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Literary Life of the Rev. William Harness
Chapter V.

Chapter I.
Chapter II.
Chapter III.
Chapter IV.
‣ Chapter V.
Chapter VI.
Chapter VII.
Chapter VIII.
Chapter IX.
Chapter X.
Chapter XI.
Chapter XII.
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The most conspicuous period in Mr. Harness’s career commenced on his removal to London. He was at this time private chaplain to the Dowager Countess Delaware, and became successively morning Preacher at Trinity Chapel, Conduit Street, and Minister and Evening Lecturer at St. Ann’s, Soho; appointments which proved how much his talent as a preacher was esteemed. A note casually jotted down on the back of one of his sermon cases, in commiseration of some country visitors, bears incidental testimony that even at this early stage he commanded the confidence of the most eminent clergymen in the metropolis:—“Sept. 7, 1823: I preached to-day at St. George’s, St. Pancras, and the Magdalen, and was heard at each place by the same party from the country, who went to St. George’s to hear the Dean of Carlisle, to St. Pancras to hear
Moore, and to the Magdalen to hear Pitman! Poor creatures! they were ignorant that the great preachers are away in September!” In 1825, Mr. Harness was appointed Minister of Regent Square Chapel, St. Pancras, an important and arduous post, which he occupied for twenty years. His success in the pulpit was the principal cause of his being selected for it; and during his time the chapel was densely crowded, not only by parishioners, but by members of other congregations. A large increase took place in the pew-rents, but unfortunately he did not profit by it, for his stipend was limited to £400 a year, the surplus being appropriated to the support of other places of worship. He was obliged, out of that sum, to provide two curates, and to contribute to the charitable relief of a population of 20,000 souls; so that, taken on the whole, he found his clerical remuneration less than when ho was only a curate on £60 a year.

Mr. Harness was, from this time, enrolled among the most able and popular preachers of the day. He had continually invitations to preach at neighbouring churches, and young clergymen attended to take notes of his sermons, many of which were afterwards printed at the express desire of the congregation.*

* In a letter to Mr. Harness, dated 1832, I find the following request, somewhat characteristic of the times:—“A friend of mine in a distant part of the country has been appointed by the bishop of his


His teaching was characterized by learning and moderation. “Our Religion,” he often observed, “is the Religion of common sense;” and he never was intentionally sensational, or attempted anything approaching to declamation. But he had a constant advantage in a soft, expressive voice and correct ear. At the commencement of a discourse he was occasionally somewhat too rapid in his delivery, owing to his being a victim to that nervousness from which so many eloquent men have suffered; and he was wont to say that at any time throughout his whole career he felt, on entering the pulpit, as though he might have been “stricken down by a feather.” But as he proceeded he became deliberate and powerful, and his consistent life and conversation gave weight to the nobleness of his sentiments. There was something in his manner which showed that he felt and practised what he taught—an excellence without which no preaching can be effectual. Sometimes, when speaking of the pain inflicted on sensitive natures by broken faith or false calumny, he was unable to

diocese to preach before the judges at the approaching assizes. He is apprehensive of not doing justice to the occasion, and desires me to endeavour to procure him the assistance of some gentleman of known ability. The advantageous terms in which I have heard my friend Miss Aikin speak of you has induced me to take the liberty of asking whether you would be disposed to give my friend the assistance of your pen.”

restrain himself, and betrayed visible emotion. In those days the impulses of the heart appear to have been stronger or under less control than they are at present, and it not unfrequently occurred that the congregation were so deeply affected that they openly gave way to their feelings.
Miss Mitford mentions an occasion on which Mrs. Siddons was moved to tears during one of Mr. Harness’s discourses.

