the nature and responsibilities of his office, he will
mourn. But how cheering is a revival of religion un-
der such circumstances ! It excites new hope, and
prompts to new effort on the part of the weary, dis-
couraged laborer. Every minister of Christ, who has
been long in the work, can appreciate the sentiments
and feelings of Mr. Donnell.]
A SECOND LETTER TO MR. HARRIS.
Fayette ville, Tenn., January 23, ]815.
Dear Brother : I am all anxiety to hear from our
troops at New Orleans. Many brave men of my ac-
quaintance are there. At our last advices, they had
been engaged in skirmishing, but no decided battle
had been fought. Before this reaches you, we shall
have further intelligence. May the Lord give success
to our arms ! Peace with England, I think, will de-
pend upon the result of the battle now pending.
I have lately seen several of our preachers, among
whom were King, Bell and McGee. All were well ex-
Rev. William Harris.
REV. FINIS EWING TO MR. DONNELL.
Ewingsville, Ky., February 11, 1815.
My dear Brother Donnell : Three days ago, I re-
ceived your favor of the 25th ult. I am really grateful
for your attention to me on the score of writing, and
REV. ROBERT DON NELL. 105
have often felt anxious to reply, but know not where
to direct my letters. You once told me that a letter
would find you at a certain time at Shelby ville, and I
accordingly wrote to you at that place, but I got no
answer from you. You now urge me to write, but say
nothing about your postomce. I therefore send this
letter, as it were, hunting you. Tell me where to
direct my letters, and I will, with great pleasure, cor-
respond with you often.
With respect to our Confession of Faith, I will just
say it is printed. Brothers Barnett, Kirkpatrick and
myself, examined it in committee. But owing to ill
health of the binder, it will be some time yet before all
will be bound.
I am pleased that the people in the South approve
of my " National discourse." It is an evidence to me
that they are good Whigs. I have had flattering let-
ters from other quarters ; but having advanced con-
siderably in life, these things have not the same effect
on my mind now that they might have had at an
earlier period. I am gratified, however, to hear that
any of my well-meant performances are approved by
the wise and good ; and hope the discourse may be of
service to many, by giving them just views of what is
at stake in the present war with Great Britain, and
stimulating christians to frequent and fervent prayer
for the success of our arms.
I am glad you are yet blowing the gospel trumpet,
and that you and brother Calhoun contemplate a visit
106 LIFE AND LABORS OF
to East Tennessee. I would be glad to accompany
you. but fear it will be out of my power.
We bear the General Assembly has dealt harshly
with us, and that the Synod of Kentucky will repeat
the blow next fall at Nashville. But these things o-ive
me but little uneasiness. The present state of religion
amono; ourselves o-ives me much more concern than
anything the old church can do or say. But thank
the Lord, his Spirit is still present in some of our con-
gregations. Brother Barnett frequently has very good
meetings ; and what is the greatest wonder of all, God
now and then gives my poor soul some sweet repast
on his love.
A strange epidemic is now prevailing in this country,
sweeping many after a few hours' sickness, into eternity.
You have, ere this, heard of General Jackson's vic-
tory at !S"ew Orleans. I have read a good deal about
war, but do not recollect of any parallel to it, except
the old wars of Israel, when God wrought miracles for
them. Let us say, " not unto us, not unto us," &c.
With my whole heart. 1 desire to thank God for such
obvious interpositions of His power. Many citizens
of this county were in the hottest of the battle.
Your friend and brother,
Rev. R. Donnell.
SAMUEL DONNELL TO MR. DONNELL.
Wilson County, Ky., August 19, 1815.
Dear Brother : I am still living, but my health is
rapidly failing, and I feel that my time on earth must
REV. ROBERT DONNELL. 107
be short. O, that I may be enabled to glorify God in
sickness as well as in health, in death as well as in life.
I have been spending some time at Medical Springs, of
this county, but received but little benefit.
I feel under great obligations to you, as well as many
other kind friends, and should like to see you once
more. Can you not visit this country and preach to
the people ? They would be greatly delighted to hear
you. I suppose you have heard of Col. Doak's sudden
death. I hope it will produce a good effect upon the
I was truly pleased to hear of the success of your
tour, in connection with brother Calhoun, to East Ten-
nessee. It is a matter of rejoicing, too, that signs of
revivals are appearing elsewhere. O, that they may
be multiplied and extended throughout the world !
