Page:A biographical dictionary of eminent Scotsmen, vol 6.djvu/96

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4G6 REV - JOHN LIVINGSTON.

was afterwards filled by the celebrated Rutherford. The increasing rigour of the episcopal regulations appears to have prevented him from obtaining a set- tlement He was at length, in 1627, taken into the house of the earl of Wigton at Cumbernauld, as chaplain, with pennission to preach in the hall to such strangers as chose to accompany the family in their devotions, and also to minister occasionally in the neighbouring pulpits. He was living in this man- ner when he produced the celebrated revival of religion at the kirk of Shotte. This, it seems, was a place where he always found himself in the enjoyment of an unusual degree of " liberty " in preaching. On Sunday, June 20, 1G30, the communion was celebrated at Shotts to a large assemblage of people, among whom were all the more eminently pious women of rank in that part of the country. The impression produced by the solemnities of the day \vas so very great, that many did not depart, but spent the whole night in prayer and con- ference. 3 Among these was Mr Livingston, who being requested to give a ser- mon next morning to the still lingering multitude, walked forth very early into the fields. Here, he fays, " there came such a misgiving of spirit upon me, considering my unworthiness and weakness, and the multitude and expectation of the people, that I was consulting with myself to have stolen away some- where." He had actually gone to some distance, and was losing sight of the kirk of Shotts, when the words, " Was I ever a barren wilderness or a land of darkness," were brought into his heart with such an overcoming power, as con- strained him to return. In the ensuing service he " got good assistance about an hour and a half" upon the text, Ezek. xxxvi. 25, 26. " Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you," &c. " In the end," says Mr Livingston, " offering to close with some words of exhortation, I was led on about an hour's time, in & strain of exhortation and warning, with such liberty and melting of heart, as I never had the like in public all my lifetime." The effect of the address is spoken of by Fleming, in his " Fulfilling of the Scriptures," as " an extraor- dinary appearance of God, and down-pouring of the Spirit, with a strange un- usual motion on the hearers/' insomuch that five hundred, it was calculated, had at that time, " a discernible change wrought upon them, of whom most proved lively Christians afterwards. It was the sowing of a seed through Clydesdale, so as many of the most eminent Christians in that country could date either their conversion, or some remarkable confirmation of their case, from that day." The importance of such a sermon, in propagating religion in a country where it was as yet but imperfectly introduced, has given this event a prominent place not perhaps in the history of the church of Scotland, but certainly in the his- tory of the gospel. It caused Monday sermons after the celebration of the communion to become general, and appears to have been the origin of that now habitual practice.

Livingston gives some curious particulars in reference to this signally suc- cessful preaching. He officiated on the ensuing Thursday at Kilmarnock, and there he was favoured with some remains, as it were, of the afflatus which had inspired him on the former day. Next Monday, however, preaching in Irvine, " I was so deserted," says he, " that the points I had meditated and written, and had fully in my memory, I was not, for my heart, able to get them pro- nounced. So it pleased the Lord to counterbalance his dealings, and hide pride from man. This so discouraged me, that I was upon resolution for some time not to preach at least, not in Irvine ; but Mr David Dickson could not suffer me to go from thence till I preached the next Sabbath, to get, as he expressed it, amends of the DeviL And so I stayed, and preached with some tolerable freedom."

The bed-room of lady Culross was filled with people, to whom she prayed " three large hours time," "having great motion upon her." Livingston's Life, MS. Ad. Lib.