Samuel Wait and the Convention 33
the very existence of the Association touching the expediency of
preaching funeral sermons. Not a few of the strongest men of that day
took the ground that the practice in question was a monstrous evil.
Much, too, going to show the actual condition of the churches could
be learned from the kind of questions sent up for discussion, and the
answers given, and from the minutes published by the Association. . .
These minutes were generally found on four pages of small size,
giving only the most common statistics, such as had occurred during
the preceding year. . . . On examining these minutes you look in vain
for anything going to show that the churches were awake to the idea
that they were living under a heavy responsibility to God, and that it
was the duty of the churches composing the body to combine their
whole strength for the purpose of doing the largest possible amount of
good.
While in Charleston, South Carolina, in March and April, 1827,
Wait had consulted Rev. Basil Manly, a native North Carolinian, as to
the expediency of attempting at once the formation of a Baptist State
Convention in North Carolina. Though Manly did not think the time
had yet come, he did not doubt that a convention could be formed in a
few years, as North Carolina Baptists already had as a stimulus in that
direction similar conventions in Virginia and South Carolina.
There is no intimation in any word of Wait that he had ever heard
of the work of Martin Ross and the Meeting of Correspondence. And
this is the more strange since Wait was a close friend of Meredith who
knew well the events in North Carolina Baptist history that preceded
the establishment of the Convention. It is possible that Meredith failed
to see the full significance of the work of Ross.
. In 1829, soon after Wait had begun his work in New Bern, the
North Carolina Baptist Benevolent Society was formed. Though Wait
was not present, the Society called upon him to preach the
introductory sermon at its second annual meeting at Greenville,
March 26, 1830. This fact is sufficient to show that he was already
known as a preacher of ability and standing, and one in hearty
sympathy with missions, Sunday Schools, and education which the
more progressive Baptists of the State were beginning to consider in
real earnest.
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