Blood has been shed in wars of conquest, but the conquered had at least the opportunity of self-defence, as well as of overcoming. But it is religion that has never given any quarter, and has exhibited all the hatred and enmity of Satan himself against the people of God and the Word of God...
The Armada that sailed from Spain was not for political conquest, but for religious supremacy. Thumbscrews, and similar instruments of torture found in the vessels sailing under the orders of Rome, were not weapons for honourable warfare, but for the subjugation of the conscience, and the extinction of liberty.
These are, and ever have been, the two aims and objects of religious persecution.
The spirit of them is seen in the religious intolerance of modern Christians and so-called Protestant sects, who suffer not their members to worship outside their own bodies, without making them feel certain pains and penalties, often resulting in excommunication, and extending as far as surveillance of the private life and associations which bring "a visit" from those who assume and usurp an authority in defiance of the simplest laws of Christian liberty. Even those outside, like ourselves, are made to feel the secret power of religious boycotting which is as rife and rampant in some "Christian" sects as in the political sphere.
Let a member of such sects dare to learn and discover some new truth from the Word of God, which happens to be different from what has been determined on by the sects themselves, and at once he is made to experience the worst features of "religion," and to realize, even in his private life, the power of a secret inquisition, which is as real as that of Rome, and whose tortures, though not physical or in the body, are as acutely felt, and may have after-effects on bodily health and mental powers.
In our own day, though "the powers that be" are able still to protect us from the grosser outrages and physical tortures of former days, they are yet unable to reach those which are animated by the self-same spirit, and are more refined in their character, being calculated to produce their own peculiar mental and spiritual effects.
The same "like precious faith" is required in us, as much as it ever was by the saints of old, if we dare to believe God in what He has revealed in His Word.
The irreligious world has formulated its Eleventh Commandment. A breach may be made and tolerated in any or all of the other ten; but "Thou shalt not be found out," is more important than all in the eyes of the world and is certain to bring down the world's condemnation.
It is the same in the religious world. It has its Eleventh Commandment: "thou shalt not differ in opinion." All else will be tolerated; but once this command is broken, the unpardonable sin has been committed.
We repeat therefore, once again, that nothing but a living faith in the living God "will stand us in any stead when we thus have to face religious intolerance."
Oh! to believe God; and "cease from man."
Let us remember these "others" [of HEBREWS 11:36]. They have no name; let us be content to have none.
Those who through God-given faith have been enabled to do great wonders may be known and named, and endured, and even praised by the world. But, there are "others" who must be content to walk with God- unknown by the world, and suffering for what they have learned from the Word of God, and for daring to believe Him instead of the traditions of men.
from pages 412- 414, Great Cloud of Witnesses