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Redfield in a Hard Place

John Wesley Redfield (1810-1863)

John W. Redfield was a remarkable revivalist among the Methodists and Free Methodists. He died not many years ago. From his memoir, prepared by J. G. Terrill, we take the following:

“The Sabbath came, and I went to church. A goodly number had come, probably from curiosity, to see the new preacher. I had resolved to deliver my own soul regardless of persons or conditions, by declaring the whole counsel of God. But I saw no favorable indications. After a few efforts during the week following to bring about a change, and finding it all in vain, I went to sinners and exhorted them to flee from the wrath to come.

The response from them was: "‘Go, look after your ungodly members." Sabbath came again, and I delivered my message in view of the judgment; When I was leaving the church, I met the principal member of the official board, who accosted me thus: ‘We don’t like your preaching here at all, nor the chapters you lead from the pulpit. Hell is not very popular here.’

“I inquired: ‘Will you tell me, brother, what I have preached that is not Bible truth?"

"Well," said he, "I believe it is true."

“‘Do you want me to preach lies?" I asked.

"I went home, weeping along the street. I now saw I was going to accomplish anything, I must do it with might. So, Monday morning, I went to the grove, and before, the Lord in prayer. It seemed as though the power I experienced of darkness were all about me. The sensations were as if by the hardest effort I was overcoming great obstacles and rising higher and higher, until my head struck against a rock, and I sank back overcome. I arose and sought another place to plead with God, and there experienced the same.

Thus I continued day after day through the week. I would go to the house once in a while and get something to eat, and then return to the struggle. Sometimes my agony was such that it seemed to me I could rend the heavens with my cries for the salvation of sinners. It seemed to me that if I could hold on until the victory came, I should see them saved.

When Saturday night came my very brain seemed sore, and the jar of my step gave me pain. I felt a kind of bewilderment coming on, but I had received no answer. I had resolved, in the name of God, to see a break and salvation come to the church, on the next Sabbath, or an end put to its standing as a stench in the nostrils of the Almighty and the world.

“Sunday morning came, and with eyes sore from weeping, and my brain tender from the continual struggle of the week, I walked softly and carefully to the church, and into the pulpit. In opening the service, I said to the membership:"

"This day ends my labors in this place. You do not want me here, and I do not want to stay, for I am heartily tired of pouring water on to rocks. But if God will help me, I will either see a break today, or see this ungodly apology for Methodism annihilated. I have asked no man’s money; I go at my own expense; but I shall go straight for God."

Nothing seemed to move in the morning. In the evening I went into the pulpit again, and announced that I should redeem my pledge. Of course, this aroused their hate to a high pitch.

As God helped, I pointed out the track of an acceptable disciple, and the only one that could possibly pass the gates of Paradise. At the close of the sermon, I asked those, and only those who meant it and would take this track and where needed go to their neighbors and confess to them, and pray with them, and who would seek for the blessing of holiness until they knew they had it, to rise. I didn’t believe I could get them to come forward. Two only arose, and they were of the most lowly. ‘Well,’ said I, ‘there seem to be but three of us, counting myself as one, and God besides; but I think we will try and have a prayer meeting.’

Those two and myself were all that would kneel, I in the altar and they at their seats, about half-way down the church. I opened with a short prayer, and began to rise in spirit until I struck that rock again. I then asked some one else to pray, but no one responded; and I tried again with the same experience and result, and the third time, and the fourth, and fifth until the sixth time, in immediate succession.

I now felt that this is the last time, and that if I did not get the victory, God would say to me: ‘Let them alone.’ The case was a desperate one, and I knew the world and the devil were against me, and the church members who would not kneel; but I said in my prayer:

‘O God, I’ll go as far as I can." Again in spirit I began to rise, and soon I struck that rock again, and it seemed to shiver to atoms. Instantly the house was filled with the Divine glory.

The two who were kneeling with me fell, and their shouts and screams were so loud that they alarmed the village. The people came running in to see what was the matter, and as they crowded up the aisles and saw the two prostrate under the power of God, tears each other down their faces; and the poor tempted members began one after another to confess their hostility and ask for pardon, and promised to take the track pointed out to them.

I stayed one more week, and forty-five sinners were converted. The preacher, who had abandoned the work returned and revival went on in power for some time. Ten or fifteen years afterward, I heard from that society, and it still was well.

Brief Biography of John Wesley Redfield

Life of John Wesley Redfield (Full Text of His Biography)

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