Rev John Henry Livingston, of Ancrum
|Also Known As:||"Master"|
|Birthplace:||Monyabroch, Kilsyth, Stirlingshire, Scotland|
|Death:||Died in Rotterdam, Zuid-Holland, Nederland|
Son of Rev. William Livingston and Agnes Livingston
|Occupation:||Reverend, Univ. of Glasgow, Scotland graduate., Reverand|
|Managed by:||Private User|
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About Rev. John Livingston
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LIVINGSTON, JOHN, one of the most revered names in Scottish ecclesiastical history. He was born at Kilsyth in Stirlingshire, (then called Monybroch), on the 21st of June, 1603. His father, Mr William Livingston, who officiated as minister of Monybroch from 1600 to 1614, and was then translated to Lanark, was the son of Mr Alexander Livingston, his predecessor, in the charge of the parish of Monybroch, and who, in his turn, was a grandson of Alexander, fifth lord Livingston, one of the nobles entrusted with the keeping of queen Mary in her infancy, and the ancestor of the earls of Linlithgow and Callender His mother was Agnes Livingston, daughter of Alexander Livingston, a cadet of the house of Dunipace. His christian name he received at baptism in compliance with the request of lady Lillias Graham. [A gentlewoman of the house of Wigton, with whom, as with many persons of equal rank, his father was on intimate terms of personal and religious friendship, and whose father, husband, and eldest son, were all of the same appellation.]
"Worthy famous Mr John Livingston," as he was fondly termed by his contemporaries, received the rudiments of learning at home, and at the age of ten was sent to study the classics under Mr Wallace, a respectable teacher at Stirling. During the first year he made little progress, and was rather harshly treated by the schoolmaster; this was corrected by a remonstrance from his father, after which he profited very rapidly by his studies. When he had completed his third year at Stirling, it was proposed that he should go to the Glasgow university; but his father eventually determined that he should remain another year at school, and this, he informs us, [In his life, written by himself, Glasgow, 1754.] was the most profitable year he had at school, being chiefly devoted to a course of classical reading. During the time of his residence in Stirling, Mr Patrick Simpson, a clergyman of much note, officiated in the parish church; and Mr Livingston relates, that, on receiving the communion from his hands, he experienced a physical agitation of an uncommon character, which he believed to have been occasioned "by the Lord for the first time working upon his heart." At his father�s house in Lanark, to which he returned in 1617, in order to attend the death-bed of his mother, he had further opportunities of profiting religiously; for it was the occasional resort of some of the most distinguished clergymen and "professors" of that age. The celebrated Mr Robert Bruce was among the number of the former; and of the latter were the countess of Wigton (whom Livingston himself calls the "rare"), lady Lillias Graham, already mentioned, lady Culross, still more famous than any of the rest, and lady Barnton. It seems to have then been a common practice for such persons as were conspicuous for religious earnestness, of whatever rank, to resort much to each other�s houses, and to take every opportunity, when on a journey, to spend a night in a kindred domestic circle, where they might, in addition to common hospitalities, enjoy the fellowship of a common faith. To a large mingling in society of this kind, we are no doubt to attribute much of the sanctity for which Mr Livingston was remarkable through life.
The subject of our memoir received his academical education at the university of St Andrews, where Mr Robert Boyd was then principal, and Mr Robert Blair, another eminent divine, the professor of theology. Being tempted at this time by some proposals for a secular profession, he adopted the expedient of retiring to a cave on the banks of Mouse-water (perhaps the same which sheltered Wallace), where he spent a whole day in spiritual meditation, and ultimately resolved to become a preacher of the gospel, as the only means of securing his own eternal interests. During the progress of his subsequent studies in divinity, he gave token of that firm adherence to presbyterian rules which characterized him in his maturer years. He was sitting with some of the people and a few of his fellow students in a church in Glasgow, when the archbishop (Law) came to celebrate the communion for the first time after the episcopal fashion established by the Perth articles. Seeing the people all sitting as usual, Law desired them to kneel, which some did, but among the recusants were Livingston and the little party of students. The archbishop commanded them either to kneel or depart: to this Livingston boldly replied, that "there was no warrant for kneeling, and, for want of it, no one ought to be excommunicated." Law only caused those near them to move, in order that they might remove.
