M’Cheyne on Personal Reformation
From Memoirs and Remains
" About this time he wrote down, for his own use, an examination into things that ought to be amended and changed. I subjoin it entire. How singularly close and impartial are these researches into his soul! How acute is he in discovering his variations from the holy law of God ! O that we all were taught by the same spirit thus to try our reins ! It is only when we are thus thoroughly experiencing our helplessness and discovering the thousand forms of indwelling sin, that we really sit as disciples at Christ's feet, and gladly receive him as all in all. And at each such moment, we feel, in the spirit of Ignatius,—' It is only now that I begin to be a disciple.'
" Mr. M’Cheyne entitles the examination of his heart and life, ' Reformation,' and it commences thus :—
" ' It is the duty of ministers, in this day, to begin the reformation of religion and manners with themselves, families, etc., with confession of past sin, earnest prayer for direction, grace, and full purpose of heart, Mai. 3:3. 'He shall purify the sons of Levi.' Ministers are probably laid aside for a time for this very purpose.
1. Personal Reformation.
"'I am persuaded that I shall obtain the highest amount of present happiness, I shall do most for God's glory and the good of man, and I shall have the fullest reward in eternity, by maintaining a conscience always washed in Christ's blood, by being filled with the Holy Spirit at all times, and by attaining the most entire likeness to Christ in mind, will and heart, that it is possible for a redeemed sinner to attain to in this world.
"I am persuaded that whenever any one from without, or my own heart from within, at any moment, or in any circumstances, contradicts this,—if any one shall insinuate that it is not for my present and eternal happiness, and for God's glory, and my usefulness, to maintain a blood washed conscience, to be entirely filled with the Spirit, and to be fully conformed to the image of Christ in all things—that is the voice of the devil, God's enemy, the enemy of my soul, and of all good—the most foolish, wicked and miserable of all the creatures. See Prov. 9 : 17. ' Stolen waters are sweet.'
"1. To maintain a conscience void of offence, I am persuaded that I ought to confess my sins more. I think I ought to confess sin the moment I see it to be sin ; whether I am in company, or in study, or even preaching, the soul ought to cast a glance of abhorrence at the sin. If I go on with the duty, leaving the sin unconfessed, I go on with a burdened conscience, and add sin to sin. I think I ought, at certain times of the day,—my best times—say after breakfast and after tea,— to confess solemnly the sins of the previous hours, and to seek their complete remission.
" I find that the devil often makes use of the confession of sin to stir up again the very sin confessed into new exercise, so that I am afraid to dwell upon the confession. I must ask experienced Christians about this. For the present, I think I should strive against this awful abuse of the confession, whereby the devil seeks to frighten me away from confession. I ought to take all methods for seeing the vileness of my sins. I ought to regard myself as a condemned branch of Adam, as partaker of a nature opposite to God from the womb, Ps. 51—as baring a heart, full of all wickedness, which pollutes every thought, word and action, during my whole life, from birth to death. I ought to confess often the sins of my youth, like David and Paul—my sins before conversion, my sins since conversion—sins against light and knowledge—against love and grace—against each person of the Godhead. I ought to look at my sins in the light of the holy law—in the light of God's countenance—in the light of the cross—in the light of the judgment-seat—in the light of hell—in the light of eternity. I ought to examine my dreams, my floating thoughts, my predilections, my often recurring actions, my habits of thought, feeling, speech and action— the slanders of my enemies, and the reproofs and even banterings of my friends—to find out traces of my prevailing sin—matter for confession. I ought to have a stated day of confession, with fasting—say, once a month. I ought to have a number of Scriptures marked to bring sin to remembrance. I ought to make use of all bodily affliction, domestic trial, frowns of Providence on myself, house, parish, church, or country, as calls from God to confess sin. The sins and afflictions of other men should call me to the same. ] ought, on Sabbath evenings, and on communion Sabbath evenings, to be especially careful to confess the sins of holy things. I ought to confess the sins of my confessions— their imperfections, sinful aims, self-righteous tendency, etc.—and to look to Christ, as having confessed my sins perfectly over his own sacrifice.
" I ought to go to Christ for the forgiveness of each sin. In washing my body, I go over every spot, and wash it out. Should ] be less careful in washing my soul? I ought to see the stripe that was made on the back of Jesus by each of my sins. I ought to see the infinite pang thrill through the soul of Jesus equal to an eternity of my hell for my sins, and for all of them. I ought to see that in Christ's bloodshedding, there is an infinite overpayment for all my sins. Although Christ did not suffer more than infinite justice demanded, yet he could not suffer at all without laying down an infinite ransom.
" I feel, when I have sinned, an immediate reluctance to go to Christ. I am ashamed to go. I feel as if it would do no good to go— as if it were making Christ a minister of sin, to go straight from the swine-trough to the best robe—and a thousand other excuses; but I am persuaded they are all lies, direct from hell. John argues the opposite way, ' If any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father ; ' Jeremiah 3:1, and a thousand other scriptures are against it. I am sure there is neither peace nor safety from deeper sin, but in going directly to the Lord Jesus Christ. This is God's way of peace and holiness. It is folly to the world and the beclouded heart, but it is the way.
" I must never think a sin too small to need immediate application to the blood of Christ. If I put away a good conscience, concerning faith, I make shipwreck. I must never think my sins too great, too N aggravated, too presumptuous, as when done on my knees, or in preaching, or by a dying bed, or during dangerous illness—to hinder me from fleeing to Christ. The weight of my sins should act like the weight of a clock; the heavier it is, it makes it go the faster.
" I must not only wash in Christ's blood, but clothe me in Christ's obedience. For every sin of omission in myself, I may find a divinely perfect obedience ready for me in Christ. For every sin of commission in self, I may find not only a stripe or a wound in Christ, but also a perfect rendering of the opposite obedience in my place, so that the law is magnified—its curse more than carried—its demand more than answered.
" Often the doctrine of Christ for me appears common, well-known, having nothing new in it; and I am tempted to pass it by, and go to some Scripture more taking. This is the devil again. Christ for us is ever new, ever glorious, ' Unsearchable riches of Christ,'—an infinite object, and the only one for a guilty soul. I ought to have a number of Scriptures ready, which lead my blind soul directly to Christ, such as Is. 45, Rom. 3.
Thursday, June 10, 2010
M'Cheyne on Personal Reformation
Robert Murray M'Cheyne died at 29 years of age, but not before he had done much for the cause of Christ in his short eight year ministry. One of the documents he likely never intended to see published was given to the press shortly after his transfer to heaven. It was entitled, Reformation. I have been so blessed reading through these statements that I thought, in honour of my talk at Toronto Pastors Conference next week, I would post them in their entirety here over the next few days. Here is the first section: