T H E
By J O H N.B U N Y A N,
A Servant of the Lord's Christ.
Written from Bedford Prison.
Having thus in brief shewed you something concerning the resurrection of the saints, and that they shall count with their Lord at his coming, both for the burning up what was not according to the truth, and rewarding them for all their good. It remains, that I now in few words,
FOURTH, Shew you something also of that with which they shall be rewarded.
THE REWARD OF THE JUST.
irst then, those that shall be found in the day of their resurrection, when they shall have all their good things brought upon the stage; they I say, that then shall be found the people most laborious for God while here; they shall at that day enjoy the greatest portion of God, or shall be possessed with most of the glory of the Godhead then. For that is the portion of saints in general (Rom 8:17; Lam 3:24). And why shall he that doth most for God in this world, enjoy most of him in that which is to come? But because by doing and acting, the heart, and every faculty of the soul is enlarged, and more capacitated, whereby more room is made for glory. Every vessel of glory shall at that day be full of it; but every one will not be capable to contain a like measure; and so if they should have it communicated to them, would not be able to stand under it; for there is "an eternal weight in the glory that saints shall then enjoy" (2 Cor 4:17), and every vessel must be at that day filled–that is, have its heavenly load of it.
All Christians have not the same enjoyment of God in this life, neither indeed were they able to bear it if they had it (1 Cor 3:2). But those Christians that are most laborious for God in this world, they have already most of him in their souls, and that not only because diligence in God's ways, is the means whereby God communicates himself; but also because thereby the senses are made more strong, and able, by reason of use, to understand God, and to discern both good and evil (Heb 5:13,14). To him that hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance (Matt 13:11,12). He that laid out his pound for his master, and gained ten therewith, he was made ruler over ten cities; but he that by his pound gained but five, he was made ruler over but five (Luke 19:16-19). Often, he that is best bred in his youth, he is best able to manage most, when he is a man, touching things of this life (Dan 1:3,4); but always he that is best bred, and that is most in the bosom of God, and that so acts for him here; he is the man that will be best able to enjoy most of God in the kingdom of heaven. It is observable that Paul saith, "Our - affliction - - worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory" (2 Cor 4:17). Our afflictions do it, not only because there is laid up a reward for the afflicted, according to the measure of affliction; but because afflictions, and so every service of God, doth make the heart more deep, more experimental, more knowing and profound; and so more able to hold, contain, and bear more (Psa 119:71). "Every man shall receive his own reward, according to his own labour" (1 Cor 3:8). And this is the reason of such sayings as these–Lay up for yourselves a good foundation against the time to come, that you may lay hold on eternal life (1 Tim 6:19), which eternal life, is not the matter of our justification from sin in the sight of God; for that is done freely by grace, through faith in Christ's blood; (but here the apostle speaks of giving of alms) but it is the same that in the other place he calls "the far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory." And hence it is that he in his stirring them up to be diligent in good works, doth tell them, that he doth not exhort them to it because he wanted, but because he would have "fruit that might abound to their account" (Phil 4:17); as he saith also in another place, "Beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord" (1 Cor 15:58). Therefore I say, the reward that the saints shall have at this day for all the good they have done, it is the enjoyment of God, according to their works: though they shall be freely justified and glorified without works.
Second, As the enjoyment of God at that day, will be to the saints, according to their works and doings–I speak not now of justification from sin–so will their praise and commendations at that day, be according to the same, and both of them their degrees of glory; for I say, as God by communicating of himself unto us at that day, will thereby glorify us, so also he will for the adding all things that may furnish with glory every way, cause to be proclaimed in the face of heaven, and in the presence of all the holy angels; everything that hath for God, his ways, and people, been done by us while here we have been. "Whatsoever ye have spoken in darkness shall be heard in the light; and that which ye have spoken in the ear in closets shall be proclaimed upon the housetops" (Luke 12:2,3). Again, He that "shall confess me," saith Christ, "before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven" (Matt 10:32).
