The Project Gutenberg eBook of Thomas Chalmers

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Title: Thomas Chalmers

Creator: William Garden Blaikie

Illustrator: Joseph Brown

Release date: June 23, 2012 [eBook #40081]

Language: English

Credits: Produced by Al Haines

Title page






The designs and ornaments of this
volume are by Mr. Joseph Brown,
and the printing from the press of
Messrs. T. and A. Constable, Edinburgh.


I cannot send forth this little sketch of the Life of Chalmers without expressing anew my admiration of the four-volumed biography by my late beloved friend, Dr. Hanna. It is not only admirable as a portrait, but it cannot be read by any sympathetic reader without a sense of humiliation, and without a great stimulus to higher things. It is much to be regretted that Dr. Hanna was unable to carry out the purpose which it is understood that he cherished, of condensing the work into a single volume.

Other memorials of Dr. Chalmers have been given to the world. Among these may be noted:—

1. A Biographical Notice of the late Thos. Chalmers, D.D., LL.D. Read before the Royal Society of Edinburgh. By the Very Rev. E. B. Ramsay, M.A., 1850.

2. Chalmeriana; or Colloquies with Dr. Chalmers. By Joseph John Gurney, 1853.

3. A Selection from the Correspondence of Thos. Chalmers, D.D., LL.D. Edited by Rev. W. Hanna, LL.D., 1853.

4. Mr. Isaac Taylor's elaborate articles in the North British Review, 1852 and 1856.

5. Thomas Chalmers, a Biographical Study. By James Dodds, 1879.

6. Thomas Chalmers. His Life and its Lessons. By Rev. Norman L. Walker, 1880.

7. Thomas Chalmers, D.D., LL.D. (Men Worth Remembering). By Donald Fraser, D.D., 1881.

8. Thomas Chalmers, Preacher, Philosopher, and Statesman. By Mrs. Oliphant, 1893.

9. Recollections of Dr. Chalmers by Professor David Masson, in Lowe's and Macmillan's Magazines.

  1. Recollections by the Rev. Dr. Macaulay in the Leisure Hour.

11. Funeral Sermons and Lectures by Rev. Dr. Cunningham, Rev. Dr. Jas. Buchanan, Rev. John Bruce, Rev. W. K. Tweedie, Rev. John G. Lorimer, Rev. James Julius Wood, Rev. J. A. Wallace, Rev. John Gemmel, Rev. David Couper, Rev. W. Tasker, Rev. A. J. Ross, Rev. Dr. W. Lindsay Alexander, Rev. Dr. Sprague (Albany, New York), Rev. Dr. Sharp (Boston), Rev. Professor Edwards (Andover), Rev. Dr. Smyth (Charleston), etc. etc.

Among the greatest privileges and honours of his life, the writer will ever regard his having been for one session a student under Dr. Chalmers at Edinburgh; for three years a co-presbyter and cordial fellow-worker on his lines, in forming and building up a territorial congregation; and for many years the occupant of one of two chairs of theology which were constituted at the Disruption in New College, in place of the single chair which Dr. Chalmers had held, and thus in a sense, but most unworthily, one of his successors.

EDINBURGH, December 1896.





KILMANY, 1803-1815


GLASGOW, 1815-1823











Thomas Chalmers was born at Anstruther, Fifeshire, on the 17th March 1780, when the flowers were appearing on the earth, and the time of the singing of birds was come. It seems never to have been noticed that this was St. Patrick's day, and no one has ever instituted a comparison between the lives of the two illustrious Scotsmen. But if only we had authentic materials for the life of Patrick, whose Scottish birth seems well established, it would probably be found that there was no slight similarity. Transferring his labours to Ireland, Patrick, with the Gospel of Jesus Christ as his instrument, laboured for the double object of bringing individuals within the Kingdom of God, and elevating and purifying the condition of the country. The same double aim was ever present to the mind of Chalmers. On the basis of the Gospel, he could not separate the social from the personal, the general from the particular, the temporal from the spiritual. He had always an Arcadia, a Utopia, a new spring-tide for his country in his vista; but a spring-tide to be realised in one way only—by the coming of the Spirit from on high.

Anstruther was not a stirring town, for through the union with England it had lost no little of the trade, whether legal or contraband, which in former days, along with the other little towns on the Fife seaboard, it had carried on with France and England. But an abundant element of life and activity was supplied within his father's house, where nine brothers and five sisters, among whom Thomas came fifth, must have sufficed to make any household lively. The father was in fairly prosperous business, and provost of the town. He is described as 'dignified and handsome in appearance, highly honourable, courteous, and kind; and of fervent but not ostentatious piety.' The mother was in person short, thick, erect, devoted to her household, sharing her husband's piety, but so self-restrained that a smile was seldom seen on her face. The family was connected with many members of the middle-class, some also of the clergy, and a sprinkling of the landed gentry.

The parish school of Anstruther, to which Chalmers, persecuted by a scolding nurse, went at the age of three, was taught by a master never very efficient, and in Chalmers's time old and nearly blind, who made up for other deficiencies by his great energy in flogging. There was an assistant teacher who was not much more effective in teaching than his principal, but who was as mild as the other was severe. This gentleman, who survived Chalmers, bore a very touching testimony to his kindness. 'No man,' he exclaimed on one occasion, 'knows the amount of kindness which I have received from him. He has often done me good both as respects my soul and my body; many a pithy sentence he uttered when he threw himself in my way; many a pound note has he given me; and he always did the thing as if he were afraid that any person should see him.' Of Chalmers as a schoolboy the testimony is that he was 'one of the idlest, strongest, merriest, and most generous-hearted boys in Anstruther school.' Had one chanced to come upon the school-children engaged in their various amusements (says one of his biographers), one should soon have distinguished 'one boy above the rest, seeming about ten or twelve years of age, who is the leader in their sports—strong, active, merry, and boisterous, with big head, matted dark hair, large plain features, broad shoulders, well-proportioned but brawny limbs, his laugh always loudest, and his figure always foremost at football and the other games in which they are contending.'1

The father and mother of Dr. Chalmers, as we have said, were of strong religious character, hearty followers of the Calvinistic theology, and, though too busy to bestow much attention on the education of their family, very desirous that they should all accept their views. Much though Chalmers respected and honoured them, he did not at first fall in with their views of life and duty. He grew up with a positive dislike both of the Calvinistic theology and the evangelical life. It was not till after he had been some years in the ministry that, under the acute pressure of personal illness and family bereavements, he came to see as they did, and to live as they lived. The change to them must have been like the conversion of Augustine to Monica. And yet, in after years, their intercourse was not wholly without friction. It is touching to mark in the son's diary tokens of his humiliation on account of the crossness with which he sometimes spoke to them. Both were deaf, and an aunt who lived with them was deafer still, and it annoyed Thomas, with his naturally impatient temper, to find himself misapprehended, often to have to repeat his remarks, and always to speak in that louder tone which the deaf require. We may be sure that when he felt and confessed thus in secret, he would try to make up for it at other times by double kindness, for of all things that could vex him, to inflict needless pain was about the worst. His respect for them was alike sincere and affectionate; and for his mother's widow hood—lonely, but bright, calm, and holy, he had such a reverence that it became the very pattern of all that he desired most earnestly for his own old age.

Thomas was not yet twelve, when, with his brother William, he was sent on to the University of St. Andrews. At such an age, common enough then in Scotland, boys were incapable of grasping the great aims of a university; and college to them was but an upper school. But the change to the university had at first no effect in mending the idle ways of our student. He was 'volatile, boyish, and idle.' Yet, even from the first, he was noted for strict integrity and warm affection, and in all that he did undertake he was enthusiastic and persevering. It was not till his third session that he became attached to any branch of learning. The science that captivated him then was mathematics. And so ardently did he devote himself to it, that long afterwards, about the time when he left Kilmany, he was familiarly known as 'Mr. Chalmers, the mathematician.' He might have borne the designation to the very end. His mind was fashioned on the mathematical model, taking its stand on realities, the substantial verities of life; striving to explain their relations and applications, and then pressing them with tremendous energy on the hearts and consciences of his fellows. For Professor Brown, his mathematical teacher, he retained through life the warmest regard; and when he died in 1836, he wrote to his widow, that of all his public instructors he was the one that impressed him most, and to whom he owed most in the formation of his tastes and habits, and in the guidance of his literary life.

As the termination of his curriculum in arts drew near, it became necessary that he should choose a profession. Strange to say, although he had no favour either for theology or religion, he had declared from his boyhood for the ministry. Some of the more picturesque sayings of the Bible had taken a remarkable hold of his mind. When but three years old, being missed and sought for, after it had become dark, he was found alone, pacing up and down in the nursery, repeating to himself the words of David, 'O my son Absalom, my son Absalom; O Absalom, my son, my son!' The sister of one of his schoolfellows used to tell of her breaking in on the two, and finding him on a chair, preaching vigorously to his single hearer. It was the soul of the orator asserting itself from the very first.

But when he entered on his theological course, there seemed to be little or no development of the real spirit of the ministry. He was, indeed, full of reverence for truth, and so impatient of anything like double dealing, that when his professor represented that certain doctrines of Calvinism should not be much spoken of, he could not but ask, Why not, if they be true? Throughout his whole life he disliked men who were not above board with everything, and his own regard for truth was transparent to all. For a time his mind was clouded with scepticism. The books that were most useful in restoring his faith were Butler's Analogy and Beattie's Essay on Truth. A very remarkable effect was produced on him when, some time after, he became acquainted with Jonathan Edwards on The Freedom of the Will. For a time he could neither think nor talk of anything else. What so impressed him was the idea of the whole series of events in the spiritual as well as the material world being bound together by unalterable links, and thus forming one vast scheme—a wonderful tribute to the wisdom, power, and glory of God. The incident showed how his mind had expanded, and how he had come to find delight in large, comprehensive views of things. Long after, he spoke of the year in which this subject occupied him as a time of mental elysium, so great was his delight. Yet at this time evangelical truth was positively rejected. We are reminded of the experience of another, afterwards a colleague of his own in New College, Edinburgh, the late Dr. John Duncan, who, even when a student of divinity, wandered for a time in the gloomy mazes of atheism, but when brought into the light of theism—apart from Christianity altogether—expressed his emotion in a way of his own: 'I danced on the brig o' Dee when I came to see there was a God.'

It was of course necessary, when he had advanced somewhat in his divinity course, that he should practise the art of composition. His first efforts, we are told, were poor enough. The composition both of his letters and his college exercises was bald, unrelieved by any gleam of fancy or sentiment. But in two years he had learned to write with ease and fluency, and he had formed that remarkable, if somewhat turgid style which he practised ever after. We know so little of the English writers who engaged his attention at this time that the natural history of his style is something of a puzzle. It has somewhat of the swell and dignity of Johnson, and much of the diffuseness of Burke—two of the most prominent writers in his youth. But its main quality must have arisen from the burning fervour of his own mind, and the natural outflow of his thoughts, shaping his language spontaneously, and moulding it into characteristic forms of beauty and power.

When in 1842, on the eve of the Disruption, Chalmers met four or five hundred of his brethren in what was known as the Convocation, and endeavoured to reconcile them to the prospect of an unendowed church, the task was one that demanded the highest efforts of his eloquence. It was his aim to rouse them to an attitude worthy of the occasion, and, with that view, he concluded an appeal of transcendent power with a eulogy of enthusiasm which awakened thunders of applause. Never had he seemed more eloquent. Yet the passage that had so thrilled his audience was found after his death to be an exact transcript from one of his student discourses. 'Enthusiasm is a virtue rarely produced in a state of calm and unruffled repose. It flourishes in adversity. It kindles in the hour of danger and rises to deeds of renown. The terrors of persecution only serve to awaken the energy of its purposes. It swells in the pride of integrity, and great in the purity of its cause, it can scatter defiance amid a host of enemies.'—Already, 'fervet, immensusque ruit.'

In those days it was the practice of the members of the university to meet morning and evening in the public hall for worship, the prayers being led by the students of divinity. In his first theological session, Mr. Chalmers's prayer was an amplification of the Lord's Prayer, so eloquent and original as to awaken the wonder of all. One who remembered his prayers on these occasions said: 'The wonderful flow of eloquent, vivid, ardent description of the attributes and works of God, and still more, perhaps, the astonishingly harrowing delineation of the miseries, the horrid cruelties, immoralities, and abominations inseparable from war, which always came in more or less in connection with the bloody warfare in which we were engaged with France, called forth the wonderment of his hearers. He was then only sixteen years of age, yet he showed a taste and capacity for composition of the most glowing and eloquent kind. Even then his style was very much the same as at the period when he attracted so much notice, and made such powerful impression in the pulpit and by the press.'

Thus already, in his student days, that great outline of character had begun to shape itself, which, modified afterwards by new and powerful forces, made him the great man he was. The intensity of his nature, the redundant energy that hardly knew fatigue, the largeness of his view, the warmth of his affection, the independence of his judgment, and the gushing impetuosity of his style were manifest from these college days. Whatever he may have derived from his parents, or from the masters that taught him, or the books he read, a fearless, sturdy independence was the ruling feature—he was a genuine Scot.

On finishing his theological studies he accepted a situation as tutor in a family, under the feeling that, as his knowledge of mankind had hitherto been limited to his own family and his fellow-students, it was desirable for him to know a little more of the world. But his experience was not happy. It was not merely that his hours of teaching were so arranged as to leave him hardly any time for reading, but that his treatment was not what he considered due to a gentleman. Of such treatment he was sensitive to the last degree, nor was he restrained by any bashfulness or timidity from expressing his opinion of it. His employer wished to throw the blame on himself, and told him he had too much pride. He could not deny the charge, but showed a ready wit in hurling it back on his accuser. 'Sir,' was his undaunted reply, 'there are two kinds of pride: there is the pride which lords it over inferiors, and there is the pride which rejoices in repressing the insolence of superiors. The first I have none of—the second I glory in.' This, to say the least, was tolerably smart for a lad of eighteen. But it showed not only his independence but his intolerance of opposition. Soon after, he gave up the situation.

He had not completed his nineteenth year when he applied to his presbytery to be licensed as a probationer. He was under the legal age, but probably his precocity had made a considerable impression, for the law was evaded under a traditional exception in favour of youths 'of pregnant parts,' and on the 21st July 1799 he became a licentiate. But he did not show much interest in the work of his new calling. Immediately after, he paid a visit to friends in England, in the course of which he preached his first sermon, at Wigan, on 25th August 1799. His eldest brother wrote to his father: 'His mode of delivery is expressive, his language beautiful, and his arguments very forcible and strong.... It is the opinion of those who pretend to be judges that he will shine in the pulpit, but as yet he is rather awkward in his appearance. We, however, are at some pains in adjusting his dress, manner, etc., but he does not seem to pay any great regard to it himself. His mathematical studies appear to occupy more of his time than his religious.'

Returning from England, he spent the next two winters at Edinburgh attending classes at the university. Mathematics, chemistry, natural and moral philosophy, and political economy were the subjects that occupied his attention. To Dr. Robison, Professor of Natural Philosophy, he felt himself under very deep obligations. He had been perplexed by the views which he found in the Système de la Nature, published under the pseudonym of Mirabeau, but really the work of the Baron von Holbach. That rigid uniformity of natural law which it enforced seemed to point ominously to materialism and atheism. Under Professor Robison's instructions he was led to ponder the remarkable harmony between the human mind and the processes of nature—the wonderful adaptation of the one to the other; and the conclusion was irresistible that this must be due to an intelligent Divine Being who had framed these adaptations. In after years this was the theme of his Bridgewater treatise, and it was one of the corner-stones of his Natural Theology. As to preaching during these Edinburgh studies, it seems to have been almost entirely neglected.

A new situation, however, opened up to him, as assistant to the Rev. Mr. Elliot, minister of Cavers, in Roxburghshire. The duties of this office he discharged for about a year with fair regularity and diligence, but without hard work, and without his showing any lively interest in the objects of the ministry. In the course of his residence there, he learned that when the parish of Kilmany, in Fife, should fall vacant (as it was likely to do, but not just immediately, by the appointment of the incumbent to a chair), he would get the presentation from the University of St. Andrews.

But what interested him much more was his appointment as assistant, for the ensuing session, to the professor of mathematics there. All that concerned the ministry excited but a languid interest, but his literary and scientific ambition was irrepressible. Already it had begun to look towards a mathematical chair. As Mrs. Oliphant remarks, 'The life and energy of a robust young man, full of ambition, eager for achievement, was in all his veins.' As a teacher he kindled the enthusiasm of his students for mathematical science. To himself the demonstrations of geometry were alike complete and beautiful. But he had also a way of associating mathematics with other pursuits, of bringing all manner of side-lights to bear on the study, of finding analogies in this quarter and in that, that greatly increased his popularity as a teacher. As one of his students remarked afterwards, 'Under his extraordinary management the study of mathematics was felt to be hardly less a play of the fancy than a labour of the intellect—the lessons of the day being continually interspersed with applications and illustrations of the most lively nature, so that he secured in a singular manner the confidence and attachment of his pupils.'

But such popularity among the students was apt to beget a different feeling among the professors; it especially roused Mr. Vilant, the gentleman as whose substitute Chalmers had been acting. Mr. Vilant, it appeared, had been granting certificates without communication with his assistant—a grievous offence in his eyes. Accordingly, at the public examination of his classes at the end of the session, Chalmers broke out into a severe invective against him, and delivered a long, sarcastic speech in condemnation of his conduct. The professors knew not how to look, but at last the Principal brought the speech of Chalmers to an end, and he proceeded with his examination as if nothing had happened.

His capacity of combining strong feeling in one direction with perfect self-control in every other was very remarkable. Many years afterwards, when expressing his views with extraordinary energy in the General Assembly on the question that led to the Disruption, he was interrupted by a layman, who remarked that they were all pleased to hear him, excited though he was, but that there were limits, etc., etc. 'Excited!' exclaimed Chalmers, in great astonishment; 'does the gentleman say that I am excited? I am as cool as an algebraic problem.' His head was in no degree disturbed by the vehemence of his heart.

A short time had to elapse between the close of the session and his ordination as minister of Kilmany, which Mr. Chalmers devoted to a visit to Edinburgh. His father was disappointed and mortified that on the eve of entering on so solemn a profession, he did not put the interval to use at home in the way of earnest meditation and prayer. For that, however, the son did not see the slightest necessity. He deemed himself already sufficiently prepared for his duties, with the nature of which he was well acquainted. In this strain he wrote to his father, adhering to his plan. A few years later he would have felt most differently, and, ashamed of his carelessness, he would have most cordially fallen in with all that his father had written.




On the 12th day of May 1803, Mr. Chalmers was ordained by the Presbytery of Cupar to the ministry of Kilmany. Never did the settlement of a young man of twenty-three create less interest in the mind of the person principally concerned. There is no evidence either of that elation of feeling which a young man naturally has in taking possession of a church and manse, and filling an important place in a community; or of that overwhelming sense of responsibility which so solemn a charge excites in a serious mind. It was not the ministry but mathematics that held the first place in his heart. Notwithstanding his settlement as minister of Kilmany, he was bent on being re-appointed to the mathematical assistantship during the ensuing winter. His predecessor in that office had been minister of a parish for six out of the eleven years when he had held it; what reasonable objection could there be to his holding it for a single session?

After what had happened at the end of last session, it was no great wonder that his employer should inform him that his services were no longer needed. This could hardly have been a surprise, though it was a disappointment; but when it was indicated that inefficiency was the cause of his dismissal, it was viewed as an intolerable insult. Inefficiency, forsooth! If he should submit to that, it would be a deathblow to all his hopes of literary and scientific advancement, and it would shut him out for ever from all hope of a university chair.

Unabashed by the treatment of the professors, he resolved to defy them, and to open classes on his own account during the ensuing session. He was too self-confident and self-reliant to care what might be said of him, either by the professors or the public; but there was one quarter in which he was desirous to conciliate approval, or at least to prevent condemnation. He found it necessary to give reasons to his father for not confining himself to the duties of his ministerial charge. The chief reason was, that, apart from preaching, the duties were slight and easy, and it was his intention, while spending the week in St. Andrews, to return to Kilmany on Saturdays for Sunday duties, while two of his neighbours were willing to attend to any urgent week-day matters that might arise. The truth is, he had by a kind of unconscious instinct accepted the views of the 'Moderates,'—a school, in the language of Mr. Dodds, 'which was neither true Christian nor good pagan; had neither the unction of Knox nor the yearning desire for truth and goodness of an Epictetus or a Cicero.'

When he began his classes at St. Andrews, he of course had to encounter many hard sayings and much opposition. But he was confident of his integrity in thus repelling practically an injurious charge; and with no little dignity and force maintained that he was bound to take this step in order to uphold his reputation as a teacher. And such was his simplicity and geniality of manner that he felt no embarrassment in going about among the very professors and others who had condemned him most. After a few weeks, in addition to his three classes of mathematics, he announced his intention of opening a class of chemistry. This created a fresh storm of opposition. But the class prospered, it was conducted with the greatest enthusiasm, and the very fact of so young a man braving the opposition of the whole university in order to defend his reputation gave a chivalrous aspect to the proceeding, which toned down the current of opposition. By the end of the session he and the professors were all on good terms. It was a marvellous proof of his energy alike of mind and body that he was able to do all his academic work, and at the same time write sermons and deliver them at Kilmany, without breaking down, without even the appearance of exhaustion. On the 14th March, after five months of this labour, he wrote to his father, 'My hands are full of business. I am living just now the life I seem to be formed for—a life of constant and unremitting activity.' Of the whole forty-three years that formed the remainder of his life, nearly the same thing might have been said.

The mathematical classes were not repeated in the following session, but the chemical lectures were resumed, and carried on twice a week with increased enthusiasm. The lectures were subsequently repeated at Kilmany and at Cupar. Once, when at a loss for means to assist a friend at Kirkcaldy, who had been associated with him in the volunteer service, the chemical lectures were trotted out to the rescue. It was necessary, when he went to a town, to carry materials for experimenting with him, and Dr. Hanna tells how on one occasion one of the bottles that hung from his saddlebag having been broken, the contents were discharged on the flank of his horse, where they left a discoloured belt to tell the tale. Of this accident the present writer remembers to have heard a more detailed version, according to which the accident to the bottle, which contained sulphuric acid, was not discovered till he was in the class-room. The moment it was perceived, Chalmers, in great excitement, exclaimed, 'Oh, my poor beast!' and rushed from the lecture-room to the stable to do whatever was possible to relieve the sufferings of the unfortunate animal.

It did not escape the notice of the Presbytery that the minister of Kilmany was so much occupied with work outside his parish. But the standard of ministerial activity was low, and Chalmers had not much difficulty in defending himself. In a very short time his thoughts were again turned to the university, but in another connection. The chair of natural philosophy became vacant, and he entered the lists as a candidate. But as the election was in the hands of the professors, he could not have seriously dreamt of success. Nor was he much concerned for his failure. 'My contempt,' he wrote, 'for the low, shuffling artifices of college politics supports and elevates my mind against the vexation of regret.'

A few weeks later, in January 1805, the University of Edinburgh lost one of its most eminent professors—Dr. Robison, of whom mention has already been made. Professor Playfair obtained his chair, leaving that of mathematics, which he had held before, to be filled up. Chalmers was again in the field, but no qualifications that he could appeal to were a match for those of the successful candidate—Mr. (afterwards Sir John) Leslie. In the course of the contest he came for the first time before the public as an author. Among the candidates was the Rev. Dr. Macknight, one of the ministers of Edinburgh, in opposition to whom Professor Playfair had written to the patrons, remonstrating against such a conjunction of offices. Mr. Chalmers's pamphlet (which was anonymous) was entitled, Observations on a passage in Mr. Playfair's Letter to the Lord Provost of Edinburgh, relative to the Mathematical Pretensions of the Scottish Clergy. He had ceased to have any personal interest in the case, and his whole object was to show that a Scottish clergyman might be abundantly qualified for the duties of a chair in addition to those of a parish. 'The author of this pamphlet,' he said, 'can assert from what to him is the highest of all authority, the authority of his own experience, that after the satisfactory discharge of his parish duties, a minister may enjoy five days in the week of uninterrupted leisure for the prosecution of any science in which his taste may dispose him to engage.' When the religious views of Mr. Chalmers underwent the great change which will be described afterwards, he was much distressed for this publication, and did his utmost to withdraw it from circulation. In a discussion on pluralities in the General Assembly some years afterwards, he argued vehemently against both the principle and practice of pluralities; and, being twitted with having at one time pronounced in their favour, he candidly admitted that he had done so, but it was in the days of his spiritual blindness. The chair involved was a chair of mathematics. 'What, sir,' he asked, 'are the objects of mathematical science? Magnitude and the relations of magnitude. But then, sir, I had forgot two magnitudes: I thought not of the littleness of time; I recklessly thought not of the greatness of eternity!'

However imperfectly he might have been discharging the duties of his Kilmany charge, Mr. Chalmers was exceedingly kind and exemplary to the members of his own family, one of whom, his sister Jane, for whom through life he had the warmest affection, kept house for him, while various others were more or less resident in his manse. One brother, George, a favourite of the family, spent some months at Kilmany in the autumn of 1806, in very touching circumstances. He was a sailor by profession, and at the age of twenty-three commanded a merchant ship, which being attacked by a French privateer, gallantly drove off the enemy; but the skipper, lying down on deck, exhausted after the fight, caught the seeds of consumption, which gradually prevailed against him. His mother, three of his sisters, and two of his brothers were all around him at Kilmany, but no material improvement took place. Returning to Anstruther, George calmly awaited his coming end, with a firm trust in the merit of his Saviour. Every evening one of Newton's (of Olney) sermons was read at his bedside by one of the family in rotation. It was one of the books which his brother had lately denounced from the pulpit of Kilmany, as drawing men away from the wholesome teaching of the gospels. Yet to his dying brother it brought heavenly comfort. And evidently that brother enjoyed a secret something which he had not. Could he be wrong? Must there not be reality in the experience that took away all fear of death, and made the youth of twenty-three so willing to die? 'The deep impression made by George's death,' says Dr. Hanna, the chief biographer of Chalmers, 'was the first step towards his own conversion.'

Less than two years after, his sister Barbara, who was five years older than himself, sickened and died. The same fell disease which had cut off George proved fatal to her. But her father could write of her that she showed a cheerful submission to the will of God, and a humble confidence in the satisfaction of her great Redeemer. Here was another case of one very near and dear to him deriving all her support and comfort in the hour of death from a source which he had been accustomed to associate with superstition and fanaticism. Again the question could not but force itself upon him, Must there not be something real in it, after all?

