Chalmers Still Speaks

47896I’ve spent today wading through the voluminous works by or about Thomas Chalmers, trying to understand his influence on Robert Murray M’Cheyne. As David Yeaworth says, “In Chalmers, more than any other person, M’Cheyne found the mold for his ecclesiastical and religious thought, and a worthy pattern for his own ministerial life.”

If evangelicals know anything today about Chalmers, it’s probably his sermon, “The Expulsive Power of a New Affection.” Few may know he was arguably the most famous British preacher at the time, a brilliant mathematician who theorized on everything from astronomy to politics to economics to social reform, and an evangelical who longed to see Christ proclaimed in slums of Scotland and far away nations.

What is remarkable is how he wielded his immense intellect to serve the church. Consider the following encouragement and warning about preaching:

By far the most effective ingredient of good preaching is the personal piety of the preacher himself . . . How little must the presence of God be felt in that place, where the high functions of the pulpit are degraded into a stipulated exchange of entertainment, on the one side, and of admiration, on the other! and surely it were a sight to make angels weep when a weak and vapouring mortal, surrounded by his fellow sinners, and hastening to the grave and the judgment along with them, find it a dearer object to his bosom to regale his hearers by the exhibition of himself, than to do, in plain earnest, the work of his Master.

Put simply: in your preaching, are you exalting yourself or the Savior?

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3 thoughts on “Chalmers Still Speaks

  1. Wonderful quote. I read The Expulsive Power of a New Affection in July. It nourished this soul. Where can I go next with Chalmers? Are their editions of his work out there?

    • Oh, yes. There is much to read on Chalmers. Iain Murray says, “Undoubtedly many great preachers have been overlooked by posterity because they published little or nothing; after all, the living voice has a short span compared with the life of a book. In Chalmers’ case, however, one reason for his eclipse may lie in exactly the opposite direction. His literary work was manifold.”

      You can find almost all of his works on Google Books. But I’d recommend grabbing Murray’s “A Scottish Christian Heritage” and read his chapter on “Chalmers and The Revival of the Church.” It’s fantastic.