HISTORY informs us that labor-saving machinery, when first introduced, was viewed with bitter hatred by working people, who feared that their wages would be reduced because there would be less demand for human muscle and skill. It was also supposed that steam would supersede the necessity for horses and beasts of burden, and that these would greatly decline in value. Not only were these ideas ill-founded, but the very opposite state of things prevailed. Labor became more honorable and valuable, and all kinds of stock advanced in price.
Since the printing press became improved to so great an extent during the last century, men argued that it would supersede public speaking, and “the power of the press” is a household phrase. But what have we beheld during the late political campaign in this country? Monster meetings day after day, and night after night, at which the issues before the people were discussed in the presence of enthusiastic and tireless assemblies. The orator’s services seemed never in so great demand as now, when newspapers and books are multiplied in countless profusion. A grander demonstration of the power of the human voice to call out and hold popular assemblies, has been furnished by the victorious progress of D. L. Moody, the Evangelist, and his singing coadjutor, Ira D. Sankey, in the most enlightened countries of the civilized world. The press can never meet the wants of man, but must be supplemented by the living eloquence of the speaker, from whose lips flow streams of burning words that find their way into the depths of the soul.
Mr. Moody’s campaigns are not hackneyed and mechanical to such a degree as might be expected, but are the hearty, living work of a wonderful evangelist, whose resources seem, indeed, like those of the artesian well, to employ one of his own comparisons. While he preaches on the same general subjects, and pursues similar lines of thought, and uses the same illustrations to a large extent, it is also true that he has a wonderful facility of adapting his discourses to the occasion, and thus gives them a freshness that extemporaneous speakers, repeating themselves, often lack. And not only so, but his mental activity and spiritual growth impart newness and power to his addresses and prayers, which men who speak much, and live upon themselves, as it were, are apt to want.
These sermons, addresses, and prayers, now offered to the public in this beautiful volume, are the best efforts of his genius among a host of old friends and new, and in the most trying situations, and under the noblest inspirations, and deserve to be widely circulated, and read by millions of people who want to know the Gospel in its simple, Scriptural purity, and how it is proclaimed by one whom God has placed at the head of evangelists.
Those who have heard Mr. Moody in the delivery of these discourses, will feel again the thrill that electrified them when the torrent of Gospel enthusiasm poured from his lips. The old earnestness and fire will glow again in the printed page, and they will almost seem to be sitting under the sound of his voice. The reader who has only the book to represent the man, will be charmed with the tenderness of his language, the picturesqueness of his style, the graphic fervor of statement, the grandeur of the truths he reiterates and illustrates, and the directness, faith, and zeal with which he urges and persuades men to renew the battle or enlist under the banner of Christ.
Records of his life and work are omitted from this volume, and may be found fully presented in the “Wonderful Career of Moody and Sankey in Great Britain and America,” by the same publishers.