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which is but to tell us more enigmatically, that they are pleasures, riches, and honours. Self is the center of all the actions of a worldly man; and, whatsoever he doth are but so many lines, which, though they may seem far distant one from another, yet all meet together there.
Indeed, there is a seeking of these worldly advantages, which is not justly to be branded with this black mark of self-seeking.
And that is,
1st. When we seek them only by lawful means.
As industry in our callings, and prayer to God for a blessing upon it; detesting all the wicked and base methods of fraud and superchery.
2dly. When we seek them with due moderation.
When our care about them is but prudent and provident; not parking, nor distracting.
3dly. When we seek them at allowed seasons.
The shop must not intrench upon either the church or the closet; nor the duties of our particular callings, as we are men, devour jthe duties of our general callings, as Christians. Both are beautiful in their season; and, indeed, the one is an excellent preparative for the other. How comfortably may that man follow his vocation all day, who hath begun the morning with God, and humbly implored his blessing and assistance! and how sweetly may that man close up his day's task with prayer, who hath used such care and conscience in his calling, as to bring no new guilt to confess in the evening!
4thly. When we seek these things with a due subordination to the higher and more noble ends of piety and holiness.
And that is,
(1st) When we seek them, that we may avoid those temptations, which possibly the want of them might expose us unto.
Thus Agur prays, Prov. xxx. 8. that God would feed him with food convenient, lest he be poor, and steal, and take the name of his God in vain: that is, as I conceive, lest he should be, first, tempted to theft; and, then, to perjury to conceal it, if suspected.
(2dly) When we seek them, that we may be the better furnished for good works.
For earthly comforts and enjoyments, if they be well improved, are excellent instruments to promote the glory of God, in furthering the good and welfare of others. Hence the Apostle, Eph. iv. 28. Let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth. And indeed it will require somewhat of a plentiful estate, to be able to maintain good works, as the Apostle twice useth that expression, Titus iii. 8. and at the 14th verse.
If these rules be duly observed, he is no self-seeker, who diligently may seek after these temporal accommodations.
But, when gain shall be preferred before godliness; and all the crooked ways of deceit and fraud made use of, only to amass together a heap of ill-gotten trash : when thou wilt rather choose to make shipwreck of faith and a good conscience, than to cast overboard any part of thy wealth, though it be to save thy soul from being drowned and sunk in perdition: when this golden idol shall be set up by thee; and God, and Christ, and religion, and conscience, all sacrificed unto it; what is this, but a base self-seeking, unworthy of a Christian, nay of a man? too impious for a Christian, too foolish for any man: for, in thus peeking themselves, they lose themselves for ever. And this is that, which the Apostle so grievously complains of, Phil. ii. 21. All seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ's. A mean and sordid temper this. And, as it is sordid; so is it, likewise, most unjust and unreasonable: for consider, you are not your own, but God's: he hath manifold titles to you: you have no self of your own, but you, and all, are his: and what presumption is it for you to provide for what is his, otherwise than he hath ordered; yea, contrary to his express command!
That is the First Inference.
(2) If we are not our own, we may infer, that certainly we are not at our own dispose.
And this should teach us patience in all the cross and sad occurrences of our lives. We are not our own; and, therefore, we may not carve out our own condition to ourselves, nor prescribe to God what we would have done, or what we would avoid: for this is boldly to intermeddle with that, which doth not belong to thee. Thou art God's; and what is it to thee, O busy man, what he doth with his own? If it seemeth good to him to chastise thee with poverty, reproach, pains, and diseases, or to take from thee any of thy dearest and most desirable comforts, what hast thou to do to interpose with thy complaints and murmurings? May he not dp what he will with his own? Thou art no farther interested in any of these things, than t© bear them meekly as a Christian} and voluntarily to resign up thyself unto him, unto whom thou dost naturally and necessarily belong.
(3) If we are not our own, we may very rationally infer, that we ought not to follow our own wills and our own affections. Indeed, the great contest between God and man ever was, and still is, about sovereignty. It hath been the perpetual quarrel of all ages, which shall be the chief; and whose will shall take place, either his or ours. The first crafty temptation, Ye shall be as gcfds, hath strangely prevailed upon us ever since: we would fain all be gods, independent and uncontroulable. Now check this rebellion of thy will and affections, by considering that thou art not thine own, but God's: he hath the supreme right to thee; and thou art injurious to his right, if thou settest up thy will a competitor with his. Yea, indeed, thou oughtest to have no will peculiar to thyself, but it should be all melted down and resolved into God's. And, therefore, the Apostle puts an excellent form of words into our mouths: James iv. I5. If the Lord will, we will do thus and thus. So say thou, " If the Lord will, I will." Bring thy will to conform unto his Will of Precept, absolutely; for that he hath made known unto thee in his word: and neither will nor desire what he hath therein forbidden thee. Bring it also to conform unto his Will of Purpose, conditionally; for that is hidden and secret to us, until the event declare it: but, when God hath manifested it by the effects, bend thy will unto it; and quietly acquiesce in all his dispensations, as infinitely wise and gracious. Say thou unto him, " Lord, I am blind and ignorant; and cannot see through the consequences of things. That, which I apprehend at present would be for my advantage, may possibly prove a snare and a curse unto me. Thou comprehendest all, in thy infinite wisdom; and, therefore, I resign up my choice to thee. Do thou, Lord, choose for me: and, howsoever thy providence shall order my affairs, make me as thankful for disappointments, as I ought to be for successes." This is a right, Christian temper; worthy of him, who acknowledgeth himself, not to be his own, but God's.
