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DISPENSATION OF THE GOSPEL;
BY SAMUEL AUSTIN, A. M.
MINISTER OF THE GOSPEL IN WORCESTER, MASSACHUSETTS,
." HIS KINGDOM IS AN EVERLASTING KINGDOM."
“AMICUS SOCRATES, AMICUS PLATO, SED MAJOR AMICA VERITAS."
Be it remembered, that on the sixteenth day w of April in the thirty first year of the Independence of the U. States of America, SAMUEL AUSTIN of said District, has deposited in this Office the title of a Book, the right whereof he claims as author, in the words following, to wit.
« A View of the economy of the Church of God, as it ex. isted primitively, under the Abrahamic Dispensation, and the Sinai Law; and as it is perpetuated under the more luminous dipensation of the Gospel ; particularly in regard to the Covenants. By SAMUEL AUSTIN, A. M. Minister of the Gospel in Worcester, Massachusetts.
"HIS KINGDOM IS AN EVERLASTINC KINGDOM 66 AMICUS SOCRATES, AMICUS PLATO, SED MAJOR AMICA VIRITAS"
In conformity to the Act of the Congress of the U, States, entitled, " An Act for the encouragement of Learning, by securing the Copies of Maps, Charts and Books, to the Au. thors and Proprietors of such Copies, during the times therein mentioned ;” and also to an Act entitled, “ An Act supplementary to an Act, entitled, an Act for the encouragement of Learning, by securing the Copies of Maps, Charts and Books, to the Authors and Proprietors of such Copies during the times therein mentioned ; and extending the benefits thereof to the Arts of Designing, Engraving, and Etching Historical, and other Prints WILLIAM S. SHAW, } Clerk of the District of
SEVERAL works have been published within a fetu years, both in Europe, and in this country, concerning the Church of God; particularly, the qualifications which are requisite for membership in it, its institutions, the persons to whom they ought to be extended, and the discipline which it's officers, and ordinary members are to maintain in it. The Baptist controversy, in which all these subjects are more or less involved, has been lately revived. Books are multiplied, without bringing this controversy to a close. Difficulties still remain, to perplex the humble enquirer, and keep up the vehemence of debate. Much truth is exhibited. But a clear, consistent scheme, disembarrassed of real difficulttes, seems ta be wanting. Such a scheme the Bible undoubtedly contains. To elicit this scheme' is the only way to bring honest minds to an agreement. Whoever will candidly review the most ingenjous Treatises which have been published in the Baptist controversy, will perceive that the Pædobaptists have a great preponderance of evidence on their side of the question. It will, at the same time, be perceived, that they are not as united as could be wished in the principles of their theory. Some rest the evidence that the infant seed of believers are proper subjects of baptism, almost wholly upon the covenant which God established with Abraham. Others have not so much respect to this kind of argument ; but prefer to rest the defence of their opinion, and practice, upon what they apprehend to be the clearer intimations of the Gospel, and upon the re. cords of history. Different views are entertained of the nature of the Abrahamic covenant. It is debated whether this covenant was strictly, and properly the covenant of Grace ; what was the real import, and who were the objects of its promises. Different opinions are entertained, and contrary INTRODUCTION. hypotheses advocated also, respecting the Sinai covenant, the dispensation by Moses generally, and the constitution and character of the community of Israel. Some very respecte. ble and learned divines among the Pædobaptists have adopted the idea, that this community was of a mixed character, and have called it a Theocracy. Among the many advocates of this opinion are Lowman, Doddridge, Warburton, Guise, and the late John Erskine. These Divines supposed, that the legation of Moses could be best defended against the cas vils of unbelievers, by placing God at the head of the community of Israel, as a civil governor, surrounding himself with the regalia, and managing his subjects with the penalties and largesses, af a temporal sovereign,
The Antipædobaptists have found this hypothesis se conven. ient a refuge from the attacks of their opposers, as to incor. porate it, with great affection, and as a radical principle, in. to their system of reasoning. They have gone farther, and entirely accommodated the hypothesis to their peculiar notions. They insist, that this community was not, either in fact, or in the original plan of the institution, spiritual, and religious ; but civil and carnal ; and that, of course, the christian church is specifically different, and an entirely new society.
It is the opinion of the Author of the following Treatise, that this hypothesis høs been adopted unwarily ; and not on. ly without, but against evidence,
In view of this diversity of sentiment, and the obscurity which seems yet to lie over these subjects, it was his opinion, that a dîstinct and accurate view, if one could be given, of the Hebrew economy, as eștablished by Johovah, from its rise in the call of Abraham, and the covenant entered into with him, to its consummation in the Christian Church; deduced, not from the fallible theories of men, but from the Bible it. self, was a great desideratum in the science of theology. Such a view he has attempted to furnish. Of his success the public must judge. Though he cannot but entertain the hope that he has succeeded, as to the main prènciples, he would be ad. venturous indeed to avow a confidence, that his work is with.
out error. Circumstantial errors however, whether they respect the matter or the manner, the reader is requested to remember, will not invalidate the truth of the leading princi. ples. If these principles can be shewn to be wrong, the writer will be constrained to confess he has altogether failed of his object.