An eloquent and touching sermon was delivered by Rev. Henry H. Stebbins, at Central Church, Rochester, N. Y., as a memorial to Dwight L. Moody. December 31, 1899. The songs and psalms were the same as those used at the evangelist's funeral, and the entire service was a memorial to him who with his last breath said: "Is this dying? Then death is bliss!" Dr. Stebbins said:
'' I take for my text this morning the first words that occurred to me, when I learned that Dwight L. Moody had gone hence to be here no more. His death, like a magnet, has attracted numerous expressions of Scripture singularly pertinent to the man whose departure we mourn.
"We associate with him words like these: 'Steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord.* He'went about doing good.' 'He had compassion on the multitude.' 'A friend of sinners.' 'I know that my Redeemer liveth.' 'I know whom I have believed.' 'By the grace of God I am what I am.' 'Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil.'
"They tell us that among the floral designs at Mr. Moody's funeral was that of an open Bible on the one side of which was 'Victory, I Corinthians
Copyright, 1900, by Root. O. Law.
MOODY BIBLE INSTITUTE, CHICAGO.
Hundreds of Bible students assemble here daily for the purpose of gleaning scriptural
15:55-57,' and on the other side: 'II Timothy, 4:7-8."
"So we might go on, enumerating passages of Scripture suggested by Mr. Moody's death because Mr. Moody's life was in such close touch with so much of the spirit and the letter of God's Word. And this brings me at once to what appeals to me as one of the four cardinal features of Mr. Moody's phenomenal life—his attachment to God's Word. Right here the conviction smites me of how he must have reveled in the 119th Psalm, which plays so many variations on the theme of God's Word.
"'Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path. My heart standeth in awe of Thy word.'
"'I rejoice at Thy word as one that findeth great spoil. Thy word is very pure; therefore Thy servant loveth it. Oh, how love I Thy law; it is my meditation all the day. How sweet are Thy words unto my taste! yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth.'
"Mr. Moody's creed about the Bible was that all Scripture was given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for instruction in righteousness. And he believed that holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost. He held fast the faith once delivered to the saints.
"In the handling of the Bible—and how intelligently, skilfully, reverently and affectionately he handled it—in handling the Bible he was a literalist rather than a believer in the allegory and fable theories of Scripture. He believed that the whale swallowed Jonah; that the serpent tempted the woman. He believed the story of the deluge. He believed that the water was turned into wine. And he believed so, not because he was artificial in his understanding of the Bible, nor because he was not learned in all the wisdom of the schools. Indeed some of the most learned men kept company with Mr. Moody as a literalist. I recall one, an eminent scholar, who was on the American committee of revisers of the Bible, and who to the day of his death believed that the world was created in six days of twenty-four hours each. Mr. Moody's attitude toward the Bible is well illustrated in the following bit of experience he related: 'A man came to me with a difficult passage in the Bible the other day and said: "Mr. Moody, what do you do with that?" 'I do not do anything with it.' "Howdoyou understand it?" 'I do hot understand it.' "How do you explain it?" 'I do not explain it.' "What do you do with it?" 'I do not do anything.' "You do not believe it, do you?" 'Oh, yes, I believe it. 'There are lots of things I do not understand, but I believe them. I do not know anything about higher mathematics, but I believe in them. I do not understand astronomy, but I believe in astronomy. Can you tell me why the same kind of food turns into flesh, fish, hair, feathers, hoofs, fingernails, according as it is eaten by one animal or another? A man told me a while ago he could not believe a thing he had never seen. I said: "Man, did you ever see your brain? Did you ever notice that the things men cavil most about are the very things on which Christ has set His seal?"
"Doubtless one secret of Mr. Moody's power as a preacher was his unshaken faith in God's word. His motto seemed to be: 'I believe, and therefore I speak.' His 'Thus saith the Lord' was freighted with such intense, absorbing conviction, that the people heard and wondered and were under conviction, were converted unto God or confirmed in the faith.
"One reason why such unprecedented multitudes thronged to hear him—it is said that for nearly six years Mr. Moody's audiences, afternoons and evenings, averaged five thousand—one reason, I say, why so many thronged to hear him was that he spake as one having authority.
"'Why do you go to hear Moody?' said a lawyer scornfully to a fellow club member; 'you don't believe as he does?' 'No, but he believes what he preaches with all his heart, and it is well to meet such a man in these days of doubt and uncertainty.'
