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PRINTED AT THE CONFERENCE-OFFICE, 14, CITY-ROAN,
BY THOMAS CORDEUX, AGENT.
PREACHING HOUSES IN TOWN AND COUNTRY
FOR JANUARY, 1817.
MEMOIR OF MR. THOMAS LIVINGSTONE.
We gather up with pious care
What happy saints have left behind,
Their sayings on our faithful mind;
For patterns to ourselves we take,
The mantle for the wearer's sake! THOMAS LIVINGSTONE was born at Sunderland, on the 25th of February, 1788. His father was a whitesmith, originally from Newcastle-upon-Tyne; but he spent the greater part of his life at Hexham, and the latter part of it in Hull, where he died. He was a man of good report in the church; a valuable member of the Methodist Society about thirty-five years; and a useful and laborious local preacher, till within three years of his death, which took place on the 19th of May, 1798.
Thomas, the subject of this memoir, was a good child, of an affectionate disposition, and much beloved by his relations. As no event happened in his childhood or youth necessary to be recorded, I pass over the early part of his life without comment; with barely observing, that the Evangelists have recorded but few actions of our Lord previous to the commencement of his public labours.
It was in the seventeenth year of his age that he was brought to the knowledge of God, and appeared to his friends in a new choracter-that of a real Christian.
However powerfully the influence of the Spirit of God might have operated upon his mind, during his early life, yet no lasting impressions were made, so as to issue in conversion. But on the 31st of December, 1804, while attending a watch-night in the Methodist chapel at Hull, he was so powerfully convinced of the necessity of turning unto God, and so deeply awakened to a sense of his danger, that he began to cry mightily unto God for salvation. The watch-nights held by the Methodists are often ridiculed by men of profane habits, and even the religious of other persuasions object to them; but it will be found, at the great day of judgment, that many have been profited on those solemn occasions. Mr. L. manifested the sincerity of his heart, by uniting himself to the Methodist Society. It was not long before he obtained that peace of mind which passeth all understanding : the common privilege of all true believers: a pledge of that favour which springs from adoption, and an earnest of their future and eternal happiness.
* A 2 *
His change of principle and habits gave heart-felt satisfaction to his widowed mother, who had often been alarmed lest his predilection for a sea-faring life should one day lead bim from home, and expose him to the dangers of the deep. She was apprehensive that such a step would embitter all her remaining years, and prove highly prejudicial to the morals of her son. But now she anticipated better things: that his corrected views of filial obedience, and the fear of losing his religion, would induce him to stay quietly at home. She was right in her conjectures; for the grace of God in his heart cured his disposition to wander abroad unsanctioned by his parent.
Besides, he had many additional motives to remain in the place where he had found mercy. “ He loved the brethren.” He had this mark of real attachment, which designates the true Christian: he loved those who loved his Master: he loved those who preached Christ; and more especially him who was instrumental of good to his soul.
How disinterested is the venerated friendship of a new convert, to the faithful Minister of Jesus !
What has the Christian Minister to offer which is likely to gain the favour of his hearers ? Wealth ---honour-pleasure-power? No: it is the heavenly treasure, which he carries in his earthen vessel, that engages the affections of the pious mind. No wonder that this young man should be so warmly attached to Mr. George Marsden. These feelings are not new: many have exclaimed, in the language of good John Bunyan,
• Blest be the day that I began a pilgrim for to be,
And blest for ever be the man that shewed that way to me." He continued to labour at his business as a whitesmith for some years, enjoying his religious advantages, increasing in knowledge and piety, and highly respected by his religious friends. In the year 1809, he was called upon to take a more active part in forwarding the work of religion, being prevailed upon to act occasionally as a local preacher in the Hull circuit.
The Sabbath is generally considered a day of rest; but it is no day of rest to a preacher : it is, emphatically, his “ workingday." But this circumstance affords no license for men to engage in their ordinary occupations on that day. The Priests and Levites were killing and burning, and offering sacrifices all the Jewish sabbath, while the laymen were prohibited from gathering even a bundle of sticks on that day; and one man was actually stoned to death for thus violating the sanctity of the sabbath. As a local preacher Mr. L. was both acceptable and useful. He engaged in this important work with the purest motives; and continued to labour in it with great assiduity. His friends are of opinion that his preaching labours, previous to his taking a circuit, injared his health, and laid the foundation of that complaint which terminated his life. It may appear, to some persons, very pleasant for a man to ride a few miles into the country, on a fine summer's day, preach once or twice, and pass a few hours with his religious friends, who give him a most hearty welcome; yet it is not to be concealed, that this is a life of trial, self-denial, and exertion, which few men are willing to endure, and which generally impairs the constitution of such as engage in it. Instead, therefore, of incurring censure for labouring on the sabbath day, this useful class of men deserve our support and encouragement, in as much as they make a voluntary sacrifice of that portion of their time, which the law, both of God and man, allows them to claim for rest. • In common with the other local preachers, Mr. Livingstone continned at his sabbath employment, until it pleased God to call him to more extensive labours in the field of usefulpess.
He conceived that it was his duty to travel as an itinerant preacher; and accordingly he was nominated at the quarterly meeting held at Hall, on the 25th of March, 1810; and after the usual questions were satisfactorily answered, respecting his talents, piety, usefulness, &c. he was unanimously sent out to travel, or rather, recommended to the Conference for that purpose. Though it is, undoubtedly, a time of great anxiety to himself
, when a young man first addresses a congregation in the name of the Lord, yet it is often exceeded by that which immediately precedes or follows the calling out of a preacher to the settled work of the ministry. What must be the reflections and feelings of a conscientious man, at such a season! He is about to quit a business or profession which comfortably maintained him, and to throw himself, with all his future expenses, upon those whose voluntary offerings are not expected to extend to the idle and undeserving. If he continues a pious, faithful, laborious minister of Jesus Christ, it is no disgrace to him to live by the Gospel; he is worthy of all honour for his work's sake: but if, on the contrary, he sḥould become idle and worthless, should do the