FROM HIS RETURN TO NEW-YORK, TILL THE CLOSE OF THE REVOLUTIONARY WAR.
It was on a Sabbath morning that Dr. Livingston
reached the city of New-York. The peace and
sacredness of God's day, while naturally repressive
of levity of behaviour and superfluous congratulations upon the occasion of his return, well accorded
with the feelings now predominant in his own
breast, and in that of every pious member of the
Church, and afforded an immediate opportunity for
the devout and suitable expression of them in the
sanctuary of the Lord. He had returned, by the
favour of Heaven, with health restored, as a messenger of the Gospel of Peace, and to a numerous
and respectable flock, bearing the peculiarly tender
and solemn relation of a pastor. It was a season,
therefore, without doubt, of holy joy and thanksgiving; and, on account of many interesting recollections, which could not but be associated with it,
as well as the new and mutual responsibilities it
realized, both to him and to all his friends, the first
interview must have been very affecting. The
succeeding Sabbath, he preached in the Middle
Church, in Nassau-street, to a large and attentive
auditory, from 1 Cor, L 22, 23, 24 — For the Jews
require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom:
but we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a
stumbling-block, and unto the Greeks foolishness;
but unto them which are called both Jews and
Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom
of God: — and having delivered this introductory
sermon, he was then acknowledged, in a suitabie
manner, by the Rev. Messrs Ritzema and De
Ronde, and Dr. Laidlie and the Consistory — one
of the ministers of the Reformed Dutch Church
Dr. Livingston commenced the discharge of his
pastoral duties with great diligence and zeal. He
assumed at once a full share of pulpit and parochial
labours; preaching regularly twice on the Sabbath,
making visits among the people, and attending two,
and sometimes three, catechetical exercises every
week — an amount of service, it will be admitted by
all who are competent judges of the matter, which
few young men, under similar circumstances, would
have had the courage to undertake, and fewer still
the ability satisfactorily to fulfil. But though only
just settled in a populous city, where interruptions
to study and occasional avocations, not always of
a professional nature, are numerous and unavoidable; though connected with a large congregation
whose situation was a little peculiar, provided with
few sermons, and associated with colleagues of established character, as judicious and able preachers,
he did not hesitate to attempt his part, and he performed it to general acceptance.
The fervour of pious feeling which he uniformly
discovered, both in and out of the pulpit; his affectionate, dignified, and prudent deportment; and
the style of his preaching, novel, yet plain and forcible, admirably calculated to engage attention, to
alarm the consciences of sinners, and particularly
to comfort and build up believers in faith and holiness, rendered him indeed in a high degree, beloved
and popular. His labours, if arduous and weighty,
were pleasant. Blessed with a number of godly
and devoted friends, who sincerely and constantly
prayed for him, and by various little attentions or
expressions of kind solicitude, encouraged without
flattering him, he was cheered and sustained in his
work: blessed, too, with a coadjutor (Dr. Laidlie)
who was well acquainted with the state of the congregation and who was, at any time, ready to afford
him all the counsel and assistance in his power, he
toiled with alacrity, and his reputation and usefulness daily increased.
It was necessary that he should apply himself
closely to study: — and he was a hard and indefatigable student: he employed every moment almost, not otherwise occupied,
in the vigorous pursuit of knowledge, and in the preparation of his
sermons: he read, and thought, and wrote with
scarce any intermission, excepting what was requisite for attending to other important duties of
his station. At the beginning of his ministry, he
wrote his sermons entirely out, and committed them
to memory; but finding his health to be affected
by such severe labour, he afterwards accustomed
himself to preach from full notes, or what he called
"a copious analysis."
This mode of preaching gave a freer scope for
the exercise of his powers; it was exactly suited
to his peculiar gifts; and often the amplitude of his
intellectual views was so striking, and the degree
of feeling with which he delivered his discourses
was so strong, and his manner altogether of addressing his hearers, was so singular and impressive,
that he was heard with the deepest attention and
with delight. Pious and judicious persons
considered him a preacher of first-rate excellence,
and he soon acquired by his public ministrations, by the habitual suavity of his manners
in private intercourse, and by his unwearied exertions to do good at all times and in all places, an
influence which is rarely possessed by one so young
in the service of his Master.
This high standing in the Church, contributed
greatly to the ultimate success of his endeavours
to carry the plan that had been devised for promoting the general welfare of the Church. — Soon
after his settlement in New-York, he sought with
his characteristical prudence and zeal, to bring
about a reconciliation between the Coetus and Conferentie parties; — an object which, as the reader
has seen, lay, for years before, very near his heart,
and which he had attempted, but in vain, to accomplish when he was in Holland. The circumstance of
his having been educated abroad, — his present connexion with the Church of New-York, which had
happily, at no time, taken a part in the great controversy, — and his distinguished reputation, gained
him, in a little while, an extensive acquaintance
among the ministers of both parties, and consequently many opportunities of calling their attention to the subject. These opportunities,
whenever presented, he failed not to improve. As an
evidence of his assiduity, a paragraph from a letter
which he wrote the following June, while he was
paying a short visit to his friends at Poughkeepie,
to Dr. Laidlie, is here inserted.
[The love he bore his respected colleague is strongly expressed in the letter; and, as a memorial of their pious friendship, a
few additional extracts are subjoined.
"My dearest Colleague and Brother in Christ,
"With pleasure I converse with you, though at such a distance: past times seem to recur to my mind, when, at a greater
distance, I expressed my love to you in this way. The Lord has
been with me since I left you. On the water it was tedious, on
account of the number of passengers. I arrived home on Friday,
P.M. being 48 hours on the water. A kind providence to my
whole family gives me fresh opportunity to rejoice in the goodness
of the Lord. Last Sunday, A.M. I preached here, and was much
assisted to speak of Jesus and salvation through his merits. I
thought much of our Church in New-York the whole day, (as indeed every day that is much on my heart,) and especially sympathized with
my dear Laidlie; my prayers were for you, that God
would support and bless you. The country air, the new amusements, and caresses of near relations, have refreshed both soul
and body. I feel cheerful and hearty, and am convinced that it is
necessary sedentary persons should now and then take tours of
this kind. When I am walking among the trees, and ascend a
hill, or gain from any little eminence a fine extended prospect, I
draw in the wholesome air, and am apt to say — 'Man was made
to live in the country, to trace the footsteps of his Maker's power and wisdom in the vegetable world.' Nothing certainly but
the pleasures and superior advantages of society, can compensate
for the loss of those pleasures which the country affords superior
to the town. The more I am refreshed in my present situntion,
the more I wish to have you with me, a partaker in these rural
delights. This, however, I know to be impossible; but shall
insist, on my return, that you take the same tour, as soon as your
family and circumstances will permit your leaving home, whilst
your health and cheerfulness add to my own. *****
"I never feel how much I love you, as when I am absent from
you. The Lord be with you, and give you what, as a father, he
knows to be best.
