When Mrs. William A. Sunday requested that the funeral of her honored husband should be held in the Moody Memorial Church, our Executive Committee were pleased to comply, for all felt it was most becoming for him who had so often preached from our pulpit to be buried from the edifice reared to the memory of the great evangelist, Dwight L. Moody, who, in an earlier generation, stood so valiantly for the same precious truth that Mr. Sunday proclaimed so fearlessly and energetically.
For myself, I counted it a real privilege and a sacred trust to be permitted to direct the service and preach on this memorable occasion. The full account was published in The Moody Church News, a large extra edition being printed at that time. Owing to requests from all parts of the world for copies, this edition has long since been entirely exhausted, and still the requests come.
Now, at the earnest solicitation of personal friends of .'Billy" Sunday, the entire account is presented in pamphlet form, and is sent forth with the sincere hope that it may be blessed of God, not only to large numbers of the evangelist's own converts but to many others who have heard of his great work. In this way, I trust, the word will be fulfilled concerning him that was written of another so long ago: "He, being dead, yet speaketh."H. A. IRONSIDE.
"BILLY" SUNDAY FUNERAL
Reprinted from The Moody Church News of December, 1935
Three thousand one hundred and fifty-seven persons filed past the casket of the great evangelist. Many were in tears. Many exclaimed: "He led me to Christ" As the funeral service began there were some 3,500 people seated in the great auditorium of the Moody Memorial Church. Many of Mr. Sunday's former associates in his great campaigns were present. Judge [Kenesaw Mountain] Landis was one of the pallbearers. A large number of ministers, Salvation Army officers and other Christian workers were in the choir loft. On the platform were the brethren who were to participate in the service, Dr. lronside, the Pastor of the church, presiding.
The front of the platform was literally banked with magnificent floral offerings and among these most noticeable was one from the Cubs, Chicago's well-known baseball aggregation, formerly known as the .'White Stockings," with which Mr. Sunday was connected at the time of his conversion.
Introduction by Dr. Ironside
It seems very fitting that on such an occasion as this when we are gathered to pay our last respects to our friend and brother, Mr. Sunday, that we should have with us on the platform several who have been associated with him at different times for a number of years in his great campaigns. The service will be opened this afternoon by a musical number by Harry Clarke who has been recently his song-leader. He will be accompanied by Mr. B. D. Ackley, who so often has been with Mr. Sunday in his great campaigns.
Tribute and Song by Mr. Clarke
Mr. Clarke: I would like to pay a tribute to Mr. Sunday if it is possible. I do not think there are words that could ever be couched into any phrase that would convey the thought or expression that is in my own heart. I came from Cardiff, Wales, to the United States, was converted in the Moody Bible Institute, traveled around the United States doing Christian work until the time came in the providence of God when He was kind enough to place it in the heart of Mr. Sunday to help me along. Mr . Sunday was a father to me. I ,do not know what his children must feel today, but Mr. Sunday for the last seven years has been a friend, - more than a friend - he has been a father to me. Some time ago at Des Moines, Iowa, I thought it was the last call for Mr. Sunday. He stood there preaching what we all thought was his last sermon (he had told me as well as his wife and family, "There is one way I want to die. and that is in the harness") , and his strength failed. When he started to give the invitation, he hung on and said, "Harry, don't let the people go without me having at least one from this meeting to go into the presence of God with." He held out his hand as we sang an invitation song, and I knew it was no time to pull a crowd, so I put my hand in his hand and he must have thought somebody had taken his hand to make a decision for Christ, for he said, "Thank God I" We took him to a little anteroom and then to the hotel, and we thought that was his last, but God raised him up again and let him close, in my judgment, with a wonderful victory. This song that I am bringing is called, "God's Tomorrow," but it is Mr. Sunday's "Today:" he is in the presence of God. This is a difficult thing for me to do but I am glad to do it.
Prayer by Dr, Hepburn
Dr. Ironside: We will be led in prayer by Dr. Henry Hepburn, pastor of the Buena Memorial Presbyterian Church.
Dr. Hepburn : Let us all pray. O God, our Heavenly Father and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom could we go in this hour but to Thee? - for with Thee are the words of eternal life, and we are those who believe in the resurrection of the body and the life everlasting through our blessed Redeemer, Lord, and Saviour , Christ, the King. We pray that this day our hearts may be filled with adoration and praise to Him who "hath loved us and given Himself for us," that He might give Himself through us. And so, our Father , as we pause at the very beginning of this service to acknowledge with thanksgiving and praise Thy wondrous love so blessedly revealed through Calvary and the precious blood of the Saviour, here in this presence we, with great thanksgiving of heart and consecration of mind and of life, dedicate ourselves to the unfinished task, because our hearts see a new vision of what the Saviour is and what He would be through His followers. And this day, our Father , we humbly acknowledge our own lack, our own unworthiness, and pray for the forgiveness of every sin, that with blood-whitened lives we may worship Thee today in the beauty of holiness with the dew of the eternal morning upon us.
