The Tale Of A Sheep
It happened in Parrish, Alabama, about fifty years ago. J. D. Tant, Christian, was in the midst of a debate with with Claude Casey, Primitive Baptist. Tant was pleading with Casey, with whom he had a number of debates during his lifetime, to give up his Primitive Baptist doctrine, and accept the simple gospel of Christ. Tant was convinced that Casey knew the truth, but was being held back from obedience by the influence of his brethren, and by the fear that he would be isolated from his long-time associates if he obeyed the truth.
"Claude," said Tant, "why don't you come out from this foolishness you have been preaching, and obey the the gospel of Christ? You know the truth, and you ought to obey it. Now, you need not fear that your brethren will turn against you. They won't. They will follow fully in your steps; they have followed you blindly into error, and they will follow you without question if you will become a Christian. They remind me very much of the old fanner who had a ram in his flock that was terrible to butt. He would just go around butting things all the time. Every time the farmer got into the pen with his sheep, this old ram would lower his head, make a run for him, and butt him over.
Finally, the farmer got tired of this antic of the old ram, and decided to put a stop to it. So one day he maneuvered the ram out to the edge of a high cliff, and got himself in the position he was usually in when the ram got one of his butting urges on. Sure enough, the ram lowered his head and made a wild charge. Just in time the farmer jumped aside, and the butting ram went hurtling over the cliff. And immediately every sheep in the farmer's herd made a wild dash for the cliff and followed right behind the ram. The farmer tried frantically to stop them, grabbing for them in desperation as they rushed past him headed for the cliff. Finally, the last sheep had disappeared over the edge — and all the farmer had was a fistful of wool in one hand and a sheep's tail in the other!
"Now, Claude, your people will follow you, just like the sheep followed the old ram — so why don't you obey the gospel and lead this whole flock to Christ?"
This interesting incident from a long dead past was related to us recently by Brother Asa M. Plyler, in whose home we were visiting during a gospel meeting at Valley View congregation. Brother Myer had heard the discussion when he was but a lad.
It all becomes poignantly real to us today when we see the blind and unquestioning faith many of our own brethren place in the men whom they regard as "some-whets" in the church. We heard Robert Jones say one time that if the elders of the big Texas church where he preached (Wichita Falls at the time) were to make an announcement some Sunday that they had carefully and prayerfully studied the matter of baptism, had talked it over with various brethren at Abilene Christian College, had gotten the opinion of a number of leading preachers among us, and they had all agreed that we had been making too much "fuss" over immersion as baptism, and that in the future it was the decision of the elders to leave the matter "optional" with each person as to whether he wanted to be immersed or sprinkled — if such an announcement were to be made, with appropriate expressions of concern for "holding firmly to the truth," NINE-TENTHS of the time members of that congregation would "go along" with it, raising no disturbance or objection whatever! They would take the position that "if the elders, the brethren at Abilene, and the preachers" all agreed on this course, then that would be good enough for them!
And all any faithful preacher who opposed such would have to show for his labors would be a "sheep's tail and a handful of wool" when the ruckus settled down.