THE EXCELLENCY OF CHRIST
Vindicated, &c.

THE INTRODUCTION

When a certain short Treatise was brought to my hands, October 9, 1704, under the name of that brother in the ministry, Mr. John Hunt of Northampton, I found written in the title page thereof, THE SAINTS TREASURY; OR, A DISCOURSE CONCERNING THE GLORY AND EXCELLENCY OF THE PERSON OF CHRIST; and entwined through the leaves of that discourse, CHRIST THE MOST EXCELLENT; or THE GLORY OF CHRIST UNVEILED; being some of his labors on a part of the Song of Solomon 2:1.

I read the same treatise over, and thought I found here and there in a few places some considerable improvements made in his soul experience, beyond what he had discovered in some private conferences; together with a measure of doctrinal growth in the light and knowledge of Jesus Christ. II Pet.3:18. I was glad to believe this; and the rather, because some of that increase was sprung up, beyond what I could judge appeared in another book of his, entitled INFANT’S FAITH.

“Truly the light is sweet, and a pleasant thing it is for the eyes to behold the sun;” {Ecc.11:7;} as the wise man expresses it. I cannot therefore but own it to be my duty to acknowledge every spiritual good thing; and herein I acknowledge the Truth that is according to godliness. Tit.1:1. The Lord makes his Grace and Spiritual Gifts to abound, or dispenses a less measure of the Gift by Grace, even as it seemeth good unto him. Rom.12:3. This is so far from drawing the plea for any man’s inconsistencies, and his entrance upon what he doth not understand, that it ought to be received as a check to rash and presumptuous confidence, and used as a bar of restraint to vanity and precipitancy in venturing on by ourselves without the Holy Ghost.

I began with a consideration of the title; and upon a due observation of the things before me, I believe that a ‘saints treasure’ is to be found in Mr. Hunt’s book, so far as Christ is to be there found the Christ of God, Lk.9:20, and the Lord’s Christ, Lk.2:26, which book {though no better filled up with Christ} he calls the SAINTS TREASURY. “What then? Notwithstanding, every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is preached; and I therein do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice.” {Phil.1:18} I look upon the Excellency of the Person of Christ {which he adds but as an equivalent, by his bringing in the after part of his Title} to be by itself a greater Glory than the glory to which he entitles Christ, when he entitles him “the saints treasury;” and that the excellency of his Person and Glory doth far more agree with that amiable description, “I am the Rose of Sharon;” than it doth with the superscription and title of this book, THE SAINTS TREASURY. The reason is copious; for, as the Lord Christ is excellent in his Person, so he is the unspeakable Delight of his Father, and that is more than to be the treasury of the saints. The Excellency of Christ’s Person doth carry the relation of him unto the Father, and to the saints besides; and thus, the One Mediator between God and men, I Tim.1:5, is a more excellent latitude of his Glory, than the other alone can be, unto his Person. Besides, take him in the Excellency of his Person, as Mediator, and what admirable delight is he unto the Holy Ghost. As the Father hath an interest in him, so the Holy Ghost hath likewise. As the Father set him up in the womb of Eternal Love; {for, I may show afterwards in the proper place of this book, that the setting him up, there in the eighth of the Proverbs from everlasting, ought not to be understood of what is termed in theology Christ’s Divine Filiation, or his Eternal Generation, as Second Person; yet I know, ‘tis the opinion of many great and worthy men upon that text in handling the Socinian Controversies, when they labor to establish the same blessed Truth;} so the Holy Ghost formed his body in the Virgin’s Womb; as the Father sent him forth into the world; so the Holy Ghost anointed him in the world, Acts 10:38, when he was Jesus of Nazareth; witnessed to all his doctrines and miracles; has revealed his Person and all the benefits of the saints with him; and applies the whole purchase of his blood. Add to all this, if you take him thus in the Excellency of his Person and Glory, as God the Father hath raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand, Eph.1:20, he is a Treasury of Worth not to be engrossed or absorbed by Saints; but an abounding; yea, a super abounding Treasury that enriches the Holy Angels themselves, Rev.14:10, by a perpetual communication of his own Heavenly Glory. This only by the by, as to the Title of Mr. Hunt’s book.

