souls. At a meeting near Washington, fifty professed
religion, and one hundred left the ground under serious
conviction. At another meeting near Jefferson, Green
county, between eighty and ninety were converted,
and perhaps one hundred and fifty mourners left the
meeting at its close. A large number professed reli-
gion at a four-days' meeting near Union Town, and
forty-five joined the church.
Our Presbytery closed at Union Town on last Satur-
day. The session was small, but very harmonious in
all its deliberations. We ordained brother Chapin,
from New York, and received two candidates for the
ministry ; both very promising. Our membership is
now about one thousand, and generally of the most
respectable order of society. We have several large
and comfortable meeting-houses nearly completed, and
our congregations seem disposed to support the Gospel.
After closing the camp-meeting at Athens, we shall
REV. ROBERT DONNELL. 123
return to Pennsylvania. Brother Aston will spend
the winter in New York. I expect to take charge of
Washington and Ten -mile congregations; brother
Woods will spend the winter in Green county, and
brothers Sparks and Bryan in Fayette county; brother
Bird has gone South, on a visit to his father, and will
not return till spring. Brother Bryan has been sick
for some time.
Notwithstanding the hard labor through which I
have passed, my own health is very good. I am
anxious to see you all, but cannot say when I shall
have the privilege. It seems impossible for me to get
away from this country. If spared, however, I may
visit Alabama next spring or summer. You know that
I love you and Clara, and that it would give me great
pleasure to see you ; but the Lord's cause should be
dearer to us than earthly friends.
Rev. R. Donnell.
SAME TO SAME.
Washington, Pa., October 26, 1832.
Dear Brother Donnell : After a long delay, which
has perhaps tried your patience, I again write you. I
hope, however, that you will not attribute my silence
to a want of affection for you. My apology is camp
and protracted meetings. We have just closed an in-
teresting meeting in Ohio, where about one hundred
professed religion ; and we organized a church of one
hundred and fifty members.
124 LIFE AND LABORS OF
The cholera is raging in many parts of this country,
and many are dying. This is our fast day in reference
to it. O, that God would sanctify his judgments to
the good of our nation !
I have at last settled the question in relation to my
remaining in this country. Duty says stay, and the
voice of duty must be obeyed, though it cross our in-
clinations. How astonishing the providences of God !
When I think of home and friends in Alabama, from
whom I am now to be separated, my feelings almost
overcome me. But God's will must be done.
How this climate will agree with my constitution,
has yet to be seen. My health, however, is better now
than it has been for some time. May the Lord bless
my dear friends !
Rev. R. Donnell.
MRS. NANCY WATT TO MR. DONNELL.
Rockingham County, N. C, November 13, 1832.
Dear Brother in the Lord : I received your kind
letter some time since, but bad health has delayed my
answer. Never has such a revival of religion been
known in this country, as has been in progress since
the visit of yourself and brother Burrow. It has been
quite common for one hundred persons to profess reli-
gion at a camp-meeting. Many of my dear relations
were among the converts, for which I feel that I can-
not be sufficiently grateful. Several of them date their
first impressions, to seek the Lord, under your preach-
ing and Mr. Burrow's.
REV. ROBERT DONNELL. 125
Much solicitude is felt for a Cumberland Presbyterian
preacher, to be sent to this country. Could regular
preaching be had, a great many would join your church.
I was much delighted with the pamphlet you sent
me. All who have read it are much pleased with it.
May you be prospered in your labors, and happy in
this woi Id and the world to come, is the prayer of
your sincere friend,
Rev. Robert Donnell,
COL. JAMES W. SMITH TO MR. DONNELL.
Beech Hill, April 15, 1833.
Dear Sir : In consequence of business, both at
home and abroad, demanding my attention, two mails
have passed before I could find time to answer your
last letter. As it respects dear little James, I think he
is entirely too young to send to Lexington to prosecute
his education this year. Better keep him at home, or
near home, where his studies can be directed and
morals guarded by those who feel a solicitude for his
welfare, that strangers cannot feel. He is a promising
child, every way obliging in his disposition, and I
think possesses elements that, if properly developed,
will one day make a useful man. I know the dear
child feels the loss of his mother, and in consequence
of that bereavement a greater obligation now devolves
on his father to care for and watch over him.
