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who expressed his belief that the writings of Moses do not fix the antiquity of the globe, but that geology, in its tracings of cause and effect, in the strata and general structure of the earth, may be in exact harmony with all that is recorded of creation, both as to the time and manner of it, in the book of the Genesis. Everywhere, to follow the track of this great man, is to learn from him ; and such communion as we have with him through these pages is instructive to the intellectual and edifying to the spiritual within us. In the course of 1813, Mr. Chalmers met with Andrew Fuller at Dundee, and as his conversation with that remarkable man produced no little effect on his mind, we will quote from our author's account of the interview and its results :
• This visit of Mr. Fuller was one of the incidents in his Kilmany life, to which Mr. Chalmers always looked back with pride and pleasure. He could not refrain from referring to it when introducing a remark of Mr. Fuller's into one of his theological lectures. It has been exceedingly well said," he remarked, " by the judicious Andrew Fuller, on whose last visit to Scotland, in 1813, I felt my humble country manse greatly honoured by harbouring him for a day and two nights within its walls—it has been exceedingly well said by this able champion and expounder of our common Christianity, that the points on which the disciples of the Saviour agree, greatly outnumber, and in respect of importance very greatly outweigh, the points on which they differ.” The candour, the ardour, the simplicity, the originality, the power, the gentleness—all of which he found so singularly associated in his new acquaintance, made a profound impression upon Mr. Fuller. Though he did not live to see it, having died before Mr. Chalmers's removal to Glasgow, he was already measuring the width of that sphere of influence which he was fitted and destined to fill. . .. . Under the very strong conviction, that his use of the manuscript in the pulpit impaired the power of his Sabbath addresses, Mr. Fuller strenuously urged upon his friend the practice of extempore preaching, or preaching from notes. “ If that man,” said he to his companion, Mr. Anderson, after they had taken leave of Kilmany-manse—“ if that man would but throw away his papers in the pulpit, he might be King of Scotland.” Mr. Chalmers was perfectly willing to make the experiment, and he gave full time and all diligence to the attempt; but it failed. He read, reflected, jotted down the outlines of a discourse, and then went to the pulpit trusting to the suggestion of the moment for the phraseology he should employ; but he found that the ampler his materials were, the more difficult was the utterance. His experience in this respect he used to compare to the familiar phenomenon of a bottle with water in it turned suddenly upside down: the nearly empty bottle discharges itself fluently and at once; the nearly full one labours in the effort, and lets out its contents with jerks, and large explosions and sudden stops, as if choked by its own fulness. . . . After a succession of efforts, the attempt at extempore preaching was relinquished; but he carried into the study that insatiable desire to effect a
lodgment of the truth in the minds of others, which had so much to do with the origin of all that amplification and reiteration with which his writings abound. In preparing for the pulpit, he scarcely ever sat down to write without the idea of other minds, whom it was his object to impress, being either more distinctly or latently present to his thoughts; and he seldom rose from writing without the feeling that still other modes of influential representation remained untried.' – Ib. pp. 336–339.
As our readers probably feel a higher interest in the life of Mr. Chalmers as the preacher, than as the critic or literary man, we subjoin one more quotation, which will cast additional light on his pulpit-preparation >
• The opening months of 1811, as they brought tranquillity and establishment to his own heart, so they gave a new character to his Sabbath ministrations. I have been able to trace to this period so many of the sermons afterwards selected by their author for publication, and have found so few alterations made in the original manuscripts in preparing them for the press, as to be satisfied that the three final years of his ministry at Kilmany supplied as many, as elaborate, and as eloquent discourses, as any other three years in the whole course of his ministry. It was not the stimulus of cultivated audiences, and an intellectual sphere-it was not the effort to win or sustain a widespread popularity-it was not the straining after originality of thought or splendour of illustration, which gave to these discourses their peculiar form and character. They were, to a great extent, the spontaneous products of that new love and zeal which divine grace had planted in his soul; the shape and texture of their eloquence springing from the combined operation of all his energies. . . . . Much time and great care were bestowed upon these preparations for the pulpit. Instead of the two or three hours which had once been sufficient, they now engrossed the leisure of the whole preceding week. And besides that weekly amount of composition which was necessary to meet the demands of each succeeding Sabbath, he had always a discourse in preparation upon which the occasional efforts of a whole month were expended—the two sets of sermons, from the different characters in which they were written, being described in his own vocabulary as his short-handers and long-handers. He frequently advised his young minis. ters, in addition to their ordinary preparations, to have a monthly and more elaborate sermon always in
pp. 417, 418. In the autumn of 1814, Mr. Chalmers preached at Bendochy, 'in Perthshire, a funeral sermon for an early college-friend; and among the auditors were 'Mr. Robert Tennent, jun., and four other Glasgow citizens, who came as members of the Town Council of Glasgow, to hear Mr. Chalmers as one who had been mentioned as a candidate for the Tron Church in that city, vacant at this time, in consequence of its former minister, Dr. Macgill, having been appointed to the chair of Theology.
