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Since Dr. Halley had made up his mind to occupy so wide a field, it might, perhaps, have been deemed ungracious on the part of the committee with whom the management of the Congregational Lecture rests, had they sought to stint him to narrower limits than, in his own opinion, justice to his subject required. But that Dr. Halley should have chosen so wide a field as the subject of a congregational lecture, we greatly regret. For one thing, as this lecture is designed ‘to partake rather of the character of academic prelections than of popular addresses,’ we are sorry to see it made the vehicle of discussions which are literally vulgarly popular, which no learning or talent can ever invest with academic dignity, and upon which an able writer would find a hearing as readily without as with the assistance of the Congregational Committee, and the prestige of a Congregational Lectureship. Our principal cause of regret, however, is, that Dr. Halley should, like most of his predecessors, have been ambitious rather of being at the head of a department than of doing the work of a laborious official, whose aims are bounded by the desire to leave nothing belonging to his allotted task undone. The design of such an institution as the Congregational Lecture, we take it, is not only to procure treatises on important subjects, in which the popular mind is not sufficiently interested to make the writing of books on them a safe speculation, but to have these subjects discussed in that elaborate, minute, and exhaustive method which, however distasteful to the mass, gives to a book, in the eye of a real student, its chief value. The bounty of this institution, in our opinion, should be directed to encourage the publication of works which the bookseller would not venture to patronise, but which would be inestimable treasures to the man who reads not merely to pass the time, nor merely to pick up what is useful, as it may chance to occur, but to settle his mind upon some important questions — to enable him to form a precise and definite conclusion on some point of moment. Of single books that would suit the purpose of such a student, there is in our British literature a melancholy lack; and unless the managers of the different lectureships take the thing into consideration, and act rigidly on the principle of allowing their lecturers only one subject at a time, we see not how it is to be remedied. Hitherto the Congregational Lecture has been almost profitless in this respect. When we look at the capacity of the different lecturers, we cannot but deplore the loss which theological literature has sustained by such men spreading their efforts over fields which the undivided energies of a life-time would barely serve to cultivate thoroughly, instead of concentrating them upon one or two points of importance, and discussing these so exhaust
irely that to a student wishing information upon them, one might have been able to say— read Mr. — 's Congregational Lecture, and you will find all you desire.' With hardly an exception, the volumes already published are all too popular and too diffuse. Some of them, indeed, are avowedly fragmentary, and imperfect; others of them are no less avowedly addressed to the popular mind, and intended to bring the subject discussed before the public in a popular manner; whilst others of them aim at discussing a whole series of subjects, both popularly and scientifically. To this latter class Dr. Halley has, we think, unfortunately chosen to belong. All that he has written in this volume bears the marks of high intellect and sound scholarship; but after all, it is the work of a popular preacher or controversialist, not that of a purely scientific enquirer. Had he selected one part of his subject-say that of sacramental efficacy -had he brought all the keenness of his logic and all the resources of his learning to bear upon this one point, the result would, we have no doubt, have been the production of a work which would have become standard upon the evangelical side of the question, so as to render it unnecessary for any one to write again upon it. As it is, Dr. Halley's able paragraphs on this subject are mere contributions towards a settlement of the question, distinguishable from many others only by their superior vigour and brilliancy.
We have another cause of regret, arising from the wideness of the field which Dr. Halley has selected; and that is, that it has led him to devote a considerable part of the volume before us to controversies which have divided congregationalists themseļves. We allude especially to the questions which have been raised as to the proper subjects and the proper mode of baptism, on both of which he bestows a lengthened notice. On this subject the writer of the present article feels the more at liberty to express his opinion from the circumstance that he stands upon the same side of these questions with Dr. Halley, thongh he is free to confess that he would much rather have seen this discussion in a separate shape, than as forming part of the Congregational Lecture. It should be the aim, surely, of such an institution, to occupy as much as possible ground that is common to all evangelical congregationalists, and especially to avoid whatever might cause it to be regarded as an instrument for strengthening the one section of the congregational body at the expense of the other. Why should not the volumes produced by this lectureship be such as that by the congregationalists who practise only adult baptism by immersion, no less than by the congregationalists who practise both adult and infant baptism, without being scrupulously careful whether it be done
by immersion, or sprinkling, or pouring, they should be held in honoured estimation, as defences of great common principles, and sources of credit and strength to the whole denomination ? In this light Dr. Halley's book cannot be regarded; for on no part of it has he apparently bestowed more care and labour than on that in which he argues against the advocates of adult baptism by immersion alone; and by these, consequently, his work can be viewed in no other light than in that of a hostile battery, which either they must silence, or before which they must capitulate.
We shall now proceed to give our readers a brief outline of the contents of the volume, pausing to make an occasional remark or two on such points of interest as may present themselves.
