Extracts of Letter from and to Mrs. Alice Flett
New Westminister, B.C. Canada
To Edward Cooney:
We did not meet you when you were here, but hearing of you and having had the privilege of reading some of your recent letters, I feel you love all the brethren even as many do, and as Joseph did, but like him, you have been kept in separation because of measures taken against you by them. I understand you could not agree in all things with them. You felt some of their works were not scriptural.
My one reason for writing you is, I would love to hear from you of the first years and first experiences in this testimony. I always thought, at least I hoped, and always told strangers, since first realizing I had found the truth as it is in Jesus, that the testimony had always been; had never ceased since it was given to the world by Jesus himself. I would like to know from you about your first steps into the truth, first years in fellowship, and your separation.
Edward Cooney’s Reply to Alice Flett:
Your letter has just come and I am inclined to reply without delay in the hope my answer may help others in similar circumstances. I am glad you gather from my letters I love all the brethren, even as Joseph did. I am far behind Joseph in the volume of my love, but I would like to increase more and more. The breadth of which takes in the whole world; the length of which is expressed by Paul in Ephesians 5:1 “Be ye therefore imitators of God as children beloved and walk in love even as also the Christ loved and gave up himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for an odour of a sweet smell.” This love is beyond all natural love and needs to be poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit which was given to us. Then we will be willing to die for sinners inside Gods family and outside. See Romans 5:5-8.
You mention ‘My one real reason for writing is to hear from you of the first years and first experiences in this testimony.’ You write that since you believe the truth as it is in Jesus that The Testimony ‘had always been’. You are right. Abel, the 2nd son of Adam, was the first preacher to give the testimony of Jesus, and through ranks of messengers this testimony has been passed on to this day. The church, so called, has failed to give the testimony of Jesus, hence Jesus has sent prophets, wise men, and scribes. In the Old Testament, beginning with Abel to Zacharias, whom those who sat in Moses’ seat slew, between the temple and the altar, because he told them the truth: “Ye have forsaken the Lord, and the Lord has forsaken you.” In the New Testament times from the testimony given by Jesus at Pentecost till the present time.
I was born anew in the city of Armagh, Ireland, some time during 1884. After that, a number of us who had been through the same experience, met in a room from time to time, to encourage one another to follow Jesus, still attending the same denominations we belonged to. After a few years I got to see I should be a continuing disciple of Jesus. I ceased to belong to any denomination, and with progressive light pressed on in the path of discipleship, preached in the open air and in the synagogues when permitted. Some got won to Christ, during this my ministry, in Enniskillen, my native town, we met in a Presbyterian man’s home Sunday afternoons, and preached in the slums, in a schoolhouse granted the use of by the Methodists.
I travelled for my father’s business and preached inside and outside, as occasion offered, with some persecution, and whilst doing so, met William Irvine, through whom George Walker, Jack Carroll, William Carroll, Willie Gill and a number of the present leaders professed, including James Jardine. He and I were drawn together as brothers in Christ, each of us claiming liberty to follow Him as we received progressive light from God by the Spirit. He was at that time Pilgrim Irvine, a preacher in a denomination called the Faith Mission, into which May Carroll entered, and in which she preached for some time after being won to Christ by William Irvine.
At this time we believed that all who were born anew including ourselves, in the denominations, were children of God, needing to become continuing disciples. Two heresies arose amongst us at this time, started largely by Joseph Kerr, who said no one could be saved who had not met William Irvine, or some of those in fellowship with him. Others held that only through sister or brother workers could any be saved, and that these workers must be William Irvine’s associates. In 1914, I declared that I returned to the gospel William Irvine and I, with others, preached for some years before these heresies were introduced.
Plans were made secretly to get me excluded, and in 1928, at Clankiborough, Lurgan, ten workers put Thomas Elliott, since deceased, and me out, excluding us from fellowship, because we would not agree to two decrees which were additions to the scriptures.
Now my dear sister, I could write much more, but if you get in touch with Andy Boyd 10187 103rd St. Room 8, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, he was one of those who met with me in Enniskillen, and he may be able to answer some of your further questions. Am sure Sam Boyd has given you some light on our spiritual experience before we met William Irvine. Ask any further questions you wish when you reply.
Yours lovingly in Christ,