Chapter 30

Of Mr. John Hunt’s Frightening Sinners with the Notion that their Day of Grace may be passed and how ’tis Inconsistent with Election.

I come to examine and refute something further in Mr. Hunt’s book, very injurious to the Grace of Election, and which carries within the very spirit of the Arminian thought in this article. The words are these, “though this sweet Rose withers not in itself, yet your Opportunities to get in will not last alway. Jerusalem once had her time when Christ was freely preached to her, but she sinned it away, and would none of him; how did it draw tears from the eyes of the Blessed Jesus, Lk.19:41-42, ‘and when he was come near, he beheld the city, and wept over it, saying, If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace; but now they are hid from thine eyes.’ God waited forty years on Israel, but at last sware in his wrath they should not enter into his rest. Psalm 95.” {Page 22}

In the examination of these matters I shall reduce them to the Article of Election, as touching the elect, and as touching the rest.

First, touching the elect, I shall examine and remove the errors. “Their opportunities, says he, to get Christ will not last alway.”

1. This expression “getting of Christ” to set forth the creature’s act, is an ill phrase of speech, as it ought to be receiving Christ, Jn.1:12, “as many as received him, &c.” 'Tis not as many as got him, but as many as received him; for he was given to everyone that received him. “A man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven,” Jn.3:27, says John the Baptist on this very article of receiving Christ. To talk of “getting him” is profane as if Christ were like a common pledge, gage, stake or wager, or ordinary sort of merchandise, wherein every one who gets the wager, or wares, does all in it himself, and perhaps none else is concerned whether he get or lose the money or goods. Whereas Election of Christ to be our Portion is the Provision and Care of a Father to lay up estate, bread, clothing, &c., and all for his children; so that when he comes to bestow Christ at last by the Spirit, he does not lay it upon their getting, but upon his own free imparting what he has as freely made ready. Also, he gives them; as their Father, his Effectual Blessing with Christ, and that is his Spirit which seals up every good thing with the Gift of Christ, as Faith, Repentance, Sanctification, Joy in the Holy Ghost, Delight, Increase of Grace, and Perseverance therein unto the end. {“He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?” Rom.8:32.} So that this is a passage very much against Election. As if God had not elected Christ freely to be received, nor elected our Faith to as many of us as receive him, nor elected the mission of his own Spirit to work that Faith; but as if all depended upon the prosperous advances and success of our creature–actions, thus shutting out Grace in the Gift according to Election, and putting in a man or woman’s nature in the getting. I am sure there is no getting an interest in Christ if it be not gotten for me, and gotten in Christ already. {“So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy.” Rom.9:16.} An interest in Christ is a passive work, ‘tis gotten for me by Another, ‘tis wrought upon me, and not to be done by me, to interest me in the Operations of the Spirit of Christ which are part of my Interest in God. It is God’s work for me and then upon me, and so passes from getting Christ to receiving Christ, when it is brought down by Grace so far as a practical work of the soul.

Objection: Well, but “get wisdom, get understanding; forget it not,” for “wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom; and with all thy getting get understanding,” saith the Holy Spirit of God by Solomon, Prov.4:5,7, and then why not get Christ since Christ in the Proverbs is called Wisdom?

Answer: Christ is often in the Proverbs called Wisdom, but Wisdom in the Proverbs is not always Christ, and here it is but as Christ is fitted in his Nature–fulness to men in general, not as he is fitted in his Supernatural Fulness to the elect of God alone. So that the Holy Ghost there by Solomon doth no more than put men upon a moral duty from a rational excellency of Christ, to be attained by study and endeavors, which is no more than what appertains to the Nature–fulness of Jesus Christ, belonging to all in common, as Christ is the firstborn of every creature, Col.1:15, and not to his fulness in Grace and Glory, as he is the “Firstborn among many brethren.” Rom.8:29. The word, I say, there in Solomon, puts men upon a moral duty, and not a supernatural privilege; and as it is a moral duty, it lies within the compass of a moral man to get a sound notion of Wisdom out of God’s Word; to study the Scriptures, and see the wise harmony, concatenation, perfection and moral beauty that is in the outer face of Wisdom. This the Jews were capable of to fit them for the present life, if they had studied the Scriptures, and admitted but a rational Interpretation of them without prejudice, and might therein have Evidently seen that Messiah was come. “Whoso is wise, and will observe these things, even they shall understand the lovingkindness of the LORD.” Psal.107:43. And so far the Holy Ghost puts the natural man upon getting that natural part of wisdom which his natural eye might see, and his natural power attain. But what is this to getting Christ into my possession and interest that depends purely upon a Spiritual Union and Supernatural Gift of Grace, which can have no relation to any improvement of my natural gifts and attainments, because these are quiet of another kind? The Gift by Grace is purely not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy, Rom.9:16, and all this is above nature, and you may be sure the Holy Ghost never put any man upon his own work, but has often checked men for their Arrogance in taking his work into their own hand. And so far as any man attempts it by word or deed, he is injurious to the Sovereignty and Freeness of Election–Grace originally which gives me Christ, and no ways puts me upon getting him. Also, at the time of my receiving him thus bestowed, he gives his Holy Spirit, and by the Spirit gives me a temporal, applicatory interest, by Influential Conveyance of Grace out of Christ’s fulness, made up of the Everlasting Treasures wherewith God hath endowed the Man; among which are the Election and Covenant–Interests begun from Everlasting, which God and Christ had in me, and which I had in them, as the Foundation of my temporal, applicatory interest, to give me Faith and Holiness in this life. “For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called; and whom he called, them he also justified; and whom he justified, them he also glorified.” Rom.8:29-30.