"Your most affectionate Friend and Brother,
"June 11, 1771. J. H. L."]
"What conversation I have already had with some of the partizans in the Dutch Churches, I will communicate
to you when I return to town. That bitter spirit,
which has so much prevailed, begins to subside, and
it is the general sentiment that something must be
done in order to open the way for that regular establishment so necessary for the education of youths
for the ministry. As I have scarce time to write
this letter in haste, I shall refer this to a conversation. You know the love I have for yourself will
make your sentiments always weighty with me."
It was stated in the last chapter, that articles of
union had been referred to the parties respectively,
by the Classis of Amsterdam; and that in
consequence of its being proposed in them to form a
connexion with Princeton College, and of the neglect of the Classis to order a convention of the
Churches, to deliberate upon the plan, the reference had proved abortive.
Subsequently, and but a short time before the
Doctor came back to his native country, the Classis
was appointed by the Synod of North Holland,
through his influence with this rev. body, a committee, with plenary power to do whatever they might
judge would be conducive to the interests of the
American Church, and between the clerical members of the Classis and the Doctor, there existed a
perfect understanding in relation to the plan
which, after his return, should be offered to the
consideration of his brethren. This plan, thus
privately approved, it is probable was the old one
new-shaped, the obnoxious article mentioned above
being omitted; or it embraced the same cardinal
principles, which there was reason to believe would,
when understood, be generally viewed as unexceptionable, and as constituting a suitable basis for a
union of parties.
The Doctor now found, upon conferring with
pious and influential men of both parties, as he
observes in the paragraph of his letter just quoted,
that the bitter spirit, which had so much prevailed,
begun to subside, or that the severity of temper
and violence, which had heretofore marked the controversy, were no longer to be seen, and a desire
for the adoption of some project that would give
satisfaction to all concerned, appeared to be cherished; he, therefore, ventured to hint at one. He
did not at once exhibit that which he had provided,
but in a modest and discreet manner, endeavoured
first to learn the sentiments of those with whom he
conversed, with respect to the great objects it contemplated, and then to remove objections, if any
were made, in order to prepare the way for its
By this prudent procedure, he soon became
convinced that the articles in his possession would
be favourably received by the Church, and that it
was expedient to adopt some measure, without delay, for the purpose of laying them formally before
it. He accordingly suggested to his Consistory,
that as they had not engaged on either side of the
unhappy dispute, their influence, if used, could probably procure a general convention, and proposed
that letters, stating the object in view — requesting
the attendance of every minister belonging to the
Church, and of one elder from every congregation,
and fixing the time and place of meeting, should be
forthwith despatched in their name. The Consistory promptly complied with his wishes, and in the
following October, the convention was held at
The minutes of the body are headed "Acts of the
Reverend Assembly of Ministers and Elders of the
Reformed Low Dutch Churches in the Provinces
of New-York and New-Jersey, convened in the
city of New-York, on the 15th, 16th, 17th, and 18th
days of Oct. 1771, at the friendly request of the Rev.
Consistory of New-York, for the purpose of procuring peace and unity to said Churches." And
the first Article, which relates to the arrival and
introduction of the members, is in part in these
words: "The Rev. Brethren having arrived and
being convened, were solemnly welcomed by the
Rev. John H. Livingston, S.S. T. D., and Minister
in New-York. After the delivery of an appropriate sermon by the Rev. Mr. De Ronde, who had
been appointed by the Consistory to preach at the
opening of the Assembly, the President was chosen,
and the choice is thus recorded. The Rev. Dr.
John H. Livingston, minister in New-York as present Proeses of the conciliating Consistory of New-York, and with the knowledge and approbation of
his Rev. Colleagues, was chosen President."
The assembly then appointed a committee, consisting of two ministers and two elders of the Rev.
Coetus — two ministers and two elders of the Rev.
Conferentie — and two ministers and two elders
from the neutral churches of New-York and Albany,
to prepare a formula of Union; and when the committee met to attend to this business, the Doctor
disclosed the plan which had been digested and
prepared in Holland, and which his brethren there had agreed that he should submit to the Church in
this country. The committee examined the same with great care, and having made a few slight
additions and changes, resolved to report it to the assembly. The assembly approved it unanimously, or at
least, without a dissentient voice, with the understanding, that before it should be finally adopted or
be considered as having the binding power of a solemn compact, it should be referred to the
judgment of the Classis of Amsterdam. The prime mover in the whole matter, it is probable in the first
instance, suggested the propriety of such a reference, and it was a masterly stroke of policy. — It
displayed the wisdom of the serpent, without any of his noxious qualities. - While, on the one hand,
the Coetus brethren were gratified with the recognition of principles for which they had long
contended; the pride of the Conferentie, on the other, was no less gratified with the proposed reference, as it
fully accorded with the principle which they had maintained, and which gave to the Classis a paramount and decisive authority over the concerns of the American Church.
It was a measure admirably adapted to the prepossessions of both parties, and could hardly fail to
render each pleased with itself and pleased with
the other, too; and, that such was the result, is evident from the concluding article, which reads thus —
"After giving each other the right hand of fellowship, the committee, as also the Rev. Consistory of
New-York, were openly and formally thanked for
their friendly and brotherly services; and, after fervent thanksgiving to God, for this unexpected blessing,
accompanied with ardent supplications to the
throne of grace, for a further completion of this
holy union work, as also for the prosperity and well-being of the Church, they parted in peace, and love,
(Signed) "John H. Livingston, Praeses,
Isaac Rysdyk, Scriba,
Eilardus Westerlo, Scriba."
The convention having proceeded as far in the
business as was then deemed advisable, adjourned
to meet again the next October; and, in the meantime, what they had already done with so much
harmony and good feeling, had a gradual and salutary operation in purging out the old leaven, and
diffusing a spirit of forbearance and love through the
Church. To present a specimen of these
wholesome effects, a part of a letter from the Rev. Mr.
Hardenbergh to Dr. Livingston, dated Raritan,
July 21, 1772, must be given. — "I have the satisfaction to inform you, that the Monday after I returned home, my Consistory at the North Branch,
had a meeting with the anti-consistory in that congregation. We found them extremely friendly, and
well-disposed for peace. In less than an half hour,
we settled all our disputes. Our Consistory elected two from among their party — one for an Elder,
and another for a Deacon, with which they seemed
very well satisfied, and upon that dropt their Consistory, or thus united the two into one. Here I
hope have ended, in less than half an hour, tedious,
perplexing, and pernicious disputes, which have
subsisted in these congregations for above fifteen
years past. Blessed be God, that my eyes have
beheld the healing of this breach in our Church,
before I have been gathered to my fathers."
