Chapter XVII



With the words "God is calling me," Dwight L. Moody, the evangelist, whose fame was world wide, fell asleep in death, at his home in East Northfield, Mass., at noon, December 22, 1899. The passing of his spirit from a body which had been tortured with pain for some weeks, to the rest beyond, was as gentle as could be wished for. His family were gathered at his bedside, and the dying man's last moments were spent in comforting them and in contemplation of that reward for which he had so long and earnestly labored. He knew that death was near, but its sting to him was lost in the unfolding to his mental vision of a beautiful scene, judging from his last words.

The gathering of the family around the bedside of the great evangelist was a scene that will be referred to many times in years to come, as Mr. Moody's work is carried forward. Besides the family there were present also Drs. Schofield and Woods, and the nurse.

During the night, Mr. Moody had a number of sinking spells. He was, however, kindness itself to those about him. At two o'clock in the morning Dr. N. P. Wood, the family physician, who spent the night in the house, was called at the request of Mr. Moody. He was perspiring, and he requested his son-in-law. A. P. Fitt, who spent the night with him, to call the physician that he might note the symptoms. Dr. Wood administered a hypodermic injection of strychnia. This caused the heart to perform its duties more regularly, and Mr. Moody himself requested his son-in-law, Mr. Fitt, and Dr. Wood to retire. Mr. Moody's eldest son, Will R. Moody, who had been sleeping the first of the night, spent the last half with his father.

At 7.30 in the morning Dr. Wood was called, and when he reached Mr. Moody's room found his patient in a semi-conscious condition. When Mr. Moody recovered consciousness, he said, with all his old vivacity:

"What's the matter; what's going on here?"

Some member of the family replied: "Father, you haven't been quite so well, and so we came in to see you."

A little later he said to his boys: "I have always been an ambitious man, not ambitious to lay up wealth, but to leave you work to do.'' In substance Mr. Moody urged his two boys and his son-in-law, Mr. Fitt, to see that the schools in East Northfield, at Mt. Hermon and the Chicago Bible institute should receive their best care. This they assured Mr. Moody they would do.

During the forenoon, Mrs. A. P. Fitt, his daughter, said to him: "Father, we can't spare you." Mr. Moody's reply was: "I'm not going to throw my life away. If God has more work for me to do, I'll not die."

As the noonday hour drew near the watchers at the bedside noted the approach of death. Several times his lips moved as if in prayer, but the articulation was so faint that the words could not be heard. Just as death came Mr. Moody awoke as if from slumber, and said with much joyousness:

"I see earth receding; heaven is opening. God is calling me."

And a moment later he had entered upon what one of his sons described as "a triumphal march into heaven."

Dr. Wood says that Mr. Moody did not have the slightest fear of death. He was thoroughly conscious until within less than a minute of his death. Dr. Wood says the cause of his death was heart failure. He adds that the walls surrounding the heart grew weaker and weaker. While it is true that Mr. Moody had symptoms of Bright's disease a few days ago, his death was due, the physician says, to dilation of the heart. There had been dilation in a gradual way for the past nine years. The family had been told some time ago that Mr. Moody might get out and about, but still he was liable to drop away at any time.

There were present in Mr. Moody's chamber when he died his wife, his daughter, Mrs. A. P. Fitt, and her husband, Mr. and Mrs. Will R. Moody, Paul Moody, the youngest son; Dr. N. P. Wood and Miss Powers, the nurse. Mrs. Moody had carried herself during the sickness of her husband with the greatest bravery and patience, but when death came she was prostrated. As soon as Mr. Moody's death became known in the village the utmost sorrow was shown.

The death of Mr. Moody was not unexpected, although his temporary recovery from illness was hoped for, not only by his friends near at hand, but by those who had listened to his words and teachings on both continents. In the family there was fear that death was not a long way off. The cause of death was a general breaking down of his health, due to overwork. His constitution was that of an exceedingly strong man, but his untiring labors had gradually undermined his vitality until that most delicate of organs, the heart, showed signs of weakness.

Mr. Moody's exertions in the West during the month of November brought on the crisis, and the collapse came during the series of meetings at Kansas City. An early diagnosis by eminent physicians made it evident that Mr. Moody's condition was serious and cancelling his engagements he returned to his home in East Northfield, so near the greatest achievements of his later life.

On reaching his home the family physician, Dr. N. P. Wood, took charge of Mr. Moody, and for some days bulletins as to the patient's condition were issued, all having an encouraging tone, seemingly, but unerringly pointing to the fact that the evangelist's work on earth was about finished. During the week previous to the one in which his death occurred, a change for the worst prepared immediate friends for what was to come.

