Charles Simeon (1759-1836)

In 1989 at the “Bethlehem Conference for Pastors,” John Piper presented a biography entitled, “Brothers, We Must Not Mind a Little Suffering: Meditations on the Life of Charles Simeon.” Charles Simeon was an Anglican Calvinist of sorts (though he did not refer to himself as a “Calvinist”). In Curt Daniel’s “The History and Theology of Calvinism” Simeon is not mentioned among the 18th century Anglican Calvinists (only Toplady, Newton, and Whitefield are).


“But he had little sympathy for uncharitable Calvinists … An example of how he lived out this counsel is seen in the way he conversed with the elderly John Wesley.”

Alan C. Clifford writes:

“Other Calvinists like Rowland Hill and Augustus Toplady were thoroughly hostile to Wesley, but a notable exception was the moderately Calvinist Charles Simeon of Cambridge, whom Wesley met in 1784” 31 (Atonement and Justification: English Evangelical Theology 1640-1790 — An Evaluation, p. 56).

31 For Simeon (1759-1836) see DNB [Dictionary of National Biography –CD]. Wesley recorded the meeting on 20 Dec. (Journal, vii. 39), but Simeon gave a full account of the conversation in Horae homileticae (1832), i. xvii f. See also Tyerman, Life of Wesley, iii. 510-11; H.C.G. Moule, Charles Simeon, (1892), 100-1; J.I. Packer, Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God (London, 1961), 13-14.

Clifford, from the same book, quoting Charles Simeon (p. 81):

“To say that he died for the elect only, is neither scriptural nor true. He died for all: according as it is elsewhere said: ‘we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead: And that he died for all …’ (2 Corinthians 5:14,15) If all be not ultimately saved by his death, it is not owing to any want of sufficiency in his sacrifice to procure acceptance for them, but to their own impenitence and unbelief … Here … we see the propriety of interesting ourselves with God in behalf of all, since for all without exception did Jesus die.88

88 Horae homileticae (London, 1833), xviii. 501-2.

Of course it IS by a want of sufficiency since in Simeon’s view the sole ground of acceptance is NOT the sacrifice of Christ, but the sacrifice of the self-righteous wicked (contrast Proverbs 15:8 with Ephesians 5:2). Simeon speaks here by the deleterious spirit of antichrist (cf. 1 John 4:1-6) who has blinded him from seeing the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. Ironically, Simeon exhibits unbelief by his self-righteous rejection of the cross-work of Jesus Christ as the SOLE ground of acceptance before God. He is not submitted to the righteousness of Christ as the SOLE ground of acceptance (Romans 10:1-4).