Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Orthodox William Livingston

William Livingston was a Calvinist, from a Calvinist family, who graduated Yale in 1741. Not only did he have to pledge loyalty to the Westminster Confession, and Biblical inerrancy, he was buying sermons from Whitefield and his compatriots:
On the 19th of April, the Rev. Ebenezer Pemberton (Harv. 1721), pastor of the Presbyterian Church in New York City, and a zealous partisan of Whitefield, preached a sermon (from 1 Cor. ii, 2) in the College Hall, which was published at New London the same year (160, pp. 30). Appended to this sermon is an interesting list of 100 subscribers, most of them students, who take from 3 to 12 copies each; in this list appear the names of all the members of the Senior and Sophomore Classes, and all but three (William P. Smith, Leverett and John Hubbard) of the other classes in College; it is probable that some or all of the three just named were not then in residence.
--Biographical Sketches of the Graduates of Yale College with Annals of the ...
 By Franklin Bowditch Dexter

Fellow Calvinist Timothy Dwight had a high regard for him--that he was attentive to the things of God:

The talents of Governor Livingston were very various. His imagination was brilliant, his wit sprightly and pungent, his understanding powerful, his taste refined, and his conceptions bold and masterly. His views of political subjects were expansive, clear, and just, Of freedom, both civil and religious, he was a distinguished champion. To his other excellencies, Governor Livingston added that of piety.
One of Livingston's critics called the Calvinist Livingston, a bigot--not a liberal:
[I]n Judge Thomas Jones's History of New York during the Revolutionary War (i, 3) :

Of this young triumvirate [Livingston, Wm. Smith, Jr., and John Morin Scott], then first verging upon the stage of life, William Livingston bore the character of a sensible, cunning, shrewd fellow; well versed in the law, though a very indifferent speaker; of an ill-natured, morose, sullen disposition; satirical and abusive in his writings; violent in his conversation; a bigot in religion; wanton, cruel, and unfeeling in his temper; ungenerous in his sentiments; uncouth in his manners; impatient of contradiction; and of a savage, persecuting spirit.
Online biographies list Livingston as a Calvinist:
Associated with the Calvinists in religion, he opposed the dominant Anglican leaders in the colony and wielded a sharply satirical pen in verses and broadsides.
Not to mention, he called his daughter a Presbyterian, and had is oldest son personally educated by a Calvinist--John Witherspoon.

Here, Livingston affirms His God, as the Laws of God in the DOI. The following piece written by him is completely Calvinist--supporting Calvinist Dartmouth, etc:
After having forsaken houses and lands, and the most tender connections, with everything dear and estimable amongst human kind, tor the undisturbed fruition of the rights of private judgment, sacred by the laws of God and of nature, they had to encounter, without the protection of the government.
--A Letter to the Right Reverend Father in God, John, Lord Bishop of Landaff; occasioned by some passages in His Lordship's sermon, on the 20th of February, 1767, in which the American colonies are loaded with great and undeserved reproach. / By William Livingston. New-York: Printed for the author; and to be sold by Garrat Noel, near the coffee-house, MDCCLXVIII. 1768

Here's the kicker--Livingston calling Arminianism heresy:
BUT in what sense my lord, did those adventurers abandon their native religion? If your lordship means by their native religion, the doctrines of christianity as contained in the thirty-nine articles of your church;. they were so far from abandoning it, that it were to be wished it to be inviolably preserved by those they left behind. These were the very doctrines which they, in their time, universally believed, constantly taught, and warmly inculcated. These are the doctrines which their posterity, to this day, believe, teach, and inculcate. Nay, they believe, teach and inculcate them, in the same scriptural and unadulterated sense, in which they were believed, taught, and inculcated at the time of the reformation. They believe, teach, and inculcate them, without those sophisticating glories, by which they have since, in the mother-country, been wrested to favor the heresy of Arminius.
This is great! Later, Livingston destroys the basis of Arminianism--"garments of salvation out of filthy rags [works]."

No comments: