header image
Home arrow 50 Yrs Among The Baptists arrow Justification and Kindred Subjects: Chapter 20
Justification and Kindred Subjects: Chapter 20 PDF Print E-mail
Written by J.H. Oliphant   

The history of Joseph illustrates how God can, and does, employ the envy of evil men to accomplish his own ends. "The patriarchs, moved with envy, sold Joseph, but God was with him." Joseph’s dreams first stirred up the latent envy of his brothers. These dreams did not produce the evil and envious nature, but made it manifest, and so God employed the corruption of these men to bring Joseph into Egypt, where he afterwards fed the whole family of Jacob. That God’s purposes were carried out, none can deny; yet these men acted from evil, and "meant it for evil." Our Saviour was with wicked hands slain yet "they did no more than the hand and counsel of God determined to be done." While nothing in these cases traces sin up to God as a cause, yet it is certain that God’s attitude in these cases was not BARELY PERMISSIVE. Rehoboam’s rough answer to the men of Israel was from God, (1st Kings xii. 15) that he might take the kingdom from Solomon for his idolatry. Rehoboam was a wicked man, and his answer was cruel and tyrannical, yet, in some sense, it was from God. (Read 1st Kings xii. 15, also 2nd Chronicles x. 15.). "My father made your yoke heavy and I will add to your yoke. My father also chastised you with whips, but I will chastise you with scorpions." The cause was from the Lord that he might perform his saying, which the Lord spake by Elijah," etc. Nothing here traces the evil temper of Rehoboam to God as its cause, but you must see that the course of this man was not the result of the BARE PERMISSION of God. There are hundreds of such instances in the Bible; enough to establish the principle beyond all doubt, that God may be so concerned in the conduct of evil men as to determine their course and yet not lessen their guilt or destroy the freedom of their wills.

Who can say that if every sin was written with its entire history from the beginning of time till now, that God’s providence and grace does not so bound, limit and direct as to result in his own glory. Certainly nothing will ever occur to cast a shadow upon the glory of God, or to render him unhappy. No event will ever occur that will dishonor God. I do not mean that sin would honor God, independent of law; but I mean that sin will develop and display the justice of God. When we consider God’s conduct toward sin in every way, his bounding it, limiting it and controlling it, and finally his punishing of it, we will understand that sin will never be a reproach to the Lord.

In our Saviour’s last visit to Jerusalem (Luke xix. 29) he, by his rebukes, reproofs, parables, setting forth the wickedness of the priests, his scourge of small cords, etc., stirred up the wrath of the people, and thus in some sense prepared the people for his crucifixion, made certain of it not by making men to be evil, but by so harnessing the evil passions of the wicked, as to carry out the great object of his coming into the world. When Satan entered into Judas he carried out his part of the drama, "God gave them the spirit of slumber, eyes that they should not see," etc. Read Romans 11th chapter carefully. God so blinded the people as to make sure of the crucifixion of Christ. Had they known him they would not have crucified him.

There is no reason to believe that God made these men to be wicked. Their cup of iniquity was already full of sin; it was a judicial hardening and blinding due them for their sinful conduct. God "hid these things from the wise and prudent." It seems clear that God’s concern in their sin was not that of bare permission. God may control the sins of evil men without destroying the voluntariness of their actions, and without destroying accountability. If goods be left unlocked, this may, in some sense, determine the course of the thief, though not in a sense that would interfere with the liberty of his will or lessen his guilt. It is difficult for us to understand how God suffered fifty-five million of human beings to be martyred during the dark ages, or how he suffered his prophets and apostles to be slain. Yet all this God suffered, or at least, he did not hinder it when he could have done so. His conduct respecting these things was founded in wisdom, and, no doubt some great worthy end was accomplished in these things. The drowning of the whole race except Noah and his family, the extirpation of whole nations, including infant children, the burning of the cities of the plain. We cannot understand all of his reasons for these things. He suffered Herod to slay all those little infants, and even preserved his life till he did it. It would be wrong in any earthly king or being to do these things, or suffer them to be done when they could prevent it. It would be wrong for one man to suffer another to kill or abuse his fellow being when he could prevent it. But not so with God. He not only suffers every murder, rape and outrage that is committed, but he sustains the life of the fiend till the deed is done. Men do not live because they are suffered to live, but "in him we live," "he gives life, and breath unto all." We cannot understand all the reasons of these things, but we are sure that God is wise in all he does or all he FORBEARS TO DO. Could we see the past history of the murdered or outraged, we might understand the case better, or if we could see the final destiny of the murdered or outraged, we might see him at God’s right hand in heaven and hear him say the text is true, "I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that shall be revealed in us." Or if we could see all God’s dealings with the fiend who murders and outrages, we might see him justly punished for his sins. God has often blessed his persecuted people in death so as that they were happy, while cruel men were venting their spite, as in the case of Stephen and many of the martyrs. If we will remember that at death each one either received his estate in heaven or his penalty in hell, it will appear prudent that the time of our death should be fixed by the Lord. "Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints." If we can say, "All the days of my appointed time will I wait till my change come," we must believe that no evil one can touch us till God will. If "not a sparrow," then not a saint, a human being, shall fall only as in some sense he will. "The shafts of death around me fly, till Jesus will I can not die." The very hairs of our heads are numbered, and surely our days are also. Neither the devil or chance so rules as to determine when the redeemed family of God shall reach home, nor when the finally impenitent shall receive their final doom. We must confess that the hour of our Saviour’s death was a matter of decree, and though the devil and wicked men combined to do the deed, and what they did, they did with wicked hands, yet there was the eternal purpose of God inflexible, unchangeable, immutable. The hour, the stripes, all was fixed. I can’t understand how God’s eternal purpose can be in a matter where evil men, and the devil too have their way, but if we can see and know that these elements do combine in this matter, then we may with propriety admit that they combine in other events. It is easy to admit that God sees and controls such ponderous orbs as Saturn or Jupiter, but it is just as true that he sees each and every atom in the universe. If we pretend to believe in the resurrection of the dead, we must believe he governs and rules the atoms as truly as he rules the planets, and if we see the hand of God so ruling in the death of our Saviour as to determine its time, manner, etc., let us also confess that he rules likewise with us. Let us in adversity and times of bereavement say with Job, "The Lord gave and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord."

< Previous   Next >

Purpose

The Primitive or Old School Baptists cling to the doctrines and practices held by Baptist Churches throughout America at the close of the Revolutionary War. This site is dedicated to providing access to our rich heritage, with both historic and contemporary writings.