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THE LOG COLLEGE AND EARLY PRESBYTERIANISM

IN PENNSYLVANIA.*

E are wont to look upon the Province of Pennsylvania as a spot

where Quakers alone did congregate, yet as early as 1702, as appears from a letter to the Proprietary from his Secretary, James Logan, the population of Pennsylvania was about equally divided between Friends and others. A large proportion of the others was composed of Scotch-Irish immigrants, whose characteristics were destined to impress themselves as deeply upon the life of the Colony as those of the original settlers. For wherever these Scots made their home, whether by the Irish Sea in Ulster, or in the primeval forests of Pennsylvania and New Jersey, they proved themselves to be thrifty, hard-working, honest citizens and strong unwavering Protestants. Driven away from the land they had planted under James I. by the exaction of religious tests whose denial would have proved as injurious to their business as their acceptance would have proved to their consciences, and further impeded in worldly progress by the passage of certain exportation laws, a part of the fatuous policy that has ever governed the English rule in Ireland, these emigrants came to Pennsylvania to gain the freedom in secular and religious life that was insured them by the liberal proposals of the Proprietary. If each one of the widely different denominations that migrated to these shores brought with him the prejudices and bigotries of his own especial religious institution, and if the Presbyterian settlers seemed at times to possess a larger share of conscientious disabilities than most of the others, let it be remembered of what stern stuff they were made,-fit framework for the building of a nation and that if they had left Ireland to escape tests and laws that hampered them in conscience and pocket it is not remarkable that they should have proved a trifle contumacious with regard to the same sort of rocks and snags in Provincial Pennsylvania.

With so many and various views, religious and secular, prevailing among these settlers, it redounds to the honor of those who administered the affairs of the Province that no bitter persecutions, such as those that stained the pages of the early history of New England, cast their shadows athwart the fair records of this Colony. If James Logan complained of the “Presbyterian leaven” coming among them, and scornfully denominated as "that black gentleman' the Episcopal clergyman sent over by the mother Church to minister to those of her flock in Philadelphia, and if William Penn himself indulged in satirical allusions to the gaudy Common Prayer Books and fine communion-table presented by the bishop as calculated to charm the baby in the Bishop

* In preparing this little sketch of the Log College the writer takes pleasure ir acknowledging her indebtedness to the Rev. D. K. Turner, D.D., of Hartsville, Pennsylvania, historian of Neshaminy Church, who has generously placed his storehouse of reminiscence at her disposal, and to Dr. Murphy, of Frankford, chosen historian of the celebration of September, 1889.-A. H. W.

of London as well as in Parson Evans, the war was one of words, and not very sharp words either, and Scotch Presbyterian, English Episcopalian, Roman Catholic, Baptist, and Methodist found in the Quaker Province of Pennsylvania, as in the Roman Catholic settlement of Maryland, the freedom to worship God for which many of them had exiled themselves from home and country.

The honor of having led the van in the establishment of Presbyterianism in America is claimed by a number of churches. Among those which have the best showing are a very old church on the Elizabeth River, Virginia, Mr. Makemie's church at Snow Hill, Maryland, and three others, over which he presided at the same time, at Rehoboth, Wicomico, and Monokin, all on the Eastern Shore, and all established at least twenty years before the close of the seventeenth century. Although these and other Presbyterian churches antedate those of Pennsylvania, of which that of Philadelphia, founded about 1698, seems to have been the earliest, the honor of convening the first American Presbytery belongs to this State.

As early as 1705 the Presbytery of Philadelphia was formed, consisting of seven ministers,—Jedidiah Andrews, from New England, Francis Makemie, John Hampton, George McNish, Samuel Davis, and Nathaniel Taylor and John Wilson, both from Scotland. The Rev. Jedidiah Andrews presided over the Philadelphia Presbyterians, who in common with their Baptist brethren used a store belonging to the “Barbadoes Company.” It is evidently of this congregation that Talbot, Episcopal missionary at Burlington, writes in 1702, “The Presbyterians here come a great way to lay hands on one another ; but, after all, I think they had as good stay at home, for all the good they do. . . In Philadelphia, one pretends to be a Presbyterian, and has a congregation to which he preaches." A curious commentary upon the fashion in which these early Christian settlers obeyed the rule which admonished them to love one another!