The views he entertained with regard to doctrine were characterized by a just veneration for the past. He had a high esteem for the piety and learning of the primitive fathers, diligently studied their commentaries, and frequently enriched his discourses with extracts from their writings. Speaking of these men, and of the reverence due to the great creeds of which they were the authors or first expositors, “I differ,” he observes, “from the Romanists; and why? Because they have added no less than thirteen articles to the creed which from the time of the apostles to the Council of Trent (a space of no less than fifteen hundred years) was the faith of the Church. I also differ from the Dissenters; and why? Because, with the exception of the first article, which declares the existence of ‘God the Father Almighty,’ there is no article of the Creed which is not impugned by some of them. Those persons,” he continues, “do appear to me to exhibit a most insane ambition, a most capricious love of
licence, a most child-like impatience of intellectual guidance, who would wilfully put aside that traditional teaching of the Church which instructs them in what sense the Holy Scriptures were read and understood by the immediate disciples of the apostles, and by the early bishops, for the sake of obtaining the dangerous privilege of wandering abroad, without a guide, in the immeasurable field of theological speculation, and putting themselves in possession of the liberty of judging wrong. I thank God that His merciful and ever-careful Providence has not entrusted the weak and fallible powers of my understanding with so perilous an enfranchisement.”

And again:—“As I stand within the venerable shade of some old abbey—of Netley or of Kirkstall, of Fountains or of Tintern—and as I mark the devastation which has befallen it, I lament the ruin of so much beauty and magnificence. I feel as indignant as any can at the impiety of the barbarous and sacrilegious men by whose command, or by whose hands, a temple so worthy the service of the Almighty has been despoiled and desecrated. But the moral which such scenes suggest to me is very different from that which the Romanist and men of his inclining would impress upon our minds. I see in them the traces of the Divine judgment on the offending church of our ancestors; and I derive
from them most pregnant admonitions for the church of our own age. God’s word assures me that so extensive a destruction would never have been permitted to waste the houses of God throughout the land, if in them His name had been honoured with a pure and simple worship, as in the days of old, and if they had never been perverted to idolatrous and superstitious uses. ‘The wicked are the sword of the Lord;’ and that sword would never have been allowed to cut so deeply, or to range so widely, if it had not been called into action by the iniquities of the Church.”

Whilst Mr. Harness strongly denounced and reprobated the conduct of those churches which had fallen away from the early Apostolic faith, he bore noble testimony to the purity of the Church of England, of which he was always a staunch and consistent supporter. He speaks as follows of the age of the Reformation, and of the great men by whom the foundations of our church were laid:

“In acquiring the knowledge necessary for the accomplishment of this wise and holy scheme of Reformation, Cranmer and his friends applied for instruction to every quarter from which instruction might be gained. They not only carefully weighed every intimation of the New Testament, but they consulted the writings of the Early Fathers. They not only looked for information to the Epistles of
the Apostles, but they inquired into the primitive constitution of the churches to which those epistles were addressed. In thus acting, they pursued the course which
Melancthon had most earnestly advocated.” * * * “Our church became what it is in the very brightest era of the English intellect. At a time when strong, energetic, manly good sense was the characteristic of the English people; when the sound mind delighted to entertain the thought of vast and arduous enterprises, and the sound body felt itself capable of achieving them; when Bacon, by the vigour of his understanding, set philosophy free from the region of misty speculations within which she had been for centuries confined, and brought her into contact with realities; when Shakespeare invested the maxims of a moral wisdom which can never perish with the beauties of a poetry which can never be surpassed; when our island was fruitful of such men and her people were capable of appreciating their worth, our National Church received her present form and government, her liturgy, her offices, her homilies, and her articles; and every document which interprets her mind bears the stamp of the masculine intellect of the period during which her restoration was gradually perfected. The peculiar characteristic of the Church of England is derived from that sound common sense which characterized the age of her spiritual
revival, and by which all her great authorities are distinguished.

