« AnteriorContinuar »
nothing. Again, the Scripture mentions different Seats of Glory, Joh. 14. 2. In my Father's boufe are many Manfions, fays our Saviour, that is, Manfions of diftinct Ranks and Orders: For 'twould have been but a fmall piece of News for our Saviour to have told his Difciples, that in Heaven there were a great many Manfions in number. Nor would this be fo fuitable to the Introduction of his Difcourfe, Let not your Hearts be troubled.
AGAIN we read of particular Rewards belonging to Men of particular Characters, as of a Prophet's Reward, and a Righteous Man's Reward. He that receives a Prophet in the name of a Prophet, fball receive a Prophet's Reward, fays our Saviour, Mat. 10.41. Why a Prophet's Reward, if there be not fome fpecial Reward affigned to à Prophet? And again, tis plainly intimated that every Degree, and every Act of Vertue fhall have its proper Recompence, where 'tis faid, Mat. 10. 42. Whosoever shall give to drink unto one of thefe little ones a Cup of cold Water only in the Name of a Difciple, fhall in no wife lofe his Reward. To which Purpose there is also a very exprefs place in the Proverbs, Prov. 19. 17. He that hath pity on the poor, lendeth unto the Lord; and look what be Layeth out it shall be paid him again. Where there is a Reward promised not only to Charity in general, but to every Degree of it. And if every Degree of Vertue fhall be particularly rewarded, it evidently follows that the greater our Vertues are, the more abundant fhall be our Reward,
otherwise fome Degrees of Vertue would go unrewarded, contrary to the Suppofition.
To this it may be added, that a greater Degree of Bleffedness is every where attributed to Patriarchs, Prophets and Apoftles, &c. when their Glorification is expreffed by their Sitting down in the Kingdom of God, and that of other Saints, by their fitting down with them in allufion to the Eaftern manner of Feafting. This Privilege of a more eminent Seat is particularly affigned to Abraham, Ifaac, and Jacob by our Saviour, when he tells us, Mat. 8. 11. that many ball come from the East and the Weft, and shall fit down with Abraham, Ifaac and Jacob in the Kingdom of Heaven. And fo again to the Apoftles, Mat. 19. 28. Verily Ifay unto you, that ye which have followed me in the Regeneration, when the Son of Man Shall fit in the Throne of his Glory, ye also shall fit upon Twelve Thrones. It cannot be denied but that this is meant of the Apoftles only, and not of his Difciples at large,because of the Twelve Thrones. And why should Twelve of them only be fpecified, if they were not to be 1 hrones of an higher Order? Or what Extraordinary would our Saviour have promised to his Difciples?. And this is further confirmed by St. Jonn, who in the Description of the Heavenly Jerufalem, makes the Twelve Apostles the Foundations of the City. And the Wall of the City (fays he) had twelve Foundations, and in them the Names of the twelve Apoftles of the Lamb, Rev. 21. 14. A Place exactly parallel to that of the Twelve Thrones.
To dispatch all in a Word, the Condition of Saints in Glory is expreffed in Scripture by their being made like unto the Angels, Mat. 22. 30. and 'tis of it felf reasonable to think that the fame general Order and Proportion fhall be observed in both these Sons of God, Angels and Men. But now 'tis most certain that the Angels have their different Orders and Hierarchies, being diftinguifh'd into Thrones and Dominions, Principalities and Powers, and into Angels and ArchAngels, and that some of them fit nearer to the 'Throne of God than others. Whereupon the Talmudists call Michael the Arch-Angel, The Prince of Faces, or the Prince of the Prefence, be-. ing (as they fay) fo near to the King of Heaven, as to be admitted to fit down by him, and regifter the good Actions of the Ifraelites. And fays the Angel Gabriel of himself, I am Gabriel that stand in the prefence of God, Luk. 1.19. He diftinguishes himself as much by his Station as by his Name. And the Vifion of Ifaiah reprefents one of the Angelic Orders covering their Faces with their Wings, which fuppofes them to be nearer than Ordinary to the Prefence of God, fo as not to be able to abide the Glory of it, without the help of a Veil.
SINCE therefore there is fuch a Variety in the Angelical Stations, and our future Condition is generally reprefented by theirs, this alone were enough to put us upon thinking that our Glorification must admit of the like gradual Diverfity. And 'tis no more than what natural M 3 Order
Order and Decency feems to require, that the Members of Chrift's Myftical Body fhould retain the fame Diversity in the other World that St. Paul afcribes to them in this, that there fhould ftill be an Eye and an Hand, an Head and a Foot, more Honourable and lefs Honourable Parts, I Cor. 12. Whereof the Natural Heaven exhibits a very convenient Emblem, in which one Star differs from another Star in Glory. And after all, tho' there were no plain Proof to be had for this, yet there is fuch an obvious Congruity in the thing as would convince where it could not filence. And I believe there is no Man, though never fo forward to raise Objections against what has been contended for, and to equalize the Glories of Heaven (for the other World has its Levellers as well as this) that could yet obtain leave of his own Modesty to expect as bright a Crown as the Virgin Mary, or St. Paul.
HAVING thus far afferted the different Degrees of Glory, which I have the longer infifted upon, because 'tis a very practical as well as notional Theory, being of great confequence to the encouragement of Heroick Goodness, I come now to confider the fecond thing propofed, That one of the Highest Degrees of Glory fhall be the Reward of those who fuffer Perfecution for the fake of Righteousness, that is, of Martyrs. And here for the Eviction of this, having already fhewn that there are Degrees of Glory in proportion to the Degrees of Vertue, I think 'twill Juffice to fhew that Martyrdom is one of the
highest Degrees of Vertue. For the Argument reduced to Form will ftand thus:
AN higher Degree of Vertue fhall have an higher Degree of Glory.
BuT Martyrdom is an higher Degree of
THEREFORE Martyrdom shall have an higher Degree of Glory.
THE firft Propofition is what we have been proving hitherto. To infer the Conclufion therefore there needs only a Proof of the fecond. Here therefore my Bufinefs fhall be to give a fhort Representation of the Excellency of Martyrdom. THE Honour of Martyrdom was fo great in the Primitive Church, that even the Commonnefs of it, which depretiates every thing else, could not diminish from its Veneration. It was then thought of fo great Excellence, as to supply the room of Baptifm, and the new Convert, whofe early and fudden Execution prevented his folemn Admiffion into the Chriftian Church, was yet efteem'd a very good Member of Chrift's Mystical Body, and number'd with his best Saints in Glory everlafting. The fame Honour to Martyrs made them chufe their Tombs for the Places of their Devotion; and God himself was pleafed to fignalize his fpeical regard to thefe his Saints, and to fhew how precious their Death was in his Sight, by making the Places of their Reft the Stage of his
St. Jerom a gainst Vigilan
tius,as I think, Chap. 4.