JOHN LIVINGST0NE was the son of William Livingstone, tho
minister of Kilsyth, and was born there in 1603. He was blessed with godly
parents, and, above all, he was himself, and that early, the subject of
regenerating grace. In his Autobiography, he tells of the workings of God the
Spirit upon his heart while he was very young, leading him to earnest prayer
and to holy delight in the study of the Divine Word.
Though not resolved when he was prosecuting his education in its earlier stages to devote himself to the work of the ministry, he was afterwards led in thin direction by Providences of a peculiar kind. On the second day of January, 1625, he delivered his first sermon in his fathers pulpit. He gave good promise of becoming an able and zealous minister of the New Testament
On account of opposition to him on the part of the Prelatie party because of his strong sympathy with Scriptural doctrine and purity, several parishes were prevented giving him calls. In the summer of 1630 he received an invitation to go to Ireland, and accept a call which the Parish of Killinchy was ready to offer him.
Only for a year was be to discharge the office of the ministry there without molestation. For nonconformity he was suspended by the Bishop of Down. About a year later the sentence of deposition was reversed, and Livingstone entered anew upon his ministerial labours.
In 1635, he was again suspended, and no prospect of restoration appearing, he determined to go to New England. Almost overwhelmed by a storm near Newfoundland, he and his associates resolved to return to the shores of Ireland, Learning soon after his arrival there, that a warrant was issued for his apprehension, he crossed to Scotland, and sojourned for a time in the vicinity of Edinburgh.
In 1638, he was engaged in the Renovation of the National Covenant, and in receiving throughout various parts of the country signatures to that deed. In the same year, he was settled as minister of Stranraer. He also attended the celebrated Reforming Assembly held at Glasgow that year, and heartily supported its procedure and decisions. In 1648, by the desire of the General Assembly, he was translated from Stranraer to Kencrum in Teviotdale.
As an evidence of the high honour in which he was held, and of his extensive influence, Livingstone was chosen by the Assembly as one of their representatives to treat with the young king Charles at the Hague, with a view to his coronation. With that power of penetration, which was one of the prominent features of his character, he judged the king to be insincere in his professions, and considered him disinclined in heart, as well an in other respects unqualifed, to rule the kingdom according to the Reformed constitution established therein. Nor did he cease to protest against the national step then taken, although the king subscribed the Covenants, and the other Commissioners expressed their full satisfaction.
The storm Livingstone feared would soon arise, began to blow in all its intensity immediately on the Restoration of 1660. As ministers were required to acknowledge the Prelatic power, or remove, he resolved to quit his charge, In the course of his last services, he gave a noble vindication of the right of Christ to reign in His own house, and boldly avowed himself ready to suffer for Christs sake. In obedience to a citation of the Council, be voluntarily surrendered and appeared before them. On his examination, and having refused to subscribe the Oath of Allegiance, sentence was pronounced against him that he should leave Edinburgh within forty-eight hours, and within two months depart from the kings dominions.
In 1662, he arrived at Rotterdam, where he had much joy and consolation in the company of the many faithful men who for like reasons were banished from their native land. Livingatone continued an earnest student. He had a tolerable acquaintance with modern languages, and while in Holland spent a large part of his time in literary work, specially bearing upon the Scriptures. It was when here that he prepared a Latin translation of the Old Testament.
Being an intensely close and persevering student, and having been much exposed by previous vicissitudes, his body began to show symptoms of infirmity and decay. His conversation with relatives and friends when death was drawing near, was sweet and elevating. He was deeply concerned about the condition and prospects of Christs Church and cause in Scotland, and many a time did he turn his thoughts to the land of his birth he loved so well. I would not have people to forecast the worst, he said to friends as they conversed on this subject, but there is a dark cloud above the Reformed Churches which prognosticates a coming storm.
Yet he was sure that the truths of Christ which Scotland covenanted to maintain, would not be obliterated. I die, said be, 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. Of himself more particularly he said, I have my own faults as well as other men, but He has always made me to abhor shows. I know I have given offence to many through my slackness and negligence, but I forgive, and desire to be forgiven. And again, Carry my commendation to Jesus Christ till I come there myself. With his eye upon his ministry he said, I cannot say much of great services; yet if ever my heart was lifted up, it wan in preaching of Jesus Christ.
On the 9th of August, 1672, and in the 78th year of his age, John Livingstone gently passed away. Them also which sleep in Jesus, will God bring with Him"
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