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Significant Scots
Rev Thomas Chalmers

Rev Thomas ChalmersCHALMERS, REV. THOMAS, D.D.—This eminent orator, philosopher, and divine, by whom the highest interests of his country during the present century have been so materially influenced, was born in the once important, but now unnoticed town of Anstruther, on the south-east coast of Fife, on the 17th March, 1780. He was the son of Mr. John Chalmers, a prosperous dyer, ship-owner, and general merchant in Easter-Anstruther, and Elizabeth Hall, the daughter of a wine-merchant of Crail, who, in the course of twenty-two years, were the parents of nine sons and five daughters, of which numerous family, Thomas, the subject of this memoir, was the sixth. After enduring the tyranny of a severe nurse, he passed in his third year into the hands of an equally severe schoolmaster, a worn-out parish teacher, whose only remaining capacity for the instruction of the young consisted in an incessant application of the rod. Thus early was Thomas Chalmers taught the evils of injustice and oppression; but who can tell the number of young minds that may have been crushed under a process by which his was only invigorated! After having learned to read, and acquired as much Latin as he could glean under such unpromising tuition, he was sent, at the age of twelve, to the United College of St. Andrews. Even long before this period he had studied with keen relish "Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress," and resolved to be a minister. It appears that, like too many youths at their entrance into our Scottish universities, he had scarcely any classical learning, and was unable to write even his own language according to the rules of orthography and grammar. All these obstacles, however, only called forth that indomitable perseverance by which his whole career in life was distinguished; and in his third year’s course at college, when he had reached the age of fifteen, he devoted himself with such ardour to the study of mathematics, that he soon became distinguished by his proficiency in the science, even among such class-fellows as Leslie, Ivory, and Duncan. These abstract studies required some relief, and in the case of Chalmers, they were alternated with ethics, politics, and political economy. After the usual curriculum of four years he enrolled as a student of theology, but with a heart so devoted to the abstractions of geometry, that divinity occupied little of his thoughts; even when it was afterwards admitted, it was more in the form of sentimental musings, than of patient laborious inquiry for the purposes of public instruction. But he had so successfully studied the principles of composition, and acquired such a mastery of language, that even at the age of sixteen, many of his college productions exhibited that rich and glowing eloquence which was to form his distinguished characteristic in after years. He had also acquired that occasional dreaminess of look and absence of manner which so often characterizes deep thinkers, and especially mathematicians; and of this he gave a curious illustration, when he had finished his seventh year at college, and was about to enter a family as private tutor. His father’s household had repaired to the door, to bid him farewell; and after this was ended, Thomas mounted the horse that was to carry him to the Dundee ferry. But in accomplishing this feat, he put his right foot (the wrong one on this occasion) into the stirrup, and was in the saddle in a trice, with his face to the horse’s tail! When ready to apply for license as a preacher, an obstacle was in his way; for as yet he had not completed his nineteenth year, while the rules of the Church required that no student should be licensed before he had reached the age of twenty-one. This difficulty, however, was overruled by an exceptional clause in favour of those possessing "rare and singular qualities;" and it having been represented by the member of presbytery who discovered this qualification in the old statute, that Thomas Chalmers was a "lad o’ pregnant pairts," the young applicant, after the usual trials, was licensed as a preacher of the gospel, on the 31st of July, 1799.

On entering the sacred office, Chalmers was in no haste to preach; on the contrary, he refused the numerous demands that were made upon his clerical services, took up his abode in Edinburgh during the winter of 1799-1800, for the purpose of prosecuting his mathematical studies under Professor Playfair, and deprecated the idea of even a church presentation itself, lest it should prove an interruption to the progress of his beloved pursuits. The following winter he also spent in Edinburgh, almost exclusively occupied in the study of chemistry. As there was a prospect of the parish of Kilmany soon becoming vacant, which was in the gift of the United College of St. Andrews, and to which his nomination by the professors was certain, Chalmers might now have awaited in tranquillity that happy destination for life to which his studies hitherto had been ostensibly devoted. But science and scientific distinction were still the great objects of his ambition, and the mathematical assistantship of St. Andrews having become vacant, he presented himself as a candidate for the charge, in the hope that such an appointment would ultimately lead to the professorship, without obliging him to forego the ministerial charge of Kilmany—for St. Andrews was the head-quarters of ecclesiastical pluralities. In both objects he was successful; and having lectured and taught mathematics at college in the winter of 1802-3, on 12th May, 1803, he was inducted into his expected parish. The ardour with which he threw himself into his college prelections, and the unwonted eloquence with which he imbued a science so usually delivered in the form of dry detail and demonstration, constituted a novelty that astonished, while it delighted his pupils, and their earnest application and rapid proficiency fully corresponded with the efforts of their youthful teacher. At the close of the session, however, a bitter disappointment awaited him; he was told by his employer that his services as assistant teacher were no longer required, while inefficiency for the office was stated as the cause of his dismissal. This charge was not only most unjust in itself, but would have operated most injuriously against Mr. Chalmers, by closing the entrance to any scientific chair that might afterwards become vacant in our universities. To refute this charge, therefore, as well as to silence his maligners, he resolved to open on the following winter a class of his own in the town of St. Andrews, and there show whether or not he was fitted to be a professor of mathematics. He accordingly did so, and was so completely attended by the pupils of his former class, that he felt no change, except in the mere beauty. In taking this bold independent step, also, he was anxious to repudiate those resentful or malignant motives to which it might have been attributed. "My appearance in this place," he said, "may be ascribed to the worst of passions; some may be disposed to ascribe it to the violence of a revengeful temper—some to stigmatize me as a firebrand of turbulence and mischief. These motives I disclaim. I disclaim them with the pride of an indignant heart which feels its integrity. My only motive is, to restore that academical reputation which I conceive to have been violated by the aspersions of envy. It is this which has driven me from the peaceful silence of the country—which has forced me to exchange my domestic retirement for the whirl of contention." In spite of the determined hostility of the professors, whose influence was all-prevalent in the town, the three classes of mathematics which Chalmers opened were so fully attended, that he opened a class of chemistry also, and in this science, his eloquent expositions and successful experiments were so popular that the whole county was stirred in his favour. His labours at this youthful commencement of his public career could only have been supported by an enthusiasm like his own; for, in addition to daily attendance on his classes, and preparation of lectures, demonstrations, and experiments, he fulfilled the duties of the pulpit, returning for that purpose to Kilmany on the Saturday evenings, and setting out to St. Andrews on Monday morning. Even his enemies thought this labour too much, and resolved to lighten it, though with no benevolent feeling; and the presbytery was moved, for the purpose of compelling him to reside permanently at Kilmany, and attend exclusively to the duties of the parish. It was not the evils of plurality and non-residence in the abstract which they cared about, but that these should furnish an opportunity for the lecturer to intrude into St. Andrew; and teach within the very shadow of its university. Chalmers felt that this was their motive, and wrote to the presbytery an eloquent defence of his conduct. On the following session, he conceded so far as to discontinue his mathematical classes, and only attend to that of chemistry, which had become very popular in the county, and would require his attendance only two or three days of each week. Even this did not satisfy the presbytery, and one of its members requested it to be inserted in their minutes, that, "in his opinion, Mr. Chalmers’ giving lectures in chemistry is improper, and ought to be discontinued." This was done; upon which Chalmers, as a member of the presbytery, begged that it should also be inserted in their minutes, that "after the punctual discharge of his professional duties, his time was his own; and he conceived that no man or no court had a right to control him in the distribution of it."

An opportunity soon occurred for which Chalmers had ardently longed. It was nothing less than a vacancy in the professorship of Natural Philosophy in St. Andrews, and he became one of three candidates for the chair. But the whole three were set aside in favour of Mr. Jackson, rector of Ayr Academy.

In the following year (1805) a similar vacancy occurred in the university of Edinburgh, by the death of Dr. Robinson, and again Chalmers entered the lists; but here also he was disappointed, with the consolation, however, that the successful candidate was no other than the celebrated Leslie. This competition cabled forth his first effort in authorship, in the form of a pamphlet, in consequence of the assertion, that a ministerial charge and scientific appointment combined in one person were incompatible—a pamphlet which, in subsequent years, he laboured to suppress, and gladly would have forgot. At present, however, his expressed opinion was, 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." This, alas! was too true, if that "satisfactory discharge" of parochial duty involved nothing more than the usual routine of a parish minister. Chalmers, therefore, had to find some other outlet for his "uninterrupted leisure;" and after having exhausted the field of St. Andrews, he resumed his lectureship on chemistry in his little parish of Kilmany, and the county town of Cupar. But even yet, something additional was needed, besides the delivery of lectures formerly repeated, and experiments that had been twice tried; and this was soon furnished by Napoleon’s menace of invasion. The hostile camp of the modern Caesar at Boulogne, and the avowed purpose for which it had been collected, roused the spirit of Britain, so that military associations were formed, from the metropolis to the hamlet, in every part of our island. This was more than enough for the ardent spirit of Chalmers, and he enrolled himself in the St. Andrews corps of volunteers, not only as chaplain, but lieutenant. It is well known how this threat of an invasion of Britain was exchanged for an attack upon Austria, and how suddenly the breaking up of the hostile encampment at Boulogne, dismissed a million of armed Britons to their homes and workshops. On doffing his military attire, the minister of Kilmany had other and more professional occupation to attend to at the bed-side of a dying brother, who had returned to his father’s home afflicted with consumption, under which he died in a few months. During the last illness of the amiable sufferer, one of the duties of Thomas Chalmers was to read to his brother portions of those religious works which he had denounced from the pulpit as savouring of fanaticism, and to hear the criticism pronounced upon them by the lips of the dying man, as he fervently exclaimed, "I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and revealed them unto babes." After this departure from life, which was one of solemn and impressive resignation, Chalmers gave relief to his thoughts, first by a journey to England, in which he visited London, Cambridge, and Oxford, and afterwards by authorship. Independently of mathematics, chemistry, and botany, which his ardent spirit of inquiry had successively mastered, he had studied the science of political economy; and now that Bonaparte had published his famous Berlin decree, by which the mercantile and manufacturing community of Britain was panic-struck, Chalmers produced his "Inquiry into the Extent and Stability of National Resources," to show that this apprehension was groundless. The analysis of this work can be best given in his own account of it. In a letter to his brother he says, "The great burden of my argument is, that the manufacturer who prepares an article for home consumption is the servant of the inland consumer, labouring for his gratification, and supported by the price which he pays for the article; that the manufacturer of an article for exportation is no less the servant of the inland consumer, because, though he does not labour immediately for his gratification, he labours for a return from foreign countries. This return comes in articles of luxury, which fetch a price from our inland consumers. Hence, it is ultimately from the inland consumer that the manufacturer of the exported article derives his maintenance. Suppose, then, that trade and manufacture were destroyed, this does not affect the ability of the inland consumer. The whole amount of the mischief is, that he loses the luxuries which were before provided for him, but he still retains the ability to give the same maintenance as before to the immense population who are now discarded from their former employments. Suppose this ability to be transferred to government in the form of a tax. Government takes the discarded population into its service. They follow their subsistence wherever it can be found; and thus, from the ruin of our trading and manufacturing interest, government collects the means of adding to the naval and military establishments of the country. I therefore anticipate that Bonaparte, after he has succeeded in shutting up the markets of the Continent against us, will be astonished—and that the mercantile politicians of our own country will be no less astonished—to find Britain as hale and vigorous as ever, and fitter than before for all the purposes of defence, and security, and political independence." Such was the theory of Chalmers, studied with much care, written with patriotic enthusiasm, and published at Edinburgh in the spring of 1808. It was perhaps as well that no opportunity occurred of testing its soundness, owing to the remissness with which the Berlin decree was executed, so that it gradually became a dead letter. Chalmers, however, was so impressed with the urgency of the danger, and the efficacy of his plan to remove it, that he was anxious to obtain a national publicity for his volume; and with this view he had resolved to repair to the capital, and negotiate for bringing out a new edition by the London publishers. But this event, which might have altered the whole current of his life, and changed him into a Malthus or Adam Smith, was prevented by a trying family dispensation, so that instead of embarking in a Dundee smack as he had purposed, he was obliged to attend the death-bed of one of his sisters. It is to be observed, however, that his studies in political economy were not to be without important results. In after years they were brought vigorously and successfully to bear upon the management of towns and parishes, and the cure of pauperism; and above all, in organizing the provision of a church, that threw aside, and at once, the support and maintenance of the State, when conscience demanded the sacrifice.

In this way, the first twenty-nine years in the life of the subject of this memoir had passed. But still, it gives little or no indication of that Dr. Chalmers who was afterwards so widely renowned throughout the Christian world—of that very Dr. Chalmers whom the present generation so fondly loved, and still so vividly remembers. As yet, the record might serve for an amiable enthusiastic savant of England, France, or Italy, rather than a Scottish country minister intrusted with the care of souls, and preparing his accounts for the close of such a solemn stewardship. But a series of events occurred at this time by which the whole character of his mind and ministry was to be changed. The first, and perhaps the most important of these, was the death of his sister, an event to which we have already alluded. She had departed amidst feelings of hope and joy that far transcended the mere passive resignation of philosophy; and the affectionate heart that pined within the lonely manse of Kilmany, while remembering her worth, and lamenting her departure, had a subject of anxious inquiry bequeathed to him, as to whence that hope and joy had arisen. The first indication of this was given in a change that took place in the course of his authorship. Previous to his sister’s decease, and while the "Edinburgh Encyclopaedia" was in progress, he had been invited by Dr. Brewster, the distinguished editor, to contribute to the work; and this Chalmers had resolved to do, by writing the article "Trigonometry," for which purpose he had devoted himself to the study of Cagnoli’s "Trigonometria Plana a Sferica," at that time the standard work upon the subject. But after her death he changed his purpose, and earnestly requested that the article "Christianity" should be committed to his management, offering, at the same time, to live three or four months in St. Andrews, for the purpose of collecting the necessary materials in the college library. After his sister’s decease, the admonitory blow was repeated; this was the death of Mr. Ballardie, a childless old officer of the navy, in whose affection he had found a second father, and who was one evening discovered dead upon his knees, having been called away into life eternal in the very midst of prayer. These warnings were succeeded by a long and severe illness, that reduced him to the helplessness of infancy, and threatened to be fatal; and amidst the musings of a sick chamber, and unquiet tossings upon what he believed to be a death-bed, the anxious mind of Chalmers had full scope for those solemn investigations which the previous calamities had awoke into action. But the trial ended; and after passing through such a furnace, he emerged into life, and the full vigour of life, a purified and altered man. His own account of the change and its process is truly characteristic, and it will be seen from the following extract, that a congenial spirit from the dwellings of the dead had hovered, as it were, beside his pillow, and spoken to him the words of counsel and encouragement. "My confinement," he wrote to a friend, "has fixed on my heart a very strong impression of the insignificance of time—an impression which, I trust, will not abandon me though I again reach the hey-day of health and vigour. This should be the first step to another impression still more salutary—the magnitude of eternity. Strip human life of its connection with a higher scene of existence, and it is the illusion of an instant, an unmeaning farce, a series of visions, and projects, and convulsive efforts, which terminate in nothing. I have been reading Pascal’s "Thoughts on Religion;" you know his history—a man of the richest endowments, and whose youth was signalized by his profound and original speculations in mathematical science, but who could stop short in the brilliant career of discovery, who could resign all the splendours of literary reputation, who could renounce without a sigh all the distinctions which are conferred upon genius, and resolve to devote every talent and every hour to the defence and illustration of the gospel. This, my dear sir, is superior to all Greek, and to all Roman fame."

This change which had taken place in the man, was soon manifested in the minister, and the pulpit of Kilmany no longer gave forth an uncertain sound. Hitherto, Chalmers had advocated virtuous feeling and a virtuous life as the head and front of Christianity, to which the righteousness and death of our blessed Saviour were make-weights and nothing more. And yet, even how that little was supplemented, and what was its mode of agency, he could not conjecture. "In what particular manner," he thus preached, "the death of our Redeemer effected the remission of our sins, or rather, why that death was made a condition of this remission, seems to be an unrevealed point in the Scriptures. Perhaps the God of nature meant to illustrate the purity of his perfection to the children of men; perhaps it was efficacious in promoting the improvement, and confirming the virtue of other orders of being. The tenets of those whose gloomy and unenlarged minds are apt to imagine that the Author of nature required the death of Jesus merely for the reparation of violated justice, are rejected by all free and rational inquirers." In this manner he groped his way in utter uncertainty—a blind leader of the blind, upon a path where to stumble may be to fall for ever. But a year had elapsed, a new sun had arisen, and his eyes were opened. "I am now most thoroughly of opinion," he writes, "and it is an opinion founded on experience, that on the system of ‘Do this and live,’ no peace, and even no true and worthy obedience, can ever be attained. It is, ‘Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.’ When this belief enters the heart, joy and confidence enter along with it. The righteousness which we try to work out for ourselves eludes our impotent grasp, and never can a soul arrive at true or permanent rest in the pursuit of this object. The righteousness which by faith we put on, secures our acceptance with God, and secures our interest in his promises, and gives us a part in those sanctifying influences by which we are enabled to do with aid from on high what we never can do without it. We look to God in a new light—we see Him as a reconciled Father; that love to him which terror scares away, re-enters the heart, and with a new principle and a new power, we become new creatures in Jesus Christ our Lord." Not only the change in the spirit of his pulpit ministrations was now remarkable, but the manner in which they were prepared. Of this we have a striking proof in the following incident. Mr. John Bonthron, a near neighbour and intimate acquaintance, one day remarked to Mr. Chalmers, before his illness had commenced: "I find you aye busy, sir, with one thing or another, but come when I may, I never find you at your studies for the Sabbath." "Oh, an hour or two on the Saturday evening is quite enough for that," replied the minister. After the change, the visitor found that, call when he might, he found Mr. Chalmers employed in the study of the Scriptures, and could not help expressing his wonderment: "I never come in now, sir, but I find you aye at your Bible." "All too little, John, all too little," was the altered minister’s reply.

