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THE CHRISTIAN'S ARMORY.

No. 13.]

JUNE, 1806.

[No. 1, Vol. II.

Biography:
LIFE OF THE REV. WILLIAM TENNENT.

[From the Assembly's Missionary Magazine.]

Among the duties which every than common obligation, to hand generation owes to those which down to posterity the principal are to succeed it, we may reckon events of their lives, together the careful delineation of the with such useful inferences as characters of those whose exam- they naturally suggest. A negple deserves, and may invite imi- lect of this duty, even by persons tation. Example speaks louder who may be conscious of the than precept, and living practi- want of abilities necessary for tho cal religion has a much greater complete biographer, is greatly effect on mankind than argument culpable ; for, if the strictest or eloquence. Hence, the lives attention be paid to the truth of of pious men become the most the facts related, and all ex. important sources of instruction aggeration or partial representaand warning to posterity; while tion be carefully avoided, the their exemplary conduct affords want of other furniture can be no the best commentary on the excuse for burying in oblivion religion they professed. But that conduct, which, if known, when such men have been re- might edify and benefit the markably favoured of God, with world. unusual degrees of light and The writer of these memoirs knowledge, and have been hon- has difficulties of a peculiar kind oured by the special and extraor- to encounter, in attempting to dinary influences of his Holy sketch the life of that modest, Spirit, and by the most manifest humble, and worthy man, whose and wonderful interpositions of actions, exercises and sentidivine Providence in their be- ments he wishes to record. half, it becomes a duty of more Worldly men, who are emulous

• We understand, that these Memoirs are from the pen of a learned layman, eminent for his piety, eloquence and liberality, and the intimate friend of Mr. Tennent. His narrative may, therefore, be relied on as authentic Vol. II. No.d.

B

to transmit their names to follow. . lieved unreservedly on his own ing ages, take care to leave such word, it was he. He possessed materials for the future historian, an integrity of soul and a soundas may secure the celebrity which ness of judgment, which did acthey seek.

