Index
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CHAPTER 2

FROM HIS BIRTH, HE FORMED THE RESOLUTION OF DEVOTING HIMSELF TO THE MINISTRY OF THE GOSPEL.

To survey the life of a friend, whom we loved when acting his part among us, and mourned when death removed him from our sight, though it may awaken some sad recollections, or revive feelings upon which time has laid his lenient hand, is a gratifying task. And, if that friend was a child of God; if we had been in the habit of regarding him as an humble, heavenly-minded christian, whose affections were set on things above, and who cultivated close communion with God, through the whole of his pilgrimage; if, moreover, he was a herald of the cross, distinguished by his talents, and learning, and virtues, and services, there is some profit, as well as pleasure, in tracing his path from the cradle to the grave in following him through all the way in which the Lord had led him. Such an employment presents to our view beautiful exhibitions of the wisdom, and goodness, and sovereignty of God in the ways of his providence, succeeding each other, in admirable correspondence, and ultimately conducting the individual to the station Heaven had appointed him to fill: It makes us acquainted with the circumstances, which, under the divine blessing, introduced him into the school of Christ; it discovers the gradual expansion and improvement of his mind in that school, and the progressive operation of those gracious principles which rendered him so eminent an example of piety while here and which finally matured him for a better world. In a word, it is both pleasing and instructive, as it shows, not only what, in the dispensations of mercy, had been done for him whose life is the subject of review, but also the particular connexion he had with the church of God, and in some measure the important benefits conferred upon her, through his honoured instrumentality.

The annals of such a man are not, indeed, of a cast likely to attract the serious notice of the men of the world. They can read with rapture the story of some great philosopher, statesman, or hero; but that of the humble, pious, faithful ambassador of Christ, as it savours of heavenly things, is not suited to their taste, or rather, speaks too forcibly to the conscience, in the perusal of it, however interesting its details, to afford them pleasure; and it is not often, therefore, that religious biography receives much attention out of the church. Be it so; still the memory of the just is blessed. His faith and charity and zeal his fervent prayers his affectionate counsels his unwearied labours to promote the glory of God and the salvation of his fellow men, "smell sweet in death, and blossom in the dust." The righteous shall be in everlasting remembrance.

In the preceding chapter, a brief account was given of the lineage of the Rev. Dr. JOHN H. LIVINGSTON, whose memoir occupies these pages, a man, who, through a long and active life, by his ardent piety by the dignity and affability of his deportment by the uniform ability and faithfulness of his publick ministrations, commanded general confidence and esteem; a man, whose praise is in all the churches, but particularly endeared by many pre-eminent services to the Reformed Dutch Church, FIRST in her Councils, FIRST in her honours, FIRST in her affections.

The author will now proceed to give a narrative of the life of this excellent man.

He was the son of Henry Livingston, and S. Conklin his wife, and born at Poughkeepsie, in Dutchess county, in this State, on the 30th of May, A. D. 1746.

Neither pains nor expense were spared in his education. Till he was seven years of age, he received no other than parental instruction, but at this period, there being no school in his native place, he was sent to Fishkill, and put under the care of the Rev. Chauncey Graham. When he had been with this gentleman between two and three years, his father obtained a competent private tutor for him. He was accordingly brought home, and Mr. Moss Kent, (the father of the late Chancellor James Kent, Esq.) a gentleman whose qualifications for the trust were very respectable, and of whose faithful attentions to him, he ever afterwards cherished a grateful recollection, was now charged with the superintendence of his studies. With the assistance of such an instructer, and possessing a docile and inquisitive mind, his improvement, the two following years, in classical literature, and in such other scholastic branches as, at the time, were taught to prepare young men for admission into college, was considerable. And it is a fact, whatever may be said in favour of an early public education and the advantages enjoyed in some seminaries are certainly great, that private instruction, judiciously and faithfully imparted, under the eye of a parent, is very conducive to the proficiency of a pupil particularly, if he shows some quickness of parts and a thirst for learning. He has few temptations to idleness; his difficulties may be removed as soon as they occur; the ordinary conversation of his teacher with whom he lives, in some measure, as a companion, has a salutary influence over him; and thus favoured, he cannot but find the acquisition of knowledge easy and pleasant. Young Livingston found it so, while he had the benefit of the instruction and company of Mr. Kent. Speaking of the advantages he enjoyed at this time, in a short memoir written by himself, he says: "I proceeded with delight and success in my studies, during the years 1755 and 1756."

The ensuing year, he was placed in a grammar school at New Milford, in Connecticut, under the direction of the Rev. Mr. N. Taylor; and with this gentleman he continued about a year. Having finished his preparatory studies, in Sept. 1758, when only a little over twelve years old, he was examined and admitted a member of the Freshman class, of Yale College, in New Haven.

[MVD: Rev. Nathaniel Taylor was born in 1722, graduating Yale in 1745. After teaching for a few years, Rev. Taylor was licensed as a preacher, supplementing his salary by farming and taking in young boys preparing for the Yale entrance exams. During the Revolutionary War, Rev. Taylor served as a chaplain for the revolutionary forces.]

