THE ANCESTORS OF MR. MOODY.
Dwight L. Moody descended from a line of ministers. It has been said that every other Moody family contained a preacher. Some of them have been men of great force and character, and have made more than a passing impression on New England history. The family has been noted for longevity, and the extent of the literary attainments of its members; their bold persevering habits; their spirit of enterprise, their independence of mind and character, irrespective of the popular will, and for the similarity and purity of their religious faith. The average age of seventeen ancestors of Mr. Moody, ranging from the year 1633 to 1847, was 67 years.
Mr. William Moody, the principal progenitor of the Moody family in New England, came according to the best records obtainable, from Wales, in 1633, wintered at Ipswich, and removed to Newbury with the first settlers of that place in 1635. Here he was admitted a Freeman and received a grant of ninetytwo acres of land. There is a tradition that he was a blacksmith by trade, and another that he was a saddler, and it is very probable that he did a little of both. It is known, however, that he was the first person in New England to adopt the practice of shoeing oxen to enable them to walk on the ice, and he even acquired the appellation "The learned black smith."
Since the Moody family came to America it has never lacked an exceptionally great preacher of the gospel. Joshua belonged to the Seventeenth century, Samuel to the Eighteenth, and Dwight to the Nineteenth.
Rev. Joshua Moodey, a son of William Moody, although he spelled his name differently, was born in England in 1633, about a year before his father came to this country. He received his early education at Newbury, and was prepared for admission to college by Rev. Thomas Parker. He was a graduate of Harvard in 1653, after which he began the study of divinity and early began to preach. He began his ministerial labors at Portsmouth, N. H., early in the year 1658, at which place he laid the foundation and eventually gathered the first Congregational church in that place. As a minister he was considered zealous and faithful and for many years the church flourished under his pastoral care, during which time he distinguished himself by his independent and faithful manner of teaching and the strictness of his church discipline. Mr. Moodey became involved in a dispute with Mr. Cranfield, who was lieutenant-governor of the province, and who did not like the minister because he thought he stood in the way of his schemes for personal aggrandizement. In 1684 a Scotch ketch had been seized by a collector and carried out of the harbor in the night. The owner, a member of the church, swore upon the trial that he had not a hand in sending her away and that he knew nothing about it, but the circumstances were such that there was strong suspicion that he had perjured himself. He found means, however, to settle the matter with Cranfield and the collector, but Mr. Moodey judged it necessary to do something to vindicate the honor of his church, so he requested of the Governor copies of the evidence for the purpose of instituting an examination. Cranfield ordered the minister to desist and threatened him with the consequences in case of refusal, but Moodey would not be intimidated and preached a sermon upon swearing and the evil of false swearing. The Governor in order to wreak his vengeance determined to put the uniformity act into operation; by a statute then in force, ministers were required to admit to the Lord's Supper all persons -who should desire it, who were "of suitable years and not vicous." Cranfield gave notice that he and several others intended on the following Sunday to partake of the sacrament. His demand was not complied with, in consequence of which Moody was indicted and imprisoned for thirteen weeks. After his persecution in Portsmouth he fled to Boston and was received in open arms by the members of the First Church. Even while at Portsmouth he took a great interest in Harvard college and succeeded in raising a fund of sixty pounds a year for seven years to erect a brick building on the Harvard ground. On the death of President Rogers, July 2, 1684, he was elected his successor, as president of Harvard College. He modestly declined the offer, preferring his situation as assistant minister in the First Church. He was a strong opponent to superstition, was involved in innumerable arguments and did much in securing the release of persons who were arrested in Salem and Boston for witchcraft. He went back to Portsmouth in 1692 after many solicitations from his old flock. He died on the 4th of July, 1697, in the 65th year of his age, and his funeral sermon was preached by Dr. Cotton Mather.
Rev. Samuel Moody of the First Parish of York, Maine, was the fourth son of Caleb Moody of Newbury, and a grandson of William Moody, who came from England. He was born at Newbury on the 4th of January, 1675, and was a nephew of Rev. Joshua Moodey. Of his early life little is known, but he finished his education at Harvard when he was twenty-two, and graduated with honors in the year 1697. The next year he commenced preaching in York and was regularly ordained, and settled over the First Parish in that place in December, 1700, where he continued an eminently useful and successful minister of the gospel for nearly fifty years.
He was a man noted for his piety and was greatly beloved and no less feared by the people of his charge. He was distinguished alike for his eccentricities, his zeal as a man of God, his remarkable faith and fervency in prayer, and his uncommon benevolence. Histories of religion in New England place him as the equal of any gentleman of the clergy of that day. Previous to his settlement at York, the whole town had been destroyed by the Indians, fifty people having been killed and one hundred taken captive.
