No sooner had James Haldane accepted the office of stated minister of the Circus, than his brother Robert began to erect for him a spacious church edifice at the head of Leith Walk, Edinburgh, which, after the fashion of Mr. Whitefield’s houses of worship, was called the Tabernacle.
It was larger than any of the previously built city churches, and was estimated comfortably to seat three thousand two hundred persons, and on special occasions four thousand could be crowded into it.
The whole cost was borne by Robert Haldane, and when the building was finished, he proposed to convey it in perpetuity to his brother. James, however, declined this, saying that so long as it was devoted to religious purposes, it was as well in his brother’s hands, who could at his death make what arrangements he pleased.
In May, 1801, the Tabernacle was opened for public service, and within its walls James Haldane preached for nearly fifty years, counting it his highest privilege to minister in the gospel of Christ. Its seats were at first partially, and in after-years entirely free to the public, and whatever was obtained by collections or subscriptions, after paying the current expenses of worship, was devoted to the extension of the gospel. Mr. Aikman soon afterwards erected at his own expense, except a donation of three or four hundred pounds from Robert Haldane, a new house of worship in another part of the city.
Alexander Haldane, Memoir of Robert Haldane, and James Alexander Haldane; With Sketches of Their Friends, and of The Progress of Religion in Scotland and on the Continent of Europe, In the Former Half of the Nineteenth Century (Watertown, WI: Roger Williams Heritage Archives, 1858), 152–153.