Some Use and Observations of, and upon the Everlasting Love of the Father to the Elect in his Son Jesus Christ Vindicated.

Before I enter upon the love of Christ from the Father, I should wind up what has been spoken of the Everlasting Love of God our Father to the elect in his Son Jesus Christ, I Cor.1:3, with some use and observations. It is no ways expedient for the Truth of this doctrine of the Gospel, that I entirely overlook the heart-risings and lip-risings of the enemies of Everlasting Love in the sense of Union-Grace before believing. I cannot but observe how many of the bitter Enemies of the Gospel, rather than be beaten off {for I know not, but as Christ said many of them shall die in their sins, Jn.8:21, after all their sincere obedience, and be never drawn off} from their own religious, education-foolishness with God, I Cor.3:19, and founding an acceptance with God, together with their own delusion of Justification, Peace and Comforts upon a Performance of some Conditions in the Covenant of Grace, do and will despise the Wisdom of God, which hath founded it all upon Christ alone. And though these are incurable, and shall get no benefit from the Doctrine of Eternal Love Union in Christ, but only heap unto themselves more and more destruction, because of their proud and willful opposition to it, yet I know it shall be of everlasting consolation unto others, II Thes.2:16, and generate a good hope through grace to some. “But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth; whereunto he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.” {II Thes.2:13-14} And because some disciples of Christ are carried away, Acts 20:30; yea even Barnabas, with the dissimulation; Gal.2:13, therefore I am bound to write the sharper in my reproofs, that through the means of setting forth clearly the Doctrine of Christ, their souls may be delivered from the snare of the devil, II Tim.2:26, to bring them out of a way of destruction in their pathways to heaven; for destruction and misery, Rom.3:16, are in their ways to heaven! And I am verily persuaded that were our Lord Jesus Christ upon earth, he would set himself against all Truth Corrupters, Tit.1:9, as he did against the devout party, the professing party of the Jews, Amos 3:1, the Scribes and Pharisees, more than he would against all the profane, debauched and open sinners in the whole nation! And, blessed be God, he now stirs up my spirit in this to be faithful, to blow the trumpet, Ezek.33:3, and to give warning, whether men will hear, or whether they will forbear; Ezek.2:5, for we live in a languid and lazy age! Professors are mostly taken up about talk of War and the News! And there’s pushing and nudging the sluggard, but I know of scarcely any one who is awakened out of their slumber. Therefore I am resolved to put in, and cry out “FIRE” among you, that if I can but cause you to consider, it may put you upon thinking.

Oh, for the Everlasting Love of God to me! For it is a love in time quickening me, Eph.2:1, as it comes down through the Eternal Realm of Grace into my poor soul! This supports my faith upon every remembrance, more than all the cold, dead and flat formalities of uncircumcised Nature, Conditions, Offers, Pandects and Codes of their New-Law divinity, and I know not what! Let theirs go for the brave Law-Gospel Preaching they are resolved in their blind zeal to set up, as I am by grace resolved as much to pull it down!

There are many others in great zeal {‘tis pity it should be separated, Rom.10:2, from Gospel knowledge} who press un-renewed, Jn.3:5-7, sinners to come to Christ; and if renewed, press them to Christ in and of himself, and not to Christ built upon God, I Cor.3:23, a Christ standing in the Love of God for them from Everlasting. Doth not the same zeal animate these ministers to press sinners to come to a Yesterday’s Christ; that is, a Christ unto which the sinner has no part or lot in until his so-called faith recognizes and embraces the same; or to a Christ that can be mine only today, and not before, upon the condition that I come to him? And thus they divide Christ, I Cor.1:13, from Christ! For the Christ of God who is mine to me at believing, was as much mine to God before believing; Acts 15:18, and was and is, and always will be so, Jam.1:17, without change. Or else, I had never had the faith of God’s gift, Eph.2:8, but of the Preacher’s manufacturing; for he gives me Christ, out of his own prerogative, to believe; {but not the Christ of the Gospel;} and by my believing initiate favor with God, which is quite against the Supernatural Prerogative of the Everlasting Gospel of Grace.

As to the opposition wherewith they labor to push at the love of God, by distinguishing that love into a love of pity, and a love of delight, or complacency, I pity the ignorant application of it in our Dissenters; because it falls so far short of the true merits of the cause; and so mightily muddies Grace, and I fear for this more than any other reason, though they know how to cover the use of it with great names of men, but ‘tis no matter. I know it to be a pitiful and lying distinction of the school-men. The nature of it is a lie, and the inventors of it knew no more of the Gospel than the Pope of Rome, for they were his deluded followers that hatched this scheme. Indeed the first Reformers had some reason to use it against the Papists in their controversies; but why later man should gather it up, where more light of the Gospel hath broken forth, and make use of it in their preachings and writings amongst themselves in the common way, I am still to learn; for men ought to go on to perfection, Heb.6:1, in the Doctrine of Christ, and not fall back to elementary principles. Let me but attend to the Holy Ghost’s distinction in the matter, in Christ and through Christ, so often inculcated in the Sacred Writings, and it puts an end to the whole controversy with me. “He that hath ears to hear, let him hear,” Mt.11:15, “what the Spirit saith unto the Churches.”

Christ was mine yesterday, but he did not begin to be mine yesterday; I am speaking of our yesterday, of a span long, if it be 7, 20, 30, 40 years ago that any of us have believed through grace, Acts 18:27; for, as to the Holy Ghost’s yesterday {setting out Christ,} “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and forever,” Heb.13:8, it was to take off the Jews from stumbling at a young Christ that began in the womb of the virgin. No, no, says he, there was never any such Christ in the world; he was Christ before. Why, he was not Christ in the Old Testament, says the Jew. Yes, he was, says the Holy Ghost, yesterday from the creation, all down from Moses’ writings to His own Incarnation, and is today under the preaching of the Gospel, and will be forever. For the Jews thought it most absurd to believe that Jesus of Nazareth, Acts 2:22, was revealed all through the Holy Ghost’s yesterday of the Old Testament; and not long after there rose up a sect from amongst the flock, Acts 20:30, that did not believe he was set up from Everlasting, Jn.1:1, or in the Beginning with God; that is to say, in the Beginning of God’s way. Even as now there are another zealous group, that will not have Christ to be mine according to the testimony of the Spirit, {even from eternal yesterday, before I had a being;} but only in my own and their yesterday’s faith. And this doctrine I look upon to be as damnable in its own tendency, beginning all union with yesterday, and striking at God’s Eternal Settlements, just as the doctrine of the Non-Imputation of the Righteousness of Christ without the imputation of faith, repentance and good works {as Mr. Baxter puts in all} is damnable! And indeed take away God’s everlasting love, which love taken away was the foundation of all Mr. Baxter’s errors in his new method, and you may as well impute faith for justification, as deny God’s love to me, with a delight in me, in Christ as the Cause, through Him, of my believing on Him.

Alas! What would a Christ be to me of one or two days standing? What would it signify to me that I had only a present interest that was never founded upon an eternal purpose to save to the uttermost all that came to the Father through Christ? I may lose such a Christ tomorrow, such an interest to tomorrow, and be damned forever! For, it must come to Apostasy, notwithstanding the impudence of a man’s saying I deny it, if it did not begin with God’s Everlasting love in Christ; and that as surely as an eternal union with Christ is the foundation of a believers faith; for only Grace-faith is the fruit of Everlasting Love. If God undertakes to secure me to everlasting, it is for no other reason than because he has undertook it, Rom.8:32, from everlasting, I Pet.1:20, for Principles and Perseverance are both of one piece. Yesterday I believed, says the soul, I am assured by my preacher, and these marks of interest, and therefore says the poor soul, he became mine yesterday, and today I believe, then he is mine today. What fruitless work is this in divinity that takes no notice of love and interest before the foundation of the world!