(4) Ye are not your own; look not then upon any thing as your own.
Certainly, if thou thyself art God's, whatsoever thou fondly accountest thine is much more his. Shall the principal be his, and not the accessaries? Thy friends, thy children, thy estate, thy good uanie, arc not indeed thine: and, though commo" words and language call them so; yet take heed that thou dost not lay any emphasis upon it. Thus Nabal, that blunt churl, accents his selfishness: 1 Sam. xxv. 11. Shall I take my bread and my water, and my flesh that I have killed for my shepherds? alas! poor wretch, there is nothing of all this thine: nay, thou thyself art not thine, but belongest, if not to the grace, yet to the dominion of God. Indeed we must distinguish between things being ours for our good and,benefit, and being ours as to absolute title and dominion. Neither way can a wicked man call any thing his: his table is a snare; and that, which should have been for his welfare, is become a curse unto him. But it is not thus with the godly: for the Apostle tells us, I Cor. iii. 22, 23. that whether the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to
come; all are theirs; and they are Christ's; and Christ is God's: this argument is very cogent, as to the benefit and good, that shall redound unto them from every thing they enjoy; in this sense, all is theirs, because they are God's. But, because they are God's, therefore nothing is theirs as to absolute right and sovereign dominion. Both they and wicked men have a natural right to many blessings, and a civil right to many more: but neither of them have a supreme, free, and independent right, to any thing which they enjoy; but all is God's, lent to them for their use and his service.
(5) Ye are not your own; let not then any sin be your own.
You are God's peculiar people; let not any sin be your peculiar sin. Shall we ourselves be God's, and yet any sin be ours? what is this less than, by a kind of practical blasphemy, to transfer our sins upon God?
And, so much, for the First Part of the words, Ye are not your own.
Thus have we considered the proposition, Ye are not your own. Ye have not a sovereign right over j'our own beings, to seek your own interests, to dispose of your own affairs, to follow your own wills and appetites; but you entirely belong unto another.
ii. And, lest you should be put to seek for an owner, since you are thus denied, and, as it were, turned out of the possession of yourselves, the Apostle informs you WHO IT is, That Lays In His Claim To You; even the great and universal Lord both of Heaven and Earth, whose all things are by a most absolute and indisputable right: Ye are God's.
Indeed, God hath manifold titles to you.
1. As he is your Almighty Creator.
When thou layedst huddled up in the great chaos and confusion of mere possibilities, he beckoned and called thee forth; bade thee be, and take thy place and station in the order of things: and that, not in a vile and contemptible nature, a worm, or a fly, which we crush or sport to death; but a man, one of the peers and nobles of the world. See how magnificently David speaks of thy original: Ps. viii. 5, 6. Thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour. Thou modest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands. Thou art born a king; crowned, in thy very cradle: and thy being, in the scale of creatures, is but one round lower than that of the angels.
Thy Body, which is the basest and most disgraceful part thou hast, yet of how excellent a texture and frame is it! such various springs of motion, such secret channels and conveyances for life and spirits, such a subserviency of parts one to another in their mutual offices, and such a perfect beauty and harmony in the whole, that David might well say, Ps. cxxxix. 14,15. /
am fearfully and wonderfully made and curiously wrought in
the lowest parts of the earth. Yea, not only a David, but Galen a heathen, when he had minutely inspected the admirable artifice that appeared in the frame of our bodies, the structure and use of the several parts, and the many wonders and miracles that were woven up in every one of them, his speculation of nature led him to adore the God of Nature, and he could not forbear composing a hymn in the praise of our All-wise Creator. Now whose is this elegant piece of workmanship, but God's? In his hook, saith the Psalmist, were all our members written, which afterwards were fashioned: as architects do usually draw a model of those buildings, which they intend for more than ordinary state and magnificence before they erect them; so God doth, as it were, delineate a draught and platform of man in his book, that is, in his own counsel and decree; and limns out every member, giving it its shape and proportion in his own ideas; and afterward, according to that perfect pattern, sets up the frame: he first makes the materials, and then brings them together; and causes all nature to contribute what is most jf and proper for it.