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have said, set your affections on things above, without its being added, and not on things of the earth. But that saying of the Saviour is true, No man can serve two masters, Matt. vi. 24. If, therefore, we be slaves to our earthly desires, we shall never be watchful to promote our salvation. The poet heretofore sang, Our bosoms do not admit two cares ; and the Apostle said, foolish and hurtful lusts drown men in perdition, 1 Tim. vi. 9.
2. We must observe, that Paul forbids us to seek and savour earthly things, he does not forbid us to use earthly things, much less, indeed, to obtain them. We cannot live without the use of earthly things; but they would not serve for necessary uses, unless they were before acquired. Therefore, to seek and affect them, means in this place, to desire them with the whole heart, with every labour and industry : and to acquiesce in those things as in the greatest good. This carnal and worldly men do, whatever they pretend: this is evinced by their coveting these earthly things in every way and without measure. Now it is plain, that that is sought and proposed as their sole end, which is sought immeasurably: for in that which is sought on account of some end, a measure is admitted in proportion to the end.
3. We may add a reason why it is not fit to affect earthly things, but those alone which are above; and that twofold, One taken from the vanity of these things; for earthly things, as Parisiensis has well remarked, cannot impart satisfaction to him that hath them, nor support to him that rests upon them, nor profit to him who labours for them. What then shall it profit a man if he shall gain the whole world, &c. Matt. xvi. 26. The other from their contrariety to true and heavenly pleasures. For, as the heavenly manna failed after the children of Israel had eaten of the fruits of the earth; so the sweetness of spiritual pleasure is not perceived by those who have a longing after these earthly things. Whence said Augustine, If the mind hath delight from what is external, it will remain without delight from what is internal. Thus much for the matter of the Apostle's exhortation. Let us proceed to the inducements.
If ye be risen with Christ.] That it is our duty to seek and affect the things which are above he argues, first from our resurrection with Christ: For these words if ye be risen, are not expressive of doubt, but the language of inference and conclusion : for the assumption, viz. ye are risen wilh Christ, is presupposed from those things which were contended for in the foregoing Chapter, verses 12 and 13. And this argument proceeds from the cause to the effect: for this our resurrection which we have by Christ, is the efficient principle of the new life, and, therefore, of the new conversation and work. For we must know, that Christ, by the same power wherewith he raised himself from corporeal death, hath raised all his people from spiritual death. Hence said Bernard, There is a twofold resurrection ; one of the soul, which the secret coming of Christ effects; the other of the body, which the glorious coming of Christ will accomplish. And as the outward man will receive in its corporeal resurrection, new life and functions : so in this spiritual resurrection, the inner man now receives new life and a new sensitive power. Hence that injunction of the Apostle, Rom. vi. 4, As Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we also should walk in newness of life. This spiritual resurrection is effected in baptism, both sacramentally and really ; sacramentally, by the external administration of the rite; really, by the internal operation of the Holy Spirit. The Apostle comprehends both in Tit. iii. 5, According to his mercy he saved us by the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Ghost. These things being laid down, it is clear, that this ought to be the greatest inducement to all believers to seek and savour the things which are above. For he who is risen again is risen to another kind of life; but he who is risen with Christ, he, as far as it can be done in this life, ought to imitate Christ rising again. Therefore, like as Christ, being raised from the dead, cared no more for earthly things, but ascended to heaven to live a glorious and heavenly life: so Christians, who are spiritually raised, ought not to cleave to earthly things and desires, but elevate their minds to heaven.
Hence we observe,
1. It is the duty of Christians to imitate Christ, and to do those things spiritually which Christ did corporeally. For instance; Christ died; we ought in like manner to die to sin: Christ rose again ; we ought also to rise to newness of life : Christ ascended into heaven; it is our duty to soar to heaven in mind. This is what the Apostle would have us understand in Rom. vii. 5, where he requires that we, being planted together, should coalesce together in conformity as well to the death as to the resurrection of Christ. The Apostle, says Chrysostom, would have Christians to be partakers with Christ in all things.
2. It is not only our duty to rise with Christ; but to derive power from the resurrection of Christ for this spiritual resurrection; for that virtue wherewith Christ raised himself, he communicates to all his people to raise up them also. The argument, therefore, from the resurrection of Christ is strong for our spiritual resurrection. Hence the Apostle, having laid down the death and resurrection of Christ, subjoins “Outu nai nais aoriseo Je, &c. Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. Rom. vi. 11.
