« AnteriorContinuar »
Scottish army at Dunbar by Cromwell. When the English officers or soldiers were quartered at his manse, "he neither ate with them, nor drank with them, nor hardly spoke to them." Oliver Cromwell heard of Livingston's great influence, and wrote of him as a man highly esteemed as any for his piety and learning. He wrote further that he had withdrawn from certain of his own class (the Resolutioners) "and retired to his own house." At this juncture Livingston was both sour and sulky. When Cromwell asked him "to come to Edinburgh and confer with him," he politely excused himself. The meeting with Livingston, which Cromwell was so anxious to bring about, took place in London in 1654. Cromwell was determined to use Livingston to gain the Protesters to his side. Both parties in the Church were, however, equally loyal, and both resented with equal warmth the charge of encouraging sectarianism. Beneath the rupture there was a hearty and honest wish for the unity of the Church. Well, when Livingston was in London, he was called upon to preach before Cromwell at Whitehall. Cromwell had mistaken his man. The compliment did not influence Livingston in the very least. One part of his prayer ran as follows :— "God be gracious to him whose right it is to rule in this place, and unjustly is thrust from it; sanctify the rod of affliction unto him, and when our bones are laid in the dust, let our prayers be registrate in the Book of Life, that they may come forth in Thy appointed time for doing him and his family good. . And as for these poor men that now fill their rooms, Lord be merciful unto them." As these words were uttered there was some whispering where Cromwell sat, and he was heard to say, "Let him alone, he is a good man. What are we but poor men in comparison with the kings of England." Oliver had had too much of John, and was glad to get quit of him. That the Protector held him in esteem notwithstanding his freedom of speech is apparent, because, in 1654, he appointed Livingston one of the ministers for settling the affairs of the Kirk and certifying such as were proper to be admitted to benefices.
The news of the restoration of Charles II. to the throne of England filled Livingston with dismay. He clearly saw that it meant untold trial and suffering for the Church of Scotland. And his worst fears were more than realised. After the "Act Rescissory" was passed by the Scottish Parliament in a fit of loyalty in 1661, the heads of the northern leaders and people began rapidly to fall. Before the year was out the Marquis of Argyll had perished by the Maiden, and James Guthrie of Stirling on the scaffold. When Livingston was made aware that peremptory orders had been issued by the Privy Council for his appearance before them, he had only too good reason to fear that the fate of the protomartyrs of the second reformation was in store for him. The date of his appearance was the 9th December, 1662. Before the messenger of the Court reached him he repaired to Edinburgh. Had the scaffold been before him he intended to flee the country. Finding, however, that his sentence in all probability would be banishment, he compeared before the Court on the nth December. Being pressed to take the oath of allegiance, he refused. The Lord Chancellor then asked—" Will you not take time to advise whether you will take the oath or not?" Livingston replied—" If I should take time to advise, it would import that I had unclearness, or hesitation, which I have not, and I judge it would be a kind of mocking your Lordship to take time to consider, and then return and give your Lordship the same answer.
He was then sentenced to banishment from His Majesty's dominions, and, within forty-eight hours, to leave Edinburgh for the north side of the Tay. He was eventually allowed to remain at Leith till he took his departure. His petition for liberty to return to Ancrum and visit his wife, family, and parishioners was refused. When his friend, the erudite Robert Blair, saw the ship which was bearing Livingston to Holland sailing down the Firth of Forth, he was greatly touched, and celebrated the occasion by the composition of some Latin verses :—
"Care Livingston salve multumque valeto
Tn lachrimis madefacte tuis, nos Unguis in alto
Seil Tralio et sociis suavis comes ibis in oras
When Livingston landed in Rotterdam, in 1663, he received from the Scottish colony the warmest of welcomes. During the years of his banishment he solaced his mind with biblical studies. He found it a delight to make once again that close acquaintance with the Hebrew tongue which had given him so much pleasure in his St. Andrews years lying now so far behind. He prepared a polyglot bible, but the work was never published, through the death of Provost John Graham of Glasgow, who was to have borne the expense of the printing. In the congenial society of his wife and kindred spirits, and surrounded with his family, the closing years of Livingston's life were the happiest he enjoyed. To his friends who gathered about him on the day of his death he spoke some brief and kindly words. "I have my faults as other men, but God made me to abhor shows. I know I have given offence to many through my slackness and negligence, but I forgive and desire to be forgiven. I cannot say much of great services, yet if my heart was lifted up, it was in the preaching of Jesus Christ. I die in the faith that the truths of God, which he hath helped the Church of Scotland to own, shall be owned by him as truths so long as sun and moon endure." His wife, seeing he was unable to say more, desired him to take leave of his friends. "I do not need to take leave of them," he said, "our parting shall be only for a short time." Then his benignant spirit passed to join the company of those of whom the world was not worthy.
Thus died in banishment, in a foreign land, John Livingston, one of the sons of Kilsyth, and one of whom the parish has good reason to be proud. The date of his death was between the 14th and 21st of August, 1672. He was seventy years of age. Janet Fleming, his wife, survived him for over twenty years. She bore him fifteen children. Robert, born at Ancrum on the 13th December, 1654, was the fourteenth child, and he became the founder of the Livingston family of New York.
Declaration of American Independence—The Signatories—
The Declaration of American Independence was signed
Robert Livingston was the youngest son and fourteenth child of the Rev. John Livingston, of whom account has