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Thomas Chalmers and the Godly Commonwealth in Scotland$
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S. J. Brown

Print publication date: 1983

Print ISBN-13: 9780192131140

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780192131140.001.0001

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Ambition and Community

Ambition and Community

(p.1) 1 Ambition and Community
Thomas Chalmers and the Godly Commonwealth in Scotland

Stewart J. Brown

Oxford University Press

Thomas Chalmers, son of John and Elizabeth, was born at Anstruther, in Fife on 17 March 1780. After completing an arts course, Chalmers entered divinity college at St. Andrews University. As a student, Chalmers embraced the idea that a man's value was based on his contribution to the welfare of society: this in turn was a function, not of his wealth, but of his principle and his integrity. His fundamental social principle was benevolence. In both his hatred for the ‘artificial distinctions’ of wealth and his emphasis upon the role of benevolence in social organization, Chalmers reflected the social traditions of pre-industrial Fifeshire in which he has been raised. This chapter relates Chalmers's struggles as a minister, his foiled mathematics professorship career, and his failed paper The Enquiry.

Keywords:   Thomas Chalmers, benevolence, ministry, mathematics, The Enquiry

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