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Mr. Redfield was now invited to Albion, N. Y., by Rev. W. C. Kendall, of blessed memory. Mr. Kendall was a minister of more than ordinary ability, and of deepest piety. He was noted for his faithfulness as a pastor and preacher. He had been well received in Albion at first, but when it was found impossible to get him to moderate his zeal, to lower the standard of piety, or to cease insisting upon the membership living up to the rules of the church, some of the most influential members turned against him. He commenced revival meetings amid great opposition, and finally sent for Mr. Redfield.
Mr. Redfield was well received at first, and soon conviction became general. At last the power of God began to come, and one night two or three fell. One was a Baptist. This frightened the people, and many hurried out of the house. Some ran for water to resuscitate the prostrate ones, while others broke window-lights to let in fresh air. Now some cried out that Mr. Redfield had mesmerized these people, until many in the church became alarmed and others angry. Then persons began to lose their strength at home, and some even miles away. It was well for the revival that Mr. Kendall was preacher in charge, for he was in full sympathy with Mr. Redfield, and gave him complete control of the services. In meeting and breaking through opposition, he was one of the most successful of evangelists. If permitted to act freely he scarcely ever failed to succeed. He now had the utmost freedom, and soon the tide of conviction rose above all opposition. The scenes of power in the services and in the homes of the people were marvelous. In the midst of this the following incident took place.
Rev. J. M. F, a former pastor of the church, was overheard to make the remark, in the Methodist Book Room, in Buffalo, that “Kendall has got Redfield to help him in a revival at Albion, and I must go down and attend to matters there.” The word was brought to Albion by Rev. Brother T, who heard J. M. F say it. This brother related the matter at Mr. Kendall’s tea-table. With a look of serious alarm, not easily forgotten, Mr. Redfield turned to Mr. Kendall, and said: “It is my request that you do not ask Mr. F into the pulpit, if he attends the services. It is obvious that his errand here is to guard his friends against my peculiar teachings, and for him to sit with me in the pulpit is to pretend to be my friend. God cannot endorse such a two-faced act; and my soul abhors such hypocrisy. If you wart God to help me to preach tonight, see that you do not ask that man to take any part in the service.”
Mr. Redfield’s description of his feelings and motives will give a view of his character, and a clue to his wondrous power.
“This man (J. M. F.) came into one of the afternoon meetings, and knowing what his object was in coming to Albion, I was overcome with grief. I went up into the pulpit, and got down out of sight and prayed, “O my God, why hast thou sent me out at the loss and cost of all things, and then allowed such men to make my way so hard? He lives on the fat of the land; is pampered with a large salary, while I go unpaid, meet the brunt of battle, and have to fight the devil, the world, and a dead church, and preachers besides.” I felt as though my case was too hard. My bursting heart was so full that I put both hands upon m mouth to keep from bellowing aloud. And I said, “O, Lord, I can go no further!” Then the old voice rang again in my ears, “You may live while you preach and no longer.” Oh, how I wished these ambitious, wicked men could have seen how God had to push and crowd me out against their opposition. But as usual, I had at last to come to the point where I could say, “I have not yet resisted unto blood striving against sin. It will not be long before I will be called away, and I’ll let God settle all this.” I saw somebody must stand up for God and the right, and it may as well be me as any one.”
In the evening, as the congregation were seated after singing the second hymn, the house being very crowded, this man entered and made his way down to the altar. He looked up into the pulpit, and, as he was not invited to enter that, he seemed embarrassed, his face reddened, a pew door opened, and he was provided with a seat. That night Mr. Redfield preached one of his most awful sermons, from the text: “And for this cause shall God send them strong delusions, that they should believe a lie that they all might be damned, who believe not the truth, but have pleasure in unrighteousness.” — 2 Thess. 2: 11, 12. Those only who have heard him can imagine the pictures he drew of those who had lived in the church for years without saving grace; who had sat under the most searching gospel ministry; had seen the truth exemplified in the lives of some around them; and yet closed their eyes and ears to it all, rather than pay the price and humble themselves by repentance and confession, and take the way of self-denial and the cross of Christ. He then outlined the track of those minister’s who have managed for years to preach without the Spirit, and have learned to lie to the people by telling them the way was not so narrow after all. They had become such adepts in lying that they preached and seemed to believe that we have “peace in Christ, and joy in the world,” in common with all men (a doctrine this very man had preached). They lived for money, and had found that some churches would pay the best to the man who would preach to them such stuff. And no wonder they were in trouble, when a man came along who would preach the whole truth, and plainly point out that the wrath of Almighty God was upon sin and sinners in the church.
The effect of this sermon was electric. The Holy Ghost so attended it, that members of other churches were shaken as by a whirlwind. Some cried out, some fell prostrate before they could get to the altar, and others fell at the altar. That night and the night following, the prostrated ones lay in some places upon one another, until the aisles were closed for hours and the congregation literally hemmed in.
The minister referred to, fled as if in consternation, as soon as he could make his escape. Before he left the place, by the circulation of slanders against Mr. Redfield, he alienated many of the members of the church, who finally withdrew from the meetings, and at last became bitter opposers of the work. Among those whom he attempted to influence was an ex-senator. This brother came to Mr. Kendall to labor with him, when the following conversation took place:
“I feel very much grieved and tried with you. You preach to us that we should treat each other with Christian courtesy, yet you have not invited Brother F_____ to preach since he has been here, and he feels very much hurt over it.”
“Well, Brother H_____,” replied Mr. Kendall, “I can now say to you what I could not have said before in regard to that: and I’ll ask you, How could I invite him to preach or take part in the meetings when I knew he had come here to put a stop to them?”
