Monday, November 6, 2017

Pastor Charles Cummings: Armed and Preaching the Gospel in the 1700s

The following is an account of Pastor Charles Cummings, a preacher of the Gospel in the 1700s and defender of his fellow man. Cummings had his gun handy when preaching, and even used it to fend off Indian attackers. He was nicknamed "The Fighting Parson."
The first church erected for Cummings at Sinking Spring was a log-cabin of rough logs, about eighty feet long and forty feet wide. The church at Ebbing Spring was of the same shape, but not so large. Every Sunday morning, we are told, it was the habit of Cummings to dress himself neatly, then put on his bullet pouch, mount his horse and, with his rifle in his hand, ride off to one of his churches. Each man in the congregation also brought a rifle to the church and usually held it in his hands during the time of public worship. This was done to guard against any sudden attack that the Indians might make against them. When Cummings went into the pulpit, he was in the habit of setting his rifle in a corner near him. Then he took off his bullet pouch and began the religious service. ...
A large plantation called the Royal Oak, on the Holston River, was the home of that branch of the Campbell family of which Colonel Arthur Campbell was a member. General William Campbell, a cousin of Arthur, lived in the same county. The members of both of these households attended the churches of Charles Cummings. On a little hill south of Abingdon, "and on the spot where David Campbell's gate stands," a fort was built to protect the settlers against Indians. To that fort Cummings always took his family in times of danger. In July, 1776, Cummings left his family in the fort, and with three of his neighbors and a servant, started in a wagon toward his farm. Not far from the church a body of Indians attacked them. The driver of the wagon was killed at the first fire and, a little later, the two other neighbors were wounded. Cummings and his servant, whose name was Job, both of them armed with good rifles, kept up the fight and drove the Indians away. Friends ran out from the fort and helped to bring in the men who had been shot down. In October, 1776, Cummings went with Colonel William Christian's expedition against the Cherokee Indians in the Tennessee country. Joseph Rhea, another preacher, also marched with the soldiers. Cummings and Rhea preached to the men at every camping-place along the way, with their rifles always near at hand. This was the first regular preaching of the gospel within the present State of Tennessee.
Henry Alexander White, Southern Presbyterian Leaders (NY: The Neale Publishing Company, 1911), 101, 102.

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