As to the ordinary management of his household, being under the control of his sister, it proceeded in the ordinary fashion without much interference from him. He was easy, and easily pleased, but he was not an absent-minded dreamer. At an early period his chemical studies had led him to believe that the time would come when coal-vapour would be purified and used for illuminating houses; and when he got a new manse, he had pipes laid in it, in anticipation of this domestic use. When coffee was introduced as a beverage, he believed that in burnt rye he had found a rival to it, and used to have it produced for his friends. Once when it was proposed to subject the two substances to a sort of competitive trial, and a select company assembled to pass a verdict upon them, a cup of genuine Mocha was first handed round and much approved of; then a second cup was presented, and being tasted was pronounced to be much inferior; whereupon Mr. Chalmers burst into laughter and exclaimed, 'It's your own Mocha coffee, the second cup is just the same article as the first!' At another time, when some friends were to be at dinner, it turned out that the whole resources of the larder could produce nothing but two kinds of dried fish. Nothing daunted, Mr. Chalmers had both of them properly served; and the covers being removed, called on his guests to make their choice. 'This, gentlemen, is salt fish from St. Andrews; and that is salt fish from Dundee.' Of course he had to be often on horseback; but as a horseman he did not excel. 'What most provoked him was the frequency with which his horse threw him. At first he was much interested in noting the intervals between each fall. Taking the average length, and calculating how far a dozen falls would carry him, he resolved to keep the horse till the twelfth fall was accomplished. Extremely fond of such numerical adjustments (a singular result of the mathematical structure of his mind), he was most faithful in counting them. In this instance, however, the tenth fall was so bad that his resolution gave way, and he told his servant to take the horse to the next market and sell him forthwith. 'But remember,' he said, 'you must conceal none of its faults; you must tell that it has thrown its master ten times.' 'But who,' asked the man, 'will think of buying the horse if I tell him all that beforehand?' 'I cannot help that,' said Mr. Chalmers; 'I will have no deception practised, and if nobody will buy the horse, you must just bring him back again.' Nobody did buy the horse; ultimately in return for a book he was transferred to his neighbour, Mr. Thomson of Balmerino, whom the animal served quietly and faithfully for many a year, without showing any vicious tendency; whence it came to be surmised 'that the peculiarities of the case were not in the animal but the restless and energetic horsemanship of the rider!'

His patriotism was intense, and not only did he fulminate against Bonaparte in the pulpit, but he joined the volunteers, and held commissions both as chaplain and lieutenant.

The early years at Kilmany passed with little change except a visit to England in the beginning of 1807. These English visits, rare in those days, enlarged his horizon, and showed him much that he did not find at home. At Liverpool he preached for a Mr. Kilpatrick, and we may gather the character of his ordinary pulpit lessons from his two subjects—in the forenoon on the comforts of religion; in the afternoon on drunkenness. His impression of Woodstock showed that intense admiration of nature which remained to the last: 'I spent two hours in the garden. Never spot more lovely—never scenes so fair and captivating. I lost myself in an elysium of delight, and wept with perfect rapture.' At Oxford there was kindled a reverence for English academical life and learning which never left him. 'I was delighted with the academic air and costume of the place; and amid the grossness of a mercantile age, it is the delight of my spirit to recur to the quiet scenes of philosophy, and contemplate what our ancestors have done for learning, and the respect that they once paid to it.'

Three weeks were spent among the sights of London. He had a lively interest in all he saw, especially in all that concerned science and the mechanical arts. Among his old friends and neighbours were two sons of Fifeshire manses, rising to that high distinction which he coveted in his own department,—John Campbell, afterwards Lord Campbell, and Mr. (afterwards Sir David) Wilkie. He was greatly interested in all he saw of royalty: Windsor, with all its glories; the chapel-royal there, where the King and Queen and Princess Elizabeth seemed so simple, frank, and devout; and he noted especially a view he had of these royal personages at St. James's, when her majesty returned his salutation with a 'condescending notice.' Not in the vulgar sense, but as useful and ornamental elements in the social fabric, he had a high regard for royalty and the nobility. 'I am charmed with the cordial and affectionate loyalty of the people. I saw a glow of reverence and satisfaction on every countenance, and my heart warmed within me.' Sheridan was the great orator of the day, and oftener than once he heard him speak. He used to give two instances of Sheridan's readiness of repartee when standing the fire of the hustings at Westminster. One elector complained that he was not satisfied with his treatment of the Carnatic. 'My dear sir,' he said, with a significant bow, 'the affairs of the Carnatic are in much abler hands.' Another elector, with a very ugly face, raised on the shoulder of the mob, said, 'If you do not alter your ways, I will withdraw my countenance from you.' 'I am delighted to hear it,' said Sheridan, 'for it is the ugliest countenance I ever beheld.'

Cambridge attracted him even more than Oxford: 'It smells of learning all over, and I breathe a fragrancy most congenial to me.' As if he had foreseen Girton and Newnham, he said, 'The very women have an air of academic mildness and simplicity.' He preferred it to Oxford, apparently because its objects of interest were not so concentrated, but really, in all probability, because it was the great sanctuary of mathematical study. 'In Cambridge, everything wears a simplicity and chasteness allied to the character of philosophy, and the venerable name of Newton gives it an interest that can never die.' The glories of York Minster entranced him. Wherever he went he made careful observation alike of all that was beautiful and all that was instructive. He returned to Kilmany in July (1807), after an absence of nearly three months.

Immediately after his return, Mr. Chalmers set himself to prepare for the press a work of considerable size and research, entitled an Inquiry into the Extent and Stability of National Resources. Political economy had always attracted him. At the time of this publication, much fear was expressed that the continued war with Bonaparte, implying the shutting against Britain of all the ports of the countries to which his influence extended, and the confiscation of all cargoes of British goods, would exhaust the resources of the country and ruin its foreign traders. Mr. Chalmers held strongly an opposite opinion. Whether he succeeded in proving his contention may be a question; certainly his position was paradoxical. But his sagacity, as the result has proved, came out in more than one indirect form. With reference to the income-tax, he contended strongly that it ought not to be charged on the whole of a man's income, but only on the part that remained after providing for the necessaries of life. It was only a few years ago that effect was given to this view in the case of small incomes. Another matter for which he contended strongly was our obligation to provide a better living for our soldiers. He denounced the compulsory system of enlistment—it ought to be a voluntary service. And it ought to be a service of limited duration; the nation had no right to make an exception against soldiers and sailors when all other servants were engaged for a limited number of months or years. 'Let it no longer be a slavery for life, and let the burning ignominy of corporal punishment be done away.' It was many years before these suggestions were acted on; Chalmers lived to see his proposal of limited enlistment carried out, when a friend of his own (Lord Panmure, afterwards Earl of Dalhousie) was Secretary at War.

In this and in later writings on political economy it has been well remarked that 'he bent the whole energies of his thought, not so much on its abstruser theories, as on those practical and vital problems which tend to meet the difficulties and ameliorate the condition of the working classes.' 'He was the first political economist,' says Mr. Dodds, 'who seized with a forethought and philanthropy equally before his time upon the condition-of-the-people question, as the paramount, the coming question of the age.' His opinion as to the dynamic by which the desired change was to come underwent a great change when his religious views changed; at the present stage he hoped that the forces of reason would gradually effect the desired improvement; afterwards he saw that these forces would be of little avail without the power of the Gospel.

But a more important publication had now come into his horizon. One of his friends, Dr. (afterwards Sir David) Brewster, was at this time engaged in editing a voluminous work, the Edinburgh Encyclopædia. Chalmers was engaged to contribute several articles, chiefly on mathematical subjects. After the death of his sister Barbara (in 1808) he wrote to the editor requesting that the article on 'Christianity' should be assigned to him. Probably he felt, after what he had seen at the two deathbeds in his family, that he needed to make this great subject a matter of more careful study. His own belief in the divine origin of Christianity had been firmly established long before—the historical evidence, as presented by Paley, and the analogical confirmation of it by Butler appearing to him irresistible. As it turned out, his article in the Encyclopædia bore mainly on the evidences; and the historical evidence received by far the most prominent place. Indeed, he was disposed to lay little stress on what was known as the internal evidence. This arose out of the fear he entertained lest men would substitute their own impressions of Christianity for the clear, authoritative declarations of God. Since God had uttered His voice, the sole and simple duty of men was to ascertain what He had spoken, and give it their profound and absolute acceptance. If they began to discuss the quality of His message, even though its supreme excellence should be the point insisted on, they would be bringing their own judgment into the case, and that might prove a very dangerous element. It needs hardly to be pointed out that in this position Chalmers placed himself in antagonism to the current view of the friends of Christianity. In point of fact, the internal evidence is that which carries conviction to the great mass of believers. At the present day, the character of Jesus Christ stands far the highest and most impressive of all the evidences. Chalmers was influenced, by a mental tendency which clung to him more or less all his life, to dwell on one side of a truth, which, to be fully set forth, needed to be viewed in a variety of lights. But after a time he came to see that the internal evidence deserved a higher place than he had assigned to it. When his article was expanded into his treatise on the Evidences of Christianity, the internal branch was duly acknowledged.

But before the article was finished, Chalmers, who was then in his thirtieth year, passed through the ordeal of a very severe illness, which confined him to his room for four months, prevented him from entering his pulpit for six months, and affected him more or less for a whole year. He believed that he was about to die. The whole subject of religion assumed a new aspect of importance in his eyes. He came to see that he had been living without God, and the discovery appalled him. The will of God now became an imperative rule to him, and every energy was bent towards bringing his own heart and life into conformity to it. In such a man as Pascal the sublime transition had been made from the highest walks of mathematical science to the still higher walk of faith. Might not he be able to realise what Pascal had achieved? For a whole year Chalmers laboured to effect this change. His friends could not fail to mark the difference. Brief but solemn allusions such as they had never heard before would drop from his lips. But in many respects he was still the same. 'There were the same cordial greetings, the same kindly questionings about themselves and all their friends, and the same hearty laugh at the racy anecdote or stroke of quiet humour; for, great as was the change effected, neither at the first nor ever afterwards did it damp or narrow that genial and most social spirit which carried him into varied intercourse with all classes of his fellow-men, and made the joy of that intercourse to be a very cordial to his heart.' But, deeply solemnised though he was, he had not attained the peace that passeth understanding, nor had he learned the precious act of free and loving fellowship with his Father in heaven.

During all this time he was ever keeping a most vigilant eye on his habits and life, and in a diary now begun we find him pulling himself up for every little fault, every loss of temper, every bitter word, every conceited feeling. And he is constantly praying for forgiveness and for strength. He is making progress in theological knowledge, finding, for example, a far higher place in his regard for the atonement of Jesus Christ. A very strong mark of his earnestness is seen in his determination finally to give up his mathematical reading, and devote himself to theology.

His views came to a point after the reading of a book then in vogue—Wilberforce's Practical View. Fifteen years after, he described the effect which that book had upon him in a letter to a younger brother. 'When I meet with an inquirer, who, under the impulse of a new feeling, has set himself in good earnest to the business of his eternity, I have been very much in the habit of recommending Wilberforce. This perhaps is owing to the circumstance that I myself experienced a very great transition of sentiment in consequence of reading his work. The deep views he gives of the depravity of our nature, of our need of an atonement, of the great doctrine of acceptance through that atonement, of the sanctifying influences of the Spirit—these all give a new aspect to a man's religion.... But there are other books which might be as effectually instrumental in working the desired change; and in defect of them all there is the Bible, whose doctrines I well remember I then saw in an altogether new light, and could feel a power and a preciousness in passages which I formerly read with heedlessness, and even with disgust.'

We cannot dwell at more length on this most interesting struggle; enough to say that he emerged from it into the joy and peace of believing; he laid hold of Jesus Christ as his only Saviour; entered into conscious reconciliation with God; looked habitually to the Holy Spirit for all sanctifying grace; and counted it his highest honour and delight to be a fellow-worker with God, especially in all that concerned the welfare of his fellow-men. Yet it was always observed of him that while cordially agreeing with evangelical divines in the great essentials of the faith, he would accept of no position which did not commend itself to his own mind as according to Scripture. For a class of men who insisted on very minute orthodoxies, and even questioned his own soundness because he might not agree with them, he used to speak with little patience and less respect.

The change became very apparent in his ministerial work. He threw new ardour into the visitation of his flock and the instruction of the young. His preaching passed into those evangelical lines which formerly he had treated with contempt. Family worship, morning and evening, was regularly conducted in the manse, although sometimes it was a great trial to introduce that much contemned practice when a guest was present who had little sympathy with the evangelical life. A Bible Society was established in the parish, and all the people were exhorted to join it. Strangers flocked to his church, not merely as of old to enjoy his eloquent and impassioned delivery, but for guidance and aid in the service of God. Converts to living Christianity gladdened his heart and aided him in his work. 'Sandy Paterson,' his first convert, became a great and earnest worker among his neighbours, and afterwards, as a city missionary, in the Canongate of Edinburgh, successfully laboured in the slums. With a young gentleman in Dundee, Mr. James Anderson, Chalmers formed a remarkable friendship on the basis of their mutual interest in religion, and in his great humility corresponded with him more like a fellow-student or brother than a spiritual father. And Chalmers himself became an earnest and laborious student of the Bible; and, in order to keep up the glow of his spiritual life, instituted for himself a monthly exercise, in which he reviewed before God the work of the month, and with much confession and thanksgiving, implored the blessing of God on all his work and on all his people.

No man was more sensible than himself of the great difference between his earlier and later ministry. He told his people that earnest though he had been at first in pressing honour, truth, and integrity upon them, he never once heard of any resulting reformation; all his vehemence had not the weight of a feather on their moral habits. It was only after he became acquainted with the true way of approach to God, and the real fountain of divine strength in Christ, that those minor reformations showed themselves as the result of that deeper and more vital process by which the heart was changed. It was his delight to hear masters testifying to the scrupulous honesty and conscientious fidelity of their servants, after they had come under the power of the Gospel. He prayed that such servants, while thus adorning the doctrine of God their Saviour, humble though they were, might reclaim the great ones of the land to the acknowledgment of the faith.

Though not much addicted to church courts, Chalmers, during his Kilmany ministry, made a few memorable appearances in them. His maiden speech in the General Assembly was delivered in 1809. The subject was not an inspiring one; it related to a recent act of the legislature on the augmentation of stipends. But his speech was a most logical and brilliant performance. The house was taken by storm. 'Who is he?' was the question on every lip; 'he must be a most extraordinary person.' Later, in 1814, he spoke on a kindred subject—the repairs and alterations of manses. A better chance for his powers occurred in the Assembly of that year in connection with a plurality case, where the 'wonderful display of his talents' contributed much to the passing of an enactment that no professorship in a university should be held in connection with a country charge.

During the latter part of his Kilmany ministry he became a contributor to the Edinburgh Christian Instructor, under the distinguished editorship of Dr. Andrew Thomson. One of his papers dealt with the new-born science of geology, and greatly soothed the anxieties of many good men, by pointing out that the first chapter of Genesis does not fix the antiquity of the globe, but only that of the human race. To the Eclectic Review he contributed an able paper on Moravian missions, in opposition to an ignorant and scandalous misstatement on that subject that had appeared in the Edinburgh Review. An eloquent pamphlet, likewise in refutation of injurious statements, vindicated Bible Societies from the charge of hurting the poor. It was at this time, and in connection with this defence of Bible Societies, that he first published those views of pauperism which he maintained so constantly all his life. At Kilmany there was no assessment for the poor, and very little pauperism. It seemed to him far better to foster a spirit of independence, thrift, and industry on the part of the poor, and a spirit of brotherly consideration on the part of the rich, than to confer a legal claim on the one, and impose a legal obligation on the other. 'What, after all,' asks the author of the pamphlet on Bible Societies, 'is the best method of providing for the secular necessities of the poor? Is it by labouring to meet the necessity after it has occurred, or by labouring to establish a principle and a habit which would go far to prevent its existence? ... If you wish to extinguish poverty, combat with it in its first elements.... The education and religious principle of Scotland have not annihilated pauperism, but they have restrained it to a degree that is almost incredible to our neighbours of the south. The writer of this paper knows of a parish in Fife, the average maintenance of whose poor is defrayed by £24 sterling a year, and of a parish of the same population in Somersetshire where the annual assessment amounts to £1300 sterling.'

But the most interesting feature in the pastoral development of Chalmers during the latter part of his Kilmany ministry was the new direction given to his power as a pulpit orator. We have seen that, from the beginning, his more careful discourses were marked by great force of argument and beauty of expression, and that there was such a fervour in his manner of delivery as approached to wild uncouthness. Certain it is that from first to last his pronunciation was very broad and his accent intensely provincial. But when he struck into a vein of thought that was full of interest to his own mind and soul, he was wonderfully arrestive and impressive. In his earlier years he evidently took but little trouble with his ordinary discourses; writing shorthand, he could easily throw off a sermon in two or three hours. Yet even then he was at times singularly felicitous; and, for sheer eloquence, no sermon he ever preached was more remarkable than one delivered on occasion of the national fast, on 8th February 1809, when, after a five-mile plodding on foot through a heavy fall of snow, he convened the handful of people who had reached the church in a room in the damp, uninhabited manse. After his change of views, his preparation for the pulpit received much more attention, and a distinction of longhand and shorthand sermons indicated that on some he bestowed peculiar pains. The late Andrew Fuller, attracted by his fame, having paid him a visit, tried to persuade him to give up reading his sermons, believing that a more free delivery would add infinitely to the impression. Chalmers made various attempts to carry out the extemporaneous method, but, instead of his acquiring more freedom, the effect was the reverse. At last he gave up all attempts at the extemporaneous, both in his sermons and speeches, except in the way of parenthetical remarks designed to elucidate some point that had not been made sufficiently clear.

But we must not close the record of his Kilmany life without adverting to an important domestic event which took place about two years before he left the place. Till near that time he had, like Dr. Livingstone in Africa at a later period, determined to lead the life of a bachelor. A recent disappointment in connection with an application for augmentation of stipend, confirmed him in that resolve. But neither Chalmers nor Livingstone had taken into reckoning a mysterious influence which can make sport of the firmest resolutions, and prostrate strong men at the feet of Hymen. Chalmers had fallen in love with Miss Grace Pratt, daughter of Captain Pratt of the First Royal Veteran Battalion, who had been living for some time with her uncle, Mr. Simson, at Starbank, in the parish of Kilmany. The marriage took place on 4th August 1812, and the union lasted for thirty-five years of unbroken domestic happiness. His sister Jane, his housekeeper, had been married shortly before to Mr. Morton, a gentleman in Gloucestershire, and in communicating to her what was probably a very unexpected piece of intelligence, he veiled the news under an allegorical form which it may have taken her a little trouble to elucidate. Referring to a recent but somewhat unsuccessful process of his before the Court of Tiends for augmentation of stipend, he said he had been involved in another process before another court. He had been defeated in the one, but he was glad to say he had been triumphant in the other. In the latter case he had had to do the whole business himself. He had had to frame the summons and to conduct the pleadings. There had been replies and duplies, and many a personal appearance at court before the process was settled. At last a decision had been given in his favour. But the law required the decision to be followed by a proclamation—not a single proclamation at the cross, but two proclamations, that had to be made within a quarter of a mile of his own house. The letter concluded: 'I ken, Jane, you always thought me an ill-pratted (mischievous) chiel; but, I can issure you, of all the pratts I ever played, none was ever carried on, or even ended more grace-fully.' And Mrs. Morton congratulated him on his victory.

His fame as a pulpit orator had now travelled from Maidenkirk to John o' Groats, and it could not be expected that he should be left in a secluded country parish. In Glasgow, the Tron parish church had become vacant, and Chalmers was suggested as successor to Dr. Macgill. It was easy for the anti-evangelical party to ridicule the idea of bringing a madman to such a place; but a deputation from the Town Council, who were patrons of the church, went to hear him preach. On the Sunday in question he preached, at Bendochy, a funeral sermon on Mr. Honey, a young minister whose fatal illness had been brought on by his exertions in saving from shipwreck seven exhausted sailors, whom, one by one, he bore from their stranded vessel to the shore. The impression of that sermon was overpowering. In spite of the opposition of the Duke of Montrose, Sir Islay Campbell, the Lord Provost, and the College, Chalmers received from the Town Council a presentation to the Tron, and, after considerable hesitation, accepted it. It was a great wrench to tear himself from Kilmany, which he loved and admired so greatly, and from the people that were dear to him as his own children. All his life, Fife, and especially Kilmany, continued thus dear. On his way to Glasgow he had occasion to climb the Calton Hill in Edinburgh, and the sight of Norman Law, which was visible from the windows of the manse of Kilmany, quite overcame him. 'Oh! with what vivid remembrance can I wander in thought over all its farms and all its families, and dwell on the kind and simple affection of its people, till the contemplation becomes too bitter for my endurance.'

It was no less a trial to leave the work which was now advancing so hopefully in the parish. But he could not be insensible to the claims of such a city as Glasgow, and the boundless field for usefulness it afforded. And so, in great humility, and in great fear lest he should be giving an undue preference to intellect and culture over poverty and obscurity, he accepted the call. He preached a most impressive farewell sermon on 9th July 1815, which concluded with these words: 'Be assured, my brethren, that after the dear and the much-loved scenery of this peaceful vale has disappeared from my eye, the people who live in it shall retain a warm and an ever-enduring place in my memory; and this mortal body must be stretched on the bed of death ere the heart that now animates it can resign its exercise of longing after you, and praying for you that you may so receive Christ Jesus, and so walk in Him, and so hold fast the things you have gotten, and so prove that the labour I have had among you has not been in vain, that when the sound of the last trumpet awakens us, these eyes which are now bathed in tears may open upon a scene of eternal blessedness, and we, my brethren, whom the providence of God has withdrawn for a little time from each other, may on that day be found side by side at the right hand of the everlasting throne.'

When we compare Chalmers as he came to Kilmany and as he left it, we find much that remains the same, and much that has been changed or modified.

Remaining the same, we find his singularly energetic, forceful nature; his high integrity and kindliness of heart, as it constantly streamed out towards his family, his friends, and his flock; his eager desire for the welfare of his people, for their advancement and elevation in all that he counted good, pure, and noble; his indomitable energy of purpose and fearless contending for right and truth; his passionate intensity of conviction, rolling itself out in whirlwinds and tempests of eloquence, that swept all before it. The great change which he has undergone has not destroyed these fundamental elements of character.

Nevertheless, all things have become new. He has learned that true life, in its every department, must be lived in fellowship with God. He has learned the way to God, to God reconciled, a loving Father, a considerate Master, a gracious Friend and Guide. He has seen the reality of Christ's atonement, and of the work of the Holy Spirit, and found a new value in prayer, and a new use of the sacred Scriptures. He has got new light on the true welfare of the people, and especially on the need for every one of personal contact with Christ; new light, also, on the true dignity of every individual man and woman in view of the capacities of their souls and the immortality that is before them. He has found a nobler theme and a higher inspiration for that eloquence which has moulded his labours in the pulpit. He is not less desirous to see the people prosperous and happy, but he has been convinced that their true welfare is dependent on heavenly grace, and, in the case of the poor, that there is nothing like Christian influence whether for preventing or alleviating the evils of poverty, or, where there are poor, raising them above the depressing conditions of their lot. And this is just the germ of that more comprehensive view of the conditions of social welfare to which he will be drawn when he finds himself side by side with the teeming thousands of Glasgow. He looks forward more ardently than ever to the full development of the parochial system. Nor has his enthusiasm for science abated. He has seen that, much though he loves it, it is not his part to devote to it the time needed for his more immediate duties. But now that he sees it more clearly than ever a department of that great kingdom of God in which all interests are combined in a wonderful unity, his respect for it is greater rather than less. And, as a handmaid to the Gospel, he will soon find a noble use for it in those astronomical discourses which are soon to arrest the attention of the intellectual world.

Thus equipped, and with these aims, Chalmers proceeds to Glasgow. He is inducted into his new charge, 23rd July 1815. His incumbency there is to be shorter even than at Kilmany; but the eight years that are now before him are to witness the commencement of a work and the advocacy of a cause which will not only bring out the greatness of his character, but tell on the welfare of the whole Church and country for generations to come.




It cannot be said that Chalmers took very kindly to Glasgow. He missed the wide expanse, the fresh air, the Arcadian simplicity of his much-loved Kilmany; also, the intimate acquaintance he had with every individual, and the comparative leisure of a country life. He found himself 'cribbed, cabined, and confined' by streets and lanes and 'lands,' and flung upon dense masses of population that baffled every attempt at individual acquaintance and interest. No doubt the people were most kind and hospitable, and if dinners and other entertainments could have satisfied him, he might have had them to his heart's content. But, bent as he was on his especial work, and eager to launch new plans of usefulness, it was irksome beyond endurance to have to devote whole afternoons and evenings to eating and drinking, considering the very trifling amount of good that could be expected to come of such protracted engagements. And another thing that worried him was the trifling matters of purely secular interest to which, as a director of societies, or a member of public boards, he was expected to give attention. Fancy an hour spent in debating whether a certain ditch was to be covered over or not; fancy himself and his brother-directors engaged in a long controversy whether pork soup or ox-tail soup should be served to the inmates of an institution, and finally resorting to a practical test—a portion of each kind being brought to each director to taste! Then there was an expectation that much of his time should be devoted to certain attentions that people liked to be paid to them. Why, a funeral was hardly counted respectable unless there were four clergymen in attendance! Much nervous energy was consumed in resisting these unreasonable expectations, and if Chalmers had not come to be a great man, and possessed of a fame which overbore everything, he would certainly have suffered not a little in reputation from the necessity of so often applying a snub where kindness was meant, and becoming a transgressor where tradition had established its law.

During the eight years of his Glasgow incumbency many things happened, worthy to be noticed even in a short biography like this. First of all, his fame as a pulpit orator reached its climax; a climax never surpassed and seldom equalled in the whole annals of the pulpit. In the next place, his ideas of the advantages of the parochial system, brought from Kilmany, were matured, expanded, and practically applied, with results that demonstrated in a wonderful way their Christian wisdom and excellence. Further, as an author, he rose to a higher platform; his astronomical and commercial discourses, when published, spread his fame far and wide; and a quarterly publication which he issued on the Civic and Christian Economy of Large Towns showed the zeal and wisdom with which he grappled with his parochial obligations. Meanwhile, in his closet, he was intensely occupied with the great problem of his personal spiritual life; ever and anon placing himself in the immediate presence of God, detecting and deploring his infirmities and deficiencies, striving to walk with God in every undertaking, duty, and recreation; trying hard to resist the subtle influence of human applause; and longing much for that absolute consecration which would efface self, and make God all in all. Still further, he was most assiduous in affectionate duty to his friends and family; correspondence with father, mother, wife, children, and friends went on without ceasing, even in the busiest periods of public life, and always with an eager desire to promote their highest good. And many an important call to other spheres of labour arose from time to time to distract his attention; now he was offered this important charge, now that; at one time he was entreated to become a candidate for the natural philosophy chair at Edinburgh, and at another for that of moral philosophy; now he was called to London to preach a missionary sermon, and at another time he found it necessary to make a long tour through England to acquire information about the working of the poor-law system. That he was able to sustain life under the prodigious pressure of all these varied engagements cannot but surprise us, and cannot but excite our admiration of the remarkable physical and mental energy that was able to endure it. But it had its effects; and one of these was, that feeling himself unable to sustain the pressure of such an accumulation of burdens, and desirous to prosecute more vigorously his work as an author, he accepted, in 1823, the unanimous offer made to him of the chair of moral philosophy at St. Andrews, though the sphere in itself was absolutely insignificant, and the salary not more than £300 a year.

The first sermon he preached in Glasgow, a few months before his settlement as minister of the Tron parish, was on behalf of the Society for the Sons and Daughters of the Clergy. The more intellectual part was an exposition of the principles of Christian charity and his views of pauperism, and the more eloquent part was a touching picture of the family of a deceased clergyman, called to tear themselves from all the beauties of their home, when their hearts were overborne with the far darker melancholy of a father torn from their embrace. Dean Ramsay, who heard this sermon, remarked, in his biographical notice of Chalmers to the Royal Society of Edinburgh, that the tears of the father and preacher fell like raindrops on the manuscript, and from many another eye the like tokens of sensibility were seen to flow.

