On this day, March 11, 1897, Henry Drummond, whom Dwight L. Moody called the most Christ like man he had ever known, left this world for eternity. Drummond had been in excruciating pain for two years, suffering from a malignant growth of the bones. Despite intense pain, he continued to be humble, unselfish and cheerful.
A Scottish free churchman from Stirling, Scotland, Henry Drummond was drawn into evangelical revival during Moody and Sankey's tour of Britain in 1873. He followed up their work in Ireland and England, becoming skilled at helping all kinds of people in the "inquiry room." In fact, people turned to Drummond for council and confession, throughout his life. Moody wanted Drummond to come help him in his ministry in America, but Drummond became a lecturer at the Free College in Glasgow on the natural sciences. He continued to do evangelistic work with young men and the poor throughout his teaching days.
After Moody's 1884 campaign in England, he was relaxing with 21 of his fellow workers. The group urged Moody to give a devotional, but the great evangelist shook his head. "No, you've been hearing me for eight months, and I'm quite exhausted. Here's Drummond, he will give us a Bible reading."
Reluctantly, Drummond arose, pulled from his hip pocket a Testament and began to read 1 Corinthians 13. Without a note he expounded a message of which Moody said: "It seemed to me that I had never heard anything so beautiful, and I determined not to rest until I brought Henry Drummond to Northfield to deliver that address." Indeed, Moody wished the message could be read in his Northfield schools once a year and "read once a month in every church 'til it was known by heart."
Henry later issued the talk as a thin book The Greatest Thing in the World. In it he said, "You will find as you look back upon your life that the moments that stand out, the moments when you have really lived, are the moments when you have done things in a spirit of love."
As the teaching of evolution emerged, Drummond made analogies between its ideas and the truths of the spiritual world. For example, he said that even in the animal world survival of the fittest is not simply based upon strength. Care and compassion are important. Scientists criticized him. But his popular style sold 70,000 copies of his Natural Law in the Spiritual World in five years.
Moody was criticized for maintaining a close friendship with Drummond because of his compromise with evolutionary theory, but Moody continued to find Drummond's Christian character unimpeachable and his personal evangelistic work fruitful. Moody wrote that "Henry Drummond was one of the most lovable men I have ever known...It could be said of him truthfully, as it was said of the early apostles, 'that men took knowledge of him, that he had been with Jesus'...Never have I known a man who, in my opinion, lived nearer the Master, or sought to do His will more fully."
- Adapted from an earlier Christian History Institute story by Diane Severance, Ph.D. and Christian History Institute's Glimpses #153.
- Drummond, Henry. The Greatest Thing in the World. Various editions.
Last updated June, 2007