Mr Livingston became a preacher in 1625, and for a considerable time preached for his father at Lanark, in the neighbouring parish churches. He had several calls to vacant churches, especially to Anwoth in Galloway, which was afterwards filled by the celebrated Rutherford. The increasing rigour of the episcopal regulations appears to have prevented him from obtaining a settlement, He was at length, in 1627, taken into the house of the earl of Wigton at Cumbernauld, as chaplain, with permission to preach in the hall to such strangers as chose to accompany the family in their devotions, and also to minister occasionally in the neighbouring pulpits. He was living in this manner when he produced the celebrated revival of religion at the kirk of Shotts. This, it seems, was a place where he always found himself in the enjoyment of an unusual degree of "liberty" in preaching, On Sunday, June 20, 1630, the communion was celebrated at Shotts to a large assemblage of people, among whom were all the more eminently pious women of rank in that part of the country. The impression produced by the solemnities of the day was so very great, that many did not depart, but spent the whole night in prayer and conference. [The bed-room of lady Culross was filled with people, to whom she prayed "three large hours' time," "having great motion upon her." Livingston's Life, MS. Ad. Lib.] Among these was Mr Livingston, who being requested to give a sermon next morning to the still lingering multitude, walked forth very early into the fields. Here, he says, "there came such a misgiving of spirit upon me, considering my unworthiness and weakness, and the multitude and expectation of the people, that I was consulting with myself to have stolen away somewhere." He had actually gone to some distance, and was losing sight of the kirk of Shotts, when the words, "Was I ever a barren wilderness or a land of darkness," were brought into his heart with such an overcoming power, as constrained him to return. In the ensuing service he "got good assistance about an hour and a half" upon the text, Ezek. xxxvi. 25, 26. "Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you," &c. "In the end," says Mr Livingston, "offering to close with some words of exhortation, I was led on about an hour's time, in a strain of exhortation and warning, with such liberty and melting of heart, as I never had the like in public all my lifetime." The effect of the address is spoken of by Fleming, in his "Fulfilling of the Scriptures," as "an extraordinary appearance of God, and down-pouring of the Spirit, with a strange unusual motion on the hearers," insomuch that five hundred, it was calculated, had at that time, "a discernible change wrought upon them, of whom most proved lively christians afterwards. It was the sowing of a seed through Clydesdale, so as many of the most eminent christians in that country could date either their conversion, or some remarkable confirmation of their case, from that day." The importance of such a sermon, in propagating religion in a country where it was as yet but imperfectly introduced, has given this event a prominent place, not perhaps in the history of the church of Scotland, but certainly in the history of the gospel. It caused Monday sermons after the celebration of the communion to become general, and appears to have been the origin of that now habitual practice.
Livingston gives some curious particulars in reference to this signally successful preaching. He officiated on the ensuing Thursday at Kilmarnock, and there he was favoured with some remains, as it were, of the afflatus which had inspired him on the former day. Next Monday, however, preaching in Irvine, "I was so deserted," says he, "that the points I had meditated and written, and had fully in my memory, I was not, for my heart, able to get them pronounced. So it pleased the Lord to counterbalance his dealings, and hide pride from man. This so discouraged me, that I was upon resolution for some time not to preach--at least, not in Irvine; but Mr David Dickson could not suffer me to go from thence till I preached the next Sabbath, to get, as he expressed it, amends of the Devil. And I stayed, and preached with some tolerable freedom."
Finding all prospect of a parochial settlement in his native country precluded by the bishops, Mr Livingston was induced, in August, 1630, to accept the charge of the parish of Killinchie, in the north of Ireland, where a considerable portion of the population consisted of Scots. Here he ministered with great success, insomuch that, by one sermon preached in the neighbouring parish of Holywood, he was calculated to have converted a thousand persons in as effectual a manner as he had done the five hundred at Shotts. Such extensive utility is, perhaps, only to be expected in a country such as Scotland and Ireland then were, and as America has more recently been; but yet, as similar acts are recorded of no contemporary clergyman whose name is familiar to us, we must necessarily conclude, that there was something in the oratorical talents and spiritual gifts of Mr Livingston, which marked him out as a most extraordinary man. His success, as a minister, is less agreeably proved in another way by the persecution, namely, of the bishop in whose diocese he officiated. After being once suspended and replaced, he was, in May, 1632, deposed, along with Messrs Blair, Welsh, and Dunbar; after which, he could only hold private meetings with his flock. He and several of his people were now become so desperate, as to the enjoyment of religion, in their own way, under British institutions, that they formed a resolution to emigrate to America. He accordingly set sail from Weymouth; but being driven back by a contrary wind, some circumstances induced him to change his mind. Almost immediately after his return, he and his deposed brethren were reinstated by a letter of the lord deputy Strafford; and, for a year and a half, he continued to preach at Killinchie.