Well, as I passed from the censure of the title, and came on into the examination of the Treatise itself, I saw the one only foundation, “for other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ,” {I Cor.3:11;} yet many inter-mixtures of wood, hay and stubble upon it, along with gold, silver and precious stones. I Cor.3:12. These were very disorderly proceedings in attempting to set forth the Glory of Christ. Things were merely huddled and jumbled together upon that Only Foundation, throughout the whole discourse. I was not willing to be mistaken; for I gave it the first, second, third and fourth readings, and my last thoughts made me almost fear lest I had been mistaken in my first; and of the soul of that man had only got some more notions of Christ, without any more growth in Christ, to manage them serviceably for our Lord Christ; for still I found a great many corrupt things, Prov.24:31,32, mingled with the good matter of his book; and these dead flies in the ointment of the apothecary, caused it to “send forth a stinking savor,” as the preacher hath it. Eccles.10:1.

Moreover, the man lays down many odd things wherein no argument is given to prove them; matters left thus to reason, seem to want the grounds of our faith. “That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.” {I Cor.2:5} This ought the rather to have been thought on, because it was expedient, if not necessary, to bestow a little argument upon points that were designed for the highest reputation, under the Title he advances. But his odd things should {for me} have been buried in oblivion, if his erroneous ones had disappeared.

The Saints Treasury! A Golden Title! Though it can never ascend to the PEARL OF GREAT PRICE - CHRIST THE MOST EXCELLENT! Aye, blessed be the Lord, I can set to my seal, Jn.3:33, that so he is indeed; the GLORY OF CHRIST UNVEILED! “Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it.” {Mt.13:46} Why, what can rise higher than the Glory he wears in heaven! But, is it unveiled? Oh! Incomparable Title! The name cheers me! ‘Tis all “gold tried in the fire!” Rev.3:18. And would one think now, that out of this gold in the book, there could come forth a Golden calf? I believe the man to have meant well, and would not have given you the golden calf for the people to dance around, if he had considered it to be an idol. Exod.32:19. Yet Aaron said, after he had made it a molten calf, “these be thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.” Exod.32:4. And is this now another Aaron, {for other reasons too that bear down the golden calf,} yet perhaps a saint of the Lord? Psal.106:16. Hath he not likewise said to a part of our Israel, see the true Excellency of Sharon! “It shall blossom abundantly, and rejoice even with joy and singing; the glory of Lebanon shall be given unto it, the excellency of Carmel and Sharon, they shall see the glory of the LORD, and the excellency of our God.” {Isa.35:2} See Christ that is shadowed out unto us by the Song of Songs, which is Solomon’s. “I am the Rose of Sharon, and the Lily of the valleys.” {Song.2:1} See him that hath redeemed us unto our God by his own blood. “And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof; for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation.” {Rev.5:9} Behold Christ in this sweet title, THE GLORY OF CHRIST UNVEILED! Yea, but how are we left to behold him in the treatise? The author took it superlatively, and hath recommended it for the Rose of Roses, for he knows not of the briar that pricks the most gentle hand which touches it; nor that he missed of the Rose of Sharon, in often naming him, to refresh and delight us in our sweet communion with him. “I sat down under his shadow with great delight, and his fruit was sweet to my taste. He brought me to the banqueting house, and his banner over me was love.” {Song.2:3-4}

Oh, poor hearts, be not mistaken! The Apostle saith, by way of caution, “let no man deceive you with vain words;” Eph.5:6, and again, “he that soweth to his flesh {doctrine of his flesh as a fruit of corrupt nature} shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit {doctrine of the Spirit as a fruit of the Holy Ghost} shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.” {Gal.6:8} I love the man Hunt, and everything of good in him; but pity his weakness, and reprove his vain confidence. It was Israel’s persuasion of old, that she should not be ashamed of Egypt, as she was ashamed of Assyria; but yet God tells Israel, that “the LORD hath rejected thy confidences, and thou shalt not prosper in them.” {Jer.2:37} How far the illusion is applicable to himself in his confidence of this latter essay, that he should never be ashamed of it, as he seems professedly to be of the other confidence, in declaring before-hand that “he would take no farther notice of an answer to it, than to read it,” only himself knows.

