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by their own personal obedience, according to the tenor of the covenant of works. Man's righteousness was once in himself when he remained in his primitive integrity; but, since the fall, the Lord has removed our righteousness from ourselves to Christ, who has become the Lord our Righteousness; yet how few are prevailed upon to relinquish self and self-righteousness! Many seek to establish their own righteousness, that will not take with the charge.

1. Those do seek to establish their own righteousness who can hardly be brought, either doctrinally or practically, to own that believers are wholly and altogether delivered from the law, as a covenant of works; but still are for seeking righteousness, as it were, by the works of the law. (Rom. ix. 32.) This was the stumbling-stone over which the Jewish nation stumbled and fell headlong into ruin.

2. Of this sort are those that only cover their legal sentiments with a gospel varnish, while they bring in faith and repentance, and the like, as proper conditions of the covenant of grace, in room of the perfect obedience required in the covenant of works; which is a razing of the foundation of the gospel, and an establishing of a righteousness in our own person, for justification before God.

3. Of this sort are those also that bring in gospel repentance, and the like, as necessary conditions and qualifications, in order to our justification before, and acceptance with God. Again,

4. Of this sort are those who, in principle or practice, contend that it is the believer's duty to be influenced, in his obedience, either by the slavish fears of hell, or the legal hopes of heaven. To obey from a legal hope of heaven, as if we were to obtain heaven by our obedience, as it is contrary to the apostle's doctrine, where he says, "That God hath appointed us to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, that we should live with him;" (1 Thess. v. 9;) so it affronts the obedience of Christ, whereby alone our title to heaven is secured.* To obey from a slavish fear of hell, as if our obedience and duty would secure us therefrom, is like opposition to, and denial of the virtue of Christ's death, whereby alone our freedom from hell is secured.

5. Of this sort are those who bring the believer upon

* Our legal right to live lies in the righteousness of Jesus, but our true title to the portion of children lies in adoption." If sons, then heirs."-ED.

every new sin, under a liableness to everlasting death and damnation, which is the penalty of the covenant of works, and which, though his sins deserved, yet the righteousness of Christ imputed to him not only secures him from it, but from ever being liable to it. Those who thus will make the believer liable to that law-sentence because of his sin, must of consequence suppose him not liable because of his obedience; and so they make him to be justified by his obedience and condemned by his disobedience to the law; contrary to our received principles in our Standards, declaring "That the believer is not under the law, as a covenant, either to be justified or condemned."* The believer

is neither justified by his obedience to the law, nor condemned for his disobedience. But if he disobeys, his God and Father hath other ways of chastising him in a fatherly manner, according to Psalm lxxxix. 30-33. In all these ways, men do but establish their own righteousness, and so consult with flesh and blood.

In a word, of this sort are all those that suspect the doctrine of the gospel as if it were an enemy to the law and holiness. Such is the propensity of nature towards the law, as a covenant of works, whenever awakened to any thoughtfulness about religion, that when the gospel declares that there is no justification by the deeds of the law; and that we are justified by faith, without the works of the law; and that righteousness is accounted to, or justification conferred upon him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly. (Rom. iv. 5.) Why, when this evangelical doctrine is opened, presently the legal disposition of men suspect this gospel-doctrine, and say of the publishers of it, as the Jews did of Paul, "This fellow persuades men to worship God, contrary to the law." (Acts xviii. 13.) Yea, not only contrary to the ceremonial law, but even to the moral law. For, must not men do as well as they can, in obedience to God's law; and then expect to be justified and accepted? Thus gospel doctrine comes to be challenged for Antinomianism; as if it allowed men a carnal liberty for sin, and freedom to break the law, or discouraged the practice of holiness; which is one of the greatest calumnies that can be raised against the gospel of Christ; and betrays dreadful ignorance of the gospel of grace; which shows plainly that a man never lives unto God, in point of holiness, till he be dead to the law in point of righteousness, * Confession of Faith, chap. xix., sect. 6.

(Gal. ii. 9,) nor ever brings forth fruit unto God, till he be dead to the law, and married to Christ. (Rom. vii. 4.) But we need not think strange of this suspicion, nor the calumnies that issue from thence; for Christ Jesus, our glorious Lord himself, was obliged to defend himself against such calumnies as these; and therefore saith, "Think not that I am come to destroy the law." I see, might he say, that is your thought, that is your suspicion; you suspect my docthine as if it were an enemy to the law and to holiness. "I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil." And the apostles had themselves to defend from this charge: "Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid; yea, we establish the law." Thus you see in how many respects people may be said to confer with flesh and blood.

Sermon 23.


"Immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood.”—GAL. i. 16. HAVING finished what we intended upon the doctrinal part of the subject, by explaining what is to be understood by flesh and blood; confirmed the truth of the doctrine, by showing that we are not to confer therewith in the matters of God; assigned the reasons therefor; entered upon the application of the subject; and having applied it in a use of information, caution, and reprehension; this doctrine may next be applied for dehortation and direction. And,

The dehortation is, O sirs, consult not with flesh and blood. And for motives, consider the reasons of the doctrine, formerly assigned. Flesh and blood are unable to give advice in the matters of God; and as unable, so they are unwilling, and consequently unfit to consult with; yea, to consult with flesh and blood is dangerous; for, if we consult therewith, flesh and blood will hinder us from duty; flesh and blood will lead us to sin; flesh and blood will impede our suffering for Christ and his cause; yea, if we consult with flesh and blood, we will consult with the devil, as Saul did; and so to consult with flesh and blood, is to consult with our own ruin; yea, the dishonour of God, and the discredit of the gospel. But these I pass, having formerly insisted upon them.

But for direction in this matter, it may be asked, 1. What are we to consult with, if we may not consult with flesh and blood? 2. What are the most proper means for preventing our conferring with flesh and blood?

