Our post today is drawn from Richard Webster’s History of the Presbyterian Church. A brief account of a pastor unknown today. But think of all those names in all those chapters and books of the Bible, where so many of the Lord’s people are remembered, yet without elaboration or story. They are mentioned because they important. As Francis Schaeffer said, “there are no little people.” They are all important in the Lord’s eyes, and they have a place in His kingdom. Think of Daniel Lawrence as yet another of these names.
“In preaching, speak low, speak slow, and be short.”
Born on Long Island in 1718, Daniel Lawrence, the subject of our post today, is said to have been a blacksmith by training. He studied at the Log College, and was later taken on trials by New Brunswick Presbytery, September 11, 1744, and was licensed at Philadelphia, May 28, 1745.
The original organization of a church at Newtown, in Bucks county, seems to have simply died away. Initially Rev. Charles Beatty was sent, in the spring of 1745, to settle a church there. And the record indicates that in the fall of 1745, Newtown and Bensalem asked for Lawrence, as did both Upper and Lower Bethlehem, and Hopewell and Maidenhead. Finally, at the request of the Forks of Delaware congregation, he was sent on May 24, 1746, to supply them for a year, with a view to settling there as their pastor. In October, a call was presented to him. He was ordained, April 2, 1747, and installed as their pastor on the third Sabbath in June.
The Forks North and the Forks West had been favoured with a portion of Brainerd’s labours, and were by no means an unpromising field, having many excellent pious families. But it was a laborious field,—a wide, dreary, uninhabited tract of fifteen miles lying between the two meeting-houses. Lawrence was not robust; and, for his health, he was directed to spend the winter and spring of 1751 at Cape May, then in very necessitous circumstances. Rev. Chesnut supplied the Forks in his absence.
Lawrence’s health remained feeble despite his time of rest, and since there was no prospect of his being able to fulfill his pastoral office in the Forks, he was dismissed. He relocated to Cape May. There at Cape May was one of the oldest Presbyterian congregations. Yet while this church was among the first that had a pastor, it had for the last thirty years remained vacant. The Revival was felt there, but the congregation was feeble in numbers and resources. Beatty visited the people, and laid before the synod their distressed state. Davenport passed some time there, but with no effect till the last Sabbath. Lawrence was called; but a long delay occurred before his installation, which was not till June 20, 1754. Of his ministry little is known. The records mention him as a frequent supply of Forks, and as going to preach, in 1755, at “New England over the mountains.”
A meeting-house was built in 1762, the frame of which remained in use till 1824.
“It appears to be my duty, considering the relict of my old disorder, to take and use the counsel which, I have heard, the Rev. Samuel Blair gave, not long before his exit, to the Rev. John Rodgers:—in preaching, to speak low, to speak slow, and to be short.”
He died April 13, 1766.
Words to Live By:
Are you a Christian? Has the Lord sought you out, raised you from the dead and given you new life by His Spirit? Then you too have a place in His kingdom. The world will remember few of us one hundred years from now, but our Lord knows those who are His; He will never forget us.