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On July 4, 1857, Mr. Redfield wrote the following letter, which indicates that hostility to vital godliness was becoming more intense and general throughout the church, and that his own long-deferred hope of reformation without separation was rapidly giving way:
“My very dear Brother and Sister Kendall — God and my own soul only know what drawings I feel towards you, and how it rejoices my heart to hear from you once more. How gladly would I go almost any distance to see you! Your fame has spread even to Wisconsin, and among the preachers you are regarded as the offscouring of the earth. Praise the Lord! The Buffalo and Western Advocates have put their mark upon you. Bless the Lord! I have shown the Medina paper, you sent me, to some of the preachers, and I think some of them are getting their eyes open. It is with much tribulation we must enter the kingdom. With my whole heart I can say, I believe you and those who stand with you are the representatives of primitive Christianity and early Methodism. My soul says, The Lord bless and keep you to the end. Bonds and afflictions await you, and every one who dares to merge every interest in God’s will. I often inquire, Will the pilgrims hold out? or will they be disheartened, and finally give up the contest, and be content with saving themselves, and let others go to perdition? I am sure that they who have arrayed themselves against you will never cease their hostility till they put you down. If they succeed, where is the hope of the church? God only knows how sorrow fills my soul when I look at the gloomy prospect. “By whom shall Jacob arise? for he is small.” Will Brothers McCreery, and Roberts, and Kendall, and others grow weary, and say, What is the use of the unequal contest? I am more than ever convinced that it is duty to prepare for a separate organization, which, if judiciously pursued, will build up a church, in the midst of severe persecutions, perhaps, yet a church that will bless the world, and compel the opponents of vital godliness to feel their deficiencies as now they cannot. But, of course, you know your own duty. My prayer is, that God may direct you.
“It sometimes seems strange that God does not come to your rescue, if you are in the right; and in some unmistakable manner demonstrate that. But I remember that God must protect the free agency of man, and then hold him responsible for results. He permitted his ancient prophets to be slain. He permitted the papacy to clothe the church in sackcloth for 1200 years. So it has been from the beginning, and probably will be until the end of time.
“But may not great good come to them who endure, though painful it may be? It hurts the penitent sinner to humble down and confess his sins, and then accept the humble Nazarene. It hurts the convert to sacrifice all, and become a whole burnt offering on the altar of God, before he can be sanctified. It hurts to have those, who have been your friends, drop off one by one, because they cannot risk their reputations to defend you. Here we must often stand alone, with none but Jesus who dares to own us. We may have to stand with the Marys, and see Jesus wounded in the house of his friends, and be unable to help him. A word, or a tear, or a groan in his favor, may cause them to strike him the harder and deeper. They may strike you down until you seek a place of solitude where you may weep out your sorrow alone; but to see them strike your Lord, who can endure it?
“May I say, I see all this in the distance as your cup? What if McCreery, and Roberts, and Hard should shrink from the bootless task, and strong hands should be laid on you to put you out of the conference? Will you and your dear wife stand for God, and trust Elijah’s ravens for your supplies? Oh, my heart is full! May the suffering Jesus be with you.
“J. W. Redfield.”
The following letter, written by a personal friend, will further show what influences were at work in opposition to a revival of primitive Christianity, and will also be of interest as showing the personal character of the man himself.
Mr. Kendall was serving the Chili, N. Y., circuit at this time, a strong country charge, and one where he had brave friends to stand by him.
“CHILI, Aug. 21, 1857.
“Dear Brother Phelps: — Since I saw you I have been at two camp meetings — on Niagara District and at Wyoming. At the former, the doctrine that we are entirely sanctified at conversion was boldly proclaimed. Brother Wm. Cooley requested me to exhort in his place, and set the matter right. I occupied forty-five minutes in trying to do so, while the Regency preachers prayed God to have mercy upon me. I felt a good conscience all through.
“At Wyoming camp meeting I preached on the same subject. Brother Abell arose, as soon as I was through, and backed what I said. The presiding elder and two preachers then exhorted against me, after which Brother B. W. Gorham, of the Guide to Holiness, stood by me and the truth nobly, for which the presiding elder, as soon as the service closed, took him off into the woods. Some of the preachers roar against me “like the bulls of Bashan.” I know not but they will gore me, tear the ground, or something, at the conference. I do not expect to remain at Chili. I go to conference, not knowing what will befall me there; nor do I trouble myself at all. Naught can harm me while I abide in Christ.
“Your militant brother,
“W. C. KENDALL.”
But the conspirators were already at work, plotting and planning against these men. When conference came, Kendall, talented, successful, and beloved by the humble and spiritual, was confronted by a bill of charges,. and only escaped trial for lack of time; then was sent to West Falls circuit, “the whipping post” of the conference.
B. T. Roberts was tried on a charge of unchristian conduct, and, not being allowed to defend himself with testimony, was declared guilty, sentenced to be reprimanded by the bishop, and then sent from Albion, a strong station, to a country village,
Joseph McCreery was treated in like manner.
When the bishop concluded the reading of the appointments, for a moment the pilgrims hung their heads in sorrow at this manifestation of the bitter spirit of their persecutors. The bishop called for a verse of song, and Kendall, with a full and steady voice led off with:—
“Come, on my partners in distress,
My comrades through this wilderness,
Who still your bodies feel;
Awhile forget your griefs and fears,
And look beyond this vale of tears,
To that celestial hill.”
The bishop was about to pray, but Kendall sang on,
“Beyond the bounds of time and space,
Look forward to that heavenly place,
The saints’ secure abode.
On faith’s strong eagle pinions rise,
And force your passage to the skies,
And scale the mount of God.”
Again the bishop was about to kneel for prayer, but Brother Kendall continued to sing:—
“Who suffer with our Master here,
We shall before his face appear,
And by his side sit down.