The country, at the period referred to, was not distinguished for good literature. Education was in its infancy, and what was termed a liberal one, comprehended attainments, in certain branches at least, which at the present day, in some of our principal seminaries, would hardly be deemed a sufficient preparation for commencing a collegiate course. The learned men of that day and there were not a few to be found, in every profession, justly entitled to the appellation were less indebted to early advantages than to their own genius and application, for their success in literary pursuits. Classical learning in particular was, in several colleges, lightly esteemed, or comparatively held in contempt; and such appears to have been the fact, in the college at New-Haven, at the time of Mr. Livingston's matriculation though probably, in point of reputation, and real merit indeed, it was not inferior to any similar institution. It was then under the presidency of the Rev. Thomas Clapp, a distinguished mathematician, whose influence rendered the science of mathematics a leading subject of study among his scholars. This they pursued with a degree of enthusiastic ardour; other subjects of equal, if not greater importance, were, it would seem, neglected, or treated by many as scarce deserving attention.

Almost immediately, therefore, upon Mr. Livingston's entrance, he, in common with his associates, became enamoured of the favourite study; and it will surprise no one to learn, if his age be kept in mind, that in some branches of it as Trigonometry, Navigation, Surveying, Astronomy, he found some things beyond his comprehension. He was chiefly occupied with these studies during the first half of his collegiate life; and in riper years, he ever very justly considered that half as having been spent to little purpose.

As the Latin and Greek languages were not highly rated, and but slightly studied, the stock of classical knowledge with which he had been previously furnished, was not much increased while he was in college; but that knowledge enabled him to appear, young as he was, to considerable advantage among his fellow-students. Some of them, pretty well grown up, it has been said, when about to prepare their classic exercises, would often pleasantly seat him upon their knees as he was then quite little, -and with all deference, learn of him. The anecdote shows that he was esteemed a remarkably good scholar in the languages.

He finished his academical course, and took the first degree in the arts, in July, 1762,

Having emerged from a state of literary pupilage, he determined to enter at once upon professional studies: and the profession, which he decidedly preferred to any other, presented, it must be confessed, to a youth of his promise and connexions, very powerful attractions. He chose the law; and in the autumn of the same year soon after his return from college commenced his preparatory reading in the office of Bartholomew Crannel, Esq. of Poughkeepsie, a gentleman of note as an able counsellor and eloquent advocate. He was now, as he supposed, in the broad and ample road to future distinction. "Plans and views," he says in his own brief memoir, "of future eminence engrossed all my wishes, constituted the sum of my present enjoyments, and finished the prospects of succeeding happiness," and there can be little question, that, had he prosecuted the study and engaged in the business of the profession, he would, before many years, have attained unto its highest honours. The talents he possessed, with his dignified and pleasing address, and with the influence, in his favour, of a large circle of respected relatives and friends, doubtless would have soon elevated him to the first place, either at the bar, or upon the bench.

As yet, it does not appear, that he knew any thing of the power of religion. He had preserved an unsullied moral character through a season of education, which ever abounds with temptations to folly, and in circumstances of peculiar exposure to such temptations: and, in the sweetness of his natural disposition in the accomplishments of his mind in the filial respect and affection with which he behaved to his parents in diligent attention to his studies in every part of his deportment, he was an amiable and hopeful youth, few perhaps more so; affording flattering presages of no common worth and estimation, when he should be more advanced in years and fully employed in professional duties. But, as yet, he was an almost utter stranger to God and religion. He had walked according to the course of this world. He still lacked one things that one thing without which all else is but vanity of transient utility at best, unconnected with any eternal beneficial results, either to its possessor or to others,

A writer of the last century [Law] has somewhere observed that "proud views and vain desires in our worldly employments are as truly vices and corruptions, as hypocrisy in prayer or vanity in alms." The observation is certainly a correct one: and a more unequivocal proof of an unhumbled, unsantified heart, need not to be given, than the indulgence of such views and desires.

Mr. Livingston was actuated, when he made the above choice of a profession, by an inordinate ambition of the honours of the world; and the fact clearly evinces that he was then without hope, in a state of great spiritual blindness, alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that was in him.

