Revised January 24, 2018
Wm Irvine's Career Change
1892: Leading up to Wm's 30th Birthday
1893: Wm. Irvine attends Revival by Rev. John McNeill
1893: Influence of Irvine's Sister
1893: Wm. Irvine attends Bible Training Institute
1895, June: Wm. Irvine's Call to Service
1892, SEPTEMBER: Two sister Pilgrims with Faith Mission held a mission in Twechar, Scotland, a village near Kilsyth, from Sept. 18 to Oct. 31, 1892. This may have been Irvine's first contact with the Faith Mission, which he joined in 1895.
1892 - LEADING UP TO IRVINE's 30th BIRTHDAY: Concerning his state of mind, Wm. Irvine wrote: "I can remember 40 years ago today (1893) how dark my heart and mind was, and how full of all kind of thoughts I had heard and gathered from many sources, by book and lip--and though my life outwardly was envied by many, it was far from satisfying to me" (letter to Eddie Buck, Jan. 6, 1933).
About this time, Irvine was considering suicide. He wrote: "On 1st January, 1893, I felt very tired and sick of all the world had given me and thought of ending it all by Death alone in my own home. I had turned away from the Theatre door that night after having entertained a number of my young friends at the Pantomimes all day" (letter to Kerrs, Dec. 4, 1921). Within a week, Irvine made a 360 degree turn around.
1893, JANUARY - REVIVAL BY REV. JOHN McNEILL: Irvine stated, “My grandfather was born in 1803, my father in 1833, I in 1863 and born again in 1893 on 8th January." He was born and raised in the Burns Free Church of Scotland (Presbyterian). However, he was born again or professed faith in Christ when he was 30 years old in a meeting in the Town Hall of Motherwell, Scotland held by a well known traveling Presbyterian evangelist, Rev. John McNeill. Ed Cooney, John Long, Joe Kerr and Goodhand Pattison all stated in writing that Rev. John McNeill was instrumental in Irvine's personal conversion in 1893.
The Motherwell Town Hall was built in 1886-7 and has been placed on the Statutory List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest. It was used in 1893 for the Rev. McNeill's Revival. It is located SE of Glasgow at 60 Hamilton Road, Motherwell, Lanarkshire, Scot. View photo of building and Town of Motherwell website.
Rev. John McNeill began his evangelistic work in Scotland in 1892 and continued it for 15 years. Details are given in Alexander Gammie’s official biography Rev. John McNeill, His Life and Work, published by Pickering & Inglis, London, Great Britain. At that time Rev. McNeill was affiliated with Dwight L. Moody’s evangelistic campaign.
The date William Irvine wrote that he began to serve the Lord (January 8, 1893) coincides with the date of the first service conducted by Rev. McNeill in Motherwell Town Hall. The Jan. 7, 1893 Motherwell Times contained an invitation and announcement of the times and places where Rev. John McNeill was to conduct services in Motherwell on January 8-13, 1893.
Each year, around the January 8, 1893 anniversary date of his conversion experience, William Irvine wrote letters recalling the unexpected decision he made that changed the course of his life and caused him to take a deeper interest in the Bible:
More about Rev. John McNeill in Appendix E.
"72 Years ago I was born into a Presbyterian family; 42 years ago I was born into the family of which Jesus is the head, as Adam is of the human family. A Presbyterian preacher* was the means” (letter to Billett, Jan. 8, 1934). [*The Presbyterian preacher was Rev. John McNeill.]
1893, NOVEMBER 1: After he professed in Rev John McNeill's mission, Irvine continued to work in the colliery from January 8 to November 1, 1893. Concerning his resignation, he wrote:
"On the 8th of January, 1893, 1st day of my 31st year I decided for the Lord quite unexpectedly and in a way that was quite foreign to any of my plans or calculations. A week later I confessed it openly to the men over whom I was task master and then began the battle that ended in me clearing out of all I had lived for, for 20 years..." (letter to Kerrs, Dec. 4, 1921).
"In September, 1893, I sent in my resignation for the colliery and got free 1st of November” (letter to Dunbars, Oct. 13, 1920).
“Mr. Irwin (sic) himself, gave up a comfortable business. He had £300 a year when 20 years of age” (IR, Jan. 29, 1903).
INFLUENCE OF IRVINE’S SISTER: The Impartial Reporter speculated about William Irvine's religious conversion: "So that in other words, derivative or successive Christianity is now re-established via William Irvine and Edward Cooney only. This is all the more remarkable and contradictory since William Irvine has a great difficulty to determine his own spiritual Father of all! Some say it was the Rev. John McNeill; some say Wm. Irvine's sister was the means of spiritual life to him, and some are not very sure..." (Impartial Reporter, Aug. 25, 1910). According to a Worker present at a 1963 Workers Meeting in Richmond, Virginia, USA, Geo. Walker and Charlie Hughes mentioned that William Irvine had been influenced in his thinking by his sister telling him how she had been spiritually moved.
The death of his sister has sometimes been given as the reason Irvine began to serve the Lord in 1893. Which of his six sisters? Suddenly, on July 18, 1886, Margaret died, aged 25. The following year, his sister Elizabeth died, aged 15. However, the deaths of his two sisters took place six and seven years earlier than his religious awakening. His sister Margaret was two years older and was also his housekeeper. “I lost my sister when she was 25 and I, 23. She was like a second mother to me, and we were more to each other than any of the others younger could be...” (letter to Pincetl and Sutter, Feb. 21, 1946).
