A COMMUNION OF LOVE: THE ANIMATING PRINCIPLE BEHIND THE CHRISTOCENTRIC SPIRITUALITY OF ROBERT MURRAY M’CHEYNE
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This study’s main contribution is its aim to reorient the common perception surrounding M’Cheyne’s pursuit of holiness. It argues that rightly understanding M’Cheyne’s spirituality must begin with the fundamental issue of why he pursued the means of grace as he did, before reckoning with how he used those means. Such a reorientation reveals that loving communion with Christ was the driving force for M’Cheyne’s vision of the Christian life. Chapters 1 through 5 lay the foundation for understanding M’Cheyne’s spirituality. Chapters 6 through 10 expand on that foundation by demonstrating how M’Cheyne’s piety manifested itself in various spheres of his life and ministry. Chapter 1 states the project’s thesis and surveys the history of studies on M’Cheyne. Chapter 2 offers an overview of M’Cheyne’s life and ministry. Chapter 3 places M’Cheyne in the various contextual streams of his day. Understanding the ecclesiastical, philosophical, cultural, and pastoral contexts in which M’Cheyne lived aids an understanding of M’Cheyne’s spirituality and its subsequent appeal. Chapter 4 analyzes the essential contours of M’Cheyne’s theology. Importantly, his theology was that of the Westminster Standards. Chapter 5 systematizes M’Cheyne’s key thoughts on devotion to Christ. The Song of Songs provided the grammar that marked his conception of pursuing holiness. To grow in Christ is to know the Rose of Sharon, and to commune with the Beloved. Chapter 6 considers M’Cheyne’s practice of communion with Christ through the means of grace, specifically God’s Word, the sacraments, and prayer. Chapter 7 examines M’Cheyne’s preaching of Christ. His sermons exalted Christ, focusing on Christ as our Surety, Savior, and Judge. Chapter 8 shows M’Cheyne’s dedication to evangelism through his work with children, method of visitation, longing for revival, and strategies for church extension. Chapter 9 highlights an oft-neglected pillar of M’Cheyne’s pursuit of holiness: his Sabbatarian zeal. Chapter 10 assesses M’Cheyne’s eschatology and its effect on his spirituality.