Chapter 13

How grossly Mr. Hunt has mistaken relation to the love of Christ.

Here I enter upon his second disparagement of the love of Christ, by mistaking the grounds of Relation in the children of God to that love. The passage is this “know for thy comfort, if thou mournest for these infirmities, as Paul did, if thou prayest and strivest against them, and shunnest all temptations and occasions leading thereunto, thou mayest be dear to Christ, thou notwithstanding, he may hate thy failings, and yet dearly love thy person.” {Page 142} This is the matter.

Now as plausibly as all this looks, I would show you, if the Lord please, that here lies a great disparagement of Christ. And first of all I may take notice {with a brief touch} how he hath disparaged the Hatred of Christ to sin, as well as the Love of Christ to the souls of his elect. “He may {says he} hate thy failings,” whereas it is absolutely sure, he doth hate thy failings. With what a careless inconsistence doth this poor man’s stock present us! For indeed, I am weary of miscalling it {as he hath done} the “Saints Treasury,” for there is so little of Christ and so much of the creature in it; and blessed be God, the Saints Real Treasury hath none of these uncertainties and maybe’s in Christ. “Tis not there that he may, but he absolutely doth hate these failings. That’s their mercy, for since he hates their sins, and loves their persons, they are sure to be troubled no more with their sinful failings in another world. Oh! No “Saints Treasury” whatsoever, but a poor creature-bundle of in-and-out religion, to call a book by so excellent a title, as Christ the Most Excellent {as his book goes by this title too} which yet exposes to the Saints view such Gibeonitish rotten rags, Josh.9:5, and old clouted shoes for pieces of the saints treasury, as that Christ may hate their failings, who most surely is of purer eyes than to behold iniquity, Hab.1:13, without detestation. Nay, the Human Nature itself, the Glory-Man standing now openly in God, cannot endure iniquity. Does not Christ hate all that filthiness of sin in which I come, and attempt to bow myself before him with? Yes. If he did not, I could have no encouragement to come before him with it for relief against it. Because, unless he did powerfully and holily, as God, hate sin, he would not be the way and means to destroy it, but destroy the worshiper, when I come therewith to him in Confession, and lay it before him, how that which his soul loathed was yet Judicially laid upon him, Isa.53:6; in order to take it quite away in bearing our sins in his own body on the tree, by a Power equal to his Hatred. “Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness; by whose stripes ye were healed. For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls.” {I Pet.2:24-25}

But the Mystery of this I shall have occasion to state and argue, if the Lord is pleased to bring me on to those distinct chapters, in the proper joint of this Vindication of Christ, where it falls; I say, a Vindication of Christ in our very going to him with the filth of sin! A Vindication of him as to the Infiniteness of his Person, and so the Impossibility of his being defiled with our filth, when we are helped to come to Christ with the sense of our sin; and the necessary agreeableness of this to the Advocacy of Christ in Heaven, in the case of all that can be said of our sin on Earth; as well as the agreeableness of the Spirit’s in-being, or the Holy Ghost’s indwelling in the soul, by and amongst all this body of sin and death, Rom.7:23-24; though no doubt, but our Master Hunt thinks this is a Disparagement of Christ beyond any of his own; and indeed, to help him out, so did zealous Peter in the Prediction of his Sufferings, because of the disparagement all men would look upon this to be, “be it far from thee, Lord; this shall not be unto thee,” Mt.16:22; but I may have room and place to show this other to be no disparagement, but a Vindication, and consistent with the Exaltation of Christ.

My work now is to demonstrate that part of the aforesaid passage to be Mr. John Hunt’s second open disparagement of the love of Christ; and there it is, as our mismatching brother builds the souls relation to the love of Christ upon prayer, mourning for infirmities, shunning temptations, &c., but it ought to be no such matter; as the soul is built upon Christ, antecedently to his own praying, mourning, repenting, believing, &c., and it is the antecedency of my Relation, or being dear to Christ, which brings on the opening cause by influences of the Holy Ghost sent from Christ’s Mediatorial summons, when I am ever graciously brought to pray, believe, confess and mourn for my corruptions, as Paul did by Grace, and not by self-holiness. Rom.7:18-19. The soul is not built upon prayer, nor mourning for what he miscalls infirmities. Dearness to Christ likewise is not built upon prayer, nor upon mourning for sin, nor upon striving against sin, and shunning all temptations, and occasions leading thereunto; as this blind teacher falsely suggests; but dearness to Christ is built upon Christ Himself, even as Christ is built upon God. I Cor.3:23. “To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious; ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.” {I Pet.2:4-5} And indeed, to be dear to Christ is not absolutely to have Evidence of it, but Interest in it. Yea, if ever I come by evidence, it is by Faith, not by prayer. “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” {Heb.11:1} However, as to Interest and Relation in and to the Love of Christ, it is not as I know it, but as God and Christ and the Comforter know it. Just as in reference to the blood Atonement of Christ; for note therein, that it is not as we by God given Faith view the blood, but as the Father Himself sees the blood, {“and when I see the blood, I will pass over you,” Exo.12:13,} and is well pleased therein. “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” {Mt.3:17} It is altogether passive, to be dear to Christ; ‘tis not a thing to be procured by my active means, as to the Internal Part of this dearness, or dearness of interest in, and Relation unto Christ. Otherwise, as to the external part of it, in keeping off visible judgments, and keeping up visible communion in visible ordinances of Christ, we are to keep ourselves from idols, I Jn.5:21, and to keep ourselves in the love of God, Jude 21; that is to say, to keep ourselves by outward acts in the Visible Dearness, as we stand outwardly distinguished from others; being commanded to be in Worship, and the matter and way of holiness, a people that shall dwell alone, Num.23:9, and shall not be reckoned among the nations. But still this visible dearness is antecedently built upon the Invisible.

To this purpose is that of John 14:21-24: “He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me; and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him. Judas saith unto him, not Iscariot, Lord, how is it that thou wilt manifest thyself unto us, and not unto the world? Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words; and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him. He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings; and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father’s which sent me.”

“He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them,” saith Christ. “He that hath them” before he keeps them. He that hath them first, and then keeps them next. He that hath them from me, before he can, and before I expect he should keep them for me, or unto me. Now the having of the Commandments is a passive thing; it is a thing done upon me, and to me antecedently, and the keeping of the Commandments is an active thing; as it is a thing done by me afterwards. For these two must be in their own and proper order. We must first have them; how? Passively written in our hearts; and so have them in our souls, in our esteem, and approbation, and a sanctified judgment of them, before we can be brought to keep them, or observe them. “And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them.” {Ezek.36:27} “But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you; but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him.” {I Jn.2:27} And yet after all this Indoctrinating Work of the Spirit in sealing the Truths of the Gospel upon our hearts, and bringing our lives into an dutiful adherence of the same; doth this make us dear to Christ, in the sense of making, or founding, or beginning our relation to Christ? No; for it is in the sense of promoting and carrying on our Communion with Christ, that praying, seeking, knocking, believing, mourning for Abomination, {for Paul indeed hated what Mr. Hunt merely calls our “infirmities;”} and striving, Heb.12:4, against sin, &c., proves it more remotely, not more immediately, even to ourselves, that we are dear to Christ.

For I must still, if I make a right judgment on myself within myself touching my state, go by the rules of God’s Word; I must certainly know the Principle from whence my acts of believing, praying, mourning, striving, &c., arise, before I can conclude aright what I am from my acts; for I must know the Principle of my love in praying, &c., to be God’s Spirit in me, before I judge by my praying, &c., that I am dear to Christ. And then if I know it by that Holy Principle {for the Spirit of God is both the Author and Principle, and from thence becomes the Evidence in Faith of every good thing in every good man} then I know it by that Principle, even before I can have occasion to go and put that into practice which my blind teacher attempts to bind upon my conscience.

“For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” II Cor.4:6. He hath shined in our hearts unto the light; so it is in the original; not to give us the light; because the Spirit in his Indwelling is the Principle of our light, shining in our hearts, and the Efficacy of our light, shining so as to carry the soul home unto it in the Person of Christ; and neither leaving me in my old darkness, nor suffering me to drop short, and take up with any other objective light in Religion, on this side of Christ, the true and only Light. “The darkness is past, and the true light now shineth.” {II Jn.2:8} The testimony is internal, ‘tis in our hearts, ‘tis not written upon our knees. ‘Tis in the face of Jesus Christ that we see it, not in the face of profession, not in a fair show, Gal.6:12, of the flesh. Our Anti-antinomian men dare not preach thus, as Paul preaches, about light shining in the heart, for fear of being thought Quakers and Enthusiasts, who hold the light within quite in another sense; and yet, poor wretches, Rev.3:17, they are as much deluded one way with their Pharisaical holiness, as the Quakers are another with their pseudo light within, which Quaker’s light is nothing but the light of nature. And these two sorts of Quakers I contend against; the one who make the light without them in their dutiful performances, to be the immediate evidence of their Salvation; and the other who make the light within in a mere natural conscience obeyed in such acts and duties, to be the immediate evidence of their Salvation. Well, it is a remote evidence indeed to judge by praying, and other holy acts; and as it is remote, it is none of my first Evidence by which I know my state in Christ. Whereas, I have, and must have {in telling me words whereby I must be saved} an Immediate and Direct Evidence, to judge of my Condition in Christ, from {or by} clear Sights, Views and Discoveries of Christ, which with these holy acts of praying, mourning, &c., and often times without them, and always distinct from them, shine in our souls, unto the Light of the Knowledge {or comfortable Assurance of the Knowledge} of the Glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. “For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” {II Cor.4:6} Oh; this Supernatural shinning of the Spirit in illuminating our darkened minds! It is more worth than all the natural religion in the world. Oh; this Enthusiasm in the Praise of the Gospel, and the lifting up of the Person of Christ, without which men can’t be saved! Oh; how I esteem this Law of God’s Mouth, this breathing of his lips upon my heart, which now so many perverse, young clerics brand with Enthusiasm in reproach! {Some of their preachers among them have even reviled me to my face!} How do I esteem this Law far better than thousands of gold and silver! Psal.119:72. And though this immediate, internal evidence and light of the Glorious Gospel as it is in my heart, or shining in my heart, is that whereby I first know my own spiritual state and condition in Christ, yet it is none of that which had brought it about to be first so to God; for it was so to him upon antecedent and eternal Accounts that are quite different.

