DAVID FOSTER was born on the 4th of May, 1780, in Rowan county, North Carolina. His parents were William and Nancy Foster. They were poor, but respectable, and distinguished for their earnest piety. His father and mother were careful to instruct him in the principles and precepts of our holy religion. Their labor seems not to have been in vain, for when a boy, he was remarkable for his morality and seriousness of deportment, and for his respect to the worship of God. His deportment was so exemplary, that when quite young, he was admitted to the communion of the Presbyterian Church, in a congregation under the pastoral care of Dr. McCorcle.
In the fall of 1797, William Foster removed to Tennessee, and settled in Sumner county, within the bounds of Shiloh congregation. This congregation was then under the pastoral care of Rev. William McGee. In the following year the parents and the son presented their certificates of Church-membership to Mr. McGee, and applied for membership in his congregation. They were all examined on the subject of experimental religion, and the parents were received, but David was discouraged, and admonished to examine the ground of his hopes more carefully. This circumstance made a deep impression upon his mind, and he immediately commenced a course of prayer and self-examination. The result was, a conviction that he was destitute of religion. He, however, became a penitent, and soon found the pearl of great price. He is said to have experienced the great change at home, in that still and quiet way which is pleasing to many, and which is perhaps the most promising of permanent results.
When the revival of 1800 commenced, under the ministrations of Mr. McGready and others, he immediately fell in with it, and became on of its most active promoters. From his zeal, and promise otherwise, he was encouraged to direct his attention to the work of the ministry, and was accordingly licensed to preach the gospel by the original Cumberland Presbytery, on the 2d of October, 1805, at Old Red River Meeting-house. For some time previous to his licensure, he had been authorized to travel in the character of an exhorter, for the purpose of supplying, as well as possible, some of the scattered and destitute congregations.
Mr. Foster was of course one of the "young men" who were called before the Commission of the Synod of Kentucky, in December of 1805. He shared with the others the proscription by that body. He still, however, continued his probationary labor, under the direction of the Council, the organization of which followed the dissolution of the Cumberland Presbytery. Some of his most useful and effective services were rendered during those years of darkness and trouble.
In the summer of 1806 he was married to Miss Ann Beard, of Sumner county. His wife outlived him, and during her whole married life was "a help-meet" to him in the highest sense in which a wife could be such to a Christian minister. She was deeply and devotedly pious; and although a woman of modest and retiring habits, it was sometimes said that under the influence of high religious excitement she surpassed her husband in exhortation. In the quietude of home, it would be difficult to conceive of a higher degree of diligence, self-denial, and devotion to the interest of a family, than an observer would have found in her.
After Mr. Foster's marriage, he procured a home for his family near his father's, in Sumner county, but spent the most of his time in traveling and preaching, as before. Indeed, this was the only means of supplying the destitute portions of the Church, which would otherwise have been entirely without the means of grace.
In the fall of 1808 he moved to Wilson county, and settled in Sugg's Creek congregation. On the 27th of July, 1810, he was set apart to the whole work of the ministry at Sugg's Creek Meeting-house, and installed the regular pastor of that congregation. He also preached regularly during his whole pastorate in his regular congregation, to Stoner's Creek congregation, and to Fall Creek congregation, until 1824. A large proportion, however, of every summer and fall season, was appropriated to attending camp-meetings in different, and especially remote, parts of the Presbytery to which he belonged. This was the custom of pastors in those days. At the fall session of the Nashville Presbytery, in 1824, he was released from his connection with the Fall Creek congregation, the Presbytery having been divided, and this congregation having fallen within the bounds of the new Presbytery. As specimens of the labors performed by Mr. Foster in remote parts of his Presbytery, I quote the following:
Minutes of the Fall Sessions of the Nashville Presbytery, 1814.--"Ordered that Revs. David Foster, Robert Guthrie, Benjamin Lockhart, and Samuel McSpadden, attend the sacramental meetings appointed in White and Warren counties; also the meeting in Sequatchie Valley." These meetings were from fifty to a hundred miles from the homes of Messrs. Foster and Guthrie, and they both had large and dependent families.
