Tag Archives: Holiness

“Do not take up your time so much with studying your own heart as with studying Christ’s heart” by Robert Murray M’Cheyne

“March 20, 1840

MY DEAR FRIEND,

I do not even know your name, but I think I know something of the state of your soul. Your friend has been with me, and told me a little of your mind; and I write a few lines just to bid you look to Jesus and live.

Look at Num. 21:9, and you will see your disease and your remedy. You have been bitten by the great serpent. The poison of sin is through and through your whole heart, but Christ has been lifted up on the cross that you may look and live.

Now, do not look so long and so harassingly at your own heart and feelings. What will you find there but the bite of the serpent? You were shapen in iniquity, and the whole of your natural life has been spent in sin.

The more God opens your eyes, the more you will feel that you are lost in yourself. This is your disease.

Now for the remedy. Look to Christ; for the glorious Son of God so loved lost souls, that He took on Him a body and died for us—bore our curse, and obeyed the law in our place. Look to Him and live.

You need no preparation, you need no endeavours, you need no duties, you need no strivings, you only need to look and live. Look at John 17:3. The way to be saved is to know God’s heart and the heart of Jesus.

To be awakened, you need to know your own heart. Look in at your own heart, if you wish to know your lost condition. See the pollution that is there—forgetfulness of God, deadness, insensibility to his love. If you are judged as you are in yourself, you will be lost.

To be saved, you need to know the heart of God and of Christ. The four Gospels are a narrative of the heart of Christ. They show his compassion to sinners, and his glorious work in their stead. If you only knew that heart as it is, you would lay your weary head with John on his bosom.

Do not take up your time so much with studying your own heart as with studying Christ’s heart. For one look at yourself, take ten looks at Christ!

Look at Rom. 15:13. That is my prayer for you. You are looking for peace in striving, or peace in duties, or peace in reforming your mind; but ah! look at His word. ‘The God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing.

All your peace is to be found in believing God’s word about His Son. If for a moment you forget your own case altogether, and meditate on the glorious way of salvation by Christ for us, does your bosom never glow with a ray of peace?

Keep that peace; it is joy in believing. Look as straight to Christ as you sometimes do at the rising or setting sun. Look direct to Christ.

You fear that your convictions of sin have not been deep enough. This is no reason for keeping away from Christ. You will never get a truly broken heart till you are really in Christ.—See Ezek. 36:25–31.

Observe the order: First, God sprinkles clean water on the soul. This represents our being washed in the blood of Christ. Then He gives ‘a new heart also.’ Thirdly, He gives a piercing remembrance of past sins. Now, may the Lord give you all these!

May you be brought as you are to the blood of the Lamb! Washed and justified, may He change your heart—give you a tender heart, and his Holy Spirit within your heart; and thus may He give you a broken heart for your past sins.

Look at Rom. 5:19. By the sin of Adam, many were made sinners. We had no hand in Adam’s sin, and yet the guilt of it comes upon us. We did not put out our hand to the apple, and yet the sin and misery have been laid at our door.

In the same way, ‘by the obedience of Christ, many are made righteous.’ Christ is the glorious One who stood for many. His perfect garment is sufficient to cover you.

You had no hand in His obedience. You were not alive when He came into the world and lived and died; and yet, in the perfect obedience, you may stand before God righteous. This is all my covering in the sight of a holy God.

I feel infinitely ungodly in myself: in God’s eye, like a serpent or a toad; and yet, when I stand in Christ alone, I feel that God sees no sin in me, and loves me freely.

The same righteousness is free to you. It will be as white and clean on your soul as on mine. Oh, do not sleep another night without it! Only consent to stand in Christ, not in your poor self.

I must not weary you. One word more. Look at Rev. 22:17. Sweet, sweet words! ‘Whosoever will, let him take of the water of life freely.’

The last invitation in the Bible, and the freest,—Christ’s parting word to a world of sinners! Any one that pleases may take this glorious way of salvation.

Can you refuse it? I am sure you cannot.

Dear friend, be persuaded by a fellow-worm not to put off another moment. Behold the Lamb of God, that taketh away the sins of the world.

You are sitting, like Hagar, within reach of the well. May the Lord open your eyes, and show you all that is in Christ!

I pray for you, that you may spiritually see Jesus and be glad—that you may go to Him and find rest.

Farewell.

—Yours in the Lord,

Robert Murray M’Cheyne”

–Robert Murray M’Cheyne, Memoir and Remains of the Rev. Robert Murray M’Cheyne, Ed. Andrew A. Bonar (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 1844/1966), 278-280.

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“I am a riddle to myself; a heap of inconsistence” by John Newton

“In short, I am a riddle to myself; a heap of inconsistence.

But it is said, ‘We have an Advocate with the Father.’ (1 John 2:1)

Here hope revives; though wretched in myself, I am complete in him.

He is made of God, wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption. (1 Cor. 1:30) On this rock I build.

I trust it shall be well with me at last, and that I shall by and by praise, and love, and serve him without these abatements.”

–John Newton, The Works of John NewtonVolume 6 (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 2015), 6: 98.

