In April, 1831, Charles Simeon was 71 years old. He had been the pastor of Trinity Church, Cambridge, England, for 49 years. He was asked one afternoon by his friend, Joseph Gurney, how he had surmounted persecution and outlasted all the great prejudice against him in his 49-year ministry. He said to Gurney, "My dear brother, we must not mind a little suffering for Christ's sake. When I am getting through a hedge, if my head and shoulders are safely through, I can bear the pricking of my legs. Let us rejoice in the remembrance that our holy Head has surmounted all His suffering and triumphed over death. Let us follow Him patiently; we shall soon be partakers of His victory" (H.C.G. Moule, Charles Simeon, London: InterVarsity, 1948, 155f.)...
Simeon had a strong sense of his accountability before God for the souls of his flock, whether they liked him or not. In his first year in the pulpit he preached a sermon on this and said to the people standing in the aisles,
Remember the nature of my office, and the care incumbent on me for the welfare of your immortal souls. . . . Consider whatever may appear in my discourses harsh, earnest or alarming, not as the effects of enthusiasm, but as the rational dictates of a heart impressed with a sense both of the value of the soul and the importance of eternity. . . . By recollecting the awful consequences of my neglect, you will be more inclined to receive favorably any well-meant admonitions. (Moule, 46)
Fifteen years later he preached on the subject again. Years after this sermon, one of his friends told of how its power was still being felt. He said the pastor is like the keeper of a lighthouse. And he painted a vivid picture of a rocky coast strewn with dead and mangled bodies with the wailing of widows and orphans. He pictured the delinquent keeper being brought out and at last the answer given: Asleep. "Asleep!" The way he made this word burst on the ears of the hearers never let at least one of them ever forget what is at stake in the pastoral ministry.
It did not matter that his people were often against him. He was not commissioned by them, but by the Lord. And they were his responsibility. He believed Hebrews 13:17 - that he would one day have to give an account for the souls of his church.
Monday, February 8, 2010
Charles Simeon - A man who understood to Whom he answered
From an address by John Piper:
Read and listen to the audio of the entire address HERE.