This Day in History 254 years ago, July 23rd, 1764, Gilbert Tennent died and the American Colonies lost a notable evangelist of the Great Awakening. Gilbert Tennent (b. 1703, d. 1764), an Irish-born Presbyterian minister, burst on the national scene in 1740, with his sermon entitled, On the Dangers of an Unconverted Ministry. This sermon was printed in Philadelphia by Benjamin Franklin. In that sermon, Tennent suggested that pastors who stood in opposition to the current revival may be unconverted. That sermon and pamphlet created quite a controversy throughout the Colonies. The replica of the original 32 page pamphlet measures 4 1/2” x 6 1/2”. It follows all the printing conventions of the day: Caslon-style type, excessive capitalization of nouns, using italics to quote Bible verses, and using “catchwords”. I make a replica of this sermon and sell copies of it for $9.95 each in my Etsy Store at the following link: Click here to purchase from my Etsy Store
About four years later, Tennent preached two more sermons that were made into pamphlets and distributed throughout the colonies. On December 23rd, 1744 he preached, The Necessity of keeping the Soul. It is a 24-page sermon pamphlet. The imprint measures 4-3/8” x 6-1/4”. This sermon is intended both to exhort Christians and warn non-Christians. It follows all the printing conventions of the day: Caslon-style type, excessive capitalization of nouns, using italics to quote Bible verses, and using “catchwords” (which is a preview the word or syllable at the bottom on a page that will be the first word/syllable on the following page). This pamphlet can be purchased from my Esty Store for $9.95 at the following link: Click here to purchase from my Etsy Store
A few days later, on December 30th, 1744 He preached the sermon The Danger of Spiritual Pride represented. I also make a replica of this sermon pamphlet. It is 32 page pamphlet that was first printed in Philadelphia by William Bradford at the Sign of the Bible on Second-Street. The imprint measures 4-3/8” x 6-1/4”. It too follows all the printing conventions of the day: Caslon-style type, excessive capitalization of nouns, using italics to quote Bible verses, and using “catchwords” (which is a preview the word or syllable at the bottom on a page that will be the first word/syllable on the following page). This pamphlet can be purchased from my Esty Store for $9.95 at the following link:
Read on to learn a little more about Gilbert Tennent. He “arrived in America from Ireland at the age of fourteen. His father, William, founded a ‘Log College’ to train ministers. Following his father into the ministry, Gilbert was ordained in 1726. He had little success at first. However, following a deep illness, he recovered and preached with a new zeal that brought many conversions.
His fiery faith also placed him at the center of a split in the Presbyterian Church. A friend of evangelist George Whitefield, Tennent hoped to see revival in America. He was convinced the nation’s religious stagnation was the fault of its clergy. In a scathing sermon preached at Nottingham, he had said, ‘The reason why congregations have been so dead is, because they have had dead men preaching to them; for I am verily persuaded the generality of preachers talk of an unknown and unfelt Christ.’
That ‘generality of preachers’ complained in return that his meetings were too emotional. Feelings ran high. The Presbyterian synod reproved Tennent. With several other preachers, he withdrew from the association. For almost two decades, the Presbyterians were divided into New Lights and Old Lights.
From 1743 onward, Tennent pastored a church in New Jersey but continued to travel and evangelize, too. Once he held revival services for three months in New England. Thomas Prince, founder of the first religious journal in North America, described the results: “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 in several scores, in the neighboring congregations.”
In later years, Tennent’s sermons became milder. He pastored with success at Philadelphia until he was very old. Around 1749, he published a sermon titled Irenicum Ecclesiasticarum (Peace in the Church) and later a pamphlet titled The Pacificator in which he pleaded for a restoration of unity. These helped heal the breach between the Old Lights and the New Lights that his words had done so much to precipitate.
In a sermon preached shortly after Gilbert Tennent’s death, Dr. Samuel Finley, President of Princeton College, said:
He had an habitual, unshaken assurance of his interest in redeeming love, for the space of more than forty years; but, eight days before his death, he got a more clear and affecting sense of it still. And though he lamented that he had done so little for God, and that his life had been comparatively unprofitable, yet he triumphed in the grace of Jesus Christ, who had pardoned all his sins, and said his assurance of salvation was built on the Scriptures, and was more sure than the sun and moon.”
Source: Christian History Institute