Two years had passed onward in this state, during which the changed condition of the church of Kilmany and its talented minister had been a subject of speculation throughout the whole county. It was not that he had abandoned scientific pursuits, for he still cultivated these as ardently as ever; nor relinquished his devotedness to literature, for he was more eager for the labours and enjoyments of authorship than before. But all these were kept in subserviency to a more important principle of existence, and consecrated to a higher aim. He had now reached the matured age of thirty-two, a period of life at which the most active may well wish for a partner in their labours, and the most recluse and studious a companion of their thoughts. He had also been the occupant of a lonely manse during nine long years, but was still as ignorant of the management and details of housekeeping as when he first entered that dwelling, and sat down to resume his college problems. His heart, too, had been lately opened and expanded by the glorious truths of the gospel—and how earnestly does it then seek a congenial heart into which it may utter its emotions, a kindred soul with whom it may worship and adore! And such a one was already provided; one who through life was to soothe his cares, animate his labours, console him in his disappointments, and finally to rejoin him in a happier world than that he had left, after a brief separation. This was Miss Grace Pratt, second daughter of Captain Pratt, of the 1st Royal Veteran Battalion. Mr. Chalmers, indeed, on account of the smallness of his stipend, had previously resolved never to marry; but when this amiable lady appeared for a short time in his neighbourhood, the resolution was somehow lost sight of, and when she was about to remove to her own home, he felt that there was no further leisure for delay. He was accepted, and they were married on the 4th August, 1812. The following picture of the state of life into which he had entered, forms the beau ideal of a happy country manse, and its newly-married inmates. Writing to his sister, he says, "I have got a small library for her; and a public reading in the afternoon, when we take our turns for an hour or so, is looked upon as one of the most essential parts of our family management. It gives me the greatest pleasure to inform you, that in my new connection, I have found a coadjutor who holds up her face for all the proprieties of a clergyman’s family, and even pleads for their extension beyond what I had originally proposed. We have now family worship twice a-day; and though you are the only being on earth to whom I would unveil the most secret arrangements of our family, I cannot resist the pleasure of telling you, because I know that it will give you the truest pleasure to understand, that in those still more private and united acts of devotion which are so beautifully described in the ‘Cottar’s Saturday Night,’ I feel a comfort, an elevation, and a peace of mind of which I was never before conscious.’

Allusion has already been made to the connection of Mr. Chalmers with the "Edinburgh Encyclopaedia," and the earnest desire he had expressed, so early as the year 1809, to have the article "Christianity" intrusted to his management. This request was complied with, and early in 1813, his treatise under that title appeared in the 6th volume of the work. It consisted, as is well known, of the evidences of the divine origin of Christianity, based, not upon the internal excellence of its character, or the proofs of its heaven-derived origin, as exhibited in the divine nature of its teaching, but simply upon the historical proofs of its authenticity. No fact in the whole range of history could be more certain than that Christ and his apostles had lived at the period assigned to them, and that they had acted and taught precisely according to the record which revelation has handed down to us. This being satisfactorily ascertained, all cavil must be silenced, and all hesitation abandoned: that teaching has been shown to be from God, and nothing more remains for man but implicitly to receive, and humbly to obey it. This was his line of argument, and it had been so early matured in his mind, that he had developed the idea in one of his chemical lectures delivered at St. Andrews. "The truth of Christianity," he said, "is neither more nor less than the truth of certain facts that have been handed down to us by the testimony of reporters." The originality of his arguments, the force of his conclusions, and the eloquent, clear, and vigorous style in which they were expressed, arrested the public attention, and secured for the article such a favourable reception, that for the purpose of diffusing its benefits more widely, the proprietors of the "Encyclopaedia" caused it to be published as a separate work. Still, however, there were not a few who complained that the base of Christian evidence had been unnecessarily lessened by such an exclusive mode of reasoning; and he was addressed on the subject, not only with private remonstrance, but also with sharp criticisms through the press. The effect of all this was, gradually to enlarge his conceptions upon the subject, so that more than twenty years after, when the work reappeared in his "Institutes of Theology," it was with the internal evidences added to the external. In this way, he surrendered a long-cherished and beloved theory to more matured convictions, and satisfied, while he answered, the objections which the first appearance of his treatise had occasioned.

These were not the only literary labours of Chalmers at this period. About the same time that his article on Christian evidence appeared in the "Encyclopaedia," he published a pamphlet, entitled, "The Influence of Bible Societies upon the Temporal Necessities of the Poor." It had been alleged, that the parochial associations formed in Scotland in aid of the Bible Society, would curtail the voluntary parish funds that were raised for the relief of the poor. This argument touched Chalmers very closely; for he was not only an enthusiastic advocate for the relief of poverty by voluntary contribution instead of compulsory poors’-rates, but also an active agent in the multiplication of Bible-Society associations over the country. He therefore endeavoured to show, that these different institutions, instead of being hostile, would be of mutual aid to each other; and that Bible Societies had a tendency not only to stimulate and enlarge Christian liberality, but to lessen the amount of poverty, by introducing a more industrious and independent spirit among the poor. This was speedily followed by a review of "Cuvier’s Essay on the Theory of the Earth," which was published in the "Christian Instructor," and in which Chalmers boldly ventured to call in question the generally received chronology which theologians have ventured to engraft upon the Mosaic account of the creation. They had asserted hitherto that the world was not more than six thousand years old, and adduced the sacred history as their warrant, while the new discoveries in geology incontestibly proved that it must have had a much earlier origin. Here, then, revelation and the facts of science were supposed to be completely at variance, and infidelity revelled in the contradiction. But Chalmers boldly cut the knot, not by questioning the veracity of Moses, but the correctness of his interpreters; and he asked, "Does Moses ever say that there was not an interval of many ages betwixt the first act of creation, described in the first verse of the book of Genesis, and said to have been performed at the beginning, and those more detailed operations, the account of which commences at the second verse? Or does he ever make us to understand, that the genealogies of man went any further than to fix the antiquity of the species, and, of consequence, that they left the antiquity of the globe a free subject for the speculations of philosophers?" These questions, and the explanations with which they were followed, were of weight, as coming not only from a clergyman whose orthodoxy was now unimpeachable, but who had distinguished himself so lately in the illustration of Christian evidence;—and, perhaps, it is unnecessary to add, that the solution thus offered is the one now generally adopted. The subject of "Missions" next occupied his pen, in consequence of an article in the "Edinburgh Review," which, while giving a notice of Lichtenstein’s "Travels in Southern Africa," took occasion, by lauding the Moravian missionaries, to disparage other missions, as beginning their instructions at the wrong end, while the Moravian brethren had hit upon the true expedient of first civilizing savages, and afterwards teaching them the doctrines of Christianity. Chalmers showed that, in point of fact, this statement was untrue; and proved, from the testimony of the brethren themselves, that the civilization of their savage converts was the effect, and not the cause—the sequel rather than the prelude of Christian teaching. They had first tried the civilizing process, and most egregiously failed; they had afterwards, and at hap-hazard, read to the obdurate savages the account of our Saviour’s death from the Evangelists, by which they were arrested and moved in an instant; and this process, which the Moravians had afterwards adopted, was the secret of the wonderful success of their missions. These were subjects into which his heart fully entered, as a Christian divine and a lover of science, and therefore he brought to each of these productions his usual careful research and persuasive eloquence. It is not, however, to be thought that amidst such congenial occupations the intellectual labour necessary for the duties of the pulpit was in any way remitted. On the contrary, many of his sermons, prepared at this period for the simple rustics of Kilmany, were afterwards preached before crowds of the most accomplished of our island in Glasgow, Edinburgh, and London, and afterwards committed to the press, almost without any alteration. The highest eloquence is the utterance of a full heart that cannot be silent. And such was the eloquence of Chalmers. During three years he had been intensely occupied with the most important and soul-engrossing of all themes: they brought to his awakened perceptions the charm of a new existence; and these sermons were but the expressions of love, and wonder, and delight, which every fresh discovery of that new existence evolved from him. And where, in such a state, was the need of listening thousands, or the deep-muttered thunder of popular applause? He must thus write though no eye should peruse the writing, and give it utterance although it were only to the trees or the winds. And when such productions are spoken before living men, the orator, while his auditors appear before him in glimpses and at intervals, does not pause to gauge their intellectuality, their rank, or their numbers. He only feels that they are immortal beings, and that he is commissioned to proclaim to them the tidings of eternity.

But the time had now arrived when this training, in the course of Providence, was to be turned to its proper account, and such powers to find their proper field of action. His renown as a preacher, by which all Fifeshire was stirred, had gone abroad, while his literary reputation and intellectual powers were stamped by his published productions beyond the possibility of doubt or cavil. In this case, too, as was most fitting, he did not seek, but was sought. Dr. Macgill, minister of the Tron church, Glasgow, had been translated to the divinity chair of the university of that city, and the task of finding a successor to the vacant pulpit devolved upon the town-council. The name of the minister of Kilmany was forthwith heard, and, after due consideration, the usual overtures were made to him to accept the charge of the Tron church. But tempting though such an offer might be, the rural minister demurred and held back. He could not persuade himself to abandon a people whom his lately-awakened spirit had inspired with a kindred sympathy, and who were wont every Sabbath to throng their long-deserted pews with such eager solicitude, and listen to his teaching with such solemn interest. But, above all, the secularities of a great city charge, and the inroads which it would make upon his time and attention, filled him with alarm. "I know of instances," he wrote in reply, "where a clergyman has been called from the country to town for his talent at preaching; and when he got there, they so belaboured him with the drudgery of their institutions, that they smothered and extinguished the very talent for which they had adopted him. The purity and independence of the clerical office are not sufficiently respected in great towns. He comes among them a clergyman, and they make a mere churchwarden of him." His objections were at length overruled, and on being elected by a large majority of the town-council of Glasgow, he signified his acceptance, and was inducted into his important charge on the 21st July, 1815, when he had reached the matured and vigorous age of thirty-five. It was a day of impatient expectation in our metropolis of manufactures and commerce, as after his acceptance, and four months previous to his admission, its citizens had enjoyed the opportunity of hearing with their own ears a specimen of that eloquence which hitherto they had known only by report. The occasion was the annual meeting of the Society of the Sons of the Clergy, held at Glasgow, before which Chalmers was appointed to preach; and the feeling of the vast multitude that sat electrified beneath his wondrous power might have been expressed in the language of the Queen of Sheba: They had heard of it only, and could not believe; but now they found that half of the truth had not been told them.

As soon as he had got fairly located in Glasgow, Chalmers found that, notwithstanding all his previous stipulations to that effect, his time was no longer to be his own. But still worse than this, he found that it was to be frittered away in ten thousand frivolous occupations with which, he justly thought, his sacred office had nothing to do. Three months had scarcely elapsed, when we find him thus writing on the subject: "This, Sir, is a wonderful place; and I am half-entertained, half-provoked by some of the peculiarities of its people. The peculiarity which bears hardest upon me is, the incessant demand they have upon all occasions for the personal attendance of the ministers. They must have four to every funeral, or they do not think that it has been genteelly gone through. They must have one or more to all the committees of all the societies. They must fall in at every procession. They must attend examinations innumerable, and eat of the dinners consequent upon these examinations. They have a niche assigned them in almost every public doing, and that niche must be filled up by them, or the doing loses all its solemnity in the eyes of the public. There seems to be a superstitious charm in the very sight of them; and such is the manifold officiality with which they are covered, that they must be paraded among all the meetings and all the institutions." It was not without cause that he thus complained; for in coming to details, we find him at one time obliged to sit in judgment as to whether such a gutter should be bought up and covered over, or left alone as it stood; and whether ox-head soup or pork broth was the fittest diet for a poor’s house; alternated, on going home, with the necessity of endorsing applications of persons wishing to follow the calling of spirit-sellers and pedlars. This, indeed, was to have "greatness thrust upon him!" But the evil had originated in Glasgow so early as the days of the covenant, when every movement was more or less connected with religion; and it was perpetuated and confirmed by the mercantile bustle that succeeded in later periods, when every merchant or shopkeeper was eager to devolve upon the minister those occupations that would have interfered with his own professional pursuits. These difficulties Chalmers was obliged to wrestle down as he best could, and at the risk of being complained of as an innovator; but a persevering course of sturdy refusal at length reduced the grievance to a manageable compass. When this was surmounted, there was still another trial to be got rid of, that originated in his own daily increasing popularity. He was now the great mark of admiration and esteem, so that all were not only eager to visit him, but to have their visits reciprocated. When these demands were also comprised within tolerable limits, a third difficulty was to be confronted, that could not so easily be overcome, as it arose from his own parish, of which he had the oversight. That our ministers might be able, like the apostles of old, to give themselves "continually to prayer and to the ministry of the Word," our church had wisely appointed not only deacons to take charge of the temporalities of the congregation, but elders to assist the pastor in the visitation of the sick, and all the outdoor duties of his ecclesiastical charge. But while the work of the deaconship had become of late little more than a dead letter, the duties of the eldership had diminished almost entirely to the Sabbath collections in the church porch, and their allocation to the poor of the parish. Most truly, therefore, did a certain minister of Edinburgh, after a charity sermon, announce, in full simplicity of heart, to those who might be disposed to contribute still farther, that in going out, they would find standing at the door "the church plates, and their concomitants the elders." Chalmers felt that this worn-out machinery must be renewed, and restored to its former efficiency; for otherwise, in a parish containing nearly twelve thousand souls, he could be little more than its Sabbath preacher. To this important task he therefore addressed himself, and the result of his labours in the ecclesiastical organization of his parish, which were followed by general imitation, proved how justly he had appreciated the difficulties that beset a city minister, and the most effectual remedies by which they are obviated.

While he was thus contending with this "mortal coil" of secular occupation, and shuffling it off as well as he might, the pulpit preparations of the new minister evinced that it was not his own ease that he sought by this earnest desire of silence and seclusion. For it was not by mere eloquence and originality of style that his weekly sermons not only retained, but increased his reputation and efficiency; on the contrary, their depth of thought and originality of sentiment were more wonderful than their language, powerful and startling though it was. His preaching was in some measure the commencement of a new era in the history of the Scottish Church. To understand this aright, we must keep in mind the two parties into which the Church had been divided, and the solicitude they had manifested for nearly a century, to avoid every meeting except a hostile collision. On the one side was the Evangelical party, with whom the sympathies of the people were enlisted, and on the other the Moderates, who generally speaking, comprised the aristocracy, the philosophists, and the politicians of the community, men who talked of the "march of mind," and the "progress of improvement," and who thought that religion, as well as everything else, should accommodate itself to that progress. With such men the theology of our fathers was distasteful, because it was old-fashioned, and their aim was to dilute it so effectually with modern liberalism as to adapt it to the tastes and exigencies of the day. Hence the cautiousness with which they were wont, in their sermons, to avoid all such topics as election, regeneration, and the atonement, and the decided preference which they showed for those moral duties upon which man can decide and act for himself. In this way, they too often confined their teaching to those virtues on which all creeds are more or less agreed, so that sometimes it would have been difficult to divine, from the tenor of such discourses, whether the speaker was Christian, Pagan, or Infidel. With the evangelical party the case was wholly different. Eager to preach the paramount importance of faith, they were too ready to lose sight of its fruits as exemplified in action; while every mention of human virtue was apt to be condemned as legalism, self-seeking, and reliance on the covenant of works instead of the covenant of grace. That the heavenly and divine might be everything, the human was reduced to nothing; and to exalt the all-in-all sufficiency of redemption, man was to sit still, not only under its present coming, but also its future influences. And to impress upon their hearers more fully the necessity of this redemption, an odious picture was generally drawn of human nature, in which all that is helpless, and worthless, and villanous, was heaped together indiscriminately, and made to constitute a picture of man in his original condition. In this way, either party diverged from the other, the one towards Socinianism, and the other to Antinomianism, so that it was sometimes hard to tell which of these aberrations was the worst; while of their flocks it might too often be said—

"The hungry sheep look’d up, and were not fed."

