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20. Consider also, that little grace, little glory; and the greater measure of holiness, the greater measure will you have of happiness. I know that the glory of the lowest saint in heaven will be exceedingly great; but doubtless the greatest measure is unspeakably the most desirable. And as it will not stand with the truth of grace for a man to be satisfied with a low degree of grace, though he plead the happiness of the lowest Christian, and his own unworthiness of the least degree; so, at least, it ill beseems an heir of glory to desire but the lowest degree of glory, though he plead the happiness of the lowest saint in heaven, and his own unworthiness of the lowest place. For he that will be so content with the smallest glory, as not to have hearty desires of more, is accordingly content to have in himself the smallest measure of the knowledge and love of God, and to be loved in the smallest measure by him; and to have the least enjoyment of him; and to bear the smallest part in his praises, and in pleasing and glorifying him for ever. For all these things are our happiness itself. And how well this agreeth with a gracious frame of mind, I need not any further tell you.
But because some make question of it, whether the degree of glory will be answerable to the degree of holiness, I shall prove it in a few words.
(1.) It is the very drift of the parable of the talents in Matt. xxv. He that had gotten most by improvement, was made ruler proportionably over most cities. Not he that had been at the greatest bodily labour in religion, nor every one that had passed the greatest sufferings; but he that had got most holiness to himself, and honour to God by the improvement of his talents, and so had doubled them.
(2.) The degrees of holiness hereafter will be divers, as are the degrees of holiness here; for as men sow, they will reap; and there is no promise in Scripture, that men that die with the smallest holiness shall be made equal to them that died with the greatest holiness. And that the greatest holiness hereafter, must have the greatest happiness, is past denial. For, [1.] Holiness in heaven is an essential part of the felicity itself. It is the perfection of the soul. [2.] The use of it is for perfect fruition, and perfect exercise of love and praise; which are the other parts of glory. And God will not give men powers, capacities, and dispositions in hea
ven which shall be in vain; as he giveth hungering, and thirsting, and love, so will he give proportionable satisfaction, and not tantalize his servants in their blessedness, and leave a part of hell in heaven. [3.] And holiness is pleasing to God in its own nature; and, therefore, the greatest holiness will most greatly please him; and he that most pleaseth God, hath the greatest glory. These things are plain.
(3.) Moreover, we have great reason to conceive of the state of the glorified, in some congruency with the rest of the workmanship of God. But in all the rest there is a difference or imparity; therefore we have reason to think it is so here. On earth there are princes and subjects in the commonwealth; and pastors and people in the churches, and several degrees among the people as to gifts and comforts. Among the devils there are degrees; and among the angels themselves there are principalities and powers, and thrones and dominions. And why then should we imagine that the heavenly Jerusalem shall not be so too?
(4.) And Christ plainly intimateth that there is a place, 'on his right hand, and on his left, to give," in that kingdom, though, as the Son of Man, he had not the principal disposal of it. (And then the kingdom must be delivered to the Father, and God be all in all; and, therefore, the Mediator as such have somewhat less to do, than now.) And when Christ telleth us of Lazarus in Abraham's bosom, and of many from the east and west sitting down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, he intimateth to us, that every place in heaven is not so high as Abraham's bosom, nor a sitting with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. So that I take it as a plain revealed truth, that divers degrees of holiness will have divers degrees of glory hereafter.
The chief argument to the contrary is fetched from the parable of the labourers, that coming in at several hours, received every one a penny. But this is misunderstood. For here is not a word in it contrary to our assertion. The parable only saith that, Glory shall not be proportioned to the time, but they that come later shall have never the less for that,' which is nothing to our question about the degrees of holiness. For many that are first in time may be least and last in holiness; and many that are last in time, may in that little time come to be best and greatest in holiness, and consequently in glory. The parable in Matt. xxv. shews that
God will give different degrees of glory, according to the difference in improvement of our talents. And the other parable shews that he will not give out his glory according to men's time and standing in the church, seeing a weaker Christian may be of longer standing, and a stronger of a later coming in. And what shew of discord is there between these? 2. And yet it is doubtful in the judgment of good expositors, whether the parable of the penny do speak of heaven at all or not; and whether it speak not only of the vocation of the Gentiles, and taking them into the Gospel church in equality with the believing Jews: though the Jews being God's ancient people, had been longer in the vineyard, and the Gentiles were called but at the eleventh hour, yet God will make the Gentiles equal in the grace of vocation, because in this he hath not engaged himself, but may do with his own as he list. Whichever of these two is the thing intended in the text, or possibly both, it is certain that this general is the sum of the parable, That the first may be last, and the last first; that is, that God will not give men the greatest reward that were first called. But he never said that he would not reward them most, that had done him the truest service, and were highest in holiness.
