A wonderful 3pp ALS, probably a final rough draft, of Bennet Tyler’s [1783-1858] resignation letter from the Theological Institute of Connecticut.
Bennet Tyler was a theological and revivalistic force during nearly the entire first half of the 19th century. After graduating from Yale , he pastored in South Britain, Connecticut and there blossomed his life-long relationship with revivalist, Asahel Nettleton. Shortly after Tyler’s arrival as pastor, a revival commenced that saw his congregation quadruple, the growth being almost entirely new converts.
Always of a person of deeply mingled spiritual and theological feelings, by 1822, he was recommended to succeed Dr. Dana at Dartmouth, which he did for 6 years. He then returned to the pastorate again before assuming his life’s work at the Theological Institute.
The Institute was born out of a rift that grew during the Great Awakening. On the one side were those who were influenced by Charles G. Finney and other popular revivalists of the time, Nathaniel Taylor of New Haven being the most prominent. These were opposed by Bennet Tyler, Asahel Nettleton, and others seeing the abandonment of the classic Augustinian and Edwadrsian views of original sin, etc., as Pelagian compromise. The conflict became known as the Taylor-Tyler Controversy but was really just a personed version of the larger New Haven Controversy [or Taylorism, as it was often called].
Thus the Theological Institute of Connecticut was thus created specifically for “Old School” revivalists as a way of avoiding Taylorism-riddled Yale, and training an alternative generation of preachers who believed the best means of seeing expansive revival was not a popularizing of the Gospel, but a solid, clear preaching of the doctrines of grace as historically articulated.
His work on the Life and Labors of Asahel Nettleton has been in print in some form almost continuously since its first appearance in the 1850’s.
A beautiful letter of resignation of a life of fruitful labor for Christ. He alludes to present troubles. His reference is unclear, though it could have been the 1856 election. It has often been thought of as one of the most vitriolic and publicly bitter in American history.
To the Trustees of the Theological Institute of Connecticut.
My age and infirmities admonish me that my days of active labor must be drawing to a close; and it has appealed to me, as it has to others, that the time has come when I ought to retire from the post to which I was called by this Board twenty three years ago, and to give place to some other man in the prime and vigor of life.
I would, therefore, respectfully tender to the Trustees, my resignation of the office of President & Professor of Christian Theology in the Theological Institute, with the understanding that this resignation is to take effect so soon as another man shall be obtained to take my place, and such other arrangements shall be made as the case may require, and as shall be mutually satisfactory.
I am not influenced to take this step by any want of interest in the Seminary for whose welfare I have labored so large a part of my life, or in the cause which it was established to promote.
The doctrines which I have taught, & for the maintenance of which the Institute was founded, have lost none of their importance in my estimation; nor have I ceased to feel the importance of strenuous efforts to maintain & defend them in opposition to the multifarious forms of error which are coming in upon the churches.
I have loved the work which was assigned me by this Board; and although I have great cause for humiliation before God on account of my manifold deficiencies, I cannot but flatter myself that I have not labored altogether in vain. This Seminary, if I mistake not, even with its limited means of usefulness, has accomplished a good work, and I trust it is destined to accomplish a still more important work in days to come. Although it is now surrounded with clouds & darkness, I trust that this darkness will ere long be dispelled, and that the Institution will revive and flourish, & be a rich blessing to the church long after we shall have been gathered to our fathers.
My connection with the Board of Trustees has been from the beginning, eminently happy. I beg you will accept my sincere thanks for the many tokens of kindness & confidence which you have shown me. The remembrance of them is deeply engraven on my heart, and will be no small source of consolation durin the few remaining days of my pilgrimage.
May the Great Head of the church grant you his special presence. May he guide you by his counsel, & make the path of duty plain in this day of darkness & perplexity, & permit you to rejoice in beholding the fruit of your labors.
With great respect & esteem
I am yours in the
faith & fellowship of the Gospel
East Windsor Hill, July 16, 1856.
Then, a neatly tipped in early notation, “A copy written by his own hand, of Dr. Tyler’s resignation of his office of President of Theo. Institute of Conn.”Very good condition, small remains of mounting on rear sheet, minor closed tears.