Minutes of the Spring Sessions of the Nashville Presbytery, 1815.--"The Presbytery revived the itinerant plan of preaching, and directed David Foster to ride and preach in the eastern bounds of the Presbytery, embracing what was formerly called the Upper Circuit, and to extend his labors into East Tennessee."
Minutes of the Spring Sessions of the Nashville Presbytery, 1819.--"The Board of Female Missions petitioned the Presbytery for a Missionary for two months, or more: the petition was granted, and Mr. David Foster was appointed."
Minutes of the Spring Sessions of the Nashville Presbytery, 1820.--"Ordered that David Foster ride twice round the Tennessee Circuit, before our next Presbytery." A large portion of this circuit was a hundred miles from Mr. Foster's home. These are presented as specimens of what was expected of him and such men in their day. And those of us who have any recollection of the usages of those days, will readily suppose that all such orders were fulfilled, as no indulgence was tolerated, except from considerations strictly providential.
The subject of slavery was not agitated in Mr. Foster's days. At least, if there was agitation, it was not such as it has been since; but both he and his wife were antislavery in their feelings. From this, and perhaps other considerations, in the fall of 1827 he moved to Illinois, and made a temporary settlement in Sangamon county. In 1829 he made what he considered a permanent settlement, in Macon county. Here he organized two or three congregations, which he ultimately left in a promising condition.
I have mentioned Mr. Foster's antislavery feelings. He was a moderate and good man, and would never have been a violent proscriptionist. He loved the Church, and loved all its good men, whatever their relations to property and to general society might be. In illustration of his views on the subject of slavery, I mention the following incident in his history. Some time after he settled in Wilson county, from considerations which I do not now recollect, he was induced to buy a negro man. The negro had but one arm, but would otherwise have been considered valuable. The purchase was made, however, with the distinct understanding, that when the negro's services should have been considered a fair equivalent to the purchase-money, he was to have his freedom. The pledge of the buyer was redeemed, and at the expiration of four or five years the negro was made free. The laws of Tennessee at that time gave the privilege to the master of emancipating his slaves. The arrangement, however, proved unfortunate for the negro. He was inefficient when left to himself; his family were worthless. He fell into difficulties, and died in the midst of them. I do not mention this circumstance as an illustration of what may be expected in the case of colored men thrown upon their own resources, but simply as a historical fact connected with the life of a good man. Mr. Foster intended to give to his servant what was just and equal.
A year or two after Mr. Foster's last settlement in Macon county, he entered into the service of the American Tract Society. It seems that one of his objects in undertaking this agency was to enable him to preach more extensively. The country was new--his congregations had been but recently organized. He derived from that source, therefore, a very slender support. He expected the customary compensation from the Tract Society, and, in addition to the circulation of books, to be able in some degree to supply the destitutions of the country with the means of grace. On the 7th of May, 1833, he visited St. Louis, to obtain an additional supply of books for his agency. The next day, on his return homeward, he was attacked with the cholera, and on the 9th of May, 1833, about seventeen miles north-east of Edwardsville, closed his mortal career. The following extract of a letter from a respected brother in the ministry to the afflicted and bereaved family, contains some particulars respecting his death:
"My dear Friend:--It becomes my painful duty to communicate to you heavy tidings. I saw your father last Wednesday, on his return from St. Louis. He was apparently in good health. He proceeded about five miles that afternoon toward home. Thursday morning he traveled about twelve miles, was unwell, but still proceeded about two miles farther, when he stopped. His complaint soon discovered itself to be malignant cholera. There was no physician nearer than ten or twelve miles. A man was dispatched to obtain medical aid, and in the meantime camphor, opium, calomel, and warm bathing were resorted to by those about him, but all to no purpose. The cramp came on very soon in his feet, hands, legs, and body. He suffered severely about six hours, when death came to relieve him from pain, and remove his soul to the bosom of that God and Saviour in whom he believed, whom he loved and preached to a fallen world. He expressed a wish to see me. A man came to let me know. He came in the night. I arrived at the place at seven o'clock on Friday morning. I found the lifeless clay, but the lovely spirit had taken its flight from our sinful world. He died about nine o'clock on Thursday evening.