But the humble tually secure him an unlimited follower of the meek and lowly confidence from all who knew Jesus, whose sole aim is the glo- him. Every species of decepry of God, in the welfare of im- tion, falsehood, and exaggeration mortal souls, goes on, from day he abhorred and scorned. He to day, as seeing Him who is was an Israelite indeed, in whom invisible, careful to approve him- there was no guile. With such self only to the Searcher of materials, then, as have been hearts, regardless of worldly mentioned, and for a work of fame or distinction, and leaving it such character as has been hintto his heavenly Father to reward ed, the writer has undertaken his him openly, in the day of final ac- task. He has undertaken what count. The writer of such a he would most gladly have reman's life must principally rely signed to an abler hand; but on a personal acquaintance with from which, as no other offered, him, and the communications of he dared not withhold his own. his intimate friends, for the infor. He could wish that speculative mation which shall be imparted and even unbelieving minds to the public. In these circum- might be instructed and convincstances it is peculiarly embarrass- ed by these memoirs. But his ing if some of the facts to be re- principal object, and that in which corded are of such a nature, that he trusts he shall not be entirely it is most desirable to have their disappointed, is to direct, assist, authenticity so fully established, and comfort pious souls, groanthat incredulity shall be con- ing under the pressure of the founded, and the sneer of the calamities which they often have sceptical and profane lose its ef- to endure in their pilgrimage fect. But the writer of the through the wilderness of this following narrative, though pla- world. ced in these circumstances, and The late Rev. WILLIAM TENhaving such facts to detail, has NENT, of Freehold, in the county nevertheless determined to pro- of Monmouth, in the State of ceed. He has refreshed and New Jersey, of whom we write, corrected his own recollection, was the second son of the Rev. by the most careful inquiries that William Tennent, minister of he could possibly make of oth- the gospel at Neshaminy, in ers, until he is well assured, that Bucks county, in the state of what he shall state is incontesta- Pennsylvania. This last gentleble truth. From the very nature man was originally a minister of of several things, of which an ac- the church of England, in the count will be given, they do not then kingdom of Ireland, where indeed admit of any other direct he was born and received his testimony than that of the re- education. He was chaplain to markalle man to whom they re- an Irish nobleman, but being latc. But if there ever was a conscientiously scrupulous of person, who deserved to be be. conforming to the terms imposed on the clergy of that king. divinity, he determined to set up dom, he was deprived of his liv- a school for the instruction of ing. He now became acquaint- youth, particularly of those deed with the famous Gilbert Ken- signed for the gospel ministry, nedy, of -, a Presbyterian as the best service he could renminister, who had also been per- der to God and his new adopted secuted for his religious princi- country ; education being then ples, and soon after married bis at a very low ebb. There apdaughter. Finding it difficult to peared, in his apprehension, a continue at home with any satis- very large field for the propagafactory degree of usefulness, and tion of the gospel, could a suffhis family increasing, after a few cient number of faithful labouryears he determined to emigrate ers be found for so great a harto America, where he was en- vest. A learned ministry, he couraged to hope for a greater well knew, was necessary to the liberty of conscience, as well as sure foundation of the church of the prospect of being employed Christ, especially in a new counin extending the Redeemer's try, so peculiarly exposed to kingdom in that new.world. He every invader, and where the arrived at Philadelphia in the enemy might so successfully sow summer of 1718, with his wife, tares an ong the wheat. In pursufour sons, and one daughter. ance of this design, he establishHis sons were, Gilbert, who was ed an academy, and built a house, afterwards the pastor of the sec- since known by the name of the ond Presbyterian church in Phila- log-college. delphia ; William, the subject of Soon after his arrival in Bucks these memoirs ; John, who be- county, on full consideration, he came pastor of the church at left the church of England, and, Freehold, and died at the age of to enlarge his sphere of usefultwenty-five years; and Charles, ness, determined to join the Presafterwards minister of the Presbyterian church. Accordingly, byterian church at Whiteclay he applied to the synod of Philacreek, whence he removed to delphia for admission into their Buckingham, in Maryland. .communion ; and, on due exami

William Tennent, the father, nation, and complying with their on his first coming to America, stated rules, he was very cordialsettled at · East Chester, in the ly received. At the first meetthen province of New York, and ing of the synod afterwards, he afterwards removed to Bedford. addressed that venerable body, in In a short time he was called to an elegant Latin oration, which Bucks county, in Pennsylvania, added greatly to his celebrity, and preached at Bensalem and and increased the hopes of his Smithfield; but soon after set friends as to the success of the tled permanently at Neshaminy, institution he had founded. To in the same county. Being skill- erect and support such an impored in the Latin language, so as to tant seminary of learning, out of speak and write it almost as well his own private purse, at that as his mother tongue, a good early period, in a new country proficient also in the other learn- just rising from a savage wilder, ed languages, and well read in ness, and to devote himself to so

severe a service, in addition to making a very considerable figure his pastoral charge, was a boon to as a useful and popular preacher ; his generation, that at this day William determined, as he had cannot be easily nor sufficiently completed his course in the appreciated.

languages, to study divinity un. His expectations, in a few der his brother. Accordingly years, were, more than realized. he left his father's house, with In this institution the principal: his consent and by his advice, and men of the day, and many of the went to New Brunswick. At Presbyterian clergy, were educa- his departure from home, which ted, and added greatly to the in- was considered as his setting out crease and usefulness of their in life, his father addressed him churches. The late Rev. Messrs. with great affection, commendRowland, Campbell, Lawrence, ing him to the favour and protecBeatty, Robinson, and Samuel tion of that God, from whom he Blair, with many others, were himself had received so much among the number of his pupils, mercy, and who had directed and thought themselves honoured him in all his migrations. He by being considered as sons of gave him a small sum of money, this humble seminary. Here al- as the amount of all he could do so his own four sons received for him, telling him that if he their education, and were prepar. behaved well and did his duty, ed for their important services. this was an ample provision for Had these been the only fruits of him ; and if he should act other. that infant academy, America wise, and prove ungrateful to a would have reason to rejoice, and kind and gracious God, it was too to render thanks to that God, who much and more than he deserydirected this gentleman to visited. Thus, with a pittance, and her shores.

