“The persecutions which have been carried on against religion are grievous to humanity, and equally repugnant to justice and to good policy; but they are not in the least surprising. There was not a truth more prominent in our Saviour’s addresses to his followers than this, that, having received his word, the world would hate them, because they were not of the world, as he was not of the world. When he sent them forth to preach the gospel, it was, “as sheep among wolves;” and they were treated accordingly. When he took leave of them, previously to his death, he left them his peace, as knowing that in the world they should have tribulation. All this was no more than might be expected; for if it be the character of true religion, that it sets itself against every vicious propensity of the human heart, it is natural to suppose that every one who is under the dominion of such propensity will feel averse from true religion, and from those who adhere to it. The manner in which mankind have stood affected towards godly men has been nearly uniform from the beginning. Cain slew his brother. And wherefore slew he him? Because his own works were evil, and his brother’s righteous. Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian mocking: as he that was born after the flesh then persecuted him that was born after the Spirit, even so it is now. Why was Jerusalem a burdensome stone to the nations? Why were they continually forming leagues to root out its remembrance from the earth? The same spirit that was discovered by Edom, Moab, and the children of Ammon towards Israel, was apparent in San-ballat, Tobiah, Geshem, and their companions towards Judah; and the part acted by the Horonite, the Ammonite, and the Arabian, was afterwards reacted, with additional zeal, by Herod and Pontius Pilate, and the governors and people of Israel. Those who could agree in nothing else could agree in this. The persecutions of pagan and papal Rome, and of all who have symbolized with her, have been only a continuation of the same system; and the descriptions which deistical historians give of these works of darkness, notwithstanding their pretended regard to religious liberty, bear witness that they allow the deeds of their fathers, and inherit their dispositions. The same malignant spirit which was discovered by the heathens towards the ancient Israelites is discoverable in all the writings of unbelievers towards that people to this day. It is true, they are more reconciled to the modern Jews; and for a very plain reason: they feel them to be near akin to themselves. Herod and Pilate were made friends by the crucifixion of Christ. Since that time the old enmity has been transferred to believing Gentiles, who, being grafted into the Jewish olive, and partaking of its advantages, partake also of its persecutions; and by how much the Christian church, at any period, has exceeded the Jewish in purity and spirituality, by so much more force has the wrath of a wicked world burned against it.”
Excerpt From “The Gospel Its Own Witness”, 1799
Fuller, Andrew, The Works of Andrew Fuller. Edinburgh: Banner of Truth Trust, 2007.