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already attained to, honored to the utmost. As it was to begin in Protestantism, where alone there was liberty for such a Divine movement, the truth that was in that religious system must be fully recovered and declared. Mr. Irving was a fit instrument for this work, for the doctrines and the spirit of the Reformation were embodied in him beyond any of his contemporaries; we may say, beyond any man since the sixteenth century. What that great struggle of the Western Church accomplished in the way of disentombing long-buried truth, and awakening spiritual life out of its deep stagnation, was exhibited in him to the utmost that a man can be a representative of an era. Not that he saw all things clearly, or was able to present them in their exact relations. The age of the Reformation was more or less chaotic; truth was struggling out of its prison-house; it was that stage of returning sight in which men are seen as trees walking. He who would truly represent this, must be, not the scientific theologian with his exquisitely poised balance, and his infinitesimal weights, but the man of war, rushing with fiery courage into the thickest of the fight, and dealing ponderous and well-aimed blows with his mailed hand; yet sometimes mistaking friend for foe.
In this respect, Mr. Irving's obliquity of vision—the only feature which marred a noble and otherwise faultless face-was a symbol of the man and of his work. He seemed to be looking at the same time in different directions. No eyes were more bright and penetrating, but he saw with distracted vision. It was a sign of his inability to bring into perfect harmony the truth that was disclosed to him, and of the struggle going on in his own spirit between instincts and principles which he knew not how to reconcile. A staunch Protestant and Presbyterian, he yearned after what was good and true in every communion, and had words of loftiest eulogy for the pre cious things and holy men of Rome; full of reverence for the Past, the monuments of which he delighted to study, and its treasures to recover for the profit of his own times, he reached forward with joyful hope to the coming and Kingdom of his Lord; strong in his love, and bold in his assertion of personal freedom, he upheld with his whole heart the principle of obe
dience to authority. These oppositions of truth and countercurrents of feelings he could not perfectly reconcile, and this made him an enigina to his generation. There was no spirit of partisanship in him. He sought for the whole truth, and gave it forth as he learned it, without fear or partiality; and narrow men who clung to their parties and their shibboleths, were vexed and irritated. They saw a man whom no formulas of theirs could measure, wild in his look, and terrible in his power, breaking their idols in pieces, and making the land to ring with the battle-cry of the coming King; and they knew not that God was preparing to lead up His Church out of the dark night of the past into the glory of IIis kingdom, and that this man's work was to startle the sleepers, and summon them to arise and gird themselves for the march. He was himself a sign that the time for a change had come. That looking with divided vision signified that he stood on the border land between the Old and the New, cleaving to the one, struggling towards the other, his eyes reaching backwards and forwards as in the confused breaking up of a camp at the dawn
But while Mr. Irving was doing these great services for the Church, he was made to know, as few have done, “the pains and penalties of following the Lord.” God gave him no hire for his service, that all men might see that it was for no selfish ends he toiled and suffered for his Master. Not only did scorn and reproach come upon him from the world ; not only was he rejected by his brethren, and disowned by the mother that had nourished him at her breast, and consecrated him to the holy ministry; not only was he bereaved of child after child, till five were sleeping in their graves, without any Divine interposition to save them, although he staggered not at any promise, and his prayers had drawn down blessing upon many a household; not only was no supernatural gift vouchsafed to him who had stood forth to claim them as the birthright of the whole Church, and had welcomed and cherished them in the humblest, members of the body ; but this mighty champion for God, whom men would have set in the van, and made the leader of the host, saw others who had rendered no such services to the
truth, lifted above himself into the highest places of rule. “He could have rode rough-shod over us all,” said Mr. Henry Drummond to us; but he accepted a subordinate position without a murmur, and rendered spiritual obedience to those who were his own children in the faith. And, last of all, the burden of failing health, and the disappointment of an early death, were laid upon him; and he was not suffered to carry abroad, as he had hoped, the Gospel of the kingdom, and to see the progress of the work, the foundations of which he had helped to lay in toil and sorrow. It was with bim as with John the Baptist, who, after being the Lord's herald, the Voice in the wilderness which shook the whole land, saw the multitudes which had flocked to his ministry falling away from him, and ended his life in the prison-house, and by the axe of the executioner, without seeing the salvation of God.
