Page images
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors][merged small]

...

posted :: SEITLIES. its owIT creed so .

. Ccome together, - -

Tuse of DILIDT a public * : .

The

T eation. Lotter . more here t o

W':

other. ley relea - » *» ****

, Nr. 1 12. Same: V"23

est congratum + CE 1ter" roDary 2010 release o

"UtzISs te. Ir ttre DUC

con

og 2 I mre: neoyed and * ** delen med sin . en

t IOnsı vnethez pertang, n .

603 : 2 of relipubwesen T -PI E ?ISLILLLION of

prelem - 12:berty. ind. - enten APIE XOVES HE' trese e the . ******* - DIE OTT. I seek 'I the

A

never gous en *

!: 12gs ind and open soul - 473*ter2EDITERE Mot i wtuly be - mne, am*** . .29. WILT SICILLI Ime rart either

s i merge - Mane i DISTETEE EIB a Dose Styles i ins

i eme, et netu: 0 troins-saben PH 3,6 : tuve . E ct'te mice which tre

ono vrget mellom HT SEAL rutex vnetber i en 5... **. DO 12: 34 tempiated by the meso Po r

is anos eual ustice si Bet341196

Eng "DE 1eme put to n jim rigoroso a 18orale ** LIII. ant. which wat gewoon in Pipp sms [

0; dit is nos por me som neto ou desh to Dt peatee to constitution, , ** ** Hotel *** Propery Jemee. 20. gtzteously

I. Esos AREST. Duterte Titlegee. Dassumech to open were prietenii stins I D o , I the way of rimmen from doil+ , REMO T ERY responsible

to pr*****. ' in mu na tor epsiation, mm

The main to go you the zeny Stroud it still be Son HB 1.4.* del robe

Pigrons L. inoit the civil r ut

you yon moun thant, non viiti tre tynis of conj on some very much that I

e I iim, the cause of ó, nyt #dada walang punya pun suci varpe of mercive A : 111 1114 Adopted the war also szos in rurari i Miron, with

to Marathi L Audi'sans put the interest me it becomes

wo ey x AA Milne una b v a rri maguntz" the point out 11 wall lose and Ni Wa NASAs kk W cwny me, and the won an it may be tot in om det inte vil the mother has to dobrih so ein lie things that and imageant in itself, and in

My x 240****Website option to the gospel This, however,

THE MINISTRY OF THE LATE REV. ROBERT M. M'CHEYNE.

HAVING, on a former occasion, attempted to trace some of the leading features in the personal character of this christian minister, we now propose to take a survey of the more prominent qualities of his ministry -those qualities which were the secret spring of his great usefulness, and which merit the attention of all who would emulate his wisdom in winning souls to Christ. Our object is not to pronounce indiscriminate eulogy upon the dead, but by holding up to view a stewardship which, though short, was singularly active and devoted, to elevate the standard of holy ambition among the living.

The responsibilities of his ministry were assumed and sustained in the same spirit of self-dedication to the will of God. On the morning of his ordination, as he meditated on the exclamation of Isaiah when surrendering himself to the service of Jehovah," Here am I, send me," he was enabled to breathe a similar devotedness. “ To go," he could say, “ or to stay-to be here till death, or to visit foreign shores — whatsoever, whensoever, wheresoever thou pleasest !” This willingness to be at the disposal of his divine Master, he manifested throughout the rest of his ministry, even when inducements were repeatedly held out to him to remove to other fields of labour, to which he would at once have yielded had he been actuated by the love of ease or the desire of gain. In one instance, when he was solicited to remove to a very small parish with large emoluments, we find him saying,~" I dare not leave this people. I dare not leave 3000 or 4000, for 300 people. Had this been offered to me before, I would have seen it a direct intimation from God, and would heartily have embraced it. How I would have delighted to feed so precious a little flock—to watch over every family-to know every heart— to allure to brighter worlds and lead the way!' But God has not so ordered it. He has set me down among the noisy mechanics and political weavers of this godless town. He will make the money sufficient.” In another case he said, " I gave myself away to my divine Master when I began my ministry, and he has guided me as by the pillar-cloud from the first day till now. If my ministry were unsuccessful—if God frowned upon the place, and made my message void—then I would willingly go; for I would rather beg my bread than preach without success : but I have never wanted success. * * I have as much of this world's goods as I care for. I have full liberty to preach the gospel night and day; and the Spirit of God is often with us. What can I desire more ? I dwell among mine own people.' Hundreds look to me as a father; and I fear I would be but a false shepherd, if I were to leave them when the clouds of adversity are beginning to lower.” Such a pastor could look upon his people without a blush, and say, “ I seek not yours, but you."

