George Whitefield Sermon 55

Persecution every Christian's Lot.

2 Timothy 3:12, "Yes, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus, shall

suffer persecution."

When our Lord was pleased to take upon himself the form of a servant,

and to go about preaching the kingdom of God; he took all opportunities in

public, and more especially in private, to caution his disciples against

seeking great things for themselves, and also to forewarn them of the many

distresses, afflictions and persecutions, which they must expect to endure

for his name's sake. The great apostle Paul therefore, the author of this

epistle, in this, as in all other things, following the steps of his

blessed Master, takes particular care, among other apostolical admonitions,

to warn young Timothy of the difficulties he must expect to meet with in

the course of his ministry: "This know also, that in the last days perilous

times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their ownselves, covetous,

proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without

natural affection, truce-breakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce,

despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, high-minded, lovers of

pleasure more than lovers of God; having a form of godliness, but denying

the power thereof: from such turn away. For of this sort are they who creep

into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with

divers lusts, ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the

truth. Now, as Jannes and Jambres (two of the Egyptian magicians) withstood

Moses (by working sham miracles) so do they also resist the truth; and

(notwithstanding they keep up the form of religion) are men of corrupt

minds, reprobate concerning the faith." But, in order to keep him from

sinking under their opposition, he tells him, that though God, for wise

ends, permitted these false teachers, as he did the magicians, to oppose

for some time, yet they should now proceed no farther: "For their folly

(says he) shall be made manifest unto all men, as theirs (the Magicians)

also was," when they could not stand before Moses because of the boil; for

the boil was upon the Magicians, as well as upon all the Egyptians. And

then, to encourage Timothy yet the more, he propounds to him his own

example; "But thou hast fully known my doctrine, manner of life, purpose,

faith, long-suffering, charity, patience, persecutions, afflictions, which

came unto me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra; what persecutions I

endured; but out of them all the Lord delivered me." And then, lest Timothy

might think that this was only the particular case of Paul, says he, in the

words of the text, "Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus,

shall suffer persecution."

The words, without considering them as they stand in relation to the

context, contain an important truth, that persecution is the common lot of

every godly man. This is a hard saying, How few can bear it? I trust God,

in the following discourse, will enable me to make it good, by showing,

I. What it is to live godly in Christ Jesus.

II. The different kinds of persecution to which they, who live godly,

are exposed.

III. Why it is, that godly men must expect to suffer persecution.

LASTLY, We shall apply the whole.

I. FIRST, Let us consider what it is to live godly in Christ Jesus.

This supposes, that we are made the righteousness of God in Christ, that we

are born again, and are one with Christ by a living faith, and a vital

union, even as Jesus Christ and the Father are One. Unless we are thus

converted, and transformed by the renewing of our minds, we cannot properly

be said to be in Christ, much less to live godly in him. To be in Christ

merely by baptism, and an outward profession, is not to be in Him in the

strict sense of the word: no; "They that are in Christ, are new creatures;

old things are passed away, and all things are become new" in their hearts.

Their life is hid with Christ in God; their souls daily feed on the

invisible realities of another world. To "live godly in Christ," is to make

the divine will, and not our own, the sole principle of all our thoughts,

words, and actions; so that, "whether we eat or drink, or whatsoever we do,

we do all to the glory of God." Those who live godly in Christ, may not so

much be said to live, as Christ to live in them: He is their Alpha and

Omega, their first and last, their beginning and end. They are led by his

Spirit, as a child is led by the hand of its father; and are willing to

follow the Lamb withersoever he leads them. They hear, know, and obey his

voice. Their affections are set on things above; their hopes are full of

immortality; their citizenship is in heaven. Being born again of God, they

habitually live to, and daily walk with, God. They are pure in heart; and,

from a principle of faith in Christ, are holy in all manner of conversation

and godliness.

This is to "live godly in Christ Jesus:" and hence we may easily

learn, why so few suffer persecution? Because, so few live godly in Christ

Jesus. You may live formally in Christ, you may attend on outward duties;

you may live morally in Christ, you may (as they term it) do no one an

harm, and avoid persecution: but they "that will live godly in Christ

Jesus, shall suffer persecution."

2. SECONDLY, What is the meaning of the word Persecution, and how many

kinds there are of it, I come now to consider.

