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Dwight Lyman Moody

Preacher , evangelist and publisher
Born February 5, 1837(1837-02-05)
Northfield, Massachusetts
Died December 22, 1899 (aged 62)

Dwight Lyman Moody (February 5, 1837 - December 22, 1899), also known as D.L. Moody, was an American evangelist and publisher who founded the Moody Church, Northfield School and Mount Hermon School in Massachusetts (now the Northfield Mount Hermon School), the Moody Bible Institute and Moody Publishers.


Early life

Dwight Moody was born in Northfield, Massachusetts to a large family. His father, a small farmer and stonemason, was an alcoholic and died at the age of 41 when Dwight was only four years old. He had five older brothers and a younger sister, with an additional twin brother and sister born one month after his father's death. His mother struggled to support the family, but even with her best effort, some of her children had to be sent off to work for their room and board. Dwight too was sent off, where he went he received cornmeal porridge and milk, three times a day. He complained to his mother, but when she found out that he had all that he wanted to eat, she sent him back. Even during this time, she continued to send them to church. Together with his eight siblings he was raised in the Unitarian church. His oldest brother ran away and was not heard from by the family until many years later.

When Moody turned 17, he moved to Boston to work in his uncle's shoe store. One of his uncle's requirements was that Moody attend the Congregational Church of Mount Vernon where Dr. Edward Norris Kirk was pastor. In April 1855 Moody was then converted to evangelical Christianity when his teacher, Edward Kimball talked to him about how much God loved him. His conversion sparked the start of his career as an evangelist. However his first application for church membership, in May 1855, was rejected. He was not received as a church member until May 4, 1856. As his teacher, Mr. Edward Kimball, stated:

I can truly say, and in saying it I magnify the infinite grace of God as bestowed upon him, that I have seen few persons whose minds were spiritually darker than was his when he came into my Sunday School class; and I think that the committee of the Mount Vernon Church seldom met an applicant for membership more unlikely ever to become a Christian of clear and decided views of Gospel truth, still less to fill any extended sphere of public usefulness.[1]

Chicago and the Civil War

Moody moved to Chicago, Illinois in September, 1856, where he joined the Plymouth Congregational Church, and began to take an active part in the prayer meetings. In the spring of 1857, he began to minister to the welfare of the sailors in Chicago's port, then gamblers and thieves in the saloons. A contemporary witness, William Ryenolds, recalled a few years later:

The first meeting I ever saw him at was in a little old shanty that had been abandoned by a saloon-keeper. Mr. Moody had got the place to hold the meetings in at night. I went there a little late; and the first thing I saw was a man standing up with a few tallow candles around him, holding a negro boy, and trying to read to him the story of the Prodigal Son and a great many words he could not read out, and had to skip. I thought, 'If the Lord can ever use such an instrument as that for His honor and glory, it will astonish me.'


His work led to the largest Sunday School of his time. As a result of his tireless labor, within a year the average attendance at his school was 650, while 60 volunteers from various churches served as teachers. It became so well known that the just-elected President Lincoln visited and spoke at a Sunday School meeting on November 25, 1860.

After the Civil War started, he was involved with the U.S. Christian Commission of the YMCA, and paid nine visits to the battle-front, being present among the Union soldiers after the conflicts of Shiloh, Pittsburgh Landing, and Murfreesboro, and ultimately entered Richmond with the army of General Grant. He married Miss Emma C. Revell, on August 28, 1862, with whom he had a daughter, Emma Reynolds Moody, and two sons, William Revell And Paul Dwight Moody.

The growing Sunday School congregation needed a permanent home, so Moody started a church in Chicago, the Illinois Street Church.

In June 1871, Moody met Ira D. Sankey, the Gospel singer, with whom he soon partnered. In October the Great Chicago Fire destroyed his church, his home, and the dwellings of most of his members. His family had to flee for their lives, and, as Mr. Moody said, he saved nothing but his reputation and his Bible. His church was rebuilt within three months at a near-by location as the Chicago Avenue Church. His lay follower William Eugene Blackstone was a prominent American Zionist.

In the years after the fire, Moody's wealthy Chicago supporter J.A. Farwell attempted to persuade him to make his permanent home in Chicago, offering to build Moody and his family a new house. But the now-famous Moody, also sought by supporters in New York, Philadelphia and elsewhere, chose the tranquil farm he had purchased next door to his birthplace in Northfield, MA. He felt he could better recover from his lengthy and exhausting preaching trips in a rural setting. Northfield became an important location in evangelical Christian history in the late 19th century as Moody organized summer conferences which were led and attended by prominent Christian preachers and evangelists from around the world. It was also in Northfield where Moody founded three schools which later merged into today's Northfield Mount Hermon School.


