Chapter 25

Of Mr. John Hunt’s Three Extravagant Sayings in his Rose of Sharon.

Having done with his Error, or Diminishings of Christ, under the preceding article, I pass to his Extravagancies and Speeches in his Rose of Sharon, where he speaks like a man almost distracted or bereft of sense. Three passages of this nature I single out. The first is concerning the Father’s Transactions towards Christ in his Sufferings, on which he hath these words, “that he would make His Son Miserable for a while.” {Page 157} To disprove and dissolve this Extravagance by some arguments.

Argument #1: He who is miserable, though but for a moment, is an Object of Mercy in that very moment. But what an extravagancy is it to affirm, that Christ who was in the Glory of his Person the Son of God, and therein so much above creatures should be an object of mercy, though he hung upon the cross!

Argument #2: Christ was by his own Covenant with the Father the object of fury, wrath, and curse, and that which would have borne down the whole Creation before it. But all this is contrary to his being the Object of Mercy.

Argument #3: In all his praying that our Lord made unto the Father, it appears that he was exceedingly afflicted, bruised, and smitten of God, Isa.53:4, but never that he was, in any or all of this, miserable for a while. The 22nd and 69th Psalms are purposely penned to set out the posture of his soul, and how he prayed in his Sufferings for Himself, for the elect, and against the reprobate. I will only single out the petitions that he put up to God on his own behalf, these instances being right to the purpose. In Psalms 22:11, “be not far from me; for trouble is near; for there is none to help;” and Psalms 22:19, “be not thou far from me, O LORD; O my strength, haste thee to help me;” but never, as when a mere creature prays, “have mercy upon me.” So, in Psalms 69:1, “save me, O God; for the waters are come in unto my soul;” again, verse 2, “I sink in deep mire, where there is no standing; I am come into deep waters, where the floods overflow me;” that Holy One submitting to come into the place of our standing, which is the miry clay, in the likeness of sinful flesh, to be charged with our sins; so, verse 16, “hear me, O LORD,” verse 17, “hide not thy face from thy Servant,” verse 17, “draw nigh unto my soul, and redeem it,” verse 18. But not once, “Lord, have mercy upon me.” Why so? Because though his sorrows were to the utmost, and never anyone stricken as he was struck, yet he was not miserable, which he should have said too if he had been miserable. Now, ‘tis remarkable, that in these places, which prophetically describe the posture of his holy soul under his sharpest sufferings, we meet with nothing of his imploring help, under the title and name of Mercy; and so consequently, he was not miserable for a while.

Argument #4: If he had been at all miserable, Rev.3:17, he had not been a meet sacrifice in the offering of himself up to God; for to be miserable is to be so stricken through, as to perish and fail for want of personal abilities under the stroke, and for a while to be corrupt. Whereas passively all through the trial Christ was a Lamb without blemish and without spot. I Pet.1:19.

Argument #5: He had not been an adequate Price and Ransom for us, if he had fallen into misery, Eccl.8:6, and had not continued, by reason of the Union of the Man in God, or the Divine and Human Natures hypostatically united {that is, because of the personal union of the Two Natures in the Person of Christ} infinitely able to withstand all; and, by suffering the penalty of the broken Law of Works, satisfy the Justice of God to the utmost, and endure it all without misery, even when he entered into poverty, shame, and lay under his agony, the Cross and the Dereliction.

Argument #6: It is inconsistent with the Union of the Divine Nature, or of the Son of God with the Humanity of Christ, to suffer it in the sharpest throws of his trial to sink into Misery. The reason is, because this had been more than for the Humanity to sink into death, and so could not possibly be any article of our Ransom. Therefore, God did not make his Son miserable for a while.

