Brethren Archive

The Crown of Martyrdom: Is it Attainable in Our Day?

by John Dickie

MANY of us, when recalling our early days, can remember how we hung absorbed over some old copy of Foxe's Martyrology, with all the fervid emotion of inexperienced childhood; and though its harrowing woodcuts suggested to us thoughts which drenched our eyes with sympathetic tears, they could not stay the warm childish wish from rising in our hearts, "Oh, that I had lived in those days, that I too might have attained the martyr's crown along with these dear, grand men."   But the actual struggle of life has, in our experience of it, turned out to be an entirely different thing from what we had anticipated, and has so long obliterated the remembrance of many of our childish things, that it requires an effort to recall these early aspirations; still, it may not be without profit to revive the recollection of our youthful dreams, and to ask ourselves now in all sobriety: "Can the martyr's crown still be reached in a day and in a land like ours?  Do I personally still wish to win it!  And how is the honour to be attained?" 
One grand mistake we certainly made, a mistake that is still frequently made by the full-grown as well as by the children.  We limited the term "martyrdom" unwarrantably to the accident of a bloody death.  When many among us speak of the martyrs, we are apt to think of those only who have perished by the lions, or in the fire, or on the scaffold. Now this limitation is neither reasonable nor Scriptural. Was Anschar, the devoted apostle of Northern Europe, who superstitiously aimed at bloody martyrdom as anxiously as the most ambitious man seeks for honour—was he no martyr, after living such a life as his, merely because he happened to die at last a bloodless death?  Are we to recognize nothing of the martyr in the exhausting labours, the almost incredible fortitude, and most heroic daring of John Calvin; or rather, are we not to regard that devoted life of his as one long martyrdom, requiring for its endurance, a more abundant supply of martyr-grace than would have sufficed to nerve some twenty ordinary sufferers to face the lions, or to sing amid the flames?  Or was John Knox no martyr, simply because he happened to die in his bed, though throughout life he had faced every danger in Christ's quarrel, and had feared not the face of man?  Is it not enough to constitute him one of "the noble army of martyrs" that he bore aloft his banner of testimony with a loyalty and a single-heartedness of devotion to his Master that were never surpassed by the very noblest of those who reached a glorious death on the gibbet in the Grassmarket?  Had John Wesley, who dared so much, and forsook so much, and bore so nobly, nothing of the martyr in him, simply because he too died in bed; while some brawling fanatic in ancient Alexandria attained the peerless honour, though indeed it would be difficult to discern any mark of the true martyr about him, save only his bloody end?  Or, finally, was James, the son of Zebedee, a true martyr, while John the Beloved entirely missed the martyr-crown—John, his incomparable brother, who, with at least equal love and devotedness, bore for so much longer time the heavier burden and fiercer heat of the day?  This were to account the mere accident of a violent death to be more estimable than the most devoted loyalty to Christ and to His truth; to ascribe more efficacy, in regard to martyr-making power, to the sword of some worthless Herod, than to the grace of the Holy Spirit.  This were virtually to reverse the lesson taught us by our Lord through the widow and her mites, and to put all the value of the donation on its mere amount, while we count nothing on the faith and love displayed in its bestowal.  No; let us form a wiser, worthier estimate of martyr testimony, and let us learn to breathe for ourselves the fitting prayer,—

“Oh make us loyal to Thyself
In days of sin and strife;
Help us to bear in patient love
The martyrdom of life."

