|« Prev||Chapter 39||Next »|
Mr. Redfield now received a letter from the Congregational society of Syracuse, inviting him to hold a revival meeting in their church. He obeyed the call at once. When he arrived at Syracuse he went immediately to one of the deacons of the society to talk over the matter. He asked:
“Is it true that your church wishes me, a Methodist, to hold a protracted meeting?”
“Yes, sir,” said the deacon, “we passed such a resolution.”
He then took Mr. Redfield to see one of the other deacons, who corroborated the statement of the first.
“Well, deacon, how long since you had a revival in this city?”
“Oh, we had a kind of a stir about fifteen years ago, but nothing to amount to much in twenty-five years.”
“Have you put forth any effort?”
“Oh, yes; we have had Finney, and Lovering and Knapp, but nothing scarcely was accomplished. There are now five churches in the city without pastors, and the place is given over to the Unitarians.”
“Well, deacon, had you not better put that question to vote over again, that you may do this thing with your eyes open? I am sure the old gospel is as potent as ever. I can do nothing, but that can. You must prepare yourselves for a great conflict, and many things that will shock all your ideas of order and propriety. I will tell you what I’ll do: if any fighting or setting the church on fire takes place, I will do all I can to regulate that; but if God comes, — and that he will in awful power, — and the people shout or lose their strength, or anything else that God owns by working in the midst of it, you must not interfere.”
One deacon said, “I have taken my stand, and I have no back tracks to make.”
The other said, “The devil has had full swing for fifteen years, without let or hindrance, and I think it no more than right that God should be allowed to have one chance more.”
“Very good,” said Mr. Red field, “I will go forward.
He then went to see a Methodist preacher who lived not far away, and asked him to assist in the work, but he declined on account of poor health; but he felt there was no use of asking the one who had refused to allow him to work in his church, and who had so sneeringly said he had no objections to Mr. Redfield laboring in the city with other denominations. Yet this minister was soon active in circulating the report that Mr. Redfield was making war on Methodism.
Mr. Redfield had preached but a few times, when in one of the afternoon meetings, one deacon arose and vehemently protested against the Congregational church being used to make the people confess.
Mr. Redfield replied, that he had been invited with the understanding that he should not be trammeled in his measures; that he labored for nothing, and other churches were calling for him, and that he had no time to spend in contention. He then said, “I want to know if I am to be allowed to go forward or not.” A vote was taken which resulted in his favor, and the deacon was quieted. The meetings went on a few days more, and the deacon could endure it no longer; and he became very bitter and violent in his remarks. Again the vote was taken and again the deacon was voted down. In a few days more he arose in a meeting all broken in spirit, and made a most startling confession to the church and congregation.
The Spirit was now being poured out in great power. Two Presbyterian elders fell under the power one night. While they lay there a deacon approached Mr. Redfield and said, “You Methodists get greatly excited.”
Mr. Redfield replied, “Do you know that man crying over there?” “No!” “Well, that is a Presbyterian elder.”
“What! can that be possible?” he asked.
“Yes, sir;” said Mr. Redfield, “and you all have Methodist hearts, and if you would give God a chance at you, he would do the same things with you.”
Among the confessions made was one by a young lady, who said, “I have been a member of the Methodist Church for ten years, but have been deceived all this time. I never knew until now what religion was. But I know it now.”
A Unitarian lady, who came to the meetings, she said, to prevent a friend of hers from going forward, when returning home the same night, fell while passing the Unitarian church, and cried out in great agony for mercy. Several persons who heard her, guided to her through the darkness by her voice, went to her assistance. The first words she spoke to them were, “Can any of you pray?” They took her to her own home, and one of them who had a religious friend, went for that friend to come and pray, but the friend was backslidden from God, and was obliged to become a seeker first, before he could aid her; and both were saved that night.
So great was the religious interest, and the danger to the Unitarians, that they sent to Boston for Theodore Parker to preach in their church for a season. He came, and flaming handbills were posted through the city announcing his arrival, and the themes of his discourses. But a violent storm which swept over the city a few days after he came so damaged their church that he returned to Boston.
Some of the fruit of this revival still remains. In after years, in the West, Mr. Redfield was welcomed and cheered by the faithful ones who in this revival were brought into the light. Rev. M. V. Clute, of the Illinois Conference of the Free Methodist Church, has given me the following incident: “I was a lay member of the Congregationalist Church in a neighboring town. During the time of Mr. Redfield’s labor in Syracuse I visited my brother in that city. While at supper the first evening, I was asked to go and hear him. When we arrived at the church we found the seats near the door occupied, and were obliged to take one near the pulpit. In a very short time the house was crowded; those who filled the aisles stood, while those between the seats and the pulpit sat on the floor. He had been preaching but a few minutes when the heavy breathing of a person attracted my attention. For some time I could not make out who it was, when at last a man sitting on the floor threw up his hands, and exclaimed in a loud voice, “O God!” The next moment he sprang to his feet, and with arms extended, started down one of the aisles toward the door, groaning as he went. The people made way for him, and he crossed behind the body seats and returned up the other aisle. As he reached the pulpit, he screamed and fell to the floor. During the time Mr. Redfield, in perfect silence, stood leaning on the pulpit watching him with great interest. For a few moments after he fell there was perfect quiet throughout the room, when suddenly from eighteen to twenty persons sprang to their feet and ran, praying, to the altar.”
|« Prev||Chapter 39||Next »|