Argument #7: Lastly, ‘tis the Nature of misery to be personally impotent. I Cor.15:19. If Christ had been miserable for a while, he must necessarily have been weak as long as his misery lasted. For they are weak creatures only in the total of their being, and every way depending, who need Mercy. Tit.3:5, Lam.3:22. Now what an extravagancy is this to carry over to Christ! To make Christ weak, or impotent, is to make him to have needed under that weakness and supposed impotency, another Redeemer for himself. And what an abominable extravagance would the supposition of such a thing be from any man’s principle? And yet the extravagance I strike at supposeth it. For that is it which makes a person miserable, when he falls into a calamity out of which he cannot redeem himself, much less another from.

His Second Extravagance is applying to Christ an illustration that concludes with these words, “sure if he should not carry it so to him, he would discover himself more cruel and unmerciful than the thieves.” He had been proposing a scandalous, extravagant platform of extorting, I Sam.2:16, and forcing out the Free Mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ towards the Miserable. ‘Tis such a plan too, as, methinks in the very chain and coherence of the argument, as well as sound of the extravagance, should be confessedly odious. I will lay it open thus, as his words are these, when he is setting forth the efficacy of a man’s duties. “I shall illustrate the point in hand thus, says he, a master goes a journey, and designing to be absent some time, he calls his servant, and commits the care of his goods unto him, and gives him a strict charge to watch; the servant does so; but by and by the house is beset with thieves; the servant cries out with all his might, good neighbors help, or I shall be overcome; but finding no help come, he resolves to encounter with them himself, and to make the most vigorous resistance he can in his own strength, and does so; but they being many to one, the house is broke open, the master receives much damage; his goods are ransacked, and the servant lies groaning and bleeding of the wounds he hath received, and almost ready to give up the ghost; but at last the master returns, who finds his house broke open, his goods gone, and his servant sorely wounded; who tells him a mournful story in that how he cried for help, but finding none, did the utmost he could to secure his master’s house and himself; but being overpowered by the enemies, he received these wounds. Now can we suppose, says he, this master to lay any more upon this servant? How cruel would he be to beat such a servant, or turn him out of his service on this account? Nay, have we not cause to believe that any master in such a case {especially a good man} would take care to bind up his wounds gently, and be at any charge for his cure? Have we not ground to believe that instead of correcting his servant he would highly commend him, and say, well done good and faithful servant? Would he not judge him still fit to be in the family, though he was overcome, since he did his utmost to preserve his master’s goods and himself from these wounds? Sure if he should not carry it so to him he would discover himself more cruel and unmerciful than the thieves.” Thus far Mr. Hunt, pages 142,143, but he goes on into extravagance, applying it, under this form, to Christ. “To apply this now to our present case, Christ is gone to receive a kingdom, &c,” Page 143, so that in upshot and natural significance of words under the coherence of his own argument he forces it to be thus in all respects with Christ, Psal.89:6, towards any of his own servants doing to their utmost for him under the like circumstances that come up to the circumstances of the illustration; or if he can’t force it out of Christ thus, he’ll fall foul, Isa.37:23, upon him under the rigor of this conclusion; “sure if he should not carry it so to him, he would discover himself more cruel and unmerciful than the thieves.” Why, let me tell this ‘brother’ of the extravagance thus, for there are a great many in false zeal go as far {to all outward appearance; for this is but an outward appearance-illustration} as this servant, and they go as far too in the name of Christ, and what men apprehend to be the house, Jer.7:4, the Church of God, even as this servant in defense of his master’s house and goods against the aforesaid thieves; whom yet Christ will certainly reject and punish, and most justly too; there will be no cruelty and un-mercifulness in it; for this is but like his own common way of calumny against Christ, I Sam.2:29, and all to set up the dear creature, upon the foot of works, and not of Grace. See this illustrated in Matthew 7:22-23, “many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name; and in thy name have cast out devils; and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you; depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” Look, here are Preachers and Professors who verily believed they were Christ’s Servants, and they had their own good word for it, II Cor.10:18, {as many nowadays in our pulpits have,} and called themselves, I Cor.4:19, so. These thought Christ had committed the care of his goods unto them, and looked upon it, as if the Lord had given them the strict charge to watch as his servants. Acts 20:28-31. Again, they thought they had done so, that they had watched, that they had seen the house beset, that they had done their utmost, I Sam.15:13,20, to oppose the thieves, men and devils, and with success too, as it seemed in their eyes, had saved the goods, and turned the thieves out of doors.

