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CHAPTER V

studies; and their pious conversation was very conducive to his spiritual comfort and edification.

A circumstance that shows at once the character of this little fraternity, and how much good a professor, who has in him the spirit of grace and supplication, can do, otherwise than by imparting instruction, merits a moment's notice. It was this: many of them regularly attended Professor Elsnenis, chiefly for the benefit they derived from the fervent and impressive prayers with which he opened and closed his lectures. The lectures of this venerable man are represented to have been exceedingly interesting and instructive, but his prayers as peculiarly spiritual and moving as having a holy and elevating influence upon their hearts, which, of itself, constituted a sufficient inducement with them to visit his room. That they were drawn thither by his extraordinary gift in prayer, exhibits their piety in a very favourable light; and the gift, it must be confessed, was more honourable to him, than would have been without it, the possession of the most splendid genius, or the most profound erudition.

Mr. Livingston was in the habit, it has been observed, of pondering upon the subject of the last lecture. This habit once occasioned him a

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CHAPTER V

short but distressing conflict, in relation to a doctrine of great importance, of which, and also of the means of his deliverance from it, he has left the following account:

"I was walking one day alone, under the rows of trees on the border of the canal, without the walls of the city, and meditating upon Divine Providence, which was, at that time, the subject of our lectures, when a blasphemous objection against that doctrine suddenly and powerfully arose in my mind; and with great violence, a fierce suggestion succeeded, almost in the very words of 2 Pet. iii, 4. All things continue as they were. There is no Providence: there is no superior or divine agency. Causes and effects, with their train of events, roll uninterruptedly on, and nations and human affairs proceed invariably the same, without the interposition of God or Providence. My soul was disturbed and afflicted: I paused, and was overwhelmed with surprise, alarm, and grief. But a very different suggestion soon ensued. It was not an articulate sound, nor any audible voice; yet it conveyed ideas as correct and impressive, as if I had heard one speaking to me. It said: You shall live to see signal and indisputable interpositions of Divine Providence: you shall live to see the rise and downfal of governments: you will see new nations commence.






        
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