the thing that bothers me most. More meetings have been broken up, and the interest dissipated, by these bazaars and church festivals than by your political meetings.
Q. How far is it wise to encourage young converts to labor with inquirers in the inquiry-meetings?
Mr. Moody—I always encourage them. I believe a man who has been a great drunkard, for instance, and been reclaimed, is just the man to go to work among his class.
Q. How would you use the boys and girls?
Mr. Moodv—You have to use a good deal of discretion about children. I will admit there is great danger in having children take an active part, for some people are sure to say, "Don't that boy speak well?" and up comes spiritual pride, and you have ruined that boy.
Q. Is a man justified in neglecting service at his own church, in order to talk to those who will not attend church?
Mr. Moody—My experience has been that a man that has got the spirit to go out after other men will bring a good many into the church. He don't neglect it; he is worth about a dozen men who go and take good cushioned seats, Sunday after Sunday, and don't speak to any one.
Q. When a man feels that he must preach the gospel and the church doesn't want to hear it, must he go out?
Mr. Moody—A great many have got the idea that they can preach the gospel, when they cannot; and some have got the idea that they cannot preach the gospel, and they can to a certain class; and then they are just the ones to speak in that church. Now, I have tried that. When I was first converted, I thought I must talk to them about Christ, but I saw they did not like it; and finally they came and told me I could serve the Lord better by keeping still. Then I went out into the street, and God blessed me; and I got to preaching before I knew it. If the people don't want you, don't force yourself upon them. Go out and preach to the ragged and the destitute.
Q. Would you encourage women preaching in the pulpit?
Mr. Moody—I should say it is a complicated point, and we will leave it. I don't care about my wife going around and preaching. [Laughter.]
HOW TO CONDUCT PRAYBR-MEBTING8.
"I have noticed," said Mr. Moody, "in traveling up and down
the country, and after mingling with a great many ministers, that it
is not the man that can preach the best that is the most successful; but the man who knows how to get his people together to pray. He has more freedom. It is so much easier to preach to an audience that is full of sympathy with you than to those that are criticising all the time; it chills your heart through and through. Now if we could only have our prayer-meetings what they ought to be, and people go not out of any sense of duty, but because they delight to go, it would be a great help to a minister on Sumlay. Now I find it a great help in prayer-meetings to get the people right up close together, and then get myself right down among them. I believe many a meeting is lost by the people being scattered.
Another important thing is to see that the ventilation is all right. Sometimes I have been in rooms where I think the air must have been in there five or six years. You cannot always trust the janitors to take care of it. The people get sleepy, and you think it is your fault. Very often such a thing is the fault of bad ventilation. See that you get fresh air; not too hot, and not too cold, but pure. Then it is a good thing to have a subject. Let all the people know a week beforehand what the subject is going to be. You take the subject of Faith, say, and ask a brother or two privately to say a little on that subject. If they say, "I cannot get my thoughts together;" or, "I am so frightened when I get up that I tremble all over," then tell them just to get up and read a verse. It won't be long before they will add a few words to that verse; and after a while they will want to talk too much, and the meetings thus become very profitable to those men. What we want is variety. Instead of having Deacon Jones and Deacon Smith and Deacon Brown do all the praying and all the talking, have somebody else say something in this way, and thus create an interest.
I would not make the minister always take the lead; for I have noticed when the minister takes the lead, if he ever goes off there is a collapse. Now, it seems to me a minister should get different ones into the chair; and when he goes off, the meetings won't miss him, and there will be no falling off. Not only that, but he is training his members to work. They will go out around the town and in school-houses, and preach the gospel; and we multiply preachers and workers in that way, if they are only just taught to take part. Now, I believe there are a great many in our church prayer-meetings that could be brought out and made to be a great help, if the ministers would only pay attention to it. How many lawyers, physicians, public speakers, we have who do nothing to actively help along the work; and I believe that difficulty could be removed, if the minister would take a little pains. Let the father whose son has been converted get up and give thanks. Have once in a while a thanksgiving meeting. It wakes up a church wonderfully, once in a while to let the young converts relate their experiences. Then you say: What are you going to do with these men that talk so long? I would talk to them privately, and tell them they must try to be shorter. And it is a good tiling sometimes for ministers themselves not to be too long. Sometimes they read a good deal of Scripture, and talk until perhaps only fifteen minutes are left; and then they complain because Deacon Smith, or Jones, or some one else talks too long. Just let the minister strike the key-note of the meeting; and if he can't do that in ten minutes he can tat all. Very often a minister takes up a chapter and exhausts it, and says everything he can think of in the chapter; and then can you wonder a layman cannot say more, who has had no study of the subject? Give out the subject a week ahead; let the minister take five or ten minutes in opening; and then let the different ones take part. That would be a greater variety. When a man takes part, he gets greatly interested Himself. It was pretty true what the old deacon said, that when he took part they were very intesting; and when he didn't, they seemed very dull. [Lauahter.]
