Having completed a world-wide investigation of a religious sect that claimed amongst its victims myself and family, I now feel it my duty after discovering what has been so cunningly concealed, to circulate this challenging exposure.
Thousands of people the world over are being deliberately mislead by this bogus religious sect that is hidden under the cloak of "The Truth," and where origin can be traced to an unbalanced Evangelist, William Irvine. The endless pathway of destructed lives, caused by the activities and misinterpretations of this man, who classed his spiritual enterprise as an experiment in Christianity, is most certainly a pathetic tragedy.
Here we now find ruthless men who have gained his mantle, setting themselves up as rulers; separating wives from husbands, ex-communicating many of their junior preachers if such should happen to become in disfavour of their elders. Mental torture and persecution has been unmercifully resorted to, in order that "this way" may be preserved. The undue, mental worry has not only resulted with asylum cases, and paralytic strokes, but also pre-mature loss of life.
No Godly end justifies cruel means, and persecution is always wrong no matter how "Holy" the cause may seem to be in which it is used as a weapon. Any belief that requires domination, cruelty, deliberate lies and fraud in order that it may be preserved, IS NOT OF GOD, and the sooner it is dissolved the better.
These men have circulated that my money was too big a sacrifice to relinquish, and was the consequent reason for my severance from their company. This is just another lie, and I challenge Mr. John Hardie (the Australian leader) or any other person to prove otherwise.
Because of the amazing response to this exposure, with letters of appreciation from so many people who have suffered through this tyranny, I now take pleasure in going to press once again.
After being approached by John Hardie as to whether I ever thought of becoming a "preacher," and being imbued with the thought that he and his fellow-workers were a continuation of those First Disciples (as they had lead me to believe) I decided to become actively associated with them, and so offered my life and my all.
As I was immediately accepted, I sold my business and finalised all activities connected with it. It was then that John Hardie called me over to his Guildford headquarters and made it clear that all my wealth had to be given to the "THE POOR" who, in this instance, was POOR OLD JOHN, HIMSELF, or the workers.
My faith in Mr. Hardie was such that I offered him:--
(a) The capital return from the sale and disposal of all my assets;
(b) My signing over of all assets into a trust, whereby the income from rents, etc., would be paid, and then circulated amongst the "workers."
The latter appealed to Mr. Hardie, and as it was going to take some time to legally prepare, it was decided between Mr. Hardie and myself that my going out into the work could stand over until after the conventions of 1954.
Feeling indebted to my parents for what I had attained to in life, I was prompted to give them a holiday abroad, and this is where destiny changed for the better, thank God. This is where I saw Godly, saintly men, turn into raving devils, in their endeavour to flog us into submission.
Gordon McNabb threatened my father by saying.. "If you don't stop Douglas from going to England, I'll have to take the church out of the home!" John Hardie warned me with, "And if you do go to England, I'll have to seriously reconsider your acceptance into the work." He reprimanded my father with, "You know our idea about the Trust, and you had no right to think of such a trip without first consulting me."
Gordon McNabb brought so much pressure to bear on my mother, by demanding that she stop speaking in all further meetings and mentally persecuting her at every opportunity, that her nerves broke under the strain, and my father ordered both Gordon McNabb and Harry Ellem from the home.
So-called "friends" automatically shunned us, and all channels and connections with workers abroad were closed.
One thing was certain and that was that this belief wasn't everything that I thought it was, and so what was originally decided upon as a holiday was destined to be an investigation. An investigation which has dug down to the very foundation of this so-called only true family of God. An investigation of months of exhaustive enquiries, weeks of searching through halve a century of newspaper records and files. Countless stories taken from ex-communicated "workers," heart-breaking stories of family divisions, persecutions and so on, and not one skerrick of a doubt that this whole belief was founded in 1899 by an unbalanced evangelist, William Irvine.
Founded by William Irvine in 1899
Astounding revelations found in North Ireland
William Irvine was the sole foundation and was entirely responsible for the creation of this whole movement. Astounding facts concerning the character of this outstanding evangelist reveal that there was much lacking mentally, morally and in honesty.
Another well-known identity, Edward Cooney, was recognised as Irvine's deputy, and from here originated the name Cooneyites.