In a letter to Mr. Culling, a Dissenter, he thus combats certain objections made to the endowments of the Church of England:

“Kensington Gore, Dec. 1st, 1848.
“My dear Sir,

“What a strange thing human nature is! and how very strange that two persons who, I sincerely believe, both look for the truth of things, and nothing else, should come to such opposite conclusions as you and I! Why should not the Bishops have carriages and horses, as well as any Christian gentleman of the same income? And why should deep learning, like that of the Bishop of Lincoln, or Lichfield, or Peterborough, or Ely, or of the late and present Archbishops of Canterbury, be denied a rate of income in the Church which it would have commanded at the Bar or in Medicine? I cannot see any reason. And I can see many strong reasons why it should be so rewarded, particularly the reason of old Bishop Jewel, which is (I forget the exact words), ‘that men who dedicate themselves to the Ministry don’t require such inducements, but they are wanting to induce parents to educate their sons for the Ministry.’ Christianity has nothing to do, according to my views of the
Gospel, with the possession of the riches and distinctions of life; but it has to do with the humility, the self-denial, and the grateful temper with which they are held; and I must say that, in my somewhat extended range of intercourse with society, I have oftener met those dispositions among the few residents of palaces, whom it has been my good fortune to be acquainted with, than among the many whom I have daily intercourse with in my own and humbler walks of life. I must think that every class of society, from the highest to the lowest, ought to have the Ministers of the Gospel circulating in habits of intimacy among them; and those of the highest class must be possessed of incomes suitable to the station of the persons whom they have to live among, or they would (till the world is very different in its moral condition from what it is) very soon find themselves excluded from the sphere of their usefulness, in which they are so useful. Voluntary poverty was one of the inventions of Popery, adopted from the Jewish sect of the Essenes; but it never was a part of the Christian religion. Neither is the example of our Blessed Lord to be servilely copied in its actions, but in its principles. In submission to the Divine Will, He did His duty in going about the Holy Land for three years, out of thirty-three, ‘doing good;’ and it is the duty of every ordinary Christian
who would evince an equal submission to the Divine Will, to copy those retired and laborious thirty years of his Saviour’s life which were spent in the home of His parents in Nazareth. A Bishop in his palace, if a Christian, shows us how a Christian nobleman ought to live; as a rector or a curate, if God’s grace be with him, may set an example for humbler disciples of our Lord to follow.

“As to the sale of livings; those only are sold which are private property, and generally the private property of laymen. And whatever notional objections may lie against the practice, I can see none in theory or in expediency; but just the reverse. If a young man, who has spent several thousands of pounds on his education, purchases a living of £180 a year (like that mentioned, in your advertisement), from which he will not derive perhaps above £8 per cent per annum on the purchase money, it is a guarantee that he has an independent income, and that a gentleman is going to reside in, and take the duty of, a remote agricultural parish, who will be employing, and spending money among the population, as well as attending to their spiritual instruction. As a dissenter, you have no notion of the immense amount of private property which is thus brought into the Church and scattered over the country by persons who love their profession and are careless of its emoluments. I had, the day
before yesterday, a gentleman with me who relinquished a practice at the Bar which was producing him between £1,500 and £2,000 a year, to take orders, and go to live on a small cure of £30 a year which he had possessed himself of in Oxfordshire. I don’t like speaking of myself; but, this year, I have disbursed on the schools, the clothing fund, and the sick poor of our district (I confine my relief entirely to the sick) more than three times the amount of my stipend as Minister of the District, which (including Easter offerings) is about £40. All that my experience and reading teach me of the Church and its Ministers is that there is no form of Christianity so pure and apostolic in its doctrines and discipline; and that, in spite of some weak and some wicked members of the flock, I know no such learned, accomplished, and self-denying men out of the Ministry as I am acquainted with in it. And, remember, they make no fuss about it!

“I am ashamed to have bored you with this long letter; but, as the French philosopher says, ‘I have not time to write a short one;’ and I did not like you to remain unanswered.

“We shall, clearly, never agree on these Church matters; but there is one matter on which we are perfectly agreed: Mrs. Barbauld’s prose is, I think, much better than her poetry. But she lived in a good age of prose writers, and at the end of a good,
but not the best, sort of verse writers; and while in the latter, as a clever artist, she was not inferior to many, in the former she was superior to most of her contemporaries.