Q. Suppose one, two or three brethren come to the prayer-meeting and there are thirty sisters how are you going to get along?
Mr. Moody—I should call it a woman's meeting, and go on and have the sisters take part. [Laughter.]
Q. What should be the main purpose of a prayer-meeting—the conversion of sinners, devotion, or the edification of saints?
Mr. Moody—I should say that the prayer-meeting ought to be for the edification of saints and devotion.
Q. If some are very happy and begin to shout and clap their hands, would you stop them?
Mr. Moody—That is a controverted point, and I will omit that [Laughter.] I have an idea that a gospel meeting is one thing, and a prayer-meeting another. There also ought to be meetings where we proclaim the gospel to the unsaved.
Q. Would you have an inquiry meeting after every preaching?
Mr. Moody—My experience has led me to think the best time to strike is when the iron is hot. If I was preaching, and tried to rouse men to flee from the wrath to come, I would have an inquiry meeting afterward.
Q. Is it profitable to have preaching services every Sunday night for the unconverted?
Mr. Moody—Yes, and every night, too, sometimes; but my idea of church worship is about like this: We have breaking of the bread or communion; then there is teaching; and then in the evening they proclaim the gospel; and in the morning they come knowing it is for the edification of the saints, building up God's people.
Q. You sav you would allow church members to conduct prayer, meetings. You know the character of the New England congregational prayer-meeting, and that there is danger that these people be
gin to take the leadership out of the hands of the minister, and trouble comes of it. What would you do .to prevent that?
Mr. Moody—I should say the minister had not been faithful in building up his people. I don't think there is any trouble of that kind in a good many churches where members lead. Dr. Cuyler does not lead his own prayer-meeting Friday night; and what we want is to bring out the talent that lies buried in the church; and if we don't bring it out in the evening meetings, I don't know how we will.
Here a delegate informed the meeting that Dr. Cuyler never leads his prayer-meetings, but sits in his congregation, sometimes speaking, and sometimes not. „
Q. Would you advise having a young people's meeting, separate from the regular church prayer-meeting?
Mr. Moody—I always have had in our church in Chicago. We have children's meetings once a week, young people's meetings; and then a meeting Friday night for all, old and young.
Q. Is there any relation between united work and united prayer?
Mr. Moody—If they get to praying well, they will work well.
Q. How about the ministers praying and preaching, too?
Mr. Moody—I think it is a good deal better to divide the ground. If a minister does all the praying and preaching and singing, the church will do all the sleeping.
Q. Do you believe in calling on people to pray and speak in the prayer meeting?
Mr. Moody—My theory is one thing, and my practice another. 1 have always advocated open prayer meetings; but when our noon prayer meetings because so large, we often had men whom we did not know coming up and talking and talking and not saying1 anvthing; and others, who had come a hundred miles just to be present at that meeting; and so we have had to put it into the hands of those on the platform. Still, I stick to my theory that it is better to have an open meeting. You sometimes get things that grate upon your nerves; but, at the same time, you get things that you would not get if you took it into your own hands. If men ruin a meeting, you must talk with them personally and make them keep still. Now, you sometimes call on a man to pray when he has not got the spirit of prayer in him; and that is one of the reasons why I object to calling on men. Some men are called on to pray that just pray a meeting dead.
Q. What would you do with the brother who praya the same prayer over and over again?
Mr. Moody—I should see him privately and talk with him about his own soul; because very often you find that these men are oat of communion with God, and are just keeping up the forms.
Q. If you tell a man to be short and he don't obey, what then?
Mr. Moody—I would have a bell.
Q. Suppose you drive him away by that method, what then?
Mr. Moody—Let him go. Five men will come and take his place.
Q. Is it wise to adhere to a series of topics?
Mr. Moody—I would say yea, and I would say no. Sometimes you are in the midst of a series and some special interest breaks out; then let your series go. Make the point that your meetings must be interesting.
