Qu. What is this heavenly and blessed selfe-seeking?
Ans. To understand this aright, is a point of great concern∣ment. For the more we know of this Divine selfe-seeking, the more we will shun and abhor the sinfull self-seeking. Give me leave to deliver what I have to say about it, in these ensuing Propositions, which I doe not name as several distinct heads, but as divers instances of a divine and sublimated selfe∣seeking, (amounting most of them, to one and the same pur∣pose.)
That man who seeks the good of his Soule, more than the good of his body, seeks himselfe after a Divine manner. The Body * of Man is the worst halfe of Man, vilissima pars hominis, The shell, the boxe, the carcasse of Man. Intus est, quod homo est, The Soule of Man is the Man of Man. Animus uniuscujusque is est quisque. And therefore he that seeks to get his Soule beautified with grace, to be made Christs picture, and a reall member of his body, this Man, and this Man onely, seeks him∣selfe. He that seeks the good of his body, to the hurt of his Soule, doth not seeke himself, but the destruction both of Body and Soule. That Man that makes such a fire, as to burne himself and his house, doth not seek the good of himselfe nor his house. That Merchant that so over-loads his Ship, as to drowne it, and himselfe, doth not seek his owne good. Even so that Man that over-pampers his Body, that laboureth cura∣re cutem, magis quam animam, to stuffe his body with dainty food, to cloath his body with fine apparell, and in the mean time to neglect his most pretious Soule, this Man doth not seek himselfe, but ruine himselfe. For the happinesse of the Body, depends upon the happinesse of the Soule. If the Soul goe to Hell at death, the Body at the great resurrection will goe thither also: And therefore he that beates downe his Page 9 body, and brings it into subjection, and labours to make it a fit servant to his soule, that endures hardship with his body, as a good souldier of Jesus Christ, that weares and tires out his bo∣dy in the service of God; that works with his body for the good of his soule; this is the true, heavenly, and blessed selfe-seeker.
That man who seeks his eternall good more than his temporall;*who seeks not onely to make himselfe happy for forty or fifty years, but for ever and ever; This man seeks himselfe after a divine manner. For what will it profit a man to be happy for a few years in this life, and to be miserable for ever in hell hereafter; How quickly will a man in hell forget the happinesse he had here? He that makes provision to live pleasurably and comfor∣tably while he lives, but makes no provision to live happily when he dyes, this man may seeme to love himselfe for a mi∣nute, but sure I am he hates himselfe to all eternity. He that layeth up treasure for himselfe upon earth, but none in hea∣ven, may be accounted rich in this world, which will quickly end, but he will be poore world without end. Such a selfe-hater was Dives, Luc. 16. and the rich foole, Luc. 12. and such are all they that lay up treasure for themselves, but are not rich towards God, Luc. 12. 21. He is a divine selfe-seeker, who la∣bours to live holily here, that he may live happily hereafter; to live graciously here, that he may inherit eternall glory here∣after.
He that denyeth his sinfull selfe most, seeketh himselfe most.* He that hates himselfe as corrupted by Adams fall, and seeketh the utter ruine and extirpation of the old Adam within him, this man doth truly love himself. This is divine self-seeking, to kill thy sins, that thy sins may not kill thy soule. As Zipporah by circumcising her child, saved the life of her husband: So the way to save thy soule, is to circumcise and pare off 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, all superstuity of haughtinesse, James 1. 21. This is the meaning of that which Christ saith, Mat 5. 29, 30. If thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee, for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell. And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off and cast it from thee, for it is Page 10 profitable, &c The more thou hatest thy gainful and pleasura∣ble sins, the more thou lovest thy self. As a man in a Dropsie, the more he denieth himself drink the more he seekes himself; because the lesse he drinketh the more he destroyeth his disease. Even so the more thou deniest thy corrupt self, the more thou seekest thy self, because the more thou deniest thy corrupt self, the more thou destroyest thy spirituall diseases; the more thou ruina∣test the Devils faction within thee, & weakenst the opposition of the Flesh against the Spirit. He that loves his sins, hates his own soul, Pro. 8. 36. Gal. 6. 8. he that soweth sin, shall reap hell, he that makes provision for the flesh, provides fuel for bel fire. He that nou∣risheth the old Adam within him, cherisheth that which taint∣eth and polluteth all his holy duties, which indisposeth him to all good, and disposeth him to all evill, he cherisheth his Souls greatest enemy, 1 Pet. 2. 11. he delights in that, which was Pauls greatest misery, and which made him cry out, O wretch∣ed man that I am, who shall deliver me from the body of this death, Rom. 7. 24. therefore I may truly say, he that is the greatest selfe-denier, is the greatest selfe-seeker.
He that seeks to doe most service to God in his generation, that seeks his own glory, by seeking Gods glory, is a Divine self seeker.* The reason is, because the perfection of every thing consisteth, in attaining the end for which it was made. As the perfection of meat is to be eaten, he that hoards it up and will not eate it, destroyes it. The end for which God made Man is to serve him, to glorifie him here, and enjoy him hereafter. There∣fore the more service we doe to God, the more we seek his glory; the more we attaine the end of our creation, and therein we are the more happy. He that loves himselfe for himselfe, and for his owne ends, destroyes himselfe, because the end for which God made us, is to serve him, and not our selves. When all the streames of selfe-love flow into the great Ocean of the love of God, this is Divine selfe-love. Oh that men would thus labour to love themselves, and seek themselves, to look upon themselves as servants and instruments unto God and his glory; to say, Lord, how may I advance my selfe, by advancing thy name! how may I glorifie my selfe, by glorifying of thee? How may I seeke my selfe, by seeking thy praise, and Page 11 perfect my selfe, by disposing of my selfe of my understanding, me∣mory, will, heart, affections and actions, in order to thee and thy glory.