His earnest desire for the salvation of all among whom he laboured, was in beautiful keeping with the singleness and purity of purpose with which he gave himself to the duties of his office. His was the yearning solicitude of the pastor, who travails as in birth till Christ be formed in the hearts of those to whom he ministers. A sentence which

NO. IV. VOL. III.

U

Ministry of the late Robert M. M Cheyne. [April, occurs in one of his MSS., and which is quoted by his biographer, illustrates the ardour of his longing for the conversion of the impenitent among his flock. What apostolic earnestness must such fervency of spirit have infused into his daily work! “ As I was walking in the fields, the thought came over me with almost overwhelming power, that every one of my flock must soon be in heaven or in hell. O how I wished that I had a tongue like thunder, that I might make all hear; or that I had a frame like iron, that I might visit every one and say, · Escape for thy life!' Ah, sinners! you little know how I fear that you will lay the blame of your damnation at my door.” Absence did not chill the affection with which he sought their true welfare. Even amid the ever varying scenes of foreign travel, lie proved himself an Epaphras, and continued to“ labour fervently for them in prayers.” Nor were they forgotten under the agonies of a fevered frame. When prostrated by sore disease at Smyrna, he had his people on his heart; and as soon as he could creep out in the evenings, about sunset—too weak to write, and scarcely able to speak—he improved bis solitude by laying his flock before God, and supplicating a blessing upon them. It is worthy of remark, that “ while he was yet speaking" in these intercessions for his people's welfare, he was heard; for it was at the very time when the energies of his wasted body were expended in offering prayer at Smyrna for his distant congregation, that “ the heavens dropped upon them at the presence of God;" and a work of revival was commenced, which, tarnished as it may have been by traces of human infirmity, and instances of defection, must be owned by every friend of evangelical truth, to have presented unequivocal proofs of the agency of the divine Spirit. We are prepared, after being told of such solicitude, in absence, for the conversion of his people to God, to hear that he resumed his ministry among them in such a tone as this :-“ Dearly beloved and longed for, I now begin another year of my ministry among you; and I am resolved, if God give me health and strength, that I will not let a man, woman, or child among you alone, until you have at least heard the testimony of God concerning his Son, either to your salvation or condemnation ; and I will pray, as I have done before, that if the Lord will indeed give us a great outpouring of his Spirit, he will do it in such a way that it will be evident to the weakest among you that it is the Lord's work, and not man's. I think I may say to you as Rutherford said to his people, “ Your heaven would be two heavens to me.' And if the Lord be pleased to give me a crown from among you, I do here promise, in his sight, that I will cast it at his feet, saying, “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain!""

As his aim in preaching was the conversion of souls, so he uniformly and ardently expected success. In this particular, his ministry addresses a powerful rebuke to many who do not, in the preparation and preaching of their sermons, nor in their other labours, “ expect great things," and who “ have not, because they ask not,” seals of their ministry, So confidently did he anticipate fruit from his labours, that when, for a few weeks or months, there were no visible tokens of God's presence in the conversion of souls under him, he began to feel discouraged. It was the bitterness of disappointed hope which led him to overlook the past, and tempted him to give place to the suggestions

-

1

of despondency. He was so persuaded that a faithful minister has ground to expect that his labours will be owned of God, that when visible fruit was for a time withheld in his own case, he began to fear that some Achan sin was provoking the Lord, and grieving the Holy Spirit. It was no ordinary measure of success at which he aimed, whether he laboured abroad or at home. When in London, he wrote to a friend -" O for Whitfield's week in London, when a thousand letters came! The same Jesus reigns: the same Spirit is able. Why is he restrained ? Is the sin ours ? Are we the bottle-stoppers of these heavenly dews ?" We wonder not that the case of parishes which had long been abandoned to the blighting influence of moderatism, and from which the life-giving gospel was excluded by nothing so effectually as the machinery of the Established Church, occasioned many painful reflections to one who felt such love to souls. Our only wonder is, that he did not find more who, participating in his views, were ready, from conscientious conviction, to overleap the barriers which an unscriptural system placed in the way of the proclamation of Christ to the perishing.

