|« Prev||Chapter 26||Next »|
Mr. Redfield went now to a place on Long Island where a Methodist church had been compelled to contend for a bare existence against the opposition of other churches. One minister was very violent in his opposition. He warned the people against attending the meetings, especially while Mr. Redfield was there. This only aroused their curiosity, and the house was full from the beginning. Among those who came the first night was an infidel school teacher. The next day he said to his scholars: “Tell your parents I have been to the meetings and have heard the new preacher. Tell them I say he is the only honest preacher in the place, and if what he preaches is religion, it is worthy of their fullest confidence. Tell them to come out and hear for themselves.”
They did come; God owned the truth, and revivals broke out in different places in the vicinity besides, and many souls were saved. The minister here was a good man and had been very successful; but he was now nearly worn out from excessive labors.
From this place Mr. Redfield went to the former home of Freeborn Garrettson, one of the pioneers of Methodism. Here he found the widow of that soldier for Jesus still living, and in readiness waiting for her summons to the mansions of the blest. Among the tokens of friendship he received here was a set of Benson’s Commentaries from Mrs. Garrettson. These had belonged to Mr. Garrettson, and had his autograph upon a blank leaf. Here some fifty or sixty were saved.
Mr. Redfield next went to C_____, about fifty miles distant. Here there was a powerful work among sinners, resulting from the church entering into the experience of holiness.
On leaving C_____, Mr. Redfield went to labor in the suburbs of New York city again. Here there was not much accomplished, as the church did not readily embrace the experience, nor welcome the doctrine of holiness. It was early in the fall, and the people did not feel sufficiently released from business to enter upon a revival campaign; so he abandoned the effort.
While here he was constantly waiting upon God to know where he should spend the winter. One day there came before him the peculiar sign that had indicated the will of the Lord many times before. He got a map of the United States and found the sign to point in the direction of Cincinnati. He had before this been invited by Bishop Hamline to visit that city, and he now resolved to enter every open door that led in that direction. Soon a brother from Philadelphia came and invited him to return to that city where he had spent the previous winter. He resolved to go because it seemed to lead toward Cincinnati. But that night his track was laid out for him in a dream. He must begin at Goshen. The next morning an invitation came from Goshen to help in a protracted meeting there. He told the minister from Philadelphia that he would go to Goshen and write to him from there. His reasons for this decision he kept to himself.
Goshen was a county seat, and had a very bad name. A Methodist bishop on passing through the place some years before found that there was no Methodist preaching in the place, and at the next meeting of the Home Missionary Society presented the matter. A minister was sent, but found no place in which to preach. The principal church building in the place was an old affair, and the membership of the church led such inconsistent lives that it had very little influence for good. The place seemed almost given up to skepticism and drunkenness. A new church was finally built by the denomination that owned the old one, and the latter passed into the possession of a gentleman who allowed the Methodists to occupy it. But it was in such a bad condition that many considered it unsafe. The Methodist preacher finally raised money to build a church, but when he came to purchase a lot, the only one he could buy was a frog pond.
Undaunted by this, he had the pond drained, and built his church. The new church was to be the scene of Mr. Redfield’s labors. The preacher was a gentleman and a Christian, and stood by the evangelist as he endeavored to preach the straight, plain truth. Some of the poor members were badly frightened, at the thought of losing caste with the established church of the place if they should obtain a higher type of piety than they now enjoyed. The editor of the local paper was a deacon in that church, and he used his paper to bring the meetings into disrepute. The rumsellers became violent in spirit, and accused the evangelist of proving himself a bad man by destroying their business. They complained that they had lost about sixty dollars during the first three weeks of the revival; and if the meetings went on, their families would soon suffer for the necessaries of life.
When the other churches found they could not drive the Methodists out of the town, they tried to build themselves up by proselytizing. Some of their members began to come into the meetings and to sing with the young converts, and to make much of them, and at last to lead them before their church officers to be received into church fellowship. When about sixty had been received into the church to which the village editor belonged, his paper changed its tone, and instead of saying anything more about the unhealthy excitement of the Methodist meetings, it spoke of the gracious revival in the _____ church.
The infidels, to cast odium on the meetings, got up a mock prayer meeting. The wife of the ringleader, at whose house this meeting was held, became frightened and left. Her husband went insane before their meeting closed. He declared he was lost forever, and in a few hours he was dead. The next Sunday this man’s funeral sermon was preached in the Methodist church by the pastor. This interposition of Providence put a stop to all opposition to the revival, and the work of God went gloriously forward.
