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physical ones, than a sot or a clown? One thing, however, is both instructive and remarkable, the profound impression of reality and of naturalness which such a theory exhibits as left upon a spiritual and most honest mind by the Character of Christ as presented in the Gospels.
It would really pain us, like the infliction of an injury on a valued friend, to quote from this History, so much more highly do we rank his former publications on the same subject. We can only account for the failure on the supposition that Mr. Furness, wishing to write a complete History of Jesus, and not wishing to repeat himself, was unable, from the large fragmentary contributions he had already made to such a work, to bring his mind again to the task with freshness and concentration, and so wrote loosely from general impression and remembrance. We are far from saying, that this History will not repay a perusal, for it is well to be constantly refreshing our image of the Life of the Son of Man, and viewing it from the lights and positions of all holy and earnest minds ; but we sincerely hope that no one will do Mr. Furness the injustice of estimating his appreciation of Christ and Christianity from the “History of Jesus,” without also studying “ Jesus and his Biographers.”
ART. I.-LIFE AND WRITINGS OF DR.
Memoirs of the Life and Writings of Thomas Chalmers,
D.D., LL.D. By his Son-in-law, the Rev. William
We had not intended to notice the life and character of this remarkable man until his biography was completed. It appears, however, that life is short, and art is long. Two volumes have appeared, the second more than a year after the first, and we are brought only to his forty-third year. There remains behind the most memorable part of his career, in which the biographer, who has taken the infection of his father-in-law's style and characteristic phrases, will delight to "expatiate,” overlaying it with profuse quotations from published and unpublished writings,—the two professorships at St. Andrew's and Edinburgh, and the mighty battle of the Free Church. Lest through long delay some staleness should creep over the subject, we are compelled to forego the gratification of presenting an entire view of Dr. Chalmers' Life, and to make such use as we can of the materials at our command. This will tend to confine us to the narrative, and oblige us to postpone moral criticism and general estimates, for we cannot fully understand the beginnings of life, the developments of character, until we see their end. It is far more true that no man can be understood before his death, than that no CHRISTIAN TEACHER.-No. 50.
man should be pronounced happy before his death. We might, indeed, attempt to supply what the biographer has left unrecorded of Dr. Chalmers' life, from his own writings and from the journals of the period, but we prefer to wait for the fuller information, with its more personal colouring, which Dr. Hanna alone can supply.
Thomas Chalmers, born March 17, 1780, in Anstruther, in the county of Fife, was the sixth child in a family of fourteen. His father, John Chalmers, a pious and worthy man, though apparently with some peculiarities that formed part of the probation of his quicker and more impetuous son, is described as a dyer, ship-owner, and general merchant, in that seaport. We suspect from some occasional mention of the back-shop, and other such symptoms, that these general designations do not convey very distinct information of the first scenes of the child's experience. We regret this, for such knowledge is always deeply valuable; and that the father, whatever might be his surroundings, was a man to be honoured for his rare union of piety, wisdom, and tenderness, one letter to an erring son* is sufficient to display. As one of the symptoms we refer to, it is said that neither parent had time to give him even ordinary care, the consequence of which was the almost complete abandonment of the child, though under its parents' roof, to a ruffian nurse whose cruelty and deceitfulness he used to describe with fresh torrents of indignation in his very latest days, and to escape from whose brutalities he was sent to school, on his own earnest petition, at the tender age of three years. This seems incredible, for infant schools did not exist in Scotland or elsewhere in 1783; and the poor child is represented as having only made the doubtful exchange of an inhuman nurse for à diabolical parish schoolmaster, a blind savage who nursed his selfimportance, and avenged his insignificance, and consoled his despised sufferings, by despotic tyranny and self will exercised on helpless children. It was a miracle, a miracle
a wrought perhaps by the drop of parental love, some weekly moments of tenderness, in the midst of all this poison, that the child was not utterly ruined : and God must make human nature very good, the child's heart very nigh to the Kingdom of Heaven, to withstand such treatment, so often as it does, and come out of it true, pure, and loving. In this school he remained till his twelfth year, with as little gain either of knowledge or of intellectual training as was possible, but establishing for himself the undisputed reputation of the idlest, strongest, merriest, most generoushearted, and withal the cleverest, boy in Anstruther. Before this time he had long fixed his destination in life. Perhaps the clerical profession more than any other takes at an early age its votaries or its victims, as the only one that has the opportunity of impressing the imagination of childhood. It shows how deep is nature's imprint that young Chalmers, whose latest power lay very much in sounding and flowing sentences, when missed one evening at the age of three, was found pacing his nursery in the dark, in a fever of excitement, pouring out the words, “O my son Absolom! O Absolom, my son, my son !". The ordinary story is told of his preaching from a chair to an infant auditor, but his favourite text, on which he had already made up his mind to preach his first sermon, was unusually mild for such precocious ardour, —"Let brotherly love continue.”
