May 14, 2007

Do You Know This Man?

I began reading another book this weekend. And before you ask, I will just openly admit it ... No, I have NOT finished all of the other books that I've begun previously. I think I've just resigned myself to accepting it as a hazard of this job! Anyway, I "spent some time with" Thomas Chalmers yesterday, and so thoroughly enjoyed getting acquainted with him through the introduction written by Iain Murray, in addition to some of the first letters between Dr. Chalmers and his dear friends, James Anderson and Thomas Smith. Here are some bits and pieces, for your reading pleasure ...
From Iain Murray's Introduction:
"There is good reason why Thomas Chalmers ought to be remembered today. He was at the centre of a recovery that brought the churches in Scotland from mediocrity, indifference and unbelief, to new conditions of spiritual vitality. To understand Chalmers is to understand how that transformation occurred. It is unquestionable that towards the middle of the nineteenth century many parts of Scotland witnessed a profound awakening and that none stood closer to the spiritual influence which brought this about that Thomas Chalmers. Today the works of several of the men who shared in this recovery are being read again across the world. They include those of Robert Murray M'Cheyne, William Cunningham, George Smeaton, Hugh Martin, Andrew and Horatius Bonar, David Brown, and James Buchanan. For those who have discovered the value of these writers there cannot but be cause for interest in the man who was, in many respects, their teacher and leader....
"Although many have written on Chalmers, the best knowledge of the man comes from reading his own words, and there is no better starting point than the volume of his correspondence, carefully put together after his death, by his son-in-law, William Hanna. It has long been unobtainable, and numbers will surely be thankful to see it in print again. The times and the religious scene are greatly changed since Chalmers' day, yet what lay at the centre of his influence remains the church's constant need, and there is here much sound wisdom from which other generations can profit."
From Dr. Chalmers letters:
"My Dear Sir, - I read, with much affection and pleasure, your very interesting communication. I have been thinking much of you; and I trust that the tenderness I feel will never be wounded by any woful apostasy on your part to the spirit and the practices of an alienated world. As to its grosser profligacies, it is my delight to think that you are purely and nobly superior to them; but do all you can to strengthen your abhorrence of them. Let not the withering example of others so much as harden your feelings against the exhibition of them; for it is not enough, my dear Sir, that you keep aloof from the practice of external ungodliness, you should also cherish a most delicate recoilment of mind from the intrusion of every gross and unworthy conception, recollecting that it is to the pure in heart that our kind and amiable Saviour has promised the blessedness of seeing God..................

"My Dear Sir, - I feel much interested in your letter of yesterday's date, as it touches on a truly important subject -- that of resolutions. If you simply mean by a resolution a purpose, it should be your purpose at this moment to forsake all sin and to attain all righteousness -- a purpose which can only be carried into accomplishment by prayer for the promised aid believingly preferred, and daily persevered in. But if, by a resolution, you understand a purpose accompanied with a vow, this is a matter of very great caution, and postponing the full discussion of it to our personal interviews, I shall just observe, in a hurried way, that there is one set of such resolutions which it appears to me to be safe and content for a man to make and to adhere to, and another set which it would be extremely hazardous. I shall illustrate the two sets by examples ......................................
Ah, if I but had time to share more.
This past weekend, I met a 16-year old young man who believes that the Lord may be directing him into the pastoral ministry. I will tell you what I told him - I am becoming more and more convinced of the importance of becoming so acquainted with the lives of dear men of God who have walked this path prior to ourselves. Get to know Lloyd-Jones and Whitefield and Rutherford and Chalmers. Witness their devotion to Christ, and abhorrence of sin, their awe of the Father. Little has been written that is of greater worth, other than Scripture itself. So read, and grow thereby. Grace & peace. Steve

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