Thursday, September 24, 2009

Umbrellas, Great-Coats and Polished Shoes, and the Spirituality of Charles Simeon

[Church Society] 24 Sep 2009--In 1 Corinthians 9:24 Paul speaks about the race in which we all compete: ‘But only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.’ In Paul’s day there were the athletic games;in Charles Simeon’s day the races at Newmarket. But there was still only one prize. In Simeon’s opinion, the race was ‘away from Satan . . . and the prize is heaven’.1 We are all runners in this race—and just look at the competitors as portrayed by Simeon:

There is one coming out of the door to run, but it rains, so he goes back for an umbrella and puts it up and sets off; I warrant he’ll never win the race. Look! another is coming out; he has noticed the rain and cold, so he has buttoned himself up in a thick great-coat – he won’t win the race. Yonder comes another, with fine polished shoes; see how he picks his way for fear of dirtying his bright shoes and dainty dress. Ah! I doubt there’s no prize for him. But, come now; here’s a different sort of man – one in earnest; look at his face. He has business in hand, and he means business. Umbrella? No; I don’t care for the rain! Great-coat? No, no, it would hinder me. Muddy roads? Never mind; the prize is worth all that and more too. I warrant you that man will win the race; he is set upon it; his mind is made up for winning. He starts; he forgets all that which is behind,reaches forth unto the things which are before him, and presses towards the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Oh! my friends, if you and I want to
win heaven, we must not make child’s play of religion; we must ‘so run that we may

Simeon took his faith seriously and encouraged other people to do the same. This surely remains true for us today? We are still taking part in the race, the race in which Simeon himself took part. His Christian faith and spirituality sustained him, and provided a distinctive model for the generations which followed his example. Yes, we need to study Christianity and history, but as Christian believers we also need to take our faith seriously so that theory and practice become one – in an integrated whole. The one should enrich the other.

A number of articles related to the life and ministry of Charles Simeon, leader of the Evangelical Revival, can be be found on the Church Society website at:

1 comment:

Reformation said...

Keep it coming.