Andrew Murray at age 28
Andrew Murray at age 28

Here’s the second of a two-part feature on how Andrew Murray successfully recovered after failing in his initial proposal of marriage to Emma Rutherfoord. (If you haven’t already done so, you can read about Murray’s initial failed attempt in my March 1, 2019 Perspective.) Murray learned from his mistakes on that occasion, and committed Christians today can learn a thing or two from his example about exercising sensitivity and prudence in working through the complexities of romance and courtship.

In 1854, at age twenty-six, Murray was one of two delegates sent to England to represent to the British Government the interests of the British and Dutch settlers he ministered to in the frontier region of South Africa. After returning to South Africa from Britain in May, 1855, Murray was introduced to Howson Rutherfoord, a prosperous Christian merchant and philanthropist in Cape Town. While staying as a temporary guest in the Rutherfoords’ home, Murray met and was attracted to their twenty-year-old daughter Emma. She was attractive, well-educated, a capable homemaker and an active Christian who had interest in serving as a missionary should such an opportunity present itself.

Bloemfontein about 1856
Bloemfontein about 1856

Murray needed to return soon to Bloemfontein, the frontier town where his ministry was headquartered. Though he had known Emma less than a month, he concluded he would like to marry her. Before leaving Cape Town he decided to ask for her hand in marriage, assuming she would be receptive to his proposal. Apparently his proposal was quite businesslike and not at all romantic in nature. She was shocked and dismayed that Murray, a godly and capable young minister who had already gained a degree of prominence, would propose marriage when they did not know each other well. And he did not appear to take into account the sacrifices she would have to make if she were to accept his proposal. As a result, she flatly refused his proposal and stated her wish to decline further acquaintance with him.

Handwritten Letter

Emma wrote her sister Mary about the situation the first week of July. The correspondence reveals that, despite her strong front, Emma was having difficulty putting the unsettling developments with Andrew Murray out of her mind: “Mr Murray has left Cape Town today. He called on Papa on Saturday, and said that he felt that his conduct had been very wrong, did not seek to extenuate [excuse] it, under any circumstances it had been wrong, but that his mind had been very harassed and pressed, his people constantly urging his return [to Bloemfontein]. He had only left them for ten months and had been absent twenty.

“He felt at the same time the disadvantage and pain of his entirely lonely condition, no one he could associate with or make a companion, and that he had acted hastily without due consideration for me. He expressed extreme regret. Papa said he was evidently agitated and his mind overpressed, and also said he felt how entirely proper and just my conduct had been, that it had only heightened his esteem, and begged to be allowed to send  me his very best regards. …

“I don’t feel quite happy in a variety of ways, but however I am trying to think of nothing but the present day and its duties. For to myself I seem moving in the midst of clouds, though I daresay to others all looks bright around me.”

Murray returned to Bloemfontein, where he threw himself into his ministry endeavors. Meanwhile, Emma was still finding it impossible not to think about Murray and what might have been, as her letter of September 28 to Mary betrays: “Don’t be alarmed about me, though you cannot, not knowing, appreciate the intellect, originality, earnestness and goodness of my friend [Murray]. Yet I never allow my mind to dwell on the subject long without feeling a sort of shudder for a want [lack of sensitivity on his part] inexplicable. And whenever any of his good qualities come in view, still this feeling drives me from relenting in any way. Yet there was much that was pleasant in the anticipation of the realization of so many of my daydreams, which seem to me now completely shattered. It seems as though my desire for a missionary life can never be realized. I don’t know that I am fitted for it …

“Mr. Murray has a far larger and more comprehensive mind, and I do trust he will get a good wife. He may pick and choose from all the young ladies in town, Dutch or English, for they adore him. And perhaps I have done him good and schooled his heart a little, for he seemed to have appreciation of my reasons [for rejecting his proposal], which I scarcely at first anticipated. Perhaps the next time he falls in love he will act in a different manner. I don’t know where he is to get a companion in his wife, but I earnestly hope he will have a good one and a helpmeet. Many things now make me feel it would not have been desirable for either party. And yet I have rather a dread, to speak the truth, of becoming moss grown and dank and rusty before my time.”

Cape Town, South Africa, about 1850
Cape Town, South Africa, about 1850

But Murray had not forgotten Emma. He still desired to marry her. Sometime early in 1856 (probably February) he wrote to ask her forgiveness for past offenses and to learn if he might have some hope of winning her as his wife in the future. In a March 20 letter to Mary, Emma revealed of her response to Murray: “I wrote I am conscious but a cold answer to a very kind letter. … But I must and do still refuse to decide without further acquaintance. And he only asks forgiveness of the past, and some hope for the future. Whether the very small degree [of hope] I felt justified in giving him he will consider enough to venture on returning to Cape Town, I know not. He will have much to hazard. … I assure you my letter was perfectly cool enough to make him quite happy in terminating the acquaintance if he feels inclined.”

Less than two weeks after penning the above words, Emma received a reply from Murray which persuaded her of his genuine attachment to her and broke down her resistance. Somewhat surprisingly, she set aside the condition she had she had just given him that they must first become better acquainted through an in-person visit. Instead, she promptly indicated her willingness to marry him and to return with him to Bloemfontein.

