Yea, they are greedy dogs which can never have enough, and they are shepherds that cannot understand: they all look to their own way, every one for his gain, from his quarter. Who is there even among you that would shut the doors for nought? neither do ye kindle fire on mine altar for nought. I have no pleasure in you, saith the LORD of hosts, neither will I accept an offering at your hand.
~ Isaiah 56:11, Malachi 1:10

Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.
~ Matthew 16:24

And it came to pass, that, as they went in the way, a certain man said unto him, Lord, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest. And Jesus said unto him, Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head. And he said unto another, Follow me. But he said, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father. Jesus said unto him, Let the dead bury their dead: but go thou and preach the kingdom of God. And another also said, Lord, I will follow thee; but let me first go bid them farewell, which are at home at my house. And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.
~ Luke 9:57-62

If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.
~ Luke 14:26

Even as I please all men in all things, not seeking mine own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved. According to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death. For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ.
~ 1 Corinthians 10:33, Philippians 1:20-21, 2 Corinthians 1:5

For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead: And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again.
~ 2 Corinthians 5:14-15

The Monster of Sinful Self-Seeking, Anatomised, by Edmund Calamy. 10th of December, 1654.

PHIL. 2. 21.
For all seek their owne, not the things which are Jesus Christ’s.

These words may very fitly be called Paul’s complaint, or black bill of indictment drawn up against the Times in which he lived.

There are 4 things that make this complaint very remarkable:

1. Because it is not made out of Passion, Faction, or any private discontent; but by a holy Man of God, as he was guided by the Holy Ghost: And therefore it is a true, and a most just complaint.

2. It is not spoken of the Heathens, who knew not Christ, (for it is no wonder for them that knew not Christ, not to seek the things of Christ) nor of Apostate Christians that had totally forsaken Christ; but (as Calvin and Estius observe) of Brethren and Fellow-labourers, of such Christians, that were not onely baptized into the name of Christ, but also professed a great deale of Love outwardly to Christ and his cause, and yet it is said even of those, That they sought their owne, and not the things of Jesus Christ, And therefore it is not onely a true and a just, but a great, most sad and heavy charge.

3. It is not drawn up by way of prediction, what should happen in the last and worst times of the world, but by way of Declaration, what was practised in the Apostles dayes when the Church of Christ was a Virgin Church, flourishing in all its beauty and glory, whilest the blood of Christ was yet warm, and Christians by this warm blood were sodered together in Love and Unity, whilest it was the golden age of the Church, even in the Apostles dayes, All men sought their owne, and not the things of Jesus Christ. Had these words been a Prophecy of our times, which are the last and worst times, the iron age of the Church, in which it is crumbled into a thousand fractions, it had been no wonder; but to charge them upon the Primitive Apostolicall times, that in the infancy of Christianity, all men should seek their owne, and not the things of Christ, this makes the complaint not onely very true, and very heinous, but also very strange and wonderfull.

4. The charge it selfe in its owne nature, is higher than any other in all Saint Pauls Epistles, and (if I be not mistaken) I may truly call it, the blackest bill of indictment, that was ever drawne up against the pure primitive Apostolicall age; which that we may the better understand, we must consider,

1. The heinousnesse of the offence.
2. The multitude of the persons offending.

1. The offence is both Affirmative and Negative: 1. Affirmative, All men seek their owne. Their owne honour and advancement;* Not the honour of Christ, but their owne honour, their owne private gaine and advantage; not the profit of Religion, but their owne profit; their owne delights, pleasures, and recreations; their owne ease, safety and security, not the safety of the Gospel, but their owne safety; their owne wills, lusts, and carnall contentments. Not to please Christ and doe his will, but to doe their owne wills, and to please themselves. And to speak according to the language of our times, Their owne private, carnall, and Creature-interest.

Quest. But why are these things called their own?

Answ. Not because they are so properly, for there is nothing truly ours but our sinnes. Our health, wealth, riches and honours are not ours, but Gods, Hag. 2. 8. The silver is mine, and the gold is mine, &c. Hos. 2. 9. My wood and my flax, &c. We are but Stewards of these things, and Stewards at the will and pleasure of the Lord. That is properly called our own, which we may keep as long as we please, and doe with it what we please, but we cannot doe so with our health, riches and honours, &c. For riches have wings and fly away from us whether we will or no, and so have honours, and health, & therefore cannot be said to be our own properly, neither may we use them as we please, but according as God hath prescribed, therefore they are called another mans, and not our owne. Luk. 16. 12. We our selves are not our owne, 1 Cor. 6. 19. You are not your owne much lesse are these bodily comforts our own; but they are here so called, because men have a civill title to them, and because in the opinion of the world, they are their owne.

This is the positive and affirmative part of the offence, and it is of an high nature. For a Christian that believes the immortality of his Soule, to seek his owne bodily promotion and interest, and to neglect the profit and comfort of his eternall Soule: For a Christian that is elected and called to things heavenly and everlasting, to seek onely after things earthly, and temporary, this is a sinne of the superlative degree.

And it will appeare the greater, if we consider,

2. The Negative branch of the offence, And not the things of Jesus Christ. The things of Jesus Christ are the things of the Church of Christ, which are therefore called the things of Christ,

1. Because Christ is the Husband of the Church, and the things of the wife are the things of her husband.
2. Because Christ hath purchased them for us by his Death and Passion.
3. Because of the great love that Christ hath to his Church, which is so great, as that the Churches interest is his interest, and her injuries his injuries, Act. 9. 4.— They that neglect the things of the Church, neglect the things of Christ.

