Consuming Passion For The Salvation of The Lost: Dwight L. Moody
One of the reasons God used D. L. Moody was because of his consuming passion for the salvation of the lost. Mr. Moody made the resolution, shortly after he himself was saved, that he would never let twenty-four hours pass over his head without speaking to at least one person about his soul. His was a very busy life, and sometimes he would forget his resolution until the last hour, and sometimes he would get out of bed, dress, go out and talk to someone about his soul in order that he might not let one day pass without having definitely told at least one of his fellow-mortals about his need and the Savior who could meet it.
One night Mr. Moody was going home from his place of business. It was very late, and it suddenly occurred to him that he had not spoken to one single person that day about accepting Christ. He said to himself: “Here’s a day lost. I have not spoken to anyone today and I shall not see anybody at this late hour.” But as he walked up the street he saw a man standing under a lamppost. The man was a perfect stranger to him, though it turned out afterwards the man knew who Mr. Moody was. He stepped up to this stranger and said: “Are you a Christian?” The man replied: “That is none of your business, whether I am a Christian or not. If you were not a sort of a preacher I would knock you into the gutter for your impertinence.” Mr. Moody said a few earnest words and passed on.
The next day that man called upon one of Mr. Moody’s prominent business friends and said to him: “That man Moody of yours over on the North Side is doing more harm than he is good. He has got zeal without knowledge. He stepped up to me last night, a perfect stranger, and insulted me. He asked me if I were a Christian, and I told him it was none of his business and if he were not a sort of a preacher I would knock him into the gutter for his impertinence. He is doing more harm than he is good. He has got zeal without knowledge.” Mr. Moody’s friend sent for him and said: “Moody, you are doing more harm than you are good; you’ve got zeal without knowledge: you insulted a friend of mine on the street last night. You went up to him, a perfect stranger, and asked him if he were a Christian, and he tells me if you had not been a sort of a preacher he would have knocked you into the gutter for your impertinence. You are doing more harm than you are good; you have got zeal without knowledge.”
Mr. Moody went out of that man’s office somewhat crestfallen. He wondered if he were not doing more harm than he was good, if he really had zeal without knowledge. (Let me say, in passing, it is far better to have zeal without knowledge than it is to have knowledge without zeal. Some men and women are as full of knowledge as an egg is of meat; they are so deeply versed in Bible truth that they can sit in criticism on the preachers and give the preachers pointers, but they have so little zeal that they do not lead one soul to Christ in a whole year.)
Weeks passed by. One night Mr. Moody was in bed when he heard a tremendous pounding at his front door. He jumped out of bed and rushed to the door. He thought the house was on fire. He thought the man would break down the door. He opened the door and there stood this man. He said: “Mr. Moody, I have not had a good night’s sleep since that night you spoke to me under the lamppost, and I have come around at this unearthly hour of the night for you to tell me what I have to do to be saved.” Mr. Moody took him in and told him what to do to be saved. Then he accepted Christ, and when the Civil War broke out, he went to the front and laid down his life fighting for his country.
Another night, Mr. Moody got home and had gone to bed before it occurred to him that he had not spoken to a soul that day about accepting Christ. “Well,” he said to himself, “it is no good getting up now; there will be nobody on the street at this hour of the night.” But he got up, dressed and went to the front door. It was pouring rain. “Oh,” he said, “there will be no one out in this pouring rain. Just then he heard the patter of a man’s feet as he came down the street, holding an umbrella over his head. Then Mr. Moody darted out and rushed up to the man and said: “May I share the shelter of your umbrella?” “Certainly,” the man replied. Then Mr. Moody said: “Have you any shelter in the time of storm?” and preached Jesus to him. Oh, men and women, if we were as full of zeal for the salvation of souls as that, how long would it be before the whole country would be shaken by the power of a mighty, God-sent revival?
Once, when walking down a certain street in Chicago, Mr. Moody stepped up to a man, a perfect stranger to him, and said: “Sir, are you a Christian?” “You mind your own business,” was the reply. Mr. Moody replied: “This is my business.” The man said, “Well, then, you must be Moody.” Out in Chicago they used to call him in those early days “Crazy Moody,” because day and night he was speaking to everybody he got a chance to speak to about being saved.
