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The real genuine worth of any one can be truly estimated only by the amount of moral and religious excellence which he actually possesses. Grace, — in its benign influence upon the heart and life, in the implantation and growth of dispositions and habits that elevate the soul above the empty, evanescent things of time and sense, and prepare it for the enjoyment of perfect blessedness hereafter — sheds a glory over the path of a child of God, which perfectly eclipses the feeble lustre of any adventitious, earthly distinction he may happen to have. He may have, and deservedly, the reputation of being an able jurist, an eloquent divine, a brave and skilful captain, — or he may be allied, by birth, to rank and fortune; but whatever his real or supposed merits in these respects, if it be known that he walks humbly with God — that he is a sincere, conscientious, zealous follower of Christ — This constitutes the chief excellence of his character; in comparison with which, that importance some attach, or affect to attach, to the mere appendages of worldly greatness, dwindles into insignificance, and is scarce worthy of notice.

In attempting, therefore, to give the biography, of a good man, it is a matter of very small moment to be able to trace his pedigree to what some esteem a great or illustrious ancestry. Every pious and judicious reader will regard the account as of little importance in itself considered, or as imparting little additional interest to the narrative.

Yet, it must be acknowledged that, in innumerable instances, an honourable family connexion, though contributing nothing essentially to individual worth, is a worldly blessing, wliich, among other good things, the faith and holiness of some ancestor, near or remote, have secured to his offspring. And this being the fact, every probable instance of the kind ought to be exhibited, as a proof of the faithfulness of God in fulfilling, long after their decease, promises which he had made to his children, to encourage the godly and to induce others to choose Him for their portion that keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love Him, and keep His commandments to a thousand generations. Blessed is the man that feareth the Lord, that delighteth greatly in His commandments: his seed shall be mighty upon earth: the generation of the upright shall be blessed. Wealth and riches shall be in his house; and his righteousness endureth forever [Ps. cxii, 2, 3.]."

Few families, perhaps, of much reputation in society, cannot number among their several progenitors some, who, in their day, were eminent for piety: and there can be no question, but that for present influence and prosperity in the world, the children are indebted to the interest their fathers had in the divine promise, rather than, in the absence of personal religion, to any peculiar skill and enterprise of their own.

Parents, in a sense, live in their children: When God beholds the children of such as were pious, he remembers the parents and his covenant with them. I will be a God unto thee and to thy seed after thee; and the children are beloved and blessed for their father's sakes — that is, in honour and affluence, are made considerable among their fellow men, and often, in the dispensations of divine mercy, enriched with the more precious blessings that pertain to salvation.

On the other hand, the seed of evil doers, as it is declared, shall never be renowned [Isa. xiv. 20.], — or rather as some read it, shall not be renowned forever — that is, however big they may look for a season, and however they may strut in the fulness of their pride and vaunt of their descent, all their pomp and fancied greatness, like the morning cloud and the early dew, shall speedily pass away. For the Lord loveth judgement, and forsaketh not his saints: they are preserved for ever; but the seed of the wicked shall be cut off [Ps. xxxvii. 28].

The preceding remarks are fully verified by the ordinary economy of divine providence.

The great, great grandfather of the venerable subject of this Memoir, and the common ancestor of the Livingston family in this country, was the eminently pious and celebrated minister of the gospel, Mr. John Livingston, of Scotland.

[The family, from which this devoted servant of Christ was descended, is honourably noticed in Scottish history. From a genealogical tree, which the writer has seen, it would appear, that his father and grandfather were successively ministers of the parish where he was born, and that his great, great grandfather was Lord Livingston, afterwards Earl of Linlithgow. This nobleman, as history states, had, with Lord Erskine in 1547, the care of Mary, Queen of Scots, in the Castle of Dumbarton, where, at the invasion of Scotland by the Duke of Somerset, she was placed for safe keeping, and whence, not long after, she was conveyed to France, and delivered to her uncles, the princes of Lorrain.

Mary Livingston, a daughter of the lord, was one of the four Maries that accompanied the Queen to France, as her companions. Linlithgow is the chief town of West Lothian, and distant from Edinburgh sixteen miles. "The family of Livingston, who take the title of earl from this place, are hereditary keepers of this palace" (the palace, in which the unfortunate Mary Stuart first saw light,) "as also bailiffs of the king's bailifry and constables of Blackness castle — Sir James Livingston, son of the first earl by marriage with a daughter of Callendar, was created earl of Callendar, by Charles I. 1641, which title sunk into the other."
Encyclopedia Brit.]

