DR. DALES ESSAYS AND ADDRESSES.* Tuts selection of essays and
addresses by Dr. Dale, issued under the editorship of his son, reflects the characteristic opinions of the author with an accuracy not always found in collections of miscellaneous articles written at different periods. Dr. Dale was so well known to the public as an active politician and as a trenchant ecclesiastical debater, that there is some danger of forgetting that he was, above all, a theologian. His deepest interests always lay in the religious and theological, presuppositions which underlie all Churches, not in the controversies which divide and distract them. It would be paradoxical to affirm that Dr. Dale was not a repre- sentative Congregationalist. He was deeply attached to the principles of Congregationalism, and to the Churches which represent them ; and when they were assailed by outsiders, they had no more doughty defender. But his faith in his Church was so unswerving that he was not afraid to expose its faults in the same outspoken language which he employed when describing the failings of other Churches. Of these rebukes of fearless love there are a good many examples in the present volume. Dr. Dale held as firmly as any High Churchman that the Christian Church is a "Super- natural Society," whose doctrines and Sacraments were not discovered by itself, but communicated to it as a permanent deposit by Christ and his Apostles. He viewed, therefore, with extreme distrust the teaching of those modern Congregationalists who, ignoring its theological foundations, would transform the Church into an agency for social reform of moral enlightenment. In a learned essay in the present volume on "The Doctrine of the Real Presence," he examines the Roman and the High Anglican doctrines of the Sacraments, which of course he rejects ; but he repudiates with not less emphasis the Zwinglian theory of the Eucharist, which is, he says, at present the fashionable one among Congregationalists. He points out that it is a departure from the original principles of Independency as formulated in the Savoy Declaration of Faith, to describe the Sacraments as picture- lessons, or as rites instituted to perpetuate the memory of historical facts. Modern Congregationalists, he writes, have been injuriously affected with regard to sacramental doc- trine, by their long struggle with Romish and High Anglican theories ; and he adds that a theology will always be impoverished which is developed under the influence of incessant anxiety to avoid giving any real or apparent advan- tage to hostile theories. For Dr. Dale's own theory of the Sacraments we must refer our readers to his essay, where they find a most luminous and impressive definition. Some of our readers, however, may, like ourselves, feel more grateful for the admission with which he concludes that the subject does not properly admit of logical definition :—
"To state what may be properly called the doctrine of the Eucharist, to interpret the mysteries it reveals to all devout souls, is
• Essays and Addresses. By B.. W. Dale, LL.D. London : Hodder and Stoughton. Os.] impossible. Perhaps if it were possible to develop in formal proposi- tions the spiritual truths which underlie the appropriation of the Elements to their wonderful purpose, one great use of the Rite would disappear. It is partly because these truths cannot be ex- pressed in propositions that they are expressed in symbols. Who can explain what is meant by the Death of Christ becoming the Life of all who receive Him Who can define the relation existing between the Christian Soul and its Lord ? The Bread broken, distributed, eaten, tells us what is left untold after theological science has ex- hausted all its resources."
In his doctrine of the Church Dr. Dale approximates in some points to the High Church position, while in others he diverges from it widely.. He adheres to the austere ideal of the Fathers of Independency, who taught that the Church should admit believers alone to its fellowship, and only such believers as were prepared to submit their faith and life to the judgment of their fellow-believers. We find it hard to reconcile Dr. Dale's doctrine of baptism as stated in the essay on the Real Presence with his refusal to recognise it as the sacrament of admission to the Church. As to his doctrine of the Church, it must be conceded that it receives a certain support from many passages in the New Testament; and in their missionary work it is adopted by most Christian Churches, with the exception perhaps of the Church of Rome. Were, however, all Churches in lands with an hereditary Christian faith, organised on this austere system, and the system rigidly carried into practice, many would be excluded from the full privileges of the Church who ought not to be so excluded ; and multitudes would be debarred from taking part in that common Christian worship which is often more effectual than preaching in leading men to a true apprehension of the inner spirit of Christianity. Dr. Dale appears to have had some misgivings himself about the wisdom of a universal and practical adoption of his teaching regarding the Church :— "Those of us," he writes, "who inherit the principles and tradi- tions of Congregationalism are willing to acknowledge that it re- mains an ideal polity. Other systems of polity recognise and provide for the infirmities and follies and perversities of Christian men. Congregationalism trusts with a complete and unreserved confidence to the power and supremacy of the spirit of Christ in the Church of Christ. In the actual condition of Christendom systems whlch take guarantees against human passion and human error may ' work ' better ; but to some of us the idealism of Congregationalism has a fascination and a charm."
We have spoken only of the essays contained in Dr. Dale's volume. The addresses, however, will also well repay perusal. They contain some striking thoughts, and are written through- out in that strain of plain masculine eloquence of which the author was a master.