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On Self-Seeking

Our great aim should be to enjoy God; that is the happiness to which we are poised and inclined by the bent of nature. An immortal soul was made for an eternal good; nothing beneath God will satisfy it; and the heaven that we expect is nothing else but the filling up the soul with God.

There is a great controversy in the world between God and self while we are here; but now in heaven the quarrel is taken up, and we and God are united in the nearest and closest way of union and communion, that we may enjoy him forever. Now when we rest in any low enjoyment, and are satisfied with it without God, that is self-seeking; in effect it is self-destroying, self-losing. But the scripture speaks according to our aim and intention; we intend to seek ourselves, though in effect, we do but lose ourselves.

Of this the scripture speaks - 'All seek their own, and not that which is Jesus Christ's.' In effect, neither their own, nor Christ's, but the carnal and corrupt heart of a man counts nothing our own things, but the concernments of the flesh. Of this kind of self-seeking they are guilty that do God's work, but not with God's end; not to enjoy him, but to enjoy the world; they make a mere merchandise of obedience; if they have worldly gain, they are satisfied; for other things they will give God a bill of discharge: Mat. 6.12, 'They have their reward.' They will acquit and release God of all the grant and promise that he hath made of heaven to them in the covenant of grace, if God will give them a patent to enjoy as much of the world as they can, which argues a sordid and base spirit: Rom. 16.18, 'They are such as serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly, and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple.'

The apostle speaks of false teachers, that did not make God their end, but were wholly bent upon their secular profit; that reprove not for, but soothe men up in, their sin. In their preaching there is no salt, and in their private visits there is a great deal of worldly compliance, and all because they have set up another God, such a base thing as the belly, instead of Christ.

Thomas Manton 1620-1677

"While he was minister at Covent Garden, he was invited to preach before the Lord Mayor and Court of Aldermen, and the Companies of the city, upon some public occasion, at St Paul's. The doctor chose some difficult subject, in which he had opportunity of displaying his judgment and learning, and appearing to the best advantage. He was heard with the admiration and applause of the more intelligent part of the audience; and was invited to dine with my Lord Mayor, and received public thanks for his performance.

But upon his return in the evening to Covent Garden, a poor man following him, gently plucked him by the sleeve of his gown, and asked him if he were the gentleman who had preached that day before my Lord Mayor. He replied, he was. 'Sir,' says he, 'I came with earnest desires after the word of God, and hopes of getting some good to my soul, but I was greatly disappointed; for I could not understand a great deal of what you said; you were quite above me.' The doctor replied, with tears in his eyes, 'Friend, if I did not give you a sermon, you have given me one; and, by the grace of God, I will never play the fool to preach before my Lord Mayor in such a manner again.'

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