Matthew 24:9. Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, &c. From the calamities of the nation in general, he passes to those of the Christians in particular: and indeed the former were in a great measure the occasion of the latter; famines, pestilences, earthquakes, and the like calamities, being reckoned judgments for the sins of the Christians, and the poor Christians being often maltreated and persecuted on that account, as we learn from some of the earliest apologies for the Christian religion. Now the calamities which were to befall the Christians were cruel persecutions, and we need look no further than the Acts of the Apostles for the completion of this prediction. But if we would look further, we have still a more melancholy proof of the truth of it in the persecutions under Nero, in which, not to mention numberless other Christians, those two great champions of the Christian faith, Peter and Paul, fell. Indeed, as Tertullian calls it, it was nominis prælium, a war against the very name. For though a man was possessed of every human virtue, it was crime enough if he was a Christian; so true were our Saviour’s words, that they should be hated of all nations for his name’s sake.
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