Chapter 37

Of Mr. John Hunt’s Seven Proud and Arrogant sayings against the Prince of Life; wherein he depresses Christ, and exalts himself.

The first arrogance is about the saints having done much for Christ, and their pretended receivings of very little from him in this world. His arrogant words are these that follow. “Meanwhile, the wicked world, like Haman, are preparing as it were a gallows for them; but when the Heavenly Records come to be opened, and it is found what the Saints have done for Christ, and how little they have in this world received from him, they will then march through the streets of the Heavenly Jerusalem in royal robes, while their Enemies at a great distance shall with grief say, thus shall it be done to the men that Christ will honor.” {Page 179}

I shall not enter upon a discussion of this at large, nor lay open his ignorant mis-applications in speaking of things quite differently from what the Scriptures speak; as if matters of Christ, managed by his Spirit and Grace within the Church, were of the same nature with those managed hereto for in the court of Persia, between Mordecai and Ahasuerus. But I shall confine my observations to one or two passages of the whole here transcribed. {“And now what hast thou to do in the way of Egypt, to drink the waters of Sihor; or what hast thou to do in the way of Assyria, to drink the waters of the river?” Jer.2:18.}

“When it is found what the Saints have done for Christ!” Done for Christ? Ah! Not done so much for Christ by ten thousand times as Christ hath done for the Saints! Why must the saints be talking thus of their doings separately from the Power of Grace? Phil.2:13. Nay, if the world believes nothing of what the Saints have been helped to do for Christ, Grace teaches the saints to wait and believe that the Lord Christ will be one day be revealed, and Himself shall discover what He hath wrought in and by them. Why must the children of God themselves set it forth vainly, and why do it in such a way of peremptory judging beforehand? I Cor.4:5. Oh! This doing, and discovery of what the Saints have done for Christ! This proud and un-mortified self! {“Be silent, O all flesh, before the LORD; for he is raised up out of his holy habitation.” Zech.2:13.} Alas! What have the Saints done? What hath the LORD done? What have I done? What can we do? I have done nothing but what I have reason to be ashamed of before the Lord! Ah! We should rather be humbled, and tell what the Saints are doing against Christ! We have reason enough to be and do so. {“And at the evening sacrifice I arose up from my heaviness; and having rent my garment and my mantle, I fell upon my knees, and spread out my hands unto the LORD my God, and said, O my God, I am ashamed and blush to lift up my face to thee, my God; for our iniquities are increased over our head, and our trespass is grown up unto the heavens. Since the days of our fathers have we been in a great trespass unto this day; and for our iniquities have we, our kings, and our priests, been delivered into the hand of the kings of the lands, to the sword, to captivity, and to a spoil, and to confusion of face, as it is this day.” Ezra 9:5-7.}

It may be spoken to our shame what some of us have been doing in order that the Everlasting Gospel in this small Vindication may not be published, Amos 7:10, {because Mr. Hunt is named in it, as an author, who has written some things to the injury and reproach thereof,} or if published, may be discouraged in the birth, and not received among men. {“But the unbelieving Jews stirred up the Gentiles, and made their minds evil affected against the brethren.” Acts 14:2.} We are fallen into the Last Days, wherein {sure} are more perilous times, in which men are more lovers of themselves, proud, boasters, &c., than in Ezekiel’s day! The people in that day would hear the Message, though they would speak against the messenger. Jer.26:11. But the case now seems to be worse, not only through the instigation of that brother in Northampton, but by reason of other instruments elsewhere, Acts 21:34; it was better than thus, I say, at Jerusalem. “Also, thou son of man, the children of thy people still are talking against thee by the walls and in the doors of the houses, and speak one to another, everyone to his brother, saying, Come, I pray you, and hear what is the word that cometh forth from the LORD.” Ezek.33:30. They did not run up and down and labor to keep one another from information as to what the prophet’s errand was, Matt.12:41-42, and yet they had no more love for Ezekiel, that our people that dissent have for those that would publish the Simple Truth. In short, if men are resolved beforehand neither to read nor regard what is in these papers, Jer.44:16, written for them and to them in the name of the Lord, let them look to it, and mark it, if their sin do not find them out. Numb.32:23.