I. Whom or what are we to consult with, if we may not consult

with flesh and blood? Whom are we to consult? To this we reply; in general, we ought to consult with God-with God, in Christ, by the Spirit; or, with the Father, in the Son, by the Holy Ghost. I mean, we ought, under the conduct of the Spirit, to consult with God, as he is the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, and that in all the duties of religion, and ordinances of his appointment, whether public or private, especially in prayer, saying, with David, "Thy Spirit is good; lead me into the land of uprightness." (Ps. cxliii. 10.) We ought to seek that he would guide us by his counsel, till he bring us unto glory; and give his Spirit for our guide. For he hath given us the greatest encouragement so to do: "If ye, then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?" (Luke xi. 13.) Every good gift cometh from him; and therefore, to whom should we go, for counsel and direction, but to the Father of lights, and to Christ, the wonderful Counsellor; and to the Spirit of truth, who is promised to lead his people into all truth? If we do not acknowledge the Lord in all our ways, and consult with him, we will certainly consult with flesh and blood.

But more particularly, because God hath given us counsellors under him, we are to consult such things, or persons, as he allows us to consult with, in a subordination to himself. If we would know then, more particularly, how are we to consult with God, we may do it by consulting, 1. The oracles of God. 2. The children of God. 3. The messengers of God. 4. The glory of God. 5. The analogy of faith. 6. The conscience, God's deputy in our breast.

1. We are to consult the oracles of God; I mean the Scriptures of truth, in the matters of faith, in the matters of God and conscience: "Search the Scriptures, for in them ye think ye have eternal life; and these are they which testify of me.” (John v. 39.) The Scripture is the judge of controversy. General assemblies and councils may err; so cannot the Scripture. For, it is "the more sure word of prophecy, to which we do well to take heed, as unto a light shining in a dark place." (2 Pet. i. 19, 20, 21.) We are, therefore, exhorted to let the word of God dwell in us richly, in all wisdom; and to receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save our souls; being doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving our own souls. (Jas. i. 21, 22.) See how Timothy is commended for his consulting with the Scriptures from his youth, (2 Tim. iii. 15, 16, 17.) Thus we are to consult with God in the Scripture.

2. We are to consult the children of God, the saints of God; especially such of them as are most tender, and live nearest unto God, and have most of the mind of God; and especially at such times when they and their God are in good terms together. Though we are not to consult with carnal friends in the matters of God, nor yet to follow the carnal counsel of godly friends, yet we do not consult with flesh and blood when we follow the godly counsel of godly friends, and the spiritual advice of spiritual friends. The word encourages us to confer with such: "Then they that feared the Lord spake often one to another, and the Lord hearkened and heard, and a book of remembrance was written for them that feared the Lord, and that thought upon his name." (Mal. iii. 16.) And, again, "He that walketh with wise men shall be wise." It is good

consulting with those whom God is communicating his secrets unto; and now, "The secret of the Lord is with them that fear him." (Ps. xxv. 14.)

3. We are to consult the messengers of God, for so we are warranted to do: "The priest's lips should keep knowledge, and they should seek the law at his mouth; for he is the messenger of the Lord of hosts." (Mal. ii. 7.) "Believe in the Lord your God, so ye shall be established. Believe his prophets, so shall ye prosper." (2 Chron. xx. 20.) But what if the prophets be deceived? What if the minister be mistaken, or the priest's lips do not keep knowledge, or hold by the truth? Why, we are to receive nothing indeed from men, by an implicit faith, without laying it to the rule. "To the law, and to the testimony; if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them." (Isa. viii. 20.) We must "prove all things, and hold fast that which is good;" and, like the noble Bereans, “search the Scriptures daily, whether these things be so." (Acts xvii. 11.) And if they were commended for not crediting the apostles themselves, that were immediately inspired from heaven, without comparing their doctrine with the Scripture; how much more commendable is it for people to compare the doctrine of ordinary teachers with the word, and the analogy of faith? Neglect, in this particular, makes many grossly ignorant; and hence to be carried about with every wind of doctrine, not knowing whom to trust, or what to believe-they err, not knowing the Scriptures." Well, but those that know the Scriptures better than we do explain it so and so, in a different manner from others." It may be so, but the Scripture is the best explainer of itself; if we searched it dependently upon the Lord, light would arise out of darkness; such light as would darken and confound all the false glosses the devil put upon it. In his debating with Christ, our Lord Jesus did, with other Scriptures, refute the devil's corrupt glosses, which he put upon the Scriptures that he cited. However, I say, "The priest's lips should preserve knowledge, and we should seek the law from his mouth." He ought to be a good counsellor, a faithful guide; and we ought to consult and confer with him in the matters of God; and we ought to take the counsel that is agreeable to the Word of God, and to be followers of such, as far as they are followers of Christ, and no further.

4. We are to consult the glory of God in all. If we consult our own ends, it is but flesh and blood. But if, in all things, we consult the glory of God, as our ultimate end, then we consult not with flesh and blood. "Whether we eat or drink, or whatsoever we do, we ought to do all to the glory of God." And in all the matters of God and conscience, it is always safest to consult what is most for advancing this great end, the glory of God in Christ; the glory of his sovereign grace; the glory of his infinite holiness and other perfections. Whatever tendeth to the dishonour of God, and of his name, comes of flesh and blood, and of devilish carnal consultation. The world are set upon pleasing of flesh and blood, though it should be never so displeasing to God. They are set upon the exalting of self, and the debasing of Christ; the enthroning of self, and the dethroning of God. But, O sirs, if the glory of God were consulted, how remote would people be from consulting with flesh and blood! God's glory would lead people up to the hill of God; but flesh and blood takes them down to the stream of the

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