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During his whole sickness, he continued perfectly resigned to the divine will, until death was swallowed up in victory, on the 8th day of Niarch, 1777. His body was buried in his own church, at Freehold, a numerous concourse of people, composed, not only of the members of his own congregation, but of the inhabitants of the whole adjacent country, attending his funeral.
Mr. Tennent was rather more than six feet high; of a spare thin visage, and of an erect carriage. He had bright, piercing eyes, a long sharp nose, and a long face. His general countenance was grave and solemn, but at all times cheerful and pleasant with his friends. It may be said of him, with peculiar propriety, that he appeared, in an extraordinary manner, to live above the world, and all its allurements. He seemed habitually to have such clear views of spiritual and heavenly things, as afforded him much of the foretaste and enjoyment of them. His faith was really and experimentally “ the substance of things hoped for, and the evidence of things unseen.” Literally, his daily walk was with God, and he lived “as seeing him who is invisible.” The divine presence with him, was frequently manifested in his public ministrations, and in his private conduct. His ardent soul was seldom satisfied, unless he was exerting himself, in some way or other, in public or private, in rendering kind offices and effectual services of friendship, both in spiritual and temporal things, to his fellow-men. Take him in his whole demeanor and conduct, there are few of whom it might more emphatically be said, that he lived the life, and died the death of the righteous.
He was well read in divinity, and was of sound orthodox principle. He professed himself a moderate calvinist. The doctrines of man's depravity; the atonement of the Saviour; the absolute necessity of the all-powerful influence of the Spirit of God, to renew the heart and subdue the will; all in perfect consistence with the free agency of the sinner, were among the leading articles of his faith. These doctrines, indeed, were generally interwoven in his public discourses, whatever might be the particular subject discussed. His success was often answerable to his exertions. His people loved him as a father; revered him as the pastor and bishop of their souls; obeyed him as their instructor; and delighted in his company and private conversation as a friend and brother. He carefully avoided making a difference between his doctrines publicly taught and his private practice. Attending a synod, a few years before his death, a strange clergyman, whom he never had before seen, was introduced to the synod, and asked to preach in the evening. Mr. Tennent attended, and was
much displeased with the sermon. As the congregation were going out of the church, Mr. Tennent in the crowd, coming up to the preacher, touched him on the shoulder, and said, “ My brother, when I preach, I take care to save myself, whatever I do with my congregation.” The clergyman looked behind him with surprise, and seeing a very grave man, said, “ What do you mean, Sir?” Mr. Tennent answered, “ You have been sending your whole congregation, synod and all, to perdition, and you have not even saved yourself. Whenever I preach, I make it a rule to save myself,” and then abruptly left him, without his knowing who spoke to him.
At Mr. Tennent's death, the poor mourned for him, as their patron, their comforter and support; and the rich lamented over him as their departed pastor and friend. The public, at large, lost in him a firm assertor of the civil and religious interests of his country. He was truly a patriot, not in words and pretences, not in condemning all who differed from him to proscription and death, but in acting in such a manner, as would have rendered his country most happy, if all had followed his example. He insisted on his own rights and freedom of sentiment, but he was willing to let others enjoy the same privilege ; and he thought it of as much importance to live and act well, as to think and speak justly.
To conclude these imperfect sketches. May all who read the memoirs of this amiable and useful man, fervently and constantly beseech that God, with whom is the residue of the Spirit, that their life may be that of the righteous, so that their latter end may be like his: and that the Great Head of the church, while he removes faithful and distinguished labourers from the gospel vineyard, may raise up others, who shall possess, even a double portion of their spirit, and who shall be even more successful in winning souls unto Jesus Christ, the great bishop of souls.
SERIES OF LIVES.
THE LIFE OF THE APOSTLE PAUL. Saul, better known by the name of Paul, was born at Tarsus in Cilicia, and was on that account entitled to the franchises of the imperial city. He was the son of a pharisee of rank and competence, and was trained carefully from childhood in the principles of that proud and austere sect. It is probable, that he was early initiated into Greek learning at Tarsus, and while yet a youth was sent to Jerusalem, to prosecute his studies under the tuition of the celebrated Gamaliel. In that school he applied himself with uncommon assiduity and success, greatly excelling his equals, particularly in the knowledge he acquired of the religion of the Jews. Even at this dangerous period of life, he was distinguished no less for his decorous conduct and religious zeal, than for his talents and learning; so that, on the whole, he may justly be selected as a fair specimen of the utinost height to which the morals and religion of a pharisee could be carried.
At the time he is introduced to notice in the Acts of the Apostles, there is reason to believe he was about thirty-three or thirty-four years of age. For if bishop Pearson be right in placing Stephen's death in A. D. 34, and Dr. Lardner in dating the epistle to Philemon in 60; then, as in that epistle the apostle styles himself Paul the aged, an expression which gives the idea of a man of sixty, it is more probable that he was thirty-four than twentyfour, when he began to act so public a part. Indeed, it is hardly conceivable, that the sanhedrim should invest a youth, raw from the seclusion of the schools, with the formidable powers of an inquisitor-general; or that our Lord, who paid so strict a regard to decorum, and abstained from the exercise of his own ministry until he was thirty years of age, should place a young man of twenty-five in the apostolate, in which he was to act a part so very extraordinary.