The word Persecution, is derived from a Greek word signifying to

pursue, and generally implies pursuing a person for the sake of his

goodness, or God's good-will to him. The

FIRST kind of it, is that of the HEART. We have an early example of

this in the wicked one Cain, who, because the Lord had respect to Abel and

his offering, and not to him and his offering, was very wroth, his

countenance fell, and at length he cruelly slew his envied brother. Thus

the Pharisees hated and persecuted our Lord long before they laid hold on

him: and our Lord mentions being inwardly hated of men, as one kind of

Persecution his disciples were to undergo. This heart-enmity (if I may so

term it) is the root of all other kinds of Persecution, and is, in some

degree or other, to be found in the soul of every unregenerated man; and

numbers are guilty of this persecution, who never have it in their power to

persecute any other way. Nay, numbers would actually put in practice all

other degrees of persecution, was not the name of Persecution become odious

amongst mankind, and did they not hereby run the hazard of losing their

reputation. Alas! how many at the great day, whom we know not now, will be

convicted and condemned, that all their life harbored a secret evil-will

against Zion! They may now screen it before men; but God seeth the enmity

of their hearts, and will judge them as Persecutors at the great and

terrible day of judgment.

SECOND degree of Persecution is that of the tongue; "out of the

abundance of the heart, the mouth speaketh." Many, I suppose, think it no

harm to shoot out arrows, even bitter words, against the disciples of the

Lord: they scatter their firebrands, arrows and death, saying, "Are we not

in sport?" But, however they may esteem it, in God's account evil-speaking

is a high degree of Persecution. Thus Ishmael's mocking Isaac, is termed

persecuting him. "Blessed are ye (says out Lord) when men shall revile you

and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely for

my name's sake." From whence we may gather, that reviling, and speaking all

manner of evil for Christ's sake, is a high degree of persecution. For "a

good name, *says the wise man) is better than precious ointment," and, to

many, is dearer than life itself. It is a great breach of the sixth

commandment, to slander any one; but to speak evil of and slander the

disciples of Christ, merely because they are his disciples, must be highly

provoking in the sight of God; and such who are guilty of it (without

repentance) will find that Jesus Christ will call them to an account, and

punish them for all their ungodly and hard speeches in a lake of fire and

brimstone. This shall be their portion to drink. The

THIRD and LAST kind of Persecution, is that which expresses itself in

ACTIONS: as when wicked men separate the children of God from their

company; "Blessed are ye, (says our Lord) when they shall separate you from

their company:" or expose them to church-censures. "They shall put you out

of their synagogues;" threatening and prohibiting them from making an open

profession of his religion or worship; or interdicting ministers for

preaching his word, as the high-priests threatened the apostles, and

"forbad them any more to speak in the name of Jesus;" and Paul breathed out

threatenings and slaughters against the disciples of the Lord: or when they

call them into courts; "You shall be called before governors," says our

Lord: or when they fine, imprison, or punish them, by confiscation of

goods, cruel scourging, and, lastly, death itself.

It would be impossible to enumerate in what various shapes persecution

has appeared. It is a many-headed monster, cruel as the grave, insatiable

as hell; and, what is worse, it generally appears under the cloak of

religion. But, cruel, insatiable, and horrid as it is, they that live godly

in Christ Jesus, must expect to suffer and encounter with it in all its


This is what we are to make good under our next general head.

3. THIRDLY, Why is it that godly men must expect to suffer

persecution? And,

FIRST, This appears from the whole tenor of our Lord's doctrine. We

will begin with his divine sermon on the mount. "Blessed are they who are

persecuted for righteousness sake; for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." So

that, if our Lord spoke truth, we are not so blessed as to have an interest

in the kingdom of heaven, unless we are or have been persecuted for

righteousness sake. Nay, our Lord (it is remarkable) employs three verses

in this beatitude, and only one in each of the others; not only to show

that it was a thing which men (as men) are unwilling to believe, but also

the necessary consequence of it upon our being Christians. This is likewise

evident from all those passages, wherein our Lord informs us, that he came

upon the earth, "not to send peace, but a sword;" and that the father-in-

law should be against the mother-in-law, and a man's foes should be those

of his own household. Passages, which though confined by false prophets to

the first, I am persuaded will be verified by the experience of all true

Christians in this, and every age of the church. It would be endless to

recount all the places, wherein our Lord forewarns his disciples, that they

should be called before rulers, and thrust out of synagogues, nay, that the

time would come, wherein men should think they did God service to kill

them. For this reason he so frequently declared, that "unless a man forsake

all that he had, and even hated life itself, he could not be his disciple."