"Brother Foster spoke but little, but expressed himself resigned to the Divine will. His confidence in God, and his hope of future felicity, were firm and unwavering. His wish was to have been at home; but as the Lord had ordained otherwise, he was submissive. He retained his senses perfectly to the last, and in the closing scene was entirely calm, and for some time appeared to be sinking into a quiet sleep. Not a feature was discomposed."
Mr. Foster was the friend and counselor, and, in many respects, the guide of my early ministry. My recollections of him and his sainted wife are very tender and very sacred. Still I do not suppose that my estimate of his character is extravagant. I intend that my record shall be faithful. As a preacher, though not the leading man, he was one of the leading men of his time in the portion of the Church in which he labored. His preaching was unequal. Sometimes his manner was smooth, unembarrassed, entirely free; at other times, he labored in the expression of his thoughts, his manner was cramped, and he seemed dull. When in his better moods, he was exceedingly tender and impressive, and occasionally overwhelming. In the summer of 1817 he preached at the former residence of his father-in-law, my own grandfather. There was no house of worship in the neighborhood then, and private houses were used for the purpose. The congregation was large, and the preaching was powerful. A favorite young lady of the neighborhood was deeply convicted. It was a rare occurrence. In the course of a few months this young lady, with some of her associates, professed religion at a camp-meeting a few miles distant. It was the commencement of a revival in the vicinity. A house of worship was soon built; camp-meetings were introduced; a Church was organized, which still exists. It is not a large, but a model congregation.
He once preached at Smyrna, in Rutherford county, upon the occasion of a Presbyterian camp-meeting. His text was, "Knowing, therefore, the terror of the Lord, we persuade men." The sermon made an unusual impression. He sometimes spoke of it afterward himself. The old people remembered it a long time. It was a terrible appeal to the judgments and hearts of unconverted men.
In one of his camp-meeting excursions, he attended a meeting in Overton county. Old Mr. McDonald, father of the Rev. Philip McDonald, one of the brightest lights of the early Cumberland Presbyterian Church, lived in the neighborhood. The son had finished his brilliant career, but the father had lived to be an old sinner. Mr. Foster preached on a favorite text: "And whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken; but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder." At the close of the sermon the old man was among the mourners. In giving an account of his experience afterward, he described his feelings as being awful. "But," said he, using his Scotch-Irish brogue, "I thought I would cast mysel' on that stone." The old man obtained a good hope.
I once heard him at Wells' Creek, at a camp-meeting, upon the benevolence of God. At that time I was unacquainted with Dr. Paley's argument on that subject. Mr. Foster's argument was constructed very much after the manner of Paley's. The whole discussion was new to me, and seemed at the time the most interesting one which I had ever heard.
Mr. Foster's pastorate at Sugg's Creek was his principal work. He had a most interesting and devoted congregation. The Board of Elders consisted of Hugh Telford, James Law, John Roach, and John Currey. They were a noble band. I hardly expect ever to see another such generation of men. Whilst they did not neglect their worldly interests, religion was with them the absorbing interest. They confided in their preacher, and cooperated with him. On one occasion, at the commencement of their camp-meeting, on Friday, Mr. Foster preached rather a searching sermon upon the address of Eliphaz to Job: "Are the consolations of God small with three? Is there any secret thing with thee?" After the sermon, some of the older brethren were discussing its merits. One or two novel, but rather striking points, had been presented. Brother Roach was called on for his opinion in regard to them, but somehow he had missed them. The brethren rather chided him for hearing so inattentively, since a preacher might advance unsound opinions and he would not notice them. "Aye," said he, "but I never think it necessary to watch Davy, for I take it for granted that he is always right."