* Vol. I. p. 35.
Not yet twelve years old, and not yet having learned to spell, he was enrolled a student in the United College of St. Andrew's. One of his contemporaries who had entered College at a still earlier age was John Campbell, the present Chief Justice of the Queen's Bench. At that period the Colleges of Scotland supplied the place of upper schools to their youngest students: an evil that remains but partially unabated to this day. St. Andrew's was not without an accomplished scholar and teacher in Dr. John Hunter, but the boy had not enough of the rudiments of Latin to profit by his instructions. We doubt whether the wanting knowledge was ever very liberally supplied. Many years after he became a minister we find him making some preparations to enable him to read the New Testament in Greek. The first two years of his college course were largely occupied, as was not improper at his age, with golf, football, and particularly handball
, in which latter he was remarkably expert, owing to his being left-handed.” In the third year of his course he had his intellectual birth-time under the fascination of mathematics, to the study of which, and of the natural sciences generally, he
always continued to exhibit a strong bias. He was fortunate in an eminent teacher, Dr. James Brown, in whose rooms he enjoyed the excitement of occasional intercourse with Sir John Leslie, and Mr. James Mylne, afterwards Professor of Moral Philosophy in Glasgow. Young Chalmers, through some revulsion of taste and animal spirits from the narrow Toryism and severe Calvinism of the domestic minds at Anstruther, delivered himself up for a time to the liberal tendencies in Religion and Politics of these eminent men, though he never fully understood their principles.
In his fifteenth year he was enrolled a student in Divinity Hall, though as yet he was far enough from being a student of Divinity. Dr. Hill, the Professor, whose Lectures on Theology are now a text book in Scottish Colleges, smitten with some sense of the natural repulsiveness of Calvinism, and hence led to some doctrine of Reserve, had cautioned his young divines against bringing it too broadly forward in the Pulpit. This was far more repulsive to the ingenuous boy than Calvinism. “If it be truth, why not be aboveboard with it ?” He seems ever after to have treated what fell from Dr. Hill as so much idle air,-in Mr. Carlyle's pet phraseology to have looked on the Professor as a windbag. And when asked why it was that in his class-room his thoughts were always occupied with something else, he replied, that he questioned the sincerity of the Lecturer. This is note-worthy of a lad of fifteen. We may well suppose that there was some inward fountain of inspiration that sustained him in this independence, and led to his involuntary rejection of whatever seemed formal and hollow. “I remember," he says, “when a student of
a divinity, and long ere I could relish evangelical sentiment, I spent nearly a twelvemonth in a sort of mental elysium, and the one idea which ministered to my soul all its rapture was the magnificence of the Godhead, and the universal subordination of all things to the one great purpose for which He evolved and was supporting creation.”—The peculiar eloquence which won his renown, and which was inflated and juvenile to his latest day, displayed itself very early. It was the custom at St. Andrew's for the more pious of the townspeople to attend the daily prayers in the Divinity Hall conducted by the Theological Students,