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proceed to the end of the prayer. As soon, however, as the prayer was ended, I made request to my Father to let me be trained up for the ministry. I told him all I knew of the circumstances: he, of course, denied my request, thinking it was some whim I had got into my head, which would go off again when I had slept upon it. But the voice, or what shall I call it? gave me no rest night or day for three weeks; when my ever dear, honoured, and indulgent Father, gave way to my wishes, and put me into a train of study to qualify me for the University." To appreciate the importance of this singular dispensation, and to decide upon the origin and character of the impulse to which it relates, we must look to its immediate and happy result. The stress that is often laid upon dreams, and voices, and visions, and revelations, abstracted from every thing salutary or beneficial, can only excite our pity or ridicule; But the cause, however uncommon or unaccountable, that produces effects, received as important by the common consent of all reasonable men, must engage our silence and submission. The circumstance which decided the future destination of this young man, was wholly free from that temerity and presumption which usually accompany the wild conceits of enthusiasts and fanatics. The call of which he speaks, was not to an instantaneous obtrusion upon the work of the ministry, but to a suitable course of preparation for that work; and how assiduously he improved the period devoted to this purpose, all who knew him, when actually employed in the service of the Sanctuary, are ready to bear the most ample testimony.
Mr. Simpson was first placed under the classical tuition of the Rev. Mr. Dawson, of Northallerton, with whom he remained twelve months; after which period he went to reside as a pupil with the Rev. Mr. Noble, at Scorton, who presided over one of the best classical schools in the country. There he remained two years, when he entered into St. John's College, Cambridge, and remained there about three years. During the first year of his matriculation, he gave great satisfaction by the regularity of his conduct, and his proficiency in learning. But at the close of that year an event occurred, which for some time, in a considerable degree, retarded his progress, drew upon him the obloquy of his companions, and excited such apprehensions in the minds of his unenlightened superiors, as frequently prevail under similar circumstances. We allude to the interesting era of his conversion to God.
The circumstance which proved subservient to the accomplishment of this great and happy change, deserves to be particularly remarked. While residing with his Father, during his first vacation, he visited the late Theophilus Lindsey, then in his vicarage of Catterick, who had requested Mr. Simpson to spend some time with him at his house. (If Mr. Lindsey had imbibed, he had not at that time broached, his Socinian errors.) Before the termina
tion of this visit, Mr. Lindsey, in a spirit which reflected so much honour upon that period of his ministry, took occasion to inquire of our young collegian as to the nature of his studies, and the manner in which he employed his time.
Although engaged in pursuits connected with that office, the chief design of which is to explain the meaning, and to enforce the importance, of the Scriptures, his answer to these seasonable and solemn inquiries, afforded the most melancholy evidence of his total inattention to that sacred book. Mr. Lindsey was much affected by this discovery, and, in a very emphatical and pointed manner, urged him to turn his immediate and serious attention to his impiously neglected bible.
From this conversation at the vicarage of Catterick, we date the decisive revolution that took place in his sentiments and feelings, and which determined the character of his future studies, and issued in a life of eminent usefulness to the cause of evangelical religion. The expostulations of his friend came with effectual power to his mind. He felt the criminality of his former indifference and inattention to the divine writings, and was filled with corresponding remorse. The awful concerns of eternity so powerfully impressed his mind, that all other concerns dwindled into insignificance, and were almost wholly forgotten. Till the memorable day, when it pleased God thus to illuminate his benighted understanding, this candidate for the ministry had no bible. The book of God had no place in his library. However, he now purchased a quarto bible with marginal references, and devoted himself to the study of it with full purpose of heart. From this time biblical knowledge became the supreme object of his ambition and delight; he pursued it with that degree of avidity which proved the deep sense he entertained of its importance to the work before him; and few have excelled him, either in the extent of his attainments or in the useful application of sacred literature. At first, indeed, as he afterwards acknowledged, he was rather ashamed that his new bible should be seen by his companions, lest he should incur the imputation of Methodism. But the glories he discovered in the doctrines of it, soon raised him above the fear of reproach, and inspired him with unshaken confidence and courage. In full assurance of the truth of the gospel, and of his personal acceptance with God, he soon became settled and happy in mind, and longed for the period when he should proclaim to others, the salvation he had obtained himself. His supreme affection for the Scriptures he had so criminally neglected, before he was renewed in the spirit of his mind, is strikingly displayed in the following abstract of a letter from him to one of his friends: "If a book was professedly to come from God to teach mankind his will, what should we expect its contents to be? Should we expect to be told the nature and perfections of God? The nature and perfections of God are in the Bible alone made
known. Should we expect to know how all things came into being at first? The Bible declares it. Should we wish to know what the Lord God requires of his creatures? This the bible makes known-supreme love. Should we want to know the reward of obedience? The bible points out eternal joys. Would curiosity lead us to inquire the reward of disobedience? The bible reveals extreme, everlasting misery. Should we inquire, what is our duty to each other? In the bible it is written as with a sun-beam--love all men as yourselves. Would we know the original of those miseries and disorders we observe in the world and how a merciful God can permit them? The bible points to the cause, and proclaims death, and every evil, to be the wages of sin. Would we know, whence are those strange disorders we each of us feel in our own natures? The bible informs us we are in a state of ruin-we are fallen creatures. Would we discover how sin is pardoned, our natures restored, and God's perfections glorified? Though this was hid from ages and generations of the heathen, the bible makes it clear as the sun-by the death of Christ, and the operations of the Spirit. What, then, could we require in a book from God, that is not to be found in the bible? Secret things, indeed, are therein concealed; but essential and useful things are clearly revealed.