Her April 5 letter to Mary brings to light some of the sentiments Murray had shared with Emma that led to her change of heart: “He is very romantic in his disposition. All sorts of things that in reading German poetry and plays I had put down to German mystery and romance, I find he fully sympathizes in. I thought no one in this matter-of-fact age did, that it was only the philosophy of poets. …

“I must say it seems very odd that he should have fallen in love with me in so short a time, excepting that he explains it by these mysterious sympathies which made him love me the first time we met and drew us together. He acknowledges he did wrong in acting on impulse and forgetting my feelings in the first instance, when he found he must leave. But he hopes that various reasons that he gives, such as not being able to forget me, etc., will convince me that they were not mere transitory feelings and impulses. He expatiates on the sacrifices he asks from me.”

Due to tribal unrest in the Bloemfontein region that made it impossible for Murray to leave there immediately, he was not able to return to Cape Town until May 31. As it would likely be at least another year before he could venture back to Cape Town, Emma consented to a short engagement and to go with her beloved to Bloemfontein immediately after they were married. Their wedding took place on July 2, 1856.

Andrew and Emma’s marriage relationship truly was a blessed one. They attentively cared for each other and worked together well in their shared ministry. Four months after their wedding, Emma wrote Mary from Bloemfontein, sharing intimate thoughts of appreciation and affection for Murray: “I am anxious to be a good housekeeper, especially as Andrew never finds fault with anything I do. … He always listens to the smallest little household trouble and tries to find me a remedy, and does everything I ask him and gets what I wish. You cannot imagine a more sympathizing, loving husband, so tender and gentle to his wife. … I certainly never knew before I could be so bound to anyone or love anyone so much. It seems a new faculty I had been perfectly unconscious of, and almost overwhelming in its strength and depth of joy.”

Andrew and Emma went on to share forty-eight happy, fruitful years of marriage and ministry together.

#          #          #

Andrew Murray by Vance Christie

I have written a comprehensive biography on Murray entitled Andrew Murray, Christ’s Anointed Minister to South Africa. Much spiritual encouragement and instruction can be gained through the consideration of his outstanding life of service for Christ Jesus.

Copyright 2019 by Vance E. Christie

Andrew Murray at age 28.
Andrew Murray at age 28.

Here’s the first of a two-part feature on a major speed bump Andrew Murray hit on his road to matrimony. His example serves as a helpful reminder that committed Christians need to exercise sensitivity and wisdom rather than being presumptuous in working through the complexities of romance and courtship.

Murray was a capable, consecrated and confident Christian minister who enjoyed marked success in his endeavors of life. A family member wrote of him in his early years of ministry: “[Andrew] is so bold, he carries the day. ‘Never fear’ is his motto. He never anticipates difficulties or refusals. With Andrew an idea suggests itself, approves itself to his judgment and then he never rests till it is carried out.” This appears to have been Murray’s general outlook on and approach to life. While such a confident outlook and bold approach often brought him success, they likely contributed to his failure in his first proposal of marriage.

In 1854, at age twenty-six, Murray was honored to be one of two delegates sent to England to represent to the British Government the interests of the British and Dutch settlers he ministered to in the Orange River Sovereignty. The ORS was the large region between the Orange and Vaal Rivers in South Africa.

Cape Town, South Africa, about 1850.

Shortly after returning to South Africa from England in May, 1855, Murray was introduced to Howson Edwards Rutherfoord, a respected and influential Christian merchant, philanthropist and politician in Cape Town. Rutherfoord, his wife and children belonged to the Church of England. Though they were devoted to their own denomination, the Rutherfoords’ Christian sympathies were broad, and they were well-known for their generous hospitality to missionaries of every society and denomination.

Howson Rutherfoord memorial fountain

Upon meeting Murray, Rutherfoord promptly invited the young clergyman to join his family for dinner at their home on Herschel Estate near Claremont, one of the southern suburbs of Cape Town. After that, Murray was a regular and welcome guest at the Rutherfoords’ home and table. As the hospitable Mr. and Mrs. Rutherfoord were inclined to do with some of their guests, before long they invited Murray to stay in their home for a time.

Murray, who had just turned twenty-seven years of age, soon began to be attracted to the Rutherfoords’ twenty-year-old daughter, Emma. Emma’s older sister, Mary, was married and lived with her husband in India, while Emma’s older brother, Frederic, was pursuing his education in England. Emma also had two younger sisters, Ellen and Lucy, both of whom were still living at home.

Howson Rutherfoord memorial fountain inscription

Since the time of Mary’s marriage three years earlier, Emma had inherited the title of ‘Miss Rutherfoord’ and carefully fulfilled her duties as the eldest daughter at home by paying calls with her mother, helping to receive visitors and keeping the weekly household accounts. Emma taught children’s classes at the High Church School in Claremont, regularly visited the sick and poor, and carried out a tract distribution ministry.

Emma and her sisters were taught at home by their mother and visiting governesses and masters. Besides studying such basics as reading, writing, grammar, literature, arithmetic, history and geography, the Rutherfoord girls also received lessons in French, Italian, German and Dutch. Emma and her sisters were also trained in skills that were considered essential for accomplished young women in the Victorian era – music (both singing and playing the piano), fancy needle work as well as drawing and painting. Emma was an avid reader and had an appreciation for a wide variety of books.

