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Chapter XII

CHAPTER XII.

AMERICAN MEETINGS.

Mr. Moody, at the close of one of his great meetings in Boston, gave a talk on finance and asked the people there to give him $30,000. He said that $20,000 of it would be used to defray the expenses of the meetings that had been held there, and $10,000 was to secure the use of the tabernacle for one year for gospel purposes. He stated that in the meeting he recently held in Chicago not only had they raised enough money to pay the expense of that meeting, but had raised $80,000 additional to pay the debt of the Y. M. C. A. He said that when this big sum had been raised, people not in sympathy with him or his work, stated that Moody and Sankey had carried off a large portion of it. He said that if this had been true it would have been very good pay for three months' work. He said if he had taken the money the public would have a right to know how they spent it. But as they were not employed by the public, he did not see any reason why he should give any statement, as there had never been any collection for them. He said that when he gave up his business in Chicago, after three months of the severest struggle of his life, as to whether he should go for dollars and cents, or for souls, that from that day he had no more lived for money than he had for water. He said he had been offered $500 a night to lecture, and that when the lecture was over he could go to his hotel and get a comfortable night's sleep. But during his evangelism he had worked all day and talked all night with inquirers, and that when he was done he was so tired and weak that he could hardly get to his room.

While holding meetings at Burlington, la., a number of years ago the hall was crowded so densely that women began to faint; one woman in particular fell down in a crowd in the aisle and it was with difficulty that she could be removed. The weather was bitter cold and the air inside the building was very bad. Mr. Moody changed his plan of conducting the meeting and would order hymns every five or ten minutes, at which time the windows or doors would be thrown wide open, allowing the air of the place to become clear. This was quite a relief and no bad effects were noticeable.

At the Christian convention held in Boston, in 1877, Mr. Moody was present and told of his own experience in his Christian work in Chicago, and when his congregation was discouragingly small, he said he found a way to success by putting the converts to work trying to bring others into the fold. He said that one man who was converted was unable to speak English, and that when conversation took place it was done through an interpreter. This man wanted to do something for the cause and he was put to work distributing religious bills. Mr. Moody said that some people blessed him and some cursed him, but it made no difference to the man, for he could not understand English. But this man was the means of converting a great many people. Mr. Moody also advocated congregational singing, as he believed this had done much good work. He said that he had been able to reach many young men by going to billiard halls and singing some patriotic song followed by a religious hymn. He said that the first signs of the breaking of the ice was noticed in the men removing their hats and they soon did not object to hearing the Scriptures read or a prayer offered. He said that one time he took sixteen men out of one saloon and nine of them went to the inquiry room.

In this same Boston meeting Mr. Moody was asked a number of questions, and among them was, "Why don't you teach baptism?" He said in reply, "If I should teach baptism by sprinkling, I would lose the influence of one good sort of Christians. Evangelists are just to proclaim the gospel, and they should keep out of that controverted question." He said the work of the evangelist was always in proportion to the number of churches interested in the movement. He said it was never any good arguing with an infidel, the thing was to pray with him. He was not a great believer in books or tracts, but believed in the Scripture.

Somebody asked him how gambling in churches could be cured. He said, have no festivals, there is no gambling in prayer meetings. He said the first thing was to get life in yourself. In the camp Sion convention, held at the Hippodrome in New York in March, 1876, Mr. Moody said in the course of one of his talks on Evangelism that he believed the secret of John Wesley's success was that he set every man to work as soon as they were converted. He thought the plan a good one, as idleness was conducive to spiritual laziness.

He said that sometimes a convert would wake up a whole community and that it was very natural that the first thing a man was to do after he was :onverted was to go out and tell somebody about it.

He was not a believer in the plan of changing speakers each night, he said he had known of several times when that had been tried and that there had been no good results. He thought that the proper way to hold a religious revival was to have one or two men to preach continuously for two or three weeks. He said that a great many meetings were killed because they were so long. He said that one of the troubles was that you preach the people into the spirit and out again before the meeting was over. He said that the proper thing was to send the people home hungry and then they would come again.

