During his life and after his early death, Robert Murray M’Cheyne (1813-43) was a legend in Scotland and beyond. His life was like a comet, brilliant and captivating.
Jordan Stone divides this new biography into three parts: ‘A Life of Holiness’, ‘Foundations for Holiness’, and ‘A Ministry of Holiness’. His main aim is to uncover the reasons for the celebrated personal holiness of M’Cheyne and the effect it had on his life and labours.
M’Cheyne’s pursuit of holiness was based on communion with Christ. His favourite book of Scripture was the Song of Songs, which he regarded as a parable about Christ and his church. Stone explores his subject’s pursuit of Christ through the means of grace and suggests that M’Cheyne’s rationale was distinctive. He saw the means of grace as primary pathways for loving communion between Christ and his people, like ‘trysts’ – secret meetings between lovers.
The book also focuses on his preaching of Christ, which was characterised by urgency, winsomeness, and tenderness. M’Cheyne was a preacher who freely offered Christ and who revelled in declaring Christ’s love for sinners. He was an earnest and effective evangelist in home visitation and among children, and his church in Dundee enjoyed a period of revival in 1839 while he was engaged in a mission of enquiry in Jerusalem.
Not everyone will agree with M’Cheyne’s reasons for defending the Sabbath day (he regarded Scotland as a covenanted nation, a second Israel). Nor do readers need to share his premillennial views to profit from reading this biography.
Today’s generation of Christians needs to know and learn from the life of this remarkable man so used by God. Stone outlines seven lessons from M’Cheyne, beginning with the centrality of his love for Christ. Though written primarily for preachers, every Christian who reads this volume will be challenged to pray for preachers of Christ, that they will be marked as men of sincerity and Holy Spirit unction.