When Moody Spoke—People Listened


D.L. Moody 1837-1899

“I Remember preaching in Liverpool in a certain church, and the results were astonishing. In ten days that church took in 400 new members. I was amazed. But I learned that a poor old bedridden woman had been praying about it. When we get to the other world, and find out the secrets of Heaven, we will find that some people we never hear of now—some bedridden saint, some one living way up near the gates of paradise—will have accomplished a great deal more than some men who have been heralded through the press.

A Great many object to the noise of revivals—the unhealthy excitement. Why, there is more excitement in a race-course in one day than you will see in a church in fifty days. Get into a political campaign, and you will see more excitement than in a hundred religious meetings. “Undue excitement!” they say. “Some people will get out of their minds.” The fact is, the world is out of its mind, anyway.

Again, some object to revivals because, they say, they are “not in the regular order.” Remember that it was church dignity that crucified Christ. The Sanhedrim were very careful of church dignity, and so they had to put Christ out of the way. He didn’t come in the “regular” order. You never find a single prophet that comes in the regular line. God will always work in His own way. He will mark out channels for Himself.

We need to learn this lesson, and just stand aside and let Him work—work as He pleases.

I Believe a man who is full of the Holy Ghost will have liberty. What we want in our churches more than anything else is this liberty. Why, look at the stiffness in most of our churches. Put a man in an audience where men and women are going to criticize, and he won’t have much liberty—much freedom. In the day of Pentecost, how many do you suppose criticized? I don’t believe Peter would have preached near as well as he did if people had been criticizing him.

But while he was preaching the people were listening in a proper frame of mind, and they helped him right on. He just had liberty that day—great liberty. When you see a minister in the pulpit who doesn’t have liberty, pray for him. You will find he will get on much better than if you were to sit there and criticize him. When a man has the Spirit in him, he will have liberty. It won’t be hard for him to speak and testify. There’s many a man toiling hard in the pulpit, with no liberty—bound hand and foot. Oh,

My friends, where the Spirit of the Lord is, there will be liberty.

You may be as dry as Gideon’s fleece—all dried up— no power at all; but it is the privilege of each one of us to have the dew of Heaven resting upon us all the while. That is what God wants. Are you thirsty? I sometimes wish we had in every church a meeting for hungry and thirsty Christians. I would put a man at the door so as not to let any one else in. Let him ask everyone: “Are you hungry? Are you thirsty?” They wouldn’t know what you meant, some of them. Lots of people go to prayer-meeting because it is customary.

They go year after year—go for nothing, and get nothing.

They are not in earnest about anything. Now, it seems to me that if we could have a meeting in all our churches of two, three, four, or five Christians, dead in earnest—wanting the power of the Spirit, and the power of God resting upon them—there would be a wonderful difference. If they were really in earnest in asking for the gift of the Holy Ghost, they would get it.

I Have heard a great many people say we should empty our hearts so as to let the Holy Spirit come in. Well; I know I can’t empty my heart. I can’t get pride out of my heart. I can’t get jealousy out of my heart. I wish I could. I haven’t got the power. But if a man desires above everything else that he may grow smaller and smaller as John the Baptist did—if it is his desire that he shall decrease and Christ increase; then I believe the Lord will pour the water down so that it will crowd out those things.

Sometimes in trying to make a pump work I used to see if I could pump all the air out so as to get all the water up. After trying a while that way, I would get some water and pour it in from the top, and that would crowd the air out. When a man finds that he can’t empty his heart, what he wants is just to let the water in from above. Get under the fountain.

Elijah says to Elisha: “Is there anything you want? Don’t be afraid to ask. You seem to be very timid.” Elisha says: “Yes; there is something I want.” “Well; don’t be afraid to ask. You shall have whatever you want.” A blank check! Well; what did he ask? Did he ask for as much of the Spirit as Elijah had? That would have been a great thing. Talk about kings! Elijah had power over kings. Kings are in the habit of ordering their subjects around. Here was a subject who was in the habit of ordering kings around. Talk about the power of Caesar, Napoleon, Alexander—the great generals and warriors of this earth. Why, it is nothing to the power of the man who is in communion with God.