“My commandments;” he that hath my commandments, and keepeth them. They are such commandments as are Christ’s propriety distinct from God’s; and this is rarely attended to. “If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love.” Jn.15:10. ‘Tis not the Father’s Commandments he inculcates, which are written in the light of nature, and published in at Mount Sinai, that Christ is speaking of here; as he had before indeed preached those Commandments of his Father, spiritually, in his Sermon upon the Mount, Matthew 5-7, when he preached to the Disciples, Mt.5:1, Lk.7:1, in the audience of the multitude. But now they are his own Commandments; he having received all power of the Father to initiate the Worship of the Gospel, and institute Laws of his own, such as he had, and such as he should further give them, more especially tending to his Worship and Government, the Lord Christ alone in all such things being her Head, our Judge, our Lawgiver, and our King, who will save us; which Laws when put into their minds, and written upon their hearts will distinguish the worshiper, by enjoying God’s presence in the worship. “For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts; and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people.” {Heb.8:10}

Particularly, it was Christ’s Commandment, Jn.14:1, “ye believe in God, believe also in me.” Christ Commanded that they should believe in him, as they believed in God. Again, it was Christ’s Commandment that in Prayer they should ask the Father in his name, Christ’s Name, Matthew 7:7 compared with John 14:13, “Ask in my name,” there is Prayer, “and ye shall receive,” there is answer. “Whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.” Jn.14:13. “And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.” Col.3:17. There is the Gospel-Order, to pray in the name of the Mediator. “According to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord; in whom we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of him.” Eph.3:11-12. Christ is the Way of our Praying, and the Ground of our Answers; and this way and ground both must be every one’s interest and relation who prays and is answered, before, even before he prayeth. Now this was one of Christ’s Commandments, I say, “ask and ye shall receive.” Ask how? Receive how? Both in my name; for “hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name; ask, and ye shall receive,” Jn.16:24; the Disciples had prayed, and yet they had not prayed; they had prayed as the Father’s Law directed, to the true God; but again, that they had not prayed as the Mediator’s Gospel instructed, to the true God {as the Father} in Christ’s Name. “Ask therefore,” says Christ, “in my Name, and you shall receive, that your joy may be full.” This was expressly one of Christ’s Commandments to pray in his Name. Pray for what? For the Spirit, as the Comforter, in the new born; for the Spirit in more gifts and light, whose coming down afterwards upon their souls was to prove the Efficacy of Christ’s Name in his Advocacy, upon his Open Exaltation, after his departure from them.

It was therefore another of Christ’s Commandments, that they should not after Christ’s Departure scatter themselves; that is, upon his Ascending and Going from them into Heaven, they should not run every one his way to shift for himself, as men without hope, and giving up all for lost, when they did not just in a moment hear from Heaven, by the Comforter, what was become of Christ; as it was with them before Christ’s Resurrection; no, nor go out to Preach the Gospel till they be thoroughly gifted and spirited with and by the Holy Ghost. “And ye are witnesses of these things. And, behold, {says Christ,} I send the promise of my Father upon you; but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high, Lk.24:48-49; till the Spirit, who is the promise of my Father {whom I will send from Him unto you} comes, in my Name unto you. You are there to assemble at Jerusalem, and ask in my Name, and tarry for him to be in my room, till this Great Power of God comes, and gives you both the Authority and Influence for, and in all, that you shall further undertake to do for me in my Name. Thus we see whose Commandments they are that entitle us to Christ’s Presence, they must be Christ’s Laws, and not the moral Laws of nature that are written upon every man’s Conscience. Rom.2:14-15. Mr. Hunt therefore makes poor work of it in the way he goes to comfort with Interest in Christ, Relation to Christ; or, in the way he cuts out to be dear to Christ, whilst all God’s Ancient, and the Passive way of it is quite shut out. If thou prayest, says he; aye, but there are Three Persons in Heaven who look upon an abundance of praying, and see much general praying, and take notice of much of that praying which some minister directs to, and comfort souls with, to be no praying at all. Christ is not eyed; a man goes on with gifts, but he doth not go on in his soul with Christ. This is no praying to God, to God in Christ’s Name; the Spirit, as the Comforter, the fruit of his Name in the soul, is not in the bottom of all this. And all, because the petitioner hath not Christ’s Commandments, and yet the minister flatters him with his praying. Ah! Poor praying both in him and his minister, whilst the Spirit of God is shut out any one time, when that Article and Duty of prayer is brought in! Here he hath not Christ’s Commandments, and so keeps them not. He is an inexperienced stranger to all this. Nevertheless, says Christ, it is he that hath my Commandments, and so keepeth them from the same Grace that wrote them.

“He it is that loveth me;” he that so keepeth them of and from Special Grace, he loves me from that Pattern-love in the love of the Father; from that Radical love out of which Influential love, or the Communicated Love Springs, which hath loved the soul into an Observation of the same love-statutes. As if Christ had said, this Influential love is built upon love that was secretly provided from Everlasting, and Openly in Time gave the same Influences of love, to create and excite the Obedience of my people’s love. Thus will he love me, says Christ, in his Obedience, but he loves me therein out of my first love to him.

“And he that loveth me, shall be loved of my Father;” he shall be loved of my Father more openly in his Grace Experience by sweet Sensation and Communion-Power, through me the Mediator, by the Holy Ghost, in Evidence to the soul not to be denied. The Father will love him more sensibly than the Father has yet discovered to him.

“And I will love him;” I will love him more openly, more in View and Discovery, by extraordinary meltings of his soul, even to tears of joy in the open worship of God! I will love him more by my own Power, in conveying the everlasting springs of my Father’s love afresh! I will love him into increased perceptions thereof, by my Father’s Pattern in whom this Love began!

“And will manifest myself unto him;” so that the love is explained to be Manifestative, Experienced, Latter love, though built upon Settlement-love, the Ancient, Former love of all! I will go on with love, and pursue the gracious tract thereof; and so bring him out of clouds and darkness, Psal.97:2, in which he is wont to lie down afraid, shut up in his secret places! But now observe what a vast difference there is between being dear to Christ, which Mr. Hunt lays upon praying, and being under the manifestations of this dearness; which manifestation-love neither elected me in Christ to make me dear to Christ, nor regenerated me through Christ by the Spirit, the Comforter, to make me first to Christ; but builds me up for Christ, to make me the more open Workmanship of Christ, and one in professed Subjection, II Cor.9:13-14, under him. “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” {Eph.2:10}

“Judas saith unto him, not Iscariot;” vs.22, Judas or Jude, Jude 1, the brother of James; as that Apostle distinguishes himself from the traitor, Judas Iscariot; so called from the death he suffered, that strangled him, Dr. Lightfoot thinks, and from whom John here distinguished him.

“Lord, how is it that thou wilt manifest thyself unto us, and not unto the world;” as much as to say, how shall we know this, and the world observe it not? Is it possible there can be any openness of the thing, and yet done out of their view and apprehension? For they did not yet know the opening of it to and upon the soul passively, by the Spirit, to their own inward Experience of the Consolation; and the shutting out that Manifestation actively from the world, that there should be nothing of God’s Hand in it towards them; insomuch that the world should not experimentally and believingly know how he loved his own. It seemed a wonder to Judas Lebbaeus, and Thaddaeus, as their surnames are called, Matt.10:3, how this could be done, the separate Manifestation to the Apostles, and not the other, the conjoined Manifestation into the world.

