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We have examined the evidence respecting four of those who were most conspicuous amongst the prophets in the early days of the Irvingite movement, and to whom in a very great degree the organisation and doctrines of the Church may be attributed. What is the conclusion which we must come to as to the real character of the so-called spiritual gifts ? Must not every reasonable man allow that, when we find some confessing that they had been under delusion or had spoken out of their own minds, there is, to say the least, very insufficient ground for warranting the belief that through them God has seen fit to bring about an entirely new order of things in His Church ?
But we have further to show how entirely events have falsified their predictions.
Again and again a day has been confidently fixed for the coming of the Lord, from that named by Mr. Baxter, July 14, 1835, down to July 14, 1876, when we are told eight hundred communicants assembled in Gordon Square Church in expectation of that great event.
Mr. Baxter's narrative adduces a great number of instances in which prophecies, confidently delivered and unhesitatingly received as coming from God, signally failed, or could only, by the most ingenious explaining away of their obvious meaning, be supposed to be fulfilled ; and even if some of these have been substantiated in Mr. Cardale's answer, a sufficient number of instances remain untouched, to shew that the supposed voice of the Spirit was not to be relied on. It is not enough that out of many predictions one here and there should apparently come true. When everything is under the immediate direction of the Spirit, no failure can be allowed.
We shall not, we trust, be thought to be violating the sanctities of private life if we penetrate within the hallowed circle of Albury, and lift up the veil that shrouds it from the view of the uninitiated in order to adduce another instance of predictions falsified. Apostles and prophetesses, no less than emperors and queens, must be content to be looked upon as public characters.
The belief in the near approach of the second advent of our Lord naturally led to the expectation of the appearance of Elias who was to precede Him. The expectation was followed by an announcement that the birth of the prophet was to be looked for speedily, and, further, that the person selected for the high honour of being his mother was no other than the lady of the owner of Albury, herself a pro
phetess, and then, like Elizabeth, well stricken in years. The prediction was received in unhesitating faith by the whole community, not least by the favoured mother.
The appointed time drew near: due preparations were made, more elaborate, we imagine, than those for the Baptist. The expectant mother has been described to us as lying in state on her bed, in an elaborate toilette, with lavender gloves, receiving the homage of her friends. The nurse was in attendance. The fashionable accoucheur of the day arrived from London, and then—(it is, perhaps, needless to say) the promised event did not come off. The doctor returned to London in his carriage, the nurse in a postchaise. The matter was hushed up, and little heard of, or remembered, beyond the inner circle of the faithful. The cradle, destined to receive the Prophet, still, however, remains. When the bubble burst, it was presented by Lady Harriet to a friend, and has since been occupied by many fair children who have come into the world in the course of nature without prophetic announcement. Possibly, in a future age, when reverence for relics has been developed in the Church, it may figure in some sacred treasury, just as we are told there is to be seen in Spain the sword that Balaam wished for.
But it is not necessary to dwell on individual instances. The whole history of the Irvingites during the last forty-five years may be said to be.a history of hopes disappointed, expectations deceived, predictions unfulfilled.
They were taught to expect Apostles on whom the baptism of fire had fallen, endued with all miraculous powers. They have been obliged to be content with men, few, if any, of whom possessed any supernatural gifts. The only sign of an Apostle to which most could lay claim was that of patience' (2 Cor. xii. 12.) One, after he became an Apostle, was known to pray, 'Lord, if I am an Apostle, where are the signs of my apostleship ?'
They were taught to look forward to July 14, 1835, for the separation of the twelve who had already been called by the voice of God through His Prophets, but when the day arrived one of the twelve, Mr. David Dow, refused to come. They were consoled by the thought that the analogy of their position to that of the original twelve was thereby confirmed, and a Matthias, Mr. Mackenzie, was chosen into the place of Judas. But after a few years Mr. Mackenzie too withdrew, · feeling misgivings and doubts as to the power or right of Apostles to act as Apostles in any way whatever, until they had received a second Pentecostal endowment of power in supernatural manifestations, which had been promised them so often, but had never come. Nothing could induce Mr. Mackenzie to change his determination. During the fifteen years that he lived afterwards, he never again took part in their services or held communication with them, though withheld by feelings of kindness from any public opposition.
1 While speaking of Albury we cannot withhold a second anecdote of the same lady, which comes to us from an unimpeachable source. It was announced that on a given day she would walk on the water, and the faithful were in attendance to witness the miracle. She was handed down to the lake by her footman, but failing to perform her part, had to be dragged again to land. It would require the pen of a Dickens, and the pencil of a Tenniel, to do full justice to the grotesqueness of 'Jeames' assisting at a miracle.
This was the greatest blow that had yet befallen them. There had been before continued defections from their society of those who, on more intimate acquaintance with its working, had had their illusions dispelled ;' but here was an Apostle not only withdrawing, but cutting away from them the very foundation of their faith by denying their right to be Apostles at all. And, not only so, but it struck at the root of another principle on which great stress had been laid—the Apostles' twelvefold unity. A word had come,– If an Apostle says “ No," ye have not the mind of the Lord. If a foundation be wanting, how shall the city be builded ?' They were to be ruled by the voice of the 'twelve—the one.'