I have mentioned that Mr. Foster was sometimes embarrassed and dull in his delivery. On some occasions this defect was striking, and rather painful. I was once conversing about it with old John Currey. He remarked to me, that he could always tell on Sunday morning, before preaching, whether Davy would have liberty in preaching that day. Said he, "I always pray for him on Sunday morning, and if I have an evidence that my prayers are answered, I take it for granted that he will have liberty." These are specimens of the interest which these good people felt in their preacher, and of the confidence which they reposed in him.
In his private relations, Mr. Foster was one of the best of men. His religion was strictly practical. He believed in Divine direction, and made every thing a subject of prayer. If he plowed or sowed his field, he prayed for the blessing of God upon his labors. If he started upon a journey, he prayed for guidance and protection and for the safe keeping of those at home. He lived in the fear of God, and looked for a reward in heaven. I conclude this sketch with some characteristics, written by myself, and published in the Revivalist shortly after his death.
"1. He was a good man. His qualities, though not of the most shining, were nevertheless of the most scriptural and useful kind. He always praised and cultivated the virtues of the heart more than those of the head. However, with regard to the latter, he was by no means indifferent." He loved knowledge, and sought it for its own sake, as well as a means of usefulness. "The writer of this article knew him well. He has been in habits of closest personal intimacy with him, has seen him in his family, and also before the people, and in the judicatories of the Church; and has always found him the same. In principle and in practice he was an upright, conscientious, and good man."
"2. He was a plain, honest, and practical preacher. He hated pomp and show in the pulpit, as well as elsewhere. His sermons were of the practical and useful kind. A favorite topic with him was experimental religion. Sometimes in his pulpit exhibitions his manner was rather feeble, and his mind seemed not with interest to pursue his subject; but at others he appeared to have the tenderness of the sweet singer of Israel, and the strength of Samson. Every thing melted and trembled around him. Many will regard him in heaven as their spiritual father, guide, and friend.
"3. He was an industrious preacher"--industrious in the preparation of his sermons, as well as in his more general ministerial labors. "He labored in the preparation of his sermons. He considered it a shame to impose words upon his hearers instead of thoughts. He studied his sermons well. He prayed for Divine assistance, and expected it; but was not willing to serve God and the souls of men with that which cost him nothing. He studied to show himself approved unto God--a workman rightly dividing the word of truth. He gave himself to reading as much as possible. He was industrious in the discharge of all his ministerial duties. He lived a life of labor and effort. He preached regularly, and with great punctuality, to the several congregations of which he had the oversight on the Sabbath, and again and again on other occasions, improving every opportunity of doing good. He was instant in season and out of season, reproving, exhorting, admonishing, and encouraging, as necessity might require. Although poor, he spent much time in riding and preaching to the needy and destitute."
"4. He was enlarged and liberal in his feelings. He considered the world as the field. He felt, and longed, and prayed, for the conversion of the nations.
"Who does not love to cherish the memory of such a man? He has finished his work; he had borne his testimony; his sun has gone down, but long, long will he live in the hearts of many. He had recently settled in a destitute frontier. Much was expected from his labors, and much did they seem to be needed; but how little does man know! In the midst of usefulness, surrounded by pressing calls for the bread of life, he is cut off in a day, and the fond hopes of many are disappointed. But it is right. The Lord hath done it, and who will murmur? He fell where every man should fall-- at his post. He did not desert it, terrified by the raging pestilence. Trusting in God, at whose bidding the shafts of disease and death were flying around him, he went forward. God was well pleased, and took him to himself."
Mr. Foster left six children--three sons and three daughters. Two of his sons and two of his daughters died several years ago. One of his deceased daughters became the wife of Rev. Daniel Traughber, of Illinois, and lived some years after her marriage. His oldest son, and one of the daughters, still live. The son lives on Sugg's Creek, where the father spent the best years of his ministry; the daughter somewhere in Illinois.