"View the bible in another light. Do we want history? The bible is the most ancient, the most concise, the most entertaining, and the most instructive history in the world. Do we want poetry? The book of Job is an epic poem, not inferior to Homer, Virgil, or Milton. Does the lyric muse invite us? The Psalms of David stand foremost in the list of fame. Are we in a melancholy mood? Let us read David's Lamentation over Saul, and Jeremiah's Lamentations. Do we want strains of oratory? The Prophets, and Paul, are yet, amongst mortals, unrivalled. In short, the bible is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness; that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto every good work."
The studies of a young man, designated to minister in the sanctuary of God, should be chosen and pursued with an immediate and uniform regard to that work. The bible, the first book in importance, should, in his setting out, be made the first object of his veneration and love. Life is too short, time is too precious, to justify the sacrifice of years in laborious attention to literary objects, which, after all, will not make him a more able minister of that book. All his learning, reading, observation, and experience are only valuable as they are calculated to aid him in the more effectual preaching of its glorious doctrines. Under lively impressions of these sentiments, Mr. Simpson changed his former course, and resolved upon such plans of study as he thought best adapted to glorify God, and to promote the eternal happiness of men. No longer governed by the ambition of shining merely as
a scholar, he relinquished, or paid less attention to some favourite studies, particularly the mathematics, and bent his attention to the science of Theology. Here he was in his own element, enjoying and rejoicing in the ineffable prospects around him, and anticipating the day, when in the fulness and blessing of the gospel, he should go and publish the glad tidings of it to the guilty and miserable children of men. He thought every week long, while he was detained from the pulpit; and, the divinity degree requiring a longer course of study, he earnestly requested his tutor for permission to take his degree in law, instead of divinity, that he might hasten to his delightful purpose. This request, however, was denied; and at length, in the ordinary course his wishes were gratified, and he went forth in the vineyard of his Lord and Master, "determined to know nothing among men, save Jesus Christ and him crucified."
He was ordained, on the title of the Rev. Mr. Unwin, to the curacy of Ramsden, in the county of Essex. There he remained two years, very happy in his connection with his vicar, who had been his senior fellow student, and in whom, from his first religious impressions, he had enjoyed a firm and valuable friend. His removal from this station was the subject of much concern among the people to whom he was useful, and of surprise to his friends in general. Mr. Simpson frankly owned, he could give no proper reason for his conduct in this particular, and in the troubles which almost immediately followed, he no doubt saw that he had acted too precipitately for the subsequent satisfaction and peace of his mind.
It very seldom happens, that the watchmen of Zion quit their posts uncalled, or without a proper reason, but they are made to feel the sad consequences of their folly and temerity, perhaps throughout their future lives. However, it is pleasing to reflect, that the most unadvised and hasty steps of men are often overruled by the head of the church, for purposes of incalculable good, both to themselves, and to the cause of religion:-To themselves, in the way of instruction, humiliation and spiritual enjoyment;-and to the cause of religion, in thus qualifying them for, and making them more eminently subservient to the purposes of his glory. These remarks were affectingly exemplified in the instance now under review, and which on this account deserves particular notice in these Memoirs.
Mr. Simpson removed from his peaceful curacy at Ramsden to Buckingham, where he soon found himself involved in difficulties. and deep distress. He commenced his ministerial career, determined not to keep back or disguise any gospel truth, however unpalatable to the unbeliever, and plainly to preach the whole counsel of God, to whatever opposition he might thus expose himself. In that day, although a pleasing change had certainly taken place, there were still but few evangelical preachers in the established
church. An animated extemporaneous clergyman preaching salvation by the grace of God, was, in most country places, a novel character; and was sure to be viewed and watched, with a malignant eye, by his unregenerate and dissipated brethren, who not unfrequently employed their power, or their influence, to exclude them from their churches. Their appeals to their clerical regularity, and to the doctrinal articles of the church, were either not heard, or were answered with insulting charges of hypocrisy, and secret designs to subvert the foundations of the spiritual hierarchy. With the holy zeal which so eminently distinguished the character of our young Divine, it was not probable he should long escape the operations of this malignant spirit. Who were the chief actors in the scenes of opposition, exhibited at Buckingham, is a question of no importance. That it was, however, of a very serious nature is certain, as it required the interposition of his Diocesan, and terminated in his removal; and it is equally certain, that the close of it was such, as left him in full possession of pure conscience and a fair reputation; for the bishop, after hearing all the particulars of the case, is known to have made this observation, so highly honourable to both" Mr. Simpson, if you are determined to do your duty as a clergyman ought to do, you must every where expect to meet with opposition."
While at Cambridge, he formed a close intimacy with Mr. Robert Robinson, a celebrated dissenting minister of that place; a man of extraordinary genius, knowledge, and eloquence; but who, after having maintained for many years a decided attachment to evangelical doctrines, and even after having published an excellent defence of the Redeemer's deity, became inflated with the pride of philosophical speculations, and is supposed to have died a Socinian. He preached his last sermon in Dr. Priestley's pulpit, at Birmingham; on which occasion, it was said, he uttered some expressions against his former sentiments, peculiarly decisive of the awful revolution that had taken place in his mind; and a few mornings afterwards he was found dead in his bed, at the house of one of the Doctor's friends, in the neighbourhood of that town. No man was better qualified than Mr. Robinson, or more pleased in his happier days, with opportunities to make himself useful to young men of piety and promise, looking to the work of the ministry. Of this, it appears, Mr. Simpson was duly sensible, as he neglected not to avail himself of the counsel and information his friend was always ready to communicate; and would afterwards speak of this friendship as the most valuable social advantage of his college life. After he left Cambridge, they kept up a correspondence for some time, probably as long as the former continued in the same faith and spirit as those, under the divine influence of which the latter lived and died. Mr. Simpson has often repeated among his friends, the first sentence of a letter he received from Mr. Robinson, immediately after his