Mr Livingston's salary, in this charge, was only four pound a-year; yet he takes pains to assure us, that notwithstanding all his travels from place to place, and also occasional visits to Scotland, he never wanted money. He lets slip, afterwards, however, that he received sums occasionally from the countesses of Eglintoune and Wigton, and other devout ladies. His mode of life was so fully justified by the circumstances of the times, which rendered it by no means singular, that Mr Livingston was not deterred from forming a matrimonial connexion. He had formed an attachment to the eldest daughter of Bartholomew Fleming, merchant in Edinburgh, "of most worthy memory." The young lady was also recommended to him by the favourable speeches of many of his friends. Yet - and the fact is a curious trait of the age and of the man - he spent nine months "in seeking directions from God," before he could make up his mind to pay his addresses. "It is like," he says, "I might have been longer in that darkness, except the Lord had presented me an occasion of our conferring together; for, in November 1634, when I was going to the Friday meeting at Antrim, (the lady was then residing on a visit to Ireland,) I forgathered with her and some others, going thither, and propounded to them, by the way, to confer upon a text, whereon I was to preach the day after at Antrim; wherein I found her conference so just and spiritual, that I took that for some answer to my prayer to have my mind cleared, and blamed myself that I had not before taken occasion to confer with her. Four or five days after, I proposed the matter, and desired her to think upon it; and, after a week or two, I went to her mother's house, and, being alone with her, desiring her answer, I went to prayer, and desired her to pray, which at last she did: and in that time I got abundant clearness that it was the Lord�s mind that I should marry her, and then propounded the matter more fully to her mother; and, albeit, I was then fully cleared, I may truly say it was about a month after, before I got marriage affection to her, although she was, for personal endowments, beyond many of her equals, and I got it not till I obtained it by prayer; but, thereafter, I had greater difficulty to moderate it."
The parties, having proceeded to Edinburgh, were married in the West Church there, June 23, 1635, under circumstances of proper solemnity, notwithstanding that archbishop Spottiswood, chancellor of Scotland, was understood to have issued orders for the apprehension of Mr Livingston some days before. The wedding was attended by the earl of Wigton and his son lord Fleming, and a number of other pious friends. Having returned to Ireland, he was, in the ensuing November, once more deposed, and even, it appears, excommunicated. He continued, nevertheless, to hold forth at private meetings in his own house, where Blair, also again deposed, took up his abode. At length, in renewed despair, he once more embarked, along with his wife, for the American colonies; but, strange to say, after having sailed to a point nearer to the banks of Newfoundland than to any part of Europe, he was again driven back; after which, conceiving it "to be the Lord�s will that he should not go to New England," he made no further attempt.
For about two years, Mr Livingston preached occasionally, but always in a somewhat furtive manner, both in Ireland and Scotland. He was in the latter country in 1637, when at length the bishops brought matters to such a crisis, as terminated their supremacy in Scotland, and enabled such divines as Mr Livingston to open their mouths without fear. Mr Livingston was present at Lanark when the covenant was received by the congregation of that place; and he says, that, excepting at the Kirk of Shotts, he never saw such motions from the Spirit of God; "a thousand persons, all at once, lifting up their hands, and the tears falling down from their eyes." Being commissioned to proceed to London, to confer with the friends of the cause, in reference to this grand national movement, he disguised himself in a grey coat and a grey montero cap, for the purpose of avoiding the notice of the English authorities. An accident which befell him on the way, confined him, after his arrival in the metropolis, to his chamber; but he was there visited by many friends of liberty in church and state, including several of the English nobility. He had not been long in London, when the marquis of Hamilton informed him, through a mutual friend, that the king was aware of his coming, and threatened "to put a pair of fetters about his feet." He was, therefore, obliged to retire precipitately to his own country.
In July 1638, Mr Livingston was enabled, under the new system of things, to enter upon the ministry of the parish of Stranraer, in Wigtonshire; a place with which he had long been familiar, in consequence of his frequently passing that way to and from Ireland. Here his zeal and eloquence appear to have been deeply appreciated, insomuch that the people flocked even to hear his private family devotions, filling his house to such a degree, that he had at length to perform these exercises in the church. It is a still more striking proof of his gifts, that multitudes of his Irish friends used to come over twice a-year to be present at his ministrations of the communion. On one occasion, he had no fewer than five hundred of these far-travelled strangers; on another, he had twenty-eight of their children to baptize! Such was then the keen appreciation of "free preaching," and the difficulty of obtaining it under the restrictions of the episcopal system, that some of these people were induced to remove to Stranraer, simply that they might be of the congregation of Mr Livingston. It is confessed, indeed, by the subject of our memoir, that the obstructions which the Irish presbyterians encountered at that time, in hearing the gospel preached after their own way, tended materially to excite and keep alive religious impressions in their hearts. "The perpetual fear," he says, "that the bishops would put away their ministers, made them, with great hunger, wait on the ordinances." The narrow views of that age prevented the king or his ecclesiastical friends from seeing the tendency of their measures; but the result was exactly accordant to the more extended philosophy of our own times. We have now less persecution, and, naturally, a great deal more indifference.