Yet this is the reigning Divinity of many of our Nonconformists! To reprove it is counted raillery! To name men and parties is branded for odious! To use a little plain English, and say that a Nonconformist is degenerated, Jer.2:21, from Christ and Paul, is presently condemned for censoriousness, or else setting everybody together by the ears; and though all the Alexanders in the world should do the Free Grace of God, and the Righteousness of Christ much evil, yet we are fallen into such a blank-age of no-bodies, that to say that Alexander the coppersmith did much evil, II Tim.4:14, and write out the tender name at length, does so strike at the root of men’s pride, that they seem to be more concerned for themselves than Christ. This is sad! And this is the pass we are brought to in England at this day!

Sirs, I speak to you that do go for the ministers of Christ; II Cor.11:23, don’t trifle with your own souls, nor other men’s. You would fain convince your people of sin, would you not? Why then are not you convinced of the sin of shutting out the Everlasting Love of God to the Elect in his Son Jesus Christ, all through your ministry? Again, you shut out the Holy Ghost from his own work of convincing. Why don’t you then convince yourselves? You labor with your people, yet they do not see many things you tell them, and what is the reason? Mt.15:14. It is the same cause with this, which I labor to convince you Scribes of, even the Everlasting Love of God to all that are saved in Christ Jesus; but you are not convinced, and ‘tis likely will never be convinced of it in this world, and if you are, the Holy Ghost must do it. He that gives you New Birth must give you New Light, Jn.18:8-10, or you will wander till you come into the shadow of death in old darkness, and know not whither you go, because that darkness, I Jn.2:11, hath blinded your eyes. This is said of him that hates his brother, and what will God bring it to in the Day that he judges the secrets of men by Jesus Christ, Rom.2:16, according to his Gospel? When he makes Judgment by it upon their case, who would not bear to hear of God’s Everlasting Love unto the brethren? Can there be love to my brother; for ‘tis not to a stranger, when I take away God’s Everlasting Kindness to him? When I take away this Kindness to the brethren of Christ? To them indeed; for I can never take it away from them, after all my taking. “For I am the LORD, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed.” {Mal.3:6} So that there may be a taking away in this sense, when a man who thinks to plunder my interest, conceits he has done my business, yet he hath not hurt me, I am still where Free Grace put me. Even as the Apostle saith in another case, brethren, “you have not injured me and all,” Gal.4:12, it only shows what men would be at, Psal.10:14, whilst they shall never be able to do it to the elect’s loss, or their own causes success. “But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me; and I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand.” {Jn.10:26-29}

That Christ that’s mine, and who saves me Eternally, must be mine, with God, before faith, in the Preparations and Settlements of Everlasting Love, and mine as certainly to God, before I believe, Acts 15:18 with Psal.139:16, as he is mine to my own certain knowledge, when I am gathered to my Heavenly Inheritance to him! Sirs, have you courage to defend your hats, if a man pluck them off your heads, and have you no courage to stand up for the Doctrine of the Church, in her fullness, throughout all ages, in her Mystical Head from Everlasting? For though it be but in a dead frame, or a natural courage which you do sometimes feel, yet it is better to have your natural courage up for God to men, though not for God, to God, and suffer men by their natural courage to run all down before them. Whatever it be, it must still be spiritual strength from God, for God, and to God, in which I must be always girt with to prevail. Neither is he able to run down the ‘all’ I mean, that merely runs down the Positions and Commandments of men, Matt.15:9, the Maxims of the Schools in divinity, the opinions of many a good and able doctor, the schemes of getting an interest in Christ, that runs down the fallible marks and signs of grace; {“a fair show in the flesh,” Gal.6:12,} nor he who beats down the pride of all flesh; Isa.2:11,17; 23:9, nor unsanctified nature, old Adam’s livery, new done for holiness, and then exalted as the Christian Religion! This is not the man that runs all down before him; for as long as he runs down nothing that is akin to the foundation of all; so long as the great things God did in Christ before the world was, as the Pattern of doing, Col.1:19, all his great and noble works, Heb.1:2, by and through him since, are neither struck at, nor touched, my all is never run down. But He runs down all before him in project and design, who labors to run all down that God hath set up from Everlasting; it being the Foundation of all infallible marks and signs built upon it.

What a poor change is that which is originally brought about by my own act and deed! I shall tremble to go to heaven thus in the crowd, all through the broad way, Mt.7:13, of universal belief! Does God begin to love me with delight, when I began to delight in Him? Doth the sincerity of his delight depend upon my sincere obedience? Ah! How men cheat poor souls! And with lies make the hearts of the righteous sad, Ezek.13:22, whom God has not made sad! Must this Fountain of Life, Psal.36:9, be no more than a dead sea, or a lake of Sodom, till my will, obedience, resignation and coming to Christ stir it up, as the Angel, Jn.5:4, did the pool of Bethesda?

Is this your pressing of sinners? Is this your preaching of Conversion? Do you think, Sirs, that the Gospel is to run and be glorified, II Thes.3:1, at this bartering rate? Is this the free course of it, to tie it up to sinners coming to Christ? I know that some of you give the Glorious Gospel, I Tim.1:11, an ill name, and think all the world must beg God by your mixed gospel. I know that you run furiously at Antinomianism; but they who have tasted that the Lord is gracious, I Pet.2:3, are not to fear under the Holy Ghost’s work, in their being identified with that sect that is by everyone spoken against; Acts 28:22, being assured by Grace that after the way which they call heresy, Acts 24:14, so worship we God, believing all things which are written in the law and in the prophets; and being brought effectually to Christ, our living Stone, “disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious.” I Pet.2:4.

Such Anti-Gospelers will never gain their point in the blind and inconsistent way of throwing down doctrine. You may blend your notes, and preach out of other blended works {for the best of us all are prone to corrupt mixtures, and have thrown down at one end what we built up at another, the same man in the same sermon destroying the same work;} yet the defense of such mixtures can hardly proceed from any other cause than the mind’s being corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. II Cor.11:3. Do you expect to see growing Churches {I don’t mean as to the increase of members; for disorder naturally draws crowds of men to increase it; but I speak of the increase of knowledge, faith and holiness in the members} under your ministerial conduct? I’ll assure you if you do, you must be taught of God to overthrow almost all you have been doing since you began your public work. This last thing I have mentioned, I know by divers years experience, having been brought faithfully to oppose myself before ever I have meddled with other men. I have given some hint of this in my introduction, wherewith I began the present work.

Must the love of God be suspended till the sinner’s faith? Unless it be a love of pity? Does not God delight in my person in Christ, even whilst he pities my condition in Adam? God’s pity indeed is one of the sweet points of the Gospel; for great are his compassions towards us; Psal.117:2, and as the heavens are higher than the earth, Psal.103:11, so is his Mercy, coming from this Everlasting Love in Heaven towards them that fear Him; Isa.55:9, and as his Mercy is the Supernatural and Influential Cause of that fear, so his Everlasting Love, founded in His own will, being the first Cause of that mercy shown. Nevertheless, this distinction, that God loves the elect with a love of pity before they believe, but not with a love of delight till after they believe, is a very pitiful and empty distinction in the sense of the schools. And our men might be ashamed to take up the distinction of the schools, to apply their notion to God’s elect. For though the distinction be the Papists, yet the use and application of it is rendered by too many of our Nonconformists, in Conferences, Books and Sermons, for so it spreads like wild fire.

