"Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake" (Matt. 5:11).
The persecuted are blessed by reason of the factors that led to their persecution. They have been permitted to see truth to which other eyes were blind. They have been like those snow-capped summits that, because of their altitude and purity, are first to catch the crimson flush of dawn. It is one of the striking facts of history that, wherever men have sought sincerely after truth, the truth has been revealed to them. And, having found the pearl for which they sought, they have paid the price with a smile. In the secrecy of their souls they have heard voices which seemed to convey to them the congratulations of highest heaven. "Blessed," exclaimed those voices, "blessed are the eyes which see the things that ye see; for I tell you that many prophets and kings have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them." Every martyr, ancient and modern, has rejoiced in the truth that led him to suffer, and would ten thousand times rather possess that truth and die in torture, than live, either never having seen it, or having seen and betrayed it. In view of the wealth of the spiritual treasury which has been entrusted to him, he smiles at the stake, hurls defiance at death, and greets the unseen with a cheer.
He feels too a thrill of exultation at the thought of the company he keeps. His sufferings identify him with an exalted and triumphant brotherhood. "If," said the Master, under the shadow of the cross, "if ye were of the world, the world would love its own, but because ye are not of the world, therefore the world hateth you If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you." The man who goes without the camp bearing the reproach of the cross, shares the fellowship of his Saviour's sufferings and experiences the joy of identification with him. Persecution is the world's testimony to the Church's purity. A wolf will not worry a painted sheep; a cat will not seize a toy mouse. The world may despise, but it will not persecute, a counterfeit Christian; it may scorn, but it will not burn, a hypocrite. Crucifixion is the evidence of Christliness.