It is of his appearance on this occasion that an elaborate description was given by Mr. J. G. Lockhart in his pseudonymous publication, Peter's Letters to his Kinsfolk. It has been reproduced in almost every biography, but the picture is too striking to be wholly left out here. After describing other features of the face, he remarks:—

'The eyes are light in colour, and have a strange, dreamy heaviness that conveys any idea rather than that of dulness, but which contrasts in a wonderful manner with the dazzling, watery glare they exhibit when expanded in their sockets, and illuminated into all their flame and fervour in some moment of high entranced enthusiasm. But the shape of the forehead is perhaps the most singular part of the whole visage; ... it is without exception the most mathematical forehead I ever met with, being far wider across the eyebrows than either Mr. Playfair's or Mr. Leslie's.... Immediately above the extraordinary breadth of this region, in the forehead, there is an arch of imagination carrying out the summit boldly and roundly, in a style to which the heads of very few poets present anything comparable, and over this region again there is a grand apex of high and solemn veneration and love.... Never perhaps did the world possess an orator whose minutest peculiarities of gesture and voice have more power in increasing the effect of what he says.' [The writer then dilates on his defects in gesture and pronunciation, and the disappointment caused by his first utterances.] 'But then, with what tenfold richness does this dim, preliminary curtain make the glories of his eloquence to shine forth, when the heated spirit at length flings from it its chill, confining fetters, and bursts out elate and rejoicing in the full splendour of its disimprisoned wings.... I have heard many men deliver sermons far better arranged in regard to argument, and have heard very many deliver sermons far more uniform in elegance both of conception and of style; but most unquestionably I have never heard, whether in England or in Scotland, or in any other country, any preacher whose eloquence is capable of producing an effect so strong and irresistible as his.'

It was soon after, that on hearing a speech of Chalmers's Lord Jeffrey remarked, 'I know not what it is, but there is something altogether remarkable about that man. It reminds me more of what one reads of as the effect of the eloquence of Demosthenes than anything I ever heard.'

An extraordinary impression was produced by a sermon preached before the Lord High Commissioner, during the proceedings of the Assembly, from the text, 'When I consider Thy heavens, the work of Thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which Thou hast ordained; what is man, that Thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that Thou visitest him?' There was a reference to the infidel argument that modern astronomy, through the revelation by the telescope of the boundless multitude of worlds existing in the heavens, had shown the earth to be too insignificant a section of God's universe to justify the incarnation and sacrifice of the Son of God. To refute this objection, Chalmers brought forward the not less wonderful discoveries by the microscope of the minuteness of God's works, and the conclusion was irresistibly established that there is 'not one portion of the universe of God too minute for His notice, nor too humble for the visitations of His care.'

This sermon was one of a series which Chalmers, on whom the degree of D.D. had been conferred by the University of Glasgow (21st February 1816), was now delivering there. It had been an old practice of the ministers of Glasgow, of whom there were then eight, to preach in turn on Thursdays in the Tron Church, and Dr. Chalmers, deeming it fitting that week-day sermons should have a character of their own, selected the discoveries of modern astronomy as the basis of his course. The interest and novelty of the subject, as well as the fame of the preacher, drew extraordinary crowds to the church. In January 1817, the series being completed, the sermons were published in a volume. The demand was marvellous. Nine editions were called for within a year, and nearly 20,000 copies were circulated. And, beyond the ordinary circle of sermon readers, men like Hazlitt and Canning were arrested and impressed. The sermons necessarily bore the marks of a hasty, and in some respects a juvenile production; this Chalmers himself afterwards acknowledged, and his own preference was given to another series—the 'Commercial Discourses,' which bore 'On the Application of Christianity to the Commercial and Ordinary Affairs of Life,' and were published in 1820.

The Astronomicals had been reviewed, not quite favourably, by John Foster, whose acquaintance Chalmers made about this time. But, so far from showing any chagrin at the freedom of his comments, Chalmers at once took Foster to his heart; and there was no public writer of the day of whom he thought more highly, or whom he more warmly commended in after days to his students. Some of the Reviews treated the sermons severely; but from Christopher North, in Blackwood, they received hearty commendation.

His popularity in Glasgow was almost surpassed by that which he found in London. In May 1817 he preached in Surrey Chapel for the London Missionary Society. His publisher, Mr. Smith, who accompanied him, wrote home, 'All my expectations were overwhelmed in the triumph. Nothing from the Tron pulpit ever excelled it, nor did he ever more arrest and wonder-work his audience. I had a full view of the whole place. The carrying forward of minds was never so visible to me; a constant assent of the head from the whole people accompanied all his paragraphs; and the breathlessness of expectation permitted not the beating of a heart to agitate the stillness.'

Preaching for the Hibernian Society, he had a beautiful passage on Irish character, which affected Mr. Canning to tears. 'The tartan,' he said, 'beats us all.' Mr. Wilberforce had brought Canning, along with Huskisson and Lord Binning to the chapel, where they found Lord Elgin, Lord Harrowby, and many others. In another chapel, on the same day, the crowd that had gathered in the street was so vast that even the preacher himself had great difficulty in getting admission. We know what a compliment it is, laudari a laudatis. It was about this time that he formed the acquaintance of the greatest pulpit orator of England, Robert Hall, who wrote thus to him, 'It would be difficult not to congratulate you on the unrivalled and unbounded popularity which attended you in the metropolis.... The attention which your sermons have excited is probably unequalled in modern literature.'

One might fill a whole volume with notices of his popularity, and of the remarkable triumphs of his eloquence. To many, the wonder was increased when they learned the circumstances in which his sermons were sometimes composed. On one occasion, while enjoying his holiday, word was brought to him of the sudden death of the Princess Charlotte, and of his being looked for in Glasgow to preach on the day of her funeral. This letter reached him on a Sunday, while he was preaching at Kilmany; posting on Monday from Kirkcaldy to Queensferry, he got a seat on the mail to Edinburgh; he arrived in Glasgow, after a night journey, between five and six on Tuesday morning, and next forenoon preached one of his most brilliant discourses. Wherever the coach stopped to change horses, he rushed into the inn, wrote a few sentences, then rushed out to continue his journey. And the sermon was not a mere appeal to feelings. A large part of it consisted of an elaborate plea for a larger provision for the spiritual necessities of great cities,—being the germ of that plan of church extension and parochial cultivation which was to form the great business of his life.

Twice every Sunday he usually filled his pulpit in the Tron Church; and when latterly, in St. John's, he had the Rev. Edward Irving as his assistant, the two supplied two pulpits—the parish church and a chapel of ease—while other engagements were often undertaken in various parts of the country. But the work of the pulpit could hardly be reckoned as the chief of Dr. Chalmers's labours. His regard for the old parochial economy of the Kirk of Scotland was a supreme feeling; he looked on every minister as having charge of the people of the parish, and held that it was his duty to watch over their spiritual condition. It was his sense of the infinite importance of this, if Christianity was to retain any hold on the people of our cities, that had made him such an enemy of pluralities, and that roused his intense opposition to the settlement of Dr. Duncan Macfarlane as minister of the High Church of Glasgow, while he retained the office of Principal of the University. He knew for certain that the result would be the almost total neglect of a parish of upwards of ten thousand souls.

The population of the Tron parish was between eleven and twelve thousand. Dr. Chalmers never devoted himself to the regular visitation of the extra-parochial families that formed, to a large extent, his ordinary congregation; where there was sickness or death, he would visit them, but not in ordinary circumstances. His concern was with the people of the parish. His first object was to ascertain their general condition, and for this purpose he determined on a house-to-house visitation. It was a Herculean task. He could but spend a few minutes in each house, give a kindly greeting, put a few questions, perhaps utter an earnest word of Christian counsel, and then invite the inmates to the place where an evening service would be held for the benefit of all. And on the whole it was a depressing task; for he found that a great proportion of the people had no seats in any place of worship, and were in deep ignorance on the high matters of faith and eternity. He had his plans of reformation in readiness, but these involved the enlistment and training of a large body of helpers. As a first step in this direction, on, 20th December 1816, he ordained a few younger men to the office of the eldership, calling on them very earnestly to eschew the example set by many elders around them, who attended only to things temporal, and to devote themselves, by household visitation and other means, to the superintendence of the spiritual interests of their districts. So earnestly was he devoted to the welfare of his parish, that sometimes, when his family were in the country, he would live in a humble room, at a rent of six shillings a week, in order to be near his work; at other times he would dine in the little vestry-room attached to his church.

Next, to meet the alarming ignorance of spiritual truth, he instituted a Sabbath Evening School Society, and got a few members of his congregation to work it. At the end of two years, upwards of two thousand children were under instruction by this means. 'Our meetings,' says one of the members, 'were very delightful. I never saw any set of men who were so animated by one spirit, and whose zeal was so steadily sustained. The Doctor was the life of the whole. He was ever most ready to receive a hint or suggestion from the youngest or most inexperienced member; and if any useful hint came from such a one, he was careful to give him the full merit of it, generally by his name. Although we had no set forms of teaching, we consulted over all the modes, that we might find the best.'

The outstanding peculiarity of these schools was that they were territorial. They were, in the first instance, at least, for the children of the parish, and for these alone. The children were gathered through the visitation of the Doctor's agents, the result being that, in this way, an immensely larger number got the benefit of Sabbath-school instruction than when a general system of schools prevailed, to which any one might go or not go as he was inclined.

At a later period, he entered on a more costly educational undertaking. In his Sunday schools, he found many children that could read in a way, but with such hesitation and difficulty as showed that reading was no pleasure to them, and that it was sure not to be practised as an ordinary habit. Glasgow was then very deficient in day schools. When he went to St. John's, he determined to remedy this defect, in so far as that parish was concerned. Setting the example himself by a £100 contribution, he soon obtained the necessary funds. 'Within two years from the commencement of his ministry, four efficient teachers, each endowed to the extent of £25 per annum, were educating 419 scholars; and, when he left Glasgow in 1823, other school buildings were in process of erection, capable of accommodating 374 additional pupils; so that the fruit of four years' labour was the leaving behind him the means and facilities for giving, at a very moderate rate, a superior education to no less than 693 children, out of a population of ten thousand souls.'

The management of the poor was, as we have seen, a subject which, even before he came to Glasgow, had begun to occupy his very earnest thoughts, and on which he had formed decided views. To some prevalent notions on the subject, especially in England, he entertained very strong objections, for he held that their tendency was to increase pauperism, so that the more money that was spent, the greater did the evil become. There were two beneficial influences in particular that a system of compulsory poor-rates was fitted to impair—the spirit of independence, and the readiness of friends and relatives to assist the poor. When it came to be understood that the poor had a legal claim to be supported from the rates, they would cease to make any exertion to be thrifty and independent, and their friends and relatives would cease to charge themselves with their maintenance. Dr. Chalmers was persuaded that, so long as these two beneficial influences remained in active operation, the poor might be maintained at a far less cost than would be possible under a scheme of compulsory rates. His plan was to fall back on the New Testament method—to have a body of deacons specially charged with the care of the poor; to assign to each deacon a certain limited proportion of the parish, instruct him to make very full inquiries into the case of every one applying for help, endeavour in every case where destitution was caused by want of work, to find work for the applicant; or where there were friends or relatives able to help, to draw on their resources before application should be made to the public fund. So long as he was minister of the Tron parish, there were insurmountable difficulties to carrying this plan into execution. But the creation of the new parish of St. John's altered the case. Dr. Chalmers was determined not to accept the appointment to that parish unless he should be allowed full liberty to carry out his plans for the maintenance of the poor. After a considerable amount of fighting, he at length got all the liberty he asked. The turmoil and worries to which he was exposed in contending with old opinions, old practices and prejudices of all sorts, were like to prostrate him. But as soon as this battle was over, another remained to be fought. He must prove, by practical demonstration, not only that his scheme was workable, but that in its effects it would be a great improvement on the other. He must undertake the management of all the poor in a parish of ten thousand souls—the poorest parish in the city. With this great undertaking he now proceeded to grapple.

What he undertook was, to relinquish all claim to the fund raised by assessment, and provide for the poor of St. John's parish through the church-door collections alone. It was arranged that the then actual inmates of the town's poorhouse, connected with the parish, would be maintained as before, but that no new cases would be sent there; all the new outdoor cases, and all the other cases of pauperism, were to be defrayed from the congregational fund. Hitherto the cost of the poor in the parish had been at the rate of £1400 per annum, whereas the collections amounted to only £480. Thus, though not at first, yet ultimately, St. John's Church would be responsible for an amount of pauperism that had hitherto cost £1400.

The unwearied visitation of the deacons produced highly beneficial results. Sometimes very appalling cases of distress were found to be wholly fabulous. A poor woman applied to a deacon to bury a grown-up daughter who had died that day. He refused until he had made a personal visit. This he did, but no such person could be found. Next day the woman renewed her application: a young man was sent by the deacon to verify the woman's statement; but she disappeared in the crowd. When the matter was stated to another deacon, he wondered whether the woman's husband, whom he had helped to bury six months before, were still alive. The two went in quest of the family, and found the buried husband and the dead daughter performing all the functions of life.

In other cases, relatives were induced to take charge of destitute children, or older children to take charge of younger. In one case, the father and mother of a family composed of six children both died; three of the six were earning wages, and three were unable to work. The three elder applied to have the three younger admitted to the poorhouse. It was pointed out to them by Dr. Chalmers's agents that this would be a great slur on the family; and a small quarterly allowance was promised if they should keep together. The advice was taken, and the quarterly allowance was but twice required. The family lived together, gaining a character for independence and brotherliness that in itself must have been a considerable help to their success in life. And many other such cases occurred.

The result of these operations, during the three years and nine months when Dr. Chalmers personally presided over them, was instructive and striking. The whole number of new cases admitted on the roll was twenty, and the annual cost of these was £66. The number of cases originally committed to Dr. Chalmers was ninety-eight, of whom twenty-eight had died, and thirteen had been displaced in consequence of a scrutiny, leaving (with the twenty new cases) seventy-seven on the roll, the cost of whose yearly maintenance was £190. In the second year of their operations the church was able to take the whole of the poorhouse inmates connected with the parish off that institution, at an expense to themselves of £90 a year. In this way the pauperism that had cost the town £1400 was now managed at an expenditure of £280. And the pauperism itself became a decreasing quantity. 'The St. John's deacons, mingling as they did familiarly with all the families, and proving themselves by word and deed the true but enlightened friends of all, did far more to prevent pauperism than to provide for it.'

It cannot be said that his theory of pauperism was a hasty scheme, the result of mere benevolent impulse, or that Chalmers did not take sufficient means to acquaint himself with the subject in all its aspects. He had already given expression to his ideas in the Edinburgh Review, and shown that the matter had engaged his most earnest study. Later, he made an elaborate journey through England in order to become personally acquainted with the places and the persons there most conversant with the subject. This visit embraced Liverpool, Manchester, Birmingham, Gloucester, Wells, Salisbury, Southampton, Portsmouth, London, Bury St. Edmunds, Bedford, and Nottingham. The journey occupied seven weeks, and in the course of it he came into contact with many of the public men who were interested in that class of subjects, conspicuous among whom were Lord Calthorpe and Mr. Fowell Buxton. The anti-slavery leaders, such as Mr. Z. Macaulay, Mr. Babington, and Mr. Clarkson, were generally sympathetic, but their energies were too much absorbed in the anti-slavery movement to admit of their throwing them into Dr. Chalmers's scheme. Indeed there were but few men of mark at that time interested in social questions. In his sense of the urgency of these questions, Dr. Chalmers was before his age. The more immediate object he had in view, that of gathering information, was sufficiently accomplished; but there is no indication that he made much progress in indoctrinating public men with his views. If ever he cherished the hope that a party would arise in England who should deal with pauperism on his lines, that hope was never fulfilled. Nor was it the privilege of Dr. Chalmers to find his experiment carried out thoroughly in other places, or even to witness its permanence in his own chosen locality. For several years it continued to prosper; in 1830, ten years after the commencement of the undertaking, he informed a committee of the House of Commons that the whole annual expense of St. John's pauperism for the preceding year had been £384; and in 1833, Mr. Tufnell, an English Poor-Law Commissioner, reported: 'The system has been attended with the most triumphant success; it is now in perfect operation, and not a doubt is expressed by its managers of its continuing to remain so.' Why, then, did the system not extend? Mainly, we believe, because Chalmers stood alone in that unrivalled energy which could not only conceive and plan the scheme and fight down its opponents, but likewise find competent agents, and inspire them with his own spirit in order to carry it into effect. It was a scheme that demanded a strong magnetic power on the part of its head to overcome the vis inertiæ of ordinary men, and send them into the field, and keep them in the field, vigilant, alert, unwearied, and hopeful. No doubt his principles were acted on to a certain extent in many parishes where there was no pressure of poverty;2 but we are not aware of any instance in which his plan was boldly made to do duty in the heart of a large city parish.

And why did the experiment not become permanent? Because two conditions under which it was established were not kept. One was, that a law of residence should be established between the parishes of the city, so that St. John's should not be burdened with a pauperism which it had done nothing to create. The other condition was, that so long as St. John's kept its own poor, it should be exempted from any assessment for the poor generally. Neither of these conditions was kept. Moreover, the expense for lunatics and exposed children grew at a much greater rate than the population, and a chapel of ease, expected to be a great help, turned out a failure. And at no time did the authorities of the city and the other parishes give the countenance that might have been expected to so successful and economical a scheme. The result was that, in 1837, the parish of St. John's lapsed into the general system of Glasgow. And later, after a vehement opposition from Dr. Chalmers, the present law, supporting the poor by assessment, was passed, which virtually put an end to the old paternal method of administration. It was easy to represent the plan of Dr. Chalmers as a niggardly system, which doled out mere driblets of charity, not sufficient to keep soul and body together. But it was forgotten that one of its main objects was to keep those subsidiary streamlets running which the affection of relatives and the compassion of neighbours supplied, as well as to encourage the independence, the industry, the thrift, and the sobriety which would have kept pauperism afar off. The undeniable result of the compulsory system has been an enormous addition to the cost of pauperism, and we fear, it must be added, a serious diminution of those good old Scottish habits which discouraged and prevented its growth. The increase of drinking has tended greatly not only to the growth, but to the unmanageableness of pauperism. If the drink-curse could be effectively dealt with, there would be no need for a poor-assessment; the churches of the country, as in time past, would be quite able, as they would be cordially willing, to support the poor.

In connection with the literary labours of Dr. Chalmers, reference has already been made to the publication of the Astronomical Discourses in 1817 and the Commercial Discourses in 1820. In addition to these, we have to note a volume of Miscellaneous Discourses published in 1819. While this volume was passing through the press, he expressed his belief that it would bring another nest of hornets about him, in the shape of angry critics and reviewers. 'It has been singularly the fate of my publications to be torn to pieces in the journals, but at the same time to be extensively bought and read.' An edition of seven thousand copies of the new volume was printed, but the result was the reverse of what he anticipated; the journals did not cut it up, nor did the public buy it up, with the same avidity as before. But even in this our day of vast editions, seven thousand copies of a volume of sermons would be an unprecedented undertaking.

A much more out-of-the-way publication, in the successive numbers, was the Civic and Christian Economy of Large Towns. This was most emphatically a Chalmerian project. It originated about the time of his appointment to St. John's, in his determination to set himself right against a calumnious charge that he was secretly aiming at a vacant chair in the University of Edinburgh, and ready to leave in the lurch the friends who were to aid him in the St. John's undertaking. Nothing could have hurt him more than a charge of underhand scheming. A fugitive pamphlet might have served his purpose; but a wider project took hold of him, of enlightening his congregation and the public generally from time to time on all that concerned the prosperous administration of the parish, and of large towns generally. The first number was published on 24th September 1819, and the succeeding numbers followed quarterly in unbroken succession until his removal to St. Andrews. We see again how far he was in advance of his age in the importance which he attached to a sound Christian economy of large cities. Seventy-eight years ago, large towns were far fewer than they are now, and of course much smaller, and they had scarcely begun to attract attention as a novel and difficult feature of our social condition. Yet Chalmers was all alive to their importance, and keenly pondered the measures necessary for their administration. And the result shows how true his forecast was. Not only had he thought out the problem, and arrived at its solution, but he had set to work practically to carry his plan into execution; and to this he now added the additional function of expounding and defending it in a quarterly publication. And all the while he was carrying on his unrivalled work in the pulpit; he was superintending all the machinery of the parish; he was cultivating most conscientiously the vineyard of his own soul; and he was interesting himself in all that concerned his friends, and in a thousand other objects and projects that were continually pressing upon his attention.

It is not easy to describe the earnest personal dealings with God which he maintained during the whole time of this busy Glasgow ministry. To those who can enter into this high phase of life, no aspect of his character is more remarkable. Sometimes the intensity of his thirst after a high spiritual life appears in his letters, but more directly in his diary. Immediately after the commencement of his Glasgow ministry, he formed an almost romantic friendship with a young man of the name of Smith, whom he looked on as his first convert. Alongside of this youth (as of Mr. Anderson at Kilmany) he placed himself as if they were on the same footing—fellow-learners, fellow-pilgrims, fellow-suppliants, equally in need of the grace and guidance of God. 'O God, do Thou look propitiously on our friendship. Do Thou purify it from all that is base, sordid, and earthly. May it be altogether subordinated to the love of Thee. May it be the instrument of great good to each of our souls. May it sweeten the path of our worldly pilgrimage: and after death has divided us for a season, may it find its final blessedness and consummation at the right hand of Thine everlasting throne.' During Mr. Smith's last illness he wrote to him at least once a day and saw him very often. Sometimes he would carry his manuscript to his room and write his sermon there. It was during an absence of Dr. Chalmers from Glasgow that he died. 'On my return, Thomas Smith was dead. I have been thrown into successive floods of tenderness.' In the prayer offered at his funeral, which has been preserved, he expressed the warmest thanks for all the grace given to this young man, and all the good his example and influence had done; and for himself as well as for others he prayed most fervently that they might all 'retire from the scene with hearts bettered, with minds resolved to forsake all for Christ, with affections weaned from this world and all its lying vanities.'

Very beautiful, too, was the outpouring of his feelings towards her who had become the partner of his life, his best beloved and most longed for on earth. Before she was his wife the prayer had risen, 'O my God, pour Thy best blessings on G. Give her ardent and decided Christianity; may she be the blessing and the joy of all around her; may her light shine while she lives; and when she dies, may it be a mere step—a transition in her march to a joyful eternity.' And afterwards he wrote to her: 'I have to request of my dear G. that she stir herself up to lay hold of God. Do act faith on the great truths of divine revelation. Do cry mightily to God for pardon in the name and for the sake of Christ; and, relying on the power of His blood and of His Spirit, commit yourself to Him in well-doing as unto a faithful Creator.'

How well worthy Mrs. Chalmers was of being the wife of such a man was best known to those who enjoyed the intimate friendship of the family. The late Dr. Smith of St. George's, Glasgow, who knew them intimately, from having been Dr. Chalmers's assistant, held her to be 'in all respects a helpmeet for her distinguished husband. She strengthened his hands and encouraged his heart in every labour of love. As a wife, a mother, a mistress, a friend, a disciple of Him who was meek and lowly in spirit, few are better entitled to affection's warmest tribute.'

But it was in the direct communings of his spirit with God that the depth of his humility and the ardour of his desires for a higher life were most apparent:—

'March 3rd, 1818.—Cannot say much of my walk with God. Do not burn with love to man. 5th.—Cannot yet record a close walk with God. Got impatient with a man who called on me and with —— in the evening. O for a humbler and nearer course of devotedness to the will of my Saviour. 6th.—Have not yet attained such a walk with God that in looking to the day that is gone I can see anything like the general complexion of godliness. 7th.—Cannot yet speak to my walk with God. Will a quiet confidence in Christ not bring this about? 8th.—Not yet. O my God, help me. 9th.—Not yet. Trust that I am finding my way to Christ as the Lord my Strength. O guard me against the charms of human praise!'

At a later period he is equally humble and equally fervent.

'Feb. 24th, 1822.—Was greatly impressed with Erskine's talk about realising God every quarter of an hour. O heavenly Father, let me do it, and free me from the sense of guilt towards Thyself, and enable me rightly and rejoicingly to lift up my head, too, in the presence of mine enemies. 25th.—Disturbed, but feel great alleviation in habitual realisings of God, which I have had all this day. 28th.—O my Saviour, I can do nothing for Thee! April 7th.—It is humiliating amid the busy externals of religion to think how little my soul is taking up or making progress therein. 9th.—O my God, cause me to hold thee in constant remembrance. Restore energy to me, but let me never lose sight of my creatureship and my worthlessness. May I be pure in heart, and so see God. Loose all my bonds, and may I serve Thee with delight and thankfulness all my days.'

It is obvious to modern readers, though it was not to him, that when he was most depressed, a share of the depression was due to physical exhaustion. The number, the constancy, and the intensity of his labours could not but dull the faculties that soar highest of all, and call as a remedy for physical rest; while, like so many others in the like circumstances, he was laying all the blame on the wickedness or the earthliness of his heart.

With the members of his family he maintained the closest fellowship. When he heard of his father having had a paralytic stroke, he hurried to his bedside, and was present at the end. His affection and respect for him were unabated. 'My dear father is lovely in death. There is all the mildness of heaven upon his aged countenance.' Writing on the following Sunday to his much-loved sister Jane (Mrs. Morton), he says: 'It is truly affecting when the thought of former Sabbaths in Anster presents itself to my mind, and I think of it as the day he loved, and how the ringing of the bells was ever to him the note of joyful invitation to the house of God; the sight of the people going to and from the church—the interval—the everything connected with the Sabbath, bring the whole of my father's habits in lively recollection before me, and call forth a fresh excitement of tenderness.'

Towards his widowed mother he ever acted with the most tender and respectful affection. His letters to her were both frequent and regular, full of concern for her temporal and spiritual comfort, and manifesting that interest in all the members of the family which is so grateful to a mother's heart.

But the fullest outpourings of his heart, in his correspondence with friends at a distance, were to his sister, Mrs. Morton. Well could he assure 'my ever dearest Jane'—'one of the purest and most delightful of all my feelings in this world of many distractions is the feeling of tenderness which I ever associate with you and all your concerns'; nor was he less sincere in saying that he could think of 'no more delightful scene of occasional rest and recreation than the neighbourhood where Providence had ordained her habitation, so rich in the beauties of nature, and still richer in the pieties and charities of the excellent people that lived in it.' To her he writes freely of all the events of his life, and still more of the vicissitudes of his Christian experience, and of the ever open refuge alike from domestic sorrows and spiritual infirmities which we have in the grace of our Saviour and in the love of our Father. All the more tenderly did he write when the deep shadow of bereavement fell upon her home; when a heart full of humility and somewhat disposed to despondency was liable to be swallowed up with over much sorrow, and to forget (as he reminded her) that even when the day is overcast and lowering, the sun is shining with undiminished lustre.

