Chapter 42

Of Mr. John Hunt’s Confused Runnings on in Thirteen Instances laid open; or, his Intolerable Jumblings, how he runs Two Distinct Things into One, and crowds them up in the same Argument; yea, instead of handling one Truth, he huddles many, and from a Particular Metaphor runs up into a General Matter.

The first instance of his Confusion is confounding the Person of Christ and his benefits, without any distinction; and that in all the particulars of his Explication. See his ten particulars from page 26 to page 50.

He runs on and speaks much of the Quickening virtue of Christ; as if this virtue of Christ was Christ, the mystical Rose of Sharon Himself, when yet it is not so. The Person of Christ here is not at all opened, nor his Human Nature in the Second Person of God, the Foundation of this quickening virtue, so much as touched. So he runs on with an enlightening virtue of Christ; whereas this virtue, suited to a Communication, is not the Substance of Christ Himself. Jn.17:22. The Rose of Sharon is a description of him in his Substance. But when he hath named Christ as he does often in these particulars, he confounds the substance of Christ’s Person with the Virtue and Qualities thereof, II Cor.4:6, quite beside the scope of the Holy Ghost in Song 2:1. Accordingly, he runs on with a cleansing virtue, a beautifying virtue, a pardoning virtue, a healing virtue, a comforting virtue, a strengthening virtue, a nourishing virtue, a satisfying virtue all upon the Qualities and Benefits of Christ, what Christ hath. Whereas the text is Christ’s voice describing what he is. I am the Rose of Sharon.

The second instance is, that instead of carrying on Christ’s Beauty, according to the text, he doth in two pages confound and mingle it with the saint’s beauty. This fault is obviously committed at his pages 51, 52. Now instead of opening the Beauty of the Lord of Glory from I am the Rose of Sharon, he considers at large what Christ saith of the Church’s beauty. But to speak thus at all of the Church’s beauty, though that beauty is put upon her, as appears by other texts, through the beautifying Virtue of Christ; {“and thy renown went forth among the heathen for thy beauty; for it was perfect through my comeliness, which I had put upon thee, saith the Lord GOD,” Ezek.16:14;} and that whilst the Sharon-text kept close to the Personal Beauty of the Lord, and says nothing of the beauty of the saints, is a very confused running on, and putting one thing for another in dividing the Word of Truth.

The third instance is in that which is worse, even a confounding the Beautifying Virtue of Christ with the Fallen Deformity of Adam, running both into one particular, against all Scripture Judgment. He sets out the loss of the natural Image of God by the similitude of dirt, page 50, when he had the glory-theme of the Sun of Righteousness before him. Mal.4:2. Thus he runs both diversities and contraries into a length in one particular.

Now upon the head of Christ’s Beauty, what meant this author to forsake it, and run into Adam’s Sin and Deformity, on the same head? For, since he would insist upon the Beautifying Virtue of Christ here, he ought to have opened it by the Righteousness of Christ, Jer.2:13, and by the Spirit of Christ, the beautifying Communications of the Grace of God by him and through him. What had any man to do, especially under this head, to set out the distorted features and dis-amiable colors of fallen Adam, as soon as he had laid down a proposition of the Beautifying Virtue of Christ? Let me open this Beautifying Virtue of Christ in a few words appertaining to this and the next sections.

The Spirit from Christ beautifies me by putting the Righteousness of Christ upon me, and clothing me in a way suited to his own Operation Influentially, or through Christ {the virtue flowing in upon me by the Spirit through Christ} at Effectual Calling, according to the Antecedent Pattern of it’s being mystically, or secretly, in Christ before the Foundation of the World. For look, as man’s own skin was his beauty and ornament, and garment too, before the Fall and Entrance of Sin; so the Righteousness of the Second Adam, the skin of the Gospel-Sacrifice, is both my Beauty now against deformity, and my Garment too against nakedness. This garment God’s eye beholds me in through Christ, as I am personally viewed in the Communicated Virtue of it under the Spirit’s Work of applying it, as to what I am now in time of Calling between Christ and me; and all to bring me up towards the Mystical or Secret Pattern of the things themselves, as they all lay hid in Christ earlier between God and Him, before the Gospel broke forth, as is plain in, Col.1:26; II Tim.1:9, and many other texts elsewhere insisted on. {“Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints.” Col.1:26. “Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and Grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began.” II Tim.1:9.} Thus the openings of the beautifying Virtue of Christ are but corresponding with their secret patterns in the heart and love of God before Time.

