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Robert Murray McCheyne

Iwan Rees

17 . 7 . 2020

‘There has been one among us who ere he had reached the age at which a priest in Israel would have been entering on his course, dwelt at the Mercy-seat as if it were his home – preached the certainties of eternal life with an undoubting mind – and spent his nights and days in ceaseless breathing after holiness, and the salvation of sinners. Hundreds of souls were his reward from the Lord, ere he left us; and in him have we been taught how much one man may do who will only press further into the presence of his God, and handle more skilfully the unsearchable riches of Christ, and speak more boldly for his God.’
This tribute to Robert Murray McCheyne from the pen of his intimate friend and biographer, Dr. Andrew Bonar has been taken from his memoir.

Recently I have been impressed with the name Robert Murray McCheyne, a young man who turned his back upon the world and realised that the earth’s broken cisterns were nothing compared with the Fountain of living waters.

Robert McCheyne at the age of 18 lost his brother David 8 years his senior, and this impressed upon him his own mortality. He continued his work in the slums of Edinburgh until at the age of 23, was called as a minister to St. Peter’s in Dundee [worth a visit]. He was only given 6 years in Dundee but each year was full for God. In the year 1836 when Robert went to Dundee the terrain was; hard, godless and given to idolatry and drunkenness [much like 2020 Scotland]. He gave himself unsparingly to the work, telling his father in a letter; why he stayed in Dundee and not to move to a more comfortable charge, saying; “Perhaps the Lord will make this wilderness of chimney tops to be green and beautiful as the garden of the Lord, a field which the Lord hath blessed”.

This young man was committed and for 3 years laboured tirelessly until his health gave way and was forced to have a complete break. When he returned to Dundee from Palestine, the windows of heaven had been opened and Robert reaped of that abundant harvest and many were saved.

At the young age of 29 his service came to an end. The question was asked; ‘what was the secret?’. Dr. F.W.Boreham says, ‘It was simply this; he walked with God… It was in rapt communion with the unseen that he became infected with his Master’s insatiable hunger for the souls of men. He wept over Dundee as Jesus wept over Jerusalem’.

Robert Murray McCheyne has left us an example to be emulated, who himself is only emulating the Saviour. We love to sing his hymns, two in particular are specially loved – ‘I once was a stranger to grace and to God’ and ‘when this passing world it done’ which was written during his first year in Dundee.

Robert Murray McCheyne 1813 - 1843, written on his tombstone:

Walking closely with God an example of the believer
In word in conversation in charity
In spirit in faith in purity
He ceased not day and night to labour
And watch for souls
And was honoured by his Lord
To draw many wanderers out of darkness
Into the path of life

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