Alas! Should I but translate a column {and that is but half a page} of the School-divinity, where this distinction is used and managed, our zealous, well-meaning ‘brethren,’ falling into the customary mistake of pressing sinners to come to Christ to get an interest in him {as if there, in and at their coming, all their interest began, and no interest in God’s love from everlasting} would not have patience perhaps to read it half through, ‘tis so dry and barren. And yet, in truth we must go into these deserts of Arabia to follow the caravan, and to keep up the fashion of walking to go down into Egypt, Isa.30:2, rather than keep to the Distinctions, Heb.11:9, in the land of Promise, Num.13:27, that flows with milk and honey. The mischief is this, that if some of these do not preach up works for justification, {perceiving themselves in the Reformation way,} and keep tight to the pressing of faith, and coming to Christ for interest {the true Popish doctrine of Justification} they think they have done their business; concluding that all interest comes in by the same door that gives me procession. As if the door of faith, Acts 14:27, was faith at the door, or faith was Christ, and the very Gate of Heaven. Gen.28:17.

Must interest in Christ be a doubtful thing in itself, because it is not a certain thing to me, till I have the Spirit of God, II Cor.4:13, to work the Faith that discerns it? For that Faith which is born of the flesh, Jn.3:6, in whomsoever it is found is but a dead faith, Jam.2:26, as there is a world of it among professors. There are thousands that are looked upon to be brave souls, Gal.6:12, that never had one quickening Act of Faith since they began religion! Again, {for you go no lower} must an interest in Christ be an impossible thing, till faith secures it? Must faith realize and ascertain my interest in Christ to God, because thereby my interest in Christ is realized and ascertained to myself? This is to banish the Christian Religion out of man’s soul, and to overturn the initiating work of the Divine Spirit, for always in the Scriptures it begins with Passives, Revealings, Discoveries, and from thence passes on to men’s acts; whereas in this generation of topsy-turvies, the Christian Religion in the soul must begin with Creature-acts first, and then the Quickening Act of Divine Grace, with interest in Christ following next. Preposterous folly of the Zealot!

Besides, faith makes it no surer to God that it was before. Therefore let men remember to give more glory to God, than they give to faith; and more glory to Christ, who is the Saving and Revealed Gospel-Object of faith, than they give to the acts of faith. Paul, when he wrote to his foolish, Gal.3:1, Galatians, {and we have numerous stocks of these in our days,} found they wanted a Christ formed in them, Gal.3:1, more than a Christ preached to them; and he travailed in birth again for them in respect of the Spirit’s work, rather than pressing them to come to Christ as they were by their own acts; for he found they had done too much of this already, and it had made all the mischief; to come, and to go too, so long by Profession before Regeneration, which gives interest by the Spirit, upon the Foundation still of the Antecedent Interest given by the Father and Christ.

There are others not contented with Faith to get this interest {as they speak} who press works to obtain it. As if you would get an interest in Christ, then do thus and thus. Why, your disinterested sinners are evermore dead sinners; for, it is the nature of an Interest in Christ, as soon as it comes in by the Spirit of God to Quicken me experimentally, having been raised up before in Christ mystically. “And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins.” {Eph.2:1} “And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.” {Eph.2:6} Well, but what must your stark dead sinner be doing? Pray, Sirs, let him be quickened first; or else the more he stirs in religion, the more he will stink. Martha, the sister of him that was dead, says unto Jesus, “Lord, by this time he stinketh; for he hath been dead four days,” Jn.11:39, and indeed it was nothing but the quickening him in the Lord’s own calling him, “Lazarus come forth,” vs.43, before the stirring him, that prevented it in that case of Lazarus, {naturally;} and the case is much the same with us religiously. For which cause, God may justly spread dung upon the faces of such professors, even the dung of their own solemn feasts, Mal.2:3, and doings and attempts to make themselves worthy of the Sacrament, as they nick-name the Lord’s Supper. There is a dung in these things, while contempt is cast upon them; and God has threatened it; to which it is probable the Holy Ghost in Paul alludes, when he speaks of all this which is but fit for a dunghill, men scrape together, to fit them for many an ordinance; and do “count them but dung,” Phil.3:8, says the Apostle, that I may win Christ; both objectively {in discerning still more of Christ whilst he was running;} and possessively, in having more of Him in this glorious thousand years, II Pet.3:8, kingdom, that all other ministers who came behind him should. And 'tis to be the same with every one of us, who in faith do so run, I Cor.9:24, as to obtain.

What, Sirs, I now speak to you Salvation-workers, and pray, let your free-will bear with my faithfulness. Do you set your poor hearers to task? I am afraid you are in this tasking, like the Egyptians, who would never touch the burdens of the Israelites themselves, except to lay them on the poor oppressed peoples shoulders? Where is the man, the minister of you all, who doth, as to the inward part of religion, what you bid people do? I speak this to your shame, you workers, who mistake that text, “work out your own salvation,” Phil.2:12, as much as Origin mistook that other text, “there be eunuchs which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake,” Mt.19:12, when he hacked himself to pieces; as the learned know; but you split even worse upon the other text.

Ah! Sirs, can the poor, doubting, tempted soul, burdened down to Hell with sins and wants, do what the lusty preacher, that feels no burden of sin, was yet never able to do? Alas; the poor soul wants an interpreter, Job 33:23, not a task-master. He wants one to open the Holy Ghost’s work, the method and way of Divine Operations upon the captive soul, and not to fall upon one in bonds, and thereby impose on him the task of coming. “The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound.” {Isa.61:1} “Come unto me, {saith our Redeemer} all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” {Mt.11:28} But such coming in the energy of fleshly affections is but outward attendance upon the means and is far less burdensome than the Israelites going three times a year to Jerusalem from all corners of the land, Exod.23:17, which is consistent with laboring and being heavy laden. This was all, before the Lord himself created the other soul-motions of Faith and Love to go farther, and therewith at once removed their shoulder from the burden; Psal.81:6, that is, took off the soul burden, the Egyptian-burden, together with the Jerusalem-burden, on his own part. And I am sure this exposition is agreeable with the whole Analogy of Faith in the Gospel; and so proves itself; for “let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another.” Gal.6:4. Not after the flesh, to be understood to rejoice in self, but after the Spirit to rejoice in the accomplishments of Christ. I wish that those preachers that go so much by the Book they have read, and the common interpreter of the Word they always ask counsel from, had walked more in accord with the teaching of the Spirit, so vital in setting forth the Glory of Christ.

What resolution of doubts, what succor in temptations hath the Holy Spirit ever given in, under your way of pressing? I have never heard one interpreter, “one among a thousand,” Job 33:23, from your midst expounding Christ in a way of saving Truth; no, not from any of the choice confessions of your lips, or other lower experiences, confessed with the mouth, that I have been a witness of, when perhaps some of the first joggings of the work hath begun under some of you, and these things told in the gates of Zion. Psa.9:14. But on the contrary, poor souls have droopingly complained hereof, of your burdening and pinching them through your unskillfulness; and then if you have gone to hush them, that they should not cry and tell us of it, by giving them now and then two or three choice words to help them along the way, but then have thrown all down again in the same sermon; and let me tell you in the manner you go to work, for if you do any good and stir the people, and if God afterwards convert these people, they do commonly leave your ministry as they have opportunity, and in their experiences have been often faithful in the act of their declaring God’s work, Psal.66:16, and have told us how some of you have abused them! Ah! It had been more wiser work if you had preached God’s Everlasting Settlements of Christ for poor sinners, than their own palsy-acts of faith to build Christ on for their help. {Christ is built upon God’s Settlements, not built on Faith.} It had been better if you had preached Election in Christ, the Riches of God’s Grace and Merits in Redemption, the Spirit’s Efficacy in Regeneration, and the several branches of the Government of Christ in Gospel-Order; that the new-born being Converted to Jesus Christ, and freely giving up themselves to his Scepter and Ordinances, might know how to behave themselves in the Church of God, I Tim.3:15, than to use worldly policy for preventing their going off from your ministry, and press and pull them into Churches under pious stirrings, before they are ripe to sit down, Mt.8:11, in the kingdom of God. If we had taken this method of pressing, and pulling, and taking in almost after any fashion, how many hundreds might I have been pastor of in several years past, that would in the end evidence the fact that they were never planted by the Lord? “And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.” {Acts 2:47}

You insist much, in the applicatory part of preaching, upon coming to Christ; but I profess I could never find one of such as you, understandingly and discreetly lay open the Springs of that motion. If you did, you need not tarry for application, and then bid sinners come to Christ; for if I know anything of the true nature of that work, I can testify that it is done before, under the Doctrine; there the Efficacy of the Spirit’s work hath been generating life and light; for as the application is usually managed and orchestrated by the workings of the flesh, the Spirit is usually withdrawn, and the hearers have felt it, as soon as the preacher comes to it; and so you are turned off in that part of the work with nothing but the sound of a broken trumpet. “For if the trumpet gives an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle?” {I Cor.14:8} For in that spoil-form with which the preacher hath been filling up his latter time, he hath been gradually emptying the hearts of his people again, and so hath abused the hungry, and sent the poor in spirit, Lk.1:53, Mt.5:3, empty away.

