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   Chapter 16 SOME PREACHERS I HAVE KNOWN.

Faces and Places By Sir Henry W. Lucy Characters: 25956

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:02


MR. MOODY.

I heard Mr. Moody preach twice when he paid his first visit to this

country. Borrowing an idea from another profession, he had a series of

rehearsals before he came to London. It was in the Free Trade Hall,

Manchester, and service opened at eight o'clock on a frosty morning in

December. I had to stand during the whole of the service, one of a crowd

wedged in the passages between the closely-packed benches. Every

available seat had been occupied shortly after seven, when the doors

were thrown open. The galleries were thronged, and even the balconies at

the rear of the hall were full to overflowing. The audience were, I

should say, pretty equally divided in the matter of sex, and were

apparently of the class of small tradesmen, clerks, and well-to do

mechanics; that was the general class of the morning congregation. But

it must not therefore be understood that the upper class in Manchester

stood aloof from the special services of the American gentlemen. At the

afternoon meeting, elegantly attired ladies and gentlemen, wearing

spotless kid gloves and coats of irreproachable cut, struggled for a

place in the mighty throng that streamed into the hall.

Punctually at eight o'clock the meeting was opened by one of the local

clergymen, who prayed for a blessing on the day and the work, declaring,

amid subdued but triumphant cries from portions of the congregation,

that "the Lord has risen indeed! Now is the stone rolled away from the

sepulchre, and the Kingdom of God is at hand." Mr. Moody, who sat at a

small desk in front of the platform, advanced and gave out the hymn,

"Guide us, O Thou Great Jehovah," the singing of which Mr. Sankey,

sitting before a small harmonium, led and accompanied, the vast

congregation joining with great heartiness.

"Mr. Sankey will now sing a hymn by himself," said Mr. Moody; whereupon

there was a movement in the hall, a rustling of dresses, and a general

settling down to hear something special.

The movement was so prolonged that Mr. Moody again stood up, and begged

that every one would be "perfectly still whilst Mr. Sankey sang." There

was another pause, Mr. Sankey waiting with marked punctiliousness till

the last cougher had got over his difficulty. Presently the profound

stillness was broken by the harmonium--"melodeon" is, I believe, the

precise name of the instrument--softly sounding a bar of music. Then Mr.

Sankey suddenly and loudly broke in with the first line of the hymn,

"What are you going to do, brother?"

Mr Sankey has a fairly good voice, which he used in what is called "an

effective" manner, singing certain lines of the hymn pianissimo, and

giving the recurrent line, "What are you going to do, brother?" forte,

with a long dwelling on the monosyllable "do." When he reached the

last verse, he, after a short pause, began to play a tune well known at

these meetings, into which the congregation struck with a mighty voice

that served to bring into stronger prominence the artificial character

of the preceding performance. The words had a martial, inspiriting sound,

and as the verse rolled forth, filling the great hall with a mighty

musical noise, one could see the eyes of strong men fill with tears.

"Ho, my comrades! see the signal

Waving in the sky;

Reinforcements now appearing,

Victory is nigh!

'Hold the fort, for I am coming,'

Jesus signals still;

Wave the answer back to Heaven,

'By Thy grace we Will.'"

The subject of Mr. Moody's address was "Daniel"--whom he once,

referring to the prophet's position under King Darius, dubbed "the

Bismarck of those times," and always called "Dan'l." One might converse

for an hour with Mr. Moody without discovering from his accent that he

comes from the United States. But it is unmistakable when he preaches,

and especially in the colloquies supposed to have taken place between

characters in the Bible and elsewhere.

He began his discourse without other preface than a half apology for

selecting a subject which, it might be supposed, everybody knew

everything about. But, for his part, he liked to take out and look upon

the photographs of old friends when they were far away, and he hoped his

hearers would not think it waste of time to take another look at the

picture of Dan'l. One peculiarity about Dan'l was that there was nothing

against his character to be found all through the Bible. Nowadays, when

men write biographies, they throw what they call the veil of charity

over the dark spots in a career. But when God writes a man's life he

puts it all in. So it happened that there are found very few, even of

the best men in the Bible, without their times of sin. But Dan'l came out

spotless, and the preacher attributed his exceptionally bright life

to the power of saying "No."

