Finis Ewing

1773 - 1841

Presbyterian Minister
November 1803-1810

Cumberland Presbyterian Minister



Finis Ewing was born on the 10th of July, 1773, in Bedford county, Virginia. His father and an uncle had settled there on their emigration from Ireland to this country, a number of years previous to the American Revolution. The two brothers seem to have ranked among the most respectable and prosperous farmers of the county. The older of the two, Robert Ewing, was for many years Clerk of Bedford County Court, and an elder in the Presbyterian Church. He married Miss Mary Baker. They had twelve children--nine sons and three daughters. The subject of this sketch was their twelfth and last child, and from his being the last, his parents gave him the fanciful name of Finis--the end.

Both the parents are said to have been pious, and to have trained their children in an exemplary manner. The subsequent lives of the children gave evidence of their correct training. All the sons who lived to maturity became prominent, engaged deeply in the business of the world, but still, I believe, maintained Christian characters.

Of Mr. Ewing's early history but little is known. He seems to have been fond of books, and acquired what was considered in his day a respectable education. He studied Latin somewhat extensively, and Greek to some extent, together with some of the more common branches of science. Where he obtained his education, is a matter of some doubt--perhaps at Spring Hill Seminary, in Davidson county, Tennessee, under the instruction of Rev. Mr. Brooks. His parents had died in Virginia, and the family had moved and settled in Davidson county, near Spring Hill. Nashville, the county seat of Davidson county, and now the capital of the State, was then a poor village, hardly worth notice. The country was new, and had just passed through the horrors of an Indian war.

On the 15th of January, 1793, Mr. Ewing was united in matrimony with Peggy Davidson, daughter of Gen. William Davidson, formerly of North Carolina. Gen. Davidson was one of the heroes of the Revolution, and lost his life on the Catawba River, in endeavoring to oppose the advance of the British army under Lord Cornwallis. The Legislature of North Carolina consecrated his name, by giving it to one of the first counties organized in the Cumberland country. At the time of their marriage, Mr. Ewing, says his biographer, was in his twenty-first year, and his wife in her nineteenth.

Soon after their marriage, they both joined the Presbyterian Church, in their neighborhood, under the pastoral ministrations of Rev. Thomas Craighead. It seems, however, that at this time neither of them had any spiritual knowledge of religion.

After the birth of their first child, they removed from Davidson county, and settled in Logan county, Kentucky, about eight miles from Russellville, near the old Red River Meeting-house. Mr. McGready ministered to the congregation here. His ministrations were very different from those of Mr. Craighead. Mr. McGready was a preacher of great earnestness and power. They heard the new preacher with interest, and the result was that both soon became uneasy in relation to their spiritual condition. After some time spent in inquiry, prayer, and deep anxiety of mind, one morning, while engaged in family prayer, Mr. Ewing received an evidence of his acceptance. He was filled with peace and joy in believing. This he considered his conversion, and from this point he regarded his spiritual life to have begun. In a few days his wife was relieved in a similar manner.

A new path of duty was now opened up, in the providence of God, before Mr. Ewing. A history of the difficult times upon which we enter at this point has been written more than once. It is not the purpose of the writer of the present sketch to dwell upon them. Let it suffice to be said, that from the extensive spread of the revival, and the enlargement and multiplication of congregations, a great want of ministerial labor soon began to be felt. Another thing is be said, which may as well be said plainly: A considerable portion of the Presbyterian ministry were not adapted in their spirit and habits to the wants of the people. This statement is not made for the purpose of stirring up an old strife, which was certainly bitter enough in its day; but for the purpose of presenting those facts with which history should always deal. The prevailing religious preference, in the West, was Presbyterian. Presbyterian agencies were mainly employed in the revival. The new congregations wished chiefly to become and to remain Presbyterians; but there were not Presbyterian ministers enough, who sympathized with the new condition of things, to supply them with the word and ordinances.

In this exigency, one of the oldest ministers in Kentucky, Rev. David Rice, advised the encouragement of a few young men of promise and unquestionable piety, to direct their attention to the work of the ministry, with such literary qualifications as they might have been able to acquire. Mr. Ewing was one of the young men so encouraged. In the fall of 1801 he, together with Alexander Anderson and Samuel King, presented himself before the Transylvania Presbytery, with a written discourse. The other two were similarly prepared. They were permitted to read their discourses privately to Mr. Rice. Mr. Anderson was received as a candidate for the ministry; Mr. Ewing and Mr. King were encouraged, but not received as candidates. In the fall, however, of 1802, the three were licensed as probationers for the holy ministry.