My dear wife is in a very low state of health, so that
I am almost afraid to leave home to attend to business.
126 ' LIFE AND LABORS OF
O, that I had more of the spirit of my Master, and
resignation to the will of God.
You, my dear sir. have for many years given evi-
dence that yon are called to preach the everlasting
Gospel ; and God, in a very special manner, has stood
by and blessed you. I hope you will not let the affairs
of this world cause you to neglect His work. If you
do, God will forsake you.
If I know my heart, I desire to see our church pros-
per. When recently in North Carolina, my friends
often laughed and told me my countenance indicated
interest whenever your name or Cumberland Presby-
terians were mentioned. Great revivals of religion
followed the tract of Mr. Burrow and yourself in that
country, but other denominations gathered the fruits
of your labors, because we had no preachers to take
charge of the work.
Much love to yourself, Mrs. Donnell, and dear little
JAMES W. SMITH.
Rev. R. Donnell.
MR. DONNELL TO HIS WIFE.
Nashville, Tenn., May 18, 1836.
Dear Clarissa : The General Assembly was organ-
ized yesterday. Father King preached the opening
sermon. Only about fifty members present. Brother
Burrow was chosen Moderator. We shall probably
have a long and busy session. My hoarseness con-
tinues, and I am much troubled with a bad cough ; yet
REV. ROBERT DONNELL. 127
I have been appointed on nearly all the committees,
and expect no rest till I get home, where I know I am
needed and desired.
I cannot express the solicitude I feel for you and the
family, and the church in my own country.
I preached yesterday, and am to preach again to-day.
Your affectionate husband,
Mrs. Clarissa N. Donnell.
[ This short letter presents, without intention on the
part of Mr. Donnell, the importance attached to his
services in every department of his church. " On
almost every committee, and preaching every day."
Whether at camp-meeting, Presbytery, Synod or Gen-
eral Assembly, he was looked upon as the file leader,
in business, and expected to preach as often as physi-
cal strength would permit.]
REV. JOHN MORGAN TO MR. DONNELL.
Union Town, Pa., July 6, 1838.
Bear Brother Donnell : Your letter of last month
was received yesterday, and its perusal called up re-
flections both pleasing and painful. Never while mem-
ory continues, and affections are permitted to operate,
can I forget the scenes and associations of my early
life. And there is no man living in reference to whom
there are more heart-stirring associations in my short
history, than yourself. Distance, change of circum-
128 LIFE AND LABORS OF
stances, the existence of new relations and duties, may
produce a temporary silence ; but not even a diminu-
tion, much less a total extinction, of that warm glow
of friendship which has ever been felt in my bosom
for you from our first acquaintance.
Many events, of thrilling moment to church and
state, have transpired since we last interchanged
thoughts, either by word or letter. My mind, in view
of them, has often been the seat of great anxiety, when
I desired much the counsel and tender sympathy of
my old companion and father in the ministry.
I have looked at the contentions of our mother
church, and ultimate separation, with astonishment
and regret. I have seen, too, marks of a restless spirit
in our own church ; some want her name changed, &c.
I have thought on the abolition question witli deep
concern. But, after all, three things have been par-
ticularly impressed on my mind : 1, I am more than
ever convinced of the truth of the doctrine of our
church ; 2, I am a more decided friend of colonization ;
3, I believe more firmly in the wisdom and goodness
The fate of our paper is yet uncertain. We will not
commence it without patronage, and will not seek pat-
ronage at the expense of the peace of the church.
Our college is in a very flourishing condition, having
a president and three professors, and one hundred and
thirteen students. The State has made a donation to
the institution annually, for ten years, of one thousand
REV. ROBERT DONNELL. 129
dollars, which, in connection with funds on hand be-
fore, will enable us to make a considerable deduction
in the price of tuition.
My labors in the ministry are very great. I preach
and lecture from six to eight times a week. Calls from
a distance are frequent. I have just returned from
Brownsville, whither I was called to deliver an address
in behalf of the Colonization Society.
My health continues good, and I believe an active
life agrees best with me.
Eemember me to sister Donnell, and all the old
friends, and accept my best feelings and wishes for
Rev. R. Donnell.
SAME TO SAME,
Washington, Pa., December 28, 1832.
