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CHAPTER 53

Soon after the St. Charles camp meeting, Mr. Redfield made a visit to Western New York. At Pekin, in Niagara County, he found a general quarterly meeting, the first of the kind he had ever attended. Here he met with preachers and laymen from afar, who had gathered to wait upon God for baptisms of power for the Lord’s work. His heart was cheered with their boldness and freedom, and unction. He remembered his hours of sadness and lamentation over the thought that so much of his work had been destroyed, by the opposition to primitive Methodism in the church. But here he looked upon and heard many who had been brought into the light through his labors in various parts of the country. He found that the work had been kept alive in some places, by the organization of bands, made up of those who enjoyed perfect love and were contending earnestly for real Methodism. He told them of his labors in the West, where, and when, and with what results; of the oppositions and the encouragements he had met. He thought he saw that these brethren were sure of one of two things: either they would win the people to Methodism in such numbers that those in power in the church would not dare to molest them; or they would be finally excluded from the church That very fall, but a few months after this, the work of expulsion commenced. Mr. Roberts and Mr. McCreery were expelled from the conference and the church.

Soon after this meeting, Mr. Redfield returned to Illinois, and, August 25, he wrote to Mrs. Kendall as follows:

“My dear Sister Kendall: — I have much to say and little time in which to say it. Salvation is our only theme. The strife against it has begun, but the pilgrims in these parts hold on as yet, and seem resolved to maintain their stand.

B_____ has made himself very busy in opposing it, but has lost caste with many for his trouble. I hear that the people where he was last year refuse to have him returned. I keep scattering the tracts and pamphlets. The more the pilgrims here learn of the pilgrims there, the more they love them. I am accused of ’splitting churches.” I confess that is my object to split them off from the world. But many good people, and some of the preachers here, are very much prejudiced against you. Brother Woodward (formerly of the Genesee Conference) says he cannot believe all is right among the pilgrims when such men as Fillmore, and Church and De Puy, and Bowman, represent them as they do. I learn that De Puy and Bowman 77Mr Bowman, at a national camp meeting held subsequent to this, as the writer was informed by a minister who was present, confessed that his course in the Genesee Conference difficulties was wrong. are to emigrate to this country this year. May the Lord have mercy on us if they do.

“Mattie’s health has been very poor of late, and we think of going to Missouri and Kansas about the 20th of September. I wish you could go with us.

“How goes the great work at West Falls? and how among the pilgrims? I shall look with great interest to the coming session of the Genesee Conference. Don’t fail to inform me of all that occurs. Mattie reads your letters to the pilgrims here, wherever we go, and they set them all on fire for the work.

“That was a remarkable scene you described, when those two preachers thought they saw the sainted Kendall. Oh, how my heart leaps when I think of his fidelity, purity, and zeal! I know he was right. How the breaking of the last seal will let a flood of light upon his adversaries! Then will they confess: “O William, you were right, and we were wrong.” My heart continually asks: Who will take up his burden and testimony, where he laid them down? Blessed man! Redeemed saint! I am sure he now dwells forever above the strife of tongues.

“Remember me to Brother and Sister Roberts, and all the pilgrims.

“J. W. Redfield.”

About this time was held the last quarterly meeting for the Elgin charge, and in the quarterly conference, of which the writer was a member and present at the time, the license of Mr. Redfield as a local preacher was renewed without any opposition. He was also given a written recommendation as a revivalist. Mr. Redfield was not present when this was done.

About the same time he attended a camp meeting at Coral, near Marengo, where he labored with great power. This meeting was under the management of Rev. Hooper Crews, presiding elder of Rockford district. Mr. Crews was an excellent preacher, of sweet spirit, and manifestly very sincere; but, at the same time, little calculated for leadership against tumultuous opposition. He had already expressed his fears as to being able to furnish preachers who would be acceptable to societies where Mr. Redfield had successfully labored. On Sunday morning of this camp meeting, in his sermon, he made this allusion to his experience:

“If I ever experienced entire sanctification, it was when 1 was converted, for I have been happy ever since.”