At the session of the Presbytery in October, 1803, petitions were presented from the congregations of Spring Creek, McAdow, and Clarksville, for the ordination of Mr. Ewing. The Presbytery accordingly met on Friday before the third Sabbath in the following month, for his ordination, and he was duly set apart to the whole work of the ministry, Rev. William McGee preaching the ordination sermon, and Rev. James McGready presiding and giving the charge.

In December, 1805, the celebrated Commission of the Synod of Kentucky met at Gaspar Meeting-house, in Logan county, Kentucky, for the purpose of conferring with the members of Cumberland Presbytery, which had in the meantime been formed from a part of Transylvania Presbytery, and adjudicating upon their Presbyterial proceedings. The result of the conference and adjudication was, that all the "young men," as they were then called, from Mr. Ewing, down to those who had been most recently licensed, were declared to have been irregularly ordained to the ministry, and were solemnly prohibited from exhorting, preaching, and administering the ordinances, in consequence of any authority which they had received from the Cumberland Presbytery, until they submitted to the jurisdiction of the Commission, and underwent the requisite examination. The Presbytery had declined the jurisdiction of the Commission, for the very best of reasons, that a Presbytery alone has the right to "examine and license candidates for the holy ministry; to ordain, install, remove, and judge ministers." The act of the Commission of Synod was an act of great ecclesiastical violence, and it is not a matter of surprise that it defeated its own end. The young men exhorted, preached, and administered the ordinances, as before. A council was formed for mutual conference and encouragement, but no Presbyterial business was transacted. During the four years of the continuance of the council, it is not too much to say, that Mr. Ewing was its guiding and controlling spirit.

On the 4th day of February, 1810, the Cumberland Presbytery, which had been dissolved in 1806, by the Synod of Kentucky, was reorganized as an independent Presbytery, by Revs. Messrs. Finis Ewing, Samuel King, and Samuel McAdow. This act was performed at the house of Mr. McAdow, in Dixon county, Tennessee. I have seen the house, and, I believe, I preached in it once in my early ministry. From this important transaction originated the Cumberland Presbyterian Church. There is no probability that the actors anticipated such results as have followed. Still, it is not the first time, in the providence of God, in which a little fire has kindled a great matter. Nor is it the first time in which men who have been traduced, oppressed, and outlawed, have been made the instruments of an great and good work.

The new Presbytery proceeded immediately to the ordination of Mr. Ephraim McLean, who had accompanied Mr. Ewing to Tennessee. Of his feelings in connection with the ordination, Mr. Ewing gives the following account: "During the whole preceding transactions," says he, "I felt an indescribable awe, solemnity, and even timidity. My judgment was clear, that it was duty to constitute the Presbytery; but I feared that I had no immediate, special, and overpowering evidence, direct from God, that we were about to do right. But being appointed to preside in the ordination, it became my duty to pray. I distinctly recollect, that with one hand on the head of the preacher, and the other lifted to heaven, upon the utterance of the first sentence, the immediate presence and power of God were most sensibly felt by me, and I believe by all engaged in the transaction; and such were my feelings, that every doubt concerning the propriety of what we had done was entirely banished."

Mr. Ewing and his fellow-laborers had now commenced a stormy career. It was to be expected that they would have their share of misunderstanding on the part of the public, of misrepresentation and abuse. Nor was it unnatural that the Presbyterian Church especially should misunderstand them. It would be too much to say, that all who questioned their motives and criticised their course, were wholly selfish and dishonest. There was an earnest conflict; the opposition was persistent and violent; but these good men held on their way.

In October, 1813, Cumberland Synod was constituted. At the first session of the Synod a committee was appointed to prepare a Confession of Faith, Catechism, and Discipline. The committee consisted of Revs. Messrs. William McGee, Finis Ewing, Robert Donnell, and Thomas Calhoon. The committee divided itself into two sections; the one consisting of Messrs. McGee and Donnell; the other, of Messrs. Ewing and Calhoon. From some cause, but it is supposed, mainly from the self-distrust and diffidence of Mr. McGee, his section of the committee accomplished but little. Mr. Calhoon was a young man, and the principal labor of the other section devolved upon Mr. Ewing. I have myself heard Mr. Calhoon speak of the intense interest and prayerful spirit with which Mr. Ewing carried forward that work.

