William Tennent Jr, was born in Ireland in June 1705, the second son of Presbyterian clergyman William Tennent. The Elder Tennent moved his family to the American colonies in 1718 and settled them in Neshaminy PA, northeast of Philadelphia. All four of William Tennent Sr.’s sons showed deep devotion to God at an early age and sensed personal calls to follow their father into pastoral ministry. With his brothers and some other dedicated young men, William Jr. was educated by his father in a split log building that became known as the Log College (the forerunner of Princeton University).
|Rendering of the Log College|
|Freehold, New Jersey's other favorite son|
|Old Scotts Church|
|Old Tennent Church (formerly Old Scotts) today|
One telling event happened during George Whitefield’s last preaching tour. The great evangelist was struggling with weariness and discouragement in ministry. At a gathering of ministers Whitefield mused at his increasing desire to end his race and meet his Savior. But he was concerned that Reverend Tennent didn’t seem to be sharing this longing for glory. So he turned to query the elder statesman.
William Tennent was faithful to his word. He served his people for 43 years. He promoted the cause of the Gospel in the colonies with all his energies. And as the American Revolution dawned he stood on the side of liberty. Less than a year after the fighting broke out, in March 1777, Reverend Tennent was finally called home. Knowing that he was considered a traitor by the British, the people of Old Scots Church had their beloved pastor buried without markings under the floor of their sanctuary, where he remains to this day.
A little over a year later British and Colonial forces met in battle on land adjacent to Old Scots Church. The Battle of Monmouth on June 28, 1778 was the largest engagement of the Revolutionary War and the only pitched battle between the Colonial army led by George Washington and the British regular army during the war. During the battle Old Scots Church was used as a battlefield hospital. Washington is reported to have visited wounded soldiers at the church, adding his name to the role of historic Americans who have been in the church.
|Marker on the outside wall of Old Tennent Church|