I have lately seen a book, called the Body of Christ,
with which I am much pleased. The writer urges, in
a very clear and forcible manner, the propriety and
necessity of all evangelical denominations of christians
uniting on a doctrinal basis, embodying only the fund-
amental doctrines of religion. The author also dwells
upon the moral government of God, and shows most
clearly that salvation was provided for all who fell
under the curse of the Divine law.
Our relations are all well, so far as I know, and
anxious to see you.
Your affectionate brother,
Rev. Robert Donnell.
108 LIFE AND LABORS OF
[The writer of the foregoing letter was the oldest
brother of the subject of this Memoir, and brother-
in-law of the late Rev. David Foster. I find the fol-
lowing statements respecting him, in Mr. DonnelPs
own handwriting, among his papers :
"Samuel Donnell, my oldest brother, died August 12, 1817,
sitting iu his chair, in Caldwell county, Kentucky, far from
home, among strangers. He was an elder in the Spring Creek
congregation, when under the pastoral care of the Rev. Samuel
Donnell. He was truly a revivalist, and active in promoting
the work of God. He joined Cumberland Presbytery as a can-
didate for the ministry in the Presbyterian church, and was
one of the young men arraigned for trial before the i Commis-
sion of Kentucky Synod.' He was licensed to* preach soon
after the organization, in 1810, of the first Presbytery of the
Cumberland Presbyterian church, but never preached much,
owing to pulmonary affection, with which he was attacked
PROM MR. DONN ELL'S MOTHER.
Wilson County, Tenn., December 29, 1815.
My dear Son : I have heard of your affliction, with
much sorrow, and would be glad to have it in my
power to nurse and take care of you ; but the journey
to Alabama would be too great for me to undertake it.
I hope the Lord will supply my place with kind friends,
and that you will not suffer for the want of attention.
Should you be spared, write us so soon as you get able,
and come and see us when you can.
I will send you some articles of clothing by the first
REV. ROBERT DONNELL. 109
opportunity. My health is about as when I wrote you
last. Give my love to Mrs. Taylor and family.
Your affectionate mother,
Rev. R. Donnell.
SAMUEL DONNELL to MR. DONNELL.
Wilson County, Tenn., July 30, 1816.
Dear Brother : I am now returning from a camp-
meeting, and embrace the opportunity of sending you
a few lines by brothers Fan* and Stewart.
My health is about as it was when I last saw you.
Alternate hopes and fears still make up a large portion
of my religious experience. Comforts at times I have,
which I would not exchange for anything the world
can give ; but I also have my dark moments, when
doubts and fears annoy me. Impatience sometimes
yields to submission, and sometimes overcomes it.
Are such strange vicissitudes common to christians?
But the bearer waits for my letter, and I must close
it. The brethren can tell you about our camp-meeting.
Fail not to write me soon.
Your affectionate brother,
Rev. R. Donnell.
MR. DONNELL TO MR. HUGH BONE.
Fall Creek, Tenn., December 29, 1817.
Dear Brother : I have been trying to preach
through your county for several days, but have not
had the pleasure of seeing my good uncle Hugh at one
110 LIFE AND LABORS OF
of my appointments. I am now on my way to Madison
county, Alabama. O, that the Lord would go with me!
The Lord has helped me to preach since I saw you,
and we have had some good meetings ; but I have also
had some dark hours.
Since I came into the bounds of your Presbytery, I
have been trying to kindle some missionary fire in the
hearts of God's ministers and people. I find that you
have not one circuit-rider in all your bounds this year.
You appear to be well supplied with Apollos to "water"
your churches, but there are no Pauls to "plant." I
find, however, that some of your preachers have caught
the flame, and are willing to go if the people will open
Now, my good brother, the elders represent the
people, and have an equal voice in our judicatures with
the preachers. Will you not, at your next Presbytery,
unmuzzle the ox and let him go, (I. Cor. ix : 9); or, to
speak without a figure, will you not, at your next ses-
sion, devise some means to support the itinerating sys-
tem? To this system our church is greatly indebted
for past success, and if we would continue to prosper
it must still be supported. The church is everywhere
waking up to the importance of sending the Gospel to
the destitute. Will this Presbytery be idle ? True,
you are preaching the Gospel at home to your organ-
ized congregations ; but, brother, try to introduce some
plan by which you may be able to speak with more
than one tongue.