Q. But what are the things of Iesus Christ?

A. In generall, they are nothing else but the preservation and propagation of the Kingdome of Jesus Christ. The building up of the Church of Christ in verity, purity, and unity.

But more particularly, the things of Christ are,

1. The pure worship of Jesus Christ, the Preaching of the Word, and administration of the Sacraments in Christ’s way.
2. The precious truths of the Gospel.
3. The government of the Church according to Scripturepatterne.
4. The day of Christ.
5. The godly Ambassadors of Christ.
6. The Reformation of the Church, when corrupted in Doctrine, Worship, and Discipline.

Now then the charge is, That the Christians in the Primitive times (both Ministers and others) did seek their own interest, and not the interest of Jesus Christ; to build their own houses, and not the houses of God; to ingrosse a Kingdome to themselves, and not to propagate Christ’s Kingdome.

Q Did these Primitive Christians not at all seek the things of Christ?

A. This word Not is not to be taken positively, but (as Calvin saith) comparatively. Wee must not suppose that Church-officers and Church-members did absolutely throw away all care of Christ, and the Churches of Christ; but the meaning is, that they did not seek the things of Christ cordially, sincerely, zealously, and primarily. They sought them in the least place, and in the last place. They pretended to seek the things of Christ, but sought their own things, under colour of seeking the things of Christ, and therefore are said not to seek them at all.

The charge will be yet greater, if we consider,

2. The multitude of the persons offending: The text saith, All men.
Q. Was there no man in the Apostles dayes that sought the good of the Church of Christ?

A. The word All is not here to be taken collectively, but distributively; not for every one of all sorts, but for all sorts; not for all men properly, but for many, as it is taken 1 Cor. 10. 23. or for the most of men, as it is 2 Tim. 4. 16. All men forsake me, &c. that is, most men. Thus Calvin, Quod omnes dicit, non urgenda est particula universalis, no nullam exceptionem admittas, erant enim alii quo{que} qualis Epaphroditus, sed pauci: Verum omnibus tribuit quod passim erat vulgare.

The full meaning then of the text is this, That even in the Apostles dayes, In aureo illo saeculo, in quo omnes virtutes effloruerunt, in that golden age, in which all vertues did flourish, there were many, and very many Church members and Church-officers that professed outwardly a great deale of love to Christ & his Church, and yet notwithstanding sought their owne ease, quiet, honour, and profit, more than the preservation and propagation of the Kingdome of Christ; their owne private gaine and interest before, and more than the interest of Jesus Christ.

The words thus expounded, are a perfect representation of the times in which we now live. Methinks I can hardly see a man in place and power, but I can see it written upon his forehead in great Characters, this man seeks himselfe and not the things of Jesus Christ. If I had a window to look into the hearts of all here present, I feare me I should finde many selfe-seekers, but few Christ-seekers, so that this text may sitly be called, Englands looking-glasse: wherein we may behold,

1. The great sinne of England, I may truly say the sinne, that is the Father and Mother of all her other sinnes, the Metropolis of all sinne, and that is, Her seeking her owne things, and not the things of Iesus Christ.

2. The great and chiefe cause of all the miseries and calamities that have hapned to this nation. The Source and Originall of all our unhappinesse, Because all men seek themselves, and no man the things of Christ.

3. The onely way and remedy to be freed from all our miseries and afflictions, and that is, by walking quite contrary to the text. By seeking the things of Iesus Christ, before our owne things, and more then our owne things, and by seeking them heartily, throughly, zealously and sincerely; this is the only balme to cure Englands soars, the onely England-preserving mercy. For these three ends and purposes, I have chosen this text; The Doctrine I shall insist upon is,

Doct. That amongst the multitude of Christians, who professe love to Christ and his Church, there are many selfe-seekers, but few Christ-seekers. Or thus,

That it is an antient, common, grievous and hidden iniquity, for a Christian professing love to Christ, to be a selfe-seeker, and not a Christ-seeker.

1. It is an old and antient sinne, as old as the Primitive times. A sinne of 1600. years standing.

2. It is a generall and Land overspreading sinne. A sin that hath seized upon men of all sorts, upon Ministers, Magistrates, Masters and Parents. An Epidemicall disease.

3. It is a great and grievous sinne, a Soule-destroying, a Church and State-destroying sinne.

4. It is a secret and hidden sinne, a sinne that most are guilty of, and yet few will confesse their guiltinesse. There is no sin hath more Fig-leaves to hide it, more excuses to extenuate it, more cloaks to cover it, than this sinne.

That I may the better uncase and uncloath this great transgression, I shall briefly answer to these 4. questions,

Qu. 1. Whether all selfe-seeking, be diametrically opposite to Christ seeking?

Qu. 2. What is that selfe seeking, which is inconsistent with Christ-seeking?

Qu. 3. What is the reason that amongst such a multitude of Christians, there should be so many selfe-seekers, and so few Christ-seekers?

Qu. 4 Wherein the grievousnesse, and mischievousnesse of this sinne consisteth?

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 arguments drawne from selfe-love, and selfe-seeking, to perswade 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 Martyrs who could not accept deliverance, that they might obtaine 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 mercenarius, 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 Gospelmotives, 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-seeking.

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 after the things of Christ, when he seeks his owne things, not in separation from, opposition to, competition with, but in subordination to the things of Christ. In a word, when a Christan 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 Angelicall, 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.

Qu. What is this heavenly and blessed selfe-seeking?

