I was lead to an autobiography of Charles Finney, which spoke very clearly to my heart and then the Spirit of the Lord --- lead me to read about D.L. Moody.
INCIDENTS FROM MOODYS DAYS
When Dwight was about six years old, an old rail fence one day fell upon him. He could not life the heavy rails. Exhausted by his efforts, he had almost given up. Then, as he afterward told the story, I happened to think that maybe God would help me, and so I asked him; and after that I could lift the rails,
When I was a young boy-before I was a Christian I was I a field one day with a man who was hoeing. He was weeping, and he told me a strange story, which I have never forgotten. When he left home his mother gave him this text SEEK FIRST THE KINGDOM OF GOD. But he paid no heed to it. He said when he got settled in life, and his ambition to get money was gratified, it would be time enough then to seek the kingdom of God. He went from one village church, and what was his great surprise to hear the minister give out the text, SEEK FIRST THE KINGDOM OF GOD, He said the text went down to the bottom of his heart. He thought it was but his mothers prayer following him, and that some one must have written to that minister about him. He felt very uncomfortable and when the meeting was over he could not get that sermon out of his mind.
AGAIN SEEK FIRST THE KINGDOM OF GOD
He went away from that town, and at the end of a week went into another church, and he heard the minister give out the same text, Seek first the kingdom of God. He felt sure this time that it was the prayers of his mother, but he said calmly and deliberately, No, I will first get wealthy. He said he went on and did not go into a church for a few months, but the first place of worship he went into he heard a minister preaching a sermon from the same text. He tried to drown to stifle his feelings; tried to get the sermon out of his mind, and resolved that he would keep away from church altogether, and for a few years he did keep out of Gods house. My mother died, he said, and the text kept coming up in my mind, and I said I will not no sermon ever touched me; my heart is as hard as that stone, pointing to one in the field. I couldnt understand what it was it was all about it was fresh to me then. I went to Boston and got converted, and the first thought that came to me was about this man. When I got back I asked mother, Is Mr. L ----- living in such a place? Didnt I write to you about him? She asked. They have taken him to an insane asylum, and to every one who goes there he points with his finger up there and tells them to seek first the kingdom of God. There was that man with his eyes dull with the loss of reason, but the text had sunk into his soul it had burned down deep. O, my mother told me he was in his house, and I went to see him. I found him in a rocking chair, with that vacant, look upon him. As soon as he saw me, he pointed at me and said, young man, seek first the Kingdome of God. Reason was gone but the text was there. Last month, when I was laying my brother down, I could not help thinking of that poor man
who was lying so near him, and wishing that the prayers on his mother had been heard, and that he had found the kingdom of God.
It is doubtful, however, if young Moody had experienced any real religious feeling up to the time of his conversion in Boston. He was a boy like other boys unlike the majority, too, in his imperious will, his indifference to obstacles, and his boundless energy. He was as fond of mischief as the average boy. The influences of a farm-boys life, tempered thought they were by the forceful direction of a devoted mother, were not calculated to cultivate in him a taste for the finer things of life. His passionate outbursts of temper are still remembered by those who early came into contact with him. His profanity is a matter of his own record. Still, he was doubtless in this regard merely a type of his environment. The notable thing about the boy was his force; he bore in his endowment great possibilities of good and ill.
HIS EALRY EDUCATION
Perhaps only twelve terms at the district school constituted Dwights early education. A smattering of the three Rs a little geography and the practice of declamation made up the sum of his learning. The truth of the matter seems to be that he did not study faithfully. It was only during his last term that he began to apply himself with diligence, too late to make tip for what he had lost. His reading is described as outlandish beyond description. With his characteristic tendency to jump directly to the heart of a question, he never stopped to spell out an unfamiliar word, but mouthed his sense of it without full dependence upon his training or made up a new word which sounded to his ear as suitable as the original.