The reader must not infer, however, from this remark, that he was void of all serious impressions. Impressions of divine truth, of a powerful kind, had been early made upon his mind, which were never wholly erased, and which, when from under the watchful eyes of his parents, and mingling at pleasure with college companions and others, had a happy influence upon him. He had been instructed in those great doctrines of the gospel, the belief of which involved his present and everlasting peace. Though he could not intelligently unite in the publick worship of God, in his native place being there, at the time, conducted in the Dutch language yet he had been carefully trained up to a religious observance of the Sabbath; and afterwards, when he became a member of college, it was his privilege to hear, in a language that he did understand, the precious truths of salvation, regularly and faithfully inculcated upon the Lord's day. These means, if not immediately followed by a saving change of heart, at any particular period of their enjoyment, were not altogether unproductive of salutary effects. "While I was yet a child," he says, "the solemn impressions of the being and presence of God, of my dependence upon him, and the awful realities of a future state, were very strong, and frequently interrupted me in my play and sports. I often left my little companions and sought some retired spot, where I might pray, without being observed. What I prayed for, and what my views and exercises in prayer were, I do not now reccollect; but there was something of the fear and reverence of God, of the evil of sin, and an universal obligation to fulfil every duty, which occupied my mind, aroused my conscience, and convinced me that I could never be happy, if I remained an enemy to God, or wilfully transgressed his holy commandments But these first principles or convictions, whatever they were, did not prove effectual to produce conversion. They were changeable and transient. They frequently returned, and were as frequently forgotten, excepting that they created in me a lively and tender conscience, which, through all the giddy mazes, violent temptations, and wild eccentricities of youth, never wholly forsook me. They excited a rigid monitor within my breast, and often silently but powerfully preserved me from follies and sins which, otherwise, I should undoubtedly have perpetrated. I recollect instances wherein the Lord, with a strong hand and discernible interposition, prevented me from committing sins where temptations were numerous and urgent. These early impressions went no farther. The amount of benefits resulting from early parental instruction, and from all the ordinances and sermons I had heard during my whole life, was nothing more than some confused ideas of truths, which I did not understand, or believe. This was my own fault, for I had not been in earnest or desirous to know the Lord or obey his word."

The fault most assuredly was his own; and he is not the only one who has had to acknowledge the neglect or abuse of precious means of grace. Some, possibly, who read these pages can confess, that they have sadly disregarded the tears, and prayers, and faithful instructions of pious friends still living, or peradventure, already mouldering in the grave, and that various opportunities of religious improvement, which a kind providence has permitted them to enjoy, through their own remissness or obstinacy, have proved of very little benefit to their souls. Happy they, who see and own their sins, in the exercise of repentance towards God, and of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ! If, however, he had no clear, distinct perception of evangelical truth no genuine gracious experience, under parental and ministerial teaching; still, as has been before remarked and the same is evident from his own words it was, in a very important sense, profitable to him: and though such early teaching never had, in any case, any other effect, than simply to preserve a young person from the follies and dangers to which, in his intercourse with the world, he cannot but be greatly exposed, or to check his waywardness this alone constitutes an ample reward for all the toil, and solicitude, and patience, of the teacher be he a parent or a pastor.

But the convictions and impressions which Mr. Livingston received from time to time, were connected, it is believed, more closely than he seems to have imagined, with his future conversion. They were pleasing indications that the Spirit of God was hovering about his path; and it is not improbable that they formed, in their effect, the incipient step in that renovating process which it was his happiness subsequently to experience. Conviction is not indeed conversion, nor does conversion always follow conviction; and conviction, therefore, cannot be relied upon as an infallible sign of the presence and operation of saving grace: yet more or less conviction precedes conversion; and, when it comes again and again, exciting to prayer and vigilance and other religious duties as often as it comes, it looks, to say the least, as if the Lord, in the dispensations of his mercy, is preparing the way for the good work. How far the way is thus prepared, or the precise connexion between the work and certain antecedent circumstances which, as means serve to introduce it, will be best known in that world where the dealings of God can be accurately retraced, and where, upon remembering all that the Lord had done for him, the heir of glory will be constrained to exclaim He hath done all things well.

Mr. Livingston applied himself assiduously to the study of law until the close of 1764, when his health being a good deal impaired, in consequence, as he supposed, of close application to reading and writing, he deemed it his duty to give up his attendance at the office of Mr. Crannel. This retirement gave him abundant leisure for serious reflection; and apprehensive, from some symptoms of pulmonary disease, that his glass was nearly run, and that he would soon have to appear before the Judge of all the earth, the momentous concerns of eternity took entire possession of his mind.

He now saw his true character and condition as a sinner, and for a season, was in deep distress but it pleased the Lord, at length, to lift up the light of his reconciled countenance upon him, and to give him peace.

[It is stated, in one or two little sketches of his life, which the author has seen in print, that he was converted under the ministry of the late pious and excellent Dr. Laidlie. This is a mistake. He did not become acquainted with that distinguished man of God, till the summer of 1765, some considerable time after the blessed change had, as he believed, taken place. If he had previously overheard him preach, which might have been the case, and the sermon or sermons had proved so profitable to his soul, it can hardly be supposed, that he would have failed to notice the incident, when giving himself, quite a minute detail of the commencement and progress of his religious exercises. In this, however, there is nothing of the kind mentioned or even alluded to; and what he does say of the peculiar circumstances, under which his attention was directed to eternal things, corresponds with the representation made above.]