It would be insulting to ask which of these two parties Chalmers followed as a public spiritual teacher. His was a mind not likely to be allured either by the shrivelled philosophy of the one, or the caricatured Calvinism of the other. He rejected both, and adopted for himself a course which was based upon the fulness of revelation itself, instead of the exclusive one-sided nook of a body of mere religionists; a course which reconciled and harmonized the anomalies of every-day reality with the unerring declarations of Scripture. Thus, he could not see that every man at his birth was inevitably a liar, a murderer, and a villain. Instead of this, there was such a thing as innate virtue; and men might be patriots, philanthropists, and martyrs, even without being Christians. And here he drew such pictures of the natural man in his free unconstrained nobleness—such delineations of disinterestedness, humanity, integrity, and self-denial welling forth from hearts that were still unrenewed, as Plato might have heard with enthusiasm, and translated into his own richest Attic eloquence. And was not all this true? Was it not daily exhibited, not only in our empire at large, but even in the mercantile communities of that city in which his lot had now been cast? But while the self-complacent legalist was thus carried onward delighted, and regaled with such descriptions of the innate nobleness of human character as his own teachers had never furnished, he was suddenly brought to an awful pause by the same resistless eloquence. The preacher proceeded to show that still these words were an incontestable immutable verity, "There is none righteous, no not one." For in spite of all this excellence, the unrenewed heart was still at enmity with God, and in all its doings did nothing at his command or for his sake. And therefore, however valuable this excellence might be for time and the world, it was still worthless for eternity. It was of the earth, earthy, and would pass away with the earth. It sought a requital short of heaven, and even already had obtained its reward.

An event soon occurred after the arrival of Mr., now Dr., Chalmers in Glasgow, by which his reputation as a preacher was no longer to be confined to Scotland, but diffused over the world, wherever the English language is known. We allude to his well known "Astronomical Discourses," which, of all his writings, will perhaps be the most cherished by posterity. It was the custom of the city clergymen to preach every Thursday in rotation in the Tron church; and as there were only eight ministers, the turn of each arrived after an interval of two months. Dr. Chalmers took his share in this duty, for the first time, on the 15th November, 1815, and commenced with the first lecture of the astronomical series, which he followed up during his turn in these week-day services, for the year 1816. To those who have only read these discourses, it would be enough to say, in the words of AEschines, "What would you have said if you had seen him discharge all this thunder-storm of eloquence?" They were published at the commencement of 1817; and the avidity with which they were read is shown by the fact, that 6000 copies were disposed of in a month, and nearly 20,000 within the course of the year. Nothing like it had occurred in the publication of sermons either in England or Scotland; and while the most illiterate were charmed with the production, the learned, the scientific, and the critical, read, admired, and were convinced. London would not rest until it had seen and heard the living man; and Dr. Chalmers was invited to preach the anniversary sermon for the London Missionary Society. Thither he accordingly went, and delivered a discourse in Surrey chapel, on the 14th May. The service was to commence at eleven, but so early as seven in the morning that vast building of 3000 sittings was crowded, while thousands of disappointed comers were obliged to go away. An account of what followed, written home by Mr. Smith, one of his friends, who accompanied him from Glasgow, is thus expressed: "I write under the nervousness of having heard and witnessed the most astonishing display of human talent that perhaps ever commanded sight or hearing. Dr. Chalmers has just finished the discourse before the Missionary Society. All my expectations were overwhelmed in the triumph of it. Nothing from the Tron pulpit ever exceeded it, nor did he ever more arrest and wonder-work his auditors. I had a full view of the whole place. The carrying forward of minds never was 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." Other demands for sermons followed; for, in the words of "Wilberforce’s Diary," "all the world was wild about Dr. Chalmers." Even Canning, who was one of his hearers, and who was melted into tears by his sermon for the Hibernian Society, declared that, "notwithstanding the northern accent and unpolished manner of the speaker, he had never been so arrested by any kind of oratory." "The tartan," he added, "beats us all." But the best and most valuable testimony was that of the Rev. Robert Hall, himself the Chalmers of England, whose generous heart rejoiced in the eclipse which he had just sustained by the arrival of his northern brother; and in writing to him, after his return to Glasgow, he says: "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; and it must be a delightful reflection, that you are advancing the cause of religion in innumerable multitudes of your fellow-creatures, whose faces you will never behold till the last day."

It is now time to turn from Dr. Chalmers in his study and pulpit, to Dr. Chalmers in his hard-working life of every-day usefulness. And here we shall find no dreaming theorist, contented with fireside musing upon the best plans of ameliorating the evils of society, or daunted midway by the difficulties of the attempt. Considering what he had already done, there was none who could more justly have claimed the full privileges of literary leisure and retirement. But when he threw off the throng of extraneous occupation that surrounded him, it was only that he might have room for equally arduous employment, in which the "full proof of his ministry" more especially consisted. It was not enough that he should see and address his congregation; he must visit the houses, examine the families, and become acquainted with the individuals of which that congregation was composed. He must also bring himself in contact with those of his parish who belonged to no congregation—the vicious, the reckless, the ignorant, and the poor—and endeavour, by his favourite process of "excavation," to bring them out from their murky concealments into the light of day, and the elevating influence of gospel ordinances. Twelve thousand souls to be visited!—but is not a soul worth looking after? To work therefore he went as soon as he became minister of the Tron church parish, undergoing an amount of bodily labour such as few would have cared to encounter, but resolute not to abandon the task until it was completed. A few weeks thus employed enabled him to ascertain what evils existed, as well as what remedies should be applied. It was necessary that the destitute and the outcast of his parish should be frequently visited, and for the performance of this duty he infused his own active spirit into the eldership by which he was surrounded. The fearful ignorance that was accumulating among the young of the lower orders must be dispersed; and, for this purpose, he organized a society among his congregation for the establishment of Sabbath-schools in the parish. These schools became so numerous, and so well attended, that in two years they numbered 1200 children, receiving regular religious instruction. A single close furnished the necessary amount of pupils for a school; and the teacher who visited its families for the purpose of bringing them out, was taught to watch over that little locality as his own especial parish.

This course of daily labour and visitation had its prospective, as well as immediate benefits. Dr. Chalmers had hitherto witnessed poverty and its results only upon a small scale. It was here a family, and there an individual, over the extent of a country parish; and for these cases, private benevolence and the contributions at the church door had generally been found sufficient. But now he was brought into close contact with poverty and destitution acting upon society in thousands, and producing an aggravation of crime, as well as misery, such as his rural experience had never witnessed. For all this, however, he was not wholly unprepared. He had already studied the subject in the abstract, and he found that now was the time, and here the field, to bring his theories on the subject into full operation. His idea, from all he witnessed, was but the more strongly confirmed, that the simple parochial apparatus of Scotland, so effectual for the relief of a village or country parish, would be equally efficacious for a populous city, and that recourse to poors’-rates and compulsory charity would only foster the evil which it aimed to cure. This conviction he now endeavoured to impress, not only in conversation and by public speeches, but also by his articles on "Pauperism" in the "Edinburgh Review," and a series of essays, which he afterwards published, on the "Civic and Christian Economy of Large Towns." But to go to the very source of poverty, and strike at once at the root, was his chief aim; and this could only be accomplished by indoctrinating the masses of a crowded city with the principles of Christian industry, independence, and morality. Even this, too, the parochial system had contemplated, by an adequate provision of church accommodation and instruction; but, unfortunately, while the population of the country had been nearly trebled, the church provision had remained stationary. The consequence was, that even in his own parish of the Tron, there were not a third who attended any church, notwithstanding the additional accommodation which dissent had furnished. And such, or still worse, was the state of matters over the whole of Glasgow. What he therefore wanted was "twenty more churches, and twenty more ministers," for that city alone; and this desideratum he boldly announced in his sermon on the death of the Princess Charlotte in 1817. Such a conclusion was but the unavoidable result of a train of premises to which all were ready to assent, while the demand itself, instead of being extravagant, was considerably short of the emergency. And yet it was clamoured at, and cried down in every form of argument and ridicule, as the wildest of all benevolent extravagancies, and even the addition of a single church, which the magistrates had decided a few months previous, was thought too much. But strong in the confidence of truth, Dr. Chalmers held fast to his much decried doctrine, until he had the satisfaction of finding his church extension principle generally adopted, and not twenty, but two hundred additional churches erected in our towns and cities, to attest the soundness of his argument, and reward the zeal with which he had urged it.

The one additional church to which we have adverted, was that of St. John’s, of which he was elected to be minister, with a new parish attached to it of ten thousand persons, almost entirely operatives. It redounds to the honour of the magistrates and town council of Glasgow to state, that this erection of a new parish and church, was for the purpose of giving Dr. Chalmers full opportunity of testing the parochial principle as applied to large towns; and that for this purpose they freed him from those restrictions which had gathered upon the old city charges, and conceded to him and his kirk session a separate independent parochial jurisdiction. The building, being finished, was opened on the 26th September, 1819, and crowded by its new parishioners, who had now their own church and minister, while the latter met them with equal ardour, and commenced at once the duties of his new sphere. He was ably seconded by his elders, a numerous body of active, intelligent, devoted men, and by the deacons, whose office was restored to its original efficiency under his superintendence; and as each had his own particular district to which his labours were confined, every family and every individual in the new parish, containing a population of ten thousand, had his own spiritual and temporal condition more or less attended to. In addition to these aids, he was soon surrounded by eighty Sabbath-school teachers, each superintending the religious education of the children belonging to his own little locality. These labours were not long continued until another great parochial want called forth the attention of Dr. Chalmers. It was the state of secular education, which, defective as it was throughout Glasgow in general, was peculiarly so in the new parish, whose population chiefly consisted of weavers, labourers, and factory-workers—persons who were unable to obtain a good education for their children, notwithstanding its cheapness as compared with that of England. On account of this, it was soon found in the Sabbath-schools that many of the children could not read a single verse of Scripture without such hammering as to make its meaning unintelligible. Something must be done, and that instantly, to counteract the evil. But mere charity schools and gratis education were an abomination to the doctor, who well knew that that which is got for nothing is generally reckoned worth nothing, and treated accordingly. The best education at the cheapest rate—the independence of the poor secured, while their children were efficiently taught—this was the happy medium which he sought, and which he found ready to his hand in the plan of Scottish parochial education. Let such a salary be secured for the teacher, that an active and accomplished man will find it worth his while to devote himself to the work; but, at the same time, let the small school-fees of the pupils be such as to secure the feeling of personal independence, and make them value the instruction for which a price is exacted. An "education committee" was therefore established for St. John’s; subscriptions were set on foot for the erection and endowment of schools; and when a sufficient sum was procured, a desirable site was found for the building of the first school. The ground was the property of the College, and Dr. Chalmers repaired to its head, the venerable Principal Taylor, to obtain it upon such cheap terms as the case justly demanded. "Ah!" said the Principal, shaking his head, "we have been talking about establishing parochial schools in Glasgow for these twenty years." "Yes," replied Dr. Chalmers, "but now we are going to do the thing, not to talk about it; we are going to take the labour of talking and planning completely off your hands." This good-humoured application was successful; and by the middle of 1820 the school was finished, and the work of teaching commenced, under two efficient schoolmasters. Another school was soon erected by the same prompt liberality that had supplied funds for the first, and conducted also by two able masters. The four teachers had each a fixed salary of 25 per annum, and a free house, in addition to the fees of 2s. per quarter for reading, and 3s. for reading, writing, arithmetic, and book-keeping, while the right of admission was limited to parishioners exclusively. There was full need of this restriction, for so highly were the benefits of this system of education appreciated, that the two schools had 419 pupils. Even when the doctor left Glasgow, also, the work was still going on through fresh contributions and erections, so that about 800 children belonging to the parish were furnished with the means of a complete and liberal education at a small expense. Such a heavy and complicated amount of toil as all this organization involved, would have been impossible for any one man, however energetic, and even Dr. Chalmers himself would have sunk beneath the load before his four years’ experiment in St. John’s had expired, had it not been for the efficient aid which he received from his assistant, the Rev. Edward Irving. Contemplating the vast amount of work which he had proposed to himself in his trial of the parochial system as applied to large towns, it had been considerately resolved that a regular assistant should be allowed him in the task; and by a train of fortuitous circumstances, that office was devolved upon a congenial spirit—one to the full as wonderful in his own way as Dr. Chalmers, but whose career was afterwards to be so erratic, and finally so mournful and disastrous. At present, however, the mind of Irving, although swelling with high aspirations, was regulated, controlled, and directed by the higher intellect and gentler spirit of his illustrious principal, so that his vast powers, both physical and mental, were brought fully to bear upon their proper work. Nothing, indeed, could be a more complete contrast than the genuine simplicity and rustic bearing of Dr. Chalmers, compared with the colossal form, Salvator Rosa countenance, and startling mode of address that distinguished his gifted assistant. But different as they were in external appearance and manner, their purpose and work were the same, and both were indefatigable in advancing the intellectual and spiritual interests of the parish of St. John’s. Little, indeed, could it have been augured of these two remarkable men, that in a few years after they would be the founders of two churches, and that these churches should be so different in their doctrines, character, and bearings.

After having laboured four years in the ministerial charge of St. John’s parish, a new change was to take place in the life of Dr. Chalmers, by the fulfilment of one of his earliest aspirations. It will be remembered, that in the period of his youth, when he was about to commence his ministry in the parish of Kilmany, his earnest wishes were directed towards a chair in the university of St. Andrews; and now, after the lapse of more than twenty years, his desires were to be gratified. The professorship of Moral Philosophy in that university had become vacant, and it was felt by the professors that none was so well fitted to occupy the charge, and increase the literary reputation of the college, as Dr. Chalmers, their honoured alumnus, whose reputation was now diffused over Europe: The offer, also, which was neither of his own seeking nor expecting, was tendered in the most respectful manner. Such an application from his alma mater, with which his earliest and most affectionate remembrances were connected, did not solicit him in vain; and after signifying his consent, he was unanimously elected to the office on the 18th January, 1823. Six different applications had previously been made to him from various charges since his arrival in Glasgow, but these he had steadfastly refused, for he felt that there he had a work to accomplish, to which every temptation of ecclesiastical promotion or literary ease must be postponed. But now the case was different. The machinery which he had set in motion with such immense exertion, might now be carried on by an ordinary amount of effort, and therefore could be intrusted to a meaner hand. His own health had suffered by the labour, and needed both repose and change. He felt, also, that a new career of usefulness in the cause of religion might be opened up to him by the occupation of a university chair, and the opportunities of literary leisure which it would afford him. And no change of self-seeking, so liberally applied in cases of clerical translation, could be urged in the present instance; as the transition was from a large to a smaller income; and from a thronging city, where he stood in the full blaze of his reputation, to a small and remote county town, where the highest merit would be apt to sink into obscurity. Much grumbling, indeed, there was throughout Glasgow at large, and not a little disappointment expressed by the kirk session of St. John’s, when the proposed movement was announced; but the above-mentioned reasons had at last their proper weight, and the final parting was one of mutual tenderness and esteem. The effect of his eight years’ labours in that city is thus summed up by his eloquent biographer, the Rev. Dr. Hanna:—"When Dr. Chalmers came to Glasgow, by the great body of the upper classes of society evangelical doctrines were nauseated and despised; when he left it, even by those who did not bow to their influence, these doctrines were acknowledged to be indeed the very doctrines of the Bible. When Dr. Chalmers came to Glasgow, in the eye of the multitude evangelism stood confounded with a drivelling sanctimoniousness, or a sour-minded ascetism; when he left it, from all such false associations the Christianity of the New Testament stood clearly and nobly redeemed. When Dr. Chalmers came to Glasgow, for nearly a century the magistrates and town council had exercised the city patronage in a spirit determinately anti-evangelical; when he left it, so complete was the revolution which had been effected, that from that time forward none but evangelical clergymen were appointed by the city patrons. When Dr. Chalmers came to Glasgow, there and elsewhere over Scotland, there were many most devoted clergymen of the Establishment who had given themselves up wholly to the ministry of the Word and to prayer, but there was not one in whose faith and practice week-day ministrations had the place or power which he assigned to them; when he left it he had exhibited such a model of fidelity, diligence, and activity in all departments of ministerial labour, as told finally upon the spirit and practice of the whole ministry of Scotland. When Dr. Chalmers came to Glasgow, unnoticed thousands of the city population were sinking into ignorance, infidelity, and vice, and his eye was the first in this country to foresee to what a fearful magnitude that evil, if suffered to grow on unchecked, would rise; when he left it, his ministry in that city remained behind him, a permanent warning to a nation which has been but slow to learn that the greatest of all questions, both for statesmen and for churchmen, is the condition of those untaught and degraded thousands who swarm now around the base of the social edifice, and whose brawny arms may yet grasp its pillars to shake or to destroy. When Dr. Chalmers came to Glasgow, in the literary circles of the Scottish metropolis a thinly disguised infidelity sat on the seats of greatest influence, and smiled or scoffed at a vital energetic faith in the great and distinctive truths of revelation, while widely over his native land the spirit of a frigid indifference to religion prevailed; when he left it, the current of public sentiment had begun to set in a contrary direction; and although it took many years, and the labour of many other hands, to carry that healthful change onward to maturity, yet I believe it is not over-estimating it to say, that it was mainly by Dr. Chalmers’ ministry in Glasgow—by his efforts at this period in the pulpit and through the press—that the tide of national opinion and sentiment was turned."

