Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
I. THE FACT THAT TRUE SPIRITUAL CHRISTIANITY EXPOSES TO PERSECUTION.
1. See this illustrated.
2. The form of the persecution. Reviling, injurious treatment, slander.
3. The ground of it. Because righteous.
4. The source of it. Enmity against God.
II. To VIEW PERSECUTION AS A GROUND OF REJOICING.
1. As an attestation of Christian goodness.
2. It connects you with the Prophets.
3. It brings great reward in heaven. Expect persecution; bear it; profit by it.
(T. G. Horton.)
I. True godliness is usually attended with persecution.
1. Christ died to take the curse from us, not the cross.
2. Piety will not shield us from suffering.
3. The way to heaven, though full of roses in regard of the comforts of the holy, is full of thorns in regard of persecutions.
4. Before Israel reached Canaan, a land flowing with milk and honey, they must go through a wilderness of serpents and a Red Sea.
5. So, the children of God in their passage to the Holy Land, must meet with fiery serpents and a Red Sea of persecution.
II. Christianity is sanctity joined with suffering.
1. Saints carry Christ in their hearts, and the cross on their shoulders.
2. Christ and His cross are never parted.
3. It is too much for a Christian to have two heavens — one here and one hereafter.
4. What is the meaning of the shield of faith, the helmet of hope, the breastplate of patience, but to imply that we must encounter with sufferings?
III. Was Christ's head crowned with thorns, and do we think to be crowned with roses?
1. If we are God's gold, it is not strange to be cast into the fire.
2. Persecutions are pledges of God's love, badges of honour.
3. In the sharpest trial there is sweetest comfort; God's fanning His wheat is but to make it purer.
I. WHAT IS PERSECUTION?
1. An abuse of power employed to the harm of another, with something of eagerness, pursuit, and perseverance.
2. No mortal is so weak, so wholly destitute of power, but that he has wherewithal to be some way or other upon the offensive; so there is no one in his turn is not some way or other capable of persecution.
3. The meanest vassals upon earth can have the insolence to say, "With our tongue we will prevail! our lips are our own, who is lord over us? "
II. Persecution for RIGHTEOUSNESS' SAKE. Men may be said to suffer persecution for righteousness' sake when they suffer for doing the duties of their stations, not in those acts alone which respect the faith and worship of God (though these more especially), but throughout the whole stage of Christian virtue, as princes, magistrates, subjects, or Christians.
1. When a prince is made uneasy by potent factions in the government, when designs for public good are directly opposed, or artificially frustrated, then is he persecuted.
2. When a magistrate finds a weight thrown in the scales of justice, and the furious power of parties bears heavy on his hands, then is he persecuted.
3. When a faithful subject's good deeds are lessened and undervalued or skillfully ascribed to ill ends: in a word, whenever he suffers in his goods or good name for adhering unmovably to an even course of duty, then is he persecuted.
4. When a man's sobriety and conscientiousness are traduced as preciseness; his firm adherence to well-established principles, as stiffness, bigotry, and narrowness of mind; his moderation disputed — then is he persecuted.
(Lancelot Blackburn.)Persecution, in the Scriptural use of the term, is evil treatment on a religious account.
I. It is the infliction of an injury, or the withholding of a right, because the person thus persecuted renders what he regards a duty to his God.
(1) Every person who suffers in his name, person, or family, for the faithful discharge of what he considers to be his duty to God, and who is actuated,
(2) not by a spirit of pride, or affected singularity, but by a
(3) commendable regard to Divine authority, and a
(4) sincere intention of promoting the interests of Christianity, and the good of man, is "persecuted for righteousness' sake."
II. There are other modes of persecution.
1. The carnal mind in its "enmity against God" has devised crafty and cruel schemes for the "vexation and embarrassment of the servants of Christ.
(1) There is persecution "by speech."
(2) "Men shall revile you."
(J. E. Good.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.