REV. ROBERT DONNELL, 111
The Russian Bible Society have recently sent off
sixteen wagon loads of Bibles and Testaments, to dif-
ferent parts of the empire. Cannot the Nashville
Presbytery send one or more laborers into the vine-
yard of the Lord, at your next meeting? Think, O,
think, brother, of the value of one precious soul ; it
cost the precious blood of the Son of God. O, does
God love sinners ; does Jesus Christ love them ; does
the Holy Ghost love them ; is the sacred Trinity en-
gaged for their salvation, and can we be idle? While
you reflect on this subject, pray for me, that I may
not preach in vain ; and may the Lord bless you and
Mr. Hugh Bone.
[This letter presents one prominent trait in Mr. Don-
nell's character. While he labored to convert sinners,
he endeavored to develop an active, practical piety in
the church. His theory was, that spiritual life, in one
respect at least, is like material life must have exer-
cise. This is true to the letter. And one great reason
why there is so little enjoyment among christians is,
they do so little to promote the cause of Christ. They
" shall eat the fruit of their doings," is God's promise
to the righteous ; but the idle christian if we can con-
ceive of one has no fruit to eat.
"Apollos to water, but no Pauls to plant." Might
not this language of Mr. Donnell be still, by way of
complaint, addressed to the Cumberland Presbyterian
112 LIFE AND LABORS OF
church ? Is she not more anxious to settle pastors to
preach to organized congregations, than to send out
preachers to the destitute ? Without aggressive oper-
ations, no church can prosper. Keep the fort, but at
the same time invade the territory of the enemy.]
MR. DONNELL TO SAME.
Mr. Hill's, Tenn., March 27, 1818.
Dear Brother: I did not call on you the other
morning, as you requested, owing to a hurry of busi-
ness. The objects, however, that then claimed my
attention, have been disposed of, but other duties are
now pressing me. Indeed, there seems to be con-
stantly something of importance to be done, just be-
fore me, so that the performance of one duty prepares
the way to another which is immediately presented ;
and a leisure moment is rarely found for the gratifica-
tion of mere social feeling.
But in addition to business pertaining to time, death,
judgment and eternity are just before me, and if I will
not be attentive to them, they will soon arrest and
command my attention. May my work for both worlds
be accomplished when death comes to summon me to
the bar of* (rod.
On Tuesday, the 17th inst., the marriage covenant
between Miss Ann E. Smith and myself was sealed.
What a solemn thought ! Nothing but death is to
break the bond now formed between us.
On next Sabbath, I have an appointment to preach
REV. ROBERT DONNELL. 11
on Spring Creek. The Sabbath following, at Winches-
ter, and the next in Madison county, Alabama. Calls
for preaching are daily reaching me from various quar-
ters. Several private letters, and a petition from man}^
of the citizens of Nashville, urge me to preach there
one Sabbath in each month. May the Lord direct me
unto that part of the great harvest-field where my la-
bors are most needed, and call and send more laborers
into his vineyard.
Mr. Hugh Bone.
[ Though Mr. Bone was not a preacher of the Gospel,
most of the ministers who knew him corresponded
with him, and often sought his advice. His theologi-
cal knowledge was of a high order, and his talents as
an exhorter were unsurpassed. Indeed, it was the
opinion of his brethren generall}", that he ought to
have preached. The writer has heard him deliver
some as rich and powerful exhortations as he ever
heard fall from the lips of either layman or preacher.
But he was modest to a fault, and rarely ever spoke in
public when ministers were present. Occasionally,
however, he would consent to do so on Sabbath morn-
ings, before breakfast, at camp-meetings, and never
failed to interest the audience, and often produced
great excitement. He raised a large and respectable-
family, and two of his sons are now useful ministers of
the Gospel Rev. M. H. Bone, of Tennessee, and Eev.
Thomas Bone, of West Tennessee.
114 LIFE AND LABORS OF
The Eev. H. B. Hill, of Tennessee, is a nephew of
Mr. Hugh Bone.* Mr. Hill had a brother, who was
also a useful preacher in Kentucky. What a powerful
influence is exerted by such families in the church of
God ! A sketch of Mr. Bone's life will be found at the
close of this Memoir.]
MR. DONNELL TO MR. ERWIN.
Mr. Taylor's, April 17, 1820.
Dear Brother : I left home yesterday morning,
and preached yesterday at Canaan, and last night in
Huntsville. It is after 12 o'clock, and raining, and yet
if the Lord will, I must go home to-night. A want of
time, therefore, will not permit me to call to see you.
