Family Lessons 17: Unprovoked Assault

My 4x great grandfather was attacked by a ne’er-do-well, the Lancaster Gazette dryly reporting on 15th June, 1839:

Assault - On Saturday, James Leech was convicted of an unprovoked assault on Mr Airey, of Bowram, and fined 40s. Not being able to pay the money he was committed for a month.

Settling a dispute with fisticuffs is the preferred option for those without the wit to resolve differences with words and reason. That is bad enough, but an unprovoked attack is worse still. The victim is in the wrong place, at the wrong time. Some pea-brained thug lashes out at some perfect stranger for reasons best known to himself. Even animals only attack in self-defence, the preservation of territory or for food; to assault indiscriminately is to lower oneself below the dignity of dogs. This demonstrates our fallen, corrupted state. Go to a search engine and type in “place-name unprovoked attack”. Lists of awful crimes from local newspaper websites will fill the page. Alter the place as many times as you wish and similar horror stories will populate your screen. And these are simply records of our deeds during the internet age, roughly 25 years. Do not let some cheery theological liberal tell you how good we are. No. We are a violent, aggressive species. Truly, we are living in the days of Noah:

The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence. So God looked upon the earth, and indeed it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted their way on the earth. (Genesis 6: 11-12, NKJV)

Ironically, one descended from Leech’s brother became my stepfather, another man not known for his gentle spirit and sweet reason. The fashions, hair-dos, world views and opinions might alter, but the fallen heart of man remains the same. Thankfully, the transforming grace of God remains the same too- and just as widely available:

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:23, NKJV)

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