The Arminian Skeleton
by William Huntington
Learning or eloquence you know, “I have none, but such as I have give I you. I here present you with the Arminian Skeleton, together with an account of the anatomizing of Arminius, which I hope God will own and bless you. I am well aware of all the envenomed artillery which malice is likely to discharge from her quiver: I sat down, and counted the cost before I began to build; and found, upon a proper computation, that it amounts to no more that this. “That which is highly esteemed amongst men is abomination in the sight of God. God is on my side, I will not fear. What can man do unto me?”
I have written what I believe in my conscience to be the truth; and “the lip of truth shall be established in the earth,” though ten thousand set themselves against it. And “a lying tongue is but for a moment,’’ though all the world support it. I have endeavoured in some things, to imitate young Elihu with Job; that is, not to “accept any mart’s person, nor give flattering titles to man, lest my Maker should take me away,” (Job 32:21-22)
I know some of you, who are simple souls, but rather nearsighted, would like it better if there were smoother things, a softer language, and less fiery zeal in it. To which I answer, Though some upright men may be astonished at this, yet the innocent is to “stir up himself against the hypocrite.” (Job 17:8) I ought not to aim at men-pleasing; Christ alone is my Master; it is Him I took for my wages, and to Him I must stand or fall. The divinity and the language I got on my knees, in answer to prayer, and by the mere dent of hard study; and, when you have read it through, I am ready to appeal to your conscience, whether the doctrine and experience be from heaven or of men. If it be of men, the Arminians will love it, though it is sure to come to nought; but if it be of God, they will hate it, though it cannot be overthrown.
This I am sure of; the doctrines which I have here written are “not of man; for I learned them not of man, neither was I taught them, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.” For I had been some months in the glorious liberty of the Gospel before I went to hear the Gospel at all; and from this consideration I am warmly attached to the blessed tuition of that great Prophet of the church, Christ Jesus my Lord; and do most heartily acquiesce with pious Job, in his confession arid question, “Behold, God exalteth by His power; who teacheth like Him?” (Job 36:22)
Some may say, it is presumptuous in such a babe as myself to take so capital an error as Arminianism by the collar. To which I answer, God sometimes, “out of the mouth of babes and sucklings, ordains strength to perfect praise, that He may still the enemy and the avenger.” (Psa. 8:2; Matt. 21:16) But perhaps my reader is one of that stamp that has a hope of all the world being saved, whether they hold a truth or a lie. If thy faith is thus founded, its basis is nothing but falsehood, and God will “sweep away the refuge of lies, and the waters shall overflow such hiding place.” (Isa. 28:17) Take heed, therefore, lest thou shouldest be drowned in destruction and perdition. Such a false hope, and such a “gospel”, is all thine own; it never came from God. If thy soul had suffered under the severity of the law, as some have, and thy deliverance from guilt and wrath had come to thy heart by faith in Christ’s atonement, the same Spirit that wrought faith in thee would have led thee into the truth of God’s election, that God might have ALL the glory, and boasting be excluded. If this by thy blessed experience, thou wilt be valiant for THE TRUTH, and, as a good soldier of Christ, “fight the good fight of faith,” and “contend for that faith which was once delivered to the saints.” But, if thy religion be taken up upon trust only, and it is a matter of indifference with thee what thou art established in, truth or error, thy religion has no root at all in Christ; thou wouldst sell all for less than thirty pieces of silver; yea, for one morsel of bread thou wouldst transgress; for thy faith stands in the wisdom of men, not in the power of God; and therefore thy faith cannot be genuine, nor its basis firm.
Every essential truth that we part with is an infinite loss; and we daily see an awful departure from the doctrines of the Gospel. Errors gain ground; and champions for the truth are but few in number when compared to the other host. (I wonder what he would say today? —S.C.P) If thou are a child of God by faith, see to the ground-work of it. Hast thou the faith of God’s elect? let election be its basis. Hast thou a justifying faith? let imputed righteousness be its basis. Hast thou a victorious faith? thy victory lies in a Saviour’s arms. Hast thou a purifying faith? Then faith fetches its purifying efficacy from a Saviour’s blood. Give up none of these truths; for, if we think truth is not worth contending for, we may expect the Spirit to clap His wings, and lake His light from us. You read of a bird of the air carrying a voice, and of that which hath wings declaring a matter; and woe to our souls when God departs from us! But, if thou canst not digest the doctrine herein contained, thou must wait till the day of doom, when the Gospel net will be drawn to the end of time – its last shore – and then thou shalt see all Adam’s offsprings assembled in a valley called “the valley of decision;” perhaps so called because the Lord will decide the long controversy between the children of God and the children of the flesh, about the doctrine of sovereign grace and those of fallen nature; “Put ye in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe; get ye down, for the press is full, the fats overflow, for their widkedness is great. Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision: for the day of the Lord is near in the valley of decision.” (Joel 3:13,14) I know a controversial writer is always deemed to be in his own spirit: however, God “hath a controversy with the nations;” (Jer. 25:31) and His ministers “shall teach His people the difference between the holy and the profane; and in controversy they shall stand in judgment.” (Ezek. 44:23,24) God’s decree shall not always be called horrible, nor an everlasting righteousness be called imputed nonsense. Vindictive Justice shall avenge the quarrel of Sovereign Mercy, so soon as old Time shall bring on “the day of the Lord’s vengeance, and the year of recompences for the controversy of Zion.” (Isa. 34:8) What thou hast to say against the truths herein contained will cause but little trouble to me: God’s approbation, and the testimony of a good conscience, are sufficient to support any faithful servant of the Lord under the scourge of tongues.