Some time previous to the war of 1812, Mr. Ewing was invited to join a military expedition to the north of the Ohio River, against the Indians, in the capacity of chaplain. He accepted the invitation, with the understanding that he was to be permitted to carry his rifle, and act in the twofold capacity of chaplain and common soldier. There was something belligerent in his composition.

In May of 1820 Mr. Ewing moved from Kentucky, and settled in Cooper county, Missouri. He soon organized a congregation in what was then the "far West," and called it New Lebanon. His congregation in Kentucky had been "Lebanon" congregation. While here, he established a Theological School, in which he gave gratuitous instruction, and to a considerable extent, gratuitous support to a number of candidates for the ministry. This was the first movement toward a Theological School in the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, and, I suppose, west of the Mississippi River.

In the fall of 1825 Mr. Ewing attended the meeting of the Cumberland Synod, at Princeton, Kentucky. He opened the meeting with a sermon from the heroic language of the Apostle to the elders of the Ephesian Church: "But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God." It was an exceedingly impressive sermon. The old courthouse was densely filled with ministers, and delegates to the Synod, and citizens. Certainly there were but few who did not feel that the preacher entered into the spirit of his text.

At this meeting of the Synod incipient measures were adopted for the establishment of Cumberland College. It was intended to be called Cumberland Presbyterian College, but the "Presbyterian" was stricken off by the delegation appointed by the Synod to the Legislature of Kentucky, for the purpose of procuring a charter. The change was made from considerations of policy, and was perhaps the first error which was committed in the management of that ill-fated institution.

At these sessions of the Synod another subject of deep interest to the Church was discussed for the first time. This was the formation of a General Assembly. In this discussion Mr. Ewing too, of course, a prominent part. Two plans were before the Synod. One was for the division of the Synod, and the formation of a General Assembly after the manner of the Presbyterian Church. The other was for the formation of what was called a "delegated Synod"-a Synod not composed of all the ordained ministers in the Church, but of a few delegates from each Presbytery, after the manner of the present General Assembly. Had this plan been adopted, there would have been Church Sessions, Presbyteries, a delegated Synod or General Assembly. The present Synods would never have existed. Mr. Ewing took a decided stand in favor of a delegated Synod. He seemed to have matured the subject, and certainly understood it well. I went myself to the Synod in favor of the other plan, but his arguments seemed to me conclusive and overwhelming. I yielded to them, and have believed from that to the present day, that for the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, at least, a delegated Synod would have been preferable to a General Assembly.

Mr. Ewing attended the General Assembly at Princeton, Kentucky, in 1830. He also opened that meeting with the customary sermon. It was a good sermon, but not equal to the one of 1825. He was five years older. This may have been one of the reasons. I believe he never attended another Assembly.

In 1836 Mr. Ewing took up his residence in Lexington, Missouri. He there organized a considerable congregation, to which he ministered till his death. The immediate occasion of his settlement in Lexington seems to have been, that he had been appointed by the United States' Government Register of the Land Office. No doubt some good men thought that he ought not to have encumbered himself with such an office. Still even good men ought to consider, that the very highest authority has said that "the laborer is worthy of his hire." The writer of this sketch is one of the last men to encourage the mingling of ministerial and secular pursuits. But Mr. Ewing was now an old man. He had given the labors of his life to the service of the Church, and his compensation had, I suppose, been meager. If the laborer does not receive his hire from the proper source, is he culpable if he accepts it from other sources which are neither unlawful nor dishonorable? The culpability in these cases is not in the earnest and faithful minister, but in the churches.

It is said that Mr. Ewing kept up his habits of study, and improved intellectually while he lived. He died July 4, 1841, in the sixty-eighth year of his age. Says his biographer: "His death was calm and peaceful. His hopes were in heaven. He left the world trusting in the merits of that Saviour whom he loved, and whom he had served."

Mr. Ewing had thirteen children-seven sons and six daughters. Of his sons who lived to maturity, the most, if not all, have become prominent men. His eldest son, now deceased, was for some time a United States' Senator from Illinois. As far as the writer knows, his children who still live are members and supporters of that Church which their father had so prominent and active an agency in establishing and rearing up to its present respectability and usefulness.

