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               Sonya Contreras

Robert Murray McCheyne: A Life Not Wasted

January 5, 2016
This article are his quotes from his diary. He inspires, encourages, and exemplifies a life sold to Christ.

He only lived 29 years, and in his brief seven and a half years of ministry, he did more that will last for eternity than many have done in a lifetime.

After his elder brother David died, he wrote, “I lost my loved and loving brother, and began to seek a Brother who cannot die.” He felt the worthlessness of his own endeavors to please God. Not only did David’s death bring his own salvation, but impressed a sense of eternal things. He prepared for the ministry to ‘redeem the time.’

PREPARATION (1831-1835)
At college, he was influenced by men like Chalmers and Welsh. He read biographies of past ministers, especially Jonathan Edwards, Brainerd, Martyn, Payson and Halyburton.

McCheyne adopted Edwards Resolutions:
1. Resolved never to lose one moment of time, but to improve it in the most profitable way.
2. Resolved, that I will live so, as I shall wish I had done when I had come to die.
3. Resolved, to live with all my might, while I do live.

From a letter to another student, he wrote: “Do get on with your studies. Do everything in earnest. Above all, keep much in the presence of God. Never see the face of man till you have seen His face who is our life, our all.”

The last entry of his student days in March 29, 1835: “Life is vanishing fast, make haste for eternity.”

HIS MINISTRY (1835-1836)
In his message, “If the Gospel pleased carnal men it would not be the Gospel. The Spirit’s first work in salvation is to convict of sin and to bring men to despair for their condition by nature. A broken heart alone can receive a crucified Christ.”

Urgency and alarm characterized his messages.
“The only power that can bring a child of Satan and make him a child of God, is God Himself.”

His constant aim of his preaching was to bring them to see the vastness, completeness, and freeness of the salvation brought by Christ…it is only the truth of God which the Spirit will honor and bless.

Though always conscious that souls were perishing every day, he never thought that a minister’s main work consists of outward activity. “The great fault I find with this generation is, they cry that ministers should be more in public. They think that it is an easy thing to interpret the word of God and to preach.”

His heart was in the work, his hand was not slack.

He said, “’Lord, what will Thou have me to do?’ It was answered, ‘I will show him how great things he must suffer for my name’s sake.’ Thus it may be with me. I have been too anxious to do great things. The lust of praise has ever been my besetting sin; and what more befitting school could be found for me than that of suffering alone, away from the eye and ear of man?” And McCheyne did suffer.

July 8 “Lord, I will preach, run, visit, wrestle,” said I. “No, thou shall lie in thou bed and suffer,” said the Lord.”

His ministry was a pledge of the security and blessedness of a soul confiding in the faithfulness of God.

Constant fellowship with God was the safeguard of his soul.

Preaching the Gospel was his great delight.

The honor of Christ and the love of souls were the great rules by which he lived—his chart and compass amidst the storm.

“I have never risen a morning without thinking how I could bring more souls to Christ…every one of my flock must soon be in heaven or hell.”

“Above all things, cultivate your own spirit. Your own soul is your first and greatest care. Seek advance of personal holiness.”

“It is not great talents God blesses, so much as great likeness to Jesus.”

“A word spoken by you when your conscience is clear, and your heart full of God’s Spirit, is worth ten thousand words spoken in unbelief and sin.”

He wished to be always in the presence of God.

“Some believers were a garden that had fruit trees, and so were useful; but we ought also to have spices, and so be attractive.”

Bonar writes, “The real secret of his soul’s prosperity lay in daily enlargement of his heart in fellowship with his God. Meditation and prayer were the very sinews of his work…He kept by his rule, ‘that he must first see the face of God before he could undertake any duty.’”

His constant aim was to avoid any hurry which prevents ‘the calm working of the Spirit on the heart. The dew comes down when all nature is at rest—when every leaf is still. A calm hour with God is worth a whole lifetime with man…”

“It was always been my aim…to have no plans with regard to myself. That the place where the Savior sees meet to place me, must ever by the best place for me.”

A fellow minister said, “His living presence was a rebuke…for I never knew one so instant in season and out of season, so impressed with the invisible realities and so faithful in reproving sin and witnessing for Christ.”

He had such “continual dependence on Christ…have daily, hourly pardons. He ever lived as one on the brink of eternity, longed for a ‘full conformity to God.’ And prized communion with Him.”

During a time away from his church, when his health did not permit preaching, he traveled to Israel.

“There is nothing like a calm look into the eternal world to teach us the emptiness of human praise, the sinfulness of self-seeking, the preciousness of Christ.”

“God does not bless us in the midst of our labors, lest we say, my hand and my eloquence have done it. He removes us into silence, and then pours down a blessing so that all who see it cry out, ‘it is the Lord.’ May it really be so with my dear people.”

“If you wish to gain a Jew, treat him as a brother.”

“A foreign land draws us nearer to God. He is the only one whom we know here. All else is strange. Every step I take, and every new country I see, makes me feel more that there is nothing real, nothing true, but what is everlasting.”

“We stood…where Jesus came and wept over it. And if we had had more of the mind that was in Jesus, we should have wept also.”

REVIVAL (1839)
While preaching in the open meadows at Dundee, heavy rain fell. The crowd stood till the last. The Word was listened with ‘an awful and breathless stillness.’ “Hardest hearts melted like wax before the flame; the most stubborn trembled, and bowed the knee to Jesus.”

He declared, “Without holy fruit all evidences are vain…A real desire after complete holiness is the truest mark of being born again…Jesus first covers the soul with His white raiment, then makes the soul glorious within, restores the lost image of God, and fills the soul with pure, heavenly holiness. Unregenerate men among you cannot bear this.”

He warned his fellow ministers, “Our people will not thank us in eternity for speaking smooth things, and crying, ‘peace, peace, when there is no peace.’ They may praise us now, but they will curse our flattery in eternity.”

“Every one of my flock must soon be in heaven or hell! …I wished that I had a tongue like thunder, that I might make all hear; or a frame like iron, that I might visit every one and say, ‘Escape for thy life. Ah, sinners, you little know how I fear that you will lay the blame of your damnation at my door.’”

Last diary entry January 6, 1843 “Often I would like to depart and be with Christ—to mount to Pisgah’s top, and take a farewell look of the Church below—to leave my body, and be present with the Lord…”

He was anxious to leave no part of his work undone.

His last days were crowned with beauty of holiness—it struck everyone who saw or heard him. In his dying days, delirium overtook him on March 21. His utterances now showed the thoughts which were uppermost in his mind. “You must be awakened in time, or you will be awakened in everlasting torment, to your eternal confusion.’ He then prayed for his people, “This parish, Lord, this people, this whole place!”

He experienced severe suffering and frequent delirium until his death March 25, 1843.

His life showed his mission: “Oh, to be like Jesus, and with Him to all eternity.”

Over six thousand people attended his funeral.
Robert Murray McCheyne (1813-1843) a friend of God.

Want your life to matter? Thirst for Him.


Displaying 1 comment

Wow, what a life he lived for God and how convicting. Thanks for sharing this, Sonya, I will reread it several times I'm sure.

Author of Biblical fiction, married to my best friend, and challenged by eight sons’ growing pains as I write about what matters.

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