I believe this work will be very offensive to the devil, because I have been often violently tempted since I have been at it; but those that honor God, God will honor. I also think it will be a comfort to some, because at times I have been much comforted myself. And I hope it will not be altogether without power; because I got most of it on my knees, in answer to prayer; and we all know that God never gives a stone for bread, nor a serpent for a fish.
To expect salvation from truth only for ourselves, without any regard to the rising generation, is to be like Ephraim – empty vines, and to bring forth fruit only to ourselves. But, if God gives us enlargement of heart, as He did to Solomon, compared to the sand on the sea-shore, we shall take all the elect into our hears, down to the end of time – the uttermost shore of this confused and sin-disordered world: therefore we ought to contend for God’s truth, and to leave our testimonies on record, that others, who come after us, may tread in our steps; and not leave volumes of free-agency, human merit, and a pack of nonsense behind. (!!!!) We may be sure they will bring enough of this trash in their hearts when they come into this world, therefore we need not add to their abundance. I doubt not but many of the rising generation, when they come to be called by grace, and read some of their father’s treatises about free-agency and sinless perfection, will cry out, as the Gentiles did in the days of old, “Surely our fathers have inherited lies.” (Jer. 16:19)
It is doubtless our blessing to pray for the increase of Christ’s kingdom, and for more light and knowledge of the truth; to labour day and night in God’s vineyard, and to be charitable to the necessities to the uttermost of our power; but never strive against God’s decrees in order to please rebels, or make the Bible comport with the pride of wretched and depraved nature: the man that doth this is allied to Satan, and engaged in the war of devils: “Let not him that girdeth on the harness boast himself as he that putteth it off.” (I Kings 20:11) I know some of you, among whom I labour are much tinctured with that abominable doctrine called “free-agency;” and your life and walk proclaim it as loud as your tongues; for it is visible that the world loves her own, and that you love it: being crafty, I have caught some of you who are of this stamp with guile. To talk of free-agency and good works, while the feet run to evil, is nothing but sounding the trumpet of an hypocrite. I am sure you never learned this Satanic trick from my mouth, nor from my life.
I think it my calling, “as long as I am in this tabernacle, to stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance,” lest ye be led away with the errors of the wicked; and fall from your own steadfastness.
If God of his infinite mercy keep you from Arminianism (freewillism), Arianism (one who denies the eternal Sonship of Christ), and Antinomianism, (God the author of sin,; that the child of God has no law to obey) I think you are Christians indeed. I rank the errors of Arminianism at the front, because the others are not so well masked. While the Arminian is robbing you of the doctrine of sovereign grace, he puts the fable of sinless perfection into your hand, as a rattle to amuse you, while he robs and plunders your conscience; and while he is teaching you to resist the sovereign will of God, he endeavours to charm your ears with free-agency. But the Arian is more open; he proclaims to every one that goes by that he is a fool. However, they are all three agreed against Christ; the Arminian cries down His merit; the Arian cries down His divinity; and the Antinomian cries down the revelation of Him to the heart. May God turn their hearts to the truth, and keep your souls from turning to their errors!
Fret not yourselves about my creating to myself enemies; it is better to be hated by all the world, for the truth’s sake, than to lie one week under the dreadful apprehensions of God’s wrath, and the severe lashes of a guilty conscience: “When God gives peace, who can create trouble?” A man’s spirit will sustain any outward affliction; “but a wounded spirit none can bear.”
The sovereignty of divine grace, displayed in the revelation of Christ to my soul, was the first saving truth that ever God made known to me: and, as I could not find one person in a thousand that had ever seen or felt the same power, it convinced me still more that what God had done for me was a sovereign act. I have since been more confirmed in it, because it was revealed to me who never expected it, and is withheld from thousands who are working hard to get it.
These things led me to see that “the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong;” but that both the prize and the victory are “of God, who sheweth mercy.” This, and the other connected doctrines, being revealed by God Himself to my soul, I think I am duty-bound to enforce and defend, with such abilities as God shall think proper to furnish me with.
To my own Master I expect to stand or fall; and, if this my testimony in behalf of His sovereignty be a false one, He has wisdom enough to overthrow it, and power sufficient to punish me for it. But I know it is the testimony that lie revealed to me; the testimony impressed on my conscience; the testimony of His own word and Spirit; the testimony that Himself bore: the testimony that God will ever honour; and the testimony that He never did, nor ever will, disdain to own.