In this last, THE SAINT’S TREASURY, there are a great many barefaced errors, besides a far greater number of such as are more covertly scattered, and others, not so disbursed into corners of the book are buried in it from common and cursory observation. Acts 17:11. And these, together with a few of Mr. John Hunt’s less sort of slips, I take notice of in this abused Rose of Sharon. The numerous escapes of the Press I ought to overlook; though I must impute it to his own fault, that when he had overlooked so many of them, he would not look again, and give us a hint of all such gross errata as absolutely interrupts the reader, and puts him to thoughts how to reconcile bits and chips of words with true English. However it be, it is the Doctrine that I principally aim at in my corrections; and though, I may towards the latter end of all lay a few observations together on the more notorious slips, yet it shall be done mainly to show him that he ought to have studied to be “a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” {II Tim.2:15}

A thousand pities that the follies of his first Essay {INFANT’S FAITH} had not proved a delay to his after wisdom in the Press; for, if he had reviewed the green annals of 1700, he might have seen cause of longer forbearance than 1704, and stayed at least half a dozen years for growth, until his understanding was riper; but, they are not the worst of our faults that they were faults begun in youth. “Tarry at Jericho until your beards be grown, and then return.” {II Sam.10:5}

It is more culpable that a man begins in the flesh; Gal.3:3, and ‘tis less to be endured by the new creature, that a man will also end in the flesh. Yet, if private advice be muffled, then there is no stop for this folly without an open rebuke. “Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear.” {I Tim.5:20} “Open rebuke is better than secret love.” {Prov.27:5} Bright truths should not be sullied with the fruits of our corrupt flesh. The bush should not mar the rose; I mean, the Truths of God ought not to have been thrust together into a party crowd of truths and errors, as they are herein mismatched in these papers respecting the Rose of Sharon.

I can discern, for the seeing eye is of the Lord, Prov.20:12, that now and then the fragments of a page, separately, in this same SAINT’S TREASURY {the book under view} do aim at some of the riches of Christ; Eph.3:8, but truly, I can scarce see {upon reviews} two pages together so well furnished throughout the whole free of error and gross inconsistencies.

And however, in the main, it may go beyond his other discovery in his book entitled INFANT’S FAITH, and the sinful appendix of that former book, which openly pleads against the Gospel way of getting rid of sin, under very odious reflections upon the fullness of Him who is able to do above all that we ask or think, Eph.3:20, {for which cause it is likely to be an appendix of shame, and which is far worse, not washed from its filthiness by all the cleansing means pleaded before in INFANT’S FAITH; and withal, though these latter sort of dealings with the Sharon-text, under their cloud and smoke of error, may in the body of them, be more tolerable than the other appendix, and run up taller than the INFANT’S FAITH,} yet for want of Gospel-strength it is no ways come to an established faith; nor is it fit to bring us towards an adult man, in the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus our Lord; Phil.3:8, nor indeed, are these the fruits of a ministry fitted to a believer in Christ, nor inclining unto the measure, as the Apostle speaks, of the stature of the fullness of Christ; Eph.4:13, for herein it comes sadly short of establishing and discerning helps.

Indeed, ‘tis not so much that he has disparaged himself, but, I must say, ‘tis intolerable, when he comes to his portrait pictures, and makes of an Infinite Being, a shadow, and the Lord of Glory, I Cor.2:8, as such, to be in some things, infinitely below his own Majesty.

I do in some measure hope, for the Lord is all sufficient to work by me a poor worm towards them, that my after-examinations may do him good, and be compelled to keep back what he hath farther hinted to us; namely, that he is at work upon another volume on the Canticles, till it become a precious fruit by the sun, Deut.33:14, or until so ripened by Christ, that we may bless the Lord for it; and for the precious things put forth by the moon, or the Church, whose after-influences come from Christ Himself. I am convinced it will be no mighty burden, with the Lord’s Presence, to carry out a few general heads of exception, though filled up with numerous particulars, and so to set upon cleansing the book of its general taint, Tit.2:14, which would make a longer work to go through every bad sentence and expunge every line of it ill phrased, for these are dispersed and sown up and down that little spot of labor.

Furthermore, having entered on a work of this nature, I cannot well avoid some introductory digression, into other labors that are as culpable as this before me, and which must stand or fall with it; for it seems to me that some of the work of the day wherein we live is now being winnowed with the shovel and with the fan, Isa.30:24, to gather out the cockle and darnel from heaps of books and volumes of the most specious titles which have been brought up for good bread corn; that is to say, Sound Practical Divinity.