How? Says he, why, mind the rule of Manifestation-love; “Jesus answered and said unto him, if a man love me he will keep my words;” vs.23, the world cannot know the penetrating efficacy of my affectionate words of endearment, as you do and shall know them, and the warm consolations that I have poured into you. Nay, they know not the very form and language of the abundance of the Counsel I have revealed and given unto you. Again, as they cannot judge of the Spring of your love to me, so they cannot believe, or discern, nor judge of the Spring of my love to you. Are you, through my Grace which shall be sufficient for you, II Cor.12:9, glued to my Testimonies, Psal.119:31, inclined unto my Precepts, Psal.119:36, lying low, abhorring self, renouncing all confidence in the flesh, throwing up your own wisdom-doings, and cleave to my Pattern-Order; to my Person, my Office, my Words, my Works, my Ways, and my People. I have given Laws and Rules, says he, about the outward observation of these things both in Church and Conversation; and if a man love me, says Christ, as the fruit of God’s love and my joint first-love to him, he will be given Grace to keep my words. He will be no enemy to the Government of Jesus Christ, he will strike at none of Christ’s Church-laws, and Christ’s Church-ordinances. He will keep my words in the face of the world, and do all which I bid my saints observe; and all by my the secret Springs, inward Inclinations and the powerful Promptings of my love which constrains and impels him forth in Gospel ways, and which the world sees not whence he doth it all, as uninspired men rather impute it unto humor, self-will, fancy, delusion, schism, faction, and I know not what else.

“And my Father will love him;” he will love him by open Manifestation to his soul; he will open that to his Experience which he never saw before; to his heart that which he could never believe was in the Heart of God for him. He will love him influentially through the Mediator, by the blessed Comforter. He will love him into more Instruction of the Knowledge of Electing love, to melt and humble him, to rejoice and settle him, who can rest upon nothing but Eternal Grace! He will love him into further conduct, through all the perils, through all cross and doubtful ways below.

“And we will come unto him;” we will come unto him in a way of Communion with the Persons of God. “Truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.” I Jn.1:3. We will come with more sensible Operations of the Presence of God by the mighty Comforter; and with more and greater Evidences of the pourings out of the Spirit of God, Isa.32:15, upon that soul; and so we will come in the Tri-Union of Father, Son and Spirit.

“And make our abode with him;” the Father through the Son by the Spirit will keep up the Communion of the Heavenly Life with the same blessed soul. He shall have more Assurance, more standing Peace, more abiding Comfort, more fixed and enduring Steadfastness; his Joys and Experience of the Love of God shall not, as other men’s, vanish. This is the meaning of John 14:21-24, consistently with the Analogy of Faith, and the revealed Truths of the Gospel.

So that the Opening of this Text may obviate an Objection, and answer it to the next comer to the door, who sees {it may be} little more than the dust of Religion, and the stir that’s made about it; and then thinks it a hard case, if all the dust swept out be not taken in again.

Let us more narrowly search and examine Mr. Hunt’s way of comforting thy soul, that thou mayest be dear to Christ, if thou prayest, mournest for these infirmities, shunnest temptations and occasions, &c. How incongruous is this way of excelling still with the title of his book, Christ the Most Excellent; or, the Glory of Christ Unveiled? How is Christ the Most Excellent! Why, if prayer and mourning carry such a great stroke with them, that if I do so and so, I am dear to Christ, then it is prayer and mourning which are the most excellent. If these do but discover me dear to Christ, and God, distinct from Christ, makes me so, still it would make these more excellent than Christ; and so if praying discovers to me how dear I am to Christ, more than Christ discovers how dear I am to him, and more than the Spirit discovers how dear I am to Christ; why should it be Christ the Most Excellent? That which does the most in the Discovery is the most Excellent Discoverer; but by this writer, it should seem that prayer and mourning, and the like duties do most in the Discovery that I am dear to Christ; and so prayer and mourning must pull Christ down, and set up for better discoverers how dear I am to Christ, than Christ himself is by his Spirit the Discoverer of that Mystery! Alas! There is no such thing! Prayer and mourning, and the like never discovered any such thing to men; I have found rather that Christ makes prayer dear to me, than that Prayer has made me dear to Christ. Strange! Our Northampton brother is quite beside the cushion! Poor man! And then he carries off the rest of his Title, the Glory of Christ Unveiled, but spoils the triumph, by making it the glory of praying unveiled; the glory of mourning for infirmities unveiled; or the glory of shunning temptations and occasions leading thereunto unveiled! And their glory indeed, if these could either make or discover me to be dear to Christ! And their glory indeed, if I must first look to these, as the Marks and Signs of my being dear to Christ! But let these things keep their place, and not be set up by every proud man as high as Christ! I would have prayer, and everything else of our love-obligation stand veiled, and be more modest in the Face of Christ, to whom all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags, Isa.64:6, when they are brought in, as Mr. Hunt here brings them, and must be thrown to the Apostle Paul’s dunghill, as he has scraped them together! Put them in the most Evangelical fashion, and they must stand modest and humble before Christ the Lord our Righteousness. {Jer.23:6 with Jer.33:16} But if you bring them thus in their proud ruff, and where the plague of leprosy, corrupt natures plague-sores have run on them, there must be an utter abhorrency of them! Unclean, unclean! Lev.13:45. Away with them in this vile dress! “It is time for thee, LORD, to work; for they have made void thy law. Therefore, {because of the work of the LORD,} I love thy commandments above gold; yea, above fine gold. Therefore I esteem all thy precepts concerning all things to be right; and I hate every false way.” {Psal.119:126-128}

Again, how doubtful is my creature-comforter. See what a weakness, what timorousness, what a faint-heartedness this man’s comfortings do bring along with them. He dare not encourage the soul in any confidence towards God, I Jn.3:21, nor with a true heart, in full Assurance of faith, Heb.10:22, after all his fair show, Gal.6:12, in the flesh. ‘Tis but a know for thy comfort with a may be at last, “but know for thy comfort, if thou mournest for these infirmities as Paul did, if thou prayest and strivest against them, and shunnest all temptations and occasions leading thereunto, thou mayest be dear to Christ notwithstanding.” What sounding brass is here, and what a tinkling cymbal, I Cor.13:1, as the Apostle speaks, for want of Charity, or true love to souls in seeking to save them by Christ alone! For want also of the Ministerial Unction from him who can have compassion on the ignorant, Heb.5:2, and on them that are out of the way of sound comfort!

Now this ‘maybe’ must be either certain or uncertain. Thou mayest be dear to Christ is either thou mayest certainly be so, or thou mayest uncertainly be so, and with a perhaps it may be so. If thou mayest certainly be so, in case thou dost so and so, then this certainly again is either made by it, or discovered by it, he must plead; both which are false. It cannot be made by it, for mourning for infirmities, praying, striving against sin, &c., which are no basis of endearment to Christ; as there is no real endearment engendered in the heart of a believer, but that by Father, Son and Spirit in endearing and engaging the mind and affections unto heavenly, Jn.3:12, things. No other Agent but the LORD Himself is active in the making dear, who made all other things. It can’t be discovered by it, because it is bringing in a discovery without a Discoverer; the Holy Spirit of God, whom Mr. Hunt has quite forgotten to exalt in this comfort, though that Spirit from the Father and the Mediator is the only true Comforter of anxious souls examining the ground of their settlement into Christ. If thou mayest be, soul, uncertainly dear to Christ in case thou doest the obedience characterized in Mr. Hunt’s formula, then thou art evidently turned off upon the doubtful; and for want of the knowledge of Christ, and the Spirit, which he has un-righteously excluded, and substituted his own authority in the room thereof, {know for thy comfort, for there is the minister’s word for it; but not a syllable of the Lord’s own Authority to take up the comfort, he, of himself, lays down,} thou hast nothing to rest on but this man’s mere authority, and his ‘maybe’ for it; for as he lays down, “know for thy comfort, thou ‘mayest’ be dear to Christ.”

Whereas, dearness to Christ is built upon God’s Own Certainty, and not thus emptily to be turned over into probability of mine or thine, till the long run of trying me, how I’ll prove, and what I’ll do. And indeed, he does as fairly build his ‘maybe’ up on Mr. Baxter’s Condition Gospel, as a man, in and of himself, may well do, who does not openly express it in the word ‘condition.’ “If” thou mournest, “if” thou prayest, and “if” thou shunnest evil, why then thou mayest be dear to Christ. That great man {whom just now I named} hath commonly expressed the practical part of his scheme in just such a Northampton style; neither is our man, Hunt, in all this far from the worst part of the Kidderminster1 divinity! Let the two schemes go into the one lump of Natural Religion, as I am sure that there are no revealed parts thereof.

For, what if the soul doth none of this? What did the spouse and the wise do sometimes? “I sleep” and they “slept;” Song.5:2, Mt.25:5; and if prayer must make me dear to Christ, or prove me dear to Christ, for it is a rare thing for any saint on earth to get above a dead, sluggish and sleepy prayer, if all the prayers he makes in the body were to be laid together! What are one or two sparkling and lively prayers in the Congregation to ten or twenty dead prayers that are made by them in the closet? What will a sleepy prayer do? Will this praying which brings with it no more evidence than no praying at all, make me dear to Christ? Oh! Sorry praying! Yes, “but my heart waketh;” Song.5:2; why, then I am ever the more convinced of sin, sin in praying, sin in taking God’s Name lightly, after an old Adams serious fashion, into my mouth; my heart waketh, and therefore I see my prayings confused, wandering, distracted prayers! Oh! What will these indeed make me dear to Christ? Or discover me to be so? No, they make such a discovery, that when I look upon myself thus, and judge of myself thus, I look upon myself to be a dishonorable cheat. When I look upon myself thus, my very heart tells me that I am not what I should be. My heart reproaches me a thousand times for neglects, if ever I think to know anything for my comfort from duty and performances, as this man lays them down. And God is greater than my heart, and knoweth all things. I Jn.3:20.

