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FOR FEBRUARY, 1817.
MEMOIR OF MR. THOMAS LIVINGSTONE.
(Concluded from page 7.) At the Conference, 1812, Mr. Livingstone was appointed to the Nottingham circuit. This was to him a most unfavourable change, as he went to an increase of labour, with a decrease of health. That work in which he delighted became a burthen to him. He was not equal to the fatigues of a walking circuit, and was obliged to leave some part of his work undone. This unavoidable irregularity caused uneasiness and discontent. His mind was much pained by the suspicions which were entertained by some of his friends, that he was too careful in husbanding his health,
It is hard, when a person is obliged to die to prove the reality of his complaint, and to excite the compassion of his friends. I heartily approve of the institutions of the Methodists, and hope we shall ever bear in mind that it is our duty and privilege, "to work on earth, and rest in heaven;" but this system of “bustling energies” has its disadvantages. So long as our preachers can labour hard, and are successful, we hold them in high honour: but when infirmities oblige them to abridge, or wholly discontinue their exertions, we are too prone to misjudge their motives, and to forget their former labours. Even some of their fellow la bourers, who are much inconvenienced by their inaction, sometimes feel a disposition to censure, and 'not unfrequently urge them to exercises beyond their strength.
The indisposition of our deceased friend increased so fast, that he was advised by a physician to leave the circuit for a few weeks, ind try the benefit of a change of air. Accordingly he spent VOL. XL. FEBRUARY, 1817.
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about four weeks at Hull, in the month of November, and was so much better for his visit, and on account of his abstaining from preaching, that at the expiration of the fourth week he returned to his circuit.
Soon he discovered that his health was not so much established as his too sanguine mind had fondly imagined: either his time of rest had been far too short, or his constitution was more impaired than either himself or his friends suspected: for in February, 1813, he came back to Hull, never more to return to the duties of his high calling. Every symptom of health seemed to have fled away, and to all human appearance he was fast hastening to the grave. His own observations were, " That he had desisted from that blessed and desirable work of preaching, in order to wait the will of his Lord; being in the hands of a wise and gracious Master, who seeth not as man seeth.'” In a few weeks he was a little better, and ventured to preach for Mr. Atmore, to a large congregation, on a Sunday evening ; this was his last effort, for. the next day his sickness returned with redoubled violence. He appeared to give up all thoughts of ever returning to the work of the ministry; observing, “The Lord accounts me unworthy to be numbered among his ministers on earth, but I know I shall not be long before I see the Holy City, the New Jerusalem."
How mysterious are the ways of Divine Providence! To us it appears extraordinary, that the Great Head of the church should raise up faithful ministers, and endow them with gifts and qualifications for their important work, and then incapacitate them by affliction, or suddenly recal them; as though he repented having sent them out. We wonder, tremble, and adore. It seems as though the all-wise Disposer of all events would thus strictly guard the ministerial office from abuse. If all his ministers were to have health, length of days, and worldly blessings, in proportion to the esteem in which they are held by Aim, wicked men of every description would endeavour to force their way into the ministry, for the sake of these temporal advantages.
The complaint which affected the bealth of our departed friend, and which eventually brought him to the grave, was upon the liver. It is supposed that the gall or bile was not made in sufficient quantity to digest the victuals, so that his frame did not receive that support from food which it required. He continued very seriously indisposed, sometimes a little better, (but never well enough to preach), until the month of November, when he was confined to his bed, and little or no hope was entertained of his recovery. This was the season when the power of religion was most exerted on his mind. Death looked him in the face, but this last enemy was divested of his terrors. He could rejoice in God his Saviour; and in the prospect of eternal glory, fully sommit his soul into the hands of his Creator. Throughout the
whole of his previous affliction, there was evidently in him a wish to live a desire to return to his work, and to marry the object of his affections; but now every earthly connection was willingly reigned; he was "Ready to depart, and to be with Christ.” Some of his own expressions will best describe the state of his mind. “I know my body will soon be in the dust, but I trust, through the merits of Christ, I shall be numbered amongst the just." "Yes," be exclaimed with ardour, “ I shall see the Patriarchs, the Aposdes, the Wesleys, a Whitefield, a Longden, with all the glorious company above. Thank God for confidence in the doctrines I have preached to others; I now find them sufficient to support my poor soul in this time of trial.” The disorder continued unabated, and he became weaker and weaker, until January 24, 1814, when another physician was called in aid of the one before employed; Mr. Livingstone remarked, “Should the doctor say there is no hope, it will not much affect me; for I know I have a better home above, A house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.'” Soon after, he observed to a friend, “ My relations are flattered by my being a little better, but I shall live in eternity very shortly. I have no fears, as it respects a future state ; but I am sometimes barassed by the fear of temporal death. Yet the Lord is sufficient. Oh! may I have grace for a dying hour!” Contrary to all human expectation, the hands of death were ungrasped, the yawning grave closed its mouth, and this afflicted youth was given back again for a season to that world which he had willingly renounced. Being thus brought back from the very gates of death, Mr. L. considered his restoration, (I hesitate to write resuscitation), as a pledge of his complete recovery, and was encouraged by his physician to expect the most favourable termination of his complaint. Yet even then he observed, “I dare not be too sanguine; would to God I could either get better, or that he would take me to himself; but I leave myself in his hands ; he has hitherto followed me with his goodness, O! may he sanctify this affliction to me.” For about three months all the friends of the deceased expected his recovery, with the exception of his mother, who, from the beginning of his affliction, expected to follow him to an early grave: and it pleased the Most High to dispose of him as she feared, for his disorder returned with violence, and he began to expectorate in nch a manner as to leave little doubt of his vital parts being nuch decayed. He expressed a desire to visit York, wishing to ty a change of air, but his friends thought proper to fix upon a place in the country, nearer Hull, for a few weeks, until he should be better able to bear a longer removal. To this he agreed, saying, “ What difference does it make where I die? whether at Hull or in the country, my soul will find its way to heaven.”
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