Arminian Skeleton

William Huntington

Originally Printed In 1783

Posted On July 4, 2020

THE ARMINIAN SKELETON OR, THE ARMINIAN DISSECTED & ANATOMIZED. by William Huntington, S.S. Minister of the Gospel at Providence Chapel, Cray’s Inn Lane, London. 1783.

FOREWORD: A few scattered and preliminary remarks from the writings of Martin Luther, as extracted chiefly from his Commentary on the Book of Galatians, 1525, which seem as a suitable introduction to this book by Huntington, re-affirming the vital exhortation for all believers in Christ to judge everything by the standard of the Gospel alone. These saints believe that it is the work of Christ exclusively that makes the difference between saved and lost, that Christ is the only condition and ground of salvation, and by the sheer heaviness of these particular persuasions, as impressed upon their hearts by the Spirit of Truth, are not capable of speaking spiritual peace to those who hold to a false gospel; or who deny the basic truth that Salvation from sin unto life eternal, including justification before God, {whereby God clears His elect from all sin, and reckons them wholly righteous on the basis of the mediation, full satisfaction and substitutionary righteousness of Christ alone,} is exclusively conditioned on and dependent on the personal character and conduct of the Surety and Representative of those chosen in eternity to be saved in Him with an everlasting salvation, and a refusal to recognize that all of justification is conditioned upon Christ alone is an actual denial of Christ, and an attempt by men to rob Him of His glory and utterly destroy the message of the Gospel.

LUTHER: Hence, by the fact that they regard this matter so lightly and of such little importance, they clearly show what they think of the majesty and glory of the divine Word. If they would seriously and heartily believe that they were dealing with God’s Word, they would not jest and joke so frivolously with it, but they would hold it in highest esteem and would believe without any doubt or disputation what it tells and prescribes to them. They would also recognize that one Word of God is all, and again that all words of God are one. They would recognize that all articles of our Christian faith are one, and again that one is all, so that if they surrender one, they in the course of time will gradually surrender all, one after the other; for they all cleave together and belong together.

LUTHER: Therefore, we will let them exalt Christian love as much as they may. But we will glory in the majesty and glory of the Word and Faith. Regarding love, you may yield somewhat without any harm or danger. But that cannot be done with the Word and Faith. Love should suffer all things and yield to everyone. But faith can and should not suffer anything and should yield to absolutely no one. Love, which gladly yields, believes all things, puts the best construction on all things, forgives, and suffers, and is often deceived. Therefore, love does not permit itself to be disturbed but always continues helping and benefiting everyone, even those who are ungrateful and unworthy. On the other hand, when the matter concerns salvation, and the fanatics teach their falsehood and error under the pretense of the truth so as to deceive and mislead many people, we certainly must show no love and must not approve and justify their error; for then we lose not merely a gift granted to an ingrate, but we lose the Word, Faith, Christ Himself and Eternal Life.

LUTHER: From the words “whoever he is” we may conclude that according to their outward appearance the false apostles must have been very pious and holy people. It may be that among them there was an especially great and famous man who perhaps had been a disciple of the true apostles and therefore was held in highest esteem; for certainly St. Paul had just cause to use such hard, condemning words. In the same way he speaks above, “even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed.” Gal.1:8. No doubt many were greatly offended at these hefty and hasty words, and they may have thought, how can St. Paul act so hastily contrary to Christian love? Why should he be so stern and stubborn in a matter so unimportant and insignificant? Why does he hand over to the devil and everlasting perdition those who are Christ’s servants just as much as he is? But for all that he does not care an iota, nor does it matter to him that they {the false teachers} were regarded as pious, holy, and learned men and so were highly esteemed. But because they pervert the doctrine of faith he curses and condemns them most vehemently, nor does he doubt by a hair’s breadth that his way of treating them is right.

LUTHER: We, in short, desire to retain all articles of the Christian doctrine absolutely pure and sure, whether they be great or small, {though not one is small or insignificant,} and we do not want to surrender one tittle of it. And that is as it should be, for the doctrine is our only light that lights and guides us and shows us the way to heaven! If we let it be made weak and dim in one particle, then we may be sure that it will become altogether powerless. If we fail here, love will do us no good. We certainly can be saved without the love and unity of the Sacramentarians, but we cannot be saved without the pure doctrine and faith. Hence, we gladly keep peace and unity with those who with us treat and believe all articles of the Christian faith in a Christian and right way. Indeed, we are willing as much as possible to keep peace even with our enemies; we will pray for those who in ignorance slander and persecute our doctrine but never for those who knowingly and contrary to their conscience attack one or more articles of the Christian Faith.

