宣信簡史 (A．B．Simpson 1843—1919)
宣信(A．B．Simpson 1843—1919)是一位著名的希伯來文及希腊文學者、傳道人，以及國外布道事工發起人，并且又是一位著述者、圣詩 寫作家，他更是一位敬虔愛主的人。
在一八六一年，他投入多倫多市的諾克斯學院，該學院如今并入成為多倫多大學之一部。當在學院攻讀時期，他取得了多項獎學金与成績优 良獎品，同時在許多禮拜堂講道，大受歡迎。到了一八六五年，他畢業於諾克斯學院，被 按立，受任為加拿大之安大略省，漢密敦城，諾克斯禮拜堂的牧師。結果，該教會屬靈光景極其 發達，但到了一八七四年，他因為體弱關系，不得不退而接受美國肯得基省，羅以斯威老城，栗樹街長老會的牧職。在該地方，他給眾教會燃起复興之火。
一八七九年，他赴紐約城，任牧職於第十三街長老會。一八八一年，他辭去這發達的教會的工作， 轉而專向城中沒有教會的區域傳幅音。他在跳舞廳、戲院、公寓講道，大奏果效。一八八九年，他成立『福音帳幕』，作為工作的總部。有些他所引領歸主的青年，有志獻己為宣教土，宣信為之開設查經班及布道課程。從 這一個微小的開頭，日後發展為紐約城、奈約克宣教士訓練學院，以及其他區域的圣經學院。宣信之信仰，屬於禧年前派，相信基督快將再來，所以，他很熱切地要把福音傳到世界一切未曾傳到的地方，以作為主再來的准備。一八八七年，他發起了『宣道會』，該會中心是要差遣宣教土往普世界被人忽略的地方。
宣道會在全世界有十六區工場，四百多處的教會。在一八九三年，他把全世界宣道會布道區 作了一個總巡視，以後又繼續作數次的部分巡視。 他寫了許多的屬靈書籍，如《先賢之信——四重福音》、《列王与先知》、《全然成圣》、《能 力的澆灌》 (舊約、新約)、《馬太福音講義 》、《馬可福音講義》、《士師記靈訓》、《基督的生命》、《神醫的福音》、《神醫》等，及作了圣詩三百多首，大都滿有屬靈生命上的供應。 他息勞於紐約，奈約克家中，時在一九一九年十月廿九日。
A. B. Simpson (1843-1902)
Albert Benjamin Simpson was born December 15, 1843, in Bayview, Prince Edward Island, Canada. Albert was an answer to the prayer of his mother. She had lost her firstborn son when he was just a toddler. In prayer then she asked the Lord to send her another son, and asked that he would be a minister or missionary "if the Lord so wills, and he lives to grow up, and is so inclined." A missionary brother baptized him shortly after his birth and dedicated him to the ministry.
Albert's parents exercised a great influence upon him in his younger years. His mother, being a reader and very poetic cultivated in him a love for books. His father was the industrious, religious, and capable disciplinarian. He made sure that Albert grew up learning the catechism of the Presbyterian Church.
Despite his rigorous religious training, no one ever shared with young Albert the way of salvation. By the age of ten, he had some secret yearning to become a minister. Since he was not saved this was a difficult decision. After a period of time he made a decision that that is what he would become. As he grew into his teens this desire stayed with him. Eventually he requested permission of his father to enter the ministry, telling him he would get his education at his own cost without any expense to his family. His father granted him permission for this.
Albert was still unregenerated as a teen. He had no salvation experience up to this time, no satisfying experience of grace. He began to realize that the poet and the theologian were at war within him. Eventually his learning of all the doctrines within his catechism caused him much consideration and even anguish concerning the total depravity of man, the damnation of the non-elect, and the state of his own soul. He realized he needed help, but was not clear to whom he should turn. He was too proud to turn to his mother, and too timid to turn to his father for help.
At this time Albert was coming into such a state that he was brought to a physical and emotional breakdown. His pride finally gave way and he cried out to his father to come and pray for him. His father did not fail him. In love and tenderness he poured out his heart in prayer for his son. After a few sleepless nights Albert was finally able to rest, but still no one told him the simple way of salvation.
After he recovered to a certain extent, he was up and about, though still in distress for his soul. One day while visiting his old minister's library, he came across an old book entitled Gospel Mystery of Sanctification. There he read the following: "The first good work you will ever perform is to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. Until you do this, all your works, prayers, tears, and good resolutions are vain. To believe on the Lord Jesus Christ is to believe that He saves you according to His word, that He receives and saves you here and now, for He has said: ‘Him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.'" This was enough for his hungry soul. Albert knelt in prayer and restfully realized the forgiveness of his sins and the sweeping away of all his fears. God delivered him. He was regenerated.