In the last week, however, the patient improved steadily, until the day before his death, when he appeared very nervous. This symptom was accompanied by weakness, which much depressed the family, who were anxiously watching the sufferer.

Mr. Moody's failing health, or, rather, his appreciation that he must guard the vitalities of his life, unless he wished to have his work cut short even before it was, came when he was in England some years ago, when physicians cautioned him. And it appeared that he took some heed, but the zeal that was in him must find its outlet, and his ceaseless work had done the rest.

At Kansas City, after beginning a short series of meetings there, he found that the hand of prostration, if nothing more, was laid upon him, and he returned to his home to rest and recover. The physicians and specialists had offered encouragement, but coupled it with the reservation that, with his vitality impaired by such excessive calls upon it, there was a chance that he might recover and be ready for more work. They felt, in the light of the great efforts of the past, it could not be told with surety that this favorable turn would come. The end came and the great man passed from earth.

Mr. Moody made, in his will, provision for his wife, but the sons receive a legacy of their father's work to continue, and they modestly say they look upon it with some tremulousness, realizing that the mighty will and intense personality of their father is absent. However, the school work at which Mr. W. R. Moody is practically the head as representing his father's plans and ideas will be continued. The outside work they make no pretense of repeating. From many sources Mr. Moody received large sums of money, and, after the devotion of it to the school work, where so directed, was careful and prudent with the rest. On his own account, he acquired large sums, too, and, after proper provision for his home and those nearest him, he gave the rest to his work. With many legitimate opportunities to become a wealthy man, he never used them, and his estate is unknown, not large, but presumably large enough for the purposes he devised.

A quiet night followed the day that brought bereavement to the Moody family and the town of which Mr. Moody and the institutions founded by him were such prominent figures. The inmates of the Moody home, after a restful night, were astir early. Mrs. Moody seemed to be considerably refreshed, and the other members of the family had gained new strength for their experience during the intervals of sleep which camp to them.

Messages of condolence, which began to come in the first day, were received in increased numbers the next day. Nearly one hundred telegrams from all parts of the United States were received during the day. A number of cablegrams were also received.

The Rev. F. B. Meyer, of London, who has been a prominent speaker at Northfield, and who, with Mr. Moody, held meetings in several of the large cities of the country last fall, cabled from England his condolence.

Some of the expressions of sympathy follow:

Deepest sympathy and Christian love. Our hearts bleed for you. H. M. Moore,

C. A. Hopkins,

Sad news just received. Will be there to-morrow.

Ira D. Sankey, Brooklyn. Our entire household bereaved with you.

H. C. Mabie, Newton. Deepest and most affectionate sympathy. A wonderful life and a triumphant entrance to the Father's house.

William E. Dodge, New York.

The whole world seems to be incomplete without our dear Moody. God bless and keep you all.

J. Wilbur Chapman.

Tenderest sympathy in this overwhelming sorrow. Mr. And Mrs. John Wanamaker, Philadelphia.

Please accept and extend to all the family my deepest sympathy at the time of this great bereavement. William H. Hailk,

My deepest sympathy. It has been given to few men to live a life of such characteristic service as

Lord and Lady Overton send loving sympathy in our common sorrow. All Scotland mourns. Tenderest sympathy with you all.

George B. Studd, California.

Profound sorrow. Deepest sympathy. I loved Mr. Moody. George F. Pentacost,

Your loss is great, but it is for time. Mr. Moody's work will live for all eternity. The Salvation Army throughout the whole world prays for you.


Permit me to extend sympathy to your family. Uppermost in my heart and mind is gratitude to God for Mr. Moody's life. J. Willis Baer.

All Christendom mourns with you. Our prayers are that you may be mightily comforted.

T. De Witt Talmadge.

You have the deepest sympathy of my race in your affliction. Your husband's work is of lasting value to both races. Booker T. Washington.

I profoundly sorrow and sympathize with you and

Springfield, Mass.

did your noble father.

Anson P. Stokes.

Yonkers, N. Y.

rejoice with him who has gone.

F. E. Clark.

Please accept my friendly sympathy in your sad bereavement in the death of your good husband.

Fr. Quaille, Northfield.

I beg you to accept for yourself and family my sincere sympathy in your great loss.

Marshall Field, Chicago.

Mrs. Sage unites with me in deepest sympathy for you and your family in your sad bereavement.

Russell Sage.

We stand by in deepest sympathy. The blank is awful; but our beloved is with the King. God comfort you. C. G. Morgan, London, Eng.