No wonder John Hardie did everything possible to stop this trip abroad. No wonder these men disclaimed any connections with the Cooneyites, or with William Irvine and Edward Cooney, as their's was a history that no one would be proud to be connected with. A history that had fetched repeated headlines in many a newspaper, and its activities on one occasion even stirring the House of Commons. Headlines such as "Irish Tramp Preachers," "The Pilgrims," "With the Saints," "The Cooneyites, "The Go Preachers" were all in connection with the Christian Conventions, The United Christian Conventions of Australia and New Zealand, or The Testimony of Jesus of Great Britain, as they are called today.
Individual editorials, letters to the editor, Court cases, disturbances, scandalous stories, became so numerous in one instance, that it was necessary to enlist some help to copy this information. Here were character sketches from both within and without the Sect, records of meetings where there were thousands of person in attendance, instances of arguments and divisions, and no question of a doubt that this belief was originated by this powerful evangelist, William Irvine.
London, July, 1912.
Rural Suffolk is in a ferment caused by the singular doing of the Tramp Preachers, who had established themselves in the county.
Huge Following in its Infancy
The great convention of the Tramp Preachers is still in progress at Crocknacrieve, and as anticipated has surpassed in extent all previous gatherings. There were some thousands of persons in attendance. The speakers at the meeting were the two leaders of the movement, Mr. William Irvine and Mr. Edward Cooney. Both speakers denounced the various churches and the clergy in no unmeasured terms. As usual, the call for volunteers for work in distant lands met with a response, a large number offering their services for America, South Africa, and Australia.
Crippled Churches in Infancy
There was no doubt to the extent of the following of this belief once it got a footing and in its infancy. The Rev. Sloan, from Enniskillen, stated: "When this belief got a footing here in the early 1900's, it nearly split some of the churches from top to bottom, but to-day it is a small sect with practically no influence. One very seldom sees a second generation follow it, and I have never witnessed a third. They have practically become non-existent, as they spend so much time fighting among themselves."
Edward Cooney in the Box
On the 18th December, 1913, in the King's Bench Division, London, Mr. Justice Darling in cross-examination of Mr. Edward Cooney:--
Mr. Justice Darling: "Were you the founder of this sect?"
Mr. Edward Cooney: "No, William Irvine was the first, about 16 years ago."
Judge Exposes Mistake of Tenets
I would say that one of the most interesting of these court cases was one held at Bristol Assizes:--
Mr. Justice Ridley, who heard the action with a jury, made enquiry as to the tenets of the sect, and Frederick Carter, one of the plaintiffs, replied, "We believe in Jesus Christ and his command to go out into the world and preach." "But stop," exclaimed the Judge, "That command was to go out and preach to the lost tribes of the House of Israel."
Witness: "Jesus said go out into the world,"
His Worship: "If you believe in a literal interpretation of the New Testament you are wrong. Do you take that text from Matthew?"
The Judge: "Let us read it."
The passage was read, and the Judge then asked Carter if his contention was that "we were the lost tribes?"
Carter replied that he could not answer that.
The Judge: "I don't think that anyone can."
"Money Pours in Through Conventions
The Tramps say they have no collections. In strict parlance this may be correct, but it is not the whole truth. They may not "collect," but they receive donations. So that while Messrs, Irvine and Co. do not collect, they receive, and the receipts are sufficient to send the preachers to American, Scotland, anywhere else, and to take Mr. Irvine to South Africa and other places abroad. The regular clergy could not afford those trips. The tramps can afford it, but they go another way about.
THEY OBTAIN THE MONEY.
As I studied these extracts there was no doubt that this sect was the same as what I had become connected with, as continually names were cropping up that I had heard of and knew in some instances.
"And while the Tramps denounce John and Charles Wesley as having gone to hell, they sing the very "Devilry," written by Charles Wesley in some of his immortal hymns. On Sunday last a new hymn book entitled Hymns--Old and New, made its appearance. This book, compiled by Edward Cooney and William Carrol, consists entirely of hymns taken from such collections as "Songs of Victory," Redemption Songs," and "Songs and Solos." The Go Preacher's Hymn book is no longer used."
Even to this day, there are hymns compiled by Edward Cooney still in this book. I mention this article for two reasons,
(1) The connection of the head "worker" in Victoria (now deceased) William Carrol.
(2) To prove these men as strangers to the Truth when they deny their associations with Edward Cooney.