“Believe me to be, my dear Sir,
“Yours very faithfully,

The views which Mr. Harness entertained on Church subjects were essentially moderate and unassuming. Many passages in his sermons showed that he had no sympathy with Ritualism, or that “morbid delicacy of sense which requires that the sight may rest on graceful forms and emblazoned ornament and an ever-changing picture.” “Nothing histrionic,” he observes, “can be consistent with the spirit of our services.” But he nevertheless desired to assuage the bitterness of party spirit, was willing to grant a certain latitude to those with whom he differed, and considered that the unhappy contests in our Church were generally about unimportant or obscure matters. He longed to see unity among Christians, and exhorted to forbearance and brotherly love.

“If there be any to whom the magnificence of architecture and the charms of music afford valuable assistance to devotion, is it fair that we whose imaginations are pleased by a more simple worship,
should interfere with those whose imaginations are differently affected, so long as the same liturgical services are retained, and no ceremonies are admitted which might afford an opening for the insidious introduction of false doctrine? If a man change his habitual attendance at some well-regulated cathedral service for the service of a small village church, where the prayers are only moderately well read, the sermon is not unsuited to the place, and no other music is heard than the psalmody of the rustic congregation, he will find his devotional feeling unusually elevated, and will conceive that such an humble and simple worship is most in harmony with the humble and simple character of the Gospel. But, on the other hand, if a man who has been all his life accustomed to that village service be introduced to the solemnities of a cathedral, a similar vividness of the devotional sentiment will be awakened by the novelty, and he will confess that the Creator, in such a noble worship, is honoured as He ought to be by His creatures. Both are good; both are salutary.”

“How really trivial are the questions about which differences are raised! With what astonishment and pity do you read of the disputes which agitated the controversial leaders of early times; the unintelligible subtilties of their theology; their presumptuous attempt to subject the essence of the
Godhead to the analysis of human metaphysics! Reviewing such discussions, calmly and from a distance, we comprehend how useless and how vain they were. But they appear as the emanations of wisdom itself in comparison with those of our own days. Their arguments (however presumptuously entered on or mystically treated) were almost always connected with the most important article of Revelation—the Divinity of the Messiah’s nature. But what are the miserable grounds on which we (in an age of great religious light, and in opposition to our Lord’s command) are idle enough to quarrel? Why, we cannot agree whether the same prayers shall be read or intoned; whether the sermon shall be delivered in the clerical or the academic dress; whether the Minister shall stand in front or at the side of the Lord’s table! And for matters so frivolous as these (which have no reference to piety—which concern the antiquary rather than the Christian) we do not scruple to range ourselves on one side or the other, with all the bitter animosities of the partisan.”

Mr. Harness was in every sense a minister of peace. Exhortations to mutual forbearance and consideration-formed a leading characteristic in his teaching. He inculcated this duty not only with reference to political and religious questions, but also to those smaller and apparently unimportant
matters which occur in ordinary every-day life. In this exhortation he had more immediately in view the prevention of family dissensions. He said that he ceased to be astonished at the disruption of domestic ties, when he considered the rude and overbearing manner which relations too often assumed towards each other—a manner which no stranger would for a moment tolerate.

