If you then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sits on the right hand of God.…
I. Two SUPPOSITIONS.
1. Christ's resurrection. This needs no "if." It is a certainty. Three hundred years the world opposed it, and ever since has supposed it. But it is not supposed by itself, and ours inferred, but ores supposed likewise. And as they are so closely linked that one supposition serveth for them, so they are woven together that one preposition (with) holdeth them.
2. Our resurrection.
(1) If ye. Why only to a certain ye . Concerns it not all? As Christ died so is He risen for all, and all shall rise. Yes, but not all to the "right hand," a good many to the left. The resurrection reaches to all; this only to such as "seek," and "set their minds."(2) If ye "be risen." Is the tense right? For when we hear of the resurrection we are carried to the last day. He rose, we say, we shall rise. But here the resurrection is already. Fall we in, then, with those who say that the resurrection is past (2 Timothy 2:18)? No; but we believe that as there is one to come of the body, so there is one which we are to pass here, of the mind's. There are the first and second resurrections (Revelation 20:6); and all the good or evil of the second depends on the passing or not passing the first. "Christ is risen" is not enough, nay is nothing at all, if He be risen without us.
3. "If." Is it so? If He is risen cry to Him to draw thee, as He said He would (John 12:32); the soul first as being from above, so the more easily drawn to things above, and then with itself the soul to elevate the flesh.
II. THE DOUBLE INFERENCE — "Seek"; "Set your minds."
1. The two acts jointly; for disjoined they my not be. One is little worth without the other.
(1) There ve that "seek," and be very busy in it, and yet savour (Matthew 16:23, same word) not the things of God. Some possessed with false principles fall a seeking; zealous, but without the true knowledge to fix their minds aright (Proverbs 19:2). "the mind misled will set the affections awry." Look but to the close of chapter
2. Then they seek so as they will not taste, handle, or touch. Some seek as to worship angels, and spare not their own bodies, and yet with all their seeking not "risen with Christ."(2) On the other side there be that "savour Christ, but seek themselves" (Philippians 2:21). They have knowledge competent, but no endeavour; they sit still and seek not.
(3) So that both may be kept together, "seek" and "set your minds" both. As in the body a rheumatic head spoils the stomach, and a distempered stomach the head, so here. The mind mistaking misleads the affections, and a wrong-set affection puts the mind out of frame.
2. The acts severally.
(1) Seek; he shall not stumble or hit upon it unawares. If the Saviour knew the way well, it is hard to hit (Matthew 7:14). Pains and diligence are requisite. It were great folly when we see daily things without travail wilt not be come by, to think that things above will drop into our lap. Pilate asked, "What is truth?" and went his way before he had the answer. He never deserved to find what truth was.
(2) But we shall never seek as we should unless we "set our minds." For a man will never kindly seek that he hath no mind to. That we may seek things above we must prize them as a silver mine (Proverbs 3:14), as a treasure hid in a field (Matthew 13:44), and sell all to compass them. Then, he that seeks should have as well eyes to discern, as feet to go about it, i.e., have knowledge. To seek we know not what is but to err, and never find that we seek for. Four things are in this.
(1) To set the mind, not the fancy, and seek as many do with no other ground but their own conceits. Yet seek they will, and have all the world follow them, and have nothing to follow after but their own folly. So as being very idiots they take themselves for the only men who ever had wisdom to know what to seek or how.
(2) But it is not an act of the understanding alone. It is to set our mind not only to know, but to mind it; not only to distinguish tastes, but in and with the taste to feel such delight as will lead us to seek it again more earnestly.
(3) So to savour it that to seek it is our wisdom (Deuteronomy 4:6). To think when ye are about the things above that you are about the wisest action of your lives.
(4) Not the contemplative wisdom only, but the active. To show that not only our grounds for judgment, but our rules for action, are to be set thence. What will He who sitteth at the right hand of God say or think of what I am about? May I offer it to Him? Will He help me forward with it, and reward me for it?
3. The order. "Seek" first —
(1) To teach us that it is the first thing we are to have a care of (Matthew 6:33).
(2) Because there is more need of diligence in this business than aught else. Always we have more ado to quicken the affection than to inform the judgment.
III. THE TWO REFERENCES or objects of hope. Rest — "sitteth"; glory — "at the right hand of God."
1. The things we are to seek, etc., are "above."(1) To do this we shall be easily entreated. We yield, presently, to seek to be above others in favour, honour, place, and power. All would be above, "bramble" (Judges 9:15) and all, and nothing is too high for us, not even the right hand (Matthew 20:21).
(2) The apostle saw clearly that we should err here, hence he tells us that "above" is not on earth, but in heaven. So the fault he finds is that our "above" is too low.
(a) The very frame of body has an upward tendency, and bids us look thither. And that way should our soul make. It came from thence, and thither it should draw again, and we do but crook our souls against their nature when we set them to seek nothing but here below.
(b) And if nature would have us no moles, grace would have us mount up as eagles — "Where the body is" (Luke 17:37). For contrary to the philosopher's sentence, "things above concern us not;" they chiefly concern us.
2. "Above" is Christ, and with Him the things we of all others seek for.
(1) Rest (Psalm 4:6). And it is not the body's concern so much as the soul's. The soul is from above, and never finds rest but in her own place (Psalm 116:17; Hebrews 3:11, 18-19). But we seek glory more, and for it we are content to deprive ourselves of rest, which otherwise we love well enough. For no rest will give us full content but at the right hand. Where are they to be found? Not here, and therefore it is folly to seek them here. In this troublesome tumultuous place there is no rest (Micah 2:10) nor glory, for in our gardens of delight there are worms, and spiders in kings' palaces. And whatever we fancy we have of either it is at the expense of the other. Rest is a thing inglorious, and glory a thing restless.
3. But both are united above, where we "sit at the right hand of God" with Christ; and then we have them not so that our rest may be sometimes broken, and our glory sometimes tarnished, but both perfectly and for ever.
Parallel VersesKJV: If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God.