Colossians 3:1
Therefore, since you have been raised with Christ, strive for the things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.
Sermons
Christian AspirationW.F. Adneney Colossians 3:1
Easter Wednesday Also Suited to Easter TuesdayMartin LutherColossians 3:1
Fifth Sunday After EpiphanyMartin LutherColossians 3:1
Risen with ChristAlexander MaclarenColossians 3:1
The Obligations of the Risen LifeT. Croskery Colossians 3:1
The Peace of GodCharles KingsleyColossians 3:1
The Heavenly LifeR.M. Edgar Colossians 3:1, 2
Above the TideJ. L. Nye.Colossians 3:1-4
Aspring Towards HeavenT. Guthrie, D. D.Colossians 3:1-4
Attaining Higher LifeD. L. Moody.Colossians 3:1-4
Believers Risen with Christ, and Their Duty in ConsequencW. Jay.Colossians 3:1-4
Christ and the Higher NaturePrincipal Tulloch.Colossians 3:1-4
ExcelsiorD. Davies, M. A.Colossians 3:1-4
Following the Risen ChristC. H. Spurgeon.Colossians 3:1-4
High Ground for the AffectionT. H. Leary.Colossians 3:1-4
HomewardsT. H. Leary.Colossians 3:1-4
Of the ResurrectionBishop Andrewes.Colossians 3:1-4
Our Risen LifeR. Finlayson Colossians 3:1-4
Present Privileges: Future GloryE.S. Prout Colossians 3:1-4
Reasons for Seeking the Things AboveRobert Hall, M. A.Colossians 3:1-4
Risen with ChristFamily Churchman., Dean VaughanColossians 3:1-4
Risen with ChristBishop Beveridge.Colossians 3:1-4
Seek Those Things that are AboveJ. Beaumont, M. D.Colossians 3:1-4
Seeking Things AboveCanon Liddon.Colossians 3:1-4
The Affections ElevatedC. H. Spurgeon.Colossians 3:1-4
The Christian Risen with ChristEbenezer Temple.Colossians 3:1-4
The Christian TemperKnox Little.Colossians 3:1-4
The Christian's Higher LifeU.R. Thomas Colossians 3:1-4
The Heavenly Aspirations of the Renewed NatureF. Wagstaff.Colossians 3:1-4
The Hidden LifeA. Vinet, D. D.Colossians 3:1-4
The Resurrection of Christ an Argument for Seeking ThingsArchbishop Tillotson.Colossians 3:1-4
The Risen LifeCanon Liddon.Colossians 3:1-4
When Will the World Grow BetterG. Maurer.Colossians 3:1-4
We have here a transition to the practical part of this Epistle. "If ye then were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, seated on the right hand of God."

I. OUR RESURRECTION WITH CHRIST. We are not only "dead with Christ," but "risen with him;" "not only planted in the likeness of his death, but planted together in the likeness of his resurrection;" "that we may walk in newness of life" (Romans 6:2-4). This translation has altered our standpoint. We are "quickened together with Christ, and raised together with him" (Ephesians 2:5, 6). We have now an entirely new sphere of intellectual conception and moral aspiration. "Old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new" (2 Corinthians 5:17).

II. THE PRACTICAL DUTY INVOLVED IN THIS RESURRECTION. "Seek those things which are above."

1. "The things above" are all things pertaining to our true home - "the new Jerusalem" and "the heavenly citizenship," in contrast to "the things upon the earth." They include

(1) the vision of Christ (John 17:24);

(2) the enjoyment of God, which is promoted

(a) by our fuller knowledge of him (John 17:3),

(b) by our growing love to him (1 John 4:16), and

(c) by the manifold expressions of his love to us (Zephaniah 3:17);

(3) the society of angels and saints.

2. The excellence of "the things above." They are

(1) satisfying, as things on earth are unsatisfying;

(2) certain, as things on earth are uncertain;

(3) perpetual and everlasting, as things on earth are transient and decaying;

(4) suitable, as things on earth are unsuitable to an immortal spirit.

3. They are to be sought, implying

(1) our knowledge of them;

(2) our longing for them;

(3) our anxious effort to realize them (Matthew 6:33).

III. AN ARGUMENT TO INCITE AND ENCOURAGE US TO THIS DUTY. "Where Christ is, seated on the right hand of God." There are two facts here stated.

1. Christ our Head is in heaven. Therefore heaven must be the objective point of our thoughts as well as our hopes. We look up because he, who is our Hope, is there - "within the vail." The thought of Christ's presence gives definiteness to our ideas of heaven. "Where our treasure is, there will be our heart also."

2. Christ is sitting at the right hand of God. This implies:

(1) His intercessory work; for he has entered into "heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us" (Hebrews 9:24; 1 John 2:1).

(2) His mediatorial dominion and power (Philippians 2:10).

(3) Our sitting with him - "he raised us up and made us to sit in heavenly places in Jesus Christ." These places are those he premised to prepare for his people (John 14:2). "He that overcometh, to him will I give to sit with me in my throne" (Revelation 3:21). - T. C.







If ye then be risen with Christ.
Family Churchman., Dean Vaughan.
There is no doubt a supposition in the "if." The apostle takes it for granted that Christians were raised together with Christ, and admonishes them, therefore, to evince it in their life. The resurrection of Christ is represented as giving to His people —

I. A NEW AIM. Man is born to aspire, and when he rises with the victorious Christ he aspires to heavenly things. The new quest is for righteousness, holiness, patience, devotion, love, and self-sacrifice.

II. A NEW HEART. The affections are to be set on things above, not as in the unregenerate state on earthly things. It might be possible to seek heavenly things merely in obedience to authority or convictions of duty, but that we may be raised above that, we are encouraged to set our whole heart and mind upon Divine realities.

III. A NEW LIFE. Dead to the world, they have nevertheless a resurrection life hid with Christ in God. And their earthly life of duty and endurance corresponds with the secret fountain from which it flows.

IV. A NEW HOPE. which —

1. Respects Christ — "He shall be manifested." It is the blessed hope, the glorious appearing. He shall come the-second time without sin unto salvation.

2. Respects Christians. Spiritually raised with Christ, they will share His revelation.

(Family Churchman.)