The reader will no doubt be gratified to see his own account of a work, which resulted in a cordial submission to Christ as the Lord, his Redeemer. "A Book," he says, "of Bunyan, I think it was Grace abounding to the chief of sinners, first excited sharp and irresistible alarms in my soul, but I obtained no particular instruction nor received any other advantage from that book. In my father's library, among other religious books, I found Doddridge's Rise and Progress, &c. This gave me more enlarged and correct views of religion than I ever had before. I perused it with great attention and much prayer, and wished to feel and experience the power of the truths, as they occurred in succession. This book was useful and blessed to me beyond any uninspired volume I ever read. But my chief attention was fixed upon the Sacred Scriptures. I knew nothing of the peculiar nature of a divine revelation, nor of the distinct classes of arguments, which prove the Bible to be written by men inspired of the Holy Ghost; but there was an internal evidence in that sacred Book, there was a majesty, sublimity, and authority connected with perspicuity and power, which commanded my attention, and enjoined obedience. The divine perfections of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, one God; and his glorious works, as delineated in the Bible, I was sure were agreeable to truth. And I found the secrets of my heart, my state, my character, my principles and conduct, were all naked and open to the word of God. To receive, therefore, that blessed Volume, without hesitation, as the standard of my faith and practice, was my ardent wish, being firmly persuaded that I should be condemned or accepted agreeably to its infallible declarations. To understand the Scriptures became consequently my earnest study and daily prayer, and to them I appealed upon every question which arose in my mind."

"Convictions of sin, of guilt, and misery, became clear and pungent; and some confused idea of redemption through a Saviour, and the possibility of pardon, and the restoration of my depraved nature, engaged my thoughts and prayers, without intermission. For several months, I could do nothing but read and meditate, plead at a throne of grace, and weep over my wretched and lost estate."

"As new inquiries and difficulties arose, and new truths, with their inseparable consequences, came under consideration, I repaired to the Bible, I supplicated for light and instruction, and had to contend, study, and struggle for every article of faith in succession."

"Two doctrines, above all others, engaged my ardent attention, and caused a severe and long conflict."

"The first was the divinity of the Lord Jesus Christ. I saw, in his word, that he was a great Saviour; that the Father was well pleased in his Son, and that sinners, the chief of sinners, were accepted in the Beloved. I believed that he was able to save, even to the uttermost, all who came unto God by him. It was also evident, that in all his fulness, he was freely offered in the Gospel, and the vilest sinners were authorized and commanded to believe in him, to accept him in all his glorious offices, and become exclusively his property. But if he were only a man, I did not dare to give myself away wholly to him, as I should then, by a solemn act, engage to belong to a mere creature, and thus, by becoming united even to Jesus, I should not yet come home to my God, from whom I had revolted. This checked my exercises for a time, and brought me into great fears and perplexity; until, from his word, I obtained a clearer discovery of the perfections of God, and of the infinite evil of sin. This convinced me that no finite arm could vindicate the divine government, and rescue me from the curse; that he alone who made me could possess authority and power to redeem me; and that my Saviour must not only be truly man, but also truly God. I then satisfactorily perceived and understood that it was the doctrine of the Bible; I saw it was the uniform declaration of the sacred scriptures, that the Son of God was one with the Father; that he that hath seen the Son hath seen the Father; and that, therefore, if I came to Jesus I should come home to my God: my Maker would be my husband. Of that interesting truth I have never doubted since.

"The other doctrine which fixed my attention and excited much care and study respected Justification.

"A conviction of guilt and misery, of pollution and inability, assured me of the impossibility of my being accepted of God, either in whole or in part, for any thing to be produced or performed by me. I was fully convinced that without a better righteousness than my own, I must and should perish forever. This conviction prompted me most attentively to read, and with fervent prayer to study the word of God. I made no use of commentaries, nor any human aid, but perused and compared again and again the sacred scriptures, especially the Prophecy of Isaiah, the Epistles of Paul to the Romans and to the Galatians, the first Epistle of Peter, and the Gospel of John. These I attentively read, upon these I meditated, and with a sincere desire for instruction, continually supplicated the throne of grace to be led into the truth, preserved from error, and established in the doctrine of the Gospel. And it pleased the Lord, I trust, to give me the light and instruction I sought. The righteousness of Christ, comprising his active and passive obedience, and the imputation of that righteousness to every soul who receives the Saviour by faith, and thus, by his Spirit, becomes united to him, which is the basis upon which imputation rests, were rendered so intelligible, clear and, convincing to my mind, that I considered the result to be the teaching of the Holy Spirit by his word, and received it and submitted to it, as such, without any wavering or carnal disputation. That the atonement of Christ was specific, complete, and worthy of all acceptation, I was sure.

"These were my views of justitication by faith, but not for faith. And my belief of the relation of God the Redeemer to all the redeemed, and of the imputed righteousness of the precious Saviour, was then so decided, clear and full, that although a long life of study in this, and other doctrines, has succeeded, I do not know that I have ever obtained one new or additional idea, respecting the justification of a sinner. All I know of it, I gained at that period of my life and of my exercises, and no adverse winds of false doctrines have ever shaken my faith."

That these two great fundamental doctrines of the gospel, which so clearly exhibit the unsearchable riches of the grace of God, and so clearly secure all the glory to God, in the salvation of a sinner, should at first excite some opposition in his mind, is not at all astonishing. They, of all others, are the truths, which the proud, unsanctified heart most perfectly hates, and to which, until subdued by the spirit of God until driven from every refuge of lies, and convinced that the reception of them is essential to salvation, it will not yield an honest submission. Few that have passed from death unto life have not been sensible of resistance to these cardinal points of faith: Yet not one has found solid peace and hope in God, till he cordially embraced them.