He frequently warned parents of their responsibility with regard to the education of their children, and of the influence which example and precept exercise upon the young. “You may in words,” he observed, “teach your children that they ought to believe and obey the Gospel; but unless you yourselves practice what you teach, the lesson is in vain. You sow the good seed with one hand, and the seed of tares with the other. But the weed is cast more strongly, and received on a more congenial soil, and it strikes root and grows up and thrives and fructifies, while the good seed only rests upon the surface and dries up and perishes away.” In continuing the subject, he observes that a child is instructed by its parent, that Heaven is the only object worthy of pursuit, and that he should exert all his energies to attain it; but how is this excellent truth enforced upon the young? “Does the parent, as the child grows up, direct him to follow the example of pious and self-
sacrificing men? Does he enlarge upon the wisdom of those who, regardless of all earthly interests, have pressed on, like Christian, possessed of but one idea, ‘Life—Life—Eternal Life?’ No! Is not the hero he sets before his son the ‘successful’ man of the world, who, without any reference to a future state, has striven most successfully in this; who has pushed all his little advantages to the utmost; who has toiled and toiled, and spared and spared, until he has at length outstripped his competitors in the race for this world’s honours and emoluments? By teaching the great principles of religious truth to your child, and not living in correspondence with the principles you inculcate, you do a far worse thing than teach those principles in vain; you altogether destroy the influence of religious impressions upon the heart of your child. While you speak to him of the rewards of an everlasting life, you induce him by your conduct to suppose that those rewards are matters of very insignificant consideration.”

And not only did he inculcate mutual confidence and consideration upon those who were members of the same family, but also upon all who lived under the same roof. “He who has known the worth of an honest and abiding servant, knows that no price can be adequate to that servant’s value, and that there is more of grateful affection mingled with the
esteem which is borne towards that humble member of his family than is commonly extended towards any being in whose veins the blood of kindred does not flow. But that amicable bond is the effect of confidence, and the slightest act of fraud, or falsehood, or duplicity will sever it at once and for ever. Confidence is of slow growth, but rapid in decay. Like a bird of timid nature, if once disturbed, she will abandon the nest, and return to it no more. Like that tree of which the poet speaks, if only a leaf be broken off, the whole plant will wither away. And from the moment that confidence is lost, the feelings of mutual kindness which should subsist between those who rule and those who serve in the same house, are exchanged for suspicion of wrong on the one hand, and the fear of detection on the other.”

Mr. Harness had a great affection for tried and faithful servants; so much so that he erected a stained glass window in his church to the memory of his aged nurse. He loved to recall the times when servants and masters lived together as members of the same family, with mutual respect and common interests; and in a passage in which he deplores the change which has now taken place, he sketches a pleasing picture of their former confidential relations:—“Worldly circumstances used not to sever classes. A little more than fifty years
ago, when
Crabbe the poet resided for some time in the house of Mr. Tovell, a gentleman of considerable landed property in Suffolk, he found the drawing- and dining-rooms only opened on state occasions, and the family generally living with the domestics in the old-fashioned kitchen; where, while the master of the house read his book or his newspaper by the capacious fire-side, the lady sat at a little round table superintending the work, and working with the maids. In this manner kindly feelings were naturally produced; civilization was diffused by intercourse; and the science of house management acquired by the servant at the hall was carried with her on her marriage to make the comfort of her husband’s cottage. In houses of a higher rank, there were always some domestics who had lived long enough in the family to be considered as a part of it; who held a confidential place in the regard of the lord or lady; and who formed a connecting link between them and the menials—every one of whom, perhaps, was born on the estate; while a knowledge of the merits or demerits, the weal or woe, of all was maintained by the superintendence of that most important but now obsolete member of every large establishment, the chaplain. This tie of friendly care on the one hand, and of attached dependence on the other, has been gradually loosened. Instead of it, there has grown up, be-
tween master and servant, a cold, unsympathising, incommunicable distance—an obstinate, impenetrable reserve—which exists in no other country, which every really Christian heart feels it painful to keep up, and which no one of ordinary good-nature could think of maintaining towards a dog or a cat that he happened to come as frequently in contact with. By such a state of things both parties are losers; the master and the mistress, perhaps, the most. It may be taken as a rule without exception that the members of a family cannot live long in a state of indifference towards each other. If they are not united by feelings of regard, they will be severed by feelings of enmity. If the master takes no care to attach his domestics by words and acts of kindness, they very soon begin to look upon him with an evil eye, to lose all concern for his interests; and if they abstain from defrauding him themselves, they rejoice in the success of the cheat by which he is defrauded. It is only latterly that all the links of good feeling between the higher and lower members of the same household have been broken asunder. They used to be bound together by a joint interest in the younger branches of the family. Some years ago, there still remained the old footman, or the grey-headed groom, or the trusty nursemaid to whom the children could be safely given in charge—who loved the children, and were loved by
them in turn. But now, these are exploded. What is wanted is the restoration of an humbler, kindlier, freer manner of intercourse between manufacturers and their men, farmers and their labourers, masters of families and their domestic servants. I hardly know a more disgusting piece of hypocrisy than that which I see at the present day so constantly exhibited, when some arrogant woman of fashion, who treats her country neighbour with supercilious incivility, her less exclusive relatives with the coldest indifference, and her domestics with a most withering stiffness, passes by all the legitimate objects of her kindness, and goes out of her way to lavish her factitious sympathy and capricious interest on the unknown inmates of some garret or cellar of a London alley.”

