Copyright
William Hanna.

Memoirs of the life and writings of Thomas Chalmers.. (Volume 2) online

. (page 1 of 48)
Online LibraryWilliam HannaMemoirs of the life and writings of Thomas Chalmers.. (Volume 2) → online text (page 1 of 48)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


OEO. A. POYNDER,

>. CROSS CT., READING



Ex LJbrfs
C. K. OGDEN

MEMOIRS



THE LIFE AND WRITINGS



THOMAS CHALMERS, D.D. LL.D.



BY HIS SON-IN-LAW,



THE REV. WILLIAM HANNA, LL.D.



VOL. II.



V titltsljr & for injomas Constable

BY

SUTHERLAND AND KNOX, EDINBURGH.

HAMILTON, ADAMS, AND CO., LONDON.

H D C G C L.



KLIINBUBGH : PRINTED BY THOMAS CONSTABLE.
I'RINTUR TO HKR MAJESTY.



BX



s.r



CONTENTS,



VIGNETTE OF ST. ANDREWS.



CHAPTER I.



First Sermon in Glasgow Appearance and Manner in the Pulpit Ex-
tract from Peter's Letters to his Kinsfolk His Alarm as to this Visit
His Account of it when over Admission and Introduction as
Minister of the Tron Church Sorrowful Remembrances of Kilmnny
Visit to Burntisland and Kirkaldy Address to the Inhabitants of
Kilmany Effect of Mrs. Chalmers's Return with him to Glasgow
Sight of Normanlaw from the Calton Hill Letters to Mr. Edie and to
Mrs. Morton Description of Glasgow Annoyances, . . . 1-25

CHAPTER II.

Mr. Thomas Smith Singular Attachment to and Correspondence with
him His Illness and Death, ...... 26-61

CHAPTER III.

The Degree of Doctor of Divinity conferred Renewed Agitation on the
subject of Pluralities Sermon before the Society of the Sons of the
Clergy in Edinburgh Debate in the General Assembly of 1816 on
Union of Offices Anecdote of Dr. M'Crie Remark of Lord Jeffrey
after hearing Dr. Chalmers's Speech Sermon before the Lord High
Commissioner, ........ 62-73

CHAPTER IV.

Excursion in Fifeshire Visit to Mr. Brown at Inverkcithing Walk by
the Sea-Beach at Elic Complaints of the Glasgow Weavers Society
at Anstruther A Two Hundred Year Ancestor Kilmany Re-visited, 74-86



iv CONTENTS.

CHAPTER V.

First delivery of the Astronomical Discourses Scene in the Trongate
Publication of these Discourses Their Extraordinary Popularity
Testimonies of Hazlitt and Canning Foster's Review Visit to London
Letter from James Montgomery, Esq., of Sheffield Sermons in the
Metropolis London Popularity Anecdotes of Mr. Canning, Mr.
Wilberforce, &c. The Journey Home Letter to his Sister Letter
from Robert Hall, ..... . 87-107

CHAPTER VI.

First Visitation of his Parish Its Methods and Results Checks and
Interruptions The Great Question at the Town Hospital The Chris-
tian Ministry Secularized His public Denunciations of the Evils of
this System Speech at the Anniversary of the Bible Society
Addition to the Eldership Sabbath-School Society The Question of
Punishment Origin of Local Sabbath-Schools Dr. Chalmers's Ac-
count of their first Institution and Effects His Defence of Sabbath-
Schools, . . . . . . . 108-130

CHAPTER VII.

The Vacancy at Stirling The Appointment Offered and Refused
Articles on Pauperism in the Edinburgh Review Excursion to An-
struther Sudden Recall Sermon on the Death of the Princess
Charlotte Reason of its Publication Argument on Behalf of Reli-
gious Establishments English and Scottish System of Pauper Man-
agement Compared Highest Exhibitions of his Power as a Pulpit
Orator Singular Scenes in the College Chapel and in the Tron
Church Extracts from his Journal Instance of his Usefulness
His own estimate of his Popularity, ..... 131-164

CHAPTER VIII.

