1 Corinthians 15:41
The apostle appears to be referring to the differences between the organisms - the spiritual bodies - of the inhabitants of heaven and the bodies of human beings on earth. But in a wider sense we may understand his statement that "the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another." The glory of things belonging to a fallen world is one; the glory belonging to things of an unfallen world is another. The things of man fallen contrasted with the things of the God Man unfallen. The natural as opposed to the spiritual.


1. Slight. Showy, but delusive. Money, human learning, earthly power, worldly pleasures, - these are attractive, but the glory of the best of them is small. Innumerable testimonies have been borne to this fact, difficult for those to credit who are captivated by the gaudiness which they mistake for glory.

2. Marred. When we speak of earthly things we think of them in their highest perfection; our conception is apt to be ideal. Experimentally we find that the natural glory is greatly marred.

3. Uncertain. The flame flickers and darkness is threatened. Much depends upon our health, surroundings, position, as to whether things terrestrial have glory in relation to ourselves. Changes are often sudden and complete, and that which erewhile we pronounced glorious becomes simply detestable. That which pleases us today may disgust us tomorrow. Alas! with things terrestrial there is no improvement upon intimate acquaintance.

4. Brief. At best the glory is short lived. The sun soon goes down. When most needed the glory often disappears.

5. Unsatisying. Something more glorious is ever craved for. The more glorious may be expected from that which is of the earth, and when not found in it, the disappointment is often bitter. Earthly things have a firework glory.


1. Great. Solid and substantial, not flash),. This is natural, for they are of God. In their glory there is more of substance than of shadow.

2. Not fluctuating. They are fixed stars, not meteors. There is in them certainty, They are stable.

3. Increasing. In our experience. We discover fresh glory ever. In things terrestrial we soon come to the end of the tether; in things celestial we never do. We ever find more to excite our wonder and to cause us delight.

4. Eternal. The glory abides undimmed, and shall blaze forth forever. We are immortal, and as long as we endure shall the glory of those celestial truths which Christ reveals to us.

5. Satisfying. The cry of the soul is responded to. There is no disappointment. The feeling of unsupplied want vanishes. At last the soul is at rest.

III. THINGS CELESTIAL MAY BE SECURED IN THE LIFE TERRESTRIAL. Christ brings them to us here. The "strait gate" admits us to them. The Holy Spirit reveals them. In Christian worship and work we begin to enjoy them.

IV. THE RELATIVE GLORY SHOULD INFLUENCE OUR CHOICE. When we may have the better, it is folly to choose the worse. We may have both if we will not be absorbed unduly by the inferior. But amidst the glory of the terrestrial we have to choose the glory of the celestial, and to place it first. This is the better part. Moses is a splendid example of wise choice, and Abraham, and Paul, who counted all terrestrial things but loss that he might secure the celestial. - H.

There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon.
I. WHAT THIS MEANS. That as the Lord has displayed His mercy and His love to holiness, by rewarding a short and imperfect obedience by an eternal glory, so it is accordant with these perfections to confer higher degrees of this glory on those whose obedience has been more constant, and piety more ardent. While we maintain this —

1. We allow that all will nevertheless be perfectly happy, according to their faculties and power of enjoyment.

2. We also maintain that in many things their felicity will be common. It will be common in —

(1)Its object, the blessed God and adorable Redeemer.

(2)In its subject, all the powers of the glorified body and soul.

(3)In its duration, which will be eternal.

(4)In its security, since all the blest are sustained by the Divine promise and faithfulness.

(5)In the full satisfaction of soul which all will possess.


1. By Scripture.(1) By all those passages which lay down, in general terms, the great role of God's proceedings with the children of men (2 Corinthians 5:10; Romans 2:6; 2 Corinthians 9:6; Galatians 6:7-9).(2) From the account which Paul gives of the different rewards which will be given to the ministers of the gospel (1 Corinthians 3:12-15). In this representation there are persons who obtain salvation, and yet have not the recompense which the wiser administrators of the Word receive. And therefore we conclude that there will be the same difference between hearers, according to the manner they have profited.(3) From Daniel 12:3. As there is a difference between the general brilliancy of the firmament and the lustre of the stars, so there shall be a difference between those ordinary Christians who obtain felicity and those zealous persons who have been the instruments of the conversion of many sinners.(4) From the parable of the pounds (Luke 19.).(5) From those passages where we find the patriarchs, the prophets, and the apostles represented as occupying a more conspicuous situation in glory than ordinary believers (Matthew 8:11; Matthew 19:28; Luke 22:30).

