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(Oct. 3, 1869.)
“So Daniel was taken up out of the den, and no manner of
hurt was found upon him, because he believed in his God.” -Dan. vi. 23.
WE have read this afternoon the story of a brave man; one who was ready to sacrifice everything—to lay down his life for the truth. Daniel worshipped God, and he would not bow down to anything lower. The days of such martyrdom for religion's sake are over. Intolerance is robbed of some of its weapons ; of those, that is to say, which can touch the body. The axe and the stake, the fight with the wild beast in the amphitheatre, will never again, probably, be heard of in Europe; we feel sure that their day is done in our own country. Not that the will to persecute is gone. There are thousands walking up and down among us who would gladly crush error by punishing the
heretic, if they were not kept in some sort of check by public opinion. I say "some sort of check ;” for there are ways still, and must always be, in which men and women who wish to injure or pain those who differ from them can gratify their desire. Persecution for conscience' sake is not extinct. Happy those who have not felt something of it directed against themselves. Happy they who have not had to stand by and see the weapons of bigotry at work upon others. Happier still they whom God has preserved from the ever strong temptation to injure, to grieve, to misjudge, their opponent in religious controversy.
I said “happy” those who have not felt it. My brethren, a hasty expression; and of doubtful truth-doubtful, if that be a true saying (and we know that it is), “Blessed are they who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” No, it is good (and they who have proved it in their own persons will be the foremost to confirm the words) to have had at times to bear witness alone, and with none to sympathise, for the truth as God has taught them. It is only so that they can learn what is the strength of their faith ; what it can bear; what it is worth. The faith that