Chapter 18

Of Mr. John Hunt’s Five Reflections more upon the Person of Christ. Namely, Three Reflections upon his Godhead, one upon his Hypostatical {or Personal} Union, and the Last upon the Glory of his Person, as second Adam.

If any think I have multiplied disparagements upon the book enough to dismiss it, I must reply, No; for I have not yet finished my Vindication of Christ, but to make the reading less burdensome than it might have been, if all had been put upon the same common heads together, I shall therefore go over the grand matters in Christ again. The Excellency of Christ must still be Vindicated from Mr. John Hunt’s 27 Reflections more, five of which I only single out for this chapter. And indeed, having a numerous parcel of his errors yet to lay open out of a small Octavo-Treatise of no more than 217 pages, I cannot go, except now and then, beyond brevity, and only touch a great deal, for fear of swelling this book into Folio Prolixity.

I shall begin this second Class or Division of his Errors about Christ, with three eclipsings of his Godhead. The first is Mr. Hunt’s second badge of Christ’s Honor, confusing and mixing the Honors of Christ, which the Scriptures carefully keep distinct, and unmixed. His words are these, “I must add {says he} that he also excels the angels in this respect, Hebrews 1:4, being made so much better than the angels, as he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they. Mind, by inheritance; ye know among men some have their titles conferred upon them; but the former are most honorable; so Christ having a more excellent name than they, and having it by inheritance too, he must needs be more honorable than they. Christ is styled the Mighty God, in Isaiah 9:6, which is a little too high for the highest of them to pretend to.” {Page 86}

1. It is plain that he brings all these expressions quoted in the two aforesaid texts, to go no farther into the Person of the Son of God than his conferred titles, which are all distinct from the Godhead of Christ. I say, all conferred titles are distinct from the Godhead of Christ. His titles which are bestowed of the Father, and so they belong to the Man Christ Jesus in the Personal Union, which are not the Substance of his Divinity. Whereas, the Mighty God in Isaiah 9:6, is the Substance of his Divinity; and Hebrews 1:4, is the Dignity, Name and Inheritance of his Person, only as Mediator. Thus he confounds things in the Person of Christ.

2. It is plain that he insists upon what Christ is made, to wit, his Dignity by Office, his Name by Mediation, his Inheritance as Messiah, in Hebrews 1:4, before he insists upon the Substance of his Divinity, the Mighty God, there in Isaiah 9:6.

3. ‘Tis plain, that when he hath brought in the main of all, the Mighty God, which is the Substance of the Godhead of Christ, he wipes off the Glory of the Prophet’s style with this reflection, “a little too high for the angels to pretend to.” What a reflection is this upon the Infinite Godhead of the Son to make little of it? His very subordinate Glory to his Divinity, or his Dignity of Mediation he hath obtained by Inheritance in the Mediatory Relation in the all of Hebrews 1:4, deserved not this character; yet he bestows this character out of Isaiah 9:6.

4. In the whole description that he hath given of Christ out of these two texts coupled, he agrees with Socinus. Let the capable reader, who doubts it, see the Second Volume of Socinus, his Works, {page 599,} in the last edition of the Polish Fraternity. It is a grand piece of Socinianism {for Socinus in the place mentioned couples those two texts, Isa.9:6 & Heb.1:4, as Mr. Hunt hath done, upon his argument of denying the Divinity of Christ,} though everybody that has read Mr. Hunt {I perceive} hath not seen this apparently. When Isaiah 9:6 speaks of the Divine Nature of Christ, in some of the language of it distinctly, as he is the Second Person in God, it is as the Substance of his Person, one with the Father’s Substance, and his Infinite Relation to the Father subsisting co-equally in the Godhead, was given by the Father, with his own consent in the Covenant of Mediation, to be the child born. Nevertheless, Mr. Hunt, Socinus-like, appropriates it to what Christ is made by inheritance in the text of Paul, touching his Constituted Dignity by Mediation above the angels. The Socinians try to enervate his Godhead by confounding the Scriptures which speak of the Son of God, and mingled such things as belong to his Godhead with the Office of his Mediation.