He left a handsome bequest to the Lexington Presbytery, of which he was a member at the time of his death, and also a bequest of three hundred dollars to Cumberland College. This latter bequest his biographer has omitted to mention. It was made, however, and duly paid over to the Cumberland College Association.

At some period in Mr. Ewing's life, but the precise period is not known, his mind became exercised on the subject of slavery. In 1835 he published a sermon in the Cumberland Presbyterian Pulpit, in which he took strong ground against at least some of the evils of slavery. The public mind was not so easily inflamed on the subject at that time as it has been since, and he expressed himself, to what has since been denominated a slave-holding Church, with great freedom. In the progress of the sermon he gives the following as his own experience and purposes in relation to his slaves:

"Lest some of my readers," says he, "should say, 'Physician, heal thyself,' I think it proper to state in this place, that after a long, painful, and prayerful investigation of the subject, I have determined. not to hold, nor to give, nor to sell, nor to buy any slave for life, mainly from the influence of that passage of God's word which says, 'Masters, give unto your servants that which is just and equal.'"

The result of his experience and resolution was, that at his death all his servants were emancipated.

In 1814 Mr. Ewing published a Sermon on National Affairs. This sermon was delivered soon after the fall of Bonaparte, and published by request.

In 1827 he published a "Series of Lectures on the most important subjects in Divinity." This work reached a second or third edition, enlarged. It was one of the fruits of his Theological School.

In addition to these, he furnished sermons from time to time for the Cumberland Presbyterian Pulpit, published years ago in Nashville-A Sermon on Faith, published in 1833; A Sermon on the Atonement, published in 1834; A Sermon on the Duty of the Church, published in 1835; A Sermon on Christian Union, published in 1835; A Sermon on the Reason why the Prayers of the Church are not Answered, published in 1835.

Also, a short time after the reorganization of the Cumberland Presbytery, in 1810, a Pastoral Letter was addressed by the West Tennessee Presbytery to the Churches under its care, warning them against the ministers of the Cumberland Presbytery. To this letter an anonymous reply was published. It was supposed to have been written by Mr. Ewing. The reply was a strong, and very severe production. The severity was provoked, and at least partially justified, by the character of the Pastoral Letter.

A few remarks upon some of the personal characteristics of Mr. Ewing, will close this brief sketch. And

First. He was unquestionably a man of a high order of talents. The immense work which he performed, and the great personal influence which he exercised over the men of his time, afford ample proof of this. Although he wrote and published to some extent, as we have seen, yet his greatest power was exhibited in the pulpit, and in the judicatures of the Church. As a preacher he was not eloquent, in the popular acceptation of the term; but he was argumentative, impressive, forcible, and when fully aroused, overwhelming. He never resorted to rhetorical arts, or to empty declamation. He sought the judgment and the heart of those whom he addressed. It was sometimes said that he was fond of politics. He would have distinguished himself as a politician, had he devoted himself to those pursuits.

Secondly. Boldness was a prominent characteristic. In the pursuit of truth, and in search for the path of duty, he "conferred not with flesh and blood." He may not always have reached both truth and duty; but if he did not, his failure arose from no shrinking produced by fear. His relation to the Cumberland Presbyterian Church would of course render him prominent in defending both its doctrines and measures. When called out in this way, he shrank from no responsibility. Whilst, however, all this is true, he was no blustering, intermeddling disorganizer. He never threw down the gauntlet; but when it was thrown down, and he thought it necessary, he took it up. He was a man of war, but his wars were always defensive, not offensive. I believe this statement is true of him universally, in every controversy of his life.

Thirdly. Mr. Ewing was a good man, a Christian. If I had no other evidence of this but his private letters to his friends and brethren, published by his biographer, these would satisfy me on this subject. These letters were written under the impulse of circumstances, with no expectation of their being seen by other eyes that the eyes of those to whom they were addressed. They express the feelings of a man who loved and feared God, and whose soul was deeply interested for the salvation of his fellow men. But in addition to these, we have the testimony of a long and consecrated life. Imperfections there may have been in that life; otherwise, it would have been a superhuman life. Still, making every allowance for human frailty, we look upon it as a life consecrated to God and the great interests of humanity. These are the fruits of a spiritual tree.

