Irving?s followers deny Christ?s sinfulness, only by assuming that inborn infirmity and congenital tendencies to evil are not sin, in other words, that not native depravity but only actual transgression, is to be denominated sin. Irving, in our judgement, was rightly charged with asserting the sinfulness of Christ?s human nature and it was upon this charge that he was deposed from the ministry by the Presbytery in Scotland,
Irving was of commanding stature, powerful voice, natural and graceful oratory. He loved the antique and the grand. For a time in London he was the great popular sensation. But shortly after the opening of his new church in Regent?s Square in 1827, he found that fashion had taken its departure and that his church was no longer crowded. He concluded that the world was under the reign of Satan; he became a fanatical millenarian so he gave himself wholly to the study of prophecy. In 1830 he thought the apostolic gifts were revived and he held to the hope of a restoration of the primitive church although he himself was relegated to a comparatively subordinate position. He exhausted his energies and died at the age of forty-two. ?If I had married Irving,? said Mrs. Thomas Carlyle, ?there would have been no tongues.?
To this theory we offer the following objections:
(a) While it embraces an important element of truth, namely, the fact of a new humanity in Christ of which all believers become partakers, it is chargeable with serious error in denying the objective atonement, which makes the subjective application possible.
Bruce, in his Humiliation of Christ, calls this a theory of ?redemption by sample.? It is a purely subjective atonement, which Irving has in mind. Deliverance from sin, in order to deliverance from penalty, is an exact reversal of the Scripture order. Yet this deliverance from sin, in Irving?s view, was to be secured in an external and mechanical way. He held that it was the Old Testament economy, which should abide, while the New Testament economy should pass away. This is Sacramentarianism, or dependence upon the external rite, rather than upon the internal grace as essential to salvation. The followers of Irving are Sacramentarians. The crucifix and candles, incense and gorgeous vestments, a highly complicated and symbolic ritual, they regard as a necessary accompaniment of religion. They feel the need of external authority, visible and permanent, but one that rests upon inspiration and continual supernatural help. They do not find this authority, as the Romanists do, in the Pope, they find it in their new Apostles and Prophets. The church can never be renewed, as they think, except by the restoration of all the
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