Pondering a picture
Michael Haykin is pondering this well-known picture of Particular Baptist luminaries from the eighteenth century, and has so far pondered thrice: here and here and here. Haykin looks at the prominence of certain figures, their relationships hinted at in their positions, and the different theologies represented.
A sample of these thoughts on how art is sending a message about stature and theology:
The seated figures in the front row–(from l. to r.) William Carey, Joseph Kinghorn, John Ryland, Jr., Andrew Fuller, and John Foster–were all remarkable figures, but the creator of this portrait seems to have wanted to highlight Hall. He is standing in a posture that surely bespeaks the preacher with a Bible in his right hand. And if the Baptists of that era were about anything it was preaching. As a means of grace, it was second to none as a way of communicating God’s will and presence. All of the men in the picture were preachers (except for Foster, who tried to preach but failed miserably in it–his forte was the written essay), why highlight Hall in this regard? Does it reveal the conviction that Hall represents the cream of Baptist preaching? There is no doubt, for many of that era, Hall was the greatest of a great generation of preachers.