If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.
Igitur, si con-surrexistis cum Christo, quae sursum sunt quaerite, ubi Christus est in dextera Dei sedens. Quam sursum sunt sapite, non quae super terram.
The wisdom of the Church hath so disposed of her readings in these great feasts, as lightly the Gospel lets us know what was done on the day, done for us, and the Epistle what is to be done by us. To instance in this present: Surrexit Dominus vere, 'The Lord is risen indeed,' saith the Gospel. In Quo consurrexistis et vos, 'and you are risen with Him,' saith the Epistle.
2. That which is in the Gospel is Christ's act, what He did; that which in the Epistle our agendum, what we do.
3. Or rather both ours; 1. what He did, matter of faith; 2. what we to do, matter of duty, our agendum upon His act.
The common sort look to Easter-day no farther than Easter-day fare, and Easter-day apparel; and other use they [309/310] have none of it. The true Christian enquireth farther, what is the agendum of the feast, what is the proper acts of Easter-day? The Church has hers, and we have ours. Nothing more proper to a Christian than to keep time with Christ, to rise with Him this day, Who this day did rise. That so it may be Easter-day with us as it was with Him; the same that was the day of His, be also the day of our rising.
Thus then it lieth. Christ is risen, and if Christ, then we. If we so be, then we 'seek;' and that we cannot, unless we 'set our minds.' To 'set our minds' then. On what? On things above. Which above? Not 'on earth,' so is the text, but 'where Christ is.' And why there? Because, where He is, there are the things we seek for, and here cannot find. There 'He is sitting;' - so at rest. And 'at the right hand;' - so in glory. 'God's right hand;' - and so for ever. These we seek, rest in eternal glory. These Christ hath found, and so shall we, if we make this our agendum; begin this day to 'set our minds' to search after them.
Because it is to the Colossians, the colossus or capital point of all is, to rise with Christ, that is the main point. And if you would do a right Easter day's work, do that. It is the way to entitle us to the true holding of the feast. That so we may, these two opera Paschalia are commended to us. 'Things above,' 1. to make them our search, 2. to fix our minds on them. These two we read, quærite, sapite, in the imperative; we may in the indicative as well; zhttete. is quæritis, as well as quærite, and frouete sapitis, as well as sapite. If ye read them imperative, thus: 'If you be risen, then you do seek, and set your minds:' then they be in elecho, and per modum signi, 'by way of trial,' and 'kin nature of a sign.' Both well, and a good use of both.
The parts lie thus. Two things are supposed, two other inferred, and a third two we are referred to, or given hope of. The two supposed these; 1. Christ is risen, and 2. we with Christ: 'If ye be risen with Christ.' The two inferred these; 'If risen,' then 1. 'to seek;' 2. then 'set our minds above, on things there where Christ is.' The two he referreth to, [310/311] or giveth hope of, rest with Him in glory. 1. Rest, to sit; 2. Glory, at the right hand. And God maketh up all the perfect number of seven, for eternal rest, and eternal the glory, that is at His right hand.
These we heard of at His birth, in the Epistle then. This we hear of again at His rising, or second birth, from the grave, in the Epistle now. this we shall hear of again at His Ascension too. This is remembered in all as the fruit of all, at every feast set before us as our hope and all we seek, to sit with Christ, at the right hand of God.
'If ye be risen.' This seemth primâ facie to be but a single supposition, but being well looked into, resolves into two risings, 1. Christ's, and 2. ours; 1. He, and 2. we with Him. Of which the first, Christ's, doth immutabiliter supponere, His needs no if. It is not if Christ be, but if we with Christ. For Christ is certainly. Three hundred years the world opposed it; thirteen hundred years, ever since, the world hath supposed it. And so let us, and so pass to our own, and begin every year to lay our grounds anew; every Easter, to be teaching our rudiments over again.
There is an 'if' that supposeth but mobiliter, may be or not be thereafter as we seek, and our minds be set. But yet, if ye mark it, is not His supposed by itself, and ours inferred upon His, but ours supposed likewise; His and ours both supposed under one, under one and the same if. And as they are close linked, that one supposition serves for them, so are they woven together, that one preposition holds them, under one si, and one (s_u) both. The Apostle hath framed a new word here, for the purpose, con-surrexistis. The resurrection we have heard of, the con-surrection we are now to hear and take notice of.