As the name of this worthy clergyman occupies a prominent place in the ecclesiastical histories of his time, and as the exile to which he was compelled to submit, for his zeal in the cause of truth and religion, will account probably for the subsequent connexion of many of his descendants with the Dutch Church, a brief sketch of his life seems to be proper in this place, and though given, for the most part, in his own plain language, will not, it is hoped, prove altogether uninteresting to the reader.

He was born in Monyabroch, in Stirlingshire, June 21, 1603. "I observed," he says, in a narrative of his life, written by himself, "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 any thing: — I had great cares about my salvation, when I was but yet very young: I had the advantage of the acquaintance and example of many gracious Christians, who used to resort to my father's house, especially at communion occasions. — I do not remember the time or means particularly, whereby the Lord at first wrought upon my heart. When I was but very young, I would sometimes pray with some feeling, and read the word with delight; but thereafter did often intermit any such exercise; — I would have some challenges and begin, and again intermit. I remember the first time that ever I communicated at the Lord's table was in Stirling, when I was at school, where sitting at the table, and Mr. Patrick Simpson exhorting before the distribution, there came such a trembling upon me that all my body shook, yet thereafter the fear and trembling departed, and I got some comfort and assurance. I had no inclination to the ministry, till a year or more after I had passed my course in the college; and that, upon this occasion, I had a bent desire to give myself to the knowledge and practice of medicine, and was very earnest to go to France, for that purpose, and propounded it to my father, that I might obtain his consent, but he refused the same. Also, about the same time, my father having before purchased some land in the parish of Monyabroch, the rights whereof were taken in my name, and that land by ill neighbours being in a manner laid waste, and Sir William Livingston of Kilsyth, one of the lords of session, being very desirous to buy that land, that he might build a burgh of barony upon it at Burnside, my father propounded that I should go and dwell on that land and marry: but finding that that course would divert me from all study of learning, I refused that offer, and rather agreed to the selling of it, although I was not yet major to ratify the sale. Now, being in these straits, I resolved that I would spend a day alone before God, and knowing of a secret cave on the south side of Mouse water, a little above the house of Jervis wood, over against Cleghorn wood, I went thither, and after many to's and fro's, and much confusion, and fear about the state of my soul, I thought it was made out unto me, that I behooved to preach Christ Jesus, which if I did not, I should have no assurance of salvation. Upon this, I laid aside all thoughts of France, and medicine, and land, and betook me to the study of Divinity [Gillies's Hist. Col. page 277. 278.]."

He preached his first sermon January 2, 1625, when about the age of twenty-two. The succeeding five years were spent partly in the diligent pursuit of his theological studies at home, in his father's house, and partly, in visiting different places, preaching occasionally, and cultivating an acquaintance with some of the most eminent ministers and professors of the Church of Scotland. In the course of this period, he received a number of calls from vacant congregations; but the opposition of those in power, and other difficulties that occurred, prevented his assuming the pastoral office.

June, 1630, Mr. Livingston was present at the celebration of the Lord's Supper in a certain place. Being yet merely a licentiate, he, of course, took no part in its appropriate services; but the next day, the congregation still remaining, and expressing a desire for some additional service, he was prevailed upon to preach.

The occasion was one of more than ordinary interest and solemnity; the circumstances under which he was constrained to preach were somewhat remarkable; and the happy fruits of the spirit which accompanied and followed the sermon were truly astonishing. Rarely, perhaps, has any single sermon been attended with such memorable and glorious results, since the days of the apostles.

A respectable writer gives the following account of the occasion and the sermon [Gillies].

"As the kirk of Shotts lies on the road from the west to Edinburgh, and is at a good distance from any convenient place of entertainment, some ladies of rank, who had occasion to pass that way, met, at different times, with civilities, from the minister [Mr. John Hance] at his house, which was then situate where the public inn is now. Particularly once, when through some misfortune befalling their coach or chariot, they were obliged to pass a night in the minister's house; they observed, that besides its incommodious situation, it much needed to be repaired. They, therefore, used their interest to get a more convenient house built for the minister in another place."

"After receiving so substantial favours, the minister waited on the ladies, and expressed his desire to know if any thing was in his power, that might testify his gratitude to them. They answered it would be very obliging to them, if he would invite, to assist at his communion, certain ministers whom they named, who were eminently instrumental in promoting practical religion. The report of this spreading far and near, multitudes of persons of different ranks attended there, so that for several days before the sacrament there was much time spent in social prayer."