Dr. Chalmers delivered his farewell sermon on November 9 (1823), and on this occasion such was the crowding, not only of his affectionate flock, but admirers from every quarter, that the church, which was built to accommodate 1700 hearers, on this occasion contained twice that number. On the 11th, a farewell dinner was given to him by 340 gentlemen; and at the close, when he rose to retire, all the guests stood up at once to honour his departure. "Gentlemen," said the doctor, overwhelmed by this last token, and turning repeatedly to every quarter, "I cannot utter a hundredth part of what I feel—but I will do better—I will bear it all away." He was gone, and all felt as if the head of wisdom, and heart of cordial affection and Christian love, and tongue of commanding and persuasive eloquence, that hitherto had been the life and soul of Glasgow, had departed with him. If anything could have consoled him after such a parting, it must have been the reception that welcomed his arrival in St. Andrews, where he delivered his introductory lecture seven days after, the signal that his new career of action had begun.

So closely had Dr. Chalmers adhered to his clerical duties in Glasgow to the last, that on his arrival in St. Andrews, his whole stock for the commencement of the course of Moral Philosophy consisted of only a few days’ lectures. But nothing can more gratify an energetic mind that has fully tested its own powers, than the luxury of such a difficulty. It is no wonder, therefore, to find him thus writing in the latter part of the session: "I shall be lecturing for six weeks yet, and am very nearly from hand-to-mouth with my preparations. I have the prospect of winning the course, though it will be by no more than the length of half-a-neck; but I like the employment vastly." Most of these lectures were afterwards published as they were written, a sure indication of the deeply-concentrated power and matchless diligence with which he must have occupied the winter months. It was no mere student auditory, also, for which he had exclusively to write during each day the lecture of the morrow; for the benches of the classroom were crowded by the intellectual from every quarter, who had repaired to St. Andrews to hear the doctor’s eloquence upon a new theme. Even when the session was over, it brought no such holiday season as might have been expected; for he was obliged to prepare for the great controversy upon the plurality question, which, after having undergone its course in Presbytery and Synod, was finally to be settled in the General Assembly, the opening of which was now at hand. The point at issue, upon which the merits of the case now rested, was, whether in consistency with the laws of the Church, Dr. Macfarlan could hold conjunctly the office of principal of the university of Glasgow, and minister of the Inner High church in the same city? On this occasion, Dr. Chalmers and Dr. Thomson spoke against the connection of offices with their wonted eloquence; but the case was so completely prejudged and settled, that no earthly eloquence could have availed, and the question in favour of the double admission was carried by a majority of twenty-six. In much of the proceedings of this Assembly Dr. Chalmers took a part, among which was the proposal of electing a new Gaelic church in Glasgow. This measure he ably and successfully advocated, so that it passed by a large majority. Only a fortnight after the Assembly had closed he was in Glasgow, and more busy there if possible than ever, having engaged to preach for six consecutive Sabbaths in the chapel which, at his instigation, had been erected as an auxiliary to the parish church of St. John’s. Here, however, he was not to rest; for, while thus occupied with his former flock, he received an urgent invitation to preach at Stockport, for the benefit of the Sabbath-school established there—a very different school from those of Scotland for the same purpose, being built at a great expense, and capable of accommodating 4000 children. He complied; but on reaching England he was mortified, and even disgusted to find, that the whole service was to be one of those half-religious half-theatrical exhibitions, so greatly in vogue in our own day, in which the one-half of the service seems intended to mock the other. He was to conduct the usual solemnities of prayer and preaching, and, so far, the whole affair was to partake of the religious character; but, in addition to himself as principal performer, a hundred instrumental and vocal artistes were engaged for the occasion, who were to rush in at the close of the pulpit ministrations with all the secularities of a concert or oratorio. The doctor was indignant, and remonstrated with the managers of the arrangement, but it was too late. All he could obtain was, that these services should be kept apart from each other, instead of being blended together, as had been originally intended. Accordingly, he entered the pulpit, conducted the solemn services as he was wont, and preached to a congregation of 3500 auditors, after which he retired, and left the managers to their own devices; and before he had fairly escaped from the building, a tremendous volley of bassoons, flutes, violins, bass viols, and serpents, burst upon his ear, and accelerated the speed of his departure. The collection upon this occasion amounted to 400,—but might it not be said to have been won too dearly?

The course of next winter at St. Andrews was commenced under the most favourable auspices, and more than double the number of students attended the Moral Philosophy class-room than had been wont in former sessions. Still true, moreover, to his old intellectual predilections, he also opened a separate class for Political Economy, which he found to be still more attractive to the students than the science of Ethics. Nothing throughout could exceed the enthusiasm of the pupils, and their affection for their amiable and distinguished preceptor, who was frequently as ready to walk with them and talk with them as to lecture to them. Thus the course of 1824-25 went onward to its close, after which he again commenced his duties as a member of the General Assembly, and entered with ardour into the subject of church plurality, upon which he spoke sometimes during the course of discussion. It was during this conflict that a frank generous avowal was made by Dr. Chalmers that electrified the whole meeting. On the second day of the debate, a member upon the opposite side quoted from an anonymous pamphlet the declaration of its author’s 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 this was read, every eye was turned to Dr. Chalmers; it was the pamphlet he had published twenty years ago, when the duties of the ministerial office appeared to him in a very different light than they now did. He considered its resurrection at such a period as a solemn call to humiliation and confession, and from this unpalatable duty he did not for a moment shrink. Rising in his place, he declared, that the production was his own. "I now confess myself," he added, "to have been guilty of a heinous crime, and I now stand a repentant culprit before the bar of this venerable assembly." After stating the time and the occasion in which it originated, he went on in the following words:—"I was at that time, Sir, more devoted to mathematics than to the literature of my profession; and, feeling grieved and indignant at what I conceived an undue reflection on the abilities and education of our clergy, I came forward with that pamphlet, to rescue them from what I deemed an unmerited reproach, by maintaining that a devoted and exclusive attention to the study of mathematics was not dissonant to the proper habits of a clergyman. Alas! Sir, so I thought in my ignorance and pride. I have now no reserve in saying, that the sentiment was wrong, and that, in the utterance of it, I penned what was most outrageously wrong. Strangely blinded that I was! What, Sir, is the object of mathematical science? Magnitude and the proportions of magnitude. But then, Sir, I had forgotten two magnitudes —I thought not of the littleness of time—I recklessly thought not of the greatness of eternity."

Hitherto the course of Dr. Chalmers at St. Andrews had been comfortable and tranquil; but this state was to continue no longer. It would have been strange, indeed, if one who so exclusively enjoyed the popularity of the town and its colleges, should have been permitted to enjoy it without annoyance. In the first instance, too, his grievances arose from that very evil of church plurality of which he had at first been the tolerant advocate, and afterwards the uncompromising antagonist. A vacancy having occurred in the city parish of St. Leonards, the charge was bestowed, not upon a free unencumbered man, but upon one of the professors, whose college labours were enough for all his time and talent; and as he was unacceptable as a preacher, many of the students, among whom an unwonted earnestness had of late been awakened upon the important subject of religion, were desirous of enjoying a more efficient ministry. But an old law of the college made it imperative that they should give their Sabbath attendance at the church of St. Leonards; and when they petitioned for liberty to select their own place for worship and religious instruction, their application was refused, although it was backed by that of their parents. It was natural that Dr. Chalmers should become their advocate; and almost equally natural that in requital he should be visited by the collective wrath of his brethren of the Senatus. They had decerned that the request of the students was unreasonable and mutinous; and turning upon the doctor himself, they represented him as one given up to new-fangled ideas of Christian liberty, and hostile to the interests of the Established Church. A still more vexatious subject of discussion arose from the appropriation of the college funds, the surplus of which, instead of being laid out to repair the dilapidated buildings, as had been intended, was annually divided among the professors after the current expenses of the classes had been defrayed. Dr. Chalmers thought this proceeding not only an illegal stretch of authority on the part of the professors, but also a perilous temptation; and on finding that they would not share in his scruples, he was obliged to adopt the only conscientious step that remained—he refused his share of the spoil during the five years of his continuance at St. Andrews. Thus the case continued until 1827, when the royal commission that had been appointed for the examination of the Scottish universities arrived at St. Andrews, and commenced their searching inquest. Dr. Chalmers, who hoped on this occasion that the evils of which he complained would be redressed, underwent in his turn a long course of examination, in which he fearlessly laid open the whole subject, and proposed the obvious remedy. But in this complaint he stood alone; the commissioners listened to his suggestions, and left the case as they found it. Another department of college reform, which had for some time been the object of his anxious solicitude, was passed over in the same manner. It concerned the necessary training of the pupils previous to their commencement of a college education. At our Scottish universities the students were admitted at a mere school-boy age, when they knew scarcely any Latin, and not a word of Greek; and thus the classical education of our colleges was such as would have been fitter for a mere whipping-school, in which these languages had to be commenced ab initio, than seats of learning in which such attainments were to be matured nnd perfected. To rectify this gross defect, the proposal of Dr. Chalmers suggested the erection of gymnasia attached to the colleges, where these youths should undergo a previous complete training in the mere mechanical parts of classical learning, and thus be fitted, on their entrance into college, for the highest departments of Greek and Roman scholarship. But here, also, his appeals were ineffectual; and at the present day, and in the country of Buchanan and Melville, the university classes of Latin and Greek admit such pupils, and exhibit such defects, as would excite the contempt of an Eton or Westminster school-boy.

It was well for Dr. Chalmers that amidst all this hostility and disappointment he had formed for himself a satisfactory source of consolation. At his arrival in St. Andrews, and even amidst the toil of preparation for the duties of his new office, he had longed for the relief that would be afforded by the communication of religious instruction; for in becoming a professor of science, he had not ceased to be a minister of the gospel. As soon, therefore, as the bustle of the first session was ended, he threw himself with alacrity into the lowly office of a Sabbath-school teacher. He went to work also in his own methodical fashion, by selecting a district of the town to which his labours were to be confined, visiting its families one by one, and inviting the children to join the class which he was about to form for meeting at his own house on the Sabbath evenings. And there, in the midst of these poor children, sat one of the most profound and eloquent of men; one at whose feet the great, the wise, and the accomplished had been proud to sit; while the striking picture is heightened by the fact, that even for these humble prelections and examinations, his questions were written out, and his explanations prepared, as if he had been to confront the General Assembly, or the British Senate. In the hands of a talented artist would not such a subject furnish a true Christian counterpart to that of Marius sitting among the ruins of Carthage? At the third session this duty was exchanged for one equally congenial, and still more important, arising from the request of some of the parents of his college pupils, that he would take charge of the religious education of their sons, by receiving them into his house on the evenings of the Sabbath. With a desire so closely connected with his professional office through the week he gladly complied, after having intrusted his Sabbath-school children to careful teachers, who laboured under his direction. These student meetings, at first, were assembled around his fireside, in the character of a little family circle, and as such he wished it to continue; but so greatly was the privilege valued, and so numerous were the applications for admission, that the circle gradually expanded into a class, which his ample drawing-room could scarcely contain. These examples were not long in producing their proper fruits. The students of St. Andrews, animated by such a pattern, bestirred themselves in the division of the town into districts, and the formation of Sabbath-schools; and in the course of their explorations for the purpose, they discovered, even in that ancient seat of learning and city of colleges, an amount of ignorance and religious indifference such as they had never suspected to be lying around them till now. Another and an equally natural direction into which the impulse was turned, was that of missionary exertion; and on Dr. Chalmers having accepted the office of president of a missionary society, the students caught new ardour from the addresses which he delivered, and the reports he read to them at the meetings. The consequence was, that a missionary society was formed for the students themselves, in which a third of those belonging to the united colleges were speedily enrolled. It was a wonderful change in St. Andrews, so long the very Lethe of religious indifference and unconcern, and among its pupils, so famed among the other colleges of Scotland for riot, recklessness, and dissipation. And the result showed that this was no fever-fit of passing emotion, but a permanent and substantial reality. For many of those students who most distinguished themselves by their zeal for missions, were also distinguished as diligent talented scholars, and attained the highest honours of the university. Not a few of them now occupy our pulpits, and are among the most noted in the church for zeal, eloquence, and ministerial diligence and fidelity. And more than all, several of them were already in training for that high missionary office whose claims they so earnestly advocated, and are now to be found labouring in the good work in the four quarters of the world. Speaking of Dr. Chalmers at this period, one of the most accomplished of his pupils, and now the most distinguished of our missionaries, thus writes:--"Perhaps the most noticeable peculiarity connected with the whole of this transformative process, was the indirect, rather than the direct, mode in which the effectuating influence was exerted. It did not result so much from any direct and formal exhortation on the part of Dr. Chalmers, as from the general awakening and suggestive power of his lectures, the naked force of his own personal piety, and the spreading contagiousness of his own personal example. He carried about with him a better than talismanic virtue, by which all who came in contact with him were almost unconsciously influenced, moulded, and impelled to imitate. He did not formally assemble his students, and in so many set terms formally exhort them to constitute themselves into missionary societies, open Sabbath-schools, commence prayer-meetings, and such like. No; in the course of his lectures, he communicated something of his own life and warmth, and expounded principles of which objects like the preceding were some of the natural exponents and developments. He then faithfully exemplified the principles propounded in his own special actings and general conduct. He was known to be a man of prayer; he was acknowledged to be a man of active benevolence. He was observed to be going about from house to house, exhorting adults on the concerns of their salvation, and devoting his energies to the humble task of gathering around him a Sabbath-school. He was seen to be the sole reviver of an all but defunct missionary society. All these, and other such like traits of character and conduct, being carefully noted, how could they who intensely admired, revered, and loved the man, do less than endeavour, at however great a distance, to tread in his footsteps, and imitate so noble a pattern?"

Such was the tenor of his course in St. Andrews, until he was about to be transferred into another and more important field. The first effort made for this removal was an offer on the part of government of the charge of the parish of St. Cuthbert’s, Edinburgh, which had now became vacant by the death of the Rev. Sir Henry Moncrieff. To succeed such a man, and hold such a clerical appointment, which was one of the best in Scotland, were no ordinary temptations; but Dr. Chalmers was now fully persuaded that the highest, most sacred, and most efficient office in the Church, consisted in the training of a learned and pious ministry, and therefore he refused the offer, notwithstanding the very inferior emoluments of his present charge, and the annoyances with which it was surrounded. Another vacancy shortly afterwards occurred that was more in coincidence with his principles. This was the divinity chair of the university of Edinburgh, that had become vacant by the resignation of Dr. Ritchie, and to this charge he was unanimously elected by the magistrates and town council of Edinburgh, on the 31st October, 1827. The appointment on this occasion was cordially accepted, for it transferred him from the limited sphere of a county town to the capital; and from a professorship of ethics, the mere handmaid of theology, to that of theology itself. As he had not to commence his duties until the beginning of the next year’s session, he had thus a considerable interval for preparation, which he employed to the uttermost. The subjects of lecturing, too, which comprised Natural Theology and the Evidences of Christianity, had for years been his favourite study. His class-room, as soon as the course commenced, was inundated, not merely with regular students, but with clergymen of every church, and gentlemen of every literary or scientific profession, all eager to hear systematic theology propounded by such a teacher. All this was well; but when a similar torrent attempted to burst into his domestic retirement, and sweep away his opportunities of preparation, he was obliged to repel it with unwonted bluntness. "I have now," he said, "a written paper in my lobby, shown by my servant to all and sundry who are making mere calls of attention, which is just telling them, in a civil way, to go about their business. If anything will check intrusion this at length must." During this session, also, Dr. Chalmers was not only fully occupied with his class, but also with the great question of Catholic emancipation, which was now on the eve of a final decision. A public meeting was held in Edinburgh, on the 14th of March, to petition in favour of the measure; and it was there that he advocated the bill in favour of emancipation, in one of the most eloquent speeches he had ever uttered. The effect was tremendous, and at its close the whole assembly started to their feet, waved their hats, and rent the air with deafening shouts of applause for several minutes. Even the masters and judges of eloquence who were present were similarly moved, and Lord Jeffrey declared it as his opinion, that never had eloquence produced a greater effect upon a popular assembly, and that he could not believe more had ever been done by the oratory of Demosthenes, Cicero, Burke, or Sheridan.

