The conspicuous part which Daniel Marshall took in the early history of Virginia Baptists will make a brief notice of his life acceptable to our churches. He was instrumental in the conversion of many sinners, and the organization of several churches in the southern part of the State. The notice which follows was prepared by his son, Elder Abraham Marshall, and originally published in the " Georgia Analytical Repository" of the year 1802:
"In giving a biographical sketch of my honored father, we must look back to the distance of almost a century. His birth was in the year of our Lord 1706, in Windsor, a town in Connecticut. He was religiously educated by respectable and pious parents, and being hopefully converted at twenty years of age, joined the then standing order of Presbyterians in his native place. The natural ardor of his mind soon kindled into the fire of holy zeal; and, without the advantage of a liberal education, raised him so high in the esteem of his brethren, that they called him to the office of a deacon. In the exemplary discharge of his duty in this capacity he continued nearly twenty years. During this time he married; and lost a wife, by whom he had a son, named after himself, Daniel, who is still a useful member of society. At the age of thirty-eight years, our worthy parent was one of the thousands in New England who heard that son of thunder, Rev. George Whitefield, and caught his seraphic fire. Firmly believing in the near approach of the 'latter-day glory,' when the Jews, with the fullness of the Gentiles, shall hail their Redeemer, and bow to his gentle sceptre, a number of worthy
characters ran to and fro through the Eastern States, warmly exhorting to the prompt adoption of every measure tending to hasten that blissful period. Others sold, gave away, or left their possessions, as the powerful impulse of the moment determined; and, without scrip or purse, rushed up to the head of the Susquehanna, to convert the heathens, and settled in a town called Onnaquaggy, among the Mohawk Indians. One, and not the least sanguine, of these pious missionaries, was my venerable father. Great must have been his faith! great his zeal! when, without the least prospect of a temporal reward, with a much-beloved wife and three children, he exchanged his commodious buildings for a miserable hut; his fruitful fields and loaded orchards for barren deserts; the luxuries of a well-furnished table for coarse and scanty fare; and numerous civilized friends for rude savages.
He had the happiness, however, to teach and exhort for eighteen months in this place, with considerable success. A number of the Indians were, in some degree, impressed with eternal concerns, and several became cordially obedient to the gospel. But just as the seeds of heavenly truth, sown with tears in this unpromising soil, began to appear in their first fruits, the breaking out of war among the savage tribes occasioned his reluctant removal to Connogogig, in Pennsylvania. From thence, after finding it much more difficult to benefit Scribes and Pharisees than Publicans and sinners, he removed to a place near Winchester, in Virginia.
"Here he became acquainted with a Baptist church belonging to the Philadelphia Association; and as the result of a close, impartial examination of their faith and order, he and my dear mother were baptized by immersion, in the forty-eighth year of his life. He was now called, as a licensed preacher, to the unrestrained exercise of his gifts; and though they were by no means above mediocrity, he was instrumental in awakening attention, in many of his hearers, to the interest of their souls.
"Under the influence of an anxious desire to be extensively useful, he proceeded from Virginia to Hugwarry, in North Carolina, where his faithful and incessant labors proved the happy means of arousing and converting numbers. Being evidently and eminently useful, as an itinerant preacher, he continued his
peregrination to Abbott's Creek, -- in the same State, where he was the instrument of planting a church; of which he was ordained pastor, in the fifty-second year of his age, by his brothers-in-law, Rev. Messrs. Henry Ledbetter and Shubael Stearns. Soon after receiving this honor, my reverend father, traveling at different times into Virginia, baptized Colonel Samuel Harriss, with whom he immediately afterwards made several tours, and preached, and planted the gospel in various places, as far as James River. It was but a few years after his ordination, before, induced by appearances of increasing usefulness, he took an affectionate leave of his beloved charge, and settled on Beaver Creek, in South Carolina.
"In this place, likewise, a church was raised under his ministry; and until brought to a good degree of. maturity in divine things, was an object of his tender and unremitted care and solicitude. At the direction of divine Providence, as he conceived, and as subsequent events have proved, his next removal was to Horse Creek, about fifteen miles north of Augusta.
"The fruits of his labors in this place remain in a respectable church, some of whose sons, raised up under his care, have successfully diffused the light of divine truth through various benighted regions. From Horse Creek my aged father made his first visits to this State. On the second or third of these, while in prayer, he was seized, in the presence of his audience, for preaching in the Parish of St. Paul, and made to give security for his appearance in Augusta, on the. following Monday, to answer this charge. Accordingly, he stood a trial, and after his meekness and patience were sufficiently exercised, he was ordered to come, as a preacher, no more into Georgia.
"In the words of an Apostle, similarly circumstanced, he replied,'Whether it be right to obey God, or man, judge ye.' Consistently with, this just and spirited replication, he pursued his luminous course; and on the 1st of January, 1771, came with his family, and took up his final earthly residence at the Kioke. The following spring the church here was formed, and it is famous for having furnished materials for several other churches. For this purpose many common members have been dismissed, and several ministers ordained. Among these are Rev. Messrs.
Saunders Walker, Samuel Newton, Loveless Savage, Alexander Scott, and the writer of this article. Through God's blessing on the ministry of her indefatigable founder and pastor, this church continued to lengthen her cords and strengthen her stakes, breaking forth on the right hand and on the left, until our beloved country was unhappily involved in the horrors of war. No scenes, however, from the commencement to the termination of hostilities, were so gloomy and alarming as to deter my inestimable father from discharging the duties of his station. Neither reproaches nor threatenings could excite in him the least appearance of timidity, or anything inconsistent with Christian and ministerial heroism. As a friend to the American cause, he was once made a prisoner, and put under a strong guard. But, obtaining leave of the officers, he commenced and supported so heavy a charge of exhortation and prayer, that, like Daniel of old, while his enemies stood amazed and confounded, he was safely and honorably delivered from this den of lions. Even the infirmities of old age, and the evident approach of the king of terrors, were not sufficient to shake his faith or hope, nor in the least perceivable degree to abate his zeal.