2. To answer the rest of it about Opportunities to get Christ not lasting always. It had been more to the purpose, if he had given God the Glory of the Truth of his Promise made to Christ, Psal.29:2, “thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power,” Psal.110:3, than to run on like the Arminianism of the times among these muddled men, who tell sinners, “that now whilst the day of Grace lasts God is offering, tendering and wooing them with Grace; but if they don’t accept of mercy now, it will not be long before the wooings and beseechings of God will be over, and the Day of Grace past.” Mr. Hunt, in the matter I am canvassing, is of the same piece with this Arminianism barefaced; and the whole strikes at Election, and therefore never makes use of the Doctrine of Effectual Grace. But the truth is this, so long as there is an elect number, Rom.9:27, to be gathered out of the world, I Jn.5:19, the preaching of the Gospel, and their opportunities of receiving Christ shall be continued and prospered. If opportunities should totally cease, I would say the elect in such times and places were totally gathered; for this is consistent with Election, I mean Determinate, Everlasting and Unchangeable Election, Eph.1:4, but the other is inconsistent with it. {“Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace.” Rom.11:5.} Therefore because the elect are not all gathered, not to be gathered in one place or another to the end of the world, their opportunities last as long as the Gospel lasts, and that shall be as long as the world lasts. “And, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.” {Matt.28:20.} If Christ be with the Apostles Doctrinally, Authoritatively and Influentially, alway, even unto the end of the world, wheresoever and whensoever the Apostle’s Doctrine, Acts 2:42, is preached unto souls, then the opportunities of the elect to receive Christ do last alway, even to the end of the world likewise. The Gospel continued so long in the east and south, to wit, in Asia and Africa, as until the elect were gathered, and then both of those Continents, where the Gospel had been preached, were given up to the Curse, and have become a stable for the horse of Mahomet; but ‘twas only because he who lay in the manger had gathered in all his harvest thereabouts. The Day of Grace was not over so long as there was one soul intended to be saved. The elect are all gathered before the season ends.

3. The opportunities of the elect to receive Christ are elected as well as the persons themselves. See for instance, John 4:4, “and he must needs go through Samaria.” He must needs, why so? Could he not have gone through another town, or province, or have taken another road? Could not the Lord have gone which way he would? The country was open, and the Kings Highway free to have gone sheer off from Samaria, and have steered his course quite another way. Aye, and why must he go through Samaria, and visit Sychar? Was it, does the Papist think, to go a pilgrimage to Jacob’s well, and there show some respect, as the superstitious folk do, to an ancient saint or patriarch? No, was it merely to quench his thirst? No, he was thirsty, ‘tis true, consequently upon his journey, and weary too, as travelers are; but he came not to that well merely for his thirst’s sake, for he could have drank of wells that lay nearer his setting out; nor for his weariness sake, for he could have sat down sooner. What was it then? Why, Christ came upon Determinate Business, to Determinate Places and Events, by the Determinate Counsel and Foreknowledge of God. Acts 2:23. And as opportunities are Chosen of God for the gathering and converting of God’s elect, so this was brought about as an opportunity of Mercy to one of the vessels of mercy. Rom.9:23. {“All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.” “It is written in the prophets, and they shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me.” Jn.6:37,45.} A woman belonging to the Election of Grace must come thither to draw water, and thereupon meet with the Living Water, Jn.4:10, beside her own intentions. This woman of Samaria never had seen Jesus, nor, as we read, Jesus in the flesh, her; but the God of Jacob, in the Man Jesus, at the well of Jacob knew her, and knew of her coming thither, as God had appointed to be done. It proved the season of this woman’s Conversion, though she had been a great sinner, and her Conversion to Christ drew more out of the city, Jn.4:39, who came forth and believed on him.

Accordingly, in another instance, Acts 16:9–14, “and a vision appeared to Paul in the night; there stood a man of Macedonia, and prayed him, saying, Come over into Macedonia, and help us. And after he had seen the vision, immediately we endeavored to go into Macedonia, assuredly gathering that the Lord had called us for to preach the gospel unto them. Therefore loosing from Troas, we came with a straight course to Samothracia, and the next day to Neapolis; and from thence to Philippi, which is the chief city of that part of Macedonia, and a colony; and we were in that city abiding certain days. And on the sabbath we went out of the city by a river side, where prayer was wont to be made; and we sat down, and spake unto the women which resorted thither. And a certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira, which worshipped God, heard us; whose heart the Lord opened, that she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul.” Lo! Here an elect person was to be gathered to Christ, and accordingly the opportunity in which it was done could not slip, for the opportunity itself was precisely chosen to fit the person; and therefore all things must, and did concur, by the Divine Will, unto it. All the places that we see in Paul’s journey were noted down, and the way cast up, Isa.62:10, though it cost the Apostle and Evangelist, Paul and Timotheus, Acts 16:1, so much labor, to travel through divers remote cities and places thither unto Lydia. Why? Opportunities shall be afforded to an elect person, that certainly that soul will hear the Call and Believe on Jesus Christ. Moreover, Paul the instrument, a stranger to those parts, and having no inclination, or call to go into those quarters, was assaying to go another way, verse 7, “after they were come to Mysia, they assayed to go into Bithynia; but the Spirit suffered them not.” Paul and Timothy were secretly bound another way, though as yet they openly knew not whither. God had work for the Apostle Paul to do at Philippi upon the soul of a stranger belonging to another distant city; and this woman of Thyatira had an opportunity elected for her to success in another city, where, it should seem, she then resided for an opportunity of trade, to sell off her purple goods; and found therewith an opportunity of dealing in the Pearl of Price, Mt.13:46, and there begun her first acquaintance with Christ. For this work the Apostle must be strangely brought hither. He does not see it of his own foresight, nor choice; nevertheless, he shall undertake the long journey, though he be carried on it by a vision. A man of Macedonia calls him, yet ‘tis a woman of Thyatira has the cause to bless God for him. He comes to Philippi, and tarries there, the text says, some days before the Sabbath. We do not read he preached before the Sabbath came, it being a place at that time where probably were no believers, though afterwards there were enough of the saints in Christ Jesus, for their fellowship in the Gospel, Phil.1:5; and being the first time the Apostle came to town, it is hard to conceive how any meetings should be appointed to be held, on the account of Paul, by Jews or Gentiles, both {at this time} enemies and unbelievers. So that he stays some days, till the accustomed time came of the Jews meeting in one of their Proseucha or Places for Prayer, by this river side; and all to meet with Lydia, who though busied in her employment on the week-days, would break out and embrace the return of the Sabbath. Thus getting out on the Sabbath-day, she met with Paul, and by this means with Christ. That Sabbath was the Jewish Sabbath, or, as we call it, the Saturday Sabbath; for it was among the Jews Paul was then to do his work. Again, her mind should be stirred up to be there without fail upon that Wedding-Day of hers to Christ, though she knew not to what Man, even that same morning, unto whom she was going to be married to forever. This makes good the proposition that opportunities are chosen for the elect, as well as the elect are chosen for opportunities. “And therefore will the LORD wait, that he may be gracious unto you, and therefore will he be exalted, that he may have mercy upon you; for the LORD is a God of judgment, blessed are all they that wait for him.” Isa.30:18.

