1 Corinthians 15:41-42
There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars…
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.
II. THIS IS PROVED —
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.).
III. THE OBJECTIONS THAT HAVE BEEN MADE AGAINST IT.
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.)
Parallel VersesKJV: 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.