North Carolina Baptists Before 1830 21
men of equal ability were arising to take their places. Even in territory
of the Kehukee Association, in which the advantages of education
were greater and in most other parts of the State where Baptists were
numerous, the supply of ministers was far below the need, and many
churches were falling into inactivity on this account. To remedy the
evil caused by this dearth of ministers an effort was made to provide
occasional services for the pastorless churches by the use of itinerant
preachers. But very little was accomplished; the churches refused to
contribute to the support of the itinerant ministers, while the ministers
were unable to do the work at their own charges.
Very early this unwillingness to support ministers began to have its
effect. The character of this evil was brought sharply to the attention
of the Kehukee Association by Martin Ross in the Circular Letter on
"The Maintenance of the Ministry," found in the Minutes of the
Association for 1791. According to the directions of the last
Association, says Ross, he is making a few observations on the
necessary support of gospel ministers, though he is sorry that there
should be the least occasion to write or speak on the subject. The
principal reason, he thinks, for the remissness of the churches in this
duty is that the people were formerly grievously oppressed by an
ecclesiastical establishment in raising money for the support of
ministers of a contrary sentiment. But this establishment has been
abolished by the late most glorious Revolution. Now some have fallen
into an error on the other hand and are condemning the practice of a
minister receiving anything at all for his ministerial labors. Then he
gives many quotations from Scripture to prove that ministers of the
Gospel are justly entitled to a comfortable maintenance from the
people. But the neglect of duty by the people is glaring.
By this sad neglect the poor ministers of the gospel are necessarily
obliged to follow their worldly avocations for the support of them-
selves and their families, which prevents them from reading the holy
scriptures, meditating, preaching constantly, and giving themselves
wholly to the work-which weakens their hands, dulls their ideas,
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