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Information now came to Mr. Redfield that Mr. Roberts, who had been expelled from the Genesee Conference, was laboring under the auspices of a Laymen’s Convention held in Albion, N. Y., during the first part of the winter. This convention after remonstrating against the course of the conference, in expelling Mr. Roberts and Mr. McCreery, passed a resolution, asking Mr. Roberts to go through the country and discuss the action of the conference, guaranteeing him his support while so engaged. When Mr. Roberts was called in, and the resolution read to him, he declined the request, but offered to spend his time for a year in evangelistic work if they desired it. The resolution was then reconsidered and changed to harmonize with that proposition. Mr. Roberts and Mr. McCreery had appealed to the General Conference which would be held in May, 1860, and both had united with the church again, on probation, according to Discipline. They did this that they might legally labor in spreading the gospel, while their appeals were pending. As Mr. Roberts’ relation to the Methodist Episcopal Church, at this time was similar to that of their own, the new Society in St. Louis now sent for him to come and take Mr. Redfield’s place for a season. This would leave Mr. Redfield free to go to Quincy, Illinois, where a field had awaited him for some time.
Mr. Roberts went, helped to perfect the organization, and to make a rule against slavery that could not be evaded. One of the members, Joseph Wickersham, who for conscience’ sake, when seeking perfect love, a few years before, had set at liberty $30,000 worth of slaves, was one of the most eager for such a rule. Thus on slave territory, these men and women who had gone into this new society, dared squarely to meet the question of slavery, when the Methodist Episcopal Church, as a body, through its conferences, annual and general, were cringing and dodging in regard to it. This circumstance shows that the difficulty was not with the laity, but with the ministry; and that all their pleas of toleration for slavery were baseless. Many of these persons were practical business men, and who knew the power of prejudice, and social ostracism, yet fearlessly they adopted this rule on slavery in a slaveholding city. Their action shows a conscientious boldness that will honor their names in time and in eternity.
The Laymen’s Convention under whose auspices Mr. Roberts was now laboring, had passed a resolution, based upon Dr. Abel Stevens’ declaration of the reserved power of the laity to correct the mal-administration of the ministry, viz.: the right to withhold supplies. This resolution read as follows:
“Resolved, That we will not aid in the support of any member of the Genesee Conference who assisted, either by his vote, or his influence, in the expulsion of Brothers Roberts and McCreery from the conference and the church, until they are reinstated to their former position; and that we do recommend all those who believe that these brethren have been unjustly expelled from the conference and the church, to take the same course.”
The resolution to employ Mr. Roberts and Mr. McCreery reads:
“Resolved, That we recommend Rev. B. T. Roberts and Rev. J. McCreery to travel at large, and to labor, as opportunity presents, for the promoting of the work of God and the salvation of souls.”
The salary of each was fixed, and a committee of fifteen was appointed to collect the same.
The policy was soon adopted by their enemies, of reading out of the church as withdrawn, all who acted upon these resolutions. In some places the numbers so cut off were so large that temporary organizations had to be effected to provide places of worship and to appoint officers to take the oversight of the work. This made work for the two men, and Mr. Roberts’ visit to St. Louis was for the same object.
The convention had also adopted the following resolution, that expressed its attitude toward the church:
“Resolved, That the farcical cry of disunion and secession is the artful production of designing men to frighten the feeble and timid into their plans of operation and proscription. We wish it distinctly understood that we have not, and never had, the slightest intention of leaving the church of our choice, and that we heartily approve of the course of Brothers Roberts and McCreery in rejoining the church at their first opportunity; and we hope that the oppressive and unMethodistic administration indicated in the pastoral address (adopted by the Genesee Conference) as the current policy of the majority of the conference, will not drive any of our brethren from the church. Methodists have a better right in the Methodist Episcopal Church than anybody else, and by God’s grace, in it we intend to remain.”
Mr. Redfield says of the state of affairs at this time in St. Louis: “We now expected our conference to set our matters right, and then to take us into conference; but if that failed, we had one hope left, and that was that the General Conference, to sit in about one year, would begin a system of correction which would eventually reach us. If that failed, we would be compelled to set up permanently for ourselves.”
This expresses the state of things in February, 1859. But little did these laymen or ministers know what awaited them in the future. There was a deceptive quiet, politically throughout the nation, that proved to be the precursor of a terrible storm of civil war. The slumbering feelings that found expression in that war, awed, and almost frightened, men from their steadfastness for the truth. Men, otherwise staunch and firm, proved unfaithful and untrue.