To set our suppose right, I ask two questions: 1. the one of these 'if you;' 2. the other of these, 'if you be risen.' Si vos, 'if you.' Why, doth the Resurrection pertain but to some certain vos. Is it not si omnes? Concerns it not all? As Christ died, so is He risen for all; and will not all rise with Him? What do we then with si vos? Yes, all rise with Him out of their graves, but not all rise to the right hand after-mentioned. A great part rise to stand on the left, not to sit on the right hand of God. With that the [311/312] Apostle here dealeth. The resurrection reacheth to all; this resurrection to such only as seek, and set their minds.
The other, 'be risen,' the tense, is that right? For ever, when we hear of the Resurrection, we are carried straight to that of the dead from their graves at the latter day. We conceive: Well, if He be risen we shall rise, shall in the future tense. But here is news of another in the preter tense, for so it is 'be risen,' not shall rise; be already, not will hereafter. It cannot be taken of that which is to come; it should then be, si consurgetis. But needs of one present or past, it is si consurrexistis.
How then? Fall we in with them qui dicunt resurrectionem jam esse factam, 'that say the resurrection is already past?' Not that neither. We are no Sadducees, nor we are not of Hymenæus' sect neither. But this we believe: as there is one to come of the body at the last and great resurrection, which he treats of to the Corinthians, so is there also one which we are to pass here, of the mind's, which here he commendeth to the Colossians.
And these two lead us directly to the two resurrections, which St. John after doth expressly deliver, under the terms of 'first' and 'second.' And this withal, that all the good or evil of that of the Corinthians, doth depend much upon the well or evil passing of this of the Colossians.
This we are to look after, to rise before, a resurrection now in being. This of ours imports us, we see, no less than Christ's own, which I wish well laid up in mind, since both are under one 'if,' supposed alike, one no less than the other. 'Christ is risen' is not enough, no is nothing at all, if that be all, if He be risen without us, He risen, and we lie still; if with this day's resurrection on His part there be not also a con-surrection on ours.
Now then we are to look to our if, that it supposeth aright. And if He be risen, to cry to Him Trahe no post Te, 'to draw us with Him,' and not leave us still in our graves of sin. He said of Himself, that 'if once He were exalted, He would' make His magnetical virtue to appear, and 'draw all to Him.' 'All,' but not all at once, but as the Apostle saith, 'each in his order.' And that order is to begin with the soul first, and draw it. For the soul being, as [312/313] the very philosophers have acknowledged - it is Aristotle's own word, ¤uwqeu 'from above,' will the more easily be drawn to t_ ¤uw 'things above.' It is kindly, it is con-natural for it, to draw thitherward. And then after, in the second place, together with itself, to elevate and lift up the flesh thither with it. For, as well observeth Chrysostom, these two were not thus joined, the spirit and the flesh I mean, that the flesh should pull down the spirit to earth, but that spirit should exalt the flesh to heaven. And this subliming or lifting up the spirit, is the rising with Christ here in the text. The other in his time and turn to follow. But if this go not before, the other will not come after, take that for certain. This then to endeavour, and this day to set in hand with it. For this is the main point, that we find ourselves risen with Christ; find it, or procure it; find it already, or procure it as soon as may be.
Now thus we shall know if we be risen, and thus procure it if we be not; 'if we seek, if we set our minds on things above,' which is the double inference upon the former double suppose, which I divide into the 1. act, and the 2. object. The 1. act, quærere and sapere; 2. object, quæ sursum.
Of the two acts, one referreth to action; seeking, is a matter of endeavour. The other to the affection; set your affection or mind, it is both. There be two works arguing the spirit; 1. motion, and 2. sense. Motion. in the one, seeking: Sense, in the other, so is it turned, Phil. 2.5. Idem sentite, 'let the same mind be in you.' There is motus læsus in them that seek not; and sensus læsus in then that saviour not. To these two reduced all: 1. Quærenda sapere, and 2. Sapienda quærere; 'to mind what we are to seek,' and to 'seek what we mind.' Of these two 1. jointly first; 2. then severally; and 3. last of their order.