1. St. Paul has just been dealing with a system of repression and abstinence which had a vain show of wisdom, but did not touch the spring of action, and was therefore of no value in resistance to indulgence of the flesh. Would you know, he asks, how you may be lifted above the tyranny of sense, and be initiated into the true secret of temperance and chastity? To go back to a system of bondage fit only for the childhood of the race is to forget the characteristic feature of Christianity, which is the elevating of the whole man into a new region of thought and action, in virtue of union with One who has ascended into that heaven where your true life is hid with Him in God.

2. This is Paul's great doctrine.(1) He seems almost to picture a pursuit of the sinner by the Avenger of blood which is disappointed by his reception into the City of Refuge. "That I may win Christ and befound in Him," so that when I am looked for only Christ is to be seen.(2) But inclusion in Christ is more than for safety, it is for comfort in trouble, strength in weakness, life in death.

3. This union is expressed in a retrospective way. If I am in Christ I am in Him as that which He is now, as one who has died, risen and ascended; and when He died I died, and when God exalted Him He set me with Him. Henceforth I must live the risen life, and live above the world as one who has done with its cares, tails, and lying vanities. "He that is dead is freed from sin;" he that is raised must mind the things above, have them for his interest, employment, study, affection, so that when the veil is removed which now hides Him we may be manifested with Him.

I. THE RESURRECTION OF CHRIST IS A FACT, as much of history as of the faith of Christendom, and attested by convincing evidence on the part of unexceptionable witnesses.

II. OUR RESURRECTION WITH CHRIST IS A FACT SPIRITUAL, BUT REAL, AND CONTAINED IN CHRIST'S RESURRECTION. To some minds a spiritual fact is a self-contradiction. But a spiritual fact is, above all other kinds, a factor in history. It sets in motion influences which change the face of nations, working those miracles of good in comparison with which the rise and fall of dynasties are vanity.

III. This resurrection IS EFFECTED BY UNION WITH CHRIST. The word "union" is used very loosely. We speak of a combination of a few thousands for a purpose salutary or mischievous as union, little thinking what the term is which we take in vain. But this union is one which man cannot have with man. It is a union of spirit, and such that the spirit of the Saviour not only influences the spirit of the man from outside, as our mind is wrought upon by speech or books, but from within. "He shall be in you."

IV. HOW AND WHEN IS THIS UNION REALIZED. Paul says that all we who are baptized into Christ, there and then put on Christ. "We were buried with Him by our baptism into death." If this realization of Christ has not yet been given us, let us not take refuge in names and forms, saying, "I have it as a thing of course, for I have been baptized." If you have it you will know it; if you have it not yet it is yours by right. Baptism is at any rate the promise of God, to each one, of his grace and acceptance in proportion to the need and. entreaty.

V. THIS UNION IS BETWEEN CHRIST IN HEAVEN AND US. That Christ is there need not repel any one from seeking Him. "He ascended that He might fill all things." When He was upon earth He did not even fill Palestine. Now by virtue of His exaltation He can fill every soul with Himself.

VI. Therefore WE MUST SEEK THE THINGS ABOVE.

1. The contrast is to things on earth — harassing anxiety, importunate vanity, consuming ambition, exciting pleasure, shameful self-indulgence. The things above are the realities of which these are counterfeits, the grand and satisfying pursuits of which these are the phantoms, things which bring comfort and peace and rest to the soul.

2. Every honest searching of the heart to root out what God hates, every earnest effort after forgiveness, every aspiration after a Diviner life, every sincere endeavour, is a seeking after the things above.

3. By degrees there shall be in every such seeker a change of places between earth and heaven. From seeking he shall rise to thinking the things above, and when at last the door opens, and he is called in to see the King in His beauty, he shall find himself in no strange scene or company.

(Dean Vaughan.)

That there is a higher life which we may and ought to live, all men, in whom there is any religion, feel; and what is peculiar to the gospel is not the bare idea of this life, but the revelation of its character, power, and attainment.

I. THE NATURE of this higher life.

1. It is "above." But is not this just what has been ob jected to — that Christianity concerns itself with another world rather than with this? And is not this very exaltation a weakness and a delusion. What nobler ideal can there be than to make the present life better. But Christ's ideal was a kingdom, in our hearts, it is true, yet "of heaven," not of earth. It was, in short, a higher Divine life that was to irradiate our poor human life, and to glorify it. It was no development from below, but a revelation from on high, and without this Christianity has no meaning. Cut away its Divine side, and it is destroyed.

2. This life is not merely in the future, although it embraces it. It concerns itself with another world, yet it does not despise things on the earth. The kingdom is now, and not to be reached after death, and the things above are to be possessed now. These are the things of which the apostle speaks presently, "kindness," etc. Spiritual qualities. The apostle does not contrast heaven and earth as places, nor set the future life against the present, but the spiritual against the natural, the carnal against the Divine. The higher life takes up the present and glorifies it, and finds its development in every variety of well-doing. It embraces every real virtue, and beautifies and ennobles the life that now is as well as that to come.

II. ITS SOURCE AND MOTIVE POWER. It is no process of self-culture or moral discipline. It springs only from the living root Christ. It is a new life rising on the extinction of the old life of self. The same Divine power which raised Christ from the dead is supposed to live and work in Christians. But out of Christ there is no higher life in the Christian sense. But is this so? Axe there not many beautiful characters who never heard of Christ; and are there not many Christians far from stainless? Yes, but —

1. The Christian type of character is to be estimated by its ideal, as rendered by the highest examples, and not by the conduct of all professors. It is true that the best Christians but feebly represent Christ, yet where is there any list of worthies to be compared with the roll of Christian saints? And all such have declared their strength for good to lie in the fact that their life was hid with Christ in God.

2. If there is goodness where the name of Christ is unknown, or which refuses to acknowledge Him, let us not deny it. If we must have a theory the true one is that all goodness, even when seeming to be apart from Christ, has really its root in Him.

(Principal Tulloch.)

At the close of the preceding chapter St. Paul exposes the error of those who would bring back Christians to the rudiments of the world; but with that rapidity of thought which is characteristic of him, he passes on to other rudiments — everything that is loved and cultivated by the flesh- and makes no distinction between rites and worldliness, resting on the similarity between them.