The society in St. Louis soon felt it necessary for the protection of Mr. Redfield to publish the following resolutions, which were adopted, and ordered to be published without his knowledge:
“Resolved, 1. That we deem it due to our worthy brother, Rev. Dr. Redfield, to state that amid all the difficulties, as well as the causes, which have resulted in the division of the Methodist Episcopal Church, at Ebenezer, in this city, he has stood aloof, neither advising nor counseling us as to what course to pursue in relation to said division; but like a man of God, full of love for the salvation of souls and the prosperity of our common Zion, he wept over the apparent calamities brought upon us by the unwise conduct of those assuming to have authority over us.
“Resolved, 2. That as our brother is about to leave us, we commend him to all the churches in our beloved land, and pray that the great Head of the church may shield and protect him and his devoted wife, from the persecutions of their enemies, as well as the slanders the ungodly may send after them.
“Resolved, 3. That the Central Christian, the Northwestern, and the Western Advocates, and the Christian Advocate and Journal, and those journals favorable to the cause of religion, be requested to publish these resolutions.
“St. Louis, February 28, 1859.”
These resolutions were signed by ninety-four members of the society, and taken to the Central Christian Advocate for publication. But the editor, Rev. Joseph Brooks, said, “Don’t ask us to publish that, but drop all matters, and be still, and we will be still. You publish nothing, and we will publish nothing.”
Dr. Williams came to Mr. Redfield, and asked him to use his influence to prevent the publication of it, and promised that they would publish nothing. Mr. Redfield promised to do so, but in a few days the following was published in the Central Christian Advocate:
“Early in the past winter, a Mr. J. W. Redfield, a local preacher, claiming to be directly from Northern Illinois or Michigan, and more remotely from New York or New England, came to this city. Being properly endorsed by the authority of the church, he was invited to aid in a series of religious services in Ebenezer church. During the time, he succeeded (as I am informed) in sowing dissensions among the members, and at length publicly proposed to take a vote of the congregation, as to whether he should occupy the pulpit. He was kindly invited to desist from further occupancy of the pulpit. This he did; and under a promise of uniting with one of the other city charges, or of going to Illinois, he asked and obtained from the pastor of Ebenezer a certificate of his membership and official standing, giving assurance, at the same time, that he would in no case have anything to do with separate services. In forty-eight hours, I am informed, he was publicly preaching to a company of the members of Ebenezer church, whom he had headed and led off, organizing and establishing separate services in another place, while the protracted services were still in progress in Ebenezer church.
“Three several times has he been officially required to deposit his certificate in some one of the city charges, that he might be held to answer grave charges which are pending against him (and are now in my possession), involving his ecclesiastical and Christian character. He has constantly refused to comply with this requisition, treating the demand with contempt. Various statements have been made by himself and friends as to where he has deposited his certificate of membership. At one time it is said to have been sent to Illinois; at another to be deposited with some church of another denomination. Thus the case stands.
“With many years experience in the church, I have never before known a case involving so much evasion, unmitigated duplicity, and contempt of the authority, order, and Discipline of the church.
“This note is to request that any minister or member of the M. E. Church having knowledge of where he holds his membership, and is ecclesiastically amenable, will give me information at once.
“SAMUEL HUFFMAN, P. E.,
“St. Louis District, Missouri Conference.”
This was copied in many, if not in all, the church papers. And, strange to say, the minister who had given the church letter which Mr. Redfield presented, and which was publicly read in the Ebenezer church, knew of this published request, and yet never came to his relief with a statement of the facts.
A few days after the publication of that paper, a committee appointed by the new church prepared a reply and took it to the Central Advocate, but the editor refused to publish it. It was then taken to the St. Louis Christian Advocate, the organ of the Methodist Episcopal Church South, where it was published in the following form:
“OUR NORTHERN BRETHREN.
“For several weeks past, as we have been informed, our Northern brethren in this city have not been in the most pleasant state of feeling among themselves. Some difficulty occurred in the Ebenezer church — their principal church in the city — which soon resulted in the withdrawal, in form or in fact, of one-half, or more than one-half, of the entire membership. These ’seceders’ (we use that word in no offensive sense) organized themselves elsewhere, and have kept up separate services, which are reported to have been interesting and profitable; but the gap between them and ‘the old church’ (Ebenezer) seems, from what we hear, to be constantly widening. Below, we give place to a communication and explanations, which communication was intended for another paper, but not allowed a place in its columns. We publish it at the earnest solicitation of several persons who are personally friendly to us, and subscribers to our paper, although they never have belonged to the Southern church, and perhaps never will. It seems but just that they should have some medium through which to reply to what they consider unfair and unjust accusations.
