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FOR FEBRUARY, 1813.
A MEMOIR OF THE LATE REV. DAVID SIMPSON, M. A.
(Cuncluded from page 12.) N the statement of facts, already presented to the reader,
there is no exaggeration. Mr. Simpson was an eye-witness of the evils he deplored, and a great personal sufferer by their prevalence. But, whatever reason he had to complain of his hard usage from men who are thé bane of every church, he had still more reason to be satisfied and happy in the infallible wisdom, and the over-ruling providence of God. For from the time he commenced his labours in his new church, his ministry was attended with one continued flow of success. A great congregation was collected, numbers were brought to the knowledge of salvation, and Christians were united and established in the
faith and hope of the gospel. This was the brightest period of his life; and he improved and enjoyed it as such. . Every day he became more zealous and laborious, and was honoured with a proportionate increase of usefulness. Preaching, and writing, and visiting his people, kept him constantly employed, and were pursued as his most delightful recreations.
Nor did he covet, what an inspired apostle denominates, k filthy lucre,” for, with a small income, he enjoyed abundance of happiness. Speaking of the enormous emoluments of many of the clergy, in his “ Plea for Religion,” he says, If I might be permitted to speak from my own feelings, I can truly say I never took more pains in the ministry, than when I had only sixty pounds a year. Since I have been married and had a family, may income from the church has never amounted to a hundred and twenty pounds a year. Notwithstanding this, I have been, thank God, not only content, but happy. I have laboured hard, studied hard, and, probably, have been as useful, and well satisfied with my condition, as the richest rector in all the diocese of Chester. If any person, in the mean time, had bestowed upon
VOL. XXXVI. FEBRUARY, 1813.
me a living of five hundred or a thousand pounds a year, to be sure I should have been under great obligation to such person, but I very much question whether I should have been made either a more happy man, or a more useful minister of the gospel.
After his church was opened for public worship, he established a weekly lecture, which was continued for some time, and was afterwards succeeded by a course of lectures in his school-room, on the Pilgrim's Progress. On the 14th of September, 1777, as is related by one of his friends, who was a witness of the scene, a smart shock of an earthquake was felt at Macclesfield, which extended itself through a circuit of more than three hundred miles. This was during the time of divine service, about eleven o'clock. The steeple of the church, an uncommonly high tower, had been recently finished, and the aların excited in the congregation, was universally connected with a notion that the tower was falling; in consequence of which, the people all fled to the doors opposite to that end of the building where they supposed the greatest danger. The effect was awfully alarming; the entrances became instantly blocked up with persons thrown down, one upon another, so as to prevent any from getting out: this, added to the confused cries and panic fears of so great a number
persons, produced, for a time, a scene, which, for confusion and distress, may be inore easily conceived than described. Mr. Simpson, alone, seemed to stand the shock with fortitude; he remained at the communion-table, where he was when it first began, in calm possession of himself, and continued there until it had nearly subsided. On this occasion, no life was lost, but considerable injury was sustained from fractures and contasions : the event was, however, attended with some good effects; many were so alarmed with the awful circumstances of their situation, and so impressed by their deliverance from such imminent danger, that, from that time, a serious concern was produced for the salvation of their souls.
In the year 1778, he instituted a female friendly society, a thing without precedent at that time; this was a favourite object of his care ever after, and, in its first establishment, he engaged some respectable ladies to qualify themselves as honorary members. This society was succeeded by two other similar institutions. Many will long remember, with what zeal he watched over these concerns, and what pious pains he employed, upon the return of their anniversary sermons, in incnlcating upon the members, a diligent regard to all those duties which more particularly adorn and elevate the female character, both in the higher and humbler walks of life.
The establishment of charity schools was one of his most early cfforts. The children were collected for instruction on the weekday evenings and, on the Sabbath, were accompanied to church by their teachers. For several years he had the sole management of these schools himself; but afterwards, a design being proposed to make the institutions more general, he readily consented to give up his schools to a committee of gentlemen of the town, only stipulating, that they should be regularly taken to church every Sunday, and allowed to be instructed in writing. A sermon was afterwards preached at each church every year, for the support of the whole; about four or five hundred was the number instructed. It was in the year 1794, that the management of these schools appeared to him, in some respects, not so efficient as Inight be wished; a number of persons were then called in, to act as visitors, to inspect them every Lord's-day, and to make their report once a month. This, in a short time, prepared the way for a new establishment; and, in 1796, a school was opened for the instruction of children on the Sabbath only, to be carried on solely by gratuitous teachers. This school still exists, and provides for the education of more than 2000 young people. · For several years he accepted of an invitation from the late Rev. Dr. Bayley, of St. James's Church, Manchester, to preach there on several days of the race-week. He was there received with much acceptance, and attended by overflowing congregations of attentive hearers, many of whom will have reason to bless God, in a future world, for the good effects of these occasional labours.
About the ycar 1781, he opened a school for young people of both sexes, and took upon himself the principal share of the labour.. He liad, at one time, more than 160 scholars, and, during the winter months, they were at their books an hour or two in the morning by candle-light. His method of illustration in the readings, which formed a part of his school exercises, was always so engaging, that they generally sat down to that exercise, as the most agreeable relaxation.
When the new Sunday-school was established, he attended, as well as his curate, once a month, to catechise and instruct the elder scholars: this had not been long continued before considerable numbers of strangers wished to attend at the same time; and, as he perceived that the throng was inconvenient, but, yet regarding the cager disposition to hear as a favourable indication, and, no doubt, recollecting the success of his endeavours many years before, he proposed to give an explanation of the Pilgrim's Progress, every Wednesday evening, in the same place. This was accordingly undertaken; but was unhappily followed with a most severe and painful catastrophe. The room employed, which was an upper one, became so full at the end nearest the door, on the first evening, that one of the beams gave way, and precipitated a considerable number of the audience to the bottom