It is a fact of too great importance to be overlooked, that Mr Livingston was a member of the general assembly, which met at Glasgow in November 1638, and decreed, so far as an unconstituted association of the clergy could do so, the abolition of episcopacy in Scotland. He accompanied the army in the campaign of 1640, as chaplain to the regiment of the earl of Cassillis, and was present at the battle of Newburn, of which he composed a narrative. In November, he returned to Stranraer, where, in one Sunday, notwithstanding the smallness and poverty of the town, he raised a contribution of no less than forty-five pounds sterling, for the use of the army. A large portion of this, it must be remarked, was given by one poor woman under very peculiar circumstances. She had laid aside, as a portion to her daughter, seven twenty-two shilling pieces and an eleven-pound piece: the Lord, she said, had lately taken her daughter, and, having resolved to give him her portion also, she now brought forward her little hoard, in aid of that cause which she seriously believed to be his. In these traits of humble and devoted piety, there is something truly affecting; and even those who are themselves least disposed to such a train of mind, must feel that they are so.
Mr Livingston appears to have always retained a warm feeling towards the presbyterians of the north of Ireland. At the breaking out of the rebellion in 1641, when these poor people fled in a body from the fury of the catholics, multitudes came into Scotland, by the way of Stranraer. Of the money raised in Scotland to relieve the refugees, £1000 Scots was sent to Mr Livingston, who distributed it in small sums, rarely exceeding half-a-crown, to the most necessitous. He complains, in his memoirs, that out of all the afflicted multitudes who came in his way, he hardly observed one person "sufficiently sensible of the Lord's hand" in their late calamity, or of their own deserving of it, "so far had the stroke seized their spirits as well as bodies." This is a remark highly characteristic of the age. One more valuable occurs afterwards. Being sent over to Ireland with the Scottish army, "he found," he says, "a great alteration in the country; many of those who had been civil before, were become many ways exceeding loose; yea, sundry who, as could be conceived, had true grace, were declined much in tenderness; so, as it would seem, the sword opens a gap, and makes every body worse than before, an inward plague coming with the outward; yet some few were in a very lively condition." If Mr Livingston had not been accustomed to regard everything in a spiritual light, he would have argued upon both matters with a view simply to physical causes. He would have traced the savage conduct of the catholic Irish to the united operation of a false religion, and the inhumane dominancy of a race of conquerors; and the declining piety of the Presbyterians, to that mental stupor which an unwonted accumulation of privations, oppressions, and dangers, can hardly fail to produce. It is strange to a modern mind, to see men, in the first place, violating the most familiar and necessary laws respecting their duty to their neighbours, (as the English may be said to have done in reference to the native Irish,) and then to hear the natural consequences of such proceedings, described as a manifestation of divine wrath towards a class of people who were totally unconnected with the cause.
Mr Livingston was minister of Stranraer for ten years, during which time he had not only brought his own flock into a state of high religious culture, but done much, latterly, to restore the former state of feeling in the north of Ireland. In the summer of 1648, he was translated, by the general assembly, to Ancrum, in Roxburghshire, where he found a people much more in need of his services than at Stranraer. In 1650, he was one of three clergymen deputed, by the church, to accompany an embassage which was sent to treat with Charles II., at the Hague, for his restoration to a limited authority in Scotland. In his memoirs, Mr Livingston gives a minute account of the negotiations with the young king, which throws considerable light on that transaction, but cannot here be entered upon. He seems to be convinced, however, of the insincerity of the king, though his facility of disposition rendered him an unfit person to oppose the conclusion of the treaty. Being of opinion that the lay ambassadors were taking the curse of Scotland with them, he refused to embark, and was, at last, brought off by stratagem. In the ensuing transactions, as may be conceived, he took the side of the protestors; but, upon the whole, he mingled less in public business than many divines of inferior note in spiritual gifts. During the protectorate, he lived very quietly in the exercise of his parochial duties; and, on one occasion, though inclined to go once wore to Ireland, refused a charge which was offered to him at Dublin, with a salary of £200 a-year. After the restoration, he very soon fell under the displeasure of the government, and, in April, 1663, was banished from his native country, which he never more saw. He took up his residence at Rotterdam, where there was already a little society of clergymen in his own circumstances.
In narrating the events of this part of his life, Mr Livingston mentions some curious traits of his own character and circumstances. "My inclination and disposition," he says, "was generally soft, amorous, averse from debates, rather given to laziness than rashness, and easy to be wrought upon. I cannot say what Luther affirmed of himself concerning covetousness; but, I may say, I have been less troubled with covetousness and cares than many other evils. I rather inclined to solitariness than company. I was much troubled with wandering of mind and idle thoughts. For outward things, I never was rich, and I never was in want, and I do not remember that I ever borrowed money, but once in Ireland, five or six pounds, and got it shortly paid. I choosed rather to want sundry things than to be in debt. I never put any thing to the fore of any maintenance I had; yea, if it had not been for what I got with my wife, and by the death of her brother, and some others of her friends, I could hardly have maintained my family, by any stipend I had in all the three places I was in."