Q. Suppose a prosy speaker is an old minister who always takes part, what would you do?
Mr. Moody—I would deal with him as I would with any one else. I would not allow any man to ruin the meeting.
Q. In a social prayer meeting during the week, do you advise that women take part in the prayer?
Mr. Moody—That is a controverted point; some say yes, and some say no; so we will let them have their own way.
Q. Would you stop a man's prayer by a bell?
Mr. Moody—If a man's prayer don't seem to go jiigher than hi» head, 1 should not hesitate to ring him down.
Q. If a man prays in every prayer meeting, and there is a general doubt about his standing, what then?
Mr. Moody—I would go and labor with him; and if I thought he was wrong, I would tell him so. I think we make a great mistake that we don't go to men and just tell them their trouble.
Q. What should be a man's posture when he is praying?
Mr. Moody—I don't know. Sometimes I pray right on my face, and sometimes I bow; sometimes I have sweet communion with God in my bed. It makes no difference how we pray.
Q. What does the Scripture teach that women should do in prayer meeting?
Mr. Moody—It teaches that they should pray like all the rest of them.
Q. Why do you leave out the woman question by saying it is controverted?
Mr. Moody—There are some men who have one hobby-horse, and they trot him out on#.11 occasions. When you come into a union meeting like this, where all denominations are represented, let us leave aside the questions that provoke only dispute instead of breaking up the convention.
Q. Why not as well break up a convention as a church by this discussion?
Mr. Moody—Very well. You get up a convention to talk about it. This convention has not been called for that. [Laughter.]
Dr. Fish of Newark said: I do not know why Mr. Moody has requested me to open this discussion on "Inquiry Meetings: How can they become part of the service in our churches?" except possibly that he is familiar with the fact that for a long time I have had something to do with the inquiry meetings of about 1200 souls, whom I have had the joy and privilege of introducing into the Christian church of Newark, upon profession of their faith. Almost all of them have come through between my fingers, in careful examination and handling in the inquiry-room; and I have never had a year of my ministry where the inquiry-room has not been an important feature. I intend in the future to make much more of it than 1 have ever done, and never to have a service—unless it be an unusual case —in which the inquiry does not form a part. I believe we are accustomed, all of us, to set our nets and not to draw them. When I was at the Sea of Galilee, I forced my oars in as far as I could, and the fishes ran up in plenteous numbers to see what was going on; but I did not catch a single one. The next day a friend of mine caught one fish, and the sea was full of them. Jesus said, "I will make ye fishers of men." Where there are such multitudes of souls, we ought to catch some of them. I think the place to catch souls is the inquiry-room. One Sunday night, I was saying from my pulpit that hand-picked fruit was the best kind of fruit; that the orchardman does not pick up the fruit that falls on the ground and put it away to keep late in the season, but he gets the fruit that is picked one by one, apple by apple, from the bough carefully, and puts it away to keep. I said, hand-picked fruit is what we want. An old woman who had been going to my church a great while, when she heard this, began to work. The next night she brought her husband to the meeting. He said: "For twenty years I have not darkened the door of a church of God; but my wife has been teasing me so muoh all day to come here to-night, I had to come." "\ es," the old woman said, "I thought I would try and do some of the work you told us about last night. My husband was the nearest to me; and I thought I would begin at home and pick him."
There are various advantages that accrue from this sort of thing. I find it beneficial to my people and me to form the practical acquaintance that we form in this way, especially with the new converts. It is not a small matter to become personally acquainted with two or three hundred converts, whom you are apt to receive in a great city like this. The work of conversion is only the first step. If the minister is personally dealing with every soul in the inquiryroom, he is prepared to build up and instruct that soul. They also form a personal acquaintance with each other.
In connection with the matter of making the inquiry-room a permanent part of the church services, it is well to make the preaching service short. I find out, more and more, that short services are the best. (I speak of my Sunday evening services, when I am hand
could go on for six months more, we could almost disband our police force. [Applause.]
Charles Dickens eight years ago went into the Victoria Theatre, in the East End of London. He sat looking in at the door, and an English clergyman was preaching, telling the story of converting a philosopher. It was such an audience as would gather at the Five roints here in New York. Mr. Dickens, whose heart grew tenderer as he drew nearer to the grave, looked in and said: "Looking in at the door out of the mire and dust of my way of life, I hear the story of your saved philosopher; but," said he, "when a man goes to London that will take the story of the dying thief on the cross, whom Jesus forgave, and preach that in London, it will be a sight to see." Well, New York has seen it; it is here.