I believe that the opportunity of attaining the high honour of martyrdom is no rare privilege, accorded only to a happy few, but that it is afforded equally to every one of us without exception.  A martyr—what a glorious calling!  The very word stirs the Christian's soul, as the blast of the trumpet rouses to ardour the eager soldier.  And yet, why should any of us envy any given unit in the noble army of the martyrs?  Are we not, each of us, and equally, called to holy blessed martyrdom as clearly as they were?   Possibly, indeed, it may not be, in our case, to the martyr's self-sacrificing death; but, if not that, then, very certainly, to the martyr's self-sacrificing life.  "My brother," said John Wirth, the Swiss, to his suffering relative, "Christ's Cross must always follow Christ's Word."  Yes, it is always so. We profess to have welcomed that word, and so we may count on receiving along with it that cross which inseparably accompanies it. And the necessary sequence of the one to the other is very intelligible.  "Believest thou?" said Luther one day in his talk at table—"Believest thou?  Then thou wilt speak boldly.  Speakest thou boldly?  Then thou must suffer.  Sufferest thou?  Then thou shalt be comforted.  For faith, the confession thereof, and the cross, follow one upon another."  And it must be so, while the enmity which God established in Eden between the two seeds continues to exist; and therefore, till the end of time, in every succeeding dispensation, the Cains shall not fail to hate the Abels, the Isaacs shall be scorned by the Ishmaels, and the Davids hunted by the Sauls.  Rutherford's word is as true as it ever was: "I see the cross is tied by Christ's hand to the end of an honest profession."  Heroic old Latimer, himself a true martyr, define the word as you please, says the same thing still more strongly: "Take this to a sure conclusion, that where the Word of God is truly preached, there is persecution as well of the hearers as of the teachers; and whereas there are quietness and rest in worldly pleasure, there is not the truth.''
For long, many warm-hearted evangelical Christians—nay, entire sections of the Christian Church—have been allowing themselves, through a too exclusive regard to one aspect of gospel truth, to speak of Christ's Cross as if it had superseded all need of our taking up a cross of our own.  Not so does our blessed Lord speak of this matter: as so do his apostles speak.  It is most true indeed that in so far as the making of atonement is concerned, He alone, and by Himself, purged our sins by presenting, once for all, the one sacrifice that could avail to put away sin.  But there are other distinct, though subordinate reasons, why the cross should be borne by us as well.  The work of Christian ministry, of carrying the good news to every creature under heaven, demands cross-bearing; and, so far from being set free from the cross by the Cross of Christ, the Church is called to fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ, for His body's sake (Col. i. 24).  He took on Himself the intolerable burden of our sorrows, and so bore them as to bear them for ever all away; and now, when we are released from these, and are united to Himself in a perfect identity of interests, we are to take on ourselves, so far as may be, the weight of what concerns His kingdom, and are each one to become partakers of the afflictions of His gospel, and this to such an extent that we shall need for the enduring of them, the help of Divine power (2 Tim. i. 8).
And not only does faithful ministry towards the world involve the heavy cross, but equally so, does a consistent and holy Christian walk before God.  As Christians, we must deny ourselves, and this daily, even to cross-bearing (Luke ix. 23).  We must walk apart from a world to which the Cross of Christ has crucified ourselves; and this we must do, not like Lot's wife, in the regretful spirit of those who are constrained to do it, but as exulting in that cross which has so happily separated us and the world for ever   (Gal. vi. 14).  And this is actually done by every Christian so far as his walk is in the Spirit (Gal. v. 16, 18, 25).  So then, while our blessed Redeemer's death was needed to procure salvation for us, our dying with Him is equally needed to lead us into the enjoyment of Him and His salvation.  His word in John xii. 24-26 applies to His people as well as to Himself; and intelligent faith should constantly feel as Paul did—"I am crucified with Christ; nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me, and the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me."  What we now anxiously aim at establishing is simply this, that ample opportunity is afforded to every Christian, in every age, of attaining to the high honour of martyrdom, if not by the martyr-death, then by the devoted endurance of the martyr-life.
And it is a lofty honour.  No grander boon does God bestow upon a beloved child than the opportunity to face the martyr's fiery trial, and, along with the opportunity, grace sufficient to accept and sustain the conflict.  The form in which the trial approaches us may often seem to the carnal eye, even of the Christian, to be very commonplace indeed, to be even contemptible; and we may be tempted by our pride to decline it, afraid lest we should fling ourselves away on something unworthy of such a sacrifice; but we must accept whatever the Father in His wisdom is pleased to send us, and must remember that the true dignity of the martyrdom is always to be supplied by the devotedness and loving courage of the martyr, and not by the pomp and circumstance of the suffering itself.  What could we think of as being more ignominious than the ancient Roman cross, with all its associations?—in what form more utterly undignified could death be reached than on such an instrument of horror, and that in company with two convicted criminals?  Every martyrdom has looked despicable enough to worldly spectators, who saw it, and scorned it, while it was being enacted; it acquired all its ultimate glory from the martyr's endurance of it, and from the truth for which he suffered.  And the man of faith, who covets not the honour that cometh from man, but who seeks that which cometh from God only, counts it very glorious.  Dear old Ridley, in his farewell letter before he suffered, writes: "I assure you, I think it the highest honour that ever I was called unto in all my life."
In what an exultant spirit does Paul speak of the scars which marked his devotedness to his Master (Gal. vi. 17); and if these, despicable in worldly eyes, seemed honourable exceedingly among spiritual men, shall they lose their honour when earth is exchanged for heaven,—when flesh is lost in pure and perfect spirit?  Surely no!  It seems that even in glory, our blessed Lord still bears the tokens of His earthly sufferings, for John saw Him in the midst of the throne as a Lamb that had been slain; and if so, is it not conceivable that those who have suffered for His sake shall have the honourable fact made permanently manifest in their glorified persons?  The present is man's day, and during it, the world, which loves its own, loads its chosen ones with honours; but the tables shall shortly be turned, when the day of the Lord shall come, and, in prospect of it, we may already say to the scoffer who accounts all martyrdom, whether living or dying, to be madness (Isa. lix. 15, marg.),—