Jointly; for disjoined they may not be. One is little worth without the other. There be that seek, and be very busy in it, and yet savour not the things that are of God. So sought a great Apostle once, and our Saviour did not let to tell him of it; oÛ qrouej, the very word here, 'thou savourest not.' Men that are possessed with false principles, and yet fall a seeking; zealous in their way, but want true knowledge to fix their minds aright. 'Now without knowledge,' [313/314] saith Solomon truly, 'the mind is not good,' and we know, mala mens malus animus, 'the mind misled will set the affections awry straight.'
Will you see them in kind? Look but to the end of the chapter before. There they seek so, as they will neither taste, handle nor touch. So seek as down they go to worship, not only God, but the Angels too. So seek, as 'spare not their own bodies,' and yet wrong all the while; and yet with all their seeking, not 'risen with Christ' for all that Why? For quærunt, non sapiunt.
On the other side, there be that sapiunt, non quaerunt, that sapiunt quae Christi, quareunt quæ sua, 'savour Christ, but seek themselves.' Of whom the Apostle, they have knowledge competent, but without so much as a spark of true endeavour. Pariter intelligent nobiscum, saith Augustine, pariter non diligunt; 'understand well enough, but coldly affected;' so, sit still and seek not.
So that both would be kept together, quærite, and sapite both. For as in the body natural it fareth between the stomach and the head - a rheumatic head spoils the stomach with distillations, and a distempered stomach fills the head with raw vapours, and soon mars the other, so it is here. Our mind mistaking misleads the affection, and a wrong set affection puts the mind out of frame. That in sunder they would not be, but joined ever. Sapere without quarere will not rise, but lie still; and quarere without sapere will rise, but lead you astray.
Now severally. If we be risen to move and to seek, that is, to resolve that, with sitting still without seeking, what we are here willed to seek will not be had. We shall not stumble on it, or hit upon it unawares; there needs a seeking. If our Saviour knew the way well, it is hard to hit, 'and few there be who find it.' The short; there goeth search and enquiry to it, pains and diligence are requisite; we shall not come thither with the turning of a gin. It were great folly, when we see daily things here beneath without travail will not be come by, once to think things above will drop into our laps without any seeking.
To seek then, but to do it to purpose, for that which we call seeking is nothing else. Those, to whom the Prophet [314/315] Esay said, si quaeritis, quaerite, 'if you will seek, why then seek,' do it in earnest; it seems they sought so slightly, so slenderly as it deserved not the name of seeking. Pilate asked, Quid est veritas? and then some other matter took him in the head, and so up he rose and went his way, before he had his answer; he deserved never to find what truth was. And such is our seeking most what, seldom or never seriously, but some question that comes cross our brain for the present, some quid est veritas? so sought as if that we sought were as good lost as found. Yet this we would fain have to go for seeking, but it will not be. O si quaeritis quaerite, saith Esay, - look the place, 'The morning comes, so doth the night,' that is, our days spend apace, and we say we shall seek. If we will, let us once do it indeed; seek it as they did this day, follow it hard, make it our race with the one, our morning work with the other.
But we shall never seek as we should unless we put to the other word, set our minds on them. For will a man ever kindly seek that he has no mind to? Never. The mind is all. Be it what it will, or whence it will, above or beneath, if we affect it not, we shall seek but faintly. That we may seek things above as it is meet, we must prize them, prize them as 'a silver mine,' saith Solomon, as 'a treasure hid in a field,' saith our Saviour, and go 'sell all' to compass them. Then shall we seek to some purpose.
But in the word froueu there is more. There is, I told you, idem sentite, the sense - he that seeks, should have as well eyes to discern, as feet to go about it; it is no business for a blind man, no more than for a lame, to seek - and that is knowledge, which would be had too. To seek we know not what, is but to err, and never find that we seek for. To quarere then, but sapere, 'to be wise' in our seeking, to get us true directions; else for all our seeking we may be to seek still.
Which froueu is a word the Apostle much useth, as being very significant, full and forcible. Four things are in it: 1. To set the mind, the mind not the fancy; not to take up a fancy and fall to seeking as we see many now-a-days, no ground in the world but their own conceits. Yet seek they will needs, and have all the world follow them, and have [315/316] nothing to follow themselves but their own folly. So as, being very idiots, they take themselves for the only men; and till they come into it, never was wise man in the world who knew what to seek, or how.