“It is not our purpose to meddle with their difficulties, and all we now state is upon information received from others. We have not from the first been any nearer ‘the seat of war’ than our own legitimate business has called us, but, if reports may be relied on, some strange things have occurred among them. — ED. Advocate.
“Editor St. Louis C. Advocate:
“Dear Sir -The following was sent to the editor of the Central Advocate, with a request that it should be inserted, as a simple act of justice to Dr. Redfield, whom we believe to be an injured man. For reasons of his own, the editor of the Central refused to give it a place in his columns. We have, therefore, respectfully to ask that you will do us the favor to give it a place in your paper, as, at present, we have no other available means of reaching that portion of the public whom we most desire should see this, our honest statement of facts.
“The paper was signed by five of those whose names are now appended, as a committee appointed for that purpose. When the editor of the Central refused to insert it, it was then reported back to the church by whom the committee had been appointed, and the following resolution was adopted unanimously:
“Resolved, That as the following has been rejected by the Central Advocate, it be forwarded to the editor of the St. Louis Christian Advocate, with a request that it be published in that paper, and that it, also, be signed by those holding official position in Ebenezer church, when the separation took place.
“For the Central Christian Advocate. “
“Mr. Editor: — An article bearing the above title, signed Samuel Huffman, P. E., published in your issue of the 16th, contains so many false statements of an injurious character, that we beg permission to correct the most important.
“Mr. Huffman charges the Rev. J. W. Redfield with being unwilling, when he came to this city, to tell definitely where he was from, “claiming,” he says, “to be directly from Northern Illinois, or Michigan.”
“The tendency of this is, to excite suspicion that there must be something wrong about him, or he would be able and willing to state “whence he came.”
“This charge is utterly false. Dr. Redfield brought official letters from the church, which were read publicly in Ebenezer church, stating that he was “directly” from Elgin, Illinois.
“Mr. Huffman next charges, on “information,” Dr. Redfield, with ’sowing dissensions among the members’ of Ebenezer church. That Dr. Redfield preached the gospel with great plainness and power, we readily admit; and many “came out from the world” and gave themselves anew to Christ. But for other influences than those excited by Dr. Redfield, we believe no “dissensions” among the members would have taken place.
“Mr. Huffman charges Dr. Redfield with “publicly proposing to take a vote of the congregation, as to whether he should occupy the pulpit.” Dr. Redfield never proposed any such thing. He had been invited by official members, the pastor concurring, to occupy the pulpit, and hold a series of meetings for three weeks. During the first sermon he preached after this invitation was given, Dr. Redfield proposed to take an expression of the congregation, as to whether they would like to have this searching class of truth presented. The pastor interrupted, and the next night forbade him the further occupancy of the pulpit.
“Again, Mr. Huffman charges him with obtaining, under false pretenses, from the pastor of Ebenezer “a certificate of his membership and official standing.”
“We should like to know what right any “pastor’ has to exact a promise before he will give a certificate of membership?
“The certificate relates to present standing, and not to future conduct. But, as we understand it, the doctor made no “promise.” He did not buy a “certificate.” He simply expressed his intention. That intention, expressed honestly at the time, he had a perfect right to change.
“Mr. Huffman charges Dr. Redfield with “heading and leading off a company of the members of Ebenezer church.” This, also, is utterly untrue. Dr. Redfield never encouraged or advised, so far as we could learn, any one to leave Ebenezer church.
“Those who left, did so of their own accord, and, as they believe, for sufficient reasons.
“With organizing and establishing separate services,” he had nothing to do. He even refused to attend their first meetings.
“At the request of those who organized themselves into a separate society, he has preached for them, and, we trust, will continue to do so as his health will permit.
“The Rev. Mr. Huffman, P. B., expresses great anxiety to have the Rev. Dr. Redfield placed in his power. He exhibits an eagerness, totally unbecoming a minister of the gospel, to see his anticipated victim writhing under the tortures of the modern inquisition.
“We trust that he may find himself disappointed.
