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Mr. Redfield’s pastor was a good man, but he did not enjoy the experience of entire sanctification. Like a true man, he stood by this doctrine of the church. He said, that some years before, while he was earnestly seeking it, the blessing began to come upon him in great power, and he was tempted to believe that it would take his life, and he refused it. From that time he had thought that he must pass through life without it as a punishment. Strange as it may seem, many intelligent and sound theologians are troubled with just such difficulties. While this man could not enter into the work with the zest which otherwise might have characterized him, he encouraged others in the work.
With a full heart and strong purpose Mr. Redfield set about inviting his brethren and sisters to claim their privilege of enjoying this great blessing. He was a Class Leader, and besides attending his own, he visited other classes; attended all the prayer meetings, and preached often. He appointed one meeting each week for the promotion of holiness and in it God wrought in great power. Holiness became the theme all through the society, and in the neighborhood; and in a very short time there were more than one hundred who could testify in love-feast that they were fully saved. These all became workers for God, in season and out of season, for the conversion of sinners. The latter now began to fill the meetings, and soon to seek the Lord, and sanctifications rapidly followed justifications, and the laborers increased in the same proportion, and so the work went on.
One sister who kept a school did her own housework, took care of her children, and prepared all the meals for her husband, yet found time to bring from six to twelve sinners to Jesus every week. The work of conversions at last broke out with great power, and extended rapidly, until the membership ran up from five hundred to nine hundred, and the society had to be divided, and then again the second time, and furnished a large number for a third church. A heavy church debt was also rapidly decreasing by the freewill offerings of the people. Visitors from other churches, and from the country, some from sixty miles away, came to gain a knowledge of full salvation, and then returned to spread the holy fire. Speaking of these times, Mr. Redfield says:
“I wish the truth did not require the statement of some facts that show that the work at that date met with hindrances. Justice to the cause of holiness requires me to do it, that the honest hearted may know that the slow progress, and almost final extinction of this blessed doctrine, was by no means due to any inherent weakness in itself. It began to wane under the combined hostility of a few who would not pay the price of getting right with God. Some of them had dances in their houses; some said, “We want no more revivals in our church, for it dirties up the house, and if sinners desire to get religion let them go somewhere else, we have enough members now for one church.” Others cried out for order, and neatness, and taste, lest their children go off to other and more fashionable churches. So they had the church newly and fancifully painted on the inside, introduced instrumental music for the choir; then sold the seats. Then God quit them, the congregations ran down, church debts ran up, and the last end was worse than the first. And then the complaint was heard, that “Redfield had done more hurt than good.” Some who had professed to believe in holiness began a determined warfare against it. They would go to some who professed to have experienced the blessing, and begin thus: “You say you are sanctified, do you?
“In great modesty they would reply, “I do believe Jesus has wrought that great work in my heart.”
“Then these opposers would say, “You must be very careful how you profess anything like that, for some people simply get excited and call that sanctification. I have been praying for it a good many years, and I have not got it yet; nor do I know how long before I shall get it. Besides, we think you who have been converted only a short time, do not treat us old people with due consideration, even if you do enjoy the experience when you step in before us and profess it.”
“I asked one who made this complaint to me, “How long have you been seeking the experience?’
“Twenty-six years,” he answered.
“How much nearer are you to it now than twenty-six years ago?’
“He hesitated, and finally answered, “I cannot say that I am any nearer to it.”
“Well, at this rate, how much longer will it take you to get it?’
“This stopped his caviling with me, but not his hostility to the work.
“Such arguments against the possibility of young converts entering into the experience so early, caused many of them to give up the doctrine and the testimony, and then they lost the witness of it. Then these opposers would approach them, and ask, “Do you think you have sanctification now?’ The answer would be honestly given, “I am not clear, I may be mistaken.” Then the opposer, in triumph would say, “If you had really received it you would not have lost it so easily.”
“I was, of course, deeply grieved and hardly knew what to do. I had felt so sure that I had found the secret of how to convert the world, and believed that Methodists and Methodist preachers needed only to see the practical workings of their own doctrine, and they would at once return to it in preaching and practice, and their methods and polity would enable them to take the world. I believed, though, that this manifestation of opposition was exceptional and that this doctrine of the Wesleys, Fletcher, Bramwell, Abbott and Fisk would yet succeed. I determined not to abate one jot, but to keep on preaching and pressing the doctrine which I knew from the experiment so far, would work wonder in saving sinners. I felt to say, “I know this to be right, and if everybody fights it, it is of God, and I’ll stand by it, if I stand alone.”