In another passage, he deprecates the tendency of the present day to estimate intellectual abilities above private virtues:—“Every age has its peculiar species of idolatry, and intellect is the idol of our own. Discoveries in science, success in art, reputation in literature, power as a public speaker, are the first objects of popular admiration. To attain some such triumph is the great aim of our ambition. And if a man be thus intellectually distinguished, that is quite sufficient. The actions of his life (unless flagrantly scandalous), or the qualities of his character (unless socially offensive), are
126‘OLD WAY.’
allowed to pass as venial, or become altogether lost sight of in the glory of his intellectual celebrity. Now, that exaggerated value of talent would be reasonable enough if the whole world were an exhibition room—if our life were a show—and if we drew our chief happiness from the applause of popular assemblies. But as such is not the case, as the feats of science and the dexterities of art do little more than amuse us for the moment, and as the general well-being of existence never can depend on the cheers of a multitude, but on the character of the few with whom we have intercourse from hour to hour in our daily business and concerns, it appears self-evident that the sterling moral virtues (which promote our permanent happiness), and not the showy intellectual accomplishments (which merely serve for our occasional entertainment), are the qualities which deserve to be held dearest in the estimation of mankind.”

In ordering the performance of Divine Service, it was Mr. Harness’s care that it should be conducted with simplicity and decorum—in the “old way” to which he had been accustomed when young. Several persons endeavoured, on various occasions, to introduce into his church emblematic devices and a more effective ritual; but he systematically resisted such attempts. Novelties in religion were, in his opinion, self-condemned. In one respect he carried
out this opinion to a point where it seemed to partake of prejudice: he would allow no hymns to be sung in his church, nor any psalms but those of David. He expresses his views on this subject in a passage in which he thus beautifully alludes to the composer of these songs of Zion:—

“David is introduced to us as a shepherd lad having charge over the few sheep of his father. His only occupation during the long solitary day was to keep his flock together, to prevent their wandering, and to defend them against harm. This light employ, though not devoid of its cares and dangers, abounds in leisure. He devotes his companionless and unoccupied hours to familiarizing his hand with the rude harp of his country; and so perfect a mastery does he attain over it, that when music is required to soothe the passion-troubled mind of his sovereign, none other can be found whose skill is to be compared with that of David, the shepherd lad from the mountains of Bethlehem. And to what themes does he make the melodies of that harp subservient! Its notes are tuned, its strings are touched, to the highest of all arguments—the praises of Jehovah. As he passes his lonely hours with his flock; as he leads them to their pasture grounds at morning and at evening; as he reposes with them in the shade during the sultry hours of mid-day; as he keeps watch over
them by night beneath the starry canopy of Heaven, his soul, awakened to a pious sense of gratitude by the beauty and the grandeur of the scenes around him, finds expression for the ardour of its emotions in hymns of adoration and thanksgiving to the Creator. From that age to our own the hymns of that shepherd youth have been accepted among the Psalms of the Church. They have, for well nigh three thousand years, been reverenced as supplying the most appropriate terms in which the children of God, from generation to generation, could pour forth their offerings of gratitude and praise before the throne of their Heavenly Father. As hymns, reflecting the various changes of religious feeling, they have never been equalled. Even in our metrical translation (hurried and careless as it is) every man of educated taste will feel how immeasurably superior the Psalms of David are to all those devotional compositions of modern times, which, with their trifling conceits, their sentimental prettinesses, their affected unction, and their insidious heresy, have, in so many congregations, been allowed to supersede them.”

