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PAGE 194

heaviness that I never had experience of any such thing. That night, in the midst of my sleep, there came upon me such a terror of the wrath of God, that if it had increased a small degree higher, or had continued a minut longer, I had been in as dreadfull a condition as ever living man was in; but it was instantly removed, and I thought it was said to me within my heart, See what ane fool thou art to desyre the thing thou couldest not endure; and that which I thought strange of was, that neither the horrour nor the ease out of it wakened me out of my sleep, but I sleeped till the morning; only the impression1 remained fresh with me for an reasonable tyme therafter.

As concerning my gift of preaching, I never attained to any accuracie therin, and, through laziness, did not much endeavour it. I used ordinarly to write some few notes, and left the enlargement to the time of deliverie. I found that much studying did not so much help me in preaching, as the getting my heart brought to a spirituall disposition; yea, sometimes I thought the hunger of the hearers helped me more than my own preparation. Many a time I found that which was suggested to me in the delyverie, was more refreshfull to myself and to the hearers, than what I had premeditated. I was often much deserted and cast down in preaching, and sometimes tolerably assisted. I never preached ane sermon which I would be earnest to see again in wryte but two; the one was on ane Munday after the communion at Shotts, and the other on ane Munday after the communion at Holywood: and both these times I had spent the whole night before in conference and prayer with some Christians, without any more than ordinary preparation; otherwayes, my gift was rather suited to simple common people, than to learned and judicious auditors. I could hardly ever get my own sermon repeated, neither could I get the same sermon preached twice, although to other hearers. I thought it became tastless both to myself and others. I have sometymes, after some years, preached on the same


1    "Of it."

PAGE 195

text, but then I behoved to make use of new notes. Had I in a right manner behaved1 and taken pains, it had been better for myself and others; but a lazie trusting to assistance in the meantime keeped me bare-handed all my dayes. I had an kind of coveting, when I got leasure and opportunity, to read much, and of different subjects, and I was oft challenged that my way of reading was like some men's lust after such an kind of play and recreation. I used to read much too fast, and so was somewhat2 pleased in the time, but retained litle. My memory was somewhat waterish and weak; yet had I improved it, I might have had better use of it: for after I came from the Colledge, 1 did with no great difficultie attain to some tolerable insight in the Hebrew and Chaldee, and somewhat also of the Syriack. The Arabik3 I did assay, but the vastness of it made me give it over. I got also so much of the French, the Italian, and after that of the Low Dutch, that I could make use of sundry of their books; and of the Spanish and High Dutch, that I could make use of their Bibles. It was once or twice laid on me by the Generall Assembly, to write the History of the Church of Scotland, since the late Reformation, 1638; but beside my inability for such an undertaking, and my lazie disposition, I could by no means procure the materialls fit for such ane work.

December 1669. Now since I came to Holland, and so had more leasure then before, when I was deviseing how to employ my time to some advantage, I remembered that I had spent some of my former years in the study of the Hebrew language, and had an great desyre that some means might be used that the knowledge of the only true God might be more plentifully had, both by ministers and professors, out of the original text, and for that cause, that in as small volumn as might be, the original text of the Bible might be printed in the one columne, and the severall vulgar translations thereof in the other column, in severall Bibles. Therfore, when I thought what Latine translation would be fitt to joyn


1    "Believed."

2    "Something."

3    "Also."


Rev. John Livingston,
great-great grandfather of Henry Livingston

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