"It was not usual, it seems, in those times, to have any sermon on the Monday after dispensing the Lord's Supper. But God had given so much of his gracious presence, and afforded his people so much commmunion with himself, on the foregoing days of that solemnity, that they knew not how to part without thanksgiving and praise. There had been, as was said before, a vast confluence of choice Christians, with several eminent ministers, from almost all the comers of the land, that had been many of them there together, for several days before the sacrament, hearing sermon, and joining together in larger or lesser companies, in prayer, praise, and spiritual conferences. While their hearts were warm with the love of God, some expressing their desire of a sermon on the Monday were joined by others, and in a little the desire became very general.

"Mr. John Livingston, chaplain to the countess of Wigtown, (at that time, only a preacher, not an ordained minister, and about twenty-seven years of age,) was, with very much ado, prevailed on to think of giving the sermon. He had spent the night before in prayer and conference; but when he was alone in the fields, about eight or nine in the morning, there came such a misgiving of heart upon him, under a sense of unworthiness and unfitness to speak before so many aged and worthy ministers, and so many eminent and experienced Christians, that he was thinking to have stolen quite away, and was actually gone away to some distance; but when just about to lose sight of the kirk of Shotts, these 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 think it his duty to return and comply with the call to preach; which he accordingly did with good assistance, for about an hour and a half, on the points he had meditated from that text— Ezek. xxxvi. 25, 26. Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you, A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you, and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and 1 will give you an heart of flesh."

"As he was about to close, a heavy shower coming suddenly on, which made the people hastily take to their cloaks and mantles, he began to speak to the following purpose — "If a few drops of rain from the clouds so discomposed them, how discomposed would they be, how full of horror and despair, if God should deal with them as they deserved; and thus he will deal with all the finally impenitent. That God might justly rain fire and brimstone upon them, as upon Sodom and Gomorrah, and the other cities of the plain; that the Son of God, by tabernacling in our nature, and obeying and suffering in it, is the only refuge and covert from the storm of divine wrath due to us for sin; — that his merits and mediation are the alone skreen from that storm, and none but penitent believers shall have the benefit of that shelter." In these, or some expressions to this purpose, and many others, he was led on about an hour's time (after he had done with what he had premeditated) in a strain of exhortation and warning, with great enlargement and melting of heart."

The same historian goes on to state some facts, showing the powerful and permanent effects of this sermon upon many of the hearers: but instead of extending the quotation, it will not be amiss to present a brief extract from the work of another, in confirmation of the above account, especially as it contains a more general view of the effects produced.

Mr. Fleming, an author of unquestioned veracity, in his work upon the fulfilling of the Scriptures [Page 185, folio] says — "I must also mention that solemn communion at the kirk of Shotts, June 20. 1630, at which time there was so convincing an appearance of God, and down-pouring of the spirit, even in an extraordinary way, that did follow the ordinances, especially that sermon on the Monday, June 21, with a strange unusual motion on the hearers, who in a great multiiude were there convened, of divers ranks, that it was known, which I can speak on sure ground, near five hundred had at that time, a discernible change wrought on them, of whom most proved lively Christians afterwards. It was the sowing of a seed through Clyddisdale, so as many of the most eminent Christians in that country could date either their conversion, or some remarkable confirmation in their case, from that day; and truly this was the more remarkable, that one, after much reluctance, by a special and unexpected providence, was called to preach that sermon on the Monday, which then was not usually practised; and that night before, by most of the Christians there, was spent in prayer, so that the Monday's work might be discerned, as a convincing return of prayer." Mr. Livingston says himself, in reference to this memorable occasion. "The only day in all my life wherein I found most of the presence of God in preaching, was on a Monday after the communion, preaching in the church yard of Shotts, June 21. 1630. The night before I had been in company with some Christians, who spent the night in prayer and conference. When I was alone in the fields, about eight or nine o'clock in the morning, before we were to go to sermon, there came such a misgiving of spirit upon me, considering my un worthiness and weakness, and the multitude and expectation of the people, that I was consulting with myself to have stolen away somewhere, and declined that day's preaching, but that I thought I durst not so far distrust God; and so went to sermon, and got good assistance, about one hour and a half, upon the points which I had meditated on, Ezek. xxxvi. 25,26. — And in the end, 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 life time. Some little of that stamp remained on the Thursday after, when I preached in Kilmarnock, but the very Monday following, preaching in Irvine, I was so deserted, that the points I had meditated and written, and which I 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 to hide pride from man. This so discouraged me, that I was resolved for some time not to preach, at least, not in Irvine; but Mr. David Dickson would not suffer me to go from thence, till I preached the next Sabbath, to get (as he expressed it) amends of the devil. — I stayed and preached with some tolerable freedom."

