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ner in which he uses the same figure in Gal. vi. 7—9. “Whatsoever a man soweth that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to the flesh, shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit, shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting. Let us not be weary in well doing, for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not." Indeed, in most instances where this figure is used, our good or our bad actions are represented as the seed whence our future felicity or misery must spring. But if such be the general rule of God's conduct, if there will be a proportion between the future world and the present, there must be degrees of glory; there must be a higher station for the fervent and seraphic Christian, than for 'those who drag heavily along in the path to heaven, and are by their walk scarcely distinguishable from the men of the world.
2. We argue from the account which this same apostle gives of the different rewards which will be given to the ministers of the gospel. This remarkable and figurative description is found, 1 Cor. iii. 12 -15. He speaks of those preachers who preserve the only foundation which is laid, Christ Jesus; and he compares them to architects, who build upon this good foundation materials very different. The exhortations of some are like "gold, silver, or precious stones," and are calculated to animate, encourage, and cheer, those who hear them. Those of the others resemble "wood, hay, and stubble," and injure more than advance edification. In the awful day of scrutiny, when "every man's work shall be tried as with fire," the first of these classes, adds the apostle, "shall receive a reward," evidently implying, one proportioned to his faithfulness, zeal, and usefulness in the gospel. The others, "having their
work burnt, shall suffer loss;" but having been founded on Jesus, the rock of ages; having preserved the essential truths of religion, notwithstanding the errors they may have taught through ignorance or mistake, they shall be saved, yet so as by fire; with a difficulty and danger resembling that of a person who escapes from his dwelling in flames, and only preserves his life, while his house is consumed, and his goods destroyed. In this representation of the apostle, do we not perceive that there are persons who obtain salvation, and yet have not the recompense which the wiser administrators of the word receive? And are we not authorized to conclude, that there will be the same difference between those who are hearers, according to the manner they have profited by the instructions given to them?
3. Is not this truth taught in Dan. xii. 3.? The prophet, having spoken of the two great classes into which men shall be divided at the general resurrection, when "some shall wake to everlasting life, and some to everlasting contempt," then declares the difference that shall appear even among the pious;
They that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteous-ness, as the stars, for ever and ever." As there is a difference between the general brilliancy of the firmament, and the lustre of the stars, so there shall be a difference between those ordinary Christians who obtain felicity, and those zealous persons who have been the instruments of the conversion of many sin
4. Read the parable of the pounds in Luke xix. Our Saviour appears there fully to have decided this point. Under the emblem of a nobleman going into a far country to receive a kingdom, and giving to
his ten servants ten pounds, to trade therewith till his return; he represents himself ascending into heaven to assume his kingdom, and committing to his servants many gifts with which to profit for their own salvation, and that of their neighbour, till he should return to judgment. Though nine of them had been diligent, they had been so in different degrees: they were all magnificently rewarded; and "because they had been faithful over few things, were made rulers over many things;" yet their reward was different. While he whose pound had gained ten was appointed over ten cities; he who had gained five was placed over five only. What could more fully show that while all believers shall" enter into the joy of their Lord," shall be surrounded by happiness and glory, there shall yet be various degrees of this glory?
5. The apostle Paul treating of the resurrection says, 1 Cor. xv. 41, 42, "There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differeth from another star in glory. So also is the resurrection of the dead." Though he here speaks only of the difference in the glorified body, yet the same causes which render it fit for God to cause the glorified bodies of the saints to differ in brilliancy and lustre, make it proper for him to give different degrees of glory to their whole persons.
6. In perusing the scriptures, we find the patriarchs, the prophets, and the apostles, uniformly represented as occupying a more conspicuous situation in glory than ordinary believers. Are the felicities of heaven represented as a feast? Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, there hold the most honourable station. Is it exhibited as a kingdom? The apostles are there to sit conspicuously upon twelve thrones, judging
the twelve tribes of Israel. (Matt. viii. 11-19. 28. Luke xxii. 30. Numerous similar expressions are used concerning them; and if these are to differ from other believers, because of their zeal and fidelity, must not believers differ from each other? If a Paul shall shine more resplendent than a Watts, shall a Watts only occupy the station of one in whom the pulse of spiritual life scarcely beats?
7. It is doubted by none that there will be degrees of punishment in hell; that some will there suffer more excruciating torments than others. But if the wicked are more punished in proportion to their crimes, must we not suppose that the saints are more rewarded in proportion to their virtues?
8. Let us carry still further this reasoning from analogy. Look at nature; and in what an infinite variety of methods do you see the Creator displaying his perfections? Look at the operations of grace; you see that "there are diversities of gifts, though but one Spirit." Look at Christians; how various in their attainments, their knowledge, their holiness, and joy, though all beloved by God! Look at the heavenly host; though all holy and happy, there are various orders among them-archangels, and angels, thrones, dominions, principalities, and powers. Should we not then suppose, that in analogy to the other works of God, there would be degrees of glory among the blest?
9. Finally, the transactions of the judgment-day, and the nature of the future felicity confirm this truth. We learn from the twenty-fifth chapter of Matthew, that in the decisive day the Lord will with approbation publish the works of believers to the universe. Must not this approbation be various? Does not the sense and remembrance of it constitute
one of the joys of heaven? Can the soul that has heard it from the Saviour whom he loves, ever forget it? One of the chief sources of heavenly felicity is the glorifying of God. But if his glory be dear to us, must we not be happier in proportion as we have glorified him here below? Can a Christian, that is "saved as by fire," have the same raptures of soul that are felt by Paul and his associates, to whom, as the instruments in the hand, is owing the introduction of Christianity in Europe; the ten thousand times ten thousand believers, who have in successive ages there flourished through the instrumentality of those taught by him and their descendants; and the disciples of Jesus in this new world, which received the light of the gospel from that quarter of the globe which was taught by the apostle?
Let us very briefly, in the
Second place, consider the objections that have been made against this doctrine.
Perhaps the most plausible has been drawn from the parable of the labourers in Matt. xx. 1—15. You recollect that in that parable the householder sent labourers into his vineyard at different hours, all of whom, however, received at last the same recompense. But surely those who make this objection have never attended to the circumstances of the parable. How can the reward signify eternal life, since it is given to the murmurers and envious; to those who, in verse 14, are ordered to depart from their Lord; to those who were not satisfied with the portion given to them? The great scope and design of the parable are to repress the pride of the Jews, and show the propriety of the vocation of the Gentiles. It has no reference whatever to the future rewards of the pious.