“. . . And who the glory would resign
Of death like theirs for life like thine?"

I believe that the popular estimate which almost idolizes the mere accident of violence that brings about the martyr-death, while it almost entirely ignores the blessedness of the martyr-life, arises in great part from a misapprehension of what Christ's claims on his people really are, and of what are his actual designs in regard to each one of us.  We lower unwarrantably the lofty standard of Christian living; and as the Romanists distinguish between the duties of ordinary Christian men and what they term the counsels of perfection—between the common saved and the canonized saints—so we arbitrarily divide Christ's members into two classes; and we are too easily contented to take, and to keep our place in the lower class, among the great crowd whose loftiest aim is to make "the best of both worlds."  Why, this is just what they did who are represented by the thorny ground in the parable.  They welcomed the gospel—they assigned it a place in their affections—they endured the persecution that drove off the less earnest professors represented by the thorny ground; but though they did all this —though they brought forward the divine seed a good way towards fruit—yet because they did not, while receiving Christ, at the same time also give up the world, they finally perished.  They were lost, not because they formally refused or apparently neglected the gospel—for they did neither—but they were lost because, while they accepted the gospel with apparent heartiness, they still cherished their interest in the world.  Since then, this unforsaken world thus retained, and was allowed to retain, its influence over them, it soon lowered the gospel and its claims to a secondary place in their affections.
And this is the invariable result of such a double-minded course.  Let no man, then, attempt the utter impossibility of serving two such masters as God and mammon, Christ and self.  The one or the other must be given up.  MUST BE.  And the martyr is the man who gives up self for the sake of Christ—the world for the sake of God; equally a martyr, whether his devotedness lead him into the prolonged trials of the consecrated life, or into the shorter, sharper pains of the martyr-death.  But Christ's purpose in regard to every one of us is, that we be true martyr confessors.
"Confession rather than profession is our duty," says Cyprian of Carthage; and he might have stated it much more strongly.  It is to confession, and not to mere profession, that salvation is annexed in Scripture: "If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved."  Why, what is the difference between the two? asks some one. The difference is often immense.  Profession is an avowal—whether of Christ's gospel or of anything else—which, when it is made, procures the maker of it honour; confession is an avowal which, in making it, brings the confessor shame, and may cost him everything.  Every confessor is also by necessity a professor; and in this case, his profession is good.  But every professor does not necessarily accompany his profession with confession; and in this case it were better not to profess at all.  And this heroic, costly confession may be made by the confessor equally in the martyr-life or in the martyr-death:

"Life may be given in many ways,
And loyalty to truth be sealed
As bravely in the closet as the field."

In fact, it is this less demonstrative form of martyrdom that is the more trying:
“He is Thy martyr who with love
Toils in a world of strife,
And noblest martyrdom endures—
The martyrdom of life."