His Father's Declining Health Summer Months at Anstruther Daity
Life in Glasgow Visit of Professor Pictet and M. Vernot ; of Mr. Noel
and Mr. Grey Visitation of his Parish The Rev. Legh Richmond
Mr. Cunninghame of Lainshaw Meeting of the Jewish Society Mr.
Erskine of Linlathen His Father's last Illness and Death Hervey's
and Newton's Works The Doctrine of Imputed Righteousness Pro-
fessors Leslie and Brown Lord Elgin and Party Sermon at Falkirk
Kind Attentions at Grangemouth Plum-Jelly Operation Death of
Dr. Balfour Panegyric upon his Character Death of the Queen
Tribute to her Worth, .... . 165-205

CHAPTER IX.

Publication of a Volume of Sermons Translation to the Parish of St.
John's Visit to Dunblane Attempts to extricate himself from the



CONTEXTS. v

exciting System of Pauper-Management Proposed as Candidate for
the Natural Philosophy Chair in Edinburgh Agitation in Glasgow
Anxieties of Dr. CSialmers First Number of the " Civic and Christian
Economy of Large Towns" Opening of the Church of St. John's
Decision of the Magistrates and Council in his favour Final Extrica-
tion from Difficulties, and Commencement of Parochial Operations in
St. John's, ........ 206-228

CHAPTER X.

Dr. Chalmers's Hereditary Attachment to the Old Parochial Economy
of Scotland His Ministry in Glasgow exclusively Parochial Extent
and Condition of the Parish of St. John's Its Educational Necessities
Mode adopted for Meeting these Necessities Erection of two School-
Fabrics, and partial Endowment of four Schoolmasters Educational
Fruits of the St. John's Ministry Explanatory Address delivered at
the Opening of the Macfarlane Street Schools, . . . 229-24G

CHAPTER XI.

Correspondence with Mr. Wilberforce during the Winter 1819-20
Description of the State of Glasgow during the period of the Radical
Riots Suggestions by Dr. Chalmers as to Political Measures for
ameliorating the Condition of the People Influence of the Religious
Element, ........ 247-271

CHAPTER XII.

Illness of his Brother Alexander Visits to Blochairn, Strathblane, and
Glenfinart Parochial Lodgings Ministerial Activity The Rev.
Edward Irving His Agency and their Operations Instances of his
Playful Familiarity The Dinner in the Vestry Anecdotes of Mr.
Irving and Dr. Bell Address to the Elders, . . . . 272-296

CHAPTER XIII.

The St. John's Experiment of Pauper Management Conditions under
which it was undertaken Directions to Deacons Mode of Conducting
it Illustrative Instances The Results Alleged Explanations of its
Success Testimony of Dr. Macfarlane Report by Mr. Tufnell Rea-
sons of its Relinquishment, ...... 297-318

CHAPTER XIV.

Publication of a Volume of Sermons, and of the " Christian and Civic
Economy of Large Towns" Address to his Agency in October 1821
Visit of King George IV. to Scotland in August 1822 The Landing at
Leith Pier Enthusiastic Loyalty of Dr. Chalmers Tour through
England in Search of Information as to the State and Prospects of its
Poor-Law Administration Intercourse with Lord Calthorpe, Mr. Wil-
berforce, Mr. Clarkson, Mr. Malthus, &c Sudden Death of Mr. Brown
Return to Glasgow, ....... 319-367



vi CONTENTS.

CHAPTER XV.

Church in Edinburgh Offered and Refused Correspondence with Principal
Nicoll as to the Vacant Chair of Moral Philosophy in the University of
St. Andrews Acceptance of that Chair Letter of Explanation to his
Agency Erection of a Chapel of Ease in the Parish of St. John's Ap-
pearances before the Ecclesiastical Courts Speech in the General
Assembly of 1821 on the Theological Education of Candidates for the
Holy Ministry The Table Controversy Case of Plurality of Offices
Induction of Principal Macfarlane as one of the Ministers of Glasgow, . 3G3-400

CHAPTER XVI.