Mr. Foster published a sermon in the Cumberland Presbyterian Pulpit, for August, 1823, on "The Redeemer's Kingdom."
[Source: Beard, Richard. Brief Biographical Sketches of Some of the Early Ministers of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church. Nashville, Tenn.: Southern Methodist Publishing House, 1867, pages 62-75]
The subject of this sketch was born in Rowan county, North Carolina, May 4th, 1780. His parents were William and Nancy Foster. They were poor, but pious, and early instructed their son in the principles of Christianity. When quite young David became a member of a Presbyterian church, of which Rev. McCorkle was pastor. In 1797 the family removed to Sumner county, Tennessee, and settled in the neighborhood of old Shiloh church, to which they presented their letters. Rev. William McGee was pastor. They were all--parents and son--examined as to their experimental religion, in addition to their letters. The parents were received, but the son advised to re-examine the foundation of his hope. This he did, with the conclusion that he was not a Christian. He began to seek Christ as never before, and at home, in a quiet way, found peace with God, and soon became prominent in his efforts to win souls to Jesus.
He became a candidate under old Cumberland Presbytery, and at old Red River meeting house was licensed to preach the gospel October 2d, 1805. Some time before his licensure he had traveled as a licensed "exhorter," in supplying the great destitutions of that day. Of course he, among others, fell under the ban of the famous "commission" of Kentucky Synod; yet he continued his labors under the "council" which succeeded the dissolution of the Presbytery, and never did he seem to labor with more success than in those dark days.
In the Summer of 1806 he was married to Miss Ann Beard, of Sumner county, who was a noble Christian woman, full of faith, devoutly consecrated to the Master, and a good help-meet for her husband. In 1808 Mr. Foster moved to Wilson county, and settled in Suggs Creek congregation. Shortly after the re-organization of Cumberland Presbytery he was set apart to the whole work of the ministry July 27, 1810, at the Suggs Creek church, and at the same time was installed pastor of that church. He also preached to two other churches a part of the time during his pastorate, until 1824. A large portion of his time was spent annually in attending camp and protracted meetings, to which he was appointed by his Presbytery.
In 1827 he removed to Illinois, where it was little else than a vast wilderness. Dr. Beard says, (Biographical Sketches, vol. I, page 66,) that both he and his wife were anti-slavery in their feelings and views, and gives this as one reason for his removal to Illinois. He first settled in Sangamon county, afterwards in Macon county, and for a time was colporteur for the American Tract Society. He was on a visit to St. Louis May 7th, 1833, the year cholera first visited that city, to get a fresh supply of books. On his way home the next day he was attacked with cholera and died on Silver Creek, Madison county, the 9th of May, 1833. He was buried near by where he died. He was away from home, but he had friends with him who did all in their power to save him. He retained his consciousness to the last, and died resigned and peaceful. His death was a heavy stroke to the few and scattered churches in this country. No man was more beloved by the people than he.
Mr. Foster has left his mark all over the churches of Illinois. He was first a member of Illinois Presbytery, where his seat was never vacant unless he was hindered by Providence. When Sangamon Presbytery was organized he became a member of that Presbytery; and when Vandalia was organized he fell within her bounds. He organized the churches at Mt. Zion and Bethany, from which many large and prosperous congregations have gone forth. Many others were fostered by him. It may well be said that his praise was in all the churches. Many are found now who revere his memory. It was never the privilege of the writer to meet with him; but, what is perhaps better, he has met with his works all over the country. "He, being dead, yet speaketh." Evidently he was a devoted man. He lived every day for the Lord and his cause. Though not a brilliant preacher, yet he was a preacher of more than ordinary intelligence, zeal and success. As a worthy testimonial to his memory, Central Illinois Synod--Vandalia Presbytery in particular--have provided the means to have the old decaying limestone rocks, which were at first placed at his grave, supplanted by respectable modern marble tombstones. It is not known to the writer whether his companion or any of his six children are living; nor, if living, where they reside.