Ah! Now is the time for us to judge ourselves, and bewail what evil {in all the kinds} we have done. Now we are to remember “and be confounded, and never open thy mouth anymore because of thy shame, when I am pacified toward thee for all that thou hast done, saith the Lord GOD.” Ezek.16:63. And do we “thus requite the LORD, O foolish people and unwise,” Deut.32:6, to plead our works, and give those of the Lord’s people a name to make the other people afraid of them, who yet are helped of the Lord to lay the names of all flesh in the dust before him? {“Let me not, I pray you, accept any man’s person, neither let me give flattering titles unto man. For I know not to give flattering titles; in so doing my Maker would soon take me away.” Job 32:21-22.} Oh! Now is the time for us to lie in the dust, and stop our mouths, till Free Grace opens them! We should not do Christ such dishonor, nor ourselves such injury, as to talk of what the Saints have done for Christ, to be opened out of the Heavenly Records. But this {ah; sad to be spoken} is not all!

“And how little they have in this world received from him.” Dreadful divinity! What, was there no sponge in Northampton to blot out these words from him in this audacious period? Oh! Those words from him I can’t bear! Acts 17:16. They spoil all! Does not the Word tell me {if I had no work of Grace to experience that part of it; how yet} in the keeping of his Commandments there is great reward? Psal.19:11. I bless his Holy Name, through Grace, I can speak it also from some Experience; for I have received more from him in this world through his presence with me, and the life of his Spirit in me, that all the afflictions I ever met with in the body can amount unto! Job 2:10. His Love, his Arm, his Eye, his Righteousness and Spirit carry me above all! And can that in any sense be little, which is in this sense so much, so great, and super abounding? What, does a saint receive but little from Christ to believe? Little from Christ to hope? Little from Christ to wait in hope of the Glory of God? Little from Christ to rejoice? Little from Christ to work from principles inwrought by the Spirit?

Do I receive but little from Christ, if his Spirit writes a true love in my heart towards friend Hunt {for love is a fruit of the Spirit} notwithstanding all his evil speakings of me in conversation, James 4:11, and extraordinary vilifying of me, who through Grace, do also know myself to be worse in the Omniscient Eye of God, II Sam.6:22, by nature from Adam, than he can represent me? Therefore I lie down before the Lord in my shame and confusion, Ezek.16:63; yea, notwithstanding all Mr. Hunt’s Errors, if the Lord teaches me to love that brother heartily, and writes love in me, even the more in writing against his errors, through any measures of a hearty reconciliation in any part of this vindication, by the Spirit of Christ, and that too when I am most sharply and feelingly set against his Corrupting of this same Everlasting Gospel {as the Holy Ghost there seems to prophesy of the bold spirited Luther, Rev.14:6,} and against his entangling and beclouding it by his many self-oppositions? Do I receive but little for all this? What though I am sharp against his proud, arrogant and saucy talk that lessens the Prince of Life, Light and Love! Acts 3:15. And that in matters where Christ is eminently concerned, where an “I” spoils it, if it be not “I” by the Grace of God, &c! I Cor.15:10. Ah! How little known is the Power of Christ’s love, since men that talk, write and preach, do so few of them discern his Grace from their own Corruption!

