In a word, truth is victorious. It is great, and shall prevail at last. It is the great counsel of God, and though many fine plots and devices are found in the hearts of men—which show what they would do —yet the counsel of the Lord shall stand. All their eggs are addled when they have set longest on them. Alas! they want power to hatch what their malice sits brooding on. Sometimes, I confess, the enemies to ‘truth’ get the militia of this lower world into their hands, and then truth seems to go to the ground, and those that witness to it are even slain; yet then it is more than their persecutors can do to get them laid underground in their grave, Rev. 11:9. Some that were never thought on, shall strike in on truth’s side, and forbid the burial. Persecutors need not be at cost for marble to write the memorial of their victories in, dust will serve well enough, for they are not like to last so long. ‘Three days and a half’ the witnesses may lie dead in the streets, and truth sit disconsolate by them; but within a while they are walking, and truth triumphing again. If persecutors could kill their successors, then their work might be thought to stand strong, needing not to fear another to pull down what they set up, and yet then their work would lie as open to heaven, and might be as easily hindered, as theirs at Babel. Who loves not to be on the winning side? Choose truth for thy side, and thou hast it. News may come that truth is sick, but never that it is dead. No, it is error is short lived. ‘A lying tongue is but for a moment;’ but truth’s age runs parallel with God’s eternity. It shall live to see their heads laid in the dust, and to walk over their graves, that were so busy to make one for her. Live, did I say? yea, reign in peace with those who now are willing to suffer with and for it. And wouldst thou not, Christian, be one among that goodly train of victors, who shall attend on Christ’s triumphant chariot into the heavenly city, there to take the crown, and sit down in thy throne with those that have kept the field, when Christ and his truth were militant here on earth? Thus, wouldst thou but in thy thoughts wipe away the tears and blood which now cover the face of suffering truth, and present it to thy eye as it shall look in glory, thou couldst not but cleave to it with a love ‘stronger than death.’
Direction Second. If yet there remains any qualm of fear on thy heart, from the wrath of bloody men threatening thee for thy profession of the truth, then to a heart inflamed with the love of truth, labour to add a heart filled with the fear of that wrath which God hath in store for all that apostatize from the truth. When you chance to burn your finger, you hold it to the fire, which being a greater fire draws out the other. Thus when thy thoughts are scorched and thy heart seared with the fire of man’s wrath, hold them awhile to hell-fire, which God hath prepared for the fearful, Rev. 21:8, and all that run away from truth’s colours, Heb. 10:39, and thou wilt lose the sense of the one for fear of the other. Ignosce imperator, said the holy man, in carcerem Deus gehennam minatur—pardon me, O emperor, if I obey not thy command; thou threatenest a prison, but God a hell. Observable is that of David, ‘Princes have persecuted me without a cause: but my heart standeth in awe of thy word,’ Ps. 119:161. He had no cause to fear them that had no cause to persecute him. One threatening out of the word—that sets the point of God’s wrath to his heart—scares him more than the worst that the greatest on earth can do to him. Man’s wrath, alas, when hottest, is but a temperate climate to the wrath of the living God. They who have felt both have testified as much. Man’s wrath cannot hinder the access of God’s love to the creature, which hath made the saints sing in the fire in spite of their enemies’ teeth. But the creature under God’s wrath, is like one shut up in a close oven—no crevice open to let any of the heat out, or any refreshing in to him.