North Carolina Baptists Before 1830 23
In some associations these uneducated and ignorant preachers kept
the churches unprogressive, and by so doing starved out and displaced
the preachers who were interested in Sunday schools, education and
missions. They themselves were ready and eager to preach without
stipulated price, claiming that they freely received their messages
from the Lord and would freely give them to the people. Hence they
decried traveling preachers and paid missionaries, and all other
preachers abler than themselves, as hirelings who preached for filthy
lucre. Their combined influence, with their specious appeal to
Scripture and their indirect appeal to the covetousness of the members
of the churches, was sufficient to stifle the progress and often the very
life of the churches. In wide reaches of the country south of the
Roanoke we have the sad spectacle of Baptist churches dwindling in
number of members year after year and finally becoming extinct.
There was nothing in the preaching of such men to minister to the
needs of the young people of the day who were now beginning to get
an education. Hence districts in which once Baptists alone had
churches were left destitute, and the Christians without a shepherd,
until ministers of other faiths came and gathered them into their
churches.
To check this growing evil which threatened to affect the entire
Baptist membership of the State was no little work. In the good
providence of God there was found a man for the place, one well
acquainted with the forces he had to combat. This was Martin Ross of
whose circular letter on the "Support of the Ministry" we have already
spoken. In 1786 he had been ordained pastor of the church of
Skewarkee in his native town of Williamston; in 1796 he had gone to
the church at Yoppim, near Elizabeth City; ten years later he had gone
to a church, which he had a part in constituting, at Bethel, Perquimans
County, and this church he served until his death in 1827. In 1803 he
had called the churches of the Kehukee Association to support foreign
missions, and it was he who more than any other man brought the
Baptists of the Chowan Association to feel the need of an educated
ministry,
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