Dear Brother Donnell : Your long desired letter
of the 10th instant, was received this morning, and
although it is now 11 o'clock at night, I sit down to
answer it. , I have some news for you that I never had
before. I do not know whether it will be pleasing or
painful, but I am certain it will be new.
One week ago to-night I was married. This was to
me a most solemn and responsible event, and I hope
the step was not taken without the Divine approba-
tion. At any rate, I tried to make it a subject of se-
rious reflection and solemn prayer. In my courtship,
I lost no time from preaching ; have preached twice
130 LIFE AND LABORS OF
since my marriage, and am now on my way to Pitts-
burgh to attend a four-days' meeting.
I have already informed you that I had determined
to remain in this country. I regret that I shall be so
far from you, and my dear parents, and many other
friends in Alabama. But duty to the interests of reli-
gion seems to require me to stay here. I think I am
willing to sacrifice earthly comfort and social feeling
for the cause of my Divine Master.
The cause of religion is not so prosperous in this
country as it has been ; but in Ohio it is still advancing.
I received a letter this evening, pressing me to return
to that State. Dr. Lindley has been there four months,
and it seems as if he could not leave.
I have never enjoyed as uninterrupted health as I
have this winter, and yet I have never labored harder
in the ministry.
Pray for me, my dear old friend and brother, every
time you bow before a throne of grace.
Rev. R. Donnell.
REV. ROBERT DONNELL. 131
Letter to his Wife From Rev. Samuel King To Rev. R. Beard From
Col J. W. Smith.
MR. DONNELL TO HIS WIFE.
Owensborough, Ky., May 18, 1841.
My dear Clarissa : I reached Fayetteville late in
the evening the same day I left home, and preached to
a large and attentive congregation. Brother Chadick
set out with me next morning, and we arrived at Mur-
freesborough that night, and again preached. The
next day being Sabbath, we remained in town, and
preached twice. On Monday we rode to Alexander
Marrs's, preached on Tuesday at Bethesda, and at
night at Lebanon, and also the next day. Brother
Burrow and others met us there, and we went on the
same evening and preached at Gallatin. The next day
we preached near Bussellville, and the day following
at Greenville. Here brother Chadick and mvself re-
mained and preached Saturday and Sabbath. Brother
Burrow and others went on to Bumsey and preached,
where we overtook them on Monday, and preached
again. We arrived here on Tuesday, and organized
the General Assembly.
132 LIFE AND LABORS OF
Up to this date, we have progressed in business
slowly, but with considerable harmony. The subject
of a church paper has been up for discussion, and the
Assembly has decided not to publish one. Brothers
Cossitt and Morgan will publish upon their own re-
sponsibility. Whether they will succeed or not, time
We have only about seventy members in attendance
at this Assembly, but so far as I know they are strictly
This is a new but pleasant town. I am boarding
with Hon. Phillip Triplett, a member of Congress. He
is now at Washington.
We have an intelligent and religious congregation
here, and a comfortable house of worship. I had the
pleasure of dedicating it on last Wednesday. There
are some indications of a revival at the Assembly. A
good work is now going on at Cumberland College.
About twenty students have professed religion, and
several citizens of Princeton.
I am a member of the committee on Education, and
now seated in a fine room, on the bank of the Ohio
river, where steamboats pass nearly every hour. But
this is not " home, sweet home." I am much fatigued,
but have no time to rest. Even while writing this
letter, other duties are claiming my attention.
Your affectionate husband,
Clarissa N. Donnell.
REV. ROBERT DONNELL. 133
[ The reader can but be struck with the extraordi-
nary industry of Mr. Donnell in the ministry, as pre-
sented in the foregoing letter. In the language of Dr.
Burrow, " he always seemed to be ready for his work;"
and I will add, delighted to engage in it. He perhaps
came as near obeying the injunction of Paul (II Tim.
iv: 2,) as any preacher since the days of Timothy. In
season and out of season, by day and by night, at home
and abroad, he scattered the Word. He was not one
of those ministers whom you never can get into the
pulpit, unless they have had time to make elaborate
preparations, so as to astonish the audience with a
display of learning and research. Such men are too
common in the church. They may attract attention,
and even admiration, but are rarely blessed with a re-
vival of religion. They are not the men for the age.
