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Mr. Redfield was next sent for to spend the winter in Boston. But before he started he received a letter from the preacher in Chelsea, near Boston, asking him to spend a few days there before commencing in Boston. He agreed to this, and went immediately to fill the engagement. He found the preacher a courageous, faithful man. His congregation was worshipping in a hall, as their church edifice was not yet completed.
As usual, Mr. Redfield commenced his work by showing the standard of religion to be what Wesley and Fletcher and the fathers of Methodism had declared it to be. God owned the truth. The hall was crowded nightly with a congregation made up from various orthodox churches. He had labored but a few days before he was waited upon by a committee consisting of several laymen and one Methodist preacher. They told him they had come to labor with him, and, if possible, to disabuse his mind of some misapprehensions that he evidently entertained.
He replied, “Brethren, do your whole duty.”
Said the preacher, “By your strong and sweeping declarations against all who do not come up to your standard, you reflect upon the Unitarians and Universalists. You evidently don’t know them. Besides you offend some of our members whose friends belong to these communions. I regard them as good people, especially the Unitarians; and if there is any choice between them and the Methodists, it is in their favor.”
Mr. Redfield could hardly repress his astonishment at such a declaration from a Methodist preacher; and replied, “Your good Unitarians and Universalists have the devil in them.”
He was interrupted by one saying, “You ought to know that such rough deportment will not be accepted in a place as refined as the city of Chelsea.”
“Well,” said he, “if you know the doctrines of Methodism as you ought to know them, if you are members of the Methodist Church, as you claim to be, I will this night prove to you that what I say is true. As Methodists, you know that our doctrine of holiness is love, and nothing but love. I think matters are ripe for it, and tonight, I design to present the doctrine of perfect love; and if it don’t smoke out devils I will give up that I am wrong.”
Accordingly, the theme that night was holiness as a state to be attained now. While he was preaching, a young man, of a large and powerful frame, fell like a dead man to the floor. The people were alarmed, supposing he had fallen in a fit. Several went to him and carried him out of the hall. As soon as he could speak, he cried out, “Glory to God! You need not hold me. God has given me the great blessing.” He came in again, and walking up the aisle, testified as follows: “While Mr. Redfield was preaching, I said, “O Lord, I never heard about getting the second blessing. Now if the doctrine is true, let me know it by laying me out on the floor.” Instantly I fell as if I had been shot. Now I know I have got the blessing; and I love God with all my heart.”
One of the Class Leaders immediately arose and said, “if that doctrine has got in here I am done with the Methodist Church. I am a Universalist.”
Then another leader arose and said, “I will have no more to do with Methodists for I am a Unitarian.”
But the work went on in great power, and when Mr. Redfiefd’s time was out about one hundred had been converted.
He now went to Boston, and presented himself at the parsonage of the church in which he had engaged to labor. The minister was an old man, and had never met Mr. Redfield. When he found he had come he seemed frightened, for he had heard terrible stories of the measures used in Chelsea, reported by the preacher of the committee already alluded to and the infidel Methodists who had left the church.
The good old man, to make it as easy as he could, said, “We have had some meetings, and I don’t think the brethren will be willing to open them again.” Mr. Redfield saw his embarrassment and dilemma, and as quietly as possible withdrew and returned to Chelsea. But the good man went over and saw for himself, and, when he returned, persuaded his people to let Mr. Redfield come and preach once, that they might know him for themselves.
A goodly number of his congregation were superannuated Methodist preachers, engaged about the book-room in the city. Of course they had heard all the reports that were in circulation, and were afraid of Mr. Redfield. When the time came for the appointment, the meeting was held in what was called the small lecture-room of the church. Mr. Redfield perceived what this meant, but went straight forward about his work. At the close of the meeting several of these old preachers said, “You must stay tomorrow night, and we will open the large lecture-room.” Mr. Redfield did so, and took the strongest stand he could for primitive Methodism. God blessed the truth, and in a few days the main audience-room was opened, and in a fortnight forty or fifty were converted.
He had now accepted an invitation to a place about two hundred miles distant. But the preachers of Boston, who saw how they had been deceived by false reports, urged him to remain. The old preachers of the congregation had told them that the objectionable things were the peculiarities of old Methodism, and that those who had left the church of Chelsea were Unitarians in sentiment. About the same time Prof._____, of the Wesleyan University, came to Boston and bore testimony to Mr. Redfield’s soundness as a Methodist. This so broke up the opposition that the ministers of the city endeavored to engage him for a year. Greatly encouraged by this, Mr. Redfield promised, if it was possible, he would return. But the opportunity to do so never came.
He now went to U_____, as he had promised. Again the doctrine and experience of holiness was the theme and the apparent means of arousing a great religious interest, and many were converted.
One night he observed a youngerly man sitting in the front seat who appeared to be greatly interested in the work. Others sitting with him manifested the same kindness, though none of them took part in the altar work. After the meeting Mr. Redfield asked one of the brethren, “Who are these persons who seem so pleased when people come forward?”
“Why, don’t you know them? They are _____ists, and _____ists, and _____ists.”
“Well, what are they doing here?”
“Oh, they are watching those who come forward, to see if there are any that they want. If any of influence come forward, they will soon be after them. They never allow the Methodists to get any one here of importance if they can help it. They say they can do better by the upper class than we can; and that we are well adapted to help the lower classes. They help us financially, for they say we are doing a good work, both in filling up their church and ours. One of our preachers once asked one of theirs, “If the Methodists should hold all their converts what would be the result?’ The answer was, “Our growth would be comparatively small.”
Mr. Redfield saw one night that these watchers were greatly elated over something that had occurred. After the meeting closed he asked one of the brethren what it meant.
“Oh,” said he, “the man who knelt at the corner of the altar was one of such as they are after.”
The next evening Mr. Redfield heard the bell of one of the churches ring, and he asked, “Are they going to commence revival services?”
“No,” was the answer, “they are to have an experience meeting tonight.”
“What is that for?”
“Don’t you remember a man who knelt at one corner of the altar last night who attracted much attention?”
“Yes; I do.”
“Well, they are to open the doors of the church for him tonight.”
“But he was not converted last night!”
“That makes no difference in this case.”
The man was received, settled down satisfied with what he had done, and having been addicted to strong drink, within a year was in the gutter.
While here Mr. Redfield met a local preacher who was also a school teacher, whose wife had opposed his preaching. But if he did not preach to a congregation at least twice a week, he would preach in his sleep. He would repeat the hymns, call on some one to pray, and then take a text and preach in a regular manner, but so loud that it drew the attention of the neighbors, who would gather about the house to listen. This so humiliated the wife that she gladly yielded to his preaching regularly.
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