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No one had greater influence for the good of evangelicalism in the nineteen century than Charles Simeon and amazingly his influence remains, not least in his endurance under opposition and his encouragement and training of young men to teach and preach. Many men like John Stott acknowledge their indebtedness to Simeon’s example and the pattern he set for expository ministry.
The book aims to be more than a biography. Rather its purpose is to identify and share the teaching Simeon gave concerning preaching and its purpose, and the importance of training young men. It outlines the concern for the Jewish people Christians should have (a subject of contemporary neglect) and the importance of establishing the principle of balance, whether discussing election and human responsibility or any other issue that sadly divides Christians. He explained how often the truth is to be found not in one extreme or the other, or even in the middle, but in both extremes at once.
Derek Prime has used almost all of the existing material by and about Simeon, so this is a well researched book. It is also written in a modern, easy–to–read style. The author avoids the common mistake of weaving his own opinions into the narrative. As a result, Simeon is allowed to speak for himself. In addition to being a good biography of one of the heroes of the biblical faith, the author succeeds in extracting the principles which motivated Simeon. For instance, if you serve the Lord in difficult circumstances, there is much encouragement in this book. How many of us who speak for the Lord in any context have felt ‘barren and dull’, more conscious of God’s absence than the reverse? Simeon had this experience, only to learn later that God had used his words in the conversion of a particularly significant person. So, while always desiring God’s active presence, he learned not to rely on ‘feelings’. One of the surprising things about Simeon is the extent of his influence outside his own congregation. He was not the first Anglican to preach in Scottish Presbyterian pulpits and see converts. His visits to Scotland were numerous and blessed by God. Simeon put serious evangelism among the Jews on the evangelical agenda. His spiritual commitment to India saw much fruit, which included encouraging his own curate, the sacrificial Henry Martyn, to go there. When the reader finally puts this book down, the dominant impression will be thankfulness to God for the life and work of Charles Simeon, and especially for the mature spiritual advice and insights ministered through its pages.
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