Mr. Moody closed the discussion as follows:
If the ministers would encourage their members to be scattered among the audience, to never mind their pews, but sit back by the door if need be, or in the gallery, where they can watch the faces of the audience, it would be a good thing. In Scotland, I met a man who with his wife would go and sit among them, as they said, to watch for souls. When they saw any one who seemed impressed, they would go to him after the meeting and talk with him. Nearly all the conversions in that church during the last fifteen months had been made through that influence. Now, if we could only have from thirty to fifty members of the church whose business it is just to watch, and you laymen and laywomen to afterwards clinch them in. The best way in our regular churches is to let the workers all help pull the net in. You will get agoodmany fishes; it won't be now and then one, but scores and scores. Now, a stranger coming into & church likes to have some one speak to him. He does not feel insulted at all. A young man coming to New York a stranger and going to church, if some one asks him to go into the inquiry-room it makes him happy and cheers him. Two young men came into our inquiry-room here the other night, and after a convert had talked with them, and showed them the way, the light broke in upon them. They were asked, "Where do you go to church?" They gave the name of the church where they had been going. Said one, "I advise you to go and see the minister of that church." They said, "We don't want to go there any more; we have gone there for six years and no one has spoken to us." A
A man was preaching about Christians reoognizmg each other in heaven, and some one said, "1 wish he would preach about recognizing each other on earth." In one place where I preached, where there was no special interest, I looked over the great hall of the old circus building where it was held, and saw men talking to other men here and there. I said to the Secretary, of the Young Men's Christian Association, who got up the meeting, "Who are those men?1* He said, "They are a band of workers." They were all scattered through the hall, and preaching and watching for souls. Out of the fifty of them, forty-one of their number had got a soul each and were talking and preaching with them. We have been asleep long enough. When the laity wake up and try and help the minister, the minister will preach better. If the minister finils ho has not been drawing the net right, if a good many in his church go to work and help him, he will do better; he will prepare the sermons with that one thing in view. Will this draw men to Christ?
I do not see how men can preach without inquiry-meetings. I like to see the converts. One minister in Scotland said he did not believe in disturbing the impression. If he had made an impression, he did not want any one to say anything. He said, "Afteryou sow the seed, you don't want to go and dig it up to see whether it has sprouted." But I told him the farmers all harrow it in, after it is sowed." [Applause.]
TRAINING YOUNG CONVERTS AND LAY TEACHERS.
Dr. Stephen H. Tyng, Jr., said: "Our failure to train young converts in the faith has resulted in the present Loadicean condition of the church. If the young converts who, in the last ten years, have been brought into the churches in this city had be'<n systematically and perseveringly instructed in God's Word and in methods of work, we should not be so greatly surprised at the occurrences of the past four weeks; and I am satisfied that very much dishonor is done to the Holy Gnost, in consequence o'f the failure of the church to train its converts. People constantly say, "Do you think the converts in this revival are going to stick?" That will depend upon the faithfulness of the church; and in the failure of very many of them, the Holy Ghost bears the rebuke of our own laziness. In reference to this training, it seems to me there are three distinct departments: In the Word, in the worship, and in the work of the church. Some of the converts come into our churches from skeptical life, ignorant even of the succession of the books of the Bible. Most of the Bible is an unknown territory, and we need to train our young converts in the texts of the Word.
I would limit them to testimony, in speaking before the church. I do not believe in experience meetings for young converts. When we are confessing Christ, we are safe; but when we are professing religion, we are on dangerous grounds. When some one asked Bishop Griswold, of Richmond, "Bishop, have you much humility?" he said, "None to speak of." Most people have too much to speak of.
The church is a body of workers, and not a body to be worked upon. Everybody is thinking, now-a-days: "Why does not the pastor take care of me? I am a wandering sheep, and ought to be looked after." But the pastor has not, in his relation, the analogy of the shepherd to the fold. The church ought to be a body of workers. The young convert ought to be trained in his place as a worker, and the pastor is the leader of the work. He is the general. He is to do what this man has been doing here for six weeks past, ""bossing" everybody, directing everybody in the way in which he is to do his work. Let him specially set every man to work, if possible, in the line of his secular occupation. Let him use a physician, for instance, at the bedside of the sick and suffering and in his assignments of work consult the secular occupation of the men. Thus it is that the young converts very soon become strong officers for Christ .