"The second cardinal feature of Mr. Moody's life was his devotion to prayer. Much as he set by the Bible, he seemed to set more by prayer. For prayer seemed to bring him face to face with God. His prayer was talk with God, even as friend talks with friend. Far into the night, or rising a long while before day, he communed with God.
"'They that seek the throne of grace,
Find that throne in every place."
"It was singularly true of him. He took everything to God in prayer. He lived in an atmosphere of prayer that fulfilled Paul's precept: 'Pray without ceasing.' He was an impressive illustration of the assurance: 'They that wait on the Lord shall renew their strength. They shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.' Prayer was Moody's vital breath.
"'Twas Moody's native air;
His watchword at the gate of death,
He entered heaven with prayer.
"A third feature of Mr. Moody's life was his prodigious activity. He was active in season, out of season. He outworked any and all who were associated with him. For more than forty years he has been indefatigable in the promotion of the Kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ. We think of him, and justly, as the great evangelist of the century. It is interesting to trace the evolution of his evangelistic spirit from the germ of his thorough conversion to God, to godliness and to godly service.
"It was in May, '56, that he joined the Mt. Vernon Congregational church in Boston. In the fall of that year he went to Chicago and served as salesman in the shoe business. Diligent in business, he was fervent in spirit, serving the Lord. He joined the Plymouth Congregational church of Chicago, and his entrance into that church was abundant.
"He rented four pews and kept them filled with young men and boys—a splendid idea for some young man or young men of this church. Mr. Moody asked for a Sunday-school class. He was told he would be welcome to teach any class he chose to collect. The next Sunday he marched into the school at the head of eighteen ragged boys. Later he opened a mission of his own in an empty tavern. The school grew so that more commodious quarters had to be secured. Mr. Moody procured over sixty teachers for the school, the average attendance of which was 650. In 1860, Mr. Moody gave up all other business and concentrated his energies upon distinctly Christian work. He lived on as little as possible. He had no home. His bed was a bench in the Y. M. C. A. Shortly he became a city missionary, and as the fruit of his labors, in 1863 a church building was put up. In 1865 he was elected president of the Chicago Y. M. C. A.
"Mr. Moody's evangelistic work during the war was conspicuous and prolific. In 1867 he went abroad for the first time, and again in 1873. You know, in general terms, of his blessed work, aided by Mr. Sankey, whom he called into the service about 1871 —in England, Scotland, and Ireland. Mr. Moody's ministry abroad marks an era in the religious life and in the Church of God of Great Britain. Then there were the great hippodrome meetings in New York and the evangelistic campaigns in Boston, Cleveland, Brooklyn, Chicago, San Francisco, St. Louis. Indeed, nearly every city of any size, North, South, East and West, in this country has its record of Moody meetings. It is estimated that Mr. Moody, during his evangelistic work, addressed not fewer than 100,000,000 persons.
"We further associate Mr. Moody with the summer conferences at Northfield, that had their origin in his invitation to a few friends to his home for prayer and Bible study. His evangelistic influence has been reinforced, extended and made permanent by the press.
"Three or four years ago he established a colportage association for the dissemination of good literature, and hundreds of thousands of books have been sent to prison cells, home and foreign missionary fields and army camps, in addition to a large circulation in city and country homes. He also started two magazines devoted to evangelistic work. I count more than a score of books, the fruit of his labor on the platform, in his spiritual sanctum and elsewhere.
"But Mr. Moody, plain man as he was, not versed in the wisdom of the schools, has been a great educator. The summer conferences at Northfield have been in the best sense educational for college men, young women, and the laity in general. Four institutions were under his immediate direction. Besides, the influence of Mr. Moody upon the pulpit, upon theology, upon the religious life, upon a broadgauged Catholic Christianity has been immeasurable. Not only was Mr. Moody the greatest evangelist since Whitefield, and a most aggressive and practical educator, but a great builder.
"I find the following statement in a recent number of the New York Tribune: 'His first building was the Illinois Street church in Chicago, erected about 1858, for the shelter of his mission school, and the church which grew out of it. His second building enterprise was the Young Men s Christian Association building in Chicago, erected in 1866, the first commodious edifice for Young Men's Christian Association purposes in this country. His third enterprise was the re-erection of the first Young Men's Christian Association building, destroyed by fire. This also was destroyed in the great fire of 1871, and again rebuilt, mainly through Mr. Moody's efforts. The other Young Men's Christian Association buildings in America, for which money was raised by Mr. Moody, and in whose erection he was more or less conspicuous, were at New York, Boston, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Baltimore and Scranton.