Dr. Chalmers in the Bosom of his Family in Correspondence with his
Relatives in General Society in Secret before God, . . . 401-468

CHAPTER XVII.

Farewell Discourses in St. John's and the Chapel of Ease Spiritual
Fruits of the Ministry in Glasgow Estimate of its General Effects
Departure from Glasgow Installation and Introductory Lecture at St.
Andrews, ... . . . 469-483



APPENDIX.

APPENDIX A. Criticisms on the Address to the Parishioners of Kilmany
Letters from Dr. Stuart and Dr. Jones Pamphlet by Mr. Braidwood

and Mr. Walker, ..... . 491-494

APPENDIX B. Prayer at the Funeral of Mr. Thomas Smith, . . 494-496

APPENDIX C Speech on Pluralities, ..... 496-499

APPENDIX D. Opinions of the Periodical Press on the Astronomical

Discourses, ........ 499 501

APPENDIX E. Speech on the Employment of Lay Agency in the Manage-
ment of Religious Institutions, ...... 501-506

APPENDIX F Address to Elders at their Ordination, . . . 507-512

APPENDIX G Defence of Sabbath Schools, .... 512-517

APPENDIX H. - Letter to William Roger, Esq., . . . 517-519

APPENDIX I. Letter to James Ewing, Esq., .... 519-522

APPENDIX K. Letter to Mr. Wilberforce Address on Emigration, . 522-527

APPENDIX L. Correspondence with the Rev. Mr. Morgan, . . 527-533

APPENDIX M. Speech on Theological Education, . . . 533-543

APPENDIX N Correspondence with Monsieur Biot, . . . 544-548

APPENDIX 0. Speech at the Farewell Dinner before leaving Glasgow, . 548-552



MEMOIRS



THOMAS CHALMERS, D.D. LLD.



MEMOIRS



THOMAS CHALMERS, D.D., LL.D.



CHAPTER I.

FIRST SERMON IN GLASGOW APPEARANCE AND MANNER IN THE
PULPIT EXTRACT FROM PETER'S LETTERS TO HIS KINSFOLK
HIS ALARM AS TO THIS VISIT HIS ACCOUNT OF IT WHEN OVER
ADMISSION AND INTRODUCTION AS MINISTER OF THE TRON
CHURCH SORROWFUL REMEMBRANCES OF KILMANY VISIT TO
BURNTISLAND AND KIRKALDY ADDRESS TO THE INHABITANTS
OF KILMANY EFFECT OF MRS. CHALMERS'S RETURN WITH HIM
TO GLASGOW SIGHT OF NORMANLAW FROM THE C ALTON HILL-
LETTERS TO MR. EDIE AND TO MRS. MORTON DESCRIPTION OF
GLASGOW ANNOYANCES.

THE first sermon which Mr. Chalmers preached in Glasgow
was delivered before the Society of the Sons of the Clergy, on
Thursday the 30th day of March, 1815, a few months after his
appointment, and a few months previous to his admission as
minister of the Tron Church. The recent excitement of the
canvass, the rumours strange and various, which crossing the
breadth of Scotland were circulating in all quarters through
the city, the quickened curiosity of opponents, the large but
somewhat tremulous expectation of friends, drew together a

VOL. II. A



2 MEMOIRS OF DR. CHALMERS. 1815.

vast multitude to hear him. Among the crowd which filled
the Church was a young Oxford student, himself the son of a
Scottish minister, who had been surprised by hearing Mr.
Chalmers's work on the Evidences of Christianity mentioned
with high approval, within the walls of an English University,
shortly after the date of its publication. The keen dark eye
of the youthful auditor fixed itself in searching scrutiny upon
the preacher, and a few years later his graceful and graphic
pen drew the following sketch :