Following his new birth came a time of spiritual growth. Albert said, "The promises of God burst upon my soul with a new and marvelous light." He became hungry for the Scriptures. He took them into his soul with "unspeakable ecstasy." He was also moved within to give himself to the Lord. At the age of 17 he spent a whole day in fasting and prayer and made a covenant with God. His written and signed covenant was mingled with the word and with hymns he had previously learned. He concluded his vow with the following prayer: "Now give me Thy Spirit and Thy protection in my heart at all times, and then I shall drink of the rivers of salvation, lie down by still waters, and be infinitely happy in the favor of God."
Teaching school, studying the Bible, and making vows; this was how the Lord was preparing this purposeful young man for the Master's use. He continued to pursue his intention to go into the ministry. Before his 18th birthday he was approved by the Presbytery in London, Ontario for admission to Knox College in Toronto. It was there that he studied Hebrew, Greek, theology, church history and government, and was also being perfected in his speaking. After the completion of his education he applied to be a minister, and at the age of 21 Simpson was licensed to the Presbyterian ministry. His mother's prayer, the missionary's baptismal prayer, and his desire were finally answered.
The newly licensed minister was soon offered two positions as a pastor. He had a choice between serving a small congregation and a larger one. It is interesting to note his desire to challenge from the beginning of his years of service. He describes his considerations and conclusion to take an assignment with the larger church in Hamilton, Canada as follows, "If I take the small church it will demand little, and I will give little. Result, stagnation; I will get soft and cease to grow. If I take the large church I will be compelled to rise to meet its heavier demands, and the very effort will develop the gifts of God which are in me. The small church may break me; the large church will certainly help to make me."
He began the new pastorate with a new bride who was not always understanding or sympathetic to all of her husband's spiritual aspirations. She was, however, loyal to her husband and cared unselfishly for their family of six children. Later in life she became a real help to her husband in his ministry.
Simpson remained in Hamilton for eight years where he saw his congregation grow by 750 members without any special evangelistic meetings. He raised up many prayer groups within the congregation and sparked the people on to fervent missionary giving. During those eight years Simpson developed in experience with his congregation and through his traveling. He also began to be in demand as a speaker both in Canada and in the United States.
On to Louisville, Kentucky
Simpson began to sense a burden for a new field of labor. After prayer and consideration, he took a new position as a pastor for a congregation in Louisville, Kentucky. This new assignment brought him to a larger congregation and city.
The time of this new beginning was shortly after the Civil War. The city of Louisville was on the border of the North and the South. This caused many problems as one could imagine. At the time of Simpson's coming there were still bitter feelings remaining. Simpson, being a servant from Canada, was just the right neutral prescription for this people at the time.
Simpson began his labor there by bringing pastors together in reconciliation to pray and lead men to Christ in city-wide revival meetings. Major Whittle, a gifted speaker and one with a consuming passion for souls, was invited to be the speaker for these meetings. Hundreds came to the Lord in these revivals. These gospel meetings has a great effect on Simpson. He began to have a real change in his life and service. He reconsidered his dignified church ministry service and began to see that people were more precious to God than all the church forms and activities. He was beginning to view the unbelieving lawless as objects of God's present love. Simpson was beginning to realize that these were dearer than all the rules and regulations of the Presbytery.
The Louisville evangelistic meetings caused him to be burdened for many lost sheep, regardless where they were from. He was becoming an evangelist to the lost world. Until he came in contact with Major Whittle he had not realized how proud and self-absorbed he had been and how little of the power of Christ was exhibited in his life and service. Simpson dealt with the Lord in his prayer following these times and experienced the Lord's work of the cross upon his old man. Through his time with the Lord he desired now to live from this time on a "consecrated, crucified, and Christ-devoted life."
Simpson now became burdened more than ever to evangelize. He still endeavored to continue to work with the other city pastors. He suggested to them that they continue the work begun by Major Whittle by having more evangelism meetings to reach out to the lost in the city of Louisville. Simpson encountered a wall of unwillingness by the pastors. They rejected his proposal for regular Sunday evening evangelism services. They feared that these would interfere with their regular Sunday evening services of their congregations. With no other recourse, Simpson did not drop his burden, but began these services with the help of some of his own congregation. These meetings included enjoyable gospel music and singing. These meeting were both effective in the city to reach the lost and were a real joy to Simpson and his co-laborers. He was beginning to enjoy this work of evangelism like never before.
In the following year his labors in the gospel service led him into some unconventional territory. In an effort to secure a building large enough for these meetings, he rented a theater. Many believers were shocked by this. All these frustrations were working upon Simpson, causing him to realize that to labor for the Lord was not easy, and that to follow the Lord in His burden for the lost would sometimes cause him to encounter misunderstanding, scorn, and persecution, especially from some religious ones.