One time he was going to Milwaukee, and in the seat that he had chosen sat a traveling man. Mr. Moody sat down beside him and immediately began to talk with him. ” Where are you going?” Mr. Moody asked. When told the name of the town he said: “We will soon be there; we’ll have to get down to business at once. Are you saved?” The man said that he was not, and Mr. Moody took out his Bible and there on the train showed him the way of salvation. Then he said: “Now, you must take Christ.” The man did; he was converted right there on the train.
Most of you have heard, I presume, the story President Wilson used to tell about D. L. Moody. Ex-President Wilson said that he once went into a barber shop and took a chair next to the one in which D. L. Moody was sitting, though he did not know that Mr. Moody was there. He had not been in the chair very long before, as ex-President Wilson phrased it, he “knew there was a personality in the other chair,” and he began to listen to the conversation going on; he heard Mr. Moody tell the barber about the Way of Life, and President Wilson said, “I have never forgotten that scene to this day.” When Mr. Moody was gone, he asked the barber who he was; when he was told that it was D. L. Moody, President Wilson said: “It made an impression upon me I have not yet forgotten.”
On one occasion in Chicago Mr. Moody saw a little girl standing on the street with a pail in her hand. He went up to her and invited her to his Sunday school, telling her what a pleasant place it was. She promised to go the following Sunday, but she did not do so. Mr. Moody watched for her for weeks, and then one day he saw her on the street again, at some distance from him. He started toward her, but she saw him too and started to run away. Mr. Moody followed her. Down she went one street, Mr. Moody after her; up she went another street, Mr. Moody after her, through an alley, Mr. Moody still following; out on another street, Mr. Moody after her; then she dashed into a saloon and Mr. Moody dashed after her. She ran out the back door and up a flight of stairs, Mr. Moody still following; she dashed into a room, Mr. Moody following; she threw herself under the bed and Mr. Moody reached under the bed and pulled her out by the foot, and led her to Christ.
He found that her mother was a widow who had once seen better circumstances, but had gone down until now she was living over this saloon. She had several children. Mr. Moody led the mother and all the family to Christ. Several of the children were prominent members of the Moody Church until they moved away, and afterwards became prominent in churches elsewhere. This particular child, whom he pulled from underneath the bed, was, when I was the pastor of the Moody Church, the wife of one of the most prominent officers in the church.
Only two or three years ago, as I came out of a ticket office in Memphis, Tennessee, a fine-looking young man followed me. He said: “Are you not Dr. Torrey?” I said, “Yes.” He said: “I am so and so.” He was the son of this woman. He was then a traveling man, and an officer in the church where he lived. When Mr. Moody pulled that little child out from under the bed by the foot he was pulling a whole family into the Kingdom of God, and eternity alone will reveal how many succeeding generations he was pulling into the Kingdom of God.
D.L. Moody’s consuming passion for souls was not for the souls of those who would be helpful to him in building up his work here or elsewhere; his love for souls knew no class limitations. He was no respecter of persons; it might be an earl or a duke or it might be an ignorant colored boy on the street; it was all the same to him; there was a soul to save and he did what lay in his power to save that soul.
A friend once told me that the first time he ever heard of Mr. Moody was when Mr. Reynolds of Peoria told him that he once found Mr. Moody sitting in one of the squatters’ shanties that used to be in that part of the city toward the lake, which was then called, “The Sands,” with a colored boy on his knee, a tallow candle in one hand and a Bible in the other, and Mr. Moody was spelling out the words (for at that time the boy could not read very well) of certain verses of Scripture, in an attempt to lead that ignorant colored boy to Christ.
Oh, young men and women and all Christian workers, if you and I were on fire for souls like that, how long would it be before we had a revival?
Dwight Lyman Moody, 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, the Moody Bible Institute, and Moody Publishers. If you are interested in becoming a contributor to Witness Depot or helping sponsor Witness Depot’s mission, please CLICK HERE.