Mr. Hunt’s second arrogance is this, “I have therefore only brought you some clusters, which I plucked from the Tree of Life with my own hand, that so you that are saints may see it is a good land that ye are going to, even a land flowing with milk and honey.” {Page 129} “Clusters I have plucked!” O self-exalting! How did I come at these Clusters? How came I to find the way thither, through this great and terrible wilderness? Deut.8:15. How came I thus to magnify self-wisdom, self-strength and self-qualifications? How came I to reach these Clusters? How came my heart to stand to it, whilst I stood to cut them down? {For the Word tells me that the clusters at the Brook of Eshcol were cut down, Numb.13:23, and that the spies that were sent did not pluck them from the vines.} How came it about that when I saw the sons of Anak, Numb.13:33, the Giants, where I stood, I still kept my ground with knife in hand? What did great “I” do in all this? Others are freighted, how came it to pass that I was not freighted? Psal.138:3. “Which I plucked from the Tree of Life with my own hand!” How came this hand of mine to be thus guided, strengthened and prospered? {“And the LORD shall guide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in drought, and make fat thy bones; and thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not.” Isa.58:11.} What, must it go all in my own name, and by my own hand, like Sennacherib’s vaunt, “by my hand have I done this?” Isa.10:13. Is nothing of it to be carried in the Lord’s hand? Is the Lord’s hand shortened that it cannot save? Ah! Why must I come by all these from the Tree of Life with mine own hand?

Besides, can another see it to be a good land from what I have done in it already? Who is it that hath made the seeing eye? Prov.20:12. Why does not Mr. Hunt makes himself to see better, if he can make others see at all? In a word, does not arrogance lay some claim to absurdity? For, can it be an evidence that a land flows with milk and honey, because of the plenty of vines, grapes and clusters that abound there? Were not these things distinct things in Canaan? And did not the milk and honey prove it to be a land flowing with milk and honey, as the Clusters of Eshcol, or Canaan’s Grapes proved it to be a fruitful land in vineyards? When men are left to depart from the Gospel, it is sometimes a part of their punishment to be found out that they speak nonsense, by muttering chaotic Scripture phraseology.

His third arrogance is like the former. “And if I may but convince you &c.” {Page 79} Oh! That the man was more humble, and acknowledged more of his own inability! Let him turn his “I” {in convincing work into a “C”} and say not I, but Christ, if he pleases to work by me. For Conviction of the soul is a work above the instrument. This is the Holy Ghost’s work from Christ at the right hand of God. ‘Tis not the work of any man or any minister, and therefore the instrumentality of the man should not have been trumpeted forth, whilst the Efficiency of Jesus Christ, who sends down the Holy Ghost in his own Name from the Father, is concealed. Jn.16:7. ‘Tis no fit ministration to shut out the Efficient, and take in the instrument. {And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment; of sin, because they believe not on me; of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more; of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged.” Jn.16:8-11.} 2. John Baptist had other thoughts of his ministry, when he had Christ in his eye. {“He must increase, but I must decrease.” Jn.3:30.} “The latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose,” Lk.3:16, and which is least, to convince a soul, or to untie a shoe-latchet? 3. It requires a great deal of Evidential Power to convince, &c. It signifies to overcome in conjunction with another Worker. Now, ‘tis true, it required no more power, though more worthiness, to untie Christ’s shoe-latchet than to do the same for any other man, but does it not require more power to be a worker together with Christ, II Cor.6:1, though it be but to beseech compliance with what men are convinced of? How much more does it require power to convince, when it is the Holy Ghost who does it together with Christ? Lastly, you make it another incoherence with yourself, when elsewhere you acknowledge Conviction to be by the Spirit of God. Your words are, “if you are by the Spirit of God convinced of this sin {of unbelief} here, there is a hope that you may be saved from it, and that he that convinces you of Sin, may also convince you of Righteousness.” {Page 171} Now sure, if it be the Spirit in one that convinces of the principle, unbelief, then it is the Spirit too who convinces of the other, the Object of Faith, namely, the Lord of Glory, which I am sure is not in Mr. Hunt’s power to convince anyone of, but is the Holy Ghost’s own work, I Cor.2:8-11, of which the book was speaking on page 171.