I. THE DIVINE LIFE PRODUCES DYING TO THE WORLD. It would be wrong to hold the reverse, of course. If you are risen with Christ, your life is no longer here below, but where Christ is. Here comes a series of transformations.

1. Spiritual death. You wore dead in sins, but Christ has raised you (see Colossians 2:12, 13; Ephesians 2:5, 6; 1 Peter 1:3).

2. In the very act of raising you Christ has subjected you to a new death — to the world. These two facts correspond as the projections of a coin do with the depressions of the mould. Resurrection is the relievo of the coin; it produces the void which is death: for our life cannot be everywhere; if it is in heaven it is not on the earth (ver. 4).

II. It is true that WE LIVE HERE BY OUR NECESSARY LIFE, BUT THE BEST PART OF OURSELVES IS ELSEWHERE. We live where our heart is. The prisoner lives nowhere less than in his cell. You say of the person you passionately love, "She has stolen my heart." When any one is indifferent to his surroundings we say, "His heart is elsewhere." It is with the heart we live our real life; "out of it are the issues of life." It can restrict itself to earthly things, but it can also have its conversation in heaven.

III. WE MUST BE QUITE CLEAR AS TO THE MEANING OF THE WORDS "ABOVE" AND "BELOW," "HEAVEN" AND "EARTH." Earth and heaven here are not exactly places and times, but principles called after the place and time of their perfect realization. To detach ourselves from earth is not to detach ourselves from activity, but to detach our hearts from earthly principles, and attach them to the principles to be realized in heaven. To fulfil social duties, etc., under God's eye is not to do earthly but heavenly things. And so the Christian becomes attached to the place and time, where the true principle finds its realization, and detached from that where the false principle is realized. Nevertheless, we must not be drawn into a false spirituality, a selfish separation from earth while attached to it in affection. It is an admirable thing when he who is weaned from life appreciates it; for he despises what in it is contemptible, and esteems in it what is really worth esteem.

IV. THE LIFE WEANED FROM EARTH IS HIDDEN from the world, and does not seem life. For life does not consist in the involuntary fact commonly called by the name. The world judges, and rightly from its premises, that visible things are alone worthy of attachment, that a man who does not attend to them does not live. And yet every thing is not obscure in regard to the Christian. He is unknown and yet known. It is impossible to see a Christian without saying, "There is something peculiar there! His life declares him to be a Christian." But because this life is not understood it is denied. The natural man sees something, but he does not regard it as life. And yet the Christian lives; he is not an anchorite. He has everything that others have as men, but as a Christian more. Worldlings may consider sin as essential to humanity; but it mutilates a man, Christianity increases him, and faith takes away sin. As a man the Christian mixes himself up in the business of life, for the earth belongs to his God; but in spite of this he is not understood, because the common aim which all pursue is with him only a means of attaining a higher end. And from misunderstand ing to contempt and calumniation the distance is not great. Whatever we may do in order to have peace with all men we shall never succeed unless we walk on the same footing. Thus the Christian is treated as dead, and with the same repugnance as is felt towards a dead man in the physical sense.

V. WHAT MOTIVES HAS THE CHRISTIAN TO CONSENT TO THIS, AND TO ACCEPT THE CONSEQUENCES?

1. In reality he lives, and God knows that he lives, and that is enough. Those small and charming flowers which bloom in the desert or on the mountain-top will fold up their leaves without being seen by any human eye. God sees them, that is enough. In the Middle Ages unknown workmen spent their lives in rearing glorious cathedrals; some, working in positions dangerous and difficult of access, carved wonders of art and patience which are not seen except as you climb to the tops of columns. It was enough that God saw their work. and that throughout the ages a continual hymn should rise to Him from the midst of the stone. So with the Christian.

2. What grand compensation. Obscurity does not hinder greatness.(1) A great work has been wrought for and in the Christian. He is a king, although disguised.(2) There is greatness in what he does by the strength of God, subjugation of passions, resignation, etc.

3. But the Christian will appear when Christ appears, and under what glorious circumstances (Philippians 2:10, 11; Matthew 10:32; Matthew 13:43; Daniel 12:3).

(A. Vinet, D. D.)

? — The world is full of lamentations. The times are bad; business is stagnant. There is no confidence, but everywhere mistrust and discontent. Everybody says that this state of things cannot last. There are plenty of social quacks. We have been flooded with laws for improving the conditions of life; but the confusion is only the greater. New ecclesiastical laws have been made, but entire classes are alienated from the Church. Then when will the world be better? When each one of us begins to grow better himself; and if any one could devise the means of bringing about that result it would be of more use than all modern experiments. But we have the means in the well-tried Word of God and its Divine powers. The world will grow better.

I. WHEN WE DIE AND RISE WITH CHRIST.

1. There was a time when a great deal was said about the moral improvement of the race. If men laid aside their grosser sins and endeavoured to live virtuously, all would be well. The theory was not confirmed by the facts. To-day men have fallen into a similar error. Culture is now the Saviour. All honour to it; but history proves that a man may be learned in every branch of knowledge, and yet be utterly bad.

2. One of the most absurd suppositions which lies at the root of most modern experiments is that human nature is good. The Scripture doctrine to the contrary, though much decried, is a fact of which every parent can convince himself. If the world is to be made better a commencement must be made with the inner life of each man. The old nature must die, and a new one arise, or you may as soon build the top storey of a house before you have laid the foundation.

3. Accordingly in Scripture this renewal is everywhere insisted upon. Ye are dead and ye have risen, and since ye are risen seek the things that are above. It is not by mere accident that this renewing is thus described, and in connection with the death and resurrection of Christ. There was needed for it a spiritual energy which does not exist in us, but is in Christ, the risen One.

4. This new life is by virtue of a personal surrender by faith to Christ (Colossians 2:12). Thus we die to sin and the world. A new purpose is disclosed, viz., to please God and enjoy fellowship with Him; a new rule of thought and action — the will of God; a new impelling principle — the Holy Spirit; and thus we come with our whole personal life into a higher order — the heavenly. What further proof do we need that when this happens things are better?