Yet I confess I should not like it were you to come so
near to my house without calling to see us. When
you recollect, however, that I am so much from home,
I hope you will excuse me.
We expect a sacramental meeting at Canaan on the
third Sabbath of May. I hope you and sister Erwin
will attend. We had times of refreshing from the
presence of the Lord at Elkton, and at Presbytery.
Glory to God ! I hope the Lord will revive His work
this year. Pray for me and mine.
Mr. R. Erwin.
* Since the above was written, Mr. Hill has closed his labors in the
church below, and gone to his reward in the church above.
REV. ROBERT DONNELL. 115
MR. DONNELL TO SAME.
Winchester, Tenn., October 25, 1821.
Dear Brother: Little Francis bid us a long adieu
last Saturday night, and was laid in the grave last
evening. I have preached the funeral of many child-
ren, but had to attend to the funeral of my own child
Mrs. Donnell wishes you to send James to Winches-
ter by brother and sister Deckerd, who are now at
Concord camp -ground. His mother wants him very
much. Her health is very precarious, and he would
be company for her. We shall probably go to the
I cannot tell when I can return home ; shall try to
be at Cane Creek camp-meeting, and I may go home
before my wife leaves the Springs. The people have
2-reat confidence in those waters. .
Eemember me and mine.
Mr. Robert Erwin.
116 LIFE AND LABORS OF
Letter to Mr. Erwin To Rev. William Harris To Rev. Thomas Cal-
houn From Rev. John Morgan From the same From the same
From the same From Mrs. Nancy Watt From Col. James W.
Smith Mr. Donnell to his Wife From Rev. John Morgan From
MR. DONNELL TO MR. ERWIN.
Beech Hill, Tenn., October 29, 1821.
Dear Brother : We arrived here on Thursday last.
Our little son's health improved on the journey, but
he is still very weak, so that I cannot leave him as yet,
and it is uncertain when I can. My wife's health is
not as good as when we left home.
I cannot now say when I shall be able to return
home, or whether my family will be well enough to
accompany me. My own health is improved, so that
I preached on last Sabbath in this neighborhood, and
expect to preach again on next Sabbath.
I have not yet heard from Synod, but feel much
solicitude on that subject.
Col. Smith's family are well, but there is much sick-
ness in the country. Though still under the chasten-
ing rod, I trust I am submissive, and thankful for re-
Mr. It. Erwin.
REV. ROBERT DONNELL. 117
MR. DONNELL TO REV. WILLIAM HARRIS.
Hazelgreen, Ala., October 1, 1823.
Dear Brother : It is quite uncertain now whether
I shall go to Synod or not. My family are at Col.
Smith's, in Tennessee. I left them five weeks ago, in
fine health; but a letter just received, sealed with a
black wafer, announced the death of a dear child, and
informed me that my wife was not well. I intended
visiting my family on my way to Synod ; but since the
reception of this melancholy news, think it doubtful
whether I shall leave them after reaching my wife's
father's, till I bring them home.
I send you, by brother Gibson, fifty dollars for your
hymn books. All you sent me are not yet sold, but
there is no doubt, I presume, but a sufficient number
will be disposed of to make up the amount remitted.
I have not time to say more now, as there is a glo-
rious revival of religion going on at the stand while I
Rev. William Harris.
MR. DONNELL TO REV. THOMAS CALHOUN.
New Salem, Ala., August 12, 1829.
Dear Brother : I have been intending to write you
for some time. "We have had a glorious revival of re-
ligion in this country since I saw you.
At New Salem camp-meeting, between thirty and
forty professed religion, and the work is still going on
118 LIFE AND LABORS OF
in the neighborhood. Winchester has also been visi-
ted with a refreshing shower. Twenty-nine have, at
that place, been converted twenty-eight of whom
joined the Cumberland Presbyterian church. Fayette-
ville, too, has been highly favored. Fifty have pro-
fessed faith in Christ in town, and about the same
number in the country. The work began in Fayette-
ville, on the fourth of July. Our meeting was in the
Court-house. I collected twenty or thirty mourners in
the jury box on that day, and several professed reli-
gion. There has been a meeting there almost every
day and night since. Every kind of vice was pros-
trated. The dancing-master has hung up his fiddle,
and horse-racers have set out for life and glory. Eter-
nal honor to God !
I never was so busy in all my life ; feel almost worn
out, and get no time to rest. The great and good work
in my Presbytery will prevent me from attending yours
as I had intended. I will try to visit your country,
however, some time during the fall. I feel great so-
licitude for my relations and acquaintances in that
country, especially for my Lebanon friends, and want
to see a revival of religion in the town.
