REV. ROBERT DONNELL. 61
FROM HIS VISIT TO PENNSYLVANIA TO HIS SECOND MARRIAGE.
Mr. Morgan's Account of the Revival in Pennsylvania Conduct of
Presbyterians Meeting at Athens, Ohio Last Hours of Mr. Mor-
ganMr. Donnell at Lebanon Great Revival there Mr. Golladay's
Letter Letter from Col. Topp Mr. Donnell's second Marriage His
Covenant with God.
Soon after the camp-meeting at Ten-mile closed,
Messrs. Donnell and Burrow set out for home, leaving
the late Bev. John Morgan and Dr. Bryan in the coun-
try, to preach and organize churches. The following
letter of Mr. Morgan, written to the "Beligious and Lit-
erary Intelligencer," will show the success of their labors
up to the date of the letter :
" Princeton, Ky., January 30, 1832.
" I arrived here on the 14th inst., on my way home from an
Eastern mission. A brief narrative of my tour, perhaps, will
"be expected by the church. Accounts of our revival in Penn-
sylvania have already been published, up to the first of No-
vember last. I think about one hundred persons have professed
religion since that time ; making in all eight hundred since the
revival began at our camp-meeting at Ten-mile.
" When I left Pennsylvania, the calls for preaching were
multiplying, and the religious excitement among the people
had increased and spread over a large portion of country ; and
in some places, whole families, and almost whole neighbor-
hoods, had been embraced in the gracious work.
" Owing to a want of ministerial aid, we organized only five
congregations : one in the town of Washington, Pennsylvania,
62 LIFE AND LABORS OF
consisting of fifty members ; one twelve miles from town, in
Washington county, of two hundred ; one in the same county
of twenty ; one in the town of Wainsburgh, Green county, of
forty; and another in the town of Jefferson, in the same county,
of fifty-two. From the above, it is obvious that many of the
converts joined other denominations, which was their privilege.
The congregations formed were flourishing, and receiving ac-
cessions at almost every meeting. One great obstacle with the
people was a fear of not getting a supply of preaching from our
ministers. We, however, made such pledges as we thought we
could redeem, by getting an additional supply of ministers
from the West. There are several young men, subjects of the
late revival, whose minds seemed to be impressed on the sub-
ject of preaching, one of whom I brought with me to this place.*
He is to enter college next month, with a view to the ministry.
Our Presbyterian brethren in that country, with some few
exceptions, did not receive us with that cordiality and chris-
tian friendship which they show us in the West. An act
was passed by one of their Presbyteries, prohibiting us from
preaching in their churches.
" We were written to from New York, soliciting preaching.
Brother Bryan was to pay a visit to that country soon after I
left; but would stay but a short time, having, in connection
with brother Bird, agreed to supply congregations, already
formed, with preaching.
" On my way to this country, I passed over a small portion
of the State of Virginia ; through several counties in Ohio, and
so on to this State, by way of Maysville and Lexington ; but
owing to the extreme coldness of the weather, and delicacy of
my health, I did not preach as often as I wished, though we had
several meetings, some of which were more and others less in-
teresting. One, however, in Athens, Ohio, I would remark on
particularly, as it was unusually interesting. It was held in
* Mr. Morgan refers here to the late lamented Bidell,
REV. ROBERT DONNELL. 63
the Presbyterian church, of which Rev. Mr. Spaulding is pastor,
and who is much devoted to God and to the spiritual interests
of his people. He did not wait to present a long catalogue of
inquiries respecting the peculiarities of Cumberland Presby-
terians, before he would ask me to preach in his church. His
soul was wrestling in prayer with God for a revival of religion ;
and though he well knew we might differ in some non-essen-
tial points, he also knew that we agreed in all the essential
ones ; and, consequently, his actions, which spoke louder than
words, said, ' Lord, send by whom thou wilt send, but let sal-
vation come to my people.' Would to God all ministers had
such a spirit. I remained with him eleven days, preached nine
times in town and twice in the country. Mr. Spaulding and
others preached occasionally. We had prayer-meetings every
morning, before sun-rise, and inquiry meetings frequently.
When I left, it was ascertained that thirty-five had professed
religion, and about forty were still serious. Eight students of
the college were among the converts, and a number more were
inquiring for the way of salvation.
