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up into heaven? This same Jesus, which is taken' up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven” (Acts i. 10, 11). Such is the doctrine of Scripture. The grace of His shewing Himself alive to the disciples upon earth—“ being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God” (Acts i. 3) must not be forgotten; nor the entire distinctness of the ascension, as a doctrine, from the doctrine of the resurrection of the Lord. In our verse He is pointed out as sitting at the right-hand of God -- after having ascended. And the exhortation to us is to set our “ affection on things above (that is in heaven) not on things on the earth." A natural consequence enough, if, indeed, we realise that we are risen together with Him; for the place into which we are risen is the place where the subjects of our interest will be found; our proper circumstances so to speak. And then, as giving weight to the word just spoken, he reminds them, “ For ye are dead and your life is hid with Christ in God." This is the present blessing we have, “ We are dead,” and “our life is hid with Christ in God.” The security of the manna in the golden-pot, inside the ark, shut in by God, who dwells between the Cherubim, is a poor expression of that security which is ours if our life is hid with Christ in God. It is life, eternal life; it is life inseparable from Christ; and Christ rests, not only in a seat of power in heaven, but is in God. We have to seek the things which are above. That is for the present our proper occupation. And it is an occupation in which the Spirit will have some upon earth to be occupied with until that time. When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall we also appear with Him in glory. It is Faith which owns Him as our life”; the eye sees it not; soon He shall take the place in which we shall see him for ourselves, and then what but to be seen together with Him in glory.
I may just remark that the apostle's use of the little word "if” (ver. 1), “ If ye then be risen together with Christ" does not convey, is not meant to convey, any uncertainty; as though Paul doubted, as though he sanctioned their doubting, as though he even supposed they
VOL. X. PT.III.
doubted whether or not they were in Christ, and risen together with Him. The whole scope of the apostle's argument goes upon the fact that there was no doubt whatever about it-to faith the thing was clear and sure; He had left Judaism by reason thereof; he was proving that these Colossians were in danger of Judaising, because they did not retain the fact before them; and in chaps. ii. and ü. he thrusts this blessed grace of God before them, that they may find the power of seeking the things which were above.
Some will say," but we are down here"-"our bodies are on earth":--and what then? May not God look at us, not according to what we are in the flesh, but according to what we are in the spirit, as partakers of a new life in Christ, a life which enables us to know that God identifies us, and looks upon us as one spirit with Him who sits at His right-hand; or, may not God, having made this good for a Paul, for poor Colossians, call upon them to walk by the faith of it? He certainly has done so; and faith, in us, as certainly as it knows what He has done, takes up His word, His thought, and counts it true and to be but the expression of that which has more of substantive truth and eternal reality in it, than all that which Satan sets man's flesh on to say in opposition. It is a sorrowful thing to see Christians pleading experience and feeling and sense as to what they are in themselves, and as to what the world around them is, and as to what power Satan has over them; and refusing to take God's estimate of the world, the flesh and Satan; and so not finding a practical refuge in Christ for themselves; and in Him, too, that new life, new in nature
a life in Christ; of Christ arisen from the grave; and after that gone up into heaven.
On the expression, “Seek those things which are above," I would say a few words. And first, as to the definiteness of the place spoken of by the Spirit here; nothing could be more marked; “things which are above." Where? “ Where Christ sitteth on the right-hand of God.” Now, to many minds this is all in the clouds, very vague indeed. So, at least, many have said. But
just let us remark, in this very epistle, how Paul, walking by faith, as a man that was risen together with Christ, saw glory upon glory, in Christ, by which he could answer (with divine perfectness in his case, as one inspired while so writing), all the sophism and all the vain deceits of the adversary. In Christ's light he saw light; and saw glory upon glory in the Christ; and saw offices and relationships in Him too, which not only gave a light in which he could walk as a living man, so as to avoid pits, and snares, and traps, into which others might fall; but also which gave à nourishment and a strength to his soul, as well as a healthy occupation to it which some of these Colossians were in need of. O if Christians now had the eyes of their understandings rivetted upon the Christ of God,-upon Him who is not only now to be seen by faith, crowned with honour and glory (as in Hebrews and the Apocalypse), but in whom there plays all that liveliness of affection to the adopted children of His Father — and ten thousand bright and beauteous graces as well as glories --- if these things might, indeed, be so with us - what a change in the life and in the testimony of many! Natural religion will
carry its string of beads to count its prayers upon: does spiritual religion find nothing in Christ to answer thereunto? Yes; 'he links together glory upon glory, and
grace upon grace, to be told over in praise before God. And what a halo of light, bright, but soft and beauteous, is seen around Him, by those that know Him in heaven. May God revive and restore the hearts of His people to spiritual, heavenly worship. If silence becomes us as to ourselves, surely there is much to be said for and about the blessed Lord Jesus.