The more a man serves God out of pure love, without reflection*to selfe, the more he seeks himselfe; for this is a certaine truth, The lesse we seek our selves and our owne ends in any holy duty, the more we seek our selves, because the lesse we seek our selves, the more we seek God and his glory, and the more we seek God & his glory, the more reward we shall have. The lesse we look after reward for that we doe, the more reward we shall have; and therefore the Papists who teach men to doe good works that thereby they might merit heaven, (supposing their Do∣ctrine to be true) lose all the reward of their good worke. He that serves God to merit by his service, cannot merit by his ser∣vice; the more he eyes merit, the lesse he meriteth: He that serves God for his owne ends, doth not serve God but him∣selfe; but he that serves God for Gods sake, shall be rewarded by God. The lesse we eye our selves in any duty, the more reward we shall have, and therefore the more we seek our selves.
That man who seeks the glory and honour of God, above his*owne glory and honour, is a Divine selfe seeker. The reason is, because the happinesse of Man is more in God than in himselfe. As the happinesse of a member of the body is in conjunction with the body, (take it from the body it dieth.) So the happi∣nesse of Man is in conjunction with God, who is our chiefest good, who is an universall good, therefore he that seeks union with God most, seeks himselfe most. As the safety of the beame is more in the Sun then in it selfe, and of the streame in the Fountaine, then in it selfe. So the safety, comfort and happi∣nesse of every Christian, is more in God then in himself; there∣fore he that seeks the glory and honour of God, more than his owne glory and honour, is a heavenly and blessed selfe-seeker.
He that loves the publique good more than his owne private*good, that seeks the prosperity of Sion and Jerusalem, of Church and State more than his owne, is a Divine selfe-seeker. Oh that this word were mingled with Faith! A man that is in dan∣ger Page 12 to have his head cut off, will willingly (even out of selfe-love) lift up his arme and suffer it to be cut off to save his head, because his life is more in his head than in his arme. Our safety is more wrapt up in the publique welfare, than in our private, and therefore they who preferre the publique, before the private, are the truest selfe-seekers. Thus did Old Ely, he mourned more for the losse of the Ark•, than of his two Sons. Thus also did David, Psa 137. 6. He preferred Jerusalem above his chiefe joy, In a storme at Sea, he that seeks the preservati∣on of the Ship, seeks most the preservation of his own Trunk, for if the Ship be drowned, his Trunk cannot be saved. The truth is, if the Church and the true Religion be destroyed, to what purpose is it for a godly man to live? I read of Titus Vespa∣sian, that when the Souldiers had destroyed the Temple of Je∣rusalem, they came to him and asked him, what they should doe with the Priests that did supervive? Kill them (said he) for now their worke is at an end. When Religion is destroyed, what will it advantage a godly man to live? therefore they that seek the good of the Church, more than their owne, are blessed selfe-seekers.
That man who had rather lose wife, children, estate and life it selfe, than sinne against God, is a Divine selfe-seeker: The * reason is, because his happinesse is more in keeping a good Consci∣ence, than in keeping his Estate or saving his Life. The holy Martyrs who loved not their lives unto the death, were the grea∣test selfe seekers. It is a most blessed selfe-seeking, to suffer the fire of Martyrdome, to avoid the fire of Hell, to lose earthly promotions, to attain everlasting honours: And therefore Christ argueth from selfe-love, Mat. 16. 25. Whosoever will save his life shall lose it, and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall finde it; so also Mark. 10. 29, 30. the antient Martyrs did the like, Heb. 10. 34. Heb. 11. 35. He that loseth all for Christ, shall finde more than he hath lost in Christ.
From all that I have said concerning this blessed selfe-seek∣ing, I gather these three conclusions:
1. That no Man is a true selfe, seeker, who is not a true Christ-seeker.
2. That true Religion, and a consciencious walking according Page 13 to the rules of it is founded upon Right reason, and that no man can be truely said to be a rationall man, who is not a Re∣ligious man; for the more Religious any man is, the more he seeks himselfe and his owne happinesse; the more irreligious he is, the more he ruinateth and destroyeth himselfe.
3. That whosoever would love himsel•e, and seek himselfe aright, must labour to seek the things of Jesus Christ. Oh that I could perswade you to this blessed Selfe-seeking, to seek your owne gaine and honour, in seeking the honour of God, and good of Church and State.
But now in the third place, besides this lawfull, and this heavenly, and blessed selfe seeking, there is a sinfull, cursed, and devilish selfe-seeking, a selfe-seeking which is complained on in the Text, inconsistent and incompossible, with a true Christ-seeking, which is the root of all the miseries that have hapned to this Nation. The great Church and State, and Soul-de∣stroyer. This leads me to the second question.