Fourthly. His patriotism is not to be overlooked in an estimate of his character. He was a descendant of Virginia, one of the first, if not the very first, of the Colonies in which the fires of the Revolution were kindled. The labors, the struggles, and the sacrifices of that revolution were fresh events in the memory of the generation in which he passed his childhood and youth. That they should have made a deep impression upon his mind, is not surprising. He loved America and her institutions. He was an uncompromising enemy of tyrants and tyranny. His first published sermon was upon the inestimable value of civil and religious freedom. His intimate acquaintances knew well how deeply the sentiments of the sermon had taken hold upon his mind. He never lost his interest in the subject.

Fifthly. It may be remarked in conclusion, that the temperament, habits, and general character of Mr. Ewing fitted him for the position which, in the providence of God, he was called to occupy. He was constituted for a leader, and the men with whom he was associated needed a leader. He occupied his space, and occupied it well. He never faltered in the management of the high trust providentially committed to him. His published sermons, up to his old age, show clearly enough that the purity and prosperity of the Church, especially of the Cumberland Presbyterian branch of the Church, together with the salvation of the world, were the great objects of his thoughts, labors, and prayers.

[Source: pages 30-45 of Brief Biographical Sketches of Some of the Early Ministers of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church. By Richard Beard, D.D. Southern Methodist Publishing House, Nashville, Tenn.: Published for the Author, 1867.]

FINIS EWING, a member of one of the most respectable and prominent families in south-western Kentucky, was a native of Virginia, but in early life settled in Tennessee; thence removed to Kentucky, and lived for many years in Christian county. While living there he performed the chief labors of his ministerial life. He was one of the young men advanced to the ministry in the progress of the revival, and who constituted the independent Cumberland presbytery in 1810. Late in life he removed to Missouri, where he died in 1842. His sons are now prominent men in that State. He has always been regarded, if not the father, one of the fathers of the Cumberland Presbyterian church.

[Source: Historical Sketches of Kentucky by Lewis Collins, Maysville, Kentucky. and J. A. & U. P. James, Cincinnati, 1847. Volume 1. Reprinted 1968. Christian County. The Cumberland Presbyterian Church, page 435.]

I doubt if there is one Cumberland Presbyterian in a thousand who knows where lies the remains of Rev. Finis Ewing. I will say that they lie in Machpelah Cemetery, Lexington, Mo., within two miles of my home. His remains were first interred at the Old Brick country church, four miles south of Lexington. But were removed to their present resting place after the old church was abandoned.

I thought, perhaps, a picture of this monument, in connection with a portion of its sacred history, would be of special interest to your readers. So I carried a photographer with me in my buggy, and had the inclosed [sic] photograph made. The view is the south side of the monument, and the inscription, in the white marble shaft, is exactly as follows:

CO., VA.
JULY 10, 1773.
JULY 4, 1841.

He was a Minister of the Gospel
forty-five years.
Was one of the Fathers and
Founders of the Cumber-
land Presbyterian

His wife is buried by his side, and on the opposite, on north side of the shaft, the inscription is as follows:

of Revolutionary Memory, and
relic of the late
DECEMBER 11, 1868.

I was ten years old when he died, and I vividly remember my mother's taking me often to the first church built in Lexington to hear him preach. While standing by his grave, at the taking of the photograph, my meditations and my reflections ran back to the early days of our church and I wondered what his thoughts might be if he could come forth from his grave and find what is going on now. I believe he would pronounce it a wicked effort at destruction.

My mother came from East Tennessee in 1817, when this country was comparatively a wilderness. According to old records of the church, she was the first person making a profession of religion in this county, and the second person baptised, being baptised by Rev. Robert Morrow, a pioneer Cumberland missionary sent out, as I understand, by the women of Kentucky. So you see I am rather a high grade Cumberland by inheritance.

As to myself, I made a profession of religion at Greenton, Mo., at one of the blessed pioneer camp meetings, which were ideal meetings in early days before the country had fine churches with fine plush and cushioned pews, and the pulpits filled with Rev. D.D.'s. Ah, Brothers and Sisters! Were they not glorious days! When the Gospel of glad tidings was preached in its purity by holy ministers filled with the Holy Ghost.
               J. L. MARSHALL.
   Lexington, Mo.

