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of evangelists. After this step had been taken, the absent apostles heard of it, and wrote, declaring the new arrangement to be a delusion, and rebuking both prophet and angel. The rebuked prophet withdrew for a time in anger; the angel bowed his loftier head, read the letter to the Church, and confessed his error. Thus, amid confusions, disappointments ---long lingering of the promised power from on high-sad substitution of morsels of ceremonial and church arrangement for the greater gifts for which his soul thirsted—the last spring that he was ever to see on earth dawned upon Irving. As it advanced, his friends began to write to each other again with growing anxiety and dread ; his sister-in-law, Elizabeth, describing with alarm “ the lassitude he exhibits at all times,” and bitterly complaining that he had neither time nor possibility of resting, surrounded as he was by the close pressure of that exclusive community, “ the members of his flock visiting him every forenoon from 11 to 1 o'clock," and the anxieties of all the Church upon his head. Kind people belonging to the
. Church itself interposed to carry him away, in his exhaustion, on the Monday mornings, to rest in houses which could be barricaded against the world—a thing which, in Edward Irving's house, in the mystic precincts of that Church in Newman Street, was simply impossible; and, when he had been thus abstracted by friendly importunity, describe him as stretched on a sofa, in the languor of his fatigued and failing strength, looking out upon the budding trees, but still in that leisure and lassitude turning his mind to the work for which his frame was no longer capable, dictating to some ready daughter or sister of the house. As he thus composed, it was his wont to
pause, whenever any expression or thought had come from him which his amanuensis could have any difficulty about, to explain and illustrate his meaning to her favoured ear,—neither weakness, nor sorrow, nor the hard
usage of men, being able to warp him out of that tender courtesy which belonged to his nature.
In this calm of exhaustion the early part of the year passed slowly. He still preached as usual, and was at the command of all his people, but appeared nowhere out of their close ranks. In July, he wrote a fetter, characteristically minute in all its details, to Dr. Martin, bidding him “give thanks with me unto the Lord for the preservation of your daughter and my dear wife from an attack of the cholera,” and relating the means which had been effectual in her recovery.
6 All that night I was greatly afflicted,” he writes; “I felt the land of the Lord to cast me down to the greatest depths. It was on my heart on Friday night, and it was on hers also, to bring out the elders of the Church, which I did on Saturday morning, when, having confessed before them unto the Lord all my sin, and all her sin, and all the sin of my house, without any reserve, according to the commandment of the Lord (James v. 16), I brought them up to her room, when, having ministered to her a word to strengthen her faith, they prayed to the Lord, one after the other, and then strengthened her with a word of assurance, and blessed her in the name of the Lord. They had not been gone above five minutes when she asked me for something to eat. . . . While I give the glory to God, I look upon Dr. Darling as having been a blessed instrument in His hand, and am able to see the hand of
RE-APPEARANCE OUT OF THE SHADOWS.
the Lord in the means, as clearly as in my own case, where there was neither means, nor medicine, nor the appointed ordinance of the Church.”
In this letter, Irving affectionately anticipates a visit from his wife's father and mother, and writes as if time had softened the warmth of their opposition and restored much of the old frankness of their intercourse. This is the only glimpse which I can find of him till he reappears finally in September, in all his old, individual distinctness, softened by his weak bodily condition, with a grave gentleness and dignity and the peace of exhaustion breathing in everything he does and says. He had been by “the power” commissioned, as a prophet to Scotland, to do a great work in his native land some time before. Either the time had now arrived for that great work, and he was authoritatively commanded to go forth and do it, which is the explanation given by his alarmed and disapproving relatives of his journey; or else the Church at Newman Street, anxious for the restoration of his health, gladly pronounced an authoritative sanction to his own wish to wander slowly over the country, wending his way by degrees to Scotland, with the hope of gaining strength, as well as doing the Lord's work, by the way. He had been warned by his doctor that the only safe thing for him, in the condition of health he was in, was to spend the winter in a milder climate ; and when, notwithstanding this advice, his anxious friends saw him turn his face, in the waning autumnal days, towards the wintry north instead, it is not wonderful that they should add the blame of this, to all the other wrongs against his honour and happiness of which they held
PROJECTS HIS JOURNEY.
the prophets of Newman Street guilty. However that may be, it is apparent that the spiritual authorities of his own Church, perhaps aware that no inducement would lead him to seek health, for its own sole sake, in any kind of relaxation, gave their full countenance to the journey, upon which he now set out in confidence and hope.
It is singular, however, to note how, as soon as he emerges from his seclusion in Newman Street, he regains his natural rank in a world which always had recognised the simple grandeur of his character. Away from that Church, where he rules, indeed, but must not judge, nor act upon even the utterances from heaven, except on another man's authority — where he is censured sometimes and rebuked, and where his presence is already an unacknowledged embarrassment, preventing or at least hindering the development of all its new institutions—the free air of heaven once more expands his forlorn bosom. In the rural places where he goes there is no man “worthy” who does not throw open his doors to that honoured guest, whose greatness, all subdued and chastened by his weakness, returns to him as he travels. Once more his fame encircles him as he rides alone through the unknown country. It is Edward Irving, of tender catholic heart, a brother to all Christians, whose thoughts, as he has poured them forth for ten eventful years, have quickened other thoughts over all the nation, and brought him many a disciple and many a friend in the unknown depths of England, and not merely the Angel of the new Church, who goes softly in his languor and feebleness to the banks of the Severn and the Wye. I cannot but think that
the leaders of the community must have felt—to judge by the sentiment which is apparent in their publications—a certain relief, perhaps unconscious to themselves, when he left them : he whom it was impossible not to be tender of, but whose enlightenment was slower and more difficult than they could have desired; and for himself I cannot doubt that the relief was even greater. He had escaped away to the society of his Lord — to the silent rural ways, where no excitement disturbed the musings of his soul ; to the company of good men, who were not disposed to contend with him, whom, unconsciously, he had helped and enlightened in the liberal and princely years that were past. So he left London and the battle-field, never more to enter those painful lists, nor be lost amidst the smoke of that conflict — and went forth, in simple dignity, to a work less hard than he dreamed of, unwitting to himself, leaving his passion and anguish behind him, and turning his fated steps towards the hills with no harder thing on hand than to die.
He left London without any apparent presentiment that this parting was the last, and gave his final benediction to the children whom in this world he was to
They were three whom he thus left fatherless: one only, the Maggie of his letters, old enough to understand or remember her father; the youngest an infant a few months old. The first point in his journey was Birmingham, from whence he begins his letters to his anxious wife :
“Edgbaston, Birmingham, 3rd September, 1834. “MY DEAR WIFE, - I have just time to write a line, to say that I have got here in good health and spirits, without feel
see no more.