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Mr. Redfield now received a letter from a preacher whom he had met at the camp meeting alluded to in a former chapter, and whom he had promised to assist during the winter, if possible. At their first meeting this preacher was a seeker for perfect love. He had inquired of another preacher how he should seek for it, and was referred to Mr. Redfield. At first his heart revolted at the idea of going to a local preacher for advice; but finally he concluded to do so. “When he came,” says Mr. Redfield, “I felt the opposite from what he had felt, and shrank from attempting to give him advice. I said to him, “I am but a poor unworthy local preacher, and it is asking a great deal of me to advise you; but with your leave, I will tell you some part of my experience, and then I will ask you a few questions.” When I had finished my experience, I asked, “Brother, can you say to begin with, “The will of the Lord be done?”
“I ought to,” he answered.
“But do you say, “O God, thy will be done”?’ I asked.
“I do,” said he, very emphatically.
“But hold a moment, brother. Let us see what possibly, may be the will of God, and then when you comprehend it, see if you can still say, “Thy will be done.” God’s will is comprehended in two tables — what you must do, and what you must suffer. Now it may be the will of God that you should be put down as a very inferior preacher, and be sent out on to the frontier, as unfit to represent Methodism in any populous town. Now, do you say, “Thy will be done”?’
“I do,” he replied.
“But stop again. It may be God’s will for you to go to Africa, and spend your life there; to leave home and society and let your bones sleep in the hot sands of that country; now can you say, “Thy will be done”?’
“I do,” he again answered promptly.
“But brother, that may not be your track; for God wants poorhouse preachers, and I don’t know but that you can in poverty and rags, in the poorhouse, show the power of grace to triumph, and that your sufferings there will so preach the power of the gospel that some one by that means will be pressed to seek religion, who would not by any other. Can you now say, “Thy will be done”?’
“I do,” was his prompt reply again.
“But it may be, brother, that God wants you to testify by the triumphs of his grace over pain, and your calling may be to suffer distress of body, that the power of grace may so shine out in your case that some infidel may be won to Christ, and he become the honored instrument in the hands of God of bringing many to Christ, and thus you do more than in any other way; now can you say, “Thy will be done”?’
“And again he said, “I do.”
“Well, brother, you have got just halfway through; and by this you know you have the consent of your will to suffer the will of God. Now about doing the will of God: you may have duties to do from which your heart up to this time has shrunk; the little duties which will put you at variance with every one who is not in harmony with God — “Who is deaf as my servant; and blind as he that is perfect,” says God — to take sides with God, and never allow yourself to set up a defense of self, to be thorough, straight, and honest; to vindicate the rights of God, as you would within five minutes of the judgment. You can stand for God when protected by men of influence in your conference, but will you be as tenacious for all of God’s will when all turn against you? Remember you will be considered an old fogy, unsafe, imprudent in want of charity. You need not abuse men to win a bad name; only be unflinching for God, and your name is worth more now than it ever will be again. If a man of wealth should pick you up out of the ditch in a starving condition, and take you under his care, provide for you, and make you one of his heirs, on condition that you keep watch of his interests, would you think it right to allow men to come and steal his property, for fear you might make some of them your enemies? God has called you to be a watchman, and you must on no condition allow, in silence, an infringement of his rights. You will meet with ministers who will regard it a small thing to be so particular; but no man is too particular in matters of sufficient importance for the Almighty to notice. The world, a dead church, and time-serving ministers will protest against you, and resort to all manner of means, more or less dishonorable, to humiliate you. Now can you, do you say, O Lord, I will do thy will, if I stand alone? Can God count on you as one who can be trusted to do the exact right, when his back is turned, and the church and the world conspire to outlaw you for your fidelity?’
“I do say,” he replied, ‘the whole will of God shall be done in me, and by me, at every cost.”
“Well, now you are all the Lord’s, are you not?’
“Oh? said he, “it seems to me there is ’something’ that I have not yet comprehended in this surrender.”
“Well, brother, tell the Lord, when that ’something’ is made apparent, that you will then give that also.”
“I do,” said he.
“Well, then, you have given all to do and to suffer the will of God, have you not?”
“Well, then you are the Lord’s. Now, brother, who has required all this surrender at your hands?’
“Why, God; has he not?’
“Yes, has he not?