The gospel campaign in the Union began at Brooklyn on Sunday, October 24, 1875, and continued there until November 19th. The Rink, on Clermont Avenue, which had sittings for five thousand, was selected for the preaching services, while Mr. Talmage's tabernacle was devoted to prayermeetings. A choir of 250 Christian singers was led by Mr. Sankey.

In Philadelphia a spacious freight depot, at Thirteenth and Market streets, was improvised to serve as a hall. Chairs were provided for about 10,000 listeners, besides a chorus of six hundred singers seated on the platform. The expenses were met by voluntary contributions outside, which amounted to $30,000. A corps of three hundred Christians acted as ushers, and a like number of selected workers served in the three inquiry rooms. At the opening service, early on Sunday morning, November 21st, nine thousand were present, in spite of a drenching storm. In the afternoon, almost twice as many were turned away as found entrance. Henceforth, until the close on January 16th, the attendance and popular interest never slackened. A special service was held on Thanksgiving Day, and a watch-meeting on New Year's eve, from 9 to 12. Efforts were made to reach all classes of the community, and the meetings for young men were specially blessed. A careful computation puts the total attendance at 900,000, and the converts at 4,000. Before leaving the city, a collection was made on behalf of the new hall of the Young Men's Christian Association, and about $100,000 were obtained. A Christian convention was held on the 19th and 20th of January, and pertinent suggestions about the methods of evangelistic work were given for the benefit of the two thousand ministers and laymen in attendance from outlying towns.

For the mission in New York City, the Hippodrome at Madison and Fourth Avenues was leased, at a rental of $1,500 weekly, and $10,000 were expended in its preparation. It was partitioned into two halls, one seating 6,500, the other 4,000, the intent being to use the second for overflow meetings, and so bring such large congregations more completely under the speaker's control. A choir of 800 singers and a corps of lay workers were organized. The deep concern of the people to hear the plain gospel preached and sung was as deep here among all classes as elsewhere, and the attendance was unflagging from February 7th to April 19th. Again, a Christian conference was convened for two days, at which Christian workers from the North and East took counsel together. At the final meeting for young converts 3,500 were present by ticket.

Mr. Moody spent two weeks in May with his friend, Major Whittle, at Augusta, Georgia, while Mr. Sankey took a rest at Newcastle. He preached with his usual fervor to large congregations. He traveled northward to Chicago by way of Nashville, Louisville, St. Louis and Kansas City, holding meetings on the way. His new church edifice on Chicago Avenue, was opened on his arrival. It was a large brick building with stone facings, measuring 120 by 100 feet, and having a bell-tower 120 feet high. Its entire cost was $100,000, all of which was paid before its dedication. August and September were spent in a visit to the old Northfield homestead, and in little tours to Greenfield, Springfield and Brattleboro.

Chicago gave the heartiest welcome to its own Moody and Sankey in October, where they resumed the mission work suspended by them three years before. A tabernacle was erected which could shelter 10,000, and a choir of 300 singers was organized. The city pastors gave a most cordial support, and its populace, many of whom had seen their homes twice burnt to the ground, were eager to listen to the earnest messages of free salvation. The great Northwest was now moved, as never before, especially when tidings came of the sudden death of Phillip P. Bliss and his wife at Ashtabula on December 29th. Within three months 4,800 converts were recorded in Chicago.

The evangelical Christians of Boston had long been waiting on the Lord for a special blessing on their city. A permanent brick edifice was built on Tremont Street, able to seat a congregation of six thousand. Dr. Tourjee gathered a body of two thousand Christian singers, and organized it into five distinct choirs. The thoughtful addresses of Rev. Joseph Cook were of use in preparing that cultured and critical city for the advent of the eavangelists. And the result of the religious services was almost beyond expectation. Instead of a single noon meeting for prayer, seven or eight sprang up throughout the city, with numbers varying from 200 to 1,500. Ninety churches co-operated in a houseto-house visitation, and 2,000 visitors were enrolled into these bands of yoke-fellows. Throughout all New England the quickened activities of the churches were unmistakable, and the evangelical faith met a more respectful hearing from its thinking classes than had been witnessed for a hundred years. «