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this heady and high-minded generation. cannot enter in! Our woe-begone and I will labour for it ; I will find my way self-tormented poet hath so fabled it of back to it if it be possible ; and I would Cain ; but it is not a wicked murderer's advise any man who hears me, as he part thus upward to soar, and sigh that values his own peace, to do the same- he can go no higher; but it is the part to seek quietness, to desire peace, to of every noble faculty of the soul which dwell with truth, to ensue it diligently." God hath endowed with purity and This was written in 1828 ; yet is but an average product of the minds
strength above its peers. For the world only some couple of years thereafter that make it up, its laws are for all the speaker had gone astray among those that dwell therein, not for the the chaotic voices of a wild super- gifted few; its customs are covenants natural fever ; but, sincere to the for the use of the many; and when it very, core as Irving was, a more pleaseth God to create a master-spirit in moving pre-vindication of his purity any kind—a Bacon in philosophy, a of mind and intention could not be Shakespeare in fancy, a Milton in poetry, supposed.
a Newton in science, a Locke in sincerity And we are very loth to pass this and truth-they must either address climax of his life without interposing their wonderful faculties to elevate that some witness, from his own words, of average which they find established, and that fervour and inspiration
of genius or, like that much-to-be-pitied master of
so bless the generations that are to come, which we claim for him. His works present poetry, and many other mighty are not so commonly read that we spirits of this licentious day, they must should fear to reproduce only that rage and fret against the world, which which everybody knows; and to world will dash them off, as the promi. speak the truth, everybody who does pent rocks do the feeble bark which know will be the better for reading braves them, leaviog to after ages monu, again the following noble exposition ments of reckless folly. That same world of the ideal sense of humanity;
will dash them off, which, if they had which we choose, not because it is come with honest, kind intentions, would more remarkable than the general other rocks of the
ocean do throw their
have taken them into its bosom, even as matter which surrounds it, but everlasting arms abroad, and take within because it can be detached more their peaceful bays thousands of the talleasily from the Argument of which est ships which sail upon the bosom of it forms a part. "The preacher is the deep. It is, I say, the nature of every treating that objection against Chris- faculty of the mind created greater than tianity which stumbles at its “sublime ordinary, to dress out a feast for that and inaccessible reach of virtue.”
same faculty in other men, to lift up the
limits of enjoyment in that direction, " It is the nature of man, especially of and plant them a little onward into the youth, which determineth the cast of regions of unreclaimed thought. And future manhood, to place before him the 80 it came to pass that God, who poshighest patterns in that kind of excel- sesseth every faculty in perfection, when lence at which he aimeth. Human na- He put His hand to the work, brought ture thirsteth for the highest and the forth this perfect institution of moral conbest, not the most easily attained. The duct, in order to perfect as far as could faculty of hope is ever conjuring into be the moral condition and consequent being some bright estate, far surpassing enjoyment of man. present possession. The faculty of fancy " If the mind from its first dawning ever wingeth aloft into regions of ethe- be fed on matters of fact alone, limited real beauty and romantic fiction, far be- to the desire of the needful, and to the yond the boundaries of truth. There is hope of the attainable, never imaginaa refined nature in man which the world tive, never speculative, it will become, satisfieth not : it calls for poetry to mix as the physical condition of those people up happier combinations for its use; it who are living upon the very edge of magnifies, it beautifies, it sublimes every necessity becometh, little elevated above form of creation and every condition of the brutes that perish. It is illimitable existence. Oh heavens ! how the soul knowledge still sought after, though unof man is restless and unbound ; how it bounded; it is high ambition still longed lusteth after greatness; how it revolveth after, though never reached, and soaring around the sphere of perfection, but can- fancy dwelling with things unseen, that not enter in; how it compasseth round go to produce the poble specimens of the seraph-guarded verge of Eden, but the natural man. And the very same
faculties employed upon things revealed, God, pitying the small success which go to produce the foremost specimen of human nature has in producing such mothe renewed man. David, and Paul, and dels of moral excellence . . . . gave forth Isaiah (such three pillars of the Church His tablets of practical holiness of the living God are not to be named), and because man loveth not only the how noble, how heroical, how majestical precept but the example, and kindleth were they! I am well and painfully into love and emulation, and other araware that the unwise and excessive cul. dent sympathies, when he beholds that ture of these faculties, when divorced thing exemplified which he himself from nature, instead of resting on nature, would wish to be, God hath also given when misinterpreting revelation instead Christ as the example in whom these of believing revelation, will produce the perfections are concentrated, and from sentimental enthusiast in nature and the whose history we can study these beaufanatic in religion. But being rested on ties in example and in life. And thus, with nature and experience, such discursive the book in our hand, and the model ranges beyond things presently practi- under our eye, we can study the perfeccable, such longings after the ultimate tion of the mind and life of man, as the powers and attainments of manhood, are artist, with descriptions in his hand, and necessary in order that the mind may the models before his eye, studies the grow to stature and strength in any exact proportions, and trains his eye to department of her being.
