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Mr. Redfield had now passed one winter in active service for God and humanity. Many had been converted. An efficient antislavery society had been organized, and nearly fifty fugitives from bondage had been assisted in their efforts to reach Canada. He now determined to return to Lockport, N. Y., the scene of some of his severest conflicts, and where he consented to accept a license to preach the gospel. On his return, he was urged to take the place of a preacher who had made himself unacceptable by his antislavery views. He accepted the position, but soon was equally as unacceptable as his predecessor, and for the same reason. He gave up the charge and returned to his bachelor’s quarters. He now despaired of doing his duty acceptably to God, and satisfactorily to himself. The summer was spent in studying into the works and ways of God as seen in nature. He gave up the idea of going into the work as a traveling preacher. He thought to content himself with preaching occasionally, but giving his time mainly to business. When he did preach he refused to receive pay for his services. The hand of disease had fastened upon him, but still he endeavored to keep his conscience free from condemnation, by visiting and praying with the people, and exhorting sinners to seek Christ. In this he saw some success, but so little was he satisfied with his labors, that he was in great distress of mind.
He was under conviction for and began to seek the experience of entire sanctification.
He says: “I thought that experience would empower me to do my duties with greater success and satisfaction. In my ignorance of the true way, I wept and mourned before God, and wished to meet with some one who could instruct me. I finally became desperate, and resolved to make a business of seeking it. I began with a day of fasting and prayer. This was followed with a watch-night. I resolved never to close my eyes or leave my knees until I could claim the blessing; but nature sank under the burden, and I fell to the floor and went to sleep. When morning came, I awoke to find myself exhausted and on the floor. When I remembered the vows and resolutions I had made the night before, and how poorly I had kept my promise, I blamed myself for faithlessness, and in tears asked God if I must live another day in this condition. Can I be no more like thee than this? I could say from the depths of my heart:
‘“Tis worse than death my God to love,
And not my God alone.”
“Again I fasted and kept watch-night. I resolved not to move until I either died or gained the great pearl; but being still more exhausted, I again sank to the floor and went to sleep, and awoke the next morning to upbraid myself for my broken vows. All these struggles only proved to me how useless were human plans and will-power to gain what I afterward learned must be obtained by faith alone. By the Holy Spirit I was led to make a thorough search of self and find to what extent my will was in harmony with God’s will. Now my mind was brought to face the great question with me. I said to myself, how can I think of preaching after my troubles with that unfortunate being who has blasted every hope of my life! I cannot attempt to regulate public opinion by a narration of my sorrows! I shall be misunderstood, and my misfortune will be the foundation of a large amount of slander, which will hedge up my way. “No, Lord,” I said, “I cannot go. I might once have gone without impediment, but that day has passed forever. I will do the best I can in a private way, but to devote myself to the work of the ministry is impossible until I have an honorable discharge from the woman who has embittered my life.”
“I now resolved to spend my time in active service for the Lord, but in a private way. I commenced visiting the sick, praying with them, and pointing them to the Lamb of God. I went to see a young man who was very sick, and who had been given up by the counseling physicians, who had just left him. While at prayer for him an impression came upon me that the young man would not die, and I instantly gave utterance to it. I then arose, and taking him by the hand, said to him, ‘You will not die. Now give your heart to God and live for him.” This he promised to do, and I left the house. Two or three brethren who were present and heard me make this declaration were distressed at it, for fear of the consequences in case it should not prove true. I felt the same, nor was I relieved until a short time after when I saw the young man walking the street in comparatively good health.
“Soon after this I was asked to visit another man who had been given up to die by his physician, who said he could not live through the night. The man insisted that I should be called, and declared he would take no medicine from any hand but mine, or by my direction. He had heard of the case just narrated, and as soon as I approached his bed he said to me, “Don’t pray for me to get well, I prefer to die.” But the impression came to me, and I said to him, “I can pray in no other way, for you will certainly get well.” The sequel justified this prediction, for he did get well.
“I was called upon by a Class Leader to visit a member of his class, then apparently dying with the consumption. It was a cold night in March. We found the windows and doors open to give her air. The physician had just left, after declaring that she was dying. While I was praying with her, as in the other cases, the impression came that she would recover. It came this time in such power that it was with difficulty that I could repress the utterance of it. On leaving the house I said to the leader what I thought. To this he answered, “It is a good thing you did not say so, for she is certainly dying. If you had said what you felt, the cause of religion would have been greatly injured.” To the astonishment of all she was able to walk the streets in a very few weeks, and lived for a long time after.
“Another instance, but with a different result, occurred soon after. One of the Class Leaders was taken sick, and to all appearance the sickness was unto death; but the suggestion came to me with great power that the prayer of faith would save the sick. The leader was a man of great value to the church, and I felt that he could not be spared. I shut myself up in my room, determined if possible to prevail with God to raise him up to health. I continued in prayer until the same impression came with a slight shade of difference, that the leader would live, and not die. But that slight difference in the impression made me hesitate to declare that the sick man would recover. Soon after the man died.”
