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wise, and he declared that, to come from pennies to pinches, if he could get a tenth of the snuff used by Highlanders every tenth pinch-it would suffice for the support of the whole ecclesiastical system in the Highlands. But amid his schemes for the whole Church, Chalmers forgot not new efforts at home, and in 1844, a new mission was formed by him at West Port, in Edinburgh, amid a most degraded population. No child there went to school, and not one in ten ever attended a place of worship; but a mighty spirit of trust in the improveability of the most depraved, operated till, directly opposite the den where the Burking operations had been performed, in an old tannery, a school was opened, and a work of redemption began ; Chalmers frequently repeating an expression said to be Tallyrand's, “ There is nothing formidable in meeting with the very lowest of the people, if you only treat them frankly.”
He addressed the “ genuine West Porters” on the ob. jects of the mission Schools for day and evening, library and savings' bank, a washing house, and an industrial school for females, were established, and all succeeded. Dr. Chalmers preached frequently in the loft, and his soul was most fervent in its hopes of success in that most abardoned of all places in Scotland. A church to seat 550 has since been erected, and the work goes on. What a fine sentiment was that Chalmers uttered in connection with this work, 6 Who cares about any church but as an instrument of good ? For be assured, that the moral and religious well-being of the population is of infinitely higher importance than the advancement of any sect."
He had received far more honors, and travelled more journies, than we have enumerated; and of his multifarious labors we have given but a glimpse ; but here we are contemplating him as he draws near the close of life. We should delight to hint at many traits in his character, and exemplary things in his methods, over which we have passed, but we must forbear. Still there is one example that is too beautiful to omit, and that is, his eagerness to impart to his wife and family the pleasure of his journey. ings on one occasion sending to his wife letters that would form a 300 page octavo volume like his sermons as first published. There is also a beautiful episode in his
an in hartachment sence, held in the
life, connected with the friendship he formed upon his removal to Glasgow, with the son of his publisher, a young man in his minority. There is something quite romantic in this attachment. They met regularly by appointment, and in case of absence, letters passed between them daily. But the young man died in the course of a few months, and a ring containing his hair was given to Chalmers. More than thirty years afterward, near the close of Chalmers' life, he resumed the wearing of that ring. Such a friendship, when he was in the midst of the most bewildering popularity, shows what a depth of tenderness was kept open in the heart of the great man. And so as we see him at the close of his earthly career, his soul yearns to the pleasant things of the past-he goes to his native town and brings home lilac from his father's garden, and shells from the sea-beach; and as we look into his home, there he is full of the exuberance of youthful feeling, ready to impart his share to the pleasures of the fireside, or the mirth of the ring. He goes to London once more, to appear before the committee of the House of Commons on church-siles, visits his sister at Bristol, tarries some hours at Oxford, and then returns to Edinburgh. On the following Sunday evening, he seemed more than usually bland and benignant in his home, wrote a letter to his sister, and walked out into the garden, where he was overheard saying, as if in prayer, “O Father, O my heavenly Father!" He sat down when he entered, yet the shadow of some disquieting thought passed over his face, but as if throwing the burden aside, he said, “ Disquietudes lie light on a man who can fix his heart on heaven.” He talked cheerfully, and then asked a brother minister to give worship for the night, adding, “ I expect to give worship to-morrow morning." Waving his hand, and telling his family they must be early to-morrow, he said, “A general good night !" and passed to his room. There in the morning he sat half erect in bed, bis head reclining gently upon the pillowdead, as he had been for hours. He had died as he gave himself to repose.
Here, from the most unpromising youth, came a man of decided genius-a man who turned misfortunes to achievements who shrank from no labor involved in any
his sister, card saying. He sa
önstration of tonic to the snow.drop the delight
aim he accepted as duty, and whose preaching was with the demonstration of the spirit and with power, while his conversation was " a tonic to the weak, and a crutch to the lame.” To bring in the first snow-drop of the season, was, in its place, as true a joy to him, as the delight of success in his mightiest undertakings. Whoever heard him preach, could not, despite the many points for criticism in style, tone and manner, but feel that he had imparted out of his own earnestness an impulse to good.