And, Father, Thou knowest how sore our hearts are because we gather about the quiet form of a brother beloved, a pilgrim warrior of the cross who has laid down his sword at Jesus' feet to receive "a crown of life that fadeth not away ," and on this journey of his life from the cross to the crown we praise Thee, we thank Thee for the way in which the Lord Jesus has lived Himself over again in our brother's life. Mr. Sunday has shown to us how one with utter abandon to the Lord Christ can be used of Him. And so, our Father , wilt Thou not accept our thanks and praise for the life he has lived, for the wonder of his golden ministry shot through with Divine power and made possible by Thy Holy Spirit using his yielded life, his child-like faith, his wonderful courage to win a multitude of souls to the cross, to cause him to walk the way of this world, thus leaving a shining trackway behind him. So, our Father , in this place today with our hearts filled with sadness that we shall not look upon his face again until the morning, we would praise Thee,
And then we have before us the longing of Thy servant that souls might be won to Thee today, and that this body of people might go out a blood-bought, fire-swept multitude, go out to a great task in a willing endeavor to honor the Lord Jesus Christ, having accepted Him, and in willingness to live for Him. And now, our Father, wilt Thou not gather into a bundle of Thy loving tenderness Mrs. Sunday and her sons, these who rise to call the husband and father blessed! Their hearts are sore and lonely. O Thou great Consoler, speak to them such a word of blessed comfort today that they have never known before. May the Saviour be so real, His message so triumphant, that sorrow and sighing and grief may be met by a marvelous grace, grace deeper than sorrow's depth, higher than the mountains of trouble, wider than the great anxiety that lies about. Our Father , comfort them and the other members of this household and the great multitude throughout the world who are shadowed today in loneliness, in great institutions, in Thy Church throughout the world, on mission fields. in colleges, in mission halls, in Bible institutes; all these are a multitude that have felt his touch and known his beneficence. his kindly interest. his devoted prayer. O God. bless us all because we are a sorrowing group today with a great unnumbered group who cannot be here. May we go from here today remembering that through Him, life is eternal, love is immortal, and death after all is only a shadow beyond the horizon which we cannot see with these tear-dimmed eyes. but we do look forward to the morning when the tears shall be wiped away and our Saviour shall be crowned King of kings and Lord of lords. And to Him - and to Him - be the glory both now and forever. Amen.
Scripture Reading by Dr. Houghton
Dr. Ironside: We will listen to the reading of the Word of God by our brother, Dr. Will H. Houghton, the President of the Moody Bible Institute.
Dr. Houghton: A few verses from the fifteenth chapter of Paul's first letter to the Corinthians. reading from the twelfth verse : "Now if Christ be preached that He rose from the dead. how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there be no resurrection of the dead. then is Christ not risen: and if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain. and your faith is also vain. Yea. and we are found false witnesses of God because we have testified of God that He raised up Christ; whom He raised not up. if so be that the dead rise not. F or if the dead rise not. then is not Christ raised; and if Christ be not raised. your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ. we are of all men most miserable. But now is Christ risen from the dead. and become the first fruits of them that slept. ...Now this I say. brethren that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption. Behold. I show you a mystery; we shall not all sleep. but we shall all be changed. in a moment. in the twinkling of an eye. at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound. and the dead shall be raised incorruptible. and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption. and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy sting} O grave, where is thy victory} The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast [sic], unmoveable [sic], always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord."
We have read these verses from the fifteenth chapter of First Corinthians, and may God bless to us this reading of His Word.
Tribute and Song by Mr. Rodeheaver
Dr. lronside: For something like twenty years, I believe, Mr. Homer Rodeheaver was the active associate of Mr. Sunday; he was the songleader, the music~director; and Mr. Rodeheaver is going to sing at this time.
Mr. Rodeheaver : The members of Mr. Sunday's party want me to say to you that those of us who knew him best loved him most. We could all sign our names to one of the telegrams that Mrs. Sunday got, and it came from some very humble folk, some negro friends, and this is what it said, "We loved him, but God loved him best," and we could sign that too. Mr. Bryan wrote to us some time ago and said, "Christ has made of death a narrow starlit strip between the communion of yesterday and the reunion of tomorrow." We are saying, "Good-night" to our "boss," that is what most of us lovingly called him ; we are saying "Good~night." to him here, but we are expecting to say "Good morning" before very long.