Edward Cooney first met William Irvine in Bonnosakane Co., Tipperary, Eire, while travelling for his father, who was a wealthy draper from Enniskillen, Co. Fermanagh.
At this time, Irvine was still connected with the Faith Mission and was know as Pilgrim Irvine, having been converted through hearing the Rev. John McNeil, a Presbyterian Minister preach the Gospel in Motherwell Town Hall, Scotland.
When he later set forth on this spiritual enterprise, Edward Cooney offered to help him financially. No doubt Irvine told him that "God does not want your money," but, of course, that didn't mean that he didn't. It is now understood that Cooney's distribution of wealth reached the pocket of Poor Mr. Irvine, who was £1400 better off. This was a small fortune 50 years ago.
Harshness of This Mine Boss
Irvine warned at an evening convention meeting that any talking at night after retiring would result with those persons being publicly mentioned, and arrangements made for their departure. One preacher that wouldn't condemn Wesley was ex-communicated at this meeting. Mr. Cooney advised every man and woman to do what he did -- forget their father, their mother, their sisters, their clerical and individual training, and try and get at the truth.
During the course of conversation with one of many ex-communicated preachers, I acquired first hand information of the mentality of this powerful evangelist, William Irvine, during the latter days of his life. This man had visited Irvine in Jerusalem, and while speaking to him, William Irvine said, " Well, it was a great experiment."
"What," I said (sitting back amazed) "do you mean to say that the man responsible for the whole of this sect and movement, had the hide to say such a thing "
"Yes," he said.
This man's whole story and many others were taken on a tape recorder, as I long had visions of this astounding evidence being referred to as lies.
William Irvine and John Hardie's Conversion
There was no avoiding a trip to Scotland, as Kilsyth was the home-town of John Hardie as well as William Irvine.
Out of hundreds that used to follow Edward Cooney down the main street of this town singing hymns, there was only one old lady left.
The divisions and arguments had left their toll, as there was no possibility of them covering up their past over here like they had done in the Colonies. John Hardie had held meetings in her home on one occasion when he had returned to England, and she well remembered those early days when she had marched with Eddie Cooney down the main street singing hymns, and the crowd that would follow. Here I was to find several of William Irvine's own relatives, as he still had one sister alive. William died in 1947, and as a homeless poor preacher left thousands of pounds. Here were taken definite statements. (£500 left to one niece, and a Miss Freebrian received £500 which wasn't in the will. He sent £500 to the Old Kilsyth Cottage Hospital, and his sisters received £200 each, and so on.
A Mr. Clelland stated:
"I have known John Hardie since I was knee high to a duck. I can remember John as a young man, and I remember well when John was converted. The reason I remember this is because I had a brother and a sister and my own mother who professed in the same meeting. John was converted in a meeting which was fully connected with the churches, THE FAITH MISSION. This meeting was conducted by two women workers, one of whom was Miss Smellie, and the other a Miss Harris. John was a fitter and learned his trade at Twetcher Engineering Shop, and became an engineer repairing locomotives. This belief was wholly and solely founded by William Irvine, and if John Hardie says otherwise, he is lying."
"William Irvine was converted by the Rev. John McNeil, who was a Presbyterian Minister connected with the Faith Mission."
Irvine's own son was educated to become a minister of the clergy, so don't these facts reveal and ridicule their doctrine that they are the only Christians.
Scotland Yard Lends a Hand
I left Kilsyth with all the evidence concerning the mentality, immorality and honesty of this homeless, poor preacher, William Irvine.
Information was acquired through the help of Scotland Yard, concerning their taking of the name, The Testimony of Jesus, and so seriously did the Commonwealth Bank in London deem the matter, that an immediate dollar allowance was granted, and so continued the investigation on to the United States and Canada.
Amazing Evidence in U.S.A.
Documentary Particulars Through Washington
Here, again, I followed a pathway of destruction: Instances of men being shot, documentary evidence from Washington and Internal Revenue Department Report where certain "workers" were mentioned, one in particular with F.B.I. agents on his tracks. He had skipped the country and was supposedly hiding in England.
Sect's Tents Burned
Residents of Brooklyn Give Vent after Midnight, Fire Revolvers, Tents of Irvinites Burned.
September 15th, 1908
Here, again, the newspapers told their stories.