As Murray observed and learned more about Emma he was impressed with her and his heart was drawn to her. Though he had known her less than a month, he concluded he desired to marry her. He further decided to propose to her straightaway, apparently presuming she would be receptive to that. As it turned out, he was completely mistaken.

Besides the fact that his proposal was totally unexpected, it was also poorly timed. Emma and Ellen were right in the middle of helping with a children’s birthday party for the five-year-old son of some neighbors, Mr. and Mrs. Boyle. Mr. Boyle was Aide-de-camp to Cape Colony’s new Governor, Sir George Grey. In addition to a sizeable group of children, the party was to be attended by Sir George and Lady Grey themselves. Young Mordaunt Boyle’s birthday was on Thursday, June 21. After spending that entire morning at the Boyles’ house finishing the decorating, Emma and Ellen returned to their own home. They planned to be back for the party the latter half of the afternoon.

Murray had left the Rutherfoords’ home that morning but returned ‘most unexpectedly’ early that afternoon. Finding Emma alone, he presented her with a rather businesslike proposal of marriage. She was so completely stunned by it that she was unable to make any reply. Instead, she fled to her bedroom and locked herself in. When Ellen, who had gone out riding, returned home, she found her sister, very uncharacteristically, in an overwrought state. As a result of these unfortunate developments, both sisters were too upset to return to the Boyles’ for the birthday party. While there is no record of Andrew Murray’s response to all this, likely he retreated from the Rutherfoords’ home feeling confused, distressed and embarrassed at what he had unintentionally precipitated.

The next morning Emma composed a written refusal to Murray’s proposal: “Dear Sir, It was with feelings of perfect astonishment and wonder that I received your communications yesterday, which on further consideration quickly changed into those of deep pain and regret. A proposal of marriage after so short an acquaintance shocked me much. It seemed to me that there could be no mutual sympathy, and no clear knowledge of character, necessary for so close, so holy a relationship. With these sentiments I feel obliged to decline any further acquaintance. But wishing you a safe journey and much prosperity in your future labors, Believe me, yours truly, Emma Rutherfoord.”

In a letter written that same day to her sister Mary, Emma further revealed: “I cannot tell you what pain and suffering this has cost me. And more so I cannot help feeling that if left to himself he would not have proceeded with such haste, but that he has been spurred on by the Rev. Mr. Long and his Uncle Rev. Mr. Stegmann, as up to that unfortunate day his conduct had been such as to put me perfectly at ease. Our interaction hitherto had been so pleasant and I had entertained such a respect for his character, felt that his mind was no ordinary one, that his want [lack] of appreciation and consideration has wounded me most painfully.

“To my real character I feel he is as perfect a stranger as I am to his. And if I loved him with all my heart, it would be a bitter trial and a great sacrifice to leave such a home as mine, and enter into a field of much hardship and self-denial. Of all this he seems to have made no note. While I feel it must be a love passing anything I have yet known, to keep me from fainting under the trials and sorrows of wedded life – a love that I feel in my inmost soul that I am capable of and therefore will never marry anyone till I feel it awakened. No respect, no ideas of usefulness (for they would be false where my heart was not) shall ever induce me to leave my home.”

Three days later, on Monday, June 25, Emma concluded her letter to Mary: “Mr. Murray called on Papa today to know if my answer was decisive and negative. I feel so fashed [vexed], so wearied about it. It pains me that one of no ordinary mental capacity and vigor of piety should be so totally devoid of proper feelings on this one point. And then I get vexed with myself for feeling so pained … Sad that one whose mental superiority and whose work is all I could desire, should so want heart cultivation.”

(To be continued …)

#          #          #

I have written a comprehensive biography on Murray entitled Andrew Murray, Christ’s Anointed Minister to South Africa. Much spiritual encouragement and instruction can be gained through the consideration of his outstanding life of service for Christ Jesus.

Copyright 2019 by Vance E. Christie

Boer Family 1886
Boer Family 1886

It seems that many Christian ministers aspire to serve in a larger city and church setting which carries with it a degree of prestige and prominence. Not a few Christian ministers struggle a bit to serve contentedly in a smaller church and community context which may bring less esteem and eminence.

Faithful ministers with appropriate motives are needed in both larger and smaller ministry contexts, of course. Whatever size ministry setting Christians find themselves in, they need to realize the crucial importance of the service opportunities God has entrusted to them presently. And they should willingly give themselves to carry out heartily their present ministry responsibilities.

Andrew Murray eventually became the most prominent pastor in South Africa in the late 1800s and early 1900s. But the first eleven years of his pastoral career were spent ministering in a smaller, isolated community and in a vast, sparsely-populated frontier region. He gave himself wholly to that demanding ministry and as a result experienced a good degree of fulfillment and fruitfulness in it.

Murray was born and spent the first ten years of his life in Graaff-Reinet, Cape Colony, South Africa. After spending a decade getting his secondary and university education in Scotland and Holland, he returned to South Africa in 1848 to begin serving as a minister at age twenty. He was assigned to serve as the first pastor of a new town and British military outpost, Bloemfontein, which had been established two years earlier beyond the northern border of Cape Colony.