The virtue of Christ’s Beautifying Righteousness is great upon me towards God in the way of his Justifying me through Christ by the Spirit, as he saith, I Cor.6:11, “justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.”

Ye are “now” says the Apostle, justified by the Spirit in the name of the Lord Jesus, who were not {experimentally} justified through Christ by the revelation/application work of the Spirit prior to this sealing work of Grace. {“Who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts.” II Cor.1:22.} So, Rom.5:1, “therefore being justified by Faith,” {the Spirit’s work in the soul,} we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ;” for it is an equal matter to have peace with God by Faith, as to be justified by Faith, because some perhaps are for reading it with their early comma, therefore being justified, by Faith we have peace with God, &c., for which I could never see any solid reason in the connection of the fifth chapter with the last words of the fourth. So, Gal.2:16, “knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law.” We will not evade the force of this text, but duly consider the scope of the Holy Ghost in it to intend Justification through Christ, by Faith of Effectual Calling, and yet ‘tis as plain that the Holy Ghost’s scope is but to give us a part of the Mystery of Justification, and the open manifestation/application part too, not the secret basis or fundamental part of the Mystery in that text, to wit, as it resides in Christ. So it injures not that at all, only builds upon it. Again, Gal.3:26, “for ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.” Ye are the Children of God by that piece of Adoption-Grace which is a fruit of the Spirit’s Work in Regeneration; that is, a Quickening of the soul in the vital Union to the Faith in Christ Jesus, opposite to the dead Faith of the world in Old Adam. Now this does not speak of all the Mystery of Adoption {for I bring like texts to illustrate} but of that particular branch of Adoption which only belongs distinctly to the Third Person in God; so neither do the texts men usually bring for Justification and insist on {because they would beat down the truth of being justified before Faith} take in the whole Mystery of it, only one branch of it {which we do all grant} as to the work of the Holy Spirit. Again, Jn.3:18, “he that believeth on him is not condemned;” that is, he is justified in Christ; and thus his Faith is an evidence of his Justification by Christ. So that what is thence obvious is, that on a Person’s believing in Christ, the believer passes from his nature-state in Adam to his gracious-state in Christ, which now becomes influentially to him, because of the Spirit given him in the Grace of God and the Virtue of Christ’s Righteousness, a State of Justification through Christ, to come up by the Spirit of our God to the soul’s Justification in Christ before {under that comprehensive word, Grace in Christ Jesus, II Tim.2:1,} as the secret Pattern of the Justification through him. The same for, Jn.5:24, “he that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me {saith Christ} hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.” Here we are to take notice that this Life here spoken of comes in through Christ by the Spirit in a way of Believing, and so is to be understood of the Open Life of Justification {Experimental Justification} flowing through Christ, to bring it up to the Secret Life of my Antecedent Justification in Him. What now do men gain of their point, when they bring these texts, and cry, you see this, and you see that, and you see how it is all laid and conditioned upon a person’s believing; when as all their running of texts together doth but confound, muddle and entangle the Doctrine of Justification, which ought to be kept in all its parts distinct? This further appears by their pressing of Isaiah 61:10 & 45:25 into their service against all Justification before believing; whereas the Righteousness of Christ there spoken of is that portion of their Justification in the Christ. {“In the LORD shall all the seed of Israel be justified, and shall glory.” Isa.45:25.} For, it is not only said “shall be justified” for all the elect seed of Israel are now justified in Christ {as a full reward of Christ’s suffering} together, and in this they glory. {“Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name; that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Phil.2:9-11.} The Scriptures ought to be brought and opened distinctly, and not texts rent asunder from one another, and removed from the harmony of Divine Revelation, and all huddled into the same branch of the Article of Justification, as the ignorant manner is by the sound and chime of the words, without weighing the Argument. Justification in Christ, and by Christ, and an open Justification with Christ do in each of those parts of Justification vastly differ from that intermediate branch thereof {for it is all substantially but one and the same Justification, but is so diversified in Scripture that all of Justification is never put by the Holy Ghost into one text, though men harp never so much upon the sound of words} that God would justify the heathen through Faith, and so preached the Gospel before unto Abraham, saying, in thee shall all nations be blessed. The Justification here, is influentially through Christ, the Lord our Righteousness, and so through Faith, the Operation of God the Spirit, as in that Pattern instance of justifying Abraham; for which cause in the fulfilment thereof, it is with an open and definitive affirmation of Grace {“shall all the seed of Israel be justified”} according to what it had been by Faith in the Pattern or Open Pattern of Abraham; and both these justifyings by Faith, that of the Gentiles, and that other instance of Abraham, are effected according to the Primitive Pattern of being justified prior to our believing, or being already Justified in Christ. And as to Faith too, it is the Spirit’s work in the soul, before I have wrought any good.

