Who Will Bell The Cat?

James P. Miller

You have heard those words before and remember them from kindergarten days. They are from Joseph Jacob’s interpretation of Aesop’s fables and the story of the nice little mice who had a counsel to determine what they were going to do about their enemy, the family cat. The remarkable plan of tying a bell around the old cat’s neck so that they could hear her coming, and run, was adopted. But, alas! no mouse could be found who would take the job. True, they were all for it and knew exactly what should be done, but no one would be so bold. Poor little mice; they were afraid.

What a parallel in the church today. There is a big old cat whose duty is to keep watch about the household. He preaches what he knows to be true and prints the facts regardless of friend or foe. He is willing to defend the Bible wherever it is attacked, and signs his name to all he writes. His paper stands for truth. Error within or without is the object of his spring, and he cannot only jump, but when he lands he makes the fur fly. The little mice shudder at these tacts and call the cat all sorts of things, and will write, talk, and squeal to cripple his reputation and usefulness. They try to blacken his name ; they accuse him of not having the spirit of Christ! But the old cat goes steadily on with his watchfulness.

On The Nature Of Mice

These mice, like all the rest, work better under cover. They are afraid of light and of being known; so they slip around as quietly as you please until they are in the dark and feel free to squeal. When the cat’s back is turned or he is away, they raise their voices loud and long. Sometimes they have something to say, and other times they just squeal. Like Hitler with the Jews, when they are short of something to squeal about, they give it to the family cat. Some even want his hide hung up to dry; but that is like the bell, who will hang his hide? They will have to face him to do that. They have a “suckers’ list” and all that sort of thing, and keep the mail man’s back bending, all the time delivering their propaganda, signed and otherwise. This would not be so bad if everybody knew them, for the mice they are, but the strangest thing happens with the coming of the dawn. In the daytime they dress up with extreme care until you wouldn’t even know that they were mice at all. And behave? Why, they act so well that they make a reputation for themselves in piety. With the nature of true mice this furnishes them a hole in which they jump without a single squeal at the first approach of the mean old cat. And so the counsels, and conferences, and conclaves; the schemes, the plans, and the propaganda go on and on to prove that “the best plans of mice and men will sometimes come to naught.”

The Family Cat

The cat is not nearly as bad as the propaganda of the mice would make him. He is really a pretty nice fellow. He even laughs, now and then, and has no trouble making friends. In fact, you have to know him to like him most. The fact that he does his duty should not make him the enemy of right-thinking people. His work is a most necessary one. Some: one has to keep a weather eye peeled for trouble. Why, if we had no cats the mice would have such a time that a jitterbug session would be a mild comparison. Not only would they play, but they would eat all the wholesome food of the household and leave nothing but the dried scraps of speculation that could not give life. It would be a tragedy for the children to have nothing of the pantry but the old hulls of theory and the dried scraps of hobbies without number. They must have milk, and meat, to live. When we consider the cat in this light, he is not so bad but he does only his duty as he sees it.

The Cheese

Now, this is the milk in the coconut, for even mice don’t risk their lives just to play. The cheese these mice are after they consider worthy of the risk. If they did not they would retreat into their hole of piety and have a life of ease. To simply state it, they desire, as all men have in the past who taught and promoted error, to preach themselves; to be allowed to disregard God’s word and all it gives to dying man; to take a privilege Paul denied himself and even the angels in heaven (Gal. 1:8 and 9) and by hobbies, theories, and speculations (either their own or stolen from denominationalism) destroy the faith and the purity of God’s people; To exchange the plea to “speak where the bible speaks,” for a false modesty; to cease trying to please God and start bowing down to man to speak the things that man would like to hear; and, if he has money, sit before him in sack cloth and ashes as Henry the Fourth, Emperor of Germany, sat for three days and three nights in midwinter before old Pope Gregory the Seventh at Canossa in Tuscany; throw honesty, self respect, and the word of God into the world of yesterday as old-fashioned, out-of-date, and behind-the-times, and stand in a new era of liberalism, progressiveness, modernism, and tact that they now as proponents of error have before them.

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Author: Editor

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