And yet the Master of the house, Lk.13:25, the Righteous Master of the house returning, neither thanks nor owns them, “I never knew you, depart from me.” What an extravagant project hath he laid down here for Mercy towards a Miserable in an Illustration! What wretched work is here! Enough to make a man that knows and believes the Gospel blush! {“And thou his son, O Belshazzar, hast not humbled thine heart, though thou knowest all this; but hast lifted up thyself against the Lord of Heaven; and they have brought the vessels of his house before thee, and thou, and thy lords, thy wives, and thy concubines, have drunk wine in them; and thou hast praised the gods of silver, and gold, of brass, iron, wood, and stone, which see not, nor hear, nor know; and the God in whose hand thy breath is, and whose are all thy ways, hast thou not glorified.” Dan.5:22-23.} Weigh it all over, and is not a servant’s laboring what he can to resist thieves a Natural Act? What is this to a Spiritual Act? Jn.3:6. Does not the servant naturally from natural principles of fear and self-preservation put forth himself to defend himself and his Master’s house and goods? Again, does not his Master from another natural principle of gratitude reward this servant at his return? But where’s the man that can say in truth he hath deserved it at Christ’s hands, in point of faithfulness even in natural acts, as that servant truly deserved it at his Master’s hands. {“So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, we are unprofitable servants; we have done that which was our duty to do.” Lk.17:10.} Is there not a man of you all, ye open-mouths, that will boast or flatter himself or another, that either of you have done fairly upon the square in natural acts for Christ, as this natural servant in the illustration is said to have done for his Master? Did Mr. Hunt ever put forth himself in his natural acts thus for Christ? Psal.16:2 with Rom.4:4-5. Hath he acted naturally to try his natural fidelity in resistance, as this poor wounded servant did for his absent master? I no ways believe it, nor anything that will rise up in a parallel to it, because I have no grounds for it. And so I say the same of myself, and every other good man, between God and Men. We all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God, Rom.3:23, in this very respect, that in all Resistance of Sin, put it all together, that ever we made against it in our entire lives, we have resisted nothing naturally {for his illustration is in the case of a natural resistance} in comparison of what we might have done, and this falls far short still of what we ought to have done {if you do but as he, to set Christ’s Suretyship aside.} Ay, but now come to super-naturals {for you must come thither if you come up to the true point} and then is not this extravagant to apply to Christ, who is a supernatural Master, and his servants by Grace of the Holy Ghost in Supernatural Service, and in Supernatural Obligations to their Master, Christ? And yet, to parallel the illustration, they look not at the Spirit, depend not on the Spirit, plead not the Spirit, but run out all their heat and zeal in mere natural service performed; for the form of illustration can carry it no higher, and in that fall short too; then forcibly conclude Christ must be kind to them, save them, reward them, not turn them out of house, or else presently be threatened by a brave servant to be laid open for un-mercifulness, “sure if he did not so carry it to him, he would discover himself more cruel and unmerciful than the thieves.” There is a natural expediency, not to say necessity that lies between a natural master and his servant; but is there any natural obligation between Christ and his servants? Are not all rewards of sheer and sovereign Grace, and fastened upon Grace between Christ and men? {“Can a man be profitable unto God, as he that is wise may be profitable unto himself? Is it any pleasure to the Almighty, that thou art righteous; or is it gain to him, that thou makest thy ways perfect?” Job 22:2-3.