After this exordium, Mr. Moody proceeded to tell in his own words the

story of the life of Daniel. Listening to him, it was not difficult to

comprehend the secret of his power over the masses. Like Bunyan, he

possesses the great gift of being able to realise things unseen, and to

describe his vision in familiar language to those whom he addresses. His

notion of "Babylon, that great city," would barely stand the test of

historic research. But that there really was in far-off days a great

city called Babylon, in which men bustled about, ate and drank, schemed

and plotted, and were finally overruled by the visible hand of God, he

made as clear to the listening congregation as if he were talking about

Chicago.

He filled the lay figures with life, clothed them with garments, and

then made them talk to each other in the English language as it is

to-day accented in some of the American States.

On the previous night I had heard him deliver an address in one of the

densely populated districts of Salford. Admission to the chapel in which

the service was held was exclusively confined to women, and,

notwithstanding it was Saturday night, there were at least a thousand

sober-looking and respectably dressed women present. The subject of the

discussion was Christ's conversation with Nicodemus--whose social

position Mr. Moody incidentally made familiar to the congregation by

observing, "if he had lived in these days, he would have been a doctor

of divinity, Nicodemus, D. D, or perhaps LL D." His purpose was to make

it clear that men are saved, not by any action of their own, but simply

by faith. This he illustrated, among other ways, by introducing a

domestic scene from the life of the children of Israel in the Wilderness

at the time the brazen serpent was lifted up. The dramatis personae were

a Young Convert, a Sceptic, and the Sceptic's Mother. The convert, who

has been bitten by the serpent, and, having followed Moses' injunction,

is cured, "comes along" and finds the sceptic lying down "badly bitten."

He entreats him to look upon the brazen serpent which Moses has lifted

up. But the sceptic has no faith in the alleged cure, and refuses.

"Do you think," he says, "I'm going to be saved by looking at a brass

serpent away off on a pole? No, no."

"Wall, I dunno," says the young convert, "but I was saved that way

myself. Don't you think you'd better try it?"

The sceptic refuses, and his mother "comes along," and observes,

--"Hadn't you better look at it, my boy?"

"Well, mother, the fact is, if I could understand the f'losophy of it I

would look up right off; but I don't see how a brass serpent away off on

a pole can cure me."

And so he dies in his unbelief.

It seemed odd to hear this conversation from the Wilderness recited,

word for word, in the American vernacular, and with a local colouring

that suggested that both the sceptic and the young convert wore

tail-coats, and that the mother had "come along" in a stuff dress. But

when the preacher turned aside, and in a few words spoke of sons who

would not hear the counsel of Christian mothers and refused to "look

up and live," the silent tears that coursed down many a face in the

congregation showed that his homely picture had been clear as the

brazen serpent in the Wilderness to the eyes of faith before which

it was held up.

The story of Daniel is one peculiarly susceptible of Mr. Moody's usual

method of treatment, and for three-quarters of an hour he kept the

congregation at the morning meeting enthralled whilst he told how

Daniel's simple faith triumphed over the machinations of the unbeliever.

Mr. Moody's style is unlike that of most religious revivalists. He

neither shouts nor gesticulates, and mentioned "hell" only once, and

that in connection with the life the drunkard makes for himself. His

manner is reflected by the congregation in respect of abstention from

working themselves up into "a state." This makes all the more impressive

the signs of genuine emotion which follow and accompany the preacher's

utterance. When he was picturing the scene of Daniel translating the

king's dream, rapidly reciting Daniel's account of the dream, and

Nebuchadnezzar's quick and delighted ejaculation, "That's so!" "That's

it!" as he recognised the incidents, I fancied it was not without

difficulty some of the people, bending forward, listening with

glistening eye and heightened colour, refrained from clapping their

hands for glee that the faithful Daniel, the unyielding servant of

God, had triumphed over tribulation, and had walked out of prison

to take his place on the right hand of the king.

There was not much exhortation throughout the discourse, not the

slightest reference to any disputed point of doctrine. It was nothing

more than a re-telling of the story of Daniel. But whilst

Nebuchadnezzar, Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego, Darius, and even

the hundred and twenty princes, became for the congregation living and

moving beings, all the ends of the narrative were, with probably

unconscious, certainly unbetrayed, art, gathered together to lead up to

the one lesson--that compromise, where truth and religion are concerned,

is never worthy of those who profess to believe God's word.