the beauties of external form.” "And it is the best prognostic of a youth to be found so occupying himself
Could Irving have died at this with thoughts beyond his present power point of his career, he would have died and above his present place. The young a saint and hero, amid the universal aspirant after military renown reads the honour, praise, and lamentation alike campaigns of the greatest conquerors the of the church and the world. And world hath produced. The infant patriot could he have been possessed now by has Hampden, and Russell, and Sydney the missionary idea which was with ever in his eye. The young poet con- him in his youth, and driven forth works of masters in every tongue, though out of his glory to rude contact with himself bath hardly turned a rhyme : fact and things, to make primitive the noble-minded churchman dotes on proclamation of Christ and Him cruthe Hookers, the Gilpins, and the cified, and to breathe that unlimited Knoxes of past times ; and the stern atmosphere of deserts or of moununyielding Nonconformist talks to you of tains, of conquest, of adventure, of Luther and Baxter, and the two thousand apostleship, for which his nature self-devoted priests (proud days these pined, Irving had been saved, a for England !) and the artist fills bis power and strength to a world that study with casts from the antique, and needed him-at least so far as mordrains both health and means to the tal mind dare speculate upon that very dregs in pilgrimages to the shrined pictures of the masters.
If which tempts us with its impos“And in moral purity alone shall we
sible possibilities. But it was otherbe compelled to drudge at every day's wise arranged in the order of Proviperformance? In the noblest of all the dence. By this time already he had walks of men, generosity, forgiveness, begun to find certain gleams of new vestal chastity, matrimonial fidelity, in light thrown upon his ancient and corrupt truthfulness and faith, shall we unshaken faith. Some new apprehave no tablets of perfection to hang be- hension of the nature and value of fore the people, out of which they may Baptism-which he thanks God for form their idea of a perfect undefiled with touching and melancholy earman, and after which they may be con nestness as having been revealed to no such state of things could ever exist; him, to prepare him for the hardest for here also the human mind would parting of life, the loss of children, soon have displayed her plastic powers, entered into that entire and fervent and created specimens far above the de- faith of his, which made everything mands of law or the common measure personal and vivid which it touched. of life. If God had not interfered, man It is hard to conclude what this new would himself have asserted his own light was, save just the subliming superiority to drudging daily rules, and and exalting touch of that mighty struck out examples worthy to be imi imagination which, fairly ditated, and glorious to be surpassed. But rected to a matter he had hitherto held simply as a doctrine, Chalmers by reading the chapter or could not help but seize upon it with lesson in the morning service before a sudden spiritual instinct and vehe- his sermon, and occupied time enough ment grasp which made the abstract for two sermons in that exposition. truth so splendidly alive and present For he was fast falling into an exthat it looked like a discovery or re- citation of mind beyond his own consuscitation of something previously trol—the time for balance and recounknown. Then came a dawn of very was almost over. Men whose error, which was scarcely error save minds alone were engaged, and whose in words--one of those subtle matters hearts kept safe out of the mystic in which a difference of terms throws circle, beguiled him forward to the real unanimity out of court, and puts edges of the fire ; and he who never a world of war and words between could separate his heart from all he sworn brethren who have no real dis- thought and all he did, went forward, agreement at the bottom of their in that solemn unity of his being, hearts. This, for which he afterwards like a martyr, bound beyond relief of suffered deposition from his ministry, earth to follow out to the farthest was an opinion upon the human all those germs of revolutions which nature of our Lord; an opinion— woke within him; and so proceeded, for it is hard to find anything more not without chime and chorus of the in it—and the only instance where noblest music, to his downfall and his he appears to us to have sought at fate. peril of the truth an “original view.” For these circumstances, of course, This opinion was that the human combined to separate him from his nature of our Lord was perfectly like brethren — from the sober-minded our own, not only in affections and Presbyterian preachers, who were feeling, but also in that natural bias innocent of genius and its excitetowards evil which is common to our ments—and from the general relirace—that the birth of Jesus was not gious community, which had been an Immaculate Conception, but that scandalised and horrified to hear that it was his