Justification by the imputed righteousness of a Divine Redeemer, Luther calls, articulus stantis vel cadentis ecclesice; and it is a wellspring of the purest and richest consolation to every soul, that duly apprehends the terrors of divine wrath, and sees no help but in Christ. The discovery, that the blood of the Saviour is blood of infinite value, and that in him there is righteousness a finished righteousness, accompanied by faith, brings to the sinner, oppressed with a sense of his guilt and ruin, light, peace, and joy.

"During these studies and conflicts, a sense of guilt increased, and the most distressing convictions of sin excited amazement and terrors, which no words can express. My unbelief prevented me from closing with the gracious calls of the Gospel; my heart remained so hard and stubborn, and my fears became so alarming that I was reduced to the brink of despair, and felt and experienced what it would be improper even to mention. In this dreadful horror of soul, and fearful state of mind, I continued many weeks; and had it continued much longer, or arose a little higher, I must have died. I believed the Lord Jesus was able to save me, but I could not believe that he was willing to receive and save a wretch, who had sinned so much, and resisted his grace so long as I had done."

"At length it pleased him to conquer my unbelief, by convincing me that if the Saviour was able to save me, he must, most assuredly, be also willing, and that as such, he had pledged himself not to cast out any who came to him. This broke the chains and brought me into liberty. This dispelled doubts, removed fears, and conquered despondency. This gave me free and cheerful access to a throne of grace. I found a warrant and freedom to give myself away to the blessed Jesus, and I did most unreservedly do it, with the greatest willingness, sincerity, joy, and eagerness, that I ever performed any act in my life."

"Now consolations succeeded to griefs. I lived by faith. I found rest, and knew what it was to have Christ living in me. I had joy and peace in believing. I was conscious that I had received the divine Redeemer in all his offices, as offered to sinners in his word; that I had devoted myself, for time and eternity to him, and was no longer my own; and that I had actually become united to him. I have never doubted of this transaction, through all the trials of faith, to this day."

Unbelief is the strongest of the strong holds which the great adversary occupies in the sinner's heart, and he will maintain it as long as he can; but the power of Christ can, and will, demolish it; Grace will triumph at last. This struggle between sin and grace, which is related with much simplicity and clearness, was sharp, and of long continuance, but the issue was glorious. It was severe experience; but it furnished him with the most pleasing evidence of the kindness and love of God his Saviour to his own soul, and it effectually schooled him for the work of guiding and comforting others, who might have similar conflicts a work in which, throughout his ministry, he was acknowledged to be eminently useful. All who are taught of the Spirit of God, are taught the same great truths pertaining to salvation; but, as all do not have exactly the same exercises, or the same measure of conviction, temptation, and distress, and the same measure of faith and enjoyment, it is no small proof of the tender and faithful care of the chief Shepherd for his flock, when he raises up and sends forth those to feed them who are amply qualified to use the tongue of the learned upon the subject of Christian experience.

Having thus solemnly given himself to Christ, and obtained a comfortable persuasion of the security of his eternal interests, some may be curious to know, whether he long held fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope, or whether, through the devices of Satan an unfavourable change in his views and feelings, did not soon after occur. It is not often indeed, that the joy felt immediately upon conversion, continues, for any considerable time, unabated. The believer is now engaged in a warfare, in which a wily and powerful enemy, without constant watching and praying, will get an advantage, and involve him in new troubles: it is frequently the case, that he is not brought at once into a settled state of peace; that upon some fresh and unexpected assault, or perceiving the working of some corruption which he had supposed to be slain, he becomes again depressed with doubts and fears, and walks for a season in darkness. But in this respect Mr. Livingston appears to have been peculiarly favoured by his divine Master, "For some months," he says, "my consolations abounded; and I felt a degree of that love which casteth out fear. Raised from the depths of despair, and brought out of darkness into light, I now enjoyed all that assurance of salvation and rapture of hope which a lively, direct, and appropriating faith in my blessed Jesus produced. I realized my union with him; I derived of his fulness, and walked in the light of the countenance of the God of my salvation."

"Sin appeared exceeding sinful. With a broken and contrite heart I sincerely repented of it; and I especially mourned when I looked unto him whom I had pierced. I abhorred myself as a monster of iniquity and ingratitude, while I fled for refuge to lay hold of the hope set before me. Willing and desirous to be saved from my sins, and hungering and thirsting after righteousness, my Saviour became very precious to my soul. He was the Lord, my righteousness and strength, my way, my end, my life, my all in all. The word, Gal.ii.20, was realized and foremost in my exercises for some time. I believed, experienced, and repeatedly said, I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I now knew that divine grace had reduced a prodigal to his right mind, and brought a wandering and unworthy child home to his father. With my whole heart, I earnestly and repeatedly devoted myself to him, in a covenant, which I was confident was in all things well ordered and sure. I now had but one Master who had bought me with a price. To him, I exclusively belonged, and in the strength of his grace I resolved, with self denial and perseverance, to follow and serve him alone."