They neither " plant" nor " water" churches. Mr. Don-
nell often preached with labored preparation, and no
man could excel him in making a popular impression
on great occasions ; but he was always ready and will-
ing to preach on ordinary occasions, without prepara-
tion, when emergency called for it.]
REV. SAMUEL KING TO MR. DONNELL.
At Home, August 3, 1841.
Brother Donnell : You have, no doubt, heard of
the death of brother Ewing. This solemn event has
spread much gloom and sorrow over our State. It
occurred on the 5th of last month. I conversed with
134 LIFE AND LABORS OF
him frequently, during his sickness, respecting the
state of his mind, in view of death. He expressed
strong confidence in the truths he had preached, and a
firm reliance on that Saviour he had so often recom-
mended to others. When the trying crisis came, those
who witnessed his departure had every reason to be-
lieve that he felt ready to go.
He left one thousand dollars to his Presbytery, the
interest of which is to be expended in the support of
circuit preaching which shows his full confidence in
that mode of disseminating the truth.
Could I see you, we would talk much on this and
many other subjects ; but the infirmities of age render
it more than probable that we shall never meet again
in this world. I often think of the happy meetings
and glorious revivals of religion we have enjoyed to-
gether in Tennessee; but those happy days are passed.
I have confidence, however, that we shall meet and
worship and praise God together in heaven.
I bless G-od that my faith in Christ grows stronger
as the evening of life grows shorter. May my kind
Lord be near to comfort me when earthly friends can
do little else than weep at my bed-side.
Old and infirm as -I am, I have been requested to
preach brother Ewing's funeral, and I must try to do
it. It will be a great undertaking for me; but our
long acquaintance, and the part we have acted in our
church together, seem to make it necessary.
REV. ROBERT DONNELL. 135
But my hand trembles so that I must close my letter.
Love to all who love the Lord Jesus.
In Gospel bonds,
Rev. R. Donnell.
[ The writer of the above letter, it will be recollected,
united with Messrs. Ewing and McAdow, in 1810, in
organizing the first Presbytery of the Cumberland
Presbyterian church. He had been ordained as a
member of the Presbyterian church, previous to ihe
action of the Kentucky Synod in 1805, and was a dis-
tinguished instrument in the great revival of 1800.
Mr. King was the first man that ever preached the
Gospel to the Choctaw Indians. Under his first ser-
mon, the mother of the Rev. Israel Folsom professed
religion, who was the first Indian woman of her nation
that ever wore the dress of the white woman. I have
heard, with much interest, Mr. King describe the meet-
ing. He preached through an interpreter ; and when
Mrs. Folsom began to rejoice, his interpreter, an irre-
ligious man, became so affected that he could not
speak; and to use Mr. King's own words "there,"
said he, "I stood without a tongue." The first time I
ever saw Mr. King, he alluded to that meeting. His
remarks were made to the Synod of 1822, then in ses-
sion at the Beech meeting-house, Sumner county, Tenn.
He dwelt at some length on the obligations of the
church to civilize and christianize the American In-
dians. Among other reasons, he told us it was more
136 LIFE AND LABORS OP
than probable they were descendants of the ancient
Jews ; and that toe Gentiles had received the Bible
from their ancestors, and ought now to give it back to
those children of Abraham. It was the first mission-
ary speech I had ever heard, and it made a most vivid
and lasting impression on my mind.
As a preacher, Mr. King differed widely from Mr.
Ewing ; but perhaps that difference only fitted them
the better to act as colleagues in the great work they
undertook. Mr. Ewing possessed a logical mind ; was
a profound and independent thinker, wielded a strong
pen, and was irresistible in argument, both in preach-
ing and writing. Mr. King was not a writer, nor were
his reasoning powers equal to Mr. Ewing's; but he
was a more powerful declaimer, and excelled in rousing
the feelings of an audience. In the delivery of a ser-
mon, Mr. Ewing proceeded slowly and cautiously until
the object of his discourse was brought clearly to view,
and free from ail doubt in the minds of his audience ;
while Mr. King moved off rapidly, regardless of sophis-
tical objections, and if any crossed his pathway,, he
threw them aside as with the arms of a giant, and con-
tinued on to the end of his sermon, ordinarily closing
with an irresistible appeal to the hearts of his hearers.
A general remark here will not be out of place, re-
specting the first preachers of the Cumberland Presby-
t jrian church. But few such men are now to be found.
