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Mr. Redfield now went back to the city of Syracuse to see if he could find an opportunity to labor there. He went to the house of Brother Hicks, and sent for the preacher in charge. When he arrived, Mr. Redfield immediately stated his reasons for sending for him.
He said: “For the first time in my experience, I ask for an opportunity to come here and hold a revival meeting. I am a Methodist; and I have had a wonderful experience with regard to this matter; and I am sure God has designs of great mercy for this city; and from my feelings, I think he designs that I shall be identified with it. Now, I desire to know if you will allow me to hold a meeting in your church?”
“Oh,” said he, “if God designs you to hold a meeting in this place he will open the way for you.”
“But will you allow me to hold a meeting in your church?”
“It will cost too much for expenses.”
“I have anticipated that objection, and I have brought money enough with me to pay expenses for a few months; and I will labor free of charge if you will allow me to come into your church and hold a meeting.”
“Well, you cannot be allowed to come into my church.”
“Then, brother, you will not feel afflicted if a way should open in some other denomination for me to labor here.”
“Of course not,” he replied, with an expression on his face that indicated his doubts of that ever coming to pass.
The next mail brought to Mr. Redfield a request to come to Palmyra, the home of his friend, Fay H. Purdy, to hold a meeting. In response to this, he took the cars for that place. As he drew near, his old sign of coming victory made its appearance again. He had no knowledge of the place, not even its exact location. When he arrived at the station where he was to leave the cars, he found himself about nine miles away, and that the public conveyance was a stage. While waiting, a gentleman approached him with the question: “Will a ride in a private conveyance, at the same price, be agreeable?”
“Yes, sir; and much preferable,” Mr. Redfield replied.
As soon as he was seated, and on the way, the following conversation took place:
“Do you live in Palmyra?” asked Mr. Redfield.
“Do you know a man by the name of Purdy?”
“What of him? I hear a great many things about him. What is he?”
“Oh, the man is in bad repute among the people where “he is best known.”
“He is a Methodist, and labors in revival meetings I believe?” remarked Mr. Redfield.
“Yes; but the people here have no confidence in him.”
“He is, probably, a man who swears?” said Mr. Redfield, inquiringly.
“Oh, no; I don’t think anybody would accuse him of that,”
“Well, he probably lies?” Mr. Redfield continued.
“Oh, no; not that either.”
“Well, he must be a great cheat, — a dishonest man said Mr. Redfield, in the same inquiring tone.
“Well, what is it?” he then asked.
“I will tell you,” said the man. “I am a Methodist, but it is the world’s people who find fault with him.”
“Well, what is it they have against him?”
“The world says, “If he is so zealous for religion, why doesn’t he stay at home where his work is needed?”
“You have a new preacher since conference, I believe?”
“Well, how do you like him?”
Oh, not at all.”
“What is the matter with him?”
“Why, he is too old, and he does not keep himself tidy. He is no honor to Methodism.”
Said Mr. Redfield, sternly, “I know what the trouble is with you; you are all backslidden from God. I am going to the house of Brother Purdy.”
When he arrived and had a proper opportunity, he asked Brother Purdy, “What is the matter with your new preacher?”
“Well, I will tell you. He is a good man, but our church is backslidden and formal, and they think he is not up with the times. We have not had a revival in sixteen years. In spirituality the Congregationalists have far outstripped us. They have revivals, but we do not. Our church has been mortgaged, and the mortgage foreclosed, and it is to be sold in a short time. Spiritual worship “has been turned out of doors, and an organ has been put into the gallery to make up the deficiency, and to pander to the tastes of the world. The preacher was not received, and the elder has been denounced as a “pope,” because he will not remove him. The dandy preacher who was here before him, wore his gold spectacles, and carried a gold-headed cane, and acted the fop, and now the contrast is too great for them to abide. They have not paid the new preacher a cent, and say they will not. So I have given him a shelter, and am supplying his wants.”
Mr. Redfield now understood the state of affairs, and looked to God for direction and help.
He was now taken to the house that was to be his home during his stay. He had scarcely got to the room assigned him, when a Brother B_____ was brought in and introduced to him. Mr. Redfield found him to be a good man, who lived some seven miles away, and had come to spend the Sabbath in the meetings.
The next morning Mr. Redfield arose early, and went down the stairs. Soon he heard Brother B_____ groaning loudly in the room adjoining, and a glance through the window revealed a large number of people standing on the walk who had been attracted by the noise. Mr. Redfield asked the family, “What does this all mean?”
