Esau, who sold his birthright, persecuted Jacob, who vowed his loyalty to God.
Gen. 25:29-34; 27:41; 32:6.
b. The wayward and envious sons of Jacob persecuted Joseph, who feared God. Genesis
37; Acts 7:9.
c. The idolatrous Egyptians persecuted the Hebrews, who worshiped the true God.
Exodus 1 and 5.
d. The Hebrew who did his neighbor wrong thrust Moses, as mediator, aside. Ex.
2:13,14; Acts 7:26,27.
e. Saul, who disobeyed God, persecuted David, who feared God. 1 Samuel 15, 19, 24.
f. Israel, in their apostasy, persecuted Elijah and Jeremiah, who were prophets of
God. 1 Kings 19:9,10; Jer. 36:20-23; 38:1-6.
g. Nebuchadnezzar, while an idolater, persecuted the three Hebrew captives for
refusing to worship idols. Daniel 3.
h. The envious and idolatrous princes under Darius, persecuted Daniel for daring to
pray to the God of heaven. Daniel 6.
i. The murderers of Christ persecuted the apostles for preaching Christ. Acts 4 and
j. Paul, before his conversion, persecuted the church of God. Acts 8:1; 9:1,2;
22:4,5,20; 26:9-11; Gal. 1:13; 1 Tim. 1:12,13.
NOTE.-The history of all the religious persecutions since Bible times is but a
repetition of this same story,- the wicked persecute the righteous. And thus It will
continue to be until the conflict between good and evil is ended.
6. Who does Paul say shall suffer persecution?
"Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer
persecution." 2 Tim. 3:12.
7. What is essential to extensive religious persecution?
Ecclesiastical control of the civil power, or a union of church and state.
8. Since persecution is invariably wrong, and the persecutor is generally in the
wrong on religious subjects, what must be true of persecuting governments?
They likewise must be in the wrong.
NOTES.-"There are many who do not seem to be sensible that all violence in
religion is irreligious, and that, whoever is wrong, the persecutor cannot be
right."- Thomas Clarke.
"Have not almost all the governments in the world always been in the wrong on
religious subjects?"- Macaulay.
"Do not the Scriptures clearly show that they who persecute are generally in the
wrong, and they who suffer persecution in the right,- that the majority has always been on
the side of falsehood, and the minority only on the side of truth?"- Luther.
"Religion was intended to bring peace on earth and good will towards men, and
whatever tends to hatred and persecution, however correct in the letter, must be utterly
wrong in the spirit."- Henry Varnum.
God never forces the will or the conscience; but, in order to bring men under sin, Satan
resorts to force. To accomplish his purpose, he works through religious and secular
rulers, influencing them to enact and enforce human laws in defiance of the law of God.
9. Under what terrible deception did Christ say men would persecute His followers?
"These things have I spoken unto you, that ye should not be offended. They shall
put you out of the synagogues: yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will
think that he doeth God service." John 16:1,2.
10. Who is the original murderer?
"Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He
was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no
truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the
father of it." John 8:44.
11. When James and John wished to call down fire from heaven to consume the
Samaritans who did not receive Christ, what did Christ say to them?
"He turned, and rebuked them, and said, Ye know not what manner of spirit ye
are of. For the Son of man is not come to destroy men's lives, but to save them."
Luke 9: 55;56.
NOTES.-Some or the reasons given in justification of persecution may be noted in the
"The state cannot afford to permit religious liberty. We hear a great deal about
religious tolerance, but we are only tolerant in so far as we are not interested. A person
may be tolerant toward a religion if he is not religious. . . Intolerance means fervor and
zeal. The best the state can do is to establish a limited religious liberty; but beyond a
certain degree of tolerance the state cannot afford to admit the doctrine."- Monsignor
Russell (Catholic), quoted in Washington Post, May 5, 1910.
"The church has persecuted. Only a tyro in church history will deny that. . . . We
have always defended the persecution of the Huguenots, and the Spanish Inquisition. When
she thinks it good to use physical force, she will use it. . . . But will the Catholic
Church give bond that she will not persecute at all? Will she guarantee absolute freedom
and equality of all churches and all faiths? The Catholic Church gives no bonds for her
good behavior."- Editorial in Western Watchman (Catholic), of St. Louis, Mo., Dec.
"The Inquisition was a very merciful tribunal; I repeat it, almost a compassionate
tribunal. . . . A man was only allowed to be racked once, which no one can deny was a most
wonderful leniency in those times."- Catholic Mirror, official organ of Cardinal
Gibbons, Aug. 29, 1896.
"We confess that the Roman Catholic Church is intolerant; that is to say, that it
uses all the means in its power for the extirpation of error and sin; but this intolerance
is the logical and necessary consequence of her infallibility. She alone has the right to
be intolerant, because she alone has the truth. The church tolerates heretics where she is
obliged to do so, but she hates them mortally, and employs all her force to secure their
annihilation."- Shepherd of the Valley (St. Louis, Mo.), 1876.
This erroneous position has been well refuted by Lord Macaulay in the following words:
"The doctrine which, from the very first origin of religious dissensions, has been
held by all bigots of all sects, when condensed into few words and stripped of rhetorical
disguise, is simply this: I am in the right, and you are in the wrong. When you are the
stronger, you ought to tolerate me; for it is your duty to tolerate truth. But when I am
the stronger, I shall persecute you; for it is my duty to persecute error."- Essay
on "Sir James Mackintosh."
Benjamin Franklin well said: "When religion is good it will take care of itself; when
it is not able to take care of itself, and God does not see fit to take care of it, so
that it has to appeal to the civil power for support, it is evidence to my mind that its
cause is a bad one."- Letter to Dr. Price.
John Wesley gave the following Christian advice: "Condemn no man for not thinking as
you think. Let every one enjoy the full and free liberty of thinking for himself. Let
every man use his own judgment, since every man must give an account of himself to God.
Abhor every approach, in any kind or degree, to the spirit of persecution. If you cannot
reason nor persuade a man into the truth, never attempt to force a man into it. If love
will not compel him to come, leave him to God, the Judge of all."
12. What does Christ say of those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake?
"Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the
kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall
say all manner of evil against you falsely, for My sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad:
for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before
you." Matt. 5:10-12. See Rev. 2:10; 6:9-11.
"In the furnace God may prove thee,
Thence to bring thee forth more bright;
But He can never cease to love thee;
Thou art precious in His sight:
God is with thee,-
God, thine everlasting light."
13. What divine precepts received and obeyed would do way with all oppression and
"Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself." Matt. 22:39."All things
whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them." Matt. 7:12.
14. What does love not do?