Turn over to Acts 18:9-11, and mind what is said to Paul at Corinth, “then spake the Lord to Paul in the night by a vision, be not afraid, but speak, and hold not thy peace; for I am with thee, and no man shall set on thee to hurt thee; for I have much people in this city. And he continued there a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them.” Behold here the opportunities for propagating the Everlasting Gospel were appointed, elected and settled of God, because he had an appointed people to be brought home to Christ under them. {“Thou shalt arise, and have mercy upon Zion; for the time to favour her, yea, the set time, is come.” Psal.102:13.} The history of Paul’s abode there in a fixed way of preaching, shows that though he met with a great deal of trouble from the Jews by raising a tumult, and making an insurrection against him, and disturbing him in his work; yet God had ordered they should not hurt him. Why? The opportunities of his elect were chosen for them to have good done upon their souls by that man’s ministry, which was built according to a sure Foundation, Isa.28:16, not in and out, yea and nay, II Cor.1:18-19, as the preaching is now. God having settled the opportunities of the elect, till these were gathered, and had ordered that his troubles should not drive him from the place; for verse 18, “Paul after this tarried there yet a good while, and then took his leave of the brethren,” parted with them, it should seem, when the necessities of the Churches, or else more of the elect to be called, or built up elsewhere, called him away to other places. The Lord had purposed the enemy should not drive him, nor put a stop to the Gospel. Why? The opportunities of his elect then at Corinth were chosen for their receiving Christ under Paul’s ministry. Yea, when the Apostle departed thence, the opportunities of propagating the Gospel at Corinth were not ended as appears by the Epistles he afterwards wrote to the Church of Christ called and gathered in that city. And the like has been ever since, and all over the world, where the Gospel has come among an elect people. This argument therefore is against the Doctrine which hath so often frightened the elect in the days of their Ignorance, telling them the day of Grace may be over if they do not close with Christ this evening, and if a sinner repents not today, he may sin away his time, and find it too late tomorrow. Thus, they hold, not distinguishing between the Elect, whose opportunities are secured to their Effectual Conversion to Christ, and the rest who have no opportunities to believe and be saved, {“that seeing they may see, and not perceive; and hearing they may hear, and not understand; lest at any time they should be converted, and their sins should be forgiven them,” Mk.4:12,} so long as they remain in this world, because the Spirit’s presence with the Word which makes the opportunity Effectual to Salvation, is, and must be, restrained from them; and the truth is, all these love to have it so, when they come to hear what the Spirit and his Work is; and so ‘tis evident therefore that divers preachers who go about to promote what they call Conversion, do so most unskillfully.

4. This notion of opportunities not lasting till Conversion be wrought upon the elect {and to others they are no opportunities} is a notion directly against the Election of internal means, for opportunities are merely without me; but the work of the Spirit in Effectual Conversion is primarily an inward Communication of Life and Light, “for the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” Heb.4:12. Now, the Arminians lay all the stress upon outwards as offers of Grace, tenders of Salvation, wooings and beseechings of sinners. Opportunities likewise with them are these outward means, and so therefore they lay much upon the gifts, zeal, pains and assiduity of the preacher. Now all these are without to the people, they are upon the hearers outside. Whereas, a child of Grace, and recipient of an Effectual Call must have something within his own heart; and this must do the work if he belongs to God.

5. Still to the elect, the Efficacy of the Spirit’s work in the opportunity is chosen. For which cause, though opportunity does not last always, yet inasmuch as the Spirit of Christ is appointed and sent to do his work, before opportunity is ended, this man’s notion of it is quite wrong. Let us search the Scriptures, II Thessalonians 2:13, “but we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, {says the Apostle,} because God hath from the beginning chosen you to Salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth.” Chosen you through; the meaning is not that he has chosen you through directively, as you would direct such a man in the road for London or Cambridge; but it is to be understood influentially from the first Settlements of it purchased through means; as this Sanctification and Belief, our passage and way along, is under the Efficacy and Operation of the Holy Ghost, that will not send you out upon Motion, to go on unto Salvation by yourselves; but is in you, and dwelleth in you, and excites all his own infused Light and Grace in the soul to that specific end. That this is part of the meaning, take a passage in the other Epistle to clear it, I Thessalonians 1:5, “for our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance; as ye know what manner of men we were among you for your sake.” He arrayed himself, Psal.132:16, as it were, with the Gospel, and acted by it with all Demonstration and Efficacy of an Evangelical Power; so that this other notion is quite against the Doctrine of electing the Grace of Efficacy in the opportunities of the Gospel. It is against God’s choosing Irresistible Grace and Means to convert the person while the season lasts, though it be never so short; and by this means falls in directly with the Arminian Enmity to Election.

6. Lastly, if the distinction be granted that divines usually give us between time and opportunity of time; then I do not see how there can be admitted, without absurdity, any ineffectual opportunity of time? If it be God’s opportunity to me ‘tis my opportunity, and shall infallibly be made effectual; if it be not God’s opportunity to me ‘tis none of my opportunity; if the Spirit breathes not, all the breathing of preachers in the world makes it not opportunity. {Opportunity is time fitted to action; Spiritual action therefore can have no opportunity, if it hath not the Spirit of God in the soul to cause it, as the Principle of that Action.} And how is it known to be opportunity but by being made effectual? Isaiah 55:10-11, “for as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater; so shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth; it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.” In short, the Word shall be effectual, one way or another; according as it meets with the elect, or non-elect; it shall harden or soften; it shall be the savour of life unto life, or the savour of death unto death. II Cor.2:16. The meaning is this, that the Gospel shall be either relished by souls made alive, and so from an experimental taste of its fitness to nourish the new born life, shall increase life unto Life Eternal; or, on the other hand, the Gospel shall be relished by natural men {who in a spiritual sense are dead} in words and notions, as such, and not as the Glorious Truths of Christ, and so relished only by dead nature, where there is no vital Engrafture into Christ; {and abundance of such love to run from one place to another, and hear sermons, though they do not understand them,} and so that savour they have of them is but a hardening them the more unto Final Condemnation. In a word, there is the savour of Regeneracy and Spiritual Mindedness unto more increase of it in the Life Eternal, which the saints take in under the blessed word of Truth, the Gospel of their Salvation, Eph.1:13, and there is a savour in the Death of Unregeneracy and Formality under the very same word of the Gospel unto a death of the greater Condemnation. {“Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden underfoot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the Covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?” Heb.10:29.} So much for the Arminian notion of opportunities in reference to the elect, exploded and argued down from the Fundamentals of the Gospel.

