Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
February 15, 1951
NUMBER 40, PAGE 1,13b

Dealing In Personalities

Cled E. Wallace

This essay, or whatever it turns out to be, is inspired by a couple of personal letters which I have recently received, which I like and am taking the liberty to use. One is from Batsell Baxter, of David Lipscomb College, whose friendship I have enjoyed and cherished for lo, these many years.

Dear Cled:

Having not seen anything from you in some weeks I was just ready to inquire if you were sick; then came your article. It filled me with sadness. One by one the pioneers have slipped into the great beyond. Very few of them left now. Brother Whiteside was to me one of the clearest thinkers I had ever met. For several years I used in my classes all the volumes of "Sound Doctrine." I wish it could be re-published while brother Nichol is still with us.

My first acquaintance with brother Baxter was around 1908 in Sherman, Texas. My father was the preacher for the church, of which his father was an elder. It was about that time that both of us were vaccinated for preachers and it began to show some signs of taking. Batsell, as I recall, gave up his work as a budding reporter on a daily newspaper and went to Nashville to attend the Nashville Bible School and gather some information and wisdom from David Lipscomb. He did not misuse his opportunities. It bloomed out into his well-known prominence as a preacher and an educator. I knew him and Faye, and their families, before they were married. I watched their courtship with becoming interest and liked what I saw so well that I decided to go and do likewise. That turned out all right too. If the blond cookie who led me up in front of old brother A. Ellmore in the chapel of old Gunter Bible School in 1912, and promised to "love, honor and obey" me from then on—will do as good a job of it the next thirty-eight years as she has the past thirty-eight, I'll stand hitched. They hook you, yoke you and hitch you, and what they do to you from then out, they call loving, honoring and obeying. This is no gripe.

Brother, I like it. It's my way of life.

No, I'm not sick, and haven't been seriously sick for even a day, since the doctor handed me my hat after a year of nursing a broken heart, and told me to scram, but be reasonable about it. When you missed me from the paper, I was probably out in the hills trying to find a deer with enough horns to shoot at, which I did. Roy Cogdill, our publisher, says I'm plain lazy, but then, I've learned not to lean too heavily on his judgment. He thinks he's having fun when he is doing nothing but working. The doctor told me to be lazy, and that is one order I didn't argue with him about. Faith or opinion it produced unity. Why, I'm not supposed to get in a hurry, even if the house catches on fire that is beyond what is necessary to keep from getting scorched. Don't even try to put it out, just turn it over to the fire department and let 'er burn. I'm not allowed to smoke, that is all day and all night like some folks do, and I'm not supposed to get into an argument with anybody, not even my wife, unless I can be as calm as a sea breeze on a tropical island, and feel as happy as if my opponents agreed with me—the bums. Some of you who have been writing me letters during the last year would sure be disappointed if you just knew how serene it made me feel.

It makes us all sad when we have to watch "one by one the pioneers" slip away from us. That is not near all the story. It is an optical illusion. If our eyes were open so we could see, we could behold them shooting up like constellations into glory. Dead? These men are not dead. They have been born into a realm where infancy eclipses the prime maturity of earthly life. Death becomes the birth of graduation.

Your tribute to brother Whiteside is touching and refreshing. He was just what you say he was, "one of the clearest thinkers I had ever met." And one of the most unassuming, a kindly, living rebuke to egotism and cockiness. What you say about "Sound Doctrine" stirs up something way down inside me which is warming and satisfying. You remember a way back in 1909 when my Dad shipped me down into East Texas from Sherman to hold my first meetings in school houses and under brush arbors with jug lamps and the like. I was just seventeen. I had a Bible and a copy of T. W. Brents' "Gospel Plan of Salvation." I preached all of both I could toddle under and baptized people, eighty of them. Soon thereafter my father gave me a copy of "The New Testament Church" by F. D. Srygley. It has been through fire and water and baptized in pencil marks, but I still have it. The mechanics of it are worn, wrinkled and dirty but what it put inside of me glows like the fire of incense on the altar. I secured "all the volumes of 'Sound Doctrine' " as they came from the press and soaked them up like the sponge that I am. I confess without shame that when I held my last meeting, these volumes and Whiteside's "Commentary on Romans" were in my grip, along with my Bible. For your information "Sound Doctrine" in all four volumes has been "re-published" and can be secured by writing to C. R. Nichol, Clifton, Texas.

The second letter I want to take some liberties with is from brother C. R. Nichol himself. It was written soon after he received the news of brother Whiteside's death. He was in California in a meeting and could not be at the funeral services, which under other circumstances he would have conducted.

A great man has passed, a good man. The brotherhood has lost a great asset in the work of the Lord. I know of no one in whom I had more confidence as to ability, or character. He was my friend.

Yes, I am glad, in a way, that it was not mine to conduct the funeral services. It would have been a trying ordeal, as it was to be with you and the others in the funeral of your father. I had in all the world no more loyal, or loved brother than Foy E. Wallace, Sr., and we each loved brother Whiteside.

It dawns on me that I am almost left alone, as to workers in the kingdom of the older brethren.

Brother Nichol's letter is a touching reminder of many things. He has reference mainly to his work and associations in Texas and the Southwest. When they were very young men he, brother Whiteside and my father were very closely associated in preaching and debating. They fought for the cause and under such circumstances, as few men, if any, in a younger generation, can know what fighting means. My memories of both brother Nichol and brother Whiteside go back to the time when I was a small boy. Both of them took an active, encouraging and sustaining interest in me in my youth which has continued right up to now. The same thing can be said about Foy Jr. It gave us the advantage of three fathers in the gospel. It is understandable then that when Foy and I stood by the casket in which brother Whiteside's body lay, we remembered brother Nichol's tears during his brilliant and heart-moving tribute to our father under similar circumstances, and expressed relief, for his sake, that he did not have to go through this. Farewells do not come easy to old comrades in arms.

Mingled tears clamp hearts tightly together. Brother Nichol clothed our hopes in words and applied tranquil touches to our grief when our mother was carried away by the angels in 1913. He performed a like service in 1949, when our father laid his armor down to reach for a crown. In 1948 Sister Nichol slipped away for the hills of God. It became my turn to struggle for the words which could prove adequate for tribute and comfort. Experiences like these bind ties that cannot be broken.