Ans. To understand this aright, is a point of great concernment. 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 selfeseeking, (amounting most of them, to one and the same purpose.)

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 Christ’s picture, and a reall member of his body, this Man, and this Man onely, seeks himselfe. 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 curare 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 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 body 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 comfortably while he lives, but makes no provision to live happily when he dyes, this man may seeme to love himselfe for a minute, but sure I am he hates himselfe to all eternity. He that layeth up treasure for himselfe upon earth, but none in heaven, 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 labours to live holily here, that he may live happily hereafter; to live graciously here, that he may inherit eternall glory hereafter.

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, 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 profitable, &c The more thou hatest thy gainful and pleasurable 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 ruinatest 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 nourisheth the old Adam within him, cherisheth that which tainteth 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 wretched 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. Therefore 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 perfect my selfe, by disposing of my selfe of my understanding, memory, 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 Doctrine to be true) lose all the reward of their good worke. He that serves God to merit by his service, cannot merit by his service; the more he eyes merit, the lesse he meriteth: He that serves God for his owne ends, doth not serve God but himselfe; 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 happinesse 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 happinesse of every Christian, is more in God then in himself; therefore 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 danger 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 preservation 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 Vespasian, that when the Souldiers had destroyed the Temple of Jerusalem, 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 Conscience, than in keeping his Estate or saving his Life. The holy Martyrs who loved not their lives unto the death, were the greatest 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-seeking, 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 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 Religious 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 himselfe, 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-destroyer. This leads me to the second question.

Quest. 2. What is that selfe-seeking, which is inconsistent with Christ seeking?

Answ. It is a spirituall Monster with six heads.

1. When a Christian seeks his owne things dividedly from the things of Christ, when he seeks his owne case, safety and interest, and cares not at all what becomes of Jesus Christ, and his cause, when he sets up himselfe, and makes himselfe the principle, rule, and end of all his undertakings, acting from self as a principle, by selfe as a rule, for self as an end. When a Man makes himselfe his God, worshipeth himselfe, and doth whatsoever he doth for his carnall selfe, serves himselfe in Committees, Army, Parliament, Ministry, and cares not what becomes of Religion and Reformation. This is the first head of this Monster; such a selfe-seeker was Gallio the Deputy, Act. 18. 17. who cared not what became of Religion. If it had been a matter of wrong, he would have heard it, but because it was a matter of Religion, he cared for none of those things. Such selfe-seekers, were the people, and therefore the Israelites were commanded to curse them, Judges 5. 23.

2. When a Christian seeks his owne things, and the things of Christ also, but seeks his owne things antecedently to the things of Christ. When he first seeks his owne things, and afterwards the things of Christ; of this the Prophet Haggai complanes, Hag. 1. 2, 3, 4, 5, 9, 10, 11. The people said, It was not time to build Gods house, but it was time to build their owne houses. Therefore the Heavens over them were as brasse, and the Earth withheld her fruit.

3. When a man seeks his owne things, and the things of Christ also, but seeks his own things, chiefly and principally, not onely before, but more then the things of Christ, and that both in his value and esteem, and in his love and affection. When a man prizeth his owne profit and preferment, and loveth his owne praise and glory more than the profit, praise and honour of Christ and his Gospel. Such were the Gaderens, who preferred their Hogges before Christ. Such were the Merchants and Farmers, Mat. 21. 3. who made light of the call of Christ, and preferred their Farmes and Merchandizing before Christ and his Gospel. Such was Demas, who forsook Paul and embraced the present world, and such were the Pharisees, John 12. 43. Who loved the praise of Men, more than the praise of God.

4. When a Christian seeks his owne things in seeking the things of Christ, when he pretends to seek the things of Christ, and yet intends no such thing, but seeks himselfe even under colour of seeking the things of Christ. Such a one was Jehu, who pretended a great deale of zeale for the Lord of Hoasts. Come (said he to Jonadab) and behold my zeale, &c. but he did but pretend a zeale for God, his zeal was to purchase the Kingdome to himselfe. Such a one was Balaam, who pretended that if he had a house full of Gold and Silver offered him, he would not goe beyond the Commandement of God, and yet notwithstanding he did but counterfeit, for he loved the wages of iniquity, and was mad after the preserments that Balac proffered him. Such another was Demetrius the Silver-Smith, who pretended a zeal to the great Goddesse Diana, and therefore caused an uproare against Paul to defend the Goddesse, but it was the gaine he got by making Shrines for Diana, that was the principle that set him on worke, he pretended Diana, but intended himselfe, he had dolum in idolo, as one saith.

5. When a man seeks his owne things, when they stand in competition with, and in opposition to the things of Christ, when things come to so narrow a bridge, that either he must part with Estate, Liberty, and Life, or with Christ and a good Conscience: If he chooseth to part with Christ and a good Conscience, rather than with his Liberty, Estate or Life, this is a wicked self-seeker. Such a one was the young man in the Gospel, who forsook Christ, rather than he would part with his great possessions. Such was Spyra, who himself tels the story; that he placed Wife, Children, Liberty, Estate and Life, in one part of the ballance; And God, Christ, the Gospel, and a good Conscience in the other, and forsook the last to preserve the first.

6. The last head of this Monster is, when a Christian seeks the good of his Body, to the prejudice of his Soule, when he bestoweth all his time, all his strength, and all his cares and indeavours, in providing for his perishing carcasse, and neglects to provide for his eternall Soule, when he layeth up all his treasure upon earth, but hath no treasure layed up in Heaven, when he is anxiously solicitous for his comfortable living in this world, but strangely neglectfull, to take care for his happy living in the other world, this is a sinfull, cursed, and devilish self-seeking. So much in answer to the second question.

