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by the king and all his courtiers and officers, and by the vast multitude assembled from all the provinces of his empire to worship the golden image which he had erected. A solitary man may be deceived even by his own senses; or rather, his nervous system may be so deranged, that he may take his own imaginations for realities; or the visual organ may be diseased, or the medium through which the light is transmitted may be deceptive; but when we Snd thousands of people concurring with us in the impression made on their senses, then we are sure that we are not mocked by an apparition, or mere illusion.
In the case just stated, the fact was of a nature to be judged of by all; and all are supposed to have seen these men cast into the fiery furnace. We ask, whether in such circumstances any man could disbelieve or doubt? No one will assert it. True, some philosopher might have made a wise speech on the occasion, and might have reasoned abstrusely respecting cause and effect, and the invariable uniformity of causation; he might have cautioned the king and all his counsellors, and the people, not to give credit to what they saw, for it could not be true, since it contradicted an acknowledged axiom; and even if the evidence of their senses appeared ever so clear and convincing, it ought to have no other effect than to bring their minds to an exact equipoise, or perfect suspense of all belief; because the evidence on the other side was equally strong and convincing, being no other than a self-evident truth, to disbelieve which would be “a logical absurdity.” What effect may we suppose such philosophical reasoning would have had, when arrayed against the plain testimony of all the senses?
But it may be alleged, that neither Mr. Hume nor his anonymous disciple has asserted, that we could not believe in a miracle, if we had such a fact fairly exhibited before our eyes. This is true; they have not extended their principle so far; but we aver, and think we have proved, that it is as applicable to the evidence of the senses as of testimony. To bring the matter, however, to the very point, on which they are desirous that it should bear; let us suppose that Daniel had been absent on the king's business, but arriving just at the close of the wonderful scene, he hears the same testimony from the king and his counsellors. The men themselves being his particular friends, he interrogates them, and hears a full report of their wonderful deliverance from the power of the fire, of the fate of the men who cast them into the furnace. If mere testimony could have
The Life and Times of added to his certainty, thousands and tens of thousands, on every side, were loudly proclaiming their admiration of the miraculous deliverance of these young men.
Now, suppos. ing Daniel not to have been a witness of the transaction; but to have received the testimony just mentioned, will any candid man assert, that his persuasion of the truth of the facts was not as firm and as rational, as if he had seen them with his own eyes? And it will be to no purpose to al. lege, that few facts are ever attested by such evidence as this: there are thousands within the knowledge of every man, of the truth of which he is as fully convinced, as of those which are daily passing before his eyes. And as our object is, not to weigh the different kinds of testimony, and to ascertain their force, but to bring to the test the principle which has been so confidently laid down by this ingenious author; for if his principle was correct, it would make no difference how strong the testimony might be; for the evidence of the uniformity of causation, being an intuitive truth, and as certain as any thing can be, would be sufficient, completely to counterbalance, if it did not overpower, the highest testimony which can be imagined.
If the opinions which we have selected for examination had no intimate connexion with our religious belief, or the practical system of morality, we should have left them to find what acceptance they might, with speculative men; but believing, that the general adoption of the philosophical principles of this author would be subversive of divine revelation, and injurious to sound morality, we have judged it expedient to devote a portion of our pages to an examination and refu. tation of a theory, which is brought forward with much appearance of candor, and defended with much plausibility.
ART. VI.-THE LIFE AND TIMES OF JOHN LIVINGSTON.
The conversion of five hundred souls through the instrumentality of a single sermon may seem incredible. Yet this took place in Scotland, two hundred years ago; and what is stranger still, under the preaching of one who, if he were now living, would be thought, by many good men among us, so antiquated a Calvinist, as to be sut out from all hope of usefulness.
In courts of law we often see pleadings, of which the va
rious counts belie one another; and in religious debates we sometimes see the same thing. For instance: our brethren desire to alarm or shame us out of our old-fashioned modes of argument drawn from revivals. First: There are no revivals of religion where new divinity is not preached; witness all the congregations of old-school theologians; in none of them are there awakenings; witness the long dearth in the churches where ancient divinity has been resounding for two centuries. This argument we have seen and heard. Secondly: There have been revivals among those who are Presbyterians of the old stamp; but then it took place under new divinity. Livingston preached the new divinity, without knowing it. Whitefield, the Tennents, Davies, preached the new divinity. This argument we have also read and heard. These arguments neutralize one another, yet we have seen them in different pages of the same work.