" The tone of religious feeling in Kentucky is very low, with
a few exceptions. Elkton, and one or two other towns, have
recently been visited with revivals of religion. So that, with
all the encouraging circumstances and brightening prospects
on the side of Zion, there is much to cause the christian to
lament and pray. Wickedness abounds to an alarming extent,
even where the Gospel is most faithfully preached ; and many
professors of religion are far below that elevated standard of
practical piety revealed in the Word of God.
"I will add, in conclusion, that there is a very extensive field
>f usefulness open to ministers of our church in the Eastern
States ; and that more of our energies should be directed to that
country than has hitherto been done. At least, as we have
formed some churches, and by order of the Green River Synod
expect to constitute a Presbytery, we ought, as soon as possi-
ble, to send on an additional supply of ministers.
64 LIFE AND LABORS OF
Mr. Morgan was converted and brought into the
ministry under the preaching of Mr. Donnell, and
stood very high in his estimation as a man of talents
and piety. He was devoted to the interests of the
church to which he belonged ; and no preacher of his
day labored more indefatigably to save souls, nor did
any one surpass him in usefulness. His work was
closed, however, by pulmonary affection, on the 17th
of October, 1841, in the thirty-sixth year of his age,
and fourteenth year of his ministry.
The following brief statement of his last moments,
is from the pen of Eev. Milton Bird, D.D. :
" His protracted affliction he endured with patience and
resignation. He had his right mind, was settled and calm to
the last moment. I often heard him say that Christ had been
precious to him, and altogether lovely when preaching salva-
tion through his name. ' Now in affliction he is my comfort
and consolation. O, there is nothing like communion with God.
I know in whom I have believed. My trust is firm. I view
the approach of death without fear. I feel myself to be a poor,
unworthy sinner ; but Christ is my only dependence. The
plan of salvation is just such as man needs. O, how well
adapted is the christian's hope to his condition. Nothing else
can give comfort in affliction, and enable one to meet death
" He sometimes said, when he thought of the church and his
rising family, he felt a desire to have health again, if it was the
Lord's will. The third evening before his death, I called to
see him. An aged minister, sitting at his bed-side, observed
e Brother Morgan, I suppose you remember our Synod is to
meet to-morrow ?' 'Yes,' said he, 'I remember it well ; but I
suppose I shall not meet with you any more till we meet in
REV. ROBERT DONNELL. 65
the General Assembly and Church of the First Born.' The
apostle's language was then quoted ; 'For me to live is Christ,
and to die is gain.' ' Yes,' said he, ' that is the last text I ever
preached from. Death is a very trying event more than hu-
man nature could hear without the aid of religion. Leaving
a rising family, is my greatest trial ; but the Lord gave them,
and if He sees fit to call me away, He will take care of them.'
I took my leave of him, and next morning started to Synod.
On returning, the unwelcome intelligence was received that
brother Morgan was no longer numbered with the living. His
mind was composed to the last. He said, just before he ex-
pired, ' I am going, and hope the Lord will make short work
of it,' and spoke no more. 1 '
Let us now return and accompany Mr. Donnell on
hie journey home from Pennsylvania. Nothing of
special interest occurred till he reached Lebanon, Ten-
nessee. There he found the Franklin Synod in session,
at which an interesting revival of religion commenced,
that added some of the most enterprising and wealthy
citizens of the town to the church, who subsequently
took the lead in establishing and building up Cum-
berland University an institution which has pros-
pered under an able faculty, until it is second to none
in the great valley of the Mississippi. A law de-
partment has been added since its location, at which
many of the most talented young lawyers have gradu-
ated, and already taken a high position in the affairs
of State. A theological school has also been opened,
where candidates for the ministry are being ably in-
structed, prepaiatory to their responsible vocation.*
* This chapter, and indeed the entire Memoir, was written before
our unfortunate war commenced, which closed the operations of the
66 LIFE AND LABORS OF
Mr. Donnell preached frequently while Synod was in
session, and his influence in the revival, and subsequent
agency in building up the University, eternity alone
can reveal. He was chairman of the committee that
located the institution, and contributed largely of his
means to endow it.
The revival continued long after the adjournment of
Synod, with great power, and many were added to the
church. The late Revs. Thomas Calhoun, Sr., and
George Donnell, (cousin of the subject of this Memoir,)
and other ministers yet living, labored day and night
to promote it. It spread from Lebanon into the sur-
rounding country, and many heads of families, and
men of talents, were brought into the church.
