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CHAPTER V

have no wish to represent him in this Memoir, as free from the imperfections and weaknesses of human nature; but, while it is granted that he had his share of these, it is, nevertheless, believed that grace reigned in his heart, and that when he thought upon things of good report, or endeavoured to advance his reputation, he did so, rather to extend his usefulness in the Church, than to indulge an anxiety for the notice and applause of others. And it is believed that, in complying afterwards with the advice of his friend, he acted under a strong conviction of duty a conviction that the degree sought would, if obtained, give some weight to his name, and would thus be a means of promoting his usefulness. He had a tender conscience he was afraid of sin, and of the very appearance of sin; and when he came to the conclusion of the letter, as he read the following quotation of scripture, "Therefore to him that knoweth to do good and doeth it not, to him it is sin," the impression was irresistible, that he would be chargeable with culpable neglect, seeing he was apparently so near the attainment of the object, if he now relinquished it and the degree, as before hinted, possessed at that day, in the estimation of the Church, all the importance he attached to it. He, accordingly, determined to follow the advice given; and set upon preparing, without delay, an abridgement of his dissertation

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CHAPTER V

for the press. Devoting his mornings to the work, and what he had previously written being fresh in his mind, he accomplished it with ease, during the few days he spent at Rotterdam and the Hague, in making farewell visits; and upon his return to Utrecht, he had it printed. But the business was not yet finished, the severest task, and which would put his merits fully to the test, was still to be performed. He must defend his little pamphlet against learned and well-practised disputants, before a large assembly, consisting of the professors and regents of the University, and many other eminent personages.

The interesting and decisive day at length arrived: It was the 16th day of May, 1770; and Mr. Livingston was then just twenty-four years of age. The assembly convened at the appointed hour, a band of music attended, and much splendid ceremony was observed upon the occasion enough, indeed, to appal the courage of any candidate for distinction; and, no doubt, our young candidate, as he surveyed the imposing scene, could have said,

"A faint, cold fear thrills through my veins, "That almost freezes up the heat of life."

Several learned gentlemen controverted some






        
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