The third question is, How is it possible that there should be so many men who professe themselves to be Christans and (in words at least) profess love to Christ and his interest, and yet notwithstanding should seek their owne interest before, and more than the interest of Christ?

Answ. This Soule-destroying and Church destroying selfe-seeking proceedeth from six sinfull and cursed roots.

1. From want of true and unfeigned love to Jesus Christ, and his interest. Love is a most powerfull affection, the Masterwheel that carrieth the whole Soul after it. Amor meus pondus me•, saith Aug. feror quo un{que} feror. As the primū mobile in the heavens carrieth all the other Spheres about with it, so Love carrieth the whole man with it. Love is as strong as death, many waters cannot quench love, neither can the floud drown it. If a man would give all the substance of his house for love, it would be contemned, Cant. 8. 6, 7. If we did love the Lord Jesus and his Gospel, in good earnest, we would rather part with Liberty, Estate, Life, and all our own things, than lose the things of Christ as the blessed Martyrs did. But because there are few men that love Jesus Christ in sincerity, hence it is that most men seek their owne things, and not the things of Christ.

2 This proceedeth from that cursed selfe-love, which is in all men by nature. Of this you shall read, 2 Tim 3. 2, 3, 4, 5. where selfe-love is placed in the fore-front as the cause and riot of all the other sins there named. Selfe-love is like a great tree, and eighteen sins as eighteen branches sprouting out from this root, because men are lovers of themselves, therefore they are covetous, proud, unthankfull, unholy, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God, &c. From this sinfull self-love proceeds this sinfull self-seeking. As the love of Christ is the root of Christ-seeking, so the love of our selves is the root of sinfull self seeking.

3. From that immoderate and inordinate worldly love which is in all men by Nature: for (as a Martyr well said at the stake) if we should unrip and anatomize a wicked man, we should finde nothing in him but self-love, and worldly love: by Nature we love the Creature more than the Creator, pleasures more than God, and the praise of Men, more than the praise of God. By nature we love our own gain, and our own safety, and ease, more than the things of Christ; and therefore it is that we seek our own things, and not the things of Christ.

4. From that hypocrisie, insincerity, and rottennesse of heart which is in all men by nature, hence it is that men pretend Jesus Christ, but intend their own private interest, because of the hypocrisie and falsenesse of their hearts. Thus the Pharisees, who were Hypocrites, under pretence made long prayers that they might devour widdows houses, Mat. 23. 14. Thus Herod pretends to worship Christ, when his intendment was to worry him, Mat 2. 8. Thus Jesebel proclaimeth a Fast, and pretends Religion, but intends onely to put Naboth to death, and to get his Vineyard. Thus Absolem covers over his Rebellion with the faire cloak of Religion, 2 Sam. 15. 7. There are two things that are in all men by nature:

1. To make a shew of Religion.

2. To cover over all manner of wickedness under the shew of Religion; Ungodlinesse is so odious, that if it should appeare in its own colours, all men would abhorre it; and therefore as the Devill never sheweth himself but under some handsome form, sometimes under Samuel’s mantle, sometimes transformed into an Angel of light; so doth sin and iniquity alwaies appeare under the form of godlinesse. The Apostle tells 2 Tim. 3. 5. that in the last times there should be men, who should be lovers of themselves, treacherous, heady, high-minded, without naturall affection, &c. having a form of godlinesse; which last words are to be understood as relating to all the former sins. They should be Covenant-breakers, having a form of godlinesse, covetous, false accusers, blasphemous self-lovers, having a form of godlinesse. They should (through the Hypocisie that is in them) cover all their sins under the vizard of a form of godlinesse.

5. This sinfull self-seeking ariseth from that spirituall ignorance and blindnesse which is in all men by nature. There is no wicked man rightly understands what it is to seek himself: for he thinks, that if he seeks to satisfie his corrupt self, he seeks himself; if he seeks the good of his body with the neglect of his soule, he seeks himself. He thinks that if he seeks his own ease, gain, safety, and preferment, without looking after the things of Christ, that he seeks himself. Thus did the rich Fool, Luke 12. who built his barnes bigger, and said, soule take thy ease, &c. he supposed that he sought his own happinesse in so doing: and so did the rich Glutton, when he cloathed himselfe in purple, and fared deliciously ever day, &c. But now did a wicked man convincingly understand, that this self-seeking is self-hating, and self-destroying: That the rich Glutton by pampering his body, damned his soule: that the rich Fool, by laying up goods for a few yeares, lost his soule to all eternity: That he that denieth himself most, seeks himself most, He that serves God best, seeks himself most: He that seeks the glory of God before his owne glory, and the good of Church and State more than his own good, seeks himself most: that he that loseth his life for Christ, shall finde a better life in Christ. Did he (I say) convincingly believe this, he would not sinfully seek himself:

Therefore this sinfull self-seeking proceedeth from that spirituall ignorance and blindnesse that is in all by Nature.

6. Lastly, it springs from that spirituall self-deceit and souldelusion that is in all men by nature: Every man by nature, is (Narcissus like) in love with himself, blinde in his own cause, and apt to think that he seeks the things of Christ, when he doth not, and that he doth not seek his own things in opposition to, competition with, or comparison of the things of Christ; even as the Philosopher, who could not be perswaded, but that snow was black, or the mad Athensan, hat all the ships that came to Athens were his. So there are multitudes of Christians, who fancy to themselves, that they do seek the things of Christ, when it is apparent to others that they doe not: and by this self-deceit couzen themselves into Hell. Thus you see the cursed roots from whence this sinfull self-seeking proceeds.

