22 History of Wake Forest College
cools their zeal, and of necessity they are not so profitable to the
churches or the cause of Christ in general.
A circular letter on the same subject is found in the Minutes of the
Chowan Association for 1812, while in 1830 Thomas Meredith
repeated and amplified the whole argument in the address, To the
Baptists of North Carolina, prefixed to the Minutes of the first session
of the Baptist State Convention.
But disregarding all appeals many churches continued to refuse to
contribute for the support of a minister. The result was that it soon
came to pass that these churches, if served by a minister at all, were
served by one who was poor in character, weak in intellect, and with
barely enough education to spell out the Scriptures. There is plenty of
evidence that in the Kehukee Association the evil consequences of
admitting such men to the ministry was felt and deprecated.3 But no
effectual means of debarring the unfit was found either in the
Kehukee Association or any other in the State.4 The number of such
preachers seems to have increased from year to year. In addition to
the very serious injury they brought to the churches, of which I shall
speak presently, they left the newcomer among our people with the
impression that all other Baptist preachers were like themselves.5
3 Burkitt and Read, History of the Kehukee Association, for year 1778, p. 77.
4 Battle, History of the University of North Carolina, I, 113 f, says that Dr.
Joseph Caldwell, shortly after his arrival at Chapel Hill in October, 1796, wrote:
"One reason why religion is scouted from the most influential part of society, is that
it is taught only by ranters with whom it seems to consist only in the powers of their
throats and the wildness of their gesticulations and distortions."
5 The last note indicates how Dr. Caldwell was impressed. Dr. Samuel Wait,
himself a Baptist preacher, and later President of Wake Forest College, got a like
impression of the quality of the Baptist ministry of the State thirty years later. He
says: "The first Association I had the pleasure of attending was the Neuse, held in
that year in October, at Old Town Creek, in the county of Edgecombe. Only a short
time was necessary to convince the most casual observer that the state of things in
the churches composing that body was lamentably low. This was but too obvious
from the tone of the preaching heard at the meeting, and from the character of the
discussions introduced into the Association." J. B. Brewer, "Life and Labors of
Samuel Wait," in N. C. Baptist Historical Papers, Vol. I, 9 f.