Chapter 29

Of Mr. John Hunt’s further Errors reducible to the Article of Election; to wit, Four more of the Number of Fourteen.

His fourth error against Election is this, “if sinners saw the excellency of Christ, or knew the virtue of this sweet Rose of Sharon, never did a condemned man more earnestly desire a pardon, never did Esau more earnestly beg the blessing of his father, when he lift up his voice and wept, than these would beg for an Interest in Christ.” {Page 188}

Now I shall briefly examine and refute this upon the Principles of the Gospel, already laid down. 1. Esau is set out as an instance of the non-elect, Rom.9:11-13, “for the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to Election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth; it was said unto her, the elder shall serve the younger. As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.” It was said unto Rebecca, the elder shall serve the younger. Esau’s outward condition in the world, though for a long while visibly greater than Jacob’s, shall yet serve Jacob in the main Interest of all, as to what that chosen vessel hath in God and Spiritual things; ‘tis for the sake of Jacob’s higher Interest than in temporals, that Esau’s greatness and thoughts of oppression and revenge, towards his brother, shall all work together for good to Jacob, Rom.8:28; shall all serve his main Interest, towards the Preservation of the Church of God in Jacob, and truckle under the Appointed Settlements of Jehovah, the Great Being, and the Counsels of his heart for Jacob; which first came to pass, as an earnest of the like in after-ages, and the kindness of Esau towards his brother at their meeting. Gen.33:4. And so by a disappointment of the first thoughts of Esau, which were revenge to his brother, God turning them in Esau suddenly, by a Good Dispensation of Grace towards Jacob, to serve Jacob, for the sake of his Interest in the Election-Purposes of Grace, the elder {according as was said} did serve the younger, “I have loved you, saith the LORD. Yet ye say, wherein hast thou loved us? Was not Esau Jacob's brother, saith the LORD; yet I loved Jacob, and I hated Esau, and laid his mountains and his heritage waste for the dragons of the wilderness.” Mal.1:2-3. How inconsistent then is it with the Doctrine of Election, to set out the matter of attaining an Interest in Christ, by the importunity of that hypocrite, Esau’s natural begging of the Blessing, at the hands of his Father! What hath the natural cry for a natural blessing in the mouth of a natural and non-elect man, to do in setting out this matter? How little does Mr. Hunt carry Election in his eye, in his Preaching, to talk at this rate!

2. Esau obtained not what he earnestly begged for, Heb.12:17, “for ye know how that afterward, when he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected; for he found no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears.” The paternal blessing Esau meant, that he might thrive and prosper in the world; whereas the parent in his blessing of Jacob eyed the favor of the Lord, which maketh rich, Prov.10:22, beyond it; that for a while Jacob was at a stand, and did not look upon it any other blessing properly than the Divine Favour to be had; and so, what with Jacob’s eye to the Spiritual Blessings which he saw God had denied Esau, and Esau’s eye to the Temporal Blessings that his father too for a while boggled at, Esau cries with an exceeding bitter cry, {“and when Esau heard the words of his father, he cried with a great and exceeding bitter cry, and said unto his father, Bless me, even me also, O my father,” Gen.27:34,} and now saw he had been a fool in parting with his birthright to his brother; for his father had given it away indeed from the elder to the younger. And so the proper blessing of the elder, merely for the outward ostentation and credit of it, Esau afterwards would have inherited under a false notion of it, as many nowadays think they would fain have the Love of God and Heaven, in their blind, natural way; but they know not “the way of Peace” in Christ.” {The way of peace they know not; and there is no judgment in their goings: they have made them crooked paths: whosoever goeth therein shall not know peace.” {Isa.59:8.} Well, Esau was rejected, he found no place of repentance, his cries and tears, to feed his own pride and ambition, could not alter his father’s mind, reverse an elder blessings settled upon the younger brother, nor in short, Esau get his mind and will over his brother; as much as to say, he would never yield that he should be a better man than himself, though he sought it carefully with tears. {“Then said the LORD unto me, though Moses and Samuel stood before me, yet my mind could not be toward this people; cast them out of my sight, and let them go forth.” Jer.15:1. “Therefore pray not thou for this people, neither lift up cry nor prayer for them, neither make intercession to me; for I will not hear thee.” Jer.7:16.} Now then, what avails a sinner’s begging for an Interest in Christ, as it is set out by Esau’s begging, {“now we know that God heareth not sinners; but if any man be a worshipper of God, and doeth his will, him he heareth,” Jn.9:31,} which is but a begging the portion of the elect out of the elect’s hands, as appears by this instance he hath pitched on in Esau, {now ‘tis opened?} Why is Esau’s pattern the precedent of begging to or with any man that believes Election? Aye, Aye, ‘tis plain, here is all Arminius in it; as any man may see that knows the controversy; and here was nothing in his proposition that sets out the Gospel of the Grace of God in Christ. Mr. Hunt wants knowledge and soundness in the Doctrine of Election.