Now I come to this second branch of it; how it is against the Election as touching the rest, or non-elect. Opportunities are not designed to do these good.

1. The Scripture tells us there are a sort of men incurable under the Preaching of the Gospel, Matthew 13:13, “therefore speak I to them in parables; because they seeing {by natural light} see not, {spiritual things,} and hearing {by the natural ear, and no further} they hear not, {what the Spirit saith, whilst they hear a sound what the minister saith,} neither {for this reason} do they understand.” And again Paul is positive out of Isaiah 6:9-10, {for it is the Holy Ghost which spake in both,} “go, and tell this people, hear ye indeed, but understand not; and see ye indeed, but perceive not. Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and convert, and be healed.” {“What then? Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for; but the election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded; according as it is written, God hath given them the spirit of slumber, eyes that they should not see, and ears that they should not hear unto this day.” Rom.11:7-8. See also Acts 28:26.} {“Unto you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God; but to others in parables; that seeing they might not see, and hearing they might not understand.” Lk.8:10.} These “eyes” are wit, learning, acute reason and natural understanding, all which being mixed with the pride and corruption of human nature, do, being wholly left to the creature’s self, render a Spiritual Conversion to Christ in these, wholly impossible; because their very wit and corrupt reason tells them ‘tis all a piece of foolishness. I Cor.1:23-31. So, John 8:47, “he that is of God heareth God's words; ye therefore hear them not, because ye are not of God,” and he that is chosen of God is to be sure at one time or another converted to God in Christ, and truly hears, regards and believes what words they are which God hath said of Christ, but “ye therefore hear them not, because ye are not of God;” you have never been truly and perpetually lost and ruined in yourself, and consequently need no Gospel, and thus it is {the marrow, not the husks} foolishness with you; and though you have heard {with the outward ear} and believed it too, notwithstanding all your prejudices against Christ and the Doctrine of God, had you been settled upon Election-Grace, you would have received “the love of the truth,” II Thes.2:10, but this you cannot receive, because ye are not of God. He never knew you, Mt.7:23, originally to be his own by Grace and Love from Everlasting; and again says Christ of these, verse 43, “why do ye not understand my speech?” As if he had said, others who have not half the outward advantage you have had, do. But, says he, here is the mystery of it in the next clause, “even because ye cannot hear my Word.” It is both above your pitch, as creatures, with all your wit and understanding, and also a matter quite out of the element you live in; and so is impossible, there being no other change of nature, to be understood by you, in the manner you are going on. And is it not the same case that holds still? Do we not see how men laugh at the Gospel, flout at Supernatural Truths, and cannot understand them? Don’t we see scholars and ingenuous worms, when they creep out of their holes and come among us into the Congregations, how they sneer at the Revelation of God, if the subject be Imputed Righteousness, the New Birth, praying in the Spirit, &c., yet go to any of these wretches, and they shall cry up a notional perception of Bible Truth, and a natural busyness in the religious way. Why is it? {“It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing; the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.” Jn.6:63.} It must be so. ‘Tis because natural preaching shall justify God in condemning men for departing from the Gospel, where the Constitution of the Government obliges them to profess it; whereas Gospel-Preaching is not ordained to save them; but they “as natural brute beasts, made to be taken and destroyed, speak evil of the things that they understand not; and shall utterly perish {for we see as these live, so they die, there’s no change} in their own corruption.” II Pet.2:12. Gospel-preaching, I say, is not ordained to save them; and the truth is, when these do hear what we call Gospel-Preaching, they are glad ‘tis not {such enemies are they to Election, Particular Redemption, Grace to renew the will Effectually, Irresistibly and Perseveringly.} In short, they will not choose to be saved, unless it be by natural preaching; but God has fixed it, that there’s no way of being saved but by the Gospel.

2. The Spirit of Christ put a stop to the Apostles in some of their desires to preach the Gospel, because none of the elect of God were to be found in places whither the Apostles otherwise had an inclination to go; as it is plain, Acts 16:6-7, “now when they had gone throughout Phrygia and the region of Galatia, {with some fruit,} and {then when they} were forbidden of the Holy Ghost to preach the word in Asia, after they were come to Mysia, they assayed to go into Bithynia; but the Spirit suffered them not.” He knew where the elect were, and where not, being God Omniscient and Omnipresent, and so would not suffer the waters of Grace to run vast, nor the living waters of the sanctuary to come to the fens of Ezekiel, or the marshy places of the curse that were given to salt, Ezek.47:11; and so not to be healed by the Gospel-Remedy; therefore the Spirit puts the Gospel under a restraint that it shall not come there.

3. The opportunities of such men as are not given to Christ by the Father’s Election of their persons in Him, are all laid before them, and exposed but to the mere liberty of their wills for some temporal deliverances, Dan.4:27, Jonah 3:4, or to lessen the aggravations of future Condemnation; but never for Salvation unto Grace and Glory. That case of Jerusalem which Mr. Hunt and others do so much insist on, was but an opportunity of temporal deliverance to save themselves from the Romans, by a mere outward and formal owning of Christ; and yet thus, though it lay so in their power, they would not come unto Christ that they might have life, Jn.5:40, and not have their brains bashed out by the battering rams of Titus. Jerusalem’s opportunity was no more than this. Luke 19:41-42, “and when he was come near, he beheld the city, and wept over it, saying, if thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace; but now they are hid from thine eyes.” The Lord Christ from a principle of human compassion wept at the stubbornness of his countrymen, who merely by their own willfulness against all light and reason took the desperate course to bring in the Romans upon themselves, as some now do, to bring in the French upon us. This they might have prevented; this they had a day for, belonging to their peace, that might, by embracing the Doctrine of Messiah, have saved them from that destructive war; but they {the nation} were not wise to consider their latter end. {“For they are a nation void of counsel, neither is there any understanding in them. O that they were wise, that they understood this, that they would consider their latter end!” Deut.32:28-29.} That city of Jerusalem in Christ’s time had the day of her peace, Lk.19:42, but Christ never saith that she had therefore the day of God’s peace; or the peace of God, as the Scripture admirably distinguisheth it from Jerusalem’s peace. {“And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Phil.4:7.} She had the day of her peace, as peace on earth, Lk.2:14; that is, all war and desolations of Jerusalem, such as wasted her afterwards, were kept off all the time of Christ’s being upon earth, and some years after, whilst the Testimony of the Apostles continued for the elect’s sake, {“and except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved; but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened,” Mt.24:22,} that they might have opportunity to see the Son visibly and believe on him doctrinally. {“And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day.” Jn.6:40.} Jerusalem, by her having Christ locally at that time with her in the flesh, was saved, during that day, and so it was the Day of her Peace, though, not receiving the Messiah, she saw it not. It was the Day of her Peace nevertheless, in which she was saved out of the hands of her enemies, Lk.1:74, the very Romans that hated her, and afterwards upon this neglect of opportunity for her temporal advantage and political safety, cast a trench against her. Luke 19:43. This was her peace to keep off this war; this was her day of peace in Christ’s time; but whilst she had peace on earth {non-elect Jerusalem I mean,} she had not the superior peace of God’s elect, or the Day of Peace in Heaven; as the peace of the elect is called, Peace in Heaven. {“Blessed be the King that cometh in the name of the Lord; peace in heaven, and glory in the highest.” Lk.19:38.} Aye, to them it is peace in Heaven, as the LORD hath said, “mercy shall be built up forever; thy faithfulness shalt thou establish in the very heavens.” Psal.89:2. In a word, Jerusalem had her time and day of peace to be delivered from the fury of her neighbors; the wars stopped in Christ’s time, for his own peace sake; but she had not peace from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ, Rom.1:7; as the Peace of the Gospel is called, almost in every Epistle to the Saints and Churches.

