Narrative by Edward Cooney, 1947

Written at the time of William Irvine’s Death

“Forasmuch as many took in hand to draw up a narration concerning the matters which have been fully believed among us as they delivered them to us they having been eye witnesses and attendants of the word, it seemed good also to me having been acquainted from the first with all things, accurately with method to thee to write, most excellent Theophilus, that thou mightest know the certainty of the things concerning which thou was instructed.” (Luke 1:1-4)

There was in the days gone by, a certain man called William Irvine, upon whose heart God’s spirit worked to raise him up like the judges of old, to lead back those in Christendom to the truth as it is in Jesus.  In fact, he bore some resemblance to Samson.  He was a strong man and warred with Spiritual Philistines effectually ‘till Delilah so influenced him that he put her before God.  He has died recently in Jerusalem.  Let us hope that in his declining days, like Solomon, he discovered that to fear God and keep his commandments is the whole duty of man.

Some years ago he wrote the writer to come and work with him in Jerusalem.  The reply the writer gave was that when his hair grew again, as it was when first he met him, he would be glad to work with him, but not ‘till then.  The long hair of Samson seems to speak of revelation from God direct; not clipped, to suit his flesh or the flesh of others.  When Delilah clipped his hair to suit her flesh and the flesh of the Philistines who feared Samson, knowing that God was with him, Samson, altho’ he shook himself not knowing that God had left him, found that Jehovah had departed from him, and that he was weak like any other man.  ‘Tis so with all God’s servants who depart from revelation from God direct, and confer with flesh and blood.

In the year 1914 when we became aware of William’s defeat, the writer was moved to go to see him personally and try and help him who had been such a help to him and others and now needed help himself.  This desire he had was discouraged by his fellow workers but as he got to see he should obey God, and not man, he went to Scotland to see the man of God who had lost the power he once had.  The writer is glad ever since that he did this, and believes he was of some help to his erring brother.

At this time the writer got to see that he should return to God as Jeremiah was exhorted by God to return to him; see Jer. 15 & 19, so that he might again stand before God and in the light of his countenance separate between the precious and the vile; from what he had learned thro’ William, from God, and what he had accepted from him which was not from God.  Jeremiah seems to have been influenced by flesh and blood revelation and mixing it with God’s revelation to him direct, found his pain perpetual, and his wound incurable, refusing to be healed.  In this condition, he said to God:  “Wilt thou indeed be unto me as a deceitful brook, as waters that fail?” The only remedy was to return to God and cease mixing God’s revelation with that which proceeded from flesh and blood.  This the writer has sought to do with profit.  William had been partially persuaded by Joe Kerr to accept the heresy that no one could be born again without meeting a living witness.  Others held that that witness must be a sent preacher who had heard William or some other preacher associated with him.”

The writer got to see this flesh and blood revelation to be vile and gave it up in 1914, returning to the true gospel preached by himself and William for four years after they met, which recognized John 20:30 to be true, and Paul’s dialogue in Romans 10:14-18 answered by Psalm 19, where it shows God speaking thro’ nature as he did to the magi thro’ the law (which is perfect converting the soul,) and finally thro’ the preacher, the words of whose mouth and meditation of whose heart is acceptable in God’s sight.  The Lord knoweth them that are his and the writer’s business is to depart from iniquity himself and exhort all who profess to be his to do so likewise; Iniquity meaning Not Equity—Equity being Jesus; Iniquity meaning all that is not like Jesus.  Peter at the day of Pentecost tho’t that unless a man was circumcised by a living witness and kept the law, he could not be saved; but God showed him, as he showed me, this was not so, and God used him more after he got clear on this point—see Acts 10 and 11, also Gal. 2:11-21.  Paul was a great help to Peter in this respect, and has also been a great help to the writer.

An attempt has been made to give an account of God’s dealings with us ignoring William Irvine.  This is not honest. William Irvine was born again when a Presbyterian, thro’ hearing John McNeill preach the gospel in Motherwell Town Hall, and I have in my possession a letter from him to me, claiming this to be so, written from Jerusalem before he died. He afterwards joined the Faith Mission denomination and was Pilgrim Irvine when I first met him in Bonnosokane, Co. Tipperary, Eire.

In 1914 when all of military age were required to register, Andy Robb registered himself as Independent Faith Mission.  I registered myself as Christian, and advised Willie Gill to council all to do likewise, but he said “Let us take the name we call ourselves by ‘The Testimony of Jesus.’” At that time I am sorry to say I used to go contrary to my conscience, to avoid differing from my fellow workers.  I gave in to Willie in this respect and so erred, but have confessed my sin to God, and God has forgiven me. We have committed the same sin in the U.S.A. in calling ourselves “Christian Conventions.” We should repent and take the consequences.

Twenty years ago the writer declared to George Walker in Samuel Charlton’s presence in Edgar Hawkin’s home that it was his purpose to cut out of his life all that contradicted the scriptures.  George refused, and excluded him from the fellowship of his brothers and sisters in the territory over which he claimed oversight.  John Carroll had previously excluded him in his territory.  James Jardine acquiesced in his territory, and the exclusion has spread to British Isles.  He still goes on conscious that he has not been excluded by the One who prunes the vine.  So the writer, after the way they call heresy, so worships the God of his fathers, believing all things written in the law and the prophets, and signs himself Edward, which is the English for witness.  His course is nearly run, but he hopes and purposes to go on.

By Edward Cooney

Source:  Selected Letters Hymns and Poems of Edward Cooney 1867-1960, Edited by Patricia Roberts, Reprint of Pages 43-45.

Source:  The Secret Sect by Doug & Helen Parker, Reprint of Pages 115-117