3. What a contradiction is it to set forth the earnest begging of elect sinners by an instance of the non-elect! What is Esau’s case to that of Jacob? 4. What a thrusting of nature is here into the room of God’s Grace! For there must be inward similitude from God the Spirit before it comes to this. 5. Interest in Christ is the Gift of God distinct from the Answer of Prayer, Isa.43:22 with verse 25, and therefore is before begging it. If it be not first, it can never be after; for then it would be of works, the work of prayer, the work of striving, the work of crying, &c., but ‘tis not from any of these works, nor others, but to them, and so must be before them. 6. ‘Tis a contradiction and blind inconsistence to see the Excellency of Christ, when yet a sinner is out of Christ, or to know the virtue of Christ, when he has no Interest in Christ, but rather, we are told, it is an Interest still he must earnestly beg for. {“But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness unto him; neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” I Cor.2:14.} Whereas Justification is in Christ before it is through Christ. 7. What man condemned in our courts of judicature hath his pardon for earnest desiring it? Because he says, never did a condemned man more earnestly desire a Pardon? Alas! No man would condemned, if his crime were not brought in against him; and no condemned man would be executed, if his Pardon after Condemnation could be had for asking. The Pardon depends upon a legal grant, and that has no relation at all to the malefactors earnest request, but to the legal grant; and therein are included the charges, or price of the pardon, and the pleasure of the sovereign to accept it, Eccl.8:4, if a man be able to be at the charges; if not, it is his pleasure to do it freely; and that makes it legal, because the pardoner is a Sovereign. Now who but the Man Christ Jesus, who is “over all, God blessed forever,” Rom.9:5, can be at the helm of our Gospel-Pardon? Who is it but “God that justifieth,” Rom.8:33, and that does it too according to his own Pleasure and Covenant with Christ, in the Application of the Gospel-Righteousness? And what is it but the virtue of this in the Application that sets the heart in motion in asking through Christ, what the eye {by a work of the Spirit} certainly sees to be its own in Christ; for whatsoever is not in Faith is Sin; and all things “whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.” Mt.21:22. The person who asks believing is the only petitioner who receives what he asks; for, if I believe not my Interest in Christ secured already among all the Glorious Persons of God, I can never in Faith ask that it may be done. The reason is, God can never alter his Counsels, Mal.3:6, if it be not done in Christ already, it will never be done in Christ by begging it. Therefore knowing already ‘tis done in Christ, I am to ask believingly that it may be done through Christ upon me influentially, from a sight it is done in Christ for me in Election-Settlements Federally, and this is asking in Faith. ‘Tis not believing a Proposition that my sins are Pardoned, as the conjecture makes it, but ‘tis a sight that it is so, {accomplished by Christ,} and then believing the Proposition when I have seen it, and in the same moment too feel it; for ‘tis God’s work from this fullness first begun upon me that makes me both see and feel it.

