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the nature; the answer of their Lord appears to be a manifest indication, that in his kingdom, rightly understood, stations of superior dignity would be assigned to some individuals over others, more nearly approaching to his own unparalled state of elevation, and more intimately partaking of the enjoyment of his presence.
THE AMBITIOUS DISCIPLES.
Rash was the tongue, and unadvisedly bold,
My destin'd portion of thy griefs to bear,
DOCTRINE OF DIFFERENT DEGREES OF FUTURE HAPPINESS CORROBORATED BY OTHER ARGUMENTS.
THE doctrine, that there will be different degrees of happiness and glory in the world to come. may
be thought to derive satisfactory testimony from the foregoing declaration of our blessed Lord to the sons of Zebedee. It is confirmed by the following corroborative arguments, which are now to be submitted to the reader's consideration.
First, it is analogous to the constitution and course of nature, as settled by the will of divine Providence; wherein we perceive diversities of gifts, of administrations, and of operations; differences in the talents intrusted to different agents, and corresponding differences in the employment whereon they are exercised, and in the rewards wherewith they are recompensed: so that by the variety, which we actually perceive in the present state, we are prepared for a similar dispensation in the future.
It is agreeable also to the anticipations of reason, that from the Being, who is an all-wise, an allrighteous, an all-bountiful Judge and "Rewarder of them that diligently seek him,"1 the most diligent, the most laborious, the most arduous, the most persevering efforts should be rewarded by the most distinguished success; that they who have "let their light shine," most brightly "before men, that they may see their good works" most conspicuously, and most worthily "glorify their Father which is in heaven," should be admitted to the highest degree of favor by their heavenly Father: that
1 Heb. xi. 6.
Matt. v. 16.
they, who have most delighted to "honor" God, "God should be most delighted to honor; "1 that they, who have " hungered and thirsted" most intensely after their inheritance of righteousness and glory, should be most abundantly "filled. "2
But what is of still more importance is the fact, that this notion of different degrees of glory in a future state, indicated, as we have seen, with much clearness by our Lord in his dialogue with the sons of Zebedee, is in conformity with other intimations also in the WORD OF GOD.
True, indeed, it is, that the happiness of that state is sometimes represented generally, and without any distinction among those who shall be advanced to its inheritance, under the lofty figures of " a kingdom," and "a throne," and "a crown of life," "of righteousness," and "of glory:"7 and we doubt not, that the very lowest inmate of that blissful abode, the very "door-keeper," if I may so express myself, "of the house of God," will have ample reason to "rejoice, and be exceeding glad; for great will be his reward in heaven." Still, while all who are admitted into that blessed state will doubtless find a sufficiency of fruition in the joy of their Lord," 10 the Scriptures seem to sanction the opinion, that a pre
eminence of bliss and glory will be allotted to some over others.
If, on "the day of the revelation of the righteous judgment of God, he will render unto every man according to his deeds; to them who by patient continuance in well-doing seek for glory, and honor, and immortality, eternal life;" and "glory, honor, and peace shall be recompensed to every man that worketh good: "1 it seems to follow from this rule of distribution, that the most abundant glory will be awarded to those, who by the most patient continuance in well-doing have been the most diligent in seeking it, and have wrought good the most abundantly.
If at "the judgment seat of Christ every one shall receive according to the good that he hath done in the body; "2 it should seem that the blessing, which every one is to receive, will be in some way apportioned to the good which he has done : conformably to the rule which is elsewhere stated by the Apostle, "whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap;" and again, "He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly: and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully." 4
Behold, I come
When the Saviour saith, quickly, and my reward is with me, to give to
1 Rom. ii. 7, 10.
• Gal. vi. 7
2 Cor. v. 10.
2 Cor. ix. 6.
every man according as his work shall be:"1 it should seem to be his purpose to announce, that a scale of recompence will be established ascending with the qualifications of those who are the objects of it; and that the reward of every man will be regulated by his previous work; conformably to the Apostle's position, that "every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labor." 2
Not that any ground is here intended to be supplied for the notion, that, whatever be the works of the best of men, or whatever be their reward, the former can establish a claim to a meritorious recompence, or the latter is to be regarded as the price of their deservings. Doubtless the reward is in every case to be ascribed to the free grace
God and the sole merits of the Redeemer. theless, speaking of the consequence of this dispensation of the divine love, we judge it to be the doctrine of Holy Writ, that the grace of God, for the sake of the Redeemer's merits, will apportion his reward according to the deeds of his servants.
In answer to the question of Peter, "Behold, we have forsaken all and followed thee: what shall we have therefore?" the Redeemer said unto his disciples, "Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration, when the Son of Man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the
Rev. xxii. 12.
2 2 Cor. iii. 8