His eldest brother, James, who lived in London, was a hard subject to deal with. He seemed to shut himself up from all his family, and to stand in awe lest they should come to visit him. He had resolutely abstained from hearing his brother preach after he became famous. Hardly any case could have more convincingly verified the remark, how unlike brothers may be to each other. James had a kind of mania for balancing his personal accounts to the minutest fraction, and on one occasion worried himself for months in the endeavour to account for a penny, till a year after, when about to cross a toll-bridge, he remembered that he had crossed it a twelvemonth before, and forgot to enter the penny in his accounts. Yet Thomas bore with him patiently, and dealt with him affectionately but faithfully, evidently in the hope that he might change. And before the end he did become more amiable. In announcing his father's death, Thomas pathetically, and with an obvious practical design, remarked that if their beloved parent looked down upon them, 'nothing could afford his spirit a more delightful spectacle than that of his children seeking the Gospel which they had aforetime despised, praying for grace, and not ceasing to pray, till they had obtained.'

His own children were hardly old enough, while in Glasgow, for more than the ordinary fondness of a father. Yet we find him, in his absences from home, and when driven hither and thither by manifold engagements, writing, in imitation of print, those elaborate letters to his little daughter Anne, of which her future husband, Dr. Hanna, has given us a sample in the second volume of the Life (p. 410). One cannot but admire the extreme neatness and clearness of the printing, a memorable contrast to the hieroglyphics he used to dash off on ordinary occasions, which were so illegible that, in his early days, when a letter came from him, his father suggested that it had better be kept till he should himself arrive to read it for them. Once, in the absence of Mrs. Chalmers, when he had been constituted head nurse, an elder and a deacon, on calling in the evening, found him squatting on the floor and playing at marbles with the children. And nothing would serve him but that they should join in the game.

The ever-warm affection of Dr. Chalmers for all the members of his family was the more remarkable that he was so rapidly extending the circle of his friends, receiving so much notice from the most distinguished men and women of the country, and carrying on so voluminous a correspondence with many of them. Among those whose acquaintance he made in his Glasgow period we may note a few. There was James Montgomery, Moravian and poet, whom he saw at Sheffield; whom he greatly perplexed when he told him that when at the Moravian settlement of Fulneck, near Leeds, he had invited the Scotch lads to the inn, and found there were no fewer than 'saxtain or savantain of them'; but whom he charmed no less by the admiration he expressed for the Moravian missions, and by his undertaking—what he more than fulfilled—to raise £500 for them in the course of the year. Another new friend was Mr. Wilberforce, for whose character, talents, and work he had unbounded respect, but who amazed him by the singularity of his movements—'he positively danced and whisked about like a squirrel.' He had an important correspondence with him, beseeching him to support the repeal of the Corn Bill, which he held to be the great danger to the country. There was the Gladstone family at Liverpool, with whom he was greatly taken—William could then have been but a boy of six (A.D. 1817). Legh Richmond visited him at Glasgow, and Chalmers says, 'I had most congenial talk with him, and am greatly humbled by the very superior attainments of other Christians.' When Edward Irving, in hopeless disappointment, was about to leave the country, it was Chalmers that arrested him, having formed such an opinion of his pulpit gifts and noble character that he engaged him as his assistant. We have already noticed some of the friends he met when engaged in his poor-law inquiry; to these we may add Robert Hall, the cleverest man in conversation he ever knew, but surpassed by John Foster in the depth and grandeur of his thoughts. With Mr. Malthus, too, he had much congenial converse. About this time he found a close ally in Mr. Douglas, the proprietor of Cavers, where he had been assistant in his youth, who became so well known as a thoughtful Christian writer, and who placed more than one £500 in his hands to assist him in his schemes for St. John's. Among other things that Mr. Douglas owed to Chalmers's example and influence was the habit of systematic working. Mr. Erskine of Linlathen was another Scottish layman for whom he had remarkable regard, his spirituality of mind being to Dr. Chalmers most impressive and stimulating. Mr. Erskine's work on the Freeness of the Gospel, though looked on suspiciously by some very orthodox persons, was to Dr. Chalmers very delightful. Afterwards Mr. Erskine adopted some views with which he could not sympathise. With Lord and Lady Elgin he appears to have been on terms of most intimate friendship. Mr. Colquhoun of Kellermont may be added to the list of distinguished Scottish friends; and, besides these, there were his coadjutors in the St. John's undertaking, the members of his congregation, and nearly all the men of mark and Christian worth in the community of Glasgow.

His manner of life in Glasgow was as simple and regular as was possible for one so full of occupation and so eagerly sought after by all sorts of people. As a rule, the forenoon was set apart for reading and composition, and no one was allowed to intrude on him then. But sometimes two or three rooms would be filled with persons waiting for him, and it was remarked that, however overwhelmed, he had a kindly smile and greeting for all. The afternoon was devoted to pastoral work; then, if possible, he had a walk in the Botanic Gardens or elsewhere; dinner was at half-past four, and very often he had some public engagement in the evening. In the course of this busy day he found time to read aloud to his wife Milner's Church History or some other such book. His hospitality was boundless. Breakfast, dinner, tea, and supper, almost every day but Sunday, brought a succession of guests; for, apart from his own large circle, hardly a stranger visited Glasgow who did not bring an introduction, and whom he did not invite to his house. His conversation generally was singularly genial, racy, and lively; whoever was in his society was charmed. Formal dinner-parties he held in great abhorrence as a waste of time and worse, and very seldom did he join them. For occasional recreation, his favourite resort was his native Fifeshire; but in the suburbs of Glasgow and other parts of the country he had dear friends with whom he delighted to spend an occasional day or more. And, though no man had more respect for the poor, or more pleasure in his intercourse with them, he had an especial delight in the society of families of the highest rank, when refinement was blended with Christian worth, and the obligations of high station were conscientiously and gracefully fulfilled.

Most memorable in the history of Glasgow and in the history of Scottish Christianity were the eight years of labour spent by Dr. Chalmers in that city. Of individual cases of conversion the number was beyond reckoning; beginning with his dear friend, Thomas Smith, and ending with a Camlachie weaver—a reckless infidel till Dr. Chalmers came across him, but won by the simplicity and earnest sympathy which he showed in weekly visits during the months when he was dying of consumption. And the circumstances of his various converts were very different. The thoughtless young officer, who entered his church with the crowd as he would have entered the theatre; the fashionable lady, whose curiosity led her to hear the great popular orator; the busy merchant, with no thought nor desire beyond material things; the aspiring student, bent only on literary distinction—each person, arrested and brought to Christ by the force of his appeals, represented the many classes from among which, as Dr. Hanna tells us, it was the privilege of Chalmers to gather recruits for the Kingdom of Heaven.

But more than that: under Chalmers the tide of public sentiment turned decisively to evangelical religion. Before he came, evangelical preaching had been looked on as a combination of sour fanaticism and weak sentimentalism; under his preaching it attained its true rank and glory as the very essence of the Gospel message. Before his time, as the population of the city grew from year to year, thousands had been quietly allowed to fall away from all Christian observances, and to form a community of paganism, leavening the city with carelessness and corruption. It was his powerful voice that roused attention to the evil and the danger, and organised the machinery best fitted to grapple with it. Previous to his time, even the most earnest of the ministers in their week-day ministrations had seldom gone beyond their own congregations, or thought much of the careless and godless families around them; it was Chalmers that, by the emphasis he laid on the territorial method, brought into operation that system of aggression which affords the only hope of arresting and reclaiming the outcast mass. Before his time infidelity was doing its deadly work among the more intellectual and cultivated classes, and the spirit of indifference was widely spread even where a formal profession of religion continued; it was in a large measure the influence of Chalmers that restored a living faith in Christ and in redemption, and aroused concern in that class of society for the life to come.

Still more remarkably, perhaps, had Dr. Chalmers succeeded in inspiring men and women in Glasgow, young men very emphatically, with the spirit of Christian service. His 'agency,' as he called it, resembled the followers of Saul, 'a band of men whose hearts God had touched.' In after years they formed the very élite of the earnest Christian laymen of the West; and to this day, though all of them have passed away, their fervour and devotedness are still found in some of their children and children's children.

Nor had he failed to secure the esteem and affection of the great community of Glasgow. They honoured him personally, and they were proud of his greatness and fame. They were ready with their purses to support whatever scheme he deemed it necessary to set on foot. A more attached or warm-hearted company could not have been found anywhere than the three hundred and forty friends who, ere he left, sat down together at the largest dinner-party that had ever assembled in the city in honour of a single individual.

Why, then, did he abandon the field where his labours had been so eminently successful?

Simply because these labours had grown to such multiplicity and variety as to demand an expenditure of bodily and mental energy that could not be continued.

His incumbency had lasted during eight years of his prime—from thirty-five to forty-three. Happily he had not been prostrated by any severe illness, and the systematic regularity of his life, with the attention he had given to diet, sleep, and exercise, had kept him from breaking down. But who that thinks of all he was doing, the problems with which he was grappling, the schemes he was working, the constant demands of the pulpit, the incessant labours of the parish, the use he was making of the press, the toil of his correspondence, amounting on an average to fifty letters a week, the perpetual turmoil in which he was living, amid crowds of visitors, and all the other fruits of unrivalled popularity, as well as the demands of an increasing and growing family, and his desire to keep up friendly intercourse with his brothers and sisters—can fail to see that the indefinite continuance of such a mode of life was more than could be thought of? Had it continued much longer, a breakdown was inevitable. Very pathetically he wrote to one of his most intimate friends, Mrs. Coutts, of the constant feeling of exhaustion which at times was like to overbear him altogether. Besides, Chalmers was coming to see that through the press there opened to him a way of spreading his views and extending his usefulness which was as full of promise as it was agreeable to himself. But as a minister of Glasgow he could not do through the press what, with a little more leisure, he could fairly expect to accomplish.

And then the prospect of an academic chair was very congenial. It had been his earliest dream while the world was all before him, and it had not yet lost its charm. The tenacity of his affections was very remarkable. Towards the close of his life we shall have occasion to note the long-continued vitality of a strong but unavowed attachment which had sprung up in his boyhood, and it is no wonder that to such a nature the early vision of an academic chair continued to retain its brightness and its fascination. Once and again he had set it aside when it seemed to be within his grasp, because his Glasgow experiments and arrangements were not ripe enough for the change. Now, when the Glasgow work was fairly consolidated; when the bustle and pressure of Glasgow life had become almost unbearable; when, through the press, the prospect had opened of impregnating not Glasgow only, but the whole empire with his views; and when his own Alma Mater had sent him a unanimous invitation to fill a chair which formed a connecting-link between philosophy and religion,—it is not wonderful that he made up his mind to the wrench that was to sever him from his Glasgow friends, and resolved to accept a chair in the university with which his earliest memories were connected, and in which he could look forward to a career of peace and comfort to himself, and great usefulness to his church and country.




On the 9th November 1823 Dr. Chalmers preached his farewell sermon at Glasgow, and on Friday the 14th he delivered his introductory lecture at St. Andrews. He had not a single day of rest between the toils of the office he laid down and those of the office he took up. Four of his most esteemed Glasgow friends had accompanied him to St. Andrews in token of gratitude for the past and good-will for the future. At first Dr. Chalmers was alone, and for a time he was the guest of his old friend, Professor Duncan. It was not till the beginning of 1824 that Mrs. Chalmers and his children joined him.

St. Andrews had been familiar to him from his boyhood, and its historical associations had dawned on him gradually, but with a firm hold, as such things usually impress boys. Its traditions went back to a remote antiquity. Fordun's legend of the Greek saint, Regulus, being ordered by the Lord to carry the bones of St. Andrew into the 'north-west corner of the earth,' was too obviously the offspring of superstition to be much regarded; yet it seemed to indicate that the 'East Nook' was one of the earliest seats of Christianity in Scotland. In pre-Reformation times St. Andrews had been the headquarters of the Roman Church, and, under successive archbishops, Patrick Hamilton and George Wishart had been burnt at the stake for their noble testimony to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Before their day, Peter Craw, a Bohemian, and thus of the same stock as the Moravian Church for which Dr. Chalmers always had a very special regard, and other witnesses for the truth had perished in the flames. It was here that John Knox first opened his mouth as a preacher; hither, too, he retired for a time at the close of his life, and preached in the church when danger threatened him in the metropolis. Here, also, Andrew and James Melville, Robert Rollok, Robert Bruce, Robert Blair, Samuel Rutherford, Thomas Halyburton, and many other familiar names in the history of the country, had gathered wisdom as students, or imparted it as professors, or as ministers of the Gospel. The first university in Scotland had been set up at St. Andrews, and men like Buchanan and Melville had made it illustrious by their learning. Nor was it very long since Chalmers himself had found the powers of his intellect awakened as he sat in its mathematical class-room. It must have been with no ordinary feelings that he returned as a professor to his Alma Mater, and girded himself for the duty of influencing its students; not, however, in the spirit or with the aims of his early years, but under the influence of those intense evangelical convictions that, twelve years before, had revolutionised his soul.

During the first session, in preparing his lectures, he was truly from hand to mouth; to be but a few days in advance of the time for their delivery was all that he could achieve. His second session, 1824-25, was regarded as the most brilliant in his academic career. The number of students was more than double what it had ever been in former years, and the enthusiasm was intense. Chalmers was well aware of the fear entertained in some quarters that, amid the blaze of his popular eloquence, he would not be able to attain to an academic level in the more solid qualities of thinking and exposition of thought, appropriate to a university. But in point of fact there was more than enough of solid thought and ingenious speculation in his lectures to do away with any such impression. Eloquent they often were, nor did he scorn the aid of imagination and illustration in handling the topics of his course; but his main object was to exercise the minds of his students, and to set them thinking upon his themes.

At the very outset, he disabused his class of the idea that moral philosophy was the same as mental philosophy. Moral philosophy was the science of ethics, the science of duty, and, in his view, it ought to embrace duty in all its relations, and to make use of all the light that could be brought to bear on that high theme. In particular—and here was the peculiar feature of his course—he desired to make the fullest use of what had been communicated on this subject by supernatural revelation. He justified this method of proceeding by an illustration. If natural philosophy were divided into two courses, and if one of them should relate to terrestrial objects and such parts of astronomy as might be prosecuted without the telescope, it would be strange indeed were the professor to make no allusion to that instrument, and to ignore, or even repudiate, all the light which it threw on the general scheme of things. So also, in investigating the science of ethics, it would be an extraordinary thing if no use were made of the Christian Revelation, supposing that its authenticity could be established as a revelation from heaven. Natural theology would form an important branch of his subject; but, in its very nature, natural theology was an incomplete and inadequate science. Following the light of nature, it proved the insufficiency of that light; it created the thirst and the longing for more light than it could itself supply. This further light revelation brought in. He held moral philosophy to be the study that ought immediately to precede that of theology; without theology it was incomplete. It would be no part of his course to set forth at full length the evidences for the Christian Revelation, but he would give a general view of them; he would show at least that there was a primâ facie presumption in favour of the divine origin of Christianity; and, therefore, that it was consistent with the principles of the Baconian philosophy to make use of its light in dealing with the great questions of moral obligation.

In fact, Chalmers in this matter took ground precisely opposite to that more recently taken by one of his countrymen—the munificent founder of the Gifford Lectures. According to Gifford, it becomes us to investigate the whole subject of natural theology and moral obligation without the slightest reference to any alleged supernatural revelation. This he held to be the sound, impartial, unprejudiced course of true philosophy, and the best way of attaining to simple, absolute truth. In the view of others, this is like the act of a man blindfolding himself before entering on a difficult investigation; or of a man walking in sparks of his own kindling, while, if he chose, he might be at work under the bright influence of electric light.

One might have thought that, after finishing his first course at St. Andrews, Chalmers would have held himself entitled to a long rest. But as soon as the session was ended, he set himself, during the fortnight that intervened, to prepare for the General Assembly. The question of pluralities, the question of pauperism, and the question of the amount of time to be spent by students in theological study were to be before the house, and Chalmers was interested in all. On one of these occasions he came into collision with Dr. Inglis, the leader of the Assembly; but, even on a point of order, Chalmers was equal to him, and in a division, he carried his motion. At the close of the Assembly, on the invitation of Mr. Leonard Horner, he took part in a meeting in Edinburgh on behalf of a then infant institution—the School of Arts. The motion which he made on that occasion was seconded by Sir Walter Scott. This was the only occasion on which these two eminent men appeared on the same platform and were associated in the same work.

The Assembly is past, but the time of rest has not yet come. Dr. Chalmers hurries back to Glasgow. Now that he has got breathing-time, his heart returns to the great experiment which he had begun there, and an unrestrainable eagerness takes possession of him to help it on. The next six weeks are spent in incessant labour in the old field. In looking back on this period he remarked in his peculiar phraseology, 'I think that I never spent a season of more crowded occupancy.' On his way to Glasgow he took Perth, where he preached a missionary sermon on a week-day, the collection amounting to £81, 8s. In Glasgow he preached steadily in the chapel of ease, and he had the great satisfaction, though of course it was but a temporary one, of adding four hundred to the sittings let, no doubt to accommodate the many persons who were bent on hearing him during the few weeks of his stay. During these six weeks he preached ten times in the chapel, writing all the lectures, and apparently the sermons too—seven of his texts being from the Epistle to the Romans, part of the exposition afterwards published. Apart from spiritual impulse and spiritual fruit, his six weeks in Glasgow benefited the chapel to the tune of £200. In the midst of his incessant public work he contrived to write to his wife a full journal of all his proceedings, and he gave her most explicit instructions to give the children a feast of strawberries on the arrival of each letter, and to let them know that they were from him. With all his greatness and eloquence, it is amusing to find him showing that nervousness in the prospect of a speech at a public dinner which but few men have been able to overcome. 'It kept me anxious all day.' One is reminded of Sir Robert Peel, who could hardly eat anything at public dinners when a speech was forthcoming, but sat in misery, crumbling his bread. 'One touch of nature makes the whole world kin.'

A source of greater trouble and annoyance arose after his Glasgow visit in connection with a promise to deliver a missionary sermon at Stockton, near Manchester. After his arrival, he found that an advertisement had been issued from which it appeared that the sermon would come in as a sort of interlude in a vast musical entertainment, in which an orchestra of at least a hundred persons, supported by drums, trumpets, bassoon, organ, serpents, violins without number, violoncellos, bass viols, flutes, and hautboys would take part. Chalmers was most indignant. He felt it an affront to himself, to be stuck up like a mountebank, as if he had come to help in the entertainment of a pleasure-seeking audience. But not less did he feel it a prostitution of his office, as if the Ambassador of Heaven, dealing with men on their state before God and their need of reconciliation, were to be mixed up with such a clatter. He was on the verge of refusing to preach at all. But remembering his promise, he compromised the matter by refusing to appear except at the time when his sermon was delivered. 'I stopped in the minister's room till it was all over. Went to the pulpit, prayed, preached, retired during the time of the collection, and again prayed. Before I left my own private room, they fell too again, with most tremendous fury, and the likest thing to it which I recollect is a great military band on the Castle Hill of Edinburgh.' In spite of all, the collection exceeded £400. In telling the story, as he often did to his friends, he said that they hardly let him alone even while he was preaching; 'the fellows were tuning their trombones in my very ear.'

November 1825 found him again at his work in St. Andrews, with a better prepared course, and a very numerous class. Notwithstanding the labours of the recess, no symptom of exhaustion appeared; on the contrary, he seemed to thirst for further labour, and whereas the subject of political economy had been considered to fall to the professor of moral philosophy, he intimated that in the following session he would make political economy the subject of a separate course. A numerous class was enrolled, but instead of teaching the subject by lectures, he treated it by means of a text-book. The text-book was Dr. Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations, on portions of which the students were examined, the professor occasionally adding explanations or little dissertations of his own, or referring to more modern books which gave the latest aspects of the subject.

It should be added that Dr. Chalmers always opened his class with prayer. This was an innovation in a class of philosophy. The prayers were short and pithy, often bearing on the subject of the preceding lecture, and the language was often felicitous, and even sublime. Of the like quality were the prayers he offered when he became a professor of divinity. Many of these will be found in the Institutes of Theology.

But at St. Andrews he was very far from confining himself to academic labours. He could not look round him without feeling that, small though the town was, it was not less in need than crowded Glasgow of efforts to dispel its spiritual darkness, and awaken young and old to the things of eternity. The place had fallen from its high estate; it was no longer like the St. Andrews of those days when, fragrant with martyr memories, it formed one of the chief centres of evangelical influence in Scotland. The first form of pastoral activity to which Dr. Chalmers betook himself was that of a Sabbath-school teacher. As soon as he had leisure after the first session, he marked out for himself a district of the town in the neighbourhood of his house, visited the families, and invited the children to attend a class of his own on the Sunday evenings. For that class he made as careful, though not as elaborate, preparations as for his students in the university. By and by it increased to rather burdensome size.

Meanwhile, another class of young persons engaged his attention, and the Sabbath school was handed over to others. It had been suggested to him that great good would result from a students' class, from gathering together, on Tuesday evenings, such students as desired to receive from him religious instruction of the same kind as they had been accustomed to receive in their fathers' houses before they came to college. The first winter of this meeting, five students came for the purpose. Chalmers instructed them and dealt with them, gave them books for Sabbath reading, examining them as to their contents, and at the same time taking a book of his own, Scripture References, as a kind of doctrinal text-book of his expositions and examinations. Next year, the number was about a dozen. In the third year, the number became so great that his dining-room was crowded with students. One of them remarked afterwards that they learned more of Christian ethics at these meetings than from all his class-room lectures on moral philosophy.

In some instances, the fruit of these meetings was very remarkable. According to the testimony of Dr. Duff, who was one of Chalmers's young men, the students of St. Andrews, previous to his coming, were a godless lot. To make a profession of piety was to incur universal derision. Nor were the divinity students much better; some of them, indeed, were more notorious than other students for impiety, immorality, and riotous revellings. Dr. Chalmers was the instrument of a great revival. In 1823-24, some of the students formed themselves into a missionary society, which held meetings next session in the room of a remarkable man, John Urquhart, one of those saintly youths whose early death puts an end to the boundless promise of their student careers. Dr. Chalmers had already become president of a missionary society, embracing different denominations. At the monthly meetings of this society, which became so large that they had soon to be held in the Town Hall, he gave addresses on missionary topics, not only communicating information, but also pressing the motives and encouragements to missionary effort, answering objections, and gathering from the reports on the state of the heathen confirmations of Scripture, and evidences of the divine origin of Christianity. A university missionary society had now become possible, and its career began in 1825-26 under more favourable conditions than could have been looked for. The blessing of God rested on it, for it furnished some of the first and noblest missionaries that the Church of Scotland sent into the foreign field. The first was the Rev. Robert Nesbit, who spent many laborious and effective years at Bombay. Before Dr. Chalmers left St. Andrews, another of his students, Mr. Adams, had begun his missionary career. In 1829, Chalmers presided at the ordination of Alexander Duff, now one of the brightest names in the record of missions. The Rev. A. Mackay and the Rev. David Ewart followed, and John Urquhart was preparing to go when illness and death arrested his career. A more beautiful or promising springtime of missionary activity could hardly be imagined. And the same course that had thus been begun at St. Andrews was also being followed in Edinburgh. On 27th December 1825, the Edinburgh University Missionary Association was founded, chiefly through the influence of John Wilson, afterwards so well known as Dr. Wilson of Bombay. Chalmers has sometimes been called a man of one idea, and in some minds the notion got hold that all his interest was in home missions, and that he looked with comparative indifference on foreign. It would be more correct to say that he was a man of all manner of ideas, but that he worked out only one idea at a time. In that large heart there was room not only for the welfare of Scotland, but of the whole world too. His identification of himself with the missionary cause, at a time when many derided it, was an act of high moral courage. So was another act, his taking sittings for his family in the dissenting chapels, that they might be nourished with evangelical food, not then to be obtained in the Established Church. Occasionally he would attend these chapels himself, both on Sundays and week-days; not disdaining the devotional services of a pious mechanic at the prayer-meeting, and deriving far more help therefrom than from the dreary ministrations either of the town church or that of the college.

In one respect Dr. Chalmers's course did not run smoothly at St. Andrews. He got into loggerheads with his colleagues on the subject of college finance. In dealing with the funds of the college, it had been the practice of the Senatus to lay aside a certain amount for general expenses, and to divide the balance as a supplemental salary among the different professors. Chalmers was not clear that this was a legitimate course, and for some years he refused to receive his share of the supplemental fund, which accordingly accumulated until it amounted to some £700. Reflecting as this refusal did, or was supposed to do, on the honesty of his colleagues, it gave him more pain than any other public duty he was ever called to perform. After he had left St. Andrews, the university commissioners having looked into the matter, recorded it as their judgment that there was no good reason why he should not accept of the sum standing at his credit; and as Dr. Chalmers had desired only that the matter should be settled by competent authority, he accepted the money. But nothing could exceed his surprise and indignation when he found, in the published report of the commissioners in 1831, a statement that 'the principal and professors appear to have made these appropriations without any authority.' In a letter addressed to the commissioners, and published in 1832, after quoting their judgment in his own case, he said he could not divine what they really thought of these appropriations—whether they were honest or fraudulent. 'If you think them wrong, how is it that to me you have called the evil good? If right, how is it that to your Sovereign you have called the good evil?'

During his five years' incumbency in St. Andrews, he issued two volumes from the press. The first was the third and concluding volume of The Christian and Civic Economy of Large Towns. Among the topics embraced in this volume were the Poor-Laws and the Combination-Laws. The particular aspect of the Poor-Laws with which he dealt, and which he most thoroughly condemned, was the application of the poor-rates, as in England, to supplement the wages of ill-paid labourers. Though kindly meant, this arrangement, he held, was an invasion of the relation between master and men so ruinous, and involved a bounty to the masters so unjust, that no toleration ought to be found for it. This was also the general opinion; and the practice was discontinued by law. According to Dr. Chalmers's biographer, his exposure of the practice formed a powerful contribution towards its removal.

In regard to the Combination-Laws, which imposed severe and stringent penalties on any united movements of workmen for increasing their wages, a bill for repealing them had been introduced and carried by Mr. Huskisson, whose efforts to free industry from the fetters of Protection were hailed by Dr. Chalmers with great delight. Unfortunately, the carrying of this measure into law was accompanied by certain deplorable excesses on the part of some classes of workmen, who did not understand how to use their new-found liberty. Dr. Chalmers strongly upheld the righteousness of the repeal of the old laws, mainly on the ground that we ought not to manufacture crime out of acts (such as workmen's combinations) which the natural conscience does not condemn. But with equal firmness he denounced any interference with the freedom of labour, especially when men on strike coerced and persecuted those that might be willing to work. The experience of seventy years has not materially changed the position. 'Strike, if you please,' is the voice of reason and justice to workmen; 'but leave those who do not concur with you at perfect freedom to do as they please.'

The other publication of this period was a book on Literary and Ecclesiastical Endowments. It was devoted chiefly to the case of the Scottish universities. Among the reforms which he advocated, a foremost place was given to the raising of the standard of scholarship for those joining the university. Though apparently disregarded at the time, it was seen, whenever serious attention began to be given to the state of our universities, that this was indeed the most important change to begin with. What Dr. Chalmers proposed was, that an entrance examination should be instituted, and that a gymnasium, or, as we now call it, a secondary school, should be attached to each of the universities, for instruction that would qualify for the entrance examination. Modern opinion has so far transcended the modest proposal of Chalmers, that instead of a preparatory school in each university seat, the demand is now for adequate secondary schools scattered over all the land.

