Suffering for Righteousness’ Sake
There is singular consolation, moreover, when we are persecuted for righteousness’ sake. For our thought should then be on how much honor God bestows upon us in distinguishing us by the special badge of His soldiers. By suffering persecution for righteousness’ sake, I mean not only striving for the defense of the Gospel, but for the defense of righteousness in any way. Therefore, whether in maintaining the truth of God against the lies of Satan or defending the good and innocent against the injuries of the bad, we are obliged to incur the offence and hatred of the world, so as to endanger life, fortune, or honor. Let us not grieve or decline so far to spend ourselves for God; let us not think ourselves wretched in those things in which He with His own lips has pronounced us blessed (Mat 5:10). Poverty, indeed considered in itself is misery; so is exile, contempt, imprisonment, ignominy: finally, death itself is the last of all calamities. But when the favor of God breathes upon us, there is none of these things that may not turn out to our happiness. Let us then be contented with the testimony of Christ rather than with the false estimate of the flesh, and then, after the example of the Apostles, we will rejoice in being “counted worthy to suffer shame for his name” (Act 5:41). For why? If, while conscious of our innocence, we are deprived of our substance by the wickedness of man, we are no doubt reduced to poverty, humanly speaking; but in truth, our riches in heaven are increased. If driven from our homes, we have a more welcome reception into the family of God; if vexed and despised, we are more firmly rooted in Christ; if stigmatized by disgrace and ignominy, we have a higher place in the kingdom of God; and if we are slain, entrance is thereby given us to eternal life. The Lord having set such a price upon us, let us be ashamed to estimate ourselves at less than the shadowy and evanescent66 allurements of the present life.
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