The following letter from Mr. G-olladay to Mr. Don-
nell, in reference to this revival, is deemed worthy of
a place here :
" Lebanon, Tenn., February 7, 1832.
" Dear Brother : Your letter, requesting an account of
matters and things here since you left, has been received.
" The revival of religion that commenced while you were
here at Synod, last fall, continued all winter, and there is still
considerable interest manifested. The people attended church
for many weeks, through all kinds of weather, both day and
night, often remaining at our evening meetings till midnight.
" Many of our best citizens have been converted and joined
University; and during the progress of that bloody conflict, the fine
edifice of the institution was reduced to ashes by Confederate soldiers.
Laudable efforts, however, are being made, with fine prospects of suc-
cess, to erect a new building; and the University has already com-
menced operations upon a limited scale, and it is hoped and believed
that former prosperity will be fully realized at no distant day.
RIV. ROBERT DONNELL. 67
our church ; and it is said others expect to join soon. Four
weeks ago, at our meeting, there was quite a number of
" What a change in the state of things! For fourteen years
I almost stood alone for Cumberlandism at Lebanon ; no house
of worship except the Court-house. I put it in order, and rang
the bell, when brother Calhoun and others preached. But we
are suffering now for want of stated preaching. The ministers
who labored in the revival have returned to their respective
charges, and our pulpit is only occasionally occupied. Brother
George Donnell, who was expected to preach for us, is afflicted
with sore eyes, and fears are entertained that he will have to
give up preaching.
" May the Lord bless you, and direct you to visit Lebanon
again. ISAAC GOLLADY.
"Rev. R. Donnell.."
Often has the writer heard Mr. Calhoun speak of Mr.
Golladay particularly of his attention to him when
he first commenced preaching at Lebanon. Though
not a professor of religion at that time, he never failed
to ring the Court-house bell, and to have the house in
order. He and Mr. Calhoun were strongly united by
ties of friendship, till separated by death. Mr. Golla-
day was constant in his attendance at church, both
before and after he professed religion. Earely was his
seat vacant, either at preaching or prayer-meeting.
His venerable form is vividly before the imagination
of the writer, at the present moment. He always
occupied the same seat at church, and whoever might
be absent, his gray locks were generally to be seen.
The following letter of Col. Topp to Mr. Donnell, in
68 LIFE AND LABORS OF
reference to the same great revival, will also be read
with interest :
M Lebanon, Tenn., March 20, 1832.
" Dear Brother : I have for some time intended to write
you an account of the interesting revival of religion that has
been in progress here since Synod, and to inform yon of the
great -desire your friends have to see you among them at this
" Never have I seen such a time in Lebanon. Many of our
most respectable citizens have made a public profession of re-
ligion, and I have reason to believe others are engaged in a-
more private way, seeking the salvation of their souls. Some
are much awakened on the subject of religion, but still suspend
action, and I fear will endeavor to wear off their convictions.
"O, if you could visit us at this time, with what joy your
friends would greet you. I have very often heard them say,
4 O, that uncle Bob Donnell would come along just now !' I
believe you -could do more good, just at this time, than you
have done in all your visits and exertions heretofore at Leba-
non put together. Come and see us at the earliest moment
possible. Should you delay long, the interest may subside.
"Judge James C. Mitchell has professed religion, and joined
our church. If I am correctly informed, the sermon you
preached the evening after you returned from Jackson county,
was the cause of his conversion.
"Col. Findley will join our church next Sabbath. Col. Ca-
ruthers, William L. Martin, Mrs. McLain, and several others,
are known as seekers of religion.
" We had some happy and glorious seasons here during the
wi-nter and spring; and my heart's desire and prayer is, that
they may continue. Do come, I pray you, and help us at this
important crisis. I know you will be astonished and delighted
at the prospects of religion in this country. Our church in this
place numbers about fifty members, and I hope and trust the
number will be doubled during the present year. Our dear
REV. ROBERT DONNELL. 69
little brother, George Donnell, is almost worn out by his min-
isterial labors, and he has been much afflicted during the win-
ter, and needs help and rest. JOHN S. TOPP.
" Rev. R. Donnell."
