A Short Biographical Dictionary of English Literature/Irving, Edward

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Irving, Edward (1792-1834). -- Theologian and orator, b. at Annan, Dumfriesshire, and ed. at Edin. Univ., for some years thereafter was engaged in teaching at Kirkcaldy. Ordained to the ministry of the Church of Scotland he became, in 1819, assistant to Dr. Chalmers in Glasgow, after which he went to the Scotch Church in Hatton Gardens, London, where he had an almost unprecedented popularity, his admirers including De Quincey, Coleridge, Canning, Scott, and others. The effect of his spoken oratory is not preserved in his writings, and was no doubt in a considerable degree due to his striking appearance and fine voice. He is described as "a tall, athletic man, with dark, sallow complexion and commanding features; long, glossy black hair, and an obvious squint." Soon after removing to a new church in Regent Square he began to develop his views relative to the near approach of the Second Advent; and his Homilies on the Sacraments involved him in a charge of heretical views on the person of Christ, which resulted in his ejection from his church, and ultimately in his deposition from the ministry. Thereafter his views as to the revival, as in the early Church, of the gifts of healing and of tongues, to which, however, he made no personal claim, underwent rapid development, and resulted in the founding of a new communion, the Catholic Apostolic Church, the adherents of which are commonly known as "Irvingites." Whether right or mistaken in his views there can be no doubt of the personal sincerity and nobility of the man. His pub. writings include For the Oracles of God, For Judgment to Come, and The Last Days, and contain many passages of majestic eloquence.