Premature Loss of Life
Nothing compared with the countless heart breaking factual stories that I witnessed. Men lying between life and death with bleeding ulcers of the stomach, which was the result of mental persecution from these so-called "servants of God."
One woman had taken a stroke through the unmerciful persecutions of one of these men, this leaving the whole of the left side of her face disfigured. I was to come in contact with stories of premature loss of life.---Part statement:--
"Mr. Boyd's life was very unhappy as he was frustrated in his mind through the persecutions. Mr. Boyd suffered much in spirit mentally, both he and his wife as they saw many that were once their friends becoming their enemies, and he died, I believe, as a result of these persecutions. There was a family who, when others forsook Mr. Boyd, still hung on and refused to give up his fellowship, continually affirming that Mr. Boyd was a true Disciple of Christ and Brother in Christ. This family, whose name was Hoogers, were persecuted to the extreme, because of being friends with Sam Boyd. Mr. Hoogers took it much to heart and became ill, with an affliction of the mind, and he died suddenly in Edmunton Hospital and, I believe, prematurely."
COULD NOT ONE CLASS THIS AS MURDER?
Poor Preacher with $1,500 in Wallet
Then there was the financial side of the story with facts concerning homeless, poor preachers with thousands of dollars in their pockets, and son to Australia, where they had big, fat bank balances.
Big Purge under way in Australia
Here in Australia it was a case of OH, what a mess. In Victoria and South Australia the purge was well under way. William Carroll had recently passed on, and the fight to see who would be next greatest amongst them resulted in several different divisions. Hundreds of people on one side would have nothing to do with those who had taken sides with the other. An extract from a Victorian letter, written in July, 1954, told a little of the situation there:---
"When we came to Melbourne we found many of our friends under a cloud of suspicion--no one could tell us why, only that we must not visit them. We could not accept this and continued openly our friendship. Others did the same and they were brought under the same cloud of suspicion.
We were warned by the "workers" who said there was a conspiracy against the Ministry, 'subtle, satanic and secret.' As the numbers under suspicion grew, Mr. Carroll decided on a purge, and week after week numbers were put out, whole churches, no one knew why, and appeals were sent to senior workers everywhere to come and help us and give us a hearing We were treated at our meetings as if we had some loathsome disease, and workers came and preached leprosy at us, referring to our friends a 'wolves, devils, dogs, etc. No Amen when we spoke in meetings. It was almost unbelievable and I don't know why we continued to go, our cousin almost went out of his mind."
"Workers" Warn Against Me
My home coming was now common gossip and the "workers" had circulated instructions that all doors were to be closed, with the results of people scurrying at the sight of me. I later heard that word had been spread "that the serpent had taken charge of me and I was indeed a very dangerous man."
Hardie Screams, "Get out of Here"
On Tuesday, 28th December, 1954, in the company of 2 witnesses, I drove the car into Guildford Convention Ground. Our arrival must have been anticipated, as no sooner had we left the car than our presence was detected. Several of the preachers immediately appeared at the entrance to the shed, and one of the followers who knew me, walked steadily towards us as we neared the hall. I was met with "I warn you not to cause any trouble here." And I answering said, "What makes you think that I'll cause any disturbance? Have you ever known me to cause any trouble?" I questioned where John Hardie was, and as he was on the platform we waited for the meeting to finish. Every thought of spreading the truth amongst the followers had long left me as I was well aware that my word would count but nought against these preachers' lies.
As the meeting dispersed it was pitiful to see the different ones scurrying away at the sight of me, and as my man, John Hardie, made his appearance at the entrance, I moved through the crowd towards him.
With McNabb on one side and H. Ellem on the other, I heard him say, " Where is he," so I realised that news of my arrival on the scene must have been sent through to him on the platform. Placing my hand forward I exclaimed to Mr. Hardie that I would like to speak to him in private, and he answering said, "I don't know whether I'll even speak to you, because you are one of my enemies." There was no doubt that I would have to force the issue so, beckoning my two companions forward, I answered him saying:
"Well, Mr. Hardie, seeing that I have met a few of your friends and ex-friends, such as George Beattie, Irvine Weir, Willie Clelland, and now know a little about William Irvine and the history of this movement, I'm afraid that you will have to listen to me."
John Hardie said: "And that's what you went to England for, to get to the bottom of everything."