The spouse goes on, “I have put off my coat; how shall I put it on? I have washed my feet; how shall I defile them?” {vs.3} And pray agree with me if this be not the spouse, who is here neither mourning for her ‘infirmities,’ {as Hunt will name them} nor praying, nor striving against them; but in downright language disputing it against Christ. Who is it that speaks this unbecoming language? For you tell me that “there is one thing necessary for me to observe in my preaching on this Song, {though Mr. Hunt has preached but upon half a verse of it, which he calls this Song;} and for you in reading or hearing it, if you would rightly understand it, or receive any true comfort from it, and that is carefully to observe who it is that speaks.” Well, sure we must agree here, that it is the spouse, the creature, the saint, that here sinfully excuses her own omissions. Nevertheless, though Christ foresaw this, as God, yet he comes lovingly to her, and lays not her dearness to Himself upon praying, complying, &c., but upon her Antecedent Relation, and magnifies her absolute perfection in Himself notwithstanding. “Open to me, my sister, my love, my dove, my undefiled;” vs.2, here is love! Is it not the love of Christ that passeth knowledge? Eph.3:19. And yet we have got a Man, a Teacher, and a Companion in the Ministry that tells me, if I do so and so I may be dear to Christ. Strange! What do men make Christ to be!

What did David in a time of Apostasy do of all this? And that when he not only fell into grievous sins, who but lay under those very heinous sins insensibly? Some Duty-interpreters or Legalists that insist more upon duty than Christ in opening the Scriptures, think David continued two whole years together, according to II Samuel, the eleventh and twelfth chapters. Did he pray? No; for the prevalency of Sin in a man’s soul will quickly stop praying. David here had ceased to be what he had professed to be a long time, {for omission of duty,} but his dearness to Christ ceased not. When prayers dearness to the son of Jesse ceased, and stopped a long while; and truly since you set up man’s righteousness so much to God, let me take it down a little to the saint; to stop the glorying of man, the best of men, saints, and even Davids; yea, that David who was the type of Christ, and extraordinary advancer of the true worship of God, and therein a man as be left upon record, “after God’s own heart;” I Sam.13:14, and yet a shameful example of sin, in murder and adultery! Who, notwithstanding all this vileness and abomination in himself, which the Holy God loathed, was then in Christ as dear to Christ, as ever he was, when he repented of this! For, Repentance does not change me in Christ, but changes me in myself. The Lord knows how to distinguish love to the person, in Christ, from vengeance to the provocation in Adam and in one’s self. “Thou answeredst them, O LORD our God; thou wast a God that forgavest them, though thou tookest vengeance of their inventions.” {Psal.99:8}

The truth is, that which Mr. Hunt goes about with, to comfort a soul by the matter in hand, is no more than Natural Religion, such as any man sees by the light of nature, and which I saw myself, under just such Preaching, when I was a child of six years old, though I could not word things so, as he does; yet I remember then to have had the very image and spirit of that doctrine; and I am sure it falls far short of the Truth of the Glorious Gospel, I Tim.1:11, in proving any one to be dear to Christ; and this I am helped of the Lord to prove by these five or six following arguments.

First Argument: To be dear to Christ is far above the reach of nature; above praying, mourning for the sin that dwells in me, &c., because to be dear to Christ is a Foundation-Grace, an underground work of God’s Love; and so is to be discovered by other pieces of Grace of the same kind in the Superstructure; as Regeneration, &c., the knowledge of Christ, in opening of the Understanding to know him that is true, and to know, by the Unction we have received of the Holy One, I Jn.2:20, that we are in him that is true, even in the Son of God, Jesus Christ. “And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life.” {I Jn.5:20} For I know no other believing whereby my heart rests quietly upon God, and patiently waits for the Open Salvation of the Lord. “It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the LORD.” {Lam.3:26} Now I come to know my dearness to Christ by what I see, feel, taste, and passively experience of God’s Grace in Christ, being built upon his own Foundation; II Tim.2:19, {for the Superstructure is all of a piece with the Foundation;} I come not to know my own dearness to Christ by what I do, but what I lay upon the Foundation by Grace; because it is heterogeneous; ‘tis the creature’s act by Grace, ‘tis not God’s Act by Grace; but I must know God’s Foundation by God’s own Grace-Act of Superstructure, not by my Grace-act; though it be of the same Superstructure, and upon the same Foundation; {“for other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ,” I Cor.3:11,} for God gives me the seeing eye, Prov.20:12, to see it to be Himself, {“blessed are your eyes, for they see; and your ears, for they hear,” Mt.13:16,} and not to take notice how it was mine own work to clear up my own Evidence, as the Apostle argues, “now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.” {I Cor.2:12}

Now, as the Foundation in every part of it hath an Antecedency to every part of the Superstructure, so the Superstructure in every part of it leans upon, and grows up into a holy building in the Lord {both of things and persons} even up from the Foundation; as appears by comparing these Scriptures, “rooted and built up in him, and established in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving,” Col.2:7, “and are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; in whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord; in whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.” Eph.2:20-23. None of my acts can evidence dearness to Christ but such acts as arise from Principles of Foundation-Grace; and those acts being known by their Principles in the Light of the Holy Ghost. I know more by the Antecedent Principle that gives security to the acts; because in knowing by the Principle I know by the Teaching of the Holy Ghost, and can’t be deceived; whereas in knowing by the acts of that Principle I know by the common sense of men only, which is a thousand times more apt to deceive me than men are aware of. {How men may often cheat themselves, when they speak of knowing their Justification by their Sanctification.} Still I plead, that if I know my dearness to Christ, it must be proved from other consistent Acts of God by the Work and Testimony of the Spirit, by a Superstructure of the same kind with the Foundation. I am to be first comforted {for here I am but answering Mr. Hunt’s “know for thy comfort,”} by what I believe God knows of me, and not by what I know of myself. “Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, the Lord knoweth them that are his.” {II Tim.2:19} Now upon God’s work I can take comfort in this, before I lift a finger in any one holy duty; and be sure that I did so, before ever I prayed to the purpose, or strove against sin, or mourned for what I found un-subdued, that I dare call the right striving and mourning, or the fruits of Salvation Faith, without which it is impossible to please God, Heb.11:6; or which any other can prove to be right striving, &c., before that same Power which raised up Jesus Christ from the dead, Eph.1:19-20, broke in upon my poor soul, and gave me the Life of Faith in one moment! And it is by that Power through Grace and Faith of the Son of God that loved me, and gave himself for me, Gal.2:20, that I live still. Therefore I know it comes in by believing, by the in-workings of the Spirit, teaching and disposing me to venture forth, and to cast my anchor were I see my Rock. “Wherein God, willing more abundantly to show unto the heirs of promise the immutability of his counsel, confirmed it by an oath; that by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us; which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which entereth into that within the veil; whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus.” {Heb.6:17-20} And oh! Without the work of God the Spirit, {that glorious Worker, who comforts me as he impels me forward,} I can’t believe aright; for this sort of Faith being Quick and Influential is Satisfied with nothing short of Christ! Also secondarily, after Faith has received the Atonement, Rom.5:11; that is, the cognizance of Reconciliation by the Blood of Christ, and therein the Assurance that my dearness to God is antecedently founded and settled in Christ, I am set close and delightfully, all the days of my life, unto my calling, in these views of what Grace hath made me in Christ, {me a vile worm,} upon the Foundation of Eternal Grace! It is otherwise impossible to believe aright. Nature cannot reach it, nor know anything of it. Well, the love of God, Christ and the Spirit towards me, is a Fundamental Doctrine of the Gospel, and has a way to discover itself to my own soul before any of the visible Foundation-Grace in Obedience and Good Works is laid, or I have present time to think about them.

Now let me pray in these views, and see if I have not a thousand times brighter Discoveries that I am dear to Christ, because I find God’s Work thus opening mine eyes, than I have, because I can tell you of my own work, opening my lips, and putting up words to God upon my knees. ‘Tis not the act of Prayer, but the Discovery in Prayer, that I make or reckon to be my Evidence; for when I am helped to look so by Grace in praying to the Interceding Object of my Faith, then I go to Him with the Presence of the Comforter as my Interceding Principle; and here I receive my comfort, here I behold my dearness in the Views and Enjoyments of my Object, Christ, by the Principle of his blessed Spirit in me! ‘Tis here that I forget to build upon praying, mourning, to make mention of praying, to conclude if I pray, I am dear; for I have the views of my dearness given me before and above the Praying! Christ and the Spirit engross all the Glory of the Duty, all the Fullness of the Duty, all the Evidences in the Duty, from whom I but graciously receive them, and not make them for myself. All my holy meltings and after-comings, under the Influences of this struck-at Antinomian-Gospel, {as ‘tis the “foolishness of Preaching,” I Cor.1:21,} I am made to resign up to God and Christ, and find nothing of my own to ascribe unto prayer, {“if thou prayest,”} as I see so much in God and Christ beyond it! And yet there are Dissenting wretches, Rev.3:17, in the gall of bitterness, Acts 8:23, and bond of iniquity {though they take the liberty of the Pulpit, because eloquent orators} who call this Enthusiasm! And indeed, no wonder; for if these things be so {as I am sure they are} then without a change by the Grace they mock, they themselves are undone to all Eternity; and so seem to be given up to make a Christ of their nature-holiness, and left to stumble at the Stumbling Stone forever, I Pet.2:8, both in and out of Pulpit!