" I was a good deal surprised and perplexed with the first
glimpse I obtained of his countenance, for the light that
streamed faintly upon it for the moment did not reveal anything
like that general outline of feature and visage for which my
fancy had, by some strange working of presentiment, prepared
me. By and- bye, however, the light became stronger, and I
was enabled to study the minutiae of his face pretty leisurely,
Avhile he leaned forward and read aloud the words of the Psalm,
for that is always done in Scotland, not by the clerk, but the
clergyman himself. At first sight, no doubt, his face is a
coarse one, but a mysterious kind of meaning breathes from
every part of it, that such as have eyes to see cannot be long
without discovering. It is very pale, and the large half-closed
eyelids have a certain drooping melancholy weight about them,
which interested me very much, I understood not why. The
lips, too, are singularly pensive in their mode of falling down
at the sides, although there is no want of richness and vigour
in their central fulness of curve. The upper lip, from the nose
downwards, is separated by a very deep line, which gives a
sort of leonine firmness of expression to all the lower part of the
face. The cheeks are square and strong, in texture like pieces
of marble, with the cheek-bones very broad and prominent. The
eyes themselves are light in colour, and have a strange dreamy
heaviness, that conveys any idea rather than that of dulness,



JET. 35. DESCRIPTION OP HIS PERSONAL APPEARANCE. 3

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 ; and, in-
deed, it presents a mixture so very singular, of forms commonly
exhibited only in the widest separation, that it is no wonder I
should have required some little time to comprehend the mean-
ing of it. In the first place, it is without exception the most
marked mathematical forehead I ever met with being far
wider across the eyebrows than either Mr. Playfair's or Mr.
Leslie's and having the eyebrows themselves lifted up at their
exterior ends quite out of the usual line, a peculiarity which
Spurzheim had remarked in the countenances of almost all the
great mathematical or calculating geniuses such, for example,
if I rightly remember, as Sir Isaac Newton himself, Kaestener,
Euler, and many others. Immediately above the extraordinary
breadth of this region, which, in the heads of most mathema-
tical persons, is surmounted by no fine points of organization
whatever, immediately above this, 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, while over this again there is a grand
apex of high and solemn veneration and love, such as might
have graced the bust of Plato himself, and such as in living
men I had never beheld equalled in any but the majestic
head of Canova. The whole is edged with a few crisp dark
locks, which stand forth boldly, and afford a fine relief to
the death-like paleness of those massive temples. * * *
Of all human compositions there is none surely which loses so
much as a sermon does when it is made to address itself to the
eye of a solitary student in his closet and not to the thrilling
ears of a mighty mingled congregation, through the very voice



4 MBMOIES OF DR. CHALMERS. 1815.

which nature has enriched with notes more expressive than
words can ever be of the meanings and feelings of its author.
Neither, perhaps, did the world ever possess any orator whose
minutest peculiarities of gesture and voice have more power in
increasing the effect of what he says whose delivery, in other
words, is the first, and the second, and the third excellence
of his oratory more truly than is that of Dr. Chalmers. And
yet were the spirit of the man less gifted than it is, there is
no question these, his lesser peculiarities, would never have
been numbered among his points of excellence. His voice
is neither strong nor melodious, his gestures are neither
easy nor graceful ; but, on the contrary, extremely rude
and awkward ; his pronunciation is not only broadly na-
tional, but broadly provincial, distorting almost every word he
utters into some barbarous novelty, which, had his hearer
leisure to think of such things, might be productive of an effect
at once ludicrous and offensive in a singular degree. But of a
truth, these are things which no listener can attend to while
this great preacher stands before him armed with all the
weapons of the most commanding eloquence, and swaying all
around him with its imperial rule. At first, indeed, there is
nothing to make one suspect what riches are in store. He com-
mences in a low drawling key, which has not even the merit of
being solemn, and advances from sentence to sentence, and from
paragraph to paragraph, while you seek in vain to catch a
single echo that gives promise of that which is to come. There
is, on the contrary, an appearance of constraint about him that
affects and distresses you. You are afraid that his breast is
weak, and that even the slight exertion he makes may be too
much for it. 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 shakes from it
its chill confining fetters, and bursts out elate and rejoicing in



yET. 35. THE BREAKING UP OF A MINISTER'S FAMILY. 5

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, either in England or
Scotland, or in any other country, any preacher whose elo-
quence is capable of producing an effect so strong and irre-
sistible as his."*