Doug. Parker: "And what's wrong with getting to the bottom of things?"
Pulling away with Ellem and McNabb and several others he endeavoured to sidestep the whole affair and, consequently, our only resort was attack.
In a raised voice I said, "Mr. Hardie, there are several charges that I would like to face you with; are you going to listen to me?"
Taking advantage of his short pause, I handed forth this photograph which tied John Hardie with William Irvine, William Carrol, George Walker and others.
Doug. Parker: "Do you recognise this or any of these men, Mr. Hardie?"
Mr. Hardie: "Yes."
Doug. Parker: "Well, Mr. Hardie, amongst some of the charges that I would like to confront you with is this," the following being read out to him:---
(1) That you are responsible for misleading myself, my family, dozens of people in and around my district, and thousands of people in Australia, that this belief is right from the beginning, and yet it only started at the turn of this century.
(2) You were agreeable to the formation of a trust instead of my handing all my wealth over to you. One was just as fraudulent as the other under the circumstances.
(3) You were connected with Edward Cooney and W. Irvine, and this belief that you are in charge of here in New South Wales is none other than that which was started by William Irvine in and around 1900.
(4) That this belief for many years was know as Cooneyites.
(5) That even though you must fully realise that apart from the personal background of this William Irvine with his partially unbalanced mind which can be dated back to around 1904, and the fact that as a homeless poor preacher he died a very wealthy man. Even though you must fully realise these things you are still a party to furthering this endless pathway of destructed lives as started by him.
(6) You have deliberately kept the truth of the history of this movement, past and present, from all the followers of this belief.
(7) That so influencing people to think that you and your workers are the only true servants and preachers from God you are responsible for:---
(a Spiritual Fraudery.
(b) Bringing pressure to bear upon people to the extent that they became so demented, mentally tortured and persecuted that they have, in some instances, lost their health, nerves and even premature loss of their lives by the works of many of your co-workers.
(8) Do you know that William Irvine, the founder of this movement and the sole foundation of this movement stated prior to his death that it was A GREAT EXPERIMENT?
The twelfth charge was in connection with their being registered with certain Government Departments in a name, and before finishing this, he, in a rage, screamed, "Lies, it's a lie and they are all lies. If you'll tell one lie, you'll tell a hundred of them." Throwing his arms in the air he screamed, "Get out of here, get off these grounds."
Shaking my head I turned to my two companions, and it was then that several of the "workers" closed in on us and moved in behind as we walked towards the car. Mr. Ellem and Mr. Pritchard threatened to prosecute for trespassing.
No longer could I look upon these men as Godly preachers. Any queries or questions of a disturbing nature would either be met by evasive answers or an immediate cloud of suspicion. One man from a Sydney suburb stated, "After making enquiries in connection with a certain preacher who had been ex-communicated, I was met by [Con] Swadling, the bishop of the church, who informed me that he was sorry to have to tell me I could no longer meet with them until I heard from John Hardie. That was in 1930, and here we are in 1955, and I still haven't heard from him."
Another stated: "During my absence, Gordon McNabb and another named Boone, worried my wife to such an extent that her nerves broke under the strain, and she had a total breakdown."
Principal of Big Sydney College warns against Cooneyites
Our Education Department was so disturbed by the activities of this deadly sect that warnings were issued to Student Teachers going out into country districts to beware of the Cooneyites and avoid all contact with them.
Edward Cooney ex-Communicated
It was a case of no wonder Mr. Hardie and his associate Overseers in other countries ex-communicated Edward Cooney. This enabled them to shake off that stigma of the name Cooneyites.
Space will only permit me to roughly explain the facts acquired through this investigation, as an unfinished report runs into several hundred pages. Included in this is the truth concerning their Living Witness Doctrine, which was instigated by Joseph Kerr.
How they originally did have halls until ex-communication necessitated exclusion of the unwanted. This could not be done in a public building or a church.
How they even thought that they were going to be gifted with the power to heal the sick and create miracles, etc.
A brief outline of history of this movement is as follows:---
After the Moody and Sanky revival in Scotland in 1881, a Scotsman named John Govan conceived the plan of sending the Gospel by pairs of preachers to the island and country districts. This mission was called the Faith Mission, and their objective was to make converts, and so turn them over to the different churches. Their message at the general meetings was truly evangelical, and as a result the local churches were enriched by their converts.
