F THE GREATER DANGER THERE IS AT THIS TIME, THAN IN THE BLOODY AND DISTRESSING TIMES OF THE MARTYRS
These are sad times, in which we live; nay, truly, there is more danger now than in the time of our fathers, who suffered death for the testimony of the Lord. Few will believe this, because the great majority look to that which is external and corporeal, and in this respect it is now better, quieter and more comfortable; few only look to that which in internal and pertains to the soul, and on which everything depends, “for what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” Matt. 16:26.
These times are certainly more dangerous; for then Satan came openly, through his servants, even at noon-day, as a roaring lion, so that he could be known, and it now and then was possible in hide from him; besides, his chief design then was to destroy the body: but now he comes as in the night, or in the twilight, in a strange but yet pleasing form, and, in a two-fold way, lies in wait to destroy the soul; partly, to trample under foot, and annihilate entirely, if this were possible, the only saving Christian faith; partly to destroy the true separated Christian life which is the outgrowth of faith. Ps. 91:5, 6.
He reveals himself on the one hand as an angel of light, II Cor. 11:14, 15, as a kind, pleasant, yea, even divine messenger, with humble countenance, downcast eyes, plain garb, and living in seclusion from the throng of the worldly-minded, even as the holiest people, yea, the martyrs of God, formerly did. His words are modest, trembling full of contrition – seemingly coming from deep meditation, inward fear and apprehension, lest he might speak amiss or untruthfully. Meanwhile, and before one is aware of it, he seizes hold and tears like a wolf in sheep’s clothing, robbing the innocent lambs of Christ of their precious faith, which, he pretends to be of small importance, but without which faith it is impossible to please God. Heb. 11:6, nay, without which we, according to the words of Christ shall be condemned, Mark 16:16; for (says Paul), whatsoever is not of faith is sin, Rom. 14:23.
It grieves us to the heart that we must live to see these times, and therefore speak in this wise. O Lord, strengthen our faith! Help Thy weak, trusting lambs, that they may not be led into error, nor moved from the foundations of the most holy faith.