“For the withdrawal from Ebenezer of the large numbers of members that have left, we do not consider that Dr. Redfield is in the least responsible. We have our own views as to where the blame rests, but, at present, accuse no one.
“There is room enough in this large and wicked city for both the old and new organizations to live and labor for the salvation of souls. Crimination and recriminations can do no good. Let us employ our strength in peace and harmony, in building up the Redeemer’s kingdom.
“From our intercourse with Dr. Redfield, we are satisfied that he is a holy man, devoted entirely to the service of Christ. He preaches with apostolic zeal, eloquence and power, and we most cordially commend him to the confidence and sympathy of the Christian public, wherever he may bestow his evangelical labors.
“H. Wickersham, Leader,
“L. H. Cordry, L. P.,
“Henry Stephens, L. P.,
“Liberty Waite, Steward,
“A. W. Harrison.
“Ad. C. Caughlan, Steward,
“Johnson Brooks, Leader,
“Richard Thornton, L. D.,
“and one hundred members.”
Before Mr. Redfield started for Quincy, a friend handed him a copy of the paper with the article his energies had published. This induced him to leave his wife, for the present, in St. Louis, as he did not know the reception he might receive in that place. With a heavy heart he started on his journey. The tempter beset him with questioning as to his course. He soliloquized thus: “What am I about? If I am right, why don’t God stop this great wrong? Well, I don’t know; I cannot see! I am an offense. I cannot help it. I am like a poor hunted animal, lodging the blows of it enemies. But still I’ll try to work for God as well as I can.”
The next morning, after leaving St. Louis, he arrived at Quincy, and found the paper with that special request had preceded him. He was immediately waited upon, and asked if he would deposit his letter, and come to trial. He replied, “I am not willing to let my case be acted upon by such as know of the fraudulent letter, and connived at it. I can show you papers which will attest the truth of the whole matter. Now you can do as you please, but I do not feel it my duty to suffer all I have for these men, and then to begin a series of meetings here after having been tried for a crime which they have committed.”
But the president of the Methodist college, and the agent of the same, said, “We will go to St. Louis and find out all the facts.”
They returned in a few days, and said to Mr. Redfield, “We saw only the men who are pursuing you, and we knew from their own mouths that the whole matter of the disturbance is with, and caused by, them. So you have our confidence, and can go to work.”
While Mr. Redfield was waiting for their return, the lady with whom he boarded related to him the following experience:
“Brother, I have lived here seventeen years. I have felt it to he my duty to work for God. I have seen one church, among the Germans, built up, and become a Bethel for souls. And we have two American Methodist churches. About five years ago, I got to feeling so bad over the low state of religion, that one night, after meeting, I took a by street to go home, so I could cry aloud, and ask God what was to be done. That night he showed you to me in a dream, and told me you would come and preach the gospel in its power. And as soon as I saw you I knew you, and remembered my dream.”
Mr. Redfield remarks in connection with this account, “All this was very consoling to my wounded heart. But for these occasional instances of revelation to God’s people, I think I should have given up the struggle.”
He now went to work, and God came in glorious power in the salvation of souls. A Baptist clergyman, an honest, earnest seeker after what he called “the higher life,” soon entered into the experience. One day, when Mr. Redfield was out visiting, he was sent for by a sister of the church, who was in great distress of mind. Several were with her, and were engaged in prayer, when he arrived. She would walk the floor, throw herself flat upon it, wring her hands, and cry, and whenever the praying would cease, she would scream out, “Oh, do, do pray every moment, for I cannot live.” The friends prayed until they were exhausted. Mr. Redfield had been quietly watching her in the meanwhile, and at last said,
“Sister, hold on a moment.”
But she cried out, “Why don’t you pray?”
He said to her, “You are not ready for prayer. Now, do you say, if the Lord will bless you, any way?”
“Oh;” said she, “that is the difficulty. I am not willing to be singular.”
“Well, if God will save you, do you say, any way, Lord?”
Soon she broke out, with, “Any way, Lord.”
He said, “Say it louder”; and she repeated it at the top of her voice. In a few minutes she was so filled with joy that her shouts of praise aroused the people of the entire block.
In the following letter, written at this time, Mr. Redfield opens his heart and mind to our gaze:
“Quincy, Ill., March 30, 1859.
“Dear Brother and Sister Foot —Your letter came to hand this afternoon, re-mailed from St. Louis.
