Colossians iii. 1, 2
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 con-surrexistis 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 to 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 have none of it. The true
Christian enquireth farther, what is the agendum of the feast, what
is the proper act of Easter-day? The Church hath 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.”
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.
[The two acts jointly: “Seek,” and “set your minds.”]
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; ou froneiv, the very word here,
“thou savourest not” [Matt. 16:23]. 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,” saith
Solomon truly, “the mind is not good,” and we know, mala mens malus
animus, ‘the mind misled will set the affections awry straight.’…
On the other side there be that… ‘savour Christ, but seek themselves’
[Phil. 2:21]. Of whom the Apostle, they have knowledge competent,
but without so much as a spark of true endeavour. Augustine saith,
‘undestand well enough, but coldly affected;’ so, sit still and seek not….
That in sunder they would not be, but joined ever. Sapere
without quaerere will not rise, but lie still; and quaerere
without sapere will rise, but lead you astray.
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
that 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 less. Those, to whom the Prophet Esay said, If ye 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 mostwhat, 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 go for seeking,
but it will not be. O is quaeritis quarite, saith Esay, --look
the place, “The morning comes, so doth the night,” that is, our days spend
apace, and we say we will seek. If we will, let us follow it hard,
make it our race with the one, our morning work with the other.
[“Set your minds.”]
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 hath no
mind to? Never. The mind is all. Be it what it will,
or when 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 fronein there is more…It is a word the Apostle much
useth, as being very significant, full and forcible. Four things
are in it:
i) 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…
ii) It is then and act of the understanding, but not of it alone…It
is as to set our mind, not our fancy, so our mind, not only to know it,
but to mind it….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
iii) So to savour it…that to seek is our wisdom…Moses saith, “this
shall be your wisdom,’ before God and man, and you so to reckon of it;
even this, to seek things above, and to think when ye are about your business,
ye are about a point of high wisdom,a nd that to perform it well is the
wisest action of our life.
iv) To hold it our wisdom; and last, I ask what wisdom? Not that
which doth contemplate,…but the active wisdom…To show that not only our
grounds for judgment, but our rules for action, are to be set thence.
Thither to get us, thence 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
[“the things that are above”]
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…On earth…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 sit at it, and almost none but thinks so well of himself
as why not he?…
All our above is above one another here, and is ambitious above, and
farther it mounteth not. But this is not the Apostle’s, not the “above,”
not “the right hand” he meaneth….To take away as he goes all mistaking,
he explains his “above” two ways… “not upon earth;” … “above,” there “above
where Christ is, that is, “not on earth.”
The fault he finds, the fault of our “above” is, it is not above enough,
it is too low, it is not as 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 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 higher matters’ than
any here; therefore not to be so base minded as to admire them, but to
seek after things above…
Come to the last now. And why this place above? I shall
tell you: for there is Christ, and Him we seek to-day it it be Easter day
with us; and if we seek where He is, He is above certainly…
[What the things “above” are: rest and glory]
We seek rest; specially, they that are tossed in a tempest, how do they
desire a good haven, a harbour of rest! and sure here we “dwell in Mesech,”
meet with much disquietness. None but sometimes 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 for our souls; --that is it. And the soul is from above,
and but in her own place never finds it. “Turn thee to thy 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 nor 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 for it
we are content to deprive ourselves of all rest, which otherwise we love
sell 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 this tumultuous troublesome place,
“this vale of Achor” right, as Osee; this trocov, as St. James,
a “wheel” ever whirling about…Where we shall soon be diseased with a
surgite postquam sederitis, ‘after we sit a little, quickly disquieted
again.’ The Prophet Micah tells us plain… "here we cannot have it,
this is not our rest” [Mic. 2:10].
Never seek for true glory here: why? ‘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 that 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 [Gen 49:14]; rest is
good though it be between a pair of panniers. 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 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.
[“At the right hand of God.”]
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”
[Job 32:21]. And so this rest, and this right hand, we can have no
hold of either…
Upon the 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 dexteram Dei, God’s only. Then seek them there.
Not here, where either we shall 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 ye 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 hnow He is, and the things that
will bring us thither.
[The application to the time.]
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 rise also. For no reason in the world, if He rise,
that we should lie still. Nor is it food 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 propre 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, ye seek Jesus That was crucified,”
saith one Angel; “Why seek ye 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
And they which 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,
nor have our minds farthest from Him that day they should be most upon
[To the Sacrament.]
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” [John 6:50; Heb. 9:12]. 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, nor He us, as then and there. There in effecacia,
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 that 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 heigh,’ all
is but to have this. But especially, where we may sentire and
sapere quae sursum, and gustare donum caeleste, ‘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.