‘Tis the Socinians notion that he is a made-God, and so nothing but a mere Man, and called God, and the Mighty God, as magistrates are called gods; and they bring this text, Hebrews 1:4, to overthrow the force of Isaiah 9:6. Now, as the same Person is made above the angels in Hebrews 1:4, so he is there declared to be only what he is by Constitution; so this Person is set forth Isaiah 9:6, in that expression of his being the Mighty God, above which he is made or constituted. God is what he is in his Original Being; made so much better than the Angels, is what he is secondarily in his Office. He is made, by that Inheritance he hath in Hebrews 1:4, “he has obtained a more excellent name than the angels;” therefore the Inheritance there is not his natural and primitive Inheritance, as God abstractly, but his conferred Inheritance, only as Mediator. The Socinian hackers in their conjunction of Isaiah 9:6, in the separate Expressions of the Godhead with Hebrews 1:4, will have Christ to be but in every respect {throughout all expressions of Scripture they speak of Christ, one as well as another} “made,” and from no text will allow him to inherit all things by Nature, as God, but to inherit all things by grant, as a mere Man. Thus our non-read brother hath dropped into the tent of Socinus, without even knowing the man, and in the dark hath made most woeful work of it. He, whose expression strikes at the Deity of Christ, a point wherein the Socinians first grand error against the Person of Christ is detected, seems very agreeable with the same men, in his other expression that cast the slur on the Satisfaction of Christ, which I vindicated in Chapter 15, that “his Satisfaction was made for me, if I have a heart to come.” For, if he be the Mighty God made, which this author seems to insinuate on the open comparison of his tack, {as he is certainly a “made-one” so much better than the angels in Hebrews 1:4,} then it is very consistent for me to have a heart to come to Christ, antecedently to the Satisfaction made for me, both in God’s eye appointing Christ to it, and in mine own eye also, under the Spirit’s work, discerning it. For, unless Christ be the Mighty God in another sense than he is made so much better than the angels, even the Mighty God Essentially and Principally to all else in his Person, and therein necessarily, as the Father is Necessary; it is sure, his Satisfaction otherwise could not be mighty enough to influence my heart towards it, but must necessarily be suspended from me till my heart stood right to it. It’s vain to hold, he made Satisfaction properly, absolutely and particularly upon the foot of Socinus, in his made-deity for the Son of God. It must then be more agreeable, with the Socinians, to deny his Satisfaction at all, if his Divinity in Isaiah 9:6, be no other than what he is declared to be there by the Apostle in Hebrews 1:4. Oh! It is dangerous to bring Isaiah 9:6, the Mighty God, and therewith join a different text, wherein this Mighty God hath nothing better than the angels, but what he is made better than the angels in, and has no other Inheritance in the Creation radically, than what he has obtained in it Mediatorially. In a word, as the Spirit of God in Isaiah sets out the Godhead of Christ in that expression, the Mighty God, so he sets forth the Man in Hebrews 1:4, standing in the Mighty God, Isaiah 9:6, or in Union in the Second Person. And thus as the Two Natures are considered together, the Person of the Mediator is made so much better than the angels, as he hath by Inheritance obtained a more excellent Name than they; and this reconciles the two texts which Mr. Hunt confounds by corrupting one.

If this brother had not fallen into his incogitant Socinianism, and other unworthy positions of the Godhead of Christ in his book, I should have looked upon him to have understood the Person of Christ far better than he does, though he hath said so very little of his Person at all. Whereas, now if I find him drop a better expression in the point, I am forced to tell my reader again of him, that he contradicts himself, which he is so accustomed to do throughout the same manual. Compare an elder passage of his book with this Socinianism; for speaking of Christ elsewhere, he has these words, “had he been only Man, he could never have finished the work of Redemption.” Finished the work? Why, if he had been only Man could he ever have undertaken the work? Would God have sent him? But he goes on, “so if he is represented to us by pictures, as a creature, and indeed he can be no otherwise.” Here he should have added, to complete the sense of those words again, by pictures only. His next words are, “we can never judge of him under that Representation to be a meet Object of our Faith; for until we come to conceive of him as the Mighty God, we can never savingly rely on him as the Prince of Peace,” {Page 74} Here he does not confound the Mighty God and the Prince of Peace, but distinguishes the Godhead from the Office in the Person of Christ. Prince of Peace, as the Office, and so he is made of God, as in Hebrews 1:4, and this distinct from the Mighty God abstractly, which must support Faith, and all saving reliance upon Jesus Christ. Thus, in the two places he is palpably self-repugnant, and destroys the same doctrine within 14 pages.