He petitioned the Earl of Bellemont, who was then Governor-in-Chief, and through him the council and representatives of the province assembled in June, 1699, for a competent maintenance as a chaplain to the garrison at York, in which position he had served for upward of a year, and the council granted him twelve pounds out of the public treasury.
He was a man of prayer, and remarkable for his importunity at the throne of grace. An instance of his power of prayer, is one cited against the French fleet in 1746. France had fitted out a fleet with the intention of destroying the British colonies. This fact was known in this country, and as the colonists could not expect any aid from England, of course they were very much exercised over the event. Moody had recourse to prayer. He appointed a day for the purpose, praying against this fleet, and he brought to view the expressions made use of in the Scriptures against Sennacherib; "Put a hook in his nose and a bridle in his lips; turn him back again by the way that he came, that he shall not shoot an arrow here nor cast up a bank; but by the way he came, cause him to return." By and by the old gentleman waxed warm and raised his hands and his voice and cried out, "Good Lord, if there is no other wa y of defeating their enterprise, send a storm upon them and sink them in the ship.'' It was found afterward that not far from that time a tremendous tempest burst upon that fleet, and foundered many of them. A remnant of the fleet got into Halifax, and the commander was so disheartened, thinking all the rest were lost that he put an end to his own life, and the second in command did the same, and the third in command was not competent for the undertaking. A mortal sickness prevailed among the survivors, and great numbers of them laid their bones in Halifax. They finally packed their all and went back to France without striking a blow.
His faith was emulated in the Nineteenth century by his descendant. A story is told of him that he believed that if he asked the Lord, He would provide for every living thing. One morning his wife told him they had nothing for dinner. He replied that this was nothing to her: what she had to do was to set the table as usual when the dinner hour came. Accordingly, when the hour came, she set the table, spread the cloth and put on the plates, and just then a neighbor brought in a good dinner all cooked.
On another occasion Mrs. Moody told him on Saturday morning that they had no wood. "Well," he replied, "I must go into my study and God will provide for us." During the day a Quaker called in and asked for Mr. Moody. Mr. Moody appeared and the Quaker said to him, "Friend Moody, I was carrying a load of wood to neighbor A. B., and just as I got opposite thy door my sled broke down, and if thee will accept of the wood, I will leave it here." Mr. Moody told him it was very acceptable as he was entirely out.
His daughter, who lived in Massachusetts, told of the time when her father was officiating in the pulpit of her husband, who was a minister. At the time great ravages were being made by the canker worm, which well-nigh destroyed everything green. On Sunday morning when they went to the meeting house, the canker worms were so numerous that one could scarce set down his foot without crushing them by the score. Mr. Moody's text was from Mai. iii: 2, "I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes." As he warmed up he seemed filled with a sort of prophetic fire and appealed to his hearers as follows: "Brethren, here is the promise of God. Do you believe it? Will you repose full confidence in it? I believe it and feel an assurance in my soul that God will bring it to pass."
It was noticed that when the service,, which was long, had been finished, the destoyer had disappeared. Not one of the insects that had been so multitudinous was seen around. Historians say that they were seen lying dead in little windrows on the shore of the creek, which ran through the town.
In another particular the modern Evangelist emulated his distinguished ancestor. The latter refused to receive a stipulated salary, but rather chose to live on the voluntary contributions of the people. It has been said that he literally knew not anything that he possessed. In one of his sermons he mentioned that he had been supported for twenty years in a way most pleasing to him, and that he "had been under no necessity of spending one hour in a week in care for the world. Yet he was sometimes reduced to want, though his confidence in God never failed him.
His benevolence was unbounded. His wife, as well as others, thought he was too lavish of his little, when anyone applied to him for assistance in distress. To put a check upon his liberality and give him time to consider, she made him a new purse, but when she had put the change into it she tied the strings into several knots, so that he might have time for reflection while untying them. Not long after this a poor person asked him for alms, He took out his purse and attempted to untie the strings, but finding it difficult, he told the person he believed the Lord intended he should give him the whole, so he gave the purse and change together. The old lady's experiment on this occasion was rather a losing one.
