The fourth and last question is, wherein the grievousnesse* and mischievousnesse of this sinfull self-seeking consi∣steth?
Answ. It is a sin of the first magnitudô. Though it be an inward invisible sin, and therefore not so infamous and scan∣dalous to the eyes of men, as some other sinnes are, yet it is very odious and abominable in the sight of God. Though it be minoris infamiae, yet it is majoris culpae. For,
1. It is a sin against the expresse words of the Scripture. The Apostle saith, 1 Corin. 10. 24. Let no man seek his owne, but every man anothers wealth. The sinfull selfe-seeker lvies Antipodes to this Text, he seeks his own, and not anothers wealth.
2. It is a sin against the light of nature. Nature it self teacheth us, that no man is born for himself, but for the good of the Common-wealth, in which he lives. The very Heathens abo∣minate a self-seeker.
3. It is a sin against the pattern that Christ hath left us: For he came into the world, not to doe his own will, but the will of him that sent him; he pleased not himself, Rom. 15. 2. he made Page 19 himself of no reputation, he humbled himself, and became obedi∣ent, even to the death of the Crosse: He denied himself so far, as to be made sin for us, who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousnesse of God in him. Now it is a certain Maxime, That he who doth not follow the example of Christs life, shall never have any benefit by the merit of his death: Christ is meritum only to those to whom he is exemplum.
4. It is a sin against the royall law of Charity. Charity is a most noble grace, the very queen of all graces; it is as necessa∣ry as it is excellent For though we bestow all we have to feed the poore, thou•h we give our bodies to be burnt, yet if we have not Charity, it profiteth us nothing. But now a self-seeker is made up all of uncharitablenesse.
1. He hath no love unto Jesus Christ & his interest, and there is a double curse pronounced against those that love not the Lord Jesus, 1 Cor. 16. 22.
2. He hath no love to his Neighbour, but for his owne ends; it is amor concupiscentiae vel amicitiae, it is not love, but mer∣chandize.
3 He hath no love to Church nor State. All his love cen∣ters in himself: He is wholly compounded of self-love, and creature love, which is a composition God hates.
5. It is a Sin that makes all our holy duties abominable in the sight of God. Though the actions we doe be never so holy, yet if we do them upon politique designes, if we aim at our selves in what we do, the Lord abhorres us and all we do, as we see in the Pharisees, who in their Almes, Prayers and Fastings, did all to be seen of men, and therefore God abhorred all they did. Self-aimes pollute and putrifie all holy actions.
6. It is a sin of horrible Hypocrisie: for it is making use of Religion as a ladder to clime up to pre•ment, and then casting the ladder away; it is setting up God as a Pander to our ambitious and covetous interest, which is Hypocrisie, to be abhorsed. This is uti Deo ut •ruamur nobismetipsis, which is no little transgression.
7. It is Idolatry in the highest degree; it is 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 a wor∣shipping of self; it is making our selves and our own interest, the root, rule, and scope of all our undertakings, which is to Page 20 make an Idoll of our selves and to usurp the throne of God. It is Idolatry against the first Commandement, which is grea∣ter than Idolatry against the second, by how much the heart is better than the knee.
8. It is a sin that is the fruit of six cursed roots (as you have already heard) and the root of many cursed fruits: It is 〈◊〉 omnium v•tiorum, a sin, and the cause of all sin, the Pl•e so•e o• Church and State, the great Church-devouring, and State destroying sin To give some few instances.
What is the reason that the Government of the Church, so happily began, is now obstructed, and almost quite broken in 〈◊〉? Is it not because all men seek their owne, and no men the things of Christ?
What is the reason that the house of God lieth wast, and every man labours to build his own house?
Why is it that men complain of taxes and want of trading, but no man complaines that the House of God is neglected, the pure Ordinances despised, and the godly Ministry under∣valued? Is it not because all men seek their own, and not the things of Jesus Christ?
What is the reason that the truths of Christ are trampled under feet, and men are suffered to deny the Divinity of Christ and of the Scriptures, and no man saith, why do you so? But let a man but speak a word against the lawes of men, he shall be severely punished: Is not this, because all men seek their own, and not the things of Jesus Christ?