“Oh,” said one, “it is Brother B_____ at his devotions.”
“What kind of a man and Christian is he?”
“Oh, he is one of the very best of men. Everybody knows Brother B_____ to be an excellent Christian.”
The preacher in charge was to preach that morning, and Mr. Redfield did not go to the church until time for the sermon. As he entered the church he heard quite a commotion in the basement; and on reaching the pulpit, the old minister said: “We have been having awful times down stairs this morning!”
“What is the matter?” asked Mr. Redfield.
“Oh, Brother B_____ fell to the floor, and made so much fuss that he scared the people till they ran out of the house. My wife is very angry about it. Hark! hear Brother B_____”
And there came up from the basement a cry of anguish, and the words: “O God! I shall die if this church is not saved!”
Said the preacher: “I think I had better go and lock him in a class-room.”
“Brother,” said Mr. Redfield, “let him alone. The Spirit that would interfere with him, would drag Christ from the Garden of Gethsemane.”
“But I am afraid he will come upstairs!”
“Well, let him come.”
“But he makes such an awful noise!”
“Well, you need an awful noise. If you get salvation enough, you’ll get where you will be able to hear a hallelujah without fainting away.”
“There he comes” said the preacher.
“Well, let him come.”
And sure enough he did come, and crying out in great agony as he came. As he reached the altar he fell to the floor, and Mr. Purdy cried out, “Amen!” at the top of his voice. One of the old members who sat near by asked in an angry voice, “What did you say amen for?”
“Because I’m glad to see God get one more chance to breathe in this church.”
“Well,” said the preacher, “I will go and put him into a pew.”
He did so, but soon Brother B_____ rolled off onto the floor, and made more noise than ever.
The old minister tried to preach, but the struggles and cries of Brother B_____ made it almost impossible for him to do so. When the sermon was ended, Mr. Redfield took occasion to endorse Brother B_____; and seeing the preacher was in great distress of mind over it, he thought it best to go home with him. When they arrived at the house they found one of the lady members almost in hysterics over the matter. The preacher tried to soothe her, but Mr. Redfield said to him, “Don’t smooth over the matter; she is fighting against God.” After a little she began to confess that she was not right. The preacher now declared his intention to send Brother B_____ home the next day.
“Well, said Mr. Redfield, “then I’ll go, too.”
“Oh, you must not go. We must have a revival or lose our church.”
“I don’t care about your church. It would be no calamity to lose it,” replied Mr. Redfield. “They have managed to keep God out for sixteen years, and it is now ruled by the spirit of the world. The members are on the road to hell, and will get there if they don’t repent.”
“But they will not pay me a cent of my claim, and want to drive me off; and I am dependent on Brother Purdy for shelter and for the necessaries of life; and the church is to be sold in a few weeks.”
“Let it go; it’s a curse in its present condition.”
“Well, don’t leave us, and I’ll let him stay.”
“But, brother, there is another item I want in the conditions, and that is, if you believe that brother to be a good man, you must give him the right hand of fellowship. If you do not, you’ll have two parties in your church over this very matter. The people saw this morning that you were greatly tried with the good brother, and unless you settle the matter at once you will have sympathizers with you. Now, by prompt action on your part you can stop all that.”
“Well,” said he, “don’t leave, and I’ll do it.”
“Very well; do it tonight when I am through preaching.”
When the time came he stood tip in the altar and confessed to the congregation, and to Brother B_____, how he had been tried, and turning to Brother B_____, said, “Brother B_____, I give you the right hand of fellowship, come into the altar;” and instantly he dropped to the floor. As soon as he could command himself, he said, “If I had given way to my feelings I should have made a great deal more noise than Brother B_____ did this morning. I have not had such a blessing in twenty-three years.”
Now began the war. One infidel, a merchant, who paid ten dollars a year for a seat in the church, and did the same thing for a seat in another church, in great wrath arose and left the church. His wife pulled out the cushion and started after him; both declaring they would never have anything more to do with the Methodist Church. But this only created the more stir, and curiosity brought the people out from near and from far. The house became so crowded that it was necessary to have services both in the basement and in the upper room at the same time. One night there were thirty conversions, and more than five hundred were converted in a few weeks. The preacher was taken into favor and provided for, the liabilities against the property paid; and Methodism took hold anew in that community.
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