During the 1830s and 1840s around 20,000 Boers (Dutch farmers) had migrated from Cape Colony to the immense regions north of the Orange and Vaal Rivers. In addition to ministering at Bloemfontein, Murray served as the first settled minister to the voortrekkers (Dutch pioneers) in that vast frontier region of nearly 50,000 square miles.

When Murray arrived at Bloemfontein it had about fifty houses, a few stores and shops, a courthouse and prison, a military fortress and barracks, and a schoolhouse which doubled as a church meeting house until a separate church building could be erected. As Bloemfontein was home to a British military outpost, most of the town’s residents were English. Initial attendance at the Sunday afternoon English-speaking worship service averaged around seventy. A smaller Dutch-speaking worship service was held Saturday evenings. Sunday school classes were held for English and Dutch children as well as the children of a group of African Bushmen who lived nearby Bloemfontein.

Andrew Murray as a young man
Andrew Murray as a young man

The plains throughout that region teemed with a wide variety of game and wild animals. Once while traveling to hold services at a location about seventy miles from Bloemfontein, Murray had to cross a wolf-infested plain at a time when they were very fierce. After fording a river, he dismounted to rest his horse. When the grazing animal heard a pack of wolves approaching, it spooked and ran off. Carrying his pack on his shoulders, Murray had to walk some twelve or fifteen miles to the nearest house. “How did you do it?” the surprised farmer who lived there inquired. ”I knew I was in the path of duty,” Murray answered calmly, “so prayed to God to keep me, and walked straight on. The wolves snapped at me but did not touch me.”

Between 1849 and 1852 Murray carried out four ministerial tours in the area north of the Vaal River known as the Transvaal. During the first itineration, which lasted just over six weeks, he traveled some 800 miles on horseback and by ox-drawn wagon. He conducted a total of thirty-seven services at six different locations. In addition, he baptized 567 children and interviewed well over 300 young people for church membership, 167 of whom were accepted upon their clear profession of faith in Christ Jesus for salvation.

While Murray would wear a beard throughout most of his adult life, at this time he was still clean shaven and looked quite boyish. But he quickly gained the respect of the Transvaal Boers through his serious, confident demeanor, his overwhelming fervency and his willingness to sacrifice himself for their spiritual wellbeing.

A contemporary testified of the intensity and gravity with which Murray ministered on the frontier: “When preaching, so absorbed was he in his message that should he by his violent gestures knock down Bible and reading desk of the impromptu pulpit, he would not notice it. Solemn were the confirmation services when, before the final confirmation promise was made, he would lift his hand, and with deep emotion would adjure them not to reject the Savior, saying, “If you do and promise falsely to be true to Christ, this hand will witness against you in the day of judgment.”

The residents of some of the areas where Murray ministered pleaded with him to accept their call to leave Bloemfontein and come as their settled pastor. When two men arrived from a settlement some 300 miles beyond where Murray was ministering during his first Transvaal tour, he had to tell them that he would not be able to come and minister in their area for eight months.

He afterward wrote his parents: “When the men heard that they could not be visited for such a time, they were in tears, as they had hoped I might go with them, and when they left again they could not speak. I hardly know what to say when the people begin to discourse about their spiritual destitution and their desire after the Word. Suppose another minister should refuse to come here, but be willing to take Bloemfontein, what would you think of my coming here? … The way in which some of the people here plead really moves my heart. Many are in a fit state for receiving the seed of the Word. May the Lord in His mercy help them.”

Murray had promised to visit the Transvaal’s northernmost Dutch settlement at Zoutpansbergen during his fourth ministry tour. But when word came that the settlers at that location were suffering from repeated attacks of malaria and that several individuals had already died, he was strongly advised not to proceed into that unhealthy region. Since arrangements had already been made for the services there, however, Murray considered it his duty to fulfill his ministerial obligation.

After he arrived there he learned that in recent weeks twenty-four of the 150 settlers at Zoutpansbergen had perished from malaria, eighteen of those within a fortnight of contracting the disease. No home had been spared from death. The majority of those isolated people had not had access to religious services for several years and were overjoyed with this opportunity.

#          #          #

Andrew Murray by Vance Christie

I have written a comprehensive biography on Murray entitled Andrew Murray, Christ’s Anointed Minister to South Africa. Much spiritual encouragement and instruction can be gained through the consideration of his outstanding life of service for Christ Jesus.

Copyright 2019 by Vance E. Christie

Christian parents rightly seek to share the Gospel (Good News) of salvation with their children and to lead them, at an early age if possible, to Jesus Christ as their personal Savior from sin. By God’s grace, some children do come to saving faith in Jesus early in life. But parents eager for their children’s salvation need to guard against assuming their kids have been saved simply because they’ve heard the Gospel and made some sort of an elementary profession such as “I asked Jesus into my heart” or “I believe in Jesus.”

Andrew Murray as a young man

Instead parents need to listen carefully for indications that their children have a clear understanding of the Gospel and an abiding trust in Christ and His death for them on the cross as their only means of salvation. Parents should also look for ongoing spiritual interest and fruit, which inevitably accompanies genuine salvation, in the lives of their children.