II. WHEN HEAVENLY-MINDEDNESS FILLS ALL HEARTS.

1. That which is below is the earthly world, with its tangible but perishable things; and the more the pursuit of them grows to a longing after them, the worse will it be for the inner and outer life. For this lower world, however beautiful, can never satisfy the heart, and the void is filled with base passions or wild schemes.

2. The world above is closed against the earthly mind. The natural man has no eye for its glory, no ear for its language. Nevertheless it is the real world, where Christ is seated, its light, life, and supreme attraction. When the mind is fixed on this the earthly life is glorified. For though Christ is exalted He dwells on earth with His faithful ones, and, therefore, brings heaven down below. Attachment to Him does not incapacitate us for the business of life, but only makes us independent of what is sinful and selfish, and teaches us to serve God in all things.

3. Who can doubt, therefore, that this heavenly-mindedness would be better for the home, the shop, the nation.

III. WHEN CHRIST SHALL BE REVEALED. NOW the Christian's life is hid. The world understands not its nature, power, or effects. But it shall be manifest at the appearing of Christ — and then in its full perfection. It will indeed be better then.

(G. Maurer.)

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.

(Bishop Andrewes.)

above: —

I. THE DUTY TO WHICH WE ARE EXHORTED. Affirmatively, to seek and set our affections on things above; negatively, not on things on the earth.

1. The act. In "seek" and "set your affections" are comprehended(1) An act of the understanding. Heaven and the way of getting there should be much in our thoughts.(2) An act of our affections, that we love and desire the things above proportionately to their excellence.(3) Activity and industry in the prosecution of these things, if by any means we may attain them. When our understandings have dwelt long enough on our heavenly treasures as to work on our affections, these, like so many springs of motion, will set our endeavours on work for the obtaining what we so much love and desire.(4) A clear preference of the things above to the things of the earth when they come in competition. "Set your affections" is often used for taking part with one side when two parties or interests come into competition. So when heaven and earth, the interests of your souls and of your bodies, a holy and a sinful course come into competition, choose the better part (ver. 5).

2. The objects of this act.(1) God in Christ.(2) The blessed state of glory in the next life.(3) The dispositions to be acquired and the duties to be performed as necessary qualifications for the obtaining this happiness.

II. THE FORCE OF THE ARGUMENTS USED TO PERSUADE US TO IT.

1. "If ye be risen 'with Christ, seek," etc., i.e.,(1) If ye believe in the resurrection of Christ. This was the great seal of His ministry and confirmation of His doctrine: and one great branch of His doctrine was that we should lay up for ourselves treasures in heaven.(2) If we resemble Him in His resurrection. He is our pattern in His saving acts as well as in His virtues. So as He died for sin we must die to it; if He rose we must rise into newness of life; if He ascended so should we in our hearts (Colossians 2:12; Romans 6:4-5, 9-11).(3) If we are partakers of the power of His resurrection (John 11:25; Ephesians 1:19; Philippians 3:10; Colossians 2:13).

2. "Seek the things which are above where Christ sitteth" (Luke 24:26; Ephesians 1:20-22).(1) The force of this argument is from the relation between the head and the members. The members have an affection for the head which makes them aspire heavenwards; and the head has an influence upon the members (John 12:32-33).(2) The gift of the Holy Spirit is the fruit of Christ's ascension, and it is by His operation upon our hearts that our affections are fixed on heavenly things, as against the counter allurements of the world.

3. The transcendent excellence of heavenly things above things of the earth, which the apostle intimates by the opposition, "Set your affections," etc.

(Archbishop Tillotson.)

I. OUR SPIRITUAL RISING WITH CHRIST. The "if" is used logically, not theologically, by way of argument, and not by way of doubt.

1. We were dead in sin, but having believed in Christ we have been quickened by the Holy Ghost, and we are dead no longer. We remember the first sensation of life, how it seemed to tingle just as drowning persons when coming back to life suffer great pain. Conviction was wrought in us, and a dread of judgment, and a sense of condemnation, but these were tokens of life, but that life gradually deepened until the eye was opened, and the restored hand stretched itself out, the foot began to move in the way of obedience, and the heart felt the sweet glow of love within.

2. There has been wrought in us a wonderful change. Before regeneration our soul was as our body will be when it dies.(1) Sown in corruption. In some cases it did not appear on the surface; in others it was something fearful to look upon. Now the new life has overcome it, for it is an incorruptible seed, and liveth for ever.(2) In dishonour. Sin is a shameful thing; but "behold what manner of love" (1 John 3:1). "Since thou wast precious in my sight," etc. "Unto you which believe He is an honour."(3) In weakness. When we were the captives of sin we could do nothing good; but "when we were without strength in due time Christ died for the ungodly. Now we know the power of His resurrection" (John 1:12; Philippians 4:13).(4) A natural body. Aforetime we were natural men, and discerned not the things of the Spirit of God. Now a spirit has been created in us which lives for spiritual objects.

3. In consequence of receiving this life and undergoing this change the things of the world become a tomb to us. To a dead man a tomb is as good a dwelling as he can want; but the moment he lives he cannot endure it.. So when we were natural men earthly things contented us.(1) A merely outward religion satisfied us; a dead form suited a dead soul. Judaism pleased those who put themselves under its yoke; traditions, ordinances make pretty furniture for a dead man's chamber; but when eternal life enters the soul they are flung off. A living man demands such garments as are suitable for life.

2. Merely carnal objects become as the grave to us, whether sinful pleasures or selfish gains. They are as a coffin to the renewed man: he cries for liberty.

4. We are wholly raised from the dead in a spiritual sense. Our Lord did not have His head quickened while His feet were in the sepulchre. So we have been renewed in every part. We have received, although it be in its infancy, a perfect life in Christ Jesus; our ear is awakened, our eye opened, our feet nimble.

5. We are so raised that we shall die no more. "Christ being raised, death hath no more dominion," etc. So we.

II. LET US EXERCISE THE NEW MAN IN SUITABLE PURSUITS.

1. Let us leave the sepulchre.(1) The vault of a mere outward religion, and worship God in Spirit and in truth.(2) The vault of carnal enjoyments. These ought to be as dead things to the man who is risen with Christ.

2. Let us hasten to forget every evil as our Lord hastened to leave the tomb. He made the three days as short as possible;. so let there be no lingering and hankering after the flesh.

