On the Knowledge of Christ and Him Crucified – Thomas Chalmers / Christian Audio Sermons
1 Corinthians 2:2 King James Version (KJV)
2 For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.
The leader of the Free Church of Scotland; b. in East Anstruther, Fifeshire, Mar. 17, 1780; d. in Edinburgh May 30, 1847. The family to which he belonged was composed of middle-class people of the strictest type of Calvinism; and hence in his opening years, he received thorough indoctrination. He entered St. Andrews University when only eleven years old, and confined his attention almost exclusively to mathematics, but did not give up his original intention of becoming a preacher, and accordingly was licensed by the presbytery of St. Andrews Jan., 1799. His character early developed into maturity. Instead of beginning his professional work, he continued the study of mathematics and natural science; and during the winter of 1802-03 he acted as assistant to the professor of mathematics at St. Andrews. He showed an extraordinary power to awaken enthusiasm in almost any topic he took up; although it was this very fact which at that time cost him his place, the authorities disliking the novelty of his methods.
He settled as minister of Kilmeny, nine miles from St. Andrews, May, 1803, and in the following winter, while preaching regularly, opened voluntary and independent classes in mathematics at the university, which were largely attended, although vigorously discouraged by the authorities. He was a faithful pastor at Kilmeny, and his preaching attracted wide attention, but his heart was not in his work. He was trammeled by the prevailing moderatism, which put culture above piety, and state support above independence. In 1808 evidence of the trend of his thinking appeared in his Inquiry into the Extent and Stability of National Resources. The supply of man’s physical and social needs was uppermost in his mind. In the midst of such work he was visited with severe domestic afflictions, and a serious illness brought him to death’s door; but he recovered after a year. David Brewster asked him to contribute to his Edinburgh Encyclopedia. He at first chose “Trigonometry,” but at length took “Christianity” (separately published, 1813). And as he examined the doctrines of this religion, and went deeper into its mysteries, he realized its importance, and by studying about Christianity he became a Christian. The parishioners quickly became aware that he had really not so much resumed his work among them as begun it. His whole soul was on fire, and his culture was now used to make the saving truth of saving power. He cut loose from the moorings of moderatism, and became a decided Evangelical. His eloquence was expended in new channels, and with great results.
In July, 1815, he was formally admitted as minister of the Tron Church, Glasgow. In 1816 he delivered on weekdays the famous series of seven Discourses on the Christian Revelation, Viewed in Connection with Modern Astronomy. In Sept., 1819, he removed from the Tron parish to that of
St. John’s, in order that he might, in a newly constituted parish, have an opportunity of testing the practicability in a large city of the old Scottish scheme of providing for the poor. In the parish there were two thousand families. These he distributed into twenty-five divisions; and over each such district he put an elder and a deacon the former to attend to their spiritual, the latter to their temporal needs. Two commodious school-houses were built; four competent teachers were employed, and by school-fees of two and three shillings each a quarter, seven hundred children were educated; while on Sunday the forty or fifty local schools supplied religious instruction. Dr. Chalmers not only presided over all this system of work, but made himself familiar with all the details, even visiting personally every two years each family of the parish, and holding evening meetings. He also assumed complete charge of the poor; and by thorough system, and consequent weeding-out of unworthy cases, he reduced the cost of maintaining them from fourteen hundred to two hundred and eighty pounds per annum. This efficient system, however, in 1837 was given up; and the “English” plan of compulsory assessments, which requires much less trouble, and probably does much less good, was substituted.