Dwight Lyman Moody, American Evangelist
Dwight Lyman (Ryther) Moody (1837-1899), American evangelist, was born in the village of East Northfield (Northfield township), Massachusetts, on the 5th of February 1837. His father died in 1841, and young Dwight, a mischievous independent boy, got a scanty schooling.
In 1854 he became a salesman in a shoe-store in Boston; in 1855 he was “converted”; and in 1856 he went to Chicago and started business there.
Beginning with a class gathered from the streets. he opened (1858) a Sunday school in North Market Hall, which was organized in 1863 as the Illinois Street Church, and afterwards became the Chicago Avenue Church, of which he was layman pastor.
In 1860 he gave up business and devoted himself to city missionary work. He was prominent in raising money for Farwell Hall in Chicago (1867), and in 1865-1869 was president of the Chicago Young Men’s Christian Association.
Ira David Sankey (1840-1908) joined him in Chicago in 1870 and helped him greatly by the singing of hymns; and in a series of notable revival meetings in England (1873-1875, 1881-1884, 1891-1892) and America they carried on their gospel campaign, and became famous for the Moody and Sankey Gospel Hymns. In 1879 Moody opened the Northfield seminary for young women, at Northfield, Massachusetts, and in 1881 the adjacent Mount Hermon school for boys; in each a liberal practical education centres about Bible training; the boys do farm-work and the girls house-work.
In 1889 he opened in Chicago the Bible Institute, and there trained Christian workers in Bible study and in practical methods of social reform; at Northfield in 1890, he opened a Training School in domestic science in the Northfield Hotel, formerly used only in summer for visitors at the annual conferences, of which the best known are the Bible (or Christian Workers’) Conference, first held at Northfield in 1880, and the Students’ (or College Men’s) Conference, first held in 1887.
Moody died at Northfield on the 22nd of December 1899, His sermons were colloquial, simple, full of conviction and pointed. In his theology he laid stress on the Gospel and on no sectarian opinions—he was, however, a pre-millenarianite—and he worked with men as much more “advanced” than himself as Henry Drummond, whom he eagerly defended against orthodox attack, and George Adam Smith. Moody’s sermons were sold widely in English, and in German, Danish and Swedish versions.
See the (official) Life of Dwight L. Moody (New York, 1900), by his son, W. R. Moody (b. 1869), and the estimate in Henry Drummond’s Dwight L. Moody: Impressions and Facts (New York, 1900), with an introduction by George Adam Smith.