It is under Efficacy of Doctrine, and not the force of your press that the soul is drawn to Christ. Wisdom has graciously done the work, if God owns you at all, before you ungraciously come to the spoil-part. You need not therefore come forth into the streets and lanes of the city, Lk.14:21, of our God, to alter Wisdom’s cry in the Evangelical Day, begun with in the acceptable year of the Lord, Isa.61:2, and drown the Report, Isa.53:1, with your imprudent motives, and your eager presses, the Holy Ghost from Christ has effectually done it, as the Comforter. Though others have a way of preaching, that, if the tree being known by his fruits, Mt.12:33, seems to tell us they would have liked it better if the Holy Ghost had been a Terrifier instead of a Comforter; as about 22 years ago I remember, when I had preached in London at the Morning Lecture on these words, “how shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation,” Heb.2:3, and had laid open in 14 particulars the greatness of the Gospel Salvation, one of the ministries present, coming in among us afterwards to breakfast, saluted me with this discouragement; I had rather you had preached upon the other part of the words, “how shall we escape if we neglect;” which {the rather because it came from a minister whose face I had never seen before} made me legal enough for them the next bout, as the copy of my notes by me witnesseth. So ‘tis, you do some good, it may be, in one part of a text, or sermon; but then you are such unreasonable people, you cannot be satisfied, if you have not partly a hand in the undoing it again, and hampering souls in the application; for you have not the skill of managing that part of preaching.

How do some of you open the Scriptures to lead into the Mysteries of the Love of God? Into the Glory of Grace? Do you open them from men? “Behold, I am against the prophets, saith the LORD, that steal my words every one from his neighbour.” Jer.23:30. Do you go to open them without judgment and experience? Experience of the word built upon sound judgment? “Thus saith the Lord GOD; Woe unto the foolish prophets, that follow their own spirit, and {not opening the Scriptures by any judgment or experience of the Spirit of Christ in the Word itself; but their own spirit in evident mistakes by natural sound of the words, or by some other misunderstanding of the text and coherence} and have seen nothing.” Ezek.13:3.

Do not some of you turn Expositors of the Word from the brim of your Bible-leaves, the margins? Why, the people can do this for the preacher, and save the preacher the labor. The pews can tell the pulpits, that Hebrew in the margin is how ‘tis rendered in the Hebrew; and Greek in those little side-expositions is how it stands in the Greek; and thus every man that copies a margin looks cousin-German to the original; and is esteemed by such poor hearers who do not carry a Bible and a Search Book, as men renowned for their knowledge of the Scriptures; and this is exactly Mr. Hunt’s case; though sometimes the marginal hints have utterly misted him, to contradict the scope of the Holy Ghost in the whole coherence.

How do many of the task-masters preach the Word? Don’t they open the Scriptures? Why, they open the covers, unfold the leaves, turn you down to the place, thunder out the precepts in a general way, and then if the people do not immediately succumb to their admonitions, our Mount-Sinai men step down from the precept, and get up into Mount Ebal, the Mount of threatening, and there in a manner throw the Bible at their heads, in pouring out all the curses of the Law upon them, as hypocrites! And it may be, at the root of the matter in these preachers, ‘tis, lest any of the people should believe the Everlasting love of the Father to the elect in His Son Jesus Christ; or from some secret animosity against them for finding fault. Instead of preaching Father, Son and Spirit, the doctrine of the Gospel in the one Mediator, they preach little more than the Godhead of the Father, and natural performances unto Him by the people, and this is to make them come and do {in the power of religion} just nothing. Oh! What confusion is there, where men know not the Everlasting love of the Father! Murdering of souls and slaying them openly, till Christ revive them again by His Spirit! “They shall put you out of the synagogues; yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service. And these things will they do unto you, because they have not known the Father, nor me.” {Jn.16:2-3} For, the same cause that made body-murderers then hath made many soul-murderers since, and continues cruelly to do so at this very day! And yet where men cannot murder their brethren, for lack of reach and opportunity, yet they still think themselves in God’s service, and therefore would most readily bash their brains out, if they could do it, and had but that power in their hands!

Ah! ‘tis pity any of God’s poor elect sit under these unskillful ones in the word of righteousness! Heb.5:13. It is looked upon now as a high attainment in Gospel preaching, if ministers get but so far into their work as to press the poor soul {without any regard to the Spirit working Faith, or to the same Spirit motioning Faith when thus wrought} to come to Faith; though they never open the Object thereof, for it is Christ Himself they must come unto by the springs of motion in the Holy Ghost’s Operations; but so they steer wide off their mark, and all because they are unacquainted with the full provisions that have been made by the Everlasting Love of the Father! The parson presses thee to come, poor soul, but does he tell thee how he came of himself? For I can’t but think he came though uninvited, and I suspect it, when I hear so much of his pressing without an interest in Christ from the love of the Father before the motion.

And thus they press, and press, till they have oppressed the Truth, quenched the Spirit of God, and suppressed the success of their own ministry. These make more of faith {who, I am afraid will be found at last to have had least} than they do of the love of God to the elect in his Son Jesus Christ from Everlasting; as if God’s love was born out of our faith, and not our faith born out of God’s love! An ancient Christ to poor sinners is the modern stumbling block! Preachers press faith first and foremost, and Christ secondly, and are all for a Christ fabricated by their faith, even one that is altogether as themselves, Psal.50:21; but I am for that Christ which stood for me in that Suretyship Relation, in the love of the Father before the foundation of the world! And let the men who will not allow Him to be their Christ until their faith hath been beforehand with Him, take this Christ unto themselves. I am for the Christ that is mine, according to the Order of the Persons in the Trinity.

Now as I cannot believe before I have the Spirit of God, the Comforter, so I cannot have the Spirit of God before I have the Christ of God, as I cannot have the Christ of God, before I have the Father. Yet I can never come to this Father who loves me but through his Son and by his Spirit. However, I must have interest in Christ before I have interest in the Spirit of Christ; as I must have interest in the Spirit of Christ before I can put forth a spiritual act to come to Christ. The reason of this orderly interest is that Christ stands in the Second Person, whereas the Comforter stands in the Third Person; now, as the Second Person in the order of the Godhead is before the Third, and operates in Salvation from the First Person before the Third; so Christ that stands in God the Son must act towards me by the apprehending Love from the Father, before the Comforter in God the Spirit acts towards me from both, by Conviction, Awakenings, Faith, or any soul-work. Union in Christ, even on the Spirit’s part in time-union by Effectual Calling, is before faith; because Union with Christ is a creation. And is there any that can create besides God? Are any acts before they are created? Uniting them is acting, and acting God’s part exclusively, and so must be by Him before ours of believing.

