Tennent, Gilbert

Tennent, Gilbert an eloquent Presbyterian divine, and .eldest son of the Rev. William Tennent, Sen., was born in the County of Armagh, Ireland, Feb. 5,1703; emigrated with his father to America in 1718; received his education under the paternal roof; had the honorary degree of master of arts conferred upon him by Yale College in 1725; studied theology privately; was licensed to preach in May, 1725; and was ordained and installed minister of a Presbyterian congregation at New Brunswick, N. J., in 1726. In 1740 he was prevailed on by Whitefield to accompany him on a preaching tour to Boston; and this tour constituted one of the great events of his life. The effect of his-preaching in Boston is thus described by the Rev. Mr. Prince, minister of the Old South Church: "It was both terrible and searching… By his arousing and spiritual preaching, deep and pungent convictions were wrought in the minds of many-hundreds of persons in that town; and the same effect was produced on several scores in the neighboring congregations. And now was such a time as we never knew. The Rev. Mr.

Cooper was wont to say that more came to him in one week in deep concern than in the whole twenty-four years of his preceding ministry. I can say also the same as to the numbers who repaired to me." He had much to do in bringing about the division of the Presbyterian Church in 1741; indeed, it was owing, in a great measure, to one sermon called the "Nottingham Sermon," which Dr. Alexander declares to be "one of the most severely abusive sermons that were ever penned," that that schism occurred. It is to his honor, however, that, seventeen years after, he was a principal instrument in a reunion of the two parties. In 1743 he became pastor of a Presbyterian congregation (disciples of Whitefield) in Philadelphia, where he continued the residue of his ministry and life, which was about twenty years. He died July 23,1764. Mr. Tennent, as a preacher, had few equals in his vigorous days. "His reasoning powers were strong; his thoughts nervous and often sublime; his style flowery and diffusive; his manner of address warm and pathetic — such as must convince his audience that he was in earnest." Henry B. Smith, D.D., says of him, "Gilbert Tennent, that soul of fire." He was of a truly public spirit, needing no other motive to exert himself than only to be persuaded that the matter in question was an important public good. He published Sermons (Phila. 1744, 8vo): — Discourses (1745, 12mo): — Sermons (1758,12mo). He also published many occasional sermons, some pamphlets, etc. See Sprague, Annals 'of the Amer. Pulpit, 3, 35-41; Serm. on his Death, by S. Finley, D.D. (1764, 8vo); Alexander, Hist. of the Log College, p. 91-94'; Sermons and Essays by the Tennents and their Contemporaries (1855, 12mo); Allibone, Dict. of Brit. and Amer. Authors, s.v.; Gillies, Hist. Coll. (J. L.S.).

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