"I am sick of the shams of the present day," said Mr. Moody, bringing

his discourse to a sudden close. "I am tired of the way men parley

with the world whilst they are holding out their hands to be lifted

into heaven. If we're gwine to be good Christians and God's people let

us be so out-and-out."

"BENDIGO."

Bendigo, the erewhile famous champion of England, I one evening found in

the pulpit at the London Cabman's Mission Hall. After quitting the ring,

Bendigo took to politics; that is to say, he, for a consideration,

directed at Parliamentary elections the proceedings of the "lambs" in

his native town of Nottingham. Now he had given up even that

worldliness, and had taken to preaching. His fame had brought together a

large congregation. The Hall was crowded to overflowing, and the

proceedings were, as one of the speakers described it, conducted "by

shifts," the leaders, including Bendigo, going downstairs to address the

crowd collected in the lower room after having spoken to the

congregation in the regular meeting hall.

The service was opened with prayer by Mr. John Dupee, superintendent of

the Mission, after which the congregation vigorously joined in the

singing of a hymn. A second hymn followed upon the reading of a psalm;

and Mr. Dupee proceeded to say a few words about "our dear and saved

brother, Bendigo." With a frankness that in no wise disconcerted the

veteran prizefighter, Mr. Dupee discussed and described the condition

in which he had lived up to about two years ago. The speaker was, it

appeared, a fellow-townsman of Bendigo's, and his recollection of him

went back for nearly forty years, at which time his state was so bad

that Mr. Dupee, then a lad, used to walk behind him through the streets

of Nottingham praying that he might be forgiven. Now he was saved, and,

quoting the handbill that had advertised the meeting, Mr. Dupee hailed

him as "a miracle of mercy, the greatest miracle of the nineteenth

century," which view the congregation approved by fervent cries of

"Praise the Lord!" "Hallelujah!"

Whether Bendigo would stand steadfast in the new course he had begun

to tread was a matter which--Mr. Dupee did not hide it--was freely

discussed in the circles where the ex-champion was best known. But

he had now gone straight for two years, and Mr. Dupee believed he

would keep straight.

Before introducing Bendigo to the meeting, Mr. Dupee said his own

"brother Jim" would say a few words, his claim upon the attentio

n of

the congregation being enforced by the asseveration that he was "the

next great miracle of the nineteenth century." From particulars which

Mr. Dupee proceeded to give in relation to the early history of his

brother, it would be difficult to decide whether he or Bendigo had

the fuller claim to the title of the "wickedest man in Nottingham."

A single anecdote told to the discredit of his early life must

suffice in indication of its general character. He was, it appeared,

always getting tipsy and arriving home at untimely hours.

"One night," said the preacher, "he came home very late, and was

kicking up an awful row in the street just before he came in. I

opened the window, and, looking out, said to him very gently, 'Now

Jim, do come in without waking mother.' And what d'ye think he said?

Why, he said nothing, but just up with a brick and heaved it at me.

That was Jim in the old days," he continued, turning to his brother

with an admiring glance. "He always was lively as a sinner, and

he's just the same now he's on his way to join the saints."

"Jim" even at the outset fully justified this exordium by suddenly

approaching the pulpit desk with his hands stretched out, singing the

"Hallelujah band." In the course of an address delivered with much

animation and filled with startling phrases, it became clear that

"Jim" had been the immediate instrument of the conversion of Bendigo.

He added considerably to the stock of information respecting the

early life of that personage, and told in detail how better things

began to dawn upon him.

At the outset of his new career Bendigo's enthusiasm was somewhat

misdirected, as was manifested at an infidel meeting he attended in

company with his sponsor.

"Who's them chaps on the platform?" said Bendigo to Jim.

"Infidels," said Jim.

"What's that?" queried Bendigo.

"Why, fellows as don't believe in God or the devil."

"Then come along, and we'll soon clear the platform," said Bendigo,

beginning to strip.

Jim's address lasted for nearly half an hour, and when at last brought

to a conclusion he went below to "begin again" with the crowd in the

lower room.

Mr. Dupee again appeared at the desk and said they would sing a verse

of a hymn, after which Bendigo would address them, and the plate would

be handed round for a collection to cover the cost of the bills and of

Bendigo's travelling expenses. The hymn was a well-known one, with, as

given out by the preacher, an alteration in the second line thus:

"Praise God from whom all blessings flow,

Praise Him for brother Bendigo."