To make this interpretation of the commonly abused Luke 19:42, further apparent, I shall vindicate this text against Mr. Hunt’s peace and union therein with ministers, by his falling in with the common mistake. Observe, that Christ puts the case, states the matters as it is, and not as he would gave desired it to be. I know who glosses it otherwise, as an ellipsis, or imperfect speech pretended; and what a despotic liberty he {Dr. John Collings of Norwich} hath taken in the Supplement of the English Annotations1 to fill up the words with this foreign sense, that Christ prayed for what he knew should not be accomplished, with a that is, “O that thou hadst known, or I wish that thou hadst known!” All which is of one piece with what the interpreter adds upon this ‘thy day,’ that “no man has more than his time of Grace, how long that is none can tell, if he sleeps out that, his case is desperate, and past remedy.” All which I have spoken to in the sections before; but ‘tis evident that Christ puts the case, not that he wishes the case had been as he puts it, “if thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace.” What now can fill up the residue of this meaning consistently, or agreeably with all circumstances belonging to the Jews, but to this purpose; then thou hadst been a city, thine enemies, the Romans, could not have touched. He argues this compassionately, but wishes not this desirously; for he was swallowed up in a total resignation of his human will to the will of God, according to that request he taught us in the Lord’s prayer, “thy kingdom come, thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.” Mt.6:10. Now ‘tis consistent with this to state the case, as a man rationally foresees it, but ‘tis disagreeable to wish anything which is known to be against the positive will of God. Acts 4:27. Now Christ states this case as a wise Prophet that foresaw what the calamity coming on the Jews was for. It was for not receiving Messiah so much as notionally, doctrinally, formally, and as the nations of Europe do now in general. And he puts this case rationally, if they had done so, Jerusalem had not been destroyed. But as they had not received him, so now they should not receive him after; for the things of their peace now were hid from their eyes. {‘Tis plain that “things of their peace” were not the Mysteries of the Gospel; for he thanks God that he had hid these things from the wise and prudent, Mt.11:25, but opportunity for a natural act and a natural privilege, to give peace to the Gospel, and to keep the peace of the Times among themselves; not to persecute but protect, and so to have been protected.} Thus ‘tis plain that the opportunity which they slipped, was time they had lost, which, morally speaking, might have been improved for their temporal good, and delivering their city out of the hand of the Romans. He puts this case to Jerusalem, but prays not to God for her; therefore it was no Soul-opportunity, no Salvation-opportunity unto Grace and Glory which was meant by this “her day.” And as to what opportunity it was, Christ doth only as a man, and their wise country-man, put the case, not, as God-Man, pray for it. “I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine.” Jn.17:9. Therefore it is not, oh; that thou hadst known the day of thy peace! Christ says nothing like it, to go and build Spiritual and Eternal hopes upon it for all the people, or the body of the people of Jerusalem, and that neither by a spoken or a tacit wish. But he says, “if thou hadst known,” even thou, or at least in this thy day the things that belong unto thy peace. The plain meaning is, if thou hadst known in this thy day of prolonging thee in thine outward State and Condition, and in this thy day of God’s Forbearance towards thee, that the Promises and Grace of the Messiah, are now, in the same day thou hast had, fulfilling; these things belonging to thine own temporal peace, whilst they have been brought about for the eternal peace of some of thy children and servants, have been suffered to be yet in no other land but thine; and whilst in thine, the very accomplishment of them to the elect has been thy mercy, and is become the present security thou enjoyest from the hand of all thine enemies around about thee. ‘Tis the Gospel and the voice of the turtle heard in thy land, which have kept off judgments for divers years together. Else, had it not been for these things, Grace, Mercy, Salvation and good will to men that now occasion peace and tranquility unto thee till the trumpet of peace hath done sounding for the elect’s sake, and that now belong unto, that is, are influential upon thy present calm of things, thou hadst heard an alarm in my holy mountain, the alarm of war, and hadst been in blood and under the power of the sword long ago; and the Romans had been upon thee to cut off such a provocation, as this City has been in mine eyes long before this day. And this is all the substance in the meaning of the words. Even as provoking Cities and Nations since, and at this day, have been and are spared, and their affairs prospered for the Gospel’s sake, because some of the Governments of this World have protected and encouraged the Professors of it. But now what is all this opportunity of the nations and populous cities to make themselves a more safe and flourishing people in the world, and all this opportunity of Jerusalem to save herself from the Romans, to an opportunity of going to Heaven, or to a Day of Salvation, as to the elect that have the Holy Ghost with the Gospel sent down from Heaven into them and among them? And in one word, what was all the outward opportunity for outward good Jerusalem had, to inward opportunities by a Time and Day of Grace to Jerusalem, according to men’s common acceptation of their meaning of a Day of Grace? Now I say, what is one to the other? Is it not in your eyes in comparison nothing at all? And that this is the unavoidable interpretation of the words, I will only appeal to that great Master of truth in language, our Lord Jesus Christ himself, in the next words, verse 43, “for the days shall come upon thee, that thine enemies shall cast a trench about thee, and compass thee round, and keep thee in on every side,” and verse 44, “and shall lay thee even with the ground, and thy children within thee; and they shall not leave in thee one stone upon another; because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation.” The Lord Christ here threatens a temporal destruction; therefore it was loss of opportunity for temporal advantage he only takes notice of. Whereas our preachers who are inclined ignorantly and warmly to produce the 42nd verse for “the day of Grace,” and a man’s time of Grace for his soul, and {as Mr. Hunt, who hath set it forth by} a sinner’s getting of Christ in season, and the like, {thus putting a thousand times more into the text than ever Christ hath put} take the liberty to threaten men with Hell, Damnation, &c., if they don’t come to Christ this Sermon, this Lord’s Day, this Evening-Lecture, not considering that to every purpose God hath his own appointed time, Eph.1:11, and will work Salvation Efficaciously in harmony with his precise {time and place} Determination to show mercy; and thus, there is no withstanding that Day of Grace when it comes with the power of the Holy Ghost. {And Jesus said unto him, this day is salvation come to this house, forasmuch as he also is a son of Abraham.” Lk.19:9.} Christ threatens not Hell in the text, but the sacking of Jerusalem. Men at one time called it the New Testament of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ from whence they fetched this text; the “New Testament;” that is, the Last Will and Testament of Jesus Christ; and it is a dangerous thing to go and alter a Will. ‘Tis plain how the Will runs in the two verses put together; Christ laying a prospect of temporal destruction before men, which by loss of temporal opportunity to avoid they are brought upon themselves.