And therefore it is worthy our observation, that in the remarkable passage,

wherein our Lord makes such an extensive promise to those who left all for

him, he cautiously inserts persecution. "And Jesus answered and said,

Verily I say unto you, there is no man that hath left house, or brethren,

or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my

sake and the gospel's, but he shall receive an hundred-fold now in this

time; houses and brethren, and sisters and mothers, and children and lands,

with persecutions; (the word is in the plural number, including all kinds

of persecution) and in the world to come eternal life." He that hath ears

to hear, let him hear what Christ says in all these passages, and then

confess, that all who will godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.

As this is proved from our Lord's doctrine, so it is no less evident

from his life. Follow him from the manger to the cross, and see whether any

persecution was like that which the Son of God, the Lord of glory,

underwent whilst here on earth. How was he hated by wicked men? How often

would that hatred have excited them to lay hold of him, had it not been for

fear of the people? How was he reviled, counted and called a Blasphemer, a

Wine-bibber, a Samaritan, nay, a Devil, and, in one word, had all manner of

evil spoken against him falsely? What contradiction of sinners did he

endure against himself? How did men separate from his company, and were

ashamed to walk with him openly? Insomuch that he once said to his own

disciples, "Will you also go away?" Again, How was he stoned, thrust out of

the synagogues, arraigned as a deceiver of the people, a seditious and

pestilent fellow, an enemy of Caesar, and as such scourged, blind-folded,

spit upon, and at length condemned, and nailed to an accursed tree? Thus

was the Master persecuted, thus did the Lord suffer; and the servant is not

above his Master, nor the disciple above his Lord: "If they have persecuted

me, they will also persecute you," says the blessed Jesus. And again,

"Every man that is perfect (a true Christian) must be as his Master," or

suffer as he did. For in all these things our Lord has set us an example,

that we should follow his steps: and therefore, far be it that any, who

live godly in Christ Jesus, should henceforward expect to escape suffering


But farther: not only our Lord's example, but the example of all the

saints that ever lived, evidently demonstrates the truth of the apostle's

assertion in the text. How soon was Abel made a martyr for his religion?

How was Isaac mocked by the son of the bond-woman? And what a large

catalogue of suffering Old Testament saints, have we recorded in the 11th

chapter of the Hebrews! Read the Acts of the Apostles, and see how the

first Christians were threatened, stoned, imprisoned, scourged, and

persecuted even unto death. Examine Church History in after-ages, and you

will find the murder of the innocents by Herod, was but an earnest of the

innocent blood which should be shed for the sake of Jesus. Examine the

experience of saints now living on earth; and, if it were possible to

consult the spirits of just men made perfect, I am persuaded each would

concur with the apostle in asserting, that "all who will live godly in

Christ Jesus, shall suffer persecution."

How can it be otherwise in the very nature of things? Ever since the

fall, there has been a irreconcilable enmity between the seed of the woman

and the seed of the serpent. Wicked men hat God, and therefore cannot but

hate those who are like him: they hate to be reformed, and therefore must

hate and persecute those, who, by a contrary behavior, testify of them,

that their deeds are evil. Besides, pride of heart leads men to persecute

the servants of Jesus Christ. If they commend them, they are afraid of

being asked, Why do not you follow them? And therefore because they dare

not imitate, though they may sometimes be even forced to approve their way,

yet pride and envy make them turn persecutors. Hence it is, that as it was

formerly, so it is now, and so will it be to the end of time; "He that is

born after the flesh, (the natural man, does and) will persecute him that

is born after the Spirit," the regenerate man. Because Christians are not

of the world, but Christ hath chosen them out of the world, therefore the

world will hate them. If it be objected against this doctrine, that we now

live in a Christian world, and therefore must not expect such persecution

as formerly; I answer, All are not Christians that are called so; and, till

the heart is changed, the enmity against God (which is the root of all

persecution) remains: and consequently Christians, falsely so called, will

persecute as well as others. I observed therefore, in the beginning of this

discourse, that Paul mentions those that had a form of religion, as persons

of whom Timothy had need be chiefly aware: for, as our Lord and his

apostles were mostly persecuted by their countrymen the Jews, so we must

expect the like usage from the Formalists of our own nation, the Pharisees,

who seem to be religious. The most horrid and barbarous persecutions have

been carried on by those who have called themselves Christians; witness the

days of queen Mary; and the fines, banishments and imprisonments of the

children of God in the last century, and the bitter, irreconcilable hatred

that appears in thousands who call themselves Christians, even in the

present days wherein we live.