Of his experiences as a schoolboy Mr. Moody has given the following in his sermon On Law versus Grace
THE LAW PARTY AND GRACE PARTY
At the school I used to go to when I was a boy, we had a teacher who believed in governing by l aw. He used to keep a rattan in his desk, and my back tingles now (shrugging his shoulders) as I think of it. But after a while the notion got abroad among the people that a school might be governed by LOVE, and the district was divided into what I might call the law party, and the grace party; the law party standing by the old schoolmaster, and his rattan, and the grace party wanting a teacher who could get along without punishing so much
After a while the grace party got the upper hand, turned out the old master, and hired a young lady to take his place. We all understood that there was to be no rattan that winter, and we looked forward to having the jolliest kind of time. On the first morning the new teacher, whom I will call Miss Grace, opened the school with reading out of the Bible and prayer. That was a new thing and we didnt quite know what to make of it. She told us she didnt mean to keep Order by punishment, but she hoped we would all be good
children, for her sake as well as our own. This made us a little ashamed of the mischief we had meant to do, and everything went on pretty well for a few days; but pretty soon I broke one of the rules, and Miss Grace said I was to STOP that night after school. Now for the Old rattan, said I to myself; its coming now after all. But when the scholars were all gone she came and sat down by me, and told me how sorry she was that I, who was one the biggest boys, and might help her so much, was setting such a bad example to others, and making it so hard for her to get along with them. She said she loved us, and wanted to help us, and if we loved her we would obey her, and then everything would go on well. There were tears of joy in her eyes as she said this, and I didnt know what to make of it, for no teacher had ever talked that way to me before. I began to feel ashamed of myself for being so mean to any one who was so kind; and after that she didnt have any more trouble with me, nor with any of the other scholars either. She just took us out from under the LAW and put us under GRACE.
DEPARTURE FROM HOME
The circumstance which led up to the departure of young Moody from home have been variously stated. He had come to the age of Seven Teen. In those days a boy of seventeen was supposed to be ready to enter upon the serious business of life. New ambitions were arising in Dwights heart. Mr. Edward Kimball, who afterwards led the boy to the Lord, is perhaps as well informed of the circumstances of his life in Boston as any man now living. He gave the facts as he was familiar with them at the time of Mr. Moodys death.
To tell the story correctly, said Mr. Kimball, I must go back to Thanksgiving day forty-five years ago. A Thanksgiving family dinner party was assembled at the Moody home, which was on a farm a mile and a half from Northfield, Mass. At the table, among others, were Samuel and Lemuel Holton, of Boston, two uncles of the Moody Children. Without any preliminary warning young Dwight, a boy of about seventeen, spoke up and said to his uncle Samuel: Uncle, I want to come to Boston and have a place in your shoe store. Will you take Me? Despite the directness of the question, the uncle returned to Boston without giving his nephew an answer. When Mr. Holton asked advice in the matter from an older brother the Dwight, the brother told his uncle that perhaps she had better not take the boy, for in short time Dwight would want to run his store.
YOUNG MOODY LOOKING FOR A JOB
Dwight was headstrong young fellow who would not study at school, and who was much fonder of a practical book. His expressed desire to go to Boston and get work was not a jest that the boy forgot the day after Thanksgiving. The two uncles were surprised when one day in the following spring Dwight turned up in Boston looking for a job. His uncle Samuel did not offer him a place. Dwight, when asked how he thought he could get a start, said he wanted work and he guessed he could find a position. After days of efforts, and meeting nothing but failures the boy grew discouraged with Boston, and told his uncle Lemuel he was going to New York. The uncle strongly advised Dwight not to go, his uncle Samuel knew perfectly well what he wanted. But the uncle insisted so that a second time the boy asked his uncle Samuel for a place in his store.
Dwight, I am afraid if you come in here you will want to run the store yourself, said Mr. Holton. Now, my men here want to do their work as I want it done. If you want to come in here and do the best you can, and do it right, and if youll ask me when you dont know how to do anything, or if I am no here, ask the bookkeeper, and if hes not here one of the salesmen or one of the boys, and if you are willing to go to church and Sunday school when you are able to go anywhere on Sundays, and if you are willing not to go anywhere at night or any other time which you would not want me or your mother to know about, why, then, If youll promise all these things, you may come and take hold, and well see how we can get along. You Can Have Till Monday To Think It Over.
Submit to God, and please dont ever stop praying for me.