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The same doctrine is plainly taught us (whatever some learned men have fancied to the contrary) from the very scope of the parable of our Saviour, Luke xix. of the ten servants, who received of their lord, being to go into a far country, each of them a pound, to trade with till his return. At which time he that had increased his pound to ten pounds was made ruler over ten cities, ver. 16, 17. and he that gained but five pounds was made ruler over five cities, ver. 18, 19. the lord's reward bearing proportion to the several improvements made by his servants.
To the same sense and purpose very many of the ancient Fathers, and the most learned modern interpreters, generally expound those words of our Saviour, John xiv. 2. In my Father's house are many mansions. The multitude of mansions in heaven seems hardly intelligible, without admitting a difference of degrees in the heavenly glory. For if all the saints should be placed in one and the same degree or station of bliss, they would have all one and the same mansion in heaven ; but in our heavenly Father's house there are uovai norai many mansions, some higher, some lower, according to the measure of proficiency in virtue, which men have attained to in this life. So Clemens Alexandrinus, " There are “ with the Lord many rewards and mansions, ac
cording to the proportion of men's lives c.” So also Tertullian, “ How are there many mansions “ with the Father, but according to the variety of "merits d ?” that is, (in the language of those writ
“ Εισί γάρ παρά Κυρίω και μισθοί και μοναι πλείονες, κατ' αναλογίαν Biw. Strom. IV. p. 488. [p. 579. also I. VI. p. 797.]
d Quomodo multæ mansiones apud Patrem, si non pro varie
ers,) the good works of men. So the Fathers of the church afterward alleged this text against Jovinian, who held a parity of rewards in the life to come.
Another common proof of this doctrine is taken out of the first Epistle to the Corinthians, chap. 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. It is true, in the context of this place, the manifest scope and intent of the apostle is to shew the vast difference between those bodies of ours that die and turn to corruption, and the glorious bodies we shall receive at the resurrection. But yet, in these words it seems plain, that the apostle riseth higher, and by the way sets forth the disparity that there will be at the resurrection, even among the glorified bodies of the saints; some shining with brighter, some with lesser rays of glory: as among the heavenly lights, some are more glorious than others. As if he should have said, There is a difference, not only between the terrestrial and celestial bodies, but even the celestial bodies differ among themselves; the sun being the brightest of the heavenly lights, the moon in its appearance to us the next to it; and among the stars, some being more bright and conspicuous than others. So in the resurrection, not only the glorified bodies of the saints shall differ from their corruptible bodies they had here, but also among those
tate meritorum ? Scorpiace. [c. 6. also de Monogam. c. 10. Irenæus agrees with this, V. 36. so also Origen, in Num. Hom. I. §. 3. vol. II. p. 277. and in Jesu Naue, Hom. X. p. 422. but in vol. I. p. 106. (de Princip. II. 11. §. 6.) he interprets it of the different heavens through which persons will pass.]
glorified bodies themselves there shall be degrees of glory.
Unless we thus expound the apostle, it will be hard to give a tolerable account of his discourse in this place. For we must otherwise suppose, that he compares those bodies that are sown in corruption, the rotten stinking carcasses of men, to some of the glorious heavenly lights, though of a lesser magnitude ; than which comparison, what can be more incongruous or absurd! Hence Tertullian in the place, in part already cited, thus understands the text, “ How are there many mansions with the Fa
ther, unless it be according to the variety of men's
good works? How also shall one star differ from “ another star in glory, but according to the di“ versity of rays or beams of light © ?" And as the greatest, so the best part of modern interpreters, acknowledge this exposition of the apostle's words to be true and genuine, yea and absolutely necessary.
But our last text of Scripture will put the matter out of all doubt, which we read 2 Cor. ix. 6. But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully. It is certain, and confessed by all, that the design of the apostle in this place is to excite and stir up the Corinthians to a liberal charity towards their distressed brethren, and that his chief argument is contained in these words. It is confessed also, that in these words, to sow, signifies to do good works, particularly works of charity; to reap, to receive the reward, the future eternal
e Quomodo multæ. mansiones apud Patrem, si
variel tate meritorum ? Qu do et stella a stella distabit, nisi pro diversitate radiorum ?
reward of such works. Indeed the apostle otherwhere plainly interprets himself to this sense; viz. Gal. vi. 8. He that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption ; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting. Where also the latter words manifestly respect in the first place works of charity and beneficence, particularly such as are exercised towards our spiritual teachers, as appears from ver. 6. Let him that is taught in the word communicate to him that teacheth in all good things. Now our apostle, in the place alleged out of his Epistle to the Corinthians, expressly asserts, that as our sowing is more sparing or more liberal, so shall our reaping be also; the greater charity exercised by us in this world, the greater felicity and happiness attends us in the world to come: and so on the contrary, the thinner our seeds of charity are sown here, the lesser will be our harvest of glory hereafter. Nothing can be more express to our purpose than this testimony, and therefore I shall seek after no other or farther proofs from Scripture of the proposition I have undertaken to demonstrate.
But to these direct testimonies of Scripture, I shall only add, by way of overplus, one or two reasons, or arguments grounded on Scripture.
1. It is certain, that amongst the damned there will be an inequality of punishments, some suffering lesser, others greater degrees of torment; therefore it is highly reasonable to think, that in the opposite state of the blessed there will be also a disparity of rewards. The antecedent is determined, and beyond all contradiction asserted, by our Saviour himself. For speaking of the town or city that shall reject the Gospel preached to them by the apostles, he tells us, that it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment, than for that city, Matt. x. 15. And in the next chapter he assures us, that it shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon in the day of judgment, than for Chorazin and Bethsaida, who had heard his doctrine and seen his miracles, and would be converted by neither of them; and that it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom, than for Capernaum, upon the same account, Matt. xi. 20—24. And most express are his words, Luke xii. 47. &c. And that servant, which knew his master's will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes. For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required : and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more.
2. There are degrees of honour and glory among the angels in heaven, and though they are all of them glorious creatures, yet among them some are higher, some inferior in dignity, some are greater, others lesser; therefore we have reason to conclude, that there will be an order and gradation among the blessed saints of heaven likewise. For we are sure, that in the future state we shall be like unto the angels; and why not in this ? Seeing in the angelical polity there are divers orders, ranks, and degrees, can we imagine that the communion of the saints in heaven shall be a levelled society? This is utterly incredible. Now the antecedent here again