God looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, that did seek God. Every one of them is gone back: they are altogether become filthy; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.
~ Psalm 53:2-3
To reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood:
~ Galatians 1:16
All things are delivered unto me of my Father: and no man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him.
~ Matthew 11:27
He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given. For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath. Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand.
~ Matthew 13:11-13
But if from thence thou shalt seek the LORD thy God, thou shalt find him, if thou seek him with all thy heart and with all thy soul.
~ Deuteronomy 4:29
He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.
~ John 14:21
Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.
~ John 14:23
I love them that love me; and those that seek me early shall find me.
~ Proverbs 8:17
That thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father which is in secret: and thy Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly.
~ Matthew 6:18
But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.
~ Hebrews 11:6
As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent. Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.
~ Revelation 3:19-22
My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:
~ John 10:27
Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near:
~ Isaiah 55:6
But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD.
~ Genesis 6:8
How, and By What Means Are We To Seek After God, by Jonathan Edwards. The following contains a part of his sermon.
How are we to seek after God? By what means is God to be sought? Perhaps there may be some that haven’t heard that new thinking God we seek is reconciliation, love, communion and eternal enjoyment, may be ready to hear with a listening ear? How God has to be sought?
I answer —
1. The first thing to be done is the clearing ourselves of all hindrances and impediments and all works to be performed. The first thing is to remove impediments. Now we have many things which if they’re not removed, will forever effectually hinder our finding of God. We are tied down, we are fast bound? We cannot go out upon the search after God until we are loosened. Now what are these hindrances? What are these bonds and chains, but our sins. Therefore, he that would see God must resolve to forsake all of his sins, and resolve to forsake them forever. And must forsake them or else it is to no purpose to pretend to seek God. God will never be reconciled to love, commune with, and be enjoyed by one that keeps us dear sins to enjoy at the same time. God and sin are the most irreconcilable things in the world. God will not be entreated to dwell with your sin. It is in vain to seek for it. If God enters in, sin must be turned out of doors. You’re praying, seeking, the solemn meeting and everything of that nature which he does, that doesn’t forsake his sins and lust is no better account of by God than mocking him, an and abomination to him.
The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord.
Bring no more vain oblations; incense is an abomination unto me; the new moons and sabbaths, the calling of assemblies, I cannot away with; it is iniquity, even the solemn meeting. Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hateth: they are a trouble unto me; I am weary to bear them. And when ye spread forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you: yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear: your hands are full of blood. Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil; Learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow. Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool. If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land: But if ye refuse and rebel, ye shall be devoured with the sword: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it.
Therefore, he that would seek and find God must, as the first thing in order to it, forsake every known sin and spit the sweet morsel a lot of his mouth, and not retain one least, but take his leave of that which he wickedly made his darling sin—not only sins of commission, but of omission. Do our duties and all things to our utmost.
2. The second step is to make inquiry after God. When we have taken our leave of our sinful courses and parted with all of our lusts, then we’re to set out on our search after God by inquiring after him and say, ‘what shall I do to be saved’? ‘How?’ ‘Where?’ ‘And by what means may God be found?’ That is, we ought to get well-instructed in the revealed will of God. To know what are his commands that we may obey them. What are the things He requires of us that we may obtain his love and favor, that we may perform them? What is the most likely ways to go that we may find God, that we may walk and run in them? We are naturally full of darkness, and there is a mist or cloud which overshadows us. And except it be removed, we will stumble and fall. We shall wander and be lost. If men didn’t but make doing that inquiry, they would not be the lost to know which way they should get to work and seeking of God. We must apply ourselves for this into the scriptures, and must get acquainted with a word of God, and must meditate in it. If a man were condemned to death, and it was told him he might obtain a pardon if he would, would he be slack? Do you think, in inquiring which way and what he must do that this pardon may be obtained? Neither should we be slack if we did, but no one were sensible of what a miserable dreadful state of condemnation we are in by nature, and enquiring after reconciliation.
