Imágenes de páginas

the earlier career of his life, birth, or education, till his settlement.

Born of poor parents, he obtained his collegiate acquirements, through the instrumentality of friends. Having habits of persevering industry, and exemplary piety, from his youth, he eagerly grasped after information, and gradually obtained notice.

He was instructed in the rites of the established church, to which his father and friends strictly adhered.' He had scrious impressions when very young, was an observer of all moral duties, an attendant on church and sacrament, and one who said many prayers. But was lacking in vital religion till he attained his twenty-second year, when it pleased the Lord to throw conviction to his heart, that he had never till then been a Christian, in its proper import. He could then feelingly say, what he had before repeated in words only: "the remembrance of my sins is grievous unto ine; the burden of them is intolerable.” He mourned, he wept, and prayed. One day, being in prayer, he had such a view of his past sinfulness and present guilt and pollution, as almost deprived him of hope. But the Lord suddenly removed his burden, and whispered peace and pardon to his soul. He felt his sins were all forgiven. He renounced the pomps and vanities of the world, and from that period to his death, was an ensample of piety, truth, and holiness.

In these, his earlier years, he frequently went to the neighbouring highlands, in Wales, which borders on the county of Cheshire, and preached to their unenlighened inhabitants. Many who received their first religious impressions at those times, became afterwards members of the Methodist society. Useful as he has been, there can be no doubt but he would have been much more so, had he continued those labours. He has often been heard to say, “ They were the happiest days of his life.” But a violent pain in the head, with which he was more frequently attacked

[ocr errors]

some years before he died, greatly discouraged him.

In the year 1773, and in the 28th year of his age, he obtained the place of curate in Christ church, Macclesfield. Here he officiated with uncommon satisfaction for some time. The rector preached in the morning, and the curate held forth in the afternoon; the custom being for the one who did not preach to read prayers. It was always observed that by far the largest auditory attended Mr. Simpson's sermons, which were constantly delivered with a divine pathos, in earnest desire to persuade his hearers into love and desire to the ways of godliness, and warn them of the world's delusion.-His zeal was warm, and he could not but observe with regret, the cold and formal manner in which his superior brother delivered his moral lessons, instead of the living and vivifying words of the Lord Jesus Christ.

From regret, at this repeated prostitution of the sacred function, disgust ensued, and this provoked resentment. When an event occurred, which at once ended his curateship, and, by good and unexpected providence, opened a door for his permanent and extensive usefulness.

Prompted by a reiteration of the poor and flimsy method of moral harangue, instead of proclaiming gospel liberty to captive souls, he embraced the resolution, publicly to expose the abuse. Accordingly, having ascended his afternoon station as usual, he took for his text the identical words that were spoken from by the rector in the morning. He had not proceeded long, as the circumstance is related, before the reverend rector, perceiving his drift, deserted his seat, mounted the pulpit, and, forgetting all decorum to time and place, collared Mr. Simpson. This naturally caused confusion. The church was in an up- . roar, and while sides were forming, Mr. Charles Roe, esq. stood up and proclaimed aloud, that he

should befriend Mr. Simpson, and if he was denied that church, he would build him one himself. Which he accordingly did. A large and magnificent structure was erected, at his sole expense. A rich lady in the neighbourhood, who also was a warm friend to Mr. Simpson, and who desired to evince her regard, pleaded with Mr. Roe to accept her.quota in the expense of the edifice. He refused it. She then de. sired that the bells might be furnished by her boon. This also he denied, and placed eight bells, with every else thing, at his own particular cost. This minute mention is given in honour to the memory of his patron, as a rare instance of benevolence. Some evil tongues did not omit to spread a report that Mr. Roe was not so generous as might be conceived, as he proposed all this profusion of munificence as a comfortable birth for his son, who had about this time entered Oxford college, and intended Mr. Simpson as recumbent in the mean time. This conjecture he defeated immediately on the completion of the church, when he gave Mr. Simpson a deed for life.

Thus was our author settled in an unforeseen and happy manner, with full scope for his usefulness. The house was erected in fee simple, on freehold property, by which maneuvre, the bishops had no access to lord it over him. He continued to preach in it, to very large congregations, till a few weeks before his decease.

Nevertheless, all this sunshine was not without a cloud. He endured much persecution, and his trials were sore and heavy. His opposers were many, and he was obliged to labour in the fire a long time. A few passages from the experience of Mrs. Hester Ann Rogers, niece to Mr. Roe, will serve as a specimen of the unfavourable opinion entertained of him by his enemies generally.

“ In the summer of 1773, when at Adlington, I heard various accounts of a clergyman whom my uncle

[ocr errors]

Roe had recommended to be curate at Macclesfield, and who was said to be a Methodist.

This conveyed to my mind as unpleasing an idea of him as if he had been called a Romish priest; being fully persuaded that to be a Methodist was to be all that is vile under the mask of piety. I believed their teachers were the false prophets spoken of in Scripture; that they deceived the illiterate, and were little better than common pickpockets; that they filled some of their hearers with presumption, and drove others to despair; that they had dark meetings, and pretended to cast out devils ; with many other things, equally false and absurd, but all of which I believed: I heard also that this new clergyman preached against all my favourite diversions, such as going to plays, reading novels, attending balls, assemblies, card tables, &c. But I resolved he should not make a convert of me ; and that if I found him such as was represented, I would not go often to hear him.

“ When I returned to Macclesfield, the whole town was in an alarm. My uncle Roe and my cousins, seemed very fond of Mr. Simpson, and told me he was a most excellent man; but all the rest of my relations were exasperated against him.”

However, he lived to see these seeds of strife and party, which had so unfortunately prevailed, and shot forth their bitter weeds from his first settlement in Macclesfield, gradually wither and die away before the potent flame of Christian love and forbearance. Even Mrs. Rogers had cause afterwards to bless his ministry, which had been instrumental to her conversion. As he respected all whom he thought to be sincere in their professions, without attention to names and sects: so he was, in his turn, beloved by all denominations of Christians. Even those who could not subscribe his creed as a divine, were forced to venerate his character as a man. ral was the respect, and so prevalent the solicitude

So gene

for his health and welfare, that in his last sickness, public prayers were offered up in his behalf, not only at his own church, but among the Dissenters and Methodists, and even at that very church from which he had been driven in the violent manner already narrated.—So that at length he could apply these lines:

" To earth born pain superior you shall rise,
Thro’the wide waves of unopposing skies;
When summon'd hence ascend heav'n's high abode,

Converse with angels, and rejoice with God."
And also:

" I stand and admire thy outstretched arm: *

Having walk'd thro' the fire and suffer'd no harm!" Concord and harmony being again restored, his ministry was diligently attended and much blessed. Many sinners were awakened, who became serious Christians, and who adorn the gospel at this day : besides many others who died happy in the Lord, have gone before, and welcomed his arrival in the Father's kingdom.

But there is nothing stationary in this world: no blessing without its concomitant adversity.-- In the spring of 1781, six years after his settlement, Mr. Simpson sustained an irreparable loss in the death of his beloved patron, Charles Roe. He died, after a short illness, on the 3d of May: The day before his departure he was reconciled to all his children, with whom there was some little altercation, and called much upon God. Jie begged Mr. Simpson and others to pray for him ; and though scarce able, got upon his knees in bed, to pray for himself. That night he lay composed. At ten next morning, he suddenly opened his eyes, and fixed them on some object for several minutes, with seeming delight. Soon after he silently breathed away his immortal spirit, no doubt, to endless life. On the eighth his remains were carried, by his own carriage and horses, in great

« AnteriorContinuar »