It was a very congenial thing for Chalmers to advocate in this way the elevation and ample equipment of our universities. His old love of science and general culture had never died in him, although he had learned to give them a secondary place, and to feel profoundly that the first duty and the chief interest of man concerned his relation to the great God, without whom nothing could be great, nothing strong. But the spirit of Chalmers was stirred within him as often as he thought of the great leaders of science, and their splendid achievements in astronomy and in other departments. The very name of Newton sent a thrill through every fibre of his being, and roused the desire to follow in his steps, as well as to see every youth around him inspired by his spirit, and by all that was noble in his example. Speaking of the universities of England, which were more successful than the Scottish in cultivating particular branches, but gave less complete attention to learning as a whole, he said, 'We cannot conclude this passing notice of the universities of England without the mention of how much they are ennobled by those great master spirits—those men of might and high achievement—the Newtons, and the Miltons, and the Drydens, and the Barrows, and the Addisons, and the Butlers, and the Clarkes, and the Stillingfleets, and the Ushers, and the Foxes, and the Pitts and Johnsons, who within their attic retreats received that first awakening which afterwards expanded into the aspirations and triumphs of loftiest genius. This is the true heraldry of colleges. Their family honour is built on the prowess of sons, not the greatness of ancestors.'

It remains for us to take a glance at some of the more miscellaneous engagements of Chalmers during this period, including his journeys, his speeches in public, the new friendships he formed, his spiritual progress, and his letters to his family and friends.

In the autumn of 1826, after his hard work in Glasgow, Dr. Chalmers treated himself to the rare luxury of a ramble in the south of Scotland. The character of the man was singularly shown in the objects that attracted him as he proceeded from place to place. In the neighbourhood of Kelso, he stopped his gig opposite Roxburgh Castle, and running up to it, feasted his eyes, even in the midst of rain, on an old-remembered scene—'one of the most glorious panoramas I ever beheld, where the blended beauties of Teviot and Tweed were concentred upon the environs of Kelso and the Palace of Fleurs, with the seats and plantations of other grandees.' But it was places with an historical association that charmed him most. The church of Anwoth, Samuel Rutherford's early home, greatly delighted him. The church, which was like that of Kilmany, but smaller, still remained, but a new one was in course of erection; the manse had just been pulled down. Sir Walter Scott could not have more emphatically denounced such Gothicism, and the soul of Chalmers sympathised deeply with some of the masons that had refused to perpetrate the barbaric act, and had been dismissed from their occupation in consequence. To see Rutherford's 'witnesses,' he went up among the hills and inspected the stones which he once called to witness against some of his parishioners who were indulging in amusement on the Sunday. Not less enthusiastic was he at Kirkmabreck, where Dr. Thomas Brown, the son of the minister, was buried. At Dumfries he visited Mrs. Burns, the widow of the poet, with whom he had a pleasant conversation, and whom he was pleased to see so comfortable. Among the gentlemen whose acquaintance he made was Mr. Cunninghame of Lainshaw, a well-known writer on prophecy, and Mr. Buchan of Kelloe, in Berwickshire, whose house was 'just delicious.' When the panorama of Berwickshire suddenly burst on him, he was overwhelmed. Perhaps what strikes one most in his account of this and other journeys is his readiness to be pleased, his power of finding enjoyment in everything. There is not a single cynical remark in all his narrative, not a flout, nor a grumble, nor a bitter word; he is always happy.

In May 1827 he went to London to open the new church of Mr. Irving in Regent Square. This took place on a Friday; the prayer which Mr. Irving offered was forty minutes in length, and it was an hour and a half ere Chalmers was allowed to begin. He preached again on the Sunday, the crowd comprising Mr. Peel, Lord Bexley, Lord Farnham, Lord Mandeville, Mr. Coleridge, and many other notables. At this time he made the acquaintance of Mr. Coleridge, with whom he spent three hours at the Gillmans' house in Highgate; but while he marvelled at the flow of conversation, he said he could only catch occasional glimpses of what he would be at. He had a pleasant talk in the House of Commons with Mr. Peel, who showed a great interest in his views on pauperism, the college commission, and likewise in his sermons, all of which he said he had read. He had some intercourse with Macaulay, and heard Brougham; saw also Sir Francis Burdett (father of Lady Burdett-Coutts), a conspicuous radical politician of the day.

Among home friends, Chalmers remained as simple, unsophisticated, and kindly as before. 'Of all men,' said Mrs. Grant of Laggan at this time, 'he is the most modest, and speaks with undisguised gentleness and liberality of those who differ from him in opinion. Every word he says has the stamp of genius; yet the calmness, ease, and simplicity of his conversation is such, that to ordinary minds he might appear an ordinary man.... He is always powerful, always gentle, and always seemed quite unconscious of his own superiority.' About the same time, Mrs. Grant received a visit from her friend, Sir Walter Scott, and it is interesting to observe the resemblance she saw between the two men. 'His good-nature, good-humour, and simplicity are truly charming. You never once think of his superiority, because it is evident he does not think of it himself. He, too, confirmed the maxim that true genius is ever modest and careless.'

In the autumn of the same year he paid his first visit to Ireland. He had been asked to preach, and crowds as usual thronged to hear him. He was greatly interested in the Giant's Causeway and the surrounding scenery, and seems to have relished the new aspect of character which Ireland furnished. But the place which had the deepest interest for him was Gracehill, a Moravian settlement, where his wife had been educated, and in the cemetery of which was the tomb of her mother. To be on the spot where his mother-in-law, whom he had never seen, departed this life; to converse with the physician that had attended her in her last hours; and to walk through the school-house where his wife had received her education, thrilled his susceptible nature; it was with reluctance that he tore himself from these 'bowers of sacredness.' We can hardly conceive a warmer or more delicate tribute to his wife, or a clearer evidence of his affection for her and her family.

We have already adverted to some of his appearances in the General Assembly, but to these we must now add a remarkable pleading, in 1828, in favour of the repeal of the Test and Corporation Acts. The royal assent had just been given to a bill repealing these Acts, but so vital did the matter appear to Dr. Chalmers, that he proposed that the Assembly should present a humble Address to his Majesty, expressing its satisfaction that it was no longer requisite to take the sacrament as a qualification for civil office. In his speech he compared the old law, viewed as a buttress to the Established Church, to those wooden props which one sometimes sees leaning obliquely against the walls of a house,—creating the impression that when a house needs such props, it is one of the craziest in the street. Yet he was careful to affirm his high regard for an established church in itself, apart from such miserable buttresses. His motion was lost by 123 votes to 77, but in spirit the Assembly agreed with him.

As he was making his speech, his eye met that of Edward Irving, who was sitting opposite him, and who was wild on the opposite side. Irving was then delivering lectures on prophecy in Edinburgh to enormous audiences. Already he was manifesting symptoms of that disordered judgment which ultimately carried him so far astray, and Chalmers was sorely troubled.

As to his dealings with his own family, the same warmth of heart continued to show itself toward them which his earlier years had manifested. When his sister Isobel, next younger to himself, was dying, in the middle of his first session at St. Andrews (January 1824), he charged himself with her case as if it were his chief interest, and for a twelve-month wrote letter after letter to her, pressing on her with equal tenderness and earnestness all that bore on her spiritual welfare. He was greatly cheered to learn that she was full of peace and joy in believing, and able to sustain with cheerful patience the sore pains that accompanied her illness. Her life closed with the closing year, and with her declaration that Jesus was fulfilling to her His latest promise, for He was now coming to receive her to Himself.

Very beautiful, too, was his spirit to his mother. Now that he lived at St. Andrews, he could see her often. In 1826 her last remaining daughter was married, and she was left alone. Deaf and lame, she was cut off, to a large extent, from intercourse with others. Yet her son could write: 'What a season of delight and of ripening for heaven has my mother's old age turned out to her, who, in the absence of all foreign resources, enjoys a perpetual feast in the happy repose of her spirit on that Saviour whom she trusts—that God whom she feels to be reconciled to her!' The dear old woman wrote of herself to her eldest son, James, in her seventy-seventh year: 'Since I last wrote to you I have had several severe complaints. I am very frail and very infirm; but what a blessing it is that my memory and the faculties of my mind are as active as if I were twenty! I bless God that it is so. I feel a pleasant contentment and peace of mind that the world cannot give nor take away. I amuse myself with working and reading. God is very good to me, who gives me a contented and happy frame of mind; and I trust my God will never leave nor forsake me, that when death comes, He will also be with me, and give me good hopes through Jesus Christ our Lord.'

It was her son's privilege to be much with her during her last illness. 'My mother's has been to me by far the most impressive deathbed I ever attended. The predominant feature of it has been the deep and immovable trust of her spirit upon the Saviour. This has been growing apace for some years, and it shed a singular and beautiful light on the evening of her days.'

It could not have been said of Dr. Chalmers that they made him the keeper of the vineyards, but his own vineyard he had not kept. How like the Apostle he was in being jealous over himself with a godly jealousy will appear from such extracts from his journal as this: 'I live as if in exile from God, in a dry and thirsty land where no water is. Erred in levity with Mr. Duncan in our reading-room; more kind and hospitable to Mr. Dwight than formerly on a similar occasion; marvelling little of God when moving through His delicious air upon our ride, and in the midst of His unnumbered beauties. Oh that I could associate with everything the first great Cause of all things! Absolutely nothing of the serious or sacred in me when sitting among eighteen immortals in the evening. What an exclusion of religion from the world's companies! Give me wisdom and principle, O God. Oh! let me redeem the time, and give myself to the work of an entire and spiritual Christianity!'

Sometimes we find an entry in his journal: 'Fasted somewhat this day,'—so eager was he to leave no means of spiritual quickening unused. But still we find severe judgment against himself. 'Old things are not wholly passed away: the love of literature for itself, and the love of literary distinction, have not passed away. Let me love literature as one of those creatures of God which is not to be refused, but received with thanksgiving. Let me desire literary distinction, but let my desire for it be altogether that I may add to my Christian usefulness, and promote the glory of God; then, even without these, I would be a new creature. The impression of my defects is not such as to overwhelm me, but stimulate me.'

During his St. Andrews incumbency, Dr. Chalmers had been offered various offices, notably that of professor of moral philosophy in the University of London. To none of these offers did he accede; but when, on 31st October 1827, the Magistrates and Town Council of Edinburgh unanimously elected him to fill the chair of theology in the university there, he gladly accepted the office, the more especially that it had been arranged that he was not to enter on his new duties till November 1828. It was a trial to him to part with the calm and quiet he had enjoyed at St. Andrews, and again plunge into a vast and bustling community like that from which he had escaped five years before, and which had left little more than 'the dazzling recollection of a feverish and troubled dream.' But theology was a higher department than moral philosophy, and Edinburgh was a centre of wider influence than St. Andrews. His course was clear; nevertheless, in his closing lectures, he assured his students that nothing in what was before him was fitted to displace them from his recollections; but, on the contrary, from his individual acquaintance with them all, he would ever regard his connection with them as a more tender relationship than he could hope to enjoy with the students of Edinburgh.




It was but natural for Chalmers, in entering on his new duties as professor of divinity in the University of Edinburgh, to rally all his energies for a task so important—to be performed, too, in so commanding a sphere. The course of theology through which he had to conduct his students occupied three sessions, and for each consecutive winter it was necessary for him to produce a fresh set of lectures. Happily the subjects discussed in his first session were already familiar to him—natural theology and the evidences of Christianity. What was necessary for him in this session, was to expand, complete, and combine materials that, in a very limited measure, he had already used at St. Andrews.

A greater contrast can hardly be imagined than the divinity class-room under his predecessor and under himself. The last professor was a striking illustration of what the essential dulness and lifelessness of Moderatism could produce when matured and crowned by old age and infirmity. Two years before the appointment of Chalmers, a deputation of students, including the late Principal Cunningham and Dr. Wilson of Bombay, had waited on the professor, requesting him (but in vain) to provide a substitute, as his voice could not be heard. Naturally the attendance had fallen to a fraction, and utter lifelessness prevailed. With the appointment of Chalmers, an enthusiasm sprang up unprecedented in the history of the university. 'The introductory lecture,' says Dr. Hanna, 'was delivered amid rapturous applause, and, with scarcely any sensible abatement, the excitement of that first meeting was sustained throughout the whole of the succeeding session.' Besides the regular students of the church, a very large body of amateurs attended the course. From these the professor exacted no fee; but at the end of the session, through the Rev. Robert Morehead, an episcopalian clergyman, they asked his acceptance of a sum of money, and, in an elaborate address, expressed the delight and benefit with which they had listened to the course.

In subsequent years, Dr. Chalmers re-wrote his divinity lectures, and after his death these were published in two volumes, entitled, Institutes of Theology. Besides delivering his own lectures, it was his practice to comment on his textbooks,—Butler's Analogy, Paley's Evidences, and Hill's Lectures in Divinity, his notes on these now forming a separate volume of his Posthumous Works.

Most Calvinistic treatises on systematic theology start from the divine point of view, setting forth the nature of God; and, on the basis of His Sovereignty, explaining his relation to man. Chalmers preferred to start with the actual condition of man, the diseased and disorganised state into which he had fallen, and to rise from that to the provision which God had made for his recovery through Jesus Christ. It is not difficult to see what led him to prefer this order. In his course of moral philosophy, he had come to an abrupt and impassable barrier. Natural ethics gave abundant proof that man's moral nature was disordered, and that he had lost fellowship with God; but it threw no light on the awfully important questions how that nature was to be healed, and how that fellowship was to be restored. The answer to these questions, as Chalmers often insisted, must come from a higher source. It was tantalising to a teacher of moral philosophy to have to leave man in this predicament, and to be restrained from dwelling on the response of revealed theology to his eager questionings. And hence, when revealed theology became his theme, Chalmers was eager to set forth at once the point of junction between the two theologies, to show how the revealed took man up at the point where nature left him; in a word, to bring the remedy of revelation into connection with the disease of nature. If, in general, this order is more acceptable to Arminian than Calvinistic divines, this was not Chalmers's reason for preferring it. We have seen that the sovereignty, the all-sufficiency and universal operation of God, was the first theological truth that took a powerful hold of his mind, even before he became reconciled to evangelical doctrine. That hold it retained ever after. The root of Calvinism, or, we should rather say, of Paulinism and Augustinianism, was planted at the beginning in the very heart of his being.

But, from the eminently practical character of his mind, it was not his habit to put the higher doctrines of Calvinism in the forefront of his preaching, or even of his theology. Man must be dealt with as a responsible being; his responsibility must ever have its place beside God's sovereignty. It would be ruinous to handle either of these doctrines in such a manner as to destroy or even impair the force of the other. The combination of the two was one of the great objects of his theological teaching.

Chalmers's style of theological discussion was very unlike the common. It was not fashioned on the anvil of the schoolmen. There was a remarkable combination in it of the philosophical and the popular. His mind was deeply philosophical, delighting in first principles, and eager to concatenate truth, to establish comprehensive laws, to reconcile apparently conflicting doctrines, and to bring what seemed unreasonable into harmony with reason. But his style was so diffuse and flowing that he appeared to want the exactness and correctness of a philosophic mind. Moreover, he could not confine himself to the strictly intellectual aspects of theology; he could not but include its moral and practical aspects. In bringing out the practical bearings of doctrines, he was liable to become somewhat declamatory.

Another peculiarity was his fondness of illustration, the product, as it seemed, of the poetical rather than the philosophic faculty. The result was that, as a philosophic theologian, Chalmers hardly got justice. And since his day philosophic theology has passed into a quite different groove. He was just beginning to know something of German philosophy when he died. He was greatly interested in it, and had he survived, he would in all likelihood have given much of his attention to it. But he could only have known it at second hand, and any discussion of it in these circumstances must have been of but secondary weight. And now that the German standpoint has become so common, the theology of Dr. Chalmers, as well as that of his successor, Principal Cunningham, has fallen into the background. But it would not be easy to say how much is missed by even philosophical students when they give the go-by to his writings.

The academical and other honours conferred on him had more respect to his position as a preacher and a philanthropist than a professor of theology. In 1830 he was appointed one of her Majesty's chaplains for Scotland, the letter from Sir Robert Peel in which the announcement was made to him saying emphatically that the honour was conferred in consideration of his high character and eminent acquirements and services. At the Disruption, when he ceased to be a minister of the Established Church, he resigned this appointment. It was but the other day that it transpired that her Majesty wished him to continue to hold it. But such was his conscientiousness that, though the salary was placed at his credit by the Queen's Remembrancer till his death in 1847, no part of the salary was ever drawn either by him or his family. In 1834 he was elected a corresponding member of the Royal Institute of France, and in the following year he received the degree of D.C.L. from the University of Oxford. Such honours as these last were without a parallel in the case of any Presbyterian minister. About the same time he was elected a Fellow, and thereafter a vice-president, of the Royal Society of Edinburgh. Among other honours, he was asked by the Bridgewater Trustees to write one of their eight treatises on natural theology, the subject assigned to him being 'The Adaptation of External Nature to the Moral and Intellectual Constitution of Man.' This essay was afterwards merged in his work on Natural Theology. In his visits to Oxford and Cambridge he received almost unbounded attention from the most distinguished men in both universities, and in his intercourse with them he had much enjoyment. At Cambridge he could not restrain his delight at being entertained in the college of Newton—a name which held an extraordinary place in his regard. In recognition of his appointment as a corresponding member of the French Institute, he visited France in 1838, and read a paper to the Institute on the 'Distinction, both in Principle and Effect, between a Legal Charity for the Relief of Indigence and a Legal Charity for the Relief of Disease.'

The right treatment of pauperism continued to exercise his mind and to draw forth his testimony on every available occasion. In 1829 he was summoned to London to give evidence before a Parliamentary Committee on the Irish Poor-Law. His view was ever the same. A compulsory rate created a spirit of dependence, and thereby tended to the increase of pauperism and the degradation rather than the elevation of the people. It was often said that comfort tended to the improvement of character. His belief was the very opposite; it was character that tended to the increase of comfort. His success in Glasgow led him to believe that the same system would succeed in Ireland. He had sought to stimulate friendship and kindliness among all classes, so as to induce them to help one another in times of need; nothing had had a greater effect in diminishing pauperism. This was far too valuable and efficient a weapon to be carelessly thrown away.

But to all his schemes for remedying pauperism there came a death-blow in 1844. In 1840, Dr. Pultney Alison of Edinburgh, a medical practitioner of great eminence and not less benevolence, published a pamphlet in which he drew a painful picture of the miserable condition of the poor, especially in many parts of Glasgow and Edinburgh, and strongly urged the necessity of an ampler provision for them, secured by law, though one result of this would be the increase of the cost of Scottish pauperism from £150,000 to £800,000 per annum. Chalmers did what he could to counterwork Dr. Alison. When the British Association met in Glasgow in 1840, he contributed a paper on the subject, and the public interest was so great that the meeting where it was discussed had to be adjourned to a church. He delivered several lectures to his students, which were afterwards collected and published in a volume. But the absorbing interest which had arisen in the Church question that was now under vehement discussion, and other causes, chilled the interest of the public in pauperism; and in 1844 a measure was enacted by Parliament, in opposition to the views of Chalmers. To him it seemed that even though an immediate improvement in the condition of the poor might be thus obtained, it must be at the sacrifice of many of the virtues that went to elevate them.

In the political world two great questions were agitating the community about the time when Chalmers came to Edinburgh—Catholic Emancipation and the Reform Bill.

Chalmers was a strenuous advocate of Catholic Emancipation. It did not seem to him just, as a general principle, to exclude any body of the people from a share in the government of their country on account of their religious opinions. Not only so, but he had a strong conviction that the effect of such exclusion was to create a prejudice against the religion of their opponents and prevent them from giving an impartial consideration to the arguments in its favour. In urging his views at a public meeting in Edinburgh, he rose to a height of eloquence that carried his audience by storm. As long as the Roman Catholics were excluded from political privileges they would not listen to any arguments against their faith. But let this injustice be removed, let them be admitted to the same platform as the rest of the community, and he looked for a change. And what might they not expect if the Bible were to become a familiar book to their Catholic brethren, and they were to receive its lessons with open and candid minds? The very thought seemed to open a most interesting and hopeful vista, well adapted to be expanded and enforced by his gorgeous eloquence. But even had he known that expectations of this sort were groundless, he would still have advocated emancipation simply as a matter of justice.

On the question of the Reform Bill he did not take the popular side. His opposition to it comes on us as a surprise. We should have expected that a man whose motto was 'Honour all men,' who had already befriended Catholic Emancipation and the repeal of the Corporation Test Acts, and who was afterwards an advocate of the repeal of the Corn-Laws, would have approved of the very moderate degree of political privilege implied in the ten-pound suffrage. In a speech in the Presbytery of Edinburgh, Dr. Chalmers once said: 'I have already professed myself, and will profess myself again, an out and out and, I maintain it, the only consistent Radical. The dearest object of my earthly existence is the elevation of the common people, humanised by Christianity and raised by the strength of their moral habits to a higher platform of human nature, and by which they may attain and enjoy the rank and consideration due to enlightened and companionable men.' But, though he offered no active opposition to the measure, he did not approve of it. In this he seems to have been actuated by various motives. In the first place, he did not think that this was the true way to elevate the people. He had always maintained that it was mainly by a moral and Christian education, by the cultivation of right principles and habits, that their true welfare was to be secured, and he dreaded anything that might lead them to value material or political benefits more than this. Further, he had a dread that any loosening of the old foundations of society might encourage a spirit of anarchy and recklessness which would ultimately bring the country to ruin. He knew that such a spirit slumbered, and more than slumbered, in many breasts, and he was opposed to any measure that would give it the slightest encouragement. He did not reckon on any abatement of discontent from the extension of the suffrage, and did not believe that the political appetite would be satisfied with anything short of a social revolution. So great were his fears, that on one occasion he expressed his apprehension that if the government then in office were to be removed, anarchy would immediately take possession. Nothing would have surprised or alarmed him more than to be told that by and by a Conservative Government would bring down the suffrage to a much lower point than the then Reform Bill proposed. But still more would he have wondered had he learned that fifty years after his death, and under all these radical changes, so far from the country being abandoned to anarchy, the law-abiding habit of the people would be as strong as ever, and the foundations of society as firm.

When the great question of the Corn-Laws came up at a later period, Chalmers was in favour of the repeal; not chiefly for any important economical results that he expected from that step, but because it would, as he used to say, 'sweeten the breath of society.' He would have been surprised at the remarkable commercial results which the abolition of the Corn-Laws, and the institution of the system of Free Trade have produced on the resources of the country.

In addition to these considerations, another ground of his opposition to the Reform Bill was his respect for an aristocracy and the influence of an aristocracy, as contributing important elements to the welfare of a country. He held that 'in every land of law and liberty, with an order of men possessing large and independent affluence, there is better security for the general comfort and virtue of the whole than when society presents an aspect of almost unalleviated plebeianism.' But, 'it is not for the sake of its ornaments and its chivalry alone that we want the high rank of our aristocracy to be upholden.' It was for the spirit that they circulated through all ranks—a more noble spirit, he thought, than either France with its 'Citizen King,' or the United States with their universal social equality, could inspire. In his intercourse with the aristocracy, it was the best and most congenial of them that admitted him to their society, and nothing charmed him more than to find a combination of rank and wealth with Christian principle and philanthropic activity, along with the charm of refined and gentle but unassuming manners. Such movements as the Reform Bill he deemed hurtful to the influence of the aristocracy, and therefore disadvantageous to the welfare of the country. It was a different set of aristocrats, and a different kind of policy he had to criticise when, on occasion of his last visit to London, he gave evidence to a Parliamentary Committee in connection with the hardships suffered by congregations of the Free Church from the refusal of sites by aristocratic landowners.

Undoubtedly the main activity of Chalmers during his Edinburgh life was connected with the work of the church. But before proceeding to this, it may be well to advert to his literary activity, which, amid all his other occupations, was very remarkable. We have already noticed his Bridgewater treatise, afterwards reconstructed in his Natural Theology. We have also noticed his volume on the subject of the Poor-Laws. It was during this period that he completed and published in four volumes his Lectures on the Epistle to the Romans, which had been begun but not finished as pulpit discourses in Glasgow; regarding which the late Mr. Isaac Taylor gave his judgment that they would probably be the most enduring of his writings. In this period likewise he collected and edited his whole works, amounting to the goodly number of twenty-five volumes. Of a large number of his pamphlets, introductory essays, articles in reviews, and other miscellaneous writings, our space allows us to say nothing. But the work of this period which Chalmers himself thought most of was, his treatise in two volumes on Political Economy. The subject had an attraction for him ever since his attendance on certain classes in the University of Edinburgh in 1799-1801. His first published volume had been on one of its topics. In the University of St. Andrews he had given a course of lectures upon it. It may seem strange that, after his change of views and intense consecration to spiritual work, he should still have felt so lively an interest in a subject usually considered the driest and most secular in the whole round of the sciences. But, as he remarked in his preface, there were two ways of presenting political economy. One was merely to expound its doctrines; the other, along with this, to consider its applications. It was with this latter object in view that Dr. Chalmers bestowed so earnest attention on the subject. On the doctrines of political economy, indeed, he held and expounded many original views,—views which were treated with undeserved contempt by the Quarterly Review, but of which so high an authority as Mr. Stuart Mill wrote in a very different spirit. Accepting it as the great aim of political economy to make the most of a country's material resources, and advance to the utmost the comfort and prosperity of its people, Dr. Chalmers urged with great earnestness that all its methods were in themselves incompetent to secure this end. Without due provision for the moral and spiritual nature, the true welfare and the true comfort of men could never be achieved. Besides this, he held that society was ever tending to a condition which could not but defeat the very ends which political economy had in view. It was the constant tendency of population to increase, and thus outgrow production—outgrow the provision for the supply of its material wants. However much production might be increased, it could not be increased in the ratio of population, so that at length a time must come when, in spite of every expedient, destitution must set in. The only safeguard against this was to raise the intelligence and the moral habits of the people, to inspire them with a desire for a more civilised kind of life, to give them a taste for higher enjoyments, and induce them to cultivate the industry, the skill, and the self-control by which these might be attained. But how would this check population? Dr. Chalmers was in this respect in sympathy with Malthus; he wished to check early and improvident marriages, and the best means of doing this was to elevate the standard of living, so that marriage should be delayed until the means of reaching this standard were realised. It must be owned, we think, that this was a one-sided view. There are undoubted moral risks of a very serious kind involved in the delay of marriage until an age when the passions have somewhat cooled down. It was the habit of Chalmers to let his mind dwell at one time on but one aspect of a subject, and not give full weight to counterbalancing considerations. Most readers will agree thoroughly with him in his view that improved taste and enlarged views must bring in their wake increased comfort and a higher social standing; but the system of political economy that rested on the Malthusian principle is not entitled to be placed much higher than other systems; and the only security for moral improvement lies in that Christian education and Christian influence on which Chalmers laid so much stress, and which came not from political economy, but from the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Whatever we may think of his outlet from the insoluble problem of political economy, we must recognise with admiration his overwhelming sense of the value of this Christian education and training with a view to the highest welfare of mankind. This indeed was the reigning idea of Chalmers, pursued steadily throughout his whole life, alike in his sermons, his books, his scientific researches, his practical schemes, his intercourse with his fellows, and, we may add, his communion with his God. If ever a life had unity, it was that of Chalmers. To get men impregnated with the spirit of Christ, and alive to the lessons of His Gospel was, one way or other, his continual aim. Not only did he strive to bring individual men into contact with Christ, so that they should receive salvation, and partake of spiritual life, but he desired that all the influences that played on society should be such as to encourage the Christian spirit and Christian habits. National education without Christianity was a blunder not to be thought of. The rulers of the state ought to encourage the church as the highest instrument of good to the people. The division of the country into parishes and districts was important as securing a more efficient ministration of Christianity to every section of the community. A rate-supported system of relief to the poor was atrocious, because it hindered the exercise of Christian habits, it deadened the very charity which it professed to promote. Interference with the spiritual function of the Christian church was an evil not to be endured; it was putting chains on the great instrument of the world's emancipation; it was arresting the one great force through which all things were to be made new. Daily, and almost hourly, it was the prayer of Chalmers that he might be guided from above in all his efforts to bring individuals and the community alike under Christian influence and Christian habits. And it was the practice of these private devotions that brought to him the wisdom, the strength, and the patience with which he laboured at the utmost stretch of his powers, and without intermission, for the Christian good of his country.