Then besides, the Virtue of Christ’s Beautifying Righteousness is so great in me towards Christ in the way of my help to apprehend Christ and his Righteousness as my own, Phil.3:12, that the Spirit of Christ working in and by the Righteousness of Christ imputed, Rom.4:6-7, {I say efficaciously working} on my soul, creates Faith in me towards Christ, Rom.4:16, that very moment; by which Faith openly laying hold on the Person of Christ as my own through God’s Free Gift, or in God’s Present Bestowment of him by the Comforter, I am then by a transient act of God justified, according to the Pattern of his Immanent or Eternal Act antecedently, {and if men must have a school-distinction for it, inasmuch as they run to the schools for their six causes in Justification, and will not be content, as I am, with the Scripture-Distinctions of “in” Christ, “through” Christ and “with” Christ.} For, on the spot I may feel my Justification by his Mighty Spirit in my peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Rom.5:1. I am justified influentially, I Cor.6:11, that is to say by Faith, as the Holy Ghost’s work, and likewise evidentially, Gal.2:16, as to my own perceiving it upon the Fundamental Patterns of justifying me in Christ before time, and before Faith {for the justified state is in Christ, whilst the fall in nature state is in Adam} because of the Everlasting Covenant, {beyond the Decree,} and then next, because of the Mystical Resurrection of all the members in the Personal Resurrection of their Covenant Head. Faith is Evidence of things not {otherwise} seen. Heb.11:1. ‘Tis Life and Righteousness I have in Christ, Isa.45:25, before my eating of his flesh and drinking of his blood, that is, before my believing on him, as in John 6:53. For there is nothing against it which that text says, only very distinguishingly ‘tis declared not to be until then, that is, until believing, life in me. ‘Tis not my life in me before, but ‘tis my Life in Christ before, and before I can say ‘tis so.

Now as Mr. Hunt {to whom I return upon the foot of this explication} confounds one thing with another, which should have been kept asunder; so in his very confusion he separates one thing of the confusion from another, which should have been brought in to have made the matter sound. What’s that? Why, he separates Pardon and Beauty from the Righteousness of Christ; or rather more directly, he separates {in his otherwise confused particular} the Righteousness of Christ from the beautifying Virtue of Christ, and says nothing of it through that whole head. Whereas I have shown that Christ’s beautifying Virtue is his Influential Righteousness that both pardons and adorns me together, Rev.1:5, by the Spirit’s Application. Rev.7:14. So that there was no necessity for his shutting out the Pardoning Virtue of Christ from the fourth particular, to go and make a fifth of it; nor was there any necessity for his shutting out the Righteousness of Christ from all that fourth particular about his Beautifying Virtue, more than there was a necessity for his confusedness of heterogeneous matters, in mingling the deformity of Adam, and the loss of the natural image {by insisting on it} together with the Beautifying Virtue of Christ.

The fourth instance is like unto the second, viz., his mingling the Grace and Holiness of Christ with the grace and holiness of the saints, {page 111;} when he should have kept close to what Christ is, Psal.73:25, he runs out for whole pages into a confusion of the matter to tell what the saints are, contrary to all argument or example in Scripture.

