Elder Silas Mercer
By George W. Paschal
Mercer was one of those who in their early years had been Churchmen and became converts to the Baptist view. As he offers a somewhat typical example of a certain class of converts among early North Carolina Baptists, I am giving here an account of his conversion and early ministry abridged somewhat from the sketch in Benedict's History of the Baptists, II, 357ff. Silas Mercer was born near Currituck Bay, N. C., February, 1745. His mother died while he was an infant, but his father being a zealous member of the Church of England carefully instructed him in the way of that church. From boyhood he was religiously inclined and thought much on religious matters, but for many years he was bewildered and embarrassed by that legal system of his mother church. It was only after he came to manhood that he was brought to a knowledge of salvation through a divine Redeemer. Until his conversion he had been most violently opposed to Dissenters in general and Baptists in particular. He would on no account go to hear one preach, and tried to dissuade others from attending their meetings, believing, as his father had taught him, that they were deceivers, and preachers of most damnable heresies, while for one to hear their preaching would be a crime of peculiar enormity. But he was not content to go by hearsay; he began to make inquiries on his own account. Thus little by little he was led to accept the Baptist view. First, he decided that immersion was the correct mode of baptism, as indeed was taught in the rubrics of his church. Accordingly, he had two of his children dipped, the first, a son, in a barrel of water at the priest's house, and the other, a daughter, in a tub prepared for the purpose at the church. He was also repelled from his mother church by the lack of discipline and the gross immorality of some admitted to its communion. After ineffectual labors to effect a reform, he reluctantly left the church of his father and became a Baptist, being then about thirty years old. From that time to the end of his life he was an ornament to the cause of the Baptists and a skillful defender of their distinguishing tenets. He had been brought to the Baptist view partly by hearing the preaching of Mr. Thomas, probably Elder Jonathan Thomas, but was not baptized until after his removal to Georgia in 1775. Because of the active hostilities of the Revolution in that State he returned to North Carolina and spent here six years during the war.
[From History of North Carolina Baptists, Chapter XX, “The Kehukee Association – 1777-1805”; fn 36 on page 496; via Internet Archive. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]
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