Chapter 45

Of Mr. John Hunt’s woeful Defect, and his disappointing us, in his handling of Song 2:1, in giving some account of the Unexpected Emptiness thereof.

He nowhere distinguishes between the literal Rose of Sharon, and the mystical Rose of Sharon, Christ; for they are both of them Roses of Sharon, and ought to have been considered as such. Sure, if a man had intended the Glory of Christ, and a discovery of his Excellency out of this text, {“I am the Rose of Sharon,”} he should not have put a veil upon that Glory, which this text does more properly reveal him under. What does it avail to pronounce over and over, Sharon, Sharon, the word? What signifies to turn over these phrases, the Rose of Sharon, Sharon’s Rose, the sweet Rose of Sharon, this Rose of Sharon, this sweet Rose of Sharon, as he does scores of times in so very small a treatise? What is all this more than empty rattle? A vain run-over? For the thing is never opened. Why has he never once distinctly shown us what Sharon’s Rose was naturally, and therein consistently fitted in the natural Sharon, Jn.3:12, to set forth some of the Mystery of Christ as the Mystical Sharon-Rose? For he has said no more upon it to this purpose that he has said of a Northampton rose, or a Cambridge rose, or one growing and blooming, Isa.35:1, in any other place of the Nations of the World.

That excelling metaphor, the Rose of Sharon, would admit of divers close applications and particulars. Whatever it be, there is not one head in all the pertinent number to be found, supremely or subordinately, in his book. I do not find a word, or particular in the whole, to explain the difficulty wherein the Sharon-propriety lay, that the Holy Ghost rather alludes to that, as the more excellently fitted in the kind, than to any other natural rose beside. He never once attempts to show, through the whole, wherein the Excellency of Sharon’s natural Rose to other roses lay, as the peculiar ground of shadowing out Jesus Christ to the Church by that peculiar metaphor. Nevertheless he had fair occasions, as well as solid reasons for it; and when he now and then seems to make fair overtures to attempt it, yet he does not attempt it actually, for presently all is blown off, Hos.6:4, and we are disappointed. {He hath gone and hid his talent in the earth, Matt.25:25, and lo, there we have just what in the text’s own in language, but no usury; no improvement of the same in explication.} I will give some instances of the point to prove it.

The first instance of his defect, “you may remember, says he, I told you, Sharon was an excellent soil, and this is clear from Isaiah 35:2, the excellency of Carmel and Sharon; so that Sharon’s roses did excel all other roses.” {Page 72} How bravely that text proves something! The excellency of Sharon was spoken of the excellency of her production, not the excellency of her soil, especially to represent Him who was a “root out of a dry ground,” as saith the prophet. Isa.53:2. That text, the excellency of Sharon, speaks of her fruits, not her situation. I should have been glad to have been instructed by him how it had been made out to be excellent in the production, as to the Sharon-aptness of the metaphor in that sort of Rose itself. For ‘tis nothing more than the excellency of the fruits of which that text in Isaiah 35 speaks; and so the fruits of Christ’s Kingdom, not the place of those fruits abstractly which the Holy Ghost speaks of in that 35th of Isaiah. But now ‘tis quite otherwise in Song 2:1, for there Christ is spoken of as once belonging to the place itself.

The second instance of his disappointing us shall be in what he refers us back to, as what he would have his reader depend on, at his first taking the thought up. “Christ {says he} does not only say, I am a Rose, but I am Sharon’s Rose, and Sharon was a fruitful place, and more especially a place excellent for Roses. Isaiah 35:1-2. In other places there might be roses, but none like Sharon’s Rose, and again there is no Rose so excellent as Sharon’s Rose. {Page 7} Now will anybody call this same asserting of the matter over and over, an explaining of it? Does not all this leave the text just as he found it? How does all this satisfy? I can make nothing of it to inform the understanding from one crevice of Gospel-light. {‘Tis said of the preacher, Eccles.12:9, that “because the preacher was wise, he still taught the people knowledge.”} It is so, because it is so. This is the sum of the matter, and so he hath but shut up the matter just as he dipped on it when he opened the book. Lamentable defect!