The remainder of his life was spent in a manner more agreeable, perhaps, to his natural disposition, than any preceding part. He had all along had a desire to obtain leisure for study, but was so closely pressed, by his ordinary duties, that he could not obtain it. He now devoted himself entirely to his favourite pursuit of biblical literature, and had prepared a polyglot bible, which obtained the unqualified approbation of the most learned men in Scotland, when he was cut off, on the 9th of August, 1672, in the 70th year of his age. Just before he expired, his wife, foreseeing the approach of dissolution, desired him to take leave of his friends. "I dare not," said he, with an affectionate tenderness; "but it is likely our parting will be but for a short time." Mr Livingston, besides his Bible, (as yet unpublished,) left notes descriptive of all the principal clergymen of his own time, which, with his memoirs, were printed in 1754.
Him and his wife had 15 kids, 8 died before reaching 10 years of age.
My father was Mr. William Livingstone, first minister at Monybroch (The same as Kilayth), where he entered in the year 1600, and thereafter was transported, about the year 1615, to be minister at Lanark, where he died in the year 1641, being sixty-five years old. His father was Mr Alexander Livingstone, also at Monybroch, who was a near relation to the house of Calender. His father was killed at Pinkiefield, anno 1547, being a son of the Lord Livingstone, which house thereafter was dignified to be Earl of Linlithgow. My father was all his days straight and zealous in the work of reformation against Episcopacy and ceremonies, and was once deposed; and wanted not seals of his ministry, both at Monybroch and also at Lanark. My mother was Agnes Livingstone, daughter of Alexander Livingstone, portioner of Falkirk, come of the house of Dunipace. She was a rare pattern of godliness and virtue. She died in the year 1617, being about thirty-two years of age. She left three sons and four daughters. I was born in Monybroch, in Stirlingshire, the 21st of June 1603.
The first period of my life, I reckon from my birth to the first day I preached in public, which was at Lanark, on a Sabbath afternoon, the 2d of January 1625.
Having at home learned to read and write, I was sent, in the year 1613, to Stirling, to a Latin school, where Mr William Wallace, a good man, and a learned humanist, was schoolmaster; where I stayed till summer 1617; at which time I was sent for, to be present with my mother dying. About October 1617, I was sent to the College of Glasgow, where I stayed four years. I passed master of arts July 1621. After that I stayed in my father's, in Lanark, till I began to preach.
During this time, I observed the Lord's great goodness, that I was born of such parents, who taught me somewhat of God so soon as I was capable to understand anything, and had great care of my education. I had great fears about my salvation when I was but very young. I saw somewhat of the example and carriage of sundry gracious Christians, who used to resort to my father's house, especially at communion occasions: such as Mr Robert Bruce, and several other godly ministers, the rare Countess of Wigtown, Lady Lillias Graham, who also at my baptism desired my name, because her father, her husband, and eldest son, were all of that name; the Lady Culross, the Lady Bantoon, and sundry others.
It is remarkable, that Mr William Wallace came but a short while to Stirling before I was sent thither to school, and the year after I left the school he also left that charge. Likewise worthy Mr Robert Boyd of Trochrigg, was but lately come from Suamur in France, to be Principal of the College of Glasgow when I went thither,a dn went from the college the year after I left it.
The while I was in Stirling, Mr Patrick Simpson was minister there -- a man learneed, godly, and very faithful in the cause of God; and in Glasgow, I heard Mr John Bell - a grave, serious man; and Mr Robert Scot, who also was once deposed for opposing the corruptions of the time.
The first year after I went to Stirling school, I profited not much, and was often beaten by the schoolmaster; and one day he had beaten me on the cheek with a stick, so that it swelled. That same day, my father came occasionally to town, and seeing my face swollen, did chide with the master, that he having a chief hand to bring me to that place,he should use me so. The master promised to forbear beating of me, and I profited a great deal more in my learning after that. And when, in September 1616, I with the rest of my equals, had gone through all the Latin and Greek that was taught in the school, and so were ready to go to the college, and my father was come to bring me home for that end, the schoolmaster prevailed with my father (I being so young, and the master having hopes of my proficiency) that I should stay one other year; and thus another boy and I stayed another year. We for the most part read by ourselves in a little chamber above the school, the mster furnishing us books, where we went through the most part of the choice Latin writers, both poets and others; and that year was to me the largemost profitable year I had at the schools.
Website with more at http://www.iment.com/maida/familytree/henry/bios/revjohnlivingston.htm
A Brief Historical Relation of the Life of Mr. John Livingtone, Minister of the Gospel, containing several observations of the Divine Goodness manifested to him in several occurrences thereof. Written by himself [in 16661 during his banishment in Holland for the cause of Christ. [Printed at Glasgow, 1754: republished, Glasgow, 1773.] 2. Memorable Characteristics, and Remarkable Passages of Divine Providence, exemplified in the Lives of some of the most eminent Ministers and Professors in the Church of Scotland. [Written in 1668.] 3. Letters on Public Events [1641-1671]: Substance of a Discourse at Ancrum, 13th of October, 1662: Sayings and Observations.
[All the above are contained in Select Biographies of the Wodrow Society.—M.C.D.]