3. By calling after Him in prayer, ask, receive a knock, and it shall be open to you. For he that asks, receives. Having parted with her sins according to the first particular and informed ourselves of the will of God according to the second, we must pray without ceasing, with all prayer and supplication that God would manifest Himself to us, and be found of us. There must not only be public and family prayer, but secret prayer. This is what is particularly commanded and nourished in the gospel—he that would find God must frequently retire from all the world, and secretly make his applications to Him, who sees and hears in secret, and earnestly cry after God whom we have lost, and wait for an answer from Him that we may find Him, and enjoy Him.
4. God has to be sought in those ways where he used to be found and where he often discovers Himself. And what are those ways in which God used to be found? They are his ordinances, the very end for which God has instituted ordinances, is that in them, the children of men may meet with Him and find Him. God has want to be found in these ways. God is one to command life forevermore upon the mountains of Zion. Christ walks in the midst of his golden candlesticks, and there you may find Him. They use sort of the golden pipes by which grace is precious oil is conveyed to the soul. These are the breasts of holy and heavenly constellation. Canticles 1:7-8,
Tell me, O thou whom my soul loveth, where thou feedest, where thou makest thy flock to rest at noon: for why should I be as one that turneth aside by the flocks of thy companions? If thou know not, O thou fairest among women, go thy way forth by the footsteps of the flock, and feed thy kids beside the shepherds’ tents.
You see that Christ commands us to go by the footsteps of the flock and the common path, in which believers have gone before us and found Him, in a way where Christ used to be found. And where is that? Besides the shepherds’ tents, that is in the way of God’s ordinances. This is a way which God himself has marked out and which has been found successful by thousands. We need not wander in the wilderness where there is no way. But we do have a track, yea a playing path to be a direction to us. And what we have to do is run on with all of our might in this path.
In the second place is to those who have never yet found God to those destitute, desolate creatures who are lost, have no God, they can claim any interest in, or without God in the world, who are poor, blind, naked, undone, yea, who were dead. May the voice of God and His Word raise them to those who have nothing to depend upon, have nothing to live on, or that they pretend to live on above seventy years who have no defence, they can dictate themselves to a time of danger and distress, who have no stable happiness they can fly to in time of trouble and affliction. Let them set their very hearts and souls to seek the Lord. They have the need of it.
You’ve already heard how God has to be sought and therefore there is no need of your being at a loss. Therefore, now hearken to some motives to persuade you to act according to those directions. The motives are three kinds—
Drawn first, from the consideration of what you will find if you find God.
Second, from the consideration of what you will lose if you never find him.
And third, from the consideration of what you will get by seeking of other things and neglecting him.
First, consider what you will find, if you find God. You will find a Savior and an everlasting assured defence from all evil. Certainly that is worthy of the most diligent seeking which when obtained, will effectually deliver one, and when delivered will eternally preserve and defend one from all manner of evil. He that finds God, finds an eternal deliverance from all manner of affliction, and even all fear of affliction. And a little while, and they shall never more feel the least pain, the least disappointment, the least fear or trouble, but shall be forever free or from it than an unborn child. There is nobody that loves to feel pain and affliction, but would gladly be delivered from it. Why then should they need any arguments to persuade them to seek an universal and sovereign remedy that may be found? What would not one give for a medicine that would certainly forever preserve the body from all diseases? What would not award your gift for something that would effectually preserve from the force of martial weapons? What would not the mariner give for something effectually to preserve them from shipwreck, and all dangers of the sea? What not many give for something that was certainly always preserved from death and prolong the life forever? But who would not be willing to be at a great deal of pains to find that, that will surely in a very short time, not only deliver one from all those evils but eternally, from all manner of evil, great and small. Is not this enough to persuade you to seek after God? …that it is your duty and showing the mighty obligations by which you are bound and reason, justice and gratitude? Yet one would think but that, that which has so much at interest in it should surely have its effect. But second, if you find God, beside that you will find all good, you will not only be freed from all evil, but be brought to the possession of all good. You’re saying among the rest, who will show me any good? You mean worldly, sublunary good, which is not worthy the name, but then and then only do enquire after real solid good when you say Lord, ‘lift out up the light of your countenance upon me’. God is an infinite self-sufficient all-sufficient, essential, overflowing good. He is a source of all good. There is no truly improperly good thing, but what is the communication from this original good. He that finds God shall eternally possess all the good he will or can desire.