Col. Topp's wife professed religion during the Syn-
odical meeting, at Lebanon, the previous fall, and he
himself a few weeks afterward. Both are still living,
and are active and useful members of the church.
After remaining a widower four years, Mr. Donnell
was again married, on the 21st of June, 1832, to Miss
Clarissa N. Lindley, (daughter of .Rev. Jacob Lindley,
D.D.,) a lady of devoted piety, of high intellectual at-
tainments, and who proved a valuable auxiliary to her
husband in the great work of the ministry. On the
day previous to his marriage, he wrote and signed the
following covenant :
" O, Lord, on to-morrow, if it be Thy will, I expect to in-
crease my domestic obligations, and, as I hope, comforts, by
uniting in matrimony with Clarissa N. Lindley. Before taking
this responsible step, I would solemnly renew my covenant
with Thee. Thou knowest that before I was married to Ann
E. Smith, I entered into covenant with Thee, and also before
her death. Thou hast promised that, as the days of Thy ser-
vants are, so shall their strength be; and that. Thy grace shall
be sufficient for them. By Thy grace, O Lord, I will now con-
secrate myself anew and unreservedly to Thy service, and
promise, in my new situation, to do everything in my power,
both at home and abroad, to promote Thy glory, the good of the
church, and the salvation of sinners. To this solemn pledge, I
now subscribe my unworthy name.
" Robert Donnell.
" June 20, 1882:'
70 LIFE AND LABORS OP
Under the Old Testament dispensation, vows were
very common. The object seems to have been, at
least in part, to render more vivid upon the mind a
sense of obligation in reference to some specific duty.
Whatever may be the ordinary feelings of the heart
towards God, there are certain periods in every man's
life, when he feels peculiarily dependent, or under
special obligations for favors received ; when, although
he may not enter into a formal covenant with God, as
did Jacob, and others, still a secret purpose is formed
to do something for God, that had been previously
neglected, or which the individual feared he might
neglect in future.
Transitions from one state or condition in life to an-
other, are not always safe, even to physical health,
much less to spiritual health. Mr. Donnell seemed to
have been fully aware of this ; and to guard against
the danger, entered into covenant with God, pledging
fidelity to His cause, and invoking grace to meet the
new circumstances about to be thrown around him.
Preachers, above all men, need God's counsel and
direction in the choice of a companion for life. Not
only their happiness, but usefulness, is at stake. The
following sentiment of Dr. Clark, on this subject, is
couched in very strong language, but certainly ex-
presses at least a general truth : " Marriage to you,"
addressing preachers, " can never be an indifferent
thing. It will make or mar you ; it will be a blessing or a
curse to you ; it will either help you to heaven, or drive
REV. ROBERT D0NNELL. 71
you to hell, or be a heart-rending cross to you while
you live, Nor will a bad or improper marriage affect
yourself alone; it may be the ruin of every child that
issues from it. And dreadful as this is, it may not rest
there ; they may propagate the plague to interminable
generations, and millions be injured, if not lost, by your
improper, if not vicious, marriage. Take this step,
then, with that godly fear and scrupulous caution
which a man should do who feels that he has his all
72 LIFE AND LABORS OP
PROM HIS SECOND MARRIAGE TILL THE ESTABLISHMENT OF A
CHURCH IN MEMPHIS, TENN.
Great Revival in Memphis Invited to become Pastor of the Church
He Declines Reasons for Declining Visits the City Letter to
his Son Collects Funds to build a House of Worship Different
Pastors of the Church in Memphis.
In 1843, Mr. Donnell determined, under God, to plant
a church in Memphis, Tennessee, and for that purpose
commenced a series of meetings in the city. A power-
ful revival of religion ensued, and a large and respect-
able congregation was soon organized. All eyes were
immediately turned to him as pastor, and he was unan-
imously elected to that responsible station. The fol-
lowing notice of the choice was transmitted to him by
the Session :
" Memphis, Tenn., April 3, 1844.