1893: IRVINE ATTENDED THE BIBLE TRAINING
INSTITUTE. Wm. Irvine wrote: "Was...brought up Presbyterian, converted through Presbyterian Preacher in 1893. Instructed in the way of serving the Lord by the late John Colville*, M.P. of Motherwell, N.B. Studied in the Bible Training Institute, Glasgow for two years" (Statement of Wm. Irvine in Burfitt V. Hayward, July 1913).
John Long wrote in his Journal: "He entered John Anderson's classes in the Bible Training Institute, Glasgow A.D. 1894." Also: "After spending two years in the Bible Training Institute, Glasgow, he joined the Faith Mission..." (Journal, March, 1897).
Goodhand Pattison wrote “Sometime after his conversion, W.I. spent a term of some [the word 'couple' is inserted in one version of this account] years I think, in what is known as the ‘Bible Institute,’ meanwhile getting to know some of the aims and working of the F.M. [Faith Mission], he determined to throw in his lot with them, as being the best he could see...” (G.P., Accounts of the Early Days). Wm. Irvine wrote:
"On November 1st  I stepped out of what had been my home, with a sense of relief and went to Bible Training Institution in Glasgow and to stay at home with my folks, expecting to help them Spiritually. Then began the Spiritual conflict that revealed the power of what I had done in reaching others and awakening the opposition of the Religious people, who were glad to see me professing, but who as thoroughly made me feel a Sinner for having given up a good position in life. Those 10 months after I decided were times of great Joy and Sorrow and absolutely no help. I found the same thing in Bible Training Institute where I was kept outside the circle and the same in Religious circles. As I opened my mouth the Lord filled it and made friends and enemies" (letter to Kerrs, Dec. 4, 1921).
The Bible Training Institute opened in 1892. Their first President was John Anderson, a shipping agent from Androssan, Ayshire. In 1991 it became known as Glasgow Bible College. The International Christian College in Glasgow, Scotland was formed in 1998 as the result of a merger between Glasgow Bible College and Northumbria Bible College (formerly Lebanon Missionary Training College). On February 20, 2014, they announced their intention to cease operations due to "prolonged and substantial falls in new student intakes" and unsuccessful "attempts to cut costs" and "to reverse these falls."
1895 - WM. IRVINE'S CALL TO SERVICE: Irvine was very open about how he opened his Bible one day and pointed to a passage and took that as his personal sign from God, as his "Call to Service." The text was Isaiah 41:10-20: "Fear not, thou worm Jacob and ye poor crowd of Israel...Behold, I will make thee a new, sharp threshing instrument, having teeth. Thou shalt thresh the mountains and beat them small, and make the hills as chaff..." He wrote:
"Thirty years come June, the Lord gave me Isaiah 41:10-20 before I started out, and it has always been before me...It was in June 1895, that I bowed my head and asked the Lord to give me encouragement, as He had given Madam Su Yen (sic should be Madame Guyon*), whose book I was reading. She opened the Book and put her finger on this spot, and when I opened my Book, it was at the same place. So much was I surprised, that I was ashamed to take it. But after reassuring myself that there was no trickery in the matter, I wrote my name and date down, little dreaming that it would all come so clear before me today, with all its glorious detail, which is impossible for me to doubt now" (letter to Edwards, March 3, 1924).
Isaiah 41 is a prophecy of a future historical natural event for the Jewish nation; a prophecy to the whole nation of Israel about how in time, God would use the army of Israel to conquer the surrounding pagan nations.
John Long also confirmed that Wm. Irvine "...got for his Call to Service that Scripture...Isaiah 41:15” (Journal (Feb., 1897). Irvine took very seriously his "call to service" to be The Thresher. J. Long wrote: "A good deal of opposition arose at that time because William Irvine spoke with great authority against the unfaithfulness of the clergy; many threw on the brake, but he refused to be corrected by them, believing that God had raised him up to thresh the mountains" (Journal, March, 1898).
Wm. Irvine made no secret that he saw himself as "The Thresher" with sharp teeth, beating down mountains of clericalism. He believed God gave him this verse as his life's personal mission. He carried out this calling until his death. The passage is one of judgment and prosecution, which he would follow and throughout his life. He later wrote: "What John the Baptist was to Jesus as forerunner, John the Apostle from Heaven will be to Jesus' 2nd coming. Isaiah 40 is his work, and Isaiah 41 is my work, as Jacob, with a few who share my anointing, or blessing as Israel" (letter to Billetts, Jan. 8, 1934).
G. Pattison wrote: "Mr. Irvine regarded Isa. 41:15-16 as his 'call to service' and certainly seemed to fit in with the description given there. The threshing instrument was to be new and sharp, having teeth, and most people who knew him in those and subsequent days can well remember how well he could thresh and how sharp could be his bite...being a 'new' instrument, very 'uncommon' in his methods and his 'like or equal' unknown or 'unheard of.'...I say deliberately...that there was not another in all the world who could or would have dealt such deadly blows to the 'mountains' of clergy, and of clericalism and so-called organizations, or to the 'hills' of traditional social customs and usages..." (G. P. Accounts of the Early Days)
* Madame Jeanne Marie Bouvier De La Motte Guyon has written several books which are on google books.
Telling the Truth has a hard copy of the documents, books, newspaper articles, references, etc. used in this book. Any exceptions are noted.
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