So that Jerusalem never had her day to be saved into Grace and Glory, but her day to discern Truth and Grace were come in Messiah come among them. {“For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.” Jn.1:17.} Accordingly, if they had had but common sense in the reading of the Old Testament without prejudice, and their comparing what those Scriptures said of Messiah with what Christ did among their people, they should not see cause to put Christ to death, as an imposter, and blasphemer, in saying that he was the Son of God, Jn.10:36; inasmuch as the Scriptures of the Old Testament had not only foretold that Messiah, the Man, must come, but that the same Messiah is God. Thus they had their day of God’s sparing them, till there was a rational opportunity to know wherein the grand and common promise of the Scriptures was making good to that people. They had a day to know the mistake in rejecting him Doctrinally as come, but never a day to be delivered from the spiritual power and condemnation of the Law against the seed of the serpent, against vipers, dogs and swine; because it was impossible for these to receive him, as children, heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ. Rom.8:17. If they had been children of God by secret Adoption, the fruit of Election-Grace, they must and should have understood the things belonging to their {the Jews} temporal peace; because such matters of the temporal peace had in that day been the matters of their own eternal peace likewise; so they should have understood them in the Lord’s time, whether it had been sooner or later; whereas if men are not the children of God by secret Adoption, in order to become by open Adoption the children of God by Faith in Christ Jesus, Gal.3:26, it is consistent as rational men to know the former, the things which belong to their outward peace and exemption from national, open judgments, by natural and common light of God’s Word, natural light of reason there mixing with the assistance of revealed light of God’s will; and yet it is inconsistent with vipers, dogs, &c., as rational men, to know anything experimentally in the New Birth of the Power of the latter, that is, the things of Christ and the Gospel as they are the Eternal Peace of the elect. Nor will it be laid to the charge in their damnation that they had not saving Grace, for they had destroying Sins; and that these were employed by a spirit of enmity and malice against the proclamation of Grace and Truth in the Gospel, and prejudices and hatred fomented and kept up against them who had saving Grace above nature, and in the strength of that Grace worshipped God in and through Jesus Christ, {“for we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh,” Phil.3:3,} having his Spirit supernaturally to enlighten and sanctify them above forms, parties and all common profession, and in that Grace to live not only above the world, but against the world. Now, they could not bear this where the Gospel came, that is, they would not endure it, but clamor, rail, fight, persecute with tongue and hand, and for this cause righteously they are doubly damned where the Gospel comes; and they have a day {would they thus improve it by common Faith and Moderation} to lessen and abate their Condemnation, accordingly.

Well, the Jews had a day to be saved from the Romans, but they would not agree with their adversary, Matt.5:25, by putting themselves into such a posture through the owning of the Gospel, as to make peace with the Romans; and therein according to the Promise of the Old Testament have kept their Country from Invasion, and the final Desolation, when thus they should outwardly have had God on their side, if they had known at least in this their Day the things that belonged to their Nation’s peace; but they never had a Day to be saved from the wrath to come. I Thes.1:10. No; for God sent his Son to be in this sense the Saviour of the body, the Shepherd of the sheep, and the Redeemer of God’s elect. ‘Tis another sort of Salvation altogether which God will have the goats to be saved by, consistent with their being all destroyed at last. {“The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God.” Psal.9:17.} However, those goats in Christ’s time {for I am speaking of Jerusalem’s day} should not have been punished by the fourth beast, divers from all the beasts that were before it, Dan.7:3, having ten horns, Dan.7:7, by which is understood the secular power of the Roman Empire, if they had not by an open rejecting of the Messiah, Mt.21:39, provoked God to abandon and blind them, Deut.32:23, and bring the final ruin on their City and People, thus putting an end to the National Peace they had in Christ’s time. All which Salvation nevertheless from these calamities for a time, fell short of the Peace of God in true Salvation, Col.3:15; and short of bringing the elect into Grace and Glory by the Death of Messiah, or the Propitiatory and only Sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ.

To conclude, the Arminians do all plead that corrupt way I have overthrown, in their expounding, applying and using this text in Luke 19:42, as Mr. Hunt of Northampton hath done in his weak essay, thereby degrading the Truths of the Gospel; but enough of this may be seen in their books against Election. On the other hand, the anti-Arminian writers of the Controversy have been fain to expound it in old style of Grace and Truth; not in new style, that “man has his time of Grace, how long that is none can tell, if he sleeps out that, his case is desperate, and past remedy;” which makes many poor souls that belong to God almost despair that the Day of Grace is past with them. Whereas properly speaking, till God hath changed their rotten principles, and they have changed their preachers, their Day of Grace and Opportunity of Salvation is not yet come. And thus it comes to pass, that some men professing notions of Grace, and so to be against the Arminian tenents, do yet for the most part in their common sermons preached to the people, and in their books of Practical Divinity spread their own system of pathetical Arminianism in the new and compromised way. Preachers love to give false hopes to a great many rich men, and numerous flocks of the world, to attend upon their ministry, or else they don’t know how to uphold the lecture, and keep up the reputation of the place. Whereas they look upon it, Sermons of Election, and Effectual Grace in the hand of God the Spirit to pursue Election to a remnant, would scare them all away.