It has been said that "martyrdom is never barren."  Indeed, it is not.  God will not allow His children's blood to be utterly wasted.  The martyrdom seldom fails to operate on spectators in a way never contemplated by the persecutor, and which he bitterly regrets.
"Unbounded is the might
Of martyrdom, and fortitude, and right."

says Wordsworth.  And so uniformly has this fact been noted, that the saying of an early father passed into an undisputed proverb—"The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church."  As it stands, the proverb was strictly applicable to the early Church, its antagonists and its converts; but we need to modify it somewhat in applying it to our own day.  A day of profession, in a land of Bibles and of Sabbaths such as ours has happily become, still needs the example and the stimulus, of martyr devotion.  But now it is no longer the starting martyr-death that is called for; it is the unearthly, Christ-like martyr-life.  Such consecrated lives, presented in living sacrifice on God's altar (Rom. xii. 1, and maintained from year to year as "most holy unto the Lord," are now, what the martyr-deaths once were, the true seed of the Church.
Who among us will aim at such a life?  Which of us is humbly ready to step to the front, and, at the cost of all that we have (Luke xiv. 33), meekly accept the everlasting glories of the martyr-crown?   "'Win it, and wear it,' is written on the crown of glory," said William Tyndal, one of the noblest of our martyrs; and we may emphasize his words in applying them to the matter in hand.  Yes, which of us, laying ourselves at our Saviour's feet, are yearning to say—are really saying it—"Lord, here am I; send me.  O let me follow Thee, thou great King of martyrs; follow Thee at least in Thy martyr-life, and if it so please Thee, follow Thee also in Thy martyr-death?"
It is souls of this stamp whom Christ is seeking—consecrated souls, in whom He may live over again, a life characterized in some degree by the same spiritual peculiarities which marked His own life on earth; souls through whom He may utter, in visible acts and in audible expressions, those feelings of unbounded grace towards man, and of unlimited devotedness to His Father's will, which marked every step of His own daily life when here.  For though His grand work of atonement has been completed for ever, the application of it is still being carried forward.  And this second work involves suffering no less surely than the first.  It is Christ’s undertaken office to complete both works.  The work of atonement He consummated by His own personal sufferings.  The gathering in of recovered prodigals He carries forward, not by His own sufferings—for He is now in glory—but by means of the self-sacrificing sufferings of His mystical body, still in humiliation.  And for instruments to be employed in this service, He is now seeking the free-will offering of holy souls, who will yield themselves up to Him, that He may live in them, and love in them, and weep in them, and pray in them, and labour by means of them with unwearied devotedness.  On every account, let us give Him our money, our labours, our time; but we merely put Him off with these unless we have first given Him our own selves.
In fact, whether we will it or not, as professing Christians, we are witnesses for God, and are hourly giving influential testimony for Him.  No, not necessarily for Him; it may as easily be against Him.  "Ye are my witnesses, saith the Lord;" that is, "my martyrs," for the word "martyr" means simply a witness.  Now, we all know how damaging the testimony of a witness becomes when that testimony bears against the cause which he was cited to support.  Alas! God's witnesses are too frequently of this unhappy class. Summoned to testify for Him, their testimony tells weightily against Him.  The great curse of sinful and miserable man lies in his total alienation of heart from the God whose smile alone can bless him.  God is no longer the one Sun of the human soul.   Man relies on himself, on his own strength and wisdom, not on God; he consults his own will, never the will of God; he seeks his low enjoyment in the empty creatures, but never in the infinitely blessed God.  Till he be delivered from this godless idolatry of self and creature, his holiness or his happiness is a thing impossible.  And here comes in one aspect of Christian witness-bearing.  Christ's witnesses are to bear clear and personal testimony, based on ample experience to the fact that human wisdom is utter folly, that the only blessedness lies in being led of God, that all creature possessions are empty, and that perfect satisfaction is to be found in God alone.  And this testimony the Christian gives, not formally and verbally, as in a law court, but through his every act and every look, by the uniform tenor of his walk at all times and in all places.  His disposition, his conduct is to witness for Christ, to "declare plainly" (Heb. xi. 14) that he seeks for nothing from the world because he needs nothing that the world has to give him, since he has found all that he wants in Christ.  And unless his testimony on this head be very explicit, how is he to convince others of the fatal mistake which is being made by universal man?