It was in the year 1895 that William Weir Irvine was added to this Faith Mission, after being converted by the Rev. John McNeil. After altering his course in life to that of evangelistical work, he spent a preparatory period in John Anderson's Bible College, at Glasgow. As the Faith Mission moved out into new fields, so his missionary work was spread over a wider area, and being gifted with a marvelous ability of speech and expression, became very well known amongst the religious people of that day.
While working a mission into the North of Ireland amongst some very well to do farmers, he came in contact with several young Irish men who were attracted to his preaching. This mission was held at Rathmolyon, which is several miles from Dublin, and included amongst these young men were William Gill, William Carroll, George Walker, Irvine Weir and several others.
In October, 1899, William Irvine asked these young men if they would accompany him on a bicycle tour of Scotland, during which time they would visit Faith Mission people and meetings.
Here was the start of William Irvine's work outside the Faith Mission.
Prior to this, several others were attracted to his preaching and work, and as he was still a pilgrim with the Faith Mission, he advised them to join themselves to the Irish Workers' Christian Union which was conducted by an R. R. Todd. As his ideas progressed, so they were promulgated amongst all of these young men and women he had touched in his various missions, with the result that when the proper time came, and he had developed to the extent of having workers associated with himself, then the others who had joined Todd's work, came along with him also, leaving Todd holding the empty sack. Included in these that had joined Todd's work were John Hardie, Jack Jackson and Tom Turner.
William Irvine had been reading in the 10th of Matthew, where the twelve Disciples were sent forth by Jesus in that manner.
This was the foundation and this is what William Irvine imbued into the minds of these young men who were the nucleus of this movement. Bold in faith, but backward in knowledge of the Scriptures, as if they were to only thoroughly read the portion of the Scripture on which their ideals were based, they would no doubt realise that it was all a mistake. A mistake that was later referred to as an experiment by the one who made it.
Irvine then commenced a virulent attack on the clergy and publicly anathematised all churches and their ministers. All clergy, from the Archibishop to the humble curate, from the moderator to the theological student, were false prophets, and all other beliefs were wrong. Only those that followed his deals and way of life were Christians, and all other beliefs were regarded as Satanic, and their work that of 'false Prophets" and 'hirelings." They claimed that they were the only True Servants of Christ, in as much as they had complied with the Lord's commandments as set out in Matthew 10.
It was about this time that Edward Cooney gave up his business, and also threw in his lot with Irvine, and became what he termed a Tramp Preacher, hence came the new name "Cooneyites or--Tramp Preachers." A very wealthy farmer, John West, literally gave them thousands of pounds and made available the use of his property, "Crocknacreive," for the carrying out of Conventions and large meetings. Co. Fermanagh, North Ireland was entirely a rural district with a population consisting of simple minded farmers and their families, and it was here that this belief got a footing. The whole county and, in fact, the whole country was in a state of excitement, some followers going so far as to sell their farms and properties.
VOW OF CELIBACY
Irvine Jumps out of Window
This belief can be dated back to exactly 1899, when these first workers gathered around William Irvine. The names of these men were: Willie Gill, John Long, George Walker, Irvine Weir, Albert Quinn. Then, in 1900, the list was added to by Matt Wilson, Sam Boyd, Willie Clelland, James Patrick. It was 12 months before John Hardie, Jack Jackson and Tom Turner broke away from the Irish Workers' Christian Union, and came along with William Irvine, and in 1902, Edward Cooney was added to their number.
In 1903, at a meeting held at Rathmolyon, William Irvine gathered at least 70 of his flock together. This meeting lasted three weeks, and during that time Irvine imbued into the minds of all these young men and women what was required of them. It was at this meeting that the vow of celibacy was taken. It resembled the three fold vow that was taken by the Franciscan Friars. Poverty, Chastity and Obedience.
This meeting was presided over continuously by William Irvine, who held the constant attention of these young evangelists with his preaching and teaching. Peculiar, as it may seem, he would enter by walking through the door and down the passage that divided the men from the women and, after addressing the gathering for several hours at a time, would leave without speaking to anyone, and by also jumping out the window. His supposedly reason for this action was in order that he many keep clear of any evil spirit within the followers, and so by not coming in contact with them, he consequently wouldn't become contaminated by their influence. These acts, combined with the hypnotic power of his preaching, created a fear within the minds of all that lent an ear, and came under his spell; a fear that was transformed into a worship and idolation of Irvine himself.
