Archive for October, 2012

Charles Simeon

October 10, 2012

Recently I was given a copy of Charles Simeon: “An Ordinary pastor of Extraordinary Influence” by Derek Prime (Day One Publications). I would not have bought this as I already possess (and have read – not the same thing!) the biography of Simeon by H. C. G. Moule.
However, having received it gratis I decided to read it, and am finding it both enjoyable and instructive. There is little new in it, but the author writes with clarity and in a structured way with headings and sub-headings so that it is easy to find specific topics.
At first I was intrigued to note that he had only one reference to Moule’s biography but hundreds of references to an older work, “Memoirs of the Life of the Rev. Charles Simeon” by William Carus. Then I realized that Moule’s version is relatively modern and may still be in print, whereas William Carus’s biography was published in 1847 and so is out of copyright. In effect, therefore, Derek Prime is making Carus’s book available to modern readers.
One of the extraordinary things about Simeon’s ministry is that he experienced the most virulent opposition from the church he pastored, and yet he endured it and won through. Church pews were locked so that the congregation could not use them. Chairs Simeon provided at his own expense were thrown out by the church officers. Complaints were made to the bishop about his preaching. None of the parishioners would allow him into their homes, so pastoral visitation proved to be impossible.. Incredibly this kind of opposition lasted about twelve years. Before he entered the ministry when he had attended the church on one occasion he was one of only three communicants. At the height of his ministry there years later as many as one thousand attended on his preaching and many had to be turned away because the church was full to overflowing. What grace, what stickability! Can you imagine many ministers today enduring such opposition for so long? I realize that in many, perhaps most, Anglican parishes, the incumbant cannot be dismissed except for heresy or immorality. But he can leave if he wants to do so. But Simeon stayed on and won through.