Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Charles Simeon meets John Wesley (a "delightful" conversation on Dec. 20, 1748)

According to a book I'm reading by Warren Wiersbe, "50 People Every Christian Should Know-Learning From Spiritual Giants of the Faith", Charles Simeon wrote,
"My endeavor is to bring out of scripture what is there, and not to trust in what I think might be there...Take the Word as little children without enquiring what human system it appears to favor."..."Be a Bible Christian and not a system Christian," he advised his students.
Simeon once had a "delightful personal meeting with Wesley"
Wesley recorded briefly in his journal later:
"I went to Hinxworth, where I had the satisfaction of meeting Mr. Simeon...He gave me pleasing information..."
Simeon left a more complete record of the conversation as recorded below.

the following is from:
Charles Simeon (1759-1836) was an Anglican who served Trinity Church in Cambridge, England for 54 years. The story of his life and ministry are fascinating and challenging to modern pastors who tend to be soft and too quick to retreat in the face of opposition and trial.
Simeon tells the following story from his early years of a meeting that he had with the venerable John Wesley. A young, largely unproven Calvinist engages an older, much revered Arminian.
The conversation--and heart behind it--is instructive for us today as we contemplate how brothers should relate to those with whom we disagree on important doctrinal points. Too often we allow our disagreements to eclipse completely the fundamental beliefs that we hold in common.

Now let's allow Charles Simeon join the conversation (he writes about his experience in the third person perspective). He has something to teach us. May the Lord grant us a double portion of his spirit today.

A young Minister (Charles Simeon), about three or four years after he was ordained, had an opportunity of conversing familiarly with the great and venerable leader of the Arminians(John Wesley) in this kingdom; and, wishing to improve the occasion to the uttermost, he addressed him nearly in the following words:

--"Sir, I (Simeon) understand that you (Wesley)are called an Arminian; and I have been sometimes called a Calvinist; and therefore I suppose we are to draw daggers. But before I consent to begin the combat, with your permission I will ask you a few questions, not from impertinent curiosity, but for real instruction."
Permission being very readily and kindly granted, the young Minister proceeded to ask,
--"Pray, Sir, do you feel yourself a depraved creature, so depraved, that you would never have thought of turning unto God, if God had not first put [it] into your heart?
--"Yes," says the veteran, "I do indeed."
--"And do you utterly despair of recommending yourself to God by any thing that you can do; and look for salvation solely through the blood and righteousness of Christ?"
--"Yes, solely through Christ."
--"But, Sir, supposing you were first saved by Christ, are you not somehow or other to save yourself afterwards by your own works?"
--"No; I must be saved by Christ from first to last."
--"Allowing then that you were first turned by the grace of God, are you not in some way or other to keep yourself by your own power?"
--"What then, are you to be upheld every hour and every moment by God, as much as an infant in its mother's arms?"
--"Yes; altogether."
--"And is all your hope in the grace and mercy of God to preserve you unto his heavenly kingdom?"
--"Yes; I have no hope, but in him."
--"Then, Sir, with your leave, I will put up my dagger again; for this is all my Calvinism; this is my election, my justification by faith, my final perseverance: it is, in substance, all that I hold, and as I hold it: and therefore, if you please, instead of searching out terms and phrases to be a ground of contention between us, we will cordially unite in those things wherein we agree."

The Arminian leader was so pleased with the conversation, that he made particular mention of it in his journals; notwithstanding there never afterwards was any connexion between the parties, he retained an unfeigned regard for his young inquirer to the hour of his death.

(Charles Simeon, Expository Outlines on the Whole Bible, Vol. 1: Genesis-Leviticus Preface, pp. xvii-xviii)


  1. this story might confirm not much difference between calvinism and arminium. most people i run into has a misconception of calvinist. we just want God to get the glory He deservse.

  2. Amen! We all should want God to get all the Glory! As Paul said, if any one boasts, let him boast in the LORD. I hold to the "Doctrines of Grace", but I think both sides of the "C" word vs. the "A" word debate gets side tracked and turn each other into opponents. It's not a point of contention for me. Jesus said something to the disciples who were mad that one was casting out demons that wasn't of their "group"...I believe Jesus responded with something like "If he's not against us, he's for us." And Paul said in Philippians 1:18 about those that were trying to afflict him in his imprisonment "...in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice.

    Thanks for commenting. If commenting as "anonymous", if you like, you can type your name & info into the comment so I can know who's commenting (if you prefer not to & remain anonymous that's ok too--Have a Blessed Day!)