“I have been here two weeks next Saturday. Mattie will come up tomorrow or next day. I send you a paper, the St. Louis Christian Advocate, a Southern paper, which will set that matter of the Central Advocate right. I have likewise papers, signed by about one hundred persons, stating the facts concerning the church difficulties. The depths of corruption which have come to light by the acts of the few men who have tried to father on to me the fruits of their own wrong, will put them in a very unenviable light at the next conference. The city of St. Louis, churches and outsiders, seeing the wrong and the persecutions of these men, have offered and are now preparing to build a church at a cost of about $20,000 -- lot and all. A brother was up here yesterday to negotiate for the brick.
“They are still having salvation power in the new church. Mattie reports, that Sunday before last, six were converted in a single class meeting, and a number sanctified. They have now six classes, and a Sunday School of more than two hundred, and very flourishing. More or less are joining, at almost every meeting. They say salvation was never in the city before in power like this.
“The first week after the publishing of that article in the Central more than fifty of the subscribers stopped taking it. The city carriers have refused to take it, as, they say, so many refuse to take it longer. That shows what the people in St. Louis think. Two of the first ministers of this conference (the Illinois) have been down to St. Louis, and took the reports from the men who published that article, and they say those men are condemned out of their own mouths; and assure me that I have their confidence and sympathy, and shall have their support. So I feel that I have nothing more to do with the matter. I shall keep on serving God and doing all the good I can amid this persecution. It is hard enough to be without home, and away from friends, and to meet the powers of darkness, of the world, and infidels; but if my track lies amid perils by sea and by land, and false brethren, yet God will not excuse me.
“The way may be rough,
But it will not be long.
“We are having conflicts here, but glorious victories also.
“A goodly number have entered into the rest of perfect love. Two Baptist preachers have attended some of the meetings and are earnestly seeking holiness. They came to my boarding house to talk with me and pray over the matter today. They said they would pay the cost. One said, “By faith I can see men as trees walking, and I never knew anything like this before.” The other says he will not yield until he knows the fullness for himself; and then he will preach it if he is turned away from Quincy. Bless the Lord! The work is spreading all over the place, and into nearly all the churches. Hallelujah to the Branch!
“The dear, good sister where I stay, is a pilgrim indeed, She has stood nearly alone for fourteen years, weeping and praying over this wicked city. Five years ago, she says, God showed her the man whom he would send here to work; and she says, “When I first saw you, I remembered the dream in which I saw you.” Oh, how this did comfort me amid my fight “with the beasts of Ephesus.” Right, or not, such things do encourage me.
“The people in St. Louis insisted upon it, that we must not leave them this summer. They think, if the work keeps moving as it now does, they will have at least three churches of a salvation stamp, in two or three years. Next Sabbath they are to have their first general quarterly meeting, after the manner of such meetings in Western New York. One of the preachers from the East is with them now, and they expect another to take his place soon.
“The society goes in strong for Northern Methodism, and organized on the Discipline of 1842. It is said that one of the bishops has said, the society will be recognized, although those men who have fought us say they will leave the conference it that is done. But we shall see.
“I was never more sure that God sent us to that city of sin. It did seem that it would crush me for awhile, and I was laid up sick for two weeks with the burden and trouble. “But having obtained help of God, I continue to his day,” preaching the same gospel, and having the same Jesus to help me. My dear Mattie has stood by me like an angel of mercy; and when I felt like fainting, she seemed to possess the courage of a hero, and insisted upon it that we should not quit the field, but have victory or die in our tracks. God has given the victory. If Mattie’s health permits we shall visit St. Charles this season, the Lord permitting. Then we can give you all the interesting details, which are too tedious to write.
“The people here are urgent that we shall make this place our home this summer, but I don’t know. We have two more new places open, as soon as we get through here, where the ministers knew me East, and know all about the St. Louis troubles. They are very urgent that we carry the same word of salvation into their places.
“Oh, how I want to see you all at St. Charles. Please give my love to all; tell them to pray for us. If ever we needed prayers it is now. We are kicked on one side, and patted on the other. We need humility to bear the one, and courage to meet the other, — especially when we get into the unfortunate fix of the poor fellow who went down from Jerusalem to Jericho. We have had the worst squall that we ever got into. But thank the Lord, salvation has got into St. Louis, and I think it will take years for the devil to get out; and in that time a goodly host will pass safely over,
“Love to all.
“J. W. Redfield
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