His Second Reflection upon the Godhead of Christ is this, “how low did this High and Mighty One stoop to reach us? Was it a thing possible, it would make us think that at once that he had forgotten his own Glory and Excellency, and our poverty and ignominy.” {Page 161}

As far as the supposition “was it a thing possible” is expressed of our selves, {as if it was not a thing possible for us to think; because he says, was it a thing possible, it would make us think,} so far it is a reflection upon the Godhead of Christ; because it tends to Spiritual pride in matching our thoughts with God’s thoughts, for it suggests a raising them up to some perfection with his own thoughts of himself and us. Now, though it is not a thing possible for the Son of God to forget his own Glory, the Glory of his Deity, and Excellency of Nature, the Godhead; yet ‘tis a thing possible for us to think he may forget his own Glory and Excellency, and our Poverty and Ignominy. What, are we stronger or better in our selves than other men, that this piece of Old Adam should not be possible to us? There are many of the children of Adam, from such a conceit of argument, as Christ’s forgetting of his own Deity, {if he ever had been God - think they - to stoop and become Man} take occasion from thence to deny that ever he was God, and from this very conceived topic strenuously disbelieve that it was God that was made Flesh. {“And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of Grace and truth.” Jn.1:14.} Had we been left in their room we had done the like. If we had been under the strong prejudices of their Temptations, what is it we should not have thought or done, which they have thought and done? And such is our liableness still, as we are, without Preventing Grace, that I do not see at all it is impossible for us, to pore on it with our own Reason, and then under that reason forsaken, to think that sure if the Son of God was God, he must forget his own Glory to become Man; for there is abundance of Pride and Blasphemy in our unscriptural Reason! And if ever God had ripped up a man, and laid the creature open to himself, he will be enabled to see it. For to make it not possible so to think of the Son of God, in reference to ourselves, because it is not a thing possible he should think so of himself, is partly to equalize our own thoughts in the matter with God’s own thoughts. But God tells us of himself, “for my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” {Isa.55:8-9} Here he gives the reason of it on both sides; and this transcendency of God’s thoughts above ours, both of Himself and us, his own Glory and Excellency, and our Poverty and Ignominy, does hold infallibly true in all his Secret Counsels and Divine Operations within Himself, and in all the open workings of them towards man, and every other creature.

2. The conjunction of objects in the suggested forgetting, strengthened by that phrase, “at once,” {“at once,” says he, forgetting his own Glory and Excellency, and our Poverty and Ignominy} insinuates, as if it had been as much for God to have forgotten our Poverty and Ignominy, as to have forgotten his own Glory and Excellency.

3. They are ill coupled, upon the account of the Godhead of Christ. Because, Christ in his Godhead abstractly was free to have remembered his own Glory and Excellency, and to have forgotten us, i.e. not have heeded us, but have heeded only the abstracted Glory of the Divinity, and have continued the Son of God without becoming Christ at all; but his Glory and Excellency, as Christ, interwoven with love, are sweetly matched in the Covenant-Relation with our Poverty and Ignominy.

4. Bring the voluntary obligation of Christ’s Glory and Excellency to God’s Covenant, and then there is no foot he could imagine upon which to raise such an outcry at the Godhead of Christ; and all for the Accomplishment of God’s Supreme Will, in carrying on what God had begun in Christ, and Christ had undertaken from the Father in the same Covenant. It was a settled Transaction. No need then to utter such foreign and disgracing words of implied Disbelief of any such Covenant and Agreement between the Father and the Son, as upon this Foundation of God’s Covenant to bring in a mere harangue against open revealed Truths, as in this loose expression of his, “was it a thing possible, it would make us think that at once he had forgotten his own Glory and Excellency, and our Poverty and Ignominy;” when as the Everlasting Covenant hath so laid it, as not a thing taken up Yesterday into Counsel, but of Old had established it, that it was impossible in time it should not have been, in the Matter, or Mystery before us {the low stooping of this High and Mighty One to reach us} in the Word made Flesh. Jn.1:14. For, as it was Covenanted, and all the measures of Suretyship stipulated, and the hands struck and the Covenant Promise sure between Jehovah and Christ, the thing could not be otherwise, than as the opening of things in Christ’s Incarnation, Sufferings, Death and Burial hath laid them forth; and that, I say, according to the Settlement of the same things in Christ’s Covenant, before the Foundation of the World. Unspeakable Grace!

