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Mr. Redfield visited Newburgh just before the camp meeting held near there that year. He endeavored, as usual, to present the truths of real Methodism. Some Episcopalians who had united with the church, entered into the experience of holiness, and shouted in their newfound liberty; while some Methodists who had never belonged to any other church, became angry and opposed the work. The pastor was displeased, but the old presiding elder stood by the doctrine, the experience, and the work.
In its early history Newburgh was completely under the control of infidels, who intimidated Christians and those who desired to be Christians. They were very violent and blasphemous, but nearly all of them died violent deaths, and their passing away left impressions that went far to contract the influence of their lives. Mr. Redfield spent but a few days here, as the camp meeting soon commenced.
At the camp meeting he did not feel much liberty for a day or two. There was evidently an effort on the part of the preachers to get along without him. On Thursday afternoon, one of the preachers, after exhausting his skill in trying to make things go, turned and said: “Brother Redfield, can’t you do something?” He answered in a loud voice, “No! but I know of one that can. The Lord Jesus Christ will take the whole matter into his own hands, and no man can stay it, if you begin at the right end by getting holiness.” He was permitted to take the meeting, and in his peculiar way he set forth the conditions of full salvation, and called upon all who would meet these conditions to kneel at the mourner’s bench. They were in a large prayer-meeting tent. Many immediately knelt, evidently understanding what they were about. But scarcely had they engaged in prayer before the slaying power fell upon them, and sinners, without an invitation rushed forward to find a place to kneel as seekers. The tent was eighty feet long with a row of seats running the whole length through the center. During the remainder of the camp meeting, without cessation, that bench was filled with seekers, and sometimes two and three rows on each side, the men on one side, and the women on the other. As soon as any were converted, they would be taken away to make room for others, and there seemed to be some one waiting to take the vacant place at all times. No one had to exhort, or to persuade penitents to come. God was there in awful power. One remarkable thing was that many, in relating their experiences, testified that they were convicted at their homes two and three miles away, and on coming to the campground, were drawn to this tent. Nothing was said at any time on the subject of dress, yet fashionable ladies, with their bonnets filled with artificial flowers, would struggle and weep and cry, and when all else failed, would put up both hands and tear the flowers out, and in a few moments, smiling through their tears, they would make the woods ring with their shouts of joy.
Such was the crowd of penitents that it was necessary to open another, though a smaller tent, for those seeking holiness; and these two tents became great centers of spiritual power.
The first night after starting the meeting in the second tent, when ten o’clock came, the hour for closing all services according to the rules, the meeting in this tent was going on in greater power than at any time before. The Committee of Order sent one of their number to close the meeting. When he came several remonstrated with him against his action, but he persisted in it. While engaged in his effort, he was suddenly stricken to the ground; and the Spirit seemed to be poured out in greater power still. The increased noise showed the other members of the committee that their man had not succeeded, and they dispatched a more resolute one to his assistance. He had not more than reached the tent before he was also smitten to the ground. Again the shouts of praise and the cries for help from the Lord rose higher and stronger than before. A third man was then sent with orders to bring the meeting to a close, at all hazards. When he arrived and saw the other two committeemen prostrate, he beat a hasty retreat, and informed the remaining members of the condition of the first two, and that if they desired the meeting closed they must do it, for he would have nothing to do with it. The meeting was no more interfered with, and ran on until after daylight the next morning. It was estimated that more than one hundred were converted in the other tent during the night. When we consider that this wonderful work commenced immediately after Mr. Redfield took hold of the meeting in the circumstances of the afternoon previous, we cannot but conclude that it was a demonstration of the correctness of his method.
This incident gives a clue to his wondrous power to break through to victory on occasions like that; and also illustrates the close alliance of the two phases of revival work, — sanctification and pardon.
The afternoon following, Mr. Redfield was leading a meeting for holiness, and while pointing out the details of perfect submission to the will of God, an old minister present, exclaimed, “You lay too many burdens on the people;” but when Mr. Redfield came to speak of the final act of faith, he cried out, “You make it too easy.” When Mr. Redfield finished speaking, the same old minister said to him, “If I could see this course accompanied with demonstrations of power, I would think more favorably of it.” Just then a call came for Mr. Redfield to go to another tent where several persons were anxiously seeking, and he invited the old minister to go with him, saying, “Perhaps the Lord will give you the demonstration you desire.” When they arrived at the tent they found a large number of persons present, all seated, but some of them in deep struggles of soul.
In his own account of this matter, he says, “Among them was a large, strong woman, whom none would call nervous, but who was wringing her hands, swaying back and forth, and audibly praying, “O Lord, I must have it; I shall die without it. I can’t live any longer in this manner.” I perceived that her consecration was complete, but she was making the mistake of trying to obtain the experience by will power. All present seemed to expect me to get down and by vociferous praying to heighten her emotions, and by this tempest to help them all. But instead of that I sat down by her side and endeavored to get her attention. This was quite difficult to do, but I finally succeeded, and then I inquired:
“What do you want?’
“Oh,” said some, “I want to be entirely sanctified.”
“How much do you want it?’
“Oh, I would give all I have.”
“Are you sure of that? Are you willing I should turn your heart inside out, and let all your desires be seen just as they are?’
“Yes, I am,” she replied.
“Well, I can’t do that, but I asked it for your own benefit. You now know you are honest. This is the starting point, honesty. Don’t let the devil drive you from that point. Now, with that honesty, can you, will you say, The will of the Lord be done?”
“I do,” was her prompt reply.
“Will you say this, and let God take you at your word in a moment?’
“I will,” she answered, very emphatically.
“I then described to her a possible example of suffering, and remarked: “Remember, God may take you at your word. Now, in view of anything he may ask, do you yet say, “Thy will be done?’
“Again she answered, “Yes.”
“I then described to her an example of duty, of going from house to house in the city of New York, where she lived, and asked: “Will you do this if God wills it?”
“She answered: “I will do that when I have the grace to do it with.”
“But, sister, is God at fault, that you have not the grace of perfect love up to this time?’
“Oh, no! God is not at fault.”
“Well, can you, will you, say, blessing or no blessing, if visiting and exhorting from house to house would be my duty if I had the blessing, I will not let my disobedience in the past be an excuse for disobedience in the future; I will go and do that duty?”
“Yes, I will,” she replied.
“Well, sister, who has required all this of you?”
“Enquiringly she looked up and said, “Jesus; has he not?”
“Oh, yes!” I replied; “and now I ask, sister, if Jesus has required all this and you have surrendered, do you believe he will ever accept of it?’
“Most certainly,” said she, “for he is not trifling with me. He will, won’t he?”
“Oh, I don’t doubt it,” said I. “But the only question now is sister, when do you think he will accept of what you have just surrendered?’
“She stopped as if a new thought had struck her; her face changed, and the next moment she shrieked out, “NOW!” and fell to the ground, where she lay and made the woods ring with her hallelujahs.
“But I do not think the old minister was satisfied with this exhibition, for he shortly after was making complaints of some who fell while they were repeating the doxology, though several were converted and a number sanctified.
“The sister who came out so brightly, went home from the camp meeting, lived a faithful life, and died triumphantly a few years after.”
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