Second Argument: To be dear to Christ is as absolutely the Love of Christ as it is the Love of the Father. “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” {Rom.5:8} Not in that while we were yet qualified; not for us who at that Day in which we were called to be his disciples, and by Faith grasped hold upon that Hope, Col.1:5, laid up for us in Christ; but for us that were Enemies. Much less is it a dearness clogged and tacked together with creature-doings in its Original and Glorious Spring, from whence I am to fetch my belief of being dear to Christ before I pray, mourn, or go about any holy work. ‘Tis absolute Love! As the elect Jews who crucified Christ were yet beloved of Christ at the very instant when they crucified him; for Christ saw both the Beginning and Issue of those things; as he knew what had passed in Heaven concerning them, and foresaw upon that Election-Love of their persons, how they should yet hear his voice, and follow him; Jn.10:27, and so looked above and beyond their malice, that in Determinate-Grace, he doth absolutely pray for them, and absolutely saw a gracious answer for them from the Love-original. Hence, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do,” Lk.23:34; as Luke testifies in his Gospel, and afterwards lays open the issue and fruit of it in his History of the Acts, where we meet with the conversion of so many of them. “Father, forgive them, {then,} for they know not what they do,” is this; they have no understanding that they are putting One to death who loves them and is saving them! If they but knew what interest they have in me by Settlement of thee, Oh Father, they would not join with the rest therein, Rom.11:7, who are damning their own souls, and ruining their own Country and Commonwealth by it! Thus it was when they were enemies, here was the Love of God orchestrating them, Christ dying for them; and in the Acts afterwards we read of the Conversion of the same persons. Christ upon the Cross prayed not for uncertainties, but knew the sheep by name, even under the lion’s nature, and the leopard’s spots. He infallibly saw their cure at the height of their disease; and absolutely knew who were dear unto him, even of the men that crucified him, as well as of the women, Lk.23:27,28, who stood under weeping at the doing of it.

Third Argument: To be dear to Christ is to be loved by Christ. “I drew them with cords of a man, with bands of love.” {Hos.11:4} Drawn to Christ, {not by force or compulsion, but by the Invincible Power of Irresistible Grace,} loved and drawn in his very Crucifixion, by the nails that fastened him on the tree, in his love, notwithstanding our sins, the twisted cords that bound him, as our Sacrifice unto God’s Altar, which foretold our Conversion built upon Free Grace, though brought about by Strict and Severe Justice done to Jesus Christ! When God draws by Christ we find both a sweet and effectual motion in it. The Father here shows us by the Prophet what he did by Christ. I drew them, says he, with such motives and arguments as I took from the first Covenant-Man, Christ Jesus, the Pattern of all my ways and works; such cords as these being the most unbreakable bands, for they are {says he} my own Covenant-Engagements, being the impetus as to why I ever went forth in these Suretyship Arrangements with bands of love, Covenant-love; obligations by Free Promise and Oath to Christ. The Father loving His Son, and loving them in Him, and giving them, Jn.17:6, from Everlasting to him; and therefore, saith the LORD, I drew them; I ever eyed this Covenant-Bond when I drew them to me in the day I wrought upon them. Thus ‘tis a Love is not confined, when I am pent up, but is free to give vent, and utterance, and scope unto itself. Sometimes it comes into the soul with a thought, a kindling power, a melting kindness, a sweet and irresistible impulse, a seal of loving kindness, which does not meddle with our duty of praying, mourning, striving, &c., but is so much above it, that if you come presently upon your knees, and perhaps very solemnly in the secret chambers blessing the Lord for it, you may, in your change of the communion-part, shifting your thought and meditation into closet-praying, Mt.6:6, feel it, as in a moment, wear off, as well as now and then continue; yet oftener to lose it than to keep it; for, I have found Prayer itself has often damped it, damped the life and strength of it in my own soul; for I have found that Meditation and Study have often raised me abundantly higher than prayer; and sometimes the injection of a thought, when I have neither done one, nor the other! So Free is Grace! I have known sometimes in Prayer that I have lost all that sweet Communion with God I have had but a few minutes before in heavenly Meditation! Yea, that Communion which hath not been a sudden thing, but more fixed and durable in my soul; that which Grace hath kept up a long time in holy Meditation, when I have been neither writing nor reading, but walking, and often waking in my bed; it has soon worn off in the very act of praying, when I have thought to go to work more solemnly, and utter words to God at a Throne of Grace! Heb.4:16. Now, if I had not a better way, even the New and Living way, Heb.10:20, a better way than praying, to know, whether I am dear to Christ, what would become of me in point of service? How should any man learn what to make of his soul-estate that should sit under my Ministry, when I was thus utterly at a loss to give a consistent account with the Doctrines of Salvation; as to how I am, or any other soul is, dear to Christ.

I am so far from praying to this end, that I may be dear to Christ, that I always through some measure of Grace or other {blessed be the Lord} believe I am dear to him, as the Principle Cause and Encouragement why I do pray unto Him, and do not rebel against the Law of Christ Commanding it. And though my comfort is often damped in the coldness of my duty, yet I conscientiously continue my course; why? To profess my subjection, II Cor.9:13, to the Lord, “he is thy Lord, and worship thou him.” Psal.45:11. Therefore I prefer a cold prayer before none at all; as it is better to bring words that want a soul, than neglect to bring our bodies which have souls in them. “Take with you words, and turn to the LORD; say unto him, take away all iniquity, and receive us graciously; so will we render the calves of our lips.” Hos.14:2. “Take with you words;” not any words neither; not repetitions and multiplicity of words, or words of man’s prescribing, but of the Lord’s directing and dictating; the taught words of the Holy Ghost, God’s own Promises in Christ, as he is Faithful that promised, Heb.10:23; which the Spirit inspires and suggests unto us, who otherwise know not how to pray, or what to pray for. This shows me that I am to conclude nothing of my state from Prayer, except it be Christ’s Prayer for me; and indeed, as one sight of Christ’s love is more worth than all the prayers of the Church of God! Yet secondly, I pray, to bless God for that Grace which was so free to me in my wilderness, Song.3:6, among briars and thorns, when I had thrown up all for the world, and the flesh, and the devil! I pray, to bring my thank-offering before him, that I was dear to Christ, before ever I put up one acceptable request to God in all my life! Now here is reason to pray, and pray constantly. Thirdly, because I know all believing prayer {because spiritual prayer} is built upon Christ’s Intercession, and that Spirit given me from Christ will teach me to pray with an eye to all further discoveries of love, which the Advocate, I Jn.2:1, hath made way for unto my soul and condition. This is praying in faith according to what God has said shall come to pass, that “before they call, I will answer; and whilst they are yet speaking, I will hear.” Isa.65:24. So that the love which makes me dear to Christ lays no such stress upon what I do, that if I mourn for my corruptions, as Paul did, pray and strive against them, &c., I may be dear to Christ notwithstanding. No, no, though Mr. Hunt in this passage, so contrary to sound doctrine, builds his “know for my comfort” for me hereupon, yet Christ does no such thing. The love of Christ in my being dear unto him is set down in more free and unreserved language, “who shall separate us from the love of Christ?” Rom.8:35. Who? As much as to say, the Scripture foresaw, Gal.3:8, that such untaught preachers {as this Methodist} would attempt to do it by their way of proving out both our interest and our evidence. But no matter, they will not, says the voice of the love of Christ, effect it. Who? Nor they, nor any else besides.

Fourth Argument: To be dear to Christ is preventing Grace in the very Settlements of Grace upon me in Christ Jesus, before it came down to the open work of Redemption by the Son, or Influential Application of the Holy Ghost; and therefore since it was so originally preventing of the Father, how much more does it influence my mourning for a law in my members, Rom.7:23, or praying and striving against sin. I am called according to those Settlements and Donations of Grace which first made me dear. “Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began.” II Tim.1:9. I do only name this text in this chapter of my Vindication, reserving the due opening it unto a further chapter, in tracing my author through the first article of Arminianism.