2. From analogy. Look at —(1) Nature. In what an infinite variety of methods do you see the Creator displaying His perfections!(2) The operations of grace. "There are diversities of gifts, though but one Spirit."(3) Christians. How various their attainments, knowledge, holiness, and joy, though all beloved by God!(4) The heavenly host. Though all holy and happy, there are archangels, and angels, thrones, dominions, principalities, and powers.

3. From the transactions of the judgment-day, and the nature of the future felicity (Matthew 25.).


1. Perhaps the most plausible has been drawn from the parable of the labourers in Matthew 20:1-15. But how can the reward signify eternal life, since it is given to the murmurers and envious (ver. 14). The design of the parable is to repress the pride of the Jews, and show the propriety of the vocation of the Gentiles. It has no reference whatever to future reward.

2. "Are not all believers, through the merits of Christ, alike justified and adopted, and must they not therefore be alike glorified?" But do the blessings of God spring less from grace because He has established a wise order in the distribution of them? There are different degrees of holiness and comfort enjoyed by Christians upon earth; then, there may be different degrees of glory in the world to come. The objection is precisely as strong against a difference in sanctification as against a difference in glorification.

3. "As all the blessed are perfectly holy, they must all be perfectly and alike happy." The conclusion by no means follows. Are the angels alike elevated because they are all perfectly holy? We know that there are distinctions among them. If two diamonds are of the same water and perfection does it follow that there may not be a difference in their weight and value?

4. "They all derive their felicity from the same source, the beatific vision of God, and therefore their felicity most be equal." But may we not view the same sun, and receive its rays differently? When vessels of capacity cast into the same ocean are filled by the same mass of waters, must the quantity they receive be alike?

5. "The titles given to the redeemed are the same; they are all called kings, the sons of God, the spouse, the members of Christ." And are not these names given to believers on earth, and, notwithstanding, do we not see a great diversity among them? Are all kings equal in power? Have all sons the same inheritance? Have all members of the body equal honour?

(H. Kollock, D.D.)

— Such a variety is


1. By all analogy. No two objects are exactly alike. This variety reveals the illimitable inventiveness of the Divine mind, and gives to the universe its freshness and charm.

2. It meets the instinctive love for the new in human souls. All souls loathe monotony. A dead uniformity would crush out its life.

3. It agrees with the varieties found amongst men here. No two minds are alike. Is it conceivable that in the higher world all souls will run into a common mould?

4. It accords with the general teaching of the Scriptures. Paul speaks of the temple of the good as composed of gold, silver, and precious stones. Christ refers to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob as sustaining the most honourable positions at the heavenly feast.

II. ESSENTIAL TO SOCIAL BLESSEDNESS. Suppose a society, all of whose members shall be exactly alike in temperament, experience, attainments, modes of thought, and forms of expression. Why, such a state of things would be incompatible, not only with social enjoyment, but with social life. The monotony would become intolerable. The utmost variety in speculative thought is compatible with unity of heart; and the larger variety in spiritual temperament and conception in any circle — where all hearts are one — the higher the social enjoyment. Most unwise, most impious have been the attempts to force on all men the same system of thought and form of worship.

III. CONSISTENT WITH THE HIGHEST UNITY. Whatever variety in the stars —

1. They have one centre. Some larger, some smaller, some dimmer, some brighter, some moving more quickly, and some more slowly, yet all move round the same central orb: so with sainted souls. Whatever their diversities, they revolve round one great centre — God.

2. They are controlled by one law. Attraction moves all, regulates all, keeps each in its place and speed. One law, the law of love, rules all sainted souls above, however illimitable their varieties,

3. They fulfil one mission. They all catch the light from the central orb, and flash their borrowed radiance abroad through all their spheres. So with souls above. They are all the recipients and reflectors of Divine light and love.

(D. Thomas, D.D.)

Note —


1. St. Paul bases the argument for immortality upon the richness and splendour of this mortal life. Often have men made heaven a compensation for the woes of earth; St. Paul makes it not a compensation, but a development. How much nobler is this! For he who finds the manifold glories of this mortal life to be the symbols of immortality, will always be led to live this life as intensely and profoundly as he can, in order that the higher life may become real and attractive to him.

2. Identity and variety express the tone and feeling which life demands. Identity is sound, solid, and substantial; variety is vital, interesting, and novel. To quicken identity with variety, to steady variety with identity, is to make a man always keep himself and yet always feel the power of new conditions around him. Think of the best men you have known, and you will find in them these qualities in their highest union.

