Chapter 41

Of Mr. John Hunt’s preposterous doings in Ten Instances laid open.

Let me now in some few words discover and reprove Mr. Hunt’s ill way of setting things backwards which should stand forwards, and placing other things forwards which should stand backwards in the same sentence, or same chain of matter. So he places Sanctification, and then Justification. For, speaking of Paul on these points he lays it thus, “he well knew, that as he stood in need of the former {Sanctification} to make him meet for Heaven, so he stood as much in need of the latter {Justification} to give him a right and title to Heaven.” {Page 17}

As if a making meet for Heaven was a thing before the right and title to it. This is Popery and Arminianism, not the Gospel. What, is right and title a latter thing, and fitness to enter upon Heaven and take it up, the first thing of all? How can meetness be a former thing to go before right and title? How can the heir be meet to inherit before he is an heir to have a right? Why could not he have put it otherwise? For, that which really gives right is before what makes meet to possess the right. {“Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” Lk.12:32.} The title to the inheritance is first, and fitness to enjoy it next. The Righteousness of Christ gives me the title to Heaven first, even in accordance with his Accomplished Redemption, and the Spirit of God working in me holiness makes me meet to be partaker next. Col.1:12. A partaker here in Communion through Christ, a partaker hereafter in Communion with Christ. Why could it not therefore have been expressed according to the true order, as the things lie? For, ‘tis very preposterous to put Sanctification before Justification; to call Sanctification that gives a meetness for Heaven a former thing, and Justification that gives a right and title to Heaven a latter thing.

A second instance of disorder {much of the like nature} consists in his very drawing out the particular heads of his matter. “In Christ, this Rose of Sharon, there is a cleansing virtue, suited unto the condition of filthy and polluted souls.” {Page 38} Then afterwards {which should have come in before} “there is in Christ, this Rose of Sharon a pardoning virtue that is suited to guilty, condemned souls.” {Page 42} Let him here remember two things. 1. His confession in the former book in these words. “Our most worthy authors! For since I have been a student in Divinity, I have been taught both out of God’s Word and from you.” {Page 26} I Cor.2:5. 2. That those worthy authors of the Assembly of Divines at Westminster in their Catechism went quite in another method. Prov.5:13. They did put the pardoning virtue of God’s Grace before the cleansing virtue of it. The Question and Answer about Justification, where they make this fall in, are laid down first, and the Question and Answer about Sanctification, are stated last. Now Mr. Hunt varies from them in their order of things, without reason; except it be, that when he was conscious he had stolen his particulars out of my book, Jer.23:30, called the Gospel-Feast, he should be found out, if he did not wind and screw, and shift now and then the point of his Compass in some steps, to prevent tracing, though he spoiled his going on by it. By this means he might hope to conceal from the next that met him, how these heads came up by plagiarism, or book-theft, out of the Gospel-Feast. Jer.49:10. Now I need not insist upon arguments to evince the necessity of the pardoning virtue before the cleansing {contrary to his preposterous doings; like some that when they have played the thief, add another sin, by telling a lie to hide it} because that hath been done to my hand by writers enough extant. Let me pass on then to the next.

A third instance is that he runs to the creature to argue out the holiness of Christ, who should rather have gone to Christ to argue out the holiness of the creature. I Cor.1:30. Here’s a beginning indeed of holiness at the wrong end! See his mismanagement of the holiness of Christ. “Fourth thing truly excellent and desirable is Grace and Holiness; {as if he owned that his three first things which he had brought in before holiness, had nothing of Grace in them to be truly excellent and desirable,} and though I place this last, yet not as the least, but as that which in a more especial manner deserves to be largely insisted on; for though this is not indeed much sustained by the world, yet is it in itself most excellent and desirable, as well as upon the account of the blessed effects it produces. David pronounces the saints the excellent of the earth, Psal.16:3, and no doubt but he calls them the excellent of the earth as they were saints; yea, let me tell you, this is that which is excellent in the sight of God; the more holy we are, the liker we are to God. The righteous is more excellent than his neighbor, Prov.12:26, the righteous are his jewels, &c.” {Page 110}