"'In Great Britain there were erected by Mr Moody's personal efforts, or from the inspiration of his works; Christian Union building, Dublin; Christian Institute building, Glasgow; Carubber's Close mission, Edinburgh; the story of which is not only interesting, but romantic; Conference hall, Stratford; Down Lodge hall, Wandsworth, London, and the Young Men's Christian Association building Liverpool.
"'In addition to the above are twenty or more builflings at Northfield, Mass.; the Chicago Avenue church and Bible Institute buildings, Chicago.'
"Such, in barest outline, is a memorandum of the work and labor of love in which he was always abounding, and that, too, notwithstanding that of late years he was compassed by the infirmity of a weak heart.
"When challenged to run a foot race at a Sundayschool picnic in Northfield a few years ago he said: 'I have heart disease, and would fall dead if I should make such an effort.' At the same time he was administering the multiform interests that absorbed mind and heart and time.
"The fourth cardinal feature of Mr. Moody's life was his fellowship with the Father, with His Son, Jesus Christ, and with the Holy Ghost. This was the supreme reality in Mr. Moody's life. Enoch walked with God; so did Moody. His conversation or citizenship was in heaven. That fellowship was the mainspring in the mechanism of his character and career. It was that that made him so devoted to God's Word that stimulated him to pray and that it was made him abound so in the work of the Lord, and made him so assured about the great salvation
"'My mind is made up,' he said one time, 'on the question proposed, namely, the relative merits of Christianity and infidelity. Somebody once asked Charles Sumner to hear the other side of slavery. "Hear the other side?" he replied. "There is no other side. I would as soon discuss the merits of Christianity and infidelity.'' 'No one who studied history,' said Mr. Moody, 'need hesitate in answering the question. I know what the Lord Jesus Christ has done for me during the last forty years since I trusted Him Let the members of your club accept Christ as their personal Saviour, and they need not waste time discussing such a question. If I had a remedy that never failed to cure disease for forty years, I should not stop to compare its merits with another remedy.*
"It was his fellowship with Christ that made him determine to know nothing save Jesus Christ and Him crucified. It was because the Spirit taught him and brought all things to his remembrance that He was so instructed, unto the kingdom of Heaven, that He was able to bring forth out of the treasury of truth things new and old. It was his nearness to Christ that brought him so near to the Christian, and that raised him so far above the plane of denominationalism. It was his fellowship with Christ that inspired him with such a perennial passion for souls. His fellowship with Christ kept him humble.
"By contrast to the ineffable holiness of the Lord, he exclaimed with Peter: 'Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.' His fellowship with God made him to an almost unparalleled degree fearless, unconstrained and at home in the presence of princes, or of men mighty for wealth, wisdom or social rank. His attitude was never apologetic. He was a righteous man who, in the delivery of his message, however faulty it might be judged by the canons of rhetoric or good literary form, was bold as a lion. He walked before God as God told Abraham to do. No man came between him and God. He saw no man save Jesus only. To his own loving and beloved Master he stood or fell. Consummate achievement!
"This was what Dr. Pentacost meant who wrote me in a letter from Northfield: •
"'Dear old Moody is under ground. During his life I have never known a man so very much above ground as he. Peace be to his soul.'
"It was Mr. Moody's fellowship with God that kept him so true to himself. He was simply and grandly natural. His tact, his rare sagacity, his wealth of saving common sense, his superb administrative ability stood out in the bolder relief because of the God who wrought in him. Let God have free course in a man's life as he did in Mr. Moody's and that man's personality is wonderfully developed. He wears no affected air, he does not talk in one tone and preach in another and pray in another. He is not one sort of man on Sunday and another sort of man the rest of the week, but he is simply natural all the while. The man who lives nearest Christ lives nearest to his own individuality. He who is likest to Christ is most unlike other Christians is truest to himself as distinguished from other men. This was why, from first to last, Moody was Moody. At home or abroad, in private or in public, before ten or ten thousand, he was simply Moody.
"The picture you have seen of him in the papers since his death is not that of the preacher but of the man in his wagon with reins and whip in hand, wearing a soft hat and in everyday negligee dress. There was but one Moody in the world. It was God working in him that wrought out his individuality.