Godhead and the Holy its missionaries were not missionaries Ghost which kept in spotless sacri- of an apostolic kind. The world ficial purity the Lamb of God. This had gazed its fill, and become tired of infringement of Christian doctrine gazing, so that even that dangerous Irving thanked God for revealing to expression of human sympathy withhim, with his usual characteristic drew from his course. He became vehemence, supposing it only an en- more and more isolated into the sole hancement of the supreme and divine society of those minds congenial to merit of His Master—and so made his own, which DrChalmers describes the first public breach in his own or him as attracting by a kind of magthodoxy and soundness of faith. It netic influence, and gaining entire was in the year 1827 that he first mastery over-minds which possessed began to preach and to profess this the vehemence and force of sentiment new discovery of doctrine. By that without the greatness of soul which time he had already become involved distinguished himself-the class of in the meshes of prophetical interpre- hysterical and spasmodic intelligences tation, and had begun to lose himself whom such genius excites into a in that eager investigation into the madness of enthusiasm which never secrets of the Godhead and the un- fails to find voice of one kind or anrevealed decrees of Providence which other, and which always has its reacabstracted his gaze from men and tionary power upon the nobler influpresent things, and produced those ence which brought it forth. This first sins of manner of which so many circle of absorbed disciples, who at tales are told : How he began to ex- once worshipped and debased him, pound to a private party before their kept up the dangerous excitation of meal, and proceeded for hours with his spirit without satisfying his heart. the extraordinary monologue, in That heart was sick with the subwhich everything but his subject lime disappointment of Elijah and faded from his recollection; how Isaiah—“Who hath believed our rehe proposed to assist his friend Dr port ?" He had laboured, he had preached, he had spent his strength But he never paused in his faith, or in vain. The world went ou in hesitated as to the reception he should its wickedness, and all this prime give the miracle for that personal inof human life and action lavished capacity, and so unconsciously and upon it had left no perceptible re- unintentionally preserved himself
, as sult. He began to long, like the so true a man was sure to do, from former Boanerges, for fire from any soil of deception or complicity. heaven-to think that if one came It is quite impossible to conclude from the dead they would surely be- that it could be all deceit, and it lieve-and to yearn in his own is equally impossible to explain melancholy and solitary soul for a what other agency effected these sympathy which that world of intox- singular exhibitions. They belong icated spiritualists who surrounded to those phenomena of mind which him had not to give. And then came include many inexplicable accidents, a thought like sudden dew and re- if one may call them so, and which freshing to the man, who was wearied exist and reappear in new devein his way : what reason was there lopments in every age, most freto suppose that spiritual gifts and quently accompanying, in one form spiritual communications were en- or other, times of great mental and tirely debarred from modern possi- spiritual excitement. Not only Irving, bility ? Paul never said so when he but many men of perfect sobriety and recorded how tongues and interpre- temperance of mind, gave grave attations came in his miraculous times. tention to the supposed miracle, and Was it not the mere want of faith did not hesitate to believe that these which kept them silent now? supernatural gifts might be restored
And so he pondered in his heart, to the possession of the church, and with an intense desire growing upon that the church was bound to inveshim. Such desire and such excite- tigate closely and earnestly before ment has a subtle power of convey. rejecting them. Irving alone received ance and communication. While he them with the unhesitating readiness was thus thinking, some winged seed, of entire belief; but his own mind perhaps from his own lavish stores, was too sincere to be caught in had fallen at a distance, and began this snare of spiritual elevation to bud into extraordinary life. The and ecstasy; and so the weaker church was startled by hearing of minds, who could be rapt by their the gift of tongues returned, and own mad fervour into impulses and come upon a sick woman in the west utterances of overwrought exciteof Scotland. Scarcely had the first ment, which some of them, no doubt, inquiries been made about this, when honestly supposed to be genuine inthe same miracle appeared in very spirations, took up, by very power of London, under the eyes of the long their weakness, a higher place than ing preacher, who had hoped and their leader, and predominated, by prayed for a communication from the mad sweep of their swollen tide, heaven. Not upon him came the over the deeper current, which could tongues of fire-not to that candid not be lashed into a like fury. Hencenoble Agonistes, consuming his heart forward the