2. It is then an act of the understanding, froueu but not of it alone, for then noen were enough. Yet the greatest part make no matter of it, but even noëma. It is, as to set our mind, not our fancy, so our mind, not only to know it, but to mind it. It is sentire, and sapere; and it is best seen in sapite, which is not only to distinguish tastes, but in and with the taste to feel some delight, to have a sense of the sweetness withal, which will make us seek it again plus magis; and without it our seeking will be but unsavoury.
3. So to savour it, as we hold quærere to be sapere; that is to seek is our wisdom, that we do not recte sapere, unless we do hoc sapere. Hæc erit sapienta vestra, saith Moses, 'this will be your wisdom,' before God and man, and you so to reckon of it; even this, to seek things above, and to think when you are about that business, you are about a point of high wisdom, and that perform it well, is the wisest action of our life.
4. To hold it our wisdom; and last, I ask what wisdom? Not that which doth contemplate, that is sofa, but the active wisdom, for that is frÑuhsij, rerum agendarum. To shew that not only our grounds for judgment, but our rules for action, are to be set thence. Thither to get us, then to derive our reasons, why we do things, or leave them undone. Thus to cast with ourselves. This that now I am about, He That sitteth on high at God's right hand, what will He say or think of it. May I offer it to Him? Will He allow of it? Will He help me forward with it? Will He in the end reward me for it? Yea, even our polteuma ,as to the Philippians, is to be from thence, even the wisdom that swayeth there to be from above, de sursum. If it be not, St. James is somewhat homely with it.
By this time we know what it is to 'seek,' and what 'to set our minds.' But in the marshalling these there is somewhat, that quærite is callled on first. 1. To teach us that it is the first thing we are to have care of; Christ's primum quaerite makes quaerite to be primum, to stand first. That we then do it the honour to make it our first act, our rising with Him [316/317] at this feast, the rising of the year; and on this feast, in the morning, the rising of the day. For then He rose.
2. It is first called on, because, to say truth, 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. And that did they this day know, who sought before they had light, 'while it was yet dark.' So much did they know diligence to import in this business. The greatest defect is in that point, therefore it needs first to be urged. For though we see, yet we sit still and seek not.
And now to the object. Of seeking we shall soon agree; Generatio quærentium we are all, saith the Psalm, even 'a generation of searchers.' Somewhat we are searching after still. Our wants or our wanton desires find us seeking work enough all our lives long. What then shall we seek, or where?
He, saith the Apostle, that will thus bestow his pains, let it be where? 'Above.' On what? 'The things there,' quæ sursum, he repeats in both, tells it us twice over; 1.Quæ sursum quærite, quæ sursum sapite. 'Above' it must be.
And of this also we shall not vary with Him, but be easily enough entreated to it. We yield presently, in our sense, to seek to be above others in favour, honour, place, and power, and what not? We keep the text fully in this sense, we both seek, and set our whole minds upon this. Altum sapimus omnes, all would be above, bramble and all, and nothing is too high for us.
It is true here, for on earth there is a sursum, 'above;' there be high places, we would not have them taken away, we would offer in them, and offer for them too, for a need. And there is a right hand here too, and some at it, and almost none but thinks so well of himself as why not he? Our Saviour Christ, when it was fancied that He should have been a great king upon earth, there was suing straight for His right-hand-place. Not so much as good-wise 'Zebedee's two sons' that smelt of the fisher-boat, but means was made for them to sit there.
But all this while we are wide. For where is all this? Here upon earth. All our 'above' is above one another here, and is ambitious above, and farther it mounted not. [317/318] But this not the Apostle's, not the 'above' or 'the right hand' he meaneth. No: not Christ's right hand upon earth, but that right hand He sits at Himself in Heaven. The Apostle saw clearly we would err this error: therefore, to take away as he goes all mistaking, he explains his 'above' two ways. 2. Privative: non quæ supra terram, hear you, 'not upon earth;' His 'above' is not here upon earth. This is where not 2. Then positive: to clear it from all doubt where, he points us to the place itself, 'above,' there 'above,' where Christ is, that is, 'not on earth.' Earth is the place whence He is risen. The Angels tell us non est hîc: seek Him not here now, but in the place whither He is gone, there seek Him in Heaven. Heaven is a great circle. Where in Heaven? In the chiefest place, there where God sits, and Christ at His right hand.
