Qu. 1. Whether all selfe-seeking be contradictory to Christ-seeking? Whether a man may not be a Christ-seeker, and yet a selfe-seeker?
Ans For answer to this you must know, that it is not simply and absolutely unlawfull for a man to seek himselfe, no more than it is to love himselfe. Religion doth not destroy naturall affections, but onely regulates them, and sanctifieth them; Gratia non extinguit sed ordinat affectiones, saith Aquinas, Non tollit sed attollit naturam, Grace doth not destroy, but elevate nature. It doth not dry up the stream of selfe-seeking, but onely turnes it into the right channell. Religion doth not pluck up, but weed the garden of Nature. As Musitians when their instruments are out of tune, will not break but tune them. So Religion doth not abolish, but onely tune and order our selfe-seeking.
Therefore you shall finde in Scripture, that there are many Page 7 arguments drawne from selfe-love, and selfe-seeking, to per∣swade us to holinesse, and disswade us from sin, Deut. 28. Lev. 26. Deut. 32. 46, 47. Is. 1. 19. Rom. 2. 7, 8. Rom. 8. 13. Gal. 6. 8. The Scripture gives us leave to love our selves, and to seek our selves, so it be in a right manner. Moses did not sin in having an eye to the recompence of reward. Nor did the Mar∣tyrs who could not accept deliverance, that they might ob∣taine a better resurrection, Heb. 11. 35. who received joyfully the spoiling of their goods, knowing in themselves that they had in Heaven a better, and an enduring substance, Heb. 10. 34. It is said, even of Christ himselfe, That for the joy that was set before him, he indured the crosse, and despised the shame, &c. Heb. 12. 2. There is a great difference between amor mercena∣rius, and amor mercedis, Mercenary love, and the love of the reward. Mercenary love is, when we serve God onely for reward. This is sinfull, but to make the hope of reward one motive of service, is not only lawful, but necessary. For it is our duty to use all Gods Motives, as well as all Gods Ordinances, and as it is a sinne for any man to say, that he hath no need of Gospel-Ordinances, so also to say that he hath no need of Gospel∣motives, amongst which, this is one of the chiefest.
Know therefore that there is a threefold selfe-seeking.
- 1. There is a lawfull and an allowed selfe-seeking.
- 2. There is not onely a lawfull, but a heavenly and blessed selfe-seeking.
- 3. There is a sinfull, cursed. and Diabolicall selfe-seek∣ing.
1. There is a lawfull selfe-seeking, and that is, when a Christian seeks his owne private gaine and honour in the last place, and in the least place, when he seeks the things of Christ, in the first and chiefe place, and his owne things lesser, and af∣ter the things of Christ, when he seeks his owne things, not in separation from, opposition to, competition with, but in sub∣ordination to the things of Christ. In a word, when a Christ∣an seeks his own things in due order and measure, so as not to hinder, but to further his seeking the things of Christ, this is a lawfull selfe-seeking.
2. There is not onely a lawfull, but a most Divine Ange∣licall, Page 8 heavenly, and blessed selfe-seeking. Here I shall hold forth this Scripture Paradox, That no man can be truly said to seek himselfe, that doth not seek the things of Christ. That the more we seek the things of Christ, the more we seek our selves. That he that seeks not the things of Christ, doth not seek himselfe, but destroy himselfe. That a Christ-seeker, and a true self-seeker are termes convertible.