A SCOTTISH JOURNEY IN THE LIFE OF CHARLES SIMEON
Thursday, 23rd June, 1796. – St. Madoes. Stopped at Rev. Mr. Kennedy’s, and a delightful visit we had. We found sweet communion with him and his wife. All the road from Dundee to Perth is exquisitely beautiful along the banks of the Tay. Friday, 24th. – Set out for Dunkeld – saw the Duke of Atholl’s grounds. Here I was fatigued with my walk – we declined prosecuting our journey, notwithstanding the horses were at the door. There, through mercy, I slept sweetly, and pursued my journey on Saturday 25th to Moulin: twelve miles in my way to Blair Athol. At ioulin, I visited Rev. Mr. Stewart, a most agreeable and pious man. The Sacrament was to be administered next day, and according to custom, there were two complete services: but the former alone was in English. After the service we went to Blair. We returned through Killiecrankie Pass to Moulin.
This was the first step of my return.
Sunday, 26th – Sacrament Sunday at Moulin. The congregation was numerous, and the communicants almost 1000. I preached a short sermon, and while they were partaking, I spoke a few words of encouragement, and bid them depart in peace. I expressed to them in the former exhortation my fears respecting the formality which obtains among all the people, and urged them to devote themselves truly to Jesus Christ. After that I partook with the third table. On he whole, this Sabbath was not like the last. Then I was very much affected: now I was barren and dull: God however is the same, and His word is unchangeable; and in that is all my hope. Woe be to me if were to be saved by my frames: nevertheless, I would never willingly be in a bad one. At six in the evening I preached again to those who understood English; but they were few, and they seemed not to understand. In the evening, Mr. Stewart came up into my room; and we had much and useful conversation about the ministry. He complained much of unprofitableness, and was much affected during the conversation. We prayed together, and parted very affectionately. He promised to write to me.’
(This proved a most important meeting to Mr. Stewart: and little did MR.Simeon imagine, during his ‘barren and dull’ state that day, what blessed results would follow from this evening conversation. MR.Simeon narrates the circumstance in more detail in his Memoir (1813):-
‘When I was in the Highlands, it was my intention to go as far as ‘he Pass of Killiecrankie, and afterwards return to Dunkeld, on a Friday afternoon. But at Dunkeld I felt myself poorly; and when my horses were brought to the door, I ordered them back; and proceeded to Killiecrankie the next day. At Moulin, a village four miles from Killiecrankie, I called to see a Mr. Stewart, to whom I had a letter of introduction; and as it was the day of preparation for he Lord’s Supper, which in Scotland is observed with peculiar solemnity and long public services, I agreed to visit the Pass of Killiecrankie, and return for his services and spend the Sabbath with .him. Mr. Stewart, the minister, was a man in high repute, both for amiableness of manners, and for learning; but he was very defective in his views of the Gospel, and in his experience of its power. When we were all retiring to go to bed, I had him with me alone in my chamber, and spoke such things as occurred to my mind with a view to his spiritual good; and it pleased God so to apply them to his heart, that they were made effectual for the opening of his eyes, and bringing him into the marvellous light of the Gospel of Christ. From that moment he changed the strain of his preaching, determining to know nothing among his people but Jesus Christ and him crucified; and God has now, for these fifteen years, made his instructions most eminently useful for the conversion and salvation of many souls.’
Letter from the Rev. A. Stewart to Rev. Charles Simeon:
Moulin, Nov. 25th, 1796.
Ever since the few happy hours in which I was blessed with your company, I have daily thought, with pleasure and gratitude, of the Lord’s loving-kindness to me in sending two of his chosen servants, o unexpectedly and so seasonably, to speak to me the words of life. Often have I longed to express to you my ideas and feelings; but knowing your many engagements, I was unwilling to obtrude myself on you as a correspondent; especially as the number of these must have been considerably increased by your late excursion to Scotland. My kind friend, Mr. Haldane, in a letter I received two days ago, tells me you have not forgotten me, and that you desire to hear from me. I cannot any longer deny myself the pleasure of complying with your kind request. I wish I knew how to express my filial regard and attachment to one whom I have every reason to consider as my spiritual father. If Onesimus might call Paul his father, with the like reason may I call Mr. Simeon mine. For indeed I found from your conversation, your prayers, preaching, and particularly from our short interview in your bedroom, more of religious impression, and more of spiritual life and ardour infused into my soul than ever I was conscious of before. I had read and heard about the natural state of man, and about the grace of the Gospel; but never till then felt its power. My opinions were, I believe, pretty free from error; but they had not yet affected my heart. I knew, and had no doubt, that the objects revealed in the Gospel were real; but I did not see them, feel them, taste them. O, my dear Sir, praise the Lord on my behalf, who hath given me to perceive something of His glory and His grace, as displayed in Christ Jesus; though I have a great deal yet to see and to learn …. In emulation of your manner of preaching, I have for four months past preached English from short skeletons, without reading, or committing to memory; a thing I had never attempted before. My discourse is less correct, and must offend a critic; but it is more energetic, and may profit a soul that is hungry for the bread of life. Apropos of skeletons, Mr. Haldane has just sent me yours. I have done little more yet than cut up the leaves, and glance at a page or two. I already see in them the correct, orderly, logical brain of a Cambridge graduate; and I am sure I shall find, on further perusal, much sound, salutary instruction. I see in the Essay many things wholly new to me: for at the Divinity Hall where I studied, or rather attended, we never got one direction how to make a sermon. As I am only beginning to practise the art of preaching, I hope I may get profit by these instructions …. Next to the conversation and society of my respected friends, I have always found their letters one of the most efficacious means of quickening and rousing the faint spiritual principle within me. If you can spare time to write to me, I shall esteem it as a high favour, and I am sure it will do me good. Through the Lord’s kindness to us, my wife, sister, and little boy are all well. We enjoy peace, harmony, and the comforts of domestic society in an uncommon degree. We all join in most affectionate and respectful regards to you. Grace and peace be with you.
