THE MISDIRECTED LETTER
Mr. Bulkley, of Colchester, Connecticut, was famous in his day as a casuist and sage counsellor. A Church in his neighbourhood had fallen into unhappy divisions and contentions, which the members were unable to adjust among themselves. They deputed one of their number to the venerable Bulkley for his services, with a request that he would send it to them in writing. The matters were taken into serious consideration, and the advice, with much deliberation, committed to writing.
It happened that Mr. Bulkley had a farm in an extreme part of the town, upon which he entrusted a tenant. In addressing the two letters, the one for the Church was directed to the tenant, and the one for the tenant to the Church. The Church was convened to hear the advice which was to settle all their disputes. The Moderator read as followsÂ—”You will see to the repair of the fences, that they be built high and strong, and you will take special care of the old black bull.”
This mystical advice puzzled the Church at first, but an interpreter among the more discerning ones was soon found, who said, “Brethren, this is the very advice we most need. The direction to repair the fences is, to admonish us to take good heed in the admission and government of our members. We must guard the Church by our Master’s laws, and keep out strange cattle from the fold. And we must, in a particular manner, set a watchful guard over the devil, the old black bull, who has done so much hurt of late.”
All perceived the wisdom and fitness of Mr. Bulkley’s advice, and resolved to be governed by it. The consequence was, all animosities subsided, and harmony was restored to the lone-afflicted Church.