It was the same general tradition of men and books, which had mis-taught me about fourteen years ago. “And the vision of all is become unto you as the words of a book that is sealed, which men deliver to one that is learned, saying, Read this, I pray thee; and he saith, I cannot; for it is sealed; and the book is delivered to him that is not learned, saying, Read this, I pray thee; and he saith, I am not learned.” {Isa.29:11-12} I then wanted distinguishing light in the doctrine of the Person of God, and the distinct operations of God the Father, God the Son, {as God-Man,} but more especially God the Spirit; and had not reached to any clear light in the Harmony and wise Design of the Most High in the Holy Scriptures, for I was not then brought off from building the sense and exposition of the Word upon man, and man’s conjectures, Gal.1:10-12, whether matters were clearly set forth in the Holy Scriptures, or not. “Now therefore thus saith the LORD of hosts; Consider your ways. Ye have sown much, and bring in little; ye eat, but ye have not enough; ye drink, but ye are not filled with drink; ye clothe you, but there is none warm; and he that earneth wages earneth wages to put it into a bag with holes. Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Consider your ways.” {Hag.1:5-7}

Nevertheless, at that time I was easily prevailed on by an enticing letter from a Presbyterian friend {the letter I have still by me in its original} to set forth thirty sermons that I had preached on the Great Supper in the parable; {Luke Chapter 14,} in which sermons there were a great many dark, indigested and inconsistent passages, together with a sinful exclusion of the work of the Holy Spirit, in the Doctrine of a Summons to come to Christ; insisting more upon the act of coming {without clarification too} than upon special and creating Grace in the Operation of God upon the comer. “No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him.” {Jn.6:44} “In all places where I record my name I will come unto thee, and I will bless thee.” {Exod.20:24}

The things amiss have been discovered to me since, and therefore, for the magnifying of the Riches of God’s Grace towards me, a dark, a vile and sinful creature in my own, and Adam’s nature, I love to see that book now and then, entitled, THE GOSPEL FEAST OPENED, as an encouraging evidence of my growth afterwards in the Mystery of Christ. Eph.3:4. “When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things.” {I Cor.13:11} Besides, through the Lord’s humbling, emptying and teaching me otherwise, I have long since repented of all those errors and grieved for them at the heart, II Tim.2:25, and do through that same Grace alone, avoid these, and such like blemishes of the Gospel in my later Preaching and Printing.

Again, as God hath showed me where the errors lie, so withal I do see it to be my duty, being rescued from the snare of man’s enticing wisdom, I Cor.2:4, in laying down the form of duty in his common and mistaken applications of the Word, to write upon such a subject as is here designed for the glory of God, and the good of his own elect, “for the Lord knowest them that are his.” {II Tim.2:19} Accordingly, I have undertaken it upon the occasion before mentioned; and that I may lay open what the Lord hath been pleased to show me of the Truth of Christ out of his own Word.

The corrupting of Divinity in our days hath not only risen from an early itch in young men to be scribbling; and from the corruption of our natures at large, but ‘tis principally owing to the conversation we have all received by tradition from our fathers; as Peter speaketh, I Pet.1:18, when he writes to the elect “strangers scattered abroad;” that is to say, the Jews. I Pet.1:1-2. And blessed be God, that inasmuch as I have been redeemed from this “vain conversation by tradition of our fathers,” as the Greek reads it, or, “received by tradition from our fathers,” as the English hath it, with the precious blood of Christ, I Pet.1:19, from taking up and laying down Divine Truths from human trust, I see the more into mine own special duty in the case. “For ye are bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.” {I Cor.6:20} It therefore becomes me humbly and modestly to tell the Truth; yet faithfully, and as I am charged, I Tim.5:21, without fore-judging what I may get or loose by this, which I also take the Greek word to mean from the Holy Ghost; as we read it, “without preferring one before another, doing nothing by partiality.” “Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them; for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee.” {I Tim.4:16} I declare therefore, that wherein I do contrary to many good men, Eph.5:1, I do it after an examining of their writings, and weighing their books at the sanctuary scales {a labor that hath been now upon my hands more than ten years past} and good sound reason, to go by God’s Word and Spirit at last, I Cor.2:10, having been carried away with much deceit in many other writings, and by too many of some of our own good men, who have had more goodness to mean well, than judgment to open all well, in that which they have undertaken. “For who hath stood in the counsel of the LORD, and hath perceived and heard his word? Who hath marked his word, and heard it?” {Jer.23:18} I may say, that I was never entangled with more religious deceit than in reading many of our English Works; and on this matter I pity such readers, and the more, because many of them are such preachers too, as were never able to turn over into the Latin Controversies of the Gospel, {Controversies clearer than Practical Writers} where the Orthodox side have far outdone, in point of Evangelical Truth, the discoveries of many of our Practical and Expository Writers.

