Robert Murray M’Cheyne
On the 21st of May, 1813, in the town of Edinburgh, Scotland, the youngest of five children was born to a well-to-do family of elevated social standing, the M’Cheynes. His name was Robert, and though his father was a lawyer with much respect, Robert would, by the grace of God, mark his place in history with a short but powerful ministry that touched many hearts while he lived, and touched thousands more after his death. Robert’s youth was one that most of us would probably describe as ‘the usual,’ and his studies took up much of his time.
What is noted about Robert, however, is that spiritual things did not bother him at this point in his life; rather, he spent much of his spare time on frivolous pursuits like playing cards, dancing and worldly music. The turning point in Robert’s life was the death of an older brother whom he loved and respected. Upon the passing of his brother David, Robert was awakened to his need to seek that Friend who sticks closer than a brother. Shortly thereafter he felt called to the ministry. He studied for the ministry from the 1831-1835, a time when Robert continued to experience the awakening power of the Holy Spirit and preparation for his ministry. In July of 1835, Robert was licensed to preach and became the assistant of a Rev. John Bonar. In November of 1836, he was ordained as pastor to the Presbyterian Church of St. Peter’s, Dundee. His preaching drew much attention because of his deep conviction that souls must be convinced of their lost, totally depraved condition before resorting to the Saviour Jesus Christ. Flocks of people came to hear him preach and the Holy Spirit richly blessed the words he spoke to many a heart.
Throughout his life, Robert’s ill health had hindered the things he could do, and while he worked tirelessly, his health was often in question. After having been seriously ill and taking a period of rest in the winter of 1838, Robert went on a voyage to Israel to investigate and minister to the Jewish population. He came back in the fall of 1839 with improved, but not full health. His health began to fail again in 1842, and in March of 1843, Robert contracted typhus, from which he died on March 25, 1843. He was not yet thirty years old.
Robert Murray M’Cheyne lived a short life by human estimation. However, God’s ways are not our ways, and His thoughts are not our thoughts. Robert was aware that this life is but a breath in comparison to eternity. The last journal entry written during his days as a student was as follows: “College finished on Friday last. My last appearance there. Life is vanishing fast, make haste for eternity.” Let us live by this example to live with an eternal perspective, seeking the salvation of our souls and of others around us. Perhaps the Lord will use one of you as he did Robert Murray M’Cheyne – pray that He would!