Shortly after that signal blessing upon his labours, this eminent servant of Christ, received and accepted a unanimous call from the church of Killinchie, in Ireland, where he was made, in some degree, useful to an ignorant but tractable people. And about this time, a similar extraordinary manifestation of divine power attended his preaching upon another Monday after communion, at Holy-wood, upon which occasion, it is said, that a much greater number were converted. Under these two famous sermons indeed, it was calculated, that the good work of the Spirit was either begun or revived in the hearts of no less than fifteen hundred persons, [See Crookshank's History of the Church of Scotland, vol. I p. 171.]" But he now became an object of bitter persecution; was proceeded against for non-conformity; and deposed. The effect of this arbitrary and cruel measure was, to induce him and a number of his friends, to think seriously of emigrating to New England. A vessel was built for the purpose; and they actually set sail for America: but encountering from the moment of their departure, violent adverse winds, and being driven back at last, after a lapse of nearly two months, to the port whence they had loosed, the design was altogether abandoned. In 1638, he settled in a place called Stranrawer, in Scotland; and for ten years he exercised his ministry here with great comfort, and some measure of success. He had not been long in this place, before some of his parishioners expressed a wish to be present at his morning family exercises. To gratify them, as his house could not conveniently accommodate all who might desire to attend, he assembled them every morning, in the Church, by the ringing of the bell, and spent about half an hour with them in singing, expounding the word of God, and prayers.

While he retained this interesting charge, he was several times sent by the General Assembly of the church of Scotland to visit some vacant parishes in the North of Ireland, Each missionary tour occupied three months; and, "for the most part of all these three months," he says, "I preached every day once, and twice on the Sabbath: the destitute parishes were many: the hunger of the people was become great; and the Lord was pleased to furnish otherwise than usually I was wont to get at home. I came ordinarily the night before to the place where I was to preach, and commonly lodged in some religious person's house, where we were often well refreshed at family exercise: usually I desired no more before I went to bed, but to make sure the place of Scripture I was to preach on the next day. And rising in the morning, I had four or five hours myself alone, either in a chamber or in the fields; after that we went to church and then dined, and then rode some five or six miles more or less to another parish."

From Stranrawer he removed in 1648, to Ancrum, in Tiviotdale. With the people of this place, he continued, a number of years, beloved and useful; but that intolerant spirit of the time, which could brook no mode of worship — no ministerial services, not conformed to prelatical rule, at length, procured his banishment, with that of several other eminent ministers, from the kingdom of Great Britain.

In April 1663, he fled to Holland, and settled in Rotterdam. His wife and two of the children followed him toward the close of the year, but five children remained in Scotland.

Having now considerable leisure, though he preached frequently to the Scots' congregation in this city, he diligently cultivated the study of the Hebrew language, and attempted to prepare for publication, a volume containing the original text of the Bible, in one column, and the several vulgar translations in another. The design was approved by Voetius, Essenius, Nethenus, and Leusden: and having spent much time in comparing Pagnin's version with the original text, and with other later translations — such as Munster's, Junius,' Diodati's, the English, but especially the Dutch, the latest, and esteemed the most accurate translation, he sent his manuscripts to Dr. Leusden, in compliance with a request of that learned professor, expecting they would be printed and published in Utrecht. It is not known what became of the work; — but shortly after it was put out of his hands, he rested from his labours on earth, and entered into the joy of his Lord. He died August 9th, 1672, aged 69 years, having resided in Rotterdam a little over nine years.

This man of God, the principal events of whose life have been thus rapidly traced, was, as before observed, the common ancestor of the Livingstons in this country: and to be descended from a person of such piety, and zeal, and distinguished usefulness in the church of God, is assuredly a greater honour than to inherit a princely alliance: — at least, the time will come, and the writer hopes, is not far off, when even the world will so regard it. — Let him not be misunderstood. He did not intend, by the remark just made, to convey an intimation, that saving grace descends by inheritance; but simply to express his conviction, that the day is not very distant, when religion will be, as it ought now to be, the chief concern of all men; — when piety, though dwelling in the humblest cottage, and clothed in rags, will be universally held in higher estimation, than ungodliness, though encircled with all the splendors of royalty; and consequently, that the respect which has been paid, time out of mind, to a connexion by birth or otherwise, with the worldly rich and worldly great, will be transferred to a kindred with those whom the word of God denominates THE EXCELLENT OF THE EARTH.

