In the brief space since D. L. Moody and Ira. D. Sankey begar to attract more than local attention, their lives have been sketched and scraps of their personal history written to an extent at which the most avid craving for notoriety could not murmur.
But, in point of fact, even the general public seems to have been convinced of what the personal friends of these two men early felt assured, that notoriety constituted no part of their aim. This form of personal aggrandizement was as foreign to their purpose as money, or ease, the sight-seeing of travel, or pampering hospitality. In the community where these words are being written the two comrades have recently pixssed a number of weeks, seen by the multitude, seen by the few; watched as they stood before vast audiences, and as they sat at the firesides and boards of our homes; and from every point of view they seem as void of personal seeking as human nature under Divine help can be expected to present itself. One of them informed us that when they stepped upon the platform of their earliest English meeting, the working-man drew near to see what might be the trick; for it seemed incredible that two Yankees should have come so far upon no selfish errand. '' One has an organ and performs on that. The other tells stories. Let us see where 'the make' cornea in." But they, waiting long in vain for baser revelations, soon became convicted and converted. If there have been any, in the two large American cities of their visiting, watching with such prying and invidious eyes, they also must have long ago been persuaded of a holier and only pure errand; for the universal voice in our streets to-day is one of respect, widening to an affection which glows very warm and changeless in even thousands of hearts.
It may not be generally known that a sedulous concealment of such data as is indispensable to any thing like a fair biography—of facts and experiences, of opinions and their development; which letters and other written record must furnish for a memoir, a history of the deceased, but which a man's own lips can alone supply to the annalist of a yet living subject—has been the invariable habit of these two Workers. They have persistency said: "Let us alone. Listen rather to our message, and lend a hand to help us speak, sing, work for Jesus."
It is impossible not to admire such self-abnegation. It is the coming in of quite a new fashion among modern religionists; or rather, like all fashion, the reproduction of the old; that old garb which wrapped about and sandalled and girt the dusty Apostles cf earlier ages. It would seem we ought to respect this reticence and seclusion; and we would, wera it not that, so is human nature, concealment heightens curiosity; or better, modest worth is sure to win attention, since, it is even written; whoso seeketb. the lowest seat shall be bid go
higher; the last first, the first last. Probably no shrewder 'course could have been chosen to awaken a wide desire to know nil about them and to secure far and fair fame, than tho one taken by these Evangelists, without any such design. Their experience and example might be salutary if pondered bv mauv public characters, not only at the altar, but at tho tribunes of politics, literature, art, and social life. Alas! Poor Coriolanus!
The main reason, however, why the reader should be chary of detailed and lengthy lives of the revivalists is the undoubted fact that there is little to relate. True, every life is wonderful. The smallest, humblest career is filled with incident all too vast for even a Boswcll's faithful chronicling. There, are tragedies; there, plottings or honorable deliberations graver than in star chambers and senates; there, wasted moor or filled gardens; all in the microcosm of the obscurest MansouL But no pen ever attempts such history. And beyond this secret realm, common to ui> all, the characters of the two simple men joining hands to cry up and down the land, "Repent," present small material for story. Their glory is that God chose them, two smooth, round stones from the brook, and lying side by side with multitudes, to execute wcndc^s. It is as if He had said: Behold what I can do with an}' and every plain, pure heart, all given up to me.
Turn therefore to the perusal of the word which has been spoken; what it was; how it was. It has not been a strange, nor a wonderful word. In this country it has not always produced strange nor wonderful effect. The British public was ripe for the harvest. God chose the hour: and in the study of the Genesis of "revivals" we must more and more recognizo His inscrutable pleasure as the first great cause. Heavea bad become impatient over ritualistic and materialistic tendencies over the sea: and hoaven picked up two plain lives with which itself turned the kingdom upside down. Perhaps it would not do to perpetuate personal pre-eminence; it would dishearten the faithful ministry, stumble believers. Perhaps another weapon will be singled out of infinite resource, and perhaps the same shall yet be wondrously powerful. In any conclusion the study of those simple means is more than curious. May God make them blessings to many souls. And to the prayer that the people cnme, and, so they come—it matters not by whose lead—to the waiting Christ, we are sure none more heartily than this noble-souled preacher and his sweet singer will say—Amen.