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Mr. Redfield was next called to visit Middletown Conn., the seat of a Methodist university.
Referring to his call to this field of labor, he says: “My heart dreaded the conflict which I knew must follow if I did not lower the standard of gospel truth, unless there were those who would take a stand for God. But I had promised to go, and I made up my mind to meet the worst.”
Rev. B. T. Roberts, now General Superintendent of the Free Methodist Church, but who, at the time of Mr. Redfield’s labors in Middletown, was a student in the university, describes the state of the work there at that time as follows:
“The state of religion in the church was extremely low. Professing Christians were chiefly distinguished for their conformity to the world. The Methodists had ceased to be persecuted, and were fast becoming a proud and fashionable people. In the university, intellectual rivalry had well nigh supplanted zeal for the cause of God. But a small proportion of the students professed religion, and these exhibited but too little of the power of godliness. Dr. Redfield’s preaching created a profound sensation. His deep-toned piety, his fervent, moving appeals to the throne of grace, and his unearthly, overpowering eloquence disarmed criticism, even in that congregation of critics, and prepared the way for the reception of the truths he uttered. Had he lowered the standard to suit the pride and prejudices of his hearers, his popularity would have been unbounded. He insisted upon the Bible standard of entire conformity to the will of God in all things. The church was crowded, and the people seemed amazed. Such exhibitions of truth they had never listened to before. It was for some time doubtful how the scale would turn. Dr. Olin heard of the commotion. He was unwilling to take the representations of any one, but arose from a sickbed and went and heard for himself. His majestic intellect and deep experience in the things of God could not easily be imposed upon; and a candid hearing satisfied him both of the sincerity and soundness of the preacher. “This, brethren said he, “is Methodism, and you must stand by it.” His word was law. The faculty, the official members, and the church received and endorsed the truth. Such a work of God as followed we never witnessed. Professors in the college, men of outwardly blameless lives, saw they were not right with God, frankly confessed it, and, laying aside their official dignity, went forward for prayers. The city and adjoining country were moved as by the breath of the Lord. For some eight or ten weeks the altar was crowded with penitents, from fifty to a hundred coming forward at a time. The conversions were generally clear and powerful. Dr. Olin seconded the effort in the university, and went beyond his strength in exhorting the students and praying with them. This great man never seemed so great as in prayer. Then he seemed clothed with the
“Awful majesty of man
Who talketh often with his God.”
“Nearly all the young men in the college were converted, and of the converts a large number became ministers of the gospel. The fruits of the revival remain, and have been multiplying ever since.”
More than three hundred were converted at the church. At the same time the work was going gloriously forward in the college. The tutors who had experienced entire sanctification entered into it heart and soul. At first a band of them met together and united in praying for such students as they thought were leaders of influence and mischief. At these times they would hold on until they thought they had received an answer. The first time they met thus, the young man for whom they were praying went running and rollicking through the halls as though he was possessed by evil spirits. They took this as an indication that the Holy Spirit was striving with him and held on. The next night the young man was converted at the church. They then informed him of their especial season of prayer for him; and asked him to unite with them in the same work for others. They selected another, and he soon was converted. They then divided into two bands and held meetings in separate rooms. A remarkable feature of the work was that the conversions took place in the order in which they selected these subjects of prayer. Their method and success became known, and had such an influence that a student went to one of these praying bands one day and asked, “Have you got my name on your list?” On being told that they had, he said, “Well, I thought you must have, from my feelings; and I may as well give up now.” In a few minutes he was converted, and that night in the church told what great things the Lord had done for him.
President Olin took a lively interest in the work, and though in ill-health, he undertook to give a ten-minutes’ talk to the students in a large recitation room one day, but the minutes swelled into hours; and the speech was afterward published as one of his great intellectual efforts. The result of the revival in the city and at the college, all together, was nearly four hundred conversions. Twenty-six of the college students became ministers of the gospel. Here the sainted William C. Kendall learned the art of soul saving, and went from here to preach the same gospel for a short season with great success. His was a short but a shining track. He too found himself much opposed, for daring to stand for the right.
Such was the success of this meeting, and the glorious stand taken by President Olin and his faculty, that Mr. Redfield began to hope again for the cause of holiness in the Methodist Church. He felt sure that such an endorsement would silence opposers and give that doctrine the right of way through the land.
Mr. Redfield was now invited to a church in New Jersey to spend a Sabbath. He arrived on Saturday night, but did not enter the church until Sunday morning. The pastor was to be in New York over Sunday, and requested Mr. Redfield to fill the pulpit for him both morning and evening. He was careful, also, to request that he would not present the subject of holiness that day. When Mr. Redfield entered the church he thought he understood the reason why the pastor had made such a request. The church was new, and had been ornamented in the highest and most costly manner.
“I felt,” says Mr. Redfield, “I must do my duty, no matter what the results. But I felt sure the people would not endure it; and in all probability I would have to find shelter in a tavern over night. I took the money I had from my pocket to assure myself that I had enough to pay my fare. When I saw that I had enough, I was at rest, and resolved the people should hear holiness for once. I went through regardless of consequences, and when the service closed I met some in the aisles who grasped my hand and said: “Brother, I believe in holiness, and mean to have it.”
He went to a prominent city in the same state to hold meetings. He preached on his usual theme, and God responded in power. The people often fell from their seats to the floor while he was preaching. But he soon found the preacher very much afraid of holiness.
Here, he again was asked in regard to his family. He told the inquirer that it was a matter he disliked to talk about, but that only made the matter worse. At last he was obliged to ask that he might meet two of the presiding elders, to whom he could tell the whole story. His request was granted, and they coincided with his view of the matter, that silence in regard to it was his best course. But from this on the matter grew worse and worse, until after counsel and advice he put the matter in the hands of a lawyer and obtained a divorce. Mr. Redfield had not seen nor heard directly from her for over five years, but had heard rumors of her death several times.
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