After the college session had ended, Dr. Chalmers was not allowed to retire into his beloved seclusion. Indeed, his opinions were now of such weight with the public mind, and his services so valuable, that he was considered as a public property, and used accordingly. It was for this cause that our statesmen who advocated Catholic emancipation were so earnest that he should give full publicity to his sentiments on the subject. When this duty was discharged, another awaited him: it was to repair to London, and unfold his views on pauperism before a committee of the House of Commons, with reference to the proposal of introducing the English system of poor-laws into Ireland. During this visit to London, he had the honour of being appointed, without any solicitation on his part, one of the chaplains of his Majesty for Scotland. On returning home another visit to London was necessary, as one of the members of a deputation sent from the Church of Scotland to congratulate William IV., on his accession to the throne. It is seldom that our Scottish presbyters are to be found in kings’ palaces, so that the ordeal of a royal presentation is generally sufficient to puzzle their wisest. Thus felt Dr. Chalmers upon the occasion; and in the amusing letters which he wrote home to his children, he describes with full glee the difficulty he experienced from his cocked hat, and the buttons of his court dress. The questions put to him at this presentation were of solemn import, as issuing from kingly lips: "Do you reside constantly in Edinburgh?" "How long do you remain in town?" He returned to the labours of his class room, and the preparation of his elaborate work on "Political Economy," which had employed his thoughts for years, and was published at the beginning of 1832. This care of authorship in behalf of principles which he knew to be generally unpalatable, was further aggravated by the passing of the Reform Bill, to which he was decidedly hostile. After his work on "Political Economy," which fared as he had foreseen, being roughly handled by the principal critics of the day, against whose favourite doctrines it militated, he published his well-known Bridgewater Treatise, "On the Adaptation of External Nature to the Moral and Intellectual Constitution of Man." At the same period the cholera, which in its tremendous but erratic march had arrived in the island, and commenced its havoc in Newcastle and Sunderland, proceeded northward, and entered like a destroying angel within the gates of Edinburgh, which it filled with confusion and dismay. As its ravages went onward, the people became so maddened as to raise riots round the cholera hospitals, and treat the physicians, who attended on the patients at the risk of their own lives, with insult and violence. This exhibition was so afflictive to Dr. Chalmers, that he expressed his feelings upon the subject in the most impressive manner that a human being can possibly adopt—this was in public prayer, upon the national fast in St. George’s church, while he was earnestly beseeching that the plague might be stayed, and the people spared. "We pray, O Lord, in a more especial manner," he thus supplicated, "for those patriotic men whose duty calls them to a personal encounter with this calamity, and who, braving all the hazards of infection, may be said to stand between the living and the dead. Save them from the attacks of disease; save them from the obloquies of misconception and prejudice; and may they have the blessings and acknowledgments of a grateful Community to encourage them in their labours." On the same evening, a lord of session requested that this portion of the prayer should be committed to writing, and made more public, in the hope of arresting that insane popular odium which had risen against the medical board. The prayer was soon printed, and circulated through the city.

In the year 1832, Dr. Chalmers was raised to the highest honour which the Church of Scotland can bestow, by being appointed moderator of the General Assembly. In this office he had the courage to oppose, and the good fortune to remove, an abuse that had grown upon the church until it had become a confirmed practice. It was now the use and wont of every commissioner to give public dinners, not only upon the week-days, but the Sabbaths of the Assembly’s sitting, while the moderator sanctioned this practice by giving public breakfasts on the same day. In the eyes of the doctor this was a desecration of the sacred day, and he stated his feelings to Lord Belhaven, the commissioner, on the subject. The appeal was so effectual that the practice was discontinued, and has never since been resumed. At this Assembly, also, a fearful note was sounded, predictive of a coming contest. It was upon the obnoxious subject of patronage, against which the popular voice of Scotland had protested so long and loudly, but in vain. Overtures from eight Presbyteries and three Synods were sent up to this Assembly, stating, "That whereas the practice of church courts for many years had reduced the call to a mere formality; and whereas this practice has a direct tendency to alienate the affections of the people of Scotland from the Established Church; it is overtured, that such measures as may be deemed necessary be adopted, in order to restore the call to its constitutional efficiency." An animated debate was the consequence, and at last the motion of Principal Macfarlan, "that the Assembly judge it, unnecessary and inexpedient to adopt the measures recommended in the overtures now before them," was carried by a majority of forty-two. From the office which he held, Dr. Chalmers could only be a presiding onlooker of the debate; but in the Assembly of next year, when the subject was resumed, he had an open arena before him, which he was not slow to occupy. On this occasion, the eleven overtures of the preceding year had swelled into forty-five, a growth that indicated the public feeling with unmistakable significance. The two principal speakers in the discussion that followed were Dr. Chalmers and Dr. Cook, and each tendered his motion before the Assembly. That of Dr. Chalmers was to the effect, that efficiency should be given to the call, by declaring the dissent of a majority of the male heads of families in a parish, with or without the assignment of reasons, should be sufficient to set aside the presentee, unless these reasons were founded in malicious combination, or manifestly incorrect as to his ministerial gifts and qualifications. The counter-motion of Dr. Cook was, that while it is competent for the heads of families to give in to the Presbytery objections of whatever nature against the presentee, the Presbytery shall consider these objections, and if they find them unfounded, shall proceed to the settlement. This was carried only by a majority of twelve, and mainly, also, by the strength of the eldership, as a majority of twenty ministers was in favour of the motion of Dr. Chalmers. It was easy to see, however, in what direction the tide had set, and to what length and amount it would prevail. At the next Assembly a full trial was to be made that should be conclusive upon the point at issue. Dr. Chalmers on this occasion was not a member, but his motion of the preceding year was again brought before the Assembly by Lord Moncrieff, in the form of an "Overture and Interim Act on Calls," and expressed as follows:—"The General Assembly declare, that it is a fundamental law of the Church, that no pastor shall be intruded into any congregation contrary to the will of the people; and, in order that the principle may be carried into full effect, the General Assembly, with the consent of a majority of the Presbyteries of this church, do declare, enact, and ordain, that it shall be an instruction to Presbytaries that if, at the moderating in a call to a vacant pastoral charge, the major part of the male heads of families, members of the vacant congregation, and in full communion with the church, shall disapprove of the person in whose favour the call is proposed to be moderated in, such disapproval shall be deemed sufficient ground for the Presbytery rejecting such person, and that he shall be rejected accordingly, and due notice thereof forthwith given to all concerned; but that if the major part of the said heads of families shall not disapprove of such person to be their pastor, the Presbytery shall proceed with the settlement according to the rules of the church: And farther declare, that no person shall be held to be entitled to disapprove as aforesaid, who shall refuse, if required, solemnly to declare, in presence of the Presbytery, that he is actuated by no factious or malicious motive, but solely by a conscientious regard to the spiritual interests of himself or the congregation." Such was the well-known measure called the Veto, which, being carried by a majority of forty-six, became part of the law of the Church of Scotland. Considering the previous domination of patronage, it was regarded with much complacency, as a valuable boon to public feeling, and a great step in advance towards a thorough reformation in the church. But, unfortunately, it was only a compromise with an evil that should have been utterly removed; a mere religious half-measure, that in the end was certain to dwindle into a nullity; and Dr. Chalmers lived long enough to confess its insufficiency and witness its downfall.

In the case of those honoured individuals who have "greatness thrust upon them," the imposition generally finds them at a season not only when they are least expectant of such distinctions, but apparently the furthest removed from all chance of obtaining them. Such all along had been the case with Chalmers. Fame had found him in the obscure parish of Kilmany, and there proclaimed him one of the foremost of pulpit orators. It had followed him into the murky wynds and narrow closes of the Trongate and Saltmarket of Glasgow; and there, while he was employed in devising means for the amelioration of poverty through parochial agency, it had lauded him in the senate and among statesmen as an able financier and political economist. Instead of seeking, he had been sought, by that high reputation which seems to have pursued him only the more intently by how much he endeavoured to escape it. And now, after he had been so earnestly employed in endeavouring to restore the old Scottish ecclesiastical regime and Puritan spirit of the seventeenth century—so loathed by the learned, the fashionable, and the free-thinking of the nineteenth—new honours, and these from the most unlikely sources, were showered upon him in full profusion. In 1834, he was elected a fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, and in the year following a vice-president. In the beginning of 1834, he was elected a corresponding member of the Royal Institute of France; and in the year 1835, while upon a visit to Oxford for the recovery of his health, impaired by the fatigues he had undergone in London in the discharge of his public duties, the university of Oxford in full theatre invested him with the degree of Doctor of Laws. The academy of Voltaire, and the university of Laud, combining to do honour to a modern Scottish Covenanter!—never before had such extremes met! Such a triumph, however, needed a slave behind the chariot, and such a remembrancer was not wanting to the occasion. During his stay in London, he had been negotiating for the establishment of a permanent government salary to the chair of Theology in the university of Edinburgh, for at his entrance in 1828, the revenues of its professorship, in consequence of the abolition of pluralities, amounted to not more than 196 per annum. It was impossible, upon such a pittance, to maintain the proper dignity of the office, and rear a numerous family; and, although the town council endeavoured to supplement the defect by the establishment of fees to be paid by the students, this remedy was found so scanty and precarious, that Dr. Chalmers could not calculate upon more than 300 a-year, while the necessary expenditure of such an office could not be comprised within 800. But Government at the time was labouring under one of those periodical fits of economy in which it generally looks to the pennies, in the belief that the pounds can take care of themselves, and therefore the earnest appeals of Dr. Chalmers upon the importance of such a professorship, and the necessity of endowing it, were ineffectual. Little salaries were to be cut down, and small applicants withheld, to convince the sceptical public that its funds were managed with strict economy. To his office of professor, indeed, that of one of the Scottish royal chaplaincies had been added; but this was little more than an honorary title, as its salary was only 50 per annum. Thus, at the very height of his fame, Dr. Chalmers was obliged to bethink himself of such humble subjects as weekly household bills, and the ways and means of meeting them, and with the heavy pressure of duties that had gathered upon him to take refuge in the resources of authorship. A new and cheap edition of his works, in quarterly volumes, was therefore commenced in 1836. It was no mere republication of old matter, however, which he thus presented to the public, and this he was anxious should be generally understood. "It so happens," he thus writes to the Rev. Mr. Cunningham of Harrow, "that the great majority of my five first volumes will be altogether new; and that of the two first already published, and which finishes my views on Natural Theology, the "Bridgewater Treatise," is merely a fragment of the whole. Now, my request is, that you will draw the attention of any of the London reviewers to the new matter of my works." To such necessities the most distinguished man in Scotland, and the holder of its most important professorship, was reduced, because our Government would not endow his office with a modicum of that liberality which it extended to a sinecure forest-ranger, or even a captain of Beef-eaters.

These, however, were not the greatest of Dr. Chalmers’ difficulties and cares. The important subject of church extension, that most clamant of our country’s wants, annihilated all those that were exclusively personal, and after years of earnest advocacy, a bright prospect began to dawn that this want would be fully satisfied. The King’s speech in 1835 recommended the measure; the parliamentary leaders of the Conservative party were earnest in supporting it; while the Earl of Aberdeen in the House of Lords, and Sir Robert Peel in that of the Commons, were the most urgent advocates for the extension of the Church in Scotland. But very different was the mood of the Whig ministry, and the premier, Lord Melbourne, who succeeded, and all that could be obtained from them was a commsssiou of inquiry. It was the vague "I’ll see to it!" which in common life promises nothing, and usually accomplishes as little. Thus at least felt Dr Chalmers, notwithstanding the assurances of Lord John Russell that the commissioners should be obliged to report progress from time to time, so that the House might apply the remedy to each evil successively as it was detected. It was no vague fear; for although the first report of the commissioners was to be returned in six months, thrice that period elapsed before the duty was implemented. This report, however, established a momentous fact; it was, that nearly one-third of the whole population of Edinburgh, to which their eighteen months’ inquiry had been exclusively confined, were living in utter neglect of religious ordinances. To atone for such delay, as well as to remedy such an evil, it was now full time for the Parliament to be up and doing. But Parliament thought it was better to wait—to wait until they got farther intelligence. This intelligence at last came in two subsequent reports, by which it appeared that the deficiency of church accommodation and church attendance was still worse in Glasgow than in Edinburgh. And now, at least, was the time for action after four years of protracted inquiry; but the remedy which Parliament proposed consisted of little more than a few unmeaning words. The Highlands and the country parishes were to be aided from sources that were not available for the purpose, while the large towns were to be left in their former condition. In short, the Church of Scotland was to wait, and wait, and still to wait, while everything was to be expected, but nothing definite insured. A deputation from the Church Extension Committee was unavoidable under such circumstances of sickening procrastination and heartless disappointment; but the government that had anticipated such an advent, specified that Dr. Chalmers should not be one of the deputies. It was not convenient that the rulers of the hour should encounter the master-spirit of the age. Accordingly, the deputation of the Church of Scotland, minus Dr. Chalmers, waited upon Lord Melbourne, and represented what a dereliction the Government had committed in abandoning.the religious provision of the large towns of Scotland, by which the principle of religious establishment itself was virtually abandoned. But they talked to a statesman whose only line of policy was to remember nothing about the past, and fear nothing for the future. Britain would last during his own day at least, and let all beyond encounter the life-and-death scramble as it best could. When he was told, therefore, that this abandonment of the Scottish cities was an abandonment of church establishment, and would inflict a fatal wound upon the Church of Scotland, this free-and-easy premier replied to the members of the deputation: "That, gentlemen, is your inference: you may not be the better for our plan; but, hang it! you surely cannot be worse;" and with this elegant sentence they were bowed off from the ministerial audience. It was well, however, that Dr. Chalmers, and those whom he influenced, had not entirely leaned, in such a vital question, upon the reed of court favour and government support. He had already learned, although with some reluctance, that most necessary scriptural caveat for a minister of the Church of Scotland, "Put not your trust in princes," so that from the commencement of this treaty between the Church and the State, he had turned his attention to the public at large as the source from which his expectations were to be realized. He therefore obtained the sanction of the General Assembly, in 1836, to form a sub-committee on church extension, for the purpose of organizing a plan of meetings over the whole country for the erection of new churches. It was thus applying to the fountain-head, let the conduits be closed as they might, and the result more than answered his expectations. In the year 1838, he was enabled to state to the General Assembly, that these two years of organized labour, combined with the two years of desultory effort that had preceded—four years in all—had produced nearly 200,000, out of which nearly 200 churches had been erected. Well might he call this, in announcing the fact, "an amount and continuance of pecuniary support altogether without a precedent in the history of Christian beneficence in this part of the British empire." To this he added a hope—but how differently fulfilled from the way he expected! "At the glorious era of the Church’s reformation," he said, "it was the unwearied support of the people which, under God, finally brought her efforts to a triumphant issue. In this era of her extension—an era as broadly marked and as emphatically presented to the notice of the ecclesiastical historian as any which the Church is wont to consider as instances of signal revival and divine interposition—the support of the people will not be wanting, but by their devoted exertions, and willing sacrifices, and ardent prayers, they will testify how much they love the house where their fathers worshipped; how much they reverence their Saviour’s command, that the very poorest of their brethren shall have the gospel preached to them."

While the indifference of Government upon the subject of church extension was thus felt in Scotland, a calamity of a different character was equally impending over the churches both of Scotland and England—a calamity that threatened nothing less than to disestablish them, and throw them upon the voluntary support of the public at large. Such was a part of the effects of the Reform Bill. It brought forward the Dissenters into place and power, and gave them a vantage ground for their hostility to all ecclesiastical establishments; and so well did they use this opportunity, that the separation of Church and State promised to be an event of no distant occurrence. Even Wellington himself, whose practised eye saw the gathering for the campaign, and whose stout heart was not apt to be alarmed at bugbears, thus expressed his sentiments on the occasion: "People talk of the war in Spain, and the Canada question, but all that is of little moment. The real question is, Church or no Church; and the majority of the House of Commons—a small majority, it is true, but still a majority—are practically against it." This majority, too, had already commenced its operations with the Church of Ireland, the number of whose bishops was reduced, and a large amount of whose endowments it was proposed to alienate to other purposes than the support of religion. Thus was that war begun which has continued from year to year, growing at each step in violence and pertinacity, and threatening the final eversion of the two religious establishments of Great Britain. The friends of the Establishment principle were equally alert in its defence; and among other institutions, a Christian Influence Society was formed, to vindicate the necessity and duty of State support to the national religion as embodied in the church of the majority of the people. It occurred to this society that their cause could be best supported by popular appeal on the part of a bold, zealous, eloquent advocate —one who had already procured the right to speak upon such a subject, and to whom all might gladly and confidently listen. And where could they find such an advocate? All were at one in the answer, and Dr. Chalmers was in consequence requested to give a course of public lectures in London upon the subject of Church Establishments, to which he assented. Thus mysteriously was he led by a way which he knew not to a termination which he had not anticipated. He was to raise his eloquent voice for the last time in behalf of a cause which he was soon after to leave for ever—and to leave only because a higher, holier, and more imperative duty commanded his departure.