the blessing of a pious and affecHis second son, William, tionate parent, of more consewho is the subject of these quence than thousands of pounds, sketches, was born on the 3d day the young student set out in the of June, 1705, in the county of world. Antrim, in Ireland, and was just After a regular course of stuturned of thirteen years when he dy in theology, Mr. Tennent was arrived in America. He applied preparing for his examination by himself, with much zeal and the presbytery, as a candidate for industry, to his studies, and made the gospel ministry. His intense great proficiency in the lan- application affected his health, guages, particularly in the Latin. and brought on a pain in his Being early impressed with a breast and a slight hectic. He deep sense of divine things, he soon became emaciated, and at soon determined to follow the length was like a living skeleexample of his father and elder ton. His life was now threatenbrother, by devoting himself to ed. He was attended by a phythe service of God in the minis- sician, a young gentleman who try of the gospel. His brother was attached to him by the strictGilbert being called to the pastor- est and warmest friendship. He al charge of the church at New grew worse and worse, till little Brunswick, in New Jersey, and hope of life was left. In this

situation his spirits failed him, ed, and at fast confined his reand he began to entertain doubts quest for delay to one hour, then of his final happiness. He was to half an hour, and finally to a conversing, one morning, with quarter of an hour. He had his brother, in Latin, on the state discovered that the tongue was of his soul, when he fainted and much swoln, and threatened to died away.

After the usual crack. He was endeavouring to time, he was laid ont on a board, soften it, by some emollient oint. according to the common prac. ment put upon it with a feather, tice of the country, and the when the brother came in, about neighbourhood were invited to the expiration of the last period, attend his funeral on the next and mistaking what the doctor day. In the evening, his physi. was doing, for an attempt to feed cian and friend returned from a him, manifested some resentride into the country, and was ment, and in a spirited tone, said, afflicted beyond measure at the “It is shameful to be feeding a news of his death. He could not lifeless corpse ;” and insisted, be persuaded that it was certain ; with earnestness, that the funeral and on being told that one of the should immediately proceed. persons who had assisted in lay. At this critical and iinportant ing out the body thought he had moment, the body, to the great observed a little tremor of the alarm and astonishment of all flesh under the arm, although present, opened its eyes, gave a the body was cold and stiff, he. dreadful groan, and sunk again endeavoured to ascertain the fact. into apparent death. This put He first put his own hand into an end to all thoughts of burying warm water to make it as sensi- him, and every effort was again ble as possible, and then felt un- employed in hopes of bringing der the arm, and at the heart, and about a speedy resuscitation. In affirmed that he felt an unusual about an hour, the eyes again warmth, though no one else opened, a heavy groan proceeded could. He had the body restor- from the body, and again all aped to a warm bed, and insisted pearance of animation vanished. that the people, who had been in another hour life seemed to invited to the funeral, should be return with more power, and a requested not to attend. To this complete revival took place, to the brother objected as absurd, the great joy of the family and the eyes being sunk, the lips dis- friends, and to the no small coloured, and the whole body astonishment and conviction of cold and stift. However, the very many who had been ridicu. doctor finally prevailed ; and all ling the idea of restoring to life a probable means were used to dead body. discover symptoms of returning

Mr. Tennent continued in so life. But the third day arrived, weak and low a state for six and no hopes were entertained of weeks, that great doubts were success but by the doctor, who entertained of his final recovery. neser left him night nor day. However, after that period, he reThe people were again invited, covered much faster, but it was and assembled to attend the about twelve months before he funeral. The doctor still object was completely restored. After

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