It is to commemorate the establishment of this first American Presbytery, the nucleus of the great Presbyterian organization that has since spread its net-work of churches all over the land, that men and women will gather from near and from far at Hartsville in the early September days of this year '89. It is not only because the church at Neshaminy is an old one, dating back some time previous to 1726, or because in its graveyard rest the ashes of Tennent, Irwin, and other revered fathers of the Church, that the fair hill-sides overlooking the picturesque banks of the Neshaminy have been chosen as the scene of this important reunion; but because one of their slopes was the site of the first college of the Presbyterian Church in the Middle Colonies. Indeed, the Log College, so named in derision by its enemies, founded in 1726, claims the honor of being the first institution west of the Hudson where young men could enjoy the advantages of a collegiate course. Harvard had opened its doors since 1638, and Yale since 1701 ; but Cambridge and New Haven were, in those days of slow travel, remote from the Southern Colonies, and even from the Provinces of New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Consequently, when the Rev. William Tennent, from Ireland, recently appointed pastor of the Neshaminy Church, conceived the idea of establishing an institution for the education of his own sons and of other pious young men, with particular reference to the ministry within the bounds of the Presbyterian Church, a great step was taken in the progress of education in America as well as in that of this particular denomination. This classical school, situated on the Old York Road, which was the direct route of travel between Philadelphia and New York, and presided over by a scholarly and godly divine, was destined to be a light-bearer whose influence can scarcely be computed in these days of many schools and of too many so-called colleges.

The Log College was not only of great service in its day as the Alma Mater of many learned and useful men, but was also the beneficent mother of many classical schools and colleges, as the school established at Londonderry, Pennsylvania (once Fagg's Manor), by the Rev. Samuel Blair, a graduate of Log College, and that of Nottingham, Maryland, presided over by another of its alumni, Samuel Finley, sometime President of Princeton College, which institution, founded in 1748, was, says Dr. Archibald Alexander, an outgrowth of the Log College in the sense that most of its active friends and founders had received their education in it, or in one of its branches. In a like sense, the Colleges of Jefferson, Pennsylvania, and Hampden-Sidney and Washington, in Virginia, trace back their ancestry to the same humble pioneer institution at Neshaminy:

The curious visitor of to-day, who takes the East Penn Railroad train at Glenside (once Abington) and passes from the country-side around Jenkintown, distinguished for its lovely hills crowned with noble residences, to the more picturesque if less elaborately cultivated region beyond, where capacious Pennsylvania barns and peaceful farm-houses dot the landscape, and on through Bonair, where runs the line which divides Montgomery from Bucks County, will feel, when he approaches Hartsville, that he is entering into some Happy Valley far away from the noise and turmoil of the great world.

On the right-hand side of the Old York Road, about a mile south of the town, is the site of the Log College, a gently sloping field, high above the road, where from the trees of the forest Mr. Tennent built bis little school-house. Opposite is his own residence, part of the house with its stone chimney standing as in his day, the remainder having been added by more recent owners. As there were no dormitories attached to the institution, the pupils were boarded in the country round about and by Mr. Tennent himself, whose labor was most truly one of love, and who seems to have even involved himself in financial difficulties in order to assist some of the hungry-minded youths who flocked to the College, eager to reap the advantages of his ripe Old-World scholarship. Mr. Tennent was a graduate of Trinity College, Dublin, and had been ordained a deacon and priest in the Episcopal Church. Soon after his arrival in America, about 1716, he applied to the Synod of Philadelphia for admission into the Presbyterian Church. He gives a number of reasons for this important step, chiefly of a doctrinal nature; but reading between the lines it seems not improbable that his marriage with Catharine Kennedy, who belonged to a family of devoted Presbyterians who had suffered much for conscience' sake, may have had a not inconsiderable influence upon Mr. Tennent's religious choice. Of his learning there seems to have been no more question than of his piety and integrity, of both of which abundant testimony remains. The Hon. Elias Boudinot, who was intimately acquainted with him, says that he was so skilled in the Latin language that he could converse in it with as much facility as in his vernacular tongue, and that he was proficient in other ancient languages.