3. As our Lord spent a short season with His disciples, we are to spend our forty days in holy service.(1) In greater seclusion from the world and greater nearness to heaven.(2) In testimony, even as He manifested Himself, to the resurrection power of God.(3) In comforting the saints.(4) In setting everything in order for the furtherance of His kingdom.

4. Let our whole minds ascend to heaven with Christ; not a stray thought.(1) Because we need heavenly things, prize them, and hope to gain them.(2) After heavenly things, faith, hope, etc.(3) Heavenly objects — the glory of God, not your own; the good of man.(4) Heavenly joys. Your treasure is above, let your hearts be with it.

5. What a magnet Christ should be. Where should the wife's thoughts be but with her absent and beloved one?(1) Christ is sitting, for His work is done; rise and rest with Him.(2) At the right hand of God, in the place of honour and favour.

III. LET THE NEW LIFE DELIGHT ITSELF WITH SUITABLE OBJECTS. "Have a relish for things above"; "study them industriously"; "set your mind on them." What are they?

1. God Himself. "Delight thyself in the Lord." What is all the world if He be gone; and if you have Him, what though all the world be gone?

2. Jesus who is God, but truly man. Meditate on His Divine Person, His perfect work, etc.

3. The New Jerusalem of the Church triumphant.

4. Heaven, the place of holiness after sin, of rest after work, of riches after poverty, of health and life after sickness and death.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

I. CHRIST IS RISEN. This appears —

(1)From the Holy Scriptures.

(2)From eye-witnesses.

(3)From the testimony of the Spirit.

II. Christians are RISEN WITH CHRIST. What is this? (Ephesians 2:5-6; Colossians 2:12, 20.)

1. Christ is our Head, and a public Person (Ephesians 5:23).

2. Whatever He did, He did it not in a private but a public capacity, and therefore we are looked upon as doing it in Him (Isaiah ]iii. 5).

3. Hence, when He arose, we arose in Him and with Him.

4. Metaphorically we rise from sin.

III. BEING RISEN WITH CHRIST WE ARE TO SEEK THE THINGS ABOVE.

1. What things?

(1)The perfection of graces.

(2)The society of angels.

(3)The vision of Christ (John 17:24).

(4)The enjoyment of God; consisting

(a)in our clear knowledge of Him (John 17:3).

(b)Perfect love to Him.

(c)Infinite expressions of love from Him (Zephaniah 3:17).

2. How seek them? It implies —

(1)Our knowledge of them.

(2)Our love for them.

(3)Our labouring to be instated in them (Matthew 6:33).

IV. WHY SHOULD THEY WHO ARE RISEN WITH CHRIST SEEK THE THINGS ABOVE?

1. Because now all things else are below them.

2. Their inheritance is there.

V. USE.

1. Motives.(1) The things below are unsuitable, the things above suitable.(2) They empty and deceiving; these full and satisfying; nay, there is more happiness in seeking heaven than enjoying earth.(3) They uncertain to be attained; these certain if sought for.(4) They mixed with troubles, these pure comforts.(5) They transient end fading, these perpetual and everlasting.

2. Means.

(1)Exercise graces — repentance, faith (Hebrews 11:5-6).

(2)Perform duties.

(Bishop Beveridge.)

I. A GLORIOUS TRUTH SUPPOSED — that believers are risen with Christ. This involves —

1. A firm belief in His resurrection. This doctrine is of paramount importance as the principal evidence of Christianity. Every other doctrine hangs upon it. If Christ be not risen, where —

(1)Our access to God.

(2)Our success in prayer.

(3)Our hope of pardon.

(4)Our holy aspirations.

(5)Our bright prospects (see 1 Corinthians 15:14-19).

2. A personal experience of its power.

(1)In the renewing of the mind.

(2)The changing of the heart.

(3)The quickening of the spirit.

(4)Newness of life.

3. A well-grounded anticipation of conformity with His resurrection.

(1)Spiritual life with Him now in heaven.

(2)Completeness of bodily and soul likeness to Him by and by.

II. A MOMENTOUS DUTY REQUIRED.

1. The superiority of its object — "the things above."(1) The glorious state of happiness in reserve for believers in heaven.(2) The sublime realities of religion that belong by way of preparation to the heavenly state-growth in grace and knowledge; spirituality of mind, holiness, devotion to God, love to His people. How superior to the pleasures of the ungodly.

2. The extent of its application. It implies more than a belief in things above, and includes —(1) A persuasion of their value. We shall not be induced to seek what we do not value. Worldly men underrate them: but rising with Christ brings spiritual perception, by which they are viewed in the light of eternity.(2) A fixing of the mind on them — choosing them in preference to sublunary things. The wisdom of the Christian's choice will be seen when the universe is in ruins. "The things which are seen are temporal."(3) A diligent pursuit after them in the use of the appointed means. Beware of the fascinations of the world. Cultivate heavenly dispositions.

3. The power of its motive.(1) In general. The principles we profess call for it; the profession we make demands it; love, gratitude, our own interest and God's glory, all urge us to it.(2) In particular. Mark the Person — Christ. He is over all. Mark the posture — "Sitteth," etc. — one of dignity and authority. This was the joy set before Him, and is the joy set before us?

(Ebenezer Temple.)

I. "RISEN WITH CHRIST."

1. In the earliest Christian teaching the resurrection dominates over all other Christian doctrines. It is the palmary proof of the truth of Christianity. It rested upon the evidences of the senses, and accordingly the first ministerial effort of the apostles was to publish the fact, and let it do its proper work in the understandings and consciences of men (Acts 4:32, etc.). The resurrection is equally prominent in the teaching of St. Paul. But here the apostle teaches us its relation, not to Christian belief, but to Christian living. It is not pressed upon us as a "detached and unfruitful dogma"; it is a vitalizing principle in the living soul. Indeed all Christian doctrine in the Christian soul is inseparable from Christian practice. The practical relation between the two is observable in St. Paul's Epistles. They are not separated in the two sections into which he usually divides his letters. With him the moral element interpenetrates doctrine, and rises spontaneously out of it; while the dogmatic truth is continually reasserted as the motive or basis of the morality. In the text the resurrection is a germinant principle out of which the soul derives its new life, and by which the laws and obligations of that life are determined. This is not a mere metaphor (Ephesians 1:18-20); but if it were, a metaphor surely means something: it conveys a truth under the form of an illustration. What, then, is the truth latent beneath the metaphor?