Those are greatly in error who suppose the early Presbyterians of Scotland to have been mere contenders for orthodoxy or discipline. Yet such is the error of many who assume the Presbyterian name. Ignorant of the story of those eventful times, they take up the floating falsehoods respecting our fathers, which were put in motion by men who hated godliness wherever they saw it. With such persons, Knox is thought of only as a tawny-bearded fanatic, and the second generation of worthies as sticklers for mere order and mere creeds, without any intimacy with that fresh fountain of spiritual health, which forsooth has been sealed up till now. We shall try to show that specimens may be given of warm piety, of successful preaching, of remarkable conversions, and we shall use as the basis of our remarks the name of John Livingston; and as we wish to present this favoured preacher to the view of our readers, we shall, by way of elucidation, dwell a little upon the character of some who preceded him; and first of John Welsh, the son-in-law of Knox. Of this man an old Scotsman, who had seen him, once said to an inquirer, “0, sir, he was a type of Christ:” an expression, as is observed by the historian, more significant than proper. The gleanings we make from his memoirs are such as these, and no modern saints will contemn them: he gave himself wholly to ministerial exercises; he preached once every day; was unwearied in his studies, having abridged Suarez in his old age; his preaching may be estimated by his extant sermons, which ought to be republished. One of his hearers, himself afterwards a
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minister, said, that it was all but impossible to refrain from tears when he preached. “Sometimes, before he went to sermon, he would send for his elders, and tell them he was afraid to go to the pulpit, because he found himself sore deserted; and therefore desire one or more of them to pray; and then he would venture to the pulpit. But it was observed, that this humbling exercise used ordinarily to be followed with a flame of extraordinary assistance.” “ He would many times retire to the church of Ayr, which was at some distance from the town, and there spend the whole night in prayer; for he used to allow his affections full expressions, and prayed not only with an audible, but sometimes a loud voice; nor did he irk in that solitude, all the night over; which hath (it may be) occasioned the contemptible slander of some malicious enemies, who were so bold, as to call him no less than a wizard.” (Life, p. 15.) “ He wondered how a Christian could lie in a bed all night, and not rise to pray.” After being long a prisoner in his native land, he went to France, where he lived about sixteen years, as pastor of a church in St. Jean de Angely. He returned to England, without being able however to obtain leave of James I. to revisit his beloved country. He died in London.
Among those ministers with whom Mr. Livingston was personally acquainted, is named Robert Bruce, of Edinburgh, second son of the “ laird of Airth.” His academical education was received in France; but he studied theology at St. Andrews. He began to preach in 1540. "No man,” says Livingston, “had so many seals of his ministry; yea, many of his hearers thought no man since the days of the Apostles did speak with such power. He had a very majestic countenance, and whenever he did speak in public or private, yea, whenever he read the word, I thought it had such force as I never discerned in any other man. He had a notable faculty of searching the Scriptures, and explaining the most obscure mysteries in it. He was much exercised in conscience, whereby he was signally fitted to deal with others under troubles of mind." "I was his hearer there [at the parish of Larber] a great part of the summer 1627, and many others beside the parishioners attended on his ministry from different quarters. It was his custom after the first sermon, to retire by himself for prayer, and one day some noblemen who had far to ride, wearying at his long stay, sent the beadle to learn if there was any appearance of his coming; the man returned and told them I think he shall not come out this
day, for I heard him constantly saying to some one, that he will not and cannot go without him, and I do not hear the other answer him a word at all.' How this little incident may affect the generality of readers, we are unable to predict, but to us there is something so touching in this view of a minister's wrestling with the God of Israel, that we hold the anecdote worthy of inscription in every pulpit and in every preacher's closet. “ He was adds Livingston,) both in public and private very short in prayers with others; but then every sentence was like a bolt shot up to heaven. On a time I went to Edinburgh to see him, in the company of the tutor of Bonington. When we called on him about eight o'clock in the morning, he told us he was not for any company; and when we urged him to tell us the cause, suspecting some other thing than we soon learned was the case, he answered, that when he went to bed he had a good measure of the Lord's presence, and that he had wrestled with Him an hour or two before we came in, and had not yet got access; so we left him. At another time, I went to his house, but saw him not till it was very late. When he came out of his closet his face was foul with weeping, and he told me that he had that day learned what torture and hardships Dr. Alexander Leighton, * our countryman had been put to at London, and added If I had been faithful, I might have had the pillory, and some of my blood shed for Christ, as well as he, but he hath got the crown from us all. When he died, Anno 1631, and his sight failed him, I heard that he called for his household Bible, and desired to put his finger on the twenty-eighth verse of the eighth chapter of the epistle to the Romans, ("And we do know that all things work together for good,' &c.) and then told those present, that he died in the faith that all things, even death itself work together for his good.”+
To return now to the principal subject of these commemorative hints, the Rev. John Livingston; we remark, that he was the ancestor of the late Rev. John H. Livingston, D.D., of New Brunswick, and of the Livingston family of the North River; and that he is known as the favoured instrument of the Holy Spirit in the awakening of five hundred souls by one
We have obtained from a highly respected descen
* The father of Archbishop Leighton, a man of the same faith with his most celebrated son, but of far greater constancy and intrepidity in the defence of primitive order and discipline. He was pilloried, slit in the nose, and cropped.
† Livingston's Memorable Characteristics, p. 74.