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Kay's Originals Vol. 2


BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES. 297 the world,” delighting in his “horses, and in feats of bodily agility and vigour.” He was first led to the serious consideration of religion on being requested to take the sacrament at his College; and from that time he became not fnly strongly impressed with the truth and efficacy of divine revelation but displayed the sincerity of his conversion by devotedly attaching himself to the service of religion. Having been elected a Fellow of King’s College, he was ordained a deacon in the Cathedral Church of Ely in 1782 ; and his first sermon in Trinity Church, to which he had been appointed minister, was delivered the following year. Like most of his contemporaries in England, whose exertions were conspicuous in the advancement of religion during the last half-century, Mr. Simeon experienced his own share of the contumely which then attached to all who were zealous for purity in the church and piety in the people. The opposition he met with was considerable ; and he was abandoned by all who, from community of profession, ought to have been his warmest supporters. Some of the principal persons of his own parish joined the clamour against him, not only refusing to attend themselves, but locking their pew-doors that others might not occupy them. Thus persecuted, Mr. Simeon steadily maintained his course with all the vigour and fortitude which his native energy of character and a good cause could so well inspire, while his fame as a preacher extended far beyond the limits of his locality. His acquaintance and favour were earnestly sought by the more serious ; and among Dissenters he was regarded as one assimilated to them in all but in name. In 1796 he was induced to visit Scotland for the first time, making a tour through the more populous districts of the country. In Edinburgh he preached in various of the established churches: and was attended by immense audiences. Several instances are recorded of the awakening power of his eloquence. When about to leave Mouh, the horses of the party being actually saddled, (‘ he was induced, from unusual fatigue, to defer his departure. This led to his spending a Sabbath there, which happening to be the sacramental occasion, he preached and assisted in administering the ordinance, himself serving, as they express it, one of the tables.” In reference to his ministry on that occasion, the Rev. (afterwards Dr.) Alexander Stewart has the following observations :-“ I cannot omit mentioning in this connection the blessing I enjoyed in the preaching, the prayers, and the conversation of that much-favoured servant of Christ, the Rev. C. Simeon. He was a man sent from God to me, and was my guest for two days in June 1796 ; preached in my church ; and left a savour of the things of God which has remained among us ever since.” Liberal in principle as he was, however, and maintaining as he did a friendly intercourse with sectarians, more particularly in the earlier part of his career, Mr. Simeon continued steadily within the pale of the Church of England, apparently more anxious to distinguish himself by re-animating the old fabric than A hint uttered by Mr. Simeon on one of these occasions, led to the formation of the “Leith Female Society for relieving Aged and Indigent Women”--sn institution which has been the means of effecting signal benefit to many whose age or infirmities incapacitated them for labouring for their own support. VOL. IL 2 Q
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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
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