There is a third way in which men despise the chastening of the Lord, that is — we may think it dishonourable to be chastened by God. How many men have thought it to be dishonourable to be persecuted for righteousness sake! A young man for instance is in a situation in business where he has a large number of fellow workmen with him. They are accustomed to jeer him, to call him pretty titles — Methodist, dissenter, Presbyterian, or some other kind of name most common among the worldly; this young man for a time bears it, but still thinking it a kind of disgrace to him. He does not know how to endure it. So, after a while, teeing beaten by these jeers, and overcome by these insults, he leaves it off, because he discovers that the reproach of Christ is dishonourable to him. My son, if thou dost thus, thou despise the chastening of the Lord. If thou think that reproach for Christ’s sake is a dishonour, thou judges wrongly of it, for it is the greatest honour that can possibly happen to thee. There are many of you who count that religion is very honourable while you can be respectable in it, while you can walk in respectable society, but if the cause of God brings you into tribulation, if it engenders the laugh and jeer of the worldling, the hiss and scorn of the world, then you think it a dishonour. But my son thou dost not weigh the blessing rightly. I tell thee once again, it is the glory of a man to be chastened for God’s sake. When they say all manner of evil against us falsely, we put that down not in the book of dishonour but in the scroll of glory. When they call us by opprobrious titles, we write not that down for loss, but for gain. We accept their jeers as honours, we count the vile things they cast at us in the pillory of scorn to be a donation of pearls and diamonds: we take their evil speaking, we read it by the light of the Word of God, and we discover that in it lie music, notes of honour and chords of glory to us for ever. Now you who faint under a little trouble, and despise the chastening of the Lord, let me encourage you in this way. My son, despise not the persecution. Remember how many men have borne it. What an honour it is to suffer for Christ’s sake! because the crown of martyrdom has been worn by many heads better than thine. Oh! methinks it would be the greatest dignity I could ever attain to, if the enemy would place the blood-red crown of martyrdom around this brow! We in these gentle times cannot suffer for Christ’s sake. God has put us in evil times because we cannot encounter so much as we wish for him. These times are not good for us. We almost wish for different ones, when we might be more partakers with Christ in his sufferings. We would almost envy those blessed men of yore, who had the opportunity of showing their courage and faith to all men, by enduring more for Christ; and if any of you are in a peculiar place of trouble, where you have more persecution than others, you ought to glory in it, and should be glad of it. He that stands in the thickest part of the battle shall have the highest glory at last. The old warriors would not stand and skirmish a little on the outside of the army; but what would they say? “To the centre, men! to the centre!” And they cut through thick and thin till they reached the place where the standard was, and the hotter the battle, the more glory the warrior felt. He could glory that he had been where shafts flew the thickest, and where lances were hurled like hail. “I have been near the standard,” he could say, “I have smitten the standard-bearer down.” Count it glory to go into the hottest part of the field. Fear not, man, thine head is covered in the day of battle; the shield of God can easily repel all the darts of the enemy. Be bold for his name’s sake. Go on still rejoicing. But, mark thee, if thou turn back thou art guilty of the sin of despising the cross, and despising the chastening of the Lord. Do not do so, but rather write it down for an honour and glory to be persecuted for righteousness’ sake.
Woe unto you when all men speak well of you! Prune B.T.