Edinburgh Bookshelf

Kay's Originals Vol. 2

Search

Volume 9 Page 396
  Enlarge Enlarge  
298 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES. in becoming the leader of a new denomination. But while he laboured for the purity of the Church, and exhibited the fervency of his zeal by engaging with a liberal hand in the scheme of purchasing advowsons, in order to secure the presentation of efficient clergymen, yet his philanthropy extended. to all classes of Christians. Possessing considerable wealth and extensive influence, Mr. Simeon, as may be augured from his character, was an active and generous promoter of all societies which had for their object the propagation of the gospel, and the welfare of mankind. For the conversion of the Jews he seemed particularly solicitous, and took a prominent interest in the Society established for that purpose. Towards erecting a Chapel at Bethnal Green he subscribed two hundred guineas, and engaged in many extensive tours throughout England and Scotland in their behalf. In 1818, on the anniversary of the battle of Waterloo, he preached at Amsterdam for the benefit of the Society ; and again at Paris in 1825. The life of Mr. Simeon was one of continued activity, mental and corporeal. His printed works, besides occasional publications, extend to twenty-one large octavo volumes, and contain a series of two thousand five hundred and thirtysix discourses, from Genesis to Revelation. Many of these are of great merit ; and immense as the labour expended in their production must have been, it appears doubly augmented when we are told by his biographer, that in the manuscripts before him " several of the outlines are written over four, five, and even six times, till he could bring them to that point of precision and force in which he so much delighted. Many preachers labour for quantity, and some for splendour ; Mr, Simeon laboured for brevity and effect. He rarely preached more than thirty or thirty-five minutes; and his problem seemed to be, Iww much useful truth he could condense into the shortest possible time, with the greatest possible efect upon the heart and conscience. On the Monday, as he told the writer of these lines, he employed perhaps as much as eight hours more in writing them fairly out for the press, with the enlargements that had occurred to him in preaching, and his latest improvements. So careful was he in his preparation for preaching, that he sometimes read his sermon jive times over in private, and twice as nearly as possible with the tone, attitude, and manner he purposed employing in the pulpit." It would be surprising if the private life of such a man as Mr. Simeon did not at least equal his public character. While ample testimony is borne to his many virtues, it must be admitted that he possessed a warm and somewhat irritable temper, and was not without a due share of the imperfections of human nature ; but these were checked and held in abeyance by the constant action of more noble qualities of the mind. The besetting, and probably the most unconquerable of all the human passions with which genuine piety has to contend, is the love of approbation. However much mere human praise may be condemned, few indeed are superior to its influence. In this assailable point Mr. Simeon does not appear to have been more impregnable than others. By way of illustrating his personal piety, it is related that " besides
Volume 9 Page 397
  Enlarge Enlarge