Next, let us take an estimate of his many vain repetitions, instead of one looked-for exposition. He often calls over the textual phrase; as he might sure once for all have opened it. Acts 17:2-3. He swells the reckoning by the multiplication-table, and yet we have no more room allowed us to make up our accounts for the phrase, so very often repeated, than 72 of his other pages. 1. “The Rose of Sharon.” This phrase is repeated over eight times without once explaining it viz., on pages 11, 12, 25, 53, 55, 63, 64 and 65. 2. “The Sweet Rose of Sharon” moderately proposed on page 68. 3. “This Rose of Sharon” repeated over 15 times, and never once opened in the Canticles, but tossed after his own conceit, viz., at page 12, {twice,} pages 14, 26, 30, 34, 35, 38, 38, {again,} and pages 42, 47, 49, 50, 58, 70. 4. “This Sweet Rose of Sharon” repeated over 17 times, viz., pages 10, 13, {twice,} 15, 18, 21, 29, 32, 34, 44, 47, 53, 57, 60, 64, 69, 72. Now what is all this empty sound of “Sharon, Sharon,” but as the Apostle says, “sounding brass, and a tinkling cymbal?” I Cor.13:1. It fills the ear, but it does not edify the mind, in the knowledge of the Scripture.

The fourth instance, “I told you {says he} the roses of Sharon excelled other roses, yet not so much as Christ excels them.” {Page 65} Here ‘tis “I told you,” and “I told you,” but you must take his word for it; for if you search the book you shall never find any evidence of his discovering it so, only the lame evidence of his saying so. And yet evidence of the thing in explication had been far beyond his telling it barely that it was so, in enunciation.

The fifth instance of his defect and our disappointment is this. He tells us how beautiful the saints are, in many texts, pages 51, 52, but does not bring one text to prove the head of matter he was on in those pages, to wit, that it is the virtue of Christ in his Righteousness, Blood and Spirit which makes them beautiful. Ezek.16:10-14.

The sixth instance is this. Holiness is insisted on in actives only, viz., obedience {in what the Lord Christ did,} from page 112 to page 121. Most of this is about the holiness of Christ actively, which should have been erected on some account given of the Holiness of his Person passively, as the Foundation of it in the same Head. Exod.15:11.

The seventh instance. “In this chapter {he means the second of the Canticles} I shall meet with divers metaphors, which I shall handle as I go.” {Page 4} Oh lamentable defect! How did he handle the aforementioned texts in the Canticles, which has but a word {and that beside the text} and then he is gone to new matter; is this handling indeed? Sometimes you can’t see he touches the metaphor, nor comes near it, yet he calls this handling it. Besides, it was pity he handled his Rose so much, since he had so often pricked himself with the bush, and run his reader into the mere briars. And as to the book, whether you take it in whole or in part, you’ll plainly find by the help of that little I have transferred out of him and answered, it nowhere comes up to the title, nor the text, neither to Christ the Most Excellent, nor to Christ the Rose of Sharon.

The last instance of his defect I will particularize is this, “if Christ cannot save thee {says he} it must be either because he cannot satisfy for sin, or else because he cannot rescue from Satan.” {Page 201} Now here we have the extensive fitness and fullness of Jesus Christ still left out. Satisfaction for Sin, and rescue from Satan are not extensively full enough to come up to Christ’s fullness. Col.1:19. For I object, if Christ saves me not from my sin, and delivers me from the power of this present evil world, according to the Scriptures, Matt.1:21 - Gal.1:4, his bare Satisfying for Sin, and rescuing from Satan, {being works without me, and what falls vastly short of the Holy Ghost’s entire Office from Christ in applying the Purchase of Christ,} will not reach my case to sanctify my nature, mortify corruption, lead me to Christ, seal, and witness with my own spirit, in maintaining my Communion with God through Christ, and guide me home to Heaven. Psal.73:24. For none of these things are Christ’s Satisfaction for Sin, nor abstractly is rescuing me from Satan, though they are all built upon Satisfaction for Sin, and do graciously flow from it. Col.2:13-14. Nay, they are all distinct things, and because they are matters which take up so much of the Holy Spirit’s Office to apply and work in us, they cannot be the same works of God; for then it would imply that the Holy Ghost Satisfied for Sin, and that Christ in saving us did the works of Application {proper to the Holy Ghost} so as if the Holy Ghost did them not. We see then how defective he is in the aforesaid expression, shutting out the Work and Office of the Holy Ghost. And thus I have briefly touched upon his lamentable disappointing us.