To run over the holiness of the saints so far, when it was proposed in the particular to treat of the Holiness of Christ, and interweave creature-holiness in the same piece with his, is a very confused unveiling of the Glory of Christ. He should in this also have kept strictly to what Christ is in Himself, according to the strictness of his subject, viz., “I am the Rose of Sharon;” and not thus confusedly have brought in the qualities of that subject, which at beginning he had proposed to be compared to the nettle or bramble, and mingle them with the Rose of Sharon.

The fifth instance of his jumbling about is his running unseasonably into our Faith, as soon as he had named Christ’s Faith. See this at his pages 114, 115, and let anyone tell me what meet reason there was in that place for this?

When a man had proposed to treat of the Faith Christ acted, what an impertinent confusion was it to go to make it out by this proposition, “it is no hard matter to believe that Christ is ours.” How does it appear that Christ acted Faith, by our believing that “God is our friend when we have the sensible tokens of his love?” Yet thus confusedly does he run on, at page 114, so before ever he comes to speak a word of Christ’s Faith, Isa.50:7 – Heb.12:2, towards the latter end of page 115 in a way of antithesis, he runs off a main part of his page by setting out our Faith and Unbelief. This is a notable piece of his confusion, not to say, his prevarication, and want of integrity, towards the subject in Song 2:1.

The sixth instance of confusedness is his mingling man’s honour with Christ’s Honour, at page 84. ‘Tis a confused business to interweave man’s honour and titles, as he does, with Christ’s honour. If I speak of Christ’s honour, what need I mingle it with creatures, I Tim.1:17, that the honour of Christ and the honour of a worm must be set both up, and the latter independently upon the former, in one page? Take all that belongs to Christ abstractly there, and you’ll see a very poor and lame account of Christ’s honour. For, he raises Christ’s honour directly out of the consideration of man’s honour; and so rather makes Christ to hold of men, than men to hold of Christ. {II Sam23:5, the Covenant is otherwise ordered, and in all things is well ordered.} Now what had these two vast extremes to do to meet, especially after such a confused fashion? It is {besides the confusion} a very unworthy and diminishing way of dealing with Christ’s Honour. And though this has been in another manner elsewhere shown, yet the dishonor done to Christ, according to this confusion, may farther appear.

For: 1. It is not like the Gospel, but like that that’s done in the Courts of Princes. Ministers of State, Envoys and Ambassadors from the Princes of this world, are accustomed to set forth their Masters at this rate. But as Christ’s Kingdom is not of this world, Jn.18:36, so when his Ambassadors come to treat of his Honour and Government, it should be very spiritually done, and not in the courtly mode. Ministers of the New Testament ought to be contented in showing forth Christ’s Glory by itself. Col.1:19. They ought not to be climbing up the stairs of the vain honours of the world, to take their estimate of this Prince of Life. Acts 3:15. 2. ‘Tis not consistent with Him, who is the Beginning of the Creation of God, Rev.3:14, to set forth his Glory lateward; that is, to begin with worldly honour, and then set out the honour of Christ, when we have run the first length in the Courts of Princes. I Cor.2:8. 3. The very disparagement of worldly honour is that which renders the consideration of it unworthy to raise and commend the honour of Jesus Christ from it. 4. The confusion is preposterous. He begins with the dark side of the cloud to illustrate the bright side; whereas he should have begun with the bright side, to have illustrated the other point that all the glory of the world is but darkness. 5. Christ’s honour is nothing like what is esteemed amongst men, Col.3:1; therefore those descriptions of His are all a false plan to draw the glory of Christ on; and they are but a mere cheating pretense of exalting him, whilst in truth they openly dishonor and lessen him. 6. Christ’s honour is all spiritual, I Cor.2:13, and to the thoughts of man unconceivable, as well as to sense invisible; whereas all that is esteemed honour among men is carnal. 7. Christ’s honour is suited alone unto his Glorified State. Jn.17:24. Now what a vain and confused estimate of Glory, must he have of the Glory of Christ, and, as he says, of the Glory of Christ Unveiled, who runs on, at this rate, in painting out an empty glory, which hath nothing to do with the Glory of Christ in Heaven! 8. It should have been honour all of a piece, Christ’s honour alone, Christ’s robe alone, and none of those blotches and patches that spoil all, having been mixed with his Illustrious Glory. {“I will go in the strength of the Lord GOD; I will make mention of thy righteousness, even of thine only.” Psal.71:16.} 9. Lastly, let him look into that admirable description of the Glory of Christ1, set forth by his late servant upon earth, Dr. Owen, a little before his death; and there let him see, whether the Glory of Christ be stained and sullied in a carnal matter, to make the spiritual reader sick, as this meddler hath done it? Or rather, if it be not in a way that fairly overthrows all such jumbling and confusion? As for this author, he minds not how a text puts him to distinguish of Christ’s Glory from his Shame, Jn.1:14, of Christ’s Throne from his Cross, of Christ’s Advocacy from his Sacrifice, of his being now in Heaven from his being once on Earth; but jumbles and crams all he can, mingling Heaven and Earth together. This hath been his practice. But to his next farrago or disorder.

