If you then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sits on the right hand of God.…
I. THE SUBLIME OBJECTS TO WHICH THE EXHORTATION RELATES. The future blessedness of believers in heaven. Notice —
1. The perfection of character they shall exhibit. There they shall partake of God's nature, and be holy as He is holy. It is impossible for sin and sinners to enter there. There is no imperfection in things above. The most eminent saints have faults and blemishes, but there they shall be free from spot or wrinkle.
2. The exercises in which they shall be engaged. Ease is sometimes regarded as necessary to enjoyment. But analogy and revelation are against the sentiment. A heaven of ease would be death rather than life. The service of heaven constitutes one part of the blessedness of the angels, and we are to be equal with them. And how multiplied must be the actions involved in a service which night never interrupts, of a mind and body that are never wearied, and of an existence which knows no end! This view may tend to moderate our surprise and sorrow at the deaths of eminent and useful Christians, who now spend their energies over wider regions.
3. The happiness of which they shall participate. All religious experience on earth affords but a faint emblem of the bliss of heaven. Here, however great, it is much marred, but there it is perfect, because all the saints are made perfectly holy. Here they taste the streams, there the fountain, and the happiness is made complete by a sight of Jesus' face.
4. The friendships they shall share. Man is constituted for society. Place him in solitude and he will pine and wither. But in heaven we shall enjoy the company of angels, of the wise and good of all ages, of our own loved ones. We look for those breaches which are made in our holy connexions to be repaired there.
II. THE CONDUCT ENJOINED UPON US IN RELATION TO THEM. "Seek" them.
1. This implies belief of them.
(1) Those who have just views of the Divine perfections will believe in the possibility of such a state as we have contemplated.
(2) Numerous considerations indicate the probability. Every man has that within him which thinks and wills, etc., which cannot be the result of a material organization, is perfectly distinct from the body, and will not be more endangered by the dissolution of the latter than a sunbeam is crushed by the demolition of the house through which it is passing. Then again, the strong desire of immortality, common to men, is an argument in its favour. Why should God universally plant a desire He never meant to gratify?
(3) But why argue its probability when I have a Bible which tells me it is certain.
2. It implies that attention is directed much towards them. They must be minded as well as credited. This is necessary because of the wrong bias the mind has received.
(1) You must labour that your minds may acquire a heavenly direction, seeing that you are surrounded by the secularities of life.
(2) The thoughts must go frequently forth, not now and then with long intervals between. Not that it is inconsistent with diligence in business, etc.; for that also is the service of God.
3. To set our attachment upon them. Surely it would be inconsistent in one who is going to heaven not to set his heart upon it.
4. Diligent and persevering exertions to obtain them are included. Belief awakens attention, attention kindles desires for possession, desires give birth to efforts. You are called upon, then, to use the means. Christ is our "Way" to the holy of holies, and faith, prayer, meditation, etc., are the means.
III. SOME MOTIVES OR CONSIDERATIONS WHICH SHOULD IMPEL US TO THIS CONDUCT.
1. A regard to consistency. "You who were dead have been quickened, and are risen with Christ, therefore," etc. From so great a difference of state it is expected that the greatest difference of conduct should follow.
2. The reasonableness of the duty. Can there be anything more reasonable than that among the multiplicity of things which court attention, we should seek those that are most excellent and enduring. As well might a chemist hope for a universal elixir from polluted water, as mankind expect from earthly things the light and bliss of their immortal souls. Besides, earthly things are transitory as well as vain, Like the bubble that glitters in all the colours of the rainbow, but, whilst we view it, bursts, and is no more; like the splendid hues that bedeck the insects' wings fluttering in the sunbeam, but which are brushed off as soon as the beam is withdrawn, so rapidly do they flee away? The present advantages resulting from the exercise here enioined. By a wise and gracious appointment of God, duty and interest are joined together. "Godliness is profitable unto all things," etc.
4. The things above are the scene in which are displayed Christ's presence and glory. The argument of the apostle and the Saviour's prayer (John 17.) are that we should meet Him there. In conclusion: be admonished by the consideration of the dreadful alternative which must inevitably follow the neglect of this duty. If you follow not holiness you cannot see the Lord.
(J. Beaumont, M. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God.