His fifth error against the Article and Grace of Election is this, upon II Corinthians 13:5, “the Apostle bids us inquire whether Christ is in us. He doth not speak as if a light examination would serve in this weighty Matter, but we must examine, prove, know, all which do denote the most diligent scrutiny that can be made; and indeed there is cause for it, not only as it is that on which our Salvation depends, {I mean our being in Christ,} but also forasmuch as it is that in which poor creatures are subject to be mistaken.” {Page 130} Aye, poor creature, dost thou corrupt the Apostle in II Corinthians 13:5, at this pitiful rate? Thou art mistaken indeed! The Truth will stand against it all. ‘Tis this, Influential Interest in Christ which is God’s own Act by the Spirit depends on Mystical and Federal Interest in Christ, in Election-Settlements {God’s act} before the world began. What an absurdity is this, to tell us that our Salvation which he explains thus, “I mean, says he, our being in Christ,” depends on the most diligent scrutiny we can make it, when yet an Interest in Christ is presupposed in the same breath, as the matter of this Examination? What difference can he assign between being in Christ, and an Interest in Christ? If our Salvation be our being in Christ, our Salvation is likewise our Interest in Christ. I know not how he will distinguish them with any difference? Again, Interest, or being in Christ, arises not out of our Examination, but our Examination rises out of that Interest.

Let us consult the place in the Apostle’s words, “examine yourselves, whether ye be in the Faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates.” Let us open this, because Mr. Hunt, as the custom of his good men is, has quite omitted it. “Examine your selves whether ye be in the Faith.” Mind, ‘tis whether you be in the Faith. This is far from the mistake men naturally are under when they read, “examine your selves whether Faith be savingly wrought in you;” for, supposing it had not been wrought, they could not then examine, for want of a Discerning Work of God the Spirit, whether it had been wrought, or no. ‘Tis light must discover light, for darkness cannot. I must be first in the light to know I am in the light. Examine therefore as you have the Faith of God’s Elect among you, whether you be in the Faith, or beside the Faith of the Gospel {i.e. the Doctrine of Grace among you} to think, and act, and live, and walk so low and carnally as you do, quite below your selves. So that ‘tis the Doctrine and Rules of Faith which he bids them to examine, from an Examining Principle of the Faith of God’s elect in them, he supposed, and saw was a Principle wanted stirring up. Are not you, says he, strangely fallen back? What work do you make both with Grace and Government? Pray, examine, if you be in the Faith, or rather have not gone beside it. For Corruptions began woefully to work in the Apostles Days among such as are now your good men; and many of the truly Godly were ready, seeing what brave men degenerated, to be frightened or cheated out of their birthrights; as others were ready to despise and neglect the Government of the Gospel, because they were Saved by Grace. Now, says he, examine, whether you be in the Faith, or rather, woefully warped, and have lost much of that Communion with God, and Soundness in the Faith, which once you had. ‘Tis not, examine, whether you have an Interest in Christ; ‘tis not enquire neither, as Mr. Hunt has corrupted the word “examine” in his gloss, {it is one thing for the goldsmith to enquire whether he hath such a piece of gold by him, and another thing to examine the piece he has in his hand,} but it is examine {upon the Evidences of what he saw} whether your Faith and Walk answer such a thing, as a work of Grace in your souls, or not? And therefore prove your own selves, compare the Faith, as you have now molded it, with your Interest in Christ, and see if there be not a vast Disproportion, provided I am not mistaken in the Evidences of your Condition, and so may conclude of you that you are truly born again, and therewith Interested in Christ by the Spirit of God, who gives Influential Interest by and according to the Pattern of Mystical and Federal Interest Antecedently. {“Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth; for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak; and he will show you things to come. He shall glorify me; for he shall receive of mine, and shall show it unto you. All things that the Father hath are mine; therefore said I, that he shall take of mine, and shall show it unto you.” Jn.16:13-15.”}