“Oh, yes,” said I, “now, if he has demanded all, and you have given all, do you think he will ever accept it.”
“Oh, yes; if he has required all, and I have given all, he will accept it, for he is not trifling with me.”
“Well, if he will accept, when will he do it?’
“Oh,” said he, “I don’t feel,”—
“Well, you are not ready to feel; you are just now ready to believe; not that you have the witness, for you have not; but believe on the bare promise of God, that having complied with the conditions in giving yourself to him, God now finishes the work by accepting you.”
“What, must I believe before I feel?’
“Brother, do you tell sinners when they are seeking to wait until they feel? or do you tell them to take the promise of God for the face of it?’
“Why, I tell them God is to be trusted, and they must credit his word.”
“Is not the promise of God to the sinner, just as good for the preacher? or do you want better security, than the sinner has, that God will keep his word?’
“Why, I ought to ask no better security, and I’ll try to believe. But,” said he, “I don’t feel yet!”
“You have not done all yet. Now, finish the condition “With the heart,” not simply the assent or consent of the head, but “with the heart man believeth unto righteousness.” You finish the work of doing right in your compliance with the condition. But, now, it is “with the mouth confession is [to be] made unto salvation.”
“What, confess that I feel what I don’t feel?’
“Oh, no; that would be telling a lie; confess what you believe; viz., that God is true to his word, and that, on the bare say-so of God, you now believe that he accepts what you have given him.”
“He immediately went to a tent and confessed, not to what he felt, but to what he believed; and while in the act of doing so the witness came and referring to this experience in a testimony given some six weeks afterwards, he said, “it seemed to me that I was like a vessel lost in a sea, without bottom or shore; and I was so filled with the divine glory and power that I prayed for God to stay his hand.”
“This brother now desired to engage me to come to his charge and assist him in a protracted meeting during the coming winter. I told him I would, if the Lord permitted, but also told him to go home and persuade all the church, as far as possible, to seek the blessing of sanctification, and that I would guarantee that, in the meantime, God would work upon sinners. He said he would do it, and the following will show the results:
“About two months after this I received a letter from him saying, “I wish you to be here next Tuesday to begin a protracted meeting.” I took a public conveyance, and reached his place on Monday evening. On arriving at his house I learned he was gone to a private house to hold a holiness meeting. I found the house, and on opening the door, I saw the place was filled with people whose faces fairly shone. The remainder of the evening was given to testimony, mostly of those who had entered into the experience of holiness. These were clear and strong. There were a number, also, who testified as seekers of the experience. The meeting was one of glorious power. After it closed, as the minister and myself were on our way to his home, I asked, “How long have you been holding these holiness meetings?’
“About two months,” he answered.
“How many of the church now enjoy holiness as a distinct blessing?” I asked.
“I think the largest proportion of them are now in the experience, and almost all the remainder are pressing after it,” was the reply.
“Do you remember,” I asked, “what I told you at the camp meeting? that if you and your people would keep at the work of holiness, God would work in the awakening of sinners?” I inquired.
“Yes, I do,” said he.
“Do you know of any cases of awakening?” I further asked.
“No; I don’t — not one,” he replied, and then calling to one of the leaders who was walking near us, asked: “Brother H_____, do you know of any sinners who are serious?’
“No,” said the brother, “I don’t know of any.
“Well,” said I, “this beats me; for I never knew it to fail. I believe yet that you will find that God has been doing something.”
“Tuesday afternoon came, and we met at the church, but there was no sign of any stir among sinners. It was the same at the evening service; also Wednesday afternoon and evening. Thursday afternoon we seemed to have come to a halt, and could not stir. As a last resort we called upon the church members to come to the altar to renew our consecrations, and others to seek the blessing of holiness. In a few minutes it seemed as though the powers of darkness were let loose upon us. The preacher cried out: ‘Hold on! Steady faith! Steady faith!” and all at once the power of God fell upon us, and there was a great crying out among sinners; and one or two came to the altar screaming for mercy, and soon were hopefully converted to God. From this moment the work went on in great power.
“The next morning one of the Class Leaders came to the preacher and said: “Brother O____, my cousin who is an infidel and never goes to church, does not seem to be as hard as usual. He goes with his head down; and I would not wonder if you might be able to talk to him about religion. Will you and Brother R_____ go with me to his house and see him?’