3. See how largely this union pervades the universe, and how, wherever it appears, it gives richness and depth.(1) Take nature. Lark and lily, sunbeam and cloud, river and mountain, ocean and land; it takes but the most elementary knowledge to feel the oneness of them all; still all our senses are tingling with the tidings of their differences that they are always sending to us.(2) Take the history of man. This cannot be rightly understood unless illumined by this double truth. Ages come and go, each stamped with its own character. There are ages of war and ages of peace, centuries of thought and centuries of action, etc., etc. Each has its own glory. In the eyes of the inhabitants of each it seems as if all other times were inglorious. We rejoice in the nineteenth century; but greater is the sum of all centuries, this ever changing life of man. The ages of the cloisters and castles, of dreams and of mysteries, are all needed; each of them, while it is different, may be proud of all the rest.(3) So with nations. England, France, America — each is a living being with a character unlike all the others, and yet bearing a true identity with them because both it and they are made up of men, and have shaped all their ways and institutions out of the needs of the same old manhood, living on the same old earth. Nations, like children, match themselves with each other, and are as apt to envy or contemn others as they are great or small; but Palestine, Greece, Rome, America, or England, who can decide which is greater? "There is one glory of the sun," etc.; and, altogether, they fill the radiant sky.(4) Take the occupations of mankind. Three men are close together in the street; one of them makes shoes, another writes books, another is the mayor. It is foolish and false to say that there is no rank or precedence here. One of them demands higher powers and education than the others. It is perfectly right that the shoemaker, if he has power to rise, should leave his bench and write a book, or become mayor. But there are other truths besides this.(a) That each of these arts has its own absolute standard, its own good or bad ways of doing its own work.(b) That each art, so far as it lives up to its own standard, becomes a true utterance of the universal human nature, which gets its value from the fact that it is at once identical with and different from all other utterances. These truths make the richness and harmony of all active life.(5) And so with men. We have the greatest varieties of man, the thoughtful or the active, the Conservative or the Radical, etc.; but below all men are men, and every man is man. If variety fails, mankind is a great dreary, undistinguishable monotony; if identity fails, mankind is a great tumult of confused and inharmonious particles. How unchristian either of these views is the Incarnation teaches. Christ is at once the inspiration of the individual and the assertion of the identity of man. He is the revealer of the Fatherhood of God, and thus builds mankind into a family where each is distinct and yet all are one.


1. It will produce self-respect. Here are you, seemingly insignificant, yet —(1) You are a different creature from any that the world has ever seen.(2) You are a branch of the tree of life from which sprang Isaiah and St. John. God forbid if you are really a sun and not a star, that any compulsion of your fellow-men should keep you in the star's place, and shut you out of the sun's. But you do know yourself; you are a star, and not a sun; your place is subordinate, secondary. What then? If you do your work with perfect faithfulness, you are making just as genuine a contribution to the substance of the universal good as is the most brilliant worker. It is the fable of the mountain and the squirrel: "If I cannot carry a forest on my back, neither can you crack a nut." "There is one glory of the sun," etc.

2. Respect for others is bound up in such self-respect as this. The philanthropist, all eager to set right the world, is apt to become furious at the sight of the scholar; and the scholar, in his turn, is ready to despise the bustling restlessness of the man who is for ever organising committees, petitioning legislators, and screwing up the loosened machinery of charity. "There is one glory of the sun," etc. Surely it must be possible for men to be devoted to their own work and yet thankful for the work which other men are doing, which they can neither do nor understand. "All things are yours, and you are Christ's, and Christ is God's."

3. This truth may also apply to the different degrees and conditions in which our own lives are passing. You and I are this to-day; to-morrow or the next year we may be something quite different. To-day we may be insignificant, to-morrow or the next year we may be prominent, or vice versa. How shall we look upon this uncertainty of human life? Let us look upon each as a distinct thing, with its own values and meaning, and yet feel how our human life may still be the same, ever spreading itself out to larger things. This harmonises everything. Conclusion: To Paul this truth was a proof of immortality. He would have men live upon earth, yet conscious of their capacity for heaven. Is not that what we want — the life of earth now, the life of heaven by and by, each clear with its own glory, and our humanity capable of them both? We must not lose either of them in the other. We must not be so full of hope of the future that we cannot do our daily work here upon the road. We must not be so lost in dull work on the earth that we shall not be perpetually inspired by the hope of heaven.

(Bp. Phillips Brooks.)

