BLTC Press Titles

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The Art of Worldly Wisdom

Baltasar Gracian

Shakti and Shakta

John Woodroffe

Esoteric Buddhism

A. P. Sinnett

The Pictorial Key to the Tarot

Arthur Edward Waite

Charles Simeon

by Handley Carr Glyn Moule


But three days after Simeon's arrival an incident occurred which did, in the will of God, effectually modify his whole future. In itself it was a most simple thing. The Provost, Dr William Cooke, sent from the Lodge to tell him that within a few weeks, at mid-term, the Holy Communion was to be administered in the Chapel, and that he must communicate on that day. The message was based on a college rule now long repealed, and which perhaps never should have been enacted. As a fact it took Simeon quite by surprise. He might have met it with a passing thought of wonder, and then accepted it as inevitable; or he might have attempted a resistance however useless. And so the mandate would have done him nothing but harm. But it was to be far otherwise; and we will hear the story in his own words, as he tells it in a private "Memoir," written in 1813, and often to be quoted again:

"It was but the third day after my arrival that I understood I should be expected in the space of about three weeks to attend the Lord's Supper. 'What,' said I, '.must I attend?' On being informed that I must, the thought rushed into my mind that—Satan himself was as fit to attend as I; and that if I must attend, I must prepare for my attendance there. Without a moment's loss of time, I bought the Whole Duty of Man,1 the only religious book that I had ever heard of, and began to read it with great diligence; at the same time calling my ways to remembrance, and crying to God for mercy; and so earnest was I in these exercises that within the three weeks I made myself quite ill with reading, fasting, and prayer.

"The first book which I got to instruct me in reference to the Lord's Supper (for I knew that on Easter Sunday I must receive it again) was Kettlewell on the Sacrament; but I remember that it required more of me than I could bear, and therefore I procured Bishop Wilson2 on the Lord's Supper, which seemed to be more moderate in its requirements. I continued with unabated earnestness to search out and mourn over the numberless iniquities of my former life; and so greatly

1 William Law's famous book.

2 Thomas Wilson, Bishop of Sodor and Man from 1697 to 1755. was my mind oppressed with the weight of them that I frequently looked upon the dogs with envy; wishing, if it were possible, that I could be blessed with their mortality, and they be cursed with my immortality in my stead. I set myself immediately to undo all my former sins, as far as I could; and did it in some instances which required great self-denial, though I do not think it quite expedient to record them; but the having done it has been a comfort to me even to this very hour, inasmuch as it gives me reason to hope that my repentance was genuine.

"My distress of mind continued for about three months, and well might it have continued for years, since my sins were more in number than the hairs of my head; but God in infinite condescension began at last to smile upon me, and to give me a hope of acceptance with Him.

"But in Passion Week, as I was reading Bishop Wilson on the Lord's Supper, I met with an expression to this effect—' That the Jews knew what they did, when they transferred their sin to the head of their offering.' The thought came into my mind, What, may I transfer all my guilt to another? Has God provided an Offering for me, that I may lay my sins on His head? Then, God willing, I will not bear them on my own soul one moment longer. Accordingly I sought to lay my sins upon the sacred head of Jesus; and on the Wednesday began to have a hope of mercy; on the Thursday that hope increased; on the Friday and Saturday it became more strong; and on the Sunday morning, Easter-day, April 4, I awoke early with those words upon my heart and lips, 'Jesus Christ is risen to-day! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!' From that hour peace flowed in rich abundance into my soul; and at the Lord's Table in our Chapel I had the sweetest access to God through my blessed Saviour. I remember on that occasion, there being more bread consecrated than was sufficient for the communicants, the clergyman gave some of us a piece more of it after the service; and on my putting it into my mouth, I covered my face with my hand and prayed. The clergyman seeing it smiled at me; but I thought, if he had felt such a load taken off from his soul as I did, and had been as sensible of his obligations to the Lord Jesus Christ as I was, he would not deem my prayers and praises at all superfluous.

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