This sung with mighty volume of sound, Bendigo, who had all this time

been quietly seated on the platform, advanced, and began to speak in a

simple, unaffected, but wholly unintelligent manner. He was decently

dressed in a frock-coat, with black velveteen waistcoat buttoned over

his broad chest. He was still, despite his threescore years, straight

as a pole; and had a fine healthy looking face, that belied the fearful

stories told by his friends of his dissipation. Except a certain

flattening of the bridge of the nose, a slight indentation on the

forehead between the eyebrows, and the crooked finger on his left hand,

he bore no traces of many pitched fights of which he is the hero, and

might in such an assembly have been taken for a mild-mannered family

coachman.

His address, though occasionally marked by the grotesque touches which

characterised the remarks of the two preceding speakers, was not without

touches of pathos.

"I've been a fighting character," he said, and this was a periphrastic

way of referring to his old occupation in which he evidently took great

pleasure; "but now I'm a Miracle. What could I do? I was the

youngest-born of twenty-one children, and the first thing done with me

was to put me in a workhouse. There I got among fellows who brought me

out, and I became a fighting character. Thirty years ago I came up to

London to fight Ben Caunt, and I licked him. I'm sixty-three now, and

I didn't think I should ever come up to London to fight for King Jesus.

But here I am, and I wish I could read out of the blessed Book for then

I could talk to you better. But I never learnt to read, though I'm

hoping by listening to the conversation around me to pick up a good

deal of the Bible, and then I'll talk to you better. I'm only two years

old at present, and know no more than a baby. It's two years ago since

Jesus came to me and had a bout with me, and I can tell you He licked

me in the first round. He got me down on my knees the first go, and

there I found grace. I've got a good many cups and belts which I won

when I was a fighting character. Them cups and belts will fade, but

there's a crown being prepared for old Bendigo that'll never fade."

This and much more to the same purport the veteran said, and then Mr.

Dupee interposed with more "few words," the plate was sent round, and

the superintendent and Bendigo went downstairs to relieve "brother Jim,"

the echo of whose stentorian voice had occasionally been wafted in at

the open door whilst Bendigo was relating his experiences.

"FIDDLER JOSS."

It was at another Mission Chapel in Little Wild Street, Drury Lane, that

I "sat under" Fiddler Joss. His "dictionary name," as in the course of

the evening I learned from one of his friends, is Mr. Joseph Poole. The

small bills which invited all into whose hands they might fall to "come

and hear Fiddler Joss" added the injunction "Come early to secure a

seat." The doors were opened at half-past six, and those who obeyed the

injunction found themselves in a somewhat depressing minority. At

half-past six there were not more than a score of people present, and

these looked few indeed within the walls of the spacious chapel. It is a

surprise to find so well-built, commodious, it may almost be added

handsome, a building in such a poor neighbourhood, and bearing so humble

a designation. It provides comfortable sitting room for twelve hundred

persons. There is a neat, substantial gallery running round the hall,

and forming at one end a circular pulpit, evidently designed after the

fashion of Mr. Spurgeon's at the Tabernacle--a building of which the

Mission Chapel is in many respects a miniature.

The congregation began to drop in by degrees, and proved to be of a

character altogether different from what might have been expected in

such a place on such an occasion. Out of ten people perhaps one belonged

to the class among which London missionaries are accustomed to labour.

But while men and women of the "casual" order were almost entirely

absent, and men of what is called in this connection "the working class"

were few and far between, there entered by hundreds people who looked as

if they were the responsible owners of snug little businesses in the

provision, stationery, or "general" line. An air of profound

respectability, combined with the enjoyment of creature comforts,

prevailed.