But, if it be granted that, at present, little honour is by some attached to such descent, and that, it by no means secures the possession of saving grace; yet still it may be averred, that it is not altogether unaccompanied both with honour and profit.

A good man leaveth an inheritance to his children's children [Prov, 13. 22.]: and a history of many of the descendants of Mr. Livingston would afford a fine illustration of the truth of Solomon's declaration. In the history of New-York, by an author of some reputation, the following notice is taken of him and his family, as that was, at the time, known in this country — "Mr. John Livingston, one of the commissioners from Scotland, to king Charles II while he was an exile at Breda. He was a clergyman distinguished by his zeal and industry, and for his opposition to episcopacy became so obnoxious, after the restoration, to the English court, that he left Scotland, and took the pastoral charge of an English presbyterian church in Rotterdam. His descendants are very numerous in this province, and the family in the first rank for their wealth, morals, and education. The original diary in the handwriting of their common ancestor is still among them, and contains a history of his life. [Smith's Hist, of N. Y. page 150.]"

The work from which this quotation is made, was published in 1756; — and up to this day, they have maintained, as a family, the same elevated station in society: the name of Livingston has been, generally speaking, associated with all that is respectable in character — honourably connected with the literature, jurisprudence, and politics of the state and nation.

There is hardly a family, so ancient and numerous, viewed in all its branches, more estimable for talent, and virtue, and important public services; — or possessing a greater weight of character — a weight of character obtained by a course of meritorious conduct, through several successive generations, by great intellectual distinction, and in some instances, by pre-eminent piety superadded.

Robert Livingston, the son of John, and great grandfather of the subject of this Memoir, came over to America, it is probable, soon after his father's death. The history above quoted, contains a copy of the report of a committee of council made in 1753, to the Governor of N. Y., from which it appears, that the patent for the manor of Livingston was granted in 1686 [Smithes Hist, page 287.]. The same work states, that he was "a principal agent for the convention," which met in Albany in 1689 [Smith's Hist, of N. Y. page 110]; — and in another place it is said, that "the measures of the convention were very much directed by his advice," and that "he was peculiarly obnoxious to his adversaries, because he was a man of sense and resolution [Smith's Hist, of N. Y. page 163.]," He went afterwards to England, for the purpose of attending to his affairs; and while there, was the means of starting an enterprise against the pirates, at that period very numerous and destructive. It is no small evidence of the regard entertained for him, and of the confidence reposed in his judgment, that the King, Lord Chancellor Somers, the Duke of Shrewsbury, the Earls of Romney and Oxford, and other persons of distinction, engaged in the adventure, though it ultimately failed through the villany of Kid, who was intrusted with its execution.

He was connected by marriage with the ancient and very respectable Schuyler family, and had three sons, Philip, Robert, and Gilbert. Among the children of Philip were — Philip Livingston, Esq. one of the illustrious band of Patriots, who signed the DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE; and William Livingston, L.L.D. for a series of years Governor of the State of New-Jersey, a man of warm piety, and distinguished for the extraordinary powers of his mind.

Robert had only one son (Robert), the head of the Clermont family, as it is sometimes called, by way of distinction, and to which belonged the late celebrated Chancellor Livingston.

Gilbert had five sons and two daughters. Henry, his first son, was the father of John H; — and of Henry, it may be said, that he was an amiable, dignified, and excellent man. Blessed by nature, with a strong mind — liberally educated — elegant of manners — irreproachable in morals, he enjoyed, through a long life, the esteem and confidence of the community. He was for a considerable period a member of the colonial legislature of New York; and he was, by Letters patent, proprietor of the office of Clerk of the county in which he resided. This office he retained after the revolutionary war until his death. When the arduous struggle for Independence commenced, he espoused with some zeal a cause dear to every genuine American, and, throughout the contest, was a decided friend to his country.

He was born September 8th, 1714, and died February 10th, 1799, at his paternal estate, which is situate in Dutchess county, near Poughkeepsie, on the banks of the Hudson, and which is now in the possession of his grandson, Col. H. A. Livingston, having belonged to the family for more than a century.

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