In great haste, and "less than the least of all saints,"
Rev. Thomas Calhoun.
[ The foregoing letter was written about two years
before the great revival of religion at Lebanon, out of
whose fruits the Cumberland Presbyterian church of
REV. ROBERT DONNELL. 119
that town grew. The connection of Mr. Donnell's
anxiety and prayers and labors with that revival, eter-
nity alone can unfold. His youthful days had been
spent in the vicinity of Lebanon ; his parents and
many relations are buried near that place ; and such
associations could but create peculiar solicitude for the
salvation of the community. Mr. Calhoun, in conver-
sation with the writer, has often referred to his Mr.
DonnelPs solicitude for the conversion of that people.
On one occasion, he closed a most powerful sermon,
upon his knees, praying them, " in Christ's stead, to
be reconciled to God."]
REV. JOHN MORGAN TO MR. DONNELL.
Columbia, Ky., January 11, 1832.
Dear Brother Donnell: I suppose by this time
you wish to know what has become of me ; and having
a few minutes' leisure before dinner, I will improve
them in writing you a short letter, hoping you will
favor me with a speedy answer.
After your departure from Nashville, I preached
several times, and visited several families. My con-
gregations were generally large, attentive and feeling ;
but, on visiting families, I found that some of the mem-
bers of the church did not even know each other, and
among some that were acquainted, a very bad state of
feeling existed. Finding this to be the condition of
things, I appointed a meeting, requesting all the mem-
bers of the church to attend. They were generally
120 LIFE AND LABORS OF
present. All were examined on experimental religion
and the practical duties of christians, &c. I hope the
effect was good.
Our meeting at Franklin, Tenn., was very interest-
ing. We had several mourners, and I baptized two
adults, who joined the church at' the meeting.
On the following Monday, we had a meeting at Ma-
jor Allcorn's, and I have not seen such a time since I
left Pennsylvania. Twenty or thirty mourners ap-
peared, among whom was the Major himself. After
leaving Nashville, we preached at Gallatin and Glas-
gow, and then came on to Edmonton; assisted brother
Weeden at a communion meeting. Some seriousness
among the people, but nothing indicating a revival.
We shall now hurry on to Pennsylvania as fast as pos-
sible. My health has been good for some time. Pray
for me and our success in the good cajjse.
Yours in Christ,
Rev. R. Donnell.
SAME TO SAME.
Chillicothe, Ohio, June 25, 1832.
Dear Brother Donnell : You will no doubt feel
astonished when you learn that we have got no further
on our journey than this place yet. But I was de-
tained two weeks in Nashville, waiting on brother
Sparks ; and an attack of cholera has detained me some
time in this place. But I hope our detention was of
REV. ROBERT DONNELL. 121
the Lord, for it has afforded us an opportunity of
preaching here, which we would not have done had I
not been confined by affliction. Brothers Woods and
Sparks commenced preaching on Friday night. They
also preached on Saturday night and Sabbath morning.
By the evening service, I was able to attend, and at
the close of the sermon, exhorted. Several mourners
distinguished themselves. The excitement was gen-
eral and powerful. We intended to have set out this
morning for Athens, but the people have prevailed on
us to remain and continue the meeting.
I find the Presbyterians in this country much divi-
ded. I presume you have seen the proceedings of their
The cholera has created great alarm in this country,
and is much more fatal than it was in Asia or Europe.
Pray for me, and remember me affectionately to all;
and believe me, as ever,
You sincere brother in Christ,
Rev. R. Donnkll.
SAME TO SAME.
Newport, Ohio, September 2, 1832.
Dear Brother Donnell : For some time past, I
have been so constantly at meeting, and other busi-
ness, that I have scarcely had time for a thought about
home, much less to write a letter to a friend. But be-
ing now on my way. in company with brother Aston,
122 LIFE AND LABORS OF
to Athens, to hold a camp-meeting, form a church, &c,
and having an appointment at this place to-night, and
there being a little time between this and the hour of
preaching, I will improve it by writing to one who is
near and dear to my heart.
Since my arrival in Pennsylvania, I have attended a
four-days' meeting or camp-meeting every week, and
to God's glory be it said, we have had an interesting
time at each of them. At one camp-meeting at Ten-
mile, about thirty professed to find the Saviour, and
many left the ground under serious concern for their