The seventh instance of mixture is this, his laying down a badge of Christ’s Honour, and then presently running it in to Christ’s Power. This is his confusion at page 98 as the reader who hath his own book compare may see. The creating and upholding all things by the Word of his power, which this author there insists on, is a distinct thing from the Honour and Glory of Christ. His conquering our subtle and potent enemies which he there also insists on, was a conquering them by Power, not a conquering them by Honour. He overcame by the Death of the Cross, which the Scriptures do call his shame, scandal and foolishness with men, yet the Power of God. I Cor.1:21-24. And he did not overcome by honour; yet these things are so muddled, and run together, as if they were not to be distinguished. You may see how Honour and Power in the Scriptures are kept distinct. “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. So, Rev.4:11, “thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power; for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.” Why then did he not go by the pattern to avoid confusedness?

The eighth instance of his jumbling is his confounding passives and actives, and running them together into one active branch of his use of Examination. I say, he mingles his passives with an active branch of Examination. {Pages 132-135} A running the inquiries of what was done upon one, II Cor.13:5, into the form stated for interrogatories of what was done by one, is confusion.

Now this ought to have had a distinct branch of use; and yet he has run his passive inquiries or the questions of experience, what is done, or wrought of God, Tit.3:5, upon the soul, at page 135, into one and the same active examination of what the soul herself hath done, in a cordial reliance and dependence on Christ for Life and Salvation, beginning, I say, there at page 132. Now to examine, II Cor.13:5, into our reliance and dependence is {as hath been hinted in the chapter of marks and signs} to examine into our own acts {as was shown before} and to propose the form of examination, in the particular itself, into what acts of our own, Eph.2:9, as to Reliance and Dependence upon Christ, we have done {as to say, have we relied? Have we depended upon Christ? Which ought to have been observed and followed close, where a man had had any regard to the first form of his proposal, II Cor.1:17, and yet to run it presently into passive work, when he had omitted to propose the substance of that same use in the passive way, by otherwise wording is particular} is to run one thing into another in strange confusion, and keep nothing of the work of God upon the soul distinct, I Jn.5:20, I mean distinct from the acts, which that Work of God the Spirit brings the soul unto likewise.

What are the first workings of the Spirit of Christ upon nature, but matter distinct, which belongs to the passive examination of that work upon the soul? These workings of the Spirit {though so seldom distinguished by name in his own work} are not our reliance and dependence upon Christ, though the workings of the Spirit produce them. Phil.2:13. And yet the 132nd page itself avoids not the jumbling, but runs into this confusion, and the other pages, through all this head of the examination, do mostly allow the same disorder. Why did not our author begin his particular, in the words of that head, with inquiry into the Holy Ghost’s work? Eph.2:10. This had been most proper. Then in his passives afterwards, he had built his passives upon some fundamental passive, and not his passives {of what God the Spirit hath done upon the soul} all through the particular built upon the creature’s actives of Reliance and Dependence upon Jesus Christ.

Aye, but yet he hath gone and built passives upon an active sign. For instance, the Spirit’s coming to work savingly in us, page 132, the Spirit’s showing the soul the infinite value of the blood of Christ. {Page 133} {For in my instances I love to pick out his best.} And then {he adds} hath God convinced thee that thou wast conceived in Sin, and brought forth in Iniquity? Page 134. Hath God made thee to see that either Christ or Hell must be thy portion? {Page 135} All these passives wrought he builds upon an active sign, cordial reliance and dependence on Christ. What confusion is this! It tends too to take the Holy Ghost’s work out of his own hands into ours. Is this to be a “workman that needest not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of truth?” For so the Holy Ghost confesses in II Timothy 2:15, to the end, that men in the Ministry should look to it, and not bring in such shameful disorders into their matter, as spoil the work, and injure the Truth itself.