I shall conclude this chapter with short remarks upon one or two more of Mr. Hunt’s errors against Election to the same purpose, in setting out so-called Opportunities of Grace.

His ninth error against Election is this. “Now the door stands wide open to returning souls to enter in; but if once the master of the house is risen, and hath shut the door, though you may cry, you will find no entrance.” {Page 21} To what purpose does he tell the elect this? Christ meant not the elect, but “the rest” when he said this. It is obvious to take notice of it here, that Mr. Hunt makes a plain and direct application of the text, against the elect of God, not suiting his gloss to the Election-truth; as if he thought to hook in some souls to an entrance, who yet, Christ says, will then stand and cry without door, and nevertheless prevail upon them to enter in, whether chosen to their entrance, or no. {“For many are called, but few are chosen.” Mt.22:14.}

Returning souls? 1. What does he mean by returning? Returning is after turning, and then backsliding; ‘tis a return from backsliding; some departure from the living God presupposes it after Conversion, and so the Scripture uses the notion of it quite in another case than Mr. Hunt sticks to. {“Take heed brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God.” Heb.3:12.} He applies it to Unconverted Sinners in common. Now how sinners can return that did never turn, or turn again who have never turned at all, I leave it upon him to consider. 2. This is with a lie to make the heart of the righteous sad, whom God would not have made sad; Ezek.13:22, for ‘tis the righteous only are prone with sadness to lay this doctrine to heart, that is, some of God’s poor, righteous ones teased by the furious zeal of these unskillful workmen, are the only people saddened by it; and God would not have these saddened. But being a long while children in understanding, made by their preachers to believe this is a mark of Grace, to fear their Day of Grace is past, they are saddened with this black mark of Grace to believe not only that they have no Grace, but to cry in question if their Day of Grace be now gone. And ‘tis but a lie they go about to scare them with. {Fright nature with Truth, where there is need to restrain nature, and awe men; putting them in fear that they may know themselves to be but men; but never propose to see the elect of God Converted to Christ by these things; much less by this lie of their Day of Grace being past.} The Day of Grace lasts as long as there are any of the elect of God to be brought in, and this Day is settled to last, {‘tis not uncertain,} until all God’s Elect are efficaciously called in. This Day for Spiritual Mercies is successful to the elect; and why? Because founded upon a Promise to Christ, and so made good to the elect through him. Whereas now while it is called “today” to the non-elect, it is but their rational opportunity to secure present, outward mercies, and for not aggravating their sin of opposition to means appointed for higher ends to the elect, to lessen their own {the non-elect} future Condemnation. The Scripture is plain for all this, II Cor.6:2, “for he saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee; behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.” He doth not speak now of the Day as slippery, but now of the Day as sure and certain; and he shows upon what bottom ‘tis so sure. “For he saith,” being a reference, as it belongs to, and is a piece of the very Covenant of Grace which the Father has made with Christ. {“I the LORD have called thee in righteousness, and will hold thine hand, and will keep thee, and give thee for a Covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles; to open the blind eyes, to bring out the prisoners from the prison, and them that sit in darkness out of the prison house. I am the LORD; that is my name.” Isa.42”6-8.} That Paul fell a beseeching and exhorting his Corinthians upon very good grounds not to receive the Grace of God in vain, II Cor.6:1; for he knew the elect part, Lk.12:32, of them were interested in the Covenant God made with Christ, and that the Spirit stood engaged in that Covenant to pursue the ends of it, by all the appointed and stipulated means; and Paul’s Gospel-exhortation was one of the means the Holy Spirit of God had undertaken, and as Comforter or Paraclete {a distinct Person beside the Mediator} was sent of God and Christ to bless. Nothing can be plainer than that this Promise and Assurance of Success and Blessing upon Gospel-opportunities {contrary to the loss of the day of Grace} was made to Christ in behalf of the elect. “Thus saith the LORD, in an acceptable time have I heard thee, and in a day of salvation have I helped thee; and I will preserve thee, {and what, would he preserve Christ effectually for opportunities, and do we think not preserve opportunities effectually for Christ} and give thee for a covenant of the people.” Isa.59:8. Not at peradventures, if the people will hear thee, well; if not, be it to their peril, their day of Grace will be over. No, never, for he had other things in his eye for the elect; for says the Father in this Covenant further to Christ, verse 9, “that thou mayest say to the prisoners, Go forth; to them that are in darkness, {through a muddled – preaching,} show yourselves.” And a little after there’s a success of the opportunities in the event, and an Efficacy goes along with the season, verse 12, “behold, these shall come from far; and, lo, these from the North and from the West, &c.”

Otherwise speaking, the non-elect have rational opportunities {or such seasons as if we argue from reason} they might improve with due caution for their present temporal advantage in some outward acts relating to the Doctrine and Worship of the Gospel, which if they let slip, the Judgments of God are appointed to take advantage of in that neglect, and to overtake a people, as the Judgment of God did those who hardened their hearts, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness, Psal.95:7-9; and as the Apostle saw many of the Jewish professors of the Gospel ready to do, relinquishing the Doctrine and Worship of Christ, and going back to Moses and the Temple, which would shortly prove an open destruction of their persons, estates and interests, even in this world by the Romans. And so puts them in mind of old times, Heb.3:7-9, “wherefore, as the Holy Ghost saith, today if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness; when your fathers tempted me, proved me, &c,” and to the same purpose, verse 15, “while it is said, today if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation.” And before, in verse 13, “but exhort one another daily, while it is called today; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.” ‘Tis in none of these places spoken of their opportunities for spiritual acts, such as coming to Christ, making sure of Christ, &c., this was the Holy Ghost’s work upon the elect; but the Apostle hoping that there were some of the elect among them that staggered, ‘tis his exhorting them to improve their opportunities for natural acts, and outwardly persevere in that Doctrine of Christ and Worship belonging to the Gospel, which they had already professed, and not to Judaize, and turn Doctrinal Apostates after Doctrinal converts, lest they brought down upon themselves sore judgments in this life.

