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Life of John Wesley Redfield
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CHAPTER 37

When Mr. Redfield began his work at Salina, as usual he tried the best he was able to set forth the standard of holiness in view of having “something to work up to,” as he expressed it. He pressed the people to seek this experience. Many came forward for that purpose, but were unsuccessful in seeking it. He then made the discovery, after careful examination, that the mass of them were backslidden from God. So he publicly confessed his mistake in preaching holiness to them, when they needed justification. He then attempted to impress the truths related to that phase of religious experience. But again they were brought to a stand. More thorough searching, and humbling themselves before God, and it was discovered that the mass of the people in the religious confusion that had reigned, had fallen below even morality. So he confessed his mistake again, and began preaching to them the first principles of the kingdom of God.

He now began to have some of his own peculiar experiences again, that had often attended his most successful efforts. He began to be “burdened” for the work. He had often had these struggles, and sometimes with a severity that threw him upon his bed as if with a fit of sickness, and held him there until victory came. One night in the church he was filled with unspeakable agony for souls. If h could have howled like the old prophets, it would have relieved him; but this he could not do. He thought he could not endure it. He attempted to go out of the church, but was checked by the Holy Spirit. He then said, “Lord, I’ll try to hold on.” He then began to cry out, “O my God, this people must be saved.” At this he was instantly relieved. The whole church was now in commotion. Screams for mercy mingled with shouts of rejoicing were heard on every side. At this time commenced the strange demonstrations described in the preceding chapter.

When the revival was fully under motion, and these demonstrations were becoming common, then the curious began to come to witness the strange sights. One night several came near the altar and asked permission to observe them closely. It was given them, and soon they began to make remarks as follows:

“It is nothing but hysterics.”

“Do you understand physiology?” asked Mr. Redfield.

“Yes, well enough to know this is nothing but hysterics.”

“Are people usually happy when they have hysterics?”

They did not answer.

Another said: “It’s nothing but psychology.”

Another said: “It’s spiritualism.”

Another said: “It is easy enough to produce it all.”

Mr. Redfield was afterwards told that some of these men held meetings in which they tried to imitate these phenomena, but failed. They then declared it to be supernatural. Many of these men were soon after converted to God.

The experience of a Unitarian woman well illustrates the thoroughness of Mr. Redfield’s methods. She was of high standing in the community because of her wealth and benevolence. In years past she had been an active member of an orthodox church, and none had been more deeply engaged in revival work than she. Of late she had pretended not to believe in anything of that kind. God now got hold of her by his truth. When she came forward some of the more worldly of the Methodists seemed much elated. The expression on their faces seemed to say, “Now, she will give our church character, and we’ll be thought something of.” Mr. Redfield thought he detected this, and resolved that she should go through it if it was possible. He knelt near her and asked her loud enough for all to hear it, “Madam, what is your wish in coming to the altar?”

“I want religion.”

“Then pray right out loud for salvation.”

“Oh,” said she, “I cannot pray for myself.”

“Well, then, I cannot pray for you.”

“Why, I have said I would go to hell before I’d ever pray in such a place as this.”

Raising his voice, he repeated her words, and then said, “Madam, you will either take that back, or you will go to hell. You need not think of succeeding in your rebellion against God.”

“Do you think there is any mercy for me?” she inquired.

“I don’t know,” he replied, “your case is a hard one, and it maybe you have already passed beyond the limits of mercy; but I would try to pray.”

“Well, I’ll try.”

“But will you pray in your family?”

“Oh,” said she, “I have said I’d sooner be damned than pray before my husband.”

“Well,” said he, “you’ll take that back, or be lost forever.”

“Well, I will,” she replied.

“But you have exerted an influence against God and Christ among the Unitarians; now will you go to them and confess this, and cut your acquaintance with them, and tell them why you do it?”

This was a hard task, but after being shown that her course had been one of hostility to God and the right, and if she desired to make clean work, she must now do this, at last, she said,

“I will do it.”

“One thing more. Will you exhort them to seek Jesus, and then pray with them before you leave them?”

Some may think this was carrying the matter too far, and she felt it was a hard thing for her to do. But Mr. Redfield thought it a wicked thing for a woman in high position to use her influence against Jesus of Nazareth, so he insisted upon her making the thing right with God and man.

“Well, I will,” said she, at last.

She then turned and asked one to pray for her, of whom she had said, “I never want him to pray for me.” The moment she made this request she fell helpless to the floor. She was truly saved, and did her duty faithfully, and God was with her in power.

One of the Unitarian ministers came to him one day for a talk. After a formal introduction, he said:

“I am happy to make your acquaintance. I have attended some of your meetings, and I desire to say to you, that I extend to you the right hand of fellowship. But I think you might adopt one suggestion I will make, and that to your advantage.”

“What is that, sir?” inquired Mr. Redfield.

“Let us win our way to the hearts of sinners by showing Christian love among ourselves. Just let them see how our religion unites us all together, and this will recommend the benign religion of our Saviour.”

“But how far would you have me go with this?” asked Mr. Redfield.

“All who even take the name of Christian, are entitled to our charity and brotherly love.”

“But suppose a man tells me there is no more virtue in the blood of Jesus than in the blood of a hog?” (This had been preached in this man’s pulpit, unrebuked.)

“Well, it will do no good to hold a man off and deny him your charity for opinion’s sake.”

“Further” said Mr. Redfield, “suppose he tells me he does not believe in God, nor heaven, nor hell, nor Christ, nor a future state

“Well, it is a free country, and any one has a right to believe what he pleases; and we can do no good to a man by prescribing what he shall believe as a condition to his receiving our charity.”

At this Mr. Redfield said: “Let us pray,” and kneeling down, prayed for his visitor as a poor, deluded man.

At the afternoon service this man was present. After a time he arose and said:

“I desire to say here, to this church, that I feel a great interest in these meetings. They meet with my hearty approval.”

When he sat down, Mr. Redfield arose, and said: “I want this congregation to understand that, as a church, we have no fellowship with infidels or atheists. And I know this man to be such from conversation with him today. God calls upon us and angels, to worship Christ, — to worship Jesus.”

Instantly the power of God seemed to fill the whole house.

These services continued a short time longer. The church edifice was saved, the debt paid off, the minister received back for another year, and well provided for; there was a large addition to the membership, a good parsonage built, a second church built near by to accommodate the congregation, and that all paid for, and the whole within a few months, as the fruit of this revival meeting.

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