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 listed among the 18th century Anglican Calvinists (those listed are Toplady, Newton, and Whitefield). [This is not an endorsement of Daniel, Piper, and Clifford as true Christians, but they are useful for presenting theological history.]
“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 with God 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 (2 Corinthians 4:3-6). 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; he is ignorant of Christ as the end [Greek: telos] of the law for righteousness (Romans 10:1-4).Charles Simeon believes that Jesus Christ died for those who will perish under God’s wrath. He has the temerity and unmitigated gall to say this would not be “owing to any want of sufficiency in his sacrifice to procure acceptance for them.” Simeon’s blasphemous words carry a multitude of necessary implications. Here are a few of those implications:
“For what if some did not believe? shall their unbelief make the faith of God without effect? [Let it not be]: yea, let God be true, but every man a liar; as it is written, That thou mightest be justified in thy sayings, and mightest overcome when thou art judged" (Romans 3:3-4).
Simeon steps up to this text and says, YES -- their unbelief WILL nullify the faith of God and make it of none effect. He would say no, of course. But he can only say that because he believes that acceptance with God is NOT procured by the sacrifice of Christ ALONE, but requires the sinner to establish his own righteousness to make it efficacious (Romans 10:3). Let God be true, and Charles Simeon a liar.
“That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved” (Romans 10:9).
What does it mean to confess the Lord Jesus? One thing this confession includes is that Jesus is God (John 8:58; Revelation 19:11-16). If Jesus was not God He could not have furnished a sacrifice of sufficient value to meet the demands of God’s law and justice. And this is EXACTLY what Charles Simeon denies. He does NOT believe that the God-Man Mediator’s death on the cross was sufficient in and of itself to SATISFY God’s law and justice. Simeon believes that the sinner’s impenitence and unbelief cannot be overcome by the Almighty God who is the DESTROYER of the devil’s works and the DELIVERER of those children whom the Father gave to Him (Hebrews 2:13-15). Charles Simeon believes that Jesus Christ died for those who will perish under God’s wrath. And he dares to say this was not “owing to any want of sufficiency in his sacrifice to procure acceptance for them.”
Presumably Simeon would call Jesus “The Mighty God” by name. Yet this great name is denounced and denied when he affirms that for those in hell He was crucified.
What does it mean to “believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead,” and how does Charles Simeon deny this confession?
“That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved" (Romans 10:9).
God raised Christ from the dead. Why? What did this raising from the dead signify? It was proof that God the Father was TOTALLY SATISFIED with the work of Jesus Christ on the cross. He was totally satisfied because Jesus Christ accomplished exactly what He set out to accomplish, which was the full salvation and deliverance of everyone for whom He died. Jesus Christ fully satisfied the demands of God’s law and justice. Had Jesus Christ NOT fully accomplished salvation and procured acceptance for everyone for whom He died, He would NOT have conquered death, and He would have remained in the grave. Charles Simeon affirms the antecedent. He does NOT believe Christ’s death fully accomplished salvation and procured acceptance for everyone for whom He died. Thus Simeon’s confession denies that Jesus destroyed and conquered death and affirms that He remained in the grave. And to remain in the grave is to undergo corruption and remain accursed (cf. Acts 2:27; Galatians 3:10-13). To believe like Calvinist Charles Simeon that Jesus Christ died for those in hell (in whatever "sense") is to affirm that Jesus is a curse. It is to be woefully and abysmally ignorant of the ONLY righteousness God accepts (Romans 10:1-4).
“Wherefore I give you to understand, that no man speaking by the Spirit of God calleth Jesus accursed: and [that] no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:3).
"And we declare unto you glad tidings, how that the promise which was made unto the fathers, God hath fulfilled the same unto us their children, in that he hath raised up Jesus again; as it is also written in the second psalm, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee. And as concerning that he raised him up from the dead, [now] no more to return to corruption, he said on this wise, I will give you the sure mercies of David. Wherefore he saith also in another [psalm], Thou shalt not suffer thine Holy One to see corruption. For David, after he had served his own generation by the will of God, fell on sleep, and was laid unto his fathers, and saw corruption: But he, whom God raised again, saw no corruption" (Acts 13:32-37).

The reason Jesus Christ could NOT be held by death and not see corruption is that He had totally, absolutely defeated death in fully atoning for the sins of EVERYONE FOR WHOM HE DIED. The real confession of Charles Simeon is that the so-called “elect” are enabled and animated by the spirit of antichrist to ADD TO and ASSIST the work of Christ to give it a supposed “efficacy.”
If there is or will be even ONE PERSON for whom Christ died who is suffering or will suffer the second death, then death was NOT defeated, and Jesus Christ was NOT raised as the victor over death. To truly believe resurrection is to believe the full, accomplished atonement of Jesus Christ with which God the Father was fully satisfied that was effectual to save everyone whom Christ represented. God the Father exalted Jesus Christ at His right hand as the Savior of His people who made full purification of their sins. There would have been no resurrection and no exaltation had there been even one person for whom Christ died who would end up in hell. And this wonderful truth is what Charles Simeon and all who believe like him deny.
“So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where [is] thy sting? O grave, where [is] thy victory? The sting of death [is] sin; and the strength of sin [is] the law. But thanks [be] to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Corinthians 15:54-57).
"Grace [be] to you and peace [from] God the Father, and from our Lord Jesus Christ, Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father: To whom [be] glory for ever and ever. Amen" (Galatians 1:3-5).
“He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil” (1 John 3:8).
"For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed [is] every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them. But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, [it is] evident: for, The just shall live by faith. And the law is not of faith: but, The man that doeth them shall live in them. Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed [is] every one that hangeth on a tree: That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith" (Galatians 3:10-14).
"For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich" (2 Corinthians 8:9).
Simeon’s is the type of insidious Calvinism that affirms that Jesus died for the reprobate in a “different sense” than He died for the elect. In this particular Calvinistic view, the death of Christ is NOT the SOLE grounds of procured acceptance with God.