From all that hath been said ‘tis easy to vindicate that portion in Luke 13:25, which Mr. Hunt has also pressed into his Arminian service. “When once the Master of the house is risen up, and hath shut the door,” though you may cry {says he} you will find no entrance. Christ spake this to the non-elect to secure privilege of the Land of Canaan, by laying hold of the rational opportunity, and not provoking the Prince of Life, righteously to turn them out of doors, and take in strangers to pocess all their pleasant things. Ezek.46:18. “When once the Master of the house is risen,” I take it to be, not merely risen from the dead; because of the many thousands of them who were converted to Christ in the Acts, Acts 2:41 with Acts 4:4, after his Resurrection from the dead; but risen in Judgment, as an angry man standing up ready to give the blow; risen up in wrath, as a generation of men had disturbed his rest Mystically in the Church, Zech.2:13, and so risen in his sore displeasure, as he shall stand up and speak to his enemies, and vex them, Psal.2:5, the Holy Ghost by David tells us; and as Stephen saw the Heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing on the right hand of God. Acts 7:56. For what? Being in a readiness to revenge all disobedience and contempt in that people for their Infidelity and Hatred to Christ and his Gospel, and for their Cruelties and Opposition to his saints and servants. Well, when Christ, a Son over his own house, the house of God, Heb.3:6; or, when once the Master of the house, after grievous provocation, is thus risen, every blow would go to their hearts; every battle they lost, every disappointment they met with, all things done against them for the reward of this Glory–Man, would wound them to the quick, though they saw not that ‘twas brought on them for what they had spoken and done against Jesus of Nazareth. Mt.12:37. They would cry, run to the temple, so long as it stood, or to any pieces of it that might be a while spared, or built again; they would offer sacrifice as long as they had an altar, call on the true God, Psal.50:16, make a great stir when freighted in their troubles; aye, but he who hath his ears open to the cries of the righteous, Psal.34:15, would be deaf to all their calls and moans; the God of Glory having placed the Man Jesus over all the matters of his house; and this Master, as Joseph to his brethren, Gen.42:7, would speak roughly to them. He tells them that he would not be entreated {and yet he’s the Advocate with the Father, I Jn.2:1, to hear his people’s prayers} nor be pleased to admit of these rebels, or suffer them to live any longer in the land; but would turn them out of doors. Oh! How will you take this? Why, you will knock and call, and bring out the Law in your synagogues, and pray, and look to come home again into your own land, and plead with God for Abraham’s sake, &c. Thus you will run to the wrong door of mercy, and this will be bolted up against you. God will have mercy upon you for the sake of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob no longer. That door is closed up forever, and you’ll take the wrong way to Canaan!

Mr. Hunt’s tenth error against Election runs thus, upon the irreparable loss of opportunity. “Alas! What fools to let slip the time, the only time, this should be improved for the soul; they oft forget or neglect to gather the Rose till the summer is ended, and then it cannot be found.” {Page 24} Now though the non-elect have sometimes an opportunity to enjoy the great outward blessings, Jer.8:20, which the Gospel brings along with it into their hands, far often even beyond what it does to the elect, in the present state of things; and to hold these verses for a longer time than they are able, if they persecute Christ in his members, mock at the Doctrine of Christ, trample Revealed Religion under foot, and count the very Mysteries of the Gospel a despicable Creed; and though the elect may lose opportunities, and not be saved with outward deliverances, yet they cannot ultimately lose the opportunity of being saved by Grace. Moreover, liberty, protection, encouragement, and forbearance towards the children of God whilst they worship the Lord Christ according to Church–Laws of his own; even Church–Laws that no Lord beside lays claim to but He Himself, Psal.45:10-11; will secure outward mercies, victories, glory, trophies, peace, success by land and sea, to a nation and people, where the Kingdom of Christ is thus separately tolerated, Isa.52:15, far beyond the security of such temporal mercies among opposers of the Government of Christ, by imposing other Church–Laws over the consciences of men, than Jesus Christ, who is Lord of Heaven and Earth, is Lord of, or hath instituted; and will secure these temporal good things more than outward mercies can be settled among oppressors of the people’s liberties, Psal.82:1-2, especially in the latter days, now that Antichrist’s measure of sins is so near filled up, and the plagues of Babylon are coming on her in One Day. {“Therefore shall her plagues come in one day, death, and mourning, and famine; and she shall be utterly burned with fire; for strong is the Lord God who judgeth her.” Rev.18:8.} Nevertheless, men who have opportunity to enjoy these outward good things by means of the Gospel, behaving themselves friendly and peaceably towards the Interest of Christ, have not opportunity hereby to receive Christ into their hearts by any Supernatural Act; because this is done by an action of the heart sanctified by the Holy Ghost in a transcendent way. {“That I should be the minister of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles, ministering the Gospel of God, that the offering up of the Gentiles might be acceptable, being sanctified by the Holy Ghost.” Rom.15:16.} This opportunity therefore is peculiar to the elect of God, great and small, rich and poor. Now ‘tis strange Doctrine either ways to a man that believes Election; as, that he who is not chosen has an opportunity to be a true believer, this being the effect of God’s choosing him to Faith; or, on the other hand, that he who is chosen of God in Christ before the foundation of the world, Eph.1:4, neglects Christ so as to perish everlastingly. For my author applies it thus, “after the summer is ended the Rose is not to be found.” If this be Master Hunt’s doctrine, let him not pretend to be a Dissenter. These ought all to know the summer ends not till Christ hath done his harvest, and the elect are saved; for if a man hath not the Doctrine of Grace otherwise than this teacher of a lie, ‘tis a shame he should be called a Nonconformist. General and National Religion better fits him; and every Arminian in the Kingdom that thus creeps into the Separation is a scandal to the Meeting-House.

The odd phrase of “gathering Christ” I have elsewhere opposed. Mr. Hunt’s entire similitude on this head is a wandering paragraph from the native text. The Holy Ghost speaks of Christ as fitted to the Communion with saints; the Rose matches with the Lilly; whereas Mr. Hunt gives that which is holy unto dogs, Mt.7:6, and offers Christ even from this text unto them that perish; even to such as neglect to gather the Rose, as he loves so to speak, till the Summer is ended.

1 Reference is to the book by Matthew Poole, 1624–1679, who wrote English Annotations on the Holy Bible, a work which was completed by several of his Nonconformist friends, and published in 2 volumes in 1683.