3. This resurrection with Christ is not merely a movement, a shifting of spiritual position from a lower to a higher point in the same sphere. That would be an elevation.(1) It is necessary to mark this distinction, because the one is often confounded with the other. Individuals, families, populations, are often "elevated" without being "risen with Christ." A certain mental and moral elevation is the natural result of contact with a Divine religion; may be received unconsciously; comes as if from some subtle element afloat in the atmosphere; passes unnoticed into a literary school, philosophical system, or political society; and may thenceforward be detected in half-formed ideas, and fitful currents of thought, or turns of expression. It comes to men as they gaze on the fair form of the Church, or as they mark a Christian who is seriously living for another world.(2) But what is this elevation worth? Felix underwent a certain "elevation" of conscience; Agrippa was raised above his natural level; but in each ease the moral pulsation died away. The Emperor Alexander Severus underwent a certain elevation when he assigned a niche in the Imperial Pantheon to the statue of Jesus; so did Julian, who in his letters applauds the love and discipline of the Church. The same may be said of Rousseau, who enhanced the beauty of the French language in expressing his sense of the gospel, and of those modern writers of fiction who lavish their encomiums with no sparing or graceless hand upon the religion of our Lord, and who yet apologize for the errors which His teaching condemns. But these were not risen with Christ.(3) We here touch on a distinction that is vital, and which is based upon the deeper difference which parts nature from grace. Moral elevation lies within the sphere of nature, and may be accounted for by the operation of natural causes; spiritual resurrection belongs to nature just as little as does the resurrection of a corpse.

4. Resurrection with Christ is a supernatural thing. What is meant by this? Any idea of the supernatural —(1) Presupposes belief in God as a personal agent. Clearly, therefore, it must be rejected by those philosophers which deny the primary truths of theism.(a) The Positivist must see in it a stupid phantom to be relegated to "the theological period" of human development.(b) The Pantheist will object to it as implying a distinction which, if it be admitted, must be fatal to the essential principles of his philosophy.(c) Nor does it approve itself to the sensuous materialism which is sceptical of all that lies beyond.(d) But no serious Theist can deny its possibility. He who made the world which we touch can superadd another world which we cannot touch.(2) As the term enters theology it is concerned with the relations which God has established between Himself and man in the higher sphere, such as, e.g., that union with Christ, part of which is expressed in rising with Him. The lesson of our text is often not learnt; because the difficulty of learning it is spiritual rather than intellectual. To understand it we must be living the life of the supernatural resurrection. The apostle elsewhere explains what he means (Ephesians 2:3-6; Ephesians 1:17-20). What wonder that all around us in the Church is supernatural, if it be a continuous exercise of the power which raised Jesus from the dead? Or that in Christian souls we behold graces of which nature is incapable.

II. "SEEK THOSE THINGS WHICH ARE ABOVE."

1. Seek, above all, communion with God, work for God, rest in the felt presence of God, and the final reward in God; and then all that is highest and purest in the sphere of nature.

2. What a rule for conversation. All may do something to raise or degrade it. Each may insist that in his presence it shall keep a pure tone; and a few men who are simply determined to maintain an elevated standard of social intercourse can affect for good an entire society.

3. What a rule for making friendships! How much depends for time and eternity on the choice of one whose affections shall be entwined in ours.

4. What a motto for a library, and even for sacred studies!

5. What a solemn word for those who are deciding their line of work for life, particularly if they are seeking the ministry of souls.

6. But above all, the text is a rule for the regulation and employment of secret thought.

(Canon Liddon.)

e: —

I. A FACT ADMITTED: the resurrection of Christ.

1. That He was dead cannot be questioned.

2. He was buried. What became of His body?

3. He rose, and in the providence of God many circumstances transpired to render it obvious and undeniable.

II. THE PRIVILEGE SUPPOSED. Christians are risen with Christ.

1. Professedly, by joining the Church; coming to the Lord's table; confession with the tongue.

2. Representatively, by virtue of that federal union with Christ by which His acts become theirs.

3. Spiritually, from death in sin to a life of faith, hope, acceptance, holiness, duty.

4. By anticipation, having the pledges, earnests, and first-fruits of exaltation with Christ. These anticipations differ in various Christians, but four seasons are peculiarly favourable to it —

(1)The solitude of the closet.

(2)The ordinances of God's house.

(3)Affliction.

(4)The dying hour.

III. A DUTY ENJOINED.

1. The things themselves are described not by their nature, but by their residence, which shows their excellency. There is no night there, no pain, no sin; but the peace that passeth understanding; the joy unspeakable and full of glory; beloved connexions; the good of all ages; angels; Christ.

2. We should seek them because they are —

(1)Necessary. While many things are desirable and some important, one thing is needful.

(2)Attainable. You are not quite sure of earthly things.

3. They must be sought —

(1)Principally. "Seek ye first," etc.

(2)Intensely.

(3)Perseveringly.

IV. AN INFERENCE DERIVED. "If."

1. It is surely desirable to know this.

2. There is no evidence of our religious condition that can be depended upon separately from heavenly-mindedness.

3. If you are seeking the things above, they must correspond with your condition, and your practice must accord with your profession.Conclusion:

1. Some entirely disregard the things above.

2. Others regard them as doubtful.

3. Others "declare plainly that they seek a country."

(W. Jay.)

Contemplate —

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.)

I. This is the business of THE UNDERSTANDING.

1. Of late years the word "thinker" has been employed to designate those who bring their reasoning faculties to bear on abstract problems, and who give proof of this by lectures and books, and of no others. If this use is correct, thinkers would constitute a select class indeed; it would be just as reasonable to confine the term "worker" to a manual labourer. But all human beings think, and this is none the less true because the understanding apprehends what is before it indistinctly. The eye may none the less see because the objects are somewhat confused.