There was much canvassing of the electors on the occasion, but the result was the triumphant return of Mr. Chalmers, on November 25, 1814, as minister of the large and wealthy congregation worshipping in the Tron Church. He balanced every argument which suggested itself, for or against his acceptance of the invitation to Glasgow :
• The two chief obstacles to Mr. Chalmers's removal from Kilmany were : his fears as to the amount of extra and unprofessional labour which was laid upon the clergymen of Glasgow, and his regret at leaving a people and neighbourhood to which he was very tenderly attached. An explanatory letter from Dr. Balfour helped to remove the one; it cost acute and long-continued suffering to remove the other. Looking to the hills which bounded his peaceful valley, and waving his staff to them as if in mournful farewell, he said to a friend who was walking by his side, “Ah! my dear sir, my heart is wedded to these hills." Coming back to his old parish, more than twenty years after he had left it, he exclaimed, “Oh! there was more tearing of the heart-strings at leaving the valley of Kilmany than at leaving all my great parish at Glasgow.” '-Ib. p. 454.
Mr. Chalmers preached his first sermon in Glasgow on March 30, 1815, and at once he was surrounded by a blaze of unparalleled popularity ;' but still the memory of his dear Kilmany made him feel like an exile amid the splendours of a distant and foreign city. That place, where first the irresistible love of Jesus made his soul captive to the gospel, where he had been married, and where his daughter was born, was still to him surrounded by the magic influence of home ; and amid the anxieties and pressures of his arduous Glasgow ministry, the recollection of his humble parish—the oasis of his life-soothed his agitated spirit and calmed him in the midst of tempest. He found 'a deal of very strange work in the business of a Glasgow minister;' indeed, it would seem that he not only had to be often in the pulpit, (and neglect of public worship is certainly not a sin much known in that western metropolis of Scotland)—a frequent visitor at the tables of his wealthier hearers, the merchant-princes of that tumultuous city—a sort of town-missionary to the savoury regions of the Saltmarket and the Briggate ; but he had also to sign spirit licences and pedlar-qualifications.
Shortly after his settlement in Glasgow, he formed a close and intimate friendship with a Mr. Thomas Smith, the son of a Glasgow publisher—a young man of lofty intellect and remarkable piety. The heart of the illustrious preacher yearned over this young man, and as a kindly genius he watched and tended him closely, leading him on from stage to stage of Christian knowledge, drawing him nearer and nearer to that Cross where alone human impurity can be cleansed, and thus fitting him for that heavenly life he was destined speedily to reach. Beautiful it is to find him writing prayers for his friend, when unable to leave his room ; for it was the lot of this friendship to be of brief continuance—insidious disease was consuming this youth of so fair promise—and Mr. Chalmers would frequently go over to his room, and sit with his manuscript in his hand by his bedside, in order that from that scene of early decay, he might learn with a new solemnity to bid his people prepare to meet God. In the spring of 1816, he was called to bury his beloved friend, so early lost, so much deplored ; 'sucessive floods of tenderness ' followed this bereavement, and he seemed drawn nearer to it, and almost ready to depart to that supreme felicity of which his friend was for ever to partake. This little history is a most valuable episode in the life of this illustrious man-a jewel set alone in the midst of refined gold. It is an attribute of exalted genius, that it is magnanimous even in trifles-nothing is beneath its notice nothing too barren for its instruction-nothing too minute for its eagle eye. John Milton catches fresh inspiration from a familiar melody; Newton leaves his starry pathway, to gambol with a child ; Heyne, who, in his classic lore was more an antique Roman than’ a modern citizen, found an exquisite pleasure among his profusion of roses—and Chalmers, the venerated preacher, the impassioned orator, the full-souled son of science, is seen, manuscript in hand, tending by the sick-couch of one worn by long-suffering, and whose service for this world is done. Until 1816, he was employed in the routine of parish labours, occassionally writing for the 'Edinburgh' and 'Eclectic Reviews,' and debating in the General Assembly. In this year, the University of Glasgow conferred the degree of Doctor of Divinity upon him, and his reputation, as one of the leading minds of Scotland, was firmly established. The following extract may give some idea of the extreme popularity he had reached, on the first delivery of the 'Astronomical Discourses :'