Andrew Murray, who eventually became arguably the greatest Christian preacher and devotional writer ever to come from South Africa, serves as an example of these truths concerning a young person’s salvation. Murray was raised by devout parents in a conservative Christian home and church until he was ten years of age (see my Jan. 29, 2015 Perspective on Murray’s upbringing entitled, “A Godly Parentage Is a Priceless Boon”). Throughout his growing up years he showed some sensitivity to spiritual matters. He had numerous opportunities to come to saving faith in Christ. But he did not do so until he was a theology student preparing for the Christian ministry. And until he did so, his parents never assumed his salvation but kept fervently praying for it.

Andrew Murray, Sr.

Andrew’s father, Andrew Murray, Sr., pastored the Dutch Reformed Church in Graaff-Reinet, South Africa, for over forty years. Opportunities for secondary and university education were severely limited in South Africa in the first half of the nineteenth century. So Murray, Sr., and his wife Maria made the painful decision in 1838 to send their two oldest sons, John and his younger brother Andrew, at the tender ages of twelve and ten, to live with an uncle, Rev. John Murray, in Aberdeen, Scotland. There the boys could receive a sound secondary and university education.

The year Andrew and John arrived in Scotland a dramatic spiritual awakening began sweeping across the country. In the spring and fall of 1840 William Chalmers Burns, the primary human agent used of God in igniting that bona fide revival, visited and ministered in Aberdeen for several weeks. He preached to densely crowded audiences in three separate churches each Sunday. Every weekday he led prayer meetings in the morning and afternoon, then gave a public address in the evening. Untold hundreds or even thousands of people came under pressing conviction of their sin, cried out to God for mercy and were saved at that time.

William Chalmers Burns, later as a missionary to China

Burns was a frequent guest in Rev. John Murray’s home. Andrew and John had the opportunity to converse with the evangelist about spiritual matters and to witness first-hand many of the stirring spiritual events then unfolding in Aberdeen. After leaving Aberdeen, Burns wrote Andrew and John, urging them not to delay in turning to Christ as their Savior. But despite all those advantages, neither Andrew nor John was converted under Burns’ ministry.

The Murray brothers excelled in their studies. They were admitted to Marischal College, Aberdeen, Andrew with an academic scholarship. While heartily commending them for their academic success, their father earnestly wrote to them about the greater importance of their Christian conversion: “I am well aware, my dear boys, that neither you nor I can ever change the heart. But let me entreat you both, with all the intense affection of a Christian clergyman and a loving father, to pray daily that God may in mercy be pleased to do so by His Holy Spirit. Many distinguished students have been taken away by death in the midst of their literary and scientific pursuits. And although I trust God will spare you long to be useful in the world, yet should He take one or another of you away in youth, the consolation of the bleeding hearts of parents would not be that you had excelled in human acquirements, however important in themselves, but that there was reason to believe that you died in the Lord.” 

Nine months later, on August 1, 1844, he wrote similarly: “Every parent wishes to see his family ‘getting on,’ as it is termed, but what unspeakable joy for the heart of a Christian parent to hear good ground for believing that his children shall have an eternal inheritance in Heaven! Oh!, when may I through the free grace of God have this soul’s joy with respect to you both? Do not think I am needlessly anxious. Every letter I write to you may be the last you may receive from me. One of our nearest neighbors spoke to me in tolerable health on Monday and died on Tuesday. This is a digression, but with such warnings we ought to live and act as dying creatures.”

Before that letter reached Aberdeen, Andrew had written to inform his father that he had decided to devote his life to pastoral ministry. After receiving that intelligence, the father immediately responded: “I have now to congratulate you on your choice of a profession, and rejoice that the Lord has been pleased to incline your heart the way He has done. I trust, however, my dear boy, that you have given your heart to Jesus Christ, to be His now and His forever, to follow Him through good and through bad report.”

Andrew and John graduated from Marischal College, the latter as the salutatorian of their class, the following spring. By then John had also determined to prepare for the Christian ministry, so he and Andrew decided to pursue their theological education at the Academy of Utrecht in Holland. There they joined a small group of consecrated students who had as their stated purpose “to promote the study of the subjects required for the ministerial calling in the spirit of the revival” that had visited Holland some twenty years earlier.

Sometime during his first autumn at Utrecht, Andrew Murray experienced a personal spiritual transformation that he ever afterwards called his conversion. In a letter dated November 14, 1845, he informed his parents of his spiritual rebirth: “My Dear Parents – It was with very great pleasure that I today received your letter containing the announcement of the birth of another brother. And equal, I am sure, will be your delight when I tell you that I can communicate to you far gladder tidings, over which angels have rejoiced, that your son has been born again. …

“For the last two or three years there has been a process going on, a continual interchange of seasons of seriousness and then forgetfulness, and then again of seriousness soon after. But after I came to Holland I think I was led to pray in earnest; more I cannot tell, for I know it not. ‘Whereas I was blind, now I see’ [John 9:25]. I was long troubled with the idea that I must have some deep sight of my sins before I could be converted. And though I cannot yet say that I have had anything of that deep special sight into the guiltiness of sin which many people appear to have, yet I trust, and at present I feel as if I could say, I am confident that as a sinner I have been led to cast myself on Christ. What can I say now, my dear Parents, but call on you to praise the Lord with me? At present I am in a peaceful state. I cannot say that I have had any seasons of special joy, but I think that I enjoy a true confidence in God.”

May many Christian parents today similarly have the blessing of wisely urging and fervently praying their children to Christ, even when a considerable number of years are involved in that process.