The ninth instance of his disorder is, mingling the parallel of the Rose, and the excellings of the Rose together, running all into one and the same Exposition of those positive and limited words in Song 2:1, “I Am the Rose of Sharon.” For, when he had carried some of the Excellency of Christ beyond the rose, page 26, and so on to page 63, and concluded, “thus {says he} I have shown you how Christ may be compared to a rose, and some of those excellent virtues that are in this sweet Rose of Sharon.” {Page 64} Nevertheless, he proposes to show wherein Christ {contrary to the method of the Apostle in his handling a Discourse; as appears, Heb.6:1, &c.} excels a rose in these words, “but before I come to my doctrine, there is one thing more I must do, or else I shall come short of what I may do, and ought to do, for the setting forth the Glory and Excellency of Christ, and that is, to show you wherein Christ excels a rose, though it be the Rose of Sharon.” {Page 64}

What Confusion is here! What want of order in speaking! He had {one would have thought} been showing all along, for twenty pages together, Job 11:2, how Christ excelled a rose. He had instanced in Quickening to raise the dead. Now is not this an excelling virtue in Christ? For, pray, what Quickening Virtue is there in a rose to raise the dead? Howbeit, he runs Christ’s Excellings into resemblances, as if this same Quickening Virtue was but a rose-resemblance. Next, what discovering virtue opens in a rose to enlighten blind eyes? Is not Christ’s Discovering Power an excelling of the rose? What meant his fancy than to lessen it into a resemblance? What purifying virtue is found in a rose to cleanse anything that’s filthy and polluted? Is not that same Power of Sanctification clearly rendered to be a Power in Christ that excels the rose? So, what virtue is seen in a rose to pardon the guilty? Job 13:7. Yet hath he not managed Remission of Sins {in the doctrine} as an apparent proof that Christ excels a rose? {And that from page 42 to page 47.} What healing virtue doth there lie in a rose to cure the sick or wounded? Is not Christ therefore evidently set forth by his healing virtue to excel a rose? What beautifying virtue can be acknowledged in a rose to alter deformed souls? Eccl.1:15. Is not Christ then openly manifested in the same to excel a rose? What comforting virtue can be evidenced in a rose? Hath not Mr. Hunt then declared that Christ by his consolation-virtue excels a rose? What strengthening virtue is known to be in a rose to strengthen weak and feeble souls? Is not that strengthening virtue then in Christ evidenced {from page 57 to page 59} to excel a rose? Once more. What nourishing virtue is put into a rose to fill hungry souls? Is not the same nourishing virtue a demonstration that Christ excels a rose? Eccl.1:2. Lastly, what a satisfying virtue is there in a rose for thirsty souls? Does not the same satisfying virtue therefore in Christ made out {from page 62 to page 63} prove that Christ excels a rose? Therefore, to produce transcendent properties of Christ to the rose, thus, and yet propose transcendent properties of Christ, as if all already had been but rose-resemblances, is strangely confused, and in and out. It was impossible in his foresaid particulars that Christ should do anything else but excel the rose.

Is it not a lamentable disorder to run other things that have no analogy with the Holy Ghost’s metaphor into a pretended explication of the same? As if the Holy Spirit saw not as much resemblance in that metaphor, as he intended should be understood by it. Why must an interpreter of the Word, together with the text, “I am the Rose of Sharon,” and part of his own exposition of the text, how I am the Rose of Sharon is to be taken, mingle another text, and a made-text of his own, “I am not the Rose of Sharon?” For even so far as Christ excels the resemblance, he belongs to some other text, or texts, in the Bible. Whereas to fasten it upon this text in the Canticles, is plainly to run it up into a reverse of the text, {I am not the Rose of Sharon,} to fill up the confusion, II Cor.2:17, running what he is in this text, and what he is in other texts, all into one thread of discourse on the same metaphor. What need had this author upon a positive text, that declares of our Lord Christ there by way of limitation and restriction, II Cor.10:14, in so many words, “I am the Rose of Sharon,” to have added his own expository jumble of a negative, how our Lord Christ was not the Rose of Sharon?