Now where be your anti-union-men, who will have no union in Christ before faith? These men who fly out so furiously out against Antinomianism {after all their soft doctrine of charming an Elijah’s passions, Jam.5:17,} that they shake the very Foundations of the Christian Religion, in the Doctrine of Three Persons and their Operations, to maintain their soul-murdering position of no union before faith. {There are three Unions in Christ, suited to the three Operations of all the Three Persons in God. I mean three Unions of God’s Children, and all of them are before Faith: Election-Union, Representation-Union, and Regeneration-Union; and out of all these arises a fourth Union which is a Union to Christ distinct from Union in Christ, and this consists in uniting and cleaving to Christ by Faith.} Good men of our Nonconformists, Presbyterians, Congregational and Baptist, {as we distinguish our good men;} and yet some of all these do maintain this soul-murdering point, Psal.139:16, of no Union before Faith! For that which denies me interest in God, till I have done what I can never do before interest in God {because interest must bring me to it} is a doctrine that murders me, or tends to do so. For, if once I entertain the belief of it, I am dead; you have killed me, you heroic preachers! I can’t stir to God upon it; nor come to Christ! Your Exhortations are idle, I feel the impossibility of the entire legal scheme. If I come, I must feel the motion from Union. But as you lay it out in the preaching, I cannot come to eternal life, so therefore you have killed me! Again, if God does not give me interest; if he hath not done it, before I take it, why, this Doctrine of yours that denies his gift to me before my own Acceptation, murders me, and this is its tendency, you Ten-Commandment men! Pray, and remember the sixth Commandment; aye, and we see other fruits of it. How little spiritual life is there in such preachers or believers? And the cause of it? Why, they have committed murder upon themselves, and others too; for when Truth has at any time pricked their hearts and agitated their thoughts, they quickly take this sword, fall upon it, and slay themselves. And this is a great reason why conversion-work stops, though meetings and preachings go on as much as ever.

Oh! Let us take heed of these people who never mind God’s Divine Order, and therefore regard nothing in the order of Conversion. They will rather pull God down, than their own rotten notions, which they have gotten up about Faith, down. I speak in this of none but your ‘good men!’ And oh, that the Lord would make them good, to further owning them in his own way of Conversion. I declare myself to be for none of their young Christ that comes first by his Interest after the believer’s faith {for all interest is reciprocal and relative,} and for none of their disordered Christ, which hath kept souls in such disorder ever since they disorderly apprehended him {for so do they state the method of apprehension.} Oh! ‘Tis more worth than the whole world, when we rightly apprehend the Holy Child Jesus, Acts 4:27, who from the womb of the morning, had, in early gospel-conversions of the three thousand, and others, the dew of his youth! For, as it was the scandal of the blind Jew that he did not see Christ to be Christ, or Jesus of Nazareth, before the virgin’s womb, and so was offended with the ways and means of God that made him a child. Thus, many ‘Christians’ would, notwithstanding their own principles of Christianity, scandalize and blind us, if God left us under the trial, by their beating down a Union-Christ, an interested Christ before believing. And this is their main delight to rob Christ, and young him in his interest; whereas his interest in the Church is the oldest interest in the world; he was in it before Adam, and all interest is reciprocal and relative, that is, it commenced with God of both sides together. If Christ has had an interest in me elder than the world, I have had an interest in Christ too, secretly with God, before the world was. And my youthful interest by faith is not my only interest by Grace that caused Faith. It is but the breaking up of what I had before in Christ, and the communication of what I had not before in my self.

And blessed be God, that all which is written and said, whether by Mr. Baxter or his disciples, or any others, {I speak not here of any man who hath worthily written in these controversies, but only of some pulpit jibes, whilst men in the same discourse are inconsistent,} who think they have done noble to be a little anti-Baxterian, and perhaps had not gone so far into Apostasy in this drowsy-age, if their people under some of the spirit of their mixed ministry, did not half force them into it, to make them popular in the congregation; and then besides, if they could not quote two or three of the best authorities, to protect their opposition to that man’s scheme, they might never have meddled; yet still, blessed be God, all that’s written or spoken could never wound our doctrine, though it hath wounded so many who have a true interest in it. This Antinomianism {as they call it} shall stand, and on God’s side prevail, when they are rotting in their graves!

I am for that Jesus who is not of their manufacturing, to come in by the interest of his members after their faith. They carry it all for another Union-Christ than God’s born child Jesus; for the Church was his beloved, and He the Church’s beloved with God before the world was. I am for that One which stood in God by Settlement as he should stand for ever, and stood in God therefore in that Settlement, as mine, before it came to an open creation that the mountains were settled, or the hills brought forth! Prov.8:25. I am for that Union, for that Salvation, for that Heaven, for that Love the source of all, which is mine by Divine Decree, through the merits of Christ alone, and then communicative donation, and both ways by Pure Grace before I believed, or before I had a finger in believing!

Neither is my faith the worse, but the better for this, for when it is enkindled through Efficacious Grace it flows freely in Gospel Streams of Obedience and Love, and this willingly; yea, even spontaneously suffering and doing far more the very things which others press, than ever I could come up to in the spirit and faith of their duty-press-doctrine. Men speak out of ignorant fear, and not experimental acquaintance with the efficacy and power of the Holy Ghost, I Cor.4:20, who think this doctrine a licentious doctrine. I would fain know what Doctrine of the Gospel is not licentious which the Spirit leaves in our hands? I have found the contrary doctrine, the doctrine of the Law, when in blind ignorance brought forth as a bridle against sin, the most licentious doctrine, Rom.7:7, to me, even to a despising of God’s Government, a total disregard to Christ, and even wishing there had been no religion in the world! The doctrine of their sincere, instead of perfect obedience {that is, the perfect Obedience of Christ in complete opposition and total exclusion of any feigned, however sincere, obedience that man can bring forth,} brought me to it, as before I showed. Sincere Obedience? I saw nothing which I had, nor anything which I did to be sincere! The Spirit of God not being the Principal of my Conviction, but the Author alone of it upon my natural principle, Rom.7:8, I broke out into all licentious thoughts and speeches of God, even to blasphemy, Mk.3:28, and devilism itself, fulfilling the desires, Eph.2:3, of the flesh and of the mind! And there was nothing that ever turned these damnable ties of nature and hell in my soul but Everlasting love! Now this I know to be true!

On the other hand, I could never understand how this Doctrine of God’s Everlasting Love in Christ had any licentious tendencies whatsoever, when the Spirit takes it into hand! It is not what doctrine I will choose for the Holy Ghost to use upon me to make me holy, that must do it; but it is what doctrine the Holy Ghost will choose by Application for me, which sanctifies me. And it is as consistent that men in their unchanged nature should stumble at this doctrine, as that they should stumble at Christ’s incarnation. And yet, “this child is set for the fall and {as well as the} rising again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken against.” Lk.2:34. Ah! How seldom do our poor meal-mouthed ‘brethren’ that often name Christ {oh; that they oftener preached him} tell the people this! Accordingly, I see it clearly, and must therefore say it, God’s Everlasting Love to the elect in His Son Jesus Christ is set for the falling, and dashing, and quarreling, and despising in many of our professors, and for a sign, a mark, and infallible sign of Grace that shall be persistently spoken against. {“And whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken; but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder.” Mt.21:44} This I look for, and am never surprised, nor angry when I see it come! “Am I therefore become your enemy, because I tell you the truth?” {Gal.4:16} God’s Word must be fulfilled; and I do rather admire the Goodness of God to me a vile worm that I have not been left to cast in my lot amongst them.

