“BROTHER BEEBE: – What do you think of Luke x., and first clause of 31st verse? As Old School Baptists, we profess to believe that nothing transpires on earth or in heaven, that is not under the direct supervision of Him who created all things; and yet, here is a declaration of the Savior, that, “By chance there came down a certain priest that way,” &c.
Yours, A. RICHARDSON.
Holland Pattent, N. Y., March 10, 1844.”
WE discover nothing in this passage which, by a scriptural construction of our Lord’s words, can be made to bear against the doctrine held by all consistent Old School Baptists, viz: That God, our Creator, holds an unlimited government and providential control over every creature and all events, in the very nature of things we are compelled to believe, and that nothing can be so far in the distance as to escape the eye of Omniscience, consequently nothing can be by chance with God. But things may, and do happen to us by chance, for our thoughts are not as God’s thoughts. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so fr the thoughts and ways of God transcend those of us. Things by us unthought of, unlooked for, frequently transpire, and yet, nothing can transpire of which God had not a perfect knowledge from everlasting. “I return, says the wise man, “and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favor to men of skill; but TIME AND CHANCE HAPPENETH TO THEM ALL. For man also knoweth not his time; as the fishes that are taken in an evil net, and as the birds that are caught in the snare, so are the sons of men snared in an evil time, when it falleth suddenly upon them.” – Eccl. ix. 11 & 12. The case of the man who fell among thieves, as mentioned by our Lord in the passage referred to by brother Richardson, is an exemplification of the words quoted above, that time and chance happeneth to all men. The man that went down to Jericho could not have forseen the evil that was to befall him on the way. Like fishes that are taken in the net, and like birds caught in the snare, he was taken and snared; his speed at running, his strength in fighting, his wisdom, riches, understanding, and skill, could not prevent the catastrophe, which, in the providence of God, awaited him. If fishes could forsee their exposure to the net, they could easily avoid it; and, if men possessed knowledge and wisdom like that of God, they would never go in the way of danger; but this they do not possess, and consequently they are subject to surprise and disappointment by what to them is time and chance. But who is prepared to believe that, because the man that went from Jerusalem to Jericho, did not know that there were thieves to be encountered, that God did not know that those thieves were there, and what they would do? If this was all chance with God, as it certainly was with the man, and with the priest, then where is the obligation of gratitude on the part of the wounded man to God, for sending the good Samaritan that way at that time, and for touching his heart with pity, and providing him with all that was necessary to administer to the afflicted and wounded man?
The priest came that way by chance, i. e. not having any design to be there at that particular moment; probably would rather have passed by at a time when there was nothing to demonstrate his unfeeling heart. His passing by was also unlooked for by the man that was half dead; he had no means of knowing beforehand that the priest was to pass that way at that time ; but, how evident it must be to all who know the Lord, that God, who declareth the end from the beginning, knew all about it; and had designed all these circumstances, to show the wretched depravity of the Jewish priesthood, to admonish the children of his spiritual Jerusalem that they cannot go down from thence to Jericho with safety, and show that salvation is not of the Jewish priest or Levite, but of God that showeth mercy.
In all the vicissitudes of life, we find enough to impress our minds with the infinite disparity between God and men. At once, before his eye, all things which to us are past, present, or to come, stand present. In one comprehensive glance he surveys all things in heaven, earth, and hell, from everlasting to everlasting.
“Eternity, with all its years,
Stands present to his view;
With him there’s nothing old appears,
With God, there’s nothing new.”
The flight of angels and of sparrows are alike under his immediate supervision; the direction of a thunderbolt and the falling of a hair from our heads, the bursting of a bubble and the crash of worlds, are equally dependent on his decrees; the pillars of heaven tremble and are astonished at his reproof . He divideth the sea with his power, and by his understanding he smiteth through the proud: by his Spirit he hath garnished the heavens; his hand hath formed the crooked serpent. Lo, these are parts of his ways; but how little a portion is heard of him; but the thunder of his power who can understand?” – Job xxvi. 11-14. But O how different with us! We know not what a day nor an hour may bring forth. It is in this view of the subject we are to understand that time and chance happeneth to men, while no unforeseen event can possibly surprise the Lord our God. If one atom of created matter could transcend the bounds of God’s absolute government, and fly uncontrolled by his divine providence, millions of atoms might also fly at random, until all the atoms of which the whole creation is composed would escape his government. If one event, however minute and trifling it may seem to us, can come to pass without his knowledge or decree, who will prove to us that two events may not? and, if two, why not ten thousand? and, by the same rule, we could not prove that God possesses any real or absolute government at all.
New Vernon, N.Y.,
June 1, 1844
Elder Gilbert Beebe
Editorials Volume 2
Pages 431 – 434