« PreviousContinue »
THE YEAR 1813.
Continuation of the Arminian Magazine.
FIRST PUBLISHED BY THE
REV. JOHN WESLEY, A. M.
Or, the Ninth Volume of the New Series.
PRINTED AT THE CONFERENCE-OFFICE, 14, CITY-ROAD,
BY THQUAS CORDEOX, AGENT.
SOLD BY THOMAS BLANSHARD, CITY-ROAD; ALSO, AT THE METHODIST
PREACHING-HOUSES IN TOWN AND COUNTRY,
A MEMOIR OF THE LATE REV, DAVID SIMPSON, M. A.
parish of Ingleby Arncliffe, near Northallerton, in the county of York. He had five sisters, two of whom died in infancy, and a brother, who died the day he was born. To his name the highest titles of earthly distinction could add no importance. The character he maintained in the world as a Christian, his usefulness in the church of God as a Minister, and his labours as an Author, rendered him a burning and a shining light while living, and will perpetuate his memorial now he is numbered with the dead.
His father, Mr. Ralph Simpson, was a respectable farmer ; and Mr. David Simpson, who was his only son, was designed for the same occupation: but God, who never loses sight of the chosen instruments of his glory, and who preserves and prepares them for the service he has assigned them, was pleased in this instance early to reveal his pleasure in calling him from the pursuits of the world, and in separating him to the arduous and awful work of the ministry. His own account of this dispensation is very remarkable. Although his father made no religious profession beyond attention to the duties of morality, he did not neglect the form of family prayer: this exercise was sometimes performed by the father, and sometimes by the son, aided by a short formula, adapted to the use of families, in a little work called the Christian's Monitor.
Mr. Simpson refers to one of these occasions, in a brief account of the leadings of Providence, and the sovereign influence of divine grace upon his mind: “When I was yet a boy," he says, " and undesigned for the ministry, either by my parents or from inclination, one Sunday evening, while I was reading prayers in my father's family, suddenly a voice, or something like a voice, called aloud within me, yet so as not to be perceived by any of the persons kneeling around me, · You must go and be instructed for the ministry.' The voice, or whatever it might be, was so exceedingly quick and powerful, that it was with difficulty I could 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
* In the year 1800, a very short Accognt of Mr. Simpson, chiefly confined to his last sickness and death, appeared in our Miscellany. But though that account is satisfactory in proportion to its length, it does not supersede the necessity of one upon a larger scale. For the present Memoir we gratefully acknowledge our obligation to the Rev. Messrs. Parsons and Brown, who have prefixed it to their edition, jost published, of “Simpson's Plea for the Deity of Jesus, and the Doca. trine of ibe Trioity."
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 quality 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 termination 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 yonng 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 illuninate 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