Now as he of whom Christ is ashamed when he comes in his glory, and in the glory of the holy angels, will then lie under inconceivable disgrace, shame, dishonour, and contempt: so he whom Christ shall confess, own, commend, and praise at that day, must needs have very great dignity, honour, and renown, "for then shall every man have praise of God"–to wit, according to his works (1 Cor 4:5). Now will Christ proclaim before thee and all others what thou hast done, and what thou hast suffered, what thou hast owned, and what thou hast withstood for his name (Mark 8:38). This is he that forsook his goods, his relations, his country, and life for me: this is the man that overcame the flatteries and threats, allurements and enticings, of a whole world for me; behold him, he is an Israelite indeed (John 1:47), the top man in his generation, "none like him in all the earth" (Job 1:8). It is said, that when king Ahasuerus had understanding of how good service Mordecai the Jew had done to and for him, he commanded that the royal apparel and the crown, with the horse that the king did ride on, should be given to him, and that he should with that crown, apparel, and horse, be had through the city, in the presence of all his nobles, and that proclamation should be made before him, "Thus shall it be done unto the man whom the king delighteth to honour" (Esth 6:9-11).
Ahasuerus in this was a type to hold forth to the children of God, how kindly he will take all their labour and service of love, and how he will honour and dignify the same; as Christ saith, "Let your loins be girded about, and your lights burning; And ye yourselves like unto men that wait for their lord, when he will return from the wedding; that when he cometh and knocketh, they may open unto him immediately. Blessed are those servants, whom the lord when he cometh shall find watching: verily I say unto you, that he shall gird himself, and make them sit down to meat, and will come forth and serve them (Luke 12:35-57). The meaning is, that those souls that shall make it their business to honour the Lord Jesus Christ, in the day of their temptation; he will make it his business to honour and glorify them in the day of his glorification (John 12:26). "Verily, I say unto you, that he will make them sit down to meat, and shall come forth and serve them. If any man will serve me," saith he, "him will my Father honour." It hath been God's way in this world to proclaim the acts and doings of his saints in his word before all in this world, and he will do it in that which is to come (Mark 14:9; Rev 3:4; 14:1-6).
Third, Another thing that shall be yet added to the glory of the saints, in the kingdom of their Saviour, at his coming is, they shall every one of them then have his throne and place of degree on Christ's right hand, and on his left, in his glorious kingdom, according to the relation they stand in to Christ, as the members of his body; for as Christ will have a special eye on us, and a tender and affectionate heart, to recompense to the full every good thing that any man doth for his name in this world: so also he will have as great regard, that there be to every member of his body, the place, and state that is comely for every such member. When the mother of Zebedee's children petitioned our Saviour that he would grant to her, that her two sons might sit, the one on his right hand, and the other on his left, in his kingdom: though he did not grant to her the request for her children, yet he affirmed that there would be places of degrees and honour in heaven, saying, "To sit on my right hand, and on my left, is not mine to give, but it shall be given to them for whom it is prepared of my Father" (Matt 20:20-23). In the temple, there were chambers bigger and lesser, higher and lower, more inward and more outward: which chambers were types of the mansions that our Lord when he went away, told us he went to prepare for us. "In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you" (John 14:2,3). The foot here, shall not have the place prepared for the eye, nor yet the hand, that which is prepared for the ear, but every one shall have his own place in the body of Christ, and the glory also prepared for such a relation. Order, as it is comely in earth, so much more in the kingdom of the God of order, in heaven; where all things shall be done in their utmost perfections. Here shall Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Joshua, David, with the prophets, have every one his place, according to the degree of Old Testament saints. As God said to Daniel, "Go thou thy way till the end be: for thou shalt rest, and stand in thy lot at the end of the days" (Dan 12:13). And here also shall Peter, Paul, Timothy, and all other the church officers have their place, and heavenly state, according as God hath set them in the church in the New Testament. As Paul saith of the deacons, "They that have used the office of a deacon well, purchase to themselves a good degree, and great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus" (1 Tim 3:13). And so of all other saints, be they here of what rank, quality, or place in the church soever, they shall have every one his state, his heavenly state, according as he standeth in the body. As he saith, seeing those members that are most feeble are necessary, to them shall be given "more abundant honour" (1 Cor 12:22,23). Of this heavenly order in the kingdom of Christ, when his saints are risen from the dead, was Solomon a notable type in his family, and among his servants and officers, who kept such exactness in the famous order in which he had placed all about him, that it did amaze and confound beholders. For "when the queen of Sheba had seen the wisdom of Solomon, and the house that he had built, and the meat of his table, and the sitting of his servants, and the attendance of his ministers, and their apparel; his cup-bearers also, and their apparel; and his ascent by which he went up into the house of the Lord, there was no more spirit in her" (2 Chron 9:3,4). "Glorious things are spoken of thee, O city of God" (Psa 87:3).