To patient faith the prize is sure;
And all that to the end endure
The cross, shall wear the crown.”
By this time every head of the persecuted band was up, and as they sang they believed, and hope grew strong. Some fell to the floor; some shouted aloud, while Brother Kendall’s voice continued still to make the auditorium ring with heavenly melody, as he sang:—
“Thrice blessed bliss-inspiring hope,
It lifts the fainting spirits up,
It brings to life the dead.
Our conflicts here shall soon be past,
And you and I ascend at last,
Triumphant with our Head.
“That great mysterious deity,
We soon with open face shall see
The beatific sight,
Shall fill the heavenly courts with praise,
And wide diffuse the golden blaze,
Of everlasting light.”
The bishop then prayed, the doxology was sung, the benediction pronounced, and the pilgrim preachers went to their appointments without a sigh.
In the following letter, Mr. Kendall describes his new circuit.
“West Falls, Erie Co., N. Y.
“Sept. 16, 1857.
“Dear Brother Roberts: — I find myself on my new field. Four or five appointments — no parsonage — one prayer meeting — some fifty or sixty members; and they have been giving their preacher two hundred and fifty dollars to live upon. The starvation system is in full blast in my case. I shall have a good year, however, if I have any year. One appointment is within ten miles of Buffalo; and I have serious thoughts of establishing one within the heart of the city its self. God may have designed, by my appointment, to pour out a vial of wrath or mercy on the seat of the beast. I intend to watch the openings of providence, and to enter them in the name of the Lord.
“I think of you often, and fear lest you will be discouraged in view of the state of things. The Regency pressed you hard in LeRoy; but it was not you they were after, but the blessed Jesus. I never realized the corrupt state of our conference as when we were voting on your case. Such combination to crush a brother I did not suppose could be with us. As you said on the conference floor, “Some of us will die hard.” Don’t be discouraged, brother; we have not suffered much yet. As you said to me on the night of your sentence and execution, “It is an honor to be denounced by those men.” Such bribery as they practiced is a disgrace to any set of men who make no pretense to religion. But I must stop, or my head will be off next.
“I spent the Sabbath after conference in LeRoy. Brother _____ asked me to preach, after consultation with A. P. R., and to preach the first sermon. I had a very good time. The Lord blessed me. I have no doubt that he willed that I should spend that day in LeRoy. McE_____. invited Mrs. K. and myself home to dinner with him, and treated me as respectfully as he knew how. Brother Shepard, a Class Leader, said in class that he did not know the brother who preached; but if that was Nazaritism, he was a Nazarite. R_____. cautioned the people to “beware of troublers.” Brother Colton was very friendly. Brother Anderson, just as McE_____ was about to pronounce the benediction, cried out, “Brother Kendall will preach in the Congregational church at five o’clock, the Lord willing.” The house was well filled, and we had another good time, and followed the sermon with a sort of love-feast. The N_____s are becoming popular in LeRoy.
“I expect you, Brother McC_____. and Brother Cooley will see to the pilgrims in that northern region. Brother Colton said, on Monday morning, as I was about to leave, that he thought Brother Roberts and myself ought to go through the conference holding meetings. Indeed, I was almost persuaded, as they did not locate me, to locate myself, and be free to go everywhere, preaching Jesus. We must circulate, as much as possible, among the people. God will give us this land yet. I give the Regency fair warning, the Lord helping, I will do my duty to them this year. My address is as above. Write if you have a mind.
“Yours, through the war,
“W. C. KENDALL.”
On Nov. 5, Mr. Kendall also wrote in another letter as follows:
“Dear Brother Phelps: — You speak of our being scattered, and exhort me to keep up courage. I have no doubt that it is as I told some of my people; I was sent here to be whipped and starved, but I don’t expect to receive either. I have five appointments, and preach three times each Sabbath. There is no pastor of any denomination — living within the bounds of my parish. I preach in four comfortable meeting houses — two of them Methodist, one Union; the fourth is owned by twelve sinners. Abundance of work — scarcely any religion, only one choir to bother. No revival has been here for years. My health is good — my courage, also.
“We have just had our first quarterly meeting — a very good season. One soul soundly converted — a little of the first fruits. A few were a little displeased on finding the door closed, they being late to love-feast. The love-feast was a blessed season. Many saw the benefit of the Methodist rule.
“Your brother to the end of the war,
“W. C. KENDALL.”
This was Mr. Kendall’s last appointment. In the midst of a glorious revival, he sickened and died. His death was one of the most triumphant. A short time before his departure, he said: “I’ve been swimming for two days in the waters of death, and they are like sweet incense all over me.” Waving his hands in holy triumph, he repeated the lines:-
“Bright angels are from glory come;
They’re round my bed,
they’re in my room;
They wait to waft my spirit home-
All is well,”
and passed away to that better land, where “the wicked cease from troubling and the weary are at rest.”
The day of his funeral the pilgrim preachers gathered around his remains, and clasping hands above them, vowed fidelity to God.
It is said of this blessed man, that he was one of nature’s noblemen in every way. A large, strong body, a frank and noble face — the radiance of which has smitten sinners with conviction — broad and well-cultivated mind, and a large heart. To know him was to love him; to be with him, was to be rebuked for sin, and to be moved towards Christ. Joyous, buoyant, faithful, untiring in zeal, he wrought amid fierce persecutions which followed him to the grave. His friends were of the choicest, purest, the most devoted. His enemies were the worldly, the carnal, the time-serving, and the untrue. His bitterest enemies fought him while he lived, and eulogized him after he was dead.
The venerable Father Coleman once said to the writer: “I knew him; and such a face as his I never saw before. I think he was the sweetest, faithful man I ever knew.”
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