Wednesday, June 22, 2016

William Livingston, the moderator of the Presbyterian church of New York

From my limited knowledge, this is the first time indisputable evidence has been presented to show High Federalist statesman and founding father William Livingston was a Calvinist in faith like his brother Philip, within the Presbyterian Church of New York. Although Col. Alexander Hamilton hadn't formed the Federalist Party yet, Hamilton highly respected Livingston. Moreover, Livingston's involvement in Calvinist doctrine did not diminish, but increased as he got older. Livingston, who was vetted as a possible VP for George Washington, was 9 years older than the first president.

Below, the proof of the Calvinism of William Livingston:

"New York, Sept. 18, 1755.

It was then again asked by Mr. William Livingston in order to prevent disputes whether we all understood each other and whether it was not a unanimous vote for Mr. B to which all answered they understood it as a unanimous vote...In consequence of this choice application was made to the Rev. Mr. B, on the 20th of August at his church at Jamaica before a presbytery then there held by Mr. Livingston, the New York churches delegate for the removal of the said Mr. B, from his said congregation at Jamaica to that of New York in virtue of their call to him."

--AN EARLY DOCUMENT CONCERNING THE FIRST PRESBYTERIAN CONGREGATION OF NEW YORK
Journal of the Presbyterian Historical Society (1901-1930)
Vol. 1, No. 3 (MARCH A. D. 1902), pp. 238-9.

Amazing! Livingston was one of the highest Calvinist leaders in New York and not just a messager boy, rather he was a man of power and influence. Livingston was a high ranking Presbyterian in 1755, just three years after writing in the Independent Reflector publication. Here is where Livingston puts his name to the Reformed faith:

"[W]e declare freely against..making the Westminster Confession a test of admission into the church, at least to private members, which some of our [Scotch] brethren have constantly been driving at. From this they were carried away with an ungrounded jealousy and opinion that we did not befriend the established doctrines and discipline of the church; which is so far from being true with regard to us, that we beg leave to assure you, we have no objection to the Westminster Confession, Shorter and Longer Catechisms and acknowledge the same to contain a true and perfect scripture doctrine of salvation..."

--p.244. Out of over 100 names listed, Livingston is sixth on the list.

It wasn't just Livingston who was against creeds. Many Calvinists were against them because they were man made and could interfere with God's revelation.

Here is another group of Presbyterians combating the Anglican establishment in 1769 and Livingston is on the list. On p. 501-502, he was nominated Moderator for their next meeting, which included selected Baptists. P. 503 says Livingston is a member of the Presbyterian church. 

The Society of Dissenters founded at New York in 1769
The American Historical Review
Vol. 6, No. 3 (Apr., 1901), pp. 499-500.

On p. 241 of another periodical, Livingston is more Calvinist than "most of those who were his social equals."  Page 242 has Livingston and his friends toasting to "the immortal memories of Oliver Cromwell and John Hampden." How awesome was Cromwell and that happened before his independent reflector publication. Later, it says the most important man in New Jersey from 1776 to 1790 was Livingston and a Calvinist at that.

--The Whigs of Colonial New York

Charles H. Levermore
The American Historical Review
Vol. 1, No. 2 (Jan., 1896), pp. 238-250
It's remarkable, had Livingston been younger, say Washington's age, he could have been VP because John Adams was suspect to a lot of Federalists. Had Livingston stayed in congress two months more in 1776, he would have been one of only seven to sign both the Declaration and Constitution.

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