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twelve tribes of Israel. And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name's sake, shall receive an hundred-fold, and shall inherit everlasting life."i Thus again then it seems to be announced, that the future reward shall be regulated according to the character and deeds of the person to be rewarded : that greater sacrifices for Christ's sake shall receive a greater remuneration.
Meanwhile, in further proof of the different degrees of dignity and bliss in a future state, let it be observed, that our Saviour on several occasions speaks, as of “ the least," so of “the greatest and the chief in the kingdom of heaven:", and that
2 the “ authority” described by Him in the parable, as conferred, emblematically of the future reward of fidelity, upon the servant who was constituted ruler “over ten cities," appears to indicate a condition of pre-eminence over him who was made ruler only “over five.” s
Further, vile bodies," we are told, “ shall be changed” at the appearance of the Saviour, and “ shall be fashioned like unto his glorious body,” in incorruption and honor: but we are likewise told, that “ there is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory
* Matt. xviii. 4; v. 19; xi. 11.
· Matt. xix. 27-29. • Luke xix. 17, 19
of the stars; for one star differeth from another star in glory: so also is the resurrection of the dead.” 1
And, since they which shall be accounted worthy to obtain that world and the resurrection from the dead," shall be “as the angels of God in heaven," 2 this similitude appears to imply different distinctions and degrees of rank among " the spirits of just men made perfect;" after the manner of the gradation which prevails among that “ innumerable company" 3 of tho Lord's hosts, ascending from the lowest order of " ministering spirits,” 4 up to the princes of the celestial hierarchy, “ whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers." 5
DEGREES OF HEAVENLY HAPPINESS. If loftier post superior state declare;
More virtuous acts if ampler meeds requite;
If brightest crowns no noblest prowess light, And well-sown fields a fuller harvest bear; If thrones, dominions, princedoms, powers there are,
Which God's inferior hosts excel in might;
If day's bright orb outshine the lamp of night,
If right I scan the records of their fate,
God's mount encircle. Glorious is the state Ev'n of the lowest there : but seats more nigh
The Sovereign's throne his greater servants wait.
s Heb. xii. 22.
1 Cor. xv. 41, 42.
2 Matt. xxii. 30.
QUALIFICATIONS FOR HIGHER DEGREES OF HAPPINESS.
HAVING considered the grounds of the doctrine that there will be different degrees of happiness and glory in the life to come, I pass on to consider the QUALIFICATIONS requisite for those, who would attain the highest degrees of honor in the Messiah's kingdom.
And this consideration is the more deserving of our regard, and the more indispensable for every Christian, because, whilst the qualifications requisite for attaining the most eminent honors are in the most eminent degree requisite for those, who aspire to sit at the right hand and at the left of the Saviour in his kingdom, the diligent pursuit and the acquisition of the same qualifications, though in an inferior and less perfect degree, are necessary for those also, who will be admitted to fill the lowest stations in his kingdom. The holy city must be approached by the way of holiness. Superior degrees of excellence will be advanced, so we may humbly believe, through the merits of the Redeemer, to superior degrees of the Divine favor, and will occupy a pre-etninent station in the "many mansions of his Father's house." But the highway
1 to it is one which the unclean shall not pass over:
1 John xiv. 2.
and “ there shall in no wise enter into the city any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie; but they which are written in the Lamb's book of life." 1
With respect then to the qualifications in question, they have been anticipated in a general way in the foregoing section, where notice has been taken of higher degrees of happiness, as the consequence of the most diligent, laborious, arduous, and unwearied efforts in the service of God; of the most intense thirst after the promised inheritance of glory; of the most patient perseverance and the most abundant fruitfulness in well doing; of the greatest sacrifices for Christ's sake.
But for a fuller exposition of the subject, I would again advert to our Lord's dialogue with the sons of Zebedee. For therein our attention is directed to the nature of the qualifications requisite for those disciples of Christ, who desire to be admitted into the Saviour's future kingdom, and especially for those who aspire to stations of pre-eminence in that kingdom, by his question addressed to the two brethren, whose request has been made the foundation of our present reflections. “ Jesus answered and said, Ye know not what ye ask.” Their view
. had been limited to the wished-for object, instead of being extended to the qualifying means.
To these latter, therefore, their thoughts were to be
Rev. xxi. 27.
drawn by the ensuing inquiry, “ Are ye able to drink of the cup that I shall drink of, and to be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with ?"
" of the Saviour, as we have already had occasion to notice, was that bitter cup of suffering which He was about to drink for man's salvation, in compliance with the awful dispensation of the divine will: and the Saviour's “ baptism
baptism” was that agonising sacrifice, wherein He was soon to be baptized in his own blood. And the question in its literal and primary bearing points to those losses and privations, to those mortifications and distresses, to which his first followers were exposed : when they were called on to “ forsake houses, and brethren, and sisters, and father, and mother, and wife, and children, and lands, for his sake, and the gospel's;” 1 or, as elsewhere expressed, “ for
, the kingdom of God's sake: "2 and when, for his sake also and the gospel's they were called on to suffer persecution under its various forms of false accusations and injurious revilings, of stripes, and bonds, and imprisonment, and banishment, and finally of a violent and cruel death. These are the persons to whom the language of our Saviour appears to point literally in the first place; and to indicate the martyrs of Jesus," 3 " them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony
1 Mark x. 29.
2 Luke xviii, 29.
3 Rev. xvii. 6.