The dream of Simpson's heart was being fulfilled by the fact that many in Louisville were hearing the gospel and hundreds were receiving salvation. Eventually his congregation grew and they built a new tabernacle.
On to New York City
The call of the unevangelized was continually on Simpson's heart. After a few years in Louisville, he once again felt a growing burden towards a larger field of service. At this time he also realized the great need with regard to foreign missions. He became burdened to launch a new mission magazine which would give believers information about what was happening on the mission fields. In order to carry out this burden it became necessary for him to be close to some center of missionary operations -- a port from which missionaries sailed. His way became clear when he received an invitation to begin working with a congregation in New York City.
Simpson continue to labor in his new assignment as he had done before in Hamilton and Louisville. Among the members in his congregation, he saw people revived. In his gospel service he began to see church attendance increase by the many new converts being added to the congregation.
Simpson struggled, however, with the well-to-do congregation. He endeavored to bring them out of their exclusivity and tried to open their hearts to the needs of the masses around them. He was by and large unsuccessful at this. He continued to labor tirelessly until after a little more than a year with that congregation, his labors were interrupted by another break in his health. This forced him to take a leave of absence. Because of his heart trouble and nerves, he fell into depression and despair. One prominent physician told him frankly that his days were numbered.
Simpson went away for a period of rest. While away, he visited an old-fashioned service where he listened to a Negro spiritual and was "strangely lifted up." He initially felt some restoration, and therefore returned to work. Although he returned to his duties in New York City, he was still not well. He walked around as an old tired man at the age of 37.
Many movements in America were springing up at this time which were to become a great influence on Simpson and his followers. There was a move in gospel evangelism with ones like Finney and Moody. Then there was the holiness movement with Muller, Bonar, Havergal, Finney, and others. The modern missionary movement rose up with Cary and others. Their was a reviving of the premillennialism teaching. There were also street meetings occurring along with rescue missions established in some cities. Another great movement of the time was that of divine healing. Simpson visited one of the great proponents of divine healing, Dr. Charles Cullis, who sought to bring his patients back to health through the prayer of faith alone.
Simpson visited one of his meetings and was impressed with the doctor and his teaching. After a search through the Bible, Simpson became convinced that healing was part of Christ's work of atonement, and should be a part of the gospel for a sinful and suffering world. Of course, as was his usual practice, he was not satisfied with the doctrine alone, but also desired the experience. He was open to experience the power of the diving healing. After some time of prayer, the Lord visited Simpson in his sick condition, healing him and saving him from an early grave. This changed the entire direction of his ministry. He was later to become one of the greatest exponents of divine healing that the church had seen in a thousand years. With revived health, he continued to serve without interruption for the next 35 years. For the rest of his life he preached divine healing, but always subordinated it to the greater truth of salvation.
A New Beginning
After Simpson's healing experience he encountered misunderstanding and suspicion by many. Some began to reject his "questionable teaching." Simpson further ruffled feathers when he was baptized by immersion a few months later. Shortly thereafter he resigned from the Presbyterian Church.
Simpson launched out on his own to do the work of evangelizing the multitudes in New York City. In his new endeavor, he had to trust God not only for his health but also for his daily bread. This was not an easy task for his wife who already was having difficulty following her husband in all his visions.
He began his labor with a small prayer group of seven to pray for the evangelizing of New York City. Also midweek meetings at his home started up and eventually Sunday meetings at a rented hall. This new band of brothers had one burden -- to bring the lost to the Savior. They learned by trial and error and the Lord blessed their labor and their number increased.
Brothers among them were from low degree to well-to-do. Simpson was free from the old conservative traditions that had hindered his progress in the past. This new group of believers received one another with open arms. They began to build up a meeting life of deep spirituality with a mighty flowing power.
Eventually a work center was needed and they built one. The Gospel Tabernacle became the hub from which busy workers radiated. Originally they had no plan of forming another church, but as many needs developed for such things as baptism and the Lord's table, they could not send ones away. Through Simpson's consecration and faith, many others were raised up to serve. In fact, everyone was expected to help. Simpson was burdened for the functioning of many members. He prayed and motivated. His new band of brothers and sisters held street meetings, established rescue missions, visited hospitals and jails with the gospel message, held special sailor meetings, and also opened an orphanage and a free dispensary for the poor. They also worked with children, young people, and different language immigrants. Simpson himself launched a missionary journal, The Gospel in All Lands, the first illustrated missionary magazine in North America. Eventually a missionary society was formed out of their love for God and the perishing world. Simpson also became involved with large conferences with many speakers sharing on the deeper Christian life, on healing, and fellowship concerning the work on the mission field.
