Genesis 4:8; I John 3:12
And Cain talked with Abel his brother: and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him.
And wherefore slew he him? Because his own works were evil, and his brother’s righteous.
WILLIAM GURNALL (1617-1679): Persecutors may pretend what they please, but it is the saint’s religion and piety that their spite is aimed at.
WILLIAM JENKYN (1613–1685): Martyrdom came into the world early; the first man that died, died for religion.
MARTIN LUTHER (1483-1546): The world is a cavern of assassins under the command of the devil; an inn, whose landlord is a brigand, and which bears this sign, “Lies and Murder.” And none are more readily put to death therein than those who proclaim Jesus Christ. You ought to beware of thinking that Christ will achieve things in the earth quietly and softly, when you see that He fought with His own blood, and afterwards all the martyrs.
JOHN CALVIN (1509-1564): The Son of God hath pronounced that the cross and tribulation shall always accompany His gospel; we must not pamper and cherish ourselves with a vain hope, as though the state and condition of the Church should be quiet―prosperous, and flourishing here upon earth. Let us, therefore, address ourselves to suffer the like things. And that is added as no small comfort for us, that as God hath marvellously delivered His Church in times past, being afflicted and oppressed so many ways, so He will at this day be present with us also.
WILLIAM JAY (1769-1853): Suffering is commonly connected with service in the divine life. It was so invariably in the beginning of the gospel. Then it was deemed impossible for any one to live godly in Christ Jesus and not suffer persecution. Therefore no sooner was Paul converted, than he was told how great things he had to suffer, Acts 9:16.
MATTHEW HENRY (1662-1714): Paul must suffer for His name’s sake. Those that bear Christ’s name must expect to bear the cross for His name; and those that do most for Christ are often called out to suffer most for Him.
WILLIAM JAY: As real religion is always the same, some degree of the same opposition may be always looked for; and the hatred of the world will be shown as far as they have liberty to express it, and are not restrained by law, or the usages of civilized life.
LORD SHAFTESBURY (1801-1885): The offence of the cross has not ceased.
C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): My dear brother, you must also be willing to bear Christ’s burden. Now the burden of Christ is His cross, which every Christian must take up. Expect to be reproached, expect to meet with some degree of the scandal of the cross, for the offence of it never ceases. Persecution and reproach are a blessed burden; when your soul loves Jesus, it is a light thing to suffer for Him, and, therefore, never by any cowardly retirement or refusal to profess your faith, evade your share of this honourable load. Woe unto those who say, “I will never be a martyr.” No rest is sweeter than the martyr’s rest. Woe unto those who say, “We will go to heaven by night along a secret road, and so avoid the shame of the cross.” The rest of the Christian is not found in cowardice but in courage; it lies not in providing for ease but in the brave endurance of suffering for the truth.
A. W. PINK (1886-1952): Faith imparts a steadfastness of purpose, a noble courage, a tranquillity of mind, which no human education or fleshly efforts can supply. Faith makes the righteous as bold as a lion, refusing to recant though horrible torturers and a martyr’s death be the only alternative.
THOMAS WATSON (1620-1686): The hypocrite makes faith a cloak; the martyr makes it a shield…It is true that every Christian is not a martyr, but he has the spirit of martyrdom in him.
WILLIAM GURNALL: We must not spread our sails of profession in a calm, and furl them up when the wind riseth. Pergamos is commended, Revelation 2:13, for her bold profession: I know thy works, and where thou dwellest, even where Satan’s seat is: and thou holdest fast my name, and hast not denied my faith, even in those days wherein Antipas was my faithful martyr, who was slain among you, where Satan dwelleth.
WILLIAM JAY: And thus it is with His people now. They are in the world, and this is their field of action; and this is their sphere of duty and trial for a season. There they are to serve their generation, there they are to glorify God, by doing and suffering His will. The world has advanced much in science and civilization, but it retains the same disposition towards real godliness as formerly, and is more perilous in its smiles than in its frowns, in its treacherous embraces than in its avowed hostilities.
C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): The smiling daughters of Moab did more mischief to Israel than all Balak’s frowning warriors. All Philistia could not have blinded Samson if Delilah’s charms had not deluded him.
HENRY CLAY FISH (1820-1877): Dr. Neander, in his History of the Christian Religion during the First Three Centuries, says, with reference to the struggle which the early Christians were obliged to maintain against a conformity to the customs of society: “This struggle might indeed have been partially avoided, had the early church, like the churches of later days, been inclined to humour the world, had they at least accommodated themselves to the prevailing manners, even when opposed to Christianity, merely to obtain more followers. But the first Christians were far more inclined to a haughty abomination of everything heathen, and even of that which had merely an apparent connection with paganism, than to any thing like a lax accommodation.” It is precisely this spirit that is now required. Instead of indulging in a “lax accommodation” to “humour the world,” we need to “come out of the world and be separate.”
GEORGE WHITEFIELD (1714-1770): There is no being a Christian without giving up all for Christ. We must all have the spirit of martyrdom, though we may not all die martyrs.
HENRY CLAY FISH: A return, therefore, of the self-sacrificing spirit of the primitive Christians, is a grand necessity of the times…The prevailing influence is not that of the gospel. And the followers of Jesus are in danger of being contaminated by that influence, and losing “the simplicity that is in Christ.” To resist it, requires moral courage. As large a measure of self-denial is requisite, on our part, to withstand the tide of worldly influence, as was requisite on the part of the early Christians. The martyr spirit is still essential to a life of eminent godliness. And this spirit waits a resurrection. It shall yet be revived. The time is coming when men shall act less from impulse and matters of convenience in religion, and more from principle.