Here let no man mistake me; for I am not against a Doctrinal opening of the Holy Scriptures, nor Practical writing; but let every man, as the Holy Ghost saith in Paul, “take heed how he buildeth” on the Foundation; the Foundation is Christ, I Cor.3:10, and it must be Spiritual building upon Jesus Christ. Let us not then be carried away with carnal reasonings, as the opinions of men, which the Scripture calls the “traditions of our fathers.” I Pet.1:18. “But I said unto their children in the wilderness, Walk ye not in the statutes of your fathers, neither observe their judgments, nor defile yourselves with their idols; I am the LORD your God; walk in my statutes, and keep my judgments, and do them.” {Eze.20:18-19} Let us not be put off with following in the tread, and steps, and notions, and language one of another, and call this, a building upon Christ; for ‘tis no meet building. Such stuff doth not suit with the One Foundation which is a rich and costly building; or rather, a being “built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone.” {Eph.2:20} Doctrinal and Practical writers are not to pin one upon another, as generally they have done all along, to the no mean disservice of the Gospel. Let me see things belonging to the Scriptures solidly made out by the Holy Ghost’s own arguments there, {“For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received.” I Cor.11:23. “But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.” Gal.1:11-12,} and not by the Council, the Classis, the Fathers, the Quotations; nor, in short, by the Authority and Opinion, the Subscriptions and Prevailing Notions of the Times; the adhering to all which hath unanimously thrust out God’s Holy Spirit, and miserably stopped the progress of the Everlasting Gospel, Rev.14:6, in its business with the souls of God’s people. “I have not sent these prophets, yet they ran; I have not spoken to them, yet they prophesied. But if they had stood in my counsel, and had caused my people to hear my words, then they should have turned them from their evil way, and from the evil of their doings.” {Jer.23:21-22} For we see manifestly, in spite of all the learning, that learned men, I Cor.1:20, have been building up a Babel of Confusion to lay their notions under everlasting Disputes; the Lord having confounded their language, Gen.11:7, and several opinions, till they understand not, nor believe one another! After all is said and done, it is the poor that receive the Gospel. “Then Jesus answering said unto them, Go your way, and tell John what things ye have seen and heard; how that the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, to the poor the gospel is preached. And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me.” {Lk.7:22-23} Oh! Therefore none like the Holy Ghost to make out his own meaning in the Word. I prefer God’s giving me the Holy Ghost, before all the men and books in the world, to understand the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make me wise unto salvation. II Tim.3:15. Let interpreters of the Word show me what they have seen from God, not what they have seen from one another. “Consider what I say; and the Lord give thee understanding in all things.” {II Tim.2:7}

So in our Practical Divinity, let us have a body of Spiritual Practicals, that take in the Holy Ghost’s works upon souls, and not Carnal Practicals that spoil and entangle the simple. How many pathways to heaven {books, I mean, that either pretend to such title or tendency} and sure guides to Eternity, and Christian’s Daily Walks, that have shut out Christ’s company, and the Holy Spirit too, and go on by themselves? Yea, are there not a multitude of the writings of that nature, that ‘tis impossible, if you adhere to them, to take in a consistent chain of thoughts, touching much of God’s mind in the Old and New Testament? {There ought to be Reformations out of a Reformation. ‘Tis not enough to separate, either as to persons or things; corn from the straw, but from the chaff too.} And what? Are not consistent attainments in our views of the Holy Scriptures some of the best qualifications, either for our preaching or writing books? If men that preach and write do not see consistently, how should people that hear and read do so? The water in the streams can never run higher than the fountains. If we are low in our souls, how are the people likely to thrive in theirs?

What specious things are there gone abroad into the world? How have many of these darkened the Scriptures, bewildered some, and bewitched others, as the Apostle of the Gentiles saith. “O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you?” {Gal.3:1} And how have they puzzled poor souls, and kept them back from ever discerning any true work, at least, a clear work of Grace? We are commanded to “grow in Grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.” {II Pet.3:18} But such doings, or rather, undoings as these, do always check growth, and tend to make us question Grace. We are not to be “children in understanding,” I Cor.14:20, though many that have gone to Heaven before us have been so, comparatively. For, the path of the just, as saints come on in every age, “is as the shining light that shines more and more unto the perfect day.” {Prov.4:18} “And it shall come to pass in that day, that the light shall not be clear, nor dark; but it shall be one day which shall be known to the LORD, not day, nor night; but it shall come to pass, that at evening time it shall be light.” {Zech.14:6-7} “Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the LORD is risen upon thee. For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people; but the LORD shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee.” {Isa.60:1-2} “And I will shake all nations, and the desire of all nations shall come; and I will fill this house with glory, saith the LORD of hosts. The glory of this latter house shall be greater than of the former, saith the LORD of hosts; and in this place will I give peace, saith the LORD of hosts.” {Hag.2:7,9} The Day of the Reformation hath been long getting up, but Spiritual Reformation in the perfect day thereof, is not yet come; though we are breathing after, and hastening to the coming of the day of God. II Pet.3:12.