Fifth Argument: To be dear to Christ is without Change. His love is still unchangeable! “If we believe not, yet he abideth faithful; he cannot deny himself.” II Tim.2:13. Faithful to Christ, if we are false to God; faithful to his Promise and Covenant, if we are unfaithful to our own engagements; he is still faithful to renew us again, Heb.6:6, unto believing, if we are frail or faulty, and from either cause do often believe not. Yea, he was faithful for us, and to us before we believed on him. For us, to send Christ Jesus to take away our sins, I Jn.3:5, and the obstacles that should lie in the way of our Effectual Calling; as also, to preserve us in Christ Jesus unto calling, till the set time of our calling came. “To them that are sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ, and called.” Jude 1. To us; to send forth the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, Gal.4:6, that by Regeneration of our natures we might receive the Adoption openly, Gal.4:5, which had been settled upon us before the world began in the Relations of Children secretly in Christ. “Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.” Eph.1:5-6. And in all he shows it to be the Settlement of Unchangeable Grace to be dear to Jesus Christ. “For I am the LORD, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed.” {Mal.3:6}

Sixth Argument: And last, to be dear to Christ is an Orderly Love. It is a Relation built upon dearness to God in God’s love; upon an Everlasting Covenant, ordered in all things, and sure,” II Sam.23:5; as it flows from the dearness to God in God’s love, and then at length in the flowing down secures Obedience, Praying, Mourning, &c. Obedience flows from Christ’s love, not Christ’s love from our obedience. How then is it, that if we do as our teachers and ministers direct us, we may be dear to Christ? Most certainly, if ever we do so and so, it is because we are dear. We were dear long before we did it, as the true and only ground of our ever being brought to do it. Who but Christ’s dear ones, and therefore his influenced ones, do ever at any time pray agreeably in accord to a Relation to Christ? Or mourn as a dove in the secret places of the stairs?

I would a little further examine the corrupt piece of this scheme before us, which others have put together in the argumentative frame and scheme itself for Mr. Hunt; for he has yet advanced no further than the natural part of it; and therefore I shall follow him into nature’s field, and see how he will maintain his ground upon the easy part of old Adam. We recall his words, “know for thy comfort, if thou mournest for these infirmities as Paul did, if thou prayest and strivest against them, and shunnest all temptations and occasions leading thereunto, thou mayest be dear to Christ notwithstanding.”

First: What will Mr. Hunt call mourning for these infirmities? Does he mean mourning in faith or in unbelief? If in unbelief; as to suppose that these infirmities are not pardoned, what evidence does my mourning bring me that I am dear to Christ? ‘Tis less to pardon me {and shall not I believe it} when I am dear, than it was to make me dear, even whilst he would foreknow and foreview me to lapse, after that dearness, into a Condition that should need a pardon. Again, if in faith, why should he not rather in his scroll of comfort have urged the Faith of the Operation of God, Col.2:12, unto that mourning, than have insisted on the mourning separately, with shutting out the faith? Moreover, the Gospel rather strengthens me to rejoice, that my sinful nature is completely pardoned, Col.2:10, than suffers me to mourn in heaviness; the Gospel melts me with ease in my soul in this matter, not with anguish; because I have the oil of joy for mourning, and the garment of praise {for which I give thanks, it being the Righteousness of Christ instead of, or} for the spirit of heaviness, appointed to me. Isa.61:3. The Spirit of God is my Comforter in the very Act of his being my Convincer, because he is my Principle by whom I discover all my Free Pardon. ‘Tis plain, Mr. Hunt’s mourning must have no faith going along with it, except that Arminian Faith which apprehends the Pardon to be only after I have mourned. But now all Spiritual Pardon {or that which the Holy Ghost at last brings me from and through Christ in a saving way} is antecedently an Act of God in Christ Jesus, and whatever is an Act of God in Christ Jesus, is an Act older than my mourning, or believing. The poor soul can never mourn in the Faith of God’s Elect, Tit.1:1, so long as he assents to such a piece of blind guidance regarding the Love of Christ; that is, if he believes these characters I am disproving.

Second: How oddly does he express it? Mourning for infirmities as Paul did. How impertinent and ignorant is this? Sure, if the man had not wanted to have had his eyes opened, as is said Balaam’s were, Num.24:3, he would never have pitched upon this instance of Paul. For, was not Paul dear to Christ before Paul mourned for his Infirmities? Did not Christ appear to him in love, under all that terrible Conviction, and awakening sight by Glory-Terror, the Spirit of Christ darting into his soul in respect of Sin and Salvation, whilst he openly shined round about his body, and about them who journeyed, Acts 26:13, with him? And had he not that particular sight, and voice and feeling of the true Christ in Glory, and a Dispensation of Love {for Paul never called it by the name of anger when he looked back, as he often did, upon it} from the Glory-Man, even before he had by it a sight of one real sin? For it was the only means of his Conviction of Sin {that sin which before he verily thought to be his duty, the sin of persecution} when he was going to Damascus, Acts 9:3, for was not Paul a chosen vessel dear to Christ? Was not Paul a chosen vessel in that ninth chapter, Acts 9:15, before ever he wrote his Epistle to the Romans? If he had not been so, he should have gone on, and never stopped in his course of sin till he had dropped into Hell. Paul was sensible of this, for the LORD says that he had separated him from his mother’s womb, Gal.1:15; his Providence effected and directed his safe arrival in the world; that as he had protected him in the womb, so that he did not perish in it, which infants have done by various causes; so withal, he was not styled in the place of the breaking forth of children, Hos.13:13, he brought him into the world alive, and so was not still-born. “God separated me from my mother’s womb, and called me by his Grace, to Reveal his Son in me.” These were some of the steps and gradations of his Antecedent Love before Paul knew him, that issued in his effectual Acquaintance with him, in order to which he had the first common nature-mercies.

Thus, says Paul, Gal.2:20, “the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the Faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me;” as much as to say, you Galatians, stand so much upon creature-love, and creature-doings. Come Galatians, says he, I must give you a little account of God’s dealings with me, for I stood as much upon these creature-acts and circumstances, and doings of my own, to make me dear to the True and Living God, and discover myself to myself to be such, as any Galatian of you all; till God came to reveal his Son in me; and lo, then I was stunned and astounded into admiration! Then I came to have a taste and feeling of God’s love by his Son; and was brought to see how particularly love ran out of Divine Affections, and was dispensed upon me. A love which flowed down from the heart of God to me wallowing in my blood! Polluted in my blood! “And when I passed by thee, and saw thee polluted in thine own blood, I said unto thee when thou wast in thy blood, Live; yea, I said unto thee when thou wast in thy blood, Live.” {Ezek.16:6} The Lord that called to me out of Heaven from the right hand of God, Acts 2:33, had first loved, and given himself for me. He had singled me out of the company, though I was the worst of all the gang! Did Paul ever sound his own repentance, broach his penitential tears, and try his own mournings {as Mr. Hunt does} to find out Christ’s love? No; was not his crying out of this body of death, and evil that was present with him, Rom.7:21,24, in the 7th to the Romans, long after he was a converted man? Was it not after he had in his Experience Obtained Mercy? Was his persecuting of Christ and the Saints, I Tim.1:13, that law in his members, Rom.7:23, which Mr. Hunt calls the saints infirmities? And had Paul no dearness to Christ? Nay, had he no discovery of it, till he mourned for being sold under sin, 7:14, in that chapter? Or, will Mr. Hunt, to maintain the Arminian argument here {he was a chosen vessel subsequently, that is, say the Arminians, after Paul prayed, for they build it upon his praying; “and enquire in the house of Judas for one called Saul, of Tarsus; for, behold, he prayeth,” Acts 9:11,} maintain also that that praying, “behold he prayeth,” was the mourning for his infirmities? Was that praying such? Why then it should seem, his persecuting the saints, and being exceedingly mad against them, Acts 26:11, and compelling them to blaspheme, &c., were Paul’s infirmities. Aye? But the same Apostle never durst mince his sins at that rate; but because of these things, calls himself a blasphemer, I Tim.1:13, and the chief, vs.15, of sinners. Again, it appears that Mr. Hunt’s English authors, and the vulgar talk of professors {never studying the matter} hath mis-taught him to call our sins, our infirmities. It was never hard study that made him use this soft phrase, our infirmities. Paul never called his sins by such a cheap word as his infirmities; nor, has the Holy Ghost done it elsewhere by any other Evangelical Writer. If Mr. Hunt be disposed forwardly to object that of Asaph, Psal.77:10, “and I said this is mine infirmity;” let him remember to distinguish between “I” said it, “I Asaph,” and the Holy Ghost said it, which he hath nowhere said and called under that name. For however Asaph, the good man, softens it, mine infirmity, when he tells us what himself called it; yet we nowhere read, that Sin ever went by this name, when the Holy Ghost {as from Himself} expresses it, and does not put the penman to write what the penman called it. Mr. Hunt must also make this out to me, as to why the Evangelical Writers, Paul, if he saw things in his experience no brighter than Asaph had done, was resolved to glory, II Cor.12:9, in his infirmities? And why he took pleasure in his infirmities, vs.10, if his infirmities were his sins and corruptions? I say, let Mr. Hunt in his answer reconcile this to me, why Paul mourns for his corruptions, if these be his infirmities, in one text, and yet most gladly takes pleasure in them in another? And why he does both as a saint? Especially, let it be made out, that when Paul mourned for the sin that dwelled in him, he mourned for his infirmities; he took pleasure in his infirmities, as a Saint; but if his infirmities were his sins, and he ever called them so, I would fain know in what place or text, and how the Apostle could glory in the taking pleasure in his sins? Oh! Whether is it that a man’s ignorance, and zeal not according to knowledge, Rom.10:2, will miscarry him?