Pursuant to adjournment, the Convention assembled in October, 1772, and the letter of Classis,
officially certifying that the plan of union had been
approved by them, was laid before it. Every
member then subscribed the articles, and the good
work was thus formally and solemnly consummated.
This event proved a most auspicious one for the
Dutch Church, in America, and the distinguished
agency of Dr. Livingston in bringing it about,
under the direction and blessing of heaven, has
encircled his name with perennial glory. As the
original projector, and the prayerful, prudent, and
persevering promoter of the union, he will be in
grateful and honourable remembrance while the
Church exists. There were others, it is granted,
who zealously co-operated with him in this difficult
and weighty matter, as Doctors Laidlie, Westerlo,
and Romeyn, and the Rev. Messrs. Hardenbergh,
Light, Ver Breyck and Rysdyck; and the judicious
and highly useful efforts of these clerical worthies
to restore peace must not be forgotten: but Dr.
Livingston is pre-eminently entitled to the precious
and enduring honour of having been the Peace
Maker. The station to which he was elevated in
the convention, though he had then been only about
a year in the ministry, by the unanimous vote of his
brethren, is an indisputable evidence of the opinion
entertained by them respecting the service he had
rendered, and his superior right, on account of it,
to preside over their deliberations.
When he was but a youth, thinking that a union
might be effected, spite of the animosities so prevalent at the time, he felt a strong desire to do something
towareds its accomplishments; when residing in a
foreign country, he laboured with zeal to promote
the great object: and when he returned, like the
dove which had been sent forth out of the ark, he
came back with an olive leaf in his mouth, and
ceased not from his laudable exertions, until he had
the pleasure of seeing his brethren dwelling together in unity. And it ought to be further remarked,
that upon his pacific plan, as a foundation, a noble
and beautiful superstructure has since been raised.
Soon after its adoption, and in conformity to some of
its provisions, a course of measures was commenced, as the sequel will show, for building up the
Church, which has at length been crowned with
the most gratifying success, — which has imparted
to her a form, a strength, a dignity, pleasant to the
eyes of all who take an interest in her welfare: and
let not this labour of love, so estimable in itself
considered, and connected in the providence of
God, with such eminent benefits to the Church, be
In point of popularity and influence, Dr Livingston was now, probably, second to no minister in the
Dutch Church; and, as a proof of the respect he
had excited, it may be proper to state, that at a
meeting of the trustees of Queen's College, held
in the spring of 1772, a motion was made to elect
him President of that Institution, which would
undoubtedly have succeeded, had it been tried, but it
was judged prudent to postpone the election, until
after the next meeting of the general assembly.
[Information of this fact was communicated to him in a letter
from the Rev. J. Light, of New-Brunswick, dated in May, 1772.
This gentleman, it appears by a note in the Christian's Magazine, "was active in promoting the independence of the Dutch
Church in America. He published several very respectable pamphlets on the subject, which were answered by the Rev. Mr.
Ritzema, of New-York.]
Shortly after, he received the following polite note
from President Dagget, of Yale College.
As I am informed that you have been honoured with a Doctorate in Holland, I would be glad
to have a sight of your diploma (which I will safely
reconvey to you,) that I may make an entry of it on
our College Records, and certify, in the catalogue,
the university by which it was given.
"I do, with pleasure, look upon our College honoured by the honours deservedly conferred on any
who owe a little part of their education to it."
It is presumed that the Doctor yielded to the
complimental request. — And another circumstance
occurred about this time, which is not altogether
unworthy of notice. He was elected a member of
the Society of the Hospital in the City of New
York — a small, it may be in the opinion of some,
but nevertheless, a pleasing and pretty good evidence of the regard cherished for him as a benevolent and excellent man, for only citizens of the
highest standing in the community for moral worth,
it is believed, have ever been chosen to govern that
humane and useful institution.
The Doctor felt too much the power of religion
upon his heart, and was naturally of too kind a
disposition, not to take a deep interest in associations formed for charitable purposes, or to give them
that assistance and support which duty required;
but it was in the Church, and in that section of it
especially in which his lot had been cast, that he
found his appropriate sphere of action. Here there
was a great deal to be done for the promotion of
the Redeemer's kingdom, and to this great work
he unremittingly and zealously devoted himself till
the close of life.
To strengthen and perpetuate the coalition
which he had been the honoured instrument of
effecting, and to raise the character of the Church,
the project was conceived of procuring, as
speedily as possible, the appointment and settlement in
some suitable place, of a Professor of Theology:
and, in condescension to the respective predilections of the brethren, who till lately had been long
arrayed against each other, it was proposed to
make a vigorous effort to provide the funds that
would be needed for the maintenance of a theological professor in Queen's College, and then to
send to Holland for a professor.
The project was adopted, and moneys were collected for this end, in most or all of the Churches
that had acceded to the union. The Convention
of Ministers and Elders, which met at Kingston in
October, 1773, submitted some overtures to the
Trustees of the College, and sent a letter to the
Classis of Amsterdam, upon the subject of the
[The Rev. Dr. Dewitt, in his sermon upon the death of Dr. L.
referring to the foundation which had been laid by the Convention
of 1771, for a theological professorship, makes the following just
observation: — "The Reformed Dutch Church is thus entitled to
the credit of having first contemplated and adopted a system of
theological education in this country, which has received the approbation, and been followed by the practice of almost all her
In this letter, after observing that
students could be educated at New-Brunswick with
little expense — that there were Churches in the
province of New-York unwilling to make any contributions to the support of the professorate — that
£4,000 had been subscribed for it — that a majority
of its friends wished to have it connected with
Queen's College, and that that institution was provided with an ample charter; they request that the
Classis would select and endeavour to obtain for
them, a person well qualified to discharge the duties
of a professor of theology. In August, 1774, the
Trustees of the College addressed a letter to the
Convention, in which they gently notice, in the first
place, the anxiety of this body to have the funds
raised in the province of New-York properly secured, but ascribing it to "a commendable forecast of future vicissitudes," declare
"their readiness to enter into the proposed engagements." —
They then add — "As the College funds, amounting
to about £4,000, fall far short of what is necessary
for engaging to a professor from Holland, a competent salary, * * and the recommendation of such
a professor is daily expected from thence; the augmenting of said funds demands our immediate and
most serious attention, in order to enable the
trustees to make out a call for the person recommended. And as it is reasonable to suppose, that
the professor of divinity is the more immediate
object of your concern, we declare it as our opinion, that whenever the Trustees of Queen's
College shall remember the chief end of their incorporation, and regard the mcrease of students in this
seminary, they will esteem it their duty and privilege to call the professor of divinity,
on the recommendation of the Rev. Classis of Amsterdam,
and the communication thereof to your reverend
assembly: nor will they have any objection to the
making him, at the same time. President of the College, provided it can be done without detriment to
the collegiate community or theological faculty."
