Afflicted, tormented, and destroyed!
Let me give you a little abridgment of the sufferings of some of the early Christians, “of whom the world was not worthy.”
1. In the reign of Hadrian the emperor, there were ten thousand Christians crowned with a crowns of thorns, thrust into the sides with sharp lances, and then crucified.
2. Others were so whipped, that their entrails were seen, and afterwards they were thrown upon sharp shells, and then upon sharp nails and thorns. And after all this cruelty, they were thrown to wild beasts to be devoured.
3. Multitudes were banished.
4. Others were pulled apart with wild horses.
5. Some were beaten and racked with bars of iron.
6. Others were cast into loathsome dungeons.
7. Some were burnt in the fire.
8. Others were knocked down and had their brains beaten out with staves and clubs.
9. Some were pricked in their faces and eyes with sharp reeds.
10. Others were stoned to death with stones, as Stephen was.
11. Some were dashed in pieces against millstones.
12. Others had their teeth dashed out of their jaws, and their joints broken
13. Some were cast down from very high places.
14. Others were beheaded.
15. Some were tormented with razors.
16. Others were slain with the sword.
17. Some were run through with pikes.
18. Others were driven into the wilderness, where they wandered up and down, suffering hunger and cold, and where they were exposed to the fury both of wild beasts, and also to the rage of the barbarous Arabians.
19. Some fled into caves, which their persecutors crammed up with stones, and there they died.
20. Others were trodden to death by the people.
21. Some were hanged on gibbets with a slow fire under them.
22. Others were cast into the sea and drowned.
23. Some were slain by being thrown in mines.
24. Others were hanged by the feet, and choked with the smoke of a small fire, their legs being first broken.
25. Some were covered with oil, and then roasted with a soft fire.
26. Others were hung by one hand, that they might feel the weight of their whole bodies scorching and broiling over burning coals.
27. Some were shot through with arrows, and afterwards thrown into stinking prisons.
28. Others were stripped stark naked, and thrown out in cold, frosty nights; and burnt the next day.
29. In Syria, a company of Christian virgins were stripped stark naked to be scorned by the multitude, then shaved, and then torn in pieces and devoured by beasts.
30. Lastly, many women had the joints of their bodies pulled from another, and their flesh and sides clawed with talons of wild beasts to the bones, and their breasts seared with torches until they died.
And thus you have an account of thirty different ways by which the precious sons and daughters of God have formerly been afflicted, tormented, and destroyed! What heart of stone can read over this list with dry eyes? And now tell me, sirs, whether your sufferings are worth a naming in that day, wherein the sufferings of the precious servants of God in the primitive times are spoken of? Oh, no! Well then, take heed of making molehills mountains, and of crying out, “Is there any sorrow compared to my sorrow; or any sufferings compared to my sufferings?”
Thomas Brooks, “Crown and Glory of Christianity” 1662