Persons, who argue against persecution, are not sufficiently sensible

of the bitter enmity of the heart of every unregenerate man against God.

For my own part, I am so far from wondering that Christians are persecuted,

that I wonder our streets do not run with the blood of the saints: was mens

power equal to their wills, such a horrid spectacle would soon appear. But,

Persecution is necessary in respect to the godly themselves. If we

have not all manner of evil spoken of us, how can we know whether we seek

only that honor which cometh from above? If we have no persecutors, how can

our passive graces be kept in exercise? How can many Christian precepts be

put into practice? How can we love; pray for; and do good to; those who

despitefully use us? How can we overcome evil with good? In short, how can

we know we love God better than life itself? Paul was sensible of all this,

and therefore so positively and peremptorily asserts, that "all who live

godly in Christ Jesus, shall suffer persecution."

Not that I affirm, all are persecuted in a like degree. No: this would

be contrary both to scripture and experience. But though all Christians are

not really called to suffer every kind of persecution, yet all Christians

are liable thereto: and notwithstanding some may live in more peaceful

times of the church than others, yet all Christians, in all ages, will find

by their own experience, that, whether they act in a private or public

capacity, they must, in some degree or other, suffer persecution.

Here then I would pause, and, LASTLY, by way of application, exhort

all persons,

FIRST, To stand a while and examine themselves. For, by what has been

said, you may gather one mark, whereby you may judge whether you are

Christians or not. Were you ever persecuted for righteousness sake? If not,

you never yet lived godly in Christ our Lord. Whatever you may say to the

contrary, the inspired apostle, in the words of the text (the truth of

which, I think, I have sufficiently proved) positively asserts, that all

who will live godly in Him, shall suffer persecution. Not that all who are

persecuted are real Christians; for many sometimes suffer, and are

persecuted, on other accounts than for righteousness sake. The great

question therefore is, Whether you were ever persecuted for living godly?

You may boast of your great prudence and sagacity (and indeed these are

excellent things) and glory because you have not run such lengths, and made

yourselves so singular, and liable to such contempt, as some others have.

But, alas! this is not a mark of your being of a Christian, but of a

Laodicean spirit, neither how nor cold, and sit only to be spewed out of

the mouth of God. That which you call prudence, is often, only cowardice,

dreadful hypocrisy, pride of heart, which makes you dread contempt, and

afraid to give up your reputation for God. You are ashamed of Christ and

his gospel; and in all probability, was he to appear a second time upon

earth, in words, as well as works, you would deny him. Awake therefore, all

ye that live only formally in Christ Jesus, and no longer seek that honor

which cometh of man. I do not desire to court you, but I entreat you to

live godly, and fear not contempt for the sake of Jesus Christ. Beg of God

to give you his Holy Spirit, that you may see through, and discover the

latent hypocrisy of your hearts, and no longer deceive your own souls.

Remember you cannot reconcile two irreconcilable differences, God and

Mammon, the friendship of this world with the favor of God. Know you not

who hath told you, that "the friendship of this world is enmity with God?"

If therefore you are in friendship with the world, notwithstanding all your

specious pretenses to piety, you are at enmity with God: you are only

heart-hypocrites; and, "What is the hope of the hypocrite, when God shall

take away his soul?" Let the words of the text sound an alarm in your ears;

O let them sink deep into your hearts; "Yea, and all that will live godly

in Christ Jesus, shall suffer persecution."

SECONDLY, From the words of the text, I would take occasion to speak

to those, who are about to list themselves under the banner of Christ's

cross. What say you? Are you resolved to live godly in Christ Jesus,

notwithstanding the consequence will be, that you must suffer persecution?

You are beginning to build; but have you taken our Lord's advice, to "sit

down first and count the cost?" Have you well weighed with yourselves that

weighty declaration, "He that loveth father or mother more than Me, is not

worthy of Me;" and again, "Unless a man forsake all that he hath he cannot

be my disciple?" Perhaps some of you have great possessions; will not you

go away sorrowful, if Christ should require you to sell all that you have!

