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EXPECTATION OF POWER FROM ON HIGH.
man 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 His voice; administer no ordinance, take upon you no rule; only wait upon Him, and, until He appear for you, use the ordinances as they are found among you in the Protestant Church, from which I would not have you to separate or secede, but be along with them in the bondage and barrenness, in everything but in sin, crying for them and for all the people bitterly unto the Lord, who will separate you, when and how He knoweth best.
“In respect of an Evangelist being sent to you from my Church, I know they shall be sent out unto all the world from this land, and especially from this Church, if we abide faithful and patient in the Lord; but not until we receive power from on high, the outpouring of the latter rain, the sealing of the servants of God upon their foreheads, which
WALKING IN DARKNESS.
even now God longeth to give; for which we wait and pray daily, yea, many times a day. Therefore be patient with us, and labour together with us in the Lord for the accomplishing of this very thing. He is preparing builders here ; He is gathering stones everywhere. Pray that the labourers may be sent forth unto the harvest, for the fields are already ripe unto the harvest. We are heavy and fruitless in the Lord's hand, yet doth He glorify His abundant grace and goodness in the midst of us, for He hath by no means forsaken us, but doth daily both rebuke and comfort us. Truly my heart weepeth while I write over the let and hindrance we have presented to His work, whereby it hath come to be evilspoken of over all the world.
Oh, my brother, restrain thy imagination from the handling of things divine, but in faith and prayer be thou built up and established in all truth.
My love to all the brethren who love the Lord Jesus ! “ Your loving friend and servant, for the Lord's sake,
“ EDWD. IRVING."
The remainder of the year was spent in this expectant yet sad suspense, waiting for “power from on high,” and, when it did not come, groaning in heart over that want of faith which presented “ a let and hindrance to God's work,” within the isolated circle of the Church in Newman Street. Of that silent conflict which Irving had now to wage with himself, last and perhaps sorest of his trials, there remains no record except the scanty intimations in the Chronicle of the reluctance with which he received various particulars of the new order of things. But “ light broke in upon his mind,” always at last — he “confessed his error ;” - and so struggled onward on his sorrowful path, more and more wistfully conscious that God's footsteps are not known.
The last year of Irving's life opened dimly in the same secluded, separated world, within which Providence had abstracted him after his re-ordination. He had not failed in any of the generous and liberal sympathies of his nature; his heart was still open to his old friends, and responded warmly to all appeals of affection ; but the life of a man who prayed and waited daily, “yea, many times a day,” for the descent of that “power from on high ” which was to vindicate his faith and confirm his heart, was naturally a separated life, incapable of common communion with the unbelieving world. And he had paused in those "unexampled labours,” which, up to the settlement of his Church in Newman Street, kept the healthful daylight and open air about him. At the end of the year 1832 he and his evangelists had ceased their missionary labours; henceforward nothing but the platform in Newman Street, and the care of a flock to which he was no longer the exclusive ministrant, occupied the intelligence which had hitherto rejoiced in almost unlimited labour. Whether there was any new compensation of work in the new office of the Angel I cannot tell; but nothing of the kind is apparent. He VOL. II.
SENT TO EDINBURGH.
was not ill, as far as appears, during the early part of this silent and sad winter ; but he was deprived of the toil which had hitherto kept his mind in balance, and of that communication with the world which was breath to his brotherly and liberal soul. No man in the world could be less fitted for the life of a recluse than he; yet such a life he seems to have now led, his span of labour daily circumscribed as the different “ orders of ministries” in the new Church developed, and no missionary exertion, or new work of any kind, coming in to make up to the mighty activity, always heretofore so hungry of work, for this sudden pause
in the current of his life.
In January, however, he was sent on a mission to Edinburgh, where a Church had been established under the ministry of Mr. Tait, formerly of the College Church. This little community had been troubled by the “ entrance of an evil spirit, from which, in all its deadening effects, his experience in dealing with spiritual persons would, it was hoped, be efficacious, by the blessing of God, in delivering them.” There is little information, so far as I can discover, how Irving discharged this difficult mission; but I am indebted to the kindness of Professor Macdougall, of Edinburgh, for a momentary note of his aspect there. “His characteristic fire,” says that gentleman, who had been one of his hearers in earlier and brighter days, “had then, in a great measure, given place to a strangely plaintive pathos, which was as exquisitely touching and tender as his exhibitions of intellectual power had been majestic.” He seems to have remained but a very short time, and to have occupied himself exclusively with his
HIS MISSION THERE.
mission. “During the week of his residence in Edinburgh at that time, he was occupied day and night in public service and private visitation,” writes one of the chief office-bearers in that place, “ he so discoursed of God's truth and doctrine in all the firmness of authority and yet gentleness, that he was the means whereby that flock was recovered, strengthened, and comforted.” Though the Edinburgh public, in much greater numbers than could gain admittance, crowded to the place of meeting where Mr. Tait and his congregation had found shelter, the great preacher no longer called them forth at dawn to dispense his liberal riches, nor rushed into the chivalrous, disinterested labour of his former missions to Edinburgh. Wonderful change had come upon that ever-free messenger of truth. He came now, not on his own generous impulse, but with his instructions in his hand.
Always a servant of God, seeking to know His supreme will and to do it, he was now a servant of the Church, bound to minute obedience.
This change is strangely apparent in the few fragments of letters written during this visit, which I have only seen since the publication of the first edition of this book. They contain no additional facts, nor any details of importance, but throw another gleam of melancholy and strange light upon the altered circumstances of the man. Yet not melancholy, so far as his own consciousness is concerned ; for it is with thankfulness he describes a condition which to the outside spectator looks so much like bondage. “This day has been most blessed to us all,” he writes, on Sunday evening, the 2nd February. “The Church met at ten