By this time the movement had increased considerably and had spread over the whole of the British Isles. Irvine then decided to go further afield and, so, after this meeting it was decided to establish themselves and spread out into the colonies and America.
About this time, a Doctor Dowie, in New York, was preaching against medical doctors. If he saw one in a crowd, he labelled him a devil. Similarly, the clergymen were all devil sent. The first of these preachers to arrive in the United States, sincerely thought that this man may be the key to their God-given power to heal the sick as it speaks of in Matthew 10, and so joined himself on to him for a time, but, of course, without result.
In September, 1903, William Irvine, George Walker, and Irvine Weir, left by boat from Glasgow, Scotland, for the United States, and were again the instrument by which this movement was founded in that vast country. Weir and Irvine preached in Buffalo and the Great Lake district, and had quite a success in their labours. Irvine returned to New York where with George Walker, he met several others on their arrival from Ireland. This was in 1904, and included amongst these were Jack Carrol, Mae Carrol, his sister, and Willie Clelland. William Carrol had gone to Australia, and John Hardie Likewise.
Meanwhile, there were thousands following this new sect, their attacks on the clergy were almost unbelievable as they twisted and distorted the Scriptures. They lead the ignorant and credulous peasantry or labouring class into the belief that all churches and collections were of the devil. The married women were influenced to put aside the very ring which symbolised the married state, which had marked it for centuries, leaving themselves open to be admired by those that the married ring protected from unwelcome attentions.
Several of the Cooneyites, during the burial of a member of the Church of Ireland (John McDonald, of Killenasherry) in his family burial ground, endeavoured to bear away the coffin to burial without the usual burial service. In the general row at the church, the covering was torn off the coffin. However, the deceased's sympathetic friends were able, after a fierce struggle, to have the body borne into the church.
No religious craze of modern times was so unscriptural, so unnatural, so revolting and so unholy. These men were not content with pursuing their own way, as they assailed the living and the dead, divided family after family, wrecked happy married lives by separating wives and husbands, and left a pathway of destruction in nearly every country in the world.
There was continually a change in their doctrine, and the most outstanding of these was the "Living Witness Doctrine," which was instigated by Joseph Kerr, who was one of the first preachers. This doctrine briefly is as follows:--The only way you could be born again, was to be born through either William Irvine or one of his Disciples. (It's a mystery as to what happened to everyone before William Irvine arrived on the scene.)
As the years swept by there was a gradual slackening off from their condemnation to hell of all who did not follow their ideas, though this idea was held as tenaciously as before.
The year is now 1910, and the reaction after such religious excitement seems to have set in. There are rumours of a difference between the leader, Mr. Irvine, and his first lieutenant, Mr. Cooney; also some difference in the camp, in consequence of which some of the workers left; Mr. Irvine looked out of his window at the conventions and did not address one public meeting. Mr. Cooney came across the Atlantic in deference to the most urgent representations as to the danger of a "split" being talked of, and that it could only be refuted by his presence at Crocnacreive. He came, but he did not take a prominent part, leaving it to George Walker, who used to be a draper's apprentice in Mr. W. R. Cooney's employment.
They have grown rapidly. Ten years ago, they were a very small number. Now they are spread over the English-speaking world. They have conventions in most American states, in New Zealand, Australia, Sough Africa, Canada, and all over the British Isles. Last year thousands of pounds were spent on Conventions. There are hundreds of workers in the field, at every convention there are volunteers ready to forth. Also they maintain that the truth is clearer than ever, and they can do without the clergy at Births, Marriages and Deaths.
The year is now 1914, and the world is plunged into a turmoil of war. The heartbreaks and grief that is being inflicted upon families all over the world, is exemplified by the grief and injury that countless families have suffered, by sons and daughters being influenced to leave their parents' homes by Cooneyite Preachers. Efforts were constantly being made to decoy these young people away from their homes, and parents were being warned by newspapers and the clergy all over the British Isles to be on their guard, and not allow their children to go within reach of an influence of such disruptive, disobedient and heartless character.