Others of you again may be kinsmen, or some way related, or under

obligations, to the high-priests, or other great personages, who may be

persecuting the church of Christ: What say you? Will you, with Moses,

"rather choose to suffer affliction with the people of God, than enjoy the

pleasures of sin for a season?" Perhaps you may say, my friends will not

oppose me. That is more than you know: in all probability your chief

enemies will be those of your own household. If therefore they should

oppose you, are you willing naked to follow a naked Christ? And to wander

about in sheep-skins and goats-skins, in dens and caves of the earth; being

afflicted, destitute, tormented, rather than not be Christ's disciples? You

are now all following with zeal, as Ruth and Orpah did Naomi, and may weep

under the word; but are not your tears crocodiles tears? And, when

difficulties come, will you not go back form following your Lord, as Orpah

departed form following Naomi? Have you really the root of grace in your

hearts? Or, are you only stony-ground hearers? You receive the word with

joy; but, when persecution arises because of the word, will you not be

immediately offended? Be not angry with me for putting these questions to

you. I am jealous over you, but it is with a godly jealousy: for, alas! how

many have put their hands to the plough, and afterwards have shamefully

looked back? I only deal with you, as our Lord did with the person that

said, "Lord, I will follow thee withersoever thou wilt. The foxes have

holes, and the birds of the air have nests, but the son of man, (says he)

hath not where to lay his head." What say you? Are you willing to endure

hardness, and thereby approve yourselves good soldiers of Jesus Christ? You

now come on foot out of the towns and villages to hear the word, and

receive me as a messenger of God: but will you not by and by cry out, Away

with him, away with him; it is not fit such a fellow should live upon the

earth? Perhaps some of you, like Hazael, may say, "Are we dogs, that we

should do this?" But, alas! I have met with many unhappy souls, who have

drawn back unto perdition, and have afterwards accounted me their enemy,

for dealing faithfully with them; though once, if it were possible, they

would have plucked out their own eyes, and have given them unto me. Sit

down therefore, I beseech you, and seriously count the cost, and ask

yourselves again and again, whether you count all things but dung and

dross, and are willing to suffer the loss of all things, so that you may

win Christ, and be found in him: for you may assure yourselves, the apostle

hath not spoken in vain, "All that will live godly in Christ Jesus, shall

suffer persecution."

THIRDLY, The text speaks to you that are patiently suffering for the

truth's sake: "Rejoice, and be exceeding glad; great shall be your reward

in heaven." For to you it is given, not only to believe, but also to

suffer, and perhaps remarkably too, for the sake of Jesus! This is a mark

of your discipleship, an evidence that you do live godly in Christ Jesus.

Fear not, therefore, neither be dismayed. O be not weary and faint in your

minds! Jesus, your Lord, your life, cometh, and his reward is with him.

Though all men forsake you, yet will not he: no; the Spirit of Christ and

of glory shall rest upon you. In patience therefore possess your souls.

Sanctify the Lord God in your hearts. Be in nothing terrified by your

adversaries: on their part Christ is evil spoken of; on your part his is

glorified. Be not ashamed of your glory, since others can glory in their

shame. Think it not strange concerning the fiery trial, wherewith you are

or may be tried. The Devil rages, knowing that he hath but a short time to

reign. He or his emissaries have no more power than what is given them from

above: God sets them their bounds, which they cannot pass; and the very

hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; no one shall set upon you to

hurt you, without your heavenly Father's knowledge. Do your earthly friends

and parents forsake you? Are you cast out of the synagogues? The Lord shall

reveal himself to you, as to the man that was born blind. Jesus Christ

shall take you up. If they carry you to prison, and load you with chains,

so that the iron enter into your souls, even there shall Chris send an

angel from heaven to strengthen you, and enable you, with Paul and Silas,

to "sing praises at midnight." Are you threatened to be thrown into a den

of lions, or cast into a burning fiery furnace, because you will not bow

down and worship the beast? Fear not; the God, whom you serve, is able to

deliver you: or, if he should suffer the flames to devour your bodies, they

would only serve, as so many fiery chariots, to carry your souls to God.

Thus it was with the martyrs of old; so that once, when he was burning,

cried out, "Come, you Papists, if you want a miracle, here, behold one!