"Such was the man—devoted to the Bible, a man who prayed to God always, who wrought incessantly, diversely, unweariedly, and with superlative fruitfulness, and whose life was hid with Christ in God.
"Then came the end, the end of the beginning. 'God is calling me,' he said. He had the ear to hear. And he had the eye to see. 'I see earth receding. Heaven is opening. If this is dying, it is bliss.'
"The following account of the funeral was sent me by one of the honorary pall bearers:
"'The entire services at the funeral of Mr. Moody was full of a spirit of triumph. Within a few moments of his departure he had exclaimed: "Is this death? This is bliss!" He was indeed an exultant victor over the last enemy. As thirty-two Mt . Hermon boys carried what was mortal of him through the streets of Northfield from his home to the church and later from the church, past the house where he was born and where his mother not long ago died, to his place of rest on Round Top, the same consciousness of victory—the victory of faith in Christ—was strongly felt by every spectator.'
"During the funeral service in the church, as his pastor, Dr. Schofield, President Weston, Dr. Chapman, Dr. Wharton, Dr. Pierson and John Wanamaker followed one another in impressive testimony concerning the friend, the guide, the teacher, the comforter, the revealer of Christ whom they had found in this man, the note of sorrow and of mourning was lost in the loftier note of the triumphant life of faith andlove and unselfish service, which these addresses vividly presented.
"The venerable President Weston pronounced him the greatest religious character of the nineteenth century. What most contributed to give him this pre-eminence was the possession by him—so far beyond others—of that life, concerning which Jesus said: 'I am come that ye might have life and that ye might have it more abundantly.'
"Dr. Chapman said:
"'It was through Mr. Moody's agency that I became a Christian, through his influence I entered the ministry and when my ministry was poor and unfruitful he was the messenger from God through whom I received the spiritual impulse and blessing which has given any fruitfulness to my work as evangelist, minister and pastor. Very often I have sought him at critical times for counsel and always received from him the brotherly sympathy and help I needed.'
"Mr. Moody's death appeals to me as a change of base from one scene of service to another. Accordingly it is, as I said at the outset of this sermon, that the words that first came into mind after hearing of Mr. Moody's death were: 'They serve him day ancj night.'
"Tennyson in his Ode on the death of the Duke of Wellington, sings:
"'We doubt not that for one so true.
There's other nobler work to do
Than when he fought at Waterloo.'
"So with Mr. Moody.
"Indeed, I remember his saying, 'By and by you will hear people say, Mr. Moody is dead. Don't you believe a word of it. At that very moment I shall be more alive than I am now. I shall then truly begin to live. I was born of the flesh in 1837. I was born of the Spirit in 1856. That which is born of the flesh may die. That which is born of the Spirit will live forever.'
"I have thought of Mr. Moody as seeing Jesus face to face, whom having not seen, he so dearly loved. I have pictured the great multitude whom no man can number, whom he has been instrumental in saving and serving, as greeting him and as sitting down with him in the Kingdom of God on high.
"I have thought of him as paying his public tribute to the Christ to whom he was so beholden, and as renewedly consecrating himself to his service. I have thought of him as telling to the saints in glory what the grace of God has done for him and through him.
"I have imagined a mammoth testimony meeting presided over by Mr. Moody, at which new songs of redemption have been sung, and where hearts out of their abundance have testified to what God, through dear Mr. Moody, has done for them.
"And if the old, old story has yet to be told anywhere in God's uerse except on this earth, by those who have passed from earth to heaven, I am sure that Dwight L. Moody's commission will not long be delayed.
"His career, so remarkable as evangelist, educator, builder, above all, and through all, and in all, as man of God and servant of Jesus Christ, will make him fitter than ever to engage in the service of heaven. His new environment, the presence of the King, his fuller, clearer vision, the glorious freedom he enjoys from all restrictions, must make of the old, old story of Jesus and his love, which he delighted so to tell on earth, the new, new story of redemption it will be his supernal satisfaction to relate.
"Would that the young men of Rochester might have had their heart's desire gratified by hearing him as they confidently anticipated. But their loss is his gain and the gain of all to whom he has yet to minister.
"May God bless to us the departure out of this life of His good and faithful servant, by intensifying our devotion to the Bible, by making us more prayerful, by stimulating us to more fruitful service, and by attracting us to a closer walk with God. And may what we are and what we do on earth qualify us for higher attainment and larger achievement in heaven."