Once when he was going to Boston to attend a great convention or conference, he saw a poor man in the hands of the officers, who were taking him to jail for debt. Father Moody inquired the amount for which he was to be imprisoned, and found that he had sufficient to defray the debt, which he immediately did, and the poor man was liberated. He then turned to one of his Elders who accompanied him and said that he must depend upon him to bear the expense of the journey, as he had nothing left. The Elder ventured respectfully to question the propriety and prudence of his conduct in thus rendering himself so dependent, but the old clergyman replied: "Elder, does not the Bible asy, 'Cast thy bread upon the waters and thou shalt find it after many days?'" Towards evening they reached the city and the talent and piety of Boston came out upon Boston Common to see the famous Father Moody. The Elder related the morning adventure and after they had retired to their lodgings, a waiter brought Father Moody a sealed packet. He opened it and found it contained the precise sum which he had given to the poor man in the morning. He turned to the Elder and exclaimed: "I cast my bread upon the waters in the morning and behold it is returned to me in the evening."
His aptness for quoting and applying Scripture was known to be proverbial. He had a habit when Copyright, 1900, by Root. 0. Law.
MOODY FAMILY GATHERING, 1867.
The above is a very rare picture, beta* the only one in existence of Mrs. Moody and her children.
performing table service, of quoting some passage of Scripture descriptive of the food provided; one of his parishoners desired to know what he could find in the Bible to suit Shell-fish, and provided a dinner of clams and invited Mr. Moody to dine with him. In returning thanks after the refreshment, he blessed the Lord that he not only furnished supplies from the produce of the fields and flocks and herds, but permitted them to "suck of the abundance of the seas and of the treasures hid in the sand."
He was an extremely eccentric old fellow and numerous anecdotes ara related on this particular phase of his character. At a certain time his church got into difficulty. At a church meeting, finding it difficult to get along, they concluded by his advice to adjourn for a season and pray for light and direction. On the next Sabbath, Mr. Moody preached from the following text: 2 Chron. xx: 12. "Neither know we what to do, but our eyes are upon Thee." After some introductory remarks, he stated this for his doctrine: "When a person or people are in such a situation that they know not what to do, they should not do they know not what, but their eyes should be unto the Lord for direction.''
On another occasion while the old gentleman was on a journey to the Western part of Massachusetts, he called on a brother minister one Saturday, with a view to spending the Sabbath with him if agreeable. The man appeared very glad to see him and said: "I should be very glad to have you stop and preach with me to-morrow, but I feel almost ashamed to ask you." "Why, what is the matter?" said Mr. Moody. "Our people have got into such a habit of going out before the meeting is closed, that it seems to be an imposition upon a stranger." "If that is all, I must and will stop and preach for you," was Mr. Moody's reply. When the Sabbath day came, and Mr. Moody had opened the meeting and named his text, he looked around on the assembly and said: "My hearers, I am going to speak to two sorts of folks to:day, saints and sinners. Sinners, I am going to give you your portion first, and I would have your good attention." When he had preached to them as long as he thought best, he paused and sard: "There, sinners, I have done with you now; you take your hats and go out of the meeting house as soon as you please.'' But they tarried and heard him through.
He was remarkably successful as a minister, and many revivals were held in his church during his ministry, and it is said to have contained between 300 and 400 members when he left it. His greatest revival, perhaps, was in 1741. The exact number he affiliated with his church will perhaps never be known, as the records were destroyed when the church was burned the next year.
The old man had as his guest that year the Rev. George Whitefield, the celebrated young minister, whose talents and fervent piety drew from the congregation to which he preached the strongest expressions of praise.
In 1745, two years before his death, he accompanied the American army as chaplain of the celebrated Cape Breton expedition. The old man, when Louisburg was taken, shouldered an ax and went up to the images in the churches and actually cut them down, as he had told his friends he would when he left home.
He published several books, among which were "The Doleful State of the Damned, especially Such as go to Hell from under the Gospel," "Judas, the Traitor, Hung up in Chains to give Warnings to Professors that they Beware of Worldlimindedness and Hypocrisy; a Discourse concluding with a Dialogue," "A Sermon Preached to Children After Catechizing in the Town of York (Me.) July 25, 1721," "The Way to Get out of Debt, and the Way to Keep out of Debt."
Critics who have read these books declare that they compare well with those of Baxter.
He died at the age of ninety, and the family were assembled in the room at the time, his son Joseph sitting behind him on the bed, holding him up in his arms. When he had ceased to breathe, the people in the room began to remark that he was gone, and his son exclaimed in a loud voice: "And Joseph shall put his hands upon thine eyes." He then put his hands around and closed his eyes, and laid the lifeless body back on the bed.
His remains lie buried in the common burying place near the meeting house in York, and on his tombstone is this inscription: "For his farther character read Corinthians, 3d Chapter, and first six verses.''