<John Livingstone, was born on the 21st June, 1603, at Kilsyth in Stirlingshire, where his father was ,minister. His grandfather, the Rev. Alexander Livingstone, was grandson of the fifth Lord Livingstone, the guardian of Queen Mary Stuart. He was thus the third of the family, who in succession had been a minister of the Church of Scotland. Having received his school education in Stirling, he entered the University of Glasgow, where he had Robert Blair, afterwards of Bangor, for his instructor in logic and metaphysics, and where he graduated in 1621. He could not remember in after years the time, place, or circumstances in which the Lord first wrought upon his heart, but he was admitted to the Lord's table before he left school for college in 1617. At first be was uncertain as to what profession he should enter, but in the end decided for the ministry, and commenced to preach in 1625. In the parish of Torphichen, both patron and people were anxious for his settlement among them, but his nonconformity to the prelatic ceremonies was too well known to make him acceptable to Spottiswoode, Archbishop of St. Andrews, and difficulties were thrown in the way, which disappointed the wishes of the congregation. For two years afterwards he acted as chaplain to the Earl of Wigtown, and preached in various places over the country as he found opportunity. A, sermon which be preached at the kirk of Shotts on a communion Monday, 21st June, 1630, is said to have been blessed to as many as five hundred souls. During this period, several parishes presented him with calls, but the bishops regarded him as an enemy, and constantly succeeded in preventing his settlement.
In 1630, letters from Lord Claneboy called him to Ireland. He accepted the invitation, and on the 29th August received ordination from Andrew Knox, the old bishop of Raphoe, who as a presbyter joined several ministers in conferring on him Presbyterian orders, as already mentioned in the case of Blair, and "who thought his old age was. prolonged for little other purpose but to do such offices." The avowed design of the bishop in this act was to obviate Livingstone's scruples as to the Scriptural validity of prelatical orders. Bishop Echlin does not seem to have been satisfied about his going for ordination to Bishop Knox, still be did not raise any objection to his settlement at Killinchy, from which parish he had received a unanimous call. His ministry in that district was very successful, and many received through his means deep religious impressions. His intercourse with other ministers of principles similar to his own was very pleasant. A considerable number of them had by this time settled around the shores of Belfast Lough, and the monthly meeting, which had its origin in the religious movement pervading the district of the Six Mile Water, gave them frequent opportunities for religious and friendly intercourse. In this meeting Livingstone took an active part.
He had been scarcely a year at Killinchy till, in common with Blair of Bangor, his friend and neighbour, he was suspended by Bishop Echlin for nonconformity, and for "stirring up the people to extacies and enthusiasms." For a little the censure was relaxed through the interference of the Primate; but on the 4th of May, 1632, the bishop proceeded to depose Blair and Livingstone, and eight days afterwards Dunbar of Larne and Welsh of Templepatrick. The king when appealed to would have given redress, but his good intentions were frustrated through the influence of his advisers, Laud and Wentworth, who were at the time the virtual rulers both of king and kingdom. The two years from May, 1632, till May, 1634, Livingstone spent in Scotland, preaching as he had opportunity, but occasionally visiting Ireland, and holding among his people secret meetings for worship. At Killinchy his salary was never over £40 a year; but such was the liberality of friends in Scotland, that he never wanted money for the supply of necessaries, or to defray the cost of his frequent journeys. In old age he could not remember that he ever had occasion to borrow money except once, when he had the use of five or six pounds for a short time from a friend in Ireland.
In May, 1634, a letter from Lord Deputy Wentworth restored the deposed ministers. In November of that year, Blair was finally deposed and excommunicated; but for some reason now unknown there was no interference with Livingstone for a year after. During that interval of quiet he married Miss Fleming, sister's daughter of Beatrix Hamilton, the first Mrs. Blair, who then resided with her mother and her stepfather at Malone, near Belfast. The wedding came off in the West Church of Edinburgh, in June, 1635; and in the short interval between his marriage and his deposition be dwelt with his wife and her mother at Malone, whence from time to time he went down to preach at Killinchy. Echlin died on the 17th July, 1635, but his successor, Henry Leslie, who was consecrated on the 4th October following, was more rigorous than he. The month after his consecration (November, 1635), he deposed Livingstone, and followed up the sentence with excommunication. In these dark days, Mr. Blair, on whom the prelatical anathema had first fallen, came with his young wife, Catherine Montgomery, and lived with his friends, Mr. and Mrs. Stevenson, at the Iron Furnace, Malone. The two ministers, while there, often conducted private meetings for worship; and while the Eaglewing was in building down at Groomsport to carry them out of the country, they spent one day every week in fasting and prayer for a blessing on the undertaking.
