How an Old Time Preacher Handled Mischief
One of the best known preachers of the first half of last century was J. D. Tant (1861-1941). My Dad knew brother Tant and heard him preach. A few months before Dad died, he was telling me about some of the preachers he had known and some of the things that had transpired in former days. Among those events was the following story of brother Tant that Dad said took place about 1912.
Brother Tant was preaching in a Gospel meeting somewhere in south Texas and was baptizing a goodly number of people as they heard the message of truth so powerfully taught. Some ruffians decided to disrupt the meeting, and offered the "town clown" a side of ham and a bushel of corn if he would go forward at themeeting to be baptized, and come up from the water cursing. The brethren "got wind" of what was going to take place and anxiously warned brother Tant. He assured them that he would take care of it if it did occur and for them not to worry about it.
Sure enough, the suborned man came forward amidst several other respondents. Closing the service under the old "brush arbor," by lantern-light all made their way to the creek for the baptizings. Brother Tant baptized all the genuine folks first in a very meaningful way, saying something similar to what all Gospel preachers say when baptizing. After all the legitimate baptisms, he then said, "one more man has come tonight, and if he'll now join me here in the creek, we will take care of this matter." The man then waded out into chest-deep water to brother Tant with the ruffians mingled in the crowd looking on, all ready to laugh brother Tant to scorn when the man came up from the water "cussing." But brother Tant, holding the man firmly in his strong arms, said with a loud voice, "For a side of ham and a bushel of corn, I now dunk one of the most worthless characters that ever was born." Whereupon brother Tant pushed him under the water and held him there for a bit, and when he finally did lift the man up above water level, the fellow was spewing and gasping for breath! Instead of cursing, he realized he was no match for brother Tant and hurriedly and meekly left the scene. Remember, the Bible says, "Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own conceit" (Proverbs 26:5).
While the story is humorous, it gives us insight into what tough environs the "pioneer preachers" took the Gospel, and how they handled the situations which arose. Dad said the meeting continued for several more nights with numerous responses, and the church of our Lord was established in another Texas town. Thank God for men like J. D. Tant.