Banner of Truth have just republished John Hurrion's book on Particular Redemption. It includes a preface written by John Elias for the Welsh language edition that John Aaron has translated into English. You can see the original here.
You can read an excellent essay on Elias by Iain Murray in his book Seven Leaders. The essay gives a brief life of Elias and then discusses Elias as a Watchman and then his defence of Calvinism towards the end of his life. Well worth reading in order to understand Elias and his times and what followed.
THE Lord's ways with his servants are remarkable. Such they were in my being disposed and led to write a Memoir of the late Reverend John Elias. Satisfied that it was my duty to make the attempt, and sensible of my own weakness, I humbly looked to God for the aid of his Holy Spirit, to enable me to accomplish my purpose with fidelity and propriety. The writers of Biography generally find much difficulty in obtaining materials for their compositions, and in arranging them under proper heads; and I was not exempt from the common lot. I obtained, however, great assistance from three sermons preached on the death of Elias, and from other published accounts of him, as well as from his Auto-biography. My own thoughts being mixed with those of the preachers, and with those of the short pieces in periodicals, I could not, with the exception of Gwalchmai's and two or three other works, acknowledge my obligations. Some prefer being unknown. Elias's observations on the eclipse and other statements, are from authenticated sources.
The reader will find the notes increase as he approaches the end of the volume: this is owing to the necessity of confining the work to a certain number of pages. In order to make the Memoir concise, I abridged some of Elias's letters as also those of others, leaving out what was extraneous.
My apology for the style of the work, is its suitableness to my readers, who generally approve of simple language, and to the subject of the Memoir, who was himself remarkable for simplicity.
The glory of God and the good of souls, not a party either in politics or in religion, should be our object in writings of this kind; and I have therefore avoided all use of Elias's Conservative views, and have made no unkind reflections. The support Elias gave to the National Church might have been urged on his admirers, but this would not have increased the general usefulness of the volume.
It would be well, if while every minister prefers his own connexion, he could cherish affection towards all who belong to the church of Christ; and if, under this feeling, he were to refrain from either unduly exalting his own denomination, or depreciating that of his brother. The growth of Popery especially urges this duty, at the present time, on all Protestants. When will all who love the common Lord, unite to oppose the common enemy? Let us pray that the spirit displayed in the union of orthodox Dissenters with the Church in opposing the recent Unitarian chapels' bill, may be continued, and show itself in many ways, for the glory of God and the honour of his church. Providence also led me to a suitable friend to write an Introductory Essay to the work. I was much pleased with Mr. Foster's Essays, prefixed to the two volumes of “The Life and Times of the Countess of Huntingdon:” they are so excellent, so free from party spirit,-yea so self-denying as it respects his own connexion,—that of the late Countess.'
There is an expression in one part of Elias's Auto-biography in favour of the Established Church, which I of course translated into English like the rest, as it was intended by him for publication. I showed the chapter containing the above to bne of the most respectable preachers in the Calvinistic Methodist Connexion, before it was printed, and he made no objection. It is true that Elias did some 33 years ago allude, on a certain occasion, to the imperfections and abuses of the church.
A few lines in the Diary have been unintentionally omitted; they merely relate to Elias's joy in thinking on his dying bed of some truly decided, devoted, and spiritually minded ministers in the connexion, never giving way to any improper suggestions of the multitude.
The Countess herself was truly attached to the English Church; and her intention at first was to educate pious young men for Episcopal ordination; but alas! the Bishops would not accept them as candidates for orders. She then indeed sent them to preach under an ordination of the Presbytery: though such is the liberality of her College, that the students are allowed to join the National Church, or any other body of christians, as they see fit; and a considerable number of students have entered the Establishment.
This denomination, of whose college at Cheshunt Mr. Foster was for upwards of thirteen years the tutor, is much like that of the Welsh Calvinistic Methodists, both in its origin and spirit. The most eminent clergymen at the head of the latter, were chaplains to her ladyship; and they used to preach in her chapels, as well as English clergymen, such as Romaine, Venn, and Berridge.
Elias was highly esteemed by men eminently useful in their generation: Mr. Jones of Creaton once said, it would be worth while to acquire a system of short hand in Welsh, in order to take down Elias's sermons.
It is my intention, if spared, to publish some passages selected from his sermons, and also observations on his works, together with his letters to relatives and friends.
The Auto-biography will be found distributed into appropriate chapters, a use, which from the Rev. H. Griffith's letter to me about the time of Elias's death, appears to have been the intention of the deceased. “Mr. Elias finished his Memoirs, that is, as much as he intended writing; this may serve,” says this confidant of Elias, “as a guide for those who at any future time, may undertake to publish his biography; and also as a standard to write correctly respecting him.”
A consideration of the extraordinary ministerial powers and success of such preachers as Elias, has a tendency to humble ministers, by causing them to see how insignificant are their own labours: they are however taught to look unto the same God who qualified him. There is a loud call that ministers should be more alive and active in the vineyard, knowing that their day of departure is at hand; and there is provided sufficient aid to enable them to follow their fathers in the paths of usefulness.
Syston, September 20th, 1844.