To The Christian Reader by John Owen and Samuel AnnesleyThe Sovereignty of God by Elisha Coles
The doctrines in this study that are declared and proven, have exercised the thoughts and best abilities of many learned men. The opposition made against them by the Pelagians of old, excited many good preachers and theologians to their just defense. Here they received the light and power of their truths, and the church remained in a quiet possession and belief of them for many ages. However, lately, the Jesuits, and Socinians, and some others, conspired against the doctrines of grace to overthrow them and they would have, probably, prevailed even now if the Lord had not stirred up the spirit of many and great writers to fight for the truth of His established covenant. We should notice, though resent, how zealously affected some men are in behalf of such doctrinal points that stand in direct opposition to the grace of God, and their own eternal happiness. These men do not spare anything against those godly men who uphold the very truths that make up the mystery of godliness. These wicked men even scandalize and suppress the truths themselves as if reason and learning were given to then so that they could simply vilify the true religion of God. Also, how consistently addicted men are who have taken hold of the Arminian points, and thrive on the most fatal consequences of them. These points of error are so far away from the principles pf truth that they do not yield any effectual influence towards holiness, or well grounded peace, even though the Arminians pretend that they do. I could prove this, but I must be brief. Whatever the ends of these men are, or their interest in defaming the wisdom, sovereignty, and grace of God, God allows it even though their ends may be wicked. God will use it all for good; the Lord’s ends in permitting them are always holy and good. We are assured that he would not put up with those dangerous errors and allow them to reinvade his church. He will not allow his glorious truths to be so roughly treated. He will order their further conquest. Though there are many out there who would like to eradicate these truths from the earth, God will raise up men to defend them and promote true holiness and godliness.
It is easy to see that the writer of this work used the Bible alone and did not consult with many books on the subject. I mention this in order to magnify the grace of God that was with him. If this point is understood as amazing, then anyone would understand that to accomplish a work like this is due to humble submission to God, and by a serious and diligent study of the Word of God. This study on grace demonstrates the great importance, best use and surest means of instruction. It touches the mystery of God’s will with an orderly and flowing connection of the divine attributes for recovering apostate creatures from their dreadful lapse into sin. It places them in a condition transcendently better than their first state. The author, in making this study, reduces the Pelagian articles to nothing.
There are some very important advantages which come out of this study. First, that it is founded and built on the testimony of God alone whose authority and truth are the only perfect rule and immoveable basis of divine faith. It is its best benchmark. Secondly, that the doctrines being declared and vindicated here is through the best use of them to excite and influence our hearts and lives according to the genuine tenor and import of those truths. This is in opposition to what the contrary doctrines have ever pretended to be themselves. It may be a supplement to other books, where the same truths are worthily contended for, but may be defective in this application of the truths to the Christian life. So, it is not only a work of good use in and of itself, but it also rescues these doctrines from one of the worst scandals that they have been derogated in. Various other reasons might be mentioned for reading this study. We could say many more things that are of help. But, for brevity’s sake, the reader is referred to his good sense while reading the book.
We hope that the book may be entertained by men according to its deserts, and blessed of God in the ends it is designed and suited to, is, and shall be the desire of,