The Classis, it seems, to execute, in the best
manner possible, the important business which had
been confided to them, had determined to solicit
advice of the theological faculty of Utrecht, and
not being able, as it is presumed, conveniently to
obtain the desired advice, till after the opening of
the university in the autumn of 1774, postponed, of
course, their answer to the assembly.
A letter from them was received, however, in or
near the following spring, and being opened by a
Committee that had been appointed to inspect its
contents immediately upon its arrival, with power
to call, if it should be judged expedient to do so, an
extra meeting of the assembly, — it was found that
they had unanimously recommended the election
of Doctor Livingston as the professor. The letter
of professor Bonnet was enclosed in that of the
Classis, and both extolled him as a person well
qualified for the office, and to be preferred to any
one that could be sent from Holland; but in case
he should decline the office, the assembly was
requested to state particularly the salary that would
be attached to it, in order that the Classis, in looking
out a Holland divine to fill it, might feel themselves
authorized to make a definite offer in that respect.
The Classical letter was dated Jan. 14, 1775;
and the Committee having read it, pursuant to the
power vested in them, issued circular letters, calling
the assembly to meet in New-York in the month of
May of the same year. — The call was obeyed; but
as the battle which constituted the first scene to the
great drama of the revolutionary contest had been
fought only a few days before at Lexington, Mass.,
such was the state of feeling prevailing in consequence at the time, that the members hastily terminated their session,
after recommendmg the observance, throughout all their Churches, of a day of
fasting, humiliation, and prayer. The particular
business for which they had assembled, was necessarily deferred.
Hostilities with Great Britain had now commenced in earnest; and it being supposed that the
enemy would early seek the occupation of
New-York, which was in a defenceless situation, many
of the citizens deemed it a prudent step to remove
their families into the country, and accordingly did
remove them in the fall of 1775; but a much greater
number left the city in the spring and summer of
the following year.
Philip Livingston, Esq., a distinguished patriot
and a member of Congress, was among the first to
[This gentleman was the fourth son of Philip, who was the
eldest son of Robert, and a grandson of the celebrated John
Livingston, that died at Rotterdam. The following notice of him
is extracted from a Biography of distinguished persons in
"Philip Livingston, one of the Signers of the Declaration of
Independence, was a member of the family which has long been
distinguished in the state of New-York, and was born at Albany,
January 15th, 1716. He was graduated at Yale College in 1737.
With the superior advantages of an excellent education, he embarked in mercantile pursuits, and was soon engaged in extensive
operations; and his inflexible integrity, and enlarged and comprehensive views, laid the foundation, and erected the structure of
extraordinary prosperity. His first appearance in public life was
in September, 1754, when he was elected an alderman of the city
of New-York. From this period, he continued to fill various and
important trusts under the Colonial Government, till he took a
decided and energetic stand against the usurpations of Great
"Mr. Livingston was chosen a member of the first Congress,
which met at Philadelphia on the 5th of September, 1774. In
this assembly, he took a distinguished part, and was appointed
on the Committee to prepare an address to the people of Great
"He was re-elected a delegate in 1775, with full power to
concert with delegates of other colonies, upon such measures as
should be judged most effectual for the preservation and re-establishment of American rights and privileges.
"On the fourth of July, 1766, he affixed his signature to the
Declaration of Independence.
"On the 15th July, 1766, he was chosen by Congress a member of the Board of Treasury,
and on the 29th of April following, a member of the Marine Committee; two important trusts,
in which the safety and well-being of America were essentially
"On the 13th of May, 1777, the State Convention re-elected
him to Congress, and at the same time thanked him and his colleagues for their long and faithful services rendered to the colony
and state of New-York.
"Mr. Livingston's attendance in Congress did not, however,
preclude his employment at home, in affairs of importance. He
served in every capacity in which he could be useful in the councils of his state. He assisted in framing a constitution for the
state, and, on its adoption, was chosen a senator under it.
"In October, 1777, he was re-elected to Congress under the
new Constitution, and took his seat in Congress in May, 177S,
one of the most critical and gloomy periods of the Revolution,
and incessantly devoted his whole faculties to the salvation of his
country. He expired at York, Pennsylvania, on the 12th of
"A short time previous to his demise, he sold a portion of his
property to sustain the public credit; and though he sensibly felt
the approach of death, owing to the nature of his complaint, he
did not hesitate to relinquish the endearments of a beloved family,
and devote the last remnant of his illustrious life to the service of
his country, then enveloped in the thickest gloom."
The eldest daughter of Philip married the late Stephen Van
Renssalaer, Esq., of Albany, and was the mother of the gentleman now living, of the same name and place, whose patriotic
services, amiable deportment, and princely liberality, in the promotion of science and religion, are well known. The second married
Dr. Thomas Jones, a learned and respectable physician of
New-York, and was the mother of Mrs. Clinton, the widow of
the late much lamented Governor of the state of New-Vork.]
take this step, and in the month of Oct. conveyed
his little household to Kingston, a town some distance up the Hudson, in the county of Ulster,
evidence, of sincere and ardent piety; and he thus
became allied to other families among the most
respectable in the colony.
Dr. Livingston was himself a sincere and decided friend to the American cause. — It was the
earnest wish of his heart that the war begun,
might result in the estabhshment of his country's
independence, and, like a number of patriotic and
pious ministers of the city, offered his fervent
prayers to God for its ultimate success; but
[The Rev. Dr. Miller, in his Memoirs of the late venerable Dr.
Rodgers,says — "For a considerable time before this crisis arrived,
Dr. Rodgers and several other clergymen of the city, among whom
were Dr. Mason and Dr. Laidlie, had been in the habit of holding weekly meetings, for cultivating friendship with each other,
and for mutual instruction. Toward the close of 1775, the gentlemen concerned, agreed to suspend their usual exercises at
these meetings, and to employ the time, when they came together,
in special prayer for a blessing upon the country, in the struggle
on which it was entering. This meeting, thus conducted, was
kept up, until the ministers composing it, and the great mass of
the people under their pastoral care retired from the city, previous
to the arrival of the British forces."