The action of Vandalia Presbytery in regard to his death may be found elsewhere. At the session of Illinois Synod which met at Pisgah meeting house, St. Louis county, Mo., October 17, 1833, we find the following appropriate record of Mr. Foster's death:
"WHEREAS , it has pleased the great Head of the Church to remove by death from the councils and labors of this Synod the Rev. David Foster, the Moderator of the former session, and one of her most aged and useful members;
Resolved, therefore, that this Synod feel deeply sensible of the bereavement occasioned by this solemn dispensation of divine Providence, and that the Synod cherish with very fond remembrance the memory of her dear departed fellow-laborer." The minute in both instances is short, but is a true expression of what was felt in reference to this good man. The men of those days were men of comparatively few words, but they said nothing they did not mean.
[Source: Logan, J. B. History of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church in Illinois, Containing Sketches of the First Ministers, Churches, Presbyteries and Synods; also a History of Missions, Publication and Education. Alton, Ill.: Perrin & Smith, 1878, pages 183-186.]
Richard Beard, D. D., sends this sketch:
"Mrs. Ann Foster, wife of Rev. David Foster, was, before her marriage, Miss Ann Beard. She was the daughter of Captain David Beard. Her mother's original name was Isabel Carson. Her father and mother were both Virginians. Captain Beard was an officer in the Revolutionary War, and bore an active part in the battle of Guilford Court House and in the siege of Yorktown. He was, I suppose, a native of Bedford county, in Virginia, as I have learned from the family history that his father lived and died in that county, and I have never been able to trace the lineage of the family farther up.
"Captain Beard was a member of the Presbyterian Church, and connected in Virginia with one of the congregations of Rev. David Rice, who afterwards became the father of Presbyterianism in Kentucky. The subject of this sketch was born in Virginia, and was doubtless baptized by Mr. Rice. Sometime about 1784 her father moved from Virginia to the West, and made his final settlement in Sumner county, Tennessee, about six miles from where Gallatin now stands. He and his family, as far as they were professors of religion, connected themselves with Shiloh congregation, which was successively under the pastoral care of Revs. Thomas B. Craighead, William McGee, and William Hodge. Shiloh became historical in the old revival of 1800. That work reached the congregation early in the century, and the pastor, Mr. Hodge, became one of its most active supporters. In that revival Captain Beard himself, after a long and terrible experience (in the course of which, from despair of his spiritual condition's ever being improved, he was often driven to the borders of suicide), made a second profession of religion. The daughter, Ann, soon became an earnest inquirer for what had come to seem the new way. She appears, as tradition represents her, to have been a very thoughtful young women. She was hard to satisfy with her spiritual condition, and had a long and doubtful struggle for such evidences of a spiritual renewal as she desired. The writer recollects to have heard her say, perhaps more than once, that at one of the camp-meetings at Shiloh, in the early part of the revival, Mr. Craighead conversed with her frequently, and tried to convince her that she was a Christian. Her own account of the matter was, that she knew well enough that she was not. The good man was, no doubt, honest, and many persons would have accepted his decision, and acted upon it; but she was too earnest to be satisfied with a shadow. In process of time, however, she passed out from under the cloud. It was a real transition--a conversion characteristic of the times. There never was a more earnest Christian woman. Her influence began to be felt immediately, and, considering her social position, it was evidently to a wide extent.
"Her marriage to Mr. Foster was a marriage, as I used to hear it mentioned in our family, based upon Christian principles. I have heard old Mr. Foster, too, the father of David Foster, speak of it. He was one of the best of old men. David Foster had just fairly entered the ministry. He thought of marrying, but times were stormy. He had taken a stand with what became the Cumberland Presbyterian Church. But their prospects were very dark. There were pressing calls for preaching, but the preachers had no encouragement. He consulted his father on the subject of his thoughts. The good old man admitted the darkness of the prospect, was not sure that a young preacher, under such circumstances, ought to marry, but decided, if his mind was to marry, that there was one woman who would suit him, and that to a marriage with her he could give his cordial consent. That woman was the subject of this sketch. The families were neighbors, and well acquainted. They were in mutual sympathy on the subject of religion. It was a "marriage in the Lord." Rev. William Hodge was the officiating minister. It was the first marriage that the writer ever witnessed. It occurred far back in his early boyhood. Mr. Foster bought a little farm and settled near his father in Sumner county.
