Robert Murray McCheyne (pronounced Mac-shane) was a remarkably hard working child, raised by godly and devout parents. Little Robert studied several languages from a very early age. At 4 years of age he could recite the Greek Alphabet and by 8, he was admitted to High School from which he graduated at age 14, and then he entered the University of Edinburgh, where he was an award-winning poet. When he was 18, his dearly beloved and eldest brother died suddenly and through this tragedy Robert was driven for consolation to the Word of God and to salvation in Christ alone. At age 22, he was a licenced Church of Scotland (CoS) minister and assistant preacher to a congregation of over 1,100 people.
But it was not McCheyne’s intelligence which won him such an influential position. Chief among all of McCheyne’s characteristics was his devotion to studying God’s Word, his life of prayer, and his holiness of life. Even though he was a top Hebrew scholar, he did not leave behind many written works as he gave his entire life to bringing the word of God to sinners and saints alike in Dundee, in Scotland, where he was based, and in England where he was a guest preacher.
In 1839, McCheyne was sent, along with other CoS ministers, on a fact finding mission to Palestine (Israel). The mission was to report back to the CoS on the state of the Jews in Palestine—such was the CoS’ concern even then for the salvation of the Jewish people. The trip to a warmer climate benefitted the sickly McCheyene, but upon his return he threw himself sacrificially into caring for his flock and preaching to them for which he suffered physically and after preaching in London, in 1843, at the age of 29 years old McCheyne fell ill, and died very suddenly thereafter. Tragically this was just before he had married his fiancée, Jessie Thain, who herself, then died heartbroken.