This bed of flames is to me a bed of down." Thus it was with almost all

that suffered in former times: for Jesus, notwithstanding he withdrew his

own divinity from himself, yet has always lifted up the light of his

countenance upon the souls of suffering saints. "Fear not therefore those

that can kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do; but

fear Him only, who is able to destroy both body and soul in hell." Dare,

dare to live godly in Christ Jesus, though you suffer all manner of

persecution. But,

FOURTHLY, Are there any true ministers of Jesus Christ here? You will

not be offended if I tell you, that the words of the text are, in an

especial manner, applicable to you. Paul wrote them to Timothy; and we, of

all men, that live godly in Christ Jesus, must expect to suffer the

severest persecution. Satan will endeavor to bruise our heels, let who will

escape: and it has been the general way of God's providence, in times of

persecution, to permit the shepherds first to be smitten, before the sheep

are scattered. Let us not therefore show that we are only hirelings, who

care not for the sheep; but, like the great Shepherd and Bishop of souls,

let us readily lay down our lives for the sheep. Whilst others are boasting

of their great perferments, let us rather glory in our great afflictions

and persecutions for the sake of Christ. Paul rejoiced that he suffered

afflictions and persecutions at Iconium and Lystra: out of all, the Lord

delivered him; out of all, the Lord will deliver us, and cause us hereafter

to sit down with him on thrones, when he comes to judge the twelve tribes

of Israel.

I could proceed; but I am conscious, in this part of my discourse, I

ought more particularly to speak to myself, knowing that Satan has desired

to have me, that he may sift me as wheat. Without a spirit of prophecy, we

may easily discern the signs of the times. Persecutions even at the doors:

the tabernacle of the Lord is already driven into the wilderness: the ark

of the Lord is fallen into the unhallowed hands of uncircumcised

Philistines. They have long since put us out of their synagogues, and high-

priests have been calling on civil magistrates to exert their authority

against the disciples of the Lord. Men in power have been breathing out

threatenings: we may easily guess what will follow, imprisonment and

slaughter. The storm has been gathering some time; it must break shortly.

Perhaps it may fall on me first.

Brethren therefore, whether in the ministry or not, I beseech you,

"pray for me," that I may never suffer justly, as an evil-doer, but only

for righteousness sake. O pray that I may not deny my Lord in any wise, but

that I may joyfully follow him, both to prison and to death, if he is

pleased to call me to seal his truths with my blood. Be not ashamed of

Christ, or of his gospel, though I should become a prisoner of the Lord.

Though I am bound, the word of God will not be bound: no; an open, an

effectual door is opened for preaching the everlasting gospel, and men or

devils shall never be able to prevail against it. Only pray, that, whether

it be in life or death, Christ may be glorified in me: then I shall

rejoice, yea, and will rejoice.

And now, to whom shall I address myself next?

FIFTHLY, To those, who persecute their neighbors for living godly in

Christ Jesus. But, what shall I say to you? Howl and weep for the miseries

that shall come upon you; for a little while the Lord permits you to ride

over the heads of his people; but, by and by, death will arrest you,

judgment will find you, and Jesus Christ shall put a question to you, which

will strike you dumb, WHY PERSECUTED YOU ME? You may plead your laws and

your canons, and pretend what you do is out of zeal for God; but God shall

discover the cursed hypocrisy and serpentine enmity of your hearts, and

give you over to the tormentors. It is well, if in this life God does not

send some mark upon you. He pleaded the cause of Naboth, when innocently

condemned for blaspheming God and the king; and our Lord sent forth his

armies, and destroyed the city of those who killed the prophets, and stoned

them that were sent unto them. If you have a mind therefore to fill up the

measure of your iniquities, go on, persecute and despise the disciples of

the Lord: but know, "that for all these things, God shall bring you to

judgment." Nay, those you now persecute, shall be in part your judges, and

sit on the right-hand of the Majesty on high, whilst you are dragged by

infernal spirits into a lake that burneth with fire and brimstone, and the

smoke of your torment shall be ascending up for ever and ever. Lay down

therefore, ye rebels, your arms against the most high God, and no longer

persecute those who live godly in Christ Jesus. The Lord will plead, the

Lord will avenge, their cause. You may be permitted to bruise their heels,

yet in the end they shall bruise your accursed heads. I speak not this, as

though I were afraid of you; for I know in whom I have believed: only out

of pure love I warn you, and because I know not but Jesus Christ may make

some of you vessels of mercy, and snatch you, even you persecutors, as

fire-brands out of the fire. Jesus Christ came into the world to save

sinners, even persecutors, the worst of sinners: his righteousness is

sufficient for them; his Spirit is able to purify and change their hearts.

He once converted Saul: may the same God magnify his power, in converting

all those who are causing the godly in Christ Jesus, as much as in them

lies, to suffer persecution! The Lord be with you all. Amen.