But we must now glance at some of his labours in connection with the church during the period now under review. In 1832 we find him occupying the chair of the General Assembly, and signalising his year of office by bringing about, in conjunction with Lord Belhaven, the Lord High Commissioner, the abolition of a practice of Sabbath dinners and Sabbath breakfasts that had hitherto prevailed. Next year, as a member of Assembly, he introduced the celebrated measure known as the Veto, but without success, his proposal being rejected by a majority of twelve. As the evangelical revival advanced, dissatisfaction with the law of patronage advanced apace. When the Reform Act came into operation, it was felt to be but reasonable that as the voice of the people was now to be heard in the choice of their rulers, it ought to be heard likewise in the choice of their ministers. To give them this voice was the object of the veto law. Even under the law of patronage there was a provision by which the presentee must have a 'call' from the people; but it had never been settled what this call meant, and in practice it had degenerated into a mere form. It was thought by some that it would have been wiser for the church to define the call; but the 'veto' was preferred, because it was held to imply a smaller measure of change. It made it the law of the church that if a majority of male heads of families, being communicants, objected to the settlement of a presentee as their minister, the presbytery were not to take him on trial for ordination. It appeared to Dr. Chalmers that it would have been well for the church before passing this law to have the authority of the Legislature in her support, but he was assured by lawyers of the highest eminence, including the law officers of the Crown, that there could not be a doubt as to the legal right of the church to enact this measure. Next year it was again brought forward, the motion in its favour being made by the first Lord Moncreiff. On this occasion it was carried, and became the law of the church; but events showed that it would have been well had the advice of Chalmers been followed before it was enacted; for it was on the very question of the competency of the church, as by law established, to enact it that the great conflict arose which, ten years after, rent the church in two.

It was impossible for Dr. Chalmers to be long in Edinburgh without having his attention turned to the religious wants of the people there. In the course of a local controversy, carried on with much bitterness, regarding the 'Annuity Tax'—an unpopular impost for defraying the salaries of the city ministers—a proposal had been made to abolish collegiate charges, and thus reduce the number of ministers from eighteen to thirteen. Chalmers had strongly protested against the proposal, and claimed in the interest of the city that the ministers set free from collegiate charges should be intrusted with new parishes, wherever additional churches were needed. Under the Town Council, things had been so managed that the incomes of the clergy had sunk to £400 a year; and the idea of new charges was unpopular, because the Council would have had to provide churches; this opposition grieved Chalmers, and the only consideration that comforted him (as he wrote to a friend) was the increased readiness of the friends of the church to contribute for its extension. For himself, he had hitherto been working in the Cowgate, in the hope that a new parochial charge would be set up for that district. But at the time (1834), the Town Council had refused to make the necessary arrangements for that purpose, although a few years later, the parish of St. John's was erected, and Dr. Guthrie appointed to it. Meanwhile, Dr. Chalmers resolved to transfer his attention to another needy and neglected district—the suburban village of Dean, or Water of Leith. He had good hopes that he would be able to erect a parochial economy there. The Assembly of that year had appointed him convener of a committee for church accommodation; and in the summer, besides encouraging local efforts, he tried to collect a central fund, for which in July he had made a beginning, having raised the sum of £1677, 10s. He had begun, as he said, with the higher kinds of game—dukes and marquises, but by and by he would come down to parochial associations and subscriptions of a penny a week. He believed that the 'ditchers' of the country properly cultivated might be found as productive as the 'dukes.' Anyhow, the moral influence would be greater, because every man that gave a penny a week would be sure to feel a lively interest in the cause.

And this was the beginning of that great scheme of church extension which for several years engrossed his energies, as it proved also the forerunner of his Free Church Sustentation Fund, which has proved such a monument of his financial sagacity and skill.

From Glasgow an important proposal had been made by his friend and former coadjutor, Mr. William Collins, that steps should be taken at once to add twenty churches to the Established Church. Thirteen years before, Chalmers had made the same proposal, but it had been scouted as visionary. Evidently his influence had been telling on the community. It was no longer a devout imagination. Mr. Collins and his friends resolved to take no steps in the way of building, till £20,000 should be subscribed. In the month of October that amount was realised. The success of this local effort gave a great impulse to the general scheme.

The proposal under the general scheme was, that the churches should be erected from voluntary contributions, but that the Government should grant a small endowment to each congregation towards its annual expenses. To promote this part of the scheme, a deputation was sent to London, to solicit the support of the Prime Minister and other influential members of the Government. At first it seemed as if Lord Melbourne and his cabinet would cordially agree to the proposal, but vehement opposition being offered to it by the dissenters, a change soon came over the spirit of their dream. Unwilling to offend an important section of their supporters in Scotland, they resolved, as a sort of compromise, to appoint a commission that should go over the country, take evidence as to the amount of the existing provision for the religious wants of the people, and report the results from time to time. It was a great disappointment to Dr. Chalmers that in this way a long delay would have to take place, and still more that the personnel of the commission showed a tendency unfavourable to the scheme. The commission buckled to their work, and at intervals issued reports which in the main bore out the contention of Dr. Chalmers. Then it was announced that a measure would be introduced; by and by it was said that that measure was abandoned. Dr. Chalmers and his friends were more favourably received by Sir Robert Peel and other leading Conservatives; but as they were not in power at the time nothing was done. The vacillating conduct of the Whig Government made no favourable impression on Chalmers: among his friends he was ready enough to proclaim, in his Fifeshire dialect, 'I have a moral loathing of thae Whugs.'

But if there was disappointment from the Government, there was extraordinary encouragement from the people. In 1838 he was able to announce to the General Assembly, as the fruit of four years' labour, that there had been added to the Establishment nearly two hundred churches, and that upwards of £200,000 had been contributed for their erection. It was a result wholly unprecedented, and on all hands was regarded with amazement, and as a most wonderful testimony to the eloquence and energy with which he had advocated the cause. Worn out, and much in need of rest though he felt himself to be, he was induced to remain for some time longer at the head of the committee, and among other labours he added that of a tour over the whole country, in which he advocated his plan with his usual eloquence. But, in the Forties, the shadow of the conflict between the civil and ecclesiastical courts had fallen on the Extension Scheme, and it began to languish. In the course of his convenership the progress of the undertaking had been as follows:—

In 1835, 62 churches, £65,620 1 11-¾
In 1836, 26 " 32,359 12 6-¾
In 1837, 67 " 59,311 6 0
In 1838, 32 " 41,183 1 1-¾
In 1839, 14 " 52,959 14 14-¾
In 1840, 15 " 36,055 8 8-¾
In 1841, 6 " 18,252 6 6-
--- ------------------
Total, 222 " £305,741 11 3-½

Unhappily, a painful controversy arose among the home-churches out of the effort to obtain a national endowment for the new parishes. Nonconformists, for the most part, viewed the application with great dislike, and opposed it tooth and nail. It was bad enough, in their view, that a particular church should be maintained from the public funds, and enjoy peculiar social privileges; but it was not to be borne that it should receive a further grant of public money, of which, of course, nonconformists would have to pay their share. The right way to support ministers, according to the New Testament, was by the voluntary contributions of the people. This, moreover, was a benefit to the people themselves; it led them to take a greater interest in their church, and to attach more value to its ministrations. Thus it happened that every church-extension meeting was more or less an anti-voluntary meeting, the speakers who pled for the scheme vehemently upholding the principle of an establishment. Of the younger men who fought on this ground with Chalmers, none was more strenuous than the late Dr. Guthrie. But Guthrie lived to change his view; and in an autobiographical fragment he tells us, that even when he was denouncing the voluntary system, in his secret heart he honoured, and even envied, the men whose living was derived solely from the freewill offerings of their people.

The great objection of Chalmers to the voluntary system was that it was inadequate. He held it incapable of making provision for the wants of a whole community, and especially incapable of those aggressive efforts that were needed for bringing in the masses who had fallen from the profession of religion. In planting churches, voluntaryism acted on the principle of attraction, aiming mainly at drawing in those who were more or less in sympathy with itself, and disposed to accept its ministrations. The theory of an established church, on the other hand, demanded a provision for the whole of the population, and supplied a ministry whose duty was to look after all the people, and ply them with the offers and the injunctions of Christianity. It was to make the practice and theory of the church in some degree to correspond that he had undertaken and prosecuted his great church-extension movement.

For the nonconformists themselves he always cherished a profound regard, and a grateful sense of the invaluable service they had rendered to the country when the Gospel was seldom preached elsewhere. Of this he had given signal proof when he took sittings in a congregational chapel for his family at St. Andrews. Nothing could have been further from his desire than to drive nonconformists into a corner, or make them feel that they stood in the way of his more comprehensive enterprise. Yet many of them did feel, and could hardly fail to feel, that they were obstacles to the working of a complete territorial scheme. They were like squatters or interlopers in a territory allocated and divided among regular settlers. Unconsciously Dr. Chalmers stimulated a feeling among the Established clergy that they, and they only, were the rightful spiritual guides of the people; a spirit of which he himself was wholly destitute, but which was highly agreeable to human nature, and in many cases rears its arrogant head at the present day.

It was a favourite argument of the voluntaries that an established church could not be a free church; it was subject to the authority of the state, and could not be free, as the nonconformists were, to obey its divine Head in all things. This position Chalmers and his friends resolutely denied. The alliance between church and state was an alliance between two independent powers, each of which was supreme in its own department. In forming a connection with the state, the church did not surrender one particle of its independence; it remained as free as ever to follow the guidance of its divine Head in every point where He had expressed His will. Nay, this freedom was expressly secured by the statutes of the realm. It knew to its cost how eager the rulers of the country had often been to deprive it of its freedom, and at every important crisis of its history, when it renewed or revised its alliance with the state, it had taken care that its freedom should be expressly conceded. It was while the voluntary controversy was at its height that the collision between the civil and ecclesiastical courts became acute, for this very question, the independence and freedom of the church, was the great bone of contention. When the decisions of the Court of Session and the House of Lords were given, it became only too apparent that, in the judgment of the civil courts, the church did not possess the independence it had claimed. This was a dreadful, a shattering blow to Dr. Chalmers, and when it was authoritatively declared, notwithstanding all his intense partiality for an established church, he at once severed his alliance with the state. The main ground on which he acted was, that a church enthralled to the state could never be that beneficent instrument, that powerful moral agent, for which he valued it,—could never be the means of training the people in those holy ways, those high moral and spiritual habits, on which their highest welfare depended.

It was partly in order to advance his church-extension scheme, but more especially to maintain the true theory of a church establishment, and the church's independence in its union with the state, that he delivered in the Hanover Square Rooms, London, in April and May 1838, that series of lectures on the 'Establishment and Extension of National Churches' which raised his fame as an orator to its very highest pitch. 'Nothing,' wrote the late Dr. Begg, who accompanied him, 'could exceed the enthusiasm which prevailed in London. The great city seemed stirred to its very depths.' At the fourth and fifth lectures, an American clergyman who was present wrote that he found the room densely packed long before the hour, and evidently for the most part by the higher classes. 'Dukes, marquises, earls, viscounts, barons, baronets, bishops, and members of Parliament were to be seen in every direction. After considerable delay and impatient waiting, the great charmer made his entrance, and was welcomed with clappings and shouts of applause that grew more and more intense till the noise became almost deafening.' 'The concluding lecture,' says Dr. Hanna, 'was graced by the presence of nine prelates of the Church of England. The tide that had been rising and swelling each successive day now burst all bounds. Carried away by the impassioned utterance of the speaker, long ere the close of some of his finest passages was reached, the voice of the lecturer was drowned in the applause, the audience rising from their seats, waving their hats above their heads, and breaking out into tumultuous approbation.'

An event that somewhat disturbed the line of Dr. Chalmers's argument for the freedom of the church had taken place just before he left Edinburgh. On the 8th March 1838, the Court of Session, in giving judgment on the famous Auchterarder case, found the veto law of the church to be illegal and ultra vires, and began to take steps for the reversal of all that the church had done in connection with it. The judgment had not become final, for it was subject to appeal to the House of Lords, and in his lectures Dr. Chalmers made no reference to it. But when, in 1839, the House of Lords affirmed the decision of the lower court, and when Lords Brougham and Cottenham, in expressing their views, scouted alike the principle of the veto and of the independence of the church (although Lord Brougham had at one time strongly commended the veto), Dr. Chalmers made a full statement of his views in the General Assembly. Before that time he had been disposed to think that if the judgment of the Court of Session should be affirmed by the Lords, the best course for the church would be to give up the veto, reserving power to judge of each case by itself, and act accordingly.

In such a case as that of Auchterarder, for example, where the presentee had been vetoed by 287 out of 300 male heads of families and called only by two, the presbytery might have decided that in these circumstances the call was really no call, and therefore the presentee could not be taken on trial. But, according to the views expressed by the judges, this course would have been as illegal as the veto itself. Dr. Chalmers therefore moved that, while the Assembly would make no claim to the temporalities of Auchterarder, they would still maintain the principle that no minister be intruded on an opposing congregation, and that a committee be appointed to confer with the Government, in order to prevent any further collision between the civil and ecclesiastical authorities. A magnificent speech of three hours was delivered in support of this motion, which, after a long discussion, was carried by a majority of forty-nine. It has been remarked, that never was the eloquence of Chalmers more Demosthenic than in his orations for the freedom of the church. And this intense regard for her freedom was no new notion of his: so far back as 1814, in a speech in the Assembly on the plurality question, he had maintained that 'the church had power to reject a presentee for any reason, or for no reason at all.' To Chalmers, the enforced intrusion of unacceptable presentees was not the only, perhaps not even the chief, interference with the liberty of the church. When it was decided that the church had no power to erect new parishes or to give their ministers the usual status of her clergymen; and, likewise, that she had no power to readmit into her pale any of those who in former years had left it,—cases in which no shadow of temporal interest was involved—it seemed to him that such restrictions on her liberty were not only intolerable, but that they tended completely to shatter her efficiency.

Of the four years of long and weary negotiation that followed the passing of this resolution, we have no space to write at any length. Alongside of negotiations with Government there ran a stream of decisions both by the civil and church courts which greatly complicated the situation. New cases of intrusion occurred, pre-eminent among which was the case of Marnoch, where the presentee was vetoed by 261 out of 300 male heads of families, and had the name of but a single parishioner attached to his call. For insisting on his settlement, the seven members of presbytery who took this course were first suspended and then deposed.

As to negotiations with Government, a considerable share of the interviews and correspondence fell to Dr. Chalmers. With Lord Melbourne, the Prime Minister, he did not hit it off. On a former occasion, as Chalmers himself told Dr. Gordon, when his lordship heard of a deputation from the Scottish church, he expressed a hope 'that that d—d fellow Chalmers was not among them.' Unable to make anything of the Whigs, Chalmers and his friends now turned to the Tories, who at one time seemed friendly, but with them, too, negotiations finally broke off. In these negotiations there was a painful episode between Dr. Chalmers and Lord Aberdeen. A bill introduced by his lordship did not come up to what Chalmers understood him to have promised, and he was unable to support it. Lord Aberdeen complained bitterly, and in the House of Lords accused the Non-intrusion Committee of giving an unscrupulous report of their conversations with him, and he believed they had behaved in the same way to the Government. For Dr. Chalmers he had a special gibe. 'A reverend gentleman, a great leader in the General Assembly, having brought the church into a state of jeopardy and peril, had left it to find its way out of the difficulty as well as it could.' Evidently these were the words of a man who had lost his temper, and forgot what was due in courtesy, to say nothing of charity, to absent men. Unfortunately his son and biographer, Sir Arthur Gordon, has made the matter worse by a vulgar charge against Dr. Chalmers, that he was overborne by the violent men in the non-intrusion committee, and, being afraid of losing his leadership, succumbed to them, and had not the moral courage to avow his change of opinion. Dr. Chalmers was not in the habit of succumbing to any one, for no one stood more independently on his own judgment; and, as to trimming and shuffling, his whole life showed him to be incapable of such conduct. The event proved who was in the right; Lord Aberdeen afterwards carried his bill, which proved a miserable failure. As Dr. Donald Fraser has remarked, it had to be given up as a nuisance. And then, under a Conservative Government, came the abolition of patronage!3

Chalmers had now had experience of both the great political parties, and with equally disappointing results. His grand project of a church commensurate with the necessities of the country (so far as these were not provided for by the nonconformists) was nearly as far off as ever. But his experience in raising money for church extension gave him hope in another direction. When he knocked at the door of the Whigs on behalf of church extension he was refused. When he knocked at the door of the Tories, he found that they might have endowed the church, but they would have enslaved her. They viewed the church 'as an engine of state, not as an instrument of usefulness.' He was now about to knock at the door of the people; and he cherished no little expectation that through them he would yet succeed in his scheme of making Scotland a spiritual garden.

Dr. Chalmers concurred cordially with the measures taken by the church to resist, or at least protest against, the encroachments of the civil courts. He approved of the Claim of Right as affirmed by the Assembly in May 1842. He preached the opening sermon at a convocation of ministers in November 1842, and was a leading counsellor at that remarkable gathering where from four to five hundred ministers pledged themselves to leave the Establishment if no measure of relief were passed by the Legislature. His view, as to the duty of the church, when no such measure of relief was provided, was as clear as day. Amid the numberless perplexities that for years past had caused such anxious consultations and fears lest a wrong step should be taken, he found it an unspeakable relief that the path of duty in the last and most important step of all was so clear. And so, on the famous 18th of May 1843, Dr. Chalmers was at the side of the Moderator, who happened to be his own colleague in the university, Dr. Welsh; the names of both were subscribed to the Protest that was laid on the table of the Assembly; and when Tanfield was reached, and a General Assembly of the Free Church of Scotland was constituted, its first act was to call to its chair the man whose reputation throughout the Christian world was by far the highest, and whose influence in bringing about the Disruption had been by far the greatest. Regarding that Assembly, Chalmers wrote to his sister, 'Never was there a happier Assembly, with a happier collection of faces, than in our Free Church, with consciences disburdened, and casting themselves without care and with all the confidence of children on the Providence of that God who never forsakes the families of the faithful.'

All must see, whatever their own opinion of the case, that it could only have been considerations of extraordinary force that constrained Dr. Chalmers to forgo that connection with the state which he had so long held to be indispensable for the successful work of the church, and to cast her on the voluntary offerings of the people. From the hour when the noble ambition to turn Scotland into a spiritual garden first filled his soul, the aid of the state had appeared a sine quct, non to the accomplishment of this great object. What then induced him to part with it? Only because he was profoundly convinced that the subjection which the civil courts demanded would prove fatal to its spiritual life and power, fatal to its spirit of enterprise and activity, fatal to that largeness of heart and confidence of success which were necessary for great undertakings, and fatal to its own character as a consistent and fearless witness for the supremacy of the church's head. If it should flinch in its hour of trial, it deserved to be flung aside as a dishonoured and useless thing. If the decisions of the Court of Session and the House of Lords had been less extravagant, if they had even left to the church a vestige of power to give effect to the voice of the people in the settlement of ministers, and in the other matters involved, Chalmers would still have clung to the connection of church and state. It was simply the extravagance of the claims of the civil courts to supreme jurisdiction that placed Chalmers among the leaders of the Disruption, for he did not take the strong view that some of the other leaders took of the divine right of the question. Whether he was sanguine enough to hope that the Free Church disestablished would be able to do for Scotland all that might have been done by a free Established Church, he certainly believed that, in the circumstances, the Free Church was by far the more likely body to grapple with the enterprise that had ever floated before him. Writing to Sir George Sinclair in 1841, he said, 'Looking to the Christian interests of Scotland, I believe that more good could be done by the instrumentality of a disendowed church than by an established church exposed to such interferences as those of the Court of Session during the last few years.' And, under this belief, what remained of his life was devoted to the building up and strengthening of the Free Church, in the earnest hope that much of the blessing for which he had longed and worked and prayed so intensely would in this way be realised for his country.

From the heated atmosphere of public controversy we make a pleasant transition when we accompany Chalmers on the visits he paid from time to time to London and other places, and when we sit by him in the privacy of his home. We see something of the spontaneous outflow of both mind and heart; we are charmed with his genuine humanity, his interest in life, his humour and simplicity, and, in his devotional hours, with his profound humility and intense aspiration after holiness. He was not much of a traveller, and he lost not a little thereby. All that he ever saw of the Continent was Paris and its environs. Had it been his lot to gaze on the sublimities of the Alps; had he looked on the city of the seven hills, and wandered by the Po and the Tiber; had he pursued his way to Egypt and the East, and familiarised himself with those objects that bore, in his own phrase, so much of the 'hoar of antiquity'; had he visited Berlin, and Leipsic, and Halle, and Tübingen, and become familiar with the working of the German mind, he would have experienced new developments of soul and spirit, and cut off all ground for the estimate of Carlyle that he was a man of narrow culture. It is remarkable that the United States seem never to have come within his horizon till about the very end. But when he did travel, no man could have enjoyed travelling more, whether his attention was turned to the objects of nature or of art, or whether he regaled himself with the society of new and interesting friends.

With a loyal and lively remembrance of his family, he continued the habit of writing journal-letters to his wife and daughters, giving the fullest details of all that he saw and heard. Usually his journeys to London were occasioned by church business, and on these occasions he had little to say except of any interesting persons that he met. But as he came in contact with not a few of the greatest celebrities of the age, and invariably received much attention from them, these brief notices are very interesting. Sometimes he would quite captivate an Englishman, and lay the foundation of a lifelong intimacy and correspondence. With all the members of the Earlham family that he met (the Gurneys) he was greatly taken; but one of them, Joseph John Gurney, became so attached to him, and so delighted with his conversation and character, that we might almost apply to him the language of Scripture on the attachment of Jonathan to David. The Chalmeriana of Mr. Gurney remind us of Boswell's Life of Johnson. Quaker though Gurney was, there was but one subject on which there was any serious difference of opinion between them—the desirableness of a connection between church and state. Gurney had given no little study to the 'evidences,' and his views corresponded to those of Chalmers. Of the gifts and mental power of Chalmers he had the most exalted opinion; all the more was he struck with his remarkable humility, his entire freedom from the airs of a great man.

Another new acquaintance with whom he was greatly charmed was the Rev. Charles Bridges, of Old Newton, Suffolk, the author of The Christian Ministry and the Exposition of the 119th Psalm. Of his visit to his house he said: 'The breath of heaven is here; without, a scene of beauty that to the eye of sense is altogether delicious, and within, a sanctuary of love and holiness.... I never witnessed such closeness and efficiency of pastoral work as he exemplified in his addresses to the mothers of families. He makes a real business both of the Christianity of his own soul and the Christianity of his family and parish, watching over the souls of all as one who must give an account.' It was the very singular quality of Chalmers, that while he could hold kindred fellowship with so many kinds of men, it was with the holiest and most devoted of God's servants that he found himself in closest sympathy. He could find points of contact with Sir James Mackintosh on ethics, with Malthus on the law of population, with Daniel O'Connell on the Irish poor-law, or with Dr. Whewell on physics, because he had a genuine interest in all their pursuits, and considered that they all had a bearing on the welfare of man. But such pursuits were but outworks: the citadel itself was under charge of men like Mr. Bridges. Their specialty was to deal with the very essence and marrow of truth, and especially that great redemptive scheme by which alone the world could be truly blessed; they lived under the shadow of the tree of life, whose leaves were for the healing of the nations.

It was later in life (1845) that he made the acquaintance of Professor Tholuck of Halle; but, though both were old men, there was all the warmth and joyousness of youth in their short fellowship. Dr. Rutherfurd Russell, in whose house he met Tholuck, related that 'he seated himself on a low chair close to the learned German, and listened with an air of genuine docility to all he said, throwing in a characteristic observation now and then, always, however, in the way of encouragement, never of contradiction.... Tholuck turned to his host, and said, in German, that he had never seen so beautiful an old man.... The result of the interview was an amount of mutual confidence and esteem, as deep and sincere as it was mutual.... The day before Tholuck's departure, Dr. Chalmers called upon him, and found him at his midday repast. He sat with him only for a few minutes and said little, but looked at him steadily, with an expression of constant interest and affection. He rose to take leave, and, instead of taking him by the hand, he threw his arms round his neck and kissed him, while "God bless you, my dear friend!" broke with apparent difficulty from his overcharged heart. After he was gone, it was noticed that a tear had gathered in the eye of him who had received the apostolic benediction and seal of brotherhood from one he loved and venerated so much. His only observation was a half-muttered, half-spoken, Eben ein Kuss—even a kiss.'

The visits to London were not always on controversial business. On the accession of William IV. in 1830, he formed one of a deputation from the Church of Scotland appointed to present a congratulatory address. He saw many public men, and was introduced to a few. His description of Talleyrand, then French ambassador, is graphic: 'I gazed with much interest on the old shrivelled face, and thought I could see there the lines of deep reflection and lofty talent. His moral physiognomy, however, is a downright blank.' His letter to his family, giving an account of the presentation, is full of little touches, showing, among other things, how well he appreciated the incidents that are specially interesting to the female mind. Far from desiring to magnify his own importance, he dwells in a humorous way on the defects of his toilet. 'My Geneva gown did not lap so close as I would have liked, so that I was twice as thick as I should be, and it must have been palpable to every eye at the first glance that I was the biggest man there—and that, though I took all care to keep my coat unbuttoned and my gown quite open. However, let not mamma be alarmed, for I made a most reputable appearance, and was treated with the utmost attention.'

After being presented to the King, the deputation paid their respects to Queen Adelaide. When she ascended the throne, 'the most beautiful living sight,' says the Doctor, 'I ever beheld burst upon our delighted gaze. The Queen, with twelve maids of honour, in a perfect spangle of gold and diamonds, entered the room. I am sorry I cannot go over in detail the particulars of their dresses; only that their lofty plumes upon their heads and their long sweeping trains upon the floor had a very magnificent effect.... On each side the throne were maids of honour, officers of state, the Lord Chancellor, a vast number of military gentlemen, and, among the rest, the Duke of Wellington.'