An attempt was made, soon after, to proselyte the more influential of the converts. Mr. Redfield finally announced from the pulpit that he was aware of what was going on, and threatened if he found them trying to proselyte the colored people or the ragged poor he would expose them. One of the converts was a rich old man, who some twenty years before was awakened, and went to a deacon, and asked how to find peace. The deacon asked him what was the prevailing sin of his life, and, on being informed, told the man that he was a reprobate, and there was no mercy for him. The man then concluded that he might as well enjoy himself as best he could. But eight years before the meeting now being described, this man had a dream, in which he was told that he would yet see a man who would tell him how to be saved. This made such an impression upon his mind that the next morning he told his wife and the deacon that he was sure he was not a reprobate. The night of his conversion was the first of his attending the meetings, and when he returned home he said to his wife: “I have seen the man of whom I dreamed eight years ago. He has told me how to be saved, and I have found it. Now I shall join the Methodists.”
Another was a wealthy merchant, who had been president of the village corporation and was quite influential. The same old deacon who had told the other man that he was a reprobate could not bear the thought of losing this man; so he came early one morning to talk with him, but found Mr. Redfield present. At this he seemed disturbed, and said, “I hope I do not intrude.” When assured by the man of the house that he might feel perfectly free, he inquired:
“Well, Mr. B_____, how do you feel?”
“I don’t have any evidence of my acceptance yet,” the reply.
“Evidence!” said the deacon. “You know Deacon R_____ He never had any evidence; and everybody thought he was a good man. But all the evidence he ever had of his conversion was, his heart felt as hard as a stone.”
“But,” said Mr. B_____, “if I only knew that God heard my prayers, I should take hope.”
“Hear your prayers? said the deacon. “Why, we have been praying for more than twenty years for a revival, and you see it has just come.”
Said Mr. B_____, “I am now anxious that Mr. S should go with me.”
“Oh,” said the deacon, “you need not trouble yourself about Mr. S_____, for if the Spirit begins with him he will have to come
Mr. Redfield had felt that the man to whom the deacon was talking needed, especially, to have a thorough experience. He had been seeking earnestly for a number of days, and that night he was at the altar again for prayers, when the following conversation took place:
“Brother,” said Mr. Redfield, “what is the reason for your not being converted?”
“I don’t know; he answered.
“Do you make a full surrender to God of all you are and have?”
“Will you give to God every dollar you own, and let him make a draft upon you to any amount, at any time.”
“I will,” was his prompt reply.
“Will you at once begin to pray in your family?”
“Why, would it be right before I am converted?” he asked.
“Certainly. God commands all men to pray.”
“I will,” said he.
“Further, my brother, will you go out and exhort sinners to come to Jesus?”
“Would that be right before I get religion?”
“Surely; for God says to every one that heareth not only to come, but “let him say, come.”,
“I will,” said he.
The meeting closed without his finding relief. He went alone to his store; the clerks were all gone, and going down upon his knees, he gave himself up to God — person, property, and all. He then went home, and set up his family altar. In the morning, early, he went to the home of the gentleman he had felt such an interest in, and said: “Mr. S, I have come on a strange errand to you this morning. It is to ask you to go with me and seek religion.”
In deep emotion, Mr. S replied, “I will. Mr. B_____, pray for me.”
“I have never tried that yet; but if you will kneel down, I will try.”
They knelt, and while Mr. B_____ was praying for his friend, God converted his own soul.
The deacon heard that Mr. B_____ was converted, and went to see him again. He now insisted upon Mr. B_____ ’s going before the session of his church. When he had him there, he pressed him hard to unite with that church. Said he:
“You will not think of joining the Methodist Church; it will surely injure your standing if you do.”
“Oh,” said Mr. B, “I may be too zealous for your church. I must go where I can save my soul alive.”
He finally united with the Methodist Church and became a useful Class Leader.
The doctrine of holiness was made the prominent theme of this revival meeting, and the young converts were, many of them, a few days after their conversion, in the clear enjoyment of the experience.
One young lady who had been thus saved, was badly burned by the explosion of a fluid lamp she was filling. While her friends were endeavoring to extinguish the flames at the pump, she sang the hymn:
“Am I a soldier of the cross?
A follower of the Lamb?
And shall I fear to own his cause,
Or blush to speak his name?”