3. If you find God you will find complete and everlasting happiness, resulting from this deliverance from all evil, and a perfect enjoyment of this good. You’re certainly seeking after happiness, everything you do, It is that you may be happy. What do you follow business of your particular calling for, but that you may be a happy man, or if you spend your life in idleness, that is for happiness. If you spend your life in sin, it is because you foolishly think to be happy in it. Therefore, seeing you are as you must confess, in search of happiness, why do you need so many arguments to persuade you to receive it? When you’re told where and where alone, it may be found. When you were told were the highest, most perfect, everlasting, as well as only happiness is to be found. If you search all the world over, if you could wander from the earth and go into all the various parts of this vast universe, and could spend a thousand ages and trying every creative thing—you would never find any happiness, or any satisfaction, any satisfactory pleasure, until you come to the first and Best of beings.
Everything here upon earth has been tried already. Solomon tells us that he set himself on purpose to try them, but he found nothing but vexation of spirit. All these enjoyments have been tried already millions of times, and have always proved ineffectual. There never was a man yet seen heard or read of since the foundation of the world that was made a happy man by an affluence of these things. Therefore, seeing so many men and all past generations have tried and found the world good for nothing for happiness. And you, yourself also have been so foolish as to try the same, and have not yet found satisfaction. Why will you try any further? Why will you not be persuaded to try this also, and see if you can find happiness in Christianity. To them that there was never one yet that have tried that have declared themselves not satisfied. If you make a trial, you will find more and better satisfaction at your pleasure and delight even in this world, than ever you or any ever experience than anything else. A truly godly life is the most pleasant, joyful, and delightful life that we can make the greatest laughter and noise outwardly. The laughter and great noise is not always the sign of joy. There are many that hoot and shout as loud as anybody, that have Hell begun within them for all that. And if we examine we will find that the godly man lives truly, eternally, and merriest and most cheerful of the life that is enjoyed in heaven. But it is but a drop of that ocean, but only some few drops of those whole rivers of pleasure that falls from heaven upon the sanctified soul. Thus, for the first set of motives—
2. Secondly, consider what you will lose if you don’t find God. You will lose heaven. All losses are proportionately great and deplorable to the worth of the thing lost. Now the happiness of heaven because it is so great, because it is eternal is infinitely precious. How does the children of men afflict themselves for infinitely smaller losses? They will say, I might have had such an estate as easy as not, but I was a fool and have lost it. If I had but have taken care of myself, I might have been as rich and lived as high as any man in a thousand. But I was a fool and now the opportunity is gone and over. But how will sinners be afflicted in the other world when they see Abraham afar off? And those holy men they have known in his bosom? How will they roar out at their folly when they think all the same happiness was offered to me, many and many a time, but I was such a fool as to take no care about it. And now I am eternally deprived of all opportunities of obtaining it.
3. You will lose all other worldly good things. You have no great sense of the happiness of heaven, and therefore to tell you that you will lose that, doesn’t much move you, perhaps. But it seems you make much of worldly good things by your so violently pursuing after them, and neglecting heaven for the sake of them. Therefore, it is to be hoped that you may be a little stirred up when you hear that you are like to lose them, also. If you continue sinfully when you die, you will clearly lose them all, and the thoughts of them will torment you forever. Besides, when he leaves them he is so far from losing them, that he only exchanges for those enjoyments that are infinitely better. Yea, he exchanges the very affliction and troubles that attends them, for a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory. But if you die a sinner, you clearly lose all of these—your dear enjoyments and exchange them for torment and eternal misery.