This visit of Dr Chalmers to London was made in the spring of 1838. He took with him a course of lectures on which he had bestowed the utmost pains; and the first, which he delivered on the 25th of April, was attended by the most distinguished in rank and talent, who admired the lecturer, as well as sympathized in his subject. The other discourses followed successively, and seldom has great London been stirred from its mighty depths as upon these occasions. Peers, prelates, statesmen, literati, the powerful, the noble, the rich, the learned, all hurried pell-mell into the passages, or were crowded in one living heap in the ample hall; and all eyes were turned upon the homely-looking elderly man who sat at the head, before a little table, at times looking as if buried in a dream, and at others, lifting up his eyes at the gathering and advancing tide, composed of England’s noblest and best, as if he wondered what this unwonted stir could mean. How had such a man collected such a concourse? That was soon shown, when, after having uttered a few sentences, with a pronunciation which even his own countrymen deemed uncouth, he warmed with his subject, until his thoughts seemed to be clothed with thunder, and starting to his feet, the whole assembly rose with him as one man, passed into all his feelings, and moved with his every impulse, as if for the time they had implicitly resigned their identity into his hands, and were content to be but parts of that wondrous individual in whose utterance they were so absorbed and swallowed up. "The concluding lecture," says one writer, "was graced by the presence of nine prelates of the Church of England. The tide that had been rising and swelling each succeeding 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." "Nothing was more striking, however," writes another, "amidst all this excitement, than the child-like humility of the great man himself. All the flattery seemed to produce no effect whatever on him; his mind was entirely absorbed in his great object; and the same kind, playful, and truly Christian spirit, that so endeared him to us all, was everywhere apparent in his conduct. . . . I had heard Dr. Chalmers on many great occasions, but probably his London lectures afforded the most remarkable illustrations of his extraordinary power, and must be ranked amongst the most signal triumphs of oratory in any age."

Having thus delivered such a solemn and public testimony in behalf of Church Establishments, Dr. Chalmers now resolved to visit France, a duty which he conceived he owed to the country, as he had been elected a member of its far-famed Royal Institute. He accordingly went from England to Paris in the earlier part of June, 1838, accompanied by his wife and two daughters. From the journal which he kept on the occasion, much interesting information may be gleaned of his views on the state of France and French society, while throughout, it is evident that he carried with him what our English tourists too seldom transport.into that country—the willingness to recognize and readiness to acknowledge whatever superiority it possesses over our own. He thus found that Paris was something better than a city of profligates, and France than a land of infidels. In that gay metropolis his exclamation is, "How much more still and leisurely everything moves here than in London!. . . .It is more a city of loungers; and life moves on at a more rational pace." On another occasion he declared Paris "better than London, in not being a place of extreme and high-pressure work in all the departments of industry. More favourable to intellect, to man in his loftier capacities, to all the better and higher purposes of our nature." It was not wonderful, therefore, that with such frankness and warmth of heart he was soon at one with the choicest of that literary and intellectual society with which the city at all times abounds, and delighted with its buildings, its public walks, and museums of science and art. Dr. Chalmers made no pretension to taste in the fine arts, and its critical phraseology he detested as cant and jargon; but it was well known by his friends that he had a love of fine statues and pictures, and an innate natural perception of their beauties, that might well have put those who prate learnedly about Raffaele and Titian to the blush. This will at once be apparent in his notices of the Louvre, where his remarks are full of life and truthfulness: "Struck with the picture of one of Bonaparte’s battles in his retreat from Moscow. The expression of Napoleon very striking—as if solemnized by the greatness of the coming disaster, yet with an air of full intelligence, and serenity, and majesty, and a deep mournful expression withal. The long gallery of the Louvre superb; impressed at once with the superiority of its pictures. Very much interested in the Flemish pictures, of which there were some very admirable ones by David Tethers. I am fond of Rembrandt’s portraits; and was much pleased in recognizing the characteristics of Rubens, Poussin, and Claude Lorrain. I also remarked that in most of the Italian schools, with the exception of the Venetian, there was a total want of shading off; yet the separate figures, though not harmonized with the back-ground, very striking in themselves. The statuary of painting perhaps expresses the style of the Roman and other such schools. There is a quadrangle recently attached to the east end of the gallery, filled with the models of towns, ships, and machinery; the towns very instructive. But the most interesting part of this department is the Spanish pictures, in all of which the strong emotions are most powerfully expressed. There is quite a stamp of national peculiarity in these works. The walls which contain them seem all alive with the passions and thoughts of living men." Thus far Dr. Chalmers in a new character, as a critic in painting—not of the schools, however, but of nature’s own teaching. After a short residence of three weeks in Paris, during which he noticed everything with a benevolent and observant eye, and read before the Institute a lecture of initiation, having for its title, 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," Dr. Chalmers set off on a short tour through some of the inland provinces, which he was induced to make by the persuasion of his English friends. On finishing it, he characterized it as a most interesting journey, in which his hopes for the futurity of France had been materially improved. He then returned to Edinburgh, where sterner events awaited his arrival.

The first task of Dr. Chalmers, on returning home, was the augmentation of the Church Extension Fund. No hope was now to be derived from Government grants, and therefore, while old age was stealing upon him, and the weariness of a life of toil demanding cessation and repose, he felt as if the struggle had commenced anew, and must be encountered over again. The Extension Scheme was his favourite enterprise, in which all his energies for years had been embarked; and could he leave it now in its hour of need, more especially after such a hopeful commencement? He therefore began an arduous tour for the purpose on the 18th of August, 1839. He commenced with the south-western districts of Scotland, in the course of which he visited and addressed ten presbyteries successively. And, be it observed, too, that this prince of orators had a difficulty in his task to encounter which only an orator can fully appreciate. Hitherto his addresses to public meetings had been carefully studied and composed, so that to extemporaneous haranguing on such occasions he had been an utter stranger. But now that he must move rapidly from place to place, and adapt himself to every kind of meeting, and be ready for every sudden emergency of opposition or cavil, he felt that the aids of the study must be abandoned—that he must be ready on every point, and at every moment--that, in short, all his former habits of oratory must be abandoned, and a new power acquired, and that too, at the age of sixty, when old habits are confirmed, and the mind has lost its flexibility. But even this difficulty he met and surmounted; his ardour in the work beat down every obstacle, and bore him irresistibly onward. "It is true," he said, " that it were better if we lived in times when a calm and sustained argumentation from the press would have carried the influential minds of the community; but, as it is, one must accommodate his doings to the circumstances of the age." After the south-western districts had been visited, he made another tour, in which he visited Dundee, Perth, Stirling, and Dunfermline; and a third, that comprised the towns of Breehin, Montrose, Arbroath, and Aberdeen. A fourth, which he called his great northern tour, led him through a considerable part of the Highlands, where he addressed many meetings, and endeavoured everywhere to stir up the people to a due sense of the importance of religious ordinances. But it is melancholy to find that labours so great ended, upon the whole, in disappointment. At the commencement Dr. Chalmers had confidently expected to raise 100,000 for the erection of a hundred new churches, and in this expectation he was fully justified by the success of his previous efforts. But 40,000 was the utmost that was realized by all this extraordinary toil and travel. Still, however, much had been done during his seven years of labour in the cause of church extension; for in 1841, when he demitted his office as convener of the committee, 220 churches, at a cost of more than 300,000, had been added to the Establishment. He had thus made an extensive trial of Voluntaryism, and obtained full experience of its capabilities and defects, of which the following was his recorded opinion:—"While he rejoices in the experimental confirmation which the history of these few years has afforded him of the resources and the capabilities of the Voluntary system, to which, as hitherto unfostered by the paternal care of Government, the scheme of church extension is indebted for all its progress, it still remains his unshaken conviction of that system notwithstanding, that it should only be resorted to as a supplement, and never but in times when the powers of infidelity and intolerance are linked together in hostile combination against the sacred prerogatives of the church, should it once be thought of as a substitute for a national establishment of Christianity. In days of darkness and disquietude it may open a temporary resource, whether for a virtuous secession or an ejected church to fall back upon; but a far more glorious consummation is, when the State puts forth its hand to sustain but not to subjugate the Church, and the two, bent on moral conquests alone, walk together as fellow-helpers towards the achievement of that great pacific triumph—the Christian education of the people."

The indifferent success with which the latter part of the labours of Dr. Chalmers in behalf of church extension was followed, could be but too easily explained. The Church of Scotland had now entered the depths of her trial; and while the issue was uncertain, the public mind was in that state of suspense under which time seems to stand still, and all action is at a pause. The urgent demand that was pressed upon society was for money to erect more places of worship—but what the while did the State mean to do in this important matter? Would it take the whole responsibility upon itself, or merely supplement the liberality of the people? And if the latter, then, to what amount would it give aid, and upon what terms? When a cautious benevolence is thus posed, it too often ruminates, until the hour of action has knelled its departure. Such was the condition to which Scotland was now reduced. In tracing its causes, we must revert to the last five years of our narrative, and those important ecclesiastical movements with which Dr. Chalmers was so closely implicated.

In obtaining the veto law, Dr. Chalmers was far from regarding it either as a satisfactory or a final measure. Instead of being an ecclesiastical reform, it was but a half-way concession, in which Church and State would be liable to much unpleasant collision. This result must sooner or later be the case, and in such a shock the weaker would be driven to the wall. This Dr. Chalmers foresaw, and it required no extraordinary sagacity to foretell which of these causes would prove the weaker. And yet the veto, like most great changes however defective, worked well at the commencement. So remarkably had the evangelistic spirit been revived by it, that in 1839 the revenue collected for Christian enterprise was fourteen times greater than it had been five years previous. Another significant fact of its usefulness was, that notwithstanding the new power it conferred upon the people, that power had been enjoyed with such moderation, that during these five years it had been exercised only in ten eases out of one hundred and fifty clerical settlements. All this, however, was of no avail to save it from ruin, and even the beginning of its short-lived existence gave promise how soon and how fatally it would terminate.

The first act of hostility to the veto law occurred only a few months after it had passed. The parish church of Auchterarder had become vacant, and the Earl of Kinnoul, who was patron, made a presentation of the living in favour of Mr. Robert Young, a licentiate. But the assent of the people was also necessary, and after Mr. Young had preached two successive Sabbaths in the pulpit of Auchterarder, that the parishioners might test his qualifications, a day was appointed for their coming forward to moderate in the call, by signing their acceptance. Not more, however, than two heads of families, and his lordship’s factor, a non-resident, out of a parish of three thousand souls, gave their subscription. As this was no call at all, it was necessary to obtain a positive dissent, and on the opportunity being given for the heads of families, being communicants, to sign their rejection, two hundred and eighty-seven, out of three hundred members, subscribed their refusal to have the presentee for their minister. Thus, Mr. Young was clearly, and most expressly vetoed, and his presentation should, according to the law, have been instantly cancelled; but, instead of submitting, he appealed against the refusal of the parish, in the first instance to the Presbytery, and afterwards to the Synod; and on his appeal being rejected successively by both courts, he finally carried it, not to the General Assembly, for ultimate adjudication, as he was bound to do, but to the Court of Session, where it was to be reduced to a civil question, and nothing more. In this way, admission to the holy office of the ministry and the cure of souls was to be as secular a question as the granting of a publican’s license or the establishment of a highway toll, and to be settled by the same tribunal! After much fluctuation and delay that occurred during the trial of this singular case, a final decision was pronounced by the Court of Session in February, 1888, by which the Presbytery of Auchterarder was declared to have acted illegally, and in violation of their duty, in rejecting Mr. Young solely on account of the dissent of the parish, without any reasons assigned for it. But what should the Presbytery do or suffer in consequence? This was not declared; for the Court, having advanced so far as to find the veto law illegal, did not dare to issue a positive command to the Church to throw it aside, and admit the presentee to the ministerial office. The utmost they could do was to adjudge the temporalities of the benefice to Mr. Young, while the Church might appoint to its spiritual duties whatever preacher was found fittest for the purpose. Still, however, if not unchurched, she was disestablished by such a decision; and, for the purpose of averting this disastrous termination, the case was appealed from the Court of Session to the House of Lords. But there the sentence of the Scottish tribunal, instead of being repealed, was confirmed and established into law. Thus patronage was replaced in all its authority, and the veto made a dead letter. This judgment, so important to the future history of the Church of Scotland, was delivered by the House of Lords on May 3, 1839. On the 16th the General Assembly met, and Dr. Chalmers, who had hitherto seldom taken a part in the proceedings of church courts, now made anxious preparation for the important crisis. The veto, he saw, existed no longer; but was the choice of the people to perish also? The important discussion commenced by Dr. Cook presenting a motion, to the effect that the Assembly should hold the veto law as abrogated, and proceed as if it never had passed. To this Dr. Chalmers presented a counter-motion, consisting of three parts. The first acknowledged the right of the civil authority over the temporalities of the living of Auchterarder, and acquiesced in their loss; the second expressed the resolution not to abandon the principle of non-intrusion; and the third proposed the formation of a committee to confer with Government, for the prevention of any further collision between the ecclesiastical and civil authorities. A heart-stirring speech of three hours followed, in which he advocated each point of his motion with such irresistible eloquence, that it was carried by a majority of forty-nine. In this speech, the following comparison between the two national churches was not only fitted to send a patriotic thrill through every Scottish heart, but to enlighten those English understandings that could not comprehend the causes of a national commotion, in which they, nevertheless, found themselves somehow most deeply implicated:— "Let me now, instead of looking forward into consequences, give some idea to the Assembly of the extent of that degradation and helplessness which, if we do submit to this decision of the House of Lords, have been actually and already inflicted upon us--a degradation to which the Church of England, professing the king to be their head, never would submit; and to which the Church of Scotland, professing the Lord Jesus Christ to be their head, never can. You know that, by the practice of our church, the induction and the ordination go together. We regard both as spiritual acts; but, by the practice of the Church of England, the two are separated in point of time from each other; and as they look only upon the ordination as spiritual, this lays them open to such civil mandates and civil interdicts as we have never been accustomed to receive in the questions which arise on the subject of induction into parishes. But ask any English ecclesiastic whether the bishop would receive an order, from any civil court whatever, on the matter of ordination; and the instant, the universal reply is, that he would not. In other words, we should be degraded far beneath the level of the sister church if we remain in connection with the State, and submit to this new ordinance, or, if you will, to this new interpretation of their old ordinances." After quoting a case in point, in which a presentee in the Church of England had appealed, but in vain, to the royal authority against the prelate who refused to ordain him, Dr. Chalmers continued:—"To what position, then, are we brought if we give in to the opposite motion, and proceed in consequence to the ordination of Mr. Young? To such a position as the bishops of England, with all the Erastianism which has been charged, and to a great degree, I think, falsely charged, upon that establishment, never, never would consent to occupy. Many of them would go to the prison and the death rather than submit to such an invasion on the functions of the sacred office. We read of an old imprisonment of bishops, which led to the greatest and most glorious political emancipation that ever took place in the history of England. Let us not be mistaken. Should the emancipation of our church require it, there is the same strength of high and holy determination in this our land. There are materials here, too, for upholding the contest between principle and power, and enough of the blood and spirit of the olden time for sustaining that holy warfare, where, as in former days, the inflictions of the one party were met with a patience and determination invincible in the sufferings of the other."

In consequence of the recommendation embodied in his motion, a committee was appointed for conferring with Government, of which Dr. Chalmers was convener. It was now resolved that they should repair to London upon their important mission, and thither he accompanied them in the beginning of July. After much negotiation with the leaders of the different parties, the members of committee returned to Edinburgh; and in the report which Dr. Chalmers gave of their proceedings, he expressed his opinion that matters looked more hopeful than ever. Important concessions were to be made to the church on the part of Government, and a measure was to be devised and drawn up to that effect. "With such helps and encouragements on our side," the report concluded, "let but the adherents of this cause remain firm and united in principle among themselves, and with the favour of an approving God, any further contest will be given up as unavailing; when, let us fondly hope, all the feelings of party, whether of triumph on one side, because of victory, or of humiliation on the other side, because of defeat, shall be merged and forgotten in the desires of a common patriotism, to the reassurance of all who are the friends of our Establishment, to the utter confusion of those enemies who watch for our halting, and would rejoice in our overthrow."

