Birthdays on February 5
John Witherspoon was born at Yester, Scotland. He matriculated to the University of Scotland at age 13, received his M.A. in 1739, and 1743 graduated in divinity. A leader in the Popular Party of the Scottish church, he advocated purity of doctrine, the rights of the local church to choose their own pastors, and he opposed the liberalizing tendencies of the Moderates. He emigrated to America in 1768 to become president of the College of New Jersey (later, Princeton). Though the school suffered great losses during the Revolution, Witherspoon revitalized it, adding new courses with new teachers, all the while strengthening the financial strucure of the institution. Politically, he arrived as a delegate to the Continental Congress in Philadelphia just in time to support the Declaration of Independence, the only clergyman to sign it.
Birth of Gilbert Tennent in County Armagh, Ireland. At age 15 he emigrated to America. He received most of his theological training under his father (who founded the "log college"). A bold revivalist and pastor, he preached his most famous sermon, "Dangers of an Unconverted Ministry" in 1740. Because of his strong stand on the Word of God and sharp words, he was the center of controversy most of his life and split the Presbyterian church (a split he later tried to patch up). He was influential in the Great Awakening and a friend of George Whitefield.
Dwight Lyman Moody was born on his mother's 32nd birthday, at Northfield, Mass., in the midst of a roaring blizzard. His father died when he was four, leaving his mother to provide for nine small children. One by one they left home to earn their own living, Dwight going to Boston at 17. His Sunday School teacher, Edward Kimbell, became concerned about each member of his class, and sought to bring each boy to personally know the Lord. He was converted at age 18 in his uncle's shoe store. Eager for success and anxious for greater independence, he left Boston for Chicago. There he gathered boys and girls for Sunday school. Moreover, he rented a pew for himself (and later added three more pews) which he filled regularly with young men from off the streets, resulting in many conversions. Then he rented a closed saloon, cleaned it out, and began his own Sunday School, drawing in hundreds of children (shortly reaching 1,500 in regular attendance), children who otherwise would never have heard the Gospel. In time he became a preacher, and, although untaught, he so yielded himself to the Holy Spirit that God used him mightily. His evangelistic ministry travelled the length and breadth of Great Britain and the United States.