So that upon the matter, the fault he finds, the fault of our 'above' is, it is not above enough, it is too low, it is not so high as it should be. It should be higher, above the hills; higher yet, above the clouds; higher yet, higher than our eye can carry, above the Heavens. There now, we are right.
And indeed the very frame of our bodies, as the heathen poet well observed, giveth thither upward: cælumque tueri jussit, and bids us look thither. And that way should our souls make; it came from thence, and thither should it draw again, and we do but bow and crook our souls, and make them curvæ in terris animæ, against their nature, when we hang yokes on them, and set them to seek nothing but here below.
And if nature would have us no moles, grace would have us eagles, to mount 'where the body is.' And the Apostle goeth about to breed in us a holy ambition, telling us we are 'born for high matters' than any here; therefore not to be so base minded as to admire them, but to seek after things above. For contrary to the philosopher's sentence, Quæ supra nos nihil ad nos, 'Things above they concern us not,' he reverses that; yes, and we so to hold, ea maxime ad nos, 'they chiefly concern us.'
Come to the last now. And why this place above? I shall tell you. For there is Christ, and Him we seek to-day if it be Easter-day with us; and if we seek where He is, He is above [318/319] certainly. But he implieth a further reason yet, because in very deed there with Him are the things which we of all other seek for, and when all is done, all our seeking is to them referred as to the end. We would not ever travail, but after our laborious toiling course here find a place of rest, and this we seek. But not this alone, but a seat of glory withal. Sit we would, but in some eminent place; not at the left foot but at the right hand, in light and honour as much as might be.
We seek rest; especially, they who are tossed in a tempest, how do they desire a good haven, a harbour at rest! and sure here we 'dwell in Mesech,' meet with much disquietness. None but sometime hath sense of the verse in the Psalm: 'Oh that I had wings like a dove! then would I fly and be at rest!' And the more our incolatus is prolonged, the more we seek it, find it how we may.
And it is not the body's trouble so much, but invenietis requiem animabus, to find rest to our souls; - that is it. And the soul is from above, and but in her own place never finds it. 'Turn thee to your rest O my soul;' - that is worth all. But both are best, and not after all our turmoils here in this world to hear non introibunt in requiem meam in another world, but to be cast into that place where there is no rest day or night; but enter into His rest, which in the Epistle to the Hebrews he so much beats upon.
And verily if we seek rest, glory we seek much more. For if we are content to deprive ourselves of all rest, which otherwise we love well enough. And a restless course we enter into, and hold out in it all our life long, and all to win it, though it be but a little before our death. For no rest will satisfy or give us full content, unless it be on the right hand.
These two then we seek for: where are they to be found? Not in quae supra terram; not here therefore, but folly to seek them here. We are by all means to avoid their error, that sought this day to seek 'the living among the dead,' a thing where it is not to be had.
Never seek to set up our rest here, in the tumultuous troublesome place, this vale of Achor right, as Osee; this trrocÕj, as St. James, a 'wheel' ever whirling about, quærens requiem et non invenit eam. [319/320] When we shall soon diseased with a surgite postquam sederitis, 'after we sit a little, quickly disquieted again.' The prophet Micah tells us plainly, non habetis hic requiem, 'here we cannot have it, this is not our rest.'
Nor never seek for true glory here: why? Locus est pulicum et culicum, 'It is the place of fleas and of gnats this.' In the garden, the place of our delight, we meet with worms; and there be spiders even in the King's palace. This place of worms and spiders, call ye this the place of glory in dust and cobwebs?
Say it be, yet such is the nature of these two such as they be, the rest and the glory here, as they divide it still; have ye one, ye must quit the other. They that are in glory have not the quietest life; and they who are most at rest, farthest off from being glorious. Rest is here a thing inglorious, and glory a thing restless. Thus it stands with us. Issachar's condition like some; rest is good though it be between a pair of paniers. If that like us, we must live in this estate, the most obscure of all the tribes. But if we will have a name among the great ones of the earth, if it be glorious, then farewell rest; we must take our lot among them that live not most at ease certainly. For here they meet not, but are in sunder still.
