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tius's paraphrase is here most genuine; "Sweeten "and allay the irksome labour of your teachers, by
performing to them all offices of respect and love, "that they may with alacrity, and not with grief, discharge that function, which is of itself a suffi"cient burden, without any addition of sorrow from
Now to God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, be ascribed all honour and glory, adoration and worship, both now and for ever. Amen.
k Mulcete eum laborem omnibus obsequiis et officiis, ut cum alacritate potius quam dolore fungantur munere satis gravi, etiamsi a vobis nihil triste accedat.
THE DIFFERENT DEGREES, OF BLISS AND GLORY IN CHRIST'S HEAVENLY KINGDOM, ANSWER TO THE DIFFERENT DEGREES OF GRACE HERE BELOW. SEVERAL OBJECTIONS AGAINST THIS DOCTRINE ARE ANSWERED.
2 PETER i. 11.
For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
IT is the great concern of every man, in the first place, to get the saving grace of God, and having gotten it, to proceed and increase in it; earnestly to reach after a principle of the divine life within himself, and having attained it, to cherish and improve it; to endeavour of evil (as we are all naturally and antecedently to the divine grace) to become truly good, and then every day to grow better; first to be sincere disciples of the holy Jesus, and then to aspire, study, and labour hard, to become great proficients in his divine school. This latter duty, St. Peter earnestly and vehemently presseth on the converted Jews of the dispersion, to whom he writes, and in them upon all of us, in the verses preceding my text; where he exhorts them in the most emphatical expressions to an holy covetousness after spiritual riches, and to accumulate and heap up heavenly treasures with as much greediness, as the men of this world do their gold and silver: to add one grace
Different Degrees of Bliss in Heaven. 169
to another, and one degree of each grace upon another, and to abound in virtue and good works. For after he had, ver. 4. minded them of the great design of Christianity, which is to make men partakers of the divine nature, by rescuing them from the corruption that is in the world through lust, i. e. to convert men from their evil and wicked courses, and to bring them to a state of grace and regeneration; and charitably supposing this to be already done in them, he proceeds to shew them their farther duty, ver. 5, 6, 7, 8. And besides this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, and to virtue knowledge, and to knowledge temperance, and to temperance patience, and to patience godliness, and to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness charity. For if all these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. As if he had said, You have now, God be thanked, escaped the pollutions of the world, and are truly, I hope, converted to Christianity, and in baptism have been regenerated by the Holy Ghost; (that he means by their being made partakers of the divine nature.) This indeed is a very great achievement, and an invaluable mercy of God, vouchsafed to you; yet I beseech you, rest not here; but besides this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, &c. So that the sum of his discourse is to press them first to truth in grace, and then to growth in grace; to acquire the divine virtues reckoned up by him, and then to abound in them. And to persuade them to this abounding in grace and virtue, he useth a very powerful motive and argument in the words of my
text: for so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. As if he had said, If you thus abound in grace, you shall abound in glory; you shall not only come to heaven, or get just within the gate of that glorious region, (and yet happy is he that can arrive to be but a doorkeeper in the house of his heavenly Father,) but you shall have an abundant entrance into it; you shall go very far, and attain an higher pitch and degree of glory there. This is the plain and obvious sense of the words.
Not to spend time needlessly, or to trouble you with any farther preface, the text thus briefly explained and considered, with relation to the context, readily and of itself offers to us this proposition.
There shall be degrees of bliss and glory in Christ's heavenly kingdom; and the more we abound in grace and good works here, the more abundant shall our reward be hereafter.
This proposition I intend, with the divine assistance, for the theme and subject of my following discourse.
That this is no nice or fruitless speculation, fitted only to exercise the wits of men, or to entertain their curiosity, but a branch of that truth which is according to godliness, as the apostle Paul expresseth it, Tit. i. 1. that is, a doctrine tending to the advancement and furtherance of piety and virtue amongst men, will be soon evident to any man that with any degree of serious attention shall consider it.
If this be a truth, it must needs be a useful one, 3 Αληθείας τῆς κατ ̓ εὐσέβειαν.
and of concernment to us. And that it is so, will farther appear to all, from those other texts of Scripture, wherein it is not only plainly taught, but also urged as a motive to a more fruitful piety, which shall be produced in the sequel of my discourse ; wherein I shall prescribe to myself this plain and easy method.
First, I shall farther prove the proposition by other clear and express texts of Scripture, and by reasons and arguments grounded on Scripture, and by the consent of the catholic church, interpreting the Scripture to the same sense. In the next place, I shall endeavour to answer the principal objections that are usually made against this truth. Lastly, I shall conclude with a brief application of the whole discourse.
First, For the fuller demonstration of the point, let us in the first place hear what the Holy Ghost hath in other places of Scripture delivered concerning it. And here, out of a great abundance of texts that might be alleged, I shall make choice only of such as speak more plainly and evidently to our purpose.
Such is that text in the nineteenth chapter of St. Matthew's Gospel; where, to St. Peter asking what reward he and the rest of the apostles should have, that had forsaken their all in this world to follow Christ, and be his disciples, ver. 27. our Saviour thus answers, ver. 28. 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 twelve tribes of Israel. So I read the text. For it is evident enough our translators have mis