Robert Murray M’Cheyne: Holiness Needed

Robert Murray M’Cheyne’s life could be summed up in one phrase, holiness unto the Lord. It is not what he said of holiness or his own view of his attainments that sets him as a model of holiness but what others have said of him. His friend and biographer said:

I was often reproved by his unabated attention to personal holiness; for this care was never absent from his mind, whether he was at home in his quiet chamber, or on the sea, or in the desert. Holiness in him was manifested, not by efforts to perform duty, but in a way so natural, that you recognized therein the easy outflowing of the indwelling Spirit (Andrew Bonar, Memoir and Remains of Robert Murray M’Cheyne, p. 94).

Holiness in the Christian, if it is real will evidence its reality in a natural way, as the glory of the Lord was naturally reflected in Moses. If we are walking with God others will know. If we are not walking in fellowship with God, this too will be known.

Holiness is not like a coat which we can put on and off when ever we like. M’Cheyne’s usefulness is owed to his consistency in holiness. True holiness will be lived out daily. Bonar again points to this reality in M’Cheyne:

There was still another means of enforcing what he preached, in the use of which he excelled all his brethren, namely, the holy consistency of his daily walk. Aware that one idle word, one needless contention, one covetous act, may destroy in our people the effect of many a solemn expostulation and earnest warning, he was peculiarly circumspect is his every day walk. He wished to always be in the presence of God ( Bonar, pp. 73-74)

M’Cheyne said at the ordination of his childhood friend P.L Miller:

But oh, study universal holiness of life! Your whole usefulness depends on this. Your sermon on Sabbath lasts but an hour our two, -your life preaches all the week…Dear brother, cast yourself at the feet of Christ, implore His Spirit to make you a holy man. Take heed to thyself, and to they doctrine (Bonar, pp. 406-407).

Brothers our lives, the souls of those we minister to are dependent upon our personal holiness. I close with M’Cheyne’s reminder:

Remember you are God’s sword, His instrument-I trust, a chosen vessel unto Him to bear His name. In great measure, according to the purity and perfection of the instrument, will be the success. It is not great talents God blesses so much as likeness to Jesus. A holy minister is an awful weapon in the hand of God.(Bonar, 282).


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