SERVICE OF sONO.
Mr. Sankey said: The question is, "How shall the service of song be conducted in the Lord s work?" and for the short time we have here this morning to discuss it, we don't propose to go into any elaborate exposition, but simply to get down at once to the practical workings of the question, flow can the service of song be conducted most successfully, to lead to the best results in the service of the Lord? Now, as there are so many different forms of work, we will have to take them up in order, commencing first with the church, then with the prayer-meeting, then the Sunday-school, then the evangelistic work.
I am very glad, indeed, to see and to know that the power of sacred song is being recognized not only in our own, but in other lands; and now as it is being recognized, the question comes up, How can we utilize this power, how can we best use it in God's house, and to the best advantage for the church of God? Before I go further, let me drop one statement here that will go to prove and establish the fact that the power of sacred song is laying hold of all people of this land and of others, to a greater extent, probably, than for many, many years. The little hymn book that was published in England, containing many or most of the bymns we are singing here to-day, has taken such a hold upon the people—I think, upon the common people—that not less than 5,000,000 copies have been sold of that little book; I mean the music and the words together. They have spread all over the world, and the people are singing these songs away off in India and Africa. No later than last week, I got a copy of the hymns translated into the Kaffir language; and I have as many as twenty or thirty translations altogether.
Now comes the question, How can we utilize these songs and this service the best? In the first place in regard to the church, I would not have an artistic quartette choir. The first thing I would do would be to discharge them, to remove them. [Applause.] Now remember, I don't speak against these persons, individually—there are just as nice people in these quartette choirs as elsewhere; but against the service which they attempt to lead, or rather succeed in monopolizing. I oould not praise God here if I could not sing, too, as well as the choir. You must join and praise God for yourselves. Therefore, in their stead, I would have a large Christian choir. I would have all the Christians I could gather in, from the congregation or elsewhere; and let them lead the service of praise. Some people, I know, will object to this; but I cannot help it. Our experience for the last two years has been this, that we have made it a rule that we will only have Christians lead the praise; and I think one of the principal reasons of our success has been that wo have tried, as far as we could, to get those who love the Lord, and love to sing right out of their hearts. It may not be so artistic as some, but the Lord has certainly blessed this sort of singing. I would have the singers near the ministers; I don't like the choir to be so far away from the minister. They are separated from him, and probably not in sympathy with him. He cannot speak to them, and they cannot counsel with him. There are two powers in the church—opposition powers, sometimes they are, which ought never to be allowed. If we can have Christians lead the singing, you will not be ashamed to have them before the congregation, that the congregation may see them; and their deportment will be such as becomes the house of God. Away back in the galleries, often wo don't know what is going on; but if they are here before the congregation, we can see them, and they can be a help to the minister.
And there is another plan of having a screen, having the choir in the pulpit back of the minister, but behind a screen, so that as soon as the singing is done they will drop behind the screen, like a jack in the box. [Laughter.] I would have that screen removed; and your minister should insist upon it that the choir give as good attention as the congregation does. People who do not give attention to the Word of God when preached, should not lead the service of song in the house of God. I have found this, that by having my choir give attention to the addresses in this room, the contagion spreads, and the audience give attention, too; but if this choir was disposed to be talking, reading books, writing notes, etc., the audience would be watching them to see what they were doing, and the attention would be distracted, and valuable results lost. The most exact attention should be given to the preacher while he is preaching.
I will not dwell further upon that, except to speak about the instrument. I want to talk about the practical things, with which you have to come in contact. I have often found this to be the case, that the large organ drowns the people's voices. Now, it is not so much the fault of the organ as it is the fault of the man who plays it. A large organ can be played very softly, so that the people's voice* are not drowned; but you usually find it the case that the organ ia played so hard as to shake the whole building, and to shake the whole people, so that they can hardly sing themselves. I would ask the organist to play very softly, so as to have the people led by the organ's tones, and not their attention taken up by it. I would rather have a small organ than a large one; a cabinet organ, or a small organ near the pulpit, not to drown the people's voices, but simply to support them. I don't care if this organ is not heard ten feet away, if the choir hear it. What we want is the human voice. There is nothing equal to that in the world; and if we can keep our leaders correctly in tune and time with the instrument, it is all we want. That is why the people join so heartily here in these songs. I might have a large organ here. I don't want it to interfere, however. I cannot sing with that great organ going; for I get to listening to it, and watching to see how the organist plays.
