"Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven" (Matt. 5:10).
Indeed, he had his whole Church in mind--the Church of all times and of all climes. For the eighth beatitude includes us all. It would be a thousand pities to confine its scope to those heroes of the faith whose names are writ large in Master Foxe's famous volume.
Every Christian worth his salt has suffered persecution. I like to think that, fearful lest some of us should feel ourselves excluded from this final blessing, the Master went out of his way to amplify its scope and define its terms. "Blessed are ye," he added, dividing persecution into three distinct classifications, "blessed are ye when men shall revile you, persecute you, and say all manner of evil against you falsely for my sake." Paul adheres to the same threefold division in writing to the Corinthians: "Being reviled we bless; being persecuted, we suffer it; being defamed we entreat." One or other of these words leads every true Christian who ever lived into the felicity of the last beatitude. At some time or other he has probably been actually persecuted. He has been harassed, annoyed, tormented, involved in some severe penalty or subjected to some disability for his Saviour's sake. Or he has been reviled--affronted to his face; openly snubbed, insulted, or jeered at. Or at least he has been defamed. Behind his back men have said all manner of evil against him, falsely.