In 1837, on the accession of Queen Victoria, he was intrusted with an address from the University of Edinburgh, which, he tells us, after kissing her hand, he forgot to present till he was checked by one of the lords-in-waiting, when he turned and put it into her Majesty's hand. His opinion of the young Queen is interesting to us, after sixty years' acquaintance with our Sovereign: 'A most interesting, girlish sensibility to the realities of her situation, with sufficient self-command, but, withal, simple, timid, tremulous, and agitated, that rendered her, to me, far more interesting, and awoke a more feeling and fervent loyalty in my heart than could have been done by any other exhibition.'

In the summer of 1833, after four years of almost incessant labour, he treated himself to a two-months' holiday, in pursuance of an old ambition which he had fondly cherished to visit all the cathedrals of England, and survey the country round them from the top of their towers. There was hardly one of the cathedrals that did not in some way excite his admiration. Canterbury and Ely seem to have come in for a special share. Though black and rusty with age, Canterbury, with its tower between two hundred and three hundred feet high, and a fabric studded with massy buttresses of high-wrought Gothic, was a splendid structure. 'But my admiration, though high, was greatly heightened on seeing the interior, which is the most perfectly beautiful of all I can recollect, consisting as it does of a stately vista of confronting arches and pillars, with an effect greatly enhanced by the contraction of the sides towards the east end, and the dying away of the columnar vista into narrower and narrower recesses.' At Ely, 'aided by the printed guide, I studied the whole of this elaborate and highly ornamental pile with a particularity and a feeling of satisfaction greater than I had ever before experienced.... Expatiated over this noble edifice for hours.... Dined with Mr. Evans at four, but made one more round of the cathedral before dinner.' On every occasion he was ready for the ascent of the cathedral stair, even where such a climb was unusual; once, he tells us, after the guide had refused to go further, how he came on some jackdaws' nests on the steps, the owners being very much amazed at the sight of visitors. Nor did one climb in a day always suffice. On 5th August he climbed the tower of Boston Church in the morning, and that of Lincoln in the afternoon—the one 351 steps, the other 336. At this time he was an elderly and not very lightly-built man of fifty-three.

Some gentlemen's mansions, like Haddon and Chatsworth, were visited with much interest. But Chatsworth, with all its wonders, did not impress him so much as some other castles. What he liked was a grand baronial residence, befitting the time when the owner was really the head of his people, ready for any expedition which the public interest required, and not merely a landlord drawing his rents. Places that had a connection with great men were peculiarly attractive. We have noticed his reverence for Trinity College, Cambridge, as the abode of Isaac Newton. Kingston, near Canterbury, acquired a classic character, because the rector's wife was great-grandniece of Bishop Butler, and showed him a snuff-box, a memorandum-book, and an annotated Greek Testament, which had belonged to the author of the Analogy.4 In the immediate neighbourhood of Kingston was the church where Richard Hooker ministered. House and church were accordingly visited. And when he came to Sunderland, its great interest was that Dr. Paley had been its rector, and that he saw the study in which he wrote, the room in which he died, and the field around which he took excursions on horseback. Newton, Butler, and Paley were among the very chief of Chalmers's instructors and friends.

Not less characteristic of the man were the free and friendly relations into which he entered with some of the common people who were thrown in his way. Usually he travelled on the stage-coach, but occasionally he hired a carriage, and not unfrequently a gig, with the driver at his side. He had the feeling that he would enjoy his holiday all the more if it were mingled with a little study. Accordingly we find that, when passing slowly in his gig over some monotonous part of the road, he would pull from his pocket a grave book, like Mede's Latin Lectures on Prophecy, and have a spell of theological reading. But his eye seemed always to be open to any object of interest, whether in the scenery or in the places he passed. With his driver he entered into friendly relations, although he sometimes found him a very dolt. At Huddersfield he hired a gig to carry him through some of the remarkable scenes of Derbyshire. The driver was a grave, silent, and simple lad of twenty-two, and he made a practice of taking him with him to the caverns and other places of interest that he visited. At the Peak Cavern he had to change his coat and hat, 'and a worse coat or a worse hat I never saw on the back or head of any carter or scavenger in the land, insomuch that I was a spectacle to the children of the village, who shouted and laughed behind me, and even the driver of the gig could not restrain his merriment. I always take him to the sights along with me; first, because I found a great ignorance of Derbyshire curiosities in Huddersfield, and I want to make him more enlightened and enlarged than his fellow-citizens; secondly, because I always feel a strong reflex or secondary enjoyment in the gratification of other people, so that the sympathy of his enjoyment greatly enhances my own; and thirdly, because I get amusement from the remarks of his simple wonderment and not very sagacious observations; and it has now passed into a standing joke with me, when leaving any of our exhibitions, that "there is no such fine sight to be seen at Huddersfield."' At Chatsworth, the Doctor gave the lad his hat and silver-headed cane to carry; he followed at a respectful distance, while his master went before with a book in his hand, taking notes of whatever was memorable. He found afterwards that his picturesque appearance and unusual employment had excited much speculation among other visitors as to who he was, and that the conclusion to which they all came was that he was a foreign nobleman. At Matlock he parted with his driver, who, he found, could hardly read; he warned him that many perish of lack of knowledge, and that he must learn to study his Bible, which was able to make him wise unto salvation through faith in Jesus Christ.

Chalmers did not always show the same patience and consideration for his fellow-travellers. Once, in Yorkshire, waiting at the door of the coach-office, he found himself beside a herd of swine, whose motions and operations he studied with interest; on the top of the coach he found a company much of the same order—'fat and unintelligent, with only pursy and vesicular projections on each side of their chins, and a superabundance of lard in their gills, whose manners well-nigh overset me, overloading our coach with their enormous carcasses, and squeezing themselves, as they ascended from various parts of the road, between passengers already in a state of compression, to the gross infraction of all law and justice, and the imminent danger of our necks.' It was enough, he said, to make any man a Tory. Naturally, Chalmers had much of the passion which bursts out in this bit of sarcasm; but, before the end of his letter, he feels that he has gone too far, his better nature asserts itself, and he gives utterance to a milder spirit. 'I feel it wrong to nourish contempt for any human being: "Honour all men," is the precept of Scripture. We should not despise any of those for whom Christ died; and the tendency to do so is one of those temptations to which refinement and knowledge are apt to expose us, and which ought to be resisted.' The 'old Adam' was not extinct; but at the bottom of his heart Chalmers wished him destroyed.

Even with a London barber he could have a merry time. To be sure the barber began the fun, for he undertook, by clipping out all the white hairs and leaving only the black, to make his client look forty years younger. This greatly tickled the Doctor, and he proceeded to compliment the barber's profession, inasmuch as, though he heard universal complaints of a bad hay-crop, his haymaking in the metropolis went on pleasantly and prosperously all the year round. On the completion of the job, the man assured the Doctor that he looked at least thirty years younger. 'I told him how delighted my wife would be with the news of this wonderful transformation, and gave him half a crown, observing that it was little enough for having turned me into a youthful Adonis. We parted in a roar of laughter, and great mutual satisfaction with each other.'

His tour in France was undertaken in 1838, on occasion of his reading his paper to the French Institute, and lasted about a month. He was struck with the airiness and brightness of Paris, and the apparent leisureliness of the people as compared with London; he remarked, too, how inferior the equipages were to those of England. Among other persons of mark whom he met with were Guizot, who told him that the combination of the moral and economical was wholly unknown in France; Mignet, Madame de Staël, and the Duc and Duchesse de Broglie, with all of whom, and many of their friends, he had most agreeable intercourse. The duke had borne a distinguished part in political history; he was a sort of head of the Liberal party, but with the utmost aversion to noise and violence. The duchess, a daughter of Madame de Staël, was a lady of many gifts and of eminent piety. The company of such persons, aristocratic yet simple, cultured yet humble, and deeply interested in the welfare of the people, was a great enjoyment to Dr. Chalmers. But, vanity of vanities! a few months after his visit, the duchess was cut off by sudden illness, and the bright and happy home of the family made desolate. Dr. Chalmers expressed his sympathy in a very tender letter to the afflicted duke.

Along with Mr. Erskine of Linlathen, whom he found at Paris, he made a short provincial tour, embracing Evreux, Broglie, Alençon, Lemans, Tours, Orleans, Malesherbes, and Fontainebleau. The scenery pleased him much; it was the kind he liked best, for he did not so much care for the sublimely picturesque as for fertile valleys and well-wooded uplands. While in France, he was much interested in the law of succession, especially to landed property, and its effects on the condition of the people. He had supposed that, by giving rise to endless subdivision of the land, the law must bring down the people to a very low standard of living. In point of fact, he found it less disadvantageous than he had thought. On one point he was more convinced than ever, that to elevate a country, moral and economical forces must go together.

We must now glance at Chalmers in his family and inner life during this busy and trying period of his life. A man who is forming new acquaintances by the hundred, and is constantly receiving the enthusiastic applause of thousands, is in no small danger of two things—of letting his home-affections become somewhat languid, and of neglecting his inner life. But in the case of Chalmers, we can find no evidence of either of these results. Shortly before his departure from St. Andrews, his domestic affections had been profoundly stirred by the death of his mother; and hardly had his first session in Edinburgh closed, when he was called to follow to the tomb the remains of Alexander, his youngest and favourite brother. His journal for 25th April 1829 has the following entry: 'It was a large funeral. The sun shone sweetly on the burying-place. I was like to give way, when, after leaving the grave, I passed Mr. Fergus; neither of us could speak. Oh that God would interpose to perpetuate the impressions of this day! This is the fifth time within these few years that I have been chief mourner, and carried the head of a relative to the grave. But this has been far the heaviest of them all.'

Dr. Chalmers himself had an alarming illness in 1834, though, happily, it passed without serious results. He had been at a meeting of the Presbytery of Edinburgh, at which he had vehemently opposed the proposal of the Town Council to curtail the number of the city ministers; and he had been greatly excited by the thought that the real welfare of the people should be obstructed and hindered by the very men who professed to be their friends. It was on this occasion that he proclaimed himself a Radical, the only consistent Radical among them. 'The dearest object of my earthly existence,' he then said, 'is the elevation of the common people—humanised by Christianity, and raised by the strength of their moral habits to a higher platform of human nature, and by which they may attain and enjoy the rank and consideration due to enlightened and companionable men. I trust the day is coming when the people will find out who are their best friends, and when the mock patriotism of the present day shall be unmasked by an act of robbery and spoliation on the part of those who would deprive the poor of their best and highest patrimony. The imperishable soul of the poor man is of as much value as the soul of the rich; and I will resist, even to the death, that alienation which goes but to swell the luxury of the higher ranks at the expense of the Christianity of the lower.'

Dr. Chalmers was moved in the very depths of his soul—for the proposal of the Town Council was a blow at the ruling idea of his heart—and he delivered himself of these sentiments with such overwhelming energy that his friends at the moment trembled for the consequences. As he was walking homeward after the meeting, on hailing a friend and taking his arm, he suddenly stopped short, and said he felt very strangely. His sensations were giddiness, and a numbness on the right side, as if he were going to fall. It was but too evident that he had sustained a slight attack of paralysis. When medical aid was obtained, it was seen that the muscles on the right side of his face were slightly paralysed, and his speech somewhat affected. Sensation over the right side was very much impaired, but the mind was wholly untouched. Rest and the ordinary treatment soon restored him, and in a short time he was able to resume all his ordinary studies and avocations.

But the event in his personal history that touched him more than anything else during this period was the completion of his sixtieth year, on 17th March 1840. It was a favourite thought that the seventh decade of life ought to be turned into a kind of Sabbath, and spent sabbatically, as if on the shore of the next world, or in the outer courts of the heavenly tabernacle. In the case of his mother the last years of her life had had something of this character, and Dr. Chalmers longed for a like experience. Deep in his soul lay the desire for direct and deliberate communion with God, for he not only believed in such communion as the greatest privilege of the human spirit, but he knew that it brought to the worshipper an actual communication of divine influence, so far as the creature was capable of receiving the divine. 'Oh that my heart were a fountain of gracious things,' he wrote in his diary on his sixtieth birthday, 'which might flow out with gracious influence on the heads of my acquaintances, and more particularly of the members of my family!'

So far as the seventh decade had been looked forward to as a time of rest, the hopes of Dr. Chalmers were wholly frustrated. The seven years that yet remained to him, if not the very busiest of his life, were years of peculiar tension, anxiety, and disappointment—things far more trying to the vital energies than work itself. The Church Extension scheme had to be worked out at home under the depressing influence of disappointment of Government help; and then came the crisis of the conflict with the civil courts,—the negotiations with Government, the taunts of Lord Aberdeen, the sickness of hope deferred, and, finally, the shattering of the national church. Though the Disruption brought quieter times, it did not bring the rest and freedom from care for which Chalmers longed; the entire fabric of the Free Church had to be set up, and especially the Sustentation Fund; his longing for rest was but the chase of an ignis fatuus that seemed always to lead him deeper and deeper into the fray.

Notwithstanding all, however, as time advanced, and his fame became more and more established, no change ever took place in the simple and humble demeanour of his spirit. 'I never saw a man,' said Joseph Gurney, 'who appeared to be more destitute of vanity, or less alive to any wish to be brilliant.' In one of his home letters he gives his reason for refusing all requests for his autograph: he could not bear anything that might imply his desire to be considered a great man.

But, though rest and leisure seemed further away than ever, Dr. Chalmers was determined that his seventh decade should not altogether want its sabbatic character. For this end, he resolved to make a far more systematic and earnest study of the Scriptures. In October 1841 he began two series of readings—a daily and a Sabbath portion. To impress the lessons of each passage the more on his mind, he made use of his pen, and carefully recorded the first, freshest, and readiest thoughts that the passage read suggested to him; not with any view to publication, nor with any idea of composing a commentary, but simply for his own edification. The Sabbath lessons, being a chapter for each Sabbath day from the Old Testament and one from the New, were more elevated and spiritual than the daily; and his remarks were often in the form of a direct address to God. This practice was continued with undeviating regularity, no matter where he might be, or however much engaged. If the volumes in which he entered his remarks were not at hand, he would write them in shorthand, and carefully extend them afterwards. In some of his meditations he would express in the frankest manner the most hidden thoughts and feelings of his soul. It is remarkable that one who, in his ordinary intercourse with men, seldom unveiled his feelings, and did not appear in any special degree to be under the influence of the unseen, should, nevertheless, in his communings with God, have shown such frankness and such an intense desire for divine guidance, and grace to enable him to follow it. Dr. Hanna well remarks, 'Behind the outer history of his life there lay that inner spiritual history which made the other what it was. His correspondence, his speeches, his published writings, and his published acts, which furnish such ample materials for unfolding the one history, are absolutely barren as to the other. We know of no other individual of the same force and breadth of character who, in all his converse, public and private, with his fellow-men, spoke so little of himself, or afforded such slender means of information as to his own spiritual condition and progress; and yet it would be difficult to name another of whose deeper religious experience we have so full and so trustworthy a record.'

It was the troubles of the church, and the profound responsibility therewith connected, that so powerfully stimulated his desire for fellowship and guidance from on high. Only those who lived at the time can realise the exceeding bitterness of the tone of many opponents, shown both by word of mouth and through the press; and their readiness, if any prominent churchman should make a slip, to pounce upon him and hold him up to the reprobation of the public. It is a mode of treatment that has not yet become obsolete. Some sally of Dr. Chalmers's had in this way brought a nest of hornets about him—'Yet I am supported in a way that is marvellous under every visitation.' Under April 2, 1840, he writes in his journal:—

'An utter prostration of spirit from the speech of Lord Aberdeen.'—'April 3. Recovered my spirits, but not my spirituality. 'June 8. Sadly engrossed with the Dean of Faculty's charge against me. My God, uphold me!'—'June 21. Have not yet recovered the shock of Lord Aberdeen's foul attack on me in the House of Lords. May I live henceforth in the perpetual sunshine of God's reconciled countenance!'—'July 5. A letter yesterday from Dr. Gordon, enclosing one from Lord Aberdeen, which will require a strenuous exercise both of wisdom and charity. My God, guide and govern all my movements!'—'July 17. Hurt by a report in the Witness of Lord Aberdeen's saying in the House that after having brought the church into jeopardy, I had left them to find their way out of it as they could. Recovered from this. Desire to roll all over upon God.'

Alongside of these appeals to God for grace and wisdom in public life, numberless passages occur in which one knows not whether to admire more his profound humility or the intensity of his aspirations for a more heavenly condition:—

'1841, May 17. Cannot but remark how I gravitate to ungodliness. Why are my thoughts when alone and not studying so little occupied with God? And oh that in company I might appear more for His glory! Assist me to do this in my family, and let me watch my opportunities for doing Christian good.... Let me carry about with me a distinct confidence in forgiveness through the blood of Christ, and with earnest desire of showing forth His praise and learning His doctrine, let me try how this confidence will work in me. The fruits of righteousness so produced will arise from the sense of my own nothingness, and have Christ alone as their origin.'—'July 10. Am I not too light-hearted and too luxurious, and altogether too self-indulgent? Certain it is that in and of myself I am altogether vile and worthless, and would need, in dependence on grace alone, to have more of watchfulness unto prayer, more of self-denial, and a far more tender sense of the evil of ungodliness than habitually and practically belong to me.'—'July 4. Never am I in a better frame than when dwelling in simple faith on Christ's offered righteousness, and making it the object of my acceptation. O Lord, I pray for more and more of the clearness and enlargement of this view; and grant me the spirit of adoption. Oh that I could attain the experience of him who says, "I have believed, therefore have I spoken"!'

One is constantly reminded in reading the private journals of Dr. Chalmers of the 119th Psalm, with its remarkable combination of profoundest humility and intense and holiest longing for conformity of heart and life to the will of God. And it does not surprise us to learn that the text of Scripture which he felt to describe his own case most correctly was the verse (20), 'My soul breaketh for the longing that it hath unto Thy judgments at all times.'




Gifted and mighty men though many of the leaders of the Disruption were, Chalmers towered high above them all. With the multitude his illustrious name gave a dazzling éclat to the movement; with the thoughtful the fact that a man of his sagacity, patriotism, and caution, and strong proclivity to an established church, should have thrown himself heart and soul into the non-intrusion cause, created the conviction that it must be supported by very weighty considerations. What but the strongest sense of fatal injury to the church could have induced him, after electrifying London with pleadings for a national establishment of religion, to forsake his own, and become practically a voluntary? No man felt his responsibility for the Disruption more deeply than Chalmers; and no man laboured more assiduously in behalf of the Free. Church, in the creation of which he had had such a share. To the General Assembly of 1843 he gave in the Reports of the Sustentation and Building Committees, both of which were very encouraging. The months of August and September were spent in a tour to the east and north of Scotland, on behalf of the Sustentation Fund. In October he attended an extra meeting of the General Assembly at Glasgow, opening it with a sermon from Nehemiah xi. 16. In November he had to enter on his duties as Principal and Professor of Divinity in the Free Church Theological Institution, now known as the 'New College.'

It was natural for him to be very much cheered by the numberless letters and visits of congratulation that came to the Free Church from every quarter. When even those who had as voluntaries been his most inveterate opponents in his church endowment effort, came with their warm and most brotherly salutations, a new hope of union sprang up that rekindled hope for the highest welfare of Scotland.

Speaking to the General Assembly held at Glasgow in the autumn of 1843, he said:—

'I confess to you that I was much interested by the arrival, by one post after another, of those addresses and resolutions from various churches, of whose very existence I was not aware till I received their letters. And I think that every man, whose heart is in the right place, will be delighted with such movements. They are movements quite in my own favourite direction, because one and all of them are movements of convergency; or, in other words, movements which point in the first instance to union, and, as soon as possible and prudent, I trust their landing-place will be incorporation. There is among them one very pleasant address, signed by—I have not had time to count the names,—but I believe some of the youngsters of my family tried a more wholesale method of arriving at a probable estimate of the amount of support thus given to the Free Church; instead of numbering, they measured it, and found it about seventeen yards long.... I have felt exceedingly delighted with these communications. I must say that I consider it as infinitely more characteristic of the religion which we profess—the religion of peace and charity—that instead of each denomination sitting aloft and apart upon its own hill, and frowning upon each other from their respective orbits, they should hold kindly and mutual converse, and see each other eye to eye, while they will discern, to their mutual astonishment, if not how thoroughly, at least how substantially, they are at one. I just conclude with observing that now is the time to rally about the common standard all that is pure and vital in Protestantism; for now it is that we shall have to make head against a new form and revival of Antichrist, whether in the form of Popery—naked Popery, or Popery in disguise, even that Antichrist which threatens to shake a most withering mildew over the whole of Christendom.'

The same views were expressed with equal emphasis at a general meeting, held about the same time, in commemora tion of the two hundredth anniversary of the Westminster Assembly. And when the Evangelical Alliance was projected, he wrote a pamphlet in its favour, expressing a strong desire that it should be called the Protestant Alliance, and that it should have for its double object the protection and promotion of the cause of Protestantism; and, in his own familiar and favourite line, the work of a great Home Mission.

Among the eminent strangers who visited Scotland about this time none excited a livelier interest in Dr. Chalmers's mind than Dr. Merle D'Aubigné, who came in 1845, when in the full flush of his fame as the popular historian of the Reformation.

At the Disruption there was a vast amount of work to be done, for it would have required more than seven hundred churches to accommodate all the congregations that adhered to the Free Church. There were, besides, many cases of peculiar difficulty, caused chiefly by the refusal of proprietors to grant sites for churches and manses on their properties, a refusal which on vast estates like those of the Duke of Sutherland or the Duke of Buccleuch would have amounted to an absolute extinction of the church. Dr. Chalmers, however, under the influence of his strong desire for a sabbatic decennium, kept clear of the ordinary work of the church, excepting the Sustentation Fund and his college lectures. As for the college itself, it was mainly in the hands of Dr. Welsh, until his lamented death in 1845, when Dr. Chalmers felt constrained to become convener of the College Committee. Among other services, Dr. Welsh took in hand to provide for a college building, which it was proposed to erect from the contributions of twenty subscribers of £1000 each. This was a serious undertaking at a time when the wealthier friends of the church had been straining all their energies for the Building, Sustentation, and Mission Funds. But the whole sum was speedily contributed in the way proposed, and though in the end the price of the site and the cost of the building amounted to more than double the sum named at the beginning, the whole was ultimately provided. Such liberality for college purposes was due in a great degree to the profound regard in which Dr. Chalmers was held, and in a somewhat less degree to his colleague Dr. Welsh.

It must be owned that Dr. Chalmers was not satisfied with the success of the Sustentation Fund. It had been adopted not only unanimously but enthusiastically by the whole church, and considering all that had to be done for other purposes, it was marvellous that in the first year it amounted to £68,700, enough to furnish fully £100 to six hundred ministers. That, however, was but two-thirds of the amount which Chalmers had named as the minimum payment to each minister from this fund. And, besides, there were many additional ministers to be provided for, needed by the new adhering congregations; and moreover,—and this was never absent from his thoughts—there was to be considered the vast home-mission work needed in order to realise his lifelong desire to overtake the whole spiritual destitution of the country. It was the inadequacy of the Sustentation Fund to realise this further object that was the chief cause of his disappointment. Moreover, he found in the machinery of his scheme a serious leak, which bade fair to ruin it. Every congregation was to receive an equal dividend for its minister from this fund, whatever might be the amount of its own contributions. In order that this provision might work satisfactorily, it was necessary that congregations should make an equal effort for the fund. But it was soon found that many congregations were steeped in selfishness, and, while drawing their equal dividend, their contributions were but a fraction of what they should have been. Chalmers had calculated on a brotherly spirit and a brotherly conscience, which he now found were often wanting. He became alarmed for the future, and proposed a modification of the original arrangement, to the effect that no congregation should receive from the fund more than its own contribution and a half more. But it was too late. The fund had been constituted on the footing of an equal dividend, and there was a strong opposition to the change. Chalmers remonstrated by word of mouth and by pamphlets on the 'Economics of the Free Church.' All that the Assembly would allow was that the new plan should be tried with new congregations. But as the new congregations were generally comparatively poor, the result was something like starvation to their ministers; and, after a short trial, the plan was given up. But no one could deny the serious nature of the evil that Chalmers had pointed out, and for many a long year there were perplexed discussions as to the remedy. Even now, though the leak has been abundantly dealt with, it has not been quite overcome. In his remonstrances, Chalmers showed more vehemence than was perhaps reasonable, considering that it was the defect of his own original scheme that caused the difficulty. But his vehemence was due to the conviction that came home so strongly to him, that the Sustentation Fund could not become the instrument of carrying out his dearly-cherished project,—of recovering the whole waste-places of Scotland, and making them parts of the vineyard of the Lord. The thought saddened him, and it led him to speak more disparagingly of what the Free Church had accomplished, and what the Sustentation Fund had accomplished, than was altogether deserved.

After experiencing three disappointments—from the Whigs, and the Tories, and the Free Church, it might have been supposed that, all eager as he was for rest and quiet, he would now let the matter alone. But no. There remained one other step. By an experimentum crucis, by a demonstration of what, under the divine blessing, could be done by his scheme in as unfavourable a district as could be found, he might yet vindicate it in the eyes of all men; he might leave behind him a monument which would be a perpetual rebuke of the languor and listlessness of the church; a perpetual encouragement to similar undertakings, and a perpetual testimony to the maxim of John Eliot, the apostle of the North American Indians, which he used often to quote, that 'prayer and pains can do everything.'

This was the origin of the West Port experiment. Writing on 26th July 1844, just fourteen months after the Disruption, to his friend Mr. Lennox of New York, the munificent founder of the Lennox Library and the Lennox Hospital, New York, between whom and Dr. Chalmers there had sprung up a very cordial friendship, he said: 'I have determined to assume a poor district of two thousand people, and superintend it myself, though it be a work greatly too much for my declining strength and means. Yet such do I hold to be the efficiency of the method with the divine blessing, that perhaps, as the concluding act of my public life, I shall make the effort to exemplify what as yet I have only expounded.'

To prepare the way and interest the public in his scheme, he delivered four lectures, in which the methods and advantages of territorial schools and churches were set forth with his usual force. Free Church feeling was running very hieh at the time, and Dr. Chalmers was at great pains to show that his undertaking was dictated solely by a regard to the good of the people. 'Who cares,' he asked, 'about the Free Church, compared with the Christian good of Scotland? Who cares about any church but as an instrument of Christian good? For be assured that the moral and religious well-being of the population is of infinitely higher importance than the advancement of any sect.'

The district selected was of the worst description—a fourth part of the whole population being paupers, and another fourth street beggars, thieves, and prostitutes. The population amounted to upwards of 400 families, of whom 300 had no connection with any church. Of 411 children of school age, 290 were growing up without any education. The plan of Dr. Chalmers was to divide the whole territory into twenty districts, containing each about twenty families. To each district a visitor was appointed, whose duty was to visit each family once a week, under directions printed by Dr. Chalmers to show the specific object of the visitation. A school was provided, and the visitors were instructed, in the first instance, to show an active interest in the young, and exhort the parents to send their children to the school. A small fee was exacted, on the principle that what was paid for would be more valued, and that a more regular attendance would be secured.5 The visitors were instructed to meet with Dr. Chalmers every Saturday evening, the first meeting taking place on 27th July 1844. On the 6th November, Dr. Chalmers held his first meeting with the people, telling them all he would do for them, and all that they were expected to do for themselves. On 11th November, when the school was opened, there were 64 scholars; in the course of the year there were 250. On the 22nd December, public worship was commenced by Dr. Chalmers in a tan-loft. The attendance was not encouraging after all the visiting that had been going on—only about a dozen adults, and these mostly old women. In April 1845, the services of the Rev. W. Tasker were secured as missionary-minister, and before the end of the year the nucleus of a fair congregation had been formed. A library, a savings-bank, a washing-house, and a female industrial school were added to the parochial equipments. Dr. Chalmers preached and worshipped often in the loft, met with the visitors, and addressed the people as new features were added to the scheme. 'When he was a hearer merely,' says Mr. Dodds, 'one would see him near the pulpit, in a crowd of deaf old women, who were meanly clothed, but were following the services with unflagging attention and interest. His eye was upon every one of them, to anticipate their wishes and difficulties. He would help one old woman to find out the text; he would take hold of the psalm-book of another, hand to hand, and join her in the song of praise. Any one looking at him could see that he was in a state of supreme enjoyment.' And most earnestly did he pray for a blessing on the work, and that it might be the forerunner of many such undertakings.

