The Grace of the Gospel Fleshed Out in the Life of Robert Murray McCheyne
In Acts 20:22-24 the apostle Paul exclaimed that he was going into affliction and yet he would testify to the gospel of God’s grace in his life, “And now, behold, I am going to Jerusalem, constrained by the Spirit, not knowing what will happen to me there, except that the Holy Spirit testifies to me in every city that imprisonment and afflictions await me. But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace.”
In this account of R.M. McCheyne’s brief life (he didn’t even live to see his 30th birthday): Howat does a good job showing the times in which McCheyne ministered in Dundee, Scotland – the early 1800’s. They were hard times. There was a lot of suffering, poverty, and death. They were also times where God was faithful to McCheyne’s ministry of visitation and preaching the gospel. While away in Israel – then Palestine – researching the potential missions and ministry with the Jews – revival broke out in Dundee and beyond.
McCheyne’s life is a great inspiration to those who would do ministry especially among the poor, the sick, the dying. Howat briefly writes about some of the things he is famous for: his holiness, the love for his people he shepherded, and his faithfulness in preaching God’s Word despite much personal suffering that led to his own young death. One legacy that still remains for almost 200 years now – are McCheyne’s Daily Bible readings (still used today by the likes of John Piper and D.A. Carson) that he wrote for his own people to read through the Bible in a year.
McCheyne’s life in this book is much like those of biblical characters portrayed in the Bible: Joseph, Daniel, Paul, and our Lord Jesus. It was a life of great difficulty, sacrifice, and suffering – and used mightily for the purposes of God. I think the book is a good reminder of the fact that someone that is very heavenly minded can be of earthly good. MCCheyne brought tastes of heaven to his people through his life lived out in the gospel with words and actions that spoke clearly and loudly. McCheyne was a model of compassion and grace – mercy and action in total dependence on God.
*Note – this book is designed for children to read, but is still a wonderful book for adults!
**This book was given to me by the publisher and I was not required to write a favorable review.