Short pithy gems from Robert Murray McCheyne, 1813-1843

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For every look at self — take ten looks at Christ!

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The greatest need of my people — is my personal holiness. Take heed to yourself. Your own soul is your first and greatest care. Keep up close communion with God. Study likeness to Him in all things.

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Unfathomable oceans of grace are in Christ for you. Dive and dive again — you will never come to the bottom of these depths!

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Get your texts from God — your thoughts, your words, from God. In great measure, according to the purity and perfections of the instrument, will be success. It is not great talents God blesses — so much as great likeness to Jesus. A holy minister is a powerful weapon in the hand of God.

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A man is what he is on his knees before God — and nothing more.

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Live near to God — and all things will appear little to you in comparison with eternal realities.

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Lord make me as holy as a pardoned sinner can be!   

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Only an inch of time remains — and then eternal ages roll on forever!

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How many millions of dazzling pearls and gems are at this moment hid in the deep recesses of the ocean caves. Just so, unfathomable oceans of grace are in Christ for you. Dive and dive again — you will never come to the bottom of these depths!

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The seed of every sin known to man — is in my heart!

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If Christ justifies you — He will sanctify you!
He will not save you — and then leave you in your sins.

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Study universal holiness of life. Your whole usefulness depends on this — for your sermons last but an hour or two, your life preaches all the week. If Satan can only make you a lover of praise, of pleasure, of good eating — he has ruined your ministry.

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Seek to be made holier every day. Be as much you can with God. I declare to you that I had rather be one hour with God — than a thousand with the sweetest society on earth or in Heaven. All other joys are but streams — God is the fountain!

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You will never find Jesus so precious — as when the world is one vast howling wilderness. Then he is like a rose blooming in the midst of the desolation, a rock rising above the storm!

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Self-righteousness is the largest idol of the human heart — yet the idol which man loves most and God hates most. Dearly beloved, you will always be going back to this idol. You are always trying to be something in yourself, to gain God's favor by thinking little of your sin, or by looking to your repentance, tears, prayers; or by looking to your religious exercises, your frames, etc; or by looking to your graces, the Spirit's work in your heart. Beware of false Christs. Strive to be holy — but do not make a Christ of it.

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Watch against mere lip religion.

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A man cannot be a faithful minister, until he preaches Christ for Christs sake — until he gives up striving to attract people to himself, and seeks only to attract them to Christ.

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Your afflictions may only prove that you are more immediately under the Father's hand. There is no time that the patient is such an object of tender interest to the surgeon — as when he is bleeding beneath his knife. So you may be sure if you are suffering from the hand of a reconciled God — that His eye is all the more bent on you!

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I ought to spend the best hours of the day in communion with God. It is my noblest and most fruitful employment — and is not to be thrust into any corner.

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A calm hour with God — is worth a whole lifetime with man.

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When you are reading a book in a dark room, and come to a difficult part — you take it to a window to get more light. In the same way — take your Bibles to Christ.

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It is a sure mark of grace, to desire more.

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Get your texts from God — yet your thoughts, your words, from God. It is not great talents God blesses so much as great likeness to Jesus. A holy minister is an awful weapon in the hand of God.

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It is the mark of a hypocrite, to be a Christian everywhere but home.

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God will either give you what you ask — or something far better.

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The Christian is a person who makes it easy for others to believe in God.

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Learn much of the Lord Jesus. For every look at yourself — take ten looks at Christ. He is altogether lovely. Live much in the smiles of God. Bask in his beams. Feel his all-seeing eye settled on you in love — and repose in his almighty arms.

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We are all immortal until our work is done!

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There is nothing a natural man hates more than prayer.

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God's children should pray. They should cry day and night to Him. God hears every one of your cries in the busy hour of the daytime and in the lonely watches of the night.

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If I could hear Christ praying for me in the next room, I would not fear a million enemies. Yet distance makes no difference—He is praying for me.

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As I was walking in the fields, the thought came over me with almost overwhelming power — that every one of my flock must soon be in Heaven or Hell. Oh how I wished that I had a tongue like thunder, that I might make all hear; or that I had a frame like iron, that I might visit every one and say, "Escape for your life!" Ah sinner! You little know how I fear that you will lay the blame of your damnation at my door.

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Even in the wildest storms, the sky is not all dark. Just so, in the darkest dealings of God with His children — there are always some bright tokens for good.

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A believer longs after God, to come into His presence, to feel His love, to feel near to Him in secret, to feel in the crowd that He is nearer than all the creatures. Ah! dear brethren, have you ever tasted this blessedness? There is greater rest and solace to be found in the presence of God for one hour — than in an eternity of the presence of man.

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Every wise workman takes his tools away from the work from time to time that they may be ground and sharpened. Just so, does the only-wise Jehovah take his ministers oftentimes away into darkness and loneliness and trouble, that he may sharpen and prepare them for harder work in his service.

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I tell you, brethren, if God's mercies and if judgments do not convert you — He has no other arrows in His quiver.

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To give largely and liberally, not grudging at all, requires a new heart.

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I know well that when Christ is nearest, Satan also is busiest.