Let us look a little into the Doctrine that prevails, and see what inconsistencies, what crooked paths men have made themselves, Isa.59:8, besides all the things I have already struck at in this chapter! What insisting is there upon man’s acts in the inward part of religion, before any regard be given to the Gift of the Holy Ghost, and the Operations belonging to his Office, in the passive affections we feel, before any right actions we perform, as the fruit of Everlasting Love! How common is it to put men to work, in impersonating and mimicking the blessed work of the Holy Spirit! Yea, to work their own works, which must be wrought under the Holy Ghost, before they are wrought by Him for it, and this without any distinction made at all in the doer! What rattling flourishes of universal redemption, free will, and the like, hath Mr. Hunt sprinkled up and down in his Saint’s Treasury? Which, because I have undertaken to answer in divers corrupt parts thereof, I shall in a distinct paragraph show others their own faces in his glass, and discover some evidences of the matters which I have been striking at, in these observations, upon doctrines so opposite and cross to the Everlasting love of the Father to the elect in his Son Jesus Christ, before vindicated. And yet afterwards in place, if the Lord does not prevent me, I may go on with distinct answers, not only to the many general heads of exception I range here under more particular instances, but to twice as many as I hear lay together. For in this section I give but a taste of his medley-doctrine, and the barren-gospel he has uttered upon a very fruitful subject, as that of the Rose of Sharon.

Let us now give consideration to an assortment of Mr. Hunt’s ramblings as here extracted from his text. “Know for thy comfort, if thou mournest for thine infirmities as Paul did, if thou prayest and strivest against them, and shunnest all temptations and occasions leading thereunto, thou mayest be dear to Christ notwithstanding. {Page 142} Is the Law of God written in thy heart, and art thou conforming thereunto in all things in thy life? If so, thou hast reason to take comfort as one that is interested in this lovely Jesus; but not else. {Page 141} {To sinners, he entreats,} is Christ such an Excellent Person? Let me exhort you then to give up your selves to Him, to cast your care upon Him, that so you may obtain an interest in Him. {Page 193} {Motives to get an interest in Christ,} consider that you stand in need of Him, and are most miserable without Him. If he was never so excellent in Himself, yet if you did not need Him, it would be no wonder if I could not prevail with you to renounce all for Him. {Page 195} You that have diseased souls, why do you not make use of this Rose of Sharon? Why do you not come to this Great Physician? If you find any illness in your bodies, or distemper breaking forth there, how do you send for a physician? What cost are you at? And what bitter potions do you drink down, and all for health? But what reason can be given why as much care should not be taken of the soul. {Page 49} If you would be truly beautiful, if you would have the better part comely in God’s sight, throw away your paint, and make use of the Rose of Sharon. {Page 53} He has made Satisfaction for thy sins, if thou hast a heart to come to him, and believe in him. {Page 201} Thy sins are not too great to be pardoned, if not too great to be parted with. {Page 201} We may judge of our interest in Christ by doing what he commands, and by hating and forsaking what he forbids. {Page 141} As if to suffer so much from men, and to die, had not been a sufficient demonstration of his condescension and love to us, he goes yet lower, and engages to be a Surety for us. {Page 160} He is not only able, but willing to save such as come. {Page 201} Thou mayest be too filthy to go to Christ by faith, in the state and condition thou art now in? {Page 40} When God comes to adopt us, he finds us belonging to the family of hell, and near akin to the devil himself. {Page 83} Honor Christ more, lest everlasting shame cover thee. {Page 151} Thou that art yet in thy blood, therefore beg of Him to wash thee. {Page 41} And it is marvelous to think that all the world should not be sick of love for this lovely and beautiful Jesus. {Page 109} And since this parting from Christ will be so sad, sinners, beware of this day, and prevent your misery by a speedy closing with Christ. {Page 193} One would think this should put every Christ-less soul upon wrestling with God, with tears and supplications for an interest in Him. {Page 146} One would think this use should be useless; and that all that have but heard of Him should believe in Him without any more arguments to this end, since it tends so much to their happiness so to do. {Page 193} One would think that all that have heard of Christ should be flocking to Him as doves to the Windows. {Page 186} One would think every soul should be gathering into this Shiloh. {Page 187} One would think that every family should come with their young and with their old, and that no business should be a hindrance from this great concern. {Page 146} If thou art but un-feignedly willing to receive Him, thou mayest be sure He will receive thee. {Page 202} Consider that Christ is able to save thee, if thou hast but a heart to come to Him, and to rely sincerely upon Him. {Page 200} Show more manners to Christ, and then refuse that which tends so much to thy advantage. {Page 206} I have spoken enough one would think in his praise, to set every soul a longing after Him. {Page 106} Let those things encourage thee to return as he did {speaking of the prodigal} and thou wilt certainly speed as he did. {Page 203} Try your interest in Him by your earnest desires. {Page 138} Why, sinners, this {the smoke of their torments ascending for ever and ever} must be the portion of your cup if you get not into Christ.” {Page 199}

Here is abundance of flattery and falsehood in all this; as I may lay open in another sort of order, before I have done with these papers. And then when they think their flattery will not prevail, they fright poor souls, and think to drive them to Christ. Mr. Hunt has shown some of his talent in this method, rather than make sure of the Everlasting love of the Father to the elect in Jesus Christ, and so whether he frights or flatters, he hath done it by daubing with untempered mortar; Ezek.13:10, but he that winneth souls must be wise; Prov.11:30, wise in the mystery of Christ; Eph.3:4, to instruct and lead, and not fools in imagining that they can herd and drive men to Christ, as you drive sheep to their pastures. I will lay open this in an instance or two, and confute this same trade they drive in the general.

“Thus saith the Lord GOD; Woe unto the foolish prophets, that follow their own spirit, and have seen nothing! O Israel, thy prophets are like the foxes in the deserts. Ye have not gone up into the gaps, neither made up the hedge for the house of Israel to stand in the battle in the day of the LORD. They have seen vanity and lying divination, saying, The LORD saith; and the LORD hath not sent them; and they have made others to hope that they would confirm the word. Have ye not seen a vain vision, and have ye not spoken a lying divination, whereas ye say, The LORD saith it; albeit I have not spoken? Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD; Because ye have spoken vanity, and seen lies, therefore, behold, I am against you, saith the Lord GOD. And mine hand shall be upon the prophets that see vanity, and that divine lies; they shall not be in the assembly of my people, neither shall they be written in the writing of the house of Israel, neither shall they enter into the land of Israel; and ye shall know that I am the Lord GOD. Because, even because they have seduced my people, saying, Peace; and there was no peace; and one built up a wall, and, lo, others daubed it with untempered mortar; Say unto them which daub it with untempered mortar, that it shall fall; there shall be an overflowing shower; and ye, O great hailstones, shall fall; and a stormy wind shall rend it.” {Ezek.13:3-11}

Oh! Blessed be God for Everlasting Love to the elect in his Son Jesus Christ. Oh! This same Ancient Grace is Efficacious Grace! The Spirit of the Lord orchestrating this Way of Salvation, at the appointed time of love, making more settled converts at this day, as well as more sound believers, in bringing Christ over the head of old Adam, that I can hear, upon the strictest inquiry, as to how their engines of mass production {destruction} manufacture hundredfold more converts than we do, even amongst all the School-Masters of this day, bred up to this manner of ‘do and live’ and herein content to wallow, with no thoughts or desires to flee therefrom; for these men are quite out of the way, as much as that gardener, who being a stranger to pruning, should think to make the vine flourish by lashing it; or, striking at its first productions in laboring to kill the root. As the way they are got into will never make believers grow {for their over-whipping has checked their own spiritual growth} so neither will it bring converts to Christ in a way of sound Conversion, and we can certainly never expect to see Conversion work go on in this manner, so long as you think to drive souls to Christ! Many use this type of merits-based jargon, as Mr. Hunt blabs forth.

