Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Age Twenty-Nine and Taken


"There is nothing more surprising to an attentive reader of the gospel than to notice the little success Christ had in the conversion of sinners. Although he speaks with love such as never man spake with, yet for all that, Christ had to complain, just as we have, "Ye believe not." O brethren! is it to be wondered at, then, that there are so few believers among us, when there were so few converted under Christ? We are always to expect this, then. Observe still further that the more that Christ opened out his mind to them, they seemed to hate him the more. They said, "He hath a devil, and is mad; why hear ye him? They were pulling one another away from hearing him. Brethren, it is the same now; the more that ministers have Christ in their sermons — the more faithfully they preach — the more you will say they are mad, and have a devil. Is the servant greater than his master, or the disciple than his Lord? Still farther, observe, when Christ pressed the truth hard upon them, they could not bear it; verse 31, They were not content with disbelieving what he said, but they stoned him; and he asked this question, "Many good works have I shewed you from my Father; for which of these works do you stone me?" Brethren, the same is true still; the nearer we come to your conscience — the nearer we bring the Word home to you, if you are not converted by it, no doubt you hate us. If it is not the savour of life unto life, it will be the savour of death unto death. "Am I become your enemy, because, I tell you the truth?" And yet, brethren, it is sweet to notice that Christ had his sheep for all that. "My sheep hear my voice and they follow me." Although it is a world of adversaries, yet there is a sheepfold."

This is a portion of a sermon by Robert Murray M'Cheyne entitled "The Marks and Blessings of Christ's Sheep". It is taken from the volume entitled "A Basket of Fragments". For years I have enjoyed the fruit of this powerful but short ministry in Dundee, Scotland. M'Cheyne was the less likely of two brothers to enter the ministry. The elder brother, John was stricken with a fatal disease and his final months in prayer for the soul of young Robert bore remarkable fruit. The whole story is told in Andrew Bonar's volume "Memoirs and Remains of Robert Murray M'Cheyne"

The brilliant education; the poetry; the early call to a pulpit; the strikingly intense sermons; the warm approach to household visitation; the letters of comfort and admonition; the convicting fencing of the Communion Table; the worsening health; the Mission of Inquiry to the Holy Land; the feverish nights in a desert tent; the prayers for revival for a distant flock and the surprising answers to prayer; the final months and the awesome funeral for the well-loved pastor. Quite a record for twenty-nine years. (1813-1843)

"One of these days I'm gonna sit down and talk with Robert."

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