Robert Murray McCheyne was born in Edinburgh, 21 May 1813. At the age of four he knew the characters of the Greek alphabet, and was able to sing and recite fluently. He was licensed as a preacher by the Annan presbytery on 1 July 1835. His health, which had never been robust, broke down under the strain of his new office; but his fame as a preacher spread through Scotland, and on 24 November 1836 he was ordained to the pastorate of St. Peter’s Church, Dundee. The congregation numbered eleven hundred hearers, and McCheyne addressed himself to the work of the ministry with so much ardor that his health again gave way, and in December 1838 he was compelled to desist from all public duty. By the end of 1839 McCheyne resumed his ministerial duties in Dundee with renewed energy. In the autumn of 1842 he visited the north of England on an evangelical mission, and made similar journeys to London and Aberdeenshire. On his return from the latter place he was seized with sudden illness, and died on Saturday, 25 March 1843. In the article below, McCheyne helps us to understand how we might cast sin aside:
The love of Christ to man constrains the believer to live a holy life, because that truth takes away all his dread and hatred of God. Now I am quite sure that many of you may hear this charge against the natural man with incredulous indifference, if not with indignation. You do not feel that you hate God, or dread his presence; and therefore you say it cannot be true. But when God says of your heart that it is “desperately wicked”; when god claims for Himself the privilege of knowing and trying the heart, is it not presumptuous in such ignorant beings as we are to say that that is not true with respect to our hearts, which God affirms to be true, merely because we are not conscious of it? God says that “the carnal mind is enmity against God”, that the very grain and substance of an unconverted mind is hatred against god, absolute, implacable hatred against Him in whom we live, and move, and have our being. It is quite true that we do not feel this hatred within us; but that is only an aggravation of our sin and of our danger. We have so choked up the avenues of self-examination, there are so many turnings and windings before we can arrive at the true motives of our actions, that our dread and hatred of God, which first moved man to sin, and which are still the grand impelling forces whereby Satan goads on the children of disobedience; these are wholly concealed from our eyes, and you cannot persuade a natural man that they are really there. But the Bible testifies that out of these two deadly roots – dread of God and hatred of God – grows up the thick forest of sins with which the earth is blackened and overspread. . . .
If, then, dread of God, and hatred of God, be the cause of all our sins, how shall we be cured of the love of sin, but by taking away the cause? How do you most effectually kill the noxious weed? Is it not by striking at the root? In the love of Christ to man then – in that strange, unspeakable gift of God, when He laid down His life for His enemies, when He died the just for the unjust that he might bring us to God – do you not see an object which, if really believed by the sinner, takes away all his dread and all his hatred of God? The root of sin is severed from the stock. In His bearing double for all our sins, we see the curse carried away, we see God reconciled. Why should we fear any more? Not fearing, why should we hate God any more? Not hating God, what desirableness can we see in sin any more? Putting on the righteousness of Christ, we are again placed as Adam was, with God as our friend. We have no object in sinning; and, therefore, we do not care to sin. . . .
[I]t is indeed too true that believers do sin; but it is just as true that unbelief is the cause of their sinning. If you and I were to live with our eye so closely on Christ bearing double for all our sins, freely offering to all a double righteousness for all our sins; and if this constant view of the love of Christ maintained within us, as assuredly it would if we looked with a straightforward eye, the peace of God which passes all understanding – the peace that rests on nothing in us, but upon the completeness that is in Christ – then I do say that, frail and helpless as we are, we should never sin; we should not have the slightest object in sinning. But this is not the way with us. How often in the day is the love of Christ quite out of view! How often is it obscured to us! Sometimes hid from us by God Himself, to teach us what we are. How often are we left without the realizing sense of the completeness of His offering, the perfectness of His righteousness, and without the will or confidence to claim an interest in Him . . . .?
The matter is very plain, if only we had spiritual eyes to see it. If we live a life of faith on the Son of God, then we shall assuredly live a life of holiness. I do not say we ought to do so; but I say, we shall, as a matter of necessary consequence. But in as far as we do not live a life of faith, in so far we shall live a life of unholiness. It is through faith that God purifies the heart; and there is no other way.
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