Third: What will he call Praying? Everyone he bids to take comfort in Prayer is not upon Paul’s Bottom, and then so what if he prays? Why then it will not be praying in the Holy Ghost, Jude 20; and if his soul, comforted with this Deluge, pray not in the Holy Ghost, what if his praying be presumed as spiritual supplications through all his course of pleading? Again, what if he prays as he is able, and is not comforted? What if all this be howling in unbelief under a sense of desolation, and yet void of a sight of Mercy? What will your comfort-praying do now, when you have shut out the Comforter that should relieve their soul, Lam.1:16, by not building all the Discovery of their dearness to Christ upon Christ Himself and Christ Alone? Again, what if the soul prays with the Spirit of Grace and Supplication? Zech.12:10. Was not that spirit antecedent in his Operations to Prayer? Did the Spirit not act before upon the soul in Regeneration and Sanctification, and in becoming a New Principle of Life and Light in the soul? Did not the Holy Ghost open the eyes to behold Jesus Christ Spiritually, before the soul could come to God in prayer by him, as a Mediator? Did he not first help the soul discerningly to pray to Christ, teach and instruct him in it, doctrinally, before the soul could utter one syllable aright? “How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed?” Rom.10:14. Now, if the Holy Ghost did all this, in order to bring me to pray {for, I am speaking now of a way of discovering, whether I am dear to Christ, or no,} he wrought it with a sensation, a discerning, because he begins his work with Life; and sure a living soul must be some way or other privy to this. If virtue ever goes forth out of Christ into his soul, Mk.5:30, that soul will feel and discern otherwise, vs.29, than it ever felt or discerned in times past. Well then, pray, why should we not rather teach men to give God the glory? Your poor children being taught in the catechistical way would say that man’s chief end is to glorify God. Why should we not instruct the Newborn to know their Dearness to God by pillars of Faith being built “upon the Foundation of the apostles and prophets,” and chiefly upon Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone, Eph.2:20; accompanied by what they feel and discern of that which God doth upon them and in them, than teach them to be proud and mistaken, as to conclude their dearness to Jesus Christ from what they themselves do? It is consistent to prove my Relation to Christ, in point of evidence and discovery thereof, from God’s giving me the Spirit of Prayer, or the Holy Ghost for Prayer, Rom.8:26, whose Presence I discern, whose work strengthens me in the holy way; this is homogeneal, and one thing agreeing with another. But to go to build up a relation to Christ upon the force of mere praying, by example as Paul did, and not by the spirit of the example wherein Paul did it, is heterogeneal, and one thing very foreign to another. Praying in general is that which in itself both is and ought to be the duty of all mankind, as a natural act to the God of Nature; but praying in Special Grace and Supplications is that which is given to be the distinguishing privilege of none except such as are born from above; and their prayer then performed as a Spiritual Act to the God of Grace by and through Jesus Christ. As for that form of prayer usually pleaded {as here by Mr. Hunt} in the urged instance of Paul, Acts 9:11, “behold he prayeth,” ‘tis almost universally proclaimed by every serious preacher’s tongue, and in the language of most professors; whereas, ‘tis the spirit of prayer in that example, not the act of prayer, though Paul be brought in, which proves any one dear to the Lord Jesus, or discovers him to be so.

Fourth: What will he call striving against Infirmities, as I have shown his language is? Does the soul strive in Regeneracy or Unregeneracy? Is it through Christ or yet in Adam? If it be in Regeneracy and through Christ, then the dearness to him may be easily known by the Power and Light that goes along with it. If in Unregeneracy, then the striving can be no Discovery. In the former it is certain, in the latter nothing.

Fifth: What does he mean by shunning all temptations and occasions leading thereunto? Has your man or woman light to know a temptation? I look upon your Divinity Master Hunt, particularly in this passage, to be as notable a temptation, as ordinarily the soul meets with; but how few would know this to be a temptation, supposing one should come and tell them, upon your beating the way to it, their eternal state must be tried by it; and I am sure this would be a horrid temptation; and yet I can’t perceive my trier himself believes anything which he has written to be a temptation. Therefore, we want light of the Spirit of Christ to know temptations, or we cannot see where they lie. How many Saturday’s Studies are Lord’s Day’s Temptations to a great part of the Congregation, and yet I don’t perceive preachers or people believe this. Why now, if they don’t know temptations, and the worst sort of them, as I believe the worst sort of them we have in the Kingdom to be the many Temptation-Preachers; I mean such preachers as teach the people to judge of their state and spiritual condition by what the people do to God, not by what God does to the people, in opening their eyes and turning them from darkness to light, Acts 26:18; these I call Temptation-Preachers, and their sermons painful temptations indeed; and the Lord give forth his Spirit to the poor people to shun all these temptations, as well as others, and occasions leading thereunto; otherwise, if they do not know them, or believe them to be temptations, how are they like to shun them? It is hard to know the temptations of Satan from the strong and inward workings of one’s own spirit. What a puzzling mark now then is this, to go and put poor souls upon discovering their own dearness to Christ by it?

To conclude: What! Try the love of Christ to me at this rate? In the oldness of the letter, not in the newness of the Spirit? Rom.7:6. Poor dead man! Disheartened soul indeed, yet set hard to work, though thou canst scarce yet stand on thy legs! Oh! The cruelty of thy preacher! Thou needest cordials from Jesus Christ to pluck up thy spirits, in thy dead and heartless frames! Thy preacher tells us of drowsy, indisposed souls, and so Mr. Hunt; but still he lays it upon thy creature-act to get rid of all. Says he, “if you would be living and lively souls, if you would be rid of your dullness and indisposition see that you make use of this sweet Rose of Sharon.” Now though he runs on upon the heads of his matter, according to the form he has evidently stolen out of my book, called the Gospel Feast, yet that form has been notoriously altered for the worse in his enlargements; for where I had gone upon the passives {in those parts of the book which are sound} to lay open what the Gospel had done upon me, those very things he perverts into actives, and proposes how the creature must do them for the Gospel. Dear soul! Believe not that preacher who lays either thy dearness to Christ or the Discovery of thy dearness to Christ upon the creature’s act. How insufficient are we, till the Lord’s strength is perfected in our weakness! II Cor.12:9. And that perfecting strength gives me the argument of my Relation to Christ, and not my own insufficiency; as the Apostle there argues of his creature-infirmities; though Mr. Hunt’s character of them is as if they were his corrupt infirmities, as he miscalls, by softening the name of downright sins. Soul, thou knowest thou hast often made the dead call, Song.5:6, and there has been no answer; no Divine Breathings, no raisings out of thy clay-cottage of flesh to be above with Christ in Prayer, till the Holy Ghost has begun to make the Intercession in thee, Rom.8:26, by an instinctive and essential “inwrought prayer,” as the word is in the Greek of James 5:16, for an effectual fervent prayer, to him that is above, making Intercession for thee. “But this Man, because he continueth ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood. Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.” {Heb.7:24-25} The Holy Ghost of God puts forth first Grace, and then fresh Grace, and in both creates Power, conveys Life, maintains Influences, affords rich Encouragements, and does all from the Love of God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ, in a dearness to Christ that’s antecedent to his own work within us.

And thus I have answered Mr. Hunt’s “mayest be dear to Christ,” whether he means, {for he is such an incautious writer, it is hard to know in the plainest things what he means, blinding his reader with one ambiguity or another,} to make dear to Christ, or to manifest that I am made dear unto him; I have been fain to take him up on both sides of the question, because of his ambiguity, and not telling me his open meaning. Neither in the whole am I conscious to myself for speaking anything absolutely against “mourning for the disorders in and by corrupt nature we feel and discern, nor against praying, striving against sin, and shunning all temptations and occasions leading thereunto,” but I have only rectified his ill state of the matter, and argued down the abuse of these things in his book.

I would just end this chapter by giving the reader a taste of Mr. Hunt’s notable turns upon himself, in his open assaults upon his own comfort-way, and so robbing himself, of being dear to Christ, by his actives, agreeing with what I have more largely confuted him in.

Says he “the poorest beggar in rags, who has neither food to eat, nor clothes to wear, nor a house to lay his head in, yet if he has but Grace, if he is but holy, he is more dear to God than the most puissant prince that wants it.”

Reader, mark it, here he goes upon the passives for comfort. ‘Tis not what the poor beggar does, but what the poor beggar has in Christ; for ‘tis he that has Grace that is dear to God, and he that is made holy. Here he was found; but alas! When he had galloped one and 30 pages further, he brings in quite another “know for thy comfort,” consisting in “do and don’t,” all in actives, like him that is rich by what himself has accumulated, and brought together. Well, give me the poor beggar’s comfort that has Grace, rather than the rich professor that sets out his duties to find grace. He that is holy in Christ, rather than he that would be dear to Christ from doing holily. In a word, I had rather have his poor man’s way to find out whether I am dear to God, than his rich man’s way to find whether I am dear to Christ.

