Chapter I

Moody's Life and Work.


Dwight Lyman Moody—the sixth child of Edwin and Betsy Moody—was born on the 5th of February, 1837, in Northfield, Mass., in the same district which, a little more than a century before, was the scen<i of the great revival under Jonathan Edwards.

When he was only four years old his father suddenly died. Mr. Moody, having generously helped a friend and lost much money by him, was obliged to mortgage the homestead, and all that was left for the support of his widow, and her nine children —the eldest but thirteen—was a little home on the mountain slope, and an acre or two of land. But Mrs. Moody was brave and persevering, and, with a little assistance from her brother in Boston towards paying the interest on the mortgage, kept her little family together and above positive want.

Little Dwight, though very generous, and fond of his mother, was not naturally a religious child. Prayer was his dernier ressort. .. ._ ....

Once when he was crawling under a fence the rails fell down and caught him and bo could not extricate himself. He struggled until nearly exhausted, then called loudly for help; but, it being some distance from any house, no one heard him. When he did finally reach home he gave the following account of his accident:

"I tried and tried, but I couldn't lift them awful heavy rails; then I hollered for hi'lp, but nobody came; and then I began to thick I should have to die, away up there on the mountain, all alone. But I happened to think that, maybe, God would help me; and so I asked Him. And after that I could lift the rails, just as easy."

As the children grew old enough they were sent to the Unitarian Sabbath-school, in the village, about a mile distant. On Sabbath evenings Mrs. Moody would gather her little flock arcund her and read lo them out of the bocks which they brought from the Sunday-school. If (he girls had besn more than ordinarily troublesome, or the boys unusually disobedient, it was marvellous how these same Sunday-school boo!;s knew all about it, and would counsel, or reprove, or condemn, each special case. To be sure, it was hard for the childn n afterward to "find the place," when they chanced to take up the book, but they had enjoyed the reading none the less; and, very likely, Mrs. Moocly's improvised stories were quite as efficaciaus in teaching her children to be good, as would have been the original ones, in thesa same bocks published by the Sunday-school Union. Sometimes, -when her patience was sorely tried by the rebelliousness of her children, she would go away and in secret pray for grace and strength to lead her little ones aright; and said she, "When I would come back they would all bo good children again."

She used to repeat a verse of a hymn, or a text of Scripture, at the table, and teach her children to say it in concert after her.

Dwight worked on the farm during the summer, and went to school in the winter, until his eighteenth year. About this time he went to Boston. His mother's brother offered him a position in his boot and shoe establishment on three conditions: His uncle was to choose his boardingplace; he was not to go at night to any place of which his uncle did not approve; and he was to attend regularly the Mount Vernon Church and Sabbath-sch ool.

In this church he listened to a sermon which had the effect of making him exceedingly uneasy; ho thought some one had been informing the minister about him and resolved not to go again. But respect for his promise to his uncle influenced him to return and the serious impression was continued; though for some time he felt no particular ii" Merest in either church or school. liis Sabbatht-c.'ool teacher, Mr. Kim ball, considered him a very promising pupil. But upon young Moody's veilturing, one Sunday, the question, "That Moses was what you would call a pretty smart sort of a man, wasn't he?" he answered the young man in a way which gained his interest and confidence. Soon after, Mr. Kimball called at his pupil's store; and, after conversing with him, asked him if he would not like to become a Christian. He answered him frankly and freely, commenced seeking the Saviour, and soon after was converted.

Years after, when Mr. Moody was holding some meetings in Boston, a son of this same teacher introduced himself to him. Mr. Moody inquired if he were a Christian. On his replying in the negative, Mr. Moody asked him, "How old are you?"

'-' Seventeen."

"Just my age when your father led me to Christ; and that was just seventeen years ago this very day. Now I want to pay him by leading his son to the Saviour."

The youth was much moved. Mr. Moody prayed with him and obtained a promise from him that he would become a Christian. Soon after Mr. Moody received a letter from his old teacher informing him that his son had found the Saviour.

Wishing to make a public profession of his faith Dwight applied for admission to the Mount Vernon church. The committee who considered Lis application for admission, recommended him to delay a public profession until he could more thor.oughly acquaint himself with the fundamental doctrines of Christianity, as be was lamentably unacquainted with them. After six months he again presented himself, and was received into the church at the May Communion, in 1855.

Being very zealous to enter the Master's service he rose, in a prayer-meeting which he attended soon after, and offered some remarks. When the meeting was over the pastor took him aside and advised him not to speak in the meetings again, but serve, God in some other way.

Believing himself in the right, undaunted, he continued to attend the prayer-meetings, making bri f remarks as at first. On different occasions he met with a similar frank rebuke from many of the good people of the church, who, feeling themselves no great anxiety for sinners, could not appreciate the young convert's zealous desire to help his neighbors to the kingdom of heaven.

Probably this want of sympathy first led young Moody to turn his thoughts toward the great West, where success awaited those who had bravery and strength to win it.