For mine own part, I question not, but there are some of the authors of small doings now in heaven, standing before the Lamb, who never got thither in their book-by-paths, but were carried to heaven, I Cor.3:15, in that doctrine, they {perhaps} had ignorantly set themselves against. These now behold, without sorrow or burden, Rev.7:9, many of their councils but dross, which they had often put away to men for gold.

How do you know this? I believe it, as I may know it by faith in God’s Word that hath said that wood, hay and stubble shall be burnt up, and a man’s work shall suffer loss, yet he himself shall be saved, so as by fire. I Cor.3:15. And I know it too by some experience of the Word; for the more power I feel at any time in my soul from the sight of Christ glorified, from a view of heaven, from spiritual communion with the spirits of just men made perfect, Heb.12:23; {for by the Gospel we come more clearly to see what is become of all departed saints; for the Word tells me where they are, and, says the Holy Ghost, we are to come to them;} and the more strength I feel in the blessed, refreshing views of the Day of Judgment, the more I do feel all this but dross, with all other sin and corruption of my own, to burn up daily by the Holy Ghost’s fire and sweetness in my own soul, without pain or amazement, with pure joy and love!

Let a man call all this enthusiasm, delusion, canting, it is no matter to me. I’ll mortify sin more this way in my own soul by Grace, than he shall be able to do in his, even by a thousand resolutions and fortitudes, that may be taken up {because it hath been often done so} by a natural man. And why I, and not he? Ah! Why indeed! Because ‘tis not I, as the Apostle says, “but the Grace of God which is bestowed upon me,” I Cor.15:10, in giving his Holy Spirit to me; whereas lust dwelling in a man without the Spirit of Christ, will be too hard for any man alive. “They that are in the flesh cannot please God. But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.” {Rom.8:8-10}

But to go on {having this opportunity} and to make the way more level for the exalting of Christ, in my book which I style, THE EXCELLENCY OF CHRIST VINDICATED. Some men have likewise professed to handle texts, and then print off their sermons, yet have never set upon clearing the difficulties of the Word by the coherence of the Text they pitch upon, {where coherence is found;} nor by other Fundamental Truths of the Gospel. Rubbish must be cleared away, if ever we see Zion’s fair buildings growing up for an habitation unto God through the Spirit; Eph.2:21,22, and that upon Zion’s Cornerstone. “Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, behold, I lay in Zion a chief corner stone, elect, precious; and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded.” {I Pet.2:6} Spirit wrought and Christ enthroned Religion hath been neglected and trampled underfoot; and sometimes where the Doctrines of Christ have been spied out, they have been swiftly murdered or knocked down, by the shooting at them with the arrows of deceit, which are calculated to oppose the ways of Christ, and exalt man in the place of God. “Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God. Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things.” {II Thes.2:3-5}

If the Text hath been full of the Life, Power and Majesty of the Gospel, and a poor soul hath received anything by half a quarter of an hour’s discourse, how hath that poor soul {for want of establishment} lost it all again, as soon as the uninstructed and uninspired Preacher, by-and-by, overturns all, and makes his use of it into a Dead Letter? And it may be seals it quite otherwise, to what the Holy Ghost hath been doing, upon the conscience, even through lies and unskillfulness in the word of Righteousness, Heb.5:13, to a saddening of the hearts of the righteous, whom God would not have made sad. “Because with lies ye have made the heart of the righteous sad, whom I have not made sad; and strengthened the hands of the wicked, that he should not return from his wicked way, by promising him life; therefore ye shall see no more vanity, nor divine divinations; for I will deliver my people out of your hand; and ye shall know that I am the LORD.” {Ezek.13:22-23} As if the application, in a home-thrust, were to the condemnation of them that are in Christ Jesus, Rom.8:1, who yet walk not, though now {it should seem} for a little moment, have stepped aside after such doctrines of the flesh, but in general and by sheer grace walk after the Spirit. “For a small moment have I forsaken thee; but with great mercies will I gather thee. In a little wrath I hid my face from thee for a moment; but with everlasting kindness will I have mercy on thee, saith the LORD thy Redeemer.” {Isa.54:7-8} Ah! Vile doings among soul-murderers and text-murderers; who go and let out the life of a text, and kill it on the spot! That when the Word dies in the congregation, souls must needs die with it; and God’s own people as dead on the sudden, as if they had no Grace. How often, instead of the Living Word of Truth, II Cor.6:7, closing with Spiritual Applications in the Power of the Holy Ghost {for the Spirit will use his own Word, to do his own work unto the deliverance of the soul} doth application commonly end with a dead word of the form, got merely into our heads by note, to saints and sinners? The Lord mend this in our pulpits, and give them a better echo of the Gospel in our last and parting sounds.

