May 6th in Christian History – The Beginning of Princeton University and Rome Sacked Again

Series: On This Day In Christian History

 “From Log Cabin to University”

William Tennent was born in 1673, educated at the University of Edinburgh (pictured left), where he received a Master of Arts degree, and eventually was ordained in the Anglican Church in Ireland. He had an independent streak and tended not to conform to the Anglican Church. Instead of leading his own parish as a typical clergyman, he served as a chaplain to an Irish nobleman.

In 1718 he and his family emigrated from Ireland to Philadelphia. Shortly after his arrival he petitioned the Presbyterian synod to allow him to become a Presbyterian minister. He renounced the Anglican Church because of disagreements over church government and the Arminian tendencies of its doctrines. His petition was accepted, and he was ordained as a Presbyterian minister without having to undergo further education.

He first took pastorates in New York and then in 1726 went to Neshaminy, Pennsylvania, to lead a church. He remained there for the rest of his life. Shortly after his arrival, he began informally tutoring his sons and some other young men who were preparing to enter the Presbyterian ministry. By 1735 he formalized his efforts by building a simple log building on his property to serve as his school. It came to be known at “Log College.” His motivation for building the college was to increase the supply of Presbyterian ministers in America. Until this point candidates for the ministry had had to go to New England or abroad for training. Tennent was known for his excellent teaching skills, deep faith, and godly lifestyle.

Tennent’s three younger sons, William, John, and Charles, were trained at Log College and went on to become Presbyterian ministers and leaders of the Great Awakening.

The college was not without its detractors. In fact, the name “Log College” was itself a derogatory and derisive reference. Many within the Presbyterian Church were skeptical of the college’s ability to provide adequate training because of its humble and remote surroundings. Additional tension came from the fact that those who were supporters of the college also tended to be more aggressively evangelistic. They embraced the great evangelist George Whitefield and his methods, which were controversial at the time.

Although many demeaned the simplicity of the Log College, George Whitefield admired it. He wrote in his journal:

The place wherein the young men study now, is in contempt called, the college. It is a log house, about twenty foot 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…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; more are almost ready to be sent, and the foundation is now laying for the instruction of many others.

The Log College closed as old age and poor health claimed William Tennent. He died on May 6, 1746. That fall supporters of the Log College joined together with Presbyterians disillusioned with Yale’s recent expulsion of David Brainerd to form the College of New Jersey. Four of the initial trustees were graduates of the Log College, including two of Tennent’s sons. Another Log College graduate and initial trustee was Samuel Finley, who later became the fifth president of the college. Today we know the College of New Jersey, the successor of Log College, as Princeton University Princeton University was born in a log cabin (pictured left – a long way from a log cabin)!


William Tennent’s deep faith and his commitment to teaching others created a far-reaching legacy for the kingdom of Christ.

Do you ever think about he legacy you will leave? Will it further God’s kingdom?

“Do not despise small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin.” – Zechariah 4:10

Author’s of the Article Above: Mike and Sharon Rusten are not only marriage and business partners; they also share a love for history. Mike studied at Princeton (B.A.), the University of Minnesota (M.A.), Westminster Theological Seminary (M.Div.), Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (Th.M.), and New York University (Ph.D.). Sharon studied at Beaver College, Lake Forest College, and the University of Minnesota (B.A.), and together with Mike has attended the American Institute of Holy Land Studies (now Jerusalem University College). The Rustens have two grown children and live in Minnetonka, Minnesota. This article was adapted from the May 6th entry in their wonderful book The One Year Book of Christian History, Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale, 2003.


“Rome Sacked Again”

In 1523 Giulio de’ Medici became Pope Clement VII. Martin Luther was causing problems at the time; but portents soon appeared of greater distresses to come. On April 8, 1527, as Clement blessed a crowd of 10,000, a fanatic in leather loincloth mounted a nearby statue, shouting, “Thou bastard of Sodom! For thy sins Rome shall be destroyed. Repent and turn thee!” Not quite a month later, on fog-shrouded May 6, 1527, a vast army of barbarians burst through Rome’s walls and poured into the city. They had been sent—but were no longer controlled—by Emperor Charles V. By the time the troops reached Rome, they were hungry, unpaid, shoeless, reduced to tatters, and rabid (Coliseum of Rome pictured on left).