Dr. Livingston was, no doubt, one of this clerical association;
and it is probable, that as often as he was in the city, after his
marriage, when they convened, he united with them in supplications to Heaven for a happy prosecution and termination of the
neither political nor religious principle made it his
duty to remain in New-York, when that would be
only an unnecessary exposure of his life, and the
greater part of the people of his charge had fled
into different parts of the country, to places of
more safety. He, therefore, resided in the excellent family with which he had recently become connected,
and visited the city for the performance of
ministerial duty, as often as it was practicable, and
as long as it was considered proper to continue
service there. Until, in fact, the British forces took
possession of New-York, in Sep. 1776, he and Dr.
Laidlie, who had also removed to Red Hook, alternately came down, unless providentially prevented,
and preached to the remnant of their flock; and in the
month of June preceding, he administered the Lord's
Supper in the Middle Church, which ordinance was
not dispensed again in any of the Dutch Churches
in the city, during the continuance of the war.
While the Doctor was staying at Kingston, he
preached once every Sabbath, if in the place, in
the Dutch language; but, as the congregation
there was furnished with a pastor (the Rev. Mr.
Doll,) when he found that he would be probably
for some time, excluded from New-York, he became anxious for another situation, where his
ministrations might be more needed, or would promise
more usefulness; and about the time that his intercourse with the city ceased, it pleased the Lord
to provide him just such an one as he had desired.
In the autumn of 1776, the Consistory of the Dutch
Church in Albany, invited him to spend the period
of his exile, or as much of it as suited his convenience, in labours among them. This invitation he
promptly accepted, and with Mrs. Livingston and
his infant son [Col. H. A. Livingston, of Poughkeepsie, the only child of
Dr. Livingston], went there in the month of
Whether anterior to this removal, public worship in that Church had been regularly, or at all
performed, in English, is not known; but it was
understood that during his residence in the place,
he would be expected to preach in this language,
whilst the esteemed pastor would take the Dutch
service, and for nearly three years he laboured
zealously, in conjunction with the pious and excellent Westerlo, to build up the Church in faith and
After he had been here about a year, he made a
visit with his little family to his father at Poughkeepsie, which, for a short season, was attended
with imminent danger, and led to the loss of his
journal, containing a number of anecdotes, and
relating his religious experience from the day of his
embarkation for Holland.
It was in the month of October, 1777, when Gen.
Vaughan, with a small fleet, sailed up the Hudson,
and burnt Kingston. The enemy, as they passed
the residence of his father, which stood upon
the margin of the river, fired into it, and in the
perturbation and alarm of the moment, produced
by this wanton attack, while making some hasty
preparations to leave the house, he burnt that
manuscript, which he happened to have with him,
under the apprehension that, if it were not destroyed, it might fall into improper hands. The loss was
a serious one: it was to him an invaluable treasure; and had it been preserved, much interesting
and important matter could, no doubt, have been
derived from it to enrich these pages. The whole
family, upon the above threatening occurrence, fled
to Sharon, Conn. and remained there some weeks.
The climate of Albany, in winter, proving too
severe for the feeble constitution of Mrs. Livingston,
he removed in the summer of 1779 to Livingston's
Manor, in the hope that this change of situation
would be beneficial to her health. — How far his
ministerial labours were pleasing and useful
to the people of Kingston when he sojourned
among them, the writer has not been informed;
but of their very great acceptance in Albany, —
that he was highly esteemed by the congregation
in that city for his superior endowments, as an
ambassador of the Cross, for his warm and elevated
piety, his engaging manners and holy conversation,
unquestionable proof can be given; for in the ensuing spring he received a call, in due form, to return
to them. This call, which is dated the 4th of April,
1780, was brought down and presented to him the
next day by the Rev. Dr. Westerlo [MVD: married to the sister of John Henry's wife], and Mr. John
Beekman, who had been charged by the Consistory
with its delivery. He took it into serious consideration, but finally declined it, and continued at the
Manor, preaching to destitute Churches in the
vicinity, the unsearchable riches of Christ.
The Doctor, it is evident from the facts already
stated, did not lead a life of inaction or indolence,
while compelled to intermit the exercise of his
sacred function in New-York; nor did he rove
about as a political missionary, consuming his time
in an unprofitable discussion of questions relative to
the public affairs, interesting as the subject then
was to persons of every description. Though a
decided Whig; though he rejoiced at every occurrence auspicious to the cause of freedom, and both
in public and in private, remembered his beloved
country at the Throne of Grace, praying that the
right hand and arm of the Almighty, and the light
of his countenance would save her, yet he loved
the cause of Christ more; and he, therefore, assiduously employed himself in the glorious service to
which he had been called. His prudence, his just
sense of the dignity of his office, as a minister of
religion, and of the solemn nature of the duties
appertaining thereto, were such as could hardly
fail to preserve him from any unseemly descension
in ordinary discourse upon political matters; but
conversation of the kind was not sufficiently suited
to his taste, to put him in much danger in that respect: Redeeming grace was habitually the theme
of his meditations; and he never was so happy as
when hearing or telling of the victorious operations
of Him whose kingdom is not of this world, and
commending a precious salvation to all around him,
as well in the social circle as in the house of God.
The Church in which the Doctor now regularly
preached, was in the village of Lithgow, where he
lived, and near the Manor-house, but his attentions
were not confined to the congregation that assembled in that place. Other congregations within a
convenient distance, — and there were several, composed chiefly of German families, in want of the
ministrations of the Gospel, — enjoyed a portion of
his labours as often as circumstances would permit.
During his stay with this people, which lasted about
eighteen months, he preached two sermons every
Sabbath, one in English and the other in Dutch,
— and he had reason to hope that his strength had
not been spent for nought.
The following two years were passed at
Poughkeepsie. The Church in this town, which
now was without a settled minister, desired his
services; and he being rather inconveniently
situated in some respects, at the Manor, consented to take the pastoral oversight of it; —
and, accordingly, removed for the purpose in
1781, to his father's mansion, where he remained
until the close of the war. — Of the profitableness
of the Doctor's ministry, during this period, no
materials are in hand to authorize a representation:
there can be little doubt, however; — nay, the simple
fact that some solicitude was expressed to have his
labours, warrants the assertion, that in point of popularity, he stood high with the people, furnishing a
case — a case, indeed, which rarely occurs in which
the proverb was not verified that, a prophet is not
without honour, save in his own country and in his
own house [Matt. 13. 57. 33]."
The present cheering prospects of America
led him to reflect with much attention upon the
changes that would be necessary in ecclesiastical
policy, under a new form of political government,
to place the Church in the most advantageous circumstances, or to give the denomination that relative
standing and influence among other denominations,
to which it was the ardent wish of his heart it
might speedily attain. The following extract of a
letter to the Rev. Dr. Westerlo, dated 22d October,
1783, will show the interest and mature deliberation with which he revolved the important subject,
and also the origin of a plan which was ultimately
adopted, but not till towards the close of his life.