The Mysteries of the Word in the active part of Religion, I mean in Exhortations and Directions, where so much of the miscarriage lies, do consist in a notable transcendence above natural religion; and yet you may pick out whole sets of exhortations and directions to saints and sinners, that, as they are often managed by our notes, and the copy of the manuscript, whether read in the ears of men, Jer.36:21, or printed before their eyes, do not discernibly outshine natural religion, in the hasty, modish way of running over things; to be sure, they seldom go farther than a little, and but a little neither, of the Christian Religion Naturalized; and ‘tis a sad branch of the Apostasy of the latter times, I Tim.4:1, that natural religion should be the standard of modeling our Revealed Gospel. Multitudes of sermons have produced multitudes of errors against true Grace of God, I Pet.5:12, that bringeth salvation, and men are quite beside what is born from above, and got all into the natural strain.

However it be it cannot be worth our meddling with every religious book or sermon, to go about to cleanse them all individually; because as many writers have nothing of the foundation of Christ in them, {though ever so religious, pleasing themselves in their Protestant way,} the authors do lay open very blackly what strangers they have been all their days to God, and to his Son. I would choose rather, for examination, to pick out such Discourses, as Mr. John Hunt’s last book, published in 1704, and enter upon a corrective management scheme, than in books of the most specious and promising Titles; and then it may fall, as I would desire it, upon our good man; “for you only have I known, says God, of all the families of the earth, therefore will I punish {or correct} you for all your iniquities.” {Amos 3:2} Besides, as to other men’s writings, they have nothing in them, that if purged, could serve Revealed Religion; whereas godly men’s writings have a great many choice intermixtures of the Gospel in them; not only of Doctrines, but Influences of Grace that attend, and quicken the reading of some things therein. And, ‘tis pity these Doctrines should be lost {and really much of their serviceableness is so, as matters stand, the good notions being misled in bad company} for bundling them up with very ill materials. “Ephraim, he hath mixed himself among the people; Ephraim is a cake not turned. Strangers have devoured his strength, and he knoweth it not; yea, gray hairs are here and there upon him, yet he knoweth not. And the pride of Israel testifieth to his face; and they do not return to the LORD their God, nor seek him for all this.” {Hos.7:8-10}

As these corrupt mixtures lie dispersed, interleaved and interlarded with some glorious Truths of the Gospel, they are not easily parted; everybody does not discern them; many will not believe they are faultily to be discerned; yet many that see them, complain, that there’s all the help we have; the case then still is where it was. These mixtures, I say, lie scattered over and sprinkled through a remnant of our good books and sermons, in their smaller seeds and grain among the good seed of the Gospel. Mt.13:3-9. Neither can a work such as this be done upon many books, without very great labor. Yet such grain before it would be fit to be sown again in the Church, to produce new crops of believers that shall, and declare the Lord’s Righteousness unto a people that shall be born, Psal.22:31, may think we had all lain aside our Bibles, when many doctrines were given out for pathways of Salvation, that are not meet for so much as edification. And surely this seed that shall serve him, Psa.22:30, will gather up none of our book-seed, but what has been picked and is fit to be sown again in honest hearts. “But that on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience.” {Lk.8:15}

Well, it is needful to rely upon the Lord’s all sufficiency to bestow wisdom, diligence, holy zeal, and a thorough heart for Christ {not a divided heart, as Hosea 10:2, not a heart and a heart, one heart for his glory, and another heart for our own names} for undertaking it. And this is the more needful, if we love our Lord Jesus Christ, and the souls of men, or take any due care about the field, which “the Lord hath purchased with his own blood,” Acts 20:28, and fenced round by enclosures of Free Grace, to distinguish it from the world besides.