It was while on a trip to England in Spring of 1872 that he became well known as an evangelist. Some have claimed he was the greatest evangelist of the 19th century. He preached almost a hundred times and came into communion with the Plymouth Brethren. On several occasions he filled stadiums of 2,000 to 4,000 capacity. In the Botanic Gardens Palace, a meeting had between 15,000 to 30,000 people.

This turnout continued throughout 1874 and 1875, with crowds of thousands at all of his meetings. During his visit to Scotland he was helped and encouraged by Andrew A. Bonar. The famous London Baptist preacher, Charles Spurgeon invited him to speak and promoted him as well. When he returned to the United States, crowds of 12,000 to 20,000 were just as common as in England. President Grant and some of his cabinet attended a meeting on January 19, 1876. His evangelistic meetings were held from Boston to New York, throughout New England and as far as San Francisco, and other West coast towns from Vancouver to San Diego.

Moody aided in the work of cross-cultural evangelism by promoting "The Wordless Book", a teaching tool that had been invented by Charles Spurgeon in 1866. In 1875 he added a fourth color to the design of the three-color evangelistic device: gold - to "represent heaven". This "book" has been and is still used to teach uncounted thousands of illiterate people - young and old - around the globe about the Gospel message.[3]

Missionary preaching in China using Moody's version of The Wordless Book

Dwight L. Moody visited Britain with Ira D. Sankey, with Moody acting as preacher and Sankey singing. Together they published books of Christian hymns. In 1883 they visited Edinburgh and raised £10,000 for the building of a new home for the Carrubbers Close Mission. Moody later preached at the laying of the foundation stone for what is one of the few buildings on the Royal Mile which continues to be used for its original purpose and is now called the Carrubbers Christian Centre.

Moody greatly influenced the cause of cross-cultural Christian missions after he met the pioneer missionary to China, Hudson Taylor. He actively supported the China Inland Mission and encouraged many of his congregation to volunteer for service overseas.

His influence was felt among Swedes despite the fact that he was of English heritage, never visited Sweden or any Scandinavian country, and never spoke a word of the Swedish language. Nevertheless, he became a hero revivalist among Swedish Mission Friends in Sweden and America.[4]

News of Moody’s large revival campaigns in Great Britain from 1873–1875 traveled quickly to Sweden, making “Mr. Moody” a household name in homes of many Mission Friends. Moody’s sermons published in Sweden were distributed in books, newspapers, and colporteur tracts, and led to the spread of Sweden’s “Moody fever” from 1875–1880.

He preached his last sermon on November 16, 1899 in Kansas City, KS. Becoming ill, he returned home by train to Northfield. During the preceding several months, friends had observed he had added some 30 pounds to his already ample frame. Although his illness was never diagnosed, it has been speculated that he suffered congestive heart failure. He died on December 22, surrounded by family. Already installed by Moody as leader of his Chicago Bible Institute, R. A. Torrey succeeded Moody as its president. Ten years after Moody's death, the Chicago Avenue Church was renamed The Moody Church in his honor, and the Chicago Bible Institute was likewise renamed Moody Bible Institute.


  • Heaven Diggory Press ISBN 978-1846858123
  • Prevailing Prayer - What Hinders it? Diggory Press ISBN 978-1846858031
  • Secret Power Diggory Press ISBN 978-1846858024
  • The Ten Commandments[5]

See also

  • Horatio Spafford, a friend of Moody who wrote the words to the hymn It Is Well With My Soul


  1. ^ Moody (1900), 21
  2. ^ Thompson, Lewis P. (1878). The Prayer-Meeting and Its Improvement. Chicago: W.G. Holmes. pp. 155.  
  3. ^ Austin (2007), 1-10
  4. ^ Gustafson (2008)
  5. ^ The Ten Commandments


  • M. Laird Simons, Holding the Fort: comprising sermons and addresses at the Great Revival meetings conducted by Moody and Sankey, with the lives and labors of Dwight L. Moody, Ira D. Sankey, and P.P. Bliss, Norwich, Connecticut: Henry Bill Publishing Co., 1877.
  • Christian Biography Resources
  • Austin, Alvyn. China’s Millions: The China Inland Mission and Late Qing Society. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company (March 5, 2007) ISBN 978-0802829757
  • J.F. Findlay Jr, Dwight L. Moody: American Evangelist 1837-1899. 1969
  • S.N. Gundry, Love them in: The Proclamation Theology of D.L. Moody. 1976
  • Paul Dwight Moody, The Shorter Life of D.L. Moody. 1900
  • L W Dorsett, A Passion for Souls: The Life of D.L. Moody. 1997
  • B J Evensen, God's Man for Gilded Age: D L Moody and the Rise of Mass Evangelism. 2003
  • D.M. Gustafson, D.L. Moody and Swedes: Shaping Evangelical Identity among Swedish Missions Friends 1867-1899. (Linköping Studies in Arts and Sciences 419. / Linköping Studies in Identity and Pluralism 7.) 2008.Ph.D. Dissertation
  • Franz Eugen Schlachter D.L. Moody, ein Lebensbild (1894)

External links



Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Dwight Lyman Moody (February 5, 1837 - December 22, 1899), also known as D.L. Moody, was an American evangelist and publisher.



Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895)

Reported in Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895).

  • When I read the life of such a man as Paul, how I blush to think how sickly and dwarfed Christianity is at the present time, and how many hundreds there are who never think of working for the Son of God and honoring Christ.
    • P. 3.
  • Merely reading the Bible is no use at all without we study it thoroughly, and hunt it through, as it were, for some great truth.
    • P. 40.
  • I never saw a useful Christian who was not a student of the Bible. If a man neglects his Bible, he may pray and ask God to use him in His work; but God cannot make much use of him, for there is not much for the Holy Ghost to work upon.
    • P. 40.
  • Study the Bible topically. If you will study assurance for a week, you will soon find it is your privilege to know that you are a child of God.
    • P. 40.
  • Go through John's Gospel, and study the "believes," the "verilys," the " I ams; "and go through the Bible in that way, and it becomes a new book to you.
    • P. 40.
  • The last business of Christ's life was the saving of a poor penitent thief.
    • P. 73.
  • Would you be free from the condemnation of the sins that are past, from the power of the temptations that are to come? Then take your stand on the Rock of Ages. Let death, let the grave, let the judgment come, the victory is Christ's and yours through Him.
    • P. 101.
  • Depend upon it, as long as the church is living so much like the world, we cannot expect our children to be brought into the fold.
    • P. 145.
  • I never yet have known the Spirit of God to work where the Lord's people were divided.
    • P. 148.
  • Christ died for the ungodly. And if you turn to Him at this moment with an honest heart, and receive Him simply as your Saviour and your God, I have the authority of His word for telling you that He will in no wise cast out.
    • P. 152.
  • No man ever sought Christ with a heart to find Him who did not find Him.
    • P. 153.
  • We are to come to Christ. This is the primal duty. The doctrines are but highways that lead to Him. But when we come to Christ we must receive Him as our Saviour.
    • P. 154.
  • If Jesus bore the cross, and died on it for me, ought I not to be willing to take it up for Him?
    • P. 170.
  • Verily I say unto you, he that heareth my word and believeth on Him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation, but is passed from death unto life." My friend, that is worth more than all the feeling you can have in a life-time.
    • P. 244.
  • My friends, there is one spot on earth where the fear of Death, of Sin, and of Judgment, need never trouble us, the only safe spot on earth where the sinner can stand — Calvary.
    • P. 173.
  • My friends, does God invite you? If He does, why don't you accept the invitation? If you want to come, just come along, and don't be talking about feeling. Do you think Lazarus had any feeling when Christ called him out of the sepulchre?
    • P. 245.
  • If you were to spend a month feeding on the precious promises of God, you would not be going about with your heads hanging down like bulrushes, complaining how poor you are; but you would lift up your heads with confidence, and proclaim the riches of His grace because you could not help it.
    • P. 261.
  • The work of the Spirit is to impart life, to implant hope, to give liberty, to testify of Christ, to guide us into all truth, to teach us all things, to comfort the believer, and to convict the world of sin.
    • P. 318.
  • I firmly believe that the moment our hearts are emptied of pride and selfishness and ambition and self-seeking and every thing that is contrary to God's law, the Holy Ghost will come and fill every corner of our hearts; but if we are full of pride and conceit and ambition and self-seeking and pleasure and the world, there is no room for the Spirit of God; and I believe many a man is praying to God to fill him when he is full already with something else.
    • P. 319.
  • My friends, look to Christ, and not to yourselves. That is what is the matter with a great many sinners; instead of looking to Christ, they are looking at the bite of sin.
    • P. 391.
  • As a dead man cannot inherit an estate, no more can a dead soul inherit heaven. The soul must be resurrected in Christ.
    • P. 562.


  • From that time Mr. Moody ceased to urge people to begin their religious life by finding something to do for Christ; but insisted that, first of all, they should let Christ do something for them. If they would only believe, Christ would help them to be and to do.
    • W. H. Daniels, reported in Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895), p. 234.
  • "I have come a hundred miles," said a minister, "to get some of Mr. Moody's spirit." " You don't want my spirit," was the reply. "What you want is the Spirit of God."
    • Author unknown, reported in Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895), p. 320.

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Dwight Lyman Moody
File:Dwight Lyman Moody c.
Preacher , evangelist and publisher
Born February 5, 1837
Northfield, Massachusetts
Died December 22, 1899

Dwight Lyman (D.L.) Moody (February 5, 1837December 22, 1899) was an American evangelist and publisher. He started the Moody Church, Northfield School and Mount Hermon School in Massachusetts (now the Northfield Mount Hermon School), the Moody Bible Institute and Moody Publishers.

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