#          #          #

Andrew Murray by Vance Christie

I have written a comprehensive biography on Murray entitled Andrew Murray, Christ’s Anointed Minister to South Africa. Much spiritual encouragement and instruction can be gained through the consideration of his outstanding life of service for Christ Jesus.

Copyright 2019 by Vance E. Christie

Young Andrew Murray

Young Andrew Murray

Andrew Murray (1828-1917) is best known by Christians today as the author of several still-popular devotional classics. In his lifetime, however, he was equally well-known as a prominent, powerful preacher.

Throughout his active preaching career of some six and a half decades, hundreds and even thousands of people eagerly gathered to hear him preach. His sermons were characterized by overwhelming intensity, depth of spiritual insight and evident empowering by God’s Spirt that stirred, instructed and challenged his hearers.

Beginning in his early twenties, Murray conducted ministry tours to Dutch pioneers in the frontier regions northeast of Cape Colony, South Africa. Dutch settlers would assemble by the hundreds at pre-arranged meeting sites to hear the dynamic young preacher. An early Murray biographer related of his tremendous fervency on such occasions: “When preaching, so absorbed was he in his message that should he by his violent gestures knock down Bible and reading desk of the impromptu pulpit, he would not notice it.”

Andrew Murray

Andrew Murray

Once an indigenous tribesman watched Murray closely as he preached with his habitual earnestness. The native did not understand a single word of what he heard but afterward stated his impression of what he had observed: “I never thought that the white men stood in such dread of their chiefs. Look at the young chief yonder [Murray]. He points his finger at the people; they sit quiet. He threatens them; they sit quiet still. He storms and rages at them; they sit as quiet as death!”

In 1895, at age sixty-seven, Murray was invited to speak at a number of prominent Christian conferences in Europe and America. An article in a popular British publication provided this description of his intense preaching:

“When preaching or conducting a service his whole being is thrown into the task, and he glows with a fervency of spirit which it seems impossible for human flesh to sustain. At times he startles and overwhelms the listeners. Earnestness and power of the electric sort stream from him, and affect alike the large audience or the quiet circle gathered round him. In his slight, spent frame, of middle height, he carries in repose a volcanic energy which, when he is roused, bursts its barriers and sweeps all before it. Then his form quivers and dilates, the lips tremble, the features work, as from the white-hot furnace of his spirit he pours the molten torrent of his unstudied eloquence. … Audiences bend before the sweeping rain of his words like willows before a gale. The heart within the hearer is bowed, and the intellect awed.”

Andrew Murray

Older Andrew Murray

Well into his eighties Murray continued to be a powerful, popular preacher who ministered at numerous churches and Christian conferences. He once was the featured speaker at a conference in which a new missionary enterprise to Sudan was being launched. One of the missionary candidates, who was well acquainted with Murray’s preaching ministry, reported:

“A lady was sitting close to me, and as Dr. Murray went up the pulpit steps, frail and gray and old, she asked: ‘Who is that old man? What a shame to make him go up those steps to preach.’  I smiled inwardly and thought, ‘My dear lady, you will be surprised tonight.’ Dr. Murray got up, he seemed to grow tall and majestic. In regard to the new work in the Sudan he once more spoke according to the oracles of God. ‘Forward!’ was his cry. Well, my lady was surprised, and more than surprised, pity made way for esteem. ‘What a voice for such a body!’ she exclaimed.”

Murray’s fervent preaching was reflective of his intimate, earnest personal relationship with the Lord.  His preaching was carried out—through dependence upon and empowering by the Holy Spirit—in the context of an extremely demanding ministerial career. By reading a complete account of Murray’s life and ministry (such as my recent biography, Andrew Murray, Christ’s Anointed Minister to South Africa) one is able to glean the keys to his powerful preaching ministry as well as the many other fruitful aspects of his Christian service.

Copyright 2015 by Vance E. Christie

Shaun Tabatt Show Ep 28 Vance Christie Andrew Murray Christian Focus

Last week I got to visit with Shaun Tabatt and share about my new book on the life of Andrew Murray. Listen to our interview below.

-Download the MP3: http://ow.ly/SMDUz
-Read the show notes: http://ShaunTabatt.com/028
-Subscribe to The Shaun Tabatt Show on iTunes: http://ow.ly/Pxz1x

To find out more about Andrew Murray: Christ’s Anointed Minister to South Africa, visit the Andrew Murray book page on my website.

Andrew Murray

Andrew Murray

Why is it worthwhile to read an account of the life and ministry of Andrew Murray (1828-1917), the distinguished pastor-devotional writer from South Africa? Here’s a brief rundown of my top ten reasons:

  1. Andrew Murray became the most prominent South African minister of his day. He is almost certainly the premiere pastor ever to serve in that country. It’s certainly worth our while and to our benefit to get acquainted with such an outstanding Christian servant.
  2. Murray provides an inspiring example of active service of Christ, even under challenging circumstances, clear to the end of life. His entire adult life (age 20 to 88) was spent in consecrated Christian service. He often ministered under difficult pioneer conditions, despite personal health challenges, and under enormous ministry pressures. When he retired from full-time pastoral ministry at age seventy-eight, he continued right on in his active speaking and writing ministries for another decade.
  3. Murray also has much to teach us about the devotional-contemplative side of the Christian life. He was a man of prayer who maintained daily time for personal prayer and who prayed “without ceasing” by weaving prayer all through his many activities of the day. His mind was saturated with and continually fixed on Scriptural truths. That pronounced biblical focus resulted in his publishing nearly 240 works (including over seventy full-length books) on scores of different subjects, all from a sound spiritual perspective.
  4. Dutch Reformed Church of Wellington

    Dutch Reformed Church of Wellington, where Andrew Murray pastored for thirty-five years.