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A beam of God's countenance is enough to fill the heart of a believer to overflowing. It is enough to light up the pale cheek of a dying saint with seraphic brightness, and make the heart of the lonely widow sing for joy.

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Do not fear the face of man. Remember how small their anger will appear in eternity.

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A word spoken by you when your conscience is clear, and your heart full of God's Spirit — is worth ten thousand words spoken in unbelief and sin.

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There cannot be a secret Christian. Grace is like fragrant ointment hidden in the hand — it betrays itself. If you truly feel the sweetness of the cross of Christ — you will be constrained to confess Christ before men.

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It is not our comments on the Word that saves — but the Word itself.

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Just as the roots of trees take firmer hold when they are contending with the wind — so faith takes firmer hold when it struggles with adverse appearances.

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Ah! believers, you are a tempted people. You are always poor and needy. And God intends it should be so, to give you constant errands to go to Jesus.

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When old companions, old lusts, and sins crowd in upon you, and when you feel that you are ready to sink, what can save you, sinking sinner? This alone — I have a high priest in Heaven, and He can support in the hour of affliction. When you are dying — when friends can do you no good — when sins rise up like specters around your bed — then what can give you peace? Only this, "I have a high priest in Heaven!"

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O believing brethren! What an instrument is this which God has put into your hands! Prayer moves Him who moves the universe.

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You will be incomplete Christians — if you do not look for the coming again of the Lord Jesus.

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I never see a sign licensed to sell liquor, without thinking that it is a license to ruin souls.

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I ought to pray before seeing any man. I feel it is far better to begin with God — to see His face first, to get my soul near Him, before it is near another.

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In spiritual things, this world is all wintertime — so long as the Savior is away.

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When the voice of Christ speaks through the Word — then you will arise, and leave all, and follow Him!

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The Bible is an inexhaustible fountain of all truths. The existence of the Bible is the greatest blessing which humanity ever experienced. Few tremble at the Word of God. Few, in reading it, hear the voice of Jehovah, which is full of majesty.

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Give yourselves to prayer and the ministry of the Word. If you do not pray, God will probably lay you aside from your ministry, as He did me, to teach you to pray.

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The nearer you take anything to the light — the darker its spots will appear. Just so, the nearer you live to God — the more you will see your own utter vileness.

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One gem from the ocean of Christ's preciousness, is worth all the pebbles from earthly streams.

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The man who tells you the most truth about yourself—is the man who loves you the most.

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Most of God's people are contented to be saved from the Hell that is without; they are not so anxious to be saved from the Hell that is within.

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If I could hear Christ praying for me in the next room, I would not fear a million enemies.

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The wounds of Christ were the greatest outlets of His glory that ever were. The divine glory shone more out of His wounds than out of all His life before.

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Remember that moral people will lie down in the same Hell with the vilest.

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Ah! It is a fearful thing to leave the company of living men, and lie down in the narrow house, with a shroud for our only clothing, a coffin for our couch, and the worm for our only companion.

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Affliction brings out graces that cannot be seen in a time of health. It is the treading of the grapes which brings out the sweet juices of the vine. In the same way, affliction draws forth submission, weanedness from the world, and complete rest in God.

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Sometimes in health, the Word does not touch the heart. The world is all. Its gaieties, its pleasures, its admiration, captivate your mind. God sometimes draws you aside into a sickbed, and shows you the sin of your heart, the vanity of worldly pleasures and drives the soul to seek a sure resting—place for eternity in Christ. O happy sickness that draws the soul to Jesus!

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Are we not all immortal until our work is done?

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The ocean of Christ's sufferings is unfathomable!

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Ah! It is a fearful thing to leave the company of living men, and lie down in the narrow house, with a shroud for our only clothing, a coffin for our couch, and the worm for our companion. It is humiliating, it is loathsome.

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God's children should not doubt His love when He afflicts them. Christ especially loved Lazarus, and yet He afflicted Him very sorely.

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A surgeon never bends his eye so tenderly upon his patient, as when he is putting in the lancet, or probing the wound to the very bottom. 
A goldsmith when he casts gold into the furnace looks after it.
Just so with Christ; He bends His eye most tenderly over His own redeemed children at the time He is afflicting them.

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Oh how sweet to work for God all day, and then lie down at night beneath His smile!

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O for true sincere humility! I do not know half of my pride.

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Do not set your hearts on the flowers of this world. They shall fade and die. Prize the Rose of Sharon and the Lily of the Valley. He changes not! Live nearer to Christ than to any person on this earth; so that when they are taken, you may have Him to love and lean upon.

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I know that, if any of you have tasted the sweetness of Christ, you would be content to abide in Him for an eternity.

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God has an infinite sense of justice. When He sees the blood of His Son sprinkled on any soul, He sees that justice has had its full satisfaction in that soul—that that man's sins have been more fully punished than if he had borne them himself eternally!

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For every sin of yours, here is a stripe in Jesus.
For the sins of infancy, here are the sufferings of His infancy.
For the sins of youth, here are the sufferings of His youth.
For the sins of manhood, here are the sufferings of His manhood.