Arminianism at present sadly obscures the truth of God. Popery and that system will one day unite under one displayed banner, and out of each host the elect of God will one day be called; and a light sufficient will be given them to discover the enemies of their liberties, to which, by a covenant of sovereign grace, they were predestinated. These things considered, have led me to bring in a few more witnesses against Universal Charity, in order to push the sentence a little more home into the compassionate bowels of rebellious nature.
If my reader be inquisitive to know what I mean by the term “Universal Charity’;” be it known to him, that I do NOT mean that love and liberality that is required by the second table of the moral law; far from it. For I know that in this sense a man is to love his neighbor as himself; and, if he be able, lie is to shew it by a generous relief of him in his necessities. According to my ability, I have no objection to be weighed in an even balance with any accuser that I have in the world, with respect to this commodity.
NOR do I mean that affection which every converted soul should shew to his neighbor, in reproving him, exhorting him, praying for him, or holding forth the Gospel to him, which (if blessed by God to his conversion) is that charity which covereth a multitude of sins. In this respect I could spend and be spent for my neighbor; and have labored as hard, and suffered as much, in behalf of their souls, as those who have pretended to exceed the bowels of God Himself in the behalf of sinners. But the universal charity aimed at in this work, IS THAT PRETENDED LOVE of erroneous professors, who are contending for the salvation of ALL THE WORLD, and disputing against the sovereignty of God, and against His word in the behalf of them. Surely if this spirit came from God, it would never cavil against His sovereign will.
The Saviour rebuked this in Peter, as coming from the devil; “Get thee behind me, Satan; thou art an offence unto me; for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.” (Matt. 16:23) Thus the Saviour shews that every spirit which takes the part of flesh and blood, and rebels against the will of God, is from the devil himself.
Men of this temper seem to measure God by themselves; because they pretend to shew so much love to apostate rebels, and those that bear the condemned image of Adam. They think that God’s everlasting love must run in this their pretended channel, and that God is altogether such an one as themselves; for which wretched comparison God says He will reprove them. (Psa.1:21) From this pretended affection, influenced by a spirit of rebellion against God, comes all the universal doctrines that we hear of in our days. God’s love, which in every age has appeared discriminating, is fixed upon all the human race, they tell us; when the Saviour declares it to be sovereign; “for many be called, but few chosen.” (Matt. 20:16) Some declare that God chose all alike (if such a choice can be); but the Saviour says that He chose His people out of the world. (John 15:19)
They tell us that Christ redeemed all men; when the Scriptures declare that God redeemed His elect from among men. (Rev. 14:4) If God redeemed some from among others, then those that the elect were redeemed from, were not redeemed. When God gave Egypt for Israel’s ransom He gave no ransom for Egypt. If the wicked are a ransom for the righteous, and transgressors for the upright, (Prov. 21:18) then those wicked transgressors had no ransom paid for them, however the doctrine of universal redemption is earnestly insisted upon. But I defy the world ever to get one text of Scripture to prove it. Christ says, “I lay down my life for the sheep,” (John 10:15). But all are not sheep. They that are the chosen flock of God are redeemed; “I lay down my life for the sheep.” All that the Saviour died for were ordained to life; and those that are thus chosen and redeemed must be brought to receive the grace of faith; for “as many as were ordained to eternal life believed.” (Acts 13:48) But some are not chosen; these are not sheep, therefore the gift of faith is withheld from them: “But ye believe not, because ye are NOT of my sheep, as I said unto you.” (John 10:26) Christ, in the 12th verse, had called them hirelings, and in the next place He told them that they were not of His sheep; and that was the reason why the gift of faith was withheld from them: “When the Jews heard this, then they took up stones to stone Him.” (John 10:31)
As universal redemption cannot be proved from the Bible, I am sure it can not be taken or supported from any observations that can be made on the conduct of the world; for the generality of mankind give us NO proof, by their conduct, of their being washed in a Redeemer’s blood, or of their being “redeemed from a vain conversation.” (I Peter 1:18)
Thus these universal bowels of corrupt nature, that sound so universally in their compassions towards the inhabitants of earth and hell, are set up as a standard for God to work by, and have brought forth the doctrines of universal grace and universal redemption, which I believe to be nothing but universal lies. Hence I conclude that those persons who pretend to have so much “love” for poor sinners as to make the grace of God, arid the redemption of the Saviour, come over to their standard, is a pretended charity, which comes not from God, hut from themselves, because it favours falsehood more than truth; and whilst sounding out universal grace, it bears a false witness, contradicts the Scriptures and rebels against the sovereignty’ of God, in perverting his word to please men. Surely, “there is no wisdom, nor understanding, nor counsel against the Lord.” (Prov. 21:30)
I fear that some have been so strenuous for universal, that they have neglected particular redemption. Every man that is saved must experience redemption for himself; it must be known by every particular sheep of the Saviours fold. Universal redemption will afford but little comfort to one in rebellion against God, condemned by his own conscience, and who never was purged from his guilt, nor redeemed from his vain conversation. Thus redemption becomes particular to every chosen vessel: nor can it ever be proved to be universal, until we have gotten the universal testimony of every man in the world having received it; which I see no likelihood of at present. Reader, fare thee well.