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JANUARY, 18 8 5.
ART. I.-BISHOP SIMPSON. The first century of the Methodist Episcopal Church of America began with the consecration and episcopal services of Francis Asbury, the typical Methodist Bishop; it closes and culminates in the useful and brilliant career of Matthew Simpson, than whom no man of his age has more sincerely served God and his race, or more highly honored the great office to which the suffrages of his brethren had called him. If our episcopacy had its root and stock in the sturdy Asbury, surely in the eloquent Simpson it found its full flower and fruit. It is doubtful if any other Bishop in dying has left the office more luminous or fragrant.
Matthew Simpson, D.D., LL.D., was born at Cadiz, the county-seat of Harrison County, Ohio, on June 21, 1811, and died in Philadelphia, Pa., June 18, 1884. He was the son of James and Sarah Tingley Simpson. His father was a native of the north of Ireland, and was of Scotch-Irish descent. What English Puritans did for New England, the Scotch-Irish Presbyterians did for many sections of our Middle and Southern States, and both were good stocks for Methodist grafting.
James Simpson, on arriving in this country, landed first at Baltimore, Md., and thence emigrated when a young man to south-eastern Ohio. Here he married Sarah Tingley (descended from a French-English family of New Jersey), who also emigrated to Ohio about the same time. Soon after Matthew's birth, Mr. Simpson removed with his family to Pittsburg, Pa. A year later the father died, and Mrs. Simpson, with her infant son, returned to Cadiz, and thenceforward the training of young Simpson was under the guidance of his mother and of Mr. Matthew Simpson, the paternal uncle whose name he bore. The mother was a devout Christian woman, of plain dress and affable manners. She possessed strong native sense, associated with a vivacious temperament, and much of the naïveté peculiar to the French. Mr. Matthew Simpson was well qualified, as an educated Christian gentleman, to be the instructor and guardian of the boy. A close biblical student, reading the Scriptures in the original Greek and Hebrew, a school teacher, a representative man in his county, a constant and active member of the Methodist Church from his early youth, he was in all respects fitted to give bent to the mind of the future Bishop; and so the lad grew, under the fostering nurture of the mother's love and the uncle's wisdom. After receiving such academical training as Cadiz could afford, he was sent to Madison College, Pa., which had recently come under the patronage of the Pittsburg Annual Conference, and of which the Rev. H. B. Bascom, D.D., then in the height of his fame as a pulpit orator, was the president (1827–1829). The good uncle meant, no doubt, to be loyal to the new Methodist College; but likely he was equally drawn by the eloquent Bascom, who was now the pride and joy of all Methodists. Young Simpson's mind was fit tinder for the sparks which flashed from Bascom’s blazing intellect.
1-FIFTH SERIES, VOL. I.
Such was young Simpson's proficiency in his studies, that at the early age of eighteen years he was made tutor in the college. Having determined to become a physician, he returned to Ohio. There—it is not sure just where—he studied medicine, and had entered upon its practice when, under a powerful conviction of duty, he was led to change his course, and to accept license to preach as a Methodist local preacher. He was "received on trial” by the Pittsburg Conference in 1833, and appointed to the circuit where he lived. He was rapidly advanced to charges in Pittsburg and Monongahela cities. In 1837 Madison College was absorbed by Allegheny College, located at Meadville, Pa., in which he was elected vice-president and professor of natural philosophy and chemistry. In 1839 he was elected president of the new Indiana Asbury University (now De Pauw) at Greencastle, Ind. After remaining here nine years, laying deep and broad foundations for the institution, he was elected by the General Conference of 1848 editor of the Western Christian Advocate,” and removed to C'incinnati. He was a delegate to the General Conference of 1844 at New York, and also to that oi 1348 at Pittsbury, and was again returned as a delegate to the Gerieral Conference of 1852 at Boston, by which body, or the twenty-fifth day of its session, he was elected to the office of Bishop of the Methodist Episcopal Church. He was then within a few weeks of the completion of his forty-first year; being, witli- the exception of Bishop Janes, the youngest man ever elected to that office.
His subsequent residences were successively at Pittsburg, Pa., Evanston, Ill., and Philadelphia, Pa.; but according to Methodist law and usage he was a General Superintendent, a Bishop equally wherever the jurisdiction of the Methodist Episcopal Church extended. He presided over the Annual and General Conferences in rotation with his associate Bishops, fixing the appointments of the preachers to their several charges of ininisterial work, and also traveling abroad, as he was designated by his colleagues, into foreign countries, wherever the Church had established missions. In addition to his strictly official routine work must be reckoned his well-nigh countless sermons and addresses on ordinary and special occasions, his private conversations and counsels, his social and political interchanges of thought and courtesy. The record would fill many large volumes; and the least which we may expect, at a convenient opportunity, is one good volume, or more, which will embody in fair and just proportions his life-work.
The most that can be required in an article so brief as this is an attempt at determining somewhat the historical position of our great and good Bishop. But only an attempt; for it is yet too early to do more. We are still in the shadow of that moving, vital, well-nigh overpowering personality from which we cannot easily emerge, so as to be able to look at him calmly and clearly. A man at the foot of a great mountain must get away from its base far out upon the plain if he would measure its proportions. Should this Review notice fall into eulogy, it will be of a piece with every thing and every body who came into close contact with the man—his spell is upon the writer. Bishop Simpson was the most truly representative man and minister of American Methodism in the last half century. As