Ewing, Finis

Ewing, Finis one of the founders of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, was born July 10, 1773, in Bedford County, Virginia. His father was of ScotchIrish descent, and both his parents were eminent for their piety, the father for many years being an elder in the Presbyterian Church. Mr. Ewing had but little early education. He spent some time in college, but where is not known. His biographer says, "Like Franklin, he seems very early to have acquired a fondness for books. His varied and extensive reading made him emphatically a learned man, though not systematically educated, and the brilliancy of his success as a minister of the Gospel evinced intellectual endowments of a high order." His parents having died in Virginia, the surviving family moved to what was called the "Cumberland Country," and settled in Davidson County, Tennessee, near Nashville. On January 15, 1793, he married the daughter of general William Davidson, of North Carolina. The county was named from him (Davidson), in honor of his many valuable services during the war of the Revolution. Here Mr. Ewing and his wife united with Reverend Dr. Craighead's church, and lived in its communion some years before either of them knew anything about experimental religion. After the birth of their first child (but at what time is not known) Mr. Ewing removed to Kentucky, and settled in what was afterwards Logan County, near Red River Church, of which Reverend James M'Gready was pastor. In the great revival of 1800, which swept over all the Western States, and out of which originated the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, Mr. Ewing heard for the first time in his life the doctrines of regeneration and personal holiness insisted upon from the pulpit. He became satisfied that he had not a saving knowledge of the truth, and communicated his feelings to his wife, whom he found in a similar state of mind. After many prayers and tears, while engaged in family worship, he "became filled with joy and peace in believing." Some time after this (the precise period is not known)' he told his impressions to preach the Gospel to Transylvania Presbytery, which body, at the advice of Reverend David Rice, D.D., one of the oldest ministers: in the presbytery, licensed Mr. Ewing and three others to exhort. His success was wonderful; scores of sinners were converted wherever he went. His talents, piety, commanding language, and zeal carried. everything before them. He was soon licensed to preach as a probationer, but the prevailing party in the presbytery opposed his licensure. He went on preaching very successfully, however, revival attending his labors wherever he traveled. His labor was so much called for, and so marked with success, that at the urgent call of several congregations he was ordained, in November 1803, to the work of the ministry. The revival went on with unabated power for several years; in the mean time Kentucky Synod had pretended to dissolve Cumberland Presbytery, which had ordained him, because of alleged irregularities. The presbytery remained for four years not attempting to exercise its functions as a presbytery; after which, failing to secure a redress of their grievances from the General Assembly, they determined to organize again, even contrary to the wishes of a majority of Kentucky Synod. On February 4, 1810, Mr. Ewing and two other ordained ministers united and formed the first presbytery of the new Cumberland Presbyterian Church, giving it the name of the presbytery Kentucky Synod had dissolved, viz. Cumberland Presbytery; hence the name "Cumberland Presbyterians." Mr. Ewing removed after some years to Todd County, Kentucky, and became pastor of Lebanon congregation, near Ewingsville. Here under his eye was sustained for many years a flourishing classical seminary of learning. In 1820, at the urgent call of many. friends and brethren, he removed to the State of Missouri, and settled in what is now Cooper County. It was not long until he built up a large congregation at New Lebanon, which still flourishes. Here he prepared and published his Lectures on Divinity, which have been extensively circulated and read, and which contain the germ of the peculiarities of Cumberland Presbyterians. He labored here with great acceptance and success until 1836, when he removed to the town of Lexington, Lafayette County, Mo. Here he soon gathered a congregation, built a church, and, with others, was the means of extending the work of grace all over the vast incoming territories of the West. Mr. Ewing died here July 4, 1841, in his 68th year. He was tall, portly in appearance, had a keen, penetrating eye, always bore a dignified look, was a man of extraordinary pulpit talents, and of great success among all classes in winning souls to the Redeemer. In our troubles with Great Britain in 1812 he did not hesitate to give all the weight of his great influence in favor of his country. He was no politician, yet at one time, being an intimate friend and acquaintance of general Jackson, he was by him appointed register of the land office at Lexington, Mo. He died lamented by a large and growing denomination, and by many others, as a great and good man. His remains rest in the cemetery at Lexington, Moa (J.B.L.)

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