During the great revival of religion in America, which took place under Mr. Whitefield, and others distinguished for their piety and zeal at that period, Mr. Tennent was laboriously active, and much engaged to help forward the work; in the performance of which he met with strong and powerful temptations. The following is from his own lips:
On the evening preceding public worship, he selected a subject for the discourse intended to be delivered, and made some progress in his preparations. In the morning he resumed the same subject, with an intention to extend his thoughts further on it; but was presently assaulted with a temptation that the Bible was not of Divine authority, but the invention of man.
He instantly endeavored to repel the temptation by prayer, but his endeavors proved unavailing. The temptation continued, and fastened upon him with greater strength as the time advanced for public service. He lost all the thoughts which he had prepared on the preceding evening. He tried other subjects, but could get nothing for the people. The whole book of God, under that distressing state of mind, was a sealed book to him; and, to add to his affliction, he was “shut up in prayer;” a cloud, dark as that of Egypt, oppressed his mind.
Thus agonized in spirit, he proceeded to the church, where he found a large congregation assembled, and waiting to hear the word; and then he was more deeply distressed than ever; and especially for the dishonor which he feared would fall upon religion through him that day. He resolved, however, to attempt the service. He introduced it by singing a psalm, during which time his agitation increased to the highest degree. When the moment for prayer commenced, he arose, as one in the most painful and perilous situation, and, with arms extended to heaven, began with this exclamation: “Lord, have mercy upon me!” On the utterance this petition he was heard; the thick cloud instantly broke, away, and light shone upon his soul.
The result was a deep solemnity throughout the congregation; and the house, at the end of the prayer, was a place of weeping. He delivered the subject of his evening meditations, which was brought to his full remembrance, with an overflowing abundance of other weighty and solemn matter. The Lord blessed this discourse, so that it proved the happy means of the conversion of about thirty persons. This day he ever afterwards spoke of as his harvest day.”
- Anecdotes of the Ministry
Touching Incidents and Remarkable Answers to Prayer - 1893