“I now felt my commission to the world was renewed and extended, and I determined that, regardless of difficulties, “I will go as far as I can and stop only when I must; if I never get through I will try, and if I die, I will die trying, and at my post; and like the old Syracusan, when he had discovered the power of the lever, I’ll cry, “Eureka! Eureka!” I have found it, I have found it. For if some oppose, some will embrace the blessed doctrine, and the results will give them confidence, and Methodism will fulfill its mission in the world. Whether I am countenanced by men or not, I do know, bless the Lord, that Jesus approves of me, in my purposes and course; and whatever becomes of me, the world shall have it to say, that there is one man who will either prove true to God or die trying. If some will pull down the work of God, I must work the harder and faster to build it up.
“I was soon to be put to the test. Not long after this a brother came to me one day and said, “You must not go to your class tonight, you must attend the official meeting, for there is trouble about to come on you. You must not be surprised if your class-book is taken from you, and if your meetings for holiness are stopped.”
“What is the matter?” I asked.
“Some of the official board dislike your talking about holiness very much, and they say you have already done more harm than you can do good.”
“But, with this wonderful work of God before me, I failed to see the evil they claimed I was doing, and believing that God bade me go on, I said to him, “I can’t go to the official meeting, for God wants me to go to the class meeting.
“Another and another came to me with the same message, and one of them said, “If you don’t go, I shall.” I told them all, “God calls me to my class, and he will defend his own cause. If not, I don’t want to contend for anything he will not stand by.”
“The preacher then came and advised me to go, but I answered, “With all deference to you as my pastor, I must decline, for I feel I must go to any class and leave consequences with God.”
“When I went into the classroom I found it filled as full as it could be, while the passage way was full out to the street. In opening the meeting by prayer, I said, “O Lord, if we are engaged in a work that pleases thee; if this is thy cause, give us a token in such a blessing as we have not known.” Instantly fifteen or twenty were struck down by the power of God, myself among the number.
“The commotion was as great outside the classroom as inside. As soon as I could speak, I said, “Go on! for you have a greater leader than man tonight.” Immediately one sister who had recovered her strength arose and said, “I have been powerfully tempted this day, from hearing that there was going to be an attempt made to stop these meetings, and to take Brother Redfield’s class-book from him, and I have been praying about it all day, and just before night I got the witness that God would not allow it to be done.”
“Then arose another, and another, and still another, until some twelve or fourteen had testified in like manner as to their temptations, their prayers and the answer to their prayers, in regard to the matter. Of course they could not know beforehand what the action of the official board would be. The meeting closed and the next day I heard from the board as follows “A motion was made to arrest the holiness work and put a stop to the meetings; but the preacher in charge interposed by saying, “While I am in the chair, I shall exercise my prerogatives, by not putting any such motion to vote. If you pass them without me, I shall act upon my authority, and tell yon that you cannot interfere with those meetings, or abridge Brother Redfield’s liberties.”’
“All at once one or two of the strongest opposers to the work arose and confessed that they felt their opposition to be wrong, and that they were contending against God. For awhile the opposition ceased and the glorious work went on.
“One evening I shall never forget. We were in the main audience-room. I had been urging the membership to seek holiness, as the best means of promoting a revival, and that sinners would be convicted while the church was seeking holiness. They came around the altar, filled it, and then the large aisles, nearly to the doors. I saw a door open and in came a man, who pushed his way through the mass kneeling in the passage, until he reached the altar, and then extending his hand to mine, said, “As I was passing the church a moment ago, and knew not what was going on here, I was suddenly impressed to come in; for what I could not tell; but now I know; and I ask, “Is there salvation for me?” He then knelt among the seekers.”
Soon after a delegation from another church waited upon Mr. Redfield and invited him to come and labor with them, saying, “We believe if you will come we will have a revival.” Said he, “Brethren, if you desire a revival, let your church seek holiness, and God will work among sinners at the same time.” He finally went and preached as well as he could to the church and to sinners, but without any results. He then, one evening, appealed to the church again, and urged them to seek holiness; and after stating the cost and condition connected with it, invited the membership to the altar; at the same time barely saying to the unconverted, “If you, desire religion you may come too;” when eleven immediately came. He went home and in a week or ten days he was sent for again. The committee said, “You must come again, for the revival has come to a stop.”
He asked, “But were not the eleven converted?”
“Oh, yes, they answered “and then it all went down.”
“But, have any of the church members experienced holiness?” he asked.
“Oh, no, we were so rejoiced to see sinners get religion, that we forgot all about that.”
“I thought so,” was his reply.
He was persuaded to go again, but he had no success. At last he said to the church, “You know, brethren, what God did when I was here before. Now try it over again, and hold on until God saves you. They came forward again, and nine sinners followed them to the altar; and the meeting went on for some time with great success.
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