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CHAPTER 25

Mr. Redfield, about this time, met with opposition from the preacher in charge of the society where he held his membership. The issue was made on his license, the preacher taking the position that he should belong to the society where he labored. This was done on the floor of the quarterly conference. Mr. Redfield replied to this that it would be very inconvenient for him to do so, as he staid but from four to five weeks in a place The preacher was insisting upon it and crowding the quarterly conference to refuse the renewal of his license, when the presiding elder, Dr. Heman Bangs, came to Mr. Redfield’s relief by saying: “Brother Redfield is a very useful man, and he must have his standing somewhere, and if he wishes it he must have it here. Let his license be renewed.” It was done, and Mr. Redfield went on his way, but with a sore heart. In speaking of it, he says: “If these men only knew what it costs me in my feelings to go without home, and face the constant apprehension that the misfortune of my family affairs may be taken advantage of by my enemies to destroy my influence, while my friends are more or less perplexed about it until they understand all, it seems to me they would not try to make my way harder than it is.”

He could but observe that the men who were engaged in this opposition were not the spiritual men, nor the revivalists, but those who were laboring to make the church take rank in culture, splendor and influence with other churches. They could but see that the preaching and experience of holiness were attended with a renunciation of earthly pomp and glory that was fatal to what they were struggling for. They also saw that where the doctrine and experience of holiness obtained a footing there were marked indications of utter abandonment to what was supposed to be the divine will, and demonstrations of great joy at the consciousness of the divine approval. This was attended by more or less of reproach, and all was fatal to their worldly ambition. It was doubtless true that these men were blinded by their own desires and prejudices; but this was not strange. It has been the case in all ages of the church. Caiaphas was misled in like manner as to what should be done with Jesus.

One marked feature of the holiness revival was that the churches were filled with the poor, who gladly listened to truths from which the proud turned away. Again, the thorough renunciation of worldliness and sin that holiness requires brought such a cloud of reproach upon those who preached and professed it as none but the truly consecrated could endure. This has in all ages saved the church of God from sinking into utter worldliness and degeneracy. Once make Christianity acceptable to depraved human nature, and men will embrace and profess it without regeneration.

Mr. Redfield at this time busied himself during the summer in earning the means by which he could pay his expenses during the revival season. His laboring without fee made it possible for him to get into places where otherwise he could not have gained admission.

About this time he was invited to go to the assistance of Caleb Lippincott, a preacher of the primitive stamp, and one of the most successful in the church. Mr. Redfield now thought, as he had found a preacher who was not afraid of the power of God, they would see a glorious work. But he found that the enemy was still upon his track, and had more than one way to wage war upon him. The Universalists here became the agency to humiliate him. God soon began to pour out his Spirit in a remarkable manner, and many had been added to the church. Among these were some promising young people from among the Hicksite Friends. One night an old lady, whose daughter had just been converted, became so enraged that she broke out in the meeting in denunciations of all about her. In a loud voice and with violent gestures she said, “I don’t like this at all. I am mad at you.” In the night, at her home, she became so distressed in mind that she sent for some of the religious women to come and pray with her. She surrendered to the Lord and was gloriously saved. Her first utterance after the assurance of salvation came was, “Oh, how I love everybody!” The work went on in great power for some time. The house was crowded with people and the altar with seekers. All at once, Mr. Redfield noticed a falling off of the congregation, which continued until the attendance was so small and the interest so low that he concluded that his work in that place was done. His next appointment was but fourteen miles away, and he procured a conveyance and drove to the place. This was on Tuesday. When he arrived, the minister with whom he expected to labor told him that the meeting was advertised to commence the next Sunday. Mr. Redfield could not bear the thought of four days’ idleness, so he returned to the place he had left. During his absence that day the secret of the decline of the meetings came out. A Universalist paper had been circulated in the community in which Mr. Redfield had been published as a notorious villain, connected with John Newell Maffit, the noted evangelist, who was at that time under a cloud of dishonor. Of the matter charged in this paper. Mr. Redfield had never heard. It was also charged against him that he was making the revival meetings he held a matter of gain in money and fame. As soon as he had read the article he determined to meet it with a public statement. That evening in the pulpit, before preaching, he made a statement of what had been published, and said to those present, “When the congregation is large enough, I’ll tell you something worth two of this.” The next night the congregation was greatly increased, to which he made a similar statement; and again, in like manner, the third evening.