With his theology we will not quarrel. We have little fellowship with it, and it mingled but little with the chief labors of his life. He expressed his regret at the publication of John Foster's letter on future punishment, and “ dwelt chiefly on the loss of practical power to all the arguments in favor of godliness, which would result from a doubt being thrown over the idea of the truth of eternal punishment." Yet he left unanswered that same Foster's criticism on the bold use, in his Astronomical sermons, of the language of universality in speaking of the conquests of Christ and his truth, if he did not mean the idea that alone can fill up that language. The rhetoric of Universalism seems essential to the full expression of the morally sublime, notwithstanding its grand idea is supposed to deprive motives of godliness of all their practical power. We cannot but add here, that a passage from the English poet Gambold, which has been for years our most favorite passage, was the oftenest quoted, of any poetry, by Dr. Chalmers :
I'm apt to think, the man
And make one thing of all theology." To Chalmers was given a burial such as Edinburgh had never seen. Vast crowds attended—the magistrates in their robes of state, and with sincere homage to earnestness united with humanitary aims, they buried him with honors such as position cannot command, and only merit can receive. We cannot inherit his duties, but we can iinitate his earnestness in the performance of ours; and to all our clerical readers we can but commend this
VOL. X. 12
sentiment and key-note of his Christian living : “ It is of great importance to keep up a high tone of pulpit preparation; the efficiency of your private ministrations will depend very much upon it."
H. B- N.
Difficulties in Understanding the Holy Scriptures.
A BRIEF notice of some of the causes of obscurity in the sacred writings, may be of some little assistance, perhaps, to the ordinary Biblical student. If it does not help to clear up the difficulties which they involve, it may at least enable us more justly to appreciate them, and to see that they are not actually inconsistent with a firm and rational faith.
That there are difficulties in the way of a proper understanding of the Holy Scriptures, will doubtless be generally admitted; but I think that these difficulties are often magnified. There seems to be a vague impression, in many minds, that the Bible is little better than a book of riddles; that it is full of absurdities and contradictions; that it is open to as many interpretations as the old Grecian oracles; and is, therefore, like an instrument of music, on which a skilful performer may play about any tune that he pleases. But these are very extravagant fancies. There is no sufficient foundation for them. And I am confident, that even a slight investigation will not only evince this fact, but discover also, that whatever real difficulties do exist in the case, they are merely such as could not well be avoided : that they neither destroy, nor seriously impair, the claims of the Scriptures; nor render inconsistent the demands which they make upon our respect, faith, and obedience.
In reviewing some of the causes of these difficulties, let it be considered,
1. In the first place, that the Bible is not a revelation, but the record of a revelation Parts of it are purely historical, without any claim to especial inspiration. And those portions which are generally acknowledged as containing inspired truth, are merely accounts of what the writers profess to have had revealed to them. The peculiar form in which they have conveyed this truth, the language, and mode of expression,—were not the revelation itself, but only its medium of communication to other minds. And even had this cominunication been enjoined upon them as a duty, we have no more reason to conclude that the Divine Spirit took the entire charge of the matter, shaped their language, and coined their phraseology, than we have for supposing that it has done the same thing in regard to the numerous translations which have been made of that language since.
If we allow that the inspiration extended to the original words which the writers used, it does not materially alter the fact, as applied to our modern versions. These, we have every reason to believe, were made by wholly uninspired men, and in such terms only as their own wisdom selected. And I see no reason for supposing, that this was not equally the case with those who first penned the divine records. God communicated the truths first to their minds. How, we know not. Its philosophy we cannot fathom, perhaps. But the fact itself seems sufficiently evident, for reasons which I cannot here repeat. This primary communication of truth to the minds of the writers of the original Scriptures, was the true and only divine revelation; and the entire mode or manner in which they expressed this truth-whether by writing, or orally, to be recorded by other hands was just as essentially their own, as the language of Wakefield's translation was his own. Accordingly, we find that the style of each Biblical author is distinct and different, as is the style of our modern authors. Each book is characterized by the peculiarities of its writer. Peter does not speak like Isaiah ; nor Paul like David; nor John like either of them. Even in the evangelical narratives, where essentially the same facts are professedly stated, we find that each has a complexion peculiar to itself; indicating that the mode of expression originated in the mind of the writer alone.
If the special guidance of the Divine Spirit, then, ex