« AnteriorContinuar »
Future Reward. Future misery the general opinion of man
REV. AND DEAR BROTHER, As was proposed in niy last, I will now invite your attention to the subject of a future reward for the right
A future reward is a just counterpart to a future punishment. If either of these be established, the other follows as a necessary consequence. You appear to be sensible of this, and consequently you deny a future reward for the righteous as much as a future punishment for the wicked.* We will now inquire whether the reward of virtue does in any case extend beyond death. We admit that men have a reward in this world. We acknowledge that some good deeds have a full reward here on earth. But the question is, whether every act of virtue receives its full reward in this state. We have already seen that the human mind is so constituted, that all ideas take place in succession, and consequently a period is requisite for every thought and reflection. The reward of virtue arises from the reflection of having done our duty, and promoted the enjoyment of our fellow creatures. Now as the reward of the righteous consists in that happiness, which arises from the reflection of having performed some virtuous action, and as these reflections cannot exist, till after the act is performed, it follows that the reward must be subsequent to the virtuous act. And as many are taken from this world in the performance of an act of virtue, it is manifest that they must be rewarded after death, if they are rewarded at all.
* Lectures, pp. 382, 383.
It cannot be pretended that virtue is always rewarded in the very act, for our Savior tells us that we must take up our cross, if we would be his disciples. This plainly shows that virtue is sometimes painful for the time being. Were not this the case, there could be no cross to take up. Since virtue is not always rewarded in the very act, it follows that the reward must succeed the act of virtue, and so in some cases at least, will extend beyond the grave. Thus it appears from the very nature of the case, that virtue will be rewarded in a future state. And what is so reasonable in itself, and what grows out of the very nature of things, is also taught in the oracles of God.
In the first place we will attempt to show that the Lord Jesus Christ was rewarded in a future state, for the arduous duties he peformed in this. St. Paul says of Christ, “He made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men; and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and becamo obedient uato death, even the death of the cross." Here the apostle gives us a brief account of the trials and sufferings of Christ, and of the meekness and patience with which he bore them. Now what was the reward which Christ received for this work of patience, this labor of love ? The apostle informs us in the very next words, "Wherefure,” says he, or "for this reason," as Wakefield renders the phrase, “God also hath highly exalted hiin, and given him a name which is above every name." Phil. ii. 7, 8, 9. Nothing can be plainer than that Christ was exalted as a reward for his benevolent deeds performed in this world. But where was Christ exalted ? in this world, or the next? It is evident from the language of the passage, that this reward was granted him after death, for it was in consequence of his death, that he was exalted. In fact, every person will admit, that Christ's exaltation was after his death. This passage, then, teaches us in the clearest manner, that Christ was rewarded in a future state, for virtuous actions performed in this. That Christ was exalted as a reward for his sufferings and death, is further taught by the same apostle. “But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honor.” Heb. ii. 9. The same doctrine is taught in these words :-"Looking unto Jesus, the author and tinisher of our faith ; who, for the joy that was set before him, endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Heb. xii. 2. This passage not only informs us that Christ acted with a view of a reward, but it also teaches us the nature of this reward. It consisted in "sitting down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
From these passages it is demonstrably evident that our divine Master "had respect to a recompense of reward," and that he was exalted in a future state, as a reward for his sufferings and death here on earth. Now if a future reward was necessary to engage the benevolent Jesus in his duty, is it not equally necessary to engage us in our duty ? Since Christ is our pattern, and was rewarded after death, it is just to conclude that a future reward awaits all his faithful followers. And to this he himself bears witness. To the Laodiceans he says, "To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.” Rev. iii. 21. This passage teaches two important truths. 1. That Christ was rewarded after death for his labors on earth. “I also overcame, and am set down in my Father's throne." This passage teaches us that at the time of John's vision, which was after the ascension of Christ, our Lord was then enjoying a reward for the labors he performed in this world. He was then sitting in his Father's throne.
This passage therefore, concurs with those before quoted, in teaching us that Christ was rewarded after death. 2. This passage also teaches us that men, who are faithful, will be rewarded in the same manner. “To him that overcometh, will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.” Here Jesus declares that his faithful followers shall be rewarded, as he has been shall sit in his throne after death, as he has set in his Father's throne after death. And as Jesus sat in his Father's throne as a reward for his labors in time, so will the faithful disciples of Christ sit in his throne as reward for their faithfulness in this state of being. Thus does the faithful and true Witness promise a future reward to all sincere Christians.
The blessed Jesus promised the same to his disciples during his personal ministry. On a certain occasion a man came to Christ, and asked him what he should do to inherit eternal life. Here the subject of a future reward was introduced. In reply to him, Jesus says, “If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.” This is saying, that keeping the commandments would entitle him to a reward beyond death. But while Jesus was treating upon this subject, Peter said unto him,“Behold we have forsaken all, and followed thee; what shall we have therefore ?" Here Peter puts the question directly to our Lord. He asks him, what reward the disciples were to expect. “And Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, that ye which have followed me in the regeneration, when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel." Matt. xix. 17, 27, 28. Here again sitting upon thrones is mentioned as a reward for their fidelity. We have already seen that sitting upon thrones would take place in a future world, and this sense is confirmed by the passage now under consideration.
Besides, all the principal advocates for Universal Salvation, allege this passage in proof of the future happiness of Judas. And you, Sir, revert to this passage, to show that Judas will be brought in.* In this manner you acknowledge that the reward mentioned in this passage, will not be realized on this side the grave.
In the parallel passage, Mark x. 29, 30, Jesus says to his disciples, who declared that they had left all and followed him, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, there is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the gospel's, but he shall receive an hundred-fold now in this time, (that is, in this life,) houses and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come, everlasting life.” See also Luke xviii. 29, 30. It is evident from this text, that virtue is not only rewarded in this life, but in the future also. "In the world to come, they shall receive everlasting life," as a reward for having forsaken all, and followed Christ. There can be no doubt, but that the (alwv) world to come, is here used to express a state beyond death, because it is placed in opposition to a state in which we may possess houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers and lands. Thus does our Savior expressly declare that men shall be rewarded in the life to come.
Matt. vi. 19, 20, is also in point. "Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where nei. ther moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal." See also Luke xii. 33. Here Jesus commands his followers to lay up treasures in heaven. Heaven is here used to express a state be
* Lectures, p. 319.