His fourth arrogance, “I’ll cast the net, and who knows but I may this once enclose a multitude, and may from henceforth become a fisher of men.” {Page 194} The net here must be that which is woven by the Holy Spirit. But who can cast that which is woven by the Spirit without a work of the Spirit? ‘Tis not words will do it but Power. Now is it not a sacrificing to our own net, Hab.1:16, to thus exclude the Spirit, and run on in this style of arrogance, as to imply that the work is mine; that is, “I’ll do it?” Was the net of the Gospel cast on the right side of the ship here? To go back to it literally, was the net cast on the right side of the ship without Christ’s Direct Command? And did not Peter in casting it, own the command of Christ, and derive his Commission from the Great Master? Nevertheless {says that disciple} “at thy word I will let down the net.” Lk.5:5. ‘Tis too great and swelling a word for us to say, any one of us, “I’ll cast the net,” without a direct application to our Master, “nevertheless at thy word I will let down the net.” What multitude is like to be enclosed, when we enclose the honor of casting the net to ourselves, and exclude our Master? How is it likely we should be made fishers of men, Matt.4:19, when we presume upon success, and yet don’t know how to let down the net on the right side of the ship? If we catch men for Christ, they must be found in Election, Particular Redemption, and that branch of the Everlasting Covenant which the Spirit has undertaken to make out in Effectual Grace. And what is there of all this owned in that book? “I may this once enclose a multitude!” Here’s confidence in the flesh! Pray, if the success be not answerable to his expectation, then let him tell me in his answer, what one soul was ever converted to Christ by that net-cast of his book, because he speaks of expectation to become a fisher of men by this one cast?

This is particularly contradicted in the same place. “For though with man this is impossible, yet with God nothing is impossible.” {Page 194} 2. Had it been only to make it of a piece, the former should have been worded thus, “the Lord bids me cast the net, for he bid Peter cast the net on the right side, and who knows but that the Lord may enclose in that net a multitude?” Thus it should have been. Otherwise, what makes that which follows, “God can do that in a moment which we cannot do all our days.” Page 194. 3. This is to be answered out of his own grant. “I grant it is not in the power of the most faithful and able ministers of Christ &c.” {Page 184} Now if it be not in the power of ministers to reveal Christ to the souls of any of their hearers, as he there speaketh, then it is not in their power, at letting down the net of the Gospel, to enclose a multitude of men whom they fish after. And again, as his saying at page 184 is granted, so that other expression in page 184 should have been worded more dependently. {“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. “For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus' sake.” II Cor.4:5.} 4. What he saith in two other passages touching Christ and the Spirit, contradicts this same great I, “he that does not in all his preaching exalt Christ, is no Gospel-preacher.” {Page 180} And again, “it is only the Spirit of God in the Gospel that can take of Christ’s, and show it unto us.” {Page 180} Poor man! He did not see this inconsistence with himself; but I, I, I, as if at another time there was neither Christ to be preached, nor his Spirit from the Father. Oh! This same great I; tis such a pity it should stand and cast such a shadow over the Glory of Christ Unveiled! {“And the loftiness of man shall be bowed down, and the haughtiness of men shall be made low; and the LORD alone shall be exalted in that day.” Isa.2:17.}

His fifth arrogance. “And I cannot but hope, if I can but remove this mistake, that Christ will have more to follow him than he hath had.” {Page 78} {To say, that I have done this or that in case of a mere natural act is lawful; but to say “I” have done it, where doing it is the Exclusive Property of the Holy Ghost enabling, is robbing God of the Glory that is due unto his Name.}

I remove a mistake! This mistake that Christ is not so honorable as indeed he is? Why, we have no sufficiency of ourselves, all our sufficiency is of God. ‘Tis pride therefore to say this, and not to qualify it with some word of dependence interwoven. Again, ‘tis “I” remove this mistake! Some mistakes are harder to be removed than others; and this as hard as any, thinking Christ not to be so honorable as he is. Surely this is a very great mistake, the common mistake, a mistake very difficult to be removed, and that from Mr. Hunt himself. Reader, compare the two treatises, Christ the Most Excellent, and the Vindication of Christ the Most Excellent; and see if it does not plainly appear, that the author of Christ the Most Excellent {or, the author of the book so styled} did not believe himself, as to how truly honorable Christ is. Now then, if he could not remove his own mistake, how can he remove other men’s mistakes?