But premature and sorrowful as his death in the prime of manhood must seem ; sad as it is to think of his giant strength failing, and the voice which had made ten thousands of hearts thrill with wonder and joy as he unfolded the mighty mysteries of Redemption, breaking down so early into the silence of the grave, yet we must all feel that his work was done. Those who look upon him as under a delusion, must rejoice that he was bound by it no longer, but that the evil spell was at length broken in death. And those who believe that he did not forsake his God, nor was forsaken of Him to the end, but that the work of his last years was the fitting consummation of all his previous labors for Christ, will confess with thankfulness in the inidst of their sorrow, that he was not taken from the earth till he had fully done his part in preparing his Lord's way. Years before the revival of spiritual gifts, he had spoken of himself, with a prophetic presentiment,* as “a sort of pio
* It was in the dedication of a Volume of Sermons to Mr. Drummond, Janu. ary 10th, 1828: "For I am but a rough, rude man, like my fathers, formed for border warfare, as God may please to call me ; to hew wood and draw water for 'the camp of his saints. Yet will I fight for the King with the spiritual weapons of our warfare until the end; though I rather a sort of pioneer and forerunner of the Elias dispensation which is to introduce the kingdom, than a herald of the kingdom.”
neer and forerunner of the Elias dispensation, which is to introduce the kingdom.” He little knew at that time the full meaning of what he said, for he could not foresee what God was about to bring to pass. But in the light of subsequent events it was seen that his great and peculiar work—that for which he was so extraordinarily endowed-was to prepare the way for the restoration of the ancient yifts and ministries, and to receive them when they came.
When this was done, and the chief rule of the Church had been, by Christ, committed to other hands, there was no longer the same urgent need for his labors. He had accomplished deeds of individual prowess, such as the time demanded, and all which were possible to a single-handed champion of the faith. What remained to be done was the work of a body, in which every member should be brought into its rightful place, and fulfill its proper function, according to the law of Christ. For such a work different gifts were necessarypatience to gather up the truth part by part out of the ruins of Christendom, careful deliberation, and wise judgment; the gifts of the ruler rather than of the preacher. Mr. Irving had been like the bold and splendid leader of men in a time of disorder and transition, who exercises a provisional and temporary rule until the permanent ordinances of government can be established. Beyond any other man, he had made it possible for the original and normal institutions of the Church to be restored; and then, in the spirit of the Baptist who said, must increase, but I must decrease,” he yielded the chief place to those whom he believed to have been sent with the Lord's authority.
Mr. Irving died too soon to see whereunto the work would grow for which he had thus periled all things, and how sig. nally the providence of God was to accomplish his vindication. Within ten years after his death, the Church of Scotland, of which he had said, “That the General Assembly, Synods, Presbyteries, and Kirk Sessions, with all the other fur. niture of the church, are about, like the vail of the temple, to be rent in twain, or to be left like the withered fig tree, fruitless and barren, I firmly believe, and yet would do all I
could to retard it," was rent asunder, after one of the fiercest struggles through which any Church ever passed. The "Life" before us, which is an indignant protest against the injustice that was done him, comes from the bosom of the very Communion which cast him out. The flock which followed him into exile, and were left without a shelter in the streets of London, now celebrate Divine service with majestic rites in a building worthy almost, for size and grandeur, to be ranked with the Cathedrals of England. And had he lived till today, he would not much have overpassed the linits of three score years and ten, and he would have seen in almost every country of Europe and North America, where there is liberty of worship, but especially in England and Germany, a community of churches revering his character, but refusing to be called by his name; comforted by the same spiritual gifts, and defended by the same Apostolic rule, for which he witnessed; holding in all their fullness the great truths of the Orthodox Faith which he so nobly vindicated; rejoicing amidst the increasing evil and tumult of the day in that "blessed hope" of the Lord's speedy coming which he was amongst the first to proclaim; worshiping God day by day in a spirit which he would have sympathized with, but with a fullness and beauty of holy rites that he knew not of; exhibiting again the working of the original and fundamental law of the Church, in recognizing all the Baptized as of the one Body, and, striving to bring together into a living and organic unity all the good and precious things now unhappily divided among the various Christian sects; standing in the van of true spiritual and ecclesiastical progress, and anticipating the movements which the Spirit of Christ is inaugаrating in all parts of the Church wherever He has liberty to work; and thus presenting to the Churches of Christendom an example and promise of what God will, in His time, accomplish for all Ilis faithful people, as the first buds of Spring, in the warm and sheltered valley, are a prophecy of life soon to burst forth in every grove and forest-along the hill side, and on the mountain top.