Brethren Archive Exploring the history of some of those known as "Plymouth Brethren", and a few other things.

Extracts from "Irvingism in Ireland", taken from The Christian Examiner 1835

Christian Examiner 1835 pp 516-531 
 
Irvingism in Ireland.  
A review of “The Claims of the Teachers who have come from Newman-street, London,to be received as sent of God, considered. 12mo. Dublin,1835. R Tims." 

Selected excerpts illustrative of JND and the Dublin Brethren in 1835.  
  
It would not be, perhaps, an uninteresting or an uninstructive subject to inquire how much natural character remains, even in the regenerate, and what a tendency it has to give a peculiar tone to the views and the activities of the servant of God, and how often, and to what extent, Satan may avail himself of a Christian's natural character, when he desires to set himself to corrupt a work of God. We doubt not but the author of the present pamphlet, if his natural character and his gracious attainments could be properly analyzed, would furnish a very striking example. He has been a very forward instrument in doing that in which (to say the least of it) Satan rejoices much, namely, dividing the church. For this work he appears to those who have long known him, to have been peculiarly fitted by bis natural character. He was disposed to dissent from everything: he had by nature talent, but he showed it in a different way from other people; he was by nature contradictory, a lover of singularity. Had he been a physician be would have practiced in a different way from other doctors. Had he been a philosopher he would have put forth theories that had never been heard of by any but himself; and when, through grace, he became a disciple of Jesus, still his natural character exhibited itself, and he bad not grace enough to subdue himself; and many persons have been admiring, as high exhibitions of divine grace, the traits of natural character, which it would have been the triumph of grace to have resisted and subdued. 
 
P520-521 
It was through the blessing of God that, in this country, the majority of the students of prophecy refused their adhesion to the manifestations of Mr. Irving's church, even those who had been led too far by him in false doctrine. They ought long before to have given up all connection with him on the ground of his doctrines. They ought, upon the just and right views in the pamphlet before us, to have refused to consider the pretension to miracles, because they were put forward in connection with heresy and to support heresy; but they did not this. The author of the present pamphlet did not take this high ground in time. He did not silence them four years ago with the 13th chapter of Deuteronomy, as he justly and correctly quotes it, and uses it now; but he is now at length, though late, led by circumstances to speak the truth against those whom he had too long countenanced by apparent connection, and longer still by the absence of open reproof. 
 
In the last year, a pious clergyman, the author of the Practical Comment on the New Testament, published a pamphlet as a retractation of his former Exposition of the 12th, 13th, and 14th Chapters of 1 Corinthians, and stated his new views with regard to miraculous powers in the church much in accordance with Mr. Irving. He, in consequence, was obliged to leave the Established Church, and, going over to England, became a member of the church assembling in Newman-street, which had been in connection with Mr. Irving ; and thence he has returned to form a church professing the doctrines, and maintaining the pretensions to Divine power, as put forward by that church. This pious, but deceived man, addressed himself naturally, in the first in stance, to the persons assembling in Aungier-street (for we cannot call them a church, nor do we believe they call themselves a church), as to persons many of them prepared to go the full lengths of Mr. Irving's principles ;and as a matter of self-defence, full as much as for the detection of error, the pamphlet in hand has been written. Whatever merit this publication possesses— and we think it has much— it does not appear as a bold and manly argument to protect the church generally from the incursion of wolves in sheep's clothing, and to set the disciples of Christ generally on their guard against false prophets, but as the production of the leader of a little party, who, having been a great disturber of the peace of other churches, is much alarmed that some who have gone a few steps further than himself, are about to disturb the peace of the little heterogeneous body with which he is connected. He will, no doubt, now have the praise of the party that adhere to him, for his exposure of error, when it came into close contact with them; but he would have better deserved the character of a friend of truth, and a guardian of the church of Christ, if he had long before warned the church against the errors which were just as erroneous then as they are now. 
 
[Some excerpts of JND’s pamphlet are quoted, showing his belief that the Baptism of the Spirit is a one-time thing that happened at Pentecost, as opposed to a special post-conversion individual experience] 

We are much pleased to see our author here renounce the false and injurious views which many, with whom he was connected, held as to the baptism of the Spirit. It is a point on which, a little time ago, we often heard much that we considered delusion from the whole of the party. They spoke as if baptism of the Spirit was something entirely distinct from the vivifying and sanctifying influences of the Spirit; as if a man might be born again of the Spirit, and live by the Spirit, and yet not have received the baptism of the Spirit. We rejoice to find our author give his influence to disabuse men on this point. 