The fourth and last question is, wherein the grievousnesse and mischievousnesse of this sinfull self-seeking consisteth?

Answ. It is a sin of the first magnitudô. Though it be an inward invisible sin, and therefore not so infamous and scandalous 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 abominate 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 himself of no reputation, he humbled himself, and became obedient, 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 Christ’s 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 necessary as it is excellent For though we bestow all we have to feed the poore, though 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 merchandize.

3 He hath no love to Church nor State. All his love centers 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 prement, 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 uamur nobismetipsis, which is no little transgression.

7. It is Idolatry in the highest degree; it is a worshipping of self; it is making our selves and our own interest, the root, rule, and scope of all our undertakings, which is to make an Idoll of our selves and to usurp the throne of God. It is Idolatry against the first Commandement, which is greater 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 vitiorum, a sin, and the cause of all sin, the…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 undervalued? 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 Ministers; 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 Minister? that Master will be very exact to see his servant do his business upon the week dates, but indulge him to do what he will upon the Lord’s 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 were taken off? what is the reason that there is so much oppression and injustice in places of judicature? So much cousenage 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 things 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 Application.

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 seek 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 Apostle complains 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 times: All men seek their 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 private 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,

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 Christ.
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.

Quest. Are there any Christians of this minde?

Answ. There are many who are called Christians at large of this minde, who have the name and but the name of Christians, and carry this name as Uriah did his Letters to Joab, Non ad salutem, sed ad runam, not for Salvation, but Damnation, you shall know them by this Character.

Let such men as these have their trading as formerly, enjoy outward prosperity, and be freed from taxes, they will thinke themselves sufficiently happy. It is all one to them whether all Religions be tolerated, or none at all. These men say with Tiberius the Emperour, Diis Deorum curae sunto. Let God take care of Religion, all our care is for our outward estate; these are they that make their Money their God, who minde earthly things whose end is damnation, of whom I may say as Christ of Iudas, better they had never been borne.

2. Such as seek their own things before, and more than the things of Christ, who seek their own interest, more cordially, more industriously, and more vigorously, than the interest of Religion. Thus did the Gaderens (as you have heard) thus doe most Christians.

Quest. How shall I know whether I preferre in my judgement, affections, or conversation, my owne outward interest, before the interest of Christ and the Gospel?

Answ 1. If the seeking of thine own things take up the first, best, and most of thy time. If thy marrow and strength of thy Soule, goe out after them, if thou makest them thy Primum quaerite, and unum necessarium, and the things of Christ, and idle houre. If the seeking of thine own, make thee neglect the things of Christ, or seek after them negligently, this a signe that thou dost over-value and over-affect thine owne things, and undervalue, and dis-affect the things of Christ.

2. If thou mournest more for personall miseries, than for the desolations of Sion, it is a signe thou mindest thine owne things more than the things of Christ, this is a frame of spirit, quite opposite to true Saintship. Ezra, Nehemiah, David, Daniel and Ieremiah, were more afflicted with the miseries of the Church then their owne.

3. If the seeking of thine own things take away thy courage for Christ and his cause, and make thee come to Christ by night, as Nichodemus did, and the more thou hast of the world, the lesse thou appearest for Christ and his Gospel; the more honours, the more fearfull: If the preserving of thine owne things make thee betray the things of Christ by sinfull silence, or base cowardise, this is a sign thou preferrest thine own interest before the interest of Christ.

4. If the seeking of thine own things make thee seek to find out excuses, and vaine pretences, to hinder thee from appearing for Christ, this is a sign, &c, I read Luke 14 18. when the Servant was sent to fetch the Guests to the great Supper of the Gospel, they all with one consent, began to make excuse, &c. The times wherein we live, are very sinfull and perillous: the Truths and Ministry of Christ are trampled under feet, Religion and Reformation neglected. Now God by us his Ambassadors, calls upon you to appear for his Truths, and for his Gospel ministrie, and Gospel-ordinances. Meth nks I hear the Nobleman say, I have a great estate to lose, pray have me excused: I heare the rich Citizen say, I shall be utterly undone in my trading, pray have me excused: I heare the voluptuous Epicure say, I have married a wife, pray have me excused. Take it for a certain rule, If the seeking of these outward things puts thee upon excuses, thou seekest them sinfully: For if you look into the text forementioned, you will finde that the excuses there made were

1. Lying and false, they say they cannot come, whereas the truth was, they would not come, non posse pretenditur, nolle in causest.

2. Poore and frivolous; What is a Farm in comparison of Heaven? marrying a Wife in comparison of being married to Jesus Christ?

3. Vain and unprofitable. For notwithstanding the excuses they made, it is said, verse 24. That none of these men which were bidden shall tast of my supper.

4. Unreasonable and unconscionable. For they made those things laqueos Diaboli, snares and impediments to hinder them from Christ, which would have been vincula obedientiae, motives and incouragements to bring them to Christ.

5. Lastly, If when thine owne things and the things of Christ come in competition, and thou must either part with the one or the other, if thou choosest as Spyra did, and as the young man in the Gospel did, rather to part with Christ and his Gospel, than with thy profit and preferment, this is a sure note that thou seekest thine own things, before and more than the things of Christ. I read of Tiberius Emperour of Rome, that he sent to the Senate to receive Christ into the number of their Gods, but they refused to doe it upon this account, because if they received him, they must reject all their other Gods, and therefore chose rather to renounce Jesus Christ, than to receive him, and part with the rest of their feigned Deities. If thou renouncest and rejectest the Lord Christ and his Truths, rather than thou wilt lose thy creature-enjoyments, thou art a sinful self-seeker of the highest forme.