But say yet we could make them meet, be at all ease and in all glory together; seated, and seated 'at the right hand' both. Now come we to weigh the word Dei. The right hand here, super terram, is not the right hand of God, but of a man, which shall wither, and within a certain of years, as the Prophet's term is, 'fall from the shoulder.' And so this rest, and this right hand, we can have no hold of either. It is said in the Acts, after two years Felix went his way, and another came governor in his place. And then the places were changed - some were diseased; and so is the case of all felicity here.
Upon this point then. Rest and glory we seek not barely, but we seek them so as they may endure; and our wish is if it might be, even for ever. And this may be had, but it will be had at no right hand but ad dextram Dei, God's only. Then seek them there. Not here, where either we shall [320/321] seek and not find them, or find one from the other; or if both together, yet have no hold of them, but soon lose them again. Seek where we may, nay, where we shall be sure to find them, where both will be had; and both together, and good assurance, of both even to eternity as at God's right hand, a right hand that withereth not. If you seek rest, let it be in His 'holy hill;' if glory, gloria in excelsis, where Christ is already; set, so at rest; at the right hand, so in glory; at God's right hand, and so, in both for ever. There they be, there 'seek,' there 'set your minds.'
To withdraw ourselves, to sequester our minds from things here below, to think of Him, and of the place where now He is, and the things that will bring us thither.
It is a prerogative that a Christian hath, to make it Easter any day in the year, by doing these duties on it. They come no day amiss. But no day so fit as this day, the very day of His rising. Then of very congruity, we to rise also. For no reason in the world, if He rise, that we should lie still. Nor is it good for us that He should rise without us, and leave us behind in the grave of our sins still. But when He, then we too.
Rising is not so proper to the day, but the two signs or two duties, call them which ye will, are as proper. For this day was, indeed, a day of seeking. 'I know whom you seek, you seek Jesus That was crucified, saith one Angel.' 'Why seek you the living among the dead? saith another.' To rise when He rose, to seek Him when He was sought. This day He was sought by men, sought by women. Women, the three Maries; men the two Apostles. The women at charges, the Apostles at pains. Early by the one, earnestly by the other. So there was seeking of all hands.
And they who sought not went to Emmaus, yet they set their minds on Him, had Him in mind, were talking of Him by the way. So that these do very fitly come into the agendum of this day; thus to seek and set our minds. At least not to lose Him quite, that day we should seek Him, or have our minds farthest from Him that day they should be most upon Him.
The Church by her office, or agendum, doth her part to help us herein, all she may. The things we are willed to seek she sets before us, the blessed mysteries. For these are from above; the 'Bread that came down from heaven,' the Blood that hath been carried 'into the holy place.' [321/322] And I add ubi Christus for ubi Corpus, ubi sanguis Christi, ibi Christus, I am sure. And truly here, if there be an ubi Christus, there it is. On earth we are never so near Him, or He us, as then and there. There in efficaciâ, and when all is done, efficacy, that is it must do us good, must raise us here, and raise us at the last day to the right hand; and the local ubi without it of no value.
He was found in the 'breaking of the bread:' that bread she breaketh, that there we may find Him. He was found by them who had their minds on Him: to that end she will call to us, Sursum corda, 'Lift up your hearts;' which, when we hear, it is but this text iterated, 'Set your minds,' have your hearts where Christ is. We answer, 'We lift them up;' and so I trust we do, but I fear we let them fall too soon again.
Therefore, as before so after, when we hear, 'Thou That sittest at the right hand of the Father;' and when again 'Glory to God on high,' all is but to have this. But especially, where we may sentire and sapere quæ sursum, and gustare donum cæleste, ' taste of the heavenly gift,' as in another place he speaketh; see in the breaking, and taste in the receiving, how gracious He was and is; was in suffering for us, is in rising again for us too, and regenerating us thereby to 'a lively hope.' And gracious in offering to us the means, by His mysteries and grace with them, as will raise us also and set our minds, where true rest and glory are to be seen.
That so at this last and great Easter of all, the Resurrection-day, what we now seek we may then find; where we now set our minds, our bodies may then be set; what we now but taste, we may then have the full fruition of, even of His glorious Godhead, in rest and glory, joy and bliss, never to have an end.