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LIFE OF THE REV. WILLIAM TENNENT. AMONG the duties which every generation owes to those which are to succeed it, we may reckon the careful delineation of the characters of those whose example deserves, and may invite imi. tation. Example speaks louder than precept, and living practical religion has a much greater effect on mankind than argument or eloquence. Hence, the lives of pious men become the most important sources of instruction and warning to posterity; while their exemplary conduct affords the best commentary on the religion they professed. But when such men have been remarkably favoured of God, with unusual degrees of light and knowledge, and have been honoured by the special and extraordinary influences of his Holy Spirit, and by the most manifest and wonderful interpositions of divine Providence in their behalf, it becomes a duty of more than common obligation, to hand down to posterity the principal events of their lives, together with such useful inferences as they naturally suggest. A neglect of this duty, even by persons who may be conscious of the want of abilities necessary for the complete biographer, is greatly culpable; for, if the strictest attention be paid to the truth of the facts related, and all exaggeration or partial representation be carefully avoided, the want of other furniture can be no excuse for burying in oblivion that conduct, which, if known, might edify and benefit the world.
The writer of these memoirs has difficulties of a peculiar kind to encounter, in attempting to sketch the life of that modest, Vol. II.
humble, and worthy man, whose actions, exercises, and sentiments he wishes to record. Worldly men, who are emulous to transmit their names to following ages, take care to leave such materials for the future historian, as may secure the celebrity which they seek. But the humble follower of the meek and lowly Jesus, whose sole aim is the glory of God, in the welfare of immortal souls, goes on, from day to day, as seeing Him who is invisible, careful to approve himself only to the Searcher of hearts, regardless of worldly fame or distinction, and leaving it to his heavenly Father to reward him openly, in the day of final account. The writer of such a man's life, must principally rely on a personal acquaintance with him, and the communications of his intimate friends, for the information which shall be imparted to the public. In these circumstances it is peculiarly embarrassing if some of the facts to be recorded are of such a nature, that it is most desirable to have their authenticity so fully established, that incredulity shall be confounded, and the sneer of the sceptical and profane lose its effect. But the writer of the following narrative, though placed in these circumstances and having such facts to detail, has nevertheless determined to proceed. He has refreshed and corrected his own recollection, by the most careful inquiries that he could possibly make of others, until he is well assured, that what he shall state is incontestible truth. From the very nature of several things of which an account will be given, they do not indeed admit of any other direct testimony than that of the remarkable man to whom they relate. But if there ever was a person who deserved to be believed unreservedly on his own word, it was he. He possessed an integrity of soul and a soundness of judgment, which did actually secure him an unlimited confidence from all who knew him. Every species of deception, falsehood, and exaggeration he abhorred and scorned. He was an Israelite indeed in whom there was no guile. With such materials, then, as have been mentioned, and for a work of such character as has been hinted, the writer has undertaken his task. He has undertaken what he would most gladly have resigned to an abler hand; but from which, as no other offered, he dared not withhold his own. He could wish that speculative and even unbelieving minds might be instructed and convinced by these memoirs. But his principal object, and that in which he trusts he shall not be entirely disappointed, is to direct, assist, and comfort pious souls, groaning under the pressure of the calamities which they often have to endure in their pilgrimage through the wilderness of this world.
The late Rev. WILLIAM TENNENT, of Freehold, in the court ty of Monmouth, in the state of New-Jersey, of whom we write, was the second son of the Rev. William Tennent, minister of the gospel at Neshaminy, in Bucks county, in the state of Pennsylvania. This last gentleman was originally a minister of the church of England, in the then kingdom of Ireland, where he was born and received his education. He was chaplain to an Irish nobleman, but being conscientiously scrupulous of conforming to the terms imposed on the clergy of that kingdom, he was deprived of his living. He now became acquainted with the famous Gilbert Kennedy, of a presbyterian minister, who had also been persecuted for his religious principles, and soon after márried his daughter. Finding it difficult to continue at home with any satisfactory degree of usefulness, and his family increasing, after a few years he determined to emigrate to America, where he was encouraged to hope for a greater liberty of conscience, as well as the prospect of being employed in extending the Redeemer's kingdom in that new world. He arrived at Philadelphia in the summer of 1718, with his wife, four sons, and one daughter. His sons were, Gilbert, who was afterwards the pastor of the second presbyterian church in Philadelphia ; William, the subject of these memoirs; John, who became pastor of the church at Freehold, and died at the age of twenty-five years; and Charles, afterwards minister of the presbyterian church at Whiteclay creek, whence he removed to Buckingham, in Maryland.
William Tennent, the father, on his first coming to America, settled at East Chester, in the then province of New York, and afterwards removed to Bedford. In a short time he was called to Bucks county, in Pennsylvania, and preached at Bensalem and Smithfield; but soon after settled permanently at Neshaminy, in the same county. Being skilled in the Latin language, so as to speak and write it almost as well as his mother tongue, a good proficient also in the other learned languages, and well read in divinity, he determined to set up a school for the instruction of youth, particularly of those designed for the gospel ministry, as the best service he could render to God and his new adopted country; education being then at a very low ebb. There appeared, in his apprehension, a very large field for the propagation of the gospel, could a sufficient number of faithful labourers be found for so great a harvest. A learned ministry, he well knew, was necessary to the sure foundation of the church of Christ, especially in a new country, so peculiarly exposed to every invader, and where the enemy might so successfully sow tares among the