There was pity for the believers in their 20th century folly that they could be led to accept, without any training, education, experience or capacity, that they were competent to preach the Gospel. Many an unlettered man did so. Education does not mean everything. But the assumption of these preachers and people, that because of a regeneration of heart (which no one denies), every one of them is competent to expound the Scriptures, was just as true, as that one of them could drive a steam engine. They say that the Scriptures are there for the reading. Are not the levers, cocks, handles, valves on the locomotive for the turning? And yet a time must be served to understand the bearing of each lever and cock and handle on the steam and brakes, before an engine driver is allowed to drive his locomotive; while for the study of the Scriptures which has exercised the highest minds of all ages, a man has only to leave the plough, or the girl the milk paid, and he or she is fit to preach.
This is, of course, nonsense, and does not find acceptance. It is sheer nonsense. Some of the apostles were not learned men--fishermen, but they were taught by the Divine Master himself. and it is presumption for any of these preachers to assume that they bear analogous relations to those of the Apostles, and our Lord. It was only natural that the public's wrath had been aroused, as these men were guilty of seducing and influencing young people to leave their parents and homes because they felt--That it was their duty. That they were doing God a service. That they were competent and commissioned to preach the Scriptures.
I proved their lack of education in one experience, when John Hardie avoided sincere questions that were put before him, and how he endeavoured to decoy me away from the affection of my own mother by saying, "Christ held no personal affection even for his own mother. This is revealed to us when he refers to her as woman." When I was later to find the valued and beautiful meaning that His term possessed when originally used, I naturally doubted the sincerity of this man. As far back as 1910 I found extracts from an Irish newspaper which explained the above. One reference to Mr. George Walker said, "This man made little of education from time to time, or perhaps to put it more correctly, warned people against attaching too much importance to it, and the reason was obvious. His own addresses showed the want of it, and he seemed to feel painfully conscious that he suffered for want of quality to enable him to speak as others do."
War has hampered their movements and they have given themselves a name, The Testimony of Jesus. The are listed with the Conscientious Objectors; Board in this name, which has caused quite a division amongst them. Nevertheless, this is kept strictly confidential, and is only known amongst the "servants."
William Irvine exiled to Jerusalem
The storms of the past had left their mark on Irvine, as more than once he was found fighting for his beliefs in the Courts, and on one instance he had to swear in court (to win his law case), that the lady preachers received 5/- a week wages. This was a deliberate falsehood, and yet none of this belief said that he had done wrong, because had he not sworn so, The lady preachers would have been outlawed according to British law. These things affected him, and an oddness could be detected about his preaching, as he spoke about stars as other worlds, and held before his followers the strange possibility of going to them and doing for them the work of saviour as Jesus had done for this. Then he also came under the delusion that the day of grace ended in August, 1914, and since that date "The voice of God had not been heard in any meeting on earth." He prophesied of a world-wide famine and drought, and advised people all over Canada, U.S.A. and Australia to sell their farms and homes and invest their money in fisheries, railroads, canneries, shipping, etc. He even had people burying thousands of dollars worth of food in California.
In 1917, Jack Carrol, James Jardine and George Walker approached Irvine while down in California, as to whether he would take second place, but without success. Already, these men had moved in and gained his place by his subsequent fall, and so it was cunningly decided to convince him that there was no doubt he was the second witness that is mentioned in Revelation, and ' Irvine, already under this delusion, feeling that this might be true, decided it would be best to be on the spot, just in case, and so he retired to Jerusalem where he spent the rest of his life. Every morning one would see him strolling out of the Holy City towards the Garden of Gethsemane. He wore a deerstalker cap, heavy jacket, shorts and suede sandals. His needs were at all times well provided for, as he kept up a large correspondence with his original converts all over the world.
Irvine's marshalls had divided his Kingdom between themselves, and these were mainly George Walker, who scooped the field of the United States; Joe Kerr that of South Africa; Wilson Reid the British Isles; Wilson McClung, New Zealand; John Hardie and William Carrol, that of Australia. These men became the individual rulers over these territories, and so appointed "overseers" to administer under their authority. In Australia, Tom Turner became the "overseer" of Queensland, William Hughes in South Australia, and so on.
Walker's territory covered Canada, and was also divided amongst overseers, namely John T. Carrol (brother of William Carrol), James Jardine, Samuel Charlton, etc.
On the 29th June, 1920, Irvine circulated a letter, the following being that which was sent to William Carrol.
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