"This opened to me sublime and affecting views. This broke the prevailing power of sin in my soul, and it has never had dominion over me since. This inspired me with supreme love to God and holiness; and suggested ends and motives unknown to me before. Every thing appeared, and was in fact, then, new to me. With the change of my relative state, when upon receiving Christ, I obtained the adoption; he changed also my internal state, and gave me a new heart, with the temper and affections of a child. John i.12,13. In the happy frame, which these exercises and the communications of the divine presence excited, I continued for sometime with inexpressible delight; and was convinced it would be easy to suffer martyrdom, if the Lord should please to manifest himself to the soul, and say I am your salvation. These views and comforts engaged my total attention, and I expected they would always remain, and even daily increase; and notwithstanding a disappointment in that expectation, still, the recollection and relish of those first exercises of faith, of hope, of love, of joy, and peace, have never been lost. In the darkest hours which have since succeeded, in the heaviest trials, and greatest discouragements, I have never gone to my blessed Saviour and God as to a stranger, but always have considered him as my covenant Head, my Lord, my Husband, and Portion, who has united me to himself, and from whom, I am assured, nothing shall be able to separate me. I know whom I have believed, and I am persuaded that he is able to keep, and will keep, that which I have committed unto him against that day.

"The first alarm, respecting a change in my comfortable frames, was occasioned by a sermon I one morning heard the celebrated Whitefield preach. His text was Ps. xl. 1, 2, 3. In the introduction he said, he had intended to preach upon another subject, but this passage was impressed with such power upon his mind, that he was constrained to take it; and I believe, said he, there is one now present for whom God designs this to be a word in season. The young convert, rejoicing in hope, and in a lively frame, expects he will always proceed, with swelling sails, before a propitious gale of consolations: but remember, said the great preacher, (and I thought he pointedly and solemnly addressed me) that at some period of your life you will come into a situation and exercises, which you will denominate with David, a horrible pit and miry clay; there you will remain until your patience is severely tried. Yet be of good courage: the Lord will bring you out with triumphant songs of deliverance. He will set your feet upon a rock, and establish your goings. Your restoration will be equal to your first joys. Be of good cheer. Look unto Jesus. The victory is sure. From that hour, I considered this word intended for me, and expected its accomplishment. I knew not what it fully comprehended, but I understood it in part, and was persuaded that I should know the whole. And in the progress of my spiritual warfare, I have experienced it, although I still wait for its highest fulfilment. No word of Scripture has been more constantly, for many years, present to my mind, influential to my heart, or oftener upon my lips in prayer, while patience is performing its perfect work."

It is not known that he ever believed the declaration to be fully accomplished in his own experience; but it had proved a word in season for him. The impression which it made upon his mind, at the time when it was uttered with such striking emphasis by the preacher, was deep and salutary. It put him upon his guard, and kept him there; and was thus probably an important means, in the hands of the Spirit, of preserving him to the end of his course, from any very palpable declension from his first love.

The state of his health, for some time after he had retired from the office of Mr. Crannel, was quite alarming to himself, and to his friends. He grew weaker every day, a constant pain in his breast, with more or less fever, excited a distressing apprehension that he was consumptive: so unfavourable altogether were the symptoms of disease, that little hope could be entertained that his life would be prolonged even many months; but at length, in or near the spring of 1765, there were pleasing signs of his convalescence; the pain in his breast, though not wholly removed, was much less severe than it had been; he was able to take daily some moderate exercise; and, with the divine blessing upon this and other means used, he gained strength fast, and was soon again enjoying a good share of health.

About the same time, there was an occurrence that made an indelible impression upon his mind; and, as it showed a most signal interposition of Divine Providence in his favour, must here be related. It was truly a remarkable preservation from unseen, but impending destruction; and he must be blind, who cannot read in it a striking exposition of the proverb, A man's heart deviseth his way: but the Lord directeth his steps. A young friend of his, whose health as well as his own, was in a feeble state, having concluded to try the effect of a voyage to one of the West India Islands, proposed that he should accompany him: and some circumstances concurring to render the proposal very agreeable at the moment, he did not hesitate to accept it. Nay, he was so delighted with the opportunity now presented of taking a trip of the kind, and so confident that he would derive great benefit from it, that he decided upon the matter without previously seeking direction of the Lord, a duty which, after he became pious, he seldom omitted upon any occasion. It was understood that he would go; he fully intended to go; and, as it was expected that he would sail soon, his kind mother provided a number of articles, which she thought he would need at sea. After different things were attended to, however, preparatory to his departure, to the surprise of all his friends, he suddenly gave up the voyage, This singular step, some no doubt will imagine, proceeded from timidity; but it does not appear, from his own account of it, that he had beforehand apprehended any danger, or anticipated aught but pleasure, and a restoration of his health. He could assign no reason for it, save that he had lost all desire to go: he accordingly let his friend sail without him.