Now, we will go on to the prayer meeting. How would you conduct the singing in a prayer meeting? If you have in your congregation a Christian man who is a good singer, I would have him lead the singing. I would have him at the prayer meeting. Very often some very good man, and sometimes a very good woman, will start up a song entirely out of tune and out of pitch, so that no one can join with them, .and they worry through it, nearly breaking their voices. I would take control of this, and say, "Now, Brother Smith or Brother Jones will have charge of the singing:" and if Brother Smith wants to sit and have one or two friends gathered about him, all the better, and let him pitch the tune. In regard to an instrument at the prayer meeting, some are opposed to it, and some not. If I had a good singer, one whose voice was strong enough, I would have him instead of an instrument; but if not, I would have some one who could play the organ in the proper key, and then the people can follow him. Then, I would introduce many of the Sunday-school hymns into the prayer meeting. I would not sing all the old tunes we love so well, always. Of course, they are
food; but we want variety. Bring in new hymns, now and then, 'he question of introducing new tunes into the service of the church is a very important one. Now and then a new tune should be introduced. The best plan I have found is that the tune should be sung as a voluntary frequently, before it is given out as a hymn. I would exclude altogether operatio pieces from the church of God; and I would have my choir understand that these plain gospel hymns in the worship of God are far better than the finest operatic hymns you can find. [Applause.] Leave them to the opera. Don't bring them into the house of God.
Now, in regard to Sunday-school service, I need not say much about that. I may say that, in this country, we have set an exAmple to the world in regard to Sunday-school singing. It is nowhere, I think, so well conducted as in our own country. But there are a few places that don't have good singing. To those I would say, get an instrument; for the children love music. Get a lady or gentleman to play, and gather a few singers around in front of the instrument, and have them sing frequently. I would talk to the children frequently about the hymns, though not too long. I would not let the singing diverge into a singing-school. Sing on the topics that have been discussed during the day, keeping the minds of the children and the teachers in one direction.
Now, the evangelistic services. These are being conducted very extensively all over the country now; and when you bring all denominations together, I would ask all the ministers to send to the place of meeting the very best singers he has in his choir or congregation, for I find sometimes the best singers are in the congregation, and not in the choir, for some reason or other; and I would thus have all the denominations come together, saying: "For this time, and for these services, we will unite on one hymn, singing for Jesus, singing that we may know Christ." All these meetings of the choirs, I should think, ought to be opened and closed with prayer. I think it is a great thing to open a meeting with prayer. The people feel that they are in the presence of God, and all will work together in the sweetest harmony to further the cause of Christ.
I would make the point, too, to have the people supplied with hymns; for I think the progress of a meeting is oftentimes greatly disturbed by the people not having the words before them. Mr. Spurgeon comments on the hymns, and tells his congregation how he wants them sung, and so the people become deeply interested; and there is not a man in his church that is not singing at the top of his voice. If the minister don't manifest any interest in the singing, and is studying the heads of his sermon, the choir get careless and listless. Many a man will come to church and the sermon will pass into and out of his ears and be forgotten; but the hymn will linger and work for good.
I remember in Philadelphia, years ago, when I was a little boy, I heard an old minister get up and read the hymn, "There is a fountain filled with blood." I have thought of that old man, with his gray hair, and tears streaming down his face as he read that hymn, ever since; though I, have forgotten the sermon and everything else. I want to spend five minutes more, that you may ask me some practical questions. If I have any information, I will be pleased to give it to vou.
Q. Would you not think it better to encourage congregational singing by abolishing the choir altogether, and Tiave it led by a single voice? A. I think not, from the fact that very few precentors have the power of voice to lead two or three thousand people. They have to labor so hard in leading that they don't create that sympathetic feeling toward the singing that should exist. There is no impropriety in it; but I would not advise any man or woman to attempt it alone.
Q. What about smaller meetings? A. The same will apply to small ones.
Q. Would you have the leader of a prayer meeting pitch the tune? A. If a singer, he could do it; but, of course, the man who leads is not always a singer. I think we would have a hard time if I should ask brother Moody to lead the singing here to-day. [Loud laughter.]
Q. If you have not got any singers who are Christians, what would you do? A. I would cor»menoe evangelistic services at once, and get some. [Loud laugh,er.]
Q. Would you recommend solo singing in the ordinary church services? A. Not as a rule.
Mr. Moody—I would if I had Sankey. [Loud applause.]