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“Your own soul is your first and greatest care” by Robert Murray M’Cheyne

“Take heed to thyself. Your own soul is your first and greatest care. You know a sound body alone can work with power; much more a healthy soul.

Keep a clear conscience through the blood of the Lamb.

Keep up close communion with God.

Study likeness to Him in all things.

Read the Bible for your own growth first, then for your people.

Expound much; it is through the truth that souls are to be sanctified, not through essays upon the truth.

Be easy of access, apt to teach, and the Lord teach you and bless you in all you do and say. You will not find many companions. Be the more with God.

My dear people are anxiously waiting for you. The prayerful are praying for you.

Be of good courage; there remaineth much of the land to be possessed.

Be not dismayed, for Christ shall be with thee to deliver thee.”

–Robert Murray M’Cheyne, Memoir and Remains of the Rev. Robert Murray M’Cheyne, Ed. Andrew A. Bonar (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 1844/1966), 216-217.

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“It is not great talents God blesses so much as great likeness to Jesus” by Robert Murray M’Cheyne

Dundee, October 2, 1840

My Dear Friend,

I trust you will have a pleasant and profitable time in Germany. I know you will apply hard to German; but do not forget the culture of the inner man,—I mean of the heart.

How diligently the cavalry officer keeps his sabre clean and sharp; every stain he rubs off with the greatest care.

Remember you are God’s sword,—His instrument,—I trust a chosen vessel unto Him to bear His name.

In great measure, according to the purity and perfections of the instrument, will be the success.

It is not great talents God blesses so much as great likeness to Jesus. A holy minister is an awful weapon in the hand of God.”

–Robert Murray M’Cheyne, Memoir and Remains of the Rev. Robert Murray M’Cheyne, Ed. Andrew A. Bonar (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 1844/1966), 282.

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“It is not he that reads most, but he that meditates most” by Thomas Brooks

“Remember, it is not hasty reading, but serious meditating upon holy and heavenly truths, that makes them prove sweet and profitable to the soul.

It is not the bee’s touching of the flower that gathers honey, but her abiding for a time upon the flower that draws out the sweet.

It is not he that reads most, but he that meditates most, that will prove the choicest, sweetest, wisest, and strongest Christian.”

–Thomas Brooks, The Works of Thomas Brooks, Volume 1, Ed. Alexander Balloch Grosart (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1666/2001), 8.

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“He had a body of Divinity in his head, and the power of it upon his heart” by John Reeve

“He had a body of Divinity in his head, and the power of it upon his heart.”

–John Reeve, as quoted in The Works of Thomas Brooks, Volume 1, ed. Alexander Balloch Grosart (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1866/2001), xxxvi. Thomas Brooks died at age 72 on September 27, 1680. In his funeral sermon, John Reeve said these words about this “fine old man” and this “faithful minister of Christ.”

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“Aim to walk as He walked by a sweet constraining sense of His love in meekness, in benevolence, and in humility” by John Newton

“I hope when this letter comes, it will find you and your’s comfortable, and your heart and mouth full of gratitude to Him who crowneth the year with His goodness.

Well, these returning years each bear away a large portion of our time, and the last year cannot be far off. Oh, that precious name which can enable a sinner to think of his last year and his last hour without dismay!

What do we owe to Him who has disarmed death of its sting and horrors, and shown us the land of light and immortality beyond the grave! May He be with us in the new year.

Yea, He has promised He will be with us, even unto death. Therefore, though we know not what a day may bring forth, we need fear no evil; for He knows all, and will provide accordingly.

Oh, what a relief is it, to be enabled to cast every care and burden upon Him that careth for us!

Though the night should be dark, the storm loud, and the billows high, the infallible Pilot will steer our barks safely through.

Let us help each other with our prayers, that the little uncertain remainder of life may be filled up to the praise of our dear Lord; that we may be united to His will, conformed to His image, and devoted to His service.

Thus we shall show forth His praise: if we aim to walk as He walked, and, by a sweet constraining sense of His love, are formed into a habitual imitation of His spirit and temper, in meekness, integrity, benevolence towards men, and in humility, dependence, resignation, confidence, and gratitude towards Him.

I pity such wise-headed Calvinists as you speak of. I am afraid there are no people who more fully answer the character, and live in the spirit of the Pharisees of old, than some professed loud sticklers for free grace.

They are wise in their own eyes: their notions, which the pride of their hearts tells them are so bright and clear, serve them for a righteousness, and they trust in themselves and despise others.

One modest, inquiring Arminian is worth a thousand such Calvinists in my esteem. You will do well to preach quietly in your own way, not minding what others say, while your own conscience testifies that you preach the truth.

If you are travelling the right road, (to London for instance,) though fifty people should meet you and say you are wrong, you, knowing you are right, need not mind them.

But, alas! The spirit of self, which makes us unwilling to hear of contradiction, is not easily subdued.

I am your’s,

John Newton”

–John Newton, The Works of John Newton, Vol. 6 (London: Hamilton, Adams & Co., 1824), 6: 196–197.

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