A phenomenal, unpublished piece of proto-Pentecostal history!
The author of the present letter, Spencer Perceval, left parliament in 1832 and the following year became an apostle [Angel] in the Irvingite Catholic Apostolic Church. He writes defending his friend and founder of the Irvingite Pentecostal church, Edward Irving to one of the leading critics of the movement, who himself had been a part of the movement in its earliest days.
The present unsigned draft letter, unpublished is 4pp, 4to, on a bifolium with 59 lines of text. The letter, written after the 1836 publication of Baxter's denunciatory "Irvingism, in its Rise, Progress and Present State."
The letter begins discussing a possible visit of Baxter to Perceval's home. Perceval's wife was not a fan of the Irvingite movement [awkward]. It reads in part, and of great historic importance:
"I never dreamt of stipulating that you should say any thing contrary to yr conviction if you came to visit us, but I did mean distinctly to guard myself & you from any violation of the sacredness of my hearth, through your being tempted to take the occasion of being under my roof, as an opportunity for strengthening & encouraging the heart of my wife in her present unhappy difference from me. I believe that half the conscientious religionists of our day would, through the utter ignorance which prevails of the ordinances of God, and of what is His mind concerning husband & wife, feel themselves in duty bound to embrace such an opporunity and the more jealous & conscientious I believed them to be, the more I should expect them to act in such a way."
Then he begins discussing Baxter's anti-Irvingite book, and states, "that the grief which I felt at merely hearing that you had been tempted to put yr self forward again in publish'd opposition to Gods blessed work, has been very greatly increased by reading what you have published that which I have felt most is the very unworthy tone of your observation introducing before your reader, a once honored & now departed friend some delicacy & tenderness has been counted due to a dead enemy that you should just announce Mr Irving as the 'Lion of the fashionable world, & the wonder of the religious circles,' without a note that sounds his worth of character, & holy devotedness to the Service & name of His blessed Lord & Master, is I confess what I never should have expected at your hands."
Perceval also takes exception to the imputation that Irving "coveted & obtained his popularity by unworthy means." Neither is it "honorable" in Baxter to have insinuated "against an individual what you could not have directly asserted." He asks Baxter whether "earnest diligent faithful preaching & exposition of God's word, as God opens it to him is not the plain path &c & dwelling most earnestly on that which is most neglected & for the day most needed?" Then, with reference to Luther's "shaking Europe by incessant exposure of indulgences" he asks Baxter if he means "to insinuate that Mr. Irving was a man neglecting the more homely & domestic duties of a shepherd of Xsts flock? if so indeed you greatly belie him." He continues with denunciations of Baxter, before concluding: "I am almost sure that if you will candidly read from the beginning of your pamphlet down to the end of that last sentence you will acknowledge that I do not do any injustice in saying that so far it is written in a mere spirit of depreciation & disparagement, but you are conscious of the work of the man & he was your friend."
Fascinating and important unpublished letter from the Irvingite controversy.