Livingstone and his wife shared with Blair in the perils of the unfortunate voyage already described, and on returning from it be dwelt at Malone throughout the winter of 1636-7. Then to escape imprisonment for preaching in private after his deposition, he passed over to Scotland, where he was settled as minister of Stranraer. There, upon the opposite side of the Channel, be was often visited by old hearers from Killinchy. As many, it is said, as five hundred would sail over to attend his communion at Stranraer; on one occasion he baptized twenty-eight children, brought over for that purpose, from the County Down; while some removed their residence to the neighbourbood where he lived, rather than forego the advantage of his ministry.
At different times between 1642 and 1648, he was sent by the General Assembly to preach in those districts of Down and Antrim, which the great Irish Rebellion of 1641 had left entirely destitute of religious instruction in any form. During these brief periodical visits he travelled from place to place, preaching once every weekday and twice on the Sabbath. His last visit to Ireland was for nine or ten weeks in 1656, at which time a considerable number .of ministers had settled permanently in the country. Twenty-one years of prelatical rule and Irish rebellion and army oppression, had produced great changes. Death also had not been idle. In the district with which he was best acquainted, he did not then find, more than nine or ten persons whom he had once known when minister of Killinchy.
During the great civil war, be was sent as chaplain along with a regiment in the Scottish army, when it marched into England. In 1648, he removed from Stranraer to be minister of Ancrum; and two years after he accompanied the commission appointed by the Parliament of Scotland to treat with Charles II., then in exile at Breda. The result of this journey was to convince himself, that be was not qualified to shine either as a statesman or a diplomatist.
After the Restoration, Livingstone was called before the authorities, and when he refused to take an oath of allegiance, according to, the terms of which he was to acknowledge the king to be the supreme governor in all cases, civil and ecclesiastical—which he understood to mean that he was to recant the Covenant, and admit as lawful the introduction of Prelacy—he was banished from the kingdom. He arrived in Rotterdam in April, 1663, and in the December of the same year he was joined by his wife. His last years were spent in private studies and in peace. He died at Rotterdam, on the 9th of May, 1672.
Livingstone was short-sighted: in constitution he was moderately strong; in temperament, timorous and yielding. He was the most popular and successful Scottish preacher of, his age. His custom was to make out abort notes for his preaching, and to enlarge upon them at the time. of delivery. To have his heart in tune he found to be the best preparation, and to know that the people were hungering for instruction was his greatest aid. He never preached a sermon, he was accustomed to say, which he would care to see in writing, except two; one of which was that preached on a communion Monday at the kirk of Shotts, the other on a similar occasion at Holywood. Had be lived in quieter times, it is probable he would have made for himself a name in literature; as it was, be attained considerable proficiency in the department of ancient and modern languages.
The Letters, and fragments of Sermons, of which be is the author, are not of much importance. His Autobiography, or Brief Historical Relation, is very like that of Blair, his teacher and friend, and is of equal value as an illustration from an independent source of the early history of Presbyterianism in Ireland. It covers the whole period of his life from his birth to his exile, and is intensely interesting, not only from the manner in which it touches upon the public events of this time, but from the candid and honest way in which be describes himself. The Memorable Characteristics is a short record of the history and character of various eminent Christians in Scotland and Ireland, many of whom be had personally known. In it he preserves various facts of, interest and personal traits, in regard to several individuals which otherwise would have been lost. The Brief Historical Relation was printed in a quarto form in 1727, and has passed through several editions. The only complete edition of the writings of Livingstone is that contained in the Select Biographies of the Wodrow Society. Some of the descendants of Livingstone emigrated to the New England Colonies. His great-grandson, Philip Livingstone, was speaker in the House of Assembly, and one of the fifty-six who signed the declaration of American Independence. Another of his great-grandsons was Judge Livingstone, father of the Chancellor, who administered the oath of office to General Washington. [Livingstone's Works in Select Biographies of the Wodrow Society, vol. i.; Reid's History; Hunt's Life of Edward Livingstone, New York, 1864.]
Kneeling At The Communion.
I was from my infancy bred with averseness from Episcopacy and ceremonies. While I was in the College at Glasgow, in the year 1619 or 1620, being, as I think, the first year that kneeling at the communion was brought in there, I, being with Some two or three of the young men of the college, set down among the people at the table, and Mr. James Law, the pretended bishop of Glasgow, coming to celebrate the communion, he urged all the people to fall down and kneel. Some did so: we sat still. He came to us, commanding us to kneel, or to depart. Somewhat I spoke to him, but do not perfectly remember what I said. It was to this purpose, that there was no warrant for kneeling, and for want of it we ought not to be excommunicated from the table of the Lord. He caused some of the people about us to rise, that we might remove; which we did.—Historical Relation, Period I.
Courtship In The Old Times.