2. Thus the solemn question arises, "What do we think about?" For most of the day we have no choice. To give your mind to it is the condition of all good work. But there is a fixed hour when business ends and we regain liberty of thought. What do you habitually think about then? The question is important, for the instructive direction of thought at such times may tell us much about our real selves and our destiny.

3. Is it not true that the mind of many is occupied with much that does not guide it heavenwards? It is almost at the mercy of the first claimant; weighted with the importunity of sense; dissipated or distorted by passion; darkened by avoidance of God. What mean those long periods spent over a work of fiction which suggests at almost every page what it dares not describe; those long hours of sullen moodiness, or of hard thoughts of God?

4. It is sometimes thought that if thought is only active it must needs be good, and that only when it stagnates it breeds evil. But thought may be exercised on subjects that degrade it, and in proportion to its activity.

5. Easter then bids thought rise heavenward with Christ; it is the warrant and pattern of mental resurrection. Before Christ rose men had thought and written about another world; but at best the veil was only half withdrawn. Men hoped and guessed. But Christ made it clear and certain, and bade thought arise into the world beyond the stars, into which He passed to prepare a place for us.

6. Seek then in thought the things above. Seek the conversation of the wise, make the most of whatever enlarges and ennobles. In all higher and purer regions of thought you are nearer Christ (Philippians 4:8). But as you seek, cry Excelsior! Rest not until you have struggled beyond literature, science, and nature, into the kingdom of heaven where Christ the King of Glory sits.

II. This is the business of THE AFFECTIONS.

1. The affections are a particular department of desire.(1) Desire is the strongest motive power in the soul, it is what gravitation is to matter. When we know upon what desire is set, we know the direction a soul is taking. If its objects are in heaven then the soul is moving upwards, if earthly then downwards (Matthew 6:21).(2) Desire is the raw material which is fashioned on the one hand into covetousness, or ambition, or sensuality, or into the love of God on the other (James 1:15).(3) Desire was meant to attach the soul to God by a spiritual attraction that should keep it, though in its freedom, true to its centre, just as the planets move ever round their central sun. And sin resembles those catastrophes which might result if it were conceivable that a planet should leave its orbit and dash wildly into space.

2. God gives to every man a certain measure of that affection which is a department of desire. It is dealt out by us partly to those whom providence has appointed to receive it — a father, mother, etc.; and also on objects which we choose to be its recipients. So we may squander it on the pleasures of sense, or compress it into high self-sacrifice. But we do not spend it twice. Since the being who loves is finite the supply is limited; and the despair of those who have given their all at the bidding of some unlawful pleasure is to find, while life is still young, but all too late, that the heart may be like a dried-up spring, "without natural affection" (Romans 1:31; 2 Timothy 3:3). That "wasting fever of the heart" is almost worse than the moral death of which, if unassuaged, it is the assured presentiment.

3. Seek, then, with your affections the things above. As truth is the prize of the understanding, so beauty is the prize of the heart. Let the Eternal Beauty woo and win your hearts. In that higher world there are many objects (1 Corinthians 2:9) to win them; but there is One above all others who has claims such as no other can have upon them. To love Him is to love a Being who sustains love (Romans 5:5; Ephesians 6:24). He is the only Being in loving whom the heart can never incur the risk of exhaustion or disappointment.

III. It is the business of THE WILL. There is at the centre of our being a power which rules all others, which, while professing obedience to reason, not seldom arranges its premises and settles its conclusions, and which gives play to affection or restrains it almost at discretion. It is not reason nor feeling which in the last resort rules the soul, and by which the great question of its destiny must be decided. Grant that the will is weakened, this weakness has been corrected in those who are risen with Christ (Philippians 4:3). Away with the faint-hearted and false notion that religious effort is an affair of temperament! Natural disposition may make things easy or difficult, but it cannot arrest the upward movement of a free, because regenerate, will. We have been made masters of ourselves by Christ, and we cannot shift the responsibility.

(Canon Liddon.)

Thou puttest wheat in the low ground, and thy friend comes, who knows the nature of the corn and the land, and instructs thine unskilfulness, and says to thee, "What hast thou done? thou hast put the corn in the flat soil, in the lower land; the soil is moist; the seed will rot, and thou wilt lose thy labour." Thou answerest, "What, then, must I do?" "Remove it," he says, "into the higher ground." Dost thou, then, give ear to a friend who gives thee counsel about thy corn, and despisest thou God, who gives thee counsel about thy heart? Thou fearest to put thy corn in the low ground, and wilt thou lose thine heart in the earth?

(T. H. Leary.)

As the fire mounteth upwards to its proper place, and as the needle still trembleth till it stands at the north; so the soul, once inflamed with the heavenly fire, and acquainted with her first original, cannot be at rest until it finds itself in that comfortable way which certainly leads homewards.

(T. H. Leary.)

There is a plant called samphire, which grows only on cliffs near the sea. But though it grows near the salt sea waves, yet it is never found on any part of a cliff which is not above the reach of the tide. On one occasion, a party of shipwrecked sailors, flung ashore, were struggling up the face of precipitous rocks, afraid of the advancing tide overtaking them, when one of their number lighted upon a plant of samphire, growing luxuriantly. Instantly he raised a shout of joy, assuring his companions, by this token, they were now in safety. The sea might come near this spot, and perhaps cast up its spray, but would never be found reaching it. Such is the position of a soul in Christ: justified and united to Him, the person may be in full sight still of the world's threatening and angry waves, but he is perfectly safe, and he cannot be overwhelmed.

(J. L. Nye.)

The things above —

I. FORM THE PROPER OBJECT OF OUR REGARD. Every person should attend to the things which relate to his own home. But the home of a Christian is above. There is "his Father's house."

II. THEY ARE THE OBJECT FOR WHICH MAN IS BY HIS NATURE MADE; and especially for which he is pre pared in his sanctified character.

1. By the constitution of his mind, man requires an object of a spiritual and eternal kind. Nothing of a worldly nature, however multiplied, is congenial with the tendencies and desires of the immortal spirit.

2. Much more, the Christian, as renewed in his spirit by the power of God, must "seek the things above," as alone suited to his soul. Spirituality is the essence of the Christian: he breathes and tends heavenward.

