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The New Zealand Evangelist

Dr. Chalmers

Dr. Chalmers.

The following very interesting statements were made in a funeral sermon preached by the Rev. Mr. Melville of Logie. He said:—

He was perhaps of all men in the Free Church the longest acquainted with Dr. Chalmers; he had passed fifty-five years in the constant interchange of friendship with him. They had entered the college together, and studied together. Dr. Chalmers was sent to St. Andrew's College at twelve years of age, but being so early sent there, for some years he made but little progress. It was not till he had entered the study of mathematics that his brilliant talents shone forth. Many amusing anecdotes might be told of him in that time, and several of them perhaps to his disadvantage; but in that place, where that great man had so often preached the Gospel, he (Mr. Melville, could bear testimony that all his frolicsome levity arose merely from a humorous and playful, and not from a selfish or fractious disposition. He was always greatly beloved by his companions. It was now forty-four years since he had ordained Dr. Chalmers to be a minister of the everlasting Gospel, and for the first twelve of these years they had lived in the neighborhood of each other. It might, however, be considered that for some years of his ministry, his instructions to his congregation were not so profitable to them as they afterwards were, for he had not then very clear views of the truth as it was in Jesus; but he was always deeply interested in the welfare and happiness of his people, and strove to promote their comfort, and was greatly beloved by them. At the same time, although his public discourses were not what they afterwards became, yet from the first there was a strong indication of great talent in them. But at the Lord's own time a great and happy change took page 70 place in his mind. He seemed to have been very much struck at this time with the lives of the primitive Christians; he had been employed in preparing a work on the evidences of Christianlty for the Encyclopædia, and had read a great many books in which the lives of the first Christians were recorded. He (Mr. Melville) remembered Mr. Chalmers saying to him, “Oh! these primitive Christains were different men from what we are,” alluding to their firm attachment to their faith and their love towards one another. At that time Mr. Chalmers was visited by a sore affiction, for which he found no remedy but a living faith in the Lord Jesus Christ—a true mark of the grace of God through Jesus Christ, for the salvation of perishing sinners! During his illness, he was frequently visited by a Dissenting clergyman in his own parish of Killmany. Mr. Johnston of Rathillet, who seemed to comfort him very much; and when Mr. Chalmers preached that lamented minister's funeral sermon a few years after, he said he viewed him as his spiritual father. A change was soon visible on Mr. Chalmers, which appeared in his public discourses, and was shown by the uniform tenor of his life and conversation. There was in Dr. Chalmers also a fortitude and determination which nothing could resist or overpower. When the great change had taken place in his mind, he did not leave it to be ascertained by the change of his instructions to his people, or in the discourses he delivered, but he came openly, honestly, and boldly forward in the pulpit, and told them that hitherto he had been leading them astray, but now, in humble dependence on the grace of God, he resolved to know nothing among them but Jesus Christ and him crucified. He went over all his former texts and preached on them again; he showed them he had been preaching wrong, and pointed out clearly the difference between his former errors and the truth, and he henceforth pursued that course with undeviating rectitude and firmness.

Another minister in a funeral sermon for him related the following anecdote:—

He was once along with Dr. Chalmers visiting a poor ignorant, dying woman. The Doctor plied her with the gospel, long and earnestly, but without effect; her mind still continued dark. They were about to leave her as they found her,—but as she manifested some anxiety they felt reluetant to go away. At last the woman said, “But how must I believe?” “O woman,” said the Doctor with his characteristic fervor, “just lippen * to Christ to save your soul,” “And have I only to lippen to Christ?” said the woman. “That is just what you have to do;” said he, “throw your all upon him, and he will save you.” He had hit upon a word that conveyed a distinct idea to her mind, A gleam of surprise and joy lighted up the countenance of the dying woman. He followed up the new train of thought and feeling that had entered her mind; and they left her under the hope that the spirit of God had opened her heart to receive the only Saviour.

* Lippen, trust, depend.