The first lecture is on the term 'sacrament,' and the several institutions to which it has been appropriated. Here the author lays down and maintains the position, that baptism and the Lord's Supper are 'both of them symbolic representations of evangelical truths. The word sacramentum he argues, came to be applied to these rites from its being used to designate sacred truths, and hence, by an easy transition, the symbols of such truths; an hypothesis which seems to us by much the most satisfactory which has yet been offered in explanation of this usage, only that it still leaves unexplained the process by which this word, originally used to denote a sum of money deposited by parties in a suit in the hands of the Pontifex Maximus, to be forfeited by the losing party to a sacred purpose, came to be applied to designate a sacred truth. Perhaps the process was this :—the money deposited in such cases might assume a twofold aspect : it might be viewed as a pledge for the sincerity of the parties in the suit, indicating that it was no idle litigiousness that had brought them into court, but a bona fide case of difference necessitating an appeal to the law; and at the same time it might be regarded as the consecrated symbol of a yet unuttered verdict of which, when uttered, it became, so to speak, the practical exponent. From the former of these aspects the Romans seem to have deduced the usage of the word to denote generally any sacred pledge; and from the latter we would suggest they derived the usage of the word to designate a sacred truth. What seems to confirm this view is, that Apuleius speaks of the sacramentum judicii,' by which he means the judicial sentence pronounced in a cause. His words are, 'ad gravissimum judicii vestri sacramentum eum curavi producere,' (Metam, iii. sub. init.) where sacramentum cannot mean either the pledge of the suitors, or (as Cicero often uses it) the suit itself, but must denote the sentence of the judges. If this theory be admitted, it would so far affect Dr. Halley's doctrine, as to reverse
the order in which he has arranged the descent of meanings; for, instead of the word coming to denote the symbol of truth from its first denoting the truth itself, the order in this case would be that the word used to denote the symbol came frequently to designate the truth symbolised, or generally any sacred truth or mystery. Be this, however, as it may, the fact remains indisputable that the word was used by the ecclesiastical writers in both these senses, and it does not matter much as regards the sense in which we are to understand it when used of baptism and the Lord's Supper, which of the two had the precedence in point of time; the important point is, that in applying this designation to these sacred rites, the early christians meant to convey the idea that these were to be regarded as the symbols of sacred truth. That such really was the light in which they were viewed, may, we think, be justly inferred, from the express words of Augustine, when he styles a sacrament, “verbum visibile,” and describes it as a sign of truth. From ascertaining the meaning of the word sacrament, Dr. Halley passes on to consider the objects to which this term has been applied. Here he is principally occupied in examining the doctrine of the Romanists, that there are seven sacraments, and showing that the church of England, whilst professing with other protestant communions to repudiate five out of the seven, viz., Confirmation, Penance, Orders, Matrimony, and Extreme Unction, virtually retains, by the judgment of her own formularies, all except the last two, “not regarding matrimony as a sacrament, and repudiating extreme unction.” This part of the lecture is full of the soundest logic and acutest discrimination. The concluding part of the lecture is devoted to the subject of the ancient Agapa: these Dr. Halley thinks were entertainments provided at the expense of the wealthier members of the church, or of some wealthy individual member, for the relief of the poor and destitute in the church; and he even goes so far as to suggest, that there was appropriated for this purpose one house at least in connection with each church. For this view of the subject we greatly desiderate sufficient evidence. That such houses were attached to the Jewish synagogues, and such entertainments provided in them, affords to us no reason for believing that the same holds true of the christian churches, for we are by no means satisfied that the synagogue was the model in all things for the church; and further we suspect that Agapae were frequently observed when the christians were not in circumstances to have either fixed places of worship or stated houses of entertainment. Dr. Halley asks whether it is credible that a christian church should celebrate ‘the propitious and glorious festival of the resurrection, while her poor were distressed with the cravings of hunger.” We answer, certainly not; but we would remind him that to prevent this there was the apostolic ordinance of the xowww.a, the fellowship, instituted in the church at Jerusalem from the very first, and for the proper management of the fund formed by which the office of deacon was instituted. Further, when Dr. Halley quotes Rom. xvi. 23, to prove that Gaius was in the habit of providing for the whole church of which he was a member, a frequent if not a regular agape, he does not appear to have adverted to the fact that the church in question was that at Corinth, of which on many grounds it is highly improbable that one individual could be the entertainer. To us it appears much more likely that all which Paul meant by the expression #vo; uou xul ro; #xxxnaia; 3x7; was that Gaius not only hospitably entertained him, but all who, like him, were travelling for the cause of Christ. It seems quite clear that Gaius could not be the host of the whole church at Corinth in the same sense in which he was Paul's host, unless we suppose that Paul means nothing more by calling him his host than that he occasionally provided him with a meal (which according to our author is all that we must understand in the case of the church, by his being called the host of the whole church); a supposition which we think very incompatible with the Apostle's words. If, moreover, the Gaius mentioned by Paul in this place be, as Dr. Halley thinks, the same with the Gaius referred to by John in his third epistle, the commendation bestowed on the latter for his hospitality to ‘travelling preachers' (as the lecturer explains #vov;) would seem to us to favour the interpretation we have given above of Paul’s words. We are not the least moved by the appeal made to John's use of the word &y&wn as descriptive of that which formed the chief topic of the testimony borne by these #évol in favour of Gaius; for we are quite sure that, delivered from the seductive influence of having a theory to support, Dr. Halley would be the last man gravely to propose that we should translate John's words, “who have borne witness of thy love-feast before the church.' ... We can hardly forgive our friend for suggesting to us the idea of the primitive preachers returning from their self-denying labours full of grateful reminiscences of Gaius's feast, attesting its abundance and savouriness before the whole church, and conveying to the mind of the venerable apostle such a sense of its excellence, as led him to make it the subject of commendation in an inspired epistle. After all, where is the evidence that these Agapae had any existence in the apostolic churches, or that they were ever connected, as Dr. Halley and many others think they were, with