There is no reason to believe that he resided at Jerusalem during our Lord's personal ministry. It is natural to think, that his studies having been finished, he had then returned to Tarsus, where he probably continued, following his occupation of a tentmaker, with the exception, it may be, of occasional visits to Jerusalem, until after Pentecost. If this were the case, something may be pleaded in extenuation of his criminal conduct; and light is cast on his own declaration, that he persecuted ignorantly in unbelirf. It is also observable, that in all his writings there is no allusion to any transaction of the ministry of Jesus Christ, which implies his personal knowledge of it. The appearance of our Lord, as he was in the way to Damascus, he speaks of in terms, which indicate that he had never seen him before; but had he resided at Jerusalem, this could scarcely have happened. Is it credible, that a man of his inquisitive and eager zeal should never have been among the many pharisees, whose curiosity or malice induced them to attend Christ's ministry? How public was our Lord's conduct at the last passover; entering the city in triumph,
acknowledged as Messiah by the loud hosannahs of the attendant multitude; teaching daily in the temple; and expelling from it the buyers and sellers; accused and condemned in a court of judicature; and at last publicly executed in the presence of thousands. Where was Saul during these wonderful events, which engaged the eyes, the ears, the tongues of all men? Did so strict a pharisee absent himself from the temple during all that week? Was this active persecutor ashamed of joining his friends in inflaming the multitude, and in echoing the shout, Crucify him! or of accompanying the rulers, chief priests, scribes, and elders, who basely derided the blessed Redeemer in his dying moments? Or, would the apostle, who so pathetically laments the part he took in the death of Stephen and other martyrs, have been wholly silent, had he had any part in the crucifixion of Christ?
Soon after Pentecost, however, we find Saul in Jerusalem, where he was not calculated to remain long a neutral spectator. His education, principles, and connexions, decided the part he was to take, and the natural vehemence, fearlessness, and activity of his character, inflamed by a zeal as fervent as it was ill-directed, gave an energy to his exertions, which rendered him one of the most formidable antagonists of the church of God. He appears to have commenced the career of persecution, by joining in the clamour against Stephen. He was present in the council at Stephen's accusation, saw the miraculous glory on his face, and yet took a part in his death, as a witness of the legality of the proceedings against him. Having once tasted blood; with the characteristic fierceness of his tribe, he ravened as a wolf. From a subaltern, he became a leader in the alien hosts. Blind to reason, deaf to pity, his firm nerves shrunk not from torture and blood. For he was now become exceedingly mad, and made havoc of the church, entering into every house, and haling men and women to prison. He persecuted and beat the disciples in every synagogue, blasphemed himself, and compelled them to blaspheme; and when they were put to death, he gave his voice against them. Yet in all this he verily meant to do God service. With untroubled conscience, he repeated his daily tale of alms and prayers, supposed himself a better man as he became a more furious persecutor, and proudly thanked God he was not a christian.
The contemplation of such a character excites our astonishment and horror. It is painful to see a man of Saul's talents, learning, morals, and religious zeal, acting so terrible a part. But it is still more affecting to remark, that it was his religion itself which made bim so pre-eminently wicked. The imcorrupted law Vol. II.
of the Lord might have enlightened his mind and purified his heart; but viewed through the corrupt glosses of his sect, it procluced contrary effects. He rested in the form of godliness, and denied its power. Spiritual religion was a thing of which he knew nothing. The broken heart and contrite spirit were sacrifices he never offered. He was not an humble Simeon waiting for the consolation of Israel; nor an honest Nathaniel, who, by gladly coming to the light, proved that his works were wrought in God. He was one of those of whom Christ testifies, that harlots and publicans, ignorant and Nagitious as they were, were more disposed to receive the invitations of the gospel, and entered into the kingdom of God before them. His prayers were not heard, but rejected, as the service of a proud sinner. Witness the words of our Lord to Ananias, Behold he prayeth, as if it had been the first time of his bending the knee to God. His sanguinary persecutions prove his religion earthly, sensual, and devilish, and that he himself was of his father the devil, who was a murderer from the beginning. Reader, is thy religion of this cast? Does it fill thee with high conceits of thyself and proud contempt of others, and teach thee to smite, though only with thy tongue, those who differ from thee? Know, thy religion is vain. God never did, and never will authorize intemperance, revilings, and violence. The enemy of man cannot be the friend of God. No; should there even be but one man on earth whom thou hatest, thy character is not equivocal, nor thy fate uncertain. Let not then the fiery religionist, who glories in that gospel which Paul persecuted, congratulate himself too hastily. Shall we fight for Christ with weapons which are satanic? We may, indeed, prove from scripture, that we espouse a righteous cause; but the same scripture will prove, that we ourselves are not christians. Persecution in any and every form is of the wicked one, and never so much as when those who are called christians persecute each other. Let the leaders of every name into which the church is divided well consider this, and let them discuss their differences peaceably as christians ought, whose object is sanctifying truth, and not fame, wealth, or dominion.
In justice to Saul, it is necessary to observe, that his characfer was far superior to the generality of the pharisees. However ignorant and furious he was, yet he meant well; a circumstance which, though it cannot justify, in some degree serves to extenuate his conduct. He himself pleads his ignorance in this view, and tells us that God admitted the consideration, not indeed as meriting the mercy he found, but as that without which mercy