What strange confusedness is his jumbling the virtues of roses and their improprieties together! “Roses are things that have a great virtue in them.” {Page 24} Now when he comes to apply this to Christ in his multiplied particulars under that head, he runs all upon the improprieties of the rose. Isa.59:13. For roses are the things that have not such virtues in them, as he reckons up, and as he jumbled under the seventh particular of his explication, branching out matters into a numerous subdivision, of ten particulars, to page 65.

‘Tis undeniable in his explications that he runs all upon the improprieties of roses. For, what quickening virtue have roses in them for dead and drowsy souls? What enlightening virtue for the blind? What cleansing virtue for the filthy? And so on. ‘Tis strange a man should steal so many particulars together out of the Gospel Feast treatise, to jumble them into another text where they must spoil the workmanship! Besides, ‘tis strange confusion, to jumble the proprieties and virtues which roses have with the improprieties and virtues they have not, in handling one and the same metaphor! It was confusion to jumble the matters thus. Lev.19:19. But then it is still more, that after all these improprieties of the rose, wherein Christ excels the rose, our author should begin to propose his set of particulars wherein Christ excels roses! Would a man think this writer had been in his wits?

The tenth instance is this. He expounds getting an interest in Christ at page 195, by believing, at page 201. These he makes to be coincident. He sees no difference between them, but jumbles both into one. Nevertheless, these are distinct. Getting an interest in Christ is what altogether lies out of the verge and sphere of new creature power, Eph.2:5-6, though assisted and raised by the Holy Ghost. Believing on Christ is not so. The former is passive, ‘tis a thing gotten for me, Gal.2:20, the latter is active, ‘tis a thing done by me. Here lies the vast difference. Why then should any divider of the Word, confusedly run them both into one point? Why must the actions of Father, Son and Spirit, be run off into a creature-act, and expounded of believing? Are these confused runnings on, the words of the wise, Eccl.12:11, as nails fastened by the Masters of assemblies, since they are easily drawn and thrown away? Are they given from One Shepherd? Then why not more consistent and distinct?

The eleventh instance follows, “thy dependence on Him” {on Christ,} at page 135 is confounded, by explaining it with “all our obedience.” Again, “thy dependence on him proves thy interest in him.” {Page 135} Now one would think this to be the life of some of our obedience; yet in another place he runs the life of all our obedience into delight and cheerfulness. “Delight and cheerfulness {says he} is the life of all our obedience.” {Page 112} Nay, if it be scarce thought by another a confusion to run two things into one, when they lie so far asunder, so much as ‘tis thought a contradiction, then let the contradiction be taken up in the eleventh instance, as the confusion here presents it. He had propounded to consider Christ’s Obedience there at page 112, and when in his third and fourth lines he had instanced in Christ’s delight in it, he immediately in the next lines runs it into our obedience. There lies the jumble and contradiction in a nearer instance. “As to his delight in it, this as a vein runs through all his performances; delight and cheerfulness is the life of all our obedience.” {Page 112}

His performances were to be the subject kept distinct upon that head; but our performances {you see} must come in and jumble them, whether the matter was ripe enough for such a transition of argument, or no. So again, if dependence on Christ proves interest in Christ, it must be a dependence quickened which must prove it, Jn.10:10; for if it be a dependence quickened, there is life in it; yet if there be life in it, there may not be cheerfulness in it. Why then ‘tis evident that delight and cheerfulness, the life of all our obedience, must be either a contradiction to the other saying, or a confusion, expounding dependence by cheerfulness and delight, or both; that is to say, confusion and a contradiction too.

The twelfth instance of his disorder is his running contentment into discontentment. That’s his fault of confusion, when he had exhorted to contentedness. Why could not he have been contented to have stuck to the matter in hand? What need he have jumbled the sinner’s discontent into the saint’s content, and made up two contraries into one particular?

