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Spurgeon on the Moody-Sankey Campaigns, 1875

by C. H. Spurgeon
From the March-July 1875 Sword and Trowel


The comments below are excerpted from the NOTES sections of The Sword and the Trowel, March-July of 1875. Spurgeon himself wrote these notes. Seven years later, he reflected again on these remarks in reply to a letter from someone who complained that the results of Moody's ministry had not lasted long. In his reply to that correspondent, Mr. Spurgeon stood by and reaffirmed the positive evaluation of Moody's ministry he had published in 1875.


e are very sorry that our esteemed friend, Dr. Kennedy, issued a pamphlet severely criticizing the labors of Messrs. Moody and Sankey, whom we judge to be sent of God to bless our land in an unusual degree. Dr. Bonar's reply strikes us, as amply meeting Dr. Kennedy's strictures, and needing no supplement. But we are sorry to read every now and then the most bitter reflections on Dr. Kennedy, as though he were an enemy of the gospel. Now, we know him to be one of the best and holiest of men, and quite undeserving of severe upbraiding. Nothing but zeal for the truth has moved him, we are quite sure. He is fearful lest the doctrines of grace should be forgotten, and he is jealous for divine sovereignty. He is also fearful that the work owes more to music than to the force of truth, and is more the work of fleshly excitement than of the Holy Spirit, Is it altogether an unpardonable sin to feel such a sacred anxiety? We think not. At the same time we do not feel as Dr. Kennedy does. Had the revival under our American friends been what he thinks it to be, and what most similar ones have been, his remarks would have been timely and useful, although they would even in that case have been fiercely resented. As it is, there are many things suggested by his pamphlet which it will be well for the people of God to ponder, and in so doing they may be saved from grievous disappointments. We feel sure that Mr. Moody does not count Dr. Kennedy an enemy, nor wish to silence him, and we trust that others will learn the same moderation of temper and speech. Convince Dr. Kennedy that the Lord's hand is in the work, and his powerful voice and pen will be secured, and he will not be slow to issue a retraction: but to denounce him as an opposer of the Spirit's work is unchristian, and to those who know the man it is a monstrous libel. We cannot expect all men to see alike, and we ought to admire the courage which enters an honest protest, even though it be a mistaken one. We wish that the religion of this age had more in it of the deep, heart-searching, devoted, and unflinching piety of our Highland brethren; while we also wish that some of our northern friends were more joyous in heart, and less severe in their judgment of other servants of the Lord. The matter ought to end in both sides quietly learning something from each other, and resolving that if they cannot agree in each other's views they will at least abstain from ungenerous judgments and angry replies. The work which God is doing is so great and manifest that it cannot be injured by any man's comments upon it; those engaged in it can afford to turn such things to profitable account.


aving often heard it questioned whether the work of Messrs. Moody and Sankey would stand the test of time, we requested an esteemed friend to get the opinion of one of the most calm and judicious of the Newcastle pastors. It will be remembered that in that town they labored with great acceptance. We are right glad to give the reply publicity, and have all the more confidence in doing so because the writer is one of the last men to be carried away by popular enthusiasm, and is eminently one who thinks and judges for himself. He says, "I have no hesitation as to my answer to your question about Moody and Sankey. We here are all of us the better, and our churches in many ways, for their visit; permanently the better. More living, more aggressive; quicker to desire and bolder to execute plans of usefulness: and the converts, so far as I can judge or hear, stand wonderfully. I do not mean that there are no disappointments, it were madness to expect that; but they are, to say the least, in every respect of stability and character, equal to the converts received at other times. I do not, of course, commit myself to every method our brethren use; but the men are worthy of all confidence and love; and their work leaves a real blessing behind, especially to those who go in for hearty cooperation with them. You are quite free to give this opinion as mine, for whatever it is worth, to Mr. Spurgeon, or any other friend who is anxious on the subject."


riday morning saw the Tabernacle crowded to the ceiling to hear Messrs. Moody and Sankey, who were helped in the highest degree by the good Spirit, and were enabled not only to arouse the sympathy of all hearts for their own work, but to stimulate every one to holy zeal. With a sweet Communion season the week closed. Happy and holy had it been; but there was one who, above all others, desired to be present, who was kept at home half the time the Lord's prisoner. He is able, however, to write, "The will of the Lord be done." [Many workers behind the scenes deserve our special thanks. Chiefly our ever diligent brother Mr. Murrell, and our brethren, Messrs. Mills, Chilvers, Pasfield, and others. Thanks also, very hearty, are due to the many friends who lodged and entertained the brethren.]


or is this all, there is yet very much land to be possessed. The masses of our countrymen have yet to be reached. Tens of thousands have of late gathered to hear our beloved brethren, Messrs. Moody and Sankey, but there are other hundreds of thousands who are not moved as yet. Hundreds of preachers are needed for crowded cities and benighted villages; our own land needs nothing so much as earnest heralds of the gospel, and America feels the same lack. Meanwhile the mission field calls eagerly for men; lands newly opened to the Gospel, such as Spain and Italy, demand faithful laborers. The fields whiten day by day, and cry aloud for sharp sickles. More precious than a wedge of gold is a man, a live man, a man on fire with love divine; and wise is it on the part of the Church of God to care for such men when she gets them, and allow no stumbling blocks to lie in the way of their usefulness.


t has given us much pleasure to assist our brethren Messrs. Moody and Sankey at Camberwell Hall, and we would have done far more, only our own enterprises demand our constant attention: our heart is very warm towards them for their work's sake. The fuss made about their preaching at Eton is a sad sign of the condition of Episcopalians. Among no other sect of Christians would respectable persons have been found to oppose the useful labors of our American friends; all other Protestants would have welcomed them. Our inestimably precious National Establishment has of late had singular opportunities for displaying her bigotry. She tyrannizes in the graveyard, and excludes her ministers from active communion with other Christian pastors, and there really was no necessity for any of her sons to go out of their way to treat two true-hearted foreigners with indignity. Are there not enough poor Christian Englishmen to brand as schismatics, and ranters? Was there need to grow wrath at two Americans whose teachings are perfectly colorless as to any point in which mere Churchism is involved? We are sure that all true Christians in the Establishment must feel ashamed of this wretched bigotry. What Americans will think of our aristocracy we can shrewdly guess; we only hope they will not confound the rest of our countrymen with these honorable and distinguished gentlemen, nor judge the Christians in the Episcopal body by the conduct of the worldlings who belong to it.

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