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Christian Reader,

Unto such alone are these directed. If all and every one in the world in this gospel-day did bear this precious name of Christian, or if the name of Christ were known to all, then were this compellation very improper, because it is distinguishing. 148But if God distinguish men and men, choose we or refuse we, so it is, and so it will be; there is a difference, — a difference which God and Christ doth make of mere good pleasure.

This book contends earnestly for this truth against the error of universal redemption. With thy leave I cannot but call it an error; unless it had been, it were, and while the world continueth it should be, found indeed that Adam and all that come of him, in a natural way of generation, are first set by Christ, the second Adam, in an estate of redeemed ones and made Christians, and then they fall, whole nations of them, and forfeit that estate also, and lose their Christendom, and thereby it is come to pass that they are become atheists, without God in the world, and heathen, Jews, and Turks, as we see they are at this day.

The author of this book I know not so much as by name; it is of the book itself that I take upon me the boldness to write these few lines. It being delivered unto me to peruse, I did read it with delight and profit:— with delight, in the keenness of argument, clearness and fulness of answers, and candour in language; — with profit, in the vindication of abused Scriptures, the opening of obscure places, and chiefly in disclosing the hid mystery of God and the Father and of Christ, in the glorious and gracious work of redemption. The like pleasure and profit this tractate promiseth to all diligent readers thereof, for the present controversy is so managed that the doctrine of faith, which we ought to believe, is with dexterity plentifully taught; yea, the glory of each person in the unity of the Godhead about the work of redemption is distinctly held forth with shining splendour, and the error of the Arminians smitten in the jaw-bone, and the broachers of it bridled with bit and curb.

When, on earth, the blood can be without the water and the Spirit, — can witness alone, or can witness there where the water and the Spirit agree not to the record; when, in heaven, the Word shall witness without the Father and the Holy Ghost, — when the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost shall not be one, as in essence, so in willing, working, witnessing the redemption of sinners; — then shall universal redemption of all and every sinner by Christ be found a truth, though the Father elect them not, nor the Spirit of grace neither sanctify nor seal them. The glory of God’s free and severing grace, and the salvation of the elect through the redemption that is in Jesus Christ (which is external, or none at all), are the unfeigned desires and utmost aims of all that are truly Christian. In pursuit of which desire and aims, I profess myself to be for ever to serve thee. — Thine in Christ Jesus,

Richard Byfield.33   Richard Byfield was ejected by the Act of Uniformity from Long Ditton, in the county of Surrey. Besides some sermons and tracts, he was the author of a quarto volume, “The Doctrine of the Sabbath Vindicated,” etc. He suffered suspension and sequestration for four years for not reading the Book of Sports. He was a member of the Westminster Assembly. During the time of Cromwell, a difference occurred between him and the patron of the parish, Sir John Evelyn, about the repairs of the church. Cromwell brought them together, succeeded in reconciling them, and, to cement the reconciliation, generously advanced £100, one-half of the sum needed for the repairs. Byfield did not know Owen, even by name, when he gave his recommendation to this work. It was then of some importance to our author that he should have the sanction of Byfield’s name; and the favour is requited when the latter owes most of his own reputation with posterity to the countenance which he gave to the young and rising theological author of his day. — Ed.

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