'We would give Thee no rest, O God, until Thou hast opened the window of heaven and caused righteousness to flow down that street like a mighty river.' 'Let such a memorial of Christian philanthropy be set up in that place as to be a praise and an example both in the city of our habitation and in other cities of the land.' 'Reveal to me, O God, the right tactics, the right way and method of proceeding in the management of the affairs of the West Port. Oh that I were enabled to pull down the strongholds of sin and of Satan which are there!' 'O my God, give me the power of ordering matters aright in the West Port.... And more especially, O God, let me understand Thy will in regard to the right place and performances of a female agency.' 'Draw close the affections and affinity between Mr. Tasker and the families of the West Port.... Do Thou guide and encourage him, O Lord.... Oh may he not only be himself saved, but may he be the instrument of salvation to many; and may both he and I be carried in safety, and at length with triumph, to that prosperous termination for which we are jointly labouring!'

We have no space to dwell further on the history of the West Port. The sweep of the experiment was complete. On 19th February 1847 a new church was opened; and on the 25th April, one month before his death, Dr. Chalmers administered the Lord's Supper to the congregation. On that occasion he said to Mr. Tasker, 'I have got now the desire of my heart; God has indeed answered my prayer, and I could now lay down my head in peace and die.' And he wrote to Mr. Lennox, 'I wish to communicate what to me is the most joyful event of my life. I have been intent for thirty years on the completion of a territorial experiment, and I have now to bless God for the consummation of it.'

It may be well to add that under Mr. Tasker and his successors the cause has prospered greatly. After being enlarged twice, the original church still proved too small, and a new and spacious building was erected a little way off. The congregation now numbers upwards of 1300 communicants. Of course it is not wholly territorial; people that have become attached to a church cannot be driven out of it when they leave the neighbourhood; but the old building is still retained as a mission church, and the territorial work continues. In the Free Church in Edinburgh the experiment was repeated many times, new territorial churches in poor and needy districts having been erected at Holyrood, Pleasance, Back of Canongate (Moray), Cowgate, Cowgate Head, and Fountainbridge. In Glasgow there have been many more, and several in the other large towns of Scotland. The Established Church has striven with great success to have its extension churches endowed, thereby carrying into effect the original idea of Chalmers. And yet, in spite of all this, the aim of Chalmers is as far from being realised as ever. With the increasing population, the number of persons, in our large towns especially, who have no connection with any church is larger than in Chalmers's time. And, alas! the wave of scepticism and of secularism that is passing over us intensifies the evil and magnifies the difficulty.

In connection with his public labours, it only remains for us to advert to his work as professor of theology during the last few years of his life. It had long been his desire to reduce his lectures to a form that would convey the fruits of his maturest reflections, both on the credentials and contents of the Christian revelation. When he began his Horæ Biblicæ Quotidianæ and Sabbaticæ, he began at the same time to condense and reconstruct his lectures; the two works advanced pari passu; the devout study of the Scriptures went hand in hand with the endeavour, in the spirit of the Baconian philosophy, to present the substance of their contents. Hence arose his Institutes of Theology—a work which has received far too little attention since German theology began to supersede our own, but which may one day, in some future age, be valued as it should.

But the great merit of Chalmers as a professor lay in the enthusiasm with which he inspired his students. It would have been hard indeed for any conscientious youth to be under him and not feel his soul quickened, at least occasionally, to a sublime ardour, and fired with a new ambition. So wonderful was his influence, that at the Disruption nine-tenths of those who passed through his classes stood by his side. The present writer, though he spent but one session under him before the Disruption, can bear testimony, not only to the intellectual and spiritual impulse he gave, but to the subtle sympathy which drew his students to share his church views, though he never alluded to them in the class, and to the enthusiasm with which they listened to him in the General Assembly. He well knew that in the Free Church the mass of the ministers would be but poorly paid, and that there was all the greater reason why they should be well equipped by superior scholarship, and especially by superior piety, for their office. And in this he was highly successful. After three sessions in the Free Church College, he could testify that the students of his last session stood the highest of any he had known, not only in general proficiency and scholarship, but also in their sense of divine things, and devotedness in heart and spirit to the great objects of the Christian ministry. In his later years, it was his practice to invite his students to private interviews for spiritual conversation and prayer.

On 4th June 1846, he laid the foundation-stone of the Free Church College. It had been considered a great stroke of policy that the most commanding site in the city had been secured for the building. The writer of this sketch, who was present on the occasion, remembers his grand appearance after the ceremony, when his noble head appeared above a confused pile of stones and timbers; and, producing a scrap of paper covered with shorthand hieroglyphics, he apologised, with a broad smile, for taking to 'the paper,' seeing it was but a scrap, whereas if he were to speak extempore, his remarks might become an 'interminable rigmarole.' Not a little of the short speech was addressed to the workmen engaged in the building. That dear object of his life, to raise the working population to a higher level of life in the best sense of the word, came back on him in all its strength. Within the walls to be erected, there would be, he said, no false theories of equality taught or countenanced; but there was one equality between man and man that would be strenuously enforced,—the essential equality of human souls; it would be taught that, in the high count and reckoning of eternity, the soul of the poorest of nature's children, the raggedest boy that ran along the pavement, was of like estimation in the eye of Heaven with the greatest and noblest of the land. The young men in that college would ever be taught that, though their education might fit them for the company of princes and peers, it would be their peculiar glory to be visitants of the poor man's humble cottage, and to pray by the poor man's dying bed. 'Heaven grant that the platform of humble life may be raised immeasurably higher than at present, and through the whole extent of it—that the mighty host who swarm upon its surface, brought under the elevating power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and so rescued from grovelling ignorance and loathsome dissipation, may rise to a full equality with ourselves in all that is characteristic of humanity, and take their place, along with us, side by side, on the footing of kindred and companionable men.' He then made a graceful allusion to the young queen, who had mercifully escaped one of those horrible attempts on her life that occurred in the earlier part of her reign; prayed that she might long continue to adorn her exalted position, and concluded by calling for three cheers on her behalf. Thus the college of the Free Church was founded on a cordial recognition of both ends of the social scale: with benevolent wishes for the working multitude on the one hand, and a cordial and loyal tribute to the Sovereign on the other.

The last of the public services rendered by Dr. Chalmers to the Free Church consisted of a paper on the education question, and of his evidence before the Committee of the House of Commons on the refusal of sites. It was about the time when the question of national education was coming full into the arena of discussion; and, at the request of Mr. Fox Maule, afterwards Earl of Dalhousie, Chalmers, who had given much attention to the subject, recorded his views in a short paper. The difficulty was about the introduction of religion. Dr. Chalmers's view was substantially that which was subsequently acted upon: he advised that there should be no legislative enactment on the subject of religion, but that the regulation of this should be left to the governing bodies of the several schools. Not that religion was unimportant, but the very reverse; but because the Christian church was so divided that it could be far better seen to by the local managers. To this he added a conscience clause; the result being substantially the system which prevails in Scotland at the present day. He took occasion to add, 'We despair of any good being done in the way of Christianising our population but through the medium of a government themselves Christian, and endowing the true religion, which I hold to be their imperative duty, not because it is the religion of the many, but because it is true.'

It was in the last month of his life that he set out for London, to meet the Site Committee. On the 9th May 1847 he preached in Marylebone Presbyterian Church, 'with more comfort than I ever did in London.' After replying to the questions put by the committee through Mr. Maule, he encountered an onslaught from Sir James Graham, who came armed with a bundle of papers containing speeches, etc., of Chalmers, by means of which he thought to entangle him. After his long examination before Sir James appeared, Chalmers was somewhat exhausted, but he roused himself, and met him in the spirit of a practised warrior. The only point of importance raised by Sir James arose out of the London lectures, in which he had spoken very favourably of the Church of England. 'I told him that I did not advocate the Church of England; that I felt more hopeful of it then than now, when like to be overrun by Puseyism; that even then I denounced its figment of an Apostolical succession, and, without directly attacking its Erastianism, spoke of our own independence, and in terms which provoked the jealousy of English churchmen,' etc. etc. But a great part of the examination concerned the voting of women at the election of office-bearers and the like; a paltry question, as Dr. Chalmers called it, having no sort of reasonable connection with the refusal of sites. 'We concluded,' Dr. Chalmers wrote to his wife, 'in a state of great exhaustion, yet with an erect demeanour and visage unabashed.'

We conclude with a glimpse of his more private life in the few years preceding his death. Unwearied as he ever was in his endeavour to cultivate the affections of his children, and impress them with the most serious responsibilities of life, his interest in them seems only to have deepened as they grew up. He began a series of monthly letters to be addressed to each in succession, and carried it on for a considerable time. Two of his six daughters were married, but they were not excluded from the privilege of his fatherly correspondence. And by and by, a grandson, Thomas Chalmers Hanna, was old enough to receive letters fitted to interest him, and draw his affections to so loving a grandfather. It is strange, indeed, that any biographer of Chalmers should have represented him (as Mrs. Oliphant has done) as not showing social affection. 'My ever dear Anne,' 'My dearest Eliza,' 'My dearest Grace,' were his ordinary salutations, and the spirit of the letters corresponded to the address. Very touching is his letter to his eldest daughter on the death of a beloved infant. As for his grandson, he just revels in affection. 'Tell Tommy how much I love him, and pray for his being good.' On occasion of his last visit to London, he visited the widow of his brother James, and prayed with her; a likeness of his brother was shown him, and impressed him so much that it haunted him for days. This was the brother that had held himself so much aloof both from him and all the family.

In his last visit to his native Anstruther and its neighbourhood, in 1845, his unchanged and unchangeable affection for the scenes and friends of his youth showed a marvellous freshness and tenacity. Many are the stories of his pleasure in recalling memorials of the past. He hunted up an old schoolfellow, a tailor, and told him that he had been the first to acquaint him with the form of the earth. He congratulated another schoolfellow, who, like himself, had suffered from smallpox, that while other people's faces were 'aye getting the waur, theirs were always getting the better o' the wear!' He sought out the place where Lizzie Green's water-bucket used to stand, where he and his heated playfellows had often been allowed very kindly to slake their thirst. But most pathetic was his visit to the house of Barnsmuir. When he was some twelve or fourteen years old, the eldest daughter of that house had been in the habit of riding into Anstruther on a little pony, and Chalmers had conceived a deep and tender attachment to her, like that of Lord Byron for his Mary Duff. The young lady was married while he was at college, and she had died many years before this visit. At his special request her youngest sister met him at Barnsmuir. In the house, the remembrance of that early love came upon him with singular power; he asked respectfully about her life and death, and learned with deep emotion that she had died in the full Christian hope, and that some of his letters to her sister had soothed and comforted her. He then asked if there were any portrait of her, and being shown a profile, gazed on it with great earnestness, fixed his own card on the back of it, and, gazing on it again, gave expression to his strong affection, and burst into a flood of tears. It was a touching proof, as his biographer has said, that he was as much distinguished for the tenderness and tenacity of his attachments as for the brilliance of his gifts.

Dr. Chalmers was ever very simple, and yet in some respects singular, in his habits of life. Abstemious he was to a degree; ever watchful lest he should at any time be in a condition of body that would interfere with the activity of his intellectual and spiritual nature; at times, at least, practising total abstinence, and always great moderation in both food and drink. It was his usual practice to spend the early part of the day in composition and study; he so carefully excogitated his subjects that he was ever ready to use his pen, never obliged to loiter in order to form his plan or shape his thought, but able to write rapidly as soon as the pen was in his hand, and seldom or never correcting. His handwriting was anything but elegant, yet very characteristic; the upright letters, the firmness of each stroke, and the continuity of the whole indicating decision, force, and flow. So exact was his view, that he could calculate for weeks and months beforehand the rate of his progress and the day when each piece of writing would be finished. His remarkable calculating or counting faculty was brought into operation in what we should call fantastic ways. In stropping his razor, he would begin with two strokes, next day three, and so on till he reached a maximum number; then he would reverse the process and gradually diminish till he came back to two. In walking he put his staff to the ground regularly at each fourth step; counting, if he chose, the number of his steps, and able to keep count even if he should meet a friend and walk with him in animated conversation. When he lived in Inverleith Row he delighted to find new routes to the university, and ascertain and record their several lengths. One day, as he told a favourite student, he had been trying to find a near road between Comely Bank and Inverleith Row, but got entangled, as he put it in his original way, 'in the accessories of a farmhouse, where I was set upon by a mastiff, and so obliged to turn back.' We have noted his delight in ascending cathedral towers, and his invariable habit of counting the steps. At any famous stream he would lap the water, thus making the connection more intimate between the stream and himself. His love of order was remarkable, though one might not have supposed it from his general manner. It was through the power of orderliness that he was able to achieve all he did within the compass of his life. By varying his employments,—now writing, now visiting or attending meetings, now travelling, now preaching or lecturing, now entertaining friends, now reading and pondering, he kept himself comparatively fresh, and seemed at all times ready for new work. 'Nulla dies sine lineâ' might have been his motto, had it not been that every day had half a dozen linea in place of one.

His reading, after he became a professor, was considerable, partly in theological books, partly in books of practical religion, and to a small extent in general literature. So little direct sign of anything Shakespearean is there in his writings that it rather surprises us to find him recording towards the end of his life that he had completed an entire perusal of the great dramatist, as well as of Milton and Gibbon. He considered Shakespeare 'an intellectual miracle, the greatest man that ever lived.' His favourite piece was Midsummer Night's Dream, showing, as Dr. Peter Bayne has remarked, 'that after all the struggles and worries of his life, he still walked in the aerial gaiety, the many-tinted, summerlike beauty, the genial though keen sagacity of that poem. It is a very remarkable circumstance, telling of a gentleness of nature, a kind, gleesome humour, an exuberant, unstrained force and freshness of intellect, rarely seen among theologians.'

In the prosecution of his incessant labours, he was no doubt considerably helped by his sense of humour. He knew well the relaxation and the refreshment derived from a good laugh. Many a humorous story he used to tell. One of his favourite stories referred to a boor who was getting married, but was such a dolt that he could not give an answer to the questions of the minister. One of the man's neighbours who was present, chagrined at such want of manners, and desiring to give the fellow a needed lesson in etiquette, gave him a slap on the back, and said, 'Ye brute, can you no' boo to the minister?' And it mattered not if the story told against himself. When the astronomical discourses were delivered, Dr. Chalmers came on an honest woman who had been hearing one of them, and was curious to know what she could make of it. 'Weel, sir,' said the woman, 'I canna say that I understood ye a'thegether, but, O sir, there was something unco suitable and satisfyin' in your psalms!'

During his visit to London in connection with the Site Committee in May 1847, he had greatly enjoyed his intercourse with many friends—among them Isaac Taylor, James Hamilton, Baptist Noel, Mr. Morell, and Thomas Carlyle. He described Carlyle as 'a strong-featured man, and of strong sense. We were most cordial and coalescing, and he very complimentary and pleasant; but his talk was not at all Carlylish; much rather the plain and ordinary conversation of good, ordinary common-sense, with a deal of hearty laughing on both sides.' Chalmers greatly lamented the alienation which he saw between the churches and the body of literary and scientific men. He enlarged on 'localism' and the West Port; nothing was too hard for 'localism.' Carlyle remarked afterwards to a friend, 'What a wonderful old man Chalmers is! or, rather, he has all the buoyancy of youth. When so many of us are wringing our hands in hopeless despair over the vileness and wretchedness of the large towns, there goes the old man, shovel in hand, down into the dirtiest puddles of the West Port of Edinburgh, cleans them out, and fills the sewers with living waters. It is a beautiful sight.'

After a flying visit to Brighton, where he preached for one of his former students, he proceeded to Gloucestershire, and spent a happy time with his ever dear sister Jane. On Sunday he preached his last sermon in the Independent chapel of the Rev. Mr. Dove, from the text Isaiah xxvii. 4, 5. A brief visit was paid at Darlington at the house of Mr. and Mrs. Backhouse, 'a most delicious abode.' He was profoundly interested in Mrs. Backhouse's account of the heavenly state of mind of her father for some time before his death; while Mrs. Backhouse was herself deeply struck with the very same spirit in him. During this visit the whole of his journal letters had been addressed to his wife; on Thursday (the 27th) he wrote to her, 'This is my last sheet. To-morrow evening I expect to see you by the favour of Him whose right hand preserves us continually, and for whose grace on us all I ever pray.—I ever am, my dearest Grace, yours most affectionately, Thomas Chalmers.'

He arrived at his house in Morningside on the Friday evening (2 8th May), apparently in his usual health and strength. On the following morning, at breakfast, his conversation was as lively and vigorous as ever. The forenoon of the Saturday was occupied in preparing the College Report, which he was to give in on Monday to the General Assembly. On the Sabbath morning he conversed freely with the Rev. Mr. Gemmel, who was staying at his house; afterwards with Dr. Cunningham; then attended afternoon service in Morningside Free Church, and on his way home called on Mrs. Coutts, an old Fifeshire friend, of high Christian character. Part of the evening was spent in writing to his sister, Mrs. Morton, and in conversation with Mr. Gemmel. His family never saw him more genial and happy. After worship, he bade his family remember that they must be early to-morrow; then he waved his hand and said, 'A general good-night.'

On the following morning he was found dead in bed. It seemed likely, from the state of the body, that his spirit had departed soon after he lay down. There was not the slightest trace of struggle, either on the face or in the attitude of the body. Never did death give a lighter touch.

In a funeral sermon preached by the Rev. Dr. Lindsay Alexander, the mode of his departure was beautifully idealised. He recalled a passage in one of Dr. Chalmers's sermons, in which he fancies a man 'standing on the margin of this green world,' and feeling himself very closely bound to 'the region of sense, and of life, and of society'; but suddenly arrested by seeing some happy island of the blest floating past, 'in the light of its surpassing glories, and its sounds of sweeter melody, and a purer beauty resting on every field': discerning also in its inhabitants 'a peace, and a piety, and a benevolence that put a moral gladness into every bosom, and united the whole society in rejoicing sympathy with each other, and with the beneficent Father of them all'; observing, moreover, signals of welcome for himself, and an open pathway of communication to the island; insomuch that he is captivated by the sight; earth becomes a wilderness, and 'the land of invitation' attracts him with irresistible power.

'With this grand passage in my mind,' said Dr. Lindsay Alexander,' I could not but fancy him who uttered it, as realising at the moment of his departure some of the features of the case here supposed. I pictured to myself how, when the premonitory touch of the Destroyer broke his slumbers, he might imagine for a moment that he had been summoned to his appointed work, and how, casting his eye upon the materials he had prepared, he might begin to turn, with no reluctant emotion, his thoughts upon the duties with which he was charged; but in an instant another scene burst upon his view; a brighter radiance than that of the morning sun fell upon his brow; sweeter voices than those of wife or child broke upon his ear; a grander career of service than any earth could furnish stretched before him; the hand of One more glorious far than any child of man hung out to him the signals of welcome; and, as he gazed, he acknowledged the superior claims of that brighter world, and laid himself meekly down, and so his spirit passed rejoicingly away, leaving his earthly tabernacle with a smile upon the lips, and not one shade of suffering on the brow.'

On that Monday morning, the General Assembly met to receive his College Report. When the sad news came, the shock was so overwhelming that it would have been impossible to look at business, even if respect for his memory had not demanded an adjournment. As men recovered somewhat from the first shock, the sense of bereavement, of impoverishment, of widowhood, grew the greater. There were many men of extraordinary gifts in that Assembly, but who was there to be named with him?

An unprecedented concourse of mourners, much greater than had ever been seen at an Edinburgh funeral, followed his body to the grave. And from every pulpit, and from other quarters innumerable, the most respectful and cordial tributes were paid to his memory. It was felt that since the days of Knox no such man had been known in the Scottish church. His greatness was shown alike by what he was and what he had done. He seemed to combine the orator and the statesman, the ecclesiastic and the patriot, the philosopher and the poet, the scientist and the saint. No man had ever been so run after as a pulpit orator. No man of his day had ever conceived so great undertakings or done so much to realise them. His two hundred churches astonished every one; his Sustentation Fund astonished still more. With theology in the forefront, his horizon included philosophy, physical science, social science, political economy, and literature; and for each and all of these he found a place and a use in the Kingdom of God. And with all his greatness he was simple as a child. Like his Master, 'he made himself of no reputation'—never sought great things for himself. The world, and even the church, hardly knew how near he lived to God—how much he had of the saint. He was known to be very affable and affectionate, but the depth and tenderness of his affection, especially for his own family, were hardly suspected. When it was announced that, with all his gifts and graces, he had passed from among his brethren, it seemed as if the brightest star in the firmament had ceased to shine.

It is an interesting question—if Chalmers had been alive at the present day, what would he have thought of the position of the different branches of the Scottish church, and what counsel would he have given to them on the subject of union?

To answer these questions we must bear two things in mind: first, that he held the recent treatment of the church by the civil courts, and virtually by the state itself, to be destructive of her liberty and her life, insomuch that it had become an absolute necessity to abandon connection with the state; but, second, that he held the state bound to contribute to the support of the church, and the Free Church bound to return to her old connection, provided the liberty should be restored and practically secured of which she had been unrighteously deprived.

Would he, then, have held that liberty to be now restored, and the way to an honourable, safe, and beneficial alliance reopened? We doubt it. He would certainly have seen that, in point of fact, the Established Church now enjoys a degree of liberty that enables her to discharge the ordinary functions of a Christian church without obstruction, and in particular to continue with great success that very enterprise of church extension for which he thought that she would be able to do nothing. But he could not have failed to see that this liberty was an indirect fruit of the Disruption, and that it was quietly conceded to the Established Church in order that she might stand practically on the same platform of liberty with the nonconformist churches, and especially her great rival the Free Church. He would have found no concession of principle, no acknowledgment by the state or by the civil courts of an essential difference between a Christian church and a civil corporation, and no acknowledgment that the church, as the creation of Christ, enjoyed privileges from Him independent of any state. He would have found no repudiation of the dictum of the then Lord President that the Established Church had no jurisdiction whatever in the country except what had been conferred by the state; and he would have found no security that if a new collision should occur between church and state, between the worldly and the spiritual power, the state would repudiate her old principles and policy.

Further, the contention of Chalmers in his London lectures and in his latest deliverance (see p. 148) always was, that the state ought to support religion, not merely because people wished it, but because the religion was true. Would he, then, have found in the members of the present Parliament any such value for revealed truth, as such, as would have given him confidence in them as its guardians? A Parliament that numbered Agnostics, Jews, Roman Catholics, Unitarians, and what not among its members—how could such a body be a nursing-father or a nursing-mother to the Christian church? Such a Parliament could not safely be intrusted with its guardianship. It was a very different condition of things when the Scottish church allied itself to the Scottish Parliament, all or nearly all being members of the church. Nor could he have found any cause for believing that at any future time, within reasonable distance, the nursing of the church could be safely committed to parliamentary hands.

But what then? There were three great Presbyterian churches in Scotland, with much of their resources wasted through division, but capable, by reasonable arrangements, of so combining their forces that his grand object—the bringing of all Scotland under the influence of Christian teaching—might at the least be greatly advanced. We can hardly conceive of any other advice that Chalmers would have given than that the vinculum of state-connection should be severed, and all the three churches should unite, and rouse themselves for one great, sustained, imperial effort to turn the country into the garden of the Lord. But what of the endowments? It is just as difficult for us to conceive that he would have been in favour of alienating them to secular purposes. No, he would have said, that is not necessary, and should not be; keep them for their original purpose, and place them under some public management, so that every congregation of the united body may have a share of them, if it please. This was certainly his feeling in a somewhat parallel case. In 1833, when the Irish Church Reform Bill was under discussion, Chalmers wrote to his sister, Mrs. Morton, 'I am relieved by the bill, the only flaw in it (although that may be one of deadly mischief) being the secularisation of the sum which they expect from the sale of church lands.'6 We can readily conceive how the great soul of Chalmers would have expanded once more, and his face beamed as the hope arose anew, that even yet his beloved country might realise his magnificent ideal, and, by God's blessing on the labours of a united church, its waste and desolate places might yet blossom as the rose.

No doubt, Chalmers died a disappointed man, so far as his great scheme for the good of his country was concerned. He failed, and yet he did not fail.

'If he strained too wide,
It was not to take honour, but give help;
The gesture was heroic. If his hand
Accomplished nothing—(well, it is not proved)
That empty hand thrown impotently out
Were sooner caught, I think, by One in heaven
Than many a hand that reaped a harvest in,
And keeps the scythe glow on it.'

We love the man for his noble aims and heroic efforts; and our love and admiration are only touched with a tenderer feeling, in that, when he failed, he did not abate one jot of heart or hope for his church and country, but left behind him his West Port experiment as a monument of what was possible, and an encouragement to all future generations to continue to cherish what had proved for him—a hope unfulfilled.


Thomas Chalmers: A Biographical Study. By James Dodds.


E.g. Dirleton, under Rev. Mr. Stark. See Hanna's Life, iii. 121.


Sir Arthur Gordon allows (1) that under the unworthy influence of the then Dean of Faculty (Hope) Lord Aberdeen was induced to omit certain provisions he had at first inserted; and (2) that the then Lord Advocate (Sir W. Rae) said in public that the Government measure would exceed in liberality even the liberal measure proposed by the Duke of Argyll. In the course of Sir Arthur's narrative we find the astounding statement, that though Lord Aberdeen sat as an elder in the Assembly from 1818 to 1828, he never once received the Sacrament in a Presbyterian church!


When asked to record in this Testament his opinion of Butler, he declined, because he did not feel worthy of the honour, but, being pressed, he wrote as follows: 'Butler is in theology what Bacon is in science. The reigning principle of the latter is that it is not for man to theorise on the works of God; and of the former that it is not for man to theorise on the ways of God. Both deferred alike to the certainty of experience, as being paramount to all the possibilities of hypothesis; and he who attentively studies the writings of these great men will find a marvellous concurrence between a sound philosophy and a sound faith. July 3, 1833.'


He used to speak with great delight of a poor woman, who told him that by going out at seven in the morning she earned enough, by raking among the ashes, to pay for the schooling of her eldest daughter, but wished the second also to attend. His first impulse was to offer to pay for her, but that, he feared, would hurt her independence; so he said: 'What would you say to rise at six in the morning and earn enough to pay for her too?' On the following Saturday she came to tell him she had done it. 'I could have stood before her,' he said, 'with cap in hand, for in truth she was above myself.'


Correspondence of Dr. Chalmers, p. 216.