Message by Dr. Stone
Dr. Ironside: Mr. Sunday was a member of the Chicago Presbytery. a man highly esteemed by his brethren and very loyal to the principles of the Presbyterian Church. It seems very fitting therefore that we should have with us at this time to speak to us now our brother, Dr .John Timothy Stone, who for a generation has been recognized in this city as an outstanding Presbyterian minister and preacher of the Word, Dr. Stone. as you know, is the president of the Presbyterian Seminary and Pastor Emeritus, I believe, of the Fourth Presbyterian Church.
Dr. Stone: William A. Sunday was loved by all who knew him, and this service cannot be a day of mourning. but a day of coronation. The poet said :
His loving Father in Heaven. whom he so loved. did not let him linger long in pain. nor languish on a bed of suppressed suffering. In the very blessed presence of his loved life-partner and closest friend. God called him quietly and quickly from his busy. happy life to his Eternal Home. Just the way the dear man wanted to go. Few have been welcomed there by more than he. Since the unique Christlike Moody. in whose memorial church we bow today. there has been no greater soul-winner among American citizens or men. With all he had. and with his whole heart and being. he spent himself to direct and lead others to Jesus Christ. Loyal, devoted, eager, intense, fervent, positive, impulsive, dynamic, sympathetic, human, humorous, guileless, plain, pointed, forceful, direct, colorful, conscientious, strong and sweet, he with unique individuality. unremittingly denounced sin, and pleaded with the sinner to yield to the Only Saviour from sin.
Thousands in this building. and tens and hundreds of thousands without. allover the nation and the world. thank God today for his faithful and fearless voice of power. and heart and hand of love.
He hated cant and insincerity. He never attempted to be another. but was just himself in all his rugged reality and unfeigned frankness. Sin he called sin. and graphically pictured it in all its frenzied and unexpurgated awfulness. But the hand that clenched against evil was bared to lift men. to clasp the scarred hand of his crucified Lord.
"Billy.' Sunday loved men, and longed to introduce them to the best Friend he and mankind ever had, Jesus Christ. Rich and poor, high and low, prince and pauper, drunkard and harlot, he loved and welcomed in the name of the Lowly Man of Nazareth.
Innumerable hosts today rise up and call him "blessed,.. as today they wreath their beloved friend who spent his very soul to save their souls.
"He being dead yet speaketh." Yes, " A prince has fallen in our midst," but "he ever liveth." Yes, "he that winneth souls is wise" and "they that turn many to righteousness shall shine as the stars forever and ever ." I quote those priceless words of Thomas Arnold of Rugby, carved above his tomb :
Message by Dr. Ironside
Dr. lronside: I could not help thinking as I have been looking over this audience of the great throng that greeted Mr. Sunday in this same building just about a year ago when some 7,000 crowded this place. Many more had to be turned away, so eager were they to hear this messenger of the cross. We knew then that he was a very sick man; he came out of a sick bed to speak to us, and yet he took hold of that meeting most heroically, and some of us are very thankful indeed for the opportunity we had of hearing that message.
When I was asked to say a word or two on this occasion, four passages of Scripture came before me very vividly, four scriptures that to my mind bring before us most clearly what I may call the spiritual history of our departed brother. The first of these is found in the second chapter of the epistle to the Ephesians, verse 12. There we read: " At that time ye were without Christ...having no hope and without God in the world." That expression, "Without Christ,'. tells us what was true of everyone of us in our unconverted days. It was true of "Billy" Sunday. As a young man. well-known in the athletic world, a good friend, a royal sport, and a jovial companion, he was, nevertheless, without Christ. As he himself afterward looked back upon those early years, he realized in a very deep sense how ungodly his life had been. I notice that some who have put in print their estimate of his character in these last few days since the news was wired throughout the world that "Billy" Sunday had suddenly died, declared that he quite overestimated his own wickedness. He was not, they tell us, the vile man that his words implied. He was never a hopeless drunkard. He was never as corrupt in the sense that his language would seem to convey. But "Billy" Sunday in this was like John Bunyan, who, when the arrows of conviction entered his soul and he saw himself as a poor sinner in the presence of a holy God, felt as though he could not exaggerate the corruption of his heart and the wickedness of his life. It is only men who have a very low sense of holiness who are likely to have a feeble sense of their own sinfulness. The man who is brought into the light of the sanctuary realizes the evil of his own heart in such a way that he cries out in agony to be ,delivered, and never ceases to magnify the grace of God that could take up such a wretch as he. This explains "Billy" Sunday's sense of his own deep, deep need in those days when he was without Christ.