The Christian and Missionary Alliance
Under the criticism of other believers, Simpson continued to labor with his "full gospel" message. He eventually formed a group of like-minded Christians the world over who were hungry for a better and more satisfying life in Christ. It was not to become a separate body of believers, but a fellowship or bond of united believers who had the same hunger for the deeper things of God. At this time two alliances were formed: the Christian Alliance for the pursuing of the deeper Christian life, and the Evangelical Missionary Alliance for the rapid evangelization of the most neglected foreign mission fields. Two years later these two alliances were joined together, becoming The Christian and Missionary Alliance. Simpson said, "We are an alliance of Christians for world wide missionary work. It is to hold up Jesus in fullness, ‘the same yesterday, today, and forever!' It is to lead God's hungry children to know their full inheritance of privilege and blessing for spirit, soul and body. It is to encourage and incite the people of God to do the neglected work of our age and time among the unchurched classes at home and the perishing heathen abroad."
Simpson never intended the society to become a denomination. He sought to provide fellowship only, and looked with suspicion upon anything like rigid organization. As their numbers grew, however, things became more complex. People were looking for a spiritual home. Simpson remained committed not to become a denomination, but he did take steps to provide local "superintendents" or shepherds instead of official pastors to meet the needs among local groups of believers in different cities.
They endeavored to keep their focus of the one mighty job of winning men to God. They held that the return of Christ depended upon a world-wide proclamation of the gospel. In order to meet this need, they established a Bible and missionary training school for special training of their missionaries in Nyack, New York.
A Laborer to the End
Simpson's work load continually increased. He established a home for the ill, he directed a growing army of missionaries in the field, he edited his missionary magazine, and wrote many books and magazine articles, while he continued to pastor a congregation in New York City. His life text was, "Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, saith the Lord of Hosts." Many of his workers came from those who had been converted through their efforts in the gospel.
Simpson loved the Bible as a portrait of Christ. He had an utter love for the person of Jesus and was able to reach hearts for the Savior. He enjoyed the presence of the indwelling Christ. Moody said, "No man gets at my heart like that man." Simpson was known to live what he preached. Tozer said that Simpson would make theology sing. "In his mouth doctrine became warm and living."
Simpson was also a hymn writer. He wrote many wonderful hymns like Jesus only is our message, and Once it was the blessing. In his hymns he would exalt the Lord's name, teach of the abiding life, minister the gospel and stir hearts for gospel service. One such hymn asked the question, how much can we do for our Savior. He would lead others through his hymns into the deeper life. The hymns, O Lord, breathe Thy Spirit on me and Speak to the Rock, bid the waters flow are two examples. He also wrote hymns on dealing with the enemy self, and of living a crucified life. His hymns would call ones to come to the fountain of life. He also wrote on the subject of spiritual warfare and of the glorious, coming king. Some hymnals include a selection of his hymns.
Simpson loved to close his messages with a stanza or two of song, which would sum up his burden. With few exceptions, his songs were simply sermons in verse. He was a master at coming up with Bible slogans. He would take a Bible phrase or one adapted from the Bible, such as "Jesus Only" and set it as a watchword for multitudes to sing.
As he labored in the field, he was determined to imitate Paul in presenting the gospel without charge. He refused to accept any salary, either from the Tabernacle or from the society. He conducted his own businesses and managed to keep himself free of any covetousness or fraud.
His kept his convictions concerning medicine between him and God alone. He never used any remedies at any time after he came into the light concerning divine healing. He would not, however, place these convictions as burdens on the consciences of others. He advised others that if they cannot have faith for their healing, then they should get the best physician they could afford.
He served in all lowliness. He refused an honorary degree of Doctor of Divinity saying he did not want any honor "that would exalt him in any measure above the lowliest of his brethren."
Although Simpson was definitely for the manifestation of all the gifts of the Holy Spirit, he did not agree with the Pentecostal teaching that tongues must be without exception the proof of the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Concerning the Pentecostal movement, he said, "I am not able to approve the movement, though I am willing to concede that there is probably something of God in it somewhere."
In his last years much of Simpson's work shifted from his shoulders to those of younger, stronger brothers. In the spring of 1919 he suffered a slight stroke from which he recovered. On October 28, 1919, he fell into a coma after a time of prayer for all his missionaries. Simpson never rallied from this and the next morning he finally rested from all his labors.
A. B. Simpson labored intensely during his lifetime. He founded the Christian and Missionary Alliance, established a publishing house, edited a weekly magazine for more than 40 years, and wrote over 100 books. He pastored churches, raised up social ministries, founded a college, wrote dozens of hymns and gospel songs, and traveled constantly.