When the voyage was nearly completed, two of the crew made an attempt one night to seize the vessel; and, in the prosecution of their diabolical design, all on board, except a little boy, perished by their hands. After perpetrating the horrible deed, they gave themselves up to intoxication, and in this state, while in sight of the Island of St. Thomas, it so happened, providentially for their speedy detection, they ordered the boy to row them ashore. He did so; and then, as soon as out of their power, informed against them. A vigorous search was instantly made for the wretches. One fled to St. Eustatia, but was there seized and broken upon the wheel. The other, whose name was Anderson, was taken in St. Thomas's sent back for trial to New York, and here executed "upon an Island in the Bay, near the city, which, from that circumstance, has ever since been called, Anderson's, or Gibbet Island."

Had Mr. L. accompanied his friend, in adherence to his first determination, speaking after the manner of men, he would never have returned; and it will readily be supposed, that upon hearing of the melancholy event, he was much affected with the thought of his own wonderful deliverance from a tragical death. He saw, in the preservation he had experienced, the protecting hand of a good God: he knew that the Almighty had compassed him with favour as with a shield, and wrought that change in his inclination, which was the means of saving his life: he therefore blessed the Lord, who had thus seasonably interposed to redeem his life from destruction. It is a circumstance not altogether unworthy of notice perhaps, that the Great Being, who determines the bounds of our habitation, so ordered the place of his residence afterwards, that, for a great many years, "Anderson's, or Gibbet Island," was frequently before his eyes as a memento of the singular mercy; and never to the day of his death, did he forget it, or relate it to his friends, without connecting with the relation, suitable expressions of gratitude and praise.

"Few things in the history of religion," says a modern writer [Rev. William Orm]," are more interesting than the commencement and progress of Christianity, on a young, an ardent, and a highly cultivated mind. It cannot take hold on such a mind without producing the most marked and important results. Its adaptation at once to all the finest feelings of our nature, and to the most powerful of its intellectual faculties, makes it capable of producing all that is refined in moral sensibility, and all that is lofty in enterprise. It presents to such an individual a new world, teeming with objects of intense interest, and calling forth his deepest sympathy and his noblest ambition. It conducts into scenes of pure and ravishing sweetness, and diffuses over the spirit the peace of God, and the bliss of heaven. It presents a theatre, not for display, but for action and suffering, in the most glorious of all causes; the glory of God, and the salvation of men."

It has been said, that he commenced the study of law, with great ardour and untiring diligence, that he constantly read, and thought, and wrote, with a fixed and predominant regard to the honours of the world, for more than two years, or until, by his intense application, he was brought apparently upon the very verge of the grave. After his conversion, this profession, however captivating once, presented no allurements. It was divested of all its charms. He had no relish for it: not only so, he had a strong aversion to it, and finding the idea of pursuing it, as the business of his future life, painful to him, though he said nothing immediately upon the subject, to any of his friends, he determined to abandon it; at least, he felt a strong desire to turn his attention to some other, that would be more congenial with his present views and feelings. What to pursue in its place, he had not yet decided; and some little time elapsed, before he was relieved from the embarrassment, which, in the interesting state of his mind at this moment, was connected with a decision. He was led, at length, to think of devoting himself to the ministry of the Gospel; and "I began to feel," he says, "even greater ardour for the study of divinity, than I had before entertained for the law; yet here difficulties," he adds, "which seemed insuperable, immediately occurred. My health was still feeble; the pain in my breast was frequently severe; and I could scarcely hope that I should be even equal to the labours inseparable from the ministry of the Gospel." As the work he was now contemplating is, of all works, the most momentous and excellent in which a mortal can engage, and which no one, who has a just impression of its nature and consequences, will lightly think of undertaking the solicitude, humility, and pious zeal, wherewith he sought to know what the Lord would have him to do in reference to it, the reader probably would like to have fully exhibited. The narrative cannot fail of being perused with interest, and it will show clearly, that the resolution to which he ultimately came, was the result of a solemn conviction of duty, and a sincere desire to promote the glory of God.

"But," he goes on to say in continuation, "this was only a secondary objection: my principal difficulty arose from another source. As the servant of Christ, I did not dare to engage in any profession or service without being first convinced that it was agreeably to the will of my Divine Master; nor could I form any determination until I had obtained his permission. The duties and office of the ministry of the Gospel especially, opened with such magnitude and high responsibility to my view, that I feared I was wholly unequal, and altogether unworthy of being employed in the sanctuary. I supposed it would be presumption in me to engage in this holy work; and the words, Isa. i. 12. Who hath required this at your hand to tread my courts, were awful and impressive."