Mr. Sankey—Let me for a moment speak of this solo singing. I read in the Word here, "Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs; singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord." These are hymns which teach and preach the gospel, and these are not hymns of praise. I believe there is another power of singing which many have not discovered yet, that of preaching the gospel. There is no praise in the hymn, "Jesus of Nazareth passeth by;" yet it has been blessed to hundreds of souls. It is not praising God at all. When it comes to praising God, I will join in the general singing as heartily as anyone else. If I want to preach to you in song, 1 would ask you to listen.
Q. Would you ask the congregation to sing in unison? A. As a rule, I would ask them to join in the air or leading part, and iet the choir bring in the tenor and bass and other parts. If, however, a man in the audience is a good singer and his voice is better adapted to singing bass, let him sing bass.
Rev. Dr. Taylor said: It seems to me, as a foundation of all that is said and done on this matter, that we ought to have bright ideas of the importance of praise. Let us think of what the sacrifice of praise in the house of the Lord is designed to do. It prepares the way for the descent of the Holy Spirit into thp heart. Bring me a minstrel, said Elisha; and while listening to the music the Spirit of the Lord came down and he prophesied. Very frequently, through the music of a song of praise, the Spirit of God in his glory has come down and filled the living temple of the human heart; for it not only prepares the way for the sermon to follow, but very often clinches the effect produced by the sermon. I heard the beautiful story about Toplady's conversion. He went into a barn in Ireland, where he heard a Primitive Methodist minister preach the gospel. At the close, the minister gave out the hymn, "Come, ye sinners, poor and wretched." It seemed to him then that the whole company of the congregation took up the appeal from the minister's lips, and instead of one appeal there was that of hundreds. Then he' gave his heart to Christ, and nobly did he honor the obligation in his latter life by laying on the altar of Christ the hymn that we are Ro fond of:
"Rock of ages cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in thee."
Then, again, singing sustains the heart in trial. Very often in this country we are in the habit of serenading our great men; but ohl no songs in the ear of God are like the serenades which go up from the hearts of God's children, in the night of trial. He comes forth from his throne to speak words of comfort and cheer. Then, again, it braces the heart for conflict. After his last supper Christ sang a hymn. The Lord Jesus sang, and sang with Gethsemanein view, to brace himself up for conflict with the prince of this world. Who does not know, too, how Luther strung himself up for his reformation work by that noble version of the 46th psalm, termed the Marseillaise of the Reformation. Mr. Sankey has covered the whole ground in the admirable address to which we have listened; so in my remarks I will limit myself to congregational singing, and will look at it from the point of view of the pastor. Mr. Sankey has a little forgotten that, while conducting the evangelistic services, he has everything in his power; the pastor has to take the church with him. The church must be like Wordsworth's cloud, and move all together, if at all. Ministers have to suffer, like Moses, for a good many things for the hardness of people's hearts. [Laughter!] If we want to come up to the ideal pitch of perfection, we should probably end by making discord all around. So we have got to make the best of things, as at present. We ought to be limited in our range of selection of hymns. I have a profound conviction that the great size of our congregational hymn-books is killing congregational singing.
It is not possible for the great multitude of the congregation to acquire the facilities to sing all the tunes needed for the rendering of these hymns. The first thing I would recommend a minister to do is, by a species of natural selection, to make his own little selection out of the big one; and if, by any accident, he should give out one that dragged, then put a beacon on it and not give it out again. [Laughter.] Let ministers give good heed to the counsels Mr. Sankey addressed to them, with regard to the necessity of cultivating good feeling between them and the choir. If they persist in looking on the choir as hirelings, it will develop the hireling spirit. Don't continue to look on them as necessary evils. [Laughter.] Go and have a free and frank and brotherly conference with them. Don't manage it by authority; you can never do that. [Laughter.] Manage them by influence and love. Talk sincerely and earnestly on the subject. One more thing I would say, if we have good congregational singing, we must have rousing preaching. [Laughter.] The best way to heat a church is ^o have the stove in the pulpit. [Laughter.]