preacher took a secondwith vehement desires, yet simple ary place. The inspired rabble rose and sincere as a child, and incapable over him, dictating what he should in his own person of anything but do; and the great sad heart, to which absolute truthfulness, descended that no inspiration came, stood by in the strange inspiration. Perhaps he won- strangest, most pathetic humility, dered, as he stood by in that sad yet accepting, through whatever hand rapt humility, receiving, recording, it reached him, this, which he supobeying, the message which he never posed to be the message of his doubted came from heaven, why it God. was bestowed upon these unknown When things came visibly into men and women, and not upon him, this condition, it was neither to be God's forlorn, devoutest servant, whó supposed nor wished that he could daily, under this unnatural excite- retain his place in the Church. It ment, yielded up a portion of his life is easy to denounce the commonplace preachers who sat in solemn synod church, with all its sympathies and upon a man infinitely beyond their censures-all the warm living earth, range and power of judging, and cast full of those common dear external him forth from among them as one things which keep the soul in balunworthy to share the office for which ance and the life alive, disappear even now he was possibly a thousand from the course of this wonderful times better qualified than they ; but man. The picture becomes confused, it would be rather more difficult to gloomy, sad—sad always, sad eversay what else these same preachers more; the heart breaking, the soul could have done, or what would have failing—perhaps some consciousness been the use of that ecclesiastical of a great undiscovered blunder somepolity, which Irving himself regarded where weighing down the troubled with the fullest admiration and ap- spirit, and everything giving way proval, if Irving had been permitted but faith. Then there appears the to remain in his place, and introduce last scene—the inspired rabble growinto the most severely reasonable of ing presumptuous in their revelaall churches the wildest development tious-losing the first innocence of of religious enthusiasm. The first that fervour-falling into a common steps of all against him were taken trick of it, and the vulgar despotby these same persistent churchmen, ism which belongs to the rampant the leading members of his own con- fanatic; and their so-called leader, gregation, who had brought him to standing by, doubtless still with a London, who had built his church great melancholy wonder in his heart and held up his hands, and given why revelation and inspiration never him, up to the farthest verge and came to him, bending his very soul possibility, their strong adherence and before the self-constituted prophets support. They did it not in enmity, who exalted themselves over 'him. but in sorrow, feeling it impossiblé They refused him to share in the to go farther; and after a trial, pur- authority of their apostleship with an sued with all the forms and authority unimaginable arrogance which it is of Presbyterian law, the Presbytery scarcely possible to believe, and made of London sentenced the preacher him submit to a re-ordination at their to leave his church, having trans- vulgar hands. Never man gave such gressed the tenure on which he held proof of his sincerity. Others have it. A year after, he was summoned founded sects, and withdrawn to rule to the bar of the Presbytery of An- over the organisation which they had nan, which ordained him, and there, made; but Edward Irving formed his after again a solemn trial, was for- sect to obey it-to submit his honmally and solemnly deposed. What our to it-to give up his leadership else was possible? Laws, as he says for a servant's office—to bow his himself, are made for all, and not for heroic soul to the unspeakable prethe gifted few. True, the small men sumption of some dozen nameless sat upon the laws, and possibly found men. Finally, when he was all but an envious satisfaction in exercising dying, they sent him on a mission to their power, and placing their eccle- Scotland, by urgent command of the siastical stigma upon him. But the prophets and tongues, which prosentence was just and inevitable. fessed to convey the will of God. They took from him the authority His friends and his doctors begged they had given as the minister of a him to rest—to seek a softer atmosrecognised and constituted Church, phere for his worn-out frame—to and they were bound by their oath, think of his life; but what were honour, and duty to do so ; but these to God's command? He rose they took nothing away which God up and went, knowing nothing but had given him ; and so the Church, obedience, and got to Glasgow, alhelpless and authoritative, withdrew most perishing by the way, where from him, and left him to the end already that vault in the Cathedral which was inevitable, and daily drew crypt was making ready for him, more near.