This series is a group of six letters written by Robert Murray M’Cheyenne contained in The Memoirs and Remains of Robert Murray M’Cheyene by Andrew Bonar. I first heard about these letters on the Behold Your God podcast. I have adapted these letters (as in updating the language a bit and trying to find “easy” words when appropriate) in hopes of giving them to my own children when I think the time is right. I think these letters are well suited to be read and discussed. If you want to read this letter in its original style, visit Media Gratiae.
A Letter to a Soul Seeking Jesus: #1
I write this letter to talk with you a little about the great things of an eternal world — heaven, salvation, and your standing with the Lord. How kind of God that He has given us such an easy way to communicate our thoughts, even at a distance!
My only reason for writing to you is that I may point your soul to Jesus, the sinner’s friend. “This man receives sinners.” I would wish much to know that you were truly united to Christ, that is a true Christian; and then, come life, come death, you will be truly and eternally happy.
Do you understand that you are a sinner? Have you yet really been convinced of sin? This is the Holy Spirit’s work, and His first work upon the soul. (John 16:8; Acts 2:37;21:29–30). Think of it this way: you would never go to the doctor unless you knew your body was seriously sick; and so you will never go to Christ, the heavenly Doctor, unless you really see that your soul is sick even unto death.
Oh, pray to God that you might understand your real state: that you are a sinner in both who you are and what you do! The world will say you are an innocent and harmless child; do not believe them. The world is a liar.
Pray to see yourself exactly as God sees you; pray to know the worth of your soul. Have you seen yourself dirty as Job saw himself? (Job 11:3,5;13:5,6); undone, as Isaiah saw himself? (Isa. 6:1, 5). Have you experienced anything like Psalm 51, where David understood his sin and desired a clean heart? Do you desire a clean heart?
I do not wish you to simply pretend to be humble before God, nor to merely call yourself a sinner but not actually feel that; but oh, pray that the Holy Spirit may let you see the very reality of your natural condition before God! I rarely get more than a glance at the true state of my own soul. But when I do, then I see that I am wretched and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked (Rev. 3:17).
I believe every member of our body has been a servant of sin (Rom. 3:13, 18)—throat, tongue, lips, mouth, feet, eyes. Every part of our mind is polluted (Gen. 6:5). Besides, you have long ignored the great salvation; you have denied and disobeyed Christ.
Oh that you were brought to pass judgment on yourself—guilty of all! Hear what a dear believer writes of himself: “My wickedness, as I am in myself, has long appeared to me beyond words, and swallowing up all thought an imagination, like an infinite flood, or mountains over my head. I do not know how to express better what my sins appear to me to be, than by heaping infinite upon infinite, and multiplying infinite by infinite. When I look into my heart and take a view of my wickedness, it looks like a deep dark pit with no bottom, and yet it seems to me that my conviction of my sin is very weak and small.”
Maybe you will ask, “Why do you want me to have such an understanding of my lost condition?” My answer is: that you may be broken off from any hope in your own self-righteousness; that you may never look into your own poor guilty soul to find acceptance with God; and that you may joyfully receive the Lord Jesus Christ, who obeyed and died for sinners. Oh, that your heart may cleave to Christ! May you forsake all, and follow Jesus Christ. Count everything loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ. You never will stand righteous before God in yourself. You are welcome this day to stand righteous before God in Jesus. Read and pray over Philippians 3:7, 9. I will try and pray for you. Grace be with you.
Your friend in Jesus.
Robert Murray M’Cheyne