This is my Answer to his second reflection on the Godhead of Christ. A few words upon his third and last reflection on the Godhead of Christ, and I may forthwith pass unto the next sort without delay. His words are these, “as Christ was God, so the Virgin that bare him was first formed by him, and in that respect was more properly her Lord than her Son.” {Pages 127}

More properly? Why, as our Lord Christ formed the Virgin, the mother of his own Human Nature, Isa.49:1, he was in that respect of his Godhead, together with the Father, the Absolute Creator, Mal.2:10, of the Virgin-Mother, and therein was Absolutely, not “more properly,” her Lord. It is in the Absoluteness of the Godhead of Christ, that there the true Honor of his Godhead lies. This writer ought not in that respect of his Godhead to have said, Christ was more properly her Lord than her Son. The “more properly” carries in it the more of a reflection. Job 42:3. The reason is, because as to the Glory of the Lord Christ’s Creatorship, wherein lies that argument touched on of his forming her, Christ was necessarily Mary’s Lord. The Lord was not at all, as the Lord, her Son. Again, he was only her Lord {above and beyond all propriety of Relation to her in Sonship} as he was God, and the Virgin formed by him; and only, as she bare him in the Human Nature, was he her Son, and by the Fifth Commandment subject to her, Lk.2:51; in which respect he was probably also her Son in the Positive Degree, without the more properly her Lord in a Comparative Degree, Isa.40:18, scandalously applied to his Godhead; inasmuch as we have nothing to do here with Comparison in the Godhead-Honor of Jesus Christ, for that transcends all Comparison, together with the Relation of Christ to Mary, according to the Flesh. “For who in the heaven can be compared unto the LORD? Who among the sons of the mighty can be likened unto the LORD?” Psal.89:6. Howbeit, the most scandalous part of all the reflection, if I may not call it worse, {for I will leave my reader to think of the name of it, when he has read a few lines on} which he casts on the Godhead of Christ, is, that “in that respect he was more properly her Lord than her Son;” as if he had been properly her Son too in that respect, as Christ was God, only more properly her Lord. For it must be understood just in this Author’s Divinity, to make sense of the proposition he hath laid down in his grammar. And pray, what is this, he was in that respect, as God, more properly her Lord, Exod.20:7, than he was in that respect properly her Son? Who is it here that does not see the more properly her Lord, and the properly her Son, are both spoken of the Godhead of Christ, in relation to her who bore only his Human Nature? To shut this up, what name would ye give that error which ascribes the Godhead of Christ to the Virgin Mary, though in the positive or lowest degree of comparison, and has only this to come off within the next degree, “that in that respect, as Christ was God, he was more properly her Lord than her son?” And so much for my Vindication of Christ’s Excellency from those three reflections that Mr. Hunt has cast upon the Godhead of Christ.