These instances made a profound impression upon Mr. Redfield, and led him to do some very careful thinking upon the general subject. He says, “I then saw that none of these cases were restored by faith. In the first three the result was intuitively perceived as a coming fact. In the last the impression was on the imagination, prompted by strong desire. This experience has been of great benefit to me since then, as a gauge by which to test the strong impressions, and to distinguish between faith, fancy, and intuition.”
It is difficult to account for these peculiar manifestations and successes upon any other ground than that the Lord was preparing him for future usefulness — by the study which these facts induced. He was still bent on compromising the matter of his call if he could. He resolved to pay the preachers more; he denied himself all luxuries of the table, and lived for a season on roast potatoes cooked by his own hand that he might give more.
In the midst of this two young men came to his apartments, and the three bound themselves together to pray for a revival of religion. One night when they were engaged in prayer the village band met in the adjoining room for practice. They each prayed that the music might be stopped, and held on until each felt that he had received an answer. Soon the music stopped, and they heard the members of the band pass down the stairs from the room. This encouraged them to ask for greater things. They held on until they each received an answer that God would revive his work in the place. The next day they learned that several members of the band were awakened the evening before and had been inquiring the way of salvation. Soon after the minister commenced a protracted meeting, and before it closed about two hundred professed conversion. Mr. Redfield now had his hands and heart full, in laboring in prayer meetings, and in personal effort with souls. He tried to think that he would not have to preach if he proved faithful in this manner.
He became much concerned for the gentleman with whom he boarded before he went into bachelor’s hall. He was an infidel Sabbath breaker. Mr. Redfield had often recommended religion to him in a general way, but now he felt that he had not been sufficiently in earnest about it. He resolved to do his whole duty at all hazards. The man came into Mr. Redfield’s room one day, and he took him by the hand and said, “I have tried to recommend religion to you by my life and gentleness, but I see and feel I have never done my duty to you as I ought, and now I will never let go of your hand, nor let you go, until you either repulse me or give your heart to God.” With deep emotion he said, “The last obstacle is now removed. I was a disbeliever in religion until I became acquainted with you. I have watched you, and could find but one fault in you, and that was, if you really felt friendly to me as you seemed to, I could not see how you could believe my soul in danger and not compel me to seek religion. But this removes that obstacle. Now,” said he, with tears in his eyes, “take me to some of your prayer meetings.”
“There was another gentleman,” says Mr. Redfield, “an acquaintance and friend, whom I had often tried to lead to Christ, but who, with his wife, still remained impenitent, and whom I now resolved to visit and talk and pray with. I sent word to them that I would come at a certain time, and that my object was to talk with them on the subject of their soul’s salvation. When the time arrived I went to their home and found it closed against me. To all appearances they were not at home. Again I appointed a time, and again I found the house shut against me. After this the gentleman came to my apartments one day, and I stepped to the door and locked it, and said, “I will never let you leave this room until you promise to seek salvation, or utterly refuse me.’ To this he answered, “I appreciate your motives, but if it has come to this I must tell you distinctly, I shall not make you any such promise.” “Very well, Lyman, an impression comes to me that God will now visit you with judgments.” Shortly after this I was called to go to his house to see his dying wife. The violence of her disease ended in mortification while she was yet living, and had now reached its crisis. When I reached the house groups of neighbors were standing here and there talking in low tones, and whose manner indicated that the subject was more than ordinarily distressing. I passed them, approached the door, opened it, and in the first room sat others in melancholy mood. They were talking in the same manner as those outside. Now and then a cry of agony came through the closed doors of the sufferer’s room. The door opened, and the eyes of the dying woman met mine. Hers flashed with a gleam never to be forgotten.
“She cried out, “Oh! why did you not come before?”
“I drew near her and replied, “I have tried, but you closed your door against me.”
“Well, then pray for me now,” she said.
“I knelt and tried to pray, but it was in vain; I could not get hold. She called upon her attendants to remove her to another room. This was done by moving the cot on which she lay. When they set her down she raised her mortifying arms toward heaven and uttered the mournful cry, “O God! for a few hours to get ready for this awful change.” Her arms fell and she ceased to breathe. I then approached her distracted husband, and asked, “Lyman, will you now yield to God?”
“He answered, “I cannot now as well as I could before.”
“I replied, “Then God will come again.”
“In a very few days one of his children was called to pass away suddenly. I was called again to visit the house of mourning. The father was convulsed with grief. On being approached and asked, “Has God done enough? Will you now yield?’ he answered as before. I then said, “Well, God will come once more.”
“In a few days I was called to visit Lyman himself. He appeared to be rapidly passing into eternity. He now seemed to have given up the controversy and professed to have yielded his heart to God. Still a doubt hung over the case that eternity alone can clear up.”
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