"The revolution in our political interests has
made a change in the general face of our American
world, and as it has removed some difficulties
which were taken into consideration in our former
plan, so it has introduced others which deserve a
very weighty and impartial discussion. The common enemy to our religious liberties is now removed;
and we have nothing to fear from the pride
and domination of the Episcopal Hierarchy."
"A sufficient seminary for all the purposes of common literature, is now already established in the Jerseys,
and will probably be enlarged into an University, and be most favoured by the legislature in that
state. The erecting, therefore, a College, with all
the appendages necessary to justify the appellation,
at Brunswick, appears to be an object at once beyond our funds, and in itself unnecessary. The
question will then recur, what must, what ought,
what can we do? To me, there appears but three
possible methods, which, if not free from difficulties, seem to be upon the whole at least practicable,
and in some measure calculated to answer the
purposes we wish to obtain — either to wait until the
government of this state shall organize the College
in the city of New-York, and then appoint a professor for our Churches in that College, to be supported
by the funds of the College: or, to request,
(which, if done, will doubtless be obtained,) a local
union with Princeton, where a professor of our nomination, and supported by us, may teach in their
house, and the students have the privilege of their
library; — or, lastly, that our Churches support their
independence, and distinct name and existence, by
erecting at Brunswick — not a College, but a Divinity-Hall, for the sole purpose of teaching Theology."
"I will freely communicate to you my sentiments
upon each of these, not only because you have a
right, as a friend, to know my opinion, but because
I wish to prompt you to an explicit declaration of
your own mind upon the subject, as I am by no
means fixed in my views, but would fain gain all
the advice possible in a matter which is justly considered by all as important, and which cannot succeed
without the joint concurrence and approbation
of the whole."
"With respect, then, to the first thing proposed,
it appears to me the following difficulties are altogether insurmountable — 1. The time may prove
too long for the wants of our Church before the
College in New-York is properly organized. 2.
The old Charter of that College, and the funds
which were given upon express condition of the
operation of that Charter, will create some difficulties: these have still their friends, who will be
ready to oppose, if not openly, at least by their
influence, every measure which seems to prefer
any persuasion or denomination above the Episcopal. 3. The government of this state **** will probably
wish to give no countenance at all to any denomination of Christians, lest an infringement of religious
liberty should be made; and, therefore, if
the College should be erected into an University,
it is my opinion, the science of theology will be entirely omitted. For us, therefore, to be waiting
for that event, will be loss of time, engaging in the
quarrels of an old standing and high partyship, or
a final disappointment at last."
"The second has a greater prospect of success,
and for some time has been uppermost in my mind,
in consequence of a train of happy consequences,
which I imagined I saw connected with that situation; nor was the assured orthodoxy of all the
Presbyterian Churches, and their indissoluble
union in doctrines with ours, by that means, the
least argument to persuade me into a coalition with
Princeton. But, upon mature thought, it is evident
to me that this measure will not succeed. For — 1.
Our professor, when placed there, must be either
under the control of the Trusteeship of that College, or, (if an exemption from their jurisdiction
should be stipulated,) it is impossible but he will, in
time, be under the influence of their customs, sentiments, and opinions, as he must be one among the
many who surround him, and who, all being
swayed by one interest, will unavoidably draw him
also with the stream; whereby the professor of the
Dutch Church will and cannot but be a Presbyterian professor. You know my sentiments in
favour of the Presbyterians too well to suppose I
mean any thing in this the least derogatory to them,
their doctrines, or their church government. I esteem them highly, and wish many among us were
not possessed with such groundless prejudices
against them. But when I consider our Churches
as hitherto preserving a distinct denomination, my
first observation will be seen to have great weight,
as the name and existence of the Dutch Churches
by such an union would soon expire. 2. The
same funds must be raised by us for the support of
this professorate at Princeton, as if it was placed in
any other situation, while the prospect of its answering our purpose would be dubious, and our professor
evidently placed farther out of our control, in
proportion as he became united to others. 3.
Our correspondence with our mother churches in
Holland, and the possibility of being increased by
emigrations from thence, should at least incline us
to remain as pure and unsuspected of any mixture
as possible — unless some generous and proper
plan, formed by a genius equal to the task, should
be drawn for uniting all the Reformed Churches in
America into one national Church — which, notwithstanding the seeming difficulties in the way, I
humbly apprehend will be practicable and, consistent with the outlines drawn by Professor Witsius
for King William the Third, I yet hope to see accomplished. But until something of that kind is proposed,
what has been mentioned above stands
with its full force."
"The last of the three proposed plans, remains to
be considered. At first blush, it is evident that if
it can be put in practice, it will distinguish our
Churches as singularly concerned for maintaining
the truths of the Gospel, and instead of absorbing
them into other denominations, will fix their character in a point of view, which will hand down the
efforts of the present generation with honour to
posterity. While others have laboured with success and praise for the cultivation of learning in
general, it seems to be reserved in Providence, as
the peculiar province of our churches, to employ
their whole influence in teaching and establishing
the Reformed religion."
"Before I mention the difficulties which have
occurred to my mind, permit me to premise the
arguments in its favour. 1. If we erect a respectable professorate and Divinity-Hall at Brunswick,
we shall have our institution wholly under our own
control; every difficulty can be canvassed, and redress obtained without the interposition of other
denominations, or any appeal to different boards. 2.
The name and estimation of the Dutch Churches
among the various churches in America, are in such
repute for orthodoxy, that our institution will bid
fairer to be universally useful when we stand alone,
than any union with any that can be named, could
possibly promise. 3. The local situation of Brunswick seems to be a proper centre for the States of
New-York, and Jersey, and Pennsylvania, in the last
of which there are perhaps as many congregations
of the Reformed Churches as in both the former.
4. But what ought to be a principal consideration is,
that all the donations and assistance we are to expect for this undertaking, will be given by those
who belong to the Dutch Churches (as every other
denomination has plans of their own, which call
forth their whole abilities,) and it is evident the
benefactors for our professorate would give with
greater freedom, and feel more happy in promoting
a work, which they were assured would remain
under the sole inspection of the Dutch Churches,
than by any combination of ecclesiastic interests
with Princeton, or political with New-York, could
possibly be effected."
"These, and what I might still add, if these were
not sufficient, have induced me to prefer the last to
both the former plans. The difficulties which
occur, are, indeed, not small; they are few in number, but of great weight. The one is, it will unavoidably
take up some time, at least two years,
before any thing of importance can be done towards this establishment. The other is, we have
not funds equal to the task; and we shall need the
advice of our wisest friends, to point out a method
for obtaining a sum sufficient to maintain a professor in theology, and in the oriental languages."