Lastly, the amplification is more astonishing still. “I remove this mistake so as Christ shall have more to follow him that he has had.” Aye? This is more than all. But pray now, if I do all this, where’s the Author and Finisher of our Faith? Heb.12:2. Where’s the Father that draws? “No man, says Christ, can come unto me, except the Father which hath sent me, draw him.” Jn.6:44. Where is the Spirit that now generates life? Why must that be supposed, which in the highest degree was worth expressing? {“Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid; for the LORD JEHOVAH is my strength and my song; he also is become my salvation. Therefore with joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of Salvation. And in that day shall ye say, Praise the LORD, call upon his name, declare his doings among the people, make mention that his name is exalted.” Isa.12:2-4.} And why must that be expressed, which is so low as was not worth supposing, in any separation from the work of God?

His sixth arrogance touched. “I have spoken enough, one would think, in his praise, to set every soul a longing after him, and to make every soul sick of love for him.” {Page 106} Spoken enough? Aye, there’s too much without more of the Spirit; and yet not enough to the purpose without the Spirit neither. And what kind of one is he who thinks “his” speaking enough, without the LORD speaking enough, sufficient? II Cor.3:5. Where is the Holy Ghost and his work from Heaven, upon your speaking enough in the same matter, exalted? Your speaking enough, and my speaking enough, are but words, and not Power. It is Light must do it, and Power must do it, and the Holy Ghost in both, or there it is not spoken enough. Methinks the same “speaking enough” is so like the schoolboy’s task, and the doctor that teaches by the hour-glass, as if we were glad the book and the labor might be laid aside. Mal.1:13. It is said in Acts 20:9, that Paul was long preaching. Whatever it be, your speaking enough here should be your doing enough; if we could but see you once fix upon your doing principles. Tush, doth the issue of all your doings, when you put poor sinners to do so much, and you speak so little of the Spirit to them in their doings, come up no higher than this? {“I have not hid thy righteousness within my heart; I have declared thy faithfulness and thy salvation; I have not concealed thy loving-kindness and thy truth from the great congregation.” Psal.40:10.} Why, sure you don’t think you serve God for naught! I am ashamed of such poor doings as these. I acknowledge, there hath been something remarked of this nature in his errors about Universal Redemption. However, this passage was never brought yet, as may easily be seen by looking back into the former of the two chapters upon Universal Redemption.

A word of correction to this arrogance. If the Holy Ghost speaks not by and above us, we can never speak enough in Christ’s Praise, that souls, even of the Election of Grace, shall have any spiritual and true desires after him. To set souls a longing after Christ is a great work, making them to cry out for the Living God! Psal.84:2. This is the work of the great God; and for God to be excluded, and a poor worm substituted is a very arrogant trespass against the Mighty God, and an invading the honor of the Majesty of Heaven and Earth. What can any man speak to the purpose, if God does not speak by him? Now if God hath spoken anything by Mr. Hunt, why should not God have had the Glory of his own Condescending Grace? {“Enter into the rock, and hide thee in the dust, for fear of the LORD, and for the glory of his majesty. The lofty looks of man shall be humbled, and the haughtiness of men shall be bowed down, and the LORD alone shall be exalted in that day.” Isa.2:10-11.}

