The More Things Change…

I was trying to dig up a reference and came across this intro to a book from 1807:

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SEVERAL works have been published within a few. years, both in Europe, and in this Country, concerning tie Church of God; particularly, the qualifications which are requisite for membership in it, its institutions, the persons to to whom they ought to be extended, and the discipline which its 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 difficulties, seems to 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 ingenious Treatises which have been published in the Baptist controversy, will perceive that the Pcedobaptists have a great pre ponderance 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 oj believers are proper subjects of baptism, almost wholly upon the covenant which God established with Abraham. Others have not so much re spect 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 oj 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 hypotheses advocated also, respecting the Sinai covenant, the dispensation by Moses generally, and the constitution and character of the community of Israel. Some very respected and learned divines among the Pcedobaptists have adopt ed the idea, that this community was of a mixed character, and have called it a Theocracy. Among the many advocates of this opinion are Lozvman, Doddridge, Warburton, Guise, and the late John Erfkine. These Divines supposed, that the legation of Moses could be best defended against the ca 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, of a temporal sovereign.

The antipaedobaptists have found this hypothesis so convenient a refuge from the attacks of their opposers, as to incorporate it, with great affection, and as a radical principle, in to their system oj reasoning. They have gone farther, and entirely accommodated the hypothesis to their peculiar notions. They insist, that this corqmunitv 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 nezo society. It is the opinion of the Author oj the following Treatise, that this hypothesis has 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 distinct and accurate view, if one could be given, of the Hebrew economy, as established by J-ehovah,jr§m 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 jrorn 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 principles, could be adventurous indeed to avow a confidence, that his work is without error. Circumstantial errors however, whether they re- sped the matter or the manner, the reader is requested to re member, 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*

A view of the economy of the church of God: as it existed primitively, under the Abrahamic dispensation and the Sinai law; and as it is perpetuated under the more luminous dispensation of the gospel; particularly in regard to the covenants
Samuel Austin – January 1, 1807

10 thoughts on “The More Things Change…

    1. That’s always the case because none of them ever feel the need to consider our position, so it’s always new to them when they do.

      I only read the preface and skimmed a couple pages. Not sure if he names names. It’s likely


    2. I skimmed it a bit tonight and found reference to a few baptists:

      Samuel Manning wrote “a late pamphlet” inspected by one of the ablest Baptists of the day (doesn’t say who) p. 48

      Andrew’s Vindication of the Baptists is referenced several times (it looks good)

      It is exceedingly evident that the Abrahamic covenant respected and promised blessings to Abraham’s posterity, or natural descendants as such.— Those blessings however, were of a mere temporal kind.” Andrews’s Vindi cation of the Baptists, page 24. ‘* It is an undoubted truth, that Cod was the God of the posterity of Abraham in the very sense in whicjl he prom ised to be. It will not be denied that God was the God of the Jewish Na tion, in the most literal sense. He was their political lawgiver and kingj’ pages 43 (75)

      From what has been said, it appears, that though the Sinai covenant was law, and this law was sane tioned by the curse ; and though many of the reason ings of Paul, appear to have respect to it, in that light merely, it was not altogether legal, nor in any respect hostile to grace ; but, in coincidence with it, and op erating in aid to it. Therefore, it tacts- not the cove nant of works. Such it is often very erroneously rep resented to be.*

      *”. On the other hand that covenant which requires obedience, and promises blessings conditionally, is the covenannt of works.” Andrews’s Vindication page 37. ” The truth is, that the Sinai Covenant, which was confessedly the constitution of the Jewish Church, was, in the nature of it, a covenant of Works.” lb. page 69. (107)

      * ” I am apprehensive, that if the matter should be accurately examined , it would be found, that the Abrahamic covenant of circumcision, and the Sinai covenant, are not so very distinct as Pccdobaptists seem to suppose,” Ar.- drawVs Vindication, page 34. The reader will judge. (105)

      And Dr. Jenkins “Defence of the Baptists”


    3. Andrew, here are a few more references in the book/era.

      Daniel Merrill replied to Samuel Austin (whom this post is quoting):
      Merrill, Daniel. Second exposition of some of the false arguments, mistakes, and errors of the Rev. Samuel Austin

      Note that Ron Baines has an essay in JIRBS about Merrill and Backus’ defense of baptist view of the kingdom of God.

      And here is a reply by Ebenezer Ferris to Joseph Balamy

      Balamy’s book is found here


  1. Sounds like a good man. We need to find his writings!

    I found references to an Elisha Andrews who was a Civil War chaplain. He was born in New Hampshire in 1844 and is a son of a Baptist minister. Too much of a coincidence!


      1. They have this on microfilm at the Cleveland Public library (30 mins from where I live). I’ve never worked with microfilm. Is it printable? I wonder if this would be worth the drive to read. I’ll have to check into it.


        1. Yeah, I believe you can print the microfilm from the machine you’re viewing it on, if I recall. I think that’s what I did with Hodge’s The Visibility of the Church. Let me know what you find out


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