There was scope enough to have enlarged upon the positive contentedness he proposed. There was room enough for amplification, to have been guided into the same thing, and have discoursed of the easiness of the soul with Christ. Psal.25:13. For all uneasiness should have been made a distinct head of matter. What need the soul’s wishing for other things, his murmurings, &c., have took their place upon this head? Especially, how was that of Haman adapted to the purpose under the head of contentedness, for “all this availeth me nothing, so long as I see Mordecai the Jew sitting at the king’s gate?” Est.5:13. How also was that which follows to the purpose of contentment? “So may a Christ-less soul say, I have so much honour, so much wealth, so much of the delights of this world, yet all these avail me nothing so long as I am without Christ in the world.” {Page 213} What workmanship is there, and adorning the Doctrine of God our Savior, in this confusion? Tit.2:10. For, as there is to be a practical adorning in the life, that doctrines may not be blemished by an unbecoming and disorderly conversation, Phil.1:27 – Psal.50:23, so there is a practical adorning of the truths of the Gospel with their own beauty and order, when we lay them down before others in their own connection. And this must be attended to.

The thirteenth and last instance of this disorder I shall mention, is a grosser one than any of the others in this connection. ‘Tis his running what is peculiar in creatures up to Jehovah, by mentioning him as of a family among the glorious Persons of God, as if it was one of the properties of God too to be so related. The words he hath of Christ are these, “the family he is related to, is great and good, ‘tis the only family of Heaven and Earth; he stands related to the Mighty and Omnipotent Jehovah, who is Possessor of Heaven and Earth; a very ancient and renowned family, a family which never in the succession of ages had any blemish upon it.” {Page 80}

‘Tis plain here to me that by family, he means Jehovah in his Person, Father, Son and Spirit. For, he tells us of Christ, as he is related to a Family, great and good, ‘tis the only family of Heaven and Earth. This only family of Heaven and Earth, sure, he can’t mean are all the creatures; for these all, of earth, are neither great, nor good. Rom.8:20-21. He seems to me to explain his meaning by the next words, concerning Christ, as He stands related to the Mighty and Omnipotent Jehovah, who is Possessor of Heaven and Earth. Gen.14:19. Now Possessor of Heaven and Earth is an attribute in Jehovah, Jer.31:1, distinct from his being the God of Heaven, Zech.14:9, and from his being the God of all the families of the Earth. His next words, “a very ancient and renowned family” must be predicated of one of these two, either of the Mighty and Omnipotent Jehovah, and so meant of the Persons in God, as I have said; or of the inhabitants, the creatures, of Heaven and Earth. Now to say of all these promiscuously, ‘tis “so renowned, as never in the succession of ages had any blemish upon it,” when yet man is utterly fallen from God, and hath sought out many inventions, and behold God putteth no trust in his servants, Eccl.7:29, and his angels be charged with folly, Job 4:18, is what we can’t easily interpret to be his meaning. I rather therefore take it, he meant, that this ancient and renowned family he speaks of was the Persons of Jehovah, the Father, Son and Spirit, within themselves, to which the Man Christ stood related. This I look upon to be his ill meaning.

The Scripture indeed tells me in Ephesians 3:15, and in its coherence, that as the Lord Jesus Christ is of God, so the whole Family in Heaven and Earth is of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is of Christ that the whole family in Heaven and Earth is named and derived; all having their very nature-being from this Wisdom-Pattern, Rev.3:14, this Everlasting Model of Creation, as he is the “beginning of the Creation of God,” and as I have been helped plentifully to show in these labors; as well as all the elect in Heaven and Earth are derived, especially in their Grace and Glory beings, from this Fountain of Life with God. Psal.36:9. But I never read in the Scriptures the reverse which is asserted by our confused and mistaken author, that Christ is named or derived, and descended in his fulness {of which the Apostle there speaks} from the whole family in Heaven and Earth. Eph.3:15. For relation in this matter, as Mr. Hunt is carrying it on, is relation to the ancient and renowned family he was speaking of by descent, another gross error I have taken notice of in this author before. By all it appears, they were his own wild thoughts which misled him into this confusion and precipitant disorder, Prov.1:5, of Jehovah being a Family to Christ.

1 John Owen, 1616 - 1683, Meditations and Discourses on the Glory of Christ was first published, in London, in 1696.