Samuel Wait and the Convention 39
and a great amount of tact, and never allowed himself to get ruffled or
drawn into profitless discussions with contentious adversaries of
whom he found the woods full. In other words he had much wisdom
and commonsense. Furthermore, he was keenly aware of the
destitution among the Baptists of North Carolina and the poor quality
of their ministry. He was impelled to accept the work from a stern
sense of Christian duty and from the consciousness that no other man
could be found to do it.9
Having chosen a General Agent, the Convention was ready for its
work. Wait tells us that at its final meeting "a deep and solemn feeling
seemed to pervade the entire body." In sending him forth it seemed to
have that strong sense of responsibility that the Church at Antioch had
when it sent forth the first missionaries. It was committing its all to
him. He was to go among people often suspicious of its purposes. He
was to do his work single-handed, backed by churches few and feeble.
But after
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9 Wait says with reference to his accepting the work: "A difficulty now presented
itself. I came with reluctance to North Carolina. All of the family friends of myself
and wife were left behind. Before any step had been taken for the formation of the
Convention, I had commenced negotiations preparatory to a return to the church of
which I had been ordained pastor. The arrangements were nearly completed. Only
one obstacle stood in my way. A stern sense of duty had brought me to North
Carolina after I had been favored with some opportunity to know the actual
condition of the churches.
"I could not, therefore, forget the last meeting I enjoyed with a large number of
my friends at the North before leaving for a residence in North Carolina. The text
was, `For ye are not your own,' etc. It was a deeply affecting time. I was preaching
in the pulpit first occupied by my venerated grandfather Wait whose ashes were
then reposing within fifty yards of the spot on which I stood. Before me was a large
congregation, composed to a great extent of my relatives and friends. Within a short
distance, in plain sight, stood (and as I hope still stands) the house in which I was
born. Many of the older portion of the congregation had known me from infancy.
As I was now about to send myself off from all the associations and endearments
which naturally cluster around the place of one's nativity, I was anxious to let them
know that I was influenced solely by a conscientious view of what appeared to be
duty. And when, nearly three years afterwards I was led by a train of circumstance
to deliberate upon the question whether it was my duty to leave North Carolina, I
could not forget the considerations that brought me at first to this State. ... One
circumstance contributed not a little in causing me to accept the Agency. And that
was, if I failed there seemed not the remotest possibility of obtaining the services of
any other man."-From Wait's Journal.
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