A few months previous to his decease, rising in his pulpit, which he had frequently besprinkled with his tears, and from which he had as often descended to weep over a carelesss auditory, he said, 'I address you, my dear hearers, with a diffidence that arises from a failure of memory and a general weakness of body and mind, common to my years. But I recollect, "he that holds out to the end shall be saved;" and I am resolved to finish my course in the cause of God.'
"Accordingly, he attended public worship regularly, even through his lingering mortal illness, until the last Sabbath but one before his dissolution. In his family he invariably performed his usual round of holy duties, until the morning immediately preceding his happy change. Fully apprised of this, as at hand, and perfectly in his senses, he expressed, distinctly and emphatically, his steady and increasing confidence of future bliss.
"The following, taken by me in the presence of a few deeply affected friends and relatives, as he delivered them, were his last words:
"'Dear brethren and sisters, I am just gone. This night I shall, probably, expire. But I have nothing to fear. I have fought a good fight; I have finished my course; I have kept the faith. And henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness. God has shown me that he is my God; that I am his son; and that an eternal weight of glory is mine!'
"The venerable partner of his cares, and, I may add, faithful assistant in all his labors, sitting bedewed with tears, by his side, he proceeded: "'Go on, my dear wife, to serve the Lord. Hold out to the end. Eternal glory is before us.
"After a silence of some minutes, he called me, and said, 'My breath is almost gone. I have been praying that I may go home to-night. I had great happiness in our worship this morning, particularly in singing, which will make a part of my exercises in a blessed eternity.'
"Now, gently closing his eyes, he cheerfully gave up his soul to God, with whom, I doubt not, he walks, 'high in salvation and the climes of bliss.'
"This solemn event took place at the dawn of the second day of November, 1784, in the seventy-eighth year of his age.
"A suitable discourse to his memory was delivered from the above-mentioned passage of holy writ, by the late Rev. Charles Buffey.
"Whatever infirmities might appear in my certainly eminently pious and extensively useful father, it would not become me to bring them into view, except it were to show, as might easily be done, that'e'en his failings leaned to virtue's side.' And I handle too feeble a pen to delineate the various excellent qualities and graces which adorned him in every relation he sustained through life. I will only say "'Tho' no proud pile, learn'd pen, nor letter'd stone His virtues rare, to late-posterity reveals; He'll ever shine, and waxingly has shone, Through rolling years, in ministerial seals.'"
It may be proper to add, that Mr. Marshall was twice married. Concerning his first wife nothing is known. We copy a few lines
from editorial remarks of the "Repository," in which, besides a reference to his family, there is found a eulogy, which is believed to be merited: "In 1748 Mr. Marshall married his second and last wife, Miss Martha Stearns, sister to Rev. Shubael Stearns. Mr. Marshall had the rare felicity of finding in this lady a Priscilla, a helper in the gospel. In fact, it should not be concealed that his extraordinary success in the ministry is ascribable, in no small degree, to Mrrs. Marshall's unwearied and zealous co-operation. Without the shadow of a usurped authority over the other sex, Mrs. Marshall, being a lady of good sense, singular piety, and surprising elocution, has, in countless instances, melted a whole concourse into tears by her prayers and exhortations.
"Another cause to which Mr. Marshall's distinguished utility is attributable, in a great measure, was his bold and independent method of procedure. With a soul expanded by contemplations on august objects, a boundless ambition directed to a correspondent prize, and the world completely under his feet, he was capable of the most difficult and arduous enterprises, and could be dismayed by no dangers. Superior to local attachments, he went from place to place, instructing, exhorting, and praying for individuals, families, and congregations, whether at a muster, a race, a public market, the open field, an army, or a house of worship; wherever he was able to command attention.
"Such conduct was, indeed, and may still, by many, be considered irregular, and little less than as savoring of insanity. But if he acted in some of these instances as if he were beside himself, it was for the sake of precious souls; and the fruits of his astonishing exertions have abundantly shown that he was constrained by the love of Christ.
"It may possibly be thought that Mr. Marshall was the subject of delusive hope; that he was culpably enthusiastic, when he left New England, with a family, to roam under the rising beams of the latter-day glory, as he supposed, for the conversion of souls. But let this matter be fairly considered, and it will appear that his most sanguine expectations must have so far been fully realized. Since the period at which Mr. Marshall commenced his career, many burning and shining lights have aroused a
slumbering world, and liberally shed the lustre of truth in its darkest recesses; thousands of able and evangelical writers and preachers have been raised up, and as many gospel churches formed; a revolution in America has bestowed religious liberty on one quarter of the globe; the system of the man of sin has been almost demolished; liberty of conscience has made rapid advances in Europe; the shouts of all truly religious denominations have been mingled at the funeral of bigotry; the Scriptures have been translated into several barbarous languages; missionaries have gone out, literally, into all the world;. and sinners of all descriptions have fallen, by thousands, beneath the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
" Now, can it be reasonably presumed, that when Mr. Marshall, in the fervor of his piety, exchanged New England for the Mohawk nation, he expected, that by this time the kingdom of Christ would be more triumphant than the present advanced state of religion throughout the world fully justifies?
"As to any special confidence that Mr. Marshall might have had in God, as engaged to preserve and prosper a family devoted to His service, the reader will probably be of opinion that it could not have been stronger than it ought to have been, in view of the promises on which it was based." =============[From James B. Taylor, Virginia Baptist Ministers, 1859, pp. 18-24. -- jrd]
Return to Baptist Biographies
Return to HOME