4. If you don’t find God, you will lose yourself. You will not only lose all that you enjoy in all that you may enjoy, but you will lose yourself into the bargain. Your being will entirely be lost to you, and you will wish that you had never been born or that you might but be turned to nothing.
Thus, for two sorts of motives—
Third. Consider what you will get by seeking of other things and neglecting God. We have heard what you will lose—let us now see what you’re like to get and see whether it will balance. Certainly, if you be not persuaded you expect to get something extraordinary by seeking something else. Therefore, let us see what it is that you will really get by it. You will get eternal shame and disgrace. If shame and disgrace as a desirable thing, ’tis true—you will get that. You will be despised by God. You will be despised by angels. You will be despised by the saints. You will be forever despised, and derided by devils. You will be mortally hated and despised by your fellow damned sinners. You will have none to go to. No, not those wretches that will be tormented with you.
As in heaven, there is nothing but pure love, one to another. So it will be directly contrary in Hell. There will be nothing but perpetual inveterate hatred. You will get eternal pain and torment by it. Misery without mercy, pain without ease, fire without a drop of water, despair without hope. Everything that is dreadful, dark and horrible. Without one beam of light will be your award, if you go on to neglect to seek God—to seek other things.
Thus, I have done with the three sorts of motives to persuade you to set your heart and soul to seek the Lord, drawn from the consideration of what you will find if you find God, what you will lose if you don’t find Him, and what you will get if you pursue after other things, and neglect to seek Him.
Here, let us have this congregation be at this time, especially exhorted to set our hearts and souls to seek God. When we are more especially concerning ourselves with the affairs of God’s temple. Such things should be said about with our most solemn devout spirit with a serious consideration much prayer and meditation. How many offerings and sacrifices were made to God by the children of Israel when the tabernacle was rooted up amongst them—as you may see in the seventh chapter of Numbers, and so when the temple was dedicated, 1 Kings 8:63,
And Solomon offered a sacrifice of peace offerings, which he offered unto the LORD, two and twenty thousand oxen, and an hundred and twenty thousand sheep. So the king and all the children of Israel dedicated the house of the LORD.
We are not required offer sacrifice of beasts, but we are to offer sacrifices of our hearts and the sacrifices of our prayers, and the sacrifices of love, thankfulness, and obedience.
Isaiah 1:11 e, f, and Isaiah 1:16-17a—
I delight not in the blood of bullocks, or of lambs, or of he goats. Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil; Learn to do well;
It’s a thing that incensed the anger of God, to behave lightly inconsiderately and without solemnity—when we concern ourselves in sacred matters, and the affairs of God’s house. God will not hold such guiltiness for this cause God slew fifty-thousand men of Beth Shemesh—1 Samuel 6:19.
Let us now therefore earnestly set ourselves to seek the favor, presence, and blessing of God, and that affair which is before us. The success of this means and ordinances, and the ministry of the word depends on His blessing. If we don’t now set ourselves to seek God, how can we expect any other than that. However, God may bless the dispensation of was word to others, yet not unto us—but make it a means of our hardening. Let us all therefore earnestly seek to God that he would now lift up the light of His countenance and shine forth, that He would appear and manifest as approbation in favor. That He would come down and dwell in the midst of us, dwell here in His house, as He has done in times past. And give us to see His goings into sanctuary, and would hereafter from time to time, make the administration of the gospel successful for the converting of many souls and the edifying of saints. And let us not keep away, or drive away God’s Spirit by your carelessness and negligence, or by your sins. But seek Him, until He come and command His blessing upon us—even life, forevermore.
With my whole heart have I sought thee: O let me not wander from thy commandments.
~ Psalm 119:10