I first began to seriously read and study the life and work of Thomas Chalmers a quarter of a century ago. When I was in graduate school I became aware of his reforming work in 19th century Scotland. I read a few of his best-known sermons during seminary. But, it was not until a “chance discovery” of a Chalmers book in one of my favorite West Coast antiquarian bookshops that I dug in for deep reading.
His many profound epigrammatic truths quickly became loadstones in my life—and inevitably helped to define the distinctives of my ministry and work:
“Regardless of how large, your vision is too small.”
"The Spirit guides us unto all truth and all truth is to be found in the Bible--the Spirit therefore guides us unto the Bible."
"The wider a man's knowledge becomes, the deeper should be his humility; for the more he knows the more he sees of what remains unknown. The wider the diameter of light, the larger the circumference of darkness. And so, with every footstep of growing knowledge there ought to be a growing humility--that is the best guarantee both for a sound philosophy and a sound faith."
“May I be strong in faith, instant in prayer, high in my sense of duty, and vigorous in the execution of it.”
"Christ hath spoiled the great adversary of all his power. He hath left him no claim of ascendancy whatever over those who believe in Him."
"While I retain entire dependence on Christ's righteousness and grace, let me, at the same time, have the comfort of knowing that my labor is not in vain in the Lord."
But, of all the things Chalmers wrote and said that continue to bolster my faith, embolden my vision, shape my thinking, and give trajectory to my calling, I return again and again to his gladsome declaration: “O, let us connect every joy with the hand of the Giver; and in the manifold blessing which He scatters around the path of this world’s journey, may we never forget that it is a journey written in time.”
This truth helps remind me that the work of ministry in Christ's church is far more than a necessary preparation for some future reward. Instead, it is a joyous walk together. It is a providentially rooted community. It is a “journey written in time.” O, what a manifold blessing!