What is the reason that so few Gentlemen, Citizens, and Mi∣nisters; appeare for the things of Christ? that so many silence themselves, and suffer Religion to be almost lost, and yet dare not appeare for it? Why is it that our Lectures are so little frequented in most places• that many think nothing too much to give to their 〈◊〉, but any thing too much for their Mi∣nister? that 〈◊〉 Master will be very exact to see his servant do his business upon the week da•es, but indulge him to do what he will upon the Lord• day? Is it not because all men seek their own and not the things of Jesus Christ?
What is the reason that the things of the Church drive on so slowly, like the Egyptian Chariots, when the wheeles Page 21 were taken off? what is the reason that there is so much op∣pression and injustice in places of judicature? So much cou∣senage and false dealing in our commerce one with another, in a word, what is the cause of all our miseries both in Church and State? Is it not because all men seek their own, and not the thin•s of Jesus Christ? thus you have the greatnesse and the mischievousnesse of this sinfull selfe-seeking. So much for the Explication of the Doctrine, I come now to the Appli∣cation.
Is this be so, that amongst the multitude of Christians that * professe love to Christ and his cause, there are many, yea very many, that •ek their owne, and not the things of Christ. Let us then 〈◊〉 beseech you) behold as in a glasse, the sinfulnesse and miserablenesse of the times wherein we live, for if the A∣postle compla• of his times, which were the first and the best times, the golden Age, the Primitive, Apostolical, Virgin-Church, when the Saints of God met together in one place, with one accord, much more may we of our times, which are the last and worst, the iron age, wherein the Church of Christ is wofully divided, and wonderfully Apostatized: How justly (I say) may we take up this sad complaint against our t•es: All men seek th•i owne, not the things of Jesus Christ?
And yet I dare not say, all men collectively, I believe there are a few names even in England. which have not defiled their garments, and have not bowed their knees to Baal, some Magistrates, some Gentlemen, some Ministers and Citizens yet remaining, who seek the things of Jesus Christ more than their owne, yea, with the neglect and losse of their owne, who seek the prosperity and welfare of Sion, more than their own. Some Ezra's, Nehemiah's, and Daniel's, that lay to heart the desolations of the Church, and with Old Ely are more troubled about the Arke of God, than their owne pri∣vate relations: But these are a very few in comparison It is certaine, that most of all sorts are guilty of this sinfull selfe-seeking, most Magistrates, most Gentlemen, Ministers and Citizens. Now then let us examine our selves, whether we be not amongst the number of this multitude. To quicken you to this consider,
Page 22 1. That this sinne is both a New and an Old Testament sinne. It reigned not onely in Pauls time, but in Debora's, and Baraks, who tell us that for the divisions of Reuben, there were great searchings of heart, because he abode among the Sheep-folds, and cared not what became of the Church of God, Judges 5. 15, 16.
2. It is a common and ordinary sinne, few are free from it.
3. It is a great and crying abomination, as you have heard.
4. It is a great and hidden iniquity, an inward, invisible, and spirituall sinne, that consumes England as a moth, not as a Lion: It is threatned, Hos. 5. 12. 14. That God would be to Ephraim as a Moth, and as a Lion, Murder, Adultery, Sodomy, injustice, &c. devoures England as a Lion, but selfe-love and selfe seeking destroies it as a Moth secretly, and yet certainly: Let us therefore be very serious in the worke of selfe-trying.
There are three sorts of men whom I indict as guilty of this sinfull and cursed selfe-seeking.
- 1. Such as seek their owne things, and not at all the things of Christ.
- 2. Such as seek their own things before, and more than the things of Ch•ist.
- 3. Such as pretend to seek the things of Christ, but seek their owne things, under the colour of seeking the things of Christ.
1. Such as seek their owne credit, profit, preferment, ease and safety, and not at all the things of Christ: It is reported of Agrippina, the Mother of Ner•, who being told, that if ever her Son came to be Emperor, he would put her to death; she answered, •eream ego modo ille imperet. Let me perish so he may be Emperour. There are many such, who say in their hearts, Perat religio modo ego imperem; So I may get an estate, and grow great in the world, no matter what becomes of Religion and Reformation.