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MUTTERINGS OF THE COMING STORM.
to have tacitly admitted these matters to be open to a diversity of opinion. How, doing this, the much more abstruse question concerning the Humanity of Christ should have been exempted from the same latitude and freedom, I am entirely at a loss to conceive, seeing it is, of all disputed questions, perhaps the most unfit to be argued before a popular tribunal. But the mutterings of the storm were already audible; and Irving visibly stood on a tremulous elevation, not only with dawning lights of doctrine, unseen by his brethren around him, but even more deeply at variance in spirit with the time and all its ways. As if his own responsibilities, in the shape of doctrine, had not been enough, he had identified himself, and thrown the glory of his outspoken, unhesitating championship over that which was shortly to be known as the Row Heresy. Everywhere he had “ committed himself;" thought or calculation of prudence not being in the man. But at present, though his friends did not all agree with him, and though the scribblers of the religious press were already up in arms against him, no one seems to have feared
interruption of his triumphant and splendid career. Like other invincible generals he had inspired his army with a confidence unconquerable in himself and his destiny. Some of the very closest in that half ecclesiastical, half domestic circle which gathered warmly round him in the new Church at Regent Square, were afterwards to turn upon him, or sadly drop from his side in horror of the heresy, to which now, in its first unconscious statement, they had given in their delighted adhesion.
TRUST OF HIS PEOPLE.
They did not know it was heresy for long months, almost
years afterwards : they believed in him with a unanimity and enthusiasm seldom paralleled. Downfall or confusion, as it seemed, could not approach that fervent and unwearied herald of God.
The following year opened with unabated activity. The courage and hopefulness, equally unabated, with which Irving entered upon it, will be seen from a letter addressed to Dr. Chalmers, and apparently written in the very conclusion of December, 1828 (the date being torn off), in which it will be seen that the laborious man, not weaned, among all his other triumphs, from academical ambition, proposed, and was ready to prepare for an academical examination, in order to obtain the highest title in theology. This letter was written immediately after Dr. Chalmers's entrance upon the duties of the Divinity Chair in Edinburgh.
“MY DEAR AND HONOURED FRIEND, -I desire to congratulate you upon the welcome which you have received in the University of Edinburgh, in which I pray that you may have much wisdom and long life to labour. I agree with that which I have gathered of your sentiments with respect to the excessive duties of the chair, beyond the reach of any single man to discharge them aright. Biblical criticism should be the chief object of the Hebrew chair, not the teaching of the letters and the grammar; and, certainly, of the three years spent in the Greek class, at least one should be occupied in the critical study of the New Testament. There is no university in Europe (always excepting the thing called the London University) which would be so ashamed of God and theology as yours, against which I ought not to speak, for she
is my Alma Mater. Then the Church History, instead of dawdling over the first four centuries, should especially be conversant with the history of the Church of Scotland, and the duties incumbent upon a parish priest; in short, what belongs to the Churchman rather than the theologian, and the Hebrew what belongs to the scholar. Then it would be a Theological Faculty indeed. But what pretensions these two classes have at present to that title I am at a great loss to discover. This is spoken in your own ear, for it but ill graces what I am now to turn to.
“I have, you know, a great reverence for antiquity, and especially the antiquity of learning and knowledge: the venerable honours of the academy have ever been very dear to me. At the same time I love the discipline of a university, and set a great value upon a strict examination before any degree is conferred. On this account, when Sir John Sinclair volunteered more than five years ago to obtain for me the degree of Doctor in Divinity, I rejected his offer, because I held it against all academical discipline. While I would not have the thing thus attained, or thus conferred, there is no honour upon earth which I more desire, if the ancient discipline of sitting for it with my theses and defending them in the Latin tongue, submitting to examinations of the learned professors, were restored. Now, I wish you to inquire for me what is the ancient discipline of the university in respect to this degree; and whether it be the privilege of a Master of Arts to ask and demand examination for his degree; and how long he must have been an M.A. to entitle him to do so. I took my degree of. A.M. in the year 1809, that is nineteen years ago. If the privilege were granted me of appearing in my place, and submitting myself to trial, I should immediately set about diligent preparations, and might be ready before the next winter, or about that time. I leave this in your hands, and shall wait your answer at your convenience.
“We have had another Albury meeting, and are more convinced than ever of the judgments which are about to be brought upon Christendom, and upon us most especially, if we should go into any league or confederacy with, or toleration of, the papal abomination. I intend, in a few days, to begin a letter to the Church of Scotland on the subject.
THE GREAT HOPE OF THE CHURCH.
They intend setting forth quarterly a Journal of Prophecy, which may stir up the Church to a consideration of her hopes. I think there is some possibility of my being in Edinburgh next May. Will any of the brethren permit me the use of their Church to preach a series of sermons upon the Kingdom, founded upon passages in the New Testament? Sandy Scott is a most precious youth, the finest and the strongest faculty for pure theology I have yet met with. Yet a rough sea is before him, and, perhaps, before more than him. I trust the Lord will give you time and leisure to consider the great hope of the Church first given to Abraham: That she shall be heir of the world.' Certainly it is the very substance of theology. The second coming of the Lord is the point de vue,' the vantage ground, as one of my friends is wont to word it, from which, and from which alone, the whole purpose of God can be contemplated and understood. You will sometimes see my old friend and early patron, Professor Leslie: please assure him of my grateful remembrances. I desire my cordial affection to Mrs. Chalmers and the sisterhood. Farewell. The Lord prosper your labours abundantly, and thereto may your own soul be prospered. “ Your faithful and affectionate friend and brother,
“ EDWARD IRVING.”
This letter, sent by the hand of a relative, Dr. Macaulay, who was “ desirous of paying his respects to one whom he admires and loves very much,” was followed, at a very short interval, by another, . asking advice on a very delicate point of ecclesiastical order, which Irving states as follows:
“ London, 5th January, 1829,
13 Judd Place, East. “MY DEAR SIR, — This case has occurred to us as a Session on which it has been resolved to consult you, our ancient friend, and any other doctors or jurists of the Church with whom you may please, for the better and fuller knowledge of the matter, to consult. It is, whether the Church permit baptism by immersion or not. The standards seem not to