In conclusion, we rejoice at the scriptural truth, at the sobriety and good sense exhibited in this pamphlet. We think the case before us is an instance of good being brought out of evil. The extreme of evil into which one party of the students of prophecy have fallen, has had the effect of sobering and correcting another party, and our author amongst the rest. In points of fundamental truth, such as the atonement of Christ and the sinlessness of his person, on the influence and operations of the Spirit, we find him sound and orthodox. We find him taking the Word of the Lord as his only and sufficient guide. We trust he may be led to do so in matters of less vital importance, but still of not little importance to himself and others. We trust he may yet be brought to use the same sobriety and judgment in comparing with the Scripture the external circumstances of his church or party, for we believe he does not call his party a church. He and they are, as to external circumstances and discipline, &c. in a position the most unwarranted by the word of God of any body of men that have ever professed godliness. They profess to separate and come out from all churches constituted before this time, of course upon the ground that these churches, in greater or less degrees, depart from what they conceive to be scriptural order ; and yet they are themselves confessedly without every thing which the Scripture sanctions in the discipline and form of a church : so that, as we have before remarked, they do not even call them selves a church. They are, according to their own showing, an independent, unorganized, ungoverned collection of individuals, such as they cannot pretend to find an example in all Scripture; and yet they would object against other churches some deviations from what they consider sanctioned by Scripture. They indeed strain at a gnat and swallow a camel. Our author and his companions may, perhaps, justify their separation from their brethren by saying, in the language which Mr. Campbell so justly condemns, " W e have been made to see ;" but, as Mr. Campbell re marks, they may be ascribing to the Lord what is from them selves; they may think they are following a spirit, but they are certainly throwing away, in this respect, the guidance of the Word. We are ourselves fully persuaded that, in their unscriptural separation from all churches, they are only exhibiting the prevalent spirit of this present age, a spirit of independence, of insubordination, and self-will ; and there is much ground to call upon their leader to examine himself, whether he does not manifest the spirit of Diotrephes, who loved to have the preeminence; whether he does not follow what his conscience would tell him has always been his natural disposition, rather than subdue his nature, and bring it into subjection to the word of the living God; and we would entreat his followers to examine their position by the word of God, and consider whether natural temper, natural desire of being much considered in this little knot, and being made more of than they would be in an old established church, may not be very much the cause of their adherence to so very unscriptural a system. They get nothing new, nothing extraordinary, or out of the way, in point of doctrine, to compensate for the exceedingly unscriptural disorder that prevails among them. But we have great hope that where the word of the Lord is acknowledged as the paramount authority— when the teaching of any supposed spirit is not listened to in opposition to the revealed Word, in time all will be right— errors in externals will, by degrees, be abandoned, as well as errors in doctrine. 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
    
 




Comments:
Tom said ...
"In 1835 JND wrote an article against Irvingism, more particularly against Rev Edward Hardman’s 118 page tract “An Exposition of Chapters XII, XIII and XIV of 1 Corinthians with Observations on the Present State of the Church” Dublin. Wm Curry 1834 . It is in the Collected Writings Vol 15, and the original title was
“A Letter to a Clergyman on the Claims and Doctrines of Newman Street” Dublin, RM Tims, 1835.

This attack on Irvingism was reviewed –on the whole favourably in the Christian Examiner 1835. The reviewer is anonymous. But he was well connected, and is able to furnish an early and very interesting , and rather critical, psychological profile of JND as a man.

This vignette is not to my knowledge much publicized –if even noticed at all, by the fraternity of Brethren Historians, yet it is arguably as important as the much quoted pen-profile of FW Newman.

This review also very useful in giving a glimpse into the constitution and spiritual state of the Aungier Street assembly at this time. (1835)

The information is tantalizingly tenuous, and necessarily exhibits a critical viewpoint.
Of special interest is the fact that apparently a commonly held view amongst that assembly was that Baptism of the Spirit was to be understood in a way rather compatible with Irvingite opinion.
Also I was much interested to see JND getting backhanded compliments for tackling the root theology of Irvingism as a sort of johnny-come-lately, and being told off for failing to take his current(1835) stand four years earlier!

Who could this critical reviewer be? He is clearly someone who had heard Irving preach in person, and who knew of how things were going in Aungier Street, and who knew JND personally.

My hypothesis is to suggest Robert Daly. But there are other candidates amongst the evangelical clergy of the C of I at that time who had the knowledge and connections.
" Contributed

The original may be accessed on google-book. Please note, there are some typos in the text -- due to bad OCR, which I have not corrected.
Monday, Feb 8, 2016 : 10:34

Tom said ...
Some slight corrections to the above,

There were at least 4 polemical pamphlets of JND against Irvingism;

Tims published these two, “The Claims and Doctrines of Newman-Street Considered” Price 6d. and “ A Letter to a Clergyman on the Claims and Doctrines of Newman-Street” price 6d.

They are separate pamphlets.

The original for “A letter to a clergyman on the Claims and doctrines of Newman Street” is found at Google-Books

There is also a separate pamphlet entitled "Remarks on a tract circulated by the Irvingites entitled, "A Word of Instruction." --this is in the CW and on Stempublishing.com

Finally on STEMPUBLISHING (http://www.stempublishing.com/authors/darby/New7_96/newman.html) is the re-issue of the 1835 pamphlet, " Are the Newman Street teachers (Catholic Apostolic) sent of God? "

This last one is the pamphlet which the Anonymous Reviewer is considering in his 1835 Christian Examiner Review. No digital copy of the original is available at present.
Wednesday, Feb 10, 2016 : 09:05



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