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“Mad Chalmers”

It was on this day in 1770 that Thomas Chalmers was born. I like Chalmers because he reminds me of the eternal value of literally applying to our ministries Paul’s instruction to his young charge, Timothy. “Take heed to yourself and to your doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you” (1 Timothy 4:16).


After he had been in the ministry for many years and was almost forty years old, Thomas Chalmers trusted in the finished work of Jesus Christ for the salvation of his soul and found peace with God. His already recognized powers of eloquence were suddenly transformed into a life-giving, fruit-bearing ministry that became the hallmark of his life.

“I am not sensible,” said Chalmers of this change in his ministry, “that all the vehemence with which I urged the virtues and the properties of social life had the weight of a feather on the moral habits of my parishioners. And it was not till I got impressed by the utter alienation of the heart in all its desires and affections from God; it was not until reconciliation to Him became the distinct and the prominent object of my ministerial exertions; it was not till I took the scriptural way of laying the method of reconciliation before them… that I ever heard of any of these subordinate reformations which I aforetime made the earnest and the zealous, but I am afraid at the same time the ultimate, object of my earlier ministrations.”

The fact that Chalmers openly celebrated his post-ordination conversion earned for him the derision of many of his professional peers and the nickname “Mad Chalmers.”

“Mad Chalmers” would go on to become one of the most respected leaders in Evangelical Scotland, a valiant spokesman for the nascent Free Church and a choice instrument in the hand of God to shape other notable Christians such as the Bonar brothers, Alexander Duff, and Robert Murray M’Cheyne.

O, that God would give us more men who shrug off their peers and with all-consuming thirst plunge into the springs of living water for their own personal satisfaction, the saving of their own souls. Then, once their trembling hearts find ultimate satisfaction in grace and restored joy, they promise as did the Prophet David, “then I will teach transgressors Your ways, and sinners will be converted to You” (Psalm 51:13). Then Paul’s reassurance is proved: “for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you.”

Are you willing to be called “Mad ______” because your first concern is your own soul? Have you ever become “impressed with the utter alienation of the heart in all its desires and affections” even though you are in the ministry? Do you wonder, like I do, how many preachers of the gospel will be in hell because they could not shrug off peer pressure and hunger after God no matter what the cost?

Fellow ministers, be sure you are saved.

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