Charles Simeon, Priest, 1836
November 12, 2010 8 Comments
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About The Commemoration
The historian Thomas Macaulay said about Charles Simeon, “If you knew what his authority and influence were, and how they extend from Cambridge to the most remote corners of England, you would allow that his real sway in the Church was far greater than that of any primate.”
Simeon’s conversion, in 1779, while still a student, occurred as he was preparing himself to receive Holy Communion, an act required of undergraduates at the University. His first Communion had been a deeply depressing and discouraging experience, because of his use of the popular devotional tract, The Whole Duty of Man, which emphasized law and obedience as the means of receiving the Sacrament worthily. When he was again preparing for Communion before Easter, he was given a copy of Bishop Thomas Wilson’s Instructions for the Lord’s Supper. Here was a quite different approach, which recognized that the law could not make one righteous, and that only the sacrifice of Christ, perceived by faith, could enable one to communicate worthily. This time, the experience of Holy Communion was one of peace and exhilaration, a new beginning of a Christian life whose influence is difficult to exaggerate.
Simeon’s influence and authority developed slowly, but he soon became the recognized leader of the evangelical movement in the Church of England. He helped to found the Church Missionary Society, and was active in recruiting and supporting missionaries, including Henry Martyn (October 19). As a preacher, he ranks high in the history of Anglicanism. His sermons were unfailingly biblical, simple, and passionate.
The influence of Simeon and his friends was thus described by the historian William Edward Hartpole Lecky: “They gradually changed the whole spirit of the English Church. They infused into a new fire and passion of devotion, kindled a spirit of fervent philanthropy, raised the standard of clerical duty, and completely altered the whole tone and tendency of the preaching of its ministers.”
I. O loving God, we know that all things are ordered by thine unerring wisdom and unbounded love: Grant us in all things to see thy hand; that, following the example and teaching of thy servant Charles Simeon, we may walk with Christ in all simplicity, and serve thee with a quiet and contented mind; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
II. O loving God, we know that all things are ordered by your unerring wisdom and unbounded love: Grant us in all things to see your hand; that, following the example and teaching of your servant Charles Simeon, we may walk with Christ in all simplicity, and serve you with a quiet and contented mind; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Preface of a Saint (I)