3. They are now inexcusable who still are absorbed in earthly things and desires; since they have a new nature proportioned and inclined to the things which are above, communicated to them by the quickening power of the resurrection of Christ. Therefore, like as iron, which cannot raise itself aloft by its nature, yet, by the operation of the magnet acting upon it, is raised upward: so human minds, by their own aptitude being set upon earthly things, by virtue of the resurrection of Christ, can elevate themselves to high and heavenly things. Thus much for the first inducement.
Where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God.] This is that other inducement or spur to seek and affect lofty or celestial things: Christ sitteth at the right hand of God; therefore it behoves us to seek and to affect the things that are above. First we shall explain the meaning of these words; and then shew the force of the argument, or the consequence of the reason.
In the first place, then, it must be borne in mind, that this is spoken of Christ properly and especially as to his human nature, in which he rose, and ascended, and sits at the right hand of the Father, as it is stated in the Apostle's Creed : and although as to the Divine nature, we must believe that he sat at the right hand of the Father from all eternity, i.e. as Damascenus, Lib. 4. cap. 2, has expounded it, that he had an equality of Divine Majesty with God the Father: By the right hand of the Father we mean the glory and honour of the Godhead ; in which the Son of God existed, before the world began, as God, and of one substance with the Father, but became incarnate in these last days, and sitteth there bodily, his flesh being also glorified. Therefore, passing by this Exposition of Damascenus, which respects the Divine nature of Christ and his eternal Majesty, let us inquire what is intimated under the words to sit at the right hand of God, when they are applied to the human nature of Christ and its exaltation effected in time.
This is the sum; Since God hath no bodily right hand, by this sitting is signified, that Christ as man, having accomplished the work of our redemption, is not only endowed with immortality and perfect blessedness, but is raised to heaven, placed above all creatures, Lord, Governor, and Judge of the whole world, and especially constituted the most glorious and powerful King and Patron of the Church. Augustine, De fide et symbolo, Tom. 3, says, to sit, is to possess judicial power ; but to be at the right hand of God, is to be in the highest blessedness ; as to be at the left hand is to be in the deepest misery. But what it is for the man Christ to sit at the right hand of the Father, is best explained by the Apostle in Ephes. i. 20, 21, and 22. It comprises, then, the exaltation of the human nature to a state of the completest happiness and glory of which it could be capable, and likewise exaltation and authority over all other creatures.
The error of certain moderns is therefore to be avoided,
who, from this sitting of Christ at the right hand of God, endeavour to infer, that Divine Majesty, ubiquity, and all the properties of Deity are really communicated to the human nature of Christ. But they are easily refuted;
1. Because, if the Divine attributes be really communicated to the human nature, the human nature is really God : for the Divine attributes are nothing else than the Divine essence. We therefore acknowledge that Christ incarnate has an equality of glory and majesty with God the Father : but we deny that the flesh of Christ, or the human nature, has, or can have this; because it is not consubstantial with God, although it is hypostatically united to God.
2. They are refuted from the circumstance of time. For (as they will have it) a real communication of attributes to the human nature arises from its hypostatic union with the Divine: but this sitting of the man Christ at the right hand of God, of which the Apostle speaks, followed his passion and resurrection. This we learn from the order of the articles in the Apostle's Creed: He rose again ; he ascended into heaven; he sat down, &c. This Christ himself teaches us, Luke xxiv. 26, Ought not Christ to have suffered, and to enter into his glory? And the Apostle, Heb. i. 3, After that he had purged our sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.
3. As to the ubiquity of Christ's body; that is manifestly refuted, not established in this place. For the Apostle says, that the minds of Christians ought to be directed heavenward, not set upon earthly things, for this reason, that Christ is exalted at the right hand of God in the heavens, now no more to dwell with us upon earth in his bodily presence, although as to the presence of the Divine Majesty he is ever with us. Thus in Ephes. i. 20, He set Christ at his own right hand. Where? In the heavens ; and Heb. i. 3, in the highest places. Although, therefore, the right hand of God is every where, if thereby we understand the Divine Majesty and power; because God is every where : yet Christ, as far as regards his body, or his human nature, is set at the right hand of God, not as regards his ubiquity, but his presence in heaven,