Dwight L. Moody (February 5, 1837 – December 22, 1899) was one of America’s greatest heroes. He rose from the poorest of conditions to become one of the most notable spokesman and religious leaders of the 19th century. Moody was born in Northfield, Massachusetts to a large family. His father was Edwin J. Moody (1800-1841), who died at the age of 41 leaving the family in difficult circumstances. At the time of his father's death, Dwight was only four years old.
At the age of 17 Moody found Christ, but being raised in such a poor family he could not find a church willing to receive him as a member until May 4, 1856, when he was 19 years old. Even then his teacher, Mr. Edward Kimball, said of him, "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."
As Moody moved into the ministry, he found it an even more difficult task than finding a church. Kimball later declared, "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. 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." (see: The Life of Dwight L. Moody” by His Son, William R. Moody.)
Moody’s ministry grew to such a point that he became world renowned and was known to bring entire cities to a standstill with his meetings. He is said to have led millions to salvation, and countless millions looked to him as the greatest leader of their time.
Moody once said, “Someday you will read in the papers that D.L. Moody, of East Northfield, is dead. Don’t you believe a word of it! At that moment I shall be more alive than I am now, I shall have gone up higher, that is all; out of this old clay tenement into a house that is immortal — a body that death cannot touch; that sin cannot taint; a body fashioned like His glorious body. I was born of the flesh in 1837. I was born of the Spirit in 1856. That which is born of the flesh may die, that which is born of the Spirit will live forever.”
The biography “The Life of Dwight L. Moody” by his son, William R. Moody, is the most paramount and thorough on Moody’s life, ministry, and influence, and it set the benchmark for all future works about him. The 1900 version is the final edition and includes all of the revisions by the author. The Methodist Review wrote “There cannot be a moment’s hesitation in pronouncing this life of the departed evangelist, written by his son, William R. Moody, to be beyond question the desirable volume for the purchaser.”
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