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Single Page Chapter IV

PAGE 110:
CHAPTER IV

CIRCUMSTANCES RELATING TO HIS THEOLOGICAL STUDIES, AND TO THE CHURCH OF NEW-YORK.

The state of the Dutch Church in America, at the time when Mr. Livingston thought of entering upon the study of Divinity (exhibited in the last chapter), was not such, it must be confessed, as was likely to excite in him the least inclination to become one of her ministers. The great schism that existed, the hatred and turmoil so prevalent in consequence, the difficulty of obtaining ordination, his ignorance of the language then used in divine service in every part of the Church, excepting only a single congregation for, owing to the education he had received, he was not at all familiar with it, these were discouragements which, it is natural to imagine, would have determined him, without hesitation, to join some other denomination of Christians. But he did hesitate, notwithstanding: and he decided, eventually, to continue in the Church.

And, let no one suspect there was any bigotry in this decision. There was some magnanimity, but

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CHAPTER IV

no bigotry in it. His heart glowed with Christian charity. He detested the spirit that regards any ecclesiastical line of demarcation as the boundary, beyond which the operations of saving grace must necessarily cease, or that blind zeal, which debars from a participation in the benefits of salvation, all who are without the pale of a particular Church. He believed that the exercise of that faith in Christ, which is the effect of a divine influence upon the heart, and not the mere fact of belonging to a Church, however pure its doctrines, or primitive its government might be, secured heaven to a sinner; and, therefore, that all of every name, having that faith, and worshipping in spirit and truth, were of the number of God's precious people, and would be saved. Still, as he observed some difference in the distinctive peculiarities of the several denominations, whose standards included substantially the same articles of faith, he deemed it proper, before making any positive arrangements for his future studies, to satisfy himself which Church was, in every respect, the most comformable to the model presented in the word of God, and in which he would have the fairest prospect of usefulness. The inquiry was one of great importance; and the result showed, that he had sought in it only the testimony of a good conscience. Those very circumstances, which almost any other youth similarly situated, would have viewed as conveying in the






        
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