M'Cheyne's Mission of Inquiry
Writing to his parishioners in Dundee while convalescing and considering a health-restoring and soul-gathering mission to the Holy Land, M'Cheyne remarks...
"I rejoice exceedingly in the interest you take in me, not so much for my own sake as that I hope it is a sign you know and love the Lord Jesus. Unless God had himself shut up the door of return to my people, and opened this new door to me, I never could have consented to go. I am not at all unwilling to spend and be spent in God's service, though I have often found that the more abundantly I love you, the less I am loved. But God has very plainly shown me that I may perform a deeply important work for his ancient people, and at the same time be in the best way of seeking a return of health."—"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. I fear I will need to be a swift witness against many of my people in the day of the Lord, that they looked to me, and not to Christ, when I preached to them. I always feared that some of you loved to hear the word, who do not love to do it. I always feared there were many of you who loved the Sabbath meetings, and the class, and the Thursday evenings, who yet were not careful to walk with God, to be meek, chaste, holy, loving, harmless, Christ-like, God-like. Now, God wants you to think that the only end of a gospel ministry is that you may be holy. Believe me, God himself could not make you happy except you be holy."
At this crisis in his people's history, he sought from the Lord one to supply his place,—one who would feed the flock and gather in wanderers during their own pastor's absence. The Lord granted him his desire by sending Mr. William C. Burns, son of the minister of Kilsyth. In a letter to him, dated March 12, the following remarkable words occur: "You are given in answer to prayer; and these gifts are, I believe, always without exception blessed. I hope you may be a thousand times more blessed among them than ever I was. Perhaps there are many souls that would never have been saved under my ministry, who may be touched under yours; and God has taken this method of bringing you into my place. His name is Wonderful."
This done, and being already disengaged from his flock, he set out for London to make arrangements for the rest of the deputation, who soon after were all sent forth by the brethren with many prayers. None had more prayers offered in their behalf than he, and they were not offered in vain. During all his journeyings the Lord strengthened him, and saved him out of all distresses.
It was a singular event,—often still it looks like a dream,—that four ministers should be so suddenly called away from their quiet labors in the towns and villages of Scotland, and be found in a few weeks traversing the land of Israel, with their Bibles in their hand, eye-witnesses of prophecy fulfilled, and spies of the nakedness of Israel's worship and leanness of soul.
(Taken from Memoir of the Life of Reverend Robert Murray M'Cheyne by A. A. Bonar)
(Photo of En Gedi)