[Source: The Cumberland Banner, (Jasper, Tennessee), September 14, 1906, page 1]


Cossitt, F. R. The Life and Times of Rev. Finis Ewing: One of the Fathers and Founders of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church. To Which is Added Remarks on Davidson's History, or, a Review of His Chapters on the Revival of 1800, and His History of the Cumberland Presbyterians. With an Appendix. Louisville, KY.: L. R. Woods, agent for the Board of Publication of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, 1853.
[1 copy in archives]

Cossitt, F. R. The Life and Times of Rev. Finis Ewing: One of the Fathers and Founders of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church. To Which are Added Remarks on Davidson's History, or, a Review of His Chapters on the Revival of 1800, and His History of the Cumberland Presbyterians. With an Appendix. 3rd edition. Louisville, KY.: L. R. Woods, agent for the Board of Publication of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, 1853.
[2 copies in archives]

Ewing, Finis. Lectures on Important Subjects in Divinity. Louisville: Cum. Presbyterian Bord of Publication, N. H. White, Printer, 1849
[3 copies in archives]

Ewing, Finis. Lectures on Important Subjects in Divinity. 3rd edition. Louisville: Cumberland Presbyterian Board of Publication, 1851.
[2 copies in archives]

Ewing, Finis. Lectures on Important Subjects in Divinity. 3rd edition. Louisville: Cumberland Presbyterian Board of Publication, 1854.
[5 copies in archives]

Ewing, Finis. Lectures on Important Subjects in Divinity. 3rd edition. Louisville: Cumberland Presbyterian Board of Publication, 1854.
[2 copies in archives]

Ewing, Finis. Lectures on the Most Important Subjects in Divinity. Nashville, Tenn.: Cumberland Presbyterian Board of Publication, 1868.
[1 copy in archives]

Ewing, Finis. Lectures on Important Subjects in Divinity. Nashville, Tenn.: Cumberland Presbyterian Board of Publication, 1870.
[1 copy in archives]

Ewing, Finis. Lectures on Important Subjects in Divinity. Louisville: Cumberland Presbyterian Board of Publication, 1875.
[2 copies in archives]

Ewing, Finis. A Series of Lectures, on the Most Important Subjects in Divinity. Fayetteville, Tennessee: Cumberland Presbyterian Synod, 1827.
[6 copies in archives]


Obituary of Margaret Davidson Ewing

Mrs. Margaret Davidson Ewing, relict of Rev. Finis Ewing, is dead. Her body reposes in the cemetery at Lexington, Missouri, by the side of the mortal remains of her husband. For forty-eight years they lived together in peace and harmony, and after a separation of twenty seven years, (the husband in heaven and the wife on earth,) they have again met where partings are unknown, where "Sabbath never ends, and congregations never break up."

Mrs. Margaret Davidson Ewing was born in the State of North Carolina, on the 23d day of January, 1774. At an early age she was deprived of her father, General William Lee Davidson, who fell at Gowan's Ford, at the head of a column of North Carolina troops, whilst disputing the passage of Lord Cornwallis across the Catawba River. The early deprivation of her father devolved her rearing and training on a widowed mother, and nobly did she perform the task.

Her mind and heart, through her long and eventful life, appeared to be peculiarly imbued with those staple virtues that characterized the thrilling period in which her early life was passed, namely, truth, honor, and a moral courage that never shrank from the discharge of a known duty.

Spending her earlier years amidst the stormy epoch of the Revolution that snatched an empire from the hands of "unwilling kings," the dawn of maturer years found her in Davidson county, Tennessee, which county was named for her father, General Davidson, whither her widowed mother had removed, the precise date being unknown to the writer of this sketch, some time, however, after the conclusion of peace between Great Britain and the Colonies. Having witnessed the rigors of civilized warfare, she was again doomed in her new home in Tennessee to witness the more savage warfare of the Indians, who continued to harrass the settlements of Middle Tennessee and North Alabama, until overtaken by the disastrous defeats of Talladega and the Horseshoe.

Passing from these scents of devastation and bloodshed to which she had been an unwilling witness, we find her joined in marriage, on the 15th of January, 1793, to Finis Ewing, neither one of them at that time making any pretensions to religion, though of exemplary walk and conduct before the world.

