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No way is so long but that it has an end, and no night is so dark but that the dawn of day at last dispels the darkness. Even so the end of some of Mr. Redfield’s sorrowful experiences was drawing near, and better days were soon to dawn upon his pathway, as the sequel, related in his own words, will show. Continuing the narrative, he says:
“When I was able to ride, I returned to the place of my late residence. My long absence had induced the people to believe that I had run away, and the man with whom I boarded had taken all my possessions, with an absconded debtor’s writ. When he learned the cause of my prolonged absence, however, he returned me all my property without cost. Next I was waited upon by a committee from the church to know how my moral character stood. I learned that I had been accused of keeping a bad woman in town under pretense that she was my wife; that I had never been married to her; and that I knew her to be corrupt. But I was able to convince the committee that I was indeed unfortunate but not criminal; that I was indeed married. I was at once restored to the confidence of the church.
“A lawyer learning the circumstances of my misfortune, came to me and offered to procure me a divorce free of expense. But my lacerated, timid spirit could not consent to go through all the details of litigation.
“Now that I was free from this great trouble, my former impressions of duty came upon me with redoubled force, and I longed for an abode away from the busy world of mankind, and resolved to find me a home like a hermit in the wilderness, where I might serve God, commune with nature, and at last lay my bones to rest in some lonely place unseen and unknown by man. I did go into rooms by myself, and but for neglected duty, which it seemed to me must now be forever abandoned, I should have been comparatively happy; but it seemed to me that my afflictions must prove an obstacle in my way. I thought, everybody will find out that I have had family trouble and will feel at liberty to make out of it what capital they please; and how can I preach when I am thus marked with suspicion? I could have set all things right in the eyes of the honest and well-meaning, but I could not bear to go over the facts of my sufferings for that purpose. No! I must forever abandon the idea of preaching. Yet, I must meet God at last and answer for the neglect of duty. Night and day, for a number of years, I silently brooded over my sad state, and tried all means in my power to banish the scorpion stings of a guilty conscience. “You knew your duty but did it not,” constantly rang in my ears. A large portion of my time I spent in the grove near by weeping before God.
“I would sometimes go to the church on Sunday, but the sight of a gospel minister would make me writhe with agony, and compel me to leave. I would then resort to the woods and there weep and pray for deliverance. Yet I kept this all buried in my heart. If I saw a minister in the street my eyes would follow him as long as I could see him, and, choked with emotion, I would sigh over my own unhappy state.
“I began to be impressed at one time that I should never see my father and mother again in the flesh. So strongly did this come that I shrank from going to the post office for fear of finding the sad tidings that they had passed away. On going and finding no letters at all, it would be with a sense of relief. I prayed that I might be permitted to see them again. An answer seemed to come, “You shall.” The fall came and I went to the city of New York to spend the winter. I procured my winter quarters and began a course of study in the fine arts. I now felt a strong impression to go immediately to my father’s home. I had felt perfectly at ease as to the health of my parents from the witness I received that I should see them again. I promised myself that I would take the steamboat the last of the week, and go home. It was about two hundred and fifty miles. But I was so urged by my impression to go that I decided to start a day earlier than I first intended. Still that did not seem to be satisfactory, and finally I resolved to take the first boat. I did so and arrived home just one day before my mother died. Her last rational word was, in effect, “I could die in peace if my son would do his duty.” She was then dying of apoplexy. I watched my opportunity to go to her dying bed when we could be alone, and tried to arouse her, but I got no response. I took hold of her, and said, “Mother, do speak to me once more.” I wanted to tell her I would obey the call of God to preach the gospel; but she was too far gone to understand me. Ten days later my dear father fell sick and passed away.
“I followed them to the tomb, but oh! how my heart did sink on leaving them in their last resting place. Memory with a thousand tongues spoke of the anguish I had caused that sainted mother. I had so often heard her prayers as she pleaded with God to spare her boy and fit him for the mission that was awaiting him. I found myself at home after father’s funeral, by the desolate hearthstone, but so sad at my loss that I have never been able to call to mind any of the circumstances.
“I went almost immediately to visit one of my sisters who lately had lost her husband. She was glad to see me, but began at once to urge me to promise that I would go and preach the gospel. She said: “You know, brother John, that mother has gone to her grave brokenhearted over your neglect to obey God. And now this is the last time that I shall ever see you on earth, and I want you to promise meet you will do your duty, and let me carry that promise to mother.”
“But,” said I, “I shall visit you again next week.”
“No,” she said, ‘this is the last time we shall meet on earth, so you must promise.”
“Her appeals in mother’s name broke me down, and to get rid of her importunity, I made a promise which she construed to mean all that she desired, and then she said: “Come, brother, let us get down and ratify it before God.” Of course I knelt, and she poured out her soul for me in tones and words that stung me to the quick. We arose, and I left her house expecting to visit her again the next week; but on going to the post office I found a letter calling me to go immediately six hundred miles away as an important witness in court. I obeyed the summons, and my sister’s words proved true. I never saw her again. I learned in about a month from the time I saw her last, that she, too had passed away to the spirit land.
“I was very sad because of these repeated desolations in the loss of my dearest earthly friends, but conscience bade me be still and know that God was dealing with me in mercy in permitting me to live, and that in view of the possibility that I might yet do my duty.”
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