« PoprzedniaDalej »
CONCLUSION OF THAT PERIODICAL.
Church, to do Him service there, and, in so doing, to be prepared for His coming ; Satan is gathering his hosts under the standard of Liberalism to become the pioneers of that wicked one, that man of sin, the son of perdition, the personal Antichrist.
“ In the progress of this work, of gathering and preparing his followers, Christ, for some months past, hath been calling for the personal services of nearly all the regular correspondents of this journal, one after another; and He hath at length called the editor to take the place of an elder in His Church, and hath claimed all his time and services for the special duties of feeding and overseeing a sixth part of the flock of Christ in London. To this higher calling the editor now resolves to devote himself wholly, and at the same time brings the Morning Watch to a close, as he will not transfer to any other person such a solemn responsibility.”
This singular periodical, a phenomenon in literature, came to a conclusion in June 1833. The March number contained several papers of Irving's, and in particular a most striking reply to Baxter's narrative - as eloquent an address as one man ever made to another, for it is almost entirely a personal appeal. When the Morning Watch ceased to afford him a means of communicating his thoughts to the public, Irving wrote no more. The only productions of his pen thereafter, except the sermons which he still continued to dictate wherever he found an amanuensis, were now and then a pastoral letter. His intercourse with the world, so far as literature was concerned, had now terminated. In every way, that intercourse grew less and less. He no longer went abroad to preach those open-air sermons, to which, in the previous year, thousands listened. Events drew closer the circle of fate; more and more he became isolated
in that little world guided by the ecstatic utterances,
AN EMBARRASSING RESTRAINT.
by God, could make him bow his head; and was once more an embarrassing presence to the lesser men around, who knew not how to adapt their vestments to the limbs of a giant. From that dim world no more letters come forth to tell us how it is with him in his own sincere and unconcealable spirit ; but when, now and then, for a moment, some other hand puts back the curtain, the picture is sad and full of trouble. His reason and his heart struggle against those bonds; but still he submits — always submits, bowing his lofty sorrowful head, on which anguish and conflict have scattered premature snows, under the yoke. Throughout the Chronicle and other publications put forth by the community, this great figure looms, always with formal acknowledgments made of its greatness, often with natural outbursts of affection celebrating its nobility, but, nevertheless, with a certain unexpressed disapprobation visibly mingling with all praise. Even the apostles and prophets are puzzled how to manage a soul so heroically simple, a heart so warm. are tender of his repugnances and reluctances, but cannot understand how it is that their restraints irk him. And so it is that his days, which are numbered, glide on out of sight of the world. Outside, people imagine him the leader, who has brought and keeps this congregation together, and by right of whose permission prophets speak and elders teach; but in reality, when one looks within, the scene is very different. The apostles and prophets have patience with him when the light breaks slowly, painfully, upon his troubled soul; and, mastering all the prejudices of his life, all the impulses of his will, this martyr, into
THE COMMUNION IN NEWMAN STREET.
whose lingering agony nobody enters, still bends his head and obeys.
A single example of this, contained in a letter from his brother-in-law, the Rev. J. Brodie, of Monimail, I may instance. The Communion was being celebrated in the Newman Street Church one Sunday in June, and Mr. Brodie, then in London on a visit, was present :
“ After praise and prayer, he (Irving) proceeded to dispense the ordinance of the Lord's Supper, and pointed out the character of those who were invited to approach, and of those who were unworthy. While he was doing this, one of the apostles exclaimed: 'And if there be any one who does not acknowledge that the Spirit of God is amongst us, if there be any one that doubts the work of the Lord, let him abstain ; let the unbeliever depart.'
Next forenoon, Mr. Irving came to call for me. I
very readily expressed my belief that not a few of those who belonged to his congregation were true believers in the Saviour; when he asked me, “Wby, then, did you not come and join with us at our Communion?' I replied, “ Even if I had desired to do so, how could I, after having heard it so plainly stated that all who doubted as to the nature of those manifestations were commanded to abstain?' He paused a moment, and then said, “Ah, yes, the Spirit hath so enjoined us.' I saw that it was not without a struggle that he gave up the liberal and truly catbolic feeling by which he had formerly been led to regard all true believers as brethren."
How many of such groans burst out of Irving's labouring heart is known only to the Divine Confidant of all his sorrows. The grieved and anxious brother who records this incident plied him inevitably once more with argument and appeal, representing that " these manifestations were the effects of excited imagination.” In the midst of the harder sacrifices by which he had now to prove his devotion, the sufferer's
constancy and patience had again and yet again to go through this trial. He was still remonstrated with about that belief which was bringing upon him internal struggles more severe than any man knew of; and still he held to that only ground on which he could sustain himself, in forlorn but sublime confidence — the conviction that he had asked sincerely, and that God had answered. But God's ways were dark to His all-trusting servant — “ His footsteps are not known.”
Notwithstanding these difficulties, however, a profound expectation still moved the community in Newman Street, and kept hope and strength in the breast of Irving. The details of the living tabernacle were not all that he looked for from heaven. The baptism by fire was yet to come, and apostolic gifts, more marked and distinctive than the supernatural impulses which moved Mr. Cardale to confer ordination, were promised to the faith of the Church. This state of expectation is very apparent in the following letter addressed to a pious household in South America, one of the members of which, when in England, had been a partaker in the gift of prophecy :
“ London, 14, Newman Street, July 29, 1833. “ MY DEAR FRIENDS AND BRETHREN,
In respect of the matters concerning which you ask my counsel, I think that you, my dear Mrs. K-, ought both to desire and earnestly pray to be made the vessel of the Holy Ghost, seeing that once He hath honoured you in so wonderful a manner. But I believe that this will not be until those of the brethren who are set with you to seek the Lord do separate themselves to prayer and supplication, and waiting upon the Lord to join them into a Church, and endow them with His gifts and ministries from heaven.
But do nothing without