} So that thus far here is the Popery of it in the sandy foundation of men’s natural acts, which towards God and Christ are their works, Job 9:2-3 with Psal.143:2; and God would not be cruel if he gave them nothing, nor will Christ be cruel, though he turn many out of place and service who perhaps outwardly, upon the foot of nature, have done far more in zeal to Christ, and what men apprehend their Master’s house, than either Mr. Hunt, or I. If I am therefore smiled upon and saved, it is by mere Grace, II Tim.1:9, as if I had been converted upon the Cross, and had done nothing of what the Ministers talk of, and press men to do, if they be saved. But then besides, here’s madness and extravagance to suppose cruelty and un-mercifulness in a man, and then go and apply it to the Man Christ! What a supposition is this minted out of his own brain to fasten upon Him who is over all, Rom.9:5, God blessed forever! Strange! That a man, a minister too, should lay a thing of this moment upon such rotten stress, as the natural fidelity of a servant to his natural master, and the natural gratitude of that master towards his faithful servant. To suppose it, I say, of him that is Perfect is an extravagant thought. A master may be ungrateful to a deserving servant; but first hath Christ any deserving servants? Lk.17:10 with Rom.11:35. And next can Christ be ungrateful to forget his own? Yet here is a bold stroke that says “cruel and unmerciful.” Why, this is just like the world’s railing at Election, and telling us, that if God chooses some and passes by others, he is cruel. Hear what the Holy Ghost saith in another case which will reach it, “can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? Yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee. Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands; thy walls are continually before me.” Isa.49:15-16. So a master may forget, the master in the foregoing, specious illustration, may forget, and act quite contrary to Mr. Hunt’s fair show of kindness and respect. Yes indeed, a mere man may forget all that’s praiseworthy, and commit what every man may censure. But now shall the Foundation upon which Christ acts towards God’s elect, be destroyed, Psal.11:3, by laying all his Babel-conjecture upon this sandy foundation of good nature in a man towards his servant that has labored what he can to save his house from being robbed? Away with this Similitude! Christ’s Carriage in this matter depends upon his Father’s Covenant that Mercy shall be built up forever. {“I will sing of the mercies of the LORD forever; with my mouth will I make known thy faithfulness to all generations. For I have said, Mercy shall be built up forever; thy faithfulness shalt thou establish in the very heavens. I have made a Covenant with my chosen, I have sworn unto David my servant.” Psal.89:1-3.} If you take away this, ‘tis not the best service in the world to Christ will do your business. When the mother of Zebedee’s children came to Christ, with her sons, worshiping him, and desiring a certain thing of him, which was to grant that her two sons would sit, the one on Christ’s right hand, and the other on the left, in Christ’s Kingdom, Mt.20:20-23, Christ stands here to his Father’s Preeminence and Covenant, when he tells her that it “is not mine to give, but it shall be given to them for whom it is prepared of my Father.”

