Trained religiously, I had reached a young man’s years before making a public profession of religion. Prior to my conversion, thoughts of the ministry sometimes flashed across my mind; but it was only a flash. After my conversion, I was earnest for the welfare of others, and wanted to promote the interests of the church and of humanity.
The conviction grew upon me that I must preach; yet I tried to put that away, because I feared I could never succeed. I saw the greatness of the work, and the reproachful poverty then connected with the itinerant ministry. There were two special difficulties in the way. First, I had no gift of speech. My voice was poor, and in school I always shunned declamation. I firmly believed I could never make a speaker, and so chose the profession of medicine, which I studied three years in a professional school.
I think I should have resolutely rejected the idea of the ministry, except that it seemed inseparably connected with my salvation. I think I should have resolutely rejected the idea of the ministry, except that it seemed inseparably connected with my salvation. I fasted, I prayed for Divine direction; but I found no rest until, reading in the Bible one day, I found a passage which seemed especially written for me:
“Trust in the Lord with all thy heart; lean not to thine own understanding; in all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths.”
I accepted it, and resolved to do whatever God in his providence should indicate by opening the way. I never lisped to a friend the slightest intimation of my mental agony, but I took a more earnest part in the church services.
One Sabbath I felt a strong impression that I ought to speak to the people at night in prayer-meeting, as we had no preaching. I said to myself: “ How shall I? For my friends will say I am foolish, as they know I cannot speak with interest.” Especially I dreaded an old uncle, who had been a father to me, and superintended my education. While I was discussing this matter with myself in the afternoon, my uncle came into the room, and, after a moment’s hesitation, said to me: “Don’t you think you could speak to the people tonight?“ I was surprised and startled. I asked him if he thought I ought. He said, “Yes; I think you can do good.”
That night, for some strange reason, the house was crowded, and I made my first religious address to a public congregation. It was not written. It was not very well premeditated. It was simply an outgushing of a sincere and honest heart.
My mother was a widow. I was her eldest son, the only child remaining at home. I feared it would break her heart to leave her, and feared it would be impossible to do so. One day, after great embarrassment, I was induced to speak to my mother on the subject of my mental struggles, and tell her what I thought God required of me. I never shall forget how she turned to me with a smile, and said : “My son, I have been looking for this hour ever since you were born.
She then told me how she and my dying father, who left me an infant, consecrated me to God, and prayed that, if it were His will, I might become a minister; and yet that mother had never dropped a word of intimation in my ear that she ever desired me to be a preacher. She believed so fully in the Divine call, that she would not bias my mind with even a suggestion of it in prayer.
That conversation settled my mind. Oh, what a blessing is a sainted mother! To-day I can feel her hands on my head, and I hear the intonation of her voice in prayer.
- Bishop Simpson