Does any reader think that these remarks are pitched on too high a key—that they ask too much from ordinary men?  And what less does Christ ask from every disciple?  What less do His apostles ask?  Nay, what is the only possible alternative to this faithful witness-bearing?  For let us never forget that, mean it or not, we are God's witnesses, and cannot avoid the giving of actual testimony.  If then, we think, from the self-denial that is always involved in speaking truly of God in a world like this, there is no alternative left us but that we bear false witness against Him—reduced to this either by cowardice or lust of self-indulgence—Oh, what a course for a Christian man to take! The bare thought of it will fill the loyal heart with horror; and if the heart be not loyal and loving enough to shudder at the thought, such words as those in Mark viii. 38 may meet the need; for every professing Christian who does not live in some measure in the spirit indicated, is in so far, giving false testimony against God and His gospel.  O Christian, you are presently in the witness-box before the world; you are, in fact, living in it while you remain on earth, and you are giving the world a minutely detailed testimony as to the character and claims of God, and as to His thoughts and purposes respecting miserable men.  What if any base and selfish reasons should induce you to give forth untrue testimony—maligning Him and deceiving them?
Few are so hardened as to despise the sanctity of the oath administered by the human judge; but our testimony is being delivered under circumstances still more solemn.  We speak on oath—nay, on far more than oath; we speak, not in words only, but by every look and every gesture.  Always and in every company, the Christian is enunciating his solemn testimony for God; nay, not necessarily for Him, but if not for Him, then against Him.
We have said that it demands as much patience and courage to endure aright the martyrdom of life as to meet the martyrdom of death. If the pains of the latter be sharper, they are shorter; but the other is a long-protracted endurance.  And we have all felt how much more readily patience is exhausted by the length of a suffering than by its intensity.  Some perhaps may think that our Lord's life and ministry on earth were wonderfully brief; the first lasting only three-and-thirty years, and the other filling up the last three of these years.  But when we consider the subject, we begin to wonder rather at their length than at their brevity.  When we remember who He was, and whence He came, and the welcome He received, we begin to see the force of His expression: "Ye are they which have continued with me in my temptations."  His life was a series of trials—He was the "Man of sorrows."  To Him, the change from heaven to earth was infinitely greater than the change from earth to hell would be to any of ourselves; and if He should commission any of us to go and toil for Him amid its horrors for a season, we should think that three and thirty years—or even three—was a long, long time indeed.  And in proportion as we walk faithfully in the footprints He has left us for our guidance, shall we feel our need of patience because of the tedious length of the way. And though, like Paul, we shall be gladly willing in this matter to lay aside selfish considerations of every kind and be well contented for the sake of others to endure the protracted martyrdom of life, yet ever sweet and most welcome shall be the thought of dismissal, when the weary one shall get leave to lay down his burden, and to depart to be with Christ, which is far better.
But it is too discouraging, and it would be altogether untrue to fact, to dwell exclusively on the sorrows of the martyr-life, and to overlook its special joys; for martyrdom has its own joys even here, as well as its sorrows.  How often has the world been startled, and the timid disciple been confirmed in faith, by the triumphant raptures of some dying sufferer—raptures which almost lifted him above the reach of his bodily torments.  But living martyrdom also is sustained by special enjoyments; and these are not one whit less abundant.  There is this difference, indeed, between the two, that while the dying witness for Christ has his sufferings and his joys concentrated into a brief but intense experience, the living martyr has his sufferings and his joys spread out over a much larger breadth; but, just as the aggregate of his trials is ofttimes greater, so too, the aggregate of his enjoyments is equally greater.
It is refreshing to read the fervent words in which martyr joy has often expressed its triumph.  "I bless the Lord," said Isabel Allison, a meek Scottish girl, who suffered in the days of the Covenant—"I bless the Lord that hath made my prison a palace to me.  I have looked greedy-like to such a lot as this, but still, thought it was too high for me when I saw how vile I was."  And Marion Harvey, a companion sufferer, similarly expresses himself: "Many times I have been made to think strange what makes folk cast at the Cross of Christ, that hath been so light to me that I found no burden of it at all.  He bore me and it both."  Another female martyr says (we like to take specimens of strength from the gentler sex): "Written by me, Anne Askew, that neither wishes death nor fears his might, and as joyful as one that is bound towards heaven."  "Life is pleasant," said the people to Pionius, an ancient martyr.  "I own," replied Pionius, "that life is pleasant; but I think of the eternal life which I aspire after.  I do not, with a contemptuous spirit, reject the good things of this life, but I prefer what is infinitely better."  Browning's touching epitaph over the resting-place of a Christian slave is finely conceived; and it is quite as true to early Christian experience as it is touching:—