"Rev. and Dear Brother Donnell: At a meeting re-
cently held by the Cumberland Presbyterian church in Mem-
phis, you were unanimously chosen as pastor. The meeting
was large, and the utmost good feeling and harmony of senti-
ment prevailed. All felt deeply the importance of regular ser-
vice in the congregation. In both town and country, there
seems to be but one desire on the subject : that is, that you be
earnestly solicited to accept the appointment. You may ex-
pect hearty co-operation in all matters pertaining to the inter-
ests of the church, and a willingness on the part of the congre-
gation to minister to your temporal wants. The doctrine of the
REV. ROBERT DONNELL. 73
New Testament, that the laborer is worthy of his hire, is fully-
" We shall be glad to hear from you in regard to this impor-
tant matter as soon as convenient. We doubt not that you will
unite with us in fervent prayer to God that He may so guide
you in your decision, that all may redown to His honor and
the prosperity of the church. John D. White,
Samuel, D. Key,
W. B. S. Garrison,
M. B. Waldren."
While pondering this call, and doubtless making it a
subject of solemn prayer, Mr. Donnell, in the following
communication, unbosomed his embarrassed state of
mind to his confidential friend, the Eev. M. H. Bone :
" I am in a strait betwixt two ; and as I hide nothing from
you, I will tell you the cause. A call has just reached me from
the congregation in the city of Memphis, to become their pas-
tor. I know not how to refuse, and yet there seem to be in-
separable obstacles in the way of my acceptance.
" In the first place, I am not qualified for the stetion, and the
infirmities of age admonish me that the physical labor would
be more than I could bear. Worldly considerations are also in
my way. Many of my negroes have wives in this neighbor-
hood, and were I to move to Memphis, would have to be sepa-
rated from their families. This I could not think of doing; nor
can I bear the idea of leaving my black people here under an
overseer, and removing without them.
" But, on the other hand, is the voice of the church in this
case to be regarded as the voice of God ; and if He calls me to
that field so white unto harvest, ought I to refuse ? Memphis
is destined to be a great city, and an important point to our
church, and I know of no other preacher at present that can or
will take charge of the congregation. O Lord, what wilt Thou
have me to do? Pray for me, my dear brother."
74 LIFE AND LABORS OF
Mr. Dormell finally declined the call to Memphis,
and made known his determination in the following
" Poflar Rest, Ala., April 17, 1844.
" Dear Brethren : I have received your unanimous invi-
tation to take the pastoral charge of the Cumberland Presby-
terian church in Memphis. I regret to say, in reply, that cir-
cumstances seem to forbid my acceptance., The difficulty of
moving my large family, or of dividing my servants, taking a
part with me, and leaving the resi here, would be very un-
pleasant. My advanced period of life, and the growing in-
firmities of age, admonish me that I ought not to undertake the
labor of pastor to so large a congregation as yours, scattered as
it is over so large and growing a city as Memphis. Besides,
what little skill I inay have acquired in the ministry by study
and experience, is more of a missionary than of a pastoral char-
acter, and I have thought that I understood better how to 'plant'
than to 'water' churches.
" I have often thought of you, and tried to pray for you since
I left you last fall, and hope the Great Head of the Church will
send you a pastor of his own choosing. My attachments to you
are very strong. Many of you were converted to God in this
country, if not as seals of my ministry. Your city and country
present a wide field of usefulness ; and I desire to visit you
often, and should life be spared, shall endeavor to do so.
" I have arranged, if the Lord will, to be in Memphis the
third Sabbath in May next perhaps a few days before. If a
house cannot be procured to preach in, can we not have a meet-
ing in 'Court Grove?' I cannot remain with you very long, but
may the visit be attended with the blessing of God !
" ROBERT BONK ELL.
M John D. White, Sam. D. Key, W. B. Garrison, M. B, Waldren."
From Memphis, Mr. Donneil writes the following
letter to his son, under date 22d of May, 1844;
REV. ROBERT DONNELL. 75
" Dear James : In the midst of pressing claims upon my
time, I write you a hasty line. Could I reach home by travel-
ing two or three days and nights, I would set out immediately,
having just heard that Mr. Fisher's family are afflicted with
something like the blaek tongue, and I fear it is contagious,
and may spread through the town and county. But duty will
confine me here a few days, and then engagements elsewhere
command my time and attention, so that 1 must be some weeks
yet absent from home. May a kind Providence protect you.
" I shall leave Memphis in a few days for DeSota. We have
a meeting next Saturday and Sabbath in Mr. Maxwell's neigh-
borhood, and it was my intention to go to Hernando on Friday
night, but hear the small-pox is still there.
" I am now trying to raise funds here to build a church. A