His next Aspersion of Christ I shall touch, under the second number, is another error, eclipsing Christ’s Hypostatical Union; ‘tis done by him in these words, “so that {says he} forasmuch as his Sufferings were far greater than Job’s, and of another kind, and yet his Confidence more firm, hence we have reason to conclude, that neither Faithful Abraham, nor Holy Job, had such strong Faith as Christ.” {Page 117} Here he concludes from Creature-Considerations, and not, as he ought, from the Fulness of Union, the Union of the Natures, in the Person of Christ. The conclusion from creature-considerations in the Faith of Abraham and Job is an Eclipsing of Christ in the true Reason and Ground of his confidence above either Job or Abraham; for it ought to have been drawn from the Personal Union as the ground alone why more Faith and Confidence was found in Christ, than in those, rather than have been lain down merely in the matter of their Faith and Confidence, under different measures, and the true Personal Cause of that Difference totally eclipsed. I say, the Conclusion should have been drawn from the personal ground alone, rather than have been eclipsed; though there is a Federal Ground of it too, suited to the first ground thereof in the personal Union, that ought not to have been laid aside; and a mere low comparison taken up in the room of it from Abraham and Job. To examine his mistake briefly according to this which hath been laid down, Mr. Hunt owns the Sufferings of Christ to have been of another kind; what other kind can that be, except that which is proper to the Personal Union of the Natures? He owns more confidence in Christ than in Abraham or Job. What firmer foundation for confidence had Christ within himself than the same personal Union? As what firmer Foundation with him than the Father’s Covenant? Why should Mr. Hunt then lay all the stress of his conclusion according to human reason, in the sensible evidences of the matter that fell under common observation; and not upon the true personal ground of this firm confidence which Christ had? To wit, the Personal Union, and so to allow us to draw our conclusion, that neither faithful Abraham, nor holy Job, had such strong Faith as Christ? This casts a disparagement upon the Son of God, by eclipsing the Glory of his Personal Union. There’s nothing taken notice of indeed, as this Only Begotten of the Father was full of Grace and Truth. Jn.1:14. Full of Grace in the Mystery of the Hypostatical or Personal Union, which rendered it impossible to be otherwise than for Christ to have a stronger Faith than Abraham or Job. The Glory of this Mystery ought to have been maintained, as to the true ground of the Faith and Confidence of Christ above other faithful and holy men. It was this fulness of Union-Grace; whilst the Father sent him by open Condescension into his humbled state of Birth-Flesh. And he was full of truth too. Truth, how? Not only in opposition to shadows, by fulfilling the Substance set forth and prefigured by the old types, which were no more than shadows of good things to come, Heb.10:1, but full of Truth in all the Redemption-Promises, which the Father had made to Christ for his Execution of the Office of Mediatorship. {Isa.42:1-4 with verses 6 & 7; Isa.49:5-6; Heb.10:9; Isa.53:10-12; Heb.5:5; Psal.89:19-21 with verses 26 & 27; Jn.6:38; Isa.49:8; Psalm 110:1-7; and abundances of other places.} God had both heard and succoured Christ, II Cor.6:2, in a manner that Abraham was never heard, nor Job ever succoured. The Lord God had opened his ear, Isa.50:5, by a Federal Contract in the Personal Union, as the Foundation-Causes of his Mediatorial Faith; neither of which sort of Faith, nor Circumcision of the ear had ever belonged to Abraham or to Job. It was a work which the Father gave him to do, Jn.17:4, in the Mediatorial Covenant, as Christ was a full and responsible Surety-Person in himself, and his Covenant, far above Abraham and Job, as the grand reasons and account to be given of this Transcendent Faith, which Christ had above all the Faith of holy, tried men beside him.

His fifth reflection laid out for this chapter is one eclipsing of the Glory of Christ’s Person, as Second Adam, in these words, “we have lost that Spiritual life which did consist in the rectitude of the soul.” {Page 26} We have lost it? When? Doubtless, he means in the Fall of Adam. But this is a gross error to call the life Adam had, and we in him, Spiritual Life. It is a gross conceit, because it conceives the matter under the thick scales of a mind, Acts 9:18, not enlightened to behold the Truth in this point. We have lost indeed all that Adam had, which was beautiful and adorned with God’s Image in Creation; but we have not lost anything which Adam never had. Adam never had a Spiritual life, therefore we could not have lost it; for this notion of a Spiritual life in Adam confounds the Doctrine of the Apostle about the Two Adams. “The first man is of the earth, earthy; the second Man is the Lord from Heaven.” I Cor.15:47. The first man, Adam, in and by whom we have lost all that we have lost, is, in his best estate, and paradisiacal glory, described to be no better than an Earthy Man. Not earthly, and sinfully inclined in his very Creation-State before he fell, to love the world, or the things of the earth, I Jn.2:15, as he did in his fallen state, and as we from him do by Nature in ours; but earthy, all the excellences of his soul, his spirit, were not great enough to raise him above the condition and relation of the earth, the matter of his body, in the Holy Ghost’s account.

