Same years ago I was a guest at a small wedding dinner party in New York City. A Scotch-Irish gentleman, well known in that city, an old friend, spoke across the table to me. He said he had heard recently a story of the Scottish hills that he wanted to tell. And we all listened as he told this simple tale. I have heard it since from other lips, variously told. But good gold shines better by the friction of use. And I want to tell it to you as my old friend from the Scotch end of Ireland told it that evening.
It was of a shepherd in the Scottish hills who had brought his sheep back to the fold for the night, and as he was arranging matters for the night he was surprised to find that two of the sheep were missing. He looked again. Yes, two were missing. And he knew which two. These shepherds are keen to know their sheep. He was much surprised, and went to the out-house of his dwelling to call his collie.
There she lay after the day's work suckling her own little ones. He called her. She looked up at him. He said, |Two are missing| -- holding up two fingers -- |Away by, Collie, and get them.| Without moving she looked up into his face, as though she would say, |You wouldn't send me out again to-night? -- it's been a long day -- I'm so tired -- not again to-night.| So her eyes seemed to say. And again as many a time doubtless, |Away by, and get the sheep,| he said. And out she went.
About midnight a scratching at the door aroused him. He found one of the sheep back. He cared for it. A bit of warm food, and the like. Then out again to the out-house. There the dog lay with her little ones. Again he called her. She looked up. |Get the other sheep,| he said. I do not know if you men listening are as fond of a good collie as I am. Their eyes seem human to me, almost, sometimes. And hers seemed so as she looked up and seemed to be saying out of their great depths -- |Not again -- to-night? -- haven't I been faithful? -- I'm so tired -- not again!|
And again as I suppose many a time before, |Away by, and get the sheep.| And out she went. About two or three, again the scratching. And he found the last sheep back; badly torn; been down some ravine or gully. And the dog was plainly played. And yet she seemed to give a bit of a wag to her tired tail as though she would say, |There it is -- I've done as you bade me -- it's back.|
And he cared for its needs, and then before lying down again to his own rest, thought he would go and praise the dog for her faithful work. You know how sensitive collies are to praise or criticism. He went out and stooped over with a pat and a kindly word, and was startled to find that the life-tether had slipped its hold. She lay there lifeless, with her little ones tugging at her body.
That was only a dog. We are men. Shall I apologize for using a dog for an illustration? No. I will not. One of God's creatures, having a part in His redemption. That was to save sheep. You and I are sent, not to save sheep, but to save men. And how much then is a man better than a sheep, or anything else!
And our Master stands here to-day. Would that you and I might see His face with the thorn marks of His trip to this earth. He points out with His hand. And you can't miss a peculiar hole in its palm. He says, |There are two missing -- aye, more than two -- that you know -- that you touch -- that you can touch -- that I died for -- go ye.|
Shall we go? For Jesus' sake? Yes, for men's sake; splendid men, befooled about Jesus, who can get Him only through us in touch with Him -- for men's sake, in Jesus' great Name.