Quotes from Andrew Bonar’s ‘Memoir and Remains of Robert Murray M’Cheyne.’ Part 1

“—O great God, that didst suffer me to live whilst I so dishonoured Thee, Thou knowest the whole; and it was thy hand alone that could awaken me from the death in which I was, and was contented to be. Gladly would I have escaped from the Shepherd that sought me as I strayed; but He took me up in his arms and carried me back; and yet He took me not for anything that was in me.”

“Not unto me, not unto me, be the shadow of praise or of merit ascribed, but let all glory be given to thy most holy name! As surely as Thou didst make the mouth with which I pray, so surely dost Thou prompt every prayer of faith which I utter. Thou hast made me all that I am, and given me all that I have.”

“Little done, and as little suffered. Awfully important question, Am I redeeming the time?”

“Rose early to seek God, and found Him whom my soul loveth. Who would not rise early to meet such company? The rains are over and gone. They that sow in tears shall reap in joy.”

“Accompanied A. B. in one of his rounds through some of the most miserable habitations I ever beheld. Such scenes I never before dreamed of. Ah! why am I such a stranger to the poor of my native town? I have passed their doors thousands of times; I have admired the huge black piles of building, with their lofty chimneys breaking the sun’s rays,—why have I never ventured within? How dwelleth the love of God in me? How cordial is the welcome even of the poorest and most loathsome to the voice of Christian sympathy! What imbedded masses of human beings are huddled together, unvisited by friend or minister! ‘No man careth for our souls’ is written over every forehead. Awake, my soul! Why should I give hours and days any longer to the vain world, when there is such a world of misery at my very door? Lord, put thine own strength in me; confirm every good resolution; forgive my past long life of uselessness and folly.”

“Mr M‘Cheyne was peculiarly subject to attacks of fever, and by one of these was he laid down on a sick-bed on November 15 th . However, this attack was of short duration. On the 21 st he writes: “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits. Learned more and more of the value of Jehovah Tzidkenu.” He had, three days before, written his well-known hymn, “I once was a stranger” etc., entitled Jehovah Tzidkenu, the Watchword of the Reformers. It was the fruit of a slight illness which had tried his soul, by setting it more immediately in view of the judgment-seat of Christ; and the hymn which he so sweetly sung reveals the sure and solid confidence of his soul.”

“Beware of the atmosphere of the classics. It is pernicious indeed; and you need much of the south wind breathing over the Scriptures to counteract it. True, we ought to know them; but only as chemists handle poisons—to discover their qualities, not to infect their blood with them.”

“From the first he fed others by what he himself was feeding upon. His preaching was in a manner the development of his soul’s experience. It was a giving out of the inward life. He loved to come up from the pastures wherein the Chief Shepherd had met him—to lead the flock entrusted to his care to the spots where he found nourishment.”

“His heart was filled, and his lips then spoke what he felt within his heart. He gave out not merely living water, but living water drawn at the springs that he had himself drank of; and is not this a true gospel ministry?”

“Since Tuesday have been laid up with illness. Set by once more for a season to feel my unprofitableness and cure my pride. When shall this self-choosing temper be healed? ‘Lord, I will preach, run, visit, wrestle,’ said I. ‘No, thou shalt lie in thy bed and suffer,’ said the Lord. “

“I see a man cannot be a faithful minister, until he preaches Christ for Christ’s sake—until he gives up striving to attract people to himself, and seeks only to attract them to Christ. Lord, give me this!”

“Oh that I might abide in the bosom of Him who washed Judas’ feet, and dipped his hand in the same dish with him, and warned him, and grieved over him,—that I might catch the infection of his love, of his tenderness, so wonderful, so unfathomable.”

“Oh how sweet to work all day for God, and then to lie down at night under his smiles!”

“Whatever be said in the pulpit, men will not much regard, though they may feel it at the time, if the minister does not say the same in private, with equal earnestness, in speaking with his people face to face; and it must be in our moments of most familiar intercourse with them, that we are thus to put the seal to all we say in public. Familiar moments are the times when the things that are most closely twined round the heart are brought out to view; and shall we forbear, by tacit consent, to introduce the Lord that bought us into such happy hours? We must not only speak faithfully to our people in our sermons, but live faithfully for them too.”

   Anoint mine eyes,     
    O holy dove!
    That I may prize    
    This book of love.
    Unstop mine ear,
    Made deaf by sin,
    That I may hear
    Thy voice within.
    Break my hard heart,
    Jesus, my Lord;
    In the inmost part
    Hide thy sweet word.

“Some, too, can say that so much did they learn from his holy walk, that it is probable a day never passes wherein they have not some advantage from his friendship.”

“Happy to be one with Christ! I, a vile worm; He, the Lord my righteousness.”

“Another motive to incessant activity, was the decided impression on his mind that his career would be short. From the very first days of his ministry he had a strong feeling of this nature; and his friends remember how his letters used to be sealed with this seal, “The night cometh.””

“I always feel it a blessed thing when the Saviour takes me aside from the crowd, as He took the blind man out of the town, and removes the veil, and clears away obscuring mists, and by his word and Spirit leads to deeper peace and a holier walk. Ah! there is nothing like a calm look into the eternal world to teach us the emptiness of human praise, the sinfulness of self-seeking and vainglory, to teach us the preciousness of Christ, who is called ‘The Tried Stone.’”

“A minister will make a poor saviour in the day of wrath. It is not knowing a minister, or loving one, or hearing one, or having a name to live, that will save. You need to have your hand on the head of the Lamb for yourselves, Lev. 1:4. You need to have your eye on the brazen serpent for yourselves, John 3:14, 15.” 1

1 – Andrew Bonar, Memoir and Remains of Robert Murray M’Cheyne (Carlisle, PA: The Banner of Truth Trust, 2009).

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