A dewdrop, so says the Oriental fable, hung on a rose leaf. It was a summer morning; and delighted with itself and the calm loveliness around, it could have hung there for ever. But, alas! it soon fell to the ground. What a change! Earth for the bright sky, and darkness for the ten thousand hues of nature's loveliness! But through its dark prison-house in the earth it gradually passed till it reached a river, by which it was conveyed to the ocean; and there, deposited in one of its rocky cavities, it became a brilliant and costly gem. In due course the hand of man reached it; and from its long rest in isolation and darkness, it was taken, polished, and set in gold — finally terminating its career by occupying the place of honour in the very diadem of majesty itself! Such is the fable which illustrates the principle of development affirmed here. "It doth not yet appear what we shall be," etc. Our connection with this world is very insecure, and in a moment that connection may be dissolved. We hang like the dew-drop on the odorous petals of the rose; and some of us, perchance, would be willing to hang there for ever. But a touch suffices to loosen the attachment, and downwards we are carried to the darkness of the earth. Are we then extinguished? Far from it; we have only passed from one domain of creative instrumentality to another. The river of God will bear us to the ocean at length. There our resting-place shall be provided; but from the secret recesses of the spirit-world we shall emerge again, like a gem of purest water and costliest price, to adorn the diadem of the King of kings. The apostle asserts that this principle of development universally prevails throughout nature, and that the "glory" of mundane arrangements is mainly dependent upon it. Childhood has its glory; so has youth; so has mature manhood; so even has old age; and when man reappears at the resurrection, it will be to supply another illustration. As sun, moon, and stars all differ from one another in glory, so will the risen and immortal man be distinguished from man fallen and immortal.

I. ALL THE REDEEMED ARE ON THEIR JOURNEY TOWARDS MENTAL AND CORPOREAL PERFECTION; AND ALL THE PHENOMENA OF THE PRESENT LIFE HAVE A BEARING ON THAT DESTINY. There are two preliminary stages of human existence — the first beginning at birth and ending at death, the second commencing with death and terminating at the resurrection. Everything in the universe proceeds by steps. The acorn does not bound in an instant to the dimensions of the full-grown oak. Why should not man, therefore, the most wonderful of all God's works, be Divinely carried through many preliminaries? Before birth man passes through various stages of development, and could we but realise our arrival at physical perfection, and take, in connection with that, the certainty that every stage and event going before contributes towards it, we world be much more patient under trials. The afflictions of the present life, being temporary, will soon pass away; but the obedient submission to the will of God, the compassion for the afflicted, and the other virtues which they have fostered and brought to maturity, are permanent improvements in our character, and may be needed even in eternity. So in the intermediate state influences are at work upon both which bear with prodigious force on our final perfection. What we shall be in eternity is as much the result of causes operating there, as the full-grown man is the product of the causes which carry the infant from childhood to maturity. Such reflections ought to mitigate the fear of death, and comfort all mourning friends.


1. The Shorter Catechism, in answer to the question, "What benefits do believers receive from Christ at death?" says, "The souls of believers are at their death made perfect in holiness, and do immediately pass into glory; and their bodies, being still united to Christ, do rest in their graves till the resurrection." The body, although left behind to decay, is not forgotten; it is still "united to Christ." The living Christ in heaven regards it, even then, as part of His spiritual body .... not dead, but only sleeping," and by that repose preparing for the awakening of the resurrection day. And as, when children or other loved ones go to rest, care is taken to provide a place of security for them, and, if need be, a guard set; over their slumbers, so, we may be sure, there is a special superintendency of the dead, with a view to prepare for what is to come. The crooked may be made straight, the defective supplied, the hideous made beautiful. And who is to affirm that there may not be influences in nature quite competent to produce this result? The acorn has a wonderful power of extracting such substances from the earth as are fitted to constitute an oak; and so is it with every other seed. Nay, it is within the competency of science and skill greatly to modify and improve the various products of the vegetable creation. There are chemical affinities also whose operation can exhibit the most extraordinary changes. What is so cheap and worthless as a piece of charcoal; what so precious as a diamond? — and yet in constitution they are absolutely identical. The grave may thus become the alembic in which the clay of man's fallen humanity is transmuted into the gold of the kingdom of heaven.

2. Then again the believer is a temple of the Holy Ghost. The effect of this is to consecrate the body, or to make it holy. Why, then, should we imagine that the Holy Spirit should maintain His union with the soul, and abandon altogether the body? The separated spirit cannot but think much and often of its ancient and close companion, and God the Spirit cannot possibly be divorced from any member or fragment of that temple wherein He had a loved abode.

(J. Cochrane, A.M.)

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