It was indeed full time that such a hope should dawn upon those who loved the real interests of our church. For the case of Auchterarder did not stand alone; on the contrary, it was only the first signal of a systematic warfare which patronage was about to wage against the rights of the people; and the example of appeal to the civil authority was but too readily followed in those cases that succeeded. And first came that of Lethendy, and afterwards of Marnoch, in which the civil authority was invoked by vetoed presentees; while in the last of these conflicts the Presbytery of Strathbogie, to which Marnoch belonged, complicated the difficulties of the question by adopting the cause of the rejected licentiate, and setting the authority of the church at defiance. The rebellious ministers were suspended from office; and they, in turn, relying upon the protection of the civil power, served an interdict upon those clergymen who, at the appointment of the General Assembly, should attempt to officiate in their pulpits, or even in their parishes. The Court of Session complied so far as to exclude the Assembly’s ministers from preaching in the churches, church-yards, and school-rooms of the suspended, so that they were obliged to preach in barns or in the open air; but at last, when even this liberty was complained of by the silenced recusants, the civil court agreed to the whole amount of their petition. It was such a sentence, issuing from mere jurisconsults and Edinburgh lawyers, as was sometimes hazarded in the most tyrannical seasons of the dark ages, when a ghostly conclave of pope, cardinals, and prince-prelates, laid a whole district under the ban of an interdict for the offence of its ruler, and deprived its people of the rites of the church until full atonement had been paid. Such was the state of matters when the Assembly’s commission met on the 4th of March, and resolved to resist this monstrous usurpation. On this occasion, Dr. Chalmers spoke with his wonted energy; and after representing the enormity of the offence, and the necessity of resisting it, he thus concluded:—"Be it known, then, unto all men, that we shall not retract one single footstep--we shall make no submission to the Court of Session—and that, not because of the disgrace, but because of the gross and grievous dereliction of principle that we should thereby incur. They may force the ejection of us from our places: they shall never, never force us to the surrender of our principles; and if that honourable court shall again so far mistake their functions as to repeat or renew, the inroads they have already made, we trust they will ever meet with the same reception they have already gotten—to whom we shall give place by subjection, no, not for an hour; no, not by an hair-breadth."

The only earthly hope of the Church of Scotland was now invested in the Parliament. The former had distinctly announced the terms on which it would maintain its connection with the State, while the leading men of the latter had held out such expectations of redress as filled the hearts of Dr. Chalmers and his friends with confidence. It was now full time to make the trial. A deputation was accordingly sent to London; but, after mountains of promises and months of delay, by which expectation was alternately elevated and crushed, nothing better was produced than Lord Aberdeen’s bill. By this, a reclaiming parish were not only to state their objections, but the grounds and reasons on which they were founded; while the Presbytery, in taking cognizance of these objections, were to admit them only when personal to the presentee, established on sufficient grounds, and adequate for his rejection. Thus, a country parish—a rustic congregation—were to analyze their religious impressions, embody them in distinct form, and table them before a learned and formidable tribunal in rejecting the minister imposed upon them; while, in weighing these nice objections, and ascertaining their specific gravity, every country minister was to be a Duns Scotus or Thomas Aquinas, if not a very Daniel come to judgment. We suspect that the members of the learned House of Lords, and even of the Commons to boot, would have been sorely puzzled had such a case been their own, whether in the character or judges or appellants. It was in vain that Dr. Chalmers remonstrated by letter with the originator of this strange measure: the bill, the whole bill, and nothing but the bill, was now the ultimatum; and, as might be expected, it was rejected in the General Assembly by a majority of nearly two to one. The unfortunate bill was in consequence withdrawn, while its disappointed author characterized Dr. Chalmers, in the House of Lords, as "a reverend gentleman, a great leader in the Assembly, who, 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." This was not the only instance in which the doctor and his coadjutors were thus calumniated from the same quarter; so that he was obliged to publish a pamphlet on the principles of the church question, and a reply to the charges with which its advocates had been vilified. "It is as a blow struck," he wrote, "at the corner-stone, when the moral integrity of clergymen is assailed; and when not in any secret or obscure whispering-place, but on the very house-tops of the nation, we behold, and without a single expression of remonstrance or regret from the assembled peerage of the empire, one nobleman sending forth his wrathful fulmination against the honesty and truth of ministers of religion, and another laughing it off in his own characteristic way with a good-natured jeer as a timing of nought—we cannot but lament the accident by which a question of so grave a nature, and of such portentous consequences to society as the character of its most sacred functionaries, should have come even for a moment under the treatment of such hands."

Events had now ripened for decisive action. The Church could not, and the State would not yield, and those deeds successively and rapidly occurred that terminated in the disruption. As these, however, were so open, and are so well known, a brief recapitulation of the leading ones is all that is necessary. The seven suspended ministers of Strathbogie, regardless of the sentence of the Assembly, by which they were rendered incapable of officiating in their ministerial character, resolved to ordain and admit Mr. Edwards, the rejected presentee, to the pastoral charge of Marnoch, at the command and by the authority of the Court of Session alone, which had by its sentence commissioned them to that effect. This portentous deed was done on the 21st of January, 1841, and Scotland looked on with as much astonishment as if the Stuarts had risen from the dead. "May Heaven at length open the eyes of those infatuated men," exclaimed Dr. Chalmers, "who are now doing so much to hasten on a crisis which they will be the first to deplore!" For an act of daring rebellion, so unparalleled in the history of the Church, it was necessary that its perpetrators should be deposed; and for this Dr. Chalmers boldly moved at the next meeting of Assembly. The question was no longer whether these men were animated by pure and conscientious though mistaken motives, to act as they had done: of this fact Dr. Chalmers declared that he knew nothing. "But I do know," he added, "that when forbidden by their ecclesiastical superiors to proceed any further with Mr. Edwards, they took him upon trials; and when suspended from the functions of the sacred ministry by a commission of the General Assembly, they continued to preach and to dispense the sacraments; that they called in the aid of the civil power to back them in the exclusion from their respective parishes of clergymen appointed by the only competent court to fulfil the office which they were no longer competent to discharge; and lastly, as if to crown and consummate this whole disobedience—as if to place the topstone on the Babel of their proud and rebellious defiance, I know that, to the scandal and astonishment of all Scotland, and with a daring which I believe themselves would have shrunk from at the outset of their headlong career, they put forth their unlicensed hands on the dread work of ordination; and as if in solemn mockery of the Church’s most venerable forms, asked of the unhappy man who knelt before them, if he promised to submit himself humbly and willingly, in the spirit of meekness, unto the admonitions of the brethren of the Presbytery, and to be subject to them and all other Presbyteries and superior judicatories of this Church; and got back from him an affirmative response, along with the declaration that ‘zeal for the honour of God, love to Jesus Christ, and desire of saving souls, were his great motives and chief inducements to enter into the functions of the holy ministry, and not worldly designs and interests.’" The proposal for their deposition was carried by a majority of ninety-seven out of three hundred and forty-seven members, notwithstanding the opposition of the moderate party, and the sentence was pronounced accordingly. But only the day after the Assembly was astounded by being served with an interdict, charging them to desist from carrying their sentence into effect! After this deed of hardihood, the deposed ministers retired to their parishes, and continued their public duties in defiance of the Assembly’s award, while they were encouraged in their contumacy by several of their moderate brethern, who assisted them in the celebration of the Lord’s Supper. A resolution was passed that these abettors of the deposed ministers should be censured; but Dr. Cook and his party opposed the measure, on the plea that it would perpetuate the divisions now prevalent in the Church. It was thus made a question, not of the Church against the State for the aggressions of the latter against the former, but merely of the evangelical party against the moderates; and upon this footing the moderates were resolved to place it before the legislature, and ascertain to which of the parties the countenance and support of the State was to be given. In this form the result would be certain, for the State would love its own. A disruption was inevitable, and it was equally certain that the evangelical portion of the Church would not be recognized by the State as the established Church of Scotland, This was so distinctly foreseen, that meetings had already been held to deliberate in what manner the Church was to be supported after it should be disestablished. Upon this difficult question Dr. Chalmers had already bestowed profound attention, and been rewarded with the most animating hopes; so that in a letter to Sir George Sinclair he thus writes: "I have been studying a good deal the economy of our non-Erastian church when severed from the State and its endowments—an event which I would do much to avert, but which, if inevitable, we ought to be prepared for. I do not participate in your fears of an extinction even for our most remote parishes. And the noble resolution of the town ministers, to share equally with their country brethren, from a common fund raised for the general behoof of the ejected ministers, has greatly brightened my anticipations of a great and glorious result, should the Government cast us off."

This casting-off became every day more certain. The Court of Session was now the umpire in every case of ecclesiastical rule; so that vetoed preachers and suspended ministers could carry their case before the civil tribunal, with the almost certain hope that the sentence of the church court would be reversed. Thus it was in the case of Culsalmond, in the Presbytery of Garioch. A preacher was presented whom the parishioners refused to receive as their minister; but the Presbytery, animated by the example of their brethren of Strathbogie, forthwith ordained him without waiting, as they were bound, for the adjudication of the General Assembly; and when its meeting of commission interposed, and arrested these proceedings, it was served by the civil court with a suspension and interdict. Another case was, if possible, still more flagrant. The minister of a parish had been convicted of four separate acts of theft. The cases were of such a contemptible kind of petty larceny, compared with the position of the culprit and the consequences they involved, that it may be charitably hoped they arose from that magpie monomania from which even lords and high-titled ladies are not always exempt, under which they will sometimes secrete a few inches of paltry lace, or pocket a silver spoon. But though the cause of such perversity might be suited for a consultation of doctors and a course of hellebore, the deeds themselves showed the unfitness of the actor to be a minister. Yet he too applied for and obtained an interdict against the sentence of deposition; so that he was enabled to purloin eggs, handkerchiefs, and pieces of earthenware for a few years longer. A third minister was accused of fraudulent dealings, and was about to be tried by his Presbytery; but here, also, the civil court was successfully invoked to the rescue, and an interdict was obtained to stop the trial. A fourth case was that of a presentee who, in consequence of repeated acts of drunkenness, was about to be deprived of his license; but this offender was likewise saved by an interdict. And still the State looked on, and would do nothing! The only alternative was for that party to act by whom such proceedings could be conscientiously endured no longer. They must dis-establish themselves by their own voluntary deed, whether they constituted the majority of the church or otherwise. But how many of their number were prepared to make the sacrifice? and in what manner was it to be made? This could only be ascertained by a convocation of the ministers from every part of Scotland; and the meeting accordingly was appointed to be held in Edinburgh on the 17th of November, 1842. It was an awful crisis, and as such Dr. Chalmers felt it; so that, having done all that man could do in the way of preparation, he threw himself wholly upon Divine strength and counsel. His solemn petitions on this occasion were: "Do thou guide, O Lord, the deliberations and measures of that convocation of ministers now on the eve of assembling; and save me, in particular, from all that is rash and unwarrantable when engaged with the counsels or propositions that come before it. Let me not, O God, be an instrument in any way of disappointing or misleading my brethren. Let me not, in this crisis of our Church’s history, urge a sacrifice upon others which I would not most cheerfully share with them." The convocation assembled, and 450 ministers were present on the occasion. The deliberations, which extended over several days, were conducted with a harmony and unanimity seldom to be found in church courts; one common principle, and that, too, of the highest and most sacred import, seemed to animate every member; while in each movement a voice was heard to which they were all ready to listen. The prayer of Dr. Chalmers was indeed answered! It was resolved, that no measure could be submitted to, unless it exempted them in all time to come from such a supremacy as the civil courts had lately exercised. Should that not be obtained and guaranteed, the next resolution was, that they should withdraw from a Church in which they could no longer conscientiously remain and act under such secular restrictions. It was probable, then, that they must withdraw, but what was to follow? Even to the wisest of their number it seemed inevitable that they must assume the character of mere individual missionaries each labouring by himself in whatever sphere of usefulness he could find, and trusting to the precarious good-will of Christian society for his support. They could be an organized and united Church no longer; for had not such a consequence followed the Bartholomew Act in England, and the Black Act in Scotland, of whose victims they were about to become the willing followers and successors. It was at this trying moment that Dr. Chalmers stepped forward with an announcement that electrified the whole Assembly. He had long contemplated, in common with his brethren, the probability of an exodus such as was now resolved. But that which formed their ultimatum was only his starting-point. In that very ejectment there was the beginning of a new ecclesiastical history of Scotland; and out of these fragments a Church was to be constituted with a more complete and perfect organization than before. Such had been his hopes; and for their realization he had been employed during twelve months in drawing out a plan, by which this disestablished Church was to be supported as systematically and effectually by a willing public, as it had been in its highest ascendancy, when the State was its nursing-mother. Here, then, was the remote mysterious end of all those laborious studies of former years in legislation, political economy, and finance, at which the wisest of his brethren had marvelled, and with which the more rigid had been offended! He now unfolded the schedule of his carefully constructed and admirable scheme; and the hearers were astonished to find that General Assemblies, Synod, and Presbyteries,—that their institutions of missionary and benevolent enterprise, with settled homes and a fitting provision for all in their ministerial capacity, were still at hand, and ready for their occupation, as before. In this way the dreaded disruption was to be nothing more than a momentary shock. And now the ministers might return to their manses, and gladden with these tidings their anxious families who were preparing for a mournful departure. Even yet, however, they trembled—it was a plan so new, so vast, so utterly beyond their sphere! But they were still unshaken in their resolution, which they subscribed with unfaltering hands; and when Dr. Chalmers heard that more than 300 names had been signed, he exclaimed, "Then we are more than Gideon’s army—a most hopeful omen!" Their proposals were duly transmitted to Sir Robert Peel, now at the head of Government, and the members, after six days of solemn conference, retired to their homes.

The terms of the Church, and the reasons on which these were founded, had thus been stated to Government in the most unequivocal sentences, words, and syllables, so that there could be no perversion of their construction, or mistake of their meaning. The answer of the State was equally express, as embodied in the words of Sir Robert Peel. And thus he uttered it in his place in the House of Commons:—"If a church chooses to participate in the advantages appertaining to an Establishment, that church, whether it be the Church of England, the Church of Rome, or the Church of Scotland—that church must conform itself to the law. It would be an anomaly, it would be an absurdity, that a church should possess the privilege, and enjoy the advantages of connection with the State, and, nevertheless, claim exemption from the obligations which, wherever there is an authority, must of necessity exist; and this House and the country never could lay it down, that if a dispute should arise in respect of the statute law of the land, such dispute should be referred to a tribunal not subject to an appeal to the House of Lords." These were the conditions, and therefore the Church of Scotland must succumb. Such treatment of land tenures and offices, as that with which the Articles of Union insuring the independence of the Scottish Kirk were thus treated, would have sufficed to dispossess no small portion of the English nobility, and dry up hundreds of title-deeds into blank parchment. But on this occasion the dint of the argument fell not upon knights and nobles, whom it would have been dangerous to disturb, but upon Scottish presbyters, of whom sufferance had been the distinctive badge since the day that James VI. entered England. The aggressors and the aggrieved were equally aware that the days of Drumclog and Bothwell Bridge had passed away with the buff-coats and partisans of the seventeenth century, and therefore, while the one party assailed, the other were prepared to defend themselves, according to peaceful modern usage. The war of argument and remonstrance had ended, and the overpowered but not vanquished Church must rally and intrench itself according to the plan laid down at the beginning of the campaign. It was now, therefore, that Dr. Chalmers was doubly busy. When he announced his financial plan at the convocation, by which the retiring Church was to be supported in all its former integrity, his brethren had demurred about the possibility of its accomplishment, and now held back from the attempt. That plan was the organization of local associations, by which not only every district, but every family should be accessible, so that his vision, as they were ready to deem it, of 100,000 per annum for the support of the ministry alone, might be accumulated in shillings and pence. It was the trunk of the elephant handling every leaf, twig, and branch of the tree which it was commissioned to uproot. Finding himself, in the first instance, unable to convince by argument, he had recourse to example, and for this purpose he immediately instituted an association of his own in the parish of Morningside, the place of his residence. His example was followed by others; and at last a provisional committee was formed, having for its object the whole plan which he had originally proposed. It consisted of three sections, the financial, the architectural, and the statistical, of which the first was properly intrusted to himself, and the result of this threefold action by infinitesimal application quickly justified his theory. Local associations over the whole extent of Scotland were formed by the hundred, and contributions of money accumulated by the thousand, so that, let the disruption occur as it might, the most despondent hearts were cheered and prepared for the emergency.