    Both during his lifetime and to this day Murray’s books have been widely read and appreciated by Christians throughout the world. His books are thoroughly spiritual, devotional and practical in nature. But because Murray’s books contain virtually no autobiographical material, many people who have greatly appreciated and profited from his writings know very little about his life and ministry. However, they can get to know the man behind the pen by reading a biography about him.

  5. Pastors will benefit from considering the ministerial career and powerful preaching ministry of this faithful fellow under-shepherd. Murray pastored four congregations over the course of fifty-seven years, including his last pastorate of thirty-five years. The settings for his pastoral ministries ranged from an isolated frontier settlement to the capital city of South Africa.  In addition to ministering to his own congregations, Murray was a popular preacher who carried out extensive speaking ministries at churches and Christian conferences throughout South Africa, as well as in Europe and America.
  6. Ministry leaders of various types will appreciate and learn from Murray’s vibrant, visionary leadership of numerous Christian causes. He served six terms, totaling some twenty-five years, as the Moderator of his denomination, the Dutch Reformed Church of Cape Colony. Murray threw his tremendous energies into: establishing schools throughout the Colony; actively evangelizing European settlers; founding foreign missionary societies to minister to unreached tribal groups beyond the Colony’s borders; supporting home mission endeavors that ministered to military personnel, the poor and moral outcasts; developing and promoting student ministries and the Higher Life Movement.
  7. Murray lived through two periods of bona fide spiritual awakening. As a twelve-year-old boy, while pursuing his education in Scotland, he witnessed the widespread revival that took place in that country in 1840 through the ministry of William Burns. Twenty years later, as a pastor in Worcester, South Africa, Murray participated in and helped promote the awakening that occurred throughout Cape Colony. The accounts of those two revivals are truly dramatic and stirring.
  8. Another great benefit to reading an account of Murray’s life is the opportunity to consider his amazingly-consistent Christlike character. In public and in private, whether dealing with hearty supporters or harsh critics, Murray manifested patience, kindness and gentleness. Throughout his ministry career he actively sought to promote Christian love and unity in the churches, communities and countries where he served, often in the face of deep divisions between various parties.
  9. While three other full-length biographies were previously written on Andrew Murray, two of those have been out of print for many decades. All three of those earlier biographies related only about half of Murray’s life in chronological order. They treated the ministry emphases of the latter half of his life (such as his promotion of education, evangelism and missions) in topical but non-chronological fashion. The biography I have written on Murray is the first to offer a chronological account of his life from start to finish, presenting the events and developments of his life and ministry in the order in which they unfolded.
  10. Historic Christian biography is an enjoyable and easy way to learn some history, both sacred and secular. As one reads the account of Murray’s life, a lot is learned about (to list only four of many subjects): the establishment and spread of Christianity in South Africa; some of the battles within the Christian Church in South Africa and Europe against encroaching theological liberalism; the settlement of European people groups in South Africa and their conflicts with indigenous tribes; tensions between the British government and Dutch settlers that led to South Africa’s tragic Boer Wars.

I hope you’ll read my recently-published Andrew Murray: Christ’s Anointed Minister to South Africa. Murray’s is an inspiring and instructive example well worth considering.

Copyright 2015 by Vance E. Christie

 

 

 

Andrew Murray

Andrew Murray

The massive amount of ministry Andrew Murray carried out all through his long ministerial career was truly impressive. Equally or perhaps even more impressive was the steady, sanctified spirit with which he carried out his many ministry demands, despite the considerable pressures he bore in doing so.

In 1864, at the age of 36, Murray became one of three co-pastors of Cape Town’s Dutch Reformed Church, with its constituency of 5,000 people. He served in that capacity for nearly seven years. Every Sunday Murray preached (usually more than once) at one of the two large churches in that metropolitan parish, normally to thousands of people, including many of the city’s leading citizens.  He held two weeknight services for fishermen and other poor individuals, and frequently spoke at one of the weekly services held at Cape Town’s three Dutch Reformed schools. Murray faithfully carried out pastoral visitation in the poorer districts of town. He also promoted ministry to young men by helping establish and serving as first president of a Cape Town chapter of the Young Men’s Christian Association.

Groote Kerk (Great Church), Cape Town

Groote Kerk (Great Church), Cape Town

In addition, during those years Murray was Moderator of his denomination in Cape Colony. At that time stringent battles were being waged to resist the encroachment of theological liberalism. More than once Murray needed to be the primary representative of his denomination in court cases that came out of that period of marked controversy.