Thus he runs upon the holiness of creatures first, the holiness of the saints, though he had proposed in the very form of discourse to treat of the holiness of Christ. Hos.8:14. You might also call this one of his confusions, also one of his wanderings, as well as one of his preposterousnesses. But I will only consider it in this place. I pray, where had the saints their holiness? If from themselves, I would not lose my upper coat for it. If from Christ, why could not their holiness have patience to stay awhile, and let us hear him speak out the holiness of Christ first? Lk.17:7-8. And not stay for his Obedience {on the particular} till the middle of page 112? Why could not the Holiness of Christ have begun from himself, I Cor.15:23, but we must go down stairs to fetch it up from the saints? Are these your saint’s doings in earnest, which you write of, and set forth after a universal conformity to Christ? Did Christ begin with bearing testimony of Himself? Lk.2:49, Jn.5:31-32. Yet you set out the holiness of the servant before the holiness of his Master. How durst you put your own copy not only before his original, but draw his own original from it. Base doings in this preposterous manager! But I proceed to the next.

A fourth instance is also in what he says of Christ Himself, “he did no sin, but was a Lamb without blemish.” {Page 6} Now certainly, Christ being a Lamb without blemish is absolutely antecedent to his doing no sin. How came he to postpone it? How came he to set the act first and the nature last? What says the Holy Ghost to this? For he is a better umpire than the logician. Why truly in Luke 1:35 he speaks of Christ’s nature, as that Holy Thing born of the virgin, before he speaks anything of his behavior, as how, either he did no sin, or performed all righteousness. Nay, in the Apostle Peter, where that testimony of his behavior is penned, ‘tis preceded with a testimony of his spotless nature, a Lamb without blemish, and without spot, in the first chapter. I Pet.1:19. And then the character of him, as he did no sin, in the next chapter. I Pet.2:22. So that the Apostle hath followed the true order of expressing it, which is contrary to what Mr. Hunt hath done. And Christ Himself tells us, as to this order, the tree must be good before the fruit is. Matt.12:33. Therefore as Christ was a good tree, it should first have been taken notice of what he was, and then what he did. But to reach the next.

A fifth instance of his disorder is his placing strength before nourishment, and nourishment after strength, contrary to the natural order of things. “There is in Christ, says he, this sweet Rose of Sharon, a strengthening virtue for weak and feeble souls.” And then after, which should have been before, “there is in Christ, this sweet Rose of Sharon, a nourishing virtue suited unto hungry souls.” {Page 60} Here comes nourishment to be placed after strength, when as all strength, desires and endeavors absolutely depend upon antecedent nourishment? I Sam.30:10. Why perhaps, his eighth and ninth particulars, are preposterously ordered in his ill contrived frame, to conceal the book theft committed again. Whatever it be, he is speaking of strength for work; and was strength ever found for work, before the worker had been over and over nourished by his food? If Christ does not first nourish men with his Word and Spirit, Jn.15:5, Jn.6:48, they will never find strength for duty. Nourishment therefore, according to Gospel-Order, is there in that point wrong placed. It ought to have been set before, according to the true expression of the matter, in which it falls. For though a man’s first work may be before his second nourishment, yet his first work can’t be before his first nourishment of the kind.

A sixth instance of his disorder is this, that as he confounds honor with parentage, which two are very distinct, so he misplaces honor to government. As for instance, honor comes in at page 75 and the governing power, kept back by this authors delays, comes not in until page 90. These things are woefully transplaced in their own general classes. Now Power or Government should have been, touching Christ, before his Honor. It is so in the very form of ascribing it. “Saying with a loud voice, worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing.” Rev.5:12. Nevertheless, he had used that text, though he did not see his own disorder in the things. And as a man is to be honored for his power or government, so is Christ far more imminently honored for all that Office-Power he has received of the Father. Jn.5:23. Besides, to make the notion of honor consist in being honored by the world, as he does in raising it upon Christ, and yet not bring in the Badge of his Government, committed to the subject of that honor, till late, but make that the fourth badge, which in order of nature is before honor in the honored, is deeply preposterous. Psal.145:4-5. For, magistrates do not govern because men give them honor, but men give them honor, because they govern. His order therefore of the matter in these particulars stands wrong. I can stay to give but a touch upon these matters.