Mr. Chalmers's first sermon at Glasgow was chiefly occupied
.with the enforcement and illustration of principles applicable
alike to all forms and varieties of Christian charity. -f- It con-
tained in embryo his whole theory as to the proper treatment
of pauperism, and is remarkable thus as indicating how firmly
established in his mind that theory had become even before his
labours as a city clergyman had commenced. But that particu-
lar institution whose claims he had undertaken to advocate was
not forgotten ; and in making an appeal to his hearers on be-
half of the orphan children of clergymen, the following picture
of the breaking up of a minister's family was presented :
" When the sons and the daughters of clergymen are left to go,
they know not whither, from the peacefulness of their father's
dwelling, never were poor outcasts less prepared by the educa-
tion and the habits of former years, for the scowl of an unpity-
ing world ; nor can I figure a drearier and more affecting con-
trast than that which obtains between the blissful security of
their earlier days, and the dark and unshielded condition to
which the hand of Providence has now brought them. It is
not necessary, for the purpose of awakening your sensibilities
on this subject, to dwell upon every one circumstance of distress
which enters into the sufferings of this bereaved family ; or to
tell you of the many friends they must abandon, and the many

* Peter's Letters to his Kinsfolk, 2d edit., vol. iii. pp. 267-273.
f See Works, vol. xi. pp. 389-425.



6 MEMOIRS OF DR. CHALMERS. 1815.

charms of that peaceful neighbourhood which they must quit
for ever. But when they look abroad, and survey the innumer-
able beauties which the God of nature has scattered so profusely
around them when they see the sun throwing its unclouded
splendours over the whole neighbourhood when, on the fair
side of the year, they behold the smiling aspect of the country,
and at every footstep they take, some flower appears in its
loveliness, or some bird offers its melody to delight them
when they see quietness on all the hills, and every field glow-
ing in the pride and luxury of vegetation when they see
summer throwing its rich garment over this goodly scene of
magnificence and glory, and think, in the bitterness of their
souls, that this is the last summer which they shall ever
witness, smiling on that scene which all the ties of habit and
of affection have endeared to them when this thought, melan-
choly as it is, is lost and overborne in the far darker melan-
choly of a father torn from their embrace, and a helpless family
left to find their way unprotected and alone through the lower-
ing futurity of this earthly pilgrimage, Do you wonder that
their feeling hearts should be ready to lose hold of the promise,
that He who decks the lily fair in flowery pride, will guide
them in safety through the world, and at last raise all who
believe in Him to the bloom and the vigour of immortality ?
The flowers of the field, they toil not, neither do they spin,
yet your Heavenly Father careth for them and how much
more careth He for you, ye of little faith." One who heard
this passage delivered,* has told us, that " the tears of the
father and preacher fell like rain-drops on the manuscript/'
And from many another eye besides that of the preacher the
soft waters of sensibility were seen to flow.

Before leaving Fifeshire to preach in Glasgow upon this
occasion, Mr. Chalmers had written to his friend Mr. Tennent :

* The Very Rev. E. B. Ramsay in his Biographical Notice of Dr. Chalmers.