It is related by the biographer of the Rev. Finis Ewing, that they had long attended the ministrations of the Rev. Mr. Craighead and others of like persuasion, and heard much of the "elect of God," but "little or nothing about" "the born of the Spirit." But it seems that even the dry abstractions to which they had listened had inclined both husband and wife to seek a closer communion with God for we find them, a short time after marriage, applying for, and obtaining admission into Dr. Craighead's (the Old School Presbyterian) Church,"with a name to live," but, as they afterward found, to their infinite sorrow and alarm, "dead in trespasses and sin." Alas how terrible will be the fate of those false teachers who have either added any thing or taken any thing from, the Book of inspiration! God had protected them from the horrors of war. He was equally able and willing to protect them from the still more powerful foe, the enemy of their souls.

According to competent testimony, some time in 1798, after earnest supplication to God, they were redeemed from the well nigh fatal errors into which they had been led by the perversion of God's word by their false teachers. These two genuine conversions in 1798 were but a faint foreshadowing of the Pentecostal flood of 1800, that swept the rotten bark of formalism and fatality from its moorings, and has kept them buffeting on unknown seas ever since, without compass or chart.

From the effects of that "great awakening" Mrs. Ewing became the wife of a preacher of the gospel, and according to the best of evidence, she filled the position with becoming dignity and Christian propriety.

From her parentage she had an ancestral dislike to tyranny and oppression, and these qualities shone conspicuously shortly after her husband acceded to the ministry. Feeling that he was called to preach the gospel, and feeling that "Woe is me if I preach not the gospel," he conceived it to be his imperative duty to proclaim salvation to a dying world, the illegal and tyrannical edicts of ecclesiastical courts to the contrary notwithstanding. Being prohibited from exercising the sacred functions of his office, he was boldly seconded by Mrs. Ewing, who exhorted him to "never sacrifice principle even for peace," to "obey God rather than man."

Her husband did preach, though surrounded by discouragements of no ordinary character. How much her mild, though firm, admonitions had to do with inducing him to persevere, eternity alone will reveal. Certain it is, that the baleful fires of persecution and intolerance burned with great ardor in the hearts of the infidels and formalists, both equally the opposers of the great revival, though from different standpoints. Mrs. Ewing's voice and example, in their appropriate sphere, sustained what evidently the Spirit of God began and carried forward.

But her efforts to serve God were not of an ephemeral character: her religion was of a kind that "anchored to that within the veil." Religion was an every day matter with her; nor was she content with a portion of its requirements: her attention to the privileges of the sanctuary, to morning and evening sacrifice around the family altar, constituted, in her estimation and practice, but a meager portion of the privileges and duties of the faithful Christian. It was her delight and custom to visit the "sick and the afflicted," the "fatherless and the widow," and to minister to the wants and necessities of the numerous ministers of the gospel who frequented her husband's house for counsel and instruction, and to make, with her own hands in some instances, the clothing of the more needy ones. Such was her life and practice until old age incapacitated her for the more active duties of life, but she would often say, that she could "pray for the Church," and could see no reason why God had so long spared her unless it was for that purpose. She was indeed a "mother in Israel."

Her pilgrimage on earth is ended. She fought the good fight, kept the faith, and henceforth there is for her an unfading crown.

On the 11th day of December, 1868, after an illness of five days, calmly, peacefully, and in her proper mind, all that was mortal of Mrs. Margaret D. Ewing died; her body returned to the dust from whence it sprang; the immortal part--the soul that had been confined in its narrow tenement for ninety-five years--went out to God who gave it.

To her friends and relations who are religious, I would say, Emulate her example. To those who are irreligious, I would say, prepare to meet your relative and friend. You all know that she taught by example as well as by precept, and none who knew her doubted her religious character. "For in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man shall come," and to some of you it may be a fearful coming, whilst to her the summons of the archangel will bring no terror, though she may see the stars fall from heaven, the moon streaming away in blood, the sun blown out, and the earth reeling from its orbit.

"The soul secured in its existence smiles
At the drawn dagger, and defies its point;
The stars shall fade away, the sun himself
Grow dim with age, and nature sink in years;
But thou shalt flourish in immortal youth,
Unhurt amidst the wars of elements,
The wrecks of matter, and the crush of worlds."

--Caucasian and Express, Mo.                                   C.

[Source: The Banner of Peace, (Nashville, Tennessee) March 18, 1869, page 4]


Machpelah Cemetery
Lexington, Lafayette County, Missouri

Ewing Family Information

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Updated March 5, 2009