But there was yet another difficulty, which now for the first time must have occurred to them. It had been taught and received as a matter of faith that when the different nations had been parcelled out among the Apostles as their tribes, each was to seal 12,000, and thus the number of the 144,000 who were to stand before the Lamb was to be made up. It had of course been taken for granted that all the Apostles would remain until the coming of the Lord and present the elect before Him; but now one was lost, and ere long, as one after another of the Apostles was taken away, and yet the Lord came not, the question must again and again have arisen to trouble them. It was manifest too that in some of the tribes none at all had been sealed. (It is said that Mr. Tudor, to whom Poland and India had been assigned, never went to his tribe, 'not seeing an opening.') In others very few ; even in England, where alone any considerable number had been sealed, it fell very far short of 12,000.
The only solution, we believe, that has been arrived at is 1 e.g. Mr. Baxter, Mr. Marks, Mr. Grant, Mr. Pilkington, and Mr. Prior, all of whom published their reasons.
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that the Apostles are to continue their work of sealing in Paradise,—an assertion which it is very difficult to refute, but which seems rather inconsistent with the belief that it is those who are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord, who will be caught up to meet Him in the air.
The question must continually force itself upon them, and with increasing urgency every day, What is to become of the Catholic Apostolic Church if all the Apostles are removed before the coming of the Lord ? If, as they say, the Church in the beginning ‘fell as a dead thing to the ground,' when the original Apostles were removed, what must be the case with them? It is an essential part of their theory that Apostles can have no successors.
We have said nothing as yet of any support which the Prophets may derive from miraculous gifts, other than tongues, accompanying the outbreak of prophecy.
At first it was taken for granted that miracles would attend the outpouring of the Spirit, and miracles of healing were in fact claimed and advanced as a proof of the outburst of supernatural power in preparation for our Lord's advent. But as time has gone on, the appeal to miracles has been surrendered to such an extent that we find now carefully devised arguments put forward to show that miracles are not needed as credentials of these new teachers. Still it would not be right to put aside without inquiry the allegations made of miraculous cures in the earlier days of the movement; but there are two considerations of great weight :
First, that there has been no sifting of the evidence on which these miraculous cures rest, and we have already seen, in the case of statements published by Mr. Drummond, on the faith of Mary Campbell, how essential such sifting is.
Far be it from us to put any limit to the power of prayer, or to deny the possibility of special interpositions of God, but when miracles are claimed in support of a new revelation it becomes our bounden duty to test their truth.
And, secondly, to use the words of Mr. Miller :
“None of these so-called miracles are such as could not under peculiar circumstances be effected naturally without the intervention of any supernatural power. The influence of the mind over the body, especially in diseases of the nerves or spine which is the source of the nerves, and more particularly in females, is almost inconceivable to those who have not examined it. Accordingly, in religious minds, when the feelings are wrought up to a high pitch, the concentrated force of feeling and inspiration within has been often turned upon a diseased part, and an undoubted and surprising change has been worked, but all by causes strictly natural.'
Mr. Miller gives instances from his own experience or from medical testimony of the power of the mind in effecting cures of either a temporary or permanent nature. The whole chapter deserves attention, as also that in which he explains the physiological principles which may account for the tongues and prophetical utterances in persons of small self-control, strong emotions, and vivid imagination, especially if of an hysterical or epileptic tendency, under the influence of religious excitement.
But there is another claim put forward on behalf of the Irvingite Apostles, to which we must advert—the grace given unto them. In other words, their adherents point, not only to the devotion and zeal of the members of the body which they have founded, but to their wisdom in managing it, the largeness of their catholicity, the compact and well-considered system of doctrine which they have consolidated and completed, the ingenious and perfect machinery of the different ministries, their elaborate ritual, and, most of all, to the liturgy which they have compiled,' as proofs that their original appointment was by no human agency, and that they have been acting under the direct guidance of the Holy Spirit.
We are quite ready to admit that they have shewn great skill and wisdom in guiding their ship, that the framework of their Church is perhaps the most elaborate and ingenious piece of machinery ever introduced into a religious system, that their liturgy has many and great excellencies, though not without grave defects; but we cannot in all this see any evidence of superhuman agency, or anything to justify their high pretensions to be the direct channel of the influx of the Holy Spirit to the Church. We have before us the records of the Council of the Churches,' authenticated, in many cases, by the signatures of Mr. Drummond and Mr. Cardale. In these there are not only full minutes of the proceedings of the Council, and of the 'word from the Lord’spoken there, but there are also the words of prophecy uttered in the different Churches throughout the land and sent up by their respective Angels. We have studied these minutes very carefully, we have read very many of the ministries' of the Apostles and words' of the Prophets, so that we have some material for forming a judgment. Do we then find any evidence of superhuman wisdom or guidance? We answer, No.
The picture which these records present to us of the inner life of the Church is a very curious and interesting one, well worthy of study. All kinds of questions, touching doctrine, discipline, ritual, finance, come before the Council. Some are