The second scripture speaks of the great change that came to him when he heard the gospel at the Pacific Garden Mission in this city and received the Lord Jesus Christ as his own personal Saviour. In 2 Corinthians 5 : 17 we are told: "If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new." This is what the Bible calls "conversion," or "regeneration." This great change came to "Billy" Sunday, as it comes to every truly saved soul, as a great miracle. One moment he was without Christ, the next, to his joy and amazement, he was in Christ. Doubtless he did not fully understand the meaning of this at the time, but his life all through the years since has proven the reality of it. Now the man who is in Christ is the man who has been born again, has become a partaker of the Divine nature and is indwelt by the Holy Spirit. "He which stablisheth us with you in Christ, and hath anointed us, is God, who hath also sealed us and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts"' (2 Cor. 1: 21 ). The man who is in Christ is justified before God and freed from condemnation. Having learned that he has no righteousness of his own, this man has found a perfect righteousness in the risen Son of God. This was true of "Billy" Sunday. It was no mere lip profession with him when he declared himself to be a Christian. It was not simply turning over a new leaf or joining a church or accepting certain religious views. There had been in his case a ,definite dealing with God on the basis of the sacrifice of His beloved Son. "Billy" knew he was lost, but he knew that "Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners," that "The Son of Man is come to seek and to save that which was lost" (Luke 19: 10), and he rested on the word, "He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life."
When he knew that he was secure himself, he was not satisfied; his heart went out to others Who were where he had once been, and he felt that henceforth he must devote his redeemed life to trying to win as many of his fellows as possible to the knowledge of the Saviour who meant so much to him. This brings me to the third passage I had in mind: 2 Corinthians 5 : 20, "Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God.'. The young convert of so many years ago realized that the One who had redeemed him had claims upon his life. Jesus was not only Saviour, He was Lord, and if He is not Lord of all, then He is not Lord at all. "Billy" Sunday was a very weak Christian at that time, but there was within him a yearning to be used of God in the salvation of others. He wanted to be absolutely for Christ, and the Lord took him up in wondrous grace and made of him a great ambassador of the High Court of Heaven. There have been few soul~winners like him in the history of the Church of God. His methods may at times have seemed spectacular, his language sometimes strange for the pulpit and the church, but "Billy" Sunday was dead in earnest in seeking to reach lost men. He knew that in order thus to reach them he must, so far as in him lay, go to them where they were and meet them on their own ground. Remembering the example of the Apostle Paul who said, "I am become all things to all men if by any means I may save some," he fitted his message to the people whom he sought to reach. It may be a surprise to some if I say that he who was so thoroughly at home in talking to vast throngs of what we sometimes call "the common people" was equally at home in the halls of learning. "Billy" Sunday was not, as some have attempted to make people believe, an ignoramus--he was a cultured, educated man. Whether addressing vast multitudes who filled the largest tabernacles that were constructed for his great meetings, or whether standing before university audiences, "Billy" Sunday realized that he was there to represent the Son of God, and he presented his message in the way which he felt was most adapted to the people who were before him. He had his critics. What man who has accomplished anything in any sphere has not} In my study I have on my wall a little motto that reads, "T o escape criticism, say nothing, do nothing, be nothing." But I am afraid if anyone fulfilled all three of these conditions, he would be criticized as a nonentity. "Billy" Sunday knew that he was exposing himself to criticism, but so desperately in earnest was he in his zeal for Christ that he could say, "None of these things move me; neither count I my life dear unto myself, if so be that I might finish my course with joy." The more people loved Christ, the more they loved "Billy" Sunday after they got to know him. The more people hated Christ, the more they hated this preacher of righteousness. A cultured old French evangelist, who looked askance at many of his methods, said to me some years ago, "1 love that man because of the enemies he has made."
And now, he has finished his course, he has kept the faith, and he is at Home "where the wicked cease from troubling and the weary are at rest." In Philippians 1 : 23, the Apostle tells us, when he lay in a Roman prison, that he was in a dilemma, not knowing whether he would rather be set free to continue his work or go Home to heaven. "Having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better ." This, then, is what death means to the Christian; this is what death has meant to "Billy" Sunday. It is to be with Christ. It is, " Absent from the body, present with the Lord." And we may be sure of this, that as we are gathered here to pay our respects to the memory of our departed brother, and as we lay away this precious body in the tomb until the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering unto Him, that we are not burying the real "Billy" Sunday. He himself is with Christ in that city that hath foundations, to go no more out forevermore. We are simply laying away the tabernacle in which dwelt for a season that earnest personality that we knew as "Billy" Sunday.
