Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from Gilbert Tennent, 22 September 1741

From Gilbert Tennent9

ALS: American Philosophical Society; also transcript: Harvard College Library (Sparks)

N.B. [New Brunswick, N.J.], Sept. 22: 1741

Honoured Sir

I thank you kindly for your Love in Sending me Some of the remarks and of my Sermons on justification as well as the notice you give me of exceptions made against one passage in it (of which I have wrotte an explication in a letter to Mr. Robert Ishburn).1 Likewise I thank you kind Sir for your favour in Sending the Querists you lately printed,2 which I am not att present inclind to write any answer to partly because its Stuffd with Satyr and burlesq and partly because I shall have an opportunity of writing on the principal matters contained in it in the vindication of the remarks.

I am oblidgd to you Sir for the pleasure you take in the recovery of my health. May God enable me to improve it to his glory.

I had the pleasure of discoursing a pritie deal with your Brother in his pass thro our place who was well.

I heartily desire that the blessings of heaven may rest upon you and yours and that you may be kept humble notwithstanding of the gifts of nature and providence with which you are favourd, and maybe enabled to improve your uncommon genius for Gods glory your own and others benefit. I offer affectionate Salutation to your whole Self and remain Sir yours

G Tennent

Addressed: To  Mr Benjamin  Franklin att  Philadelphia  These

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

9Gilbert Tennent (1703–1764), son of Rev. William Tennent who founded the “Log College”; Presbyterian minister at New Brunswick, N.J., since 1726; an effective evangelist, he prepared the way for George Whitefield, who established a close relationship with him and wrote, “Hypocrites must either soon be converted or enraged at his Preaching. He is a Son of Thunder, and I find doth not regard the Face of Man.” Tennent made several tours through the colonies, 1739–40, meeting with popular success comparable to Whitefield’s. His denunciation of conservatism and formalism and his disregard of church discipline, in which he had supporters, produced a schism in the Presbyterian Church, 1741. He was called to Philadelphia, 1743, as minister of a newly organized Presbyterian congregation, holding services for several years in the building constructed for Whitefield (see above, p. 290). DAB; Guy S. Klett, Presbyterians in Colonial Pennsylvania (Phila., 1937); Charles H. Maxson, The Great Awakening in the Middle Colonies (Chicago, 1920).

1Robert Ishburn, or Eastburn, blacksmith, converted from Quakerism during the Great Awakening, was a trustee of the hall erected for Whitefield, 1740, and one of the first members of Tennent’s Philadelphia congregation, 1743. William W. Hinshaw, Encyclopedia of American Quaker Genealogy, II (Ann Arbor, Mich., 1938), 511; PMHB, XIX (1895), 132; Watson, Annals, III, 309.

2The references are to Tennent’s Remarks upon a Protestation presented to the Synod of Philadelphia, June 1, 1741 and A Sermon upon Justification; and, probably, The Querists, Part III. or, An Extract of sundry Passages taken out of Mr. G. Tennent’s Sermon. All were printed by BF, who announced them as “just published” in Pa. Gaz., Aug. 6, July 16, and Sept. 24 respectively. Tennent did reply to The Querists, Part III, in his The Examiner, Examined, or Gilbert Tennent, Harmonious (Phila., 1743, printed by William Bradford).

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