The life of Adam was an upright life in the Constitution and Rectitude of his soul, yet an Earthy Life, we see, because an Earthy Man. His life was an innocent life in the walk and carriage of the man, and yet an Earthy Man’s life, and so an earthly life, because an Earthy Man. His life was a holy life, and yet an earthy life, still because an Earthy Man. Once more, his life was a life of Communion with God, and yet an earthy life, because an Earthy Man. It was not a Spiritual life, for the water cannot rise above the Fountain. Take all in Adam together, and yet, I say, it was not a Spiritual Life. Adam was upright, but he was not spiritually upright; he was innocent, but he was not spiritually innocent; he was holy, but he was not spiritually holy; he had Communion with God, but not Spiritual Communion with God; he had Communion with God in the creatures which fell short, exceeding short, of Communion with God in his Son Jesus Christ, who is the Lord from Heaven, nor did the Law of works require this qualification of Spiritual. It commanded him, not to eat of the tree which was in the midst of the garden, Gen.3:3; not to eat of the fruit of it. Now not to eat was the Forbearance of a Natural Act, and the Perseverance in a Natural Obedience. Thus, when he ate of it, and transgressed the Law, it was a Natural Disobedience. Here was nothing of Spiritual in all this.

2. That life in Adam, which he lived before he fell, could not be a Spiritual life, because a Spiritual life is an Evangelical life; and surely, he could not live an Evangelical life, before the Gospel was preached, but the Gospel was not preached, until after Adam fell, therefore, when Adam fell, and we in him, we could not lose in and by him a life he never had, as the Natural head of mankind, and that is this same Spiritual life.

3. Spiritual life is a higher Blessing than the natural rectitude of the soul. The life which did consist in the rectitude of the soul was the life of the spirit of man, and because innocently natural was the Moral life in his soul, but still fell short of a Spiritual life. It was the life of his spirit, yet not his Spiritual life. I will illustrate it by this comparison, since Life and Immortality, II Tim.1:10, is brought to light by the Gospel. Take our Union to Christ, and we may say there is in that Union, a Union of persons, as the Union of Christ’s Person by Grace to our persons, and the Union of our persons to Christ by Grace, which Grace in giving us the Holy Spirit works us over in that Union to a spiritual clasp and closure, as it works in us faith whereby we cleave to Christ, as the fruit and issue of that Grace; yet now, in the Union of Christ’s Person to our persons, and reciprocally of ours to his, where, through the Presence of the Holy Spirit, there is the utmost taking him, and closing with Jesus Christ, there is no Personal Union. Union of persons, as to be one mystically, does not make it a personal Union, because that is the property of the two natures in the Person of Christ. Accordingly, to accommodate this, the rectitude of the soul in Paradise, which indeed was the life of the spirit of Adam, and the life we have lost in and by him, does not make the life of the spirit of Adam to be Adam’s Spiritual life.

4. All the elect seed of Christ have the Spiritual life after their Restoration by the Spirit in the Heavenly Birth. “That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” Jn.3:6. Now, they have not any Spiritual life, like unto any life in Adam. Spiritual life in the Scripture-language comes into the soul by giving the Holy Ghost, but this Gift is through the Lord from Heaven, who is the Second Adam, not the first; therefore we lost not a Spiritual life when we lost the original rectitude of the soul.

5. And lastly, it is a very great Reflection upon Christ, as to what himself is to us in the New Life, in the Gospel, by the Holy Ghost; as if he did not out-do Natural Adam in the kind of Life, as well as in the measure of Life. As if a Spiritual life could be lost in Nature-Adam; and as if the Spiritual Adam did not alter the life he gives, nor vary one jot from the Life of the other Adam in his own Gracious Communications. Besides, why should any man under the Gospel cast such a blemish upon the Holy Ghost whom Christ sends from the Father to work Spiritual life in us? “But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me.” Jn.15:26. Sure, it is a very great reflection upon him that works the works of the New Creation, to advance his Workmanship in the first Creation {under a co-equality of expression} into a co-equality with his Evangelical works upon the soul in the Second Creation; as far as it advances the first works into Spiritual, so far it diminishes the second sort of works, because the highest you can say of these, is, that they are Spiritual, for there the glory of them lies; and so far as it diminishes, so far it blemishes them; and so far as it diminishes them, it veils the glory of Christ.