LUTHER: And if we are so rigid and stubborn, we are taught that by the very example of St. Paul, who publicly and vehemently condemns the false apostles in a matter that they and their adherents regarded not only as insignificant and secondary but even as highly unfair, {for they believed both, namely, that they - the teachers - taught rightly according to God’s Word and that they - the hearers - believed rightly and according to God’s Word,} for he says, “he who troubles you shall bear his judgment, whoever he is.” Therefore, as I often and in many words have admonished to do, we must diligently distinguish between doctrine and life. Doctrine is heaven; life is earth. In life there is sin, error, discord, labour, and sorrow. There love must not listen but overlook; it must suffer and always forgive sins, that is, if sin and error are not defended. But doctrine is a far different matter, for it is holy, pure, undefiled, heavenly, divine. Whoever desires to pervert that, to him must be shown neither love nor mercy. Pure doctrine requires no remission of sins.

LUTHER: Therefore, it is not at all proper to try to compare doctrine with life; for a single letter, indeed a single tittle of Scripture is of more and greater importance than heaven and earth. Hence, we will not have anyone pervert it in the least. We can well excuse and overlook weaknesses and faults in life, for we too are weak human beings who daily fail and sin; indeed, all dear saints confess most earnestly in the Lord’s Prayer that they are sinners and that they believe in the forgiveness of sins. But by the grace of God our doctrine is pure. There is not a single article of our faith that is not well and firmly grounded in Scripture. But these {articles} the devil would like to besmirch and pervert. Therefore, he also attacks us so insidiously with the argument, accusing us through the factious spirits that we do not keep the peace but are quarrelsome and destroy the unity and love in the Church or Christendom.

LUTHER: Here, then, we learn how Paul regards a little error in doctrine that might appear as very insignificant, if not even as the truth. He regards it as so great and dangerous that he dares curse the false apostles, though these seemed to be great persons. Therefore, we dare not regard the leaven of false doctrine as insignificant. No matter how small it may appear, its result is that the truth and salvation will be suppressed and crushed and God will be denied unless we guard against it. For if the Word is blasphemed and God is denied and blasphemed, and this must follow of necessity, then there is no longer any hope for salvation. But though we are slandered, cursed, and killed, we shall not be overpowered; for He who is never destroyed can again raise us up and deliver us from the curse, death and hell.

LUTHER: Therefore, we should learn to regard the majesty and glory of the Word greatly and highly; for it is not so insignificant and trifling as the fanatics of our time think, but a single tittle of it is greater than heaven and earth. So here we do not care anything for Christian unity and love, but we directly make use of the judgment seat, that is, we curse and condemn all those who pervert and corrupt the majesty of the Word even in the least; for a little leaven leavens the whole lump. Gal.5:9. But if they will let us have the Word wholly and unmutilated, then we will not only keep love and peace with them, but we offer ourselves gladly to be their servants and to do all they ask of us.

LUTHER: Christian unity, according to Ephesians 4:4, is in the Spirit and means that we are of one faith, one mind, and one judgment. We gladly will be united with them in secular matters; that is, we are willing to keep bodily or temporal peace with them. But in spiritual matters we will avoid, condemn and reprove them as long as they live as idolaters, perverters of God’s Word, blasphemers and liars. In addition, we are willing to suffer persecution and separation from them as from enemies if and so long as God permits this. We also want to ask and admonish them to desist from their error. But to yield to their blasphemies, ignore and approve them, that we neither can nor want to do.

LUTHER: Therefore, do not speak to me of love and friendship if the Word and Doctrine are to be destroyed; for it is not love but the Word that brings eternal life, divine grace, and all heavenly gifts. We will be glad to maintain external peace with them in outward things as we must be with everyone else in this world, even with our worst enemies. Let that be done in this life and secular affairs about which we do not contend. But in the matter of doctrine and Christian fellowship we will have nothing to do with them nor regard them as brethren but rather as enemies because they knowingly continue in their error, and we will contend against them in our spiritual warfare. It is only a satanic, deceitful, and crafty attack by which they declare and demand that we should somewhat yield to them and condone their error for the sake of unity.