Monday, May 31

"The Glorious Reward of Happiness in Heaven" by Jonathan Edwards

A popular idea of heaven is one where we all are equally rewarded. Our culture has subscribed to a sort of socialistic mentality that (they hope?!) will roll over into heaven. But this is not what the Bible teaches. And if we do not go by what Scripture teaches, we are bound to follow a man. Please don't use that hackneyed excuse regarding interpretation. Most of the problems people have with the Bible have less to do with interpretive issues than with rebellious ones. They simply don't want what the Bible teaches. Period!

But, on a much more positive note, the question arises as to the relative happiness of those in heaven, both of the highly and the less rewarded. How will they "get along" without envy or condescension? But, it's HEAVEN, you say. Of course it'll be great. That's right. But for more, we turn to Jonathan Edwards who in this excerpt from a sermon from Romans 2:10 goes further. Paul wrote:  " . . . but glory and honor and peace for everyone who does good, the Jew first and also the Greek."

Jonathan Edwards writes:
And the apostle Paul tells us that, as one star differs from another star in glory, so also it shall be in the resurrection of the dead. 1Co. 15:41. Christ tells us that he who gives a cup of cold water unto a disciple in the name of a disciple, shall in no wise lose his reward. But this could not be true, if a person should have no greater reward for doing many good works than if he did but few. It will be no damp [discouragement] to the happiness of those who have lower degrees of happiness and glory, that there are others advanced in glory above them: for all shall be perfectly happy, every one shall be perfectly satisfied. Every vessel that is cast into this ocean of happiness is full, though there are some vessels far larger than others; and there shall be no such thing as envy in heaven but perfect love shall reign through the whole society. Those who are not so high in glory as others, will not envy those that are higher, but they will have so great, and strong, and pure love to them, that they will rejoice in their superior happiness; their love to them will be such that they will rejoice that they are happier than themselves; so that instead of having a damp to their own happiness, it will add to it. They will see it to be fit that they that have been most eminent in works of righteousness should be most highly exalted in glory; and they will rejoice in having that done, that is fittest to be done. There will be a perfect harmony in that society; those that are most happy will also be most holy, and all will be both perfectly holy and perfectly happy. But yet there will be different degrees of both holiness and happiness according to the measure of each one’s capacity, and therefore those that are lowest in glory will have the greatest love to those that are highest in happiness, because they will see most of the image of God in them; and having the greatest love to them, they will rejoice to see them the most happy and the highest in glory.  And so, on the other hand, those that are highest in glory, as they will be the most lovely, so they will be fullest of love: as they will excel in happiness, they will proportionally excel in divine benevolence and love to others, and will have more love to God and to the saints than those that are lower in holiness and happiness. And besides, those that will excel in glory will also excel in humility. Here in this world, those that are above others are the objects of envy, because that others conceive of them as being lifted up with it; but in heaven it will not be so, but those saints in heaven who excel in happiness will also in holiness, and consequently in humility. The saints in heaven are more humble than the saints on earth, and still the higher we go among them the greater humility there is; the highest orders of saints, who know most of God, see most of the distinction between God and them, and consequently are comparatively least in their own eyes, and so are most humble. The exaltation of some in heaven above the rest will be so far from diminishing the perfect happiness and joy of the rest who are inferior, that they will be the happier for it; such will be the union in their society that they will be partakers of each other’s happiness. Then will be fulfilled in its perfection that which is declared in 1Co. 12:22.  “If one of the members be honoured all the members rejoice with it.” [emphases mine]


Daniel said...

Pastor, what's the name of this sermon?

David R. Nelson said...

Hi Dan: The sermon title is "The Portion of the Righteous" which he preached in 1740. It is found in Vol. 2 of the Hickman 2 volume set under the heading, "Seventeen Occasional Sermons."

Daniel said...

Thanks Pastor- and thanks again for your help today, I think we got a lot figured out.