His seventh and last arrogance. “We ministers do all we can to show forth the Beauty and Glory of Christ by this and the other metaphor. So when I have used all the similitudes I can, &c.” {Page 8} We do all by this and the other metaphor? And I use all the similitudes I can? How durst we ministers have used metaphors to set forth the Beauty and Glory of Christ, if the Holy Ghost had used none? How durst we take up the wrong metaphor from any text which the Holy Ghost has not opened to our understanding? Aye, what hath any one to do to depart from the radical metaphor of the Holy Ghost? {“Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.” I Cor.2:13.} If a man uses duplicate and divers metaphors of his own, in his own matters, he may change them from one to another, Judges 14:14; neither is his diversity an arrogant wandering, but the better illustration, because he hath not a metaphor of the kind set him, as the Holy Ghost hath done in such metaphorical texts, Hos.12:10; so that he may change one metaphor in such a case for another, or multiply it, and use any one of other kinds! {“Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you.” Deut.4:2.} And in matters, where the metaphor is not already by the Holy Ghost concluded on, there’s a liberty, and a man may use it; but if he propose or undertake to handle the metaphor of the Holy Ghost’s revealing, Isa.28:23-34, he ought to keep to it, and not change it for another; much less use all the similitudes he can. Eccles.7:29. This is arrogance, because the Holy Ghost’s Wisdom in a metaphor, as well as in other cases, is a rule set up to go by in Sacred Scripture, and we ought to follow the same metaphor, and it is an error to depart from it, Isa.24:5, into foreign similitudes, Jer.2:18; which I necessarily do, if I use all the similitudes I can. For instance, if I think to undertake and handle the metaphor of the Rose of Sharon, and instead of keeping to the Rose of Sharon, I bring in all I can invent of the qualities and properties of another Rose into the same former metaphor, I am then gone aside from the Holy Ghost’s Wisdom in the Word, and am got into my own. {“He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.” Rev.2:29.}

What a proud thing is it to snatch the honor out of Christ’s hands? What metaphors had he been speaking of? What similitudes was he undertaking to expound? Was it not the metaphor of the Rose of Sharon, in his text of Song 2:1, just before? Whose metaphor was that? Job 26:4. Shall we ministers arrogate it? Shall we vaunt, and flaunt it with a doing all we can by this and the other metaphor, when there is no metaphor we take up from the words of the Scripture that ought to be called our metaphor at all? ‘Tis the Holy Ghost’s, let all flesh be more modest. {Besides, doth he know a believer’s duty towards the Spirit no better, upon the Foundation of the Spirit’s work towards the Believer?} Ministers should be very cautious of bringing in their “we” and “I’s.” Let them never set their figure of One to make him a cipher, who is beyond all that can be numbered by us. How dare we ministers ascribe those metaphors to our using, which are evidently the metaphors prepared for us by the Holy Ghost in our Bibles, which himself hath used, as in this metaphor of the Rose of Sharon? Does not the Lord say in Hosea 12:10, “I have also spoken by the prophets, and I have multiplied visions, and used similitudes, by the ministry of the prophets.” Now, if Christ be using the metaphor, and thereupon it is His own, how comes the arrogant creature, Job 11:12, into it with his, “we ministers do all we can to show forth the beauty and glory of Christ by this and the other metaphor?”

If things might pass at this rate, we should quickly think we found the Scriptures too narrow for our Faith, and proudly refuse to expound them by the Scriptures themselves. {“Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.” I Cor.2:13.} And what should we do then in Divinity, but, as the times, leap over all instituted bounds, and instead of Doctrinal Revelation range it abroad in Natural Religion. {“But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.” Matt.15:9.} Besides, in this error of Mr. Hunt he hath been little more than the trumpeter of his own, and other men’s praises. {“Let another man praise thee, and not thine own mouth; a stranger, and not thine own lips.” Prov.27:2.} Yet, this thing himself had inveighed against. Lastly, scan it thoroughly in any of the Scripture-metaphors, and see if they be not all of Divine Authority, that we ministers can do nothing without the veil of modesty; that is to say, the Holy Ghost uses them by Himself in the Scriptures, II Pet.1:21, and by us and our Ministry, if he uses us to do any good by them. {“If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth; that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.” I Pet.4:11.}