In June, 1635, the' Lord was graciously pleased to bless me with my wife, who how well accomplished in every way, and how faithful an yoke-fellow, I desire to leave to the memory of others. She was the eldest daughter of Bartholomew Fleming, merchant in Edinburgh. . . . . Her father died at London in 1624, and was laid hard by Mr. John Welsh, and these two only of a long time had been buried without the Service Book. . . . . Her mother, with her second' husband, John Stevenson, and her family, came to Ireland in the end of the year 1633. When I went a visit to Ireland in the year 1634, Mr. Blair proposed to me that marriage. Immediately thereafter I was sent to London to have gone to New England, and returned the June following. I had Seen her before several times in Scotland, and heard the testimony of many of her gracious disposition; yet I was for nine months seeking as I could direction from God anent that business, during which time I did not offer to speak to her (who I believe had not heard anything of the matter), only for want of clearness in my mind, although I was twice or thrice in the house, and Saw her frequently at communion and public meetings. And it is like I might have been longer in that darkness, except the Lord had presented an occasion of our conferring together. For in November, 1634, when I was going to the Friday meeting at Antrim, I forgathered with her and some other going thither, and proponed to them by the way to confer upon a text, whereon I was to preach the day after at Antrim; wherein I found her conference so judicious and spiritual, that I took that for some answer of my prayer to have lay mind cleared, and blamed myself that I had not before taken occasion to confer with her. Four or five days thereafter proponed the matter to her, and desired her to think upon it; and after a week or two I went to her mother's house, and being alone with her, desiring her answer, I went to prayer, and urged her to pray, which at last she did; and in that time I got abundant clearness that it was the Lord's mind I should marry her. I then proponed the matter more fully to her mother: and albeit I was thus fully cleared, I may truly say it was close a month after before I got marriage affection to her, although she was for personal endowments beyond many of her equals; and I got it not till I obtained it by prayer. But thereafter I had greater difficulty to moderate it.—Historical Relation, Period III.
Parting Advice To His Congregation.
In the meantime love and help one another; have a care to breed your children to know the Lord, and to keep themselves from the pollutions of an evil world. I recommend to you above all books, except the blessed Word of God, the Confession of Faith and Larger Catechism. Be grounding yourselves, and one another, against the abominations of Popery, in case it should prove the trouble of the time, as I apprehend it may. Let a care be had of the poor and sick; there is left as much in the ordinary way as will suffice for meat and money for a year or more. I cannot insist on the several particulars, wherein possibly you would crave advice. The Word is a lamp, and the Spirit of Christ will guide into all truth. The light that comes after unfeigned humiliation, and self-denial, and earnest prayer, and search of the Scripture, is a sure light.—Letter to the People of Ancrum, dated 3rd April, 1663.
Message Sent Them From Rotterdam.
In all things, and above all things, let the Word of God be your only rule, Christ Jesus your only hope, His Spirit your only guide, and His glory your only end. See that each of you apart worship God every day, morning and evening at least: read some of His Word, and call on Him by prayer, and give Him thanks. If ye be straitened with business, it is not so much the length of your prayer that He regards, as the uprightness and the earnestness of the heart; but neglect not the duty; and if ye be without the hearing of others, utter your voice; it is sometime a great help, but do it not to be heard of others. Sing also a psalm or some part of a psalm: ye may learn some by heart for that purpose. Through the whole day, labour to set the Lord always before you, as present to observe you and strengthen you for every duty, and then look over how the day hath been spent before you sleep. Such as have families, set up the worship of God in your families, as ye would avoid the wrath that shall be poured on the families that call not on His name. As occasion offers of any honest minister coming amongst you, neglect not the same: and on the Lord's-day go where ye can hear the Word sincerely preached by a sent minister . . . but I dare not bid you hear any of the intruded hirelings, whom they call curates. —Letter to the People of Ancrum, dated 7th Oct., 1671.
I die in the faith that the truths of God, which He hath helped the Church of Scotland to own, shall be owned by Him as truths so long as sun and moon endure. I hate Independency, though there be good men among them, and some well-meaning people favour it: yet it will be found more to the prejudice of the work of God than many are aware, for they vanish into vain opinions. I have had my own faults, as other men, but He made me always to abhor shows. I cannot say much of great services; yet if ever my heart was lifted up, it was in preaching Jesus Christ.
Had I in a right manner behaved and taken pains, it had been better for myself and others; but a lazy trusting to assistance in the meantime kept me barehanded all my days. I had a kind of coveting, when I got leisure 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 a kind of play and recreation. I used to read much too fast, and so was somewhat pleased in the time, but retained little. 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 college I did with no great difficulty attain to some tolerable insight in the Hebrew and Chaldee and somewhat also of the Syriac. The Arabic I did essay, 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 General Assembly to write the History of the Church of Scotland since the late Reformation, 1638; but, beside my inability for such. an under taking, and my lazy disposition, I could by no means procure the materials fit for such a work. -Historical Relation, Period V. _________________________________________________________
Rev. John Livingston's Timeline
June 21, 1603
Kilsyth, Stirlingshire, Scotland
June 30, 1636
Milton, Monaghan, Ireland
September 22, 1646
December 10, 1654
Scotland, United Kingdom