So strong was the influence of the doctrine and experience of holiness at this camp meeting, that every minister was compelled to recognize it in his sermons and testimonies. Here were the fruits of Mr. Redfield’s labors in the great meetings he had held at the places heretofore described; and any minister not in sympathy with the doctrine of holiness was in a very embarrassing position.

Mr. Redfield preached in the afternoon of Sunday with great power, and multitudes were at the altar seeking. So great was the interest that he held a second altar service about five o’clock, when perhaps one hundred were forward seeking. This meeting was led in his characteristic way. After opening with singing and prayer, he gave a half-hour’s talk on the way of salvation. In this he pointed out clearly and distinctly the successive steps each seeker must take to find salvation. While dwelling upon this, he explained the seeming confusion of many in regard to the experience of entire sanctification being a second work, and then remarked, “That is what ails your presiding elder.”

Brother Crews sat immediately behind him, and was deeply moved by the remark.

When the invitation was given for seekers, there was a rush. They commenced praying aloud, and all at once, and in about fifteen minutes the prayer meeting was ended. Nearly all had entered into the experience. This service was a revelation to a large number of ministers present, as they never had seen anything on that wise before. Immediately after the service the presiding elder took Mr. Redfield aside for a plain, close conversation on the subject of sanctification. That conversation resulted in the presiding elder’s entering into the experience, a few weeks afterward in a prayer meeting in Rockford. But, from not confessing it fully, he soon after lost it. He found and lost it three times during the following year; and finally at a camp meeting held in the northern part of his district the following year, he went to the altar like a little boy, was labored with by the laymen and the sisters of his district, and while looking at one of the promises of God, in an open Bible, held before him by an eccentric minister by the name of Irving, and asked if he believed it, with a scream of joy he sprang to his feet, and seeing his wife at a distance, he ran speedily to her, caught her in his arms, and ran about the camp ground like a deer, shouting, “Hallelujah!” at every bound. From that time Hooper Crews preached, and enjoyed and lived be blessed experience.

Soon after this camp meeting Mr. Redfield began to get ready to go to St. Louis. At the same time he became greatly tempted about going. For several days this lasted, during which Mrs. Redfield advised against going, and finally determined she would not go. But during a season of prayer at the house of a friend, they both obtained the victory, and went forward cheerfully to their work.

On their way to St. Louis they stopped for a few days at St. Charles. While here, an effort was made by his friends to have him hold a few meetings. The official board of the church was called together, and a petition, signed by a large number of the membership, asking that Mr. Redfield be invited to hold revival services, was laid before it. The preacher was a new man, and for some reason was unwilling to work with Mr. Redfield. When the vote was taken on granting the petition, nine were in favor of it, and five opposed. But such was the opposition of the five that the majority offered to leave the matter to the pastor, and he decided against it.

While waiting here, he wrote the following letter:

“St. Charles, Ill., October 7, 1858.

“Dear Sister Kendall: — We cannot tell you in words how highly we prize your very welcome letters, giving the details of the events taking place in Western N. Y. We are with you heart and soul, and the evidence you give us of your resolve to keep the narrow, steep, thorny, and disgraced way, fires us with new resolves to urge, press, and fight for the same. Mattie reads and rereads your letters to the weeping pilgrims who sympathize with the pilgrims of the East, and who vow anew to go on in the narrowest of the narrow way. How it moved our hearts when she read of that camp meeting, where your husband’s brother accepted his mantle and his cross. How the scenes of the past, when that sainted man, the personification of fidelity, walked forth to lead the battle on, regardless of foes, or the odds against him. One motive, one thought, alone consumed him, and that was to battle for the right. When I think of him, my heart vows anew to go the same despised way. How like vapor appear the opinions of all men! What a death was his! Shall I die like him? Will Jesus say to me “Well done?’ Oh, this salvation that saves is the only thing that will bear the test at last!

“Mattie has written to you of the camp meeting. Oh, how soul cheering it was to see the multitudes who were saved last winter still battling manfully for God!