Seventeen hundred years ago the way of Conversion was by Efficacious Drawing. “No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him.” Jn.6:44. It is the Father that draws, why? Because all must spring from the Everlasting Love of the Father, who is the Fountain of the Deity; but since the days of Pelagianism, since the days of Popery, since the days of semi-Pelagianism, since the days of Arminianism, and since the new schemes of some of our Nonconformists; for in Christ’s Cause why must I partially spare a Nonconformist, and in the same breath find fault with a Conformist? The matter has fallen otherwise. Men often preach and dispute, sometimes with, and sometimes without provocation, as if no man came to Christ without driving; driving into the duties of the Gospel, in order to partake of the privileges of the Gospel; or driving them to fulfill the Conditions of the Covenant, as they sinfully call Obedience to the Preceptive part of Holy Scripture. {Driving came in as an effect of men’s corrupting their ways from the Gospel.} But the Lord open their eyes, if any of them belong to the Election of Grace, Rom.11:5, and give them to know, that this invention was never the order of things, to bring with the duties, and postpone the privileges; it was never the order either in the Decrees, or their Executions of the Blessings of Christ and Obedience to Him, instituted and revealed under the light of the Gospel. Thus it is, when men have shut out God the Spirit in divinity, and set up for their own and other men’s guides, they run into everything that’s confused. This is the fruit of their driving, to overthrow all Order and Settlements of Father, Son and Spirit from Everlasting to the elect! And all to serve the vain ends of their own Babylonian confusion!

And alas; {to examine it a bit} what is this same driving, when the man comes behind me? Why driving me forwards to Christ, as he apprehends. I, but the word behind me is more fitted to draw me backwards to Jesus Christ, whom neither I nor my driver had seen, pushing recklessly on forwards. “And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, this is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left.” {Isa.30:21} Driver, whoever thou art, know to my comfort and gain, and to thy own loss, that the gracious word behind me {for I had turned my back upon him that speaks, Heb.12:25, from Heaven} drew me back again to a new beginning in Christ, in the new and living Way, Heb.10:20, which I had never seen upon my back-side. And then it was the Lord that called me by his Grace with a “this is the way walk ye in it.” Here I saw Christ, and Christ standing in God, and Christ standing in God from Everlasting, and Christ, as the Anointed, standing in the love of God before the foundation of the world! Jn.17:24. And all the elect blessed in him of the Father, according as he had chosen them in Christ before the foundation of the world! Eph.1:4. Here I saw the old paths, the good way, which I had never seen before, nor my drivers neither! And no wonder, when the fellowship of the mystery, Eph.3:9, has been hid in God, from the beginning of the world! “Thus saith the LORD, stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein.” {Jer.6:16} These were the good ways and old paths distinctly. Their ways were their Temple-ordinances; these they had gone out of, and corrupted, and walked where they had no vision. Therefore stand ye in the ways and see. See that there is another way that you know nothing of; the good way, the narrow way, Mt.7:14, the Gospel way to heaven by Messiah; ask, see and ask in the temple-ways by sacrifices, legal washings, &c., for do you use these things for nothing? Where is the good way? Where is Messiah? All this is not Christ; let us look above, and expect His coming down from heaven, as our way thither to the Father {for you see I open it by Gospel-light,} and ask for the old paths which Solomon had been describing about this Messiah-Wisdom; Prov.8:22-23, who had written of the glorious paths, the ancient paths of love, long before Jeremiah! Stand now, see and inquire for these, and see {says he} how far you are wandered, and got quite out of the way.

Now these task-masters were driving me away from these paths, Jer.6:16, as you may see by the furious and inconsistent pushes they have generally made of their good old way {of a blind obedience} upon this place in Jeremiah; but the Lord took me off from these drivers, by taking me into his own gracious hands, both in the work of Conversion and Sanctification, with these words, “I will bring the blind by a way that they knew not; I will lead them in paths that they have not known; I will make darkness light before them, and crooked things straight. These things will I do unto them, {the blind, as I saw now I had all my days in and out of the pulpit been,} and not forsake them.” {Isa.42:16} Christ did not stand before me in that posture in which the preacher found me when he drove me to confusion, Dan.9:7; for by this means, the more he drove me, the further still I was got from Christ; and so afterwards, when it came to a true Conversion-work, in turning and returning, Jer.3:12, to the Lord {for I had been going from him ever since I fell in Adam, till now these legal mercenaries drove me faster along, and ever further from Christ into many grievous and actual transgressions} I saw I had the more ground to go back again, when I was not disobedient to the heavenly call, Acts 26:19, or the word behind me, saying, this is the way, walk ye in it; the way to this Glorious Redeemer, whom now by faith I beheld! Christ stands in the old paths of Election and Covenant-Settlements from Everlasting; and so, after all my wanderings, becomes the good way, Jer.6:16, unto me! I find rest unto my soul, as the Lord hath promised me, entirely removed from all their shortcuts and yesterday’s paths, Hos.2:6, that when the field of the Church comes to be new sown, must be hedged up, and men must come about into the Everlasting Paths, Hab.3:6, again! They must, if ever they are found of that number to get home in the narrow way, Mt.7:14, Christ, cast up in the Beginning of all God’s way. “My people hath forgotten me, they have burned incense to vanity, and they have caused them to stumble in their ways from the ancient paths, to walk in paths, in a way not cast up.” {Jer.18:15}

Aye, but you must repent. True; but these legalists never drove me to the Repentance of the Gospel. Acts 11:18. For lo, they drive themselves to fulfill the Conditions of the Covenant of Grace for their own peace and makeshift repentance. Well, {they reason,} but though they aim at fulfilling the conditions, they come up, we hope, to sincere obedience; and this God accepts, and this will bring us safer to heaven than all your Antinomian-fooleries. {I use the term which my ears once heard a popular preacher, Mt.7:15, of the city, now flourishing, call the great things of Christ in the Gospel!} Well, remember sincere obedience is not enough for you, except it be the sincere Obedience of Christ, who was obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Phil.2:8. Take heed, that your sincerity be not the sincere cheat of old Adam, for there is nothing which comes from old Adam that is accepted with the only wise God. I Tim.1:17. He knows no sincere obedience, but what proceeds from the tree first made good. “A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.” {Mt.7:18}

I must repent, ‘tis true; but these blind men can’t discover to me a Christ for repentance, a Christ in repentance, except it be a Christ that is repentance, as they lay it. “Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins.” Acts 5:31. Besides, I must have the Lord’s Christ, Lk.2:26, after repentance, whom I had before repentance. I must have Him above repentance and beyond it, and be made to realize that true repentance must be freely gifted by Grace, and whoever much I lash myself into a penitent frame, in the end all must come from Above. Besides, I can never repent, if I had not Christ before I repent. I must have Christ in his own blood to work it, by sending the Comforter, Jn.14:26, into my heart, into my conscience, as well as into my understanding and will, to sprinkle all, I Pet.1:2; or, as to any Gospel-meltings, a flint can repent as easily as I can. For, in moist weather that will be damp and wet on the outside; thus in judgments and showers of wrath, I shall be wet, it may be, when I am afraid I shall go to Hell. Do you call this repenting? It is howling, when Esau lifts up his voice, Gen.27:34, and cries with an exceeding, bitter cry; ‘tis unbelieving; ‘tis not repenting; for he found no place of repentance, though he sought his father’s blessing carefully with tears. Heb.12:17.

So that he who drives me to a Christ, must be supposed to drive me to one of his own fancying; for I am sure, the true Christ will never stand for me to be driven up to Him. From whence, I am left without relief, by their doctrine, to venture blindfold, and rush in upon a strange one, not to God’s Christ and to my well-Beloved. Isa.5:1. The hasty whip-monger will drive me to a conditional Christ, and if any secret guidance from the Word would incline me right, {if it be not strong and effectual, but a mere motion without new principle} this Jehu, II Kings 9:20, this furious and dangerous driver will drive me, and drive me, till he is got me off from the motion, and way too, that I must not dare to venture upon the Doctrine of Eternal Love-Union before faith; nor venture so far neither by faith, as to venture in after my absolute Forerunner, who is for me entered, Heb.6:20, without any condition I am to fulfill, within the Veil!