On the fourth evening the house was crowded, and a great many stood outside around the open windows. When he arose, he said, “I will now tell you my story.” He prefaced it by reading the newspaper item; and then proceeded to say, “Of this matter in regard to Mr. Maffit, I can say, first, I am able to prove that I could by no possibility have known anything of the matter at all; second, I was never alone with Mr. Maffit five minutes in my life; and as to being in league with him to break up the Methodist Episcopal Church, I never knew until now that he was charged with any such thing. As to going about in this manner for money and fame, I can say, I have never in any way negotiated with any church or persons for one penny for all or any of my traveling expenses. I will allow, however, that when I left here last Tuesday morning a brother of this church put in my hand two dollars and compelled me to take them. Now, it cost me twenty-one shillings to come here, and this brother gave me sixteen. So you see I have not made anything here, nor did I ask or expect it. As to my laboring for fame; these charges are the fame I get. I will sell any man all of it for three cents. I am aware that the curious desire to know why I am thus going about, and what is the impelling motive for it. I will tell you. You yourselves must know, that I am ether a fool, or crazy, or honest. If a fool, do not be too hard upon me. If crazy, I need your pity. Now no man in his senses will follow the track I am on without a motive; and I’ll frankly own, though I do not make a practice of dwelling on these matters, that I am where I am and doing as I am, because I dare not do otherwise. For this I have been brought to the verge of the grave, and then let off on the promise that I would go and preach the gospel. And the last time, the word came to me, “You may live as long as you preach but no longer.” I dare not disobey. Now, if the president of your Temperance society (he was the one who had circulated the paper with the charges in against me) was to be thus treated, because he tried to win your drunken husbands and sons back to a virtuous life, do you think he would deserve it? While I have been here in your midst every day, when the weather was pleasant I have spent the most of my time out in yonder grove on my knees, and sometimes on my face, before God, pleading with him to spare you and save your husbands, and wives, and sons, and daughters. You yourselves will bear me witness that I have not tried to persuade any one here to lie, steal, swear, fight or get drunk, or to do anything that is wrong. On the contrary I have tried to make everybody better, kind, loving, happy and comfortable, and to help them to get ready for the world to come — and this at my own expense, and in the face of slander and persecution.”

Here Mr. Redfield’s feelings overcame him and through his tears he concluded by saying, “I do not think I should receive this kind of treatment.” The tide of influence turned, and the meetings went on with greater power than ever.

Mr. Redfield says: “This was the only instance where I felt called upon to say a word in self-defense.”

Soon after he was invited to go back to the city of New York to hold meetings in one of the large churches. He says: “We began on Monday. The church immediately commenced to seek the experience of holiness. The first night fourteen were converted; the next night, eighteen; the next, twenty; amid so the number increased through the week. Sunday the house was greatly crowded, and especially so in the evening. During the preaching in the evening God was present in great power. When through with my sermon, and I was about to invite seekers to the altar, the preacher stopped me, saying: “Wait a while; I am going to marry a couple before the prayer meeting.” I said: “O brother, don’t! I am afraid you will divert the attention, and destroy the interest of the meeting.”

“I can make it very solemn, and besides I have promised to do it,” he replied.

“For the Lord’s sake, and souls’ sake,” I pleaded, “don’t do it. You will crush out this interest.”

“Well,” said he, “I shall do it.”

Cannot you take the couple into the basement?’ I asked. “Don’t break us up here.”

“But in spite of my entreaties he arose and commenced the ceremony by a brief lecture on the nature and solemnity of marriage. In a few minutes I saw our opportunity for getting people saved that night was lost. He finished the ridiculous affair, and we tried to have a prayer meeting, but the Spirit had been grieved, and the effort was a failure. The revival came to an end right there.”