Elisha isn’t going to ask for a small thing. He says: “I want a double portion of thy spirit.” I can see Elijah turn round to him in surprise, and say: “You have asked me a hard thing.” But he says: “If you see me when I am taken from you, you shall have it.” “Then,” says Elisha, “you’ll not get away without my seeing you.” He wanted a double portion of Elijah’s spirit, and he was determined to get it. So he took good care to see him in the chariot, and he did see him. Elisha performed just twice the number of miracles that Elijah did. Jesus Christ has come down from Heaven since then, and is it so wonderful to ask for the influence of the Spirit? We ought to have a hundred times more power than Elijah and Elisha had.

God has a niche for every one of His children.

Happy the man or woman who has found his or her place. A great many men want to do big things. That is the mistake I made when I started out. I wanted to preach to intelligent people, but I found the people didn’t like to hear me. So I began with the children. They liked to hear me, and I got along very well—I grew right up along with them. But it was years before I could talk profitably to grown people. I talked to the children, and it was a grand school. It was the preparation I needed. That was my theological seminary.

There is nothing the world so wants as holy men. The cause of Christ is paralyzed because of sin—sin in believers. The natural man will always take sides against God when you press him close, and say, “God isn’t going to punish sin. He wouldn’t do this or that.” But the new man ought always to justify God, and take sides with Him against sin. There ought to be that difference between God’s children and the children of the world; and when people say the punishment is severe and unjust, we should side with God, and say,

“Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?”

God will do right, every one will say “Amen ” when it comes to the punishment of sin. And we should all condemn sin as God condemns it, the moment we see it. It is in ourselves, though sometimes it is hid from us. It may be some hidden sin that keeps God from using us more. Let us be honest with God, and ask Him to search us and show us ourselves. Let David’s prayer be ours: “Search me, O my God”—not my neighbors, nor other people, but “Search me!”

Although God forgave the sins of Jacob and David, and the other Old Testament saints, yet there were certain consequences of their sins which those saints had to suffer after they were forgiven. If a man gets drunk and goes out and breaks his leg, so that it must be amputated, God will forgive him if he asks it, but he will have to hop around on one leg all his life. A man may sow thistle-seed with grain-seed in a moment of pique against his master, and the master may forgive him, but the man will have to reap the thistles with the grain.

We don’t thank and praise God half enough.

That is one reason why so many of our churches are so dull and gloomy. When churches get into a backslidden state, they hire singers to stand away up in some organ-loft and praise God for them. How can we expect God to give us further blessings if we don’t thank Him for what He has given us? There ought to be more of thanksgiving in our prayers, and there ought to be more of thanksgiving from the heart in our singing.

One of the best ways to wake a church up and start a revival, is to hold a praise-meeting.

I’m glad there are things in the Bible I don’t understand. If I could take that book up and read it as I would any other book, I might think I could write a book like that, or that you could. I am glad there are heights I haven’t been able to climb up to. I am glad there are depths I haven’t been able to fathom. It’s the best proof that the book came from God. I suppose there are a good many things in the prophecies concerning Christ that no one could understand till Christ came and fulfilled them.

Just look at some of those prophecies. He was to be born in Bethlehem, and carried into Egypt. When that announcement was made, how strange it must have sounded! But when the time came, God put the whole world in motion to bring Mary to Bethlehem so that Jesus might be born there. Caesar issued a decree that the whole world should be taxed. All this was done just to bring that virgin up to Bethlehem. I believe that God would have created a world rather than that any prophecy should be unfulfilled.

I Believe the reason people won’t come more than they do into our churches is because we don’t feed them enough on the Word of God. They have been fed on sawdust long enough. For men who have nothing but essays it is hard to get pulpits, and it will be harder.

The reason there are so many pulpits vacant is that there ain’t men enough willing to give the Word of God.

Go into one of our city parks in winter to feed the birds and throw down a handful of sawdust. You may deceive them once, but you won’t a second time. But throw down crumbs, and they’ll sweep them up. So in the churches, give people the Word of God and they will know the difference.

A man once made an artificial bee, and thought no one could tell the difference between that and a real bee. But another man said he could show the difference. He put the two bees down on the table, and then put a drop of honey before them. The real bee went for the honey. There are a great many artificial Christians, and they don’t want the Word of God.

They’ll go somewhere else. Well, let them go. For every one that goes, five will take his place. What we want is to give people the Word of God in season and out of season.”—D. L. Moody At Home; T.J. Shanks; 1886.