Rev. Dr. Hastings in an address in some measure differed from the principles laid down by Mr. Sankey. He said, first of all, he had not one particle of sympathy for the church suffering under the curse of mercenary choirs, nor would he until the church would wake up to the fact of the shameful neglect of which she was guilty in this matter of praising God. You ministers, said he, who are tortured by quartettes, I am not sorry for you. Have you gone to the rehearsal? have you taken them by the hand and found out their thoughts about the praise of God? have you ever shown any sympathy for them personally? When they are singing in church, are you looking over notes, or looking over the Bible, or occupying yourself with something else? If I tread on Mr. Moody's toes a little for a minute —one service which is permitted to be interrupted is, the service of song. Mr. Moody, while Dr. Adams was praying didn't say "Open the doors;" but the moment the hymn is singing he says, " Now open the doors and let them in." [Loud laughter.] The most magnificent thing I ever heard in my life is the lifting up of voices in this great congregation. I don't blame Mr. Moody; it is only of a piece with the common habit of the church, throughout the country. What Brother Sankey said this morning was admirable sense for the millennium; but we are but little past the middle of the nineteenth century yet. Let us work toward it. I have got a pretty good pair of legs, long enough for ordinary use. [Laughter.] For many years, whilR my sainted father was with me, I had the delight of having my choir just as I wanted; and when the crisis came, I said to my legs, "Now do your duty;" and I went on the hunt, just as Mr. Sankey recommended, to find singers in the congregation to make themselves targets for the ungenerous criticism of the congregation. My congregation is better than the average on that subject. [Laughter.] Singers have some rights which Christians are bound to respect. They are not respected by the church and ministers as thej' should be; they are held at arms-length. The average condition of musical culture, in a given congregation, must determine what the singing should be, and that congregation cannot ignore the fact without a violation of nature. I would rather have a first-rate quartette than a first-rate precentor. There is more music in it. You can have a Christian influence prevailing in a quartette choir as well as in a choral choir. The churches have not lifted up this ser vice and elevated it with the service of prayer. I long for the revival of love and joy in the Holy Ghost, to bring us to our senses on
this subjeot. Why, look at the days of Solomon, when four thousand were set apart for the service of song. There is not a church 1 ever knew of that took any careful measures to train up either a leader or a choir for themselves.
The second hour's services were now commenced, Mr. Moody saying amid laughter, "Now I don't know how to get the people in;" adding, after giving out the second hymn: "Let's all rise and sing. Never mind the doors. If you are paying attention to what you are singing you won't notioe the people coming in. If I were to set apart two minutes for them to come in, then these ministers would get talking, and I couldn't stop them." [Laughter.] After a short
Ereliminary service, the following queries were put, and answered y Mr. Moody: Q. How can you introduce new hymns into the church? A. One
food way is to nave one night given to sacred song, and singing new ymns and tunes as well as old ones; and then I would nave the people have the books in their home.
Q. How can I get the speakers to be short in the prayer-meetings? A. Be short yourself, and set a good example. [Laughter.]
Q. My church is divided. I can't get them united in special services. What am I to do? A. Just get as many as you can, and just get each one to influence those that are standing out.
Q. I am a pastor in a town with about ten thousand inhabitants. I cannot get the young men out to our meetings. What am I to do? A. The best thing to do is, just to have a yoke-fellows' band, form the Christian young men into a band. Suppose there were only three of them; let them meet and pray together. The little band will soon grow; and in the course of a few months, they will be thirty. Let your preaching be short; throw away your manuscript, and preach right at them. [Laughter.] If you see a man is gone asleep, make up your mind that you have get to close. There ought to be no trouble about that. A man can get a hymn book for five cents. He can drop off one cigar and get it. The great trouble is that a great many only have the books in the church; they ought to have them in their homes.
Q. What do you think of having a service devoted entirely to sacred song opened and closed by prayer? A. A very good thing.
Q. What would you do to get people out to hear the gospel preached? A. Get them out to hear it sung. In that way, you will get them acquainted with it. Touch it up with some little story, when you give it out; and before you know it, you are preaching to them.
Q. What is the best book for inquirers? A. Well, the book written by John is about the best I have ever seen. [Laughter.]
Q. How would you wake up an interest in the church prayermeeting? A. Why, wake up yourself. Shake hands with the yci^ng men; say you are glad to see them; and you maybe sure they will come back again. I believe men living in a country district, have, in this respect, more advantages than we in cities. When I was in my native village, I had all those long winter evenings to myself; and if there had been such meetings, I would have been glad to go to them. When I went back to my native town, last summer, I preached there for a short time. When I was ready to go away, some of the young oonverts asked me what they should da I told them to go right into the school-houses, and hold a series of meetings. The result was that these houses are filled with people at those meetings. I tell you, the nation is hungry for the gospel.