Yours most sincerely,
P.S. A poor woman in this village, who heard you preach here, insists on my letting you know how much she enjoyed your discourse, and how much she was revived by it. She is one of the few real Christians whom I can number in my parish. She lives quite alone, in a small hovel, on a very scanty provision, confined almost entirely to her seat by weakness and distress of body. Yet she is for the most part cheerful, and always resigned and thankful. She enjoys a great measure of the Lord’s countenance, and lives much in communion with Him. She is able, on some few occasions, to bear being carried on a chair to church. Some one or other of us generally visit her once a day – Do, my dear Sir, remember me in your prayers. In mine, such as they are, I seldom omit making mention of you. What a privilege it is to be allowed to ask blessings on those we love!
Letter from the Rev. Charles Simeon to the Rev. A. Stewart:
‘My very, very dear Friend,
Among the many rich mercies which God vouchsafed to me in my late excursion, I cannot but consider the sweet interview which I enjoyed with you, as one of the greatest. There is an unaccountable union of heart with, or, if I may so express myself, an out-going of the soul toward some persons, which we feel instantaneously, and we know not why. There is something that irresistibly impresses the mind with affection, and disposes one to communicate one’s ideas with freedom and familiarity; such I felt almost the first instant I saw my dear friend at Moulin. I hope it is an earnest of that everlasting union, which our souls shall enjoy in the regions of light and love. Often have I reflected on the peculiar circumstances which, contrary to my own intention, brought me to stop under your hospitable roof. It had been Mr. Haldane’s purpose and my own, to have been with you on Friday to tea, and either have stopped with you that night, or gone to Blair, as might appear expedient. Our horses were actually saddled and brought to the door, and we were going to mount. But I felt a very unusual languor and fatigue, by means of the long walk we had taken at Dunkeld; and on my proposing to abide there that night, Mr. Haldane readily acquiesced. Even then we had no idea of spending the Sabbath at Moulin. Our great object was to get to Glasgow by a certain day; and though this was far from being our reason for accepting your invitation to return from Blair, yet the circumstance of our being somewhat advanced in our journey, weighed a little in the scale, perhaps as much as one part in twenty. The circumstances of your having the Sacrament, of our being able to enjoy the company of your other visitors, of there being no service at Blair, and of our having a longer intercourse with yourself, were our principal inducements to return to you. But had not so many circumstances concurred, it is more than probable we should have abode at Blair.
It has often brought to my mind that expression of the evangelist, ‘he must needs go through Samaria’. Why so? It lay in His way, you will say, from Judea to Galilee; true, but how often had He taken a circuit, going through the towns and villages round about! But the Samaritan woman was there, and for her God designed an especial blessing. What thanks can we ever tender to God for those turns in His providence, which at the time appeared insignificant, but afterwards are found to have been big with the most important consequences! It is our privilege to expect those invisible interpositions, if we commit our way to Him; and every instance that comes to our notice, should encourage us to acknowledge Him in all our ways. I am exceedingly comforted, my dear brother, with the account which you give of your soul. O how desirable it is for all, but especially for ministers, to have their souls deeply and devoutly impressed! What is religion without this? What are duties without this? Alas! a dry, insipid, unsatisfying, unproductive form. I pray God that what you now experience may only be as the drop before the shower. Surely this is happiness, to taste the love of God, to find delight in His service, and to see that we are in a measure instrumental to the imparting of this happiness to others, – this, I say, is a felicity which nothing but heaven can exceed. Often have I implored this blessing upon yourself and upon your sister, (with whose unaffected piety my soul was much refreshed,) and upon your whole family; and I hope, that to my dying hour, my prayers and thanksgivings upon your account shall yet ascend up before God. I hope, too, that you will bear my unworthy name upon your heart, whenever you get within the vail.
The account you give me of the dear poor woman rejoices my heart. How often does God magnify the exceeding riches of His grace towards objects whom the world looks upon with contempt; and angels esteem it an honour to minister to those who have hardly the necessaries of life! I admire this! I adore God for it; it is to me a delightful proof of His goodness, and of His all-sufficiency to make us happy. Pray give my fervent love to her. If I could, I should very cheerfully send her something more substantial. I bless God for Mrs. Stewart’s recovery, and with Christian respects to her and your sister, remain your
(Copied from pages 96-97, 104-108 of ‘Memoirs of Charles Simeon, MA by Rev. William Carus, MA, 1848)