The previous post in this series may be found here: https://memoirandremains.wordpress.com/2014/03/23/thomas-manton-on-psalm-1192a/
Manton next sets out the doctrine derived from Psalm 119:2b, “Blesed are they … that seek him with the whole heart””:
Doct. 2. Those that would be blessed must make this their business, sincerely to seek after God.
He then breaks the doctrine two into two aspects: The duty of seeking the manner of seeking. Being a good and careful pastor, he does not presume the congregants understand what is meant in the words. The idea of seeking God seems simple enough until you stop and consider: How does one seek God? In an Easter Egg, you seek the colored eggs by looking around and over and under. But how does one seek God?
I. The Duty: What is it to “seek God”?
A. Seeking God at implies that we lack God, “for no man seeks what he hath, but for what he hath not. All that are seeking are sensible of their want of God.”
a. This is the true mark of one who is truly affected by the Spirit, “The first work and great care of returning penitents is to inquire after God. So long as men lie unconverted, they are wholly neglectful of him, and think they do not want God: Ps. 14:2.
b. It is also the work of those who find themselves deserted by God: “Go to another sort of seekers, they are sensible of the same thing; in case of desertion it is clear: Cant. 5:6, ‘My beloved had withdrawn himself, and was gone; I sought him, but I could not find him.’ They never begin to recover until they are first sensible of their loss; when they see Christ is gone, they are left dead and comfortless; yea, all believers, their seeking or looking after communion with God is grounded upon a sense of want in some degree and measure; it is little they have in comparison of what they want and expect; and therefore still the children of God are a generation of seekers, that ‘seek after God,’ Ps. 24:6; whatever they enjoy, they are still in pursuit of more. They are always breathing after God, and desire to enjoy more communion with him.”
c. This is to be contrasted with the wicked, “A wicked man is always running from God, and is never better than when he is out of God’s company, when he is rid of all thoughts of God. He runs from his own conscience, because he finds God there; he runs from the company of good men, because God is there—holy conference is as a prison; he runs from ordinances, because they bring God near to his conscience, and put him in mind of God: he avoids death, because he cannot endure to be with God.”
B. We seek union and communion with God in Jesus Christ, “so that which we seek after is God’s favourable and powerful presence, that we may find the Lord reconciled, comforting and quickening our heart. Communion with God is the main thing that we seek after, as to the enjoyment of his favour in the acceptance of our persons and pardon of our sins. This is that the man of God expresseth, in his own name and in the name of all the saints: Ps. 4:6, 7, ‘Lord, lift thou up the light of thy countenance upon us;’ that God would display his beams of favour upon the soul. So Ps. 63:3, ‘Thy favour is better than life.’ And then his strength too, that he may subdue our corruptions, temptations, enemies, Micah 7:19; and that he may supply our wants inward and outward by his all-sufficiency, Phil. 4:19. God telleth Abraham, ‘I am God all-sufficient; walk before me, and be thou perfect.’”
C. Now the means of seeking God: the exercise of grace and the use of ordinances
a. By the exercise of grace, Manton means particularly the exercise of faith and love.
b. By ordinances, Manton means the ordinary means of spiritual disciplines: public and private worship.
i. “If you would find a man, mind where is his walk and usual resort. When Christ was lost, his parents sought him in the temple; there they found him. If you would find Christ, look to the shepherds’ tents in the assemblies of his people, Cant. 1:7, 8; there shall you meet him.”
ii. “Only let me tell you, in these ordinances it is not enough to make Christ the object of them, to worship Christ, but he must be made the end of them. To serve God is one thing, to seek him another. To serve God is to make him the object of worship, to seek God is to make him the end of worship, when we will not go away from him without him: Gen. 32:16, ‘I will not let thee go unless thou bless me.’”
iii. “To go away with the husk and shell of an ordinance, and neglect the kernel, to please ourselves because we have been in the courts of God, though we have not met with the living God, that is very sad.”
iv. “Again, if God be not found in an ordinance, yet we must continue seeking; you may find him in the next. Sometimes God will not be found in public, that he may be found in private ordinances.”