Mr. Redfield went from this to another church where some three hundred had professed conversion. He expected to preach but one night. When he was through with his sermon the pastor followed with remarks, and asked if the meetings should close. The congregation voted, No. He then asked: “How many will seek religion if the meetings continue?” About five hundred arose. The meetings went on for some time, and the conference minutes showed afterwards that about five hundred additional ones were taken into the church.

These successes were very assuring to Mr. Redfield of the wisdom of preaching the doctrine of holiness. He was also much encouraged by the promptness and thoroughness with which a minister was dealt with in an eastern conference for publishing a pamphlet opposed to the Wesleyan view of the doctrine. He was required to renounce his pamphlet, and to promise not to preach his peculiar opinion. This minister then took a transfer to another conference.

About the same time Jesse T. Peck, afterwards bishop, published a work on the subject, entitled, “The Central Idea of Christianity.” Quite a controversy on this subject had arisen in the church, and the new book was written in defense of the true doctrine. Much of it appeared in one of the church periodicals first. It was finally published in a permanent form, after being enlarged and adapted to popular use. This work discussed every feature of the doctrine that now attracted the public attention, but not in a controversial manner or spirit. To read it now, one would scarcely gather from its pages that the doctrine was ever disputed. The work soon became an authority on the subject, and has been used in the course of study for preachers in at least one of the Methodist bodies of America.

Some strong men were enlisted on both sides of this controversy. In favor of the doctrine as held by the early Methodists were found Nathan Bangs, the first historian of American Methodism; the author of “The Central Idea”; Joseph Hartwell; and, not the least in the tribes of Israel, Phoebe Palmer. On the other side were Hiram Mattison, C. P. Bragdon, and others.

Mr. Redfield now thought the doctrine was safe, and the return of the church to her ancient simplicity and power was assured; but he subsequently wrote, “I had yet to learn that hostility to right never ceases.”

He went to spend the winter in Philadelphia. He labored for a while in St. George’s Methodist Episcopal church, the oldest church of that denomination in the city. It had been the cradle of Methodism. The pastor had lately been brought into the experience of perfect love, and entered heartily into the methods and labors of Mr. Redfield. God greatly poured out his Spirit, and many were saved. In the midst of this success, the minister who had been required by his conference to renounce his pamphlet and promise not to preach his peculiar views, appeared upon the scene amid commenced to oppose the work then in progress. But God had given the doctrine of holiness such favor in the eyes of the people that the work went on in triumph.

Mr. Redfield now visited another church by especial request, but was permitted to preach but once.

He then visited another church. Here he found a state of revival. Some three hundred had already been converted. The pastor said: “We have had a great work. I desire you to preach a few sermons on holiness to help us regain the spirituality we have lost in our efforts for others. I think it will do us good for you to do so.”

Mr. Redfield had a favorable opinion of the moral state of the church, and thought it in a good condition to take hold of the doctrine of holiness. But he asked the pastor: “Do you know what you ask? Are you prepared to allow the doctrine of holiness to be pressed upon your people?”

“I don’t know what I have to fear,” he answered.

“Well, let me tell you,” said Mr. Redfield, “my impression is that the introduction of that doctrine will be accompanied with results beyond your conception as to their magnitude. Why, sir, this work has but just begun.”

“Well,” said he, “I’ll risk it.”

The doctrine of holiness was made the theme of the meetings. In a few days it became necessary to close and even lock the doors after the church was comfortably filled, in order to work with success. The scenes of power were most remarkable. The saved would shout, jump, fall, so as to block the aisles. Sinners in the midst of this would crowd their way through and sometimes climb over the seats to get to the altar, and when that was filled, they would sometimes fill a row of seats clear across the church. So great became the press of seekers, and the violence of the commotion, that the preacher became alarmed and abruptly closed the meetings.

Mr. Redfield then went to two other churches, but was permitted to preach but once in each, and then took the meetings to private houses. The work of holiness went on in power. The last afternoon meeting, fourteen were sanctified.

He then visited many places in quick succession, stopping but one or two -weeks in each. During this time, he saw many souls saved, but afterwards thought he had made a mistake in leaving most places so soon.

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