What a history this is! Once "without Christ," then through grace "in Christ;" to become for many years an ambassador "for Christ." And now his labor ended, the victory won, he is at Home "with Christ," waiting the glad hour when all the redeemed shall meet in the Father's house.
I want to add one more word, and I am quite certain that if Mr. Sunday were able to, he would tell me to do it. It is this :-Am I addressing any in this great audience today who do not know Mr. Sunday's Saviour} Oh, then, I plead with you, as he would plead if those still lips of his were yet able to speak, come to the blessed Saviour of sinners, come to Him just as you are, not attempting to make yourself any better. Take your place before God as a poor needy soul; tell Him you are the sinner for whom Jesus died and that you too want to know the salvation that ..Billy" Sunday knew, that you want to experience the blessed change of regeneration. T ell Him that now, today, without putting it off even until the close of this funeral service, you are ready to trust Him, for you are a sinner. He died for sinners; ..This Man receiveth sinners," and says, "Him that cometh unto Me will in no wise cast out." I would that many might go from this service today saying, .'Thank God, I too now know for the first time 'Billy' Sunday's Saviour." How glad he would be to meet you by~and-by in the glory and have you say to him, "Mr. Sunday, it was at your funeral service that I yielded my heart to Christ, that I trusted your Saviour and devoted my life to Him."
Song by Trio
We are now going to listen to a trio by three brethren long associated with Mr. Sunday, our brethren who have already sung, Mr. Homer Rodeheaver, Mr. Harry Clarke, and Mr. Peterson.
Mr. Rodeheaver asked all those who had been saved through Mr. Sunday's ministry to stand as a tribute to him. Many arose.
Mr. Rodeheaver: Mr. Sunday loved to hear us sing this song: he didn't care so much about it being soft and sweet; he wanted it to be powerful enough to reach the man in the back corner, and would give his orders in back of us and say, "Hold that note now; hold it;" "Where the Gates Swing Outward Never ."
Mr. Peterson: I walked twenty~four miles as a boy of seventeen in snow to my knees to find Mr. Sunday's Christ, and from that day until this I have loved him with all my heart because he gave me a glimpse of service, and I am here today with no other desire in my heart but to dedicate my life anew on this occasion to his Christ, to work for Him and to win souls as long as God lets me stay in this world. I took care of him for a number of years in his great evangelistic campaigns. I have been in the quiet room alone with him after a meeting when five or six or seven hundred had come forward, and with the tears running down his cheeks, he would say, "0 Pete, why didn't more come?" I shall endeavor with God's help to preach that gospel that he created in me a desire to preach many years ago.
"The Glory Song" by Congregation
Mr. Clarke: You know, people, I have heard Mr. Sunday say many times that when it came to the time of his leaving this earth, he didn't want a sad meeting. He would say constantly, "If ever I leave this place in a hurry, there is one song I want you to be sure to have the people sing," and if he were here, he would prompt us and say, "Let's get away from the black crape and sing the Glory Song." The finest tribute we could pay to Mr. Sunday would be to sing :
Mr. Sunday is safe. I would like to impose on Mr. Rodeheaver; he has been with him for many years and Mr. Sunday would be glad to have him sing it.
The audience stood and sang :
Benediction by the Rev. W. Taylor
Dr. Ironside: Please remain standing. It was through the Pacific Garden Mission, as you know, that Mr. Sunday was led to a knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ, so it seems most fitting that we should have with us today the Rev. Walter Taylor , Superintendent now of the Pacific Garden Mission, who will pronounce the benediction, after which the service will be concluded. The interment will take place at Forest Home Cemetery immediately following.
Mr. Taylor: May I say a word before the benediction is pronounced ? I do not think we should omit saying that "Billy" Sunday is responsible for the building at 650 South State Street on which shines out night after night a ten-foot neon gas cross, and in which year after year we can report at least on an average of eight hundred men a year kneeling in prayer with us. He paid for this building mostly by giving into the Pacific Garden Mission the offerings of his last campaign in Chicago. Shall we be ready for the benediction?
Now the God of peace that brought again from the dead that great Shepherd of the sheep, our Lord Jesus Christ, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you perfect in every good work to do His will, working in you that which is perfect in His sight through Jesus the Christ. To Him be glory now and forever." And may grace and peace be multiplied to the believers here today through God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.