Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Balmer, Robert

BALMER, ROBERT (1787–1844), minister of the United Secession church, was born at Ormiston Mains, in the parish of Eckford, Roxburghshire, 22 Nov. 1787, and evincing considerable abilities and a disposition towards the christian ministry, entered the university of Edinburgh in 1802, and in 1806 the Theological Hall at Selkirk, under Dr. Lawson, professor of divinity in the body of seceders called the Associate Synod. In 1812 he received license as a preacher from the Edinburgh presbytery of the Secession church, and in 1814 was ordained minister in Berwick-on-Tweed, where he remained till his death. In 1834 he was appointed by the Associate Synod professor of pastoral theology in the Secession church, and this office he exchanged later for the professorship of systematic theology. In 1840 he received the degree of D.D. from the university of Glasgow. Balmer was a man of high influence in the denomination to which he belonged. When certain discussions arose among his brethren on some Calvinistic doctrines, he supported the less stringent views. At a meeting held in Edinburgh in 1843, to commemorate the bicentenary of the Westminster Assembly, he delivered a remarkable speech in favour of christian union, which, in an especial manner, attracted the attention of Dr. Chalmers and others, and led to important measures being taken by John Henderson of Park for promoting that cause. Balmer did not publish much during his life but after his death two volumes of 'Lectures and Discourses' were published in 1845. He died 1 July 1844.

[Balmer's Academical Lectures and Pulpit Discourses, with a memoir of his life by Rev. Dr. Henderson, of Galashiels, 1845; Andersons: Scottish Nation.]

W. G. B.