Besides their own eight children, Andrew and Emma Murray had other young people living in their home during those years. Those youths resided with the Murrays while pursuing their education in Cape Town. One of the young people, Frederick Kolbe, later bore this glowing testimony of his experience as part of the Murrays’ household:

“I hope that Mr. and Mrs. Murray knew by instinct how I loved them, but I never could tell them. … That was the time I saw Andrew Murray at the closest possible quarters. I may have been shy, but I certainly was observant. He was a very highly strung man. His preaching was so enthusiastic, his gesticulation so unrestrained, that he was wearing himself out, and the doctor ordered him to sit while preaching. So he had a special stool made for [the] great pulpit in order to obey the doctor without letting everybody know.

“Now, such an output of nervous energy (and he was a frequent preacher) might well mean some reaction at home – some irritation with his wife, some unevenness towards his children, some caprice towards the stranger within his gates. But no, I never saw him thrown off balance. His harmony with Mrs. Murray was perhaps easy; she was such a gracious, wifely, motherly person, that not to be in harmony with her would itself be self-condemnation. But he never did condemn himself. He was solid gold all through.”

Andrew Murray statue at Groote Kerk, Cape Town

Andrew Murray statue at Groote Kerk, Cape Town

Kolbe’s testimony of Murray’s pleasantness even in the privacy of his own home is all the more impressive given the enormous ministerial pressures and problems Murray faced throughout those years. “Why how is it you never get angry?” Murray was once asked. “It takes too much trouble to recover your good temper,” was his sage reply.

May God help each of us to grow in the ability not only to bear up under significant pressures and problems in life, but to do so with an even, pleasant Christlike spirit. We can do that as the Holy Spirit increasingly conforms us to the image of Christ.

For much more on Andrew Murray’s remarkable ministry career and his commendable Christian spirit see my newly-released biography, Andrew Murray: Christ’s Anointed Minister to South Africa.

Copyright 2015 by Vance E. Christie

Andrew Murray

Andrew Murray

The mighty prayer meeting revival movement that swept across the United States in 1857-1858, next ignited powerful revivals in Ireland and Wales in 1859, then brought widespread spiritual awakening to South Africa in 1860-1861. After the revival’s dramatic beginning in Montagu, South Africa (see my July 25, 2015, Perspective), it next spread to Worcester, where Rev. Andrew Murray, Jr., had recently been called as pastor.

The awakening there actually began on the farm of David Naude in the rural Breede River ward of the Worcester parish. Three individuals— Naude’s son Jan, Jan’s cousin Miss Van Blerk and an old native farmhand named Saul Pieterse—had been faithfully meeting weekly for several months to pray for revival. Miss Van Blerk taught the servants on the farm and was particularly distressed over their spiritually needy condition. She became so burdened for them that she prayed almost continuously for a week. Then one evening shortly thereafter, God’s Spirit moved suddenly and mightily on a meeting she was holding for them. Within a week nearly everyone on the farm was converted.

As news of these developments quickly spread, people from neighboring farms—“young and old, parents and children, white and colored”—promptly began streaming to the previously-neglected prayer meeting. Members from other parts of the parish and even from other congregations arrived at the Naude farm in carts and wagons. For three months the Naudes needed to suspend their farming activities to assist the many people coming to seek salvation.

Historic Dutch Reformed Church in Worcester, South Africa

Historic Dutch Reformed Church in Worcester, South Africa

Not long after the initial awakening at the Naude farm, the revival spread to Worcester itself. God’s Spirit so moved on a Sunday evening youth meeting that all sixty young people in attendance suddenly started praying simultaneously. The sense of God’s presence was so powerful that some of the youth felt compelled to kneel down to pray.

J. C. de Vries, a young man who witnessed the Worcester revival, later related: “After that the prayer meetings were held every evening. At the commencement there was generally great silence, but after the second or third prayer the whole hall was moved as before, and every one fell to praying. Sometimes the gathering continued till three in the morning. And even then many wished to remain longer, or returning homewards, went singing through the streets. The little hall was soon quite too small, and we were compelled to move to the school building, which also was presently full to overflowing, as scores and hundreds of country folk streamed into the village.”

On the first Saturday evening in the larger meetinghouse, Murray led the prayer meeting. After reading a passage of Scripture and making a few observations on it, he prayed. When he invited others to pray, everyone again began praying aloud all at the same time. Murray thought such praying disorderly, so descended from the platform and moved among the people, trying to quiet them.

That evening a stranger had been standing at the door from the beginning of the meeting. That unknown individual quietly approached Murray, gently touched him and said: “I think you are the minister of the congregation. Be careful what you do, for it is the Spirit of God that is at work here. I have just come from America, and this is precisely what I witnessed there.”

Throughout the remainder of that year and continuing into 1861 revival continued to spread across South Africa. In all, nearly three dozen parishes experienced dramatic spiritual awakening. The church leaders at Wellington reported that their parish had made greater moral and spiritual progress in recent weeks than throughout its entire previous history of nearly two decades. The Stellenbosch leaders enthused of revived spiritual conditions in their community, “The whole of society has been changed, yes, turned literally upside down!”

God is still able to work in these dramatic ways today. Are we willing to diligently seek such transformative blessings from Him in fervent prayer?

*          *          *

Andrew Murray by Vance ChristieA full account of South Africa’s 1860 revival is recorded in chapters 11 and 12 of my forthcoming biography, Andrew Murray: Christ’s Anointed Minister to South Africa. That volume is to be released in the U.S. this August.

Copyright 2015 by Vance E. Christie