Love to Christ will impel us to defend him against his foes.--
"If any touch my friend, or his good name
it is my honor and my love to free his blasted fame
From the least spot or thought of blame."
Good men are more tender over the reputation of Christ than over their own good name; for they are willing to lose the world's favorable opinion rather than that Christ should he dishonored. This is no more than Jesus has a right to expect. Would not he be a sorry brother who should hear me insulted and slandered, and yet be dumb? Would not he be destitute of affection who would allow the character of his nearest relative to he trampled in the dust without a struggle on his behalf? And is not he a poor style of Christian who would calmly submit to hear his Lord abused? We could bear to be trampled in the very mire that He might be exalted; but to see our glorious Head dishonored, is a sight we cannot tamely behold. We would not, like Peter, smite his enemies with the sword of man; but we would use the sword of the Spirit as well as we are enabled. Oh! how has our blood boiled when the name of Jesus has been the theme of scornful jest! how have we been ready to invoke the fire of Elias upon the guilty blasphemers I or when our more carnal heat has subsided, how have we wept, even to the sobbing of a child, at the reproach cast upon his most hallowed name! Many a time we have been ready to burst with anguish when we have been speechless before the scoffer, because the Lord had shut us up, that we could not come forth; but at other seasons, with courage more than we had considered to be within the range of our capability, we have boldly reproved the wicked, and sent them back abashed.
It is a lovely spectacle to behold the timid and feeble defending the citadel of truth: not with hard blows of logic, or sounding cannonade of rhetoric--but with that tearful earnestness, and implicit confidence, against which the attacks of revilers are utterly powerless. Over-thrown in argument, they overcome by faith; covered with contempt, they think it all joy if they may but avert a solitary stain from the escutcheon of their Lord. "Call me what thou wilt," says the believer, "but speak not ill of my Beloved. Here, plough these shoulders with your lashes, but spare yourselves the sin of cursing him! Ay, let me die: I am all too happy to be slain, if my Lord's most glorious cause shall live !"
Ask every regenerate child of God whether he does not count it his privilege to maintain the honor of his Master's name; and though his answer may be worded with holy caution, you will not fail to discover in it enough of that determined resolution which, by the blessing of the Holy Spirit, will enable him to stand fast in the evil day. He may be careful to reply to such a question, lest he should be presumptuous; but should he stand like the three holy children before an enraged tyrant, in the very mouth of a burning fiery furnace, his answer, like theirs, would he, "We are not careful to answer thee in this matter. If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us out of the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thy hand, O king! But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up."
In some circles it is believed that in the event of another reign of persecution, there are very few in our churches who would endure the fiery trial: nothing, we think, is more unfounded. It is our firm opinion that the feeblest saint in our midst would receive grace for the struggle, and come off more than a conqueror. God's children are the same now as ever. Real piety will as well endure the fire in one century as another. There is the same love to impel the martyrdom, the same grace to sustain the sufferer, the same promises to cheer his heart, and the same crown to adorn his head. We believe that those followers of Jesus who may perhaps one day be called to the stake, will die as readily as any who have gone before. Love is still as strong as death, and grace is still made perfect in weakness.
Sweet is the cross, above all sweets,
To souls enamoured with His smiles,
The keenest woe life ever meets,
Love strips of all its terrors, sad beguiles.
This is as true today, as it was a thousand years ago. We may be weak in grace, but grace is not weak: it is still omnipotent, and able to endure the trying day.
There is one form of this jealousy for the honor of the cross, which will ever distinguish the devout Christian:--he will tremble lest he himself, by word or deed, by omis-sion of duty or commission of sin, should dishonor the holy religion which he has professed. He will hold perpetual controversy with "sinful self" on this account, and will loathe himself when he has inadvertently given occasion to the enemy to blaspheme. The King's favorite will be sad if, by mistake or carelessness, he has been the abettor of traitors: he desires to be beyond reproach, that his Monarch may suffer no disgrace from his courtier. Nothing has injured the cause of Christ more than the inconsistencies of his avowed friends. Jealousy for the honor of Christ is an admirable mark of grace.