*He had presented to his hearers a sketch of the recent discoveries of astronomy-distinct in outline, and drawn with all the ease of one who was himself a master in the science; yet gorgeously magnificent in many of its details, displaying amid “the brilliant glow of a blazing eloquence,” the sublime poetry of the heavens. In his subsequent discourses, Dr. Chalmers proposed to discuss the argument, or rather prejudice, which grounds itself on the vastness and variety of those unnumbered worlds which lie scattered over the immeasurable fields of space. This discussion occupied all the Thursday services allotted to him during the year 1816. The spectacle which presented itself in the Trongate upon the day of the delivery of each new astronomical discourse was a singular one. Long ere the bell began to toll, a stream of people might be seen pouring through the passage which led into the Tron Church. Across the street, and immediately opposite to this passage, was the old reading-room, where all the old Glasgow merchants met. So soon, however, as the gathering quickening stream upon the opposite side of the street gave the accustomed warning, out flowed the occupants of the coffee-room; the pages of the “ Herald” or the “ Courier” were for a while forsaken, and during two of the best business hours of the day, the old reading-room wore a strange aspect of desolation. The busiest merchants of the city were wont indeed upon those memorable days to leave their desks, and kind masters allowed their clerks and apprentices to follow their example.'-Vol. ii. pp. 87, 88.
In the following January, the Astronomical Discourses' were published. Within the year, nine editions, comprising nearly twenty thousand copies, were in circulation. Hazlitt said they were to be found throughout the country; so that in the orchard of a little inn at Burford Bridge, near Boxhill, he met with and read the singularly magnificent book. Canning, when he had read them, became entirely converted to admiration of Chalmers.' After the publication of these discourses, Dr. Chalmers visited England, where he made the acquaintance of Foster, Wilberforce, Rowland Hill, and Pye Smith-clarum et venerabile nomen. Returning to his parish, he founded local Sabbath-schools, and became, in the noblest meaning of the word, a reformer of the city. To this subject, if the forthcoming volume of the ' Life' enable us, we hope, in some future number, to return.
Thus this great man's labours were continued, with some pleasing interruptions, until the year 1822, when he accepted the chair of Moral Philosophy in the university of St. Andrew's. And here, as our article has extended beyond its due limits, we must take leave of this most interesting history. In reference to the manner in which this biography has been written, we have only to add, that the author has proved himself a worthy Tacitus of so illustrious an Agricola. The work may be characterised as a pleasing narrative, written in an easy style; and though, no doubt, from the papers and manuscripts of his great father-in-law, Dr. Hanna had the amplest materials with which to work, yet he has given abundant proof of his own erudition, judgment, and accurate analysis. Unless we have mistaken them, our author is very far in advance of many of his brethren both in the Freechurch and in the Scottish Establishment. We have not anywhere observed, in this tribute to the worth of his kinsman, a single trait of that petty exclusiveness, that offensive attachment to their own sect and its faith and practice, which we have been often pained to observe in the works of some of his order. He seems to breathe a freer air, and to dwell in a kindlier atmosphere, than many we have known. Especially in matters of science, have we been pleased to observe the freshness and healthiness of his opinions. A noble mind is disruptive of the restraints of party; and there is a glorious catholicity among the truly great.