Know ye not your own selves? Surely, as you have Interest, you must feel something of Christ by the Gospel quickening, weaning, renewing of your selves into more of the Faith and Experience of Jesus every day; and what, says he, do you feel this, and yet corrupt the Faith? Do you perceive this, and yet despise Government? {Church-Government, the Government of Grace upon Christ’s shoulder. Isa.9:6.} For ‘tis this which he practically discourses of in the last chapters of this Epistle, as to how Church-members ought to walk Spiritually, and therein Ornamentally, according to the Pure and Unmixed Doctrine of Grace they have received, working in their souls, to sanctify that relation they stand in to Christ, and to one another, and not despise dominion. Jude 8. Now, says he, has this been in you, and don’t you know by Experience which way Grace works? Are you new creatures in Christ, and can you be strangers to the new creature? Know ye and not your own selves, and how “that Jesus Christ is in you?” ‘Tis not I say, as Mr. Hunt hath corrupted the phrase of Doctrine, enquire whether Christ be in you; but don’t you know it, {for he took it for granted,} “except ye be reprobates.” Indeed I don’t know how it stands with you infallibly. But you understand, what I say, except you are men not fit for the trial, and unskillful in the Foundation of all. And yet just such Mr. Hunt, contrary to the Doctrine of God’s Election of Grace, would go and put upon it, provided he means his examining, proving, knowing and making the most diligent scrutiny be without Interest on Election-side, or without being so in Christ, as chosen in Christ; and without Interest on the Spirit’s side, to be new creatures for this examining, proving, knowing and scrutiny-work, contrary to what Paul judged of the sound part of his Corinthians, with whom he labored more and more for their edification in Christ, according to their Interest, and not for their Interest and Being in Christ to be begun by Examination, who indeed were already interested. For on the other hand, I know nothing more absurd than to examine, prove, know, all which denotes the most diligent scrutiny, and all before the Interest in Christ hath commenced. How absurd is his Doctrine that is so inconsistent with Paul’s {cut out according to Election-Interest} and an Election-Being in Christ, which though I cannot mind first of all, yet the Spirit, according to his Office, doth mind first of all for me? Lastly, the right Doctrine of Election hath provided means of Edification, as well as means of Conversion, and hath settled examining, proving, knowing in Christ to be all brought about, and to pass through Christ, or by New Life, Strength, Holiness and Influences put forth through Him into every branch that stands by Election-Engrafture in him. This is the Truth of the Gospel in which the Holy Ghost leads men; the other is but a blind, a maze, a labyrinth which men grope in by themselves, but no man ever found a way through?

Besides, ‘tis a notion founded on a mere Conditional Reconciliation in the next Person of God, as Mediator, which overturns all the positive work of the Gospel. Oh! Don’t say so, for there are many good men that hold Conditions. No matter. For let not our Faith be thrown at men’s feet, nor built on Authors, but on the testimony of God’s Word alone. ‘Tis not what a good man means, but what the good Spirit of God saith unto the Churches. ‘Tis this I am to hear, and is the only judgment I am to abide by. Nevertheless, I know all good men are not agreed in it; for there are good men on the other hand who have not held there are any Conditions of the Gospel. Chytraeus1 and many others of different persuasions tell us that Conditions belong to the Law and not the Gospel; but let not our Faith receive it as it stands in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God. I Cor.2:5. I know this, that Conditions came to be disputatiously received into the Divinity of the Reformation with a mischievous Design, and were calculated to serve the turn of a Party. Moreover, when learned men were {with the sinful peace of our times} agreed among themselves in the Arminian way to eclipse Christ’s Absolute Purchase, then Corvinus2 and divers others of the later men in separate Treatises of Controversy with the Orthodox, set up a Conditional Merit in Christ to destroy an Absolute Grant of God, and Purchase of Christ {to remove the obstacles of that grant after sin’s entrance, and render the Grant Effectual to all the elect of God.} This very matter alone should be argument enough, if we would be wise, not to propagate the Conditional Doctrine, being set up by men of corrupt minds, II Tim.3:8, who take nature for Grace, and are reprobate concerning the Faith; that is, for want of God’s Holy Spirit are altogether unfit to make any trial, or enter upon a decision of these controversies {for so they will ever stand with natural men} about Supernatural Grace, because they are utter strangers thereunto. This is the sum of the matter.

