Thursday, November 13, 2008

Remembering Charles Simeon

In last night's online Wednesday Evening Worship & Prayer, we remembered the life of Charles Simeon. Our online prayer can be found here.

Simeon was born in England in 1759 and became a Christian when he was in college.

John Piper, in a sermon he preached in 1989, noted several interesting things in Simeon's life. The sermon can be found here.

Piper noted that Simeon's conversion was remarkable in that it was prompted by his college's compulsory annual partaking of the Lord's Supper. After reading a book on the Lord's Supper, Simeon became convinced of his own sinfulness. He later wrote:

"Accordingly I sought to lay my sins upon the sacred head of Jesus; and on the Wednesday began to have a hope of mercy; on the Thursday that hope increased; on the Friday and Saturday it became more strong; and on the Sunday morning, Easter-day, April 4, I awoke early with those words upon my heart and lips, 'Jesus Christ is risen to-day! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!' From that hour peace flowed in rich abundance into my soul; and at the Lord's Table in our Chapel I had the sweetest access to God through my blessed Saviour."

After finishing his college work he was ordained and appointed to Holy Trinity Church at Cambridge where he remained for fifty-four years until shortly before his death in November 1836.

Simeon faced several trials in ministry.

One significant trial was with his congregation, who, unable to fire him, refused to have him preach any time other than Sunday morning. For a time they locked the doors to their individual pews, refusing to come to church and refusing to allow others to sit in their seats.

With great wisdom, at the age of 71, Simeon wrote to a friend, "My dear brother, we must not mind a little suffering for Christ's sake."

Having a passion for sharing the good news of Christ with others, Charles Simeon had great influence on a number of younger ministry leaders including Henry Martyn, David Brown and William Wilberforce.

Piper contends that the secret to Simeon's perseverance in ministry was his knowledge of his own limitations and sinfulness. He believed that he was made right with God, not by his own work, but by God's mercy in the forgiveness of Christ. Simeon wrote:

"I love simplicity; I love contrition. . . . I love the religion of heaven; to fall on our faces while we adore the Lamb is the kind of religion which my soul affects."

May Charles Simeon serve as an example to us as we seek God in the midst of difficulty, as we work with younger leaders and share the good news of Christ with others.


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