William Gurnall (1617–1679) on the high cost of truth

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“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 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 on him, persecution is working now in the spirits of the ungodly. Engines of death continually grind out the thoughts of Satan against professing 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 is 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 a girdle of truth for protection.

But not everyone who applauds truth will follow it 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 heros. 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 his service – the humble Christian, by his faith, patience, and love for truth – to shame men of high standing and no grace.”

– William Gurnall (1617–1679), Christian in Complete Armour, 2:36

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