Whilst waiting for seven o'clock, the hour for the service to commence,

a voluntary choir sang hymns, and the rapidly growing congregation

joined in fitful snatches of harmony. Little hymn-books with green paper

backs were liberally distributed, and there was no excuse for silence on

the score of unfamiliarity with the hymns selected. At seven o'clock the

preacher of the evening appeared on the rostrum, accompanied by two

gentlemen accustomed, it appeared, to take a leading part in conducting

the service in the chapel. One gave out a hymn, reading it verse by

verse, and starting the tune with stentorian voice. This concluded, his

colleague prayed, in a loud voice, and with energetic action. "We must

have souls to-night," he said, smiting the rail of the pulpit; "we must

have souls--not by ones and twos--and we must have them to-night in this

place. There is a drunkard in this place. Give us his soul, O God! There

is a thief in this place; I do not know where he sits, but God knows. We

want to benefit God, and we must have souls to-night, not by twos and

threes, but in hundreds."

After this there was another hymn, sung even with increased volume of

sound. Energy was the predominant characteristic of the whole service,

and it reached its height in the singing of hymns, when the congregation

found the opportunity of joining their leaders in the devotional

utterance. There were half a dozen women in the congregation who had

solved the home difficulty about the baby by bringing it with them to

chapel. The little ones, catching the enthusiasm of the place, joined

audibly in all the acts of worship save in the singing. They crowed

during the prayers, chattered during the reading of the lesson, and

loudly wept at intervals throughout the sermon. But there was no room

for their shrill voices in the mighty shout which threatened to rend the

roof when hymns were sung.

Fiddler Joss, being impressively introduced by one of the gentlemen in

the pulpit, began without preface to read rapidly from the fifth chapter

of Romans, a task he accomplished with the assistance of a pair of

double eyeglasses. He formally appropriated no text, and it would be

difficult to furnish any connected account of his sermon. Evidently

accustomed to address open-air audiences, he spoke at the topmost pitch

of a powerful voice. Without desire to misapply rules of criticism, and

in furtherance of an honest intention to describe impressions in as

simple a form as may be, it must be added that the sermon was as far

above the heads of a mission-chapel congregation as was the pitch of the

preacher's voice. Its key-note was struck by an anecdote which Joss

introduced at the outset of his discourse. There was, he said, a

clergyman walking down Cheapside one day, when he heard a man calling

out, "Buy a pie." The clergyman looked at the man, and recognised in him

a member of his church.

"What, John," he said, "is this what you do in the weekdays?"

"Yes," said the man, "I earn an honest living by selling pies."

"Poor fellow," said the parson, "how I pity you."

"Bother your pity; buy a pie," retorted the man.

That, according to Fiddler Joss, is the way in which constituted

authorities in church and chapel matters deal with the poor man in

London and elsewhere. Mr. Methodist would not speak to Mr. Baptist, Mr.

Wesleyan would have nothing to do with Mr. Congregationalist, Mr. High

Church scoffed at Mr. Low Church, Mr. Low Church did not care what

became of any of the rest, and among them all the poor man was utterly

neglected.

"How we pity you," these people said to the poor man.

"Bother your pity," the poor man answered; "buy a pie."

Beyond this central argument, affirmation, or illustration, Fiddler Joss

did not get far in the course of the thirty-five minutes during which he

addressed the congregation. At this period he suddenly stopped, and

asked for the sympathy of his friends, explaining that he was subject to

attacks of sickness, one of the legacies of the days of sin, when he was

"five years drunk and never sober." After a pause he recommenced, and

continued for some five minutes longer, when he abruptly wound up,

apparently having got through only one half of his discourse.

It is only fair to regard the sermon as an incomplete one, and to

believe that the message which "Fiddler Joss" had entered St. Giles's to

speak to the poor and suffering lay in the second and undelivered

portion.

DEAN STANLEY.

On St. Andrew's Day, 1875, I was present at two memorable services in

Westminster Abbey. For many years during Dean Stanley's reign this

particular day had been set apart for the holding of special services

on behalf of foreign missions. What made this occasion memorable in the

annals of the Church was the fact that the evening lecture was delivered

by Dr. Moffat, a Nonconformist minister who, in the year after the

Battle of Waterloo, began his career as a missionary to South Africa,

and finally closed his foreign labours in the year when Sedan was

fought. As being the first time a Nonconformist minister had officiated

in Westminster Abbey, the event created wide interest, and lost none of

its importance by the remarkable sermon preached in the afternoon by

Dean Stanley.

The Dean took for his text two verses, one from the Old Testament, the

other from the New. The first was from the 45th Psalm, and ran thus:

"Instead of thy fathers shall be thy children, whom thou mayest make

princes in all the earth." The second was the 16th verse of the 10th

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