Affection and solemnity were beautifully blended in his manner of exhibiting divine truth. On one occasion, while labouring at Dunipace, he is found in his diary accusing himself of speaking the gospel bitterly : and he remarks,“ surely it is a gentle message, and should be spoken with angelic tenderness, especially by such a needy sinner.” Of this bitterness in preaching, we have his biographer's testimony that he had little in after days; yet so sensible was he of its being an evil to which ministers are prone, that he oftentimes made it the subject of his conversation, grieving for himself if ever he had spoken otherwise than with solemn compassion. “ Were you able to preach it with tenderness ?” was the question which he put to a brother on learning from him that his text on the preceding Sabbath had been, “The wicked shall be turned into hell.” Speaking the truth in love, and in the tone of love, is the last resource of the messenger of Christ, after which no other measures can be used which are so likely to succeed. Mr M.Cheyne was an instructive example of this meekness in preaching the Saviour; and the results of his ministry illustrate the soundness of the following views, which are worthy of being inscribed in letters of gold on the walls of every minister's study :-" It is not saying hard things that pierces the consciences of our people : it is the voice of divine love heard amid the thunder. The sharpest point of the two-edged sword is not death, but life ; and against self-righteous souls, this latter ought to be more used than the former. For such souls can hear us tell of the open gates of hell and the unquenchable fire far more unconcernedly than of the gates of heaven wide open for their immediate return.” We cannot examine the discourses or the pastoral letters of Mr M Cheyne without perceiving a vein of love running through every appeal and remonstrance which he addresses to the impenitent. It is fidelity baptized in affection that speaks; and he who thus spoke must have disarmed by his tones as well as by his sentiments, the opposition of heart which is provoked in the hearer by upbraiding and reproach. The reverence with which he went about his public work seems to have been as remarkable as his tenderness of spirit. He went forth to speak for God as one who was overawed by the momentous nature of his message. “ In the vestry," says

his biographer, “there was never any idle conversation : all was preparation of heart in approaching God; and a short prayer preceded bis entering the pulpit.” His countenance appears to have reflected the habitual solemnity with which he handled eternal realities; and it was the devout manner in which he spoke rather than the weight and power of his sentiments that often arrested the attention of his hearers.

There was a simplicity and a determinateness in his doctrinal views such as we are prepared to find in one who proved himself skilful in dealing with the conscience of the sinner, and whose ministry brought out in bold relief the great principle, that, while in salvation God is sovereign, with man, when he perishes, lies the unimpaired responsibility of rejecting the offered mercy. He preached an electing God, who calleth whom he will; and, in conjunction with this, a salvation free to “ whosoever will.” He preached the Marrow doctrine in all its breadth,—that Christ is a gift held out and proffered by the Father for every sinner freely to take. On the subject of faith, he said, “I do not feel that there is anything more in coming to Jesus than just believing what God says about his Son to be true. I believe that many people keep themselves in darkness by expecting something more than this. Some of you will ask, is there no appropriating of Christ ? no putting out of the hand of faith ? no touching the hem of his garment? I quite grant, beloved, there is such a thing, but I do think it is inseparable From believing the record. If the Lord persuades you of the glory and power of Immanuel, I feel persuaded that you cannot but choose him.” He held, too, that there was enough in the glad tidings to bring direct and immediate assurance to every one who really believed them; and that, though there are believers who do not enjoy full assurance of the love of God, yet certainly no true believer should remain satisfied in the absence of this blessed peace. He doubted if there were many saints who live and die without a comfortable sense of forgiveness and acceptance with God; and adduced in support of his doubts the cases of God's people of whom the Bible speaks, and who seem to have experienced the joy of salvation richly, both in life and death. He distinguished between the assurance of hope, or the conviction of the individual that he is in a gracious state, which results from the introvision of the mind, inspecting its own acts and exercises ; and the assurance of faith, or the belief, on the part of the sinner, of God's love towards him, which arises from a discovery of the beauty, excellence, and freeness of Christ. In the latter case we look out of ourselves for peace; and it was the peace thus obtained which, he maintained, the sinner ought to have in immediate and necessary connexion with the faith of the gospel.

In nothing did he reveal the hand of a master so manifestly as in the power and skill with which he dissected and laid open the workings of the human heart. This seems to have been the volume which, next to the word of Christ, he made the subject of his study. He examined his own heart with diligence and fidelity, and seeing reflected there, as in a mirror, the features of our fallen nature, he could speak as with the power of divination to the conscience and experience of others. Seldom has there been furnished in writing a specimen of more close and

impartial scrutiny into the state of the soul, indicating the habits of one : who tried narrowly and faithfully his own heart and reins, than we

« PreviousContinue »