First Sort. Such as embrace truth for carnal advantage. Sometimes truth pays well for her board in the world’s own coin, and so long every one will invite her to his house. These do not love truth, but the jewel in her ear. Many are observed in Henry the Eighth’s time to be very zealous against the abbeys, that loved their lands more than they hated their idolatry. Truth finds few that loves her gratis. And those few only will suffer with truth and for it; as for the other, when the worldly dowry that truth brought be once spent, you will find they are weary of their match. This kitchen-fire burns no longer than such gross fuel of profit, credit, and the like, does feed it. If you cannot love naked truth, you will not endure to be disgraced for truth; and what usage truth finds, that her followers must expect.
Second Sort. Such as commend truth, and cry it up highly, but who, if you mark them, do but compliment with it all this while. They keep at a distance, and do not suffer truth to come within them, so as to give law unto them; like one that entertains a suitor, speaks well of him, holds discourse with him, but will not hear of marrying him. It is one thing —really to love, another —merely to kiss or caress. Bucholcerus would oft say, multi osculantur Christum, pauci vero amant—many kiss Christ, but few love him. True love to Christ is conjugal. When a soul delivers up itself, from an inward liking it hath to Christ as to her husband, to be ruled by his Spirit, and ordered by his word of truth, here is a soul that loves Christ and his truth. But where truth has no command, and bears no rule, there dwells no love to truth in that heart. She that is not obedient cannot be a loving wife, because love would constrain her to be so; and so would love in the soul enforce obedience to the truth it loves. Nay, he that doth not obey truth, is so far from loving it, that he is afraid of truth; will sooner prove a persecutor of truth, than a sufferer for truth. So true is that of Hierome, quem metuit, quis odit; quem odit, perisse cupit—whom we fear, we hate; whom we hate, we wish they were destroyed. Saul feared David, and that made him more industriously seek his ruin. Herod feared John, and that cost him his life. Slavish fear makes the naughty heart imprison truth in his conscience, because, if that had its liberty and authority in the soul, it would imprison, yea, execute every lust that rules the roost; and he that imprisons truth in his own bosom, will hardly lie in prison himself as a witness for truth.
Third Sort. Such as have no zeal against truth’s enemies. Love goes over armed with zeal; this is the dagger she draws against all the opposers of truth. Qui non zelat, non amat—he that is not zealous doth not love. Now right zeal acts like fire, ad ultimum sui posse—to its utmost power, yet ever keeping its place and sphere. If it be confined to the breast of a private Christian, whence it may not flame forth in punishing truth’s enemies, then it burns inwardly the more for being pent up, and preys, like a fire in his bones, upon the Christian’s own spirits, consuming them, yea, eating him up for grief to see truth trodden under foot of error or profaneness, and he not able to help it up. It is no joy to a zealous lover to outlive his beloved. Such there have been who could have chose rather to have leaped into their friends’ grave, and lain down with them in the dust, than to pass here a disconsolate life without them. ‘Let us go and die with him,’ said Thomas, when Christ told them Lazarus was dead. And I am sure zealous lovers of truth count it as melancholy living in evil times, when that is fallen in the streets. The news of the ark’s taking, frightened good Eli’s soul out of his body, and this may charitably be thought to have given life to Elijah’s wish, yea, solemn prayer for death, ‘It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life,’ I Kings 19:4. The holy man saw how things went among the great ones of those wicked times. Idolaters, they were courted, and the faithful servants of God carted, as I may so say, yea, killed; and now this zealous prophet thinks it a good time to leave the world in, rather than live in torment any longer, to see the name, truth, and servants of God trampled on by those who should have shown most kindness to them. But if zeal hath any power put into her hands, wherein she may vindicate truth’s cause, as when she is exalted into the magistrate’s seat, then truth’s enemies shall know and feel that she ‘bears not the sword in vain.’ The zealous magistrate as he will have an arm to relieve and defend truth —the Israelite, so a hand to smite blasphemy, error, and profaneness—the Egyptian—when any of them assault her. O how Moses laid about him—that meek man, who stood so mute in his own cause, Num. 12—when the people had committed idolatry! His heart was so infired within him, that, as well as he loved them, he could neither open his mouth in a prayer for them to God, nor his ear to receive any petition from them, till he had given vent to his zeal in an act of justice upon the offenders. Now such, and such only, are the persons that are likely to suffer for the truth when so called upon, who will not let it suffer if they can help it. But as for neutral Gallio-like spirits, that can see truth and error scuffling, and not do their utmost to relieve truth—by interposing their power and authority, if a magistrate—by preaching the one up and the other down, if a minister—and by a free testimony to, fervent prayer for, and affectionate sympathizing with truth, as it fares ill or well, if a private Christian—I say, as for such—who stand in this case, as some spectators about two wrestlers, not caring much who hath the fall—these are not the men that can be expected to expose themselves to much suffering for truth. That magistrate who hath not zeal enough to stop the mouths of truth’s enemies when he may, will he open his mouth in a free profession of it when death and danger face him? That minister who hath neither love nor courage enough to apologize for truth in the pulpit, can it be thought that he would stand to her defence at the stake? In a word, that private Christian whose heart is not wounded through truth’s sides so as to sympathize with it, will he interpose himself betwixt truth and the blow that bloody persecutors make at it, and choose to receive it into his own body, though to death, rather than it should light on truth? If the fire of love within be out, or so little that it will not melt the man into sorrow for the wrongs done to truth by men of corrupt minds; where will the flame be found, that should enable him to burn to ashes, under the hand of bloody men? He will never endure the fire in his body, that hath no more care to keep that sacred fire burning in his soul. If he cannot shed tears, much less will he bleed for truth.