But now on the contrary, If thou pursuest after the things of Christ in the first and chiefe place; If thou mournest more for Church desolations than personall miseries; If the more wealth thou hast, the more couragious thou art for God, and art glad, that thou hast an Estate to lose for Christ’s cause; If the seeking of thine owne things doe not put thee upon lying, vaine, frivolous, and unconscionable excuses; If thou art like unto Hormisdas, a Nobleman of Persia, who was deposed from all his Honours because he would not deny his Religion, and afterwards restored again, and a little after solicited again to deny Christ and his truths, but he rent his purple robe, and laid all his honours at the foot of the Emperour, and said, Si propter ista me denegaturum Christum put as, ea denuò accipe. If you thinke to gaine me to deny Christ for the re-obtaining of my honours, take them all back againe: If this be the frame of thy heart, it is a certaine token that thou prizest, lovest and seekest the things of Christ before, and more then thine owne things.

3. The third sort of those who are guilty of this sinfull selfe-seeking are such who pretend to seek the things of Christ, but seek their owne things, under colour of seeking the things of Christ, who hold forth the preservation and propagation of Religion as a stalking horse, to catch men by, as a blinde to deceive the world; but aime as nothing lesse then Religion, but either with Demetrius at their owne gaine, or with Jehu at the obtaining of a Kingdome, or with Balaam at the wages of iniquity. This sinne of selfe-seeking is so odious both to God and Man, that it never appeares upon the stage in its owne likenesse, but alwaies covered over with Samuel’s mantle: There is no sinne hath more. Figleaves and religious cloaks to cover it, then this sinne. By this meanes the Pope of Rome hath purchased his triple Crowne; It is said Rev. 13. 11. that Antichrist should have two hornes like a Lambe, but yet act like a Dragon, signifying unto us, that Antichrist should under colour of Religion, act all his villanies, and bloudy Massacres, and by this means deceive all the world. Therefore Antichristianisme is called a Mysterie of iniquity, that is, iniquity covered over with faire shewes and pretences of godlinesse; What Murders, what Treasons hath not the Pope committed under the colour of defending the Catholique Religion? under pretence of being Peters successor, and of having keyes, and chaire? Witnesse the holy league (as it was called) in France; witnesse the Gunpowder treason amongst us, undertaken under shew of Religion, for the defence of the Catholique cause.

What I affirme of Papists and Jesuites, the like I say of all the Errors and Heresies that have been broached in the Christian world; The Apostle tells us, that the first Authors of Heresies and Schismes were great selfe seekers. Men greedy of filthy lucre, who served not the Lord Jesus, but their owne bellies, who made merchandise of the Soules of people, making gaine their godlinesse, not godlinesse their gaine. But though they were such, yet they did not appeare to be such, but seemed to be very holy and selfe-denying: Therefore Christ calls them, Wolves in sheeps cloathing, ravening Wolves inwardly, though innocent Sheep outwardly. They honied over the poison of their Doctrine, with good words, and faire speeches, to deceive the hearts of the simple, Rom. 16. 18. Such a one was Pelagius (one of the greatest enemies to the Doctrine of Grace that ever the Church had) who made such a shew of godlinesse, that when Hierome first wrote against his Heresies, he was forced to conceale his name, lest by appearing to write on purpose against him, his book should have been rejected by the people, who did so highly magnifie him.

Let me adde, This is a sinne which not onely Papists and Jesuits, Schismaticks and Hereticks, but most Christians in the world are tainted withall. It is a most true saying, Pauci amant Iesum propter Iesum, there are few, and but very few, who love Christ for Christ’s sake: Most people follow Christ for the loaves, and make use of Christ to serve their own ends and interest. Let a Man be to marry a Wife, and he will in words pretend, that it is Religion and Godlinesse that he most of all desires; but if you had a window to look into his heart, you will finde that it is Money which is his chiefe aime. But amongst all sorts of Men, the great States-men, and deep Polititians are most eminently guilty of this sin, who usually bring Religion upon the stage meerly to usher in their Politick designes. It is a cursed Maxim in Machiavel, that Kings and Princes should labour after a shew of Religion, but not look much after the substance; For the substance would be a burden, but the shew of it would be very usefull for the carrying on of their own ends and designes. This wicked advise and counsell is followed by many Kingdoms & Common-wealths at this day: there was scarce ever any State or Church-reformer who did reforme Religion for Religions sake, but for his owne ends, either to be revenged of his enemies, or to gaine Church-revenues, or to be a coy-Duck, to draw a party to side with him. Let me give in a few Examples;

It pleased God so to order affaires, in Henry the Eights time, that the Popes supremacy was abolished in England: But what was the principle that moved the King to doe this? was it out of love to the true Religion? or was it not rather that thereby he might be revenged of the Pope, who would not allow of his Divorce from his first Wife?

I have read of Maximilian Emperour of Germany, who living in Luthers time, professed a great deale of zeale after Reformation; and especially, in plucking down golden Images. But the story saith, that it was not so much out of hatred to the Images, as out of love to the gold, which made him undertake it.

In the History of the Civill Warres in France, I read that when the Princes of the blood fell out one with another, one party called in the Protestants to their assistance, not out of love to Religion, but that thereby they might gaine a party.