The exhortation is double, first, “Seek them,” those things which are above; and, then, secondly, “set your minds on them," on things above.
There is something worthy of remarking upon in the graciousness of the introduction of the truth of ver. 3 here.
“For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.” It meets man both ways
- little faith, or fleshliness, or worldly-mindedness, might object. “How can I do this"? The answer is, “Ye are dead.” Weakness and conscious littleness on the other side is lured
on with the counter statements, which must ever be precious to every saint, “ Your life is hid with Christ in God.” How that word meets every temper in the soul. " Your life is hid with Christ in God."
In conclusion, it is clear that fellowship with Christ in life is not all that God has given to us; or all that God has made to be a matter of responsibility to us. Nor, again, would the life, being the life of Christ as risen from the dead, suffice for as such He will rule over the Jews, and have the Gentiles under His power; yea, the knowledge of the glory of the Lord shall cover the earth as the waters cover the sea under the
of the Christ, as having life in Himself; as being in a position in which to communicate it - and fellowship with Himself to poor sinners-He being arisen from the grave. It is not until we come to His ascension, and His place taken in the heavenlies, that we get to that which, as connected with the life taken anew by the Lord, marks off the distinctive position of the believer, while He, as Son of man sits at the right hand of the Father. There is no unearthiness, no unworldliness, like that which flows from affections formed and trained for the divine and heavenly glory of the Son of Man; affections fed by intercourse with Him whose thoughts were the first in all these things. The discontentment of an ugly temper, which is satisfied with nothing, may make us complain of the wilderness; the sorrows of the passage through it may make us groan; and God's chastenings too for our practical inconsistencies may do as much; but none of these things will give groans like unto those which a home-sick soul, a heaven-filled heart will have, a soul which is too much occupied with Christ in God, and the glory to come, to have much time or thought to give either to itself or to the experiences of the wilderness. Christ felt the wilderness and the trials which man put upon Him as well as Satan in this way, for His soul wa blessedly filled with the glory He had come from with the Father ever looking upon Him; and with that Father's house and kingdom of glory He was to open to us. May we know these things; seek them and set the mind
* We find, in the Epistles to the Thessalonians, and espe
cially in the first (for in the second it was already needful to guard that freshness from the perfidious attacks of the enemy), the condition and the hope of the Christian, as such, in this world, in all its freshness. These two epistles are the first that Paul wrote, unless we except that to the Galatians, the date of which is uncertain. Already long occupied with the work, it is only when this work was considerably advanced, that in watching over it he guards it by means of his writings: writings, as we have seen, various in character, according to the state of the Churches, and according to the divine wisdom which, by this means, deposited in the Scriptures that which would be necessary for all ages.
Newly converted, the Christians at Thessalonica suffered much from the persecution of the world; a persecution which the Jews of that place had already stirred up at an earlier day against Paul himself. Happy at the great work there, and rejoicing in the state of his dear children in the faith, a testimony to which was borne everywhere, even by the world, the apostle opens his heart; and the Holy Ghost sets forth, by his mouth, what that Christian condition was upon the earth, which was the source of his joy in the case of the Thessalonians; and what the hope, which threw its light upon the believer's existence, shining around him through his whole life, and illumining his path in the wilderness. In a word, the Christian character is unfolded to our eyes with all its motives and its joys; and that, in connection with the testimony of God, and the hope which is our strength in
We all know that the doctrine of the coming of