« PreviousContinue »
THE reader will be pleased at finding that in so many of the following pages Dr. Chalmers becomes his own biographer. I have done little more than select, arrange, and weave into a continuous narrative those materials which his family already possessed, or which friends and correspondents have kindly presented. In doing so, I was relieved of one difficulty, frequently the greatest with which a relative who undertakes a biography has to contend: there has been no conflict between what was due to truth, and what was due to affection or to relationship. The nearer that Dr. Chalmers was approached, and the more that was seen of him in the retired and most familiar scenes of life, the deeper was the love and veneration which he awakened; the more minute, exact, and faithful in all respects the narrative of his life can be rendered, it will only excite the more affectionate admiration, while more fully accomplishing the still higher object of making his life subservient in representation, to the high Christian ends to which it was consecrated in act.
The narrative of this volume includes what may be regarded as the period of growth and preparation. That growth, in all
its parts, was natural and unencumbered; having an ease and a freedom which bestowed on it both beauty and strength. In none of the developments, whether mental, moral, or spiritual, was there anything forced,-anything in the slightest degree artificial. Although enjoying the benefit of University instruction, intellectually he was self-educated: although brought up in the bosom of a religious family, he came at length to derive his Christianity purely and solely from the Sacred Oracles. The education and discipline of his first thirty years his early prejudices against the peculiar doctrines of the Gospel-his devotedness to scientific pursuitsthe manner of his conversion-his opening ministry at Kilmany, all conspired to qualify him for the arduous and successful labours of after-life; and, while tracing and admiring the manner in which this vessel of honour was fitted for his Master's service, the devout and intelligent reader will not rise from the perusal of such a narrative as the following without having his conviction deepened that "the germs of a noble temper and of moral sensitiveness have never been wanting in the conformation of men whose after-life has entitled them, in any true sense of the word, to be styled great; for although the grace of heaven may often make the wicked good, yet its province is not to make the little great; those who are to be such, are born-not made."*
I shall hereafter have occasion to return my most sincere acknowledgments to those who have been kind enough to aid me in executing that very difficult and most important task with which I have been entrusted; but as the eye of the reader will already have informed him how much this volume
* Loyola and Jesuitism, by Isaac Taylor, p. 21.
owes as to its outward aspect to the taste of Mr. Constable, I cannot refrain from seizing the present opportunity of saying how gratifying it has been to Dr. Chalmers's Trustees that the Copyright of all his Writings, as well as of these Memoirs, should have become the property of one who, beyond the commercial interest which he must necessarily take in them, cherishes so hallowed a remembrance of their Author, and is animated by so strong a desire that those great Christian principles, which it is their chief object to inculcate and recommend, should have power and prevail.
CHURCHHILL, November 26, 1849.