Saturday, January 5, 2019

Robert Murray McCheyne

Undoubtedly, you are familiar with the consecutive Bible readings and calendar devised by Rev. Robert Murray McCheyne, late pastor of St. Peter’s Church in Dundee, Scotland. Every aspirant to the Gospel ministry should read the Memoir of McCheyne by his friend Rev. Andrew Bonar.

Revival fires were already sweeping Scotland when McCheyne was born in 1813, at Edinburgh. Though religious in a common sense, young McCheyne early became distressed about his spiritual poverty. The immediate cause of his concern was his older brother’s profoundly Christian character. The latter’s early death drove Robert to abandon his shallow religiosity and give himself completely to Christ. From that point, the British islands were to witness the rise of a rare jewel in Scotland’s spiritual crown.

The light of McCheyne’s ministry burned brightly but briefly as a pastor, missionary, and evangelist. Before his ordination in 1836, young McCheyne had labored effectively with John Bonar among the poor coal miners at Larbert. It was John who had the honor of introducing Robert to his new parish at St. Peter’s, when the 22-year-old preached Isaiah’s words, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me.” Later he was to comment in his diary, “May it be prophetic of the object of my coming here.” And indeed it was, for soon hundreds of souls, some who had bitterly opposed the Gospel, came thronging to the young pastor’s study to surrender to Christ.

Brilliantly endowed and personally attractive, McCheyne feared being admired by the flock he ever sought to present exclusively to Christ. He referred to himself as “the pole on which the serpent must be exalted.” Partly on this account, he withdrew for seasons as a missionary to Palestine and an evangelist to England. He was grateful that it was during his absence that revival broke out at St. Peter’s.

Although relentless in his zeal for Christ and for souls, R. M. McCheyne’s health was always marginal, and several times he was near death. At the youthful age of 29, he died of a fever in 1843.
Following is the testimony inscribed on his tomb by the townsfolk of Dundee:
Walking closely with God, an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in faith, in purity, he ceased not day and night to labor and watch for souls, and was honored by his Lord to draw many into the path of life.