"In the course of a very few years--two or three, perhaps-- he was called to the charge of some congregations in Wilson county. He moved and settled in Suggs' Creek congregation. Here the real work of his life and of that of his wife commenced. He preached to three congregations about nine months in the years, and the other three months were spent, according to the custom of the times, in attending camp-meetings. These often took him far from home, and sometimes three or four weeks in succession. The wife had the burden of the home to bear. She was always frail, yet she administered the affairs of her household with a patience, an earnestness and a heroism which deserved the crown of martyrdom. I was accustomed occasionally to spend months in succession at her house, and I have no recollection of ever seeing a hired female domestic in her family. Indeed, for some years her house was a sort of second home, and she was a sort of second mother to me. I was, therefore, well acquainted with her burdens, and the manner in which she bore them. At one time, in the latter part of 1824, I was in an almost hopeless state of health, and retreated to Mr. Foster's for rest and recuperation for a while. In the time under medical direction, a portion of calomel brought on one of the worst cases of salivation that I ever witnessed. My good aunt was my nurse, and she was indefatigable in her attentions. By day or by night, when necessary, she was at my bed-side, ready to afford what relief was possible. All this, too was in addition to her own household cares.
"After Mr. Foster moved to Illinois, I think I never saw his wife. In addition to his removal my own line of life changed. From being a traveling preacher I was driven, by a failure of health, to the school room, and of course was very much confined. Of her latter days, therefore, I knew nothing. I have no doubt, however, that they were the days of an earnest Christian woman. It could scarcely have been otherwise.
"There was one feature in Mrs. Foster's religious life which was too distinctly marked to be overlooked in a sketch like this. She sometimes, as long as I knew her, under the influence of high religious excitement, would break silence, and not merely shout aloud, but exhort her friends and by-standards. Her exhortations, too, were not the mere incoherent ravings of an unbridled imagination, but they were conceived and expressed with an astonishing degree of correctness. Ordinarily she was a woman of few words, and her intelligence was not above what might have been expected in a woman raised as she was, and having the limited advantages in future life which she had; but on the occasions of which I speak she always transcended herself. The people sometimes said that when she threw aside her respect for the rules of order she was a better preacher than her husband. The hearer involuntarily lost sight of the irregularity of the proceeding under the influence of tender and powerful appeals in behalf of the truth. Her case, however, was not an isolated one. We had other mothers in Israel who threw themselves as earnestly and as decidedly into the great work of the times. We witnessed without offiense these outpourings of earnest hearts, which, we were satisfied from other sources, were right in the sight of God. I suppose myself that the Savior accepted them upon the same principle that led him to the acceptance of the hosannahs of the multitude at the descent of the Mount of Olives, when he replied to the murmuring Pharisees, 'I tell you that if these should hold their peace, the very stones would immediately cry out.'
"Let it not be said that I have become an advocate for irregularities and disorders in the house of God. I acknowledge the authority of Paul in its fullest sense. We all acknowledge the necessity and authority of general rules; yet it sometimes happens that the very interest and expressiveness of a proceeding arise, in a great measure, from its departure from all rules, and from its overlooking all precedents. I place the proceedings which I have mentioned in this category.
"It affords me great satisfaction to be thus able, even
at this late day, to render a tribute, however imperfect, to the
memory of one of the best Christian women that I ever knew, and
of one of the best and sincerest friends of my youth and early
[Source: Logan, J. B. History of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church in Illinois, Containing Sketches of the First Ministers, Churches, Presbyteries and Synods; also a History of Missions, Publication and Education. Alton, Ill.: Perrin & Smith, 1878, pages 133-138.]