A selection from a letter by Robert Murray M’Cheyne to his congregation, St. Peter’s Church, in Dundee, Scotland. He had been laid aside with sickness for awhile and wrote to exhort them and encourage them to be faithful in his absence. This letter was written on January 30, 1839:
It does not become me here to show what benefit it may be to me. Suffice it to say that it has been a precious opportunity in which to reflect on the sins and imperfections of my ministry among you. A calm hour with God is worth a whole lifetime with man. Let it be your prayer that I may come out like gold, that the tin may be taken away, and that I may come back to you, if that be the will of God, a better man, and a more devoted minister. I have much to learn, and these words of David have been often in my heart and on my lips: “I know that Thy judgments are right, and that Thou in faithfulness hast afflicted me” (Ps. cxix. 75). Ministers are God’s tools for building up the gospel temple. Now you know well that every wise workman takes his tools away from the work from time to time, that they may be ground and sharpened; 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. Pray that it may be so with your own pastor.
Robert Murray M’Cheyne: Memoir and Remains, Andrew A. Bonar, first published in 1884, reprinted by the Banner of Truth, 1966, pp. 218-219.