That which I say of Kingdomes and Common-wealths, the like I say of Armies; I read of Goliahs sword hid in a cloth behind the Ephod, 1 Sam. 2. 9. The sword never appeares to the world under bloudy colours, but alwayes cloathed with a linnen Ephod, pretending Reformation of abuses in Church and State. But it is worth remembring, that this sword was the sword of Goliah, who was a defier of the Israel of God, and a great enemy to Religion. The summe of all amounts to this, that in all ages of the Church, especially in times of Civil Warre, and in times of Reformation, there are thousands that hold forth to the world, in their words and Declarations, a sincere desire to propagate the Gospel and the Kingdome of Christ, and to advance the pure Ordinances of Christ, yet notwithstanding minde nothing really and inwardly, but their preferment and advancement.

Quest. But how shall I know whether I am but a pretender to the things of Iesus Christ? whether I am one who makes use of Religion to serve mine owne interest? Whether I am like Demetrius the Silver-smith, who minded his gaine more then his Goddesse?

Answ. If we would deale faithfully with our owne Soules, we could not but easily know this. To help you in it, take these rules:

1. If thou art as zealous for the advancement of Religion and Reformation, when it doth not concerne thy int rest, as when it doth; this is a certaine signe thou seekest the things of Christ in sincerity: Thus it was with Moses, in the Rebellion of Corah and his company, there was a conjunction of interests; the conspiracy was against God and Moses, but the Idolatry of the Golden calfe, was onely against the interest of God, Moses was not prejudiced by it, and yet he was every way as zealous for the glory of God in the latter, as in the former. But now on the contrary, if thou drivest furiously when any gaine is to be got by a Reformation, but very heavily and slowly, when thy interest is not at all concerned, this is a signe that thou makest use of Religion for thine owne ends. Thus it was with Iehu, he had a double Idolatry to root out, the Idolatry of Baal, and of Ieroboams Calves; he destroyed the first, but continued the second, because it was against his interest to abolish it. Thus it is with many Masters of Families, if their Servants play the theeves, they will cry out against them as dishonourers of God; but let the same Servants prophane the Sabbath, or abuse the name of God by vaine Oaths, they are not troubled at it, because it is not against their private interest.

2. A pretender to the things of Christ, if he undertakes to doe service for Church or State, he will doe it by halves, so far as it makes for his interest and no farther. This is the reason why the Reformation of Religion in most places of the Christian world is but a patcht Reformation, and as a Cake halfe baked, because that States and Kingdomes mould the Reformation, not according to the Word of God, but according to State-interest. Thus it was in Henry the Eights time, he thrust out the Popes Supremacy because it furthered his designe of a second Marriage, but he continued much of the Popish Religion, and made six Articles called A whip, with six strings, which were the death of many godly men. Erasmus hath a notable saying of Luther, That he had been a good man, had he not medled too much with the Monks bellies, and the Popes triple Crowne, the Pope was willing to yield to a Reformation of the Church, so far as it might consist with the upholding of his triple Crowne, and no farther, &c.

3. A pretender to the things of Christ when he hath got what he aimes at, will leave Christ wholly, and lay aside all his pretences. As the Angels who appeared to Abraham and Lot, and divers others, assumed bodies, not out of love to the bodies they assumed, but onely to doe their errant, and when they had done it laied them aside. So there are many who assume a profession of Religion for the pursuing of their ambitious designes, which when they have obtained they lay aside, as the Fisherman did his Net, when he was made Pope; when he was an Abbot, and then a Bishop, and then a Cardinal, he would have his Net spread for a Table-cloath, to put him in minde of his meane and poor originall; But when he came to be Pope, he then commanded his Servants to lay aside his Net, for now he had caught what he had been so long Fishing for.

4. He that seeks his owne things, under pretence of seeking the things of Christ, will walke contrary to his Protestations, Declarations, Vowes and Covenants, even then, when he seems outwardly to be most solemne and serious in making of them. Thus did Balaam, he protesteth, that if he had an house full of Gold given him, he could not doe any thing contrary to the will of God, and yet at the same time, he goeth with the Messengers sent by Balac. Are there not many amongst us, who when they Covenanted with hands lifted up to Heaven, to endeavour the extirpation of error and Heresie, and whatsoever was contrary to sound Doctrine, did even at the very same time, secretly foment and countenance the things they Covenanted against?

5. Lastly, He that pretends to the things of Christ, and intends his own, cares not by what wayes and meanes he compasseth his ends, nor by what kind of persons; whether the wayes be lawfull or unlawfull, the persons good or bad, it is all one to him so he may obtaine his ambitious intendments, which is a certaine signe of a notorious hypocrite. For he that truly and sincerely indeavours to promote the Glory and Honour of Christ, will never goe out of Christ’s way to obtaine his desires. For Christ will be more dishonoured by his sin, than honoured by his indeavours, though never so laborious and sincere.

Let us I beseech you examine our selves, according to these severall notes and markes, whether we be guilty of this sinfull cursed and Devilish selfe-seeking. And know, that if this sinne rule and raigne in us, it makes us accessary to a fourefould murder; It makes us selfe-murderers, Church and State-murderers, and Christ-murderers. It brings us under a double Gospel curse, for if any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be (saith the Apostle) Anathema Maranatha. The Lord give us hearts seriously to weigh these things.