"I have already said that I was not fixed in my
views respecting this affair; — at least, not so fixed
but that I stand open for conviction, and wish to
obtain all the light which can be thrown upon the
object, before I determine in what manner my
vote or small influence shall direct. Upon discoursing with Mr. Romeyn, I found him fully convinced
that what I have last considered was the
proper line of conduct for us; and his arguments
have not a little conduced to establish my mind
upon this plan. It is the interest of the Redeemer's cause we have at heart. Our hands must do
what we are called to with all our might. An
effectual and peculiarly exclusive door is now
opened for service. The enemy of all religion is
not at rest. Our united efforts and blessings, as
answers to prayer from the throne, may fix an establishment that shall make glad the city of our God
for ages yet to come."
The conjectures he formed, as to the arrangements that would be made in behalf of the literary
institutions mentioned, and the views of church
policy he expressed in this letter, were singularly
judicious; and it must be acknowledged, that they
prove him to have been a man of an enlightened
and comprehensive mind, and, however devoted to
the best interests of his own Church, of a catholic
To a distressing and protracted time of war succeeded at length, in the good providence of that
God who ruleth among the nations, a time of peace.
By His blessing upon the arms of America, every
mountain became a plain before her Zerubbabel,
and the top stone of her liberties was brought forth
with the exulting shouts of thousands. Verily
there is no king saved by the multitude of an host: a
mighty man is not delivered by much strength [Ps. xxxiii. 16, 34];
but they that are engaged in a righteous cause and
look to the Lord for help, through him shall do
valiantly; for He it is that shall tread down their enemies [Ps. lx. 12.], And truly it may be said, that if it had not
been the Lord who was on our aide when men rose
up against us, then they had swallowed us up quick,
when their wrath was kindled against us [Ps. cxxiv. 2. 3].
The long and arduous conflict between Great Britain and this country, was brought to a close in the
Provisional articles of peace had been signed at
Paris in the latter part of the preceding year, and as
soon as intelligence of the fact reached here, all
hostilities ceased. A number of the exiles ventured
forthwith to re-occupy their former dwellings; but
they did not generally return, until after an event,
the anniversary of which has been celebrated ever
since — the evacuation of the city by the British
troops, on the twenty-fifth of November, 1783.
About this time. Doctor Livingston came back
to resume his pastoral charge, and commenced a
laborious course of ministeral duty.
Reverend John Henry Livingston's Plan
[As the Doctor himself was, without doubt, the author of this
plan, or of the greater part of it, and as its adoption had an
important influence over the state of the Church — an influence
that renders that adoption one of the most memorable and propitious events recorded in her history — the reader will probably be
gratified to see the whole of it.
"Whereas, certain misconceptions concerning the bond of
union between the Churches in this country and those in Holland,
have been the unhappy causes of the past troubles: In order,
therefore, to prevent these in future, and in consequence of the
advice and direction of the reverend Classis of Amsterdam, in
their last letter to us, we unite ourselves in one body, and we
agree with each other to regulate our church government, and
union with the mother Church in Holland, in the following
Adherence to the Constitution of the Church.
We adhere, in all things, to the Constitution of the Netherland
Reformed Church, as the same was established in the Church orders of the Synod of Dordrecht, in the years 1618 and 1619.
"The Consistories shall always be appointed, and their business conducted agreeably to the Constitution of the Netherland
Organization of the superior Church Judicatories.
"In addition to the above, we organize or establish, according
to the counsel and advice of the Rev. Classis of Amsterdam,
approved in the Synod of North Holland, such ecclesiastical
assemblies as are consistent with the government and constitution of the Netherland Church, and our relation to the same;
which judicatories shall be distinguished by such names as shall
hereafter be determined.
Number of these in general.
"These judicatories shall be two in number, which we provisionally call the particular and general assembly, till their names
shall be more particularly agreed upon.
Matters to be discussed in the Particular Assemblies.
"In the particular assemblies, all matters regarding the interests of subordinate congregations, and which cannot be determined
by the Consistories, shall, in the first instance, be regularly
brought forward, and acted upon, (even to the suspension of ministers for improper conduct,) before they can be brought up to a
Members of these Assemblies.
"At these assemblies, each minister, with his elder, belonging
to the same, and furnished with suitable ecclesiastical credentials,
shall attend at the appointed time and place. With respect to absentees, special regulations may afterwards be made.
Number of these Assemblies.
"These assemblies shall be five in number. This number
may, nevertheless, hereafter be increased by the General Assembly, and the place of meeting changed, as circumstances shall
Three in the Province of New-York, and two in New-Jersey.
"Three of these assemblies shall be held in the province of
New-York, and two in the province of New-Jersey.
One in the city of New-York.
"In the province of New-York, one shall be held in the city
of New-York; to which shall belong all the Low Dutch Reformed Churches, whatever their language may be, on Long Island,
in the city and county of New-York, and in the county of
Westchester. Whether the Churches in the county of Richmond shall
belong to this assembly, is not yet determined.
One in Kingston.
"Another shall be held in Kingston, to which shall belong the
Churches of Dutchess and Ulster counties, and the congregation
of the Camp.
One in Albany.
"A third shall be held alternately in Albany and Schenectady,
to which shall belong the Churches in the counties of Albany.
Glocester and Cumberland.
One in Brunswick.
"In the province of New-Jersey, one shall be held at New-Brunswick, to which shall belong the Churches in the counties
of Richmond, Monmouth, Middlesex, Somerset, Hunterton and
One in Hackensack.
"The other shall be at Hackensack, to which shall belong those
of the counties of Bergen, Orange, Essex and Morris.
Time of Meeting.
"These assemblies, on account of the distance of the
respective members from each other, shall not hold more than one ordinary meeting in each year. The particular time of meeting is
deferred to a future opportunity.
"When these particular assemblies shall correspond with each
other, and in what manner, is also deferred.
"In addition to the above, a General Assembly shall be held
every year, composed of delegates from each particular assembly.
Members of the same.
"To this rev. assembly, shall be delegated from each particular assembly, two ministers, each with an elder, furnished with
Place of Meeting.
"The meetings of this general assembly shall be held alternately at New-York and Kingston; the rev. assembly shall,
nevertheless, have liberty of appointing a third place of meeting
in the province of New-Jersey.
Time of Meeting.
"The time of meeting shall be considered hereafter, and
appointed in the most suitable season, and so as to be most convenient for the particular assemblies.
Examination, Preparation, and Peremption.
"For this General Assembly, with the approbation of the Rev.
Synod of North Holland, and the Rev. Classis of Amsterdam,
we assume the long-wished-for right of examining candidates for
licensure and for the ministry; and also further to qualify those
who are lawfully called, as the same is practised in the Netherlands. A list of all those who have been examined and ordained,
as also of the newly settled and removed ministers, shall be kept
in our yearly acts, and sent over with a request to the Rev. Classis of Amsterdam, that they may be carefully inserted in
the register of ministers, and numbered by them among the North American preachers in both provinces.