Object. But the reason is, 'May I not do as I will with my own.' True, but you must remember what it is a reason of; even of the cause in question, and may not by you be extended to other causes without a warrant. You never read that he equally pardoneth the believer and the unbeliever, or saveth the regenerate and the unregenerate, and then gives this reason of it, May I not do as I will with my own.' For this can be no reason for any thing which he hath revealed that he will do. Prove first that he will not do it, and then bring your reasons why; but not before. So that it extendeth not to the case of different glory upon different degrees of holiness; for this he hath revealed that he will do.
So much (and perhaps too much) to satisfy the doubtful. Now I desire to return to the dull and languishing Christian, and beseech him to remember what a difference there will be between one saint and another in glory! And O who would not aspire after the highest measure of holiness, in hope of a high degree of glory? Christian, hadst thou not infinitely rather love God with the greatest love than with a
less, and be beloved again with the greatest of his love? I mean, by partaking of the greatest effects of it, and the fullest sense of his everlasting favour. Remember this, and sure it will persuade thee to gird up thy loins, and run as for the incorruptible crown, and press on to the mark for the price of the high calling, and not to sit down with weak beginnings, especially when the way is so sweet as well as the end; and the greatest holiness hath here also the greatest spiritual reward; and is attended with the greatest peace and joy (in the ordinary course of God's dispensations). And when all the knocks, and falls, and cries of Christians in this life, proceed from the childish weakness of their spirits and almost all the woes and calamities that attend us, our shames, our pains, our contentions and divisions, and the lamentable difficulty (that seems an impossibility) of healing them, or preventing more, all is from the corruptions that are the companions of our weakness. And could we but grow up to a manhood of understanding, humility, meekness, self-denial, and the love of God in Christ, and of one another, we might then have some hope of the cure of all. Alas! that men that are so sensible of the difference between a weak body and a strong, a sick and a sound, a child and a man, an idiot and a man of wisdom, though all of them have human nature, should yet be so little sensible of the great difference between a weak Christian and a strong, a sick and a sound (comparatively sound), a childish and a manly, wise, confirmed Christian! Did you well know the difference, you would shew us that you make a greater matter of it.
And now, Christian reader, I entreat thee soberly to consider of these twenty motives, whether they do not shew thee reason enough to move thee to look after higher things, and not to stay in an infancy of holiness. It is a blessed mercy I confess, that God hath given thee a true conversion, and the smallest measure of the heavenly life. I do not move thee to undervalue it. Nay, I am blaming thee for undervaluing it. For if thou didst not undervalue it, thou wouldst earnestly desire more. Thou hast cause to bless God to all eternity, and to all eternity thou shalt bless him, for making thee a new creature, even a living member of his Son. And I know that thy condition is unspeakably better than the greatest prince's or emperor's upon the earth, that is void of
holiness. I know that thou hast still ground of exceeding consolation. I am not taking thy comforts from thee. know God despiseth not the day of small things: and that Christ will not “quench the smoking flax, nor break the bruised reed," nor cast off the poorest infants of his family, or lose any one of the lambs of his flock. But yet for all this I must tell thee, that there is a great deal of difference in excellency, and strength, and comfort, and happiness, between one sanctified person and another. And if thou be so apt to be over-covetous of worldly riches, where God forbiddeth it, and limiteth thy desires, and where there is no such necessity or excellency to entice thee, why shouldst thou not cherish that holy covetousness which God expressly commandeth thee? "Covet earnestly the best gifts;" and which he hath promised a blessing to. "Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled;" Matt. v. 6. This is not spoken of them that have no righteousness, but of them that have it, and fain would have more. For 1. There is no such promise made to any that are short of saving faith. It is not any common grace that God makes this promise to, but a special grace. And 2. It is evident that no man can thus hunger and thirst after righteousness without righteousness; for even this hungering and thirsting is a degree of true sanctification. You would not take up with a cottage or smoky cabin if you could have a palace; nor with dry bread if you could lawfully have plenty; nor with a torn or threadbare coat, if you could have better; nor with a poor, laborious, toilsome life, in disgrace, and the reproach of men, if you could have honour, and ease, and abundance. And yet will you take up with so poor a stock of holiness, and so dark a mind, and small a measure of heavenly light, and so cold a love to God and glory, and so barren and common a kind of life? God hath commanded you, "That having food and raiment, you should therewith be content;" but he never commanded you that being once converted and made an infant in grace, you should therewith be content. So content you must be as not to murmur; but not so content as not to desire more.
You can see the difference, I doubt not, in others, between a little grace and more: O that you would but see this for yourselves! If you have a froward wife, or husband,