"Remember what a martyr said
On the rude tablet overhead:
'I was born sickly, poor, and mean—
A slave! No misery could screen
The holders of the pearl of price
From Caesar's envy. Therefore twice
I fought with beasts; and three times saw
My children suffer by his law.
At last, my own release was earned:
I was some time in being burned;
But at the close, a Hand came through
The fire, above my head, and drew
My soul to Christ, whom now I see.
Sergius, a brother, writes for me
This testimony on the wall;—
For me, I have forgot it all.' "

Such has been the triumphant spirit in which holy men and women have met the death-stroke; and while we confess that the martyr-life entails trials as severe as the martyr-death, we avow also that living martyrdom secures spiritual enjoyments equal to those of the dying martyr—nay, more abundant.  Says Samuel Rutherford, a true martyr, though not a murdered one: "I never knew, by my nine years' preaching, so much of Christ's love as He hath taught me in Aberdeen by six months' imprisonment."  And in another letter he says: "I know His sackcloth and ashes are better than the fool's laughter."
Here, perhaps, we may find an explanation of much of the joylessness of modern faith. A Christian now-a-days rarely startles the world by the strange sight of his manifest gladness amid circumstances in which mere nature would utterly faint and fail.  In ordinary cases, it is manifest enough that the Christian professor is gladdened by what gladdens others, or dejected by what casts others down; but it is by no means so frequently manifest that he has constant access to an unfailing fountain of unutterable gladness, which no worldly gain, even the greatest, can much enhance, and no worldly loss, even the most trying, can much diminish.  And how could it be otherwise with the average disciple than it is?  Clinging to the world, and enjoying unduly its good things, where is there room in his heart for the loftier but incompatible enjoyments of the Holy Spirit?  In order to know the boundless blessedness of the martyr's joy, one must be himself a martyr; and will any reader who perhaps bewails his lack of that joy which is the believer's strength, be persuaded to examine whether the confessed joylessness be not due to his lack of singleness of eye and unreservedness of consecration?  What is it, O Christian, that thou lookest forward to, as  the solitary source of all thy happiness throughout eternity?  Is it not the most intimate communion with God—a communion that thou expectest to enjoy up to the full measure of thy capacity?   Is it not to see the face, and to bask in the smile, and to share the glory of thy blessed Lord?   Is it not to yield to Him thy loving obedience without reserve, as He shall bestow on thee His loving grace without stint?  Well, then, how comes it to pass that you seek so much of your present happiness not only elsewhere, but in the totally opposite direction; nay, that you seek it in the careful avoidance of that very thing which you expect to constitute your only blessedness throughout eternity—namely, in the entire resignation of your heart to God alone?   Worldly things cannot make even worldly men happy; far less can they make him happy whose thirst has known the sweetness of a single sip of the living waters.  No; the Christian's joy on earth, if he would have it satisfying and sanctifying, must be drawn from the same pure source whence alone he expects to draw it in the eternal glory; and the measure in which he allows himself to imitate the world in its utterly mistaken search for happiness, will not add to his happiness, but will sadly embitter it.
And let no one fancy that, because he finds it so very difficult to maintain the Christian element in a life that is only half, or third, or tenth part Christian, he would find it twice, or thrice, or ten times harder to live this devoted martyr-life.  Nay, it would be far otherwise.  The joy of the Lord would be his sufficient strength.  His utter feebleness now is due to the divided state of his affections.  Let him concentrate these on the one object that is worthy of them; let him say with the Apostle Paul: "This ONE thing I do;" and all his present difficulties and present sorrows shall vanish like morning mists.  God shall gird him with strength and shall anoint him with the oil of joy for mourning; and then, joyously amazed at his novel vigour, he shall begin to understand the paradox of the apostle, "When l am weak, then am I strong;" yea, and so strong that "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.”

“The Son of God goes forth to war,
A kingly crown to gain;
His blood-red banner streams afar:
Who follows in his train?

”Who best can drink His cup of woe,
Triumphant over pain—-
Who patient bears His cross below—
He follows in His train?

“A noble army—men and boys,
The matron and the maid—
Around the Saviour's throne rejoice,
In robes of light arrayed.

“They climbed the steep ascent of heaven,
Through peril, toil, and pain;
O God, to us may grace be given
To follow in their train!" 
J. D.
“The Family Treasury” 1875

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