“We expect by week after next to be on our way to St. Louis, where if the Lord permits, we mean to press the gospel which divides households, and splits dead churches off from the world. We need the baptism of fire for our work, and expect it, too. Bless the Lord!

“The fire is spreading in this region rapidly, but the fight will yet come, and the pilgrims here, who read with avidity the history and doings of the pilgrims there, and who deeply sympathize with you, will have need that others sympathize with them. Many pretty good Christians who have not been through the hottest furnaces must remain too gross to appreciate that blessed freedom and faith which dare to let God’s Spirit impel them to act out heaven’s simplicity. We will bear with them, but let no one beguile us of the precious freedom to act out, as well as shout out, glory. I know it shocks their sense of propriety. But, thank God, I feel that heaven’s propriety is full as rational as ours. Could men see that the unknown glory which cannot find outlet in words must have other avenues of egress to reach the gross heart of the dumb world; could they but realize that heaven’s blessedness is designed for man’s every pleasurable emotion, and that the manifestations of these emotions are the only means by which it can be understood, they would see the profoundest philosophy in tears, smiles, shouting, screams, and jumping.

“My dear sister, Jesus has made you free. You may be a gazing stock to men, but remember you are also to the innumerable company. Your name may be cast out as evil, but they cannot reach high enough to tarnish it on the pillars of heaven. Of course you will be called foolish, crazy, nervous; but I am persuaded that you long ago passed those chained lions. Some people will not believe, some will feel a pious concern for the cause of religion; but if God desires to make you one end of salvation’s telegraph line, to make known what is going on in the London of Paradise, let him have his way. From the depths of my soul I say go on in the name of the Lord.

J. W. Redfield.”

October 31, he wrote again as follows:

“St. Charles, Ill.

“My dear Sister Kendall: — We have been watching the mails daily hoping to hear from you again. We last night received information of the doings of the Genesee Conference — at least enough — for us to see what disposition was made of Brothers Roberts and McCreery. I must confess I did not expect all that. I knew well enough what some of the preachers desired, but I thought they feared the people too much to go to such an extreme. It looks now as though Brother Kendall had been taken from the evil that was to come. I have been sorely tempted and tried over such conduct in the conference preachers.

“We had a little gathering at the house where we are now stopping, and Mattie read to us your letter describing the Bergen camp meeting, and we all had a weeping and rejoicing time, and renewed our vows to keep the narrow way.

“The people here have been negotiating for us to stay and hold another meeting before we go south, but I have no hope that it will be permitted. There are four fighters in this church of one hundred and sixty members, and I will not make another attempt, unless they will stop the “fiddle”, and pledge themselves to go the straight religion necessary to meet the judgment. Some are discouraged, and say “Let us start a salvation church.” But that will not work, for all opposers will then feel themselves at liberty to manufacture what testimony they please to put us down.

“What will the people do in your region about the expulsion of Brothers Roberts and McCreery. I expect under the excitement of the hour some strong resolutions will be passed, and many sharp things will be said; but will the pilgrims move forward in the good work, in a proper spirit? or will they be frightened at the usage of these two men? Like your sainted husband, I sing,

“I belong to this band, Hallelujah!”

“I only wish I was worthy to suffer with them.

“The friends of the Eastern pilgrims are increasing here in the West. We must make the most of our opportunities now to spread Methodism over the vast fields about us.

“If the church here does not take the stand for the straight way, we shall leave soon for our southern tour. We expected to have been off before this time, but Mattie’s health and some unfinished business have hitherto prevented. But we hope by the 10th or 15th of next month, at most, to be on our way.

“I suppose there are many items of interest in the proceedings of the Genesee Conference, that we shall not receive unless you or some one shall give them to us. I did not get a copy of the charges against them, but I suppose they refer to the quarterly and camp meetings. But God still lives; salvation is free; and heaven is our home. The great reckoning day will set all things right.

“May God still keep you.

“J. W. AND MATTIE


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