“What do you mean?” asked Brother H_____.
“I mean just what I say.”
“How do you know that he came here for that purpose?”
“Brother T_____ came to me and informed me that he heard Mr. F_____ say, before he came here, ‘Kendall is holding revival meetings at Albion, and has Redfield to assist him, and I must go down and stop him.’ “
“Is that so?” asked Mr. H_____.
“It is even so,” replied Mr. Kendall.
Mr. H_____ went home and found Mr. F_____ there; and said to him, “I am greatly astonished to learn that your business here at this time was to stop this revival; and more, that you should claim to feel grieved because you were not invited to preach!”
“It is all a lie,” said Mr. F, “let who will say so. I never intimated any purpose of that kind.”
“It is true, sir,” said the minister who brought the report, and who happened to be present. “I heard you say it before you left Buffalo.”
In this instance this opposer’s efforts were a failure. If the same could be said of all his efforts to oppose the work of holiness, different results would have occurred in many instances. Mr. Redfield told the congregation, that observation for some years, had taught him that any person who passed through a genuine revival without yielding to the truth of God, became from that time a standing committee to fight God and holiness. This proved true of many in the place. They became the persecutors of those who undertook to follow God fully. The minister who came to Albion to oppose the meetings became a bitter persecutor of holiness teachers in the ministry, and has claimed the doubtful honor of producing the state of things which caused the rise of the Free Methodist Church, an organization which resulted from this same persecution.44General Superintendent Hart. This man entered the army after the breaking out of the rebellion of 1861, was subsequently accused of defrauding the government, was indicted for the offense, but for some reason was never tried. At the time of this writing, December, 1887, an effort is being made in Albion, where he attempted to stop the revival described in this chapter, to raise money to relieve him from severe destitution.
An incident occurred during this meeting worthy of note, and which illustrates the thoroughness of Mr. Redfield’s work.
He labored to bring all to the gospel level by noticing the poor, and especially the colored poor. We have already seen him identified with the antislavery struggle. In the Albion church there were some who set themselves against the colored people strongly. Mr. Redfield told them several times that he never saw a revival that was complete until all such feelings gave way.
One night a colored woman, who was a model of neatness and unobtrusiveness, arose and testified to having found salvation. Mr. Redfield, noticing that some received her testimony with disdain, made his way through the crowd until he reached her, and taking her by the hand, began to sing an inspiring salvation song. The colored sister became very happy, and jumped and shouted aloud. The Spirit of God very evidently endorsed the action of Mr. Redfield, for the power of God came upon the people in a remarkable manner. One family refused afterward to kneel at the altar with such trash, but a score of families from among the poor came and found salvation.
The following letter, from the pen of Mr. Kendall, written at this time, will give something of an idea of the work and the circumstances:
“Albion, February 3, 1855.
“Dear Brother P_____; I was glad to hear from you and of your prosperity in the narrow way. I rejoice with Brother Tinkham and the pilgrims in Taylorville, that salvation descends there.
“That man of God, Dr. Redfield, is with us. We have hard battles. The Doctor came a little more than a week since. His shots are finding a lodgment in the hearts of the King’s enemies. He says that “many here are stuck down in the slough of I won’t.” Our official members are great hindrances. Entire holiness is gloriously prevailing; young converts and little ones are pressing into the possession of it, and their influence is being felt.
“We have good congregations — very attentive. Brother Redfield is much thought of, and I have no doubt will be the means of great good.
“The pilgrims are having a fight of afflictions in this region, such a they never saw. You may know something of it when I say that I have received five letters of remonstrance lately; i. e., before Brother Redfield came. They have called us ’stumbling blocks,” and frequently “fanatics.” They have said: ‘the devil was speaking, through me; that my course was “unhallowed,” “unchristian,” ’self-sufficient,” “impudent,” etc. One local preacher has said about town, of Dr. Redfield, “That old fanatic! he don’t know anything about preaching!” But glory to God! he “rules the whirlwind and directs the storm.” It is breaking; and at the same time we hear talk that the trustees are going to close the house against us. We have no fears. It is one of the devil’s scarecrows. Such times were never before in Albion. I wish you were here.
“Our house was crammed Sunday night from top to bottom; but salvation came. Last night, also. Two lost their strength — a thing never known in Albion until this winter. The people are filled with wonder and dismay. Officials, thus far for the devil, begin to cower. There is great danger that Jesus will become popular. Dr. Redfield says it will take the devil six months to repair the damage done to his kingdom already. “My voice is still for war,” is his watchword. We look for a mighty shaking. Glory to God for salvation!
“Your pilgrim brother,
“W. C. KENDALL.”
From the following letter it would seem that Mr. Redfield was having more calls than he could fill. The letter gives us a glimpse of his inner life, of his deep concern for the Kingdom of God.
“Albion, January 31, 1855.
“Dear Brother Hicks: — Your letter was received yesterday and my heart was deeply pained for the pilgrims at Syracuse. If I could cut off and send my feet one way, and my arms another, and then the stumps of this old body another, I would do it. I want to go twenty ways at once, and would, if possible. My spirit feels oppressed and bowed down by one little body, and it seems sometimes more than I have patience to bear. I see so much to be done, so little to do it, and so few that dare do the right thing for God, I feel addressed and ask, O God, must all this work be left undone ? I cannot bear the thought, and yet what can I do My spirit struggles and gasps to be free, and go free all over the world, like the lightning on telegraph wires. But I cannot. What shall I do? Only snail it through the world? But I must have grace to bear it.
“I cannot leave here for a few days yet. God is coming, and promises to come in more awful power.
“My love to all the pilgrims.
“J. W. Redfield.”
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