The only contemporary picture of the Log College that comes down to us is from the pen of the evangelist Whitefield, who visited Mr. Tennent at Neshaminy in 1739 and preached to a congregation of three thousand persons in the meeting-house yard. In his own quaint language he thus speaks of the Tennents and the school : “His wife to me seemed like Elizabeth, and he like Zachary; both, as far as I can learn, walk in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless. The place wherein the young men study now is in contempt called the College. It is a log house, about twenty feet long, and near as many broad; and to me it seemed to resemble the school of the old prophets, for their habitations were mean; and that they sought not great things for themselves is plain from those passages of Scripture, wherein we are told that each of them took a beam to build them a house; and that at the feast of the sons of the prophets, one of them put on the pot, whilst the others went to fetch some herbs out of the field. All that we can say of most of our universities is, they are glorious without. From this despised place, seven or eight worthy ministers of Jesus have lately been sent forth.” In addition to the Tennents, of whom Mr. Whitefield speaks as “four gracious sons,” each one of whom deserves particular mention, there were educated in the Log College such eminent divines as the Blairs, Samuel Finley, Charles Beatty, William Robinson, John Rowland, and many more. Gilbert Tennent, the eldest of the sons, was entirely instructed by his father, and so well that he passed a creditable examination before the Presbytery of Philadelphia, after which it is probable that he spent some months in assisting his father in his pedagogical duties in the College before he accepted a call to the church at New Brunswick. It is evident that he was a man of great natural gifts and of strong character. Mr. Whitefield calls him a son of thunder, and says of his preaching, “Never before heard I such a searching sermon. He went to the bottom indeed, and did not daub with untempered mortar.” From his own letters and from contemporaneous accounts we gather that the Rev. Gilbert possessed in large measure the zealous and uncompromising spirit of the early Reformers. Counting it his mission to bring not peace, but a sword, he stirred up dissensions in the Church, for which he was severely condemned by some of his brother ministers. The general consensus of opinion seems to be that, if overbearing and intolerant, he was filled with a burning zeal for what he believed to be the truth, and if willing to sacrifice others to its propagation he counted not his own life a too great offering to the same good cause.

Mr. Tennent's younger son, William, who studied in the Log College, and later with his brother Gilbert at New Brunswick, while under the latter's roof was the subject of a most remarkable experience, of which no less an authority than Dr. Archibald Alexander, of Princeton, gives us a graphic description. Although well known in the past century, Mr. Tennent's experiences during a prolonged trance or cataleptic seizure may be new to many readers of to-day. While applying himself closely to his studies, preparatory to his examination by the Presbytery, young Mr. Tennent's health became so delicate that his life was despaired of. He was attended by a physician who was attached to him by the warmest feelings of friendship. One morning, while conversing with his brother in Latin on the state of his soul, which troubled him greatly, he fainted and died away. After the usual time he was laid out on a board, according to the common practice of the country, and the neighborhood was invited to attend his funeral on the next day. In the evening his physician and friend returned from a ride in the country, and was afflicted beyond measure at the news of his death. He could not be persuaded that it was really so, and on being told that one of the persons who assisted in laying out the body had thought he had observed a little tremor of the flesh under the arm, he endeavored to ascertain the fact, and affirmed that he felt an unusual warmth under the arm and at the heart. He had the body restored to a warm bed, and insisted that those who had been invited to attend the funeral should be requested not to attend. To these proceedings Gilbert Tennent seriously objected, the eyes being sunk, the lips discolored, and the whole body cold and stiff.' Love and friendship, however, persevered, and all possible means were used to discover symptoms of returning life. Three days passed without success, and the neighboring friends once more assembled to attend the funeral of William Tennent. His friend and physician, who had never quitted him, night or day, still begged for an hour's reprieve, and while bending over him noticed that the tongue was much swollen and threatened to crack. While endeavoring to soften it with some emollient ointment put upon a feather, Gilbert Tennent entered the room, and, mistaking what the doctor was doing for an attempt to feed his brother, manifested some resentment, and exclaimed, “It is shameful to be feeding a lifeless corpse !" At this moment, to the astonishment of all present, the corpse asserted itself by giving a deep groan, after which it sunk again into apparent death. This sign of vitality of course put an end to all thoughts of a funeral, and in a short time other indications of life appeared. Mr. Tennent continued in feeble health for some months, and one day it transpired that he had lost all recollection of his previous life and studies. The once brilliant scholar was taught to read like a little child, and his brother began to instruct him in the rudiments of the Latin language. One day, as he was reciting a lesson in Cornelius Nepos, he suddenly started, clapped his hand to his head, as if something had hurt him, and made a pause. When his brother asked him what was the matter, he replied that he felt a sudden shock in his head, and that then it seemed as if he had read that book before. By degrees his memory of past events was restored, and he found himself able to read and speak the Latin as fluently as before his illness.

This event made a great stir at the time of its occurrence, and, although William Tennent was not then residing in his father's house,

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