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Truth’s Defenders Vindicated

Category Articles
Date February 26, 2024

The following words, so contemporary in their feeling and import, come from John Kennedy (presumably of Dingwall), and were published in the 6th Issue of the Banner of Truth Magazine (May, 1957).

In times such as ours it is easy to seem a bigot, if one keeps a firm hold of truth, and is careful to have the seal of Heaven on his hope. No Christian can be true and faithful now-a-days on whose brow the world shall not brand the name of bigot. But let him bear it. It is a mark of honour, though intended to be a brand of shame. It proves him to be an associate of the men of whom the world was not worthy, but who, under the world’s lash, did more for the world’s good than all besides. The world ever suffers by the men it honours. The men of mercy to it are the men it hates. Ah, these old Covenanters of our native land were stern bigots in their day. It was well for Scotland that they were. They could part with their lives, but they could not sell the truth. They would yield all for conscience, but they would yield nought to despots. They could bear to suffer and to die, but they were afraid to sin. It was this bigotry which won its liberty for their native land. The legacy bequeathed to it by these men of faith, whose only home was oft the mountain cavern, and to whom the snow was oft the only winding-sheet which wrapped their bodies when they had given their lives for Christ, was a richer boon than all ever given to it by the kings who occupied its throne, and by all men of title and of wealth who owned its acres. Oh yes, they were bigots these, in the judgment of scoffing sceptics and of ruthless persecutors, and not all the piles they could kindle could burn their bigotry out of them.

And these were stern bigots, too, according to the world’s estimate, who headed the crusade against Antichrist, when, at the era of the Reformation, a fire from Heaven had kindled in their hearts the love of truth. It was by unflinching resolution, induced by living faith, these men overcame in the times of stern trial in which they unfurled their banner in the name of God. A pliant Melanchthon would have bartered the gospel for peace–the stern courage of a Luther was needed to prevent the sacrifice. In every age, from the beginning, when the cause of truth emerged triumphant from the din and dust of controversy, the victory was won by a band of bigots who were sworn to its defence.

There is need now of the men whom the world calls bigots. Men of grasp less firm and of love less fervent will do little for the cause of truth and for the best interests of humanity. Other men than these will even barter their own eternal prospects for the honour which comes from men and for the ease which is won by compromise. How many such as these there are, even in the Churches, and even there in the van, who boast of a charity which is indiscriminate in its regards, of a sentiment that refuses the form which the truth imposes, and who have learned from the worldling his scorn of all seriousness, his contempt for all scrupulousness of conscience, and his sneers at the religion which is sustained by intercourse with Heaven! These have their followers. A widespread movement has begun away from vital religion, fixed beliefs, and holy living. The Churches are moving with the current. The time may be fast approaching when the one alternative shall be living faith or open scepticism. A tide which few seem careful to resist is bearing us on to such a crisis. How the result may tell on Churches, communities, and individuals we cannot forecast, nor can we attempt to conjecture without sadness of feeling. But an assured victory is the destiny of the cause of truth. Till the hour of its triumph shall come, all who have linked their interests to the chariot of the gospel shall find themselves a diminishing band as they advance, their loneliness of feeling deepening as former friendships wane into neglect, coldness is changed into scorn, and contempt passes into bitter enmity; and they can follow the cause of truth only amidst the scoffs of unbelievers and the shafts of persecutors.

But let no lover of the truth–let none whose eye ever rested on the hope of the gospel–turn craven-hearted back from trial. To fall in the cause of truth is but to rise in the kingdom of glory. To be trampled under foot till crushed dead by the heel of persecution is but to have the prison broken open, that the ransomed spirit may pass from bondage to a throne. And in his saddest hour let not the sufferer for truth refuse the joy which glimpses of prophetic light bring to his heart as they break through the clouds of present trial. His King shall triumph in His cause on earth, and His friends shall share His glory. All nations shall touch His sceptre. The old strongholds of unbelief shall be levelled in the dust. Iniquity shall hide its face ashamed. Truth, as revealed from Heaven, shall receive universal homage, and be glorious in the halo of its blissful triumphs before the eyes of all.

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