Chalmers on Reading Biographies

Here is a great quote from Thomas Chalmers that George Grant has noted. Chalmers once asserted, “I am thankful to say that no reading so occupies and engages me as the biography of those who have made it most their business to prosecute the sanctification of their souls.” See Chalmers Conference for details of a conference on Chalmers that George is hosting. Looks great—wish I could go. One of my heroes, Horatius Bonar, believed Chalmers to have been one of the greatest Christians he had ever known. George also mentions that he is writing a biography of Chalmers. This is really good news. It does amaze me sometimes that highly significant figures in the history of the church should be lacking in good biographies. Others would be the Bonar brothers themselves. They are long overdue for a large biographical study that goes all the way back through their remarkable forebears, many of whom were ministers. The bigger the better!

And who has really done justice to Spurgeon as a Calvinist? For that matter, despite the fact that there are tens of biographies of William Carey, none of them really grapples with Carey the Calvinist, apart from that by Timothy George. And what about the Southern Baptists Boyce and Broadus? There are older ones available, but we need new studies that show the value of their lives for the present day. And speaking of Baptists, we surely need a good solid study of that remarkable Irish Baptist, Alexander Carson.

And why have so many of the Puritans been ignored? We have the great study of Sibbes by Dever and much written on Owen and Baxter. But where is a contemporary biography of Thomas Goodwin? Or John Flavel? Or even that latter-day Puritan Matthew Henry? Or what about William Perkins? And then one biography this non-Welsh-speaking lover of Wales would love to get his hands on is a big solidly-researched biography of William Williams Pantycelyn, that “sweet singer of Wales.”

There is enough here for several lifetimes of work. May God raise up historians for the task!