Now, though I have made this digression from pursuing my examinations of Mr. John Hunt, yet ‘tis so directly in the way of my subject, a Vindication of the Excellency of Christ, that it ought not to have been avoided. All flesh, set up above its place, must be pulled down, that the Lord alone may be exalted. “The lofty looks of man shall be humbled, and the haughtiness of men shall be bowed down, and the LORD alone shall be exalted in that day.” {Isa.2:11,17} And the truth is, I should not have fallen upon that man’s offense justly, and without partiality, I Tim.5:21, if I had passed over the foregoing hints. It is notorious, that he, poor man, is not the transgressor alone, for he has company enough at his side. I had not filled up this part of my exhortation, unless I had introduced this destruction of the flesh in the general, I Cor.5:5, to build the grounds of my after-examinations the more firmly, when I enter upon his sins against the Gospel more in particular, and vindicate Christ in his Excellency, so that the Spirit too may be more glorified in the Day of the Lord Jesus Christ.

It is but a small heap of wheat and mixture that now lies before me to discuss and sever; and it is a small labor, with Christ’s presence, to finish it. Neither let any godly man in Christ Jesus, II Tim.3:12, think these cleansing or separating pains, picking out the cockle and darnel from the ground-seed, might be better spared, by suggesting, that it will do mischief, because I know, through Grace, that this work is so far, in the true nature of a Gospel spirit, from rendering the whole labor of that servant of the Lord, II Tim.2:24, or any other whom Christ owns, unprofitable, by bringing it thus to the touchstone of the Word by a faithful examination, that it will, by the Lord’s blessing, render the remaining truths more useful, and I am sure the Doctrine of the Rose of Sharon, more fragrant and delightful, when intermingled mistakes are severed from the Truth.

My work is to condemn the bad, and not to injure the good. ‘Tis to rescue captivated truths from the bad company they are carried away with in this tract. I would take away that which letteth out of the way, the antichrist, and that this which is against Christ may be gone, and yet Christ remain in that book. II Thes.2:7. It is incumbent upon me to take away, and convince rationality, if the Spirit will not be pleased to convince my reader evangelically {why} I take away. My business is not to find fault, and yet leave what I blame behind; but I must throw away the strong scented rue, the wormwood, the hemlock, and the clary; I must cut up mallows by the roots, Job 30:4, together with that son of the prophets, whose lap is full of wild gourds; the sinful herbs and weeds must be removed, which he hath indiscreetly matched with the Rose of Sharon. “And one went out into the field to gather herbs, and found a wild vine, and gathered thereof wild gourds his lap full, and came and shred them into the pot of pottage; for they knew them not. So they poured out for the men to eat. And it came to pass, as they were eating of the pottage, that they cried out, and said, O thou man of God, there is death in the pot. And they could not eat thereof.” {II Kngs.4:39-40} “A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump.” {Gal.5:9}

The several heads will need reduction, and I shall range mine examinations upon the matters in some order, under the fifteen following topics; for I must expunge no less a number out of that little piece of work, Mr. Hunt’s SAINTS TREASURY.

1. His nineteen open disparagements of Christ. 2. His seven and twenty reflections more, where now and then we meet with a tang of Popery. 3. His diminishings of Christ in pretending that one may be too filthy to go to Christ by faith. 4. His extravagances, for which you might almost judge a man beside himself. 5. His Arminianism. 6. His exclusions of the Holy Spirit in matters where he ought closely to be admitted, in his Office and Operations. 7. His proud and arrogant sayings. 8. His inconsistencies and self-opposition. 9. His unapt way of laying down marks and signs. 10. His preposterous doings. 11. His confused attempts to carry-on. 12. His ignorant passages. 13. His misunderstanding of divers texts of Holy Scripture. 14. His lamentable defect in handling Song of Solomon, 2:1. 15. His strange wanderings, and redundancies; or bringing in large quantities of the treatise that have no relation at all to our passage, Song.2:1.

And then I may close my book with a very brief explication of the said place in the Canticles; or, the abused text set right, in a separate and concluding chapter. These are the things that I propose in my examination of Mr. John Hunt’s dealings with the Person and Glory of Christ, in his last discourse upon Song.2:1; and though I do not look upon the false enumerated in the preceding paragraph to be all of the same kind, nor aggravated alike, yet they are all false in their own diverse kind and circumstantial relations; and I do therefore distinguish them accordingly, what are against the Gospel itself, and what exposes the glory thereof to shame in our ministry, in not studying to show ourselves approved unto God. II Tim.2:19. This is my method, this is my Introduction, and now to the Work itself.