The second Use is, an use of Exhortation, which is twofold:

1. To beseech all here present, whether Magistrates, Ministers or private Citizens, to take heed of this sinfull selfe-seeking, and sixe headed Monster, of seeking our owne gaine and credit seperatedly from the things of Christ, or before, or more then the things of Christ, of seeking our owne things under pretence of seeking the things of Christ, or when they stand in opposition to, or competition with the things of Christ, of seeking the good of our vile bodies, with the neglect of our pretious and immortall Soules. As Christ saith of Covetousnesse, so I of this sinne, Take heed and beware of sinfull selfe-seeking, consider the exceeding greatnesse of this sinne, and the wofull and mischievous fruits and effects of it. This is the plague-soar of Church and State; The great Caterpillar that devours all the green things of the land. This hath destroyed our Parliaments, our Ministery, our Gentry: This is that which obstructeth that glorious reformation so long expected and desired, &c. This is not selfe-seeking but selfe-hating and selfe-destroying: he that seeks to give satisfaction to his corrupt selfe, is just like a Man who gives strong wine to his friend in a high Feaver, which is not to love him, but to kill him. He that seeks to please his sinfull selfe, seeks to strengthen his disease, to maintaine that within him, which God hateth, and to nourish that which will destroy his Soule. He that seeks the welfare of his body, and neglects the welfare of his soule, destroyes (as I have said) both body and soul. This is just as if a Husbandman in time of Harvest should gather in his stubble, & leave his corne to be devoured by hoggs. Just like a Father who takes care to feed & cloath his children, but not to instruct and teach them. In a word, he that seeks his owne ease and safety, his owne gaine and credit, his owne pleasure and satisfaction, and neglecteth and slighteth the things of Christ, this Man is the greatest selfe-hater, and selfe-destroyer; For he that sesks not the interest of Christ, shall never have any interest in Christ.2. To beseech you to labour for the divine, heavenly, and blessed self-seeking mentioned in the beginning of the Sermon: Physitians when they see men bleed immoderately at the nose, will let them bloud in another veine, that so they may make a diversion, and thereby stop the bleeding. Oh that God would use me this day, as his instrument, to make a most glorious and most happy diversion, and to turn you all from self-seekers, into Christ-seekers! Oh that I could prevaile with you, to seek the things of Jesus Christ before, and more then your own things! Oh how happy would London be, if it could be said of it; All thy Magistrates, Ministers, and private people, seek the things of Christ more vigorously and cordially then they doe their own things.

To move you to this, consider,

1. What these your own things are which you so immoderately and inordinately seek after?

1. They are not your owne in a proper sence, as you have heard.

2. They are not Worth owning, they are vain and empty, empty of reality, and Soul-satisfaction, they are vanishing & perishing, like houses made of Snow or waxe, and not only so, but they are also vexing and tormenting, according to what is said by one that had full and ample experience of them, Eccles. 2. 2, 17, 26.

2. Consider the excellency of the things of Jesus Christ which you so much neglect & undervalue. The truths of Christ, the Ordinances, Day, Ministry, and Government of Christ, the Preservaon, Propagation, and Reformation of Religion: These are Glorious and Excellent things in their own Nature, and so far exceeding your own things which you so greedily labour after, that they are not worthy to be named that day in which we speak of the things of Christ. I want time to set out the transcendent Glory and Excellency of Gospel concernments, and the vanity, emptinesse, and nothingnesse of all our own Earthly enjoyments. Onely let me desire you to take notice;

1. That Jesus Christ sought not his owne things, he left Heaven for us, and shall not we neglect Earth for him?

2. For what poor trifles you despise the glorious things of the Gospel.

3. If you seek not after the things of Christ more then your owne, you are in a cursed condition, and better you had never been borne.

4. The things of Jesus Christ shall prosper, though you seek not the prosperity of them. What Mordecai said to Ester in another case, I crave leave to say to you, Enlargement and deliverance shall arise to the people of God from another place, but thou and thy Fathers house shall be destroyed. There will a time come when the Moun taine of the Lords house shall be established in the top of the Mountaines, and shall be exalted above the Hills, and all Nations shall flow to it; when the Kingdomes of this world shall become the Kingdomes of our Lord and his Christ, when the little stone cuts out of the Mountaine without hands, shall destroy all opposite Kingdomes, and become a great Mountaine and fill the whole earth, when every Nation and Kingdome that will not serve the Lord Jesus, shall perish, and be utterly wasted. For neglecting to set up this Kingdome of Christ, God hath destroyed many Nations and Kingdomes, and so he will us, if we follow their examples; If we preferre the building of our owne houses, before the builing of Gods house, God will build up his owne house by other instruments, but he will destroy us and our Houses.

3. Lastly, Consider: That man seeks himselfe most, who most seeketh the things of Christ. He that is the greatest Christ-seeker, is the greatest selfe seeker. For God hath said, Seek ye first the Kingdome of God, and his righteousnesse, and all these things shall be added unto you. When Solomon begged wisdome, God gave him wealth and riches as an overplus. If we seek the things of Christ, in the first and chiefe place, God will give in our own things into the bargaine, even as Paper and thred is added to a bought commodity.

Thus I have put an end to the Sermon of selfe-seeking, Oh that I could put an end to the sinne of selfe-seeking! Two things I dare affirme:

1. That this sin hath been the Originall cause of all Englands miseries.
2. That it will never be well with England, nor shall we ever see better dayes, till this sinne be mortified.

Let us goe to Christ, and labour by Faith, to fetch power from his Death, to crucifie and mortifie this sinne; Let it be our daily prayer, that England may have more Christ-seekers, and fewer selfe-seekers; or which is all one, That God would make us all true selfe-seekers, by making us true Christ-seekers.