“Down to his house we went and were introduced to his wife, and sat down to wait for the leader to go to the man’s shop to call him. As soon as he came in at the kitchen door and saw us in the other room, he waited out, “O God! O God! what shall — what shall I do? Oh! oh! oh! God, what shall I do?’ I felt like getting the Bible and directing him to a promise to the brokenhearted sinner to read for himself, and asked his wife, “Have you a Bible in the house?’ She arose and went to a cupboard over the fireplace and took one out; he caught sight of it as she handed it to me, and broke out, “Oh, that poor neglected Bible!” I took it and turned to the words, “Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart; and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” I held them before him, and said, “Look at that and read it.” He brushed his long hair from his eyes with his band, and gazed through his tears upon the precious words. “Read them for yourself,” I said.
“With emphasis he replied, “I am reading it.”
“Well, I want you to believe it,” I continued.
“I am believing it,” he answered, and burst into such a tempest of shouts as made the whole house ring.
“His wife now cried out, “O God, have mercy on me,” and commenced to wring her hands, walking the floor back and forth, and crying, “What shall I do? what shall I do?’ The little children, who were too young to appreciate the feelings of the parents, began to cry aloud. In a few moments the mother was happy in the Lord.
“As soon as the first gust of glory had passed over, and the man had so far recovered from the overpowering effects of his joy that he could talk, he said: “Now, I know what all this means; I know what all this means.” He then said he had not been to a church for two years; but, about two months before had felt sadly impressed that some great calamity was about to befall him. “I thought,” he said, “perhaps, I am going to die, or some member of my family is going to be taken away. But now I see, it was the Holy Spirit convicting me; and now I have got religion.”
“The preacher went down through the main street of the town, calling upon the people, and I returned to his house, After awhile he came back with the glad tidings that God had indeed broken up the entire place. Said he, “As I was passing the first store one of the proprietors called me in, and there at one of the counters stood his partner weeping, and as I entered, he inquired if I could tell them how to he saved. I directed them as well as I could, and started on down the street. As I was passing the courthouse the jailor asked me to come in and pray for him, for he wanted religion. When I left, and was passing a lawyer’s office, he accosted me, and asked, ‘Sir, can you tell me how to be saved?’
“I continued laboring with this brother a few weeks, but as the work was going well enough without me, I went where I was needed more. In one of the meetings, before I left, I counted about forty who testified about like this: “Some two months ago, while I was at work At my store (or shop, or on the farm, as the case might be), I felt the awakening Spirit of God had got hold of me, and I sought and obtained mercy.” But not one was there of all who professed to be saved while I was there who referred to any preaching or any meeting whatever, as the means for awakening them.”
He now went at the request of a minister to a small city where the Methodist for many years had been robbed by systematic proselytizing of all who would be of financial benefit to a church; and this by open hostility.
Mr. Redfield resolved to break it up, by the help of God. He plainly saw that people of such a spirit would not properly care for converts, and that it would be positively dangerous, in a spiritual sense, for them to go into such associations. As soon as he commenced his labors they commenced their operations. He made a public statement of the case, and told them they must get religion enough to stop such wicked work, and go to work and quarry out their own converts, for their success in proselytizing was coming to an end. He then warned the people against them; saying it would be at the peril of their souls to have anything to do with such folks. One minister began to preach against the Methodists, and soon after was dismissed by his church. Another attempted the same, but his church stopped him after his first effort. Some five or six different churches were engaged in the same work, but such was the thoroughness of the revival that the young converts could see the difference between the true and the false, and none of them were lost.
But a poor drunken Universalist preacher, who had once been a Methodist, but after being expelled, turned Episcopalian, and then became a Universalist, was not so easy to get along with. He went to New York city to find something with which to shake the confidence of the people in Mr. Redfield. He was stirred up to this by some of his members being converted and leaving his church; and because the new church he was building had come to a standstill from lack of interest in its completion as one result of the revival. When in New York he foolishly laid his plans before some who knew Mr. Redfield, and who kindly informed him of them.
When the Universalist minister returned he reported that Mr. Redfield came to the place on a stolen horse, and that he had run away from a city about two hundred miles distant in deep disgrace. Mr. Redfield concluded to say nothing about it, but leave the man in the hands of God, and soon after he died with the delirium tremens.
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