T HOMAS Halyburton (1674-1712) was born into a family of Scottish Covenanters. His Father, Rev. George Halyburton, was a minister in the Reformed Church of Scotland until his ejection in 1662. Twenty years later George was denounced by the Privy Council of Scotland for holding “conventicles” (church services in the open air, unauthorised by the established church and outlawed by the government in those days). After his father’s death, young Thomas’s family (mother and sister) fled to Rotterdam in order to avoid the fierce persecution which was carried on against the Covenanters, where Thomas had his early education in the school of Erasmus. Following the Revolution, he returned to Scotland and continued his education.
After a period of inner struggle with the philosophy of Deism, God sovereignly and graciously enlighened Thomas’s soul, and gave him saving faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. He became committed to the same Reformed Christian religion as his father, and followed in his footsteps as a minister of the gospel. On completing theological training, Thomas was licenced to preach in the Church of Scotland by Queen Anne, and ordained to the ministry of the church in Ceres, Fife. The church was part of the presbytery of Kirkcaldy.
After faithfully pastoring the church in Ceres for ten years, Rev. Dr. Halyburton became Professor of Theology at St. Leonard’s College in St. Andrews.
He died two years later at the age of 38, following an illness. At his request, his body was buried in St. Andrews next to his favourite Christian minister, Rev. Dr. Samuel Rutherford.
Thomas Halyburton’s theological and apologetic writings are marked by a distinctive thoroughness. The surviving scripts of his sermons show him to have been richly theological, deeply experimental (i.e. dealing with the experiences of the soul) and very practical — a master of the classic Puritan style of preaching.
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The Works of Thomas Halyburton published by the James Begg Society
The James Begg Society has published the Works of Thomas Halyburton as a set of four volumes.
1: Faith and Justification contains Halyburton’s
smaller treatises, On the Nature of Faith,
(comprising the firtst three chapters) A Modest Enquiry
whether Regeneration or Justification has the Precedency in the Order
of Nature (chapter four) and An Inquiry into the
Nature of God’s Act of Justification (chapter five). The
remainder of the book is comprised of ten sermons of Halyburton.
2: Faith and Salvation contains Halyburton’s
book, The Great Concern of Salvation. The book is
comprised of three parts:
Volume 3: Faith and Revelation contains Halyburton’s book Natural Religion Insufficient, and Revealed [Religion] Necessary to Man’s Happiness in His Present State; or, A Rational Enquiry into the Principles of the modern Deists.
Volume 4: Faith and Experience contains Halyburton’s most famous work, his autobiographical Memoirs of the Life of Rev. Thomas Halyburton, Professor of Divinity in the University of St. Andrews, together with two more sermons, a treatise called A Discourse Concerning the Obligation of Oaths on Posterity, and his article A Short Account of Lady Anne Elcho’s Death.