III. THEIR TRANSCENDENT EXCELLENCE. There all is perfection; all holiness and happiness. There are in conceivable glories in the heavenly world. Whatever can render it a scene worthy of the majesty of God, of the infinite merit and purchase of the Son of God, of the most enlarged desires and hopes of the redeemed; all is collected and perfect there.

IV. THEIR PERPETUITY. The smallest good, of a lasting duration, is deemed prefer able to a much greater benefit that is only transient. But the things which are not seen are eternal.

V. THE CERTAINTY OF SUCCESS ASSURED TO ALL THAT SEEK THEM IN THE RIGHT WAY. In the pursuit of all earthly objects there is no certainty of attainment. Conclusion: What reasons, then, exist why we should seek these things with increased earnestness!

1. The apostle, who wrote the text, affords a striking example of the manner in which we should seek them (Philippians 3:12-14).

2. These reasons are always growing stronger; every moment is impairing the lustre and the value of everything below; while every moment is adding to the nearness and importance of eternal things.

(Robert Hall, M. A.)

I. THE INTIMATE CONNECTION BETWEEN CHRIST AND HIS PEOPLE. "Dead with Christ," "Risen with Christ." The latter phrase implies —

1. That the soul was once dead in sin. The body of the sinner lives — his mind is vigorous, but his soul is dead. It sees no beauty in Christ, hears not the gospel, is unmoved by the love of God, is insensible to the terrors of the coming judgment.

2. The same power which raised Christ from the dead raises dead souls to life.

II. THE DUTY ENJOINED — "Seek," etc.

1. The godliness is not merely a "state," but a "life."

2. In this active course the Christian is not treated as a mere machine — moved irrespective of his will. God's power is manifested in it all, but the Christian himself is to "seek."

3. We are not left in ignorance of the object of our search. "Things above." This indicates —(1) Their character. "Things above" — spiritual, heavenly, Godlike, holy, pure.(2) Their locality. Satisfaction is not to be found in earthly things.

III. THE INDUCEMENT TO THIS LIFE. "Christ sitteth" above. It is His will that those whom the Father has given Him be with Him where He is. Christ's position is —

1. One of honour. "The right hand." Him hath "God greatly exalted to be a Prince and a Saviour."

2. One of power. "The right hand" is a symbol of authority. From heaven He shall come to judge the world.

3. Meanwhile it is the position of an Intercessor.

(F. Wagstaff.)

The resurrection of Christ occupies a central place in the gospel system, and from it lines of vital connection radiate to every doctrine. As planets revolve round the central sun, and derive light and heat therefrom, so every doctrine connected with man's salvation circles round the risen Christ.

1. Apart from this no guilty man can be justified, for Christ was raised for our justification. "If Christ be not risen we are yet dead in our sins."

2. But now is Christ risen, and the opposite results follow.

I. A FACT ASSUMED, viz., that Christ has risen.

1. A fact which Christ foresaw would possess transcendent interest. When the Jews asked a sign, this was the one given.

2. A fact well certified, or no fact in history is, and sceptics to be consistent must destroy their Livy, Caesar, Gibbon, and Grote. No one of Christ's friends was predisposed to belief. The jealousy of the priesthood was a safeguard against deception.

3. A fact which alone can account for the apostle's heroic service.

II. A SUPPOSITION. "If," etc. In Paul's view regeneration and progress could not be disjoined. Ascension must follow resurrection. To rise with Christ means —

1. A transition from darkness to light. The grave symbolizes our state of moral darkness, con. version is the dawning of heavenly light.

2. From bondage to liberty. The grave is an emblem of captivity. When Christ rose, He led captivity captive.

3. From death to life. Christ liveth in us, and because He lives we shall live also.

III. AN INSPIRING EXHORTATION.

1. Every form of life has its corresponding form of activity. "If you live," says Paul, "grow." Superior life is manifested by superior conduct.

2. Our aspiration should have a definite aim. The things above are those which purify and ennoble.

(1)Knowledge, of God, Scripture, etc.

(2)Faith.

(3)Love.

(4)Righteousness.

(5)Conformity to Christ.

3. The exhortation is supported by a principle of self-consistence. You have risen, rise higher still. On what ground have we started on the heavenly race if we do not mean to continue!

(D. Davies, M. A.)

Ere autumn has tinted the woodlands, or the cornfields are falling to the reaper's song, or hoary hill-tops, like grey hairs on an aged head, give warning of winter's approach, I have seen the swallow's brood pruning their feathers, and putting their long wings to the proof; and, though they might return to their nests in the window-eaves, or alight again on the house-tops, they darted away in the direction of sunny lands. Thus they showed that they were birds bound for a foreign clime, and that the period of their migration from the scene of their birth was nigh at hand. Grace also has its prognostics. They are infallible as those of nature. So, when the soul, filled with longings to be gone, is often darting away to glory, and, soaring upward, rises on the wings of faith, till this great world, from her sublime elevation, looks a little thing, God's people know that they have the earnest of the Spirit.

(T. Guthrie, D. D.)

First, then, those who do "seek the things which are above," as a matter of fact, become elevated in tone and temper. Do not think that tone and temper are nothing. In the best pictures of great masters, tone is almost everything. Form goes for much. Form, indeed, and the steadiness of the drawing, go for very much in the "composition" of the picture; but deprive it of the wonderful non so che called tone, and it stands out hard and unpleasing, and supplies to the soul no real pleasure. On the other hand, let the tone of the true artist be there, and now it covers in a great degree even badness in the drawing. In the same way, in nature, atmosphere counts for much, very much, in the charm of a scene, in its power, that is, to touch the heart; and when you come to personal life, what tone is to the picture, what atmosphere is to the landscape, such is general temper to the human character.

(Knox Little.)

I have known men who have been up in balloons, and they have told me that when they want to rise higher they just throw out some of the sand with which they ballast the balloon. Now, I believe one reason why so many people are earthly-minded and have so little of the spirit of heaven, is that they have got too much ballast in the shape of love for earthly joys and gains; and what you want is to throw out some of the sand, and you will rise higher.

(D. L. Moody.)

— On board iron vessels it is a common thing to see a compass placed aloft, to be as much away from the cause of aberration as possible; a wise hint to us to elevate our affections and desires; the nearer to God, the less swayed by worldly influences.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

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