The defending Roman and Swiss guards were annihilated. The barbarians pillaged, plundered, and burned with abandon. They entered hospitals and orphanages, slaughtering the occupants. Women of every age were attacked; nuns were herded into bordellos; priests were molested. The banks and treasuries were looted, the rich flogged until they turned over their last coin. Fingernails were ripped out one by one. Children were flung from high windows. Tombs were plundered, churches stripped, libraries and archives burned. Priceless manuscripts became bedding for horses. Drunken soldiers strutted around in papal garments, parodying holy rites. Within a week, 2,000 bodies were floating in the Tiber and nearly 10,000 more awaited burials. Multitudes perished. Rats and dogs eviscerated the bloating, fetid corpses that piled up in the city.

Pope Clement had barely made it into the safety of the Castle of St. Angelo, and from its towers he helplessly watched the ravaging of his city. “Why did you take me from the womb?” he wailed. “Would that I had been consumed.”

As news spread over Europe, Protestants interpreted the sack of Rome as divine retribution, and even some Catholics agreed. “We who should have been the salt of the earth decayed until we were good for nothing,” wrote Cardinal Cajetan, Luther’s contestant at Augsburg. “Everyone is convinced that all this has happened as a judgment of God on the great tyranny and disorders of the papal court.”

My eyes are red from crying, my stomach is in knots, and I feel sick all over. My people are being wiped out, and children lie helpless in the streets of the city. Those who pass by shake their heads and sneer as they make fun and shout, “What a lovely city you were, the happiest on earth, but look at you now!” Lamentations 2:11,15

About the Author: Robert J. Morgan, is the pastor of Donelson Fellowship in Nashville, Tennessee and the author of the best-selling Then Sings My Soul, From This Verse, Red Sea Rules, and On This Day – this article was adapted from the May 6th entry in this excellent book. He conducts Bible conferences, parenting and marriage retreats, and leadership seminars across the country.

Significant Events on This Day:

1312: The Council of Vienne ended. It was called chiefly to suppress the Knights Templar at the insistence of Philip IV of France. Philip made sure he got his way by appearing outside the city with an army.

1527: Charles V’s out-of-hand army entered Rome, killing, looting, raping and torturing. Pope Clement VII barely escaped with his life. The tragedy followed a prophecy by a beggar-preacher that Rome would be destroyed for Clement’s sins.

1746: William Tennent died on this day (See article above). He opened what was called a “log-college,” and his zealous students played a key role in the Great Awakening and in founding the school that became Princeton Theological Seminary.”

1840: Father Demetrius A. Gallitzin, “Apostle of the Alleghenies,” died. He immigrated to the US from Russia, converted to Catholicism, studied at Baltimore Seminary and spent the bulk of his life establishing churches in the Allegheny Mountains. He had been strongly influenced by his zealously religious mother. Amalia, who had brought many to a belief in Catholicism.

1986: The first American Indian Roman Catholic bishop, Donald E. Pelotte, was ordained in Gallup, New Mexico.

A. Kenneth Curtis and Daniel Graves edited This Day In Christian History. Camp Hill, PA: Christian Publications Inc., 2005. The events above were adapted from the entry for May 6th.

Author: lifecoach4God

I am the Lead Pastor of Marin Bible Church (Bay Area), born and raised in Huntington Beach, Ca., and currently living in Novato, California. I am married to my best friend of 30 years - Dana - and have five adult children; and seven grand children. I have been a Teaching Pastor for over thirty years. I was privileged to study at Multnomah University (B.S. - 1988); Talbot School of Theology (M.Div. - 1991); Westminster Theological Seminary & Northwest Graduate School (D. Min. - 2003). I founded Vertical Living Ministries in 2008 with the goal of encouraging Christian Disciples and Leaders to be more intentionally Christ-Centered in how they live by bringing glory to God in nine key areas of life: (1) Intimacy with God, (2) marriage, (3) family, (4) friendship, (5) vocationally/ministry , (6) emotional and physical health, (7) stewardship of resources, (8) discipleship, and (9) mentoring.

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