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The next year began with but a gradual increase of darkness to the devoted household, from which old friends were failing and old ties breaking every day. It was no lack of affection which necessitated those partings; but utter disagreement in a point so important, and the growing
the growing impatience of the sensible, “practical” men around him for that impracticable faith which no motive of prudence nor weight of reasoning could move, inevitably took the heart from their intercourse, and produced a gradual alienation between Irving and his ancient brethren. Other friends, it is true, came in to take their place partisans still more close, loyal, and loving—but they were new, little tried, strangers to all his native sympathies and prejudices, neither Scotch nor Presbyterian : and with equal inevitableness took up an attitude of opposition to the older party, and made the pathetic struggle an internecine war. On all sides the friends of
years parted from Irving's side. His wife's relations, with whom he had exchanged so many good offices and tender counsels, were, to a man, against him : so were his elders, with one exception. His friends outside
the ecclesiastical boundaries were still less tolerant. Thomas Carlyle and his wife, both much beloved, not only disagreed, but remonstrated; the former making a vehement protestation against the “Bedlam ” and “ Chaos” to which his friend's steps were tending, which Irving listened to in silence, covering his face with his hands. When the philosopher had said, doubtless in no measured or lukewarm terms, what he had to say, the mournful apostle lifted his head, and addressed him with all the tenderness of their youth—“ Dear friend !”—that turning of the other cheek seems to have touched the heart of the sage almost too deeply to make him aware what was the defence which the other returned to his fiery words. None of his old supporters, hitherto so devoted and loyal, stood by Irving in this extremity; nobody except the wife, who shared all his thoughts, and followed him faithfully in faith as well as in love to the margin of the grave.
In the midst of all these disruptions, however, he snatches a moment to send the good wishes of the beginning season to Kirkcaldy Manse : “ I desire to give thanks to God that He has spared us all to another year,” he writes, “and I pray that it may be very fruitful in you and in us unto all good works. We have daily reason to praise the Lord. He gives us new demonstrations of His presence amongst us daily. There is not any church almost with which He hath dealt so graciously. May the Lord revive and restore His work in the midst of you all! I would there were in every congregation a morning prayer-meeting for the gifts of the Spirit.” These brief words mark, however,
the limits to which he is now reduced in those once overflowing domestic confidences. He can but utter with an unexpressed sigh the still affectionate good-will, and make a tacit protest against harsh judgment by fervent utterances of gratitude for the manifestations of God's presence. Sympathy of thought and spiritual feeling was over between those close friends.
Very early in this year the little band of “gifted” persons, whose presence
had made so much commotion in Regent Square, and of whom we have hitherto had
clear and recognisable picture, is opened up to us in the narrative, which I have already referred to, of one of the most remarkable among them, Mr. Robert Baxter, then of Doncaster. Having but recently appeared within the inspired circle, this gentleman had made his utterances with so much power and authority, that already adumbrations of an office higher than the prophetic overshadowed him, and he seems to have taken a leading place in all the closest and most sacred conferences of the prophets. He had been for some years known to Irving ; his character for godliness and devotion stood high, and he was so much in the confidence and fellowship of the minister of the church in Regent Square as to have been, before any gifts had inanifested themselves in him, permitted occasionally to conduct some part of the service in the morning prayermeetings. At length he spoke, and that with a force and fulness not yet attained by any of the other speakers. “In the beginning of my utterances that evening,” he
says in his narrative, “some observations were in the power addressed by me to the pastor in a commanding tone; and the manner and course of utter
FURTHER DEVELOPMENT OF THE
ance was so far differing from those which had been manifested in the members of his own flock*, that he was much startled.
I was made to bid those present ask instruction upon any subject on which they sought to be taught of God; and to several questions asked, answers were given by me in the power. One
. in particular was so answered with such reference to the circumstances of the case, of which in myself I was
Ι wholly ignorant, as to convince the person who asked it that the Spirit speaking in me knew those circumstances, and alluded to them in the answer.” This further development of the gift, after a momentary doubt, was received with still fuller gratitude and trust by Irving, who comforts himself in his desertion by communicating the news as follows to his distant friends, one of whom was in perfect accordance with him, while he had still hopes of the sympathy of the other. To Mr. Macdonald he conveys the intelligence in haste, and with perfect confidence of being understood:
“ London, 24th January, 1832. “The Lord hath anointed Baxter of Doncaster after another kind, I think the apostolical; the prophetical being the ministration of the word, the apostolical being the ministration of the Spirit. He speaks from supernatural light, and with the choice of words. Nevertheless, the word is sealed in the utterance. It is more abiding than the prophetical, though sometimes for a snare he is locked up. It is authoritative, and always concludes with a benediction.”
In more detail, and with pathetic appeal and remonstrance, he communicates the same news to Mr. Story,
Mr. Baxter was a member of the Church of England.
transmitting the message itself, as well as the claims of the messenger to increased honour and reverence.
" London, 27th January, 1832. “MY DEAR BROTHER, — It has been said in the Spirit by a
“ brother (Robert Baxter of Doncaster; he has written several papers in the Morning Watch), that the Two Witnesses are two orders of anointed men, the prophets and the priests, the one after the Old Testament, the other after the New Testament form ; the one those who speak with tongues, and to whom the Word of the Lord comes without power
beyond or fall within ; the other the apostolical, in whom the Spirit of Jesus dwells as in Jesus Himself for utterance of every sort with demonstration of the Spirit, and with power. For the last six months, the Spirit hath been moving him, and uttering by him privately; but his mouth was not opened till Friday week, when he was reading the Scripture and praying at our early service. From that time for more than a week he continued [among us * ] speaking in the power and demonstration of the Spirit with great authority, always concluding in the Spirit with a benediction. To me it seems to be the apostolical office for which I have had faith given to me to [pray] both publicly and privately these many months. I gave him liberty to speak on the Lord's day, but God did not see it meet. A clergyman of the [Church] had the faith to give him his pulpit last Sunday, when he prayed in the Spirit. He said in the Spirit that the two orders of witnesses were now present in the Church, the 1260 days of witnessing are begun, and that within three and a half years, the saints will be taken up, according to the 12th chapter of the Apocalypse. (This is not to date the Lord's coming, which is some time after His saints are with Him.) Also, he said in the Spirit, that ordination by the hands of the Church is cut short in judgment, and that God Himself is about to set forth by the Spirit a spiritual ministry, for which we ought to
* This letter is torn and partly illegible. The few words in brackets are filled in from the evident meaning of the context.