The Theology Of Dr. Chalmers -- By: J. M. Manning

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 013:51 (Jul 1856)
Article: The Theology Of Dr. Chalmers
Author: J. M. Manning

The Theology Of Dr. Chalmers

Rev. J. M. Manning

Thomas Chalmers [D. D. LL. D.] was born on the 17th of March, 1780, at Anstruther, Scotland. While yet in his twelfth year, he joined the United College of St. Andrew’s. In 1803, he was ordained as minister of the parish of Kilmany. During this ministry, he published his first volume, “On the Evidences and Authority of the Christian Revelation;” and also gained celebrity by his enthusiasm in the study of science. In 1815, he was transferred to the Tron Church in Glasgow. Here he preached the Astronomical Discourses, and started his noble enterprises in behalf of the poor. He became the incumbent of the chair of Moral Philosophy, at St. Andrews, in 1823; and of the chair of Divinity, in the University of Edinburgh, in 1828. He was a leader in the movement which resulted in the organization of the Free Church of Scotland; and was appointed “Principal of the New College “in 1846, which post he occupied till his death, which took place May 30, 1847. The last years of his life were devoted to the preparation of his “Institutes of Theology.” This work contains his theological system,

in its maturity, and in the form in which he desired it to be given to the world. The substance of many of his sermons, as well as of his lectures to his classes in divinity, is recast in these volumes. We hardly need to look elsewhere for any direct contribution which he has made to theological science. The present Article aims to give a concise statement of the system of theology thus elaborated. It does not undertake to estimate the theological opinions of Dr. Chalmers; much less does it attempt to class him with a particular school in theology. Any comments on his views, which it may be found to contain, are intended chiefly to mark certain things which characterize him as a theologian. His opinions will be given, so far as practicable, in his own words, and in connection with the arguments with which he supported them. In proportioning this epitome, regard will be had to what seems to have been his own idea of the relative importance of the subjects he has handled. By so doing, the hope may, perhaps, be reasonably indulged, that somewhat of the excellent spirit of his system will, be preserved in the abstract of it, which we now proceed to give.

I. Ethics

Moralists of the deistical school are wont to affirm that ethics and theology are distinct sciences, and that the former occupies a much higher sphere than the latter. This distinction was not admitted by Dr. Chalmers; and he was eager to remove the stain thus cast upon his favorite science.

“So much am I impressed with the unity of the two subjects [moral philosophy and Christianity], ...

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