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Dr Thomas Wesley Brents Jr.

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Dr Thomas Wesley Brents Jr.

Birth
Death 27 Jun 1905 (aged 82)
Burial Lewisburg, Marshall County, Tennessee, USA
Memorial ID 42550550 View Source

Medical doctor, gospel preacher, writer, and president of Burritt College. For more bio information, go to www.therestorationmovement.com.

Dr. T. W. Brents
By Victor W. Dorris
Born in Lincoln County, Tennessee, February 10, 1823. His parents were both from Kentucky, and he is closely related to many of the large connection of the Brents (sometimes spelled Brent) scattered throughout the state. It is but fitting that men of the type of Dr. Brents be accorded a permanent and somewhat extended biographical notice in a book of this kind; especially as the ranks of the second generation of the pioneers are being rapidly depleted and we shall soon see them no more. On reaching early manhood he had enjoyed such schooling only as was furnished by the common schools of the community. But, having a thirst for knowledge, possessing an unusually vigorous mind, and being an assiduous and retentive reader of most of the standard books and best periodicals along his chosen lines, he soon attained rare proficiency. His [455] knowledge and use of potent English characterizes his utterances, spoken and written. And, as the character and scope of his public work called for accurate knowledge of original languages he took up the study of Greek and Latin, and other ancient tongues and made such progress as to show ease and versatility in their use. He frequently relates that the first distinct godly impression made upon his mind, when but eight or ten years old, was by a pious, prayerful woman, whose husband was dissipated, profane and abusive, even to severity. When her tormentor had fallen to sleep, after leaving bleeding marks of his brutality upon her person, she would call her own little boy and the subject of this sketch to sit by her side while she read some comforting chapter of Scripture, and then have them bow at her knees while she, with a hand upon each youthful head, would offer such fervent prayers as to make a deep impression and create an early desire to be a good man. In youth he was inclined to the law as a profession, having a number of relatives who were distinguished legal lights of their day; but he decided that the profession was fraught with too many temptations to "conform to the things of this world," hence he abandoned this and chose medicine as a life work. He was educated in medicine in the college in Nashville, Tennessee, and Macon, Georgia, graduating at the latter place. He filled the chair of Anatomy and Surgery in the Macon Medical College just preceding the Civil War. He practiced medicine and surgery for some fifteen years, attaining marked distinction, especially in surgery. In the meantime he preached the gospel as opportunity afforded. Very soon the two callings clashed--he could not do both well, so, believing it his duty to give his life to the preaching of the gospel, he gave up a wide and lucrative practice. This decision compelled him to count dimes instead of dollars, but he has not regretted it, being amply rewarded in counting thousands who have yielded to the claims of Christ under his ministry. He was chosen President of Burrett College, Spencer, Tenn., about 1876, which position he filled for four years. He has done but little regular preaching for congregations as is the custom of today. He declined the offered pulpits of some of our best churches in those early days, feeling it to be more to his liking to bold meetings, which he did abundantly and with much success. He visited many churches and renewed their zeal and hopes by laying before them a few strong, clear sermons on the vital features of the great plea, in which he was particularly gifted. He was busy with his pen and wrote many articles for the papers, and finally found himself called upon to defend the truth in many places in oral debate. But few men among us have held more public debates than he. Among those he has met are the names of Timothy Frogge, J. B. Moody, and Jacob Ditzler, having met the latter seven times. Mr. Ditzler said, in the presence of the writer of this sketch, that Dr. Brents was the most formidable foe he had ever met among our brethren. In 1874 he published his first book, the "Gospel Plan of Salvation," a book of twenty-five chapters, six hundred and sixty-two pages. It deals with all the vital features of first principles, including all the phases of "depravity," "fore-ordination," "election," and all the "Calvinistic" doctrines; also the Church--its Establishment, Identity, and who should and may enter it, is dealt with most thoroughly. The conditions of pardon, along with a most exhaustive treatment of the Holy Spirit bear the marks of painstaking research and care. For strong and lucid exegesis, pure and potent English and clear cut logic it ranks with the very best. Among the many distinguished features of this work one is impressed especially with the scope and thoroughness of the treatment of all the popular doctrines and objections employed by denominational leaders when seeking to set up their distinguishing teachings and to denounce the plea we make for the Restoration of the New Testament order. Even at the present day one very rarely meets a doctrine, argument or objection urged against our plea which has not been disposed of by a masterful hand in "The Gospel Plan of Salvation." The American Christian Review said: "The work contains the pith of near a life time of thought, much reading and extended experience touching the matters treated with all the doctrinal difficulties, perplexities and confusion that lie in the way. He has, with a masterful hand, met, traced out, and explained the greatest difficulties, and, with the utmost patience and in the most laborious manner, [456] cleared away the perplexities and confusion that have kept thousands out of the kingdom of God, and are now keeping thousands, who honestly desire to be Christians, out of Christ. The work is decidedly well written. It enters into the matter item by item, and clears up difficulties lying in the path of every man striving to spread the gospel, and deals with them in a most safe and reliable manner, and makes the truth gleam out at every angle." The Bible Index says: "It is carefully written and in good English. In the initial chapters he takes in hand Predestination, Election, and Reprobation, Hereditary Depravity, etc., and before he gets through with these illogical and anti-scriptural dogmas, there is no breath left in them. They are utterly demolished." His last book, "Gospel Sermons," was published in 1891, and containing many of the very strongest sermons he has been accustomed to preach, is a most readable and instructive book. A few paragraphs from the preface of this work will serve to indicate the trend of the sermons. He says: "On the subject of the Christian religion, the Bible is the only infallible authority in the universe. Good, wise, and great men have met in councils, assemblies, presbyteries, conferences, and associations, and have formulated creeds, confessions of faith, and disciplines, which have been adopted by religious bodies; but, like all things of human origin, they are imperfect. That they are often wrong is seen in the fact that it is necessary to change, alter or amend them. Translations of the Bible may need revision, but the Bible, as it came from the inspiring Spirit of God, needs no alteration. Being perfect, it is not susceptible of improvement. Perfection cannot be improved. Science is progressive. Improvements are frequently made. New discoveries are often developed. But Christianity was perfect when it came from its author, and cannot be improved. Man may grow in a knowledge of the divine will so as to more perfectly teach and practice it, but to improve it would be to improve perfection itself. This cannot be done, and it is unwise to attempt it." Most of Dr. Brents' years and labors have been spent in Tennessee, but now, in his declining years, he is living with one of his daughters, Mrs. Victor Dorris, Georgetown, Kentucky. --- John T. Brown, Churches of Christ, 455-457.


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