The important period at length arrived that was to set the seal upon all this preparation and promise. The interval that had occurred was that awful pause of hope and fear, with which friend and enemy await a deed of such moment, that they cannot believe in its reality until it is accomplished. Would then a disruption occur in very truth, and the Church of Scotland be rent asunder? Or would Government interpose at the last hour and moment to avert so fatal a necessity? Or might it not be, that when it came to the trial, the hearts of the men who had spoken so bravely would fail them, so that they would be ready to embrace any terms of accommodation, or even surrender at discretion? But the days of martyrdom—the chivalry of the Church—it was asserted had gone for ever; and therefore there were thousands who proclaimed their conviction to the very last that not a hundred would go out—not forty—perhaps not even one. On Thursday, the 18th of May, 1843, the General Assembly was to be opened, and the question laid to rest, while every district and nook of Scotland had poured its representatives into Edinburgh to look on and judge. Nor was that day commenced without a startling omen. The ministers of the Assembly had repaired to the ancient palace of Holyrood, to pay dutiful homage to their Sovereign, in the person of Lord Bute, her commissioner; and there also were the protesting clergy, eager to show at that trying crisis, that let the issue be what it might, they were, and still would continue to be, the leal and loyal subjects of her Majesty. But as the crowded levee approached his lordship, the picture of King William that hung upon the wall—he who had restored that Presbyterian Church whose rights were now to be vindicated—fell to the ground with a sullen clang, while a voice from the crowd exclaimed, "There goes the revolution settlement?" The levee was over in Holyrood; the devotional exercises had been finished in the Cathedral of St. Giles; and the General Assembly were seated in St. Andrew’s church, ready to commence the business of the day—but not the wonted business. Dr. Welch, who, as moderator of the last Assembly, occupied the chair of office, and opened the proceedings with prayer, had another solemn duty to perform: it was, to announce the signal of departure to those who must remain in the Church no longer; it was like the "Let us go hence!" which was heard at midnight in the temple of Jerusalem, when that glorious structure was about to pass away. Rising from his chair, and addressing one of the densest crowds that ever filled a place of worship, but all hushed in the death-like silence of expectation, he announced that he could proceed with the Assembly no further. Their privileges had been violated and their liberties subverted, so that they could no longer act as a supreme court of the Church of Scotland; and these reasons, set forth at full length in the document which he held in his hand, he, with their permission, would now read to them. He then read to them the well-known protest of the Free Church of Scotland; and having ended, he bowed respectfully to the commissioner, left his chair of office, and slowly passed to the door. Dr. Chalmers, who stood beside him, like one absorbed in some recollection of the past, or dream of the future, started, seized his hat, and hurried after the retiring moderator, as if eager to be gone. A long stream followed; and as bench after bench was emptied of those who thus sacrificed home, and living, and station in society at the call of conscience, the onlookers gazed as if all was an unreal phantasmagoria, or at least an incomprehensible anomaly. But the hollow echoes of the building soon told them that it was a stern reality which they had witnessed. More than four hundred ministers, and a still greater number of elders, who but a few moments ago occupied these places, had now departed, never to return.

In the meantime George Street, one of the widest streets of Edinburgh, in which St Andrew’s church is situated, was filled—nay, wedged—not with thousands, but myriads of spectators, who waited impatiently for the result. Every eye was fixed upon the building, and every tongue was impatient with the question, "Will they come out?"—"When will they come out?" At length the foremost of the retiring ministers appeared at the church porch, and onward came the long procession, the multitudes dividing with difficulty before their advance, and hardly giving them room to pass three abreast. Well, then, they had indeed come out! and it was difficult to tell whether the applauding shouts or sympathizing tears of that heaving sea of people predominated. Onward slowly went that procession, extending nearly a quarter of a mile in length, down towards Tanfield, where a place of meeting had been prepared for them in anticipation of the event. It was a building constructed on the model of a Moorish Hambra, such as might have loomed over an orange-grove in Grenada during the days of the Zegris and Abencerrages; but which now, strangely enough, was to receive a band of Scottish ministers, and witness the work of constituting a Presbyterian church. The hall, which could contain 3000 sitters, had been crowded from an early hour with those who, in the faith that the ministers would redeem their promises, had come to witness what would follow. This new General Assembly Dr. Welch opened with prayer, even as he had, little more than an hour previous, opened the old; after which, it was his office to propose the moderator who should succeed him. And this he did by naming Dr. Chalmers, amidst a tempest of approving acclamation. "Surely it is a good omen," he added, "or, I should say, a token for good from the Great Disposer of all events, that I can propose to hold this office an individual who, by the efforts of his genius and his virtues, is destined to hold so conspicuous a place in the eyes of all posterity. But this, I feel, is taking but a low view of the subject. His genius has been devoted to the service of his Heavenly Master, and his is the high honour promised to those who, having laboured successfully in their Master’s cause, and turned many to righteousness, are to ‘shine as the stars for ever and ever.’" Dr. Chalmers took the chair accordingly; and who can guess the feelings that may have animated him, or the thoughts that may have passed through his mind, at such a moment? He had lived, he had wrought, and this was the result! A man of peace, he had been thrown into ecclesiastical controversy; a humble-minded minister, he had been borne onward to the front of a great national movement, and been recognized as its suggester and leader. And while he had toiled from year to year in doubt and despondency, events had been so strangely overruled, that his aims for the purification of the old Church had ended in the creation of a new. And of that new Church the General Assembly was now met, while he was to preside in it as moderator. That this, too, was really a national Church, and not a mere sectarian offshoot, was attested by the fact of 470 ministers standing before him as its representatives; while the public sympathy in its behalf was also represented by the crowded auditory who looked on, and followed each successive movement with a solicitude far deeper than mere transient excitement. All this was a mighty achievement—a glorious victory, which posterity would be proud to chronicle. But in his opening address he reminded them of the example given by the apostles of our Lord; and by what followed, he showed the current into which his mind had now subsided. "Let us not forget," he said, "in the midst of this rejoicing, the deep humility that pervaded their songs of exultation; the trembling which these holy men mixed with their mirth—trembling arising from a sense of their own weakness; and then courage inspired by the thought of that aid and strength which was to be obtained out of His fulness who formed all their boasting and all their defence. Never in the history of our Church were such feelings and such acknowledgments more called for than now; and in the transition we are making, it becomes us to reflect on such sentiments as these—‘Not I, but the grace of God in me;’ and, ‘Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.’"

Such was the formation and such the commencement of the Free Church of Scotland. And now it might have seemed that Dr. Chalmers should be permitted to retire to that peaceful life of study and meditation in which he so longed that the evening of his day should close. But the formation of the new Church, instead of finishing his labours, was only to open up a new sphere of trial and difficulty that imperiously demanded the uttermost of his exertions, and which only promised to terminate when his own life had ended. To him there was to be no repose, save in that place where the "weary are at rest." But great though the sacrifice was, he did not shrink from the obligation. The financial affairs of the church which he had originated, and which were still in their new-born infancy, required his fostering care; and therefore he undertook the charge of the Sustentation Fund out of which the dispossessed ministers were to be supported; and not only maintained a wide correspondence, but performed a laborious tour in its behalf. And, truly, it was a difficult and trying office, where money was to be raised on the one hand entirely from voluntary benevolence, and distributed on the other among those who outnumbered its amount, and whose share had to be apportioned accordingly. All this, however, he endured till 1845, when, from very exhaustion, he was, obliged to let the burden fall from his shoulders, and be taken up by younger hands, with the declaration—"It is not a matter of choice, but of physical necessity. I have neither the vigour nor the alertness of former days; and the strength no longer remains with me, either for the debates of the Assembly, or for the details of committees and their correspondence." This, too, was not the only, or perhaps even the most important task which the necessities of the disruption had devolved upon him. A college must be established, and that forthwith, for the training of an accomplished and efficient ministry; and here also Dr. Chalmers was in requisition. His office of theological professor in the university of Edinburgh was resigned as soon as his connection with the Established Church had ceased; but this was followed by his appointment to the offices of principal and primarius professor of divinity in the new institution which the Free Church contemplated. Here, then, was a college to create, as well as its duties to discharge; and how well these duties were discharged till the last hour of his life, the present generation of preachers and ministers who were his pupils can well and warmly attest. To his capacious and active mind, the mere gin-horse routine into which such professorial employments had too often degenerated, would have been not only an absolute mockery, but a downright torture; and therefore he was "in season out of season" in the subjects he taught, as well as his modes of educational training, esteeming no labour too much that could either impart new ideas or fresh enthusiasm to those whom he was rearing for the most important of all occupations. And even independently of this impulse which his labours thus communicated to the main-spring of action in the mechanism of the Free Church, the fact of his merely holding office there was of the highest importance to the college. No literary institution, however lowly in aspect or poor in endowments, could be insignificant, or even of a second-rate character, that had a man of such world-wide reputation at its head. The college is now a stately edifice, while the staff of theological professors with which it is supplied is the fullest and most complete of all our similar British institutions.

But amidst all this accumulated pressure of labour, under which even Dr. Chalmers had well nigh sunk, and the fresh blaze of reputation that fell upon his decline of life, making it brighter than his fullest noon-day—both alike the consequences of that new position which he occupied—there was one favourite duty of which he had never lost sight. It was the elevation of the ground-story of human society from the mud in which it was imbedded—the regeneration of our town pariahs into intelligent, virtuous, and useful citizens, by the agency of intellectual and religious education. This he had attempted in Glasgow, both in the Tron and St. John’s parish; he had continued it, though with more limited means, and upon a smaller scale, in St. Andrews; and but for his more onerous avocations in Edinburgh, which had engrossed him without intermission since his arrival in the northern capital, he would have made the attempt there also. But still he felt as if he could not enjoy the brief term of life that yet remained for him, or finally forego it with comfort, unless he made one other attempt in behalf of an experiment from which he had never ceased to hope for the most satisfactory results. Since the time that he had commenced these labours in Glasgow, he had seen much of society in its various phases, and largely amplified his experience of its character and requirements; but all had only the more convinced him that the lower orders, hitherto neglected, must be sought in their dens and hovels—that they must be solicited into the light of day and the usages of civilization—and that there the schoolmaster and the minister should be ready to meet them more than half-way. Without this "aggressive system," this "excavating process," by which the deep recesses of a crowded city were to be quarried, and its dark corners penetrated and pervaded, these destitute localities might be studded with churches and schools to no purpose. And the manner in which such a population were to be sought and won, he had also fully and practically demonstrated by his former experiments as a minister. Let but a district, however benighted, be divided into sections, where each tenement or close could have its own zealous, benevolent superintendent, and dull and obdurate indeed must the inhabitants of that territory be, if they could long continue to resist such solicitations. His first wish was, that the Free Church should have embarked in such a hopeful enterprise; but its experience was as yet so limited, and its difficulties so many, that it was not likely, during his own life-time at least, that it could carry on a home mission upon so extensive a scale. He therefore resolved to try the good work himself, and leave the result as a sacred legacy, for the imitation of the Church and posterity at large. "I have determined," he wrote to a friend in 1844, "to assume a poor district of 2000 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." Only expounded? This truly was humble language from one who had already done so much!

The place selected for this benevolent trial was the most unhopeful that could be found in Edinburgh. It was the West Port, a district too well known in former years by the murders of Burke and Hare, and to which such an infamy still attached, that many of its inhabitants lived as if a good character were unattainable, and therefore not worth striving for. Its population consisted of about two thousand souls, the very sediment of the Edinburgh lower orders, who seem to have sunk into this loathesome locality because they could sink no farther. To cleanse, nay, even to enter this Augean stable, required no ordinary firmness of senses as well as nerve, where sight, touch, smell, and hearing were successively assailed to the uttermost. Dr. Chalmers, undaunted by the result of a survey, mapped this Alsatia into twenty districts, of about twenty families a-piece, over which were appointed as many visitors—men animated with his spirit, and imbued with his views, whose task was to visit every family once a-week, engage with them in kindly conversation, present them with useful tracts, and persuade them to join with them in the reading of Scripture and in prayer. A school was also opened for the young in the very close of the Burke and Hare murders but not a charity school; on the contrary the feeling of independence, and the value of education, were to be impressed upon this miserable population, by exacting a fee of 2d. per week from each pupil—for Dr. Chalmers well knew, that even wiser people than those of the West Port are apt to feel that what costs them nothing is worth nothing. All this he explained to them at a full meeting in the old deserted tannery, where the school was to be opened; and so touched were the people with his kindness, as well as persuaded by his homely forcible arguments, that on the 11th of November, 1844, the day on which the school was opened, sixty-four day scholars and fifty-seven evening scholars were entered, who in the course of a year increased to 250. And soon was the excellence of this educational system evinced by the dirty becoming tidy, and the unruly orderly; and children who seemed to have neither home nor parent, and who, when grown up, would have been without a country and without a God, were rescued from the prostitution, ruffianism, and beggary which seemed to be their natural inheritance, and trained into the full promise of becoming useful and virtuous members of society. Thus the cleansing commenced at the bottom of the sink, where all the mephytic vapours were engendered. But still this was not enough, as long as the confirming power of religion was wanting, and therefore the church followed close upon its able pioneer, the school. On the 22d of December, the tan-loft was opened by Dr. Chalmers for public worship, at which no more than a dozen of grown people, chiefly old women, at first attended. But this handful gradually grew into a congregation under the labours of Dr. Chalmers and his staff of district visitors, so that a minister and regular edifice for worship were at last in demand. And never in the stateliest metropolitan pulpit—no, not even when he lectured in London, while prelate and prince held their breath to listen—had the heart of Dr. Chalmers been more cordially or enthusiastically in his work, than when he addressed his squalid auditory in that most sorry of upper rooms in the West Port. And this, his prayers which he penned on the Sabbath evening in his study at Morningside fully confirmed: "It is yet but the day of small things with us; and I in all likelihood shall be taken off ere that much greater progress is made in the advancement of the blessed gospel throughout our land. But give me the foretaste and the confident foresight of this great Christian and moral triumph ere I die. Let me at least, if it be by Thy blessed will, see—though it be only in one or in a small number of specimens—a people living in some district of aliens, as the West Port, reclaimed at least into willing and obedient hearers, afterwards in Thine own good time to become the doers of Thy word. Give me, O Lord, a token for the larger accomplishment of this good ere I die!" Such were his heavenward breathings and aspirations upon the great trial that was at issue in the most hopeless of civic districts, upon the overwhelming question of our day. Would it yet be shown in the example of the West Port, that the means of regenerating the mass of society are so simple, and withal so efficacious? The trial is still in progress, but under the most hopeful auspices. Yet his many earnest prayers were answered. Money was soon collected for the building of a commodious school-room, and model-houses for workmen, and also for a territorial church. The last of these buildings was finished, and opened by Dr. Chalmers for public worship on the 19th of February, 1847; and on the 25th of April he presided at its first celebration of the Lord’s Supper. When this was ended, he said to the minister of the West Port church: "I have got now the desire of my heart:—the church is finished, the schools are flourishing, our ecclesiastical machinery is about complete, and all in good working order. God has indeed heard my prayer, and I could now lay down my head in peace and die."

As will be surmised from the foregoing account, Dr. Chalmers, from almost the commencement of his West Port operations, had a prophetic foreboding that this would prove the last of his public labours. Such, indeed, was the result, only a few weeks after this sacrament at the West Port, when, in full health, and with a strength that promised an extreme old age, he passed away in silence, and at midnight, and so instantaneously, that there seemed to have been not a moment of interval between his ending of life in time, and beginning of life in eternity. And this was at a season of triumph, when all was bright and gladdening around him; for the Free Church, with which he was so completely identified, had now 720 ministers, for whose congregations churches had been erected, with nearly half a million of money voluntarily contributed, besides a large amount for the building of manses; it had 600 schools, a college of nine professors, educating 340 students for the ministry, and two extensive normal seminaries for the training of teachers; while its missionaries were actively engaged in every quarter of the earth. He had just visited London upon the important subject of a national education; and after unfolding his views to some of our principal statesmen, he returned by the way of Gloucestershire, where he had many friends, with whom he enjoyed much delightful intercourse. He arrived at his home in Morningside on Friday, the 28th of May, while the General Assembly of the Free Church was sitting; and as he had a report to prepare for it, he employed himself in the task in the forenoon of Saturday. On the following day his conversation was animated with all its former eloquence, and more than its wonted cheerfulness; and in the evening, as he slowly paced through his garden, at the back of the house, the ejaculations of "O Father, my heavenly Father!" were overheard issuing from his lips, like the spontaneous utterances of an overflowing heart. He retired to rest at his wonted hour, intending to rise early on the following morning to finish his report: but when the hour of rising elapsed he did not appear; and on knocking at the bed-room door, no answer was returned. The apartment was entered, and Dr. Chalmers lay in bed as if in tranquil repose, but it was that repose which only the last trump can dispel. He had died, or rather he had passed away, about the hour of midnight; but every feature was so tranquil, and every muscle so composed, that it was evident he had died in an instant, without pain, and even without consciousness.

Such was the end of Dr. Chalmers on the night of the 30th of May, 1847, at the age of sixty-seven. His character it would be superfluous to sketch: that is impressed too indelibly and too plainly upon our country at large to require an interpreter. Thus Scotland felt, when such multitudes followed his remains to the grave as few kingly funerals have ever mustered. Nor will posterity be at a loss to know what a man Dr. Chalmers was. He now constitutes to all future time so essential a portion of Scottish history, that his name will be forgot only when Scotland itself will cease to be remembered.

Here is a four volume publications of "Memoirs of Thomas Chalmers" in pdf format
Volume 1  |  Volume 2  |  Volume 3  |  Volume 4

A book about him from the Famous Scots series

There is also an article about this publication from Tait's Edinburgh Magazine

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