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declare a negative, but only to affirm that baptism by sprinkling is sufficient. In the Church of England, the rule of baptizing infants is by immersion, and the exception is by sprinkling. I sought counsel of our Presbytery in this matter, which once occurred in an adult, as it has now occurred in an infant. They seemed to be of the mind that there was no rule, but only practice, against it, and advised, upon the ground of expediency, to refrain. .... The father, who is a member of the Church, is a most pious and worthy man, full of forbearance to others, but very firmly, and from much reading, convinced of the duty of baptizing by immersion only. He has waited some time, and the sooner we could ascertain the judgment of the Church the better. . My own opinion is, that our standards leave it as a matter of forbearance, preserving the sprinkling, -the Church of England the same, preserving immersion. I am sorry to trouble you who have so much to do, but the mere writing of the judgment would satisfy us. And as you are now the head of the theological faculty, as well as our ancient friend, the Session thought of no other, at whose request I write.
“ Your affectionate friend,
6 EDWARD IRVING."
So dutiful and eager to know the mind of the Church was the man whose long conflict against her authorities was now just commencing. If Dr. Chalmers answered these letters, the answers have not been preserved; nor have I the least information what the head of the theological faculty said to that old-world application for an examination and trial by which the candidate for theological honours might win his degree. Irving was never to get within sight of that testimony of the Church's approval — far from that, was verging, had he but known it, upon her censures and penalties. But though this year upon which he had just entered was one of the most strenuous and incessant defence and
IRVING'S BELIEF IN HIS OWN ORTHODOXY.
assertion of doctrine, though its whole space was occupied with renewed and ever stronger settings forth of the truth, which with growing fervour he held to embody the very secret of the Gospel, his position, to his own apprehension, was in no respect that of a heretic assailed. On the contrary, he conceived himself to stand as the champion of Orthodox truth against a motley crowd of heretics; and with this idea, calmly at first, and with more and more vehemence as he began to discover how great was the array against him, devoted himself to the assertion and proof of a doctrine which, when he stated it, he knew not that any man doubted. Throughout all his contentions he never abandoned this position. First surprised, then alarmed, not for himself but for the Church, afterwards, and not till a long interval had elapsed, indignant, he continued steadily to hold this attitude. Even when the Church uttered her thunders, he stood dauntless, the Church's real champion, the defender of her orthodox belief, the faith once delivered to the saints. Such was his position, to his own thinking, in the struggle which was beginning. He did everything that man could do, privately, calmly, with unparalleled forbearance sometimes, sometimes with vehemence and rashness, to set forth fairly and fully before the world the doctrine he held. He supported it with an array of authorities difficult to get over; with quotations from the fathers and standards of entire Christendom, with arguments and appeals to Scripture, almost always with a noble eloquence which came warm from his heart. In private letters, in sermons, in every method by which he could come into communication with the world, he
MISSTATEMENTS OF HIS DOCTRINE.
repeated, and expounded, and defended, this momentous matter of belief.
It is unnecessary that I should give any account of a question which he states so fully and so often in his own words, nor is it my business to pronounce upon the right or wrony of a theological question. But I think I am warranted in pointing out again the deeply disingenuous guise in which this matter was first set before the public. When the difference appears thus, according to his own statement of it, “ Whether Christ's flesh had the grace of sinlessness and incorruption from its proper nature, or from the indwelling of the Holy Ghost,—I say the latter,” it is a difference which certainly may exist, and may be discussed, but which cannot shock the most reverent mind. But when, on the other hand, it is stated as an heretical maintenance of the " sinfulness of Christ's human nature,” the matter changes its aspect entirely, and involves something abhorrent to the most superficial of Christians. But in this
way it was stated by every one of Irving's opponents; and attempts were made to lead both himself and his followers into speculations of what might have happened if the Holy Ghost had not, from its earliest moment of being, inspired that human nature, which were as discreditable to the questioners as aggravating to men who held the impossibility of sinfulness in our Saviour as warmly and entirely as did those who called them heretics. The real question was one of the utmost delicacy and difficulty, a question which the common world could only alter and travestie ; re-presenting and re-confuting, and growing indignant over a dogma which itself had
invented. Only by such a statement of it, which, if not distinctly false, was thoroughly disingenuous, could it at all have been brought into a platform question, for common discussion before the untrained and inexact public.
In the early spring, the first number of the Morning Watch, a quarterly journal of prophecy, to which he alludes in his letter to Dr. Chalmers as meditated by the leading members of the Albury Conference, came into being Its editor was Mr. Tudor, a gentleman now holding a high office in the Catholic Apostolic Church. (I take, without controversy, the name assumed by itself; gladly granting, as its members maintain, that to designate it a sect of Irvingites is equally unjust to its supposed founder and itself.) Irving took advantage by this publication to explain and open up the assailed doctrine, already popularly known as the doctrine of the Humanity, reasserting all his former statements with renewed force and earnest
Besides this, the chief thing which appears to me remarkable in these early numbers of the Morning Watch, is the manner in which Irving pervades the whole publication. Amid eight or ten independent writers his name occurs, not so much an authority, as an all-influencing unquestionable presence, turally and simply suggesting itself to all as somehow the centre of the entire matter. They speak of him as the members of a household speak of its head; one could imagine that the name might almost be discarded, and “he” be used as its significant and unmistakable symbol. To realise the fulness of this subtle, unspoken influence, it is necessary to glance at this publication, which has fallen out of the recol
WORDS OF CONSOLATION.
lection of the greater part of the world. I do not remember to have met any similar instance of unconscious, unquestioned pre-eminence. No man there but is ready to stand up for every word he utters, for every idea he advances ; ready, even before knowing what the accusation is, to challenge the world in his behalf. It is hero-worship of the most absolute, unconscious kind,—all the more absolute that it is unconscious, and that neither the object nor the givers of that loyal allegiance are aware to what extent it goes.
I cannot pass over the beginning of this year without quoting some portion of a letter of consolation addressed to his friend Mr. Bridges, in Edinburgh, who had just then lost his wife. Irving's own wife was at this time subject to the ever-recurring ailments of a young mother, and often in a state of health which alarmed her friends ; and it was accordingly with double emotion that he heard of the death of another young mother, she who, timid of his own approach, had forgotten all her alarm at sight of his reception of her babies. The news went to Irving's sympathetic heart.
“ MY DEAR AND WORTHY FRIEND,—Now is your hour of trial, and now is your time to glorify God. Out of all comparison, the heaviest trial of a man is upon you. Now, then, is the time for your proved faith to show its strength, and to prove it unto honour and glory in the day of the Lord. The Father plants us, and then says, “Blow every blast, and root up the plant which I have planted:' our faith standing fast proves that He has planted us to bring Him honour and glory against a fallen world, which we overcome without any visible help. The Father gives us as sheep unto Christ, and says, “Now, ye wolves, snatch them if ye can. The afflictions