A physician was called, who pronounced her not in danger of death. But she declared she was going to die; that her soul was full of glory, and that she wanted to be with Christ. On dressing her arms, the flesh fell from the bones. She lingered for a few days in great pain, but glorious triumph, and then passed away. Thus was demonstrated the genuineness of this work of grace, and the soundness of the teaching that was used by the Holy Spirit in bringing it about.
It was estimated that more than four hundred persons were converted in this revival. This mission appointment became self-supporting, and an aid in the support of other missions.
Mr. Redfield next went to a place seven miles from Goshen, where the Congregationalists had been holding a meeting until it was broken up by the roughs. He found the community greatly demoralized, and mostly through the scheming of a professor of religion, a member of a church which was jealous both of the Congregationalists and the Methodists. He and an infidel commenced operations the first night of Mr. Redfield’s meeting. After the service had closed, Mr. Redfield asked the membership:
“Why do you allow such conduct in your meetings when the law protects you?”
“They always do so when we commence a protracted meeting,” was the answer. “They have just broken up the Congregationalist meeting.”
“But you must stop it.”
“We dare not meddle with it.”
“Well, I hope you will not put that burden upon me: but one thing is certain, if you don’t take the matter in hand I shall,” said Mr. Redfield.
The next evening the house was greatly crowded, and in the gallery was that professor of religion, and his infidel accomplice. They began their disturbance by throwing missiles at the ladies who were coming in. The congregation was engaged in singing. Mr. Redfield called upon them to stop, and pointing to the infidel, said in a loud voice, “I hope that young man with the white cravat, will be civil enough to cease throwing things at the ladies.” The infidel made an insulting reply, and Mr. Redfield said, “Sir, we know our rights. A Methodist church is not a tavern nor a grogshop, and our rights are respected by the law, as well as those of any other church. Upon my honor as a man, I promise to see that the ladies who attend these meetings shall be protected by law. The legal penalty for disturbing a religious meeting, is a fine of twenty-five dollars, or imprisonment in jail until the fine is paid. I will meet every person who disturbs these meetings at the magistrate’s office, and will see that the law is executed. And you may tell your friends that they can come to the Methodist church and be respected.”
It was very quiet that night, but the next morning one of the rowdies with some companions was seen standing in front of the church. He began to curse the members and Mr. Redfield, in a loud and very blasphemous manner. Suddenly he fell to the ground. His comrades thought he was dead. They took him to the tavern, removed his clothing, and put him in bed. After a while he came to, and exclaimed, “O God; what have I been doing.” He confessed his wrong: his companions were frightened, and all opposition to the meetings ceased. Within ten days from the time the meeting commenced, more than one hundred persons were converted. The church that had inspired such opposition now tried to gather the young converts into their communion, but they were too clear and strong to be easily taken in that manner. After Mr. Redfield was gone, the pastor of that church undertook to have a revival. The first night he announced that they wanted no shouting, nor singing of the songs used by the Methodists, nor any fainting away (as he called the losing of strength). But he invited all who desired to become Christians to rise to their feet. Only one arose, and that one had been seeking at the other meeting. In a few days the meeting came to a close with no further result.
A request now came to Mr. Redfield to return, and make an effort to save the respectable part of the community, as the uncouth rabble had all been converted, and the probability was that the others would now be willing to accept of salvation. He considered that there was but one gospel and one salvation, for the rabble and the genteel, and as they had refused that, he had no other to offer.
His next meeting was in P_____ I_____, on Long Island. Here he found a state of things similar to that at the last place. He told the preacher he must command order, as God had given them the benefit of the law. But he replied “The great difficulty is, some of the disturbers are children of our own members.” Mr. Redfield then determined to do his duty. The second evening came, and the rowdy element was very boisterous. He tried to quiet them by kind words for a season, but in vain. At last he got their attention, and told them to make one more demonstration if they dared, and he would see the law enforced the next morning. All were hushed immediately. The next night seventeen of the rowdies were at the altar, seeking for salvation.
In this meeting, the afternoons were devoted entirely to the experience of holiness. The second afternoon the wife of a sea captain was forward, seeking for perfect love. In her consecration she came up against the question of giving up her husband. The enemy tempted her to think that if she gave him up the Lord would take him away, and she would never see him alive again. At last she was enabled to make the consecration, and the power of God fell upon her. As soon as she could she arose and testified to being saved. The work now opened with great power, and many were saved.
|« Prev||Chapter 26||Next »|