Some minor reasons for his objection to the introduction of other psalms were—that it rendered the Prayer Book insufficient for the service, and that it necessitated the selection of one of those Hymn Books, none of which he considered alto-
gether satisfactory. One of his churchwardens, who was aware of his peculiar views, asked him one day, twittingly, whether he would not adopt “Hymns Ancient and Modern?” “I would as soon read ‘
Paradise Lost’ for the first lesson,” was his terse reply.

Nevertheless, on some Church questions Mr. Harness was in advance of his age—especially with regard to the revision of the Bible. Writing in the Edinburgh Review he notices “the mischief that has ben inflicted on the sense of the inspired writings by the mode of breaking them up into chapter and verse;” and, speaking further of the translation, he observes that the phrase of the Hebrew language is retained to a most confusing extent. He cites such instances as the following, “the covenant of salt,” meaning “a friendly contract.” “They are crushed in the gate,” for “they are found guilty in a Court of Justice.” “The colour of the lips,” for “praises and thanksgivings,” “I have given you cleanness of teeth,” meaning “extreme scarcity.” “Such are,” he observes, the sort of Hebraisms of which Selden says, “what gear do the common people make of them?” He also objects to the combination of all the books of Scripture into one volume, rendering it either small in type or inconvenient in size. “If a man would fain take his evening walk into the fields, with the
Prophecies of Isaiah as his companion, it is no light grievance to him that he must either forego his inclination, or carry along with him at the same time the Law of Moses and the History of the Jews, the Psalms of David and the Proverbs of Solomon.”

One of the most remarkable circumstances connected with Mr. Harness’s cure in St. Pancras was, that he was brought into close proximity with the celebrated Edward Irving, who was then attracting many followers. The Scotch church was on the opposite side of Regent Square, and the performances which took place in it were so distasteful to Mr. Harness, and led astray so many weak brethren, that—although with great reluctance, for he disliked polemical discussions—he preached a sermon (afterwards published) in which he pointed out the utter groundlessness of Mr. Irving’s pretensions.

He showed how different were the unintelligible rhapsodies of the Irvingites from that Divine gift of foreign languages which was so necessary for Gospel missionaries in the early centuries. “There is nothing,” he observes, “so frugal as Providence. What! persons inspired to speak languages unknown to others and unintelligible to themselves! As a blessing, a gift, a grace, an illumination from the Almighty to His saints, there is nothing parallel to this to be met with in the whole range of the
Scriptures; and, as a punishment, a blindness, and a curse upon his enemies, it surpasses even the malediction against the people of Babel.” In a letter to a friend, in which he reiterates his commendation of the sober, steady teaching of the Church of England,
Mr. Harness observes, “Edward Irving told me several times that he could not understand why he met with no such true Christians as in the orthodox Church of England. He used the word ‘orthodox’ in the sense of anti-Calvinistic. And even when we were standing talking in Regent Square, on one side of which his church stood, and mine on the other, he said, pointing first to his own, and then to mine, ‘I don’t know how it is I have no such humble, quiet Christians here as you contrive to assemble about you there!’ That cannot be a bad system which works such effects.”

The influence which Mr. Irving exerted, not only over a large section of the laity, but also over some of the clergy, is thus casually alluded to in a postscript to a letter from Dr. Milman to Mr. Harness:—“Can you send me a good, steady, humble-minded curate? I have just parted with one after three months, who will be a follower of Irving in three more—the acting of the Strand Theatre with the reasoning faculties of St. Luke’s; d’ailleurs, a good kind of young man.”