A seventh instance take as follows, “fourthly, and the last Grace of Christ I shall mention, says he, is that lovely beautifying grace of humility.” {Page 121} As if the other Graces in Christ were not lovely and beautifying, as well as humility. Was not his Faith a beautifying Grace when he said, “he is near that justifieth me; who will contend with me? For the Lord GOD will help me; therefore shall I not be confounded; therefore have I set my face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be ashamed.” Isa.50:8,7. Was not this Faith of the Man Christ, beautifying, when he had the prospect of his sharpest sufferings, mocks and reproaches from his enemies, which he was openly to endure in the Human Nature? Was he not humble before he was zealous, or had occasion so to be? His Incarnation so low and open was his deep humility; his nativity of the Virgin was his humility putting forth; his subjection to a carpenter was his humility; and were not these before his patience and his holy zeal? Whatever it be, his Incarnation and Birth are brought in by this author, after all the other.

Aye? The Humility of Christ mentioned last? Why, what graces of Christ does he mention first? Answer: These three, the Grace of Faith, the Grace of Patience, and his holy zeal. {Page 120} Well, the Humility of Christ was a Grace he exercised before he exercised patience and zeal, as he instances in, when he is bringing in the graces which were conspicuous in the Humiliation-State, throughout the whole life of Christ. How preposterous also is it to bring in the Humility of Christ’s Incarnation and Nativity, and postpone this consideration of him in his Birth, and other humble considerations of his life, after this writer had set the Humiliation of Christ forth in the matter of his cross, laying open, how Christ had suffered a shameful, painful, ignominious death, as his words are. {Page 123} {“Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem; behold, thy King cometh unto thee; he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass,” Zech.9:9, as fulfilled in Matt.21:4-5.} How does he cross the method of the Holy Ghost, whilst he ends with Christ’s Humility in and from the womb, and begins, as it were, with his Humility upon the tree! He puts his Humility in Sufferings, to stand before his Humility in taking on him the form of a Servant, in order to the same Sufferings. {“But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men; and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.” Phil.2:7-8.} He considers his Humility in the last place, and his patience and holy zeal {as I have said} before it. ‘Tis strange he begins with the last things, Heb.12:2, and not rather with his Humility, as the first grace of all, by reason of his Condescension in choosing it all, and submitting to set his foot within the world.

An eighth instance of his preposterous doings is this. He applies Christ to Sinners, and presses their interest in him as a Rose, before he demonstrates the necessity of interest in him as a Root. Hence he puts the Sinner upon gathering this Rose, &c., and, because Christ is the Rose of Sharon, branches out a considerable part of his Exhortation from it unto Sinners upon his dark encouragement of them to go and gather Christ. His preposterousness thus to Sinners is long. {Compare page 21 to 24 with page 193 to 206}

Sinners themselves of the Election of Grace are not first to see him in his Resurrection, as the Rose of Sharon. No, God hath appointed no such order, or beginning, in coming unto Christ. But the elect of God do first see him by Faith in his Incarnation, Righteousness and Sufferings, as a Man, as a Man of Obedience, and a Man of Sorrows, and acquainted with grief. Isa.53:3. ‘Tis first a coming to him as a Priest, because ‘tis a Ransom for all the elect that are connected with this One Mediator between God and men. I Tim.2:5-6. God hath set Christ forth to be a Propitiation through Faith in his Blood, being justified freely by his Grace, through the Redemption that is in Jesus Christ. Rom.3:24-25. And ‘tis by One Offering he hath perfected forever them that are sanctified. Heb.10:14. All shows it to be a coming first to him as a Root, not a Rose; to him first as a Priest, and not to him first of all {as Mr. Hunt exhorts} as a King and Bridegroom. If I look first to him as a King {as this author sets him out to poor sinners in their blood, under the Royal Badge of Government, and that from the Canticle-Rose;} lo; then I am amazed, driven from Christ, and fly away into a Hell of my own Confusion! Jer.51:57. Yea, there is no other help for it, but as Christ is first Priest to me in his blood. {“And speak unto him, saying, thus speaketh the LORD of hosts, saying, Behold the man whose name is The BRANCH; and he shall grow up out of his place, and he shall build the temple of the LORD; even he shall build the temple of the LORD; and he shall bear the glory, and shall sit and rule upon his throne; and he shall be a priest upon his throne; and the counsel of peace shall be between them both.” Zech.6:12-13.} So if I think to mend it, by going first to him as a Prophet; why, I am discouraged, sent back, he teaches another that is washed. I come to him to be taught, and my preacher tells me I must go, he spurs me on; but I dare not come to his teachings; for I am terrified, if I am not sprinkled with his blood before. Oh! I must to the basin {the blood of the type-offerings was received in basins, Exod.12:22,} I must to the Laver, to the Blood of the Pure Offering, and there alone, my sins as scarlet, shall be as white as snow, and though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool! Isa.1:18. Now I may, if I have been helped to go to Christ for this, go again to him to be taught, to know him still more and more. {“Thus saith the LORD, thy Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel; I am the LORD thy God which teacheth thee to profit, which leadeth thee by the way that thou shouldest go.” Isa.48:17.} Again, Christ comes to me first as a Priest, and therewith brings me a Gospel Promise swimming in his blood. I distinguish it, and the Spirit of the Lord strikes in, and then helps me more and more to understand it from the same Christ, my teaching Prophet.

