Rev. Dr. John Henry Livingston and Sarah Livingston Livingston page, includes links to full scanned versions of: 1799 - Sermon - Glory of the Redeemer; 1804 - Sermon - Everlasting Gospel; 1812 - Funeral Meditations; 1814 - Psalms and Hymns; 1816 - Incestuous Marriage; 1825 - Eulogy; 1828 - Memoirs
Livingston, Ruth Lawrence, p.52-54
REVEREND JOHN HENRY LIVINGSTON, D.D., second son and child of Henry and Susanna Storm (Concklin) Livingston, was born May 30, 1746, at Poughkeepsie, Duchess County, New York. There being no school in his home town, he was, when seven years of age, sent to Fishkill and committed to the care of the Reverend Chauncey Graham. After three years he returned home to study under the tutor procured by his father. This tutor, Mr. Kent, was an able man, and under his teaching, John Henry Livingston made rapid strides, so that at the age of eleven he was able to enter the grammar school at New Milford, Connecticut. Another year carried him into Yale College, a member of the freshman class, though only slightly more than twelve years of age. He was naturally at some disadvantage in the higher branches of learning because of his extreme youth. yet he attained a high standing in his class and was graduated with honor in July, 1762.
After leaving college he began the study of law under the well-known counselor and advocate, Bartholomew Crannel, Esquire, of Poughkeepsie. He pursued this work with such assiduity that he undermined his health and had to give up all thought of studying for some time. After months of rest, however, his health improved, and his former vigor was restored. He had during his period of ill health taken time for serious reflection. He decided to leave the law for the ministry, to which he now felt a distinct call. Advised by a good friend, the Reverend Dr. Laidlie of New York, to prepare for this vocation by crossing the ocean for further study, John Henry Livingston went to one of the universities of Holland. At that time the Dutch Reformed Church in this country was laboring under certain grievances, which he thought his residence in Holland might help to remove. he sailed for Amsterdam in 1766 and attracted by the reputation of Professor G. Bonnet, one of the most eminent divines and scholars then on the Continent, he took up the study of theology at the University of utrecht, where he spent four years. On June 5, 1769, he appeared before the Classis of Amsterdam to be examined for licensure, and his success in this made him a regular candidate, or proponent, for the ministry.
He was then invited to become the pastor of the Dutch Reformed Church in New York City. With the degree of D.D. from Utrecht, and ordained by the Classis of Amsterdam, he returned via England to New York and began his labors as a young divine. He applied himself almost at once to help effect a reconciliation between the famous Coetus and Conferentie parties which unhappily divided the church; in two years he had the satisfaction of finding harmony restored. In 1775 Dr. Livingston's ministry at the Dutch Reformed Church of New York was disrupted by the Revolution and the invasion of New York City by the British. After his marriage at Kingston, Dr. Livingston remained with his father-in-law at that place for some time, visiting in New York, whenever practicable, what was left of his flock. Invited by the Consistory of the Dutch Church in Albany to minister to their spiritual needs, he moved there with his family and supplied the pulpit for nearly three years in conjunction with the Reverend Dr. Westerlo.
Mrs. Livingston's health did not thrive in the climate of Albany, and hoping to procure more beneficial conditions for her, he took up his abode in the summer of 1779 at Livingston Manor, preaching regularly in the village of Linlithgow where he lived, and extending his labors into the surrounding congregations whenever the call came, preaching both in the Dutch and in the English tongue. In April 1780, he refused a call to become associate pastor in his former church at Albany. After eighteen months residence at the Manor, he moved to his father's residence in Poughkeepsie, serving there the congregation which lacked a pastor. In this work he persevered until New York being evacuated in 1783, when he returned to his old charge in that city. He was the only one of the four ministers connected with the church at the beginning of the war who was permitted to resume his labors.
Previous to the disorganization of the churches in New York City because of the war, Dr. Livingston's name had been recommended by the Classis of Amsterdam as the best possible person to be appointed professor of theology in New York. Peace again permitting organization, the convention of ministers and elders that met in October, 1784, chose Dr. Livingston unanimously as professor of theology, and he was inducted into office May 17, 1785, on which occasion he delivered an elaborate and elegant Latin oration on "The Truth of the Christian Religion."
For nearly three years he alone performed the pastoral duties of the church which had been served by four ministers. He was obliged to seek rest in the country for a time, but the following winter he again resumed his labors, somewhat lightened by the help of a colleague. In 1787 Dr. Livingston was chairman of a committee to select psalms for the church in public worship. He was also a valuable member of a committee to form the church constitution.
For a time the synod made it possible for Dr. Livingston to devote a larger part of his time to his duties as professor. He moved to Bedford, a small village about two miles from Brooklyn, New York, and opened his Divinity Hall, at considerable pecuniary sacrifice. The plans for the synod changing, he again took up his work in the city. When Dr. Livingston's associate was obliged, in 1805, to resign because of ill health, the duties that devolved upon Dr. Livingston taxed his strength overmuch, and he was finally transferred to New Brunswick, New Jersey, to fill the double office of theological professor and president of Rutgers College, and here he continued his scholarly and effective activities to the end of his days. He prepared for the ministry more than one hundred and twenty young men, and his death occurred while in the midst of his duties.
He was the author of many published sermons and addresses besides the Latin oration.
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