Persecution destroys falsehood by leading its advocates to investigate the grounds of their belief; but it strengthens and multiplies truth by leading its advocates to see more clearly the foundations of their faith. There have been many conscientious persecutors: <431602>John 16:2 ? ?They shall put you out of the synagogues: yea, the hour cometh, that whosoever killeth you shall think that he offereth service unto God.? The Decretal of Pope Urban II reads: ?For we do not count them to be homicides, to whom it may have happened, through their burning zeal against the excommunicated, to put any of them to death.? St. Louis, King of France, urged his officers ?not to argue with the infidel, but to subdue unbelievers by thrusting the sword into them as far as it will go.? Of the use of the rack in England on a certain occasion, it was said that it was used with all the tenderness, which the nature of the instrument would allow. This reminds us of Isaak Walton?s instruction as to the use of the frog: ?Put the hook through his mouth and out at his gills and, in so doing, use him as though you loved him.?
Robert Browning, in his Easter Day, 275-288, gives us what purports to be A Martyr?s Epitaph, inscribed upon a wall of the Catacombs, which furnishes a valuable contrast to the skeptical and pessimistic strain of Matthew Arnold: ?I was born sickly, poor and mean, A slave: no misery could screen The holders of the pearl of price From Caesar?s envy: therefore twice I fought with beasts, and three times saw My children suffer by his law; At length my own release was earned: I was some time in being burned, But at the close a Hand came through The fire above my head, and drew My soul to Christ, whom now I see. Sergius, a brother, writes for me This testimony on the wall ? For me, I have forgot it all.?
The progress of a religion so unprepossessing and uncompromising to outward acceptance and dominion, within the space of three hundred years, cannot be explained without supposing that divine power attended its promulgation, and therefore that the gospel is a revelation from God.
Stanley, Life and Letters, 1:527 ? ?In the Kremlin Cathedral, whenever the Metropolitan advanced from the altar to give his blessing, there was always thrown under his feet a carpet embroidered with the eagle of old Pagan Rome, to indicate that the Christian Church and Empire of Constantinople had succeeded and triumphed over it.? On this whole section, see F. W. Farrar, Witness of History to Christ, 91; McIlvaine, Wisdom of Holy Scripture, 139.
2. The beneficent influence of the Scripture doctrines and precepts, wherever they have had sway, shows their divine origin. Notice:
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