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the mind, in a manner which at present we cannot explain ; and the subject will be disposed in the best manher, in order to behold and observe in God, whatever can complete its happiness.
XXXVII. Thirdly, That day shall bring the blessed to that fruition of God, which shall be much more perfect and immediate, than whatever they had enjoyed before. As long as there are some believers, who are still in this miserable life ; as long as the bodies of the elect, who are departed out of it, are detained in the prison of death, and lie hid in the dust, the saints in heaven cannot be ignorant, that very many remains of that power which sin had gained over man, must still subsist. And consequently something must be wanting to the full perfection of their joy. And seeing the effects and remains of sin are not yet abolished in their own bodies, and in believers not yet made perfect, who together with them are members of the same mystical body; this is the reason, why God does not communicate himself to them, but by the intervention of a Mediator. But by the resurrection, death itself, which is the last enemy, shall be abolished,* and cast into the lake of fire and brimstone,t never more to have any power but over the enemies of God and of believers. shall there be any member of the whole mystical body of Christ, which shall not be perfectly holy, and absolutely subject to him. And after all the remains and effects of sin shall be entirely destroyed, nothing shall hinder God from communicating himself immediately to men without the intervention of a Mediator, as he does to the holy angels. We are of the opinion, with the best interpreters, that this is the meaning of Paul, in 1 Cor. xv. 28. And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto
† Rev. xx. 14.
* 1 Cor. xv. 26,
him, that put all things under him, that God may be all in all.
XXXVIII. To this happiness likewise belongs a boundless and immutable eternity : without which it would in reality be no happiness. For no good; how great soever, that one is possessed of with a fear of losing it, can, by its fruition, yield that perfect and solid joy, which is requisite to happiness. Wherefore happiness is called eternal life,* and a crown of glory, that sadeth not away,t and an incorruptible crown ; and the apostle declares concerning the righteous, that they shall erer be with the Lord.
XXXIX. Here it is usual to inquire whether there will be any difference of degrees among the blessed. In this question indeed (though we utterly disclaim the proud doctrine of the Romanists concerning the disparity of glory, founded on the inequality of merits) the ar-, guments of those, who think, that God will crown the unequal measure of the gifts of grace with a disparity of gifts of glory, seem more probable to us. To this purpose are those scriptures : Rom. ii. 6. Who roill render to every one according to his deeds ; and 2 Cor. v. 10. That every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done. By which words is not barely signified the quality of the free reward, which shall be granted to the righteous, according to their works; but also the quantity of that reward, answering, in a certain proportion, to their works. Which is expressly explained by the apostle,|| Ile which soweth sparingly, shall reap also sparingly ; and he which soweth bountifully, shall reap also bountifully. Moreover, that this harvest, and its diversity, or different product, is erroneously confined to this life, appears from com* Matth. xxv. 46. Rom. ii. 7. 1 Pet. v. 4. 1 Cor. ix. 25.
§ 1 Thess. iv. 17. ll 2 Cor. ix. 6.
paring this place with Gal. vi. 8. He that soweth to his flesh, shall of the flesh reap corruption ; but he that sozóeth to the spirit, shall of the spirit reap life everlasting. To the same effect is i Cor. iii. 8. He that planteth and he that watereth are one ; and every man shall receive his own reward, according to his own labour. Where it is clearly enough declared, that the proportion of the reward will be adjusted to that of the labour. Nor unlike to this is the discourse concerning the resurrection of the dead, i Cor. xv. 40, 41. There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial; but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another. 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. Where, first, the bodies laid aside at death are compared with those assumed at the resurrection : and then, the celestial bodies are said to differ very much in glory from each other. As the sun, moon, and stars are all truly celestial bodies, but greatly unlike in glory. And to what purpose is that distinct mention of sun, moon, and stars, and of the unequal glory of each, if the apostle only intended to teach us the difference of the terrestrial from the celestial bodies, while all the celestial were notwithstanding to have the same degree of glory?
XL. It cannot, it seems, on any pretence, be denied, that at least the principal leaders, patriarchs, prophets, apostles, martyrs, and diligent teachers of the Old and New Testament church shall have some greater degree of glory assigned them. What was said to the apostles, was not said to all, When the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.* The meaning of these words, if I can form any judgment, the illustrious Grotius has best of all explained. It is, as if our Lord had said, You shall occupy the next place of honor to me your King. To judge here denotes, to be set over, or to preside, by a metalepsis, because generally presidents are employed in passing sentence. Whence a presidentiship or province is called by the Hebrews MEDINAH.* The metaphor is taken from the ancient state of the kingdom of Israel, in which the phylarchæ, or heads of the tribes, stood in the next degree to the royal majesty, and are supposed to have sat by the king's throne, in chairs of state, in the public assemblies. But to confine this glory of the apostles within the limits of the church militant in such a manner, that in the triumphant, where they have the full reward of their labours, they shall quit their thrones, seems repugnant to reason : nor does it agree with John's vision, who saw in heaven four and twenty thrones, and twenty-four elders sitting on them, that is, the patriarchs of the Old and New Testament church, clothed in white raiment, and having on their heads crowns of gold. And these things are so evident, that those persons, who, in other respects, contradict the disparity of celestial glory, own, that we are to distinguish between that happiness, which shall be the portion of believers as believers, and the commendation, which, in the last day, shall be given to every one, in proportion to the diligence and success he shall have laboured in promoting the kingdom of Christ, and which, it seems, is to be unequally distributed. But because it is a glorious thing, to obtain such a commendation from the mouth of Christ, and the memory of that testimony shall for ever abide in the minds of believers ; they cannot deny, but in the kingdom of heaven a disparity of degrees in that kind of glory may be admitted to take place among the blessed. For certainly it is not to be thought, that then there will be many servants of Christ, who
* Matth. xix. 28.
may, in that respect, be compared with the apostle Paul. See Theses Amyraldi de vita æterna, $ 34.
XLI. The apostle John seems to have given a check to other things, which are too curiously made the matter of enquiry, concerning the condition or state of the future world, when he said, Beloved, now are we the sons of God; and it doth not yet appear, what we shall be.* It is then more prudent and pious to endeavour to become hereafter partakers of that glorious life, than to gratify an itch of curiosity with insipid and vain speculations. This, however, we may look upon as a certain truth, that eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man to conceive, the things which God hath piępared for them that love him.t