Well, blessed be God, what with God’s drawing and their driving, my soul comes not into their secret society; mine honor {my tongue in praises for what they do not understand} is not united with their assemblies. “O my soul, come not thou into their secret.” Gen.49:6. I am drawn, I must be drawn, I can’t be driven, says the spouse. “Draw me, we will run after thee.” Now, drawing me is persuading me I have a better Father than I had in Eden, a better Husband than the creature, though almost of six thousand years standing, which I have married since! Drawing me is persuading me by love to go back, in my thoughts, were, through my days, I have always been in Adam! In fallen, wretched, lost Adam! It is persuading me to go back to Adam, even before he sinned in Eden, Gen.2:8, and there see how much I am sunk below Creation-Glory! Yea, drawing me is persuading me into Christ, who was, and to Christ prepared for me too before Adam! It is a persuading me, as a means to get me out of this wretched state, forwards, to know well how once the case has stood with me backwards; that when set right in the way, I may, according to the Counsel of God, that must always guide me by the Word, advance safely, and with the best success forwards. “Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel, and afterward receive me to glory.” {Psal.73:24}

It is good, as I belong to God, to know what I was, and where I was in a Gospel-sense before Adam; and how I came into relation with the Lord from Heaven; I Cor.15:47, that when I come thus and thus to see it, I may be drawn on, on, on, though I go round through the way of the wilderness, Exod.13:18, and through a world of troubles and hatred, Matt.10:22, to my dearest Lord, in the trace of His mighty love, still behind me and before me. If to try me, I am stopped forwards, love that guides me, persuades me to step back, and go about to heaven! Am I stopped for a little moment, Isa.54:8, in advancing forwards? Let me withdraw, and go back in my thoughts to an “Everlasting Covenant, ordered in all things, and sure.” II Sam.23:5. And thus am I helped to wait, Gal.5:5, to hope and believe, that my way to glory will open forwards again, in order to my settling there forever! “Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect; but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended; but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” {Phil.3:12-14}

Now, when I thus retire back, I find it quickens my heart, and opens my way together; it assists me pressing forwards towards the mark, and forgetting the things behind, as if I were but taking my first step to heaven! This hastens me on very sweetly towards eternity; Yea, hastens me to the coming of the day of God! II Pet.3:12. It is now I do not stick or wander from my duty in the circle of Providences! It is now under the Consolations of God, by the blessed Comforter, that though I drop into many alterations, yet I never drop off, or fall away from the sphere of God’s love in Christ Jesus our Lord; as the motion began in God’s heart with love, so all the existing springs of motion that draw my heart to Christ, are lines directed onwards till they meet again in the same Love-Center, in the same Glory-Center that began them! By this guidance I never lag nor loiter, to take into other’s grace-paths {for nowadays nature goes for grace} but go on with Love’s Beginnings, till I meet in heaven within the love-point, from everlasting! To wit, that everlasting which is to be drawn out to everlasting again; only with this difference, that as love had a beginning, it is to be carried on without ending. Love, like a circle, or a ring, before closing, had its own beginning within itself, but when closed up, and the matter fixed, has no ending to Eternity!

And yet surely there is so great an enmity in many to this Everlasting Love, {for the natural mind is enmity with God, Rom.8:7,} that as to the sense of its being from Everlasting, I verily believe they could as soon choose with the fool, to say in their heart there is no God, Psal.14:1, as admit this sense {which I have laid down} of God’s love! Oh! What a heart of stone was mine, that God by this same love has changed! “A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you; and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them.” {Ezek.36:26-27} And, what a Wonder of Grace is it that I am not belching out, Psal.59:7, against it, and running from one professor to another, and shaking the head, Psal.22:7, in their number!

Now, let men snarl at this love of God from Everlasting to the elect in his Son Jesus Christ, this love emulating from the Beloved in everlasting bonds of Grace if they dare; for by such snarlings they only proclaim their lostness. Not one holy man amongst them, who will ever see the face of God for themselves, but only such as shall be found to be brought into Christ, and with him to stand into God, as the Greek is in John 17:23, {“I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me,”} upon this One Foundation of their Everlasting Union in the Glory-Man! {Holiness that brings men to see the face of God is built upon Union in the Glory-Man from Everlasting.} Mr. Baxter himself, once under the sun, whom I believe to be now in glory with the Lord, is carried in upon this Foundation of his Everlasting Union in God-Man, before the foundation of the world; much more before he had done any good or evil, Rom.9:11, or could think a good thought. “For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.” {Phil.2:13} This union I am speaking of, tarries for {i.e. depends upon} no man’s faith or works; and that Union is put into the One-love wherewith God loved Christ! This Love, this Union-love is the only frame that holds, in Christ Jesus of God, all the branch-unions of it consequent in time, and following other things which stand before it in the same everlasting frame. Thus Christ standing in God, and love pitching upon our persons in Him; faith and works too in their place and frame can never fly in pieces, or be lost out of this settlement. The Settlement of them is the only means in the hands of all the Glorious Persons of God in Christ, that faith, repentance, holiness of life, as well as holiness of heart, can never fall, or fail, but secures them every one. Here I pitch through Grace, on this I live, with this I choose to die.

I can see nothing against all this, either in Faith or Manners. There’s nothing against it in Faith; for there’s Redemption-Grace, as the fruit of Election-Union, to secure Influential Grace by the Spirit of Faith, II Cor.4:13, unto the elect. There’s nothing against it in Manners; for there’s Christ-Wisdom in the Nature and Moral Branches of his Covenant, to secure the Transcript of God’s Law in the natural and moral ideas of virtue and human honesty; and so to cause the Law {of the Ten Commandments} to be written in every man’s heart, Rom.2:15, and something of it to be copied out in every man’s life; without which the world would be a chaos and disband into confusion!

We may hence see the Fullness and all-Sufficiency of God’s Counsels. Nothing could be wanting in the Contrivance and Thoughts of Everlasting Love! Blessed be God, there were Three in Counsel! And there can be only Three, when this Glorious Deed was Settled. There were the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost in the Council of Grace given us in Christ Jesus before the world began! Three who are One! “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, but is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.” II Tim.1:9-10.

How consistent is the Holy Ghost as the Spirit of the Prophets, with himself, as the Spirit of the holy Apostles of the Lord! Nor were Isaiah and Jeremiah prompted by the classes of those times, as too many are in ours, to put in other words into the doctrine, to mar the Everlasting Settlements of Grace! For though many of the discovery brake out in those prophetic times, yet the Settlements were made in Wisdom’s time, even whilst Christ, as the Covenant-Man, was by, in the Second Person, from the dates of Everlasting!

And as Isaiah called Christ the Husband of the Gentiles, before the Gentile-Church appeared, doubtless there were men as Anti-Evangelical, according to the measure of the Revelation of the Doctrine of Christ then, as there are in our day, who could freely have prosecuted the man in these matters, for broaching a Doctrine that did favor Libertinism. And as for our men, I know they’ll not stick to set up screws and engines, and torture Isaiah’s Doctrine, in their zeal to stop the progress of what they call an Antinomian Gospel; just like Isaiah’s tormentors, who once unmercifully took that prophets body, tortured it, and sawed {according to Jewish tradition} Isaiah in sunder, Heb.11:37, because of some passages, it would seem, that Manasseh the son of good Hezekiah, and the sparks of that new reign, when their Puritan King was gone, could not bear. But we must leave these men until God opens their eyes, being incurable by, and obstinate against all other Convictions. And so much for this useful chapter.