And good reason to derive from Christ first as a Root, because this Rose is Christ otherwise fitted only to Saints, raised into the sweetest delights of a spiritual and most fragrant Church-Communion. This is the plain matter, however he hath mistook his text, and squeezed the metaphor, to wring out so many things from one comparison, which the Holy Spirit never meant thereby. Sinners, as he distinguishes them too, are strangers. Sinners distinct from Saints are no better. And, says he, “strangers intermeddle not with this joy.” {Page 55} What then have they to do with Christ as the Rose of Sharon? Or he to do to bring in that of Christ, and so largely too upon that text which belonged not at all unto it?

A ninth instance of his preposterousness consists in postponing {or after-placing} his inferences. Thus, excellent inferences about the love of the Father and the condescending love of Christ, as well as all the rest of the inferences, under that third branch of Application, are all set after Examination and Reproof. How came he thus to disjoint the true order?

Information or Inferences which are doctrinal uses, are first in order of nature before experimental uses, and the passive part of Examination. Truths flow from doctrines antecedently to examination of what good has been done upon the soul by the Spirit of Christ using those doctrines. The Instrument always goes before the work. So again, information or inferences are doctrine, and {as doctrine} do take their place before reproof for slighting and disbelieving the same doctrine. How then can either of these go before information of Truth and Doctrine, without open mistake? The doctrinal inferences are put too low to stand when as the practical and active part of the examination had just begun to inquire. This is preposterous.

Lastly, in his very Examinations he goes quite wrong, examining the soul in actives, comparing one’s self hereby. As how the soul relies and depends on Christ for Life and Salvation. How it loves Christ and bears affection to him, and examination into the cause of it is woefully postponed.

Whereas it should have been an examination of the soul in passives, antecedently. Nay, he lays down his actives in that use, and examines not in any passive form {which should have been first of all} till much later. This is altogether preposterous. ‘Tis what the soul has been made passively to see in the Object before it cordially relies thereon. {“Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy Law.” Psal.119:18.} Therefore the Examination should have been, how the soul could experience the work of God the Spirit upon the heart for that act of reliance. {“O taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the man that trusteth in him.” Psal.34:8.} If it be true, a soul must be made to come {in passive work} unto Christ, as on page 135 he takes notice, before the act of that soul; the meaning is, before he does come; and if a soul must be made to depend upon Christ, Psal.94:12-13, as he grants, {page 135,} before he doth depend; why then doth the Examination, before that page comes in, lay down the note of trial so actively at page 132, and postpone the passive queries, caring them off to page 135? There was no just reason for this disorderly transposing them; they should have come in before, and have made up the very soul and life of that use.

Reliance is my act, dependence is my act. Now, shall I examine into my own act immediately, how I rely, how I depend, before I examine into my Experience of Grace, how God hath emptied me of self, and shown me my all in Jesus Christ? {“Come and hear, all ye that fear God, and I will declare what he hath done for my soul.” Psal.66:16.} How I have found and tasted the good Spirit of God to lay open my Object, to strengthen my heart, Psal.138:3, to guide mine act, and enable me to rely and depend? And then moreover, if I think of the right, shall I count it enough to come in with something like that of the passive work of the Spirit afterwards? This is grossly preposterous, setting the handmaid before her mistress; nay, putting the creature before the Creator Himself. {“Behold, as the eyes of servants look unto the hand of their masters, and as the eyes of a maiden unto the hand of her mistress; so our eyes wait upon the LORD our God, until that he have mercy upon us.” Psal.123:2.} A use of Examination should be first and principally urgent as to what is done upon the soul, and not searching into what is first done by the soul. {“And he said unto me, my grace is sufficient for thee; for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” II Cor.12:9.} For, though this be the usual way of preaching {as in these sermons} yet it is a method as often wrong, as it is used. It is preposterous; and so much for that.