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Thomas Houston (1803-1882)

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Thomas Houston (1803-1882)

James Dodson

Thomas Houston was born in Donegore, County Antrim, Ireland, in 1803. When still a child, his family moved to Cullybackey to attend the ministry of William Stavely, who was a legendary figure amongst Irish Covenanters. It was under his ministry that he was first affected with the cause of true religion. In 1819, he began his study at the Belfast Academical Institution and, afterward, had a brief stint teaching there and at the Ballymena Academy. In 1825, he commenced his theological studies at the Theological Hall of the Reformed Presbyterian Church of Scotland, under the renowned Andrew Symington. On December 25, 1826, he was licensed to preach by the Reformed Presbyterian Church of Ireland. Receiving a call to Knockbracken, he was ordained and installed there, April 8, 1828, and remained there for the next 54 years. Beginning in 1830, he undertook to edit a periodical called The Covenanter and remained editor of that magazine for 30 years. During this period, he was engaged in several controversies the most significant of which was with another R.P. minister, John Paul, over the duties of civil magistrates respecting matters circa sacra and his duty to establish the true religion. In 1853, Mr. Houston was instrumental in the covenant renewal which took place at Dervock. From 1854 until his death, Houston was the Professor of Church History and Exegetical and Pastoral Theology in R.P. Theological Hall, in Belfast. He died on March 27, 1882. He was the author of numerous articles and smaller works, many which were collected in a four volume set, including “A Practical Treatise on Baptism” (1853). His books include, “The Divine Commendation of Abraham; or, Parental Duties” (1844); “The Judgment of the Papacy” (1851); “A Memorial of Covenanting” (1857); “The Lord’s Supper: its Nature, Ends and Obligation” (1878); “The Dominion and Glory of the Redeemer” (1880); and “The Intercession of Christ” (1882), which was published posthumously.

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