This excerpt is from The Puritan Classic The Christian in Complete Armour Volume 2 by William Gurnall
We have the truth at a cheap rate now; but how soon the market may rise we do not know. Truth is not always available at the same market price. We must buy it at any cost but sell it on no terms.
There has always been, and always will be to the end of the world, a spirit of persecution in wicked hearts. And even as Satan researched Job before he laid his hands son him, persecution is working now in the spirits of the ungodly. Engines of death continually grind out the thoughts of Satan against profession believers of truth. They already know exactly what they will do if power and opportunity are provided for them to carry out their sinister desires.
Satan comes first with a spirit of error and then of persecution; he poisons men’s minds with error and then fills their hearts with anger against believers. It its impossible for error to bring any kind of peace; it is a brat of hell that must favor its father. Whatever comes from below can be neither pure nor peaceable. God has let this sulfureous spirit of error remain but He has given us the girdle of truth for protection.
But not everyone who applauds truth will follow when it leads him to prison. And not everyone who preaches it is willing to suffer for it. Arguments are harmless things – blunt weapons which bring no blood. But when we suffer we are called to fight with the enemies of truth. And this requires more than a sharp tongue and logical brain. Where will disputers be then? They will appear like cowardly soldiers, who, in basic training when no enemy was in sight, seemed to be as brave as decorated heroes. To be on truth’s side then meant only recognition and reward, not danger and death. But God has chosen the foolish to confound the wise in this service – the humble Christian, by his faith, patience and love for truth – to shame men of high standing and no grace.
The worst that enemies can do is imprisionment or death. But, ‘love is as strong as death’ (Song of Solomon 8:6). It kills the very heart of death itself. Love does not complain about suffering. Jacob endured the heat of the day and the cold of the night for the love of Rachel. Love is venturous. Jonathan threw away a kingdom and met the anger of an enraged father for David’s sake. Love never thinks of itself as a loser as long as it keeps its beloved; it is ready for any danger so it can sacrifice itself for its chosen one.
This kind of love has made saints abandon their worldly possessions, family relations, and even their bodies with joy, not counting it loss to part with them. ‘They loved not their lives unto the death’ (Rev. 12:11). Life itself became their enemy when it came between them and truth.
A man does not love his arm or leg too much to keep it if it hazards the rest of his body; he agrees to have it cut off. Thus David courageously kept his priorities straight when his life was at stake; ‘The wicked have waited for me to destroy me; but I will consider thy testimonies’ (Ps 119:95). A carnal heart would consider the danger to his business, wife, children, or at least his own life. But David’s heart was fixed on a better subject. – he focused on God’s tetimonies and the sweetness pouring in upon his soul as he meditated on them. The more he cleaved to truth, the more his troubles seemed but light afflictions.
It is a mystery to the world why men will risk their lives for what it thinks are only opinions. When our Savior told Pilate that He had come into the world to ‘bear witness to the truth,’ Pilate asked, ‘What is truth?’ (John 18:38). It is as if he had said, ‘Is this any time to be thinking about truth, when your life is in such danger? What is truth anyway, that you should venture so much for it?’ The saint full of God’s grace might better ask in holy scorn, ‘What are the riches and honors and the fading pleasures of this cheating world? What is life itself, that any or all of these should oppose truth?’
Every man goes where his love carries him. If the world has your love, you will spend your life for it; but if truth has your love, you will interpose with your life rather than let it be mangled. Be careful that your love for truth is sincere, though, or it will leave you at the prison door.