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Letters of Thomas Chalmers: Introduction by Iain H. Murray

Chalmers, Thomas

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It is not often that the world has seen men like Thomas Chalmers.’ The vast crowds who lined the streets of Edinburgh as Chalmers’ funeral procession made its way from Charlotte Square to the Grange cemetery, no doubt concurred with this statement of Thomas Carlyle. Thomas Chalmers was indeed a remarkable man- parish minister, popular preacher, social reformer, lecturer in moral philosophy, economics, and theology, the first Moderator of the Free Church of Scotland. His great natural gifts, combined with his fervent determination to serve the Lord who had so signally saved him by divine grace, thrust him to the forefront of the evangelical movement that was to bring such a transformation to Scotland.

This volume, first published in 1853, contains a selection of his correspondence, edited by his son-in-law and biographer, William Hanna. These letters breathe the warmth of Chalmer’s devotion to Christ and reveal his true soul. Here we see the man behind the powerful sermons and impressive lectures, the ecclesiastical debates and the extensive literary volumes- a humble servant of Christ who in spite of his outstanding natural gifts longed to be a true man of God. Writing to a friend he says, ‘I long to realize the joys and exercises and the habits of experimental religion, to love Christ as fervently as good Samuel Rutherford… There is nothing of which I am more thoroughly aware than the utter difference which there is between a speculative and an experimental conviction of the same truth…I long for more of the life and freshness of an actual contact with these things-for the kingdom of God as abundantly in power as it is in word’.

Again he writes: ‘Let us all address ourselves to Him as the alone refuge and propitiation of sinners. We cannot surely trust Him too much; nor is there temerity or presumption in venturing our all upon to sure a foundation. Let us not fear that if our dependence be strong enough, we shall fail in our preparations for eternity; as the simpler and stronger our faith, the more fervent will be our love, the more abundant as well as affectionate will be our obedience.’

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