THOSE officers of the law who excuse themselves when persecuting men for conscience’ sake by saying, “It is the law,” would do well to ponder Revelation 1:7: “Behold he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him.” The poor soldiers acting under orders might well have pled, “It is the law;” yet God holds them to strict account for their part in the death of Christ. Nothing excuses participation in the persecution of the people of God.
THE Twentieth Century thinks that Christianity has ceased to exist, except in name, because we now hear nothing of the Father who is a “jealous God, visiting the iniquities of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation;” and because there is now no burning at the stake here as a preparation for the hereafter. But Christianity has not ceased to be because of these things. There is less genuine Christianity in the world than formerly, but not because of the modified conceptions of God’s character. “God is love,” and all his dealings with his creatures are tempered with love. And it is this love implanted in the heart by the divine Spirit that transforms the nature and makes the man a Christian; for “he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.” The decay of vital piety in the last days, and the reason for it, is thus foretold by the Apostle Paul, 2 Timothy 3:1-4:—
This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, truce-breakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despiser of those that are good, traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God.
The trouble is that men love themselves more than they love God. As a natural result they are “without natural affection, truce-breakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good.” And so while it is true that we have not now burning at the stake, we do have fines and imprisonment for conscience’ sake; and social ostracism, religious boycott, and political blackmail, all in the interests of degenerate Christianity. The more modern tortures are none the less real because more refined.