Again, “then faith is strong indeed {says he} when we can steadfastly believe, though all things seem to make against us; and when that God in whom we trust, seems to threaten to destroy us.” Very well; but now I would ask, what must feed this strong faith? Must it be what I can plead of mine own in mourning, praying, striving, &c., or else what I can, through Grace, in comfort of the Scriptures, Rom.15:4, plead of God’s own for me, and taking hold of that word of Promise, “I have loved thee with an everlasting love, therefore with loving kindness have I drawn thee?” Jer.31:3. And in taking hold of that word, “blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ; according as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should {and not left to an uncertainty whether we would} be holy and without blame before him in love.” Eph.1:3-4. And in taking hold of that, “and I will sanctify my great name, which was profaned among the heathen, which ye have profaned in the midst of them; and the heathen shall know that I am the LORD, saith the Lord GOD, when I shall be sanctified in you before their eyes. For I will take you from among the heathen, and gather you out of all countries, and will bring you into your own land. Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean; from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you; and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them.” Ezek.36:23-27. Here is Grace for doing, which proves I was dear to God before doing, whilst his Grace was only in Christ’s hands for me, to bring me, and not to be dispensed to bring another to it. If faith be strong indeed, as Mr. Hunt says, and we steadfastly believe, it must have Christ the power of God, I Cor.1:24, to bring in the Promise, and to set the Promise home, or else all Faith is weak, and can take hold of nothing. ‘Tis supported and fed, recovered and fetched again in the soul, when the Actings of it have been for a while extinguished; and the work is revived, as if it was the first work of God in the soul {the soul ever felt} when he hath been pleased effectually to make use of such a word, as, “if we believe not, he abideth faithful,” II Tim.2:13; or, “I am the Lord, I change not, therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed,” Mal.3:6; or, that in Isaiah, “this people have I formed for myself; they shall show forth my praise. But thou hast not called upon me, O Jacob; but thou hast been weary of me, O Israel. Thou hast not brought me the small cattle of thy burnt offerings; neither hast thou honoured me with thy sacrifices. I have not caused thee to serve with an offering, nor wearied thee with incense. Thou hast bought me no sweet cane with money, neither hast thou filled me with the fat of thy sacrifices; {oh; what do all our triers, and taskers, and test-makers of an interest in Christ, and dearness to him, make of all these foul omissions; and yet the Spirit of God will heighten the Wonder of his Grace further, notwithstanding the aggravation of all this by the open sins of commission;} but thou hast made me to serve with thy sins, thou hast wearied me with thine iniquities.” Isa.43:21-24. Here be no signs of being dear to Christ, unless you behold them in the Mystery of Godliness, I Tim.3:16; and yet here’s an Absolute Pardon after all. “I, even I, am he that blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins.” Isa.43:25. Are they the review of our doings that follow in the train of Mr. Hunt’s “know for thy comfort” {as I began this 13th chapter,} which feed the strong faith of which he now speaks of? And do we “steadfastly believe,” as he also adds in this latter place I have quoted, upon any power short of the Gospel of Christ, “which is the Power of God unto salvation to every one that believes, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile?” Rom.1:16. What method does God take to beget and buoy up faith, when all things seem to make against us? Is it if thou mournest for thy covetousness, and does acknowledge thy covetousness? If thou prayest and strivest against thy covetousness? If thou shunnest all temptations and occasions leading thereunto, thou mayest be dear to Christ notwithstanding? No; it is quite otherwise, “for the iniquity of his covetousness was I wroth, and smote him; I hid me, and was wroth, and he went on frowardly {turning still further off from me} in the way of his heart.” Isa.57:17. What immediately follows? Not such Divinity as Mr. Hunt thinks to scare the soul into Christ by, as in another place, “Ah! Sure, {says he,} if you could just but look in at Hell Gates, and there see the worm that knaws them, couldn’t you there see them as a wild bull in a net, full of the fury of the Lord {a place in Isaiah 51:20, which speaks of wicked men on earth, but never of the damned in Hell} and the smoke of their torments ascending up for ever and ever, {another place in Revelation 14:11, which speaks only of the final state of the damned, and particularly of the antichristian party in Hell, which can never be the portion of God’s children; and therefore is a piece of his own angry spirit, whilst he thinks hereby to scare some of the unconverted elect into Christ,} if you could there hear their doleful sobs and sighing, weeping and wailing, and gnashing of teeth, you would never {one would think} make light of Christ anymore. Why, sinners, this must be the portion of your cup if you get not into Christ;” and a little before, {more pitiful ignorant inconsistencies,} “if thou desirest not the company of saints, do you not dread the company of devils;” as if he that desires not the company of saints could be in that condition persuaded to come in to Christ, the Head of saints; and as if he who desires not the company of saints, would ever, by the mere devils-dread upon him, believe into Christ. Ah! Pity, pity! What does this poor creature make of the way of Faith? And again says he, “if you do not desire to hear the melodious songs and well-tuned voices of the former, are thou not afraid of the doleful shrieks of the latter?” Now I say, the Spirit of God takes no such measures when he has an elect soul in hand, to bring him into Christ; but Hell and Vengeance is written in Scripture, and revealed to the elect, not to fright them, as if this must be the portion of their cup, Psal.11:6, because it is the portion of the wicked, who are never granted or offered Mercy; but rather to fortify and embolden them against the wicked, when the Spirit of God uses such terror against the wicked, that the elect in their calling may be no ways hindered in coming into Christ by the contrary example of unbelievers, nor moved and discouraged by the wicked from the ways of Christ, when they see what mockings and persecutions, Heb.11:36, and loss of human favors and encouragements they are likely to undergo for living Godly in Christ Jesus, after they have believed on him. “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.” II Tim.3:12. ‘Tis never made use of in the distinct work of Faith, but in common Conviction serving thereunto, that the elect should not be afraid of embracing Christ under the effectual work of the Holy Spirit, because of Unbelievers who stand out and oppose the Gospel-interest. Be not afraid of such wretches as the world of these, saith the Spirit in the language of his word; for Hell will be the portion of everyone that stands against the Lord Jesus Christ. “I, even I, am he that comforteth you; who art thou, that thou shouldest be afraid of a man that shall die,” Isa.51:12, and at last, for ought thou knowest, die in his sins, Jn.8:21, and be damned in his unbelief. Therefore, “fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer,” Rev.2:10, from the wrath of man, and from the fury, Isa.51:13, of the oppressor. Consequently, when the Spirit reproves or convinces of sin, Jn.16:8, and God scourges his children in this life for their disobedience {though he lets the wicked go on} yet he will lay aside his very scourges from, as well as lay them on every son, Heb.12:6, whom he receives. And this was the case in Isaiah, “for the iniquity of his covetousness was I wroth, and smote him; I hid me, and was wroth, and he went on frowardly in the way of his heart.” 57:17. Why now it comes to this, instead of scourging this bewildered sheep, this fallen prodigal, these banished wanderers, the LORD saith, “I will heal their backsliding, I will love them freely; for mine anger is turned away from him,” Hos.14:14, “I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried; they shall call on my name, and I will hear them; I will say, It is my people; and they shall say, the LORD is my God.” Zech.13:9. Neither indeed is there word or blow like these Free-Grace Antagonists delight to dish out, to scare and push men to the brink, II Tim.2:24, to view a lake of fire burning with brimstone, Rev.19:20; but {saith the Lord,} “I have seen his ways, and will heal him; I will lead him also, and restore comforts unto him and to his mourners. I create the fruit of the lips; Peace, peace to him that is far off, and to him that is near, saith the LORD; and I will heal him.” Isa.57:18-19.

Now these are the strong things which God makes use of to begin and carry on a strong faith in his children, and there are thousand places in the Scriptures which he makes use of to the same end. But now let any man that fears the Lord, Isa.50:10, be assured, that that Faith which feeds upon duties will be weak enough, especially in times of affliction, and under soul-awakenings. Is not God’s strength both in our first and after-helps a more proper strength to take hold of for our consolation, Isa.27:5, when all things seem to make against us, and when that God in whom we trust, seems to threaten to destroy us, than to take hold of our mourning, praying, striving, shunning temptations and all occasions leading thereunto? How inconsistent then is Mr. Hunt between strong faith or steadfast believing under afflictive dispensations, and that Divine Power which is necessary both to beget and maintain faith, and secure steadfast believing?

Once more, “it is by your receiving of Christ {says he} that you become capable of doing that which is pleasing in God’s sight.” Is it so? Then why should not the soul have been first searched and examined under the passive work in what manner it had been enabled to receive Christ, than without any regard to that main and first experimental image of the Gospel on the passive side, been bid to “know for thy comfort, if thou doest so and so?” All other doings fall absolutely short of receiving Christ. The meaning is, “mourning for corruption, praying, striving against sin, shunning all temptations and occasions leading thereunto” is not receiving Christ. Receiving Christ is still another thing in that soul who has experienced every one of the things afore-named.

To conclude; ‘tis evident by what Mr. Hunt has now and then dropped and sprinkled up and down his own book, that I go upon very just grounds in my confutation of the rest.

1 Baxter preached at Kidderminster.