Physically, they were strong, most of them living on
farms, and accustomed to labor, more or less, with
REV. ROBERT DON NELL. 137
their own hands. Their preaching excursions were
performed generally on horseback, and meetings were
often held in the open air. Their voices were strong,
and adapted to out-door preaching. Though they
preached often and loud and long, 1 never heard of
bronchial disease among them. Most of them lived
to a good old age, and enjoyed life till the last, because
they continued to labor in their Master's cause. They
appeared before their hearers, not with paper batteries
or written discourses, but always preached without be-
ing confined, as mere readers of sermons, to their man-
uscript. The memory of such men would adorn the
history of any church of any age.
Many of their sons in the ministry may possess
higher literary attainments, but do not surpass them
in Biblical knowledge. They may be said to have
been men of one book, and that book was the Bible.
Their mission was to plant churches, and they fulfilled
that mission well. They were men of extraordinary
industry in the Lord's vineyard. They were at home
in revivals of religion, and excelled, under God, in pro-
ducing revivals. Present effect was their great object ;
and nothing short of that satisfied them. May their
memory be preserved, and their example prove a bless-
ing to the church till the end of time ! ]
MR. DONNELL TO REV. R. BEARD.
Pontotoc, October 22, 1842.
Dear Brother : I am now at this place, at Synod,
138 LIFE AND LABORS OF
and have but a moment to write you, as brother Muse
is about to leave, and I wish to send my hasty note
1 have long wanted to see you, and have often
thought of writing vou.
This Synod is now discussing the propriety of estab-
lishing an institution of learning, to aid young men in
preparing for the ministry. Should it determine to do
so, you may be called to take charge of it. How
would such a position suit your views ?
You have seen the strife in the "Banner" and "Evan-
gelist" I hope it will soon cease. The old leaven
ought to be purged out.
We have had some precious revivals of religion in
our Presbytery, and many accessions to the church.
There are encouraging prospects of a revival at the
present Synod. I have to preach in a few minutes.
My health has not been good for the last three months.
May I not expect a letter from you soon ?
Your brother in Christ,
Rev. R- Beard.
COL. JAMES W. SMITH TO MR. DONNELL.
Beech Hill, Tenn., March 24, 1843.
Eev. and Dear Sir : Your highly esteemed favor
of January last, though long on the road, was received
and has been read more than once with warm feelings
of love and gratitude.
It would have been answered sooner, but writing
has become such a burden to me that I almost dread
REV. ROBERT DONNELL. 139
to begin a letter. I think I love my children and re-
lations as much, or more, than when I was able to visit
and write to them. It is now more than a year since
I was able to ride, or even walk, without the aid of
crutches. I have lost the use of one thigh entirely,
from the hip down ; it has become much smaller than
the other, and I can bear no weight on it at all. In
addition to this affliction, I have had very sore eyes all
winter, so that it has been with difficulty that I could
see either to read or write. Several of my negroes
have also been sick, so that but little business has been
attended to, except to feed the stock and provide fire-
wood. Kind feelings to friends, too, have led me into
difficulties at a period of life when I am illy able to
bear them. I have, in several instances, allowed my
name to be used as indorser, and shall have the money
to pay. In the midst of all my troubles, however, I
try to be resigned, and wish not only to feel, but say,
O Lord, thy will be done !
On reviewing my past life, I see but little to approve
and much to mourn over, and I am made to wonder at
and adore the forbearing mercy of God in not cutting
me off as an unprofitable servant, in the midst of many
imperfections. But I desire to feel grateful for that
grace that disposes me to look to that great atonement
made by Jesus Christ, as the only foundation of hope
for fallen sinners. I hope, too, that I enjoy at times
much pleasure in the service of God, and love his
people wherever I find them.
140 LIFE AND LABORS OF
We have had no stated preaching at our church
since last fall. Brother Calhoun, who had preached to
us regularly once a month for the last thirty years,
then informed us that the distance he had to ride was
ho great that the infirmities of age would oblige him
to discontinue his service. We regretted much to give
him up, but felt that his reason for retiring was good.
Some effort has been made, but as yet without success,
to fill his place.
The Cumberland Presbyterians have had a consider-
able revival at Carthage, and also at Mr. Allen's, in