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While Mr. Redfield was engaged in the work of a physician at this time, he began seriously to consider the question of marriage. Nineteen years had gone by since his wife deserted him, and fourteen since the courts had given him a legal separation from her. Several years had also gone by since he, by two ministers of the church, heard that she was dead; and nothing to the contrary had ever come to his knowledge. A careful consideration of all the facts and of the law in the case, convinced him that there were no legal nor moral barriers in the way; and he determined to marry, if a suitable opportunity presented itself.
One of the causes that led him to this decision was, that his enemies were continually taking advantage of his single condition to fabricate and circulate slanderous stories about him. He thought the presence of a wife with him wherever he went would put a stop to this; but, to his sorrow, he found this was not so.
Among the many who came to the infirmary for treatment was a lady of more than ordinary intelligence, and who had had some experience in city mission work. She, like himself, had been unfortunate in her married life, and was now separated from her husband. Mr. Redfield finally proposed marriage to her, and his offer was accepted. Immediately after closing a revival effort at Keesville, N. Y., he was quietly married to this lady by a Methodist minister in the presence of a few witnesses.
Instead of this hushing the tongues of his detractors, it only gave them a double opportunity to harass him. Because of this occasion for offense, as some judged it to be, some of his warmest friends were greatly afflicted. This hedged up his way in many places, and destroyed his influence. His was doubtless one of those peculiar instances spoken of by St. Paul, in which the lawful is not expedient. Since his death it has been remarked, and supposed to be true, that he regretted this step; but in a review of his life, written by himself, he has recorded this:
“I went to Keesville, to hold a meeting, and about the close I saw fit to be married to one whom I then believed, and now know, to be in every respect a helpmeet to me in the gospel field.”
Mrs. Redfield, after a few days, went on a visit to her father’s, while he went to fill an engagement to hold a meeting. The name of the place of this meeting he does not give, and the writer has no means of learning it. Of the effort put forth at this place he makes this brief record: “I again saw the power of God displayed.”
A few days’ visit among his own people with his wife, and then they were away to Lima, N. Y., where he had been expected for some time.
In a letter to Samuel Huntington, dated April 9th, 1856, two weeks after he left Lima, he wrote:
“I found that two years before the church door was locked against the preacher (probably Purdy) and the people by one of the college professors. The principal teacher in the seminary was dismissed, and a woman, who made no profession of religion, elected in her place. Subordinate teachers were employed, who taught the Methodist girls of the seminary to dance.
“Well, enough of this. We began the fight in the name of the Lord, and the opposition started. Then came out a large number of students — some of them confessed their opposition to the work when Brother Purdy was here -- and soon came into the enjoyment of justification, and then of sanctification; and then they confessed that the college influence had killed them. Soon the Lord had the quorum, and the opposition was compelled to stack arms. This continued until one or two fell in the street, and lay in an agony of prayer for the cause and the church. A goodly number of the young men are going out to preach full salvation, and some of them, if faithful, will make workers like Brother Purdy in zeal and firmness.”
Mr. Redfield’s criticisms on the doings of the church, and the influence of the college and seminary on the young Christians sent there, finally occasioned his leaving before his work was done.
A card from Rev. Woodruff Post, of the Genesee Conference, Methodist Episcopal Church, contributes the following:
“A Mrs. Wilbur Hoag, though a professed Christian and a member of the church, had for a long time mourned, unreconciled, the death of her husband, — to use her own words, “even to worshipping a spire of grass that grew upon his grave,” — was gloriously saved, so that she was enabled to triumph in the Lord, and with joy to say, “I give up all for Jesus.” The rest of soul which she then experienced enabled her afterwards to triumph under the loss of her only child Julia, whom she had educated for a useful life.”
At this time a severe conflict was raging in the Methodist Episcopal Church, in the Genesee Conference, between those who were preaching and professing perfect love, and those who were opposed to the same. Charges were being brought against Mr. Kendall, Mr. Roberts, Mr. McCreery, and others among the ministry, while many among the laity were also passing through severe persecution from the worldly element in the church.
For several years a laymen’s camp meeting had been held annually near Bergen, Genesee, Co. New York, for the promotion of holiness. This had been under the charge of laymen, to keep it from being controlled by church officials, who were opposed to its object. This meeting was attended by such men as Seymour Coleman, B. W. Gorham, then editor of the Guide to Holiness, George Wells, Benjamin Pomeroy, Henry Belden, Fay H. Purdy, and many others, all mighty men of God, and noted for being advocates of the doctrine and experience of perfect love. This camp meeting was largely attended, and extensive in its influence. Wonderful were the manifestations of divine power that here took place. Multitudes were converted and sanctified, and many ministers received the baptism of the Holy Ghost, and went to their homes in distant parts of the country to kindle similar fires for God and souls. The grove in which these camp meetings were held was a magnificent one, held by a corporation, in trust, for religions purposes. When at last the administration of the church began to expel both ministers and laymen who were identified with this work, an attempt was made, and finally succeeded, to get control of this camp ground, to put an end to the meeting. Advantage was taken of a technicality in the articles of incorporation, in which the name of the Methodist Episcopal Church was used, and those who had contributed towards the purchase of the property, had it wrested from them under the forms of law. While the question of title was in litigation, those who were trying to get control of the same went, one winter, and cut down the entire grove and destroyed it for camp meeting purposes.
It was at such a time as this, and in such circumstances, Mr. Redfield was now laboring. Every mistake of his was magnified into a crime, and many of his former friends, through fear and misapprehension, turned away from him. Those who knew him best, who had been brought into the closest fellowship with him, now drew closer to him than ever. Their private fellowship became intensely spiritual, and many were the special manifestations of the divine presence and favor they received, as they communed together, of their trials and conflicts, and prospects.
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