|« Prev||Chapter 34||Next »|
After his labors in Stamford, Mr. Redfield visited the camp meeting at _____, and there saw such an illustration of the power of divine grace to save as he had never witnessed before. It was the case of a man who had become so abandoned that several times he had been a candidate for the penitentiary. To all appearance, his mind was but a wreck. He was a fish peddler, but when he could find any one who would gamble with him, he would leave his fish to decay in his cart. So wretched and vile had he become that some thought it was useless to pray for him. Some months after this, Mr. Redfield saw him again, and the change in him seemed like that in the demoniac of Gadara, when Jesus had cast out the evil spirit. His body was still a ruin; his mind, stupid; his person, filthy; and his whole external appearance, very repulsive; yet when he spoke of his experience there was such a charm in his artless testimony as gave a most vivid illustration of the power of grace to overcome the devil.
At this same camp meeting he met with an Indian preacher whose religious experience was very marked. In relating it he said:
“I was powerfully awakened. I sought to get help from the white man. I heard of a camp meeting and thought, “I’ll get help there;” I went to the place, but seemed to get no help. I was uneasy and wandered from place to place about the grounds. I went from tent to tent, looked into them, and seeing nothing to help me, turned away. I was most wretched. Finally the meeting closed; the last tent was struck; the last wagon driven from the ground, and I was yet unsaved. Night came on. I walked into a little ravine, the bed of which was dry, and laid down on the grass, determined never to rise until I found peace. During the night it began to rain, and after awhile the water began to run down the ravine. It came up around my sides, and then ran over me. I raised my head so I would not drown. At last, when it seemed as though I would drown if I staid there longer, God blessed me, and I crawled out of the water and went on my way.
While at this meeting he also became acquainted with another Indian, the son of a chief, who told of the great concern he felt for his people, and how God had used him in bringing his relatives to God. He related the following story:
“I procured a Testament printed in the Chippewa language. Having found Jesus myself, I wanted to see my red brother enjoying the same. I asked him to go out into the woods with me. We took our seats on a log. I then read to him about the death of Jesus. I read on and on, when at last he laid his hand on me and said, “Just stop there.” I stopped, and he started to leave me. I knew from his looks what he meant, and neither spoke nor followed him, but remained sitting on the log. He went over a little knoll and began to pray in good earnest. He continued to cry for mercy until the sun was going down, when suddenly he bounded to his feet like a deer. God had saved him. He now started for his father’s wigwam, and going in, knelt down and began to pray. Soon his mother came and knelt by his side, and then a sister, and then another; and finally his father came and knelt down. By the morning all were converted. His father was so happy over his new religion, and so anxious to spread it, that he started for the store of the white man who sold fire-water (whisky) to the tribe. When he got there, he said to the white man:
“We have lived together here for a long time. We have been good friends, and never had a quarrel.”
“That is true,” said the white man.
“Now, I want you to do me one good thing as a friend. You know I never asked you for anything before.”
“Well, I’ll grant you the favor if I can; what is it?” asked the white man.
“Then,” said the Indian, “Don’t sell any more fire-water to the Indians. You know many of them have come here and bought the fire-water, and some of them when drunk have tried to cross the river and have been drowned; and some of them have fallen in the snow and have frozen to death. And our people have been made wretched by drinking the fire-water.”
“The white man made the promise, and the old Indian returned home to pray for him. The next morning he went near enough to see that the store was closed, and then went back to pray for the white man more; and to let him have time to think it over. The next morning he went again to see, and found the store still closed. The third morning he found the store was still closed; but he went now to see how the white man got along. He found him in despair. He tried to comfort him, but he said: “No! no! it is true; I’ve been the means of the deaths of those who were drowned, and of those who were frozen, and there can be no mercy for me.”
“The old Indian tried to think of something that would give the poor man hope, and finally said: “There must be hope for you, for the Lord had mercy on me. If he can save an Indian, he can save a white man.”
“The poor man laid hold on this, and was saved. He then went among the Indians and became a successful missionary among them.”
At another camp meeting during this season, Mr. Redfield met a converted Jew in whom he became greatly interested. He was a son of a rabbi. He told Mr. Redfield the following story of his father’s death, as an illustration of how Christ comes to some of his people in the dying hour. When his father was drawing near to death, and while uttering the usual cry of his people at such times, “he called for me,” said the son, “and said to me, “O my son, I have tried to live in good conscience all my life. I have tried honestly to serve the God of my fathers; but now in my great extremity I do not feel prepared to die. I have done everything I can think of to prepare me to meet God, except to have a sacrifice offered for me. But that is impossible; we have no temple and no high priest.” Some of our Jewish friends came as usual at such times, and exhorted him, as a last act of fidelity to God, to curse Christ, and thus deny all fellowship with idolatry. But he broke out saying: “God forbid that I should deny my only hope of salvation.”
“This,” said the young man, “is of frequent occurrence among the more devoted Jews.”
This incident afforded Mr. Redfield much comfort, for the thought of missionary work among the Jews, and how to do it, had been much upon his mind.
During the summer, while visiting in Stamford, as he passed a house one day a lady called him in to see her husband who was in despair over the doctrine of election. He had, in childhood, been taught the Calvinistic faith, and although he had been a Methodist for years, he could not shake off entirely that teaching.
Mr. Redfield asked him, “How long have you been in this state of mind?”
“For twenty years,” he replied. His wife said he would sometimes shut himself up in a room and pray and groan for hours together without any relief.
Mr. Redfield said to him, “Tell me as near as you can all about it.”
“Oh,” said he, “I am afraid that I am a reprobate; that Christ never died for me. Sometimes I feel my heart a little softened, so I can weep a little; and then I take comfort and hope that I am not lost. But the hardness returns, and then I am in distress again.”
“Well said Mr. Redfield, “I am not going to use any arguments against that false doctrine; but I want you in your heart to say, I believe Jesus died for me.”
“Oh,” said he, “I would not dare to do so wicked a thing, for if he did not die for me, I should then be believing a lie.”
“Never mind that,” said Mr. Redfield, “for if Christ did not die for you, according to this miserable doctrine, you are lost any way, and to believe one more lie cannot make your case a great deal worse; you had better risk it.”
The old man repeated aloud, in measured tones, “I believe that Jesus died for ME. Oh, glory to God! I’ve got it! I’ve got it! I’ve got it.”
Here Mr. Redfield saw demonstrated that one act of faith would do what twenty years of praying had failed to do.
In another place, that season, he attended a holiness meeting held in a private house, where a room overhead was occupied by a gentleman boarder, whose strange conduct is recorded below. God graciously manifested himself in the meeting and several were sanctified, and a number more converted. In the midst of it, the man overhead began to rave like a madman. He came down into the hall, and began to howl and bark and growl like a dog, and that so rapidly and violently that it sounded as though a number of dogs were fighting there. He then burst in the door, and when he saw Mr. Redfield, his eyes flashed, and he moved towards him as if to do him harm, and yet harmed him not. At last he left the room. The next day the man of the house asked him why he could disturb a religious meeting like that.
“Sir,” said he, “I do not wish to do such things, but I cannot help it. I know that I am forever lost; I have known this for years. Ever since the time when I was forsaken of God, I cannot endure the sound of prayer or of religious song. It completely unmans me.”
|« Prev||Chapter 34||Next »|