J3T. 35. THE REV. SIR HENRY MONCREIFF. 7

" I feel greatly comforted by your assuring me of the friend-
ship of my future people, and their desire to make me happy.
In this case, they must not overwhelm me by their attentions.
I shrink from the fatiguing intercourse of dinners and large
companies. I have got as much of this proposed to me for the
four days I am to spend with you as would serve me for four
weeks. This is all very natural and very kind ; but you, my
dear Sir, will know how to explain it if I shall find it necessary
to study as gradual a transition as possible from the happy
coolness and peacefulness of my present situation." And on
returning to Kilmany, Mr. Chalmers wrote to his sister, Mrs.
Morton : " Since writing you last, I have been in Glasgow,
and preached to them, and spent four days with them, and have
been carried through such a round of introductions, and seen
such a number of people, that it is impossible for me to re-
member one-fourth part of them, and far less to have got so near
any one of them, as to give you a particular account of him.
All I shall say on that subject is, that Dr. Macgill, my prede-
cessor, and now Professor of Divinity, appears to be a very in-
teresting personage. The time of my removal is yet uncertain."
The day of his admission to his new charge was at length
fixed to be Friday the 21st day of July. It is the Scottish
custom that on the Sabbath which follows his ordination or
admission, the new minister should be introduced to his people
by a friend, who conducts the forenoon service. It had been
suggested to him that the Rev. Sir Henry Moncreiff of Edin-
burgh should, in this instance, be requested to undertake that
duty ; and as his personal acquaintance with that eminent
clergyman appeared to Mr. Chalmers too limited to justify a
personal application, Dr. Balfour conveyed the request. So
soon as he heard of its being complied with, Mr. Chalmers
hastened to express his gratitude : " It is with the utmost
pleasure that I am given to understand by Dr. Balfour that you



8 MEMOIRS OF DR. CHALMERS. 1815.

have consented to introduce me to my new charge in Glasgow.
I fear you will think me very impudent and presuming in
having ventured to propose a favour of such magnitude, nor
could I ever have thought of taking such a liberty had it not
been suggested to me by a clerical friend, in whose friendship
and wisdom and tact I have the utmost confidence, and whose
intimacy with yourself gave me the security that there was
nothing improper in submitting to you such a proposition. Be
assured of my utmost gratitude for your compliance ; and I have
only to regret that, from my state of health, which does not
admit of very frequent or severe exertions in the way of preach-
ing, I may not be able to repay your kind service to the ex-
tent to which I consider it entitled. Your countenance on an
occasion so interesting to myself will, I trust, never be forgot-
ten by me, and it goes far to soothe my transition to the new
field of labour which Providence has assigned me, when I ob-
serve so much done to secure me a respectable outset." On
Thursday, the 13th day of July, the manse of Kilmany was
finally forsaken. His last days in Fifeshire were given to his
parents ; and leaving his family at Anstruther, Mr. Chalmers
proceeded by way of Edinburgh to Glasgow, where on the very
day of his arrival the first of those journal letters was com-
menced, which afterwards, when separated for any length of
time from Mrs. Chalmers, he so faithfully continued, and out
of which our future pages will be so frequently and liberally
enriched.

" Glasgow, July 20^, 1815. I breakfasted this morning in
Edinburgh with Mr. Payne, an Independent clergyman, and
got forward in the coach with Mr. Paul, your visitor, and Mr
Fletcher of the London Missionary Society : was conducted to
my lodgings almost immediately by Mr. John Wood. They con-
sist of a dining-room and bed-room, perhaps not so stylish as I



!T. 35. THE ADMISSION.

could have wished, but in a high airy situation, as fresh and
pure as Kilmany itself, with no other substantial drawback than
that another room cannot be got in the same house, and that
the landlady, with every disposition to oblige me and make me
comfortable, has a quantity and volubility of talk upon every
subject, which is a little annoying. * * * Friday 2lst, eleven
o'clock. Breakfasted in my own room pleasantly and comfort-
ably. I thank God that He makes me feel so tranquil ; but, oh
what alienation from Him have I to struggle with in this scene
of visible and temporal allurement ! Called on Dr. Balfour, and
there met Sir Henry Moncreiff. The town is very thin at pre-
sent ; but a number of people have come from the country to
be present at this occasion. * * * Four o'clock. I have got the



Online LibraryWilliam HannaMemoirs of the life and writings of Thomas Chalmers.. (Volume 2) → online text (page 1 of 48)