"Convinced of the propriety and duty of acknowledging the Lord in all my ways, and particularly in a step of such importance, and believing, that according to his promise, he would direct my paths, I often prayed most fervently to obtain light and direction in this interesting object. Sometimes encouraged to hope that I might proceed, and again cast down and desponding, I resolved to set apart a day, with fasting and prayer, to pour out my heart before the Lord, and plead for his instruction. Upon this solemn occasion, after fervent supplications, reading the word, and serious meditation, I endeavoured to arrange the subject; and the better to understand it, in all its bearings, I committed to writing in one column, all the arguments in favour, and in another, all those against it. These I maturely compared and disinterestedly pondered. Especially, I endeavoured most accurately to examine my motives and ascertain the end I proposed, if I ever should enter into the ministry. I found in this scrutiny, and was sure there was no deception, that I was solely prompted by a zeal to promote the glory of my Divine Redeemer by an ardent love for the souls of men, and a desire to bring sinners, by preaching the Gospel, to the obedience of faith. I was conscious that I did not "desire the office of a Bishop" to gratify pride, indolence, or ambition, nor to promote my own personal advantage and profit, for I knew it would be a sacrifice of my secular interests and prospects; but that in sincerity, and before God, it was to labour in his church; it was to advance the cause of truth and holiness, and in this service to express my gratitude for redeeming love."

"But such was my fear of rushing inconsiderately and impiously into this solemn work, that I several times repeated these devotional exercises, and again set apart days for that purpose; still under the impression of those awful words, Who hath required this at your hand, to tread my courts? Nor did I dare to come to any conclusion, nor would I ever have commenced the study of theology, unless it had pleased the Lord to hear my poor prayers, and convince me it was consistent with his holy will, that I should devote myself to this arduous service.

"I did not expect or desire any immediate revelation, nor did I pray for any extraordinary manifestation. I only wished for a removal of my doubts and fears; for a confirmation of my motives and desires, and, in this way, to obtain a convincing and comfortable token of the divine approbation. Whenever I realized the voice of the Lord saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? the reply of my soul was: here am I, send me. Yet still I hesitated to conclude that he would send me, or expect he would honour me with his message. After some weeks spent in these exercises, the result was, that my doubts and fears were all entirely removed, and I began humbly to hope and be persuaded, that I not only might commence in the study, but actually must proceed. Every other door was shut against me, while a sincere desire for this work, from honest and sanctified principles, prevailed; and I could not avoid considering all this as a divine response as a gracious word of commission; and he said go, From that hour, I never doubted of my duty, but have had incontestable and continual proofs, that my Lord had called me to the ministry, and would in mercy employ me in his vineyard. My only remaining burthen now was, to obtain the spirit of that station; to be furnished with special talents; to be instructed in the truth; and to be rendered faithful."

There can be no question, when, as the effect of that regenerating grace, which he had so powerfully experienced in his soul but a little before, he now relinquished a favourite pursuit, a pursuit that promised the most brilliant temporal advantages; and, after much serious and severe self-examination; after reading, and meditating, and fasting, and praying, again and again, with a view to obtain counsel of the Lord, upon the subject of his present inquiry, after carefully arranging and weighing the arguments for and against it, he arrived at the full conviction that a necessity was laid upon him to preach the Gospel, there can be no question, it is repeated, with any candid and reflecting person, that he was indeed called of God to become an ambassador of the Prince of Peace. And, it is scarce possible to image to one's self a more interestmg object than a youth, in the nineteenth year of his age, shut up for hours together in a retired room, that no eye might see, and no ear hear him but God's, there, upon his bended knees, with all humility and fervour of spirit, seeking to learn of Him, with whom is the residue of the Spirit, whether or not he shall go forward to proclaim the precious tidings of salvation to a dying world. How shockingly impious, in the eyes of all genuine Christians, and how contemptible in the eyes even of the world, if contrasted with his must be the conduct of those, who, without giving any evidence of piety, assume the ministerial office! To authorize its assumption, the possession of grace, a certain degree of intellectual cultivation, an acquaintance with the system of revealed truth, and the approbation of the Church, duly expressed, are prerequisites, which common sense pronounces indispensable; but, in addition to these things, it is necessary that there be such a drawing of his heart to the work, for the glory of God and the salvation of souls, and such a concurrence of outward providences, in his case, as will show satisfactorily to the individual proposing to undertake it, the approbation of God, There are many great and good men in the church, in whose conversion and call to the ministry, as far as known, nothing very striking or remarkable can, perhaps, be discovered; yet, it is a fact, and the reader may possibly be able to refer to instances in verification of the fact, which have come within his own observation, that, when a person is in a manner, somewhat extraordinary, brought to a knowledge of the truth, and is suddenly diverted from a business which he had designed to pursue, and is constrained, contrary to antecedent views and calculations, to devote himself to the ministry of the Gospel, he is subsequently distinguished, in a pre-eminent degree, by the divine blessing upon his labours. To the writer, this appears to be an ordinary procedure of Providence; and the sequel will show, that the Lord was preparing Mr. Livingston for a great work, and made him, through a long life, a burning and shining light in the Church.

The important question being now solved to the satisfaction of his own mind, he deemed it proper at once to acquaint his father with the change that had taken place in his views. For reasons, which it is unnecessary to relate, he was apprehensive that he would not readily be permitted to quit the study of law; but the result of the disclosure of his wishes was very different from what he had anticipated, and thrilled his heart with delight. His father promptly and cheerfully consented to his commencing the study of theology; and, for his encouragement, added a promise of such pecuniary assistance, as he might need in the prosecution of the good design.

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