Along these same lines is his sixth error against Election in these words, “let me exhort you then to give up your selves to him, to cast your care upon him, that so you may have an Interest in him.” {Page 193} Can any man that believes the Gospel think the resignation of men’s selves to Christ, the casting their care upon him, doth go before their Interest in Christ? What should influence them to this? It must be the Root it stands by some communications proper to the Root, or the Root can’t communicate. Now let nature be supposed the Root, will nature communicate influences to put on Christ? If it be Grace, as a Root that communicates, I am in it before the communication. What is wilder crab-fruit than this, that nature give up itself to Christ? That nature casts its care upon Christ? Believe it not, “that which is born of the flesh is flesh,” Jn.3:6, and shall a man have the Spirit for being flesh, and acting like flesh? This is crab-tree all over. Any thing will please men of this Persuasion rather than the Gospel Truth of Antinomian-Union before Faith. All Interest in Christ is passive, as it begins with Election-Interest, Lk.10:20, goes on to Redemption-Interest, comes home to Regeneration-Interest, or Influential engrafture by the Spirit’s vital Quickening from Christ the Vine-stock. How then do men get Interest in Christ by their own Acts and Duties? Benefits of Communion indeed they get, when from influential Interest precedaneously, they give up themselves to Christ, cast their care on Christ, &c., but it is mere topsy-turvy, to exhort men to do all this, that so they may have an Interest in Christ. {“He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.” I Jn.5:12. “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life – believing as the evidence, consequence or result that he already hath Everlasting Life in Christ – and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.” Jn.3:36. “He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life – again, believing as the evidence, consequence or result that he hath Everlasting Life in Christ – and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.” Jn.5:24.} He that hath not an Interest in Christ before he casts his care on Christ, will never have an Interest at all, nor cast his care on him as the Scripture speaks, so long as he lives in this world, his doing all according to the Gospel rises out of the Gospel, Phil.4:3, and not his Gospel-Interest out of all or any of his doings. {“Knowing, brethren beloved, your election of God, for our Gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance.” I Thes.1:4-5.}

His seventh error against Election is the duplicate motive, “a motive to get an Interest in Christ, and a motive to beg of God to Interest you in Christ &c.” {Page 195} Why now if people are only serious, and not spiritually enlightened, Eph.1:18, this is looked on as brave Divinity, a sweet Exhortation to sinners, &c., and really it is but a cheat to the soul, in a spiritual robbery of the Honor and Work of the Glorious Persons in God interested by Gift, to take away the true Interest, and hide that being in Christ with these glorious Persons in Jehovah do jointly give; and all to suggest a creature-hand and power of interesting men in Christ, which neither Election and Redemption of their persons, nor Regeneration of their natures, do secure. ‘Tis a strange fantasy to think I was chosen in One, and yet that choosing me was no interesting me in the One in whom I was chosen. Why did Christ redeem me if I had no Interest in him by Election? {“As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him.” Jn.17:2.} Christ never thought separately from the Father that his Death should save me, nor the Spirit separately that the work of Sanctification alone would save me. The Father’s thought of me was his Counsel in choosing me; and Christ came forth from God upon that Foundation, for he tells me, “I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me,” Jn.6:38, and “my sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me,” Jn.10:27; here is their Interest in Christ, as they are sheep belonging to their Shepherd, and from that Interest-Relation of their being sheep they hear his voice. Aye, but what saith the motive? {He lays the work more upon my begging act, than upon God’s choosing act; and so plainly sets up with the Arminian, a mere temporal Salvation.} Get an Interest in Christ. Proud worm! What, will not the Interest which the Father hath given the elect, to have Mystically in Christ, be allowed to be, or taken for an Interest, if the sinner be not a sent a fetching one on his own accord? Get an Interest in Christ? Ungrateful worm! What, will not the Interest Christ hath wrought hard Federally to maintain and secure, notwithstanding Sin’s Entrance, be took for any sort of Interest, but the sinner must be sent all over the land of Egypt to get straw, and make into brick, Exod.5:11-12, to build his foolish pyramids of pride and vainglory which he calls an Interest in Christ, raised out of the materials of dust and clay? Get an Interest in Christ? Conceited worm! What, will not the Interest the Holy Ghost gives influentially, be taken for an Interest in Christ, when yet he is the very bond and seal of it in his work, but the sinner must be sent out and off from the Spirit into nature’s field to be getting an Interest in Christ. Aye, and saith the other motive, a motive to beg of God to Interest you in Christ. As much as to say, pray for an Interest in Christ. Beg that God would Interest you in his Son. He means thus; and then I say rather, pray for the eye-salve to open the eyes, Rev.3:18, of poor blind preachers, that the blind don’t lead the blind, Mt.15:14, and so both fall into the ditch. Oh! What fervent prayer is that {because the prayer of Faith} which rises out of Interest? But what Interest in Christ is it that ever rose out of begging God to Interest the Sinner in his Son Jesus Christ? Why must we pray to God for that which is not to be asked, but hath been already granted, and has been bestowed to make way for all new grants that are still proper to come down, and to come on through Christ by Prayer?