Charles Simeon of Cambridge (1759-1836) was a Christian preacher like few others. And then, when he was 47, God took his voice from him. Conversation was only possible in a whisper, and when he did preach, he afterwards became “like a dead man.” William Carus takes up the story:
“[This] broken condition lasted with variations for thirteen years, till he was just sixty, and then it passed away quite suddenly and without any evident physical cause. He was on his last visit to Scotland… in 1819, and found himself to his great surprise, just as he crossed the border, ‘almost as perceptibly renewed in strength as the woman was after she had touched the hem of our Lord’s garment.’
He saw in this revival no miracle, in the common sense of the word, yet as a distinct providence. He says that he had been promising himself, before he began to break down, a very active life up to sixty, and then a Sabbath evening; and that now he seemed to hear his Master saying: ‘I laid you aside, because you entertained with satisfaction the thought of resting from your labour; but now you have arrived at the very period when you had promised yourself that satisfaction, and have determined instead to spend your strength for me to the latest hour of your life, I have doubled, trebled, quadrupled your strength, that you may execute your desire on a more extended plan.’ ”
God built us for retirement and, for those who are in Christ, retirement will come. But not in this present tense.
[Audio: a short history of Simeon (45 mins) which I presented at All Souls Langham Place on November 7th, 2007.]