2. Christ receives, rewards, encourages, does all, according to the ends and designation of his Mediatorial Office. 3. The whole strain of the illustration, when brought into application to Christ, strikes at the Responsibleness and Perfection of the Person, for a master may forget, but Christ cannot forget. ‘Tis abominable to suppose he can, and then to aggravate it out of an illustration, wherein if a man does so, he is more cruel and unmerciful than thieves that break into an house, and abuse the honest servant they overcome. 4. The efficacy of Christ’s Blood and Righteousness by the Spirit of Christ in a way of Free Grace is what we are to look to in Christ’s carriage, and not tie it up after the example of an honest man to his servant. The Holy Ghost in his Applicatory Office hath abundantly made Provision for the honor of Christ, according to the Revelation of the Gospel, and not according to the Popish and Extravagant illustration {before described} about human obedience to the Law written in the heart, of which Mr. Hunt had been speaking in the page preceding. But alas! I find all these glorious matters of the Gospel are made nothing of, nor once brought into this reckoning! That it is a horrid extravagance, to bring in that which is so perversely foreign to the case!

His third and last extravagance speaks these words. “Can we once think that when Christ comes to judge the world at the last day, that he will sentence that soul to Hell, to be forever separated from him, who bore so dear a love to him, that he could have almost have leaped into Hell, if there he could but have enjoyed more intimacy with him?” {Page 137}

Here is both Extravagance and Arminianism! Why could not a sound part have sufficed without an Arminian flaw? And again, why not a sober part have sufficed without the extravagant? Why Arminianism! Was it not enough to have said that when Christ comes to judge the world at the last day, he will not sentence that soul to Hell, to be forever separated from him, to whom himself bore so dear a love, as to lay down his life for him, in his Room and Stead? For this is the meritoriously procuring cause of all the soul’s love to Christ. Why must he lodge the security of the soul’s Eternal Condition upon the soul’s dear love to Christ, when there was the Father’s own dear love unto the soul, and Christ’s and the Spirit’s dear love unto him, as the only basis to lodge it on? And then to Arminianism why Extravagance? Why should this preacher choose rather to flatter souls with extravagant nonsense, than comfort them with the Saving Truths of the Gospel? Why were not the great things of the Gospel here brought forth in season, rather than this account of almost leaping into Hell? Now to examine and refute it.

1. What a wild supposition is this of a soul’s enjoying more Intimacy with Christ in Hell, than he was capable of enjoying here on Earth! 2. What a random supposition is the enjoying of more intimacy with Christ in Hell, than he did in the Ordinances! 3. What a crazy supposition is this; for if there were more of Christ to be enjoyed in Hell than in the Ordinances of Christ in the Church, Hell could not be Hell. 4. How mad is this supposition of enjoying more intimacy with Christ by a soul’s almost having leapt into God’s hatred, if there in God’s hatred he should have enjoyed more of Christ’s love! Because ‘tis plain that leaping into Hell is leaping into God’s hatred. And what a contradiction is it to leap into God’s hatred, under a supposition of enjoying thereby the more of Christ’s love! Almost to leap into Hell would be almost to leap into God’s Vengeance. And can a man’s heart endure, or can his hands be strong, in the Day that God shall deal with him? Ezek.22:14. 6. ‘Tis almost to leap into a personal obligation, and hell-bonds to pay one’s own debt to the utmost farthing. And what a supposition-way has he found out in this to enjoy more of Christ! ‘Tis akin to the worst of soul-murder to choose to leap into Hell upon any account whatever. 8. To leap almost into Hell is to leap almost into Damnation. What an extravagant supposal then is it to talk of enjoying more of Christ that way, the nature of which consists in an unalterable and everlasting separation from him! 9. How would he propose to leap out of Hell again? For who could leap thither without falling? And as the tree falls so it lies. Eccles.11:3. 10. ‘Tis a Sin against God’s Prerogative in disposing the future states of men; for did he consider who it is that opens the gates of that prison, and hath the keys of Hell and Death? {“I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death.” Rev.1:18.} 11. Did not all this argue a trivial thought of Hell? For when the Scriptures do set forth sinners going down into the Congregation of Rephaim, as the Hebrew reads it, ghosts or giants, Prov.21:16, do they speak after this sort of levity, to make a leap or a sally of it? 12. How would he keep off from the Popish notion of satisfaction by lying in the flames of purgatory? A doctrine foretold by the Holy Ghost to arise in the latter times, among such men as should have their consciences seared with a hot iron? I Tim.4:1-2. 13. Does it not put a distressed sinner upon measures of over-valuing his own Sufferings? 14. Is it consistent with the beating down of a man’s own righteousness to propose a way of one’s own leaping into a further Enjoyment of Christ? 15. Is it advancing Christ? No; for ‘tis undervaluing his Sufferings and Accomplishments. For did not he descend? Should we need to choose almost to descend too? Eph.4:9-10. 16. Lastly, is it not an injurious point to Free Grace? As if the Gospel-Salvation was so hard to come by, and it ceased to be the Gift of God. Rom.6:23. So much for his Disparagements and Reflections upon Christ in these latter Extravagancies. Next, I may come to vindicate the Grace of God from his plenteous and gross Arminianism.