38 History of Wake Forest College
churches for pastors of superior qualifications, in that some proportion will they
augment their liability to extract from us whatever of talent and attainment may
grow up amongst us. And in proportion as society advances in intellectual
acquirements, and as other denominations present their ministers of cultivated
manners and enlightened minds, just in the same proportion our ministry, and of
course our churches, must fall behind in power and respectability; and there is
nothing short of a miracle, that can avert the threatened mischief, but a seasonable
and well directed effort to do away with the causes of evil already considered. The
Baptists of North Carolina may inveigh against education, and the claims of
ministers, and the employment of missionaries . . . and they may go on to persuade
themselves that God's ministers should be compelled to preach, whether supported
or not; and that God will do his work in his own time, independently of human
agency; while their brethren in other states are draining away their efficient
ministers, and those of other denominations are coming in and possessing the land;
but they have got to learn, at last, that there is no way of preventing the natural
effect of efficient causes, but by the application of adequate means....
These vigorous statements of Meredith revealed the condition of the
North Carolina Baptist ministry and doubtless did much to create a
demand among our people for a college. But his words would have
soon been forgotten had not the Convention gone on to appoint a
General Agent to travel through the State, visit Baptist churches and
Associations, explain the objects of the Convention, and invite
cooperation. The Baptists denomination of that day in North Carolina
had no periodical through which the Convention could communicate
its purposes to its membership of perhaps twenty thousand scattered
over the length and breadth of the State. A General Agent with the
functions indicated above was a necessity, and on him to no little
degree depended the success or failure of the new enterprise.
Through the blessings of God the Convention was led to choose
Samuel Wait as the proper man for the office. For it, he had many
obvious qualifications. Although a man of education and culture he
had been reared on a farm, and thus had developed a sympathy for the
classes among whom he was to travel and work. He was simple in his
language, had conciliatory manners
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