Matters to be treated of in the General Assembly.
"All Church matters which cannot be determined in the particular assemblies shall, when regularly brought up, receive their
complete and final decision in the General Assembly. In some
particular cases, the following rules shall be adopted:
Union with the Church of Holland.
"To preserve in the best possible manner, the bond of union
with our highly esteemed mother Church, (which we greatly desire,) there shall first be sent every year a complete copy of all
the acts of our general assembly, signed by the Proeses and Scriba,
for the time being, to the Classis of Amsterdam, as duly named
by the Synod of North Holland for that purpose.
Appeals concerning Doctrines.
"Secondly — Whenever differences may arise on important
doctrines among the brethren, whether ministers or communicants,
a decision on which might be matter of grievance to some, the
case in difference shall be left to the judgment of the Rev. Classis, or if need be, to the Rev. Synod of North Holland, according
to whose decision the general assembly, as well as the condemned
party, shall conform or act.
"In case a minister, on account of doctrine or life, shall be
deposed, and conceive himself aggrieved by such deposition,
he shall have the liberty of laying his case before the Rev. Classis
of Amsterdam, or through it before the Rev. Synod, for their
judgment, whether he may be called again or not; and the general assembly, with the deposed minister, shall be bound to submit
to the judgment of the Rev. Classis. In the mean time, however,
in consequence of the length of time required for deciding such
an unhoped-for case, the congregation of the deposed minister, if
they request it, shall be furnished with another pastor.
Approbation of Calls.
"It is agreed, that the approbations of the calls of candidates
on their exam. peremp. shall be given by the general assembly,
but that of ministers, considering the wants of the Church, shall
be given by the particular assembly to which the calling congregation belongs.
Visitation of the Churches.
"Concerning the visitation of Churches, there shall be particular regulations adopted in the general assembly which is to be
"Extraordinary meetings of the general and particular assemblies may be held for the examination and decision of matters,
which, for urgent reasons, cannot be deferred till the ordinary
meeting. These meetings may be called by the last Proeses and
Scriba of the respective assemblies.
"Concerning the professorate, we will act according to the advice of the Rev. Classis of Amsterdam, viz. we will
provisionally choose one or two professors to teach didactic, elenchtic, exegetic, &c. theology,
according to the received doctrines of our
Low Dutch Reformed Church; to which office we, according to
the judgment of the Classis, will choose, on favourable terms,
such divines from the Netherlands as are of acknowledged learning, piety and orthodoxy, and immutably attached to the
Netheriand formulas of union, said Classis having promised to recom-
mend suitable characters.
Further regulations respecting the Professorate.
"The professor or professors above-mentioned, as soon as the
wished for reconciliation in this country is obtained, and finally
established, shall be chosen and called, on a sufficient salary,
though not without the approbation of the general assembly, with
this provision, that such professor or professors shall not stand in
any connexion with English academies, but shall give lectures on
theology, in their own dwellings, to such students only who can
produce testimony that they have studied two or three years at a
college or academy, under approved teachers, and improved themselves in preparatory studies, such as the languages, philosophy,
&c. Such professor or professors shall also preach once every
month or fortnight, in Dutch or English, as well to assist the minister of the place where he or they reside,
as to afford the students a good model of preaching; in consequence of which, the
reverend professor or professors, shall be subject to the particular
and general assemblies, in the same manner as is already specified particularly of the ministers.
"Nevertheless, since we, according to the condition stipulated
by the Classis, can cherish no hopes of reaping the fruits of the
above-mentioned professorate, for a long time to come, we are of
opinion, as there are now a number of students with one or other
minister, who probably will in a short time be fitted for the exam.
prepar. that these students ought, in consequence of the great
need of the Churches, to be provisionally examined at the next
meeting of our general assembly.
Schools under ihe care of the Churches.
"Finally, the respective congregations shall hereafter make it
their business to establish public or private schools, in which, under the direction of Consistories, instructions shall be given as
well in the languages as in the fundamental principles or doctrines of the Reformed Dutch Church, as the same are taught in
our Low Dutch Churches.
"Concerning those congregations who have two Consistories
and two ministers, it would be desirable that they should unite in
one body; but where this is impracticable, matters shall remain in
statu quo, till means and opportunities shall be found, in God's
providence, to lead to this union.
"To those congregations who have one minister, but two consistories, it is earnestly recommended that they unite in one
Consistory. The reverend brethren shall likewise avail themselves
of every opportunity which offers, by brotherly exhortation, to
effect the same; as also, for those congregations which are situated, as stated in the first article, whilst we cordially supplicate
the God of peace to remove all remaining grievances from such
"Since, during the past troubles, some persons have been
ordained for the holy ministry, whose examination and ordination
is not deemed valid by some of the brethren, yet for peace sake,
rather than that the contemplated union should not be accomplished, these brethren agree, that every one whom the Rev. Coetus
acknowledges as an ordained minister, shall be considered as
such, and in that capacity take his seat in our assemblies, not
doubting but the Rev. Claesis of Amsterdam will agree with us
in this particular.
"Since the Rev. Classis of Amsterdam, in one of their last
letters, express themselves favourably of the Rev. Hermanus
Meyer, from which it plainly appears that they would fondly see
a re-union between him and his congregation, if it was possible:
we are of opinion, that in case that reverend brother accedes to
the aforesaid articles of union, and subjects himself to this arrangement, such subjection is a sufficient ground to give him, as
our esteemed brother, a seat and voice in the above-mentioned
particular and general assemblies, whilst the reverend assemblies,
as soon as they are organized in the manner specified, with the
advice of the Rev. Classis, will offer their friendly aid for adjusting the differences between him and the congregation
of Kingston, in case the wished for union between them is not previously accomplished.
"The preceding articles shall not be binding in cases where
they are hostile to any privileges granted by charter to any
Binding force of these Articles.
"As soon as these articles are constitutionally received and
approved by this assembly, each member shall provisionally give
the other the hand of brotherhood or fellowship, in hopes that the
Rev. Classis and our respective congregations will approve and
ratify the same, but they shall not be obligatory before such approbation of them shall be given by our respective congregations
and the Rev. Classis.
"Since the Committee have the satisfaction